March/April 2014 Reading Retellings Wrap-Up

2014 Reading Retellings Challenge

It’s May! I’m sorry for the delay on this one, and also for missing the March wrap-up. I do help you’ll forgive my negligence, but I’ve been forced to take a rather long (oh, who am I kidding, it’s been four freaking months) hiatus from TNN. I do, however, have some very good news: I’ve actually got some retellings under my belt at long last. In the past week or so, I’ve read the first three books of The Lunar Chronicles (did anyone else cry actual, legitimate tears upon reaching the end of Cress and realizing that Winter won’t be out for another year?), and asfjklsjdf;akjsdf I freaking love this series. I’ll be reviewing Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress individually when I get the chance, but in the meantime, tell me what retellings you’ve been reading in the comments below! Good luck for May!

Love, Sam

February 2014 Reading Retellings Challenge Wrap-Up

2014 Reading Retellings Challenge

Good morning! I hope you’ve all had a wonderful February; I can’t believe it’s already over! Time seems like it’s been flying lately, and I’ve (once again) failed to read any retellings. Instead, I’ve been lost in a 600-page biography of Tsar Nicholas II and his family (Nicholas and Alexandra by Robert K. Massie if you’re interested). I also have not had time to do anything blog-related other than the book tours I signed up for earlier in the year, so hopefully in March I can come back from my much-too-long hiatus and rejoin the fun.

In other news, we got EIGHT INCHES OF SNOW AND NO THAT WAS NOT A TYPO. It was so beautiful and I was so sorry to see it go. I’m honestly not looking forward to spring, especially not where I live as it’s terribly humid and muggy during the warmer months.

Anyway, I hope you’ve been more successful in your reading endeavors than I have. Link up your retelling reviews in the comments, and good luck for March!

Blog Tour: The Polaris Uprising by Jennifer Ibarra

Displaying ThePolarisUprisingTourBanner2.png

Good morning! I hope you all have had a great week. Today I’ll be participating in the blog tour for the fabulous first installment of Jennifer Ibarra’s new series, The Polaris Uprising. Take a look!


Displaying Polaris.jpgGenre: Young Adult, Dystopian

Synopsis: In less than seven years, eighteen-year-old Ryla Jensen will succeed her father as the president of Neress, a nation where all citizens are cared for from the moment they’re born. Fed, sheltered, even educated—every need of theirs is met.

The only price they pay is their free will.

Groomed since childhood to take on a role she’s not even sure she wants, Ryla’s only escape from the pressures of duty is her sister, Alanna. But when her eyes are opened to the oppressive regime her father built, she begins to question everything she’s set to inherit—and finds herself at odds with her sister’s blind allegiance to their father.

Torn between loyalty to her family and the fight for freedom, Ryla must decide just how far she’s willing to go to make a stand and risk losing the person she loves most in the world: Alanna.

Purchase Links:

Barnes & NobleAmazon

My Thoughts

I was sold on this from the first page, and a good chunk of my love for The Polaris Uprising has to do with the fantastically written relationship between Ryla and Alanna. They were both amazing characters and I had no trouble rooting for either of them. Ryla’s spark and strength were really refreshing, and her devotion to her sister was just wonderful to read. I loved their dynamic and the way they played off each other was so brilliantly done I couldn’t put the book down.

The plot was at first a bit slow, as there were many pieces to put into place before the action could get going, but once it picked up, by God you couldn’t drag me away from the page with a tractor. The author put a lot of care into the story’s progression, and it shows in the plot twists and the new revelations that Ryla and Alanna encounter.

I was expecting to enjoy The Polaris Uprising, and I certainly did. The sisters’ relationship was probably my favorite part of story, I’ll admit, but the romance was also lovely and felt very genuine, which in the world of YA one learns to appreciate very quickly. Overall, an exciting, well-written debut; I can’t wait for the sequel!

About the Author

Displaying headshot.pngJennifer Ibarra grew up on a steady diet of books, Star Wars, and other fantastic feats of the imagination. Her debut novel, The Polaris Uprising, is the first book in a trilogy and mixes dystopia with family drama, romance, and political intrigue.

She lives in Silicon Valley, where she does marketing for a tech company and spends her time running, cooking, baking, and keeping up with celebrity gossip.

Find Her:

WebsiteTwitterFacebookGoodreads

Giveaway

(open internationally)

Prizes:

25$ Amazon GC, Signed ARC + Swag
20x signed ARC + Swag

Click here to enter!


This promotional post was organized by Xpresso Book Tours.

Xpresso Book Tours

Blog Tour: Undying by Valerie Grosjean

Displaying UndyingTourBanner.png

Good morning! Today I’m participating in a blog tour for Valerie Grosjean’s fabulous debut novel, Undying, the first in her exciting new series! Take a look!


18596439Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Zombies

Synopsis: This is a story of love . . . and zombies.

When eighteen-year-old college freshman Christian discovers his dormitory is crawling with the living dead, he knows he has a problem. But once he learns the whole country is overrun by the flesh-eating horde, he must race to protect what matters to him most.

Sixteen-year-old Iris, the girl he loves, is stranded eighty miles away, alone and completely unaware of the gruesome threat surrounding her.

Christian’s plan is to evade the zombies, drive the distance to rescue Iris, and get them both to his family farm—where there are guns, fuel, and everything else they’ll need to survive. His mission seems simple: Get the girl, get to the farm, and stay alive.

Things get complicated when Christian is forced to make an unthinkable choice between Iris and his family. Someone he loves must die, and he must decide.

Purchase Links

AmazonBarnes & Noble

My Thoughts

I must say, Undying didn’t really have a warm-up chapter. I was immediately sucked into the action from the very first page and before I could manage to tear my eyes from the screen, I was almost finished. The writing put me right there alongside the characters, dodging zombies and fighting to survive and make it home, and it felt really gritty and definitely kept me on my toes.

Christian really impressed me. If and when the zombie apocalypse come, I call dibs on him, because he’s really freakin’ handy in a zombie fight. He makes some incredibly difficult choices and faces impossible dilemmas about love and loyalty, and I really enjoyed reading about his struggle with the moral ambiguity of killing/being a zombie. And while I never quite bought Iris as a love interest, I liked Christian well enough to go with it.

Honestly, I’m not usually one for horror, and I definitely didn’t pick this one up after dark, but the author did an amazing job with the fear and thriller aspect of the novel. I was screaming in the first chapter and the vivid descriptions had me flailing all over the place and shouting “GO CHRISTIAN GO” at the top of my lungs. That ability to make me so quickly invested in Christian’s wellbeing and so completely engrossed in the story is what really won me over on this one. I’m looking forward to the sequel!

About the Author

Valerie Grosjean is the author of the young adult novel UNDYING. She grew up on a Nebraska farm. After college, she married and moved to Northern California, where she lives with her husband and their two young children. Her obsession with zombie movies inspired UNDYING, her first novel and the beginning of the Undying series.

Find Her:

Goodreads | Website

Giveaway

Prizes:

One signed paperback copy of Undying

A bookmark

Rafflecopter giveaway!!!


This promotional post was organized by Xpresso Book Tours.

Xpresso Book Tours

2014 Reading Retellings Challenge Wrap-Up

2014 Reading Retellings Challenge

Good morning! It’s the end of January, the first month of a shiny new year is over, and I hope you’ve all had a fantastic week. My area got a good two inches of snow which, while rather horrid on traffic, got me out of school for nearly four days (great timing too, considering it’s giving me a super long weekend to get over this wretched cold). I don’t know about you, but snow is one of my favorite things so I’ve had a lovely week.

Anyway, weather aside, the first month of our 2014 Reading Retellings Challenge is over! I hope you’ve found some great reads this month. I’ve had a rather rough time of it lately, so I’ve only just started my first retelling, Anyone But You by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes. Hopefully I’ll be reviewing it soon.

I wish you happy reading in February! Link up your retellings reviews in the comments!

Review: These Broken Stars

These Broken StarsHow did I get it? Bought

Genre: YA, Romance, Science Fiction

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

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

Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever?

Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it.

My Thoughts

To be perfectly honest I have read very little this month, and I’m not being modest. Other than reading for class, These Broken Stars is literally the only book I’ve finished thus far. And that’s mostly because it’s the only book I’ve tried out in the past few weeks that’s incredibly hard to put down.

I’ve heard so many fantastic things in the past few months about Lilac and Tarver’s story that despite my reservations about the whole space thing (which I’m not typically keen on) I bought it as soon as it was released. Because of all the praise and hype surrounding it, I tried to prepare myself to be at least a little let down, but for once that did not happen. This book was absolutely incredible in every way. Lilac and Tarver were everything I hoped for and more, and the imagery and writing were just stunning. I loved Lilac’s determination and her strength of will, and Tarver constantly made me smile. The world that I read about was incredibly well-developed, with layers upon layers of social and political issues lying just under the surface, and the setting drew me in completely.

These Broken Stars also dealt with some truly terrible things. Lilac’s confrontation with the realities of this planet, the horror of so many deaths, and her struggles with the harsh environment around her, were all really powerful moments that made me connect with her even more. Tarver’s determination to survive and go home really struck me, especially his motivation to get back to his parents.

Overall, I have no complaints with These Broken Stars. It was an amazing book that reminded me just how much a fantastic story can make you feel, and I cannot wait for the next book in the Starbound Trilogy.

Aside: Can I just say how awesome it was to read about a heroine who can kick ass at mechanics/engineering/science-y stuff? I loved that underneath this spoiled, rich-girl exterior, she’s completely BAMF and it’s wonderful.

 Rating:

Five Stars

Recommend it?

100%

Purchase Links

Barnes & NobleAmazonBook Depository

The Sunday Post #7

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news, recap the past week on your blog, showcase books and things we have received, and share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead.


Let’s find out what’s been happening lately, shall we?

Last Week on TNN

MondayARC review of Defy by Sara B. Larson (4/5 hearts)

TuesdayTop Ten Books I Read in 2013

WednesdayMy Realistic Resolutions for 2014

FridayReview of Jane by April Lindner (3/5 hearts)

SaturdayStacking the Shelves #10

Bookish News

Reading Challenges Are Ago! I’m determined to meet all my reading goals this year (although honestly I’m already a bit behind, because I’ve hardly read a thing since New Year’s), so I’m super excited for the challenges I’ve signed up for this year!

Insurgent May Be MIA: IT’S BEEN OVER A WEEK AND THEY HAVEN’T FUCKING RESTOCKED WHAT EVEN IS MY LIFE

Non-Bookish News

SHERLOCK!!! OH MY GOD IT WAS SO AMAZING ASDFGHJKLSDFAKJSDF I CRIED. The next episode is tonight and I may die.

Actual Legitimate Bad News: So remember last week when I said I had a family member in hospital? Well, a) it’s my stepfather, and b) it turns out it wasn’t a blood clot or a miniature stroke. He’s been diagnosed with cancer in the lungs and the brain. Last Thursday he had brain surgery, and everything’s going fairly well, but it’s been absolute hell, especially for my mom. And honestly, even though I’m not nearly as upset about it as she is, I’ve been very stressed, and so instead of reading or scheduling posts, I’ve been marathoning TV shows, eating at bizarre hours of the night, and planning out the entirety of my life via Pinterest. I’ve picked out my bloody china patterns, this can’t be normal.

Anyway, because of that, I’ve not prepared a single thing for the coming week, and I don’t want to force myself to blog because a) this is supposed to be fun and b) it’ll totally show that I’m not into it. So there most likely will be no posts this week except perhaps a Stacking the Shelves post on Saturday if I do any more stress-shopping at Barnes & Noble. Hopefully this will give me some time to get back on my feet and do some reading. There’s some really fantastic-looking books on my shelves, and I really want to get in the mood again so I can fully appreciate them.


Anyway, that’s been my week. Hopefully by next Sunday I’ll be back in my groove and ready to go, but until then, have a fantastic week full of books and fun!

Love, Sam

Stacking the Shelves #10

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews. It’s a chance to share any books you’ve bought, borrowed, or received in the past 7 days. All of the books on this list are linked to Goodreads.


Happy New Year! This week I’ve been rather stressed, so I’ve done some stress-shopping and added a few new books to my shelves. Let’s take a look, shall we?

For Review

18596439 18046385 18522464

Undying by Valerie Grosjean (for a blog tour in February!)

The Polaris Uprising by Jennifer Ibarra (another blog tour read for February!)

A Million Little Snowflakes by Logan Byrne (thanks @ Patchwork Press)

From the Bookshop

15812814 11735983 1255828517285743 16034235 13112869 13138635

Crossed by Ally Condie

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Splintered by A. G. Howard

Click to Subscribe by L. M. Augustine

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Not A Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner


I’m so excited to read all of these! Be sure to link up your own book hauls in the comments so I can see your new goodies! Until tomorrow!

Review: Jane by April Lindner

JaneHow did I get it? Bought

Genre: YA, Romance, Retelling

Summary: Forced to drop out of an esteemed East Coast college after the sudden death of her parents, Jane Moore takes a nanny job at Thornfield Park, the estate of Nico Rathburn, a world-famous rock star on the brink of a huge comeback. Practical and independent, Jane reluctantly becomes entranced by her magnetic and brooding employer and finds herself in the midst of a forbidden romance.

But there’s a mystery at Thornfield, and Jane’s much-envied relationship with Nico is soon tested by an agonizing secret from his past. Torn between her feelings for Nico and his fateful secret, Jane must decide: Does being true to herself mean giving up on true love?

An irresistible romance interwoven with a darkly engrossing mystery, this contemporary retelling of the beloved classic Jane Eyre promises to enchant a new generation of readers.

My Thoughts

I really, really, really wanted to love Jane. I read Jane Eyre at the end of this past November and adored it, so I was really looking forward to this. But unfortunately, I was a little bit disappointed.

Mind you, I still enjoyed it. The author obviously knew the book well and she very rigidly stuck to the original, which I appreciate to an extent. Jane was a decent protagonist and I liked the spin on her background.

But there were definitely some things that didn’t work for me.

1.) Nico

First of all, Nico? Of all the names in the galaxy, Nico? Rathburn as a surname was fine, but whether or not Nico is fitting as a “rockstar name,” I just couldn’t see it. The name sounds fake, a teensy bit sleazy, and, in my opinion, ridiculous.

Nico’s characterization also didn’t sit well with me. I didn’t buy his personality at all, and he’s nothing at all like Rochester. It felt like Rochester’s words were simply shoved into his mouth; he has none of the passion, the rawness, the haunted edge. He’s older than Jane (30-ish, I think) but he still came off to me as very two-dimensional and with none of the jaded, gruff attitude of the original man. Rochester is NOT some “emo” artist with mood swings; I kept sticking the two side by side, picturing a broad, dark man in period clothing next to a skinny 20-year-old in black with his jeans around his knees, silver chains hanging off every appendage, jagged dyed-black hair, and thick eyeliner. And I couldn’t see it in the character.

2.) Marriage

Okay, this was really bizarre to me. Jane and Nico (God, it weirds me out every time I say his name) fall in love and are in front of a priest within 3 weeks. I’m sorry, what? Not only is it unrealistic, but Jane was very sheeplike about it. “Okay, he’s throwing marriage at me. Yeah, okay, I’ll do it, whatevs.” It really weakened her as a character for me. It felt like they’d barely had time to develop a relationship before they were whipping out rings and the L-word. But oh no, the absurdity of this whirlwind affair is totally normal apparently.

What bugged me the most was the fact that the more stretched-out timeline in the book was cut down to under a month, while Jane’s relationship with St. John is giving what adds up to about a year of development, and that was just for them to become more-than-friends and go to Haiti together, nevermind marriage.

Also, Nico is apparently offering to propose to Bianca/Blanche within a week or two of knowing her through a photoshoot, and this isn’t thought odd at all? Jane seems to think it’s perfectly normal for things like that to happen so quickly, which would explain why she’s so willing to marry a guy she doesn’t have much of a relationship with after like a month.

It all just felt very unbelievable to me and I couldn’t buy into it at all.

3.) Plot Problems

I’m really grateful to the author for doing her best to keep the plot as close to the original as possible, but in some ways that was a bit of a let-down. For one, some social situations in Jane Eyre just wouldn’t work in modern society. The issue of Jane having to leave because of her employer’s impending marriage isn’t the same problem now as it would’ve been. Originally, Jane had to leave because a new wife meant Adèle had to go away to boarding school; it would’ve been inappropriate otherwise. Obviously that would be sort of weird to basically say, “I’m the new wife, kick the stepkids out now” in today’s world, so the author chooses to say that Jane has to leave because Bianca “doesn’t like her”. And she’s really adamant about it. It felt like a very flimsy excuse to me and it also brought up the issue of Bianca’s character, which Nico fails to address.

The plot as a whole, while comfortably familiar, took very few risks and felt too much like the author was just plugging in solutions she’d come up with. Obviously I knew the original plot, so I was expecting to know the gist of it, but there were no surprises or unexpected twists that made it new and refreshing and exciting, which took some of the fun out of it for me.

In conclusion…

I did enjoy reading this, as a Jane Eyre fan, but it just didn’t work for me. Jane was the only person with any real depth, although Nico had a few moments, and it didn’t quite pull it off. Not to say that it’s a bad book, but I think it could’ve been better. I will say that I am still a fan of the idea of it, Rochester being a rockstar and Jane his nanny.

(Aside: I’m a terrible person for saying this, but I was very disappointed that Nico wasn’t blinded in the end. I loved that scene in the book; it was so bittersweet and romantic and I just wanted to hug Rochester, but instead Nico just has a messed-up hand that can be fixed with physical therapy. Laaame.)

Rating:

Three Stars

Recommend it?

Sure.

Purchase Links:

Barnes & Noble | AmazonBook Depository

My Realistic Resolutions for 2014

First of all…OH MY GOD IT’S 2014 WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK WE WERE SUPPOSED TO DIE TWO YEARS AGO TAKE THAT MAYAN CALENDAR. (Except not really because science says that was all bullshit to begin with.)

Anyway.

Welcome to a new year, a new start, a flashy new set of resolutions to uphold. If you’re into that of course. I, gigantic holiday fanatic that I am, love celebrating the new year and thinking about ways to make it better than the last. And a big part of that is, naturally, New Year’s Resolutions.

“Sam, Sam, Sam, what are these mysterious ‘resolutions’ you speak of?”

Well, I’ve got a few. This year is going to be a year of change. High school graduation, starting college (most likely far away from where I am now), getting a job, hopefully finishing my novel, family moves, and my little sister starting her first year of high school (what, I’m not panicking AT ALL). So I’ve got quite a few resolutions, partly because I love lists and partly because with all this change going on, I want something to focus on. This year is going to be crazy enough, and I want to have something solid to think about when everything around me is going nuts. So here are my resolutions.


Res1

Develop healthy eating habits.

I’ve been making some really bad choices lately in regards to what I put in my body. My diet isn’t healthy or balanced and I’m not treating myself the way I ought to, with regular meals and veggies and fruits and some semblance of exercise. So I want to make a conscious effort to make time to eat properly this year.

Res2

Spoil myself rotten.

This year I will make some of the biggest decisions of my life, and with those decisions will come a lot of really difficult situations that will be hard to get through. So whenever I can, I want to focus on living and having fun and doing what I want to do.

Res3

2014 Jar of Memories

This year Julia and I decided to engage in a terribly romantic, terribly cheesy activity. We each bought a large jar for ourselves and for the next year we will write down good things that happened in our relationship in 2014. They can be funny things we say or do, dates we go on, movies we see, arguments we have, places we go, etc. And then at the end of year, we get together with our jars and go through them and read each memory to each other and reminisce like the sappy fools we are.

Res4

Be an awesome girlfriend to my lady-love.

This is pretty self-explanatory. But I’m making it my mission to spoil her rotten.

Res5

Call my family more often and be more involved in their lives.

My family is very scattered, and I’ll be even further away when I go off college in September. So I want to make a conscious effort to call them more, send more cards and books and presents throughout the year. I haven’t been able to be very involved in their lives, but family is extremely important to me and I want them to know how much I love them.

Res6

Complete my reading challenges.

As of now, I’m participating in 4 challenges for 2014. They are as follows (with levels in bold):

  • 2014 TBR Pile Reading Challenge (hosted by Bookish) — Could this be love? (41-50 books)
  • A Year in Re-Reading Challenge (hosted by caffeinatedlife.net) — Occasional re-reader (1-4 books)
  • 2014 Reading Retellings Challenge (hosted by me!) — I Like A Challenge (13-19 books)
  • 2014 Reading Challenge (on Goodreads) — 100 books

Wish me luck!

Res7

Get to and maintain an 80% feedback ratio on Netgalley.

I’m at about 60% right now, which I’m happy with, but ideally I’d like to get up to 80% by summer.

Res8

Go outside my comfort zone. Try new things. Meet new people. Find out what I’m really capable of.

This is pretty self-explanatory, but as I’ve said, this year will be full of massive changes in my life. It’ll be challenging of course, but it will also allow me to stretch my limits and learn more about myself.

Res9

Keep blogging!

I’m still very new to book blogging, but I love this community so much. Blogging gives me a way to express my love for books and meet other awesome book lovers, and it’s also motivated me to keep reading, which is just brilliant. High school put me in a reading slump and I nearly forgot why I love to read, but blogging has been a way to get back into books and writing. I’m really looking forward to further growing my blog in 2014 and meeting more of you spectacular people.


I’m so excited for the new year, and I hope you are as well. Whether or not 2013 was a good year for you, 2014 is a new chance to begin afresh and explore the world and yourself. I wish you all the best for this year, including but not limited to books, family, friends, good health, and happiness!

Happy New Years!

Love, Sam