Exciting & IMPORTANT News!!!

As of tonight, I will be moving my blog to self-hosted WordPress! This is something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time, and I’m super excited (and nervous!) about it. My main reasons for moving to self-hosted WordPress have to do with the fact that I want more creative freedom with my blog and to make it seem more professional to hopefully gain a greater following.

This seems like the perfect time to make my move. It’s a new year, I have the money for both the hosting and the Ultimate Book Blogger plugin by Nose Graze, and because I’m on a break I’ll have the time to goof around and figure out how everything works.

However, this move also means I will need your patience and support. I don’t really know how long it will take me to make the new look I have in mind for my site and to reformat posts and do all the technical stuff, so please stick with me through this process. I’d also like some help advertising my new site, which will be at http://www.bibliophilials.com. To my current followers, I think I will be able to get most of you transferred to the new site via a special plugin I’ve been reading about, but I’m not quite sure how to resubscribe my email followers. A smooth transition for my readers is important to me, so hopefully I’ll be able to get these issues resolved very soon, but please be patient while I figure it out.

If you have any tips for transferring WordPress.com to wordpress.org, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments! Thank you in advance for supporting me on my new adventure :)

Waiting on Fire & Flood

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine, and specifically spotlights upcoming novels we can’t wait to read. This week I’m excited for…

Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott

Tella Holloway is losing it. Her brother is sick, and when a dozen doctors can’t determine what’s wrong, her parents decide to move to Montana for the fresh air. She’s lost her friends, her parents are driving her crazy, her brother is dying—and she’s helpless to change anything.

Until she receives mysterious instructions on how to become a Contender in the Brimstone Bleed. It’s an epic race across jungle, desert, ocean, and mountain that could win her the prize she desperately desires: the Cure for her brother’s illness. But all the Contenders are after the Cure for people they love, and there’s no guarantee that Tella (or any of them) will survive the race.

The jungle is terrifying, the clock is ticking, and Tella knows she can’t trust the allies she makes. And one big question emerges: Why have so many fallen sick in the first place?

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Note to NetGalley: this is yet another title that will cause bleeding from all orifices in the event I am not granted access to it. Just so ya know.

But really, who isn’t excited about this book? There are so many things that intrigue me about it: the mysterious illness, the even more elusive Cure, the Brimstone Bleed, and just…just…EVERYTHING. This story sounds totally epic in the true sense of the word, full of adventure, mystery, and all the awesome things.

Top Ten New Year’s Resolutions

Top Ten Tuesday is an original meme created by the wonderful blog The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s topic is to share ten of our New Year’s resolutions, either bookish or non-bookish. I don’t really make New Year’s resolutions about my own life, so I’ll be sharing my blog and reading-related goals for the new year.

1. Move from WordPress.com to self-hosted WordPress.org! I’ve been thinking about going self-hosted for a long time, because I feel like it will make my blog seem more legit, plus I’ve been feeling limited by free WordPress in terms of creativity. I’m currently thinking about using Safe Shark, because they have one-click Worpress installation, plus they’ll move my posts to the new blog for free. It also helps that they have a high rating from Nose Graze, a blog I really trust with technology-related issues like this.

2. Read just as many or more books than last year. In 2013, I read 133 books, so I should get to work on that!

3. Complete the Debut Author Challenge. Last year my goal was to read 50 books, and I read 54 and reviewed 53 (still working on my review for Katie Cutogno’s How to Love). This year I hope to read at least 30. I decreased the number because some of the books on my worst of 2013 list were debuts, and also because I’m participating in the Stand-Alone Reading Challenge.

4. Complete Stand Alone Reading Challenge. I’ve ranted a lot about how much I hate series (especially trilogies), so this is the perfect challenge for me. Like my list of TBRs for the DAC, my list for the SARC is also ridiculously long, but my starting goal is to read at least 40 of them. This will probably be an easy goal to achieve, as there are a lot of stand alones on my list for the DAC as well, so when I meet my goal I’ll probably up it between 10-20 books.

5. Only start series by debut authors. I usually hate series, but there are a few really good ones coming out from debut authors this year that I just have to read. I’m already in the middle of so many trilogies and series and I just don’t want to add too many more to the list.

6. Read less dystopian. I have a love-hate relationship with dystopians that I simply don’t need to feed anymore. Everything is starting to sound the same and to melt together in my head, and I always feel disappointed after finishing a dystopian novel. I think the problem is that the genre has been overdone to death. With the exception of series I’ve already started, my goal is to read no more than five dystopians in 2014.

7. Interact more on Twitter. This is something that’s been really scary for me. I want to get to know my fellow bloggers and authors, but I never know how to start a conversation on Twitter. I’m much better at networking in person than online, but since our society relies so heavily on technology, it’s a skill I need to learn.

8. Be more selective about requesting books from NetGalley & Edelweiss. I’m still about 90 ARCs behind between the two for last year, and I don’t want that to happen again. I requested a lot of books because I figured I could decide not to read them and it wouldn’t matter, but now my books read/feedback sent ratio on NetGalley is super low because of all the titles I never got to. I need to only request books for the DAC and SARC, and only books I know I’ll read.

9. Respond to people’s comments more. I always get excited when someone comments on a post, but then chicken out too much to actually respond. Now that I think about it, I think I’m shyer online than in real life.

10. Read more of the books I already own. I still have a bunch of books from BEA I need to read, and books I purchased but have yet to get to. Maybe I should participate in the TBR Challenge as well?

To Be Perfectly Honest

Title: To Be Perfectly Honest
Author: Sonya Sones
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: August 27, 2013
Pages: 496
Genre: Contemporary
Source: Purchased
Rating: 4/5

Her friends
have a joke about her:
How can you tell if Colette is lying?

Her mouth is open.

Fifteen-year-old Colette is addicted to lying. Her shrink says this is because she’s got a very bad case of Daughter-of-a-famous-movie-star Disorder—so she lies to escape out from under her mother’s massive shadow. But Colette doesn’t see it that way. She says she lies because it’s the most fun she can have with her clothes on. Not that she’s had that much fun with her clothes off. At least not yet, anyway…

When her mother drags her away from Hollywood to spend the entire summer on location in a boring little town in the middle of nowhere, Colette is less than thrilled. But then she meets a sexy biker named Connor. He’s older, gorgeous, funny, and totally into her. So what if she lies to him about her age, and about who her mother is? I mean, she has to keep her mother’s identity a secret from him. If he finds out who she really is, he’ll forget all about Colette, and start panting and drooling and asking her for her mother’s autograph. Just like everyone always does.

But what Colette doesn’t know is that Connor is keeping a secret of his own…

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To Be Perfectly Honest was a thoroughly enjoyable read from one of my favorite childhood authors. One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies was probably the first novel I read written in verse, and I still think Ellen Hopkins has nothing on Sonya Sones. I’ve read and loved all Sones’ books, and To Be Perfectly Honest did not disappoint.

I love books with unreliable narrators, and Colette fits that description to a T. I had fun guessing when she was lying or not, and she definitely kept me on my toes throughout the story, all the way until the very last page. I felt like I’ve never read a character like Colette before, so Sones’ latest novel was truly a breath of fresh air for me.

I enjoyed everything about Colette’s messed-up life (no, I promise I’m not a sadist) from her insane lies to her adorable little brother, who was featured a lot more in this book than most younger siblings in YA. I felt Sonya Sones did an excellent job making Colette’s larger-than-life story believable and relateable. Even though Colette tells some outrageous lies, you can’t help but root for her and want the best for her.

To Be Perfectly Honest is a super fun read that you’ll rip through in no time despite the length. I hope other readers will fall in love with Colette’s funny, sarcastic voice as much as I did, and that Sonya Sones gets the hype for it that she deserves.

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Worst Books of 2013

I’ve been debating with myself a lot lately about whether or not I should actually write this post. A lot of reviewers seem to have gotten shit this year on various social networks for negative reviews, and I certainly don’t want to cause any of that drama, and I also don’t want any fellow bloggers to think less of me for wailing on these books a little bit. I just felt so frustrated with YA last year and remember more of the really bad books than really good ones, and I feel like I need to vent a little. While there were a handful of really amazing books last year, some of the ones I disliked I hated with a passion. But I suppose this is my space to write whatever I want, and want I want to do is let out some of the negative feelings I have about certain books I read last year. Call it mean or rude; I just need to let it out.

Books pub’ed in 2013:

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I already tore this one apart in my review, so I probably don’t have to say much here. This is a book I wish I could wipe from my memory. I thought it had the potential to say important things about slut shaming and bullying, but in the end I felt it became all about the drama, and boy was the drama RIDICULOUS. You know the drama needs to stop when you start laughing about all the bad things happening to the characters because there are just so many of them. In addition, the writing was too sloppy and awkward for me, making this book a hot mess…just without the “hot” part.

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This was another major dud. I reviewed this title for a tour, but if I wasn’t already obligated to read it, I probably would have dropped it after the first sentence. Some of the writing made me cringe, the characters were undeveloped, the romance was contrived, and it was WAY too long. I think the fact that I had signed myself up for this tour made me dislike it even more, because I felt like it was my own fault I had to be subjected to such an awful, boring book.

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Oh. My. God. Zenn Scarlet. What can I say about you? Oh yeah: you had almost no plot other than saving space animals, your protagonist’s voice read like an 80 year old man trying to sound like a teenager, your romance had no spark, and you ended on a super cheap cliffhanger. Blacking out? I mean, really.

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My main issue with this novel was that the author’s voice read to me like an imitation of Francesca Lia Block’s style, but less good, because no one can do Francesca Lia Block except Francesca Lia Block. I just felt like this author was trying to write in the same way as another, but to such an extent her own voice didn’t show through. I also didn’t like any of the characters, and found myself irritated by the narrator’s relationship by her best friend, Aurora. The narrator basically worships Aurora, but I simply didn’t understand it, especially as I read more and more about her. If the narrator is so obsessed with another character that the author neglects developing her, maybe she should’ve written from the perspective of the obsession instead.

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I hate space books. Okay, maybe I just haven’t read that many that I like yet. Elissa wasn’t as interesting a protagonist as I hoped she would be, and though I was initially drawn in by the concept of two strangers being connected telepathically, the outcome wasn’t particularly compelling. I guess being a boring book isn’t such a crime, but it was enough to make me put it on this list.

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I hated pretty much everything about this book, but particularly the characters. I didn’t find Maddie or Bennett likeable, and hated how the author tried to portray a sixteen-year-old girl as some kind of temptress. I realize the point was probably to show that in a teacher/student relationship there is more than one side to the story, but there is never a time when such a relationship isn’t the adult’s fault. Bennett was naive and gross, and should’ve known better. On a lesser note, I had a really hard time believing Maddie was as smart as she claimed to be because the book read like a poorly-written novel for a much younger audience.

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The second book in Maureen Johnson’s Shades of London trilogy was one of my most anticipated reads of the year. The Name of the Star was the first book of hers I actually liked, and I was expecting to be equally enthralled by The Madness Underneath. Unfortunately, I am once again on shaky ground with Johnson’s books after reading this. I didn’t get the same thrill from the second book that I got from its predecessor, and another unnecessary romance caused much eye rolling. I just expected a lot more from this book, and still feel so disappointed in it that I doubt I’ll be reading the final book, much less buy it like I did the first two.

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I read Wither when it came out and felt compelled to read the second book, but ended up really regretting it. Fever is even more depressing than Wither, and I actually ended up throwing it at the wall a few times (or maybe that was Sever? Or both? Anyway). Sever, however, definitely takes the soul-crushing cake. NOTHING good happens in this series. I also felt guilty for kind of preferring Linden over Gabriel even though he was Rhine’s captor, and guilt is not something I want to feel while reading a book for pleasure. Something I hated even more though was how Rhine became more understanding of Vaughn, even though he was a horrible, terrible villain. I found it hard to believe she would let things go that easily. I certainly didn’t, and I still hate him even though I don’t have to read about him anymore.

Books pub’ed other years:

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My main issues with this book? Plot, characters…oh wait, that’s basically all the important stuff. The loose and slow plot did nothing to keep me interested, and I didn’t like any of the characters, even the protagonist. A character, especially the main one, needs to have personality, and Hester didn’t have an ounce. I thought this book had the potential to be interesting and different, but it disappointed.

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I really like books about unusual relationships (like between a 15-year-old and a 21-year-old, in this case), so I thought I’d go wild for this one, but it just didn’t do it for me. For one things, I was expecting there to be an actual relationship between Amelia and Chris, but it was pretty one-sided with Amelia the whole story. This is yet another title on this list where I didn’t like any of the characters. Amelia seemed even younger than 15, and her ridiculous view that feminism ruined her mom’s life definitely didn’t endear her to me either. Chris didn’t seem like such a catch either, as he tended to treat women poorly and then randomly set off for Japan. The lack of relationship made me feel like nothing really happened, so overall I wasn’t very enthused by this book.

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These narrators cannot possibly be in high school, especially Emily. Jesse I might believe, but Emily? Hell no. The way she was written made her sound like a middle schooler, and not a very smart one at that. I also didn’t understand why some characters were written in first person and some in third, as it really chopped up the flow of the story. In addition, I felt that both Emily and Jesse were overly stereotypical, and I didn’t find them at all genuine. I thought I was going to really like this book when I bought it (at least it was cheap), but between the choppy writing and the almost caricatured characters I felt no connection with, it was a huge dud.

Afterparty

Afterparty_Tour_Banner

Title: Afterparty
Author: Ann Redisch Stampler
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: December 31, 2013
Pages: 384
Genre: Contemporary
Source: Edelweiss
Rating: 3/5

Emma is tired of being good. Always the dutiful daughter to an overprotective father, she is the antithesis of her mother — whose name her dad won’t even say out loud. That’s why meeting Siobhan is the best thing that ever happened to her…and the most dangerous. Because Siobhan is fun and alluring and experienced and lives on the edge. In other words, she’s everything Emma is not.

And it may be more than Emma can handle.

Because as intoxicating as her secret life may be, when Emma begins to make her own decisions, Siobhan starts to unravel. It’s more than just Dylan, the boy who comes between them. Their high-stakes pacts are spinning out of control. Elaborate lies become second nature. Loyalties and boundaries are blurred. And it all comes to a head at the infamous Afterparty, where debauchery rages and an intense, inescapable confrontation ends in a plummet from the rooftop…

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I wasn’t sure what to rate this book. I like Stampler’s writing style quite a lot, but too many other things fell short.

I am so sick of the good-girl-gone-bad story. I get it. Repressed suburban girls need to have a little fun sometimes. Characters like Emma are getting really cliche and overused in YA, though I will admit Emma did have some unique things behind her story.

Stampler also did a good job showing just how controlling Emma’s father was. A lot of times in this type of story, the parents don’t seem to live up to how bad the teen narrator makes them out to be. I think the clincher with the parent in this book was how he didn’t even allow Emma to keep the real name that her drug-addicted mother gave her.

Another thing I can acknowledge was the unpredictability of the story, at least in terms of the ending. When you first start the book, it seems like it’s going to go in one direction, but then does something different and twisty than what you originally think it’s going to be.

That said, too much of it was same-old same-old for me. Repressed good girl, charismatic best friend who everyone loves, a downward spiral into partying and sex, etc. On the note of partying, I also had a really hard time believing a lot of those scenarios in Stampler’s novel. I just couldn’t imagine parties that crazy and that glamorous really happening. Admittedly, I’ve never been a partier, so my views on this subject should be taken with a grain of salt, but I found myself rolling my eyes at a lot of the melodrama.

This is a weird book for me because I liked the writing, just not the characters or the story. Still, I am convinced that I could love other books by this writer based on the writing style alone, so I’m definitely adding Where it Began to my ever-growing TBR list.

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Blog Blitz Review: Being Sloane Jacobs

This review is for the Being Sloane Jacobs blog blitz. The book comes out on January 7, so check it out!

Title: Being Sloane Jacobs
Author: Lauren Morrill
Publisher: Delacorte
Publication Date: January 7, 2014
Pages: 352
Genre: Contemporary
Source: NetGalley
Rating: 4/5

Meet Sloane Emily Jacobs: a seriously stressed-out figure-skater from Washington, D.C., who choked during junior nationals and isn’t sure she’s ready for a comeback. What she does know is that she’d give anything to escape the mass of misery that is her life.

Now meet Sloane Devon Jacobs, a spunky ice hockey player from Philly who’s been suspended from her team for too many aggressive hip checks. Her punishment? Hockey camp, now, when she’s playing the worst she’s ever played. If she messes up? Her life will be over.

When the two Sloanes meet by chance in Montreal and decide to trade places for the summer, each girl thinks she’s the lucky one: no strangers to judge or laugh at Sloane Emily, no scouts expecting Sloane Devon to be a hero. But it didn’t occur to Sloane E. that while avoiding sequins and axels she might meet a hockey hottie—and Sloane D. never expected to run into a familiar (and very good-looking) face from home. It’s not long before the Sloanes discover that convincing people you’re someone else might be more difficult than being yourself.

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Being Sloane Jacobs is a fun, cute take on what it means to find yourself. Lauren Morrill’s fresh, light voice made me really enjoy this story though I wasn’t sure about it at first. I don’t usually go for books about athletes, but Morrill made me fall for both of the Sloanes anyway.

Something in particular that stood out to me about this novel was the expert way in which Morrill showed each Sloane’s passion for their respective sport. Instead of being really technical and focusing on the game like some other sports books I read, Morrill focused on how ice skating and hockey kept her characters ticking. Rather than being something that kept me from liking the story, the character’s passions for their sports actually helped draw me into the story.

Another thing I liked about the book was watching each Sloane grow. To be honest, I did see more growth in Sloane Emily than Sloane Devon, but that didn’t bother me too much. I liked watching Sloane Emily gain more confidence through hockey, and also found her side of the story a bit more believable than Sloane Devon’s. I could see the transition to figure skating to hockey happening because it paralleled Sloane Emily’s growth into a stronger person. I thought Sloane Devon’s figure skating career seemed less plausible because of her injury, personality, and the time frame of the story, but that was probably the only thing I didn’t like about the book.

I also found myself rooting for both of the romances. I think I myself would have gone for Nando, but I felt Matt was equally charming. I liked that the romances didn’t overwhelm the story as well.

Another thing I noticed about this story is that it brings up a lot of interesting, serious issues: infidelity, alcoholism, the pressure of family expectations, what happens when you your passion becomes something that hurts you, and classicism. Though all of these things appear in the novel, none are discussed in enough depth to be overwhelming. Morrill did a great job of keeping her book fun without making it too fluffy.

Fans of contemporary romance who want something a little different will love this book and wish for a sequel after finishing the last page.

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January 2014 Lust List

This is going to be a super long post, as there are many books coming out in January 2014 I’m excited about. Thankfully I already have ARCs of a bunch of them, so I can get started on 2014 early and hopefully keep on top of my TBR list for once.

January 7

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January 14

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January 21

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January 28

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January 30

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Waiting on Grasshopper Jungle

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine, and specifically spotlights upcoming novels we can’t wait to read. This week I’m excited for…

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

Sixteen-year-old Austin Szerba interweaves the story of his Polish legacy with the story of how he and his best friend , Robby, brought about the end of humanity and the rise of an army of unstoppable, six-foot tall praying mantises in small-town Iowa.

To make matters worse, Austin’s hormones are totally oblivious; they don’t care that the world is in utter chaos: Austin is in love with his girlfriend, Shann, but remains confused about his sexual orientation. He’s stewing in a self-professed constant state of maximum horniness, directed at both Robby and Shann. Ultimately, it’s up to Austin to save the world and propagate the species in this sci-fright journey of survival, sex, and the complex realities of the human condition.

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This book sounds bizarre and hilarious, a perfect combination. I loved Andrew Smith’s The Marbury Lens and expect great things from him in Grasshopper Jungle. Praying mantises, teenage hormones, and saving the world? How could it NOT be good?