28 November 2015

Half-Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Publication: 2011

# of Pages: 281

Source: Barnes  & Noble, Purchased Copy

Favorite Quotes:

  • "You're always so alive, even when you're going through something that would darken the souls of most." 
  • "You're so beautiful. So brave, so full of life." 
Goodreads Summary/Blurb

The Hematoi desecend from the unions of gods and mortals, and the children of two hematoi--pure-bloods--have godlike powers, children of hematoi and mortals--well not so much. Half-bloods only have two options: become trained sentinels  who hunt and kill daimons or become servants in the homes of the pures. 

Seventeen-year-old Alexandria would rather risk her life fighting than waste it scrubbing toilets, but she may end up slumming it anyway. There are several rules that students at the covenant must follow. Alex has problems with them all, but especially rule #1: relationships between pures and halfs are forbidden.

Unfortunately, she's crushing hard on the totally hot pure-blood Aiden. But falling for Aiden isn't her biggest problem--staying alive long enough to graduate the covenant and become a sentinel is. If she fails in her duty, she faces a future worse than death or slavery: being turned into a daimon, and being hunted by Aiden. And that would kind of suck. 

My Review/Thoughts

In search of more books based on mythology, I stumbled upon Jennifer L. Armentrout's Half-Blood. It takes the common myth about the union between mortals and gods and creates a world surrounding the lives of pures and half-bloods. With added additions like a training center called the Covenant and lethal creatures called daimons (pronounced 'demons'), Armentrout gives a new perspective and outlook on Greek mythology. 

What I liked and appreciated about the novel was Armentrout's  ability to clearly illustrate the divide between half-bloods and pures. Half-bloods do not have a clear place in any society--pure or mortal. Their sole job in life is to protect the lives of pures or take up the task of living in servitude. However, it is in the main character Alex that blurs the line between these two sects of descendants from the gods. It is her power, will, and determination that builds the tone and drives the plot of the novel. While I have encountered several female characters that have literally driven me to disliking an entire novel, Alex did the complete opposite. Her sassy mouth, sense of humor, snarky attitude, and lingering need to prove everyone wrong made the novel that much more interesting. Although she made several stupid decisions that put both herself and other characters in danger, it was her determination to rectify a terrible situation that ultimately become her saving grace. 

Nevertheless, there were several characteristics that I did not care for in the novel. First and foremost was the complexity of plot development. Although I absolutely adore Armentrout's writing, there was a lack of true development of the book's plot. It seemed like every issue came with an easy answer or easy solution. With this being a five book series, I expected the plot to be a lot more complex with more intricate resolutions. Another factor that pulled away from the overall quality of the book was the lack of involvement in reference to the gods. Yes, they were mentioned frequently and the characters are all direct or indirect descendants of the gods; however, I feel like there should have been more of a back story or more inclusion of the gods within the text. To be classified as a novel involving Greek mythology there were very little mythological elements. 

Overall, Armentrout introduced a new take on Greek mythology that I think I can grow to appreciate. It was not the best first novel of a series; however, I plan on continuing the series in hopes of finding out more about Alex and the rest of the half-bloods and pures that attend the covenant. 

Rating: 3/5

27 November 2015

The Friday 56, #1: Half-Blood

The Friday 56 is a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice. Join in every Friday and share an excerpt from the book you've been reading. Here are the rules: 

  • Grab a book, any book
  • Turn to page 56 or 56% in your e-reader
  • Find any sentence (or a few, don't spoil it) that grab you 
  • Post it

** Be sure to post the link to your Friday 56 in the comments below!

Happy Reading!

"Most half's had no idea what is was like. Sure, they mingled in the outside world -- mingled being the key word--but they were never part of it , not for any amount of time." 

I'm liking this book so far because it gives an interesting take to the concept of Greek mythology. This quote really captures how the half-bloods do not fit in in their own world or the mortal world. I hope to finish this book by the either this evening or tomorrow morning. 


The Hematoi descend from the unions of gods and mortals, ad the children of two hematoi---pure-bloods--have godlike powers. Children of hematoi and mortals--well, not so much. Half-bloods only have two options: become trained sentinels who hunt and kill daimons or become servants in the homes of pures.

Seventeen-year-old Alexandria would rather risk her life fighting than waste it scrubbing toilets. But she may end up slumming it anyway. There are several rules that students at the covenant must follow. Alex has problems with them all, but especially rule #1:

Relationships between pures and halfs are forbidden.

Unfortunately, she's crushing hard on the totally hot pure-blood Aiden. But falling for Aiden isn't her biggest problem--staying alive long enough to graduate the covenant and become a sentinel is. If she fails in her duty, she faces a future worse than death or slavery: being turned into a daimon and being hunted by Aiden.

And that would kind of suck.

25 November 2015

Giving Way to Happiness & A Giveaway Spotlight

With Thanksgiving tomorrow and Christmas right around the corner, I decided to participate in a blog spotlight that introduces the book The Giving Way to Happiness. It truly is a magical feeling when you give a little during this time of the year. To commemorate the beautiful message behind this book you will find the following below:

  • Information about a charity I want to champion
  • Giving Tuesday 
  • Book-Related information about The Giving Way to Happiness 
  • Giveaway Information 
I hope you enjoy all of the information! Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone (for my US readers).

My Charity: 
The charity that I give to on an annual basis is the United Way of the Midlands. They pride themselves on uniting people and resources together. "We work to determine and respond to the critical human service needs of the community. Community volunteers in three councils focused on education, financial stability, and health develop and review a community-wide needs assessment to determine key issues in the community" (United Way Midlands Website). What I love about this organization is that they focus on the community and it's issues. Although we have common issues that affect the entire nation, it is especially nice to see an organization that focuses on a specific city. With the flood that recently destroyed so many homes and businesses in the midlands area, United Way has been providing so many different resources. If you want to learn more about this organization and donate please visit: http://www.uway.org

Giving Away Tuesday:
As a part of this promotion I would also like to tell you all about another charity based initiative that reaches the global community. Giving Tuesday is a global initiative that promotes the generosity of people who are giving around the holidays. Directly following BlackFriday and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday is an event started by the 92 Street Y in New York City, which hoped to connect a diverse and well-rounded network of people, foundations, and organizations. On December 1, 2015, they encourage you to use #mygivingstory to promote the charity/non-profit organization that you're helping to support/spotlight this holiday season. You can link to the site and learn more about Giving Tuesday here: http://www.givingtuesday.org/

The Giving Way to Happiness: 
In light of the giving season I would like to recommend a book that highlights the benefits of giving and sharing and how it leads to happiness. Here is a blurb about the book:

"We often focus on how our gifts can help those in need. But the act of giving actually improves our own lives as well. In The Giving Way to Happiness, Jenny Santi overturns conventional thinking about what it takes to be happy by revealing how giving to others--whether in the form of money, expertise, time, or love--has helped people from all walks of life find purpose and joy. Drawing on the wisdom of great thinkers past and present, as well as cutting-edge scientific research, Santi makes an eloquent and passionate case that oftentimes the answers to the problems that haunt us, and the key to the happiness that eludes us, lie in helping those around us. 

This book is filled with inspiring stories told firsthand by Academy Award winner Goldie Hawn, Noble Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, supermodel Christy Turlington Burns, Teach for America founder Wendy Kopp, philanthropist Richard Rockefeller, environmentalist Phillipe Cousteau, activist Ric O' Barry, bestselling author Isabel Allende, ALS survivor Augie Nieto, and many others from all over the world. Despite their diverse backgrounds, they have all found unexpected happiness and fulfillment through giving. This book tells us not just how they changed the world but also how their acts changed their very own lives." 

In addition, Santi reveals: 
  • How altruism involves far more than suppressing basic selfish urges. Rather, we are wired to give, as it activates the same pleasure centers of the brain stimulated by food, sex, and drugs. 
  • How helping others--whether by walking a friend through a struggle that you've also experienced or by supporting a cause to honor a loved one's memory--can be a healthy way to deal with adversity and process grief.
  • The unexpected reasons why those who "gave it all up" to make a difference, and who face the direst situations, are nevertheless some of the happiest, most fulfilled, and least angst-riddeen people you'll ever meet. 
  • Practical, universally applicable lesson on what kind of giving makes people happy and what doesn't. How do you discover giving that is unique to you and makes you feel good?
In this inspiring book, Santi turns conventional wisdom upside down about what it takes to be happy and reveals the surprising reasons that have led so many people to live lives full of meaning, purpose, and happiness. 

Links: Amazon | B&N | Goodreads

As a promotion for this book Wunderkind PR is going to donate $50.00 to the charity of the winner's choice! So please enter below: 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

23 November 2015

Author Spotlight: Kody Keplinger

Name: Kody Keplinger

About Author: Kody Keplinger was born and raised in small town western Kentucky, where she began her writing career after penning the New York Times and USA Today bestseller, The DUFF, at age seventeen. The DUFF, now a major motion picture, was chosen as an YALSA Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Readers and a Romantic Times Top Pick. Kody has since written other books for both young adult and middle grade readers. When she isn't writing, Kody is posting about fashion and body positivity on her Instagram, chatting about her favorite TV shows on Twitter, or making videos for her YouTube account. Kody is also the co-founder of Disability in KidLit and a teacher at the Gotham Writers Workshops in NYC. (As stated on her website: www.kodykeplinger.com)

Published Works:

  • The DUFF (2010)
  • Shut Out (2011)
  • A Midsummer's Nightmare (2012)
  • Secrets & Lies (2013)
  • LOL - Lying Out Loud (2015)

My Recommendation: Okay so this recommendation is a little different because I actually shot a video related to Kody Keplinger in which I did a spotlight on her and talked about her books and why I like them so much. So if you want to know more about the books I've read by her check out the video below! : ) 

22 November 2015

The School For Good & Evil by Soman Chainani

Publication: 2013

# of Pages: 488

Source: Published Copy, BooksAMillion

Favorite Quotes:

  • "Beauty can only fight the truth for so long." 
  • "Only once you destroy who you think you are can you embrace who you truly are." 
  • "You're not evil Sophie. You're human." 
Goodreads Summary/Blurb

"This year, best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to discover where all the lost children go: the fabled School for Good & Evil, where ordinary boys and girls are trained to be fairy tales heroes and villains. As the most beautiful girl in Gavaldon, Sophie has dreamed of being kidnapped into an enchanted world her whole life. With her pink dresses, glass slippers, and devotion to good deeds, she knows she'll earn top marks at the School for Good and graduate a storybook princess. Meanwhile Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks, wicked pet cat, and dislike of nearly everyone, seems a natural fit for the School for Evil. 

But when the two girls are swept into the Endless Woods, they find their fortunes reversed--Sophie's dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School For Good, thrust amongst handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication..But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are...? 

My Review/Thoughts

Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood--We've heard all of these names and more whether from our personal experience with Disney movies or a book of fairy tales someone read to us as a child. The School For Good & Evil, while a spin on the concept of a fairy tale, provides the reader with a broader range of knowledge about the origins of these fairy tale characters. They didn't just come from random magical places, but they were once ordinary individuals selected and trained at this school and the course of their stories/fairy tales were documented by the Storian (a magical pen that writes by itself). They are, in essence, the documented heroes of this school (at least the good side of the school).

What I enjoyed most about the development of this novel was Chainani's ability to create a completely different spin on the concept of the fairy tale. He actually attempted and successfully built a world in which the reader learns about the origins of fairy tales, the heroes, the damsels in distress, and the wicked forces that work against them. While the school is solely dedicated to maintaining a balance that gives power equally to good and evil, it seems that evil has been on the losing end of the spectrum for a little over two centuries until Agatha and Sophie arrive. It is through them that the scales of the school are tipped and things ultimately become complete chaos. 

It is the friendship between these two characters that becomes the driving force of the novel. They have to manage to remain true to their friendship even when the most unlikely forces get in the way. I must say that I enjoyed Agatha a lot more as a character than Sophie. Sophie's inability to see past her level of vanity and her lack of compassion for anyone outside of herself was difficult to read through; however, it plays a role in the plot development of the novel. I just hope that she develops more as a character throughout the series. I also hope that the complexity of the plot becomes a little more defined. There seemed to be several different plot lines in this novel and at times it was difficult attempting to determine which plot to focus on. 

The concept of good versus evil is a unique and interesting concept in that Chainani blurs the lines of what we define as good and what we define as evil. Quite often children are exposed to books and movies that make good and evil very black and white; however, it is gray area in which a person can be a little bit of both. As stated by Agatha, we're all just human beings trying to make in the world. Each one of us possesses a little good and a little evil because at the end of the day  "it's not what we are, but it's what we do" that matters the most. If you are interested in a different spin on the concept of fairy tales I would recommend checking this out. 

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

18 November 2015

It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

Publication: 2007

# of Pages: 444

Source: Purchased Copy, 2nd & Charles

Favorite Quotes:
  • “People are screwed up in this world. I'd rather be with someone screwed up and open about it than somebody perfect and ready to explode.” 
  • “I'm done with those; regrets are an excuse for people who have failed.” 
  • “Life can't be cured, but it can be managed.” 
  • “Some of the most profound truths about us are things that we stop saying in the middle.” 
  • “Sometimes I just think depression's one way of coping with the world. Like, some people get drunk, some people do drugs, some people get depressed. Because there's so much stuff out there that you have to do something to deal with it.” 
Goodreads Summary/Blurb: "Ambitious New York City teenager Craig Gilner is determined to succeed at life - which means getting into the right high school to get into the right job. But once Craig aces his way into Manhattan's Executive Pre-Professional High School, the pressure becomes unbearable. He stops eating and sleeping until, one night, he nearly kills himself.

Craig's suicidal episode gets him checked into a mental hospital, where his new neighbors include a transsexual sex addict, a girl who has scarred her own face with scissors, and the self-elected President Armelio. There, Craig is finally able to confront the sources of his anxiety.

Ned Vizzini, who himself spent time in a psychiatric hospital, has created a remarkably moving tale about the sometimes unexpected road to happiness." 

My Review/Thoughts:

A refreshing perspective on mental illness and those it plagues, Ned Vizzini easily captures the experience of those sent to reside within the halls of a psychiatric facility. He uses the story of Craig Gilner as the forefront of an ambitious teenager suffering from depression. It is through his experience that readers begin to gain access to the idea that mental illness is more complex and is far more widespread than previously thought. It does not discriminate against race, age, class, sexuality, gender, etc. 

What was most captivating about this novel was its clarity in the creation of the main character as well as the environment of the psychiatric hospital. I was quite nervous about sharing this information, but from a reader that has spent time in a psychiatric facility I can personally say that Vizzini has captured the daily ins and outs of such experiences. From the group activities to dining to group therapy, Vizzini provides the reader with the perfect opportunity to spend and experience a few days within the facility as is permitted through Craig's eyes. What is even more unique about the development of this story is that Craig feels so realistic. It is not often that we experience characters that emulate us as "real" human beings. He was not the stereotypical juvenile delinquent that came from a broken home that needed psychiatric assistance as a result of his past. He came from a stable household, was successful in school, and had seemingly ambitious goals. It was this sense of normality that made him such a likable character and reiterated to the reader that mental illness does not discriminate. 

I know that most individuals felt as though the novel was incomplete/it did not satisfy them and there was no resolution; however, it illustrates the principle that mental illness has no definite resolution. After leaving a psychiatric hospital it does not mean you are cured. It means that you now have the necessary tools to deal with daily struggles associated with life. The fact that Craig is released from the psychiatric hospital does not guarantee a perfect recovery; however, giving up, not fighting, or death are no longer options. It is a path that takes time, motivation, and an extreme amount of courage, but Craig best describes this in his final commentary in the book when he states: 

"“I’m not better, you know. The weight hasn’t left my head. I feel how easily I could fall back into it, lie down and not eat, waste my time and curse wasting my time, look at my homework and freak out and go and chill at Aaron’s, look at Nia and be jealous again, take the subway home and hope that it has an accident, go and get my bike and head to the Brooklyn Bridge. All of that is still there. The only thing is, it’s not an option now. It’s just… a possibility, like it’s a possibility that I could turn to dust in the next instant and be disseminated throughout the universe as an omniscient consciousness. It’s not a very likely possibility.” 

R.I.P to such a wonderful author that gave me a very beautiful insight to my own internal struggle and battle. Thank you for allowing me to believe and feel as though I am not alone. 

Rating: 5/5 Stars

17 November 2015

Top 10 Tuesday: Top 10 Book Quotes

It's time for another Top 10 Tuesday hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Today's theme to pick our top 10 favorite book quotes so here we go!

"If my love were an ocean there would be no more land. If my love were a desert you would see only sand. If my love were a star late at night, only light. And if my love could grow wings, I'd be soaring in flight." - Thirteen Reasons Why (Jay Asher)

"Fairy Tale Survival Rule #17: To rescue a princess from magical imprisonment, a handsome prince must first slay the dragon. If one is not available a large iguana will do in a pinch." -Spelled (Betsy Schow)"We've all got both Light, and Dark inside of us. What matters is the part we choose to act on, that's who we really are." -Harry Potter (It may not be in the book, but I absolutely love this quote).

"One the fifth step, she heard the bolts snap. The wires tore lose, like tendons stretched to the max. She felt the loss of power at the base of her calf." - Cinder by Marissa Meyer

"Being a hero doesn't mean you're invincible. It just means that you're brave enough to stand up and do what's needed." - The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

"Maybe everyone can live beyond what they're capable of." -I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

"Libraries were full of ideas - perhaps the most dangerous and powerful of all weapons." - Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas 

"Magic will find those with pure hearts, even when all seems lost. And love is the greatest magic of all." - Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes 

"It feels strange to have spent so much time wishing for something, for someone, and then one day, suddenly, to just stop." - To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han 

"When the day shall come, that we do part, if my last words are not I love you -- ye'll ken it was because I didna have time." - Outlander by Diana Gabaldon 

16 November 2015

Author Spotlight: Libba Bray

Long time no see everyone!! I sincerely apologize for my long absence. Ever since the flood my responsibilities at work have been hectic and it's been extremely difficult trying to manage and balance my time, but I am back and I am definitely attempting to get to back to my normal schedule of posting at least 3 to 4 times a week. I hope you guys are as excited as I am! Since it is Monday I thought I would kick off my return with an author spotlight! :)

Name: Libba Bray

About Author: Born in Montgomery, Alabama, Libba Bray is a gifted young adult author. She was born to a father that is a preacher and a mother who is a teacher. Eventually she moved to New York where she worked for a literary advertising agency. Under a pseudonym she wrote three books for a publishing company known for romance novels. She is friends with many other young adult authors including John Green, Cassandra Clare, Maureen Johnson, and Holly Black.

Published Works:

  • The Gemma Doyle Trilogy
    • A Great and Terrible Beauty (2003)
    • Rebel Angels (2005)
    • The Sweet Far Thing (2007)
  • 21 Proms (2007)
  • The Restless Dead (2007)
  • Up All Night (2008)
  • Vacations from Hell (2009)
  • Going Bovine (2009)
  • Beauty Queens (2011)
  • The Diviners (2012)
  • Lair of Dreams (2015)
My Recommendation: I encountered the writing of Libba Bray about two years ago when I read A Great and Terrible Beauty. I absolutely loved that the novel took place in a Victorian era and contained various magical elements; however, it was the The Diviners that made me truly fall in love with her as an author. Libba Bray has a beautiful gift for words. There has been no other author in this world that has had the ability to truly terrify me and give me nightmares just from reading their books and she single handily accomplished this task. After meeting her this past weekend at YallFest I can truly say that this woman is spectacular and if you are interested in magical elements, horror, and humor she is definitely the author to check out.