Monthly wrap-up: July 2014

I did read a lot more in July, but I'm not quite where I want to be. Now I'm trying to back in the swing of doing blog stuff regularly, whether it's actual writing or just doing updates.

Looking back...
List of July reads

Cassandra Clare - City of Lost Souls (Mortal Instruments #5) audiobook
Kristi Cook - Magnolia
Katlyn Duncan - This Summer
Jennifer Echols - Perfect Couple (Superlatives #2)
Becca Fitzpatrick - Black Ice
Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner - This Shattered World (Starbound #2)
Miranda Kenneally - Breathe, Annie, Breathe (Hundred Oaks #5)
Marissa Meyer - Cress (Lunar Chronicles #3) audiobook
Vicky Savage - Transcender: First Timer (Transcender #1)
Laini Taylor - Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #3)
                    - Dreams of Gods & Monsters audiobook
John Corey Whaley - Noggin

Looking ahead...
August releases I'm excited about:
Sadly, august is a month of sequels whose first books I haven't read, but here are the ones I can't wait for!

Magnolia - Kristi Cook. Guys this book is SO GOOD!!! 5 stars for me & I really recommend you give it a try.
Forget Me - K.A. Harrington
A Blind Spot for Boys - Justina Chen
Amity - Micol Ostow
A Little Something Different - Sandy Hall

August TBR:
I'm doing a new challenge this month so I'm really going to push myself in August!
Stone Cold Touch - JLA
Talon - Julie Kagawa
Remember Me - Romily Bernard
Beware the Wild - Natalie C. Parker
The Iron Trial - Holly Black & Cassandra Clare
Let's Get Lost - Adi Alsaid
I Want It That Way - Ann Aguirre
Famous in Love - Rebecca Serle

Insurgent - Veronica Rossi
Book of Broken Hearts - Sarah Ockler

Resolution Progress:
You can check out my full resolution post HERE, but I'm just going to gloss over these really quickly.
1. Post more reviews: Ugh.
2. Create a backlist for schedule-able reviews: There was ZERO chance of me doing this in July
3. Read 150 books: I wish I were in the 100s already, but 90 isn't terrible
4. Reread 20 books: DONE
5. Listen to 20 audiobooks: ALSO DONE
6. Read 5 classics: Not yet. 
7. Blog redesign: Working on it!
8. Make more blogger friends: :D The cool thing in July is that I made more LOCAL friends, which I love!
9. Read at the gym: Well, I didn't read at the gym, but I did go to the gym this week!
10. Be more organized: A constant work in progress.

Challenge Progress:
I signed up for a LOT of challenges this year. I wondered if I was crazy or suddenly decided I liked masochism, but so far, it's going really well. The good thing is that some of my books count for multiple challenges, which is really helpful. You can check out the full details of my challenges HERE or track my progress in the challenges tab at the top, but here's a quick rundown on where I am today:

2014 New Challenges:
Standalone Challenge: 10/15 Just keep reading, reading, reading.
Series Challenge: 29/12 Chica chica yeah!
Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge: 30/25 Still working on reviews, but I'm considering increasing my goal.
Real Book Challenge: 40 of 21-30 Also considering increasing my goal, but I want to bang out some reviews first.
Jumble Your Genres Challenge: 2/12 If this is the only challenge I fail, I'm okay with that.
TBR Pile Challenge: 20 of 11-20 35 of 31-40 I didn't increase by much in July & probably won't do much in August because of ARC August, but I'm doing okay here.
A-Z Challenge: 9/26 Not doing so great this year. I think I need to change the books on my list!

YA Audiobook Challenge: 20/24 I'm definitely going to go over my goal so I may increase to 36, but I need to do reviews here as well.
Arc August: 0/10 read, 0/10 reviews. As this is a monthly goal, hopefully I'll just have it completed by August's recap!

Challenges already in progress:
50 State Challenge: 33/52
50 Countries Challenge: 19/50
YA Challenge: 10/25

Waiting on Wednesday: My True Love Gave To Me edited by Stephanie Perkins

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases.

My True Love Gave To Me
edited by Stephanie Perkins
Coming October 14, 2014
St. Martin's Press

If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: TWELVE HOLIDAY STORIES by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins.

Why I want it:
Perkins. Taylor. White. Levithan. Rowell. Forman. Han. I mean, how can I not want this?! They're all my favorite authors IN ONE ANTHOLOGY TOGETHER! Plus, I met Stephanie for the first time at Dark Days in February. My True Love Gave To Me had already been announced so I told her I was looking forward to reading it. She didn't give me any hints or anything, but just her excitement about the book got me even more excited. It's an infectious thing, and I am so grateful for that opportunity to talk to Stephanie about this book, which is a vastly different project than what she's done before. That was a really cool moment, and I'm glad I'll always have it!

Why I think you should want it:
Perkins. Taylor. White. Levithan. Rowell. Forman. Han. They're probably all your favorites too! Plus, there's a rumor that Laini's story is part of the Daughter of Smoke & Bone universe.... And as each couple on the cover represents each story and there's a boy with horns & gazelle legs skating with a blond girl...those rumors may be more true than you might first believe...

Will you be picking up My True Love Gave To Me come October? Or are you desperately hoping and waiting to see if your Netgalley request has been approved like I am? Whose story are you most excited for? Please share your thoughts and your picks for WoW in the comments!

Top Ten Tuesday #53: Authors whose books I hoard more than usual

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created by The Broke and The Bookish. Each week the girls at B&B think up a fun theme, and participating bloggers post their favorite 10 books in that category. This week's theme is

Top ten authors whose books I own the most of
This is actually a little bit of a difficult topic for me because my library is split in half between my parents' house in Tennessee and my place in Dallas and also my books are not very well organized at the moment so there's no way for me to easily look at all my books and be like, oh yeah. So today I'm splitting my list up, and I'm going to go over ten. But this is me so I usually go over ten.

 I took these shelfies when I was home during my huge February roadtrip. The shelf on the left is my "favorites" shelf and contains many of the book collections on this list. The shelf on the right is one of my overflow shelves with very little rhyme or reason. However, I do know where my books are. A couple months ago, I called my mom and asked for the "matching blue, pink, and yellow books" that were on that shelf "around chest height." Before I could give her the titles, she already knew what they were. Also, they didn't make this list, but shout out to my Dear America diaries, which are all on that shelf on the right.

Note 1: I do count arcs (but only the physical ones, not digital) and duplicates, but I do not count duplicates that I bought with the intent of giving them away, which is one reason why this was difficult.

Note 2: Usually, I'm very specific about always using italics with book covers but eff that today. Ain't nobody got time for that with this list!

10. Suzanne Collins: 8
  • The Underland Chronicles: Gregor the Overlander, The Prophecy of Bane, The Curse of the Warmbloods, The Marks of Secret, The Code of Claw
  • The Hunger Games: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay

My Hunger Games copies are on my favorites shelf, but here are my 
Underland Chronicles, Eoin Colfer collection, Charlie Bone & Percy
Jackson. Basically all my favorite middle grade books.


9. Laura Ingalls Wilder: 9 
  • Little House on the Prairie series: Little House in the Big Woods, Little House on the Prairie, Farmer Boy, On the Banks of Plum Creek (my favorite!), By the Shores of Silver Lake, The Big Winter, Little Town on the Prairie, These Happy Golden Years, and The First Four Years

8. Ally Carter: 10.5
  • Gallagher Girls series: I'd Tell You I Love You But Then I'd Have to Kill You, Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy, Don't Judge a Girl By Her Cover, Only the Good Spy Young, Out of Sight Out of Time, United We Spy, United We Spy chapter sampler (this is the .5), "Double Crossed"
  • Heist Society: Heist Society, Uncommon Criminals, Perfect Scoundrels

me with Ally @ TLA 2013!
(I went through her line three times so I could get all my books signed)
(worth it)


7. Cassandra Clare: 12
  • The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass, City of Fallen Angels, City of Lost Souls, City of Heavenly Fire
  • The Infernal Devices: Clockwork Angel (hc & pb), Clockwork Prince, Clockwork Princess
  • The Bane Chronicles: I don't know which one, but I have exactly one story from these
  • The Magisterium: The Iron Trial

 me with Cassie @ B&N Franklin, Dec 2011
This is the same store where I got to meet Elizabeth Eulberg,
Jackson Pearce, Jen Calonita & that hosted Dark Days in Feb


6. J.K. Rowling: 13
  • Harry Potter: Sorcerers Stone, Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban, Goblet of Fire, Order of the Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince,  Deathly Hallows + 3 UK editions (I honestly can't tell you which ones because I just got them)
  • Quidditch by the Ages
  • Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them
  • The Tales of Beetle the Bard
Bookshelf staples, I mean come on. HP, Shatter Me (and
yes, I put Tahereh & Ransom together because duh),
Twilight (Steph clocked in with a measly 6 so she's not allowed 
on my list), Inheritance Cycle, and my Ally Carters. There's 
my bonus Clockwork Angel (because Magnus's vow &
this copy was like $1 at the Scholastic sale) and some of my
adult Richelle Meads. Also Sarah Ockler <3


    5. Eoin Colfer: 13
    • Artemis Fowl series: Artemis Fowl, The Arctic Incident, The Eternity Code (my fave!), The Opal Deception, The Lost Colony, The Time Paradox, The Atlantis Complex, The Last Guardian, The Artemis Fowl Files
    • W.A.R.P series: The Reluctant Assassin, The Hangman's Revolution
    • The Supernaturalist
    • Airman
    It took 2 separate signings, but I got all my EC books AND my mom's signed in
    April (This pic is from TLA. Eoin said he would sign all my books "as long as [he] 
    didn't have to carry them." Also worth it. Best mother's day gift I've ever given!


    4. Abbi Glines: 17
    (I know we're not supposed to be ashamed of what we read, but I'm definitely sad I have more of Abbi's books than other authors I like better.)
    • The Vincent Boys: The Vincent Boys (2 copies), The Vincent Brothers
    • Sea Breeze series: Breathe, Because of Low, While It Lasts, Just for Now, Sometimes It Lasts, Bad for You, Hold on Tight
    • Rosemary Beach series: Fallen Too Far, Never Too Far, Forever Too Far, Rush Too Far, Twisted Perfection, Simple Perfection (absolutely horrible & I want to pretend it doesn't exist because it ROYALLY PISSED ME OFF)

    Me with Abbi at the Take a Chance launch in February. No
    shelfie with her books because I own all of hers on Kindle.

    3. Jennifer Echols: 14.5 17.5
    • Standalones: Major Crush, The Ex Games, Love Story, Going Too Far, Forget You, The One That I Want, Such a Rush (arc & hc), Dirty Little Secret, Levitating Las Vegas
    • The Boys Next Door: The Boys Next Door, Endless Summer (omnibus of TBND + ES so I gave it the .5)
    • The Superlatives trilogy: Biggest Flirts (arc & hc), Perfect Couple (arc)
    • Stargazer: Star Crossed, Playing Dirty

    I really did almost cry when I met Jenn at TLA last year.

    This is a partial pic of my JE collection, but I'm giving
    myself bonus points for having nearly all the Simon 
    Pulse romantic comedies. Also, you see the Mediator 
    books there? Remember them for later...


    2. Richelle Mead: 21 + 1.5 27 + 1.5
    • Vampire Academy: Vampire Academy (first edition pb + special edition hc), Frostbite, Shadow Kiss, Blood Promise, Spirit Bound, Last Sacrifice PLUS I bought the entire series last year when it was on sale for Kindle
    • Bloodlines: Bloodlines, The Golden Lily, The Indigo Spell, The Fiery Heart, Silver Shadows
    • Dark Swan series: Storm Born, Thorn Queen, Iron Crowned, Shadow Heir + ebook collection of all four
    • Age of X trilogy: Gameboard of the Gods (audio)
    • anthologies (I did .5 for these so hence the 1.5): Foretold: 14 Tales of Prophecy & Prediction , Kisses from Hell, Immortal: Love Stories with Bite
     Meeting Richelle in June of 2012. I drove 2 hours with my mom to sit
    in the bookstore for 2 hours (we missed Richelle's Q&A) and wait for
    the line to go down. This began my waiting until the very end to get
    my books signed, a practice I still do today. And yes, I am wearing
    a Rock the Vote t-shirt & I gave one to Richelle. You can see the 
    backs of the t-shirts here.

    My VA collection plus my Gallagher Girls (and some TMI)


    • The Princess DiariesI don't even know which ones I have, but it's at least seven plus two of the "bonus" books like Holiday Princess so...9? So I just looked at the picture of my Meg Cabot books that I took in February, and I have 1-4 (x2) plus five and six plus three of the bonus books so: 13
    • Abandon trilogy: Abandon, Underworld, Awaken + Awaken ARC: 4
    • Mediator series: Shadowland, Ninth Key, Reunion, Darkest Hour, Haunted, Twilight (AND OMG THERE WILL BE A BOOK 7 AND I WANTS IT): 6 (but rest assured I WILL buy #7)
    • Avalon High: Avalon High, Avalon High: Homecoming: 2
    • Boy series: Boy Next Door (two pb, one is a first edition with Meg's pen name), Boy Meets Girl, Every Boy's Got One: 4 (and she could totally write more of these & I'd buy them)
    • Heather Wells series: Size 12 is Not Fat, Size 14 is Not Fat Either, Big Boned, Size 12 & Ready to Rock: 4
    • Insatiable: Insatiable, Overbite (c'mon, Meg, WRITE BOOK 3 ALREADY DANGIT): 2
    • Standalones: Nicola & the Viscount, Victoria & the Rogue, Teen Idol, She Went All the Way, Ransom My Heart: 6
    • anthologies: Foretold: 14 Tales of Prophecy & Prediction, Prom Nights from Hell: 2 x .5
    Guys, that is NOT my entire Meg collection. I brought
    a bunch with me to Dallas, and I've bought some since
    I moved here. Yeah.

    You guys think those are the big guns, though. HA. The ACTUAL winners of most books in my library are Carolyn Keene, whose Nancy Drew books (mostly the original yellow books, but a handful of Nancy Drew Files) have starred on my shelves for two decades; Franklin W. Dixon, whose Frank & Joe (mostly Joe) Hardy were the stars of my tween daydreams (mostly Hardy Boys casefiles, but my brother has most of the original blue ones); (and yes, that means I have most of the Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys Super Mysteries!); R.L. Stine (long live the Goosebumps, but I also have one of his ya novels); Gertrude Chandler Warner, whose Boxcar Children were my elementary school staple; and Ann M. Martin (I bought FORTY of The Baby-sitters Club books in ONE trip to my local used bookstore when I was eleven or so. The price tag for such a haul? $2 + tax.).

     This is the bookshelf with my Nancy Drews,
    Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen collection (I was a
    child of the 90s!), and Hardy Boys.

    So....yeah. As you can tell, most of these authors are among my favorites, and I have been fortunate to meet most of them too (so a disproportionate number of these books are signed)! I obviously have not met Laura Ingalls Wilder, but I HAVE been to her home. I have met Meg Cabot, but I don't know where the picture is for that. :(

    But I digress. I am a second generation book hoarder. My mom still has boxes full of the Bobsey twins from when she was a kid.

    Whew! This post literally took all day to do, but I had a lot of fun. I'm glad I could find all these pictures to include as well! Who are your favorites and how many do you have? Share your thoughts and links in the comments!

    New challenge: ARC August

    August brings about the end of my summer position at work (although not until the end of the month as we have four full weeks of camp left), which means it's time for me to get the blog back in order. I have a few changes I'd like to make soon, but first, I need to get back to basics: more reading, more reviewing, and more discussions! Lucky for me, Octavia of Read Sleep Repeat has issued a one-month challenge to bloggers wanting to clear their shelves of ARCs and get review percentages up.

    So for ARC August 2014, I am challenging myself to read a combined 10 ARCs and DRCs and write reviews for 10 more that I've already read but haven't gotten around to reviewing quite yet. I'll be keeping up with my progress here as well as under the challenge tab.

    Some of the titles on my TBR for the month include: Talon by Julie Kagawa, Remember Me by Romily Bernard, Stone Cold Touch by Jennifer Armentrout, and Beware the Wild by Natalie Parker.

    ARC reads:
    1. I Want It That Way (2B trilogy #1) - Ann Aguirre
    2. Stone Cold Touch (The Dark Elements #2) - Jennifer L. Armentrout
    3. My True Love Gave To Me - Stephanie Perkins
    4. Famous in Love - Rebecca Serle
    5. Magnolia - Kristi Cook

    ARC reviews: 

    Weekly wrap-up: July 20-26

    YAY BOOKS! I'm finally really getting back into the swing of reading and blogging a bit more than I have the rest of the summer, and I love it! Also: HOLY BOOK HAUL, BATMAN!

    Transcender: First Timer (Transcender #1) - Vicky Savage: 4 stars. See my review and interview with Ryder Blackthorne HERE.
    Black Ice - Becca Fitzpatrick: 4 stars. This book is INSANE, you guys. I know it's a thriller, which is different from what Becca's done before, but still, I was not expecting what happens. Even when I figured out some of the mystery, there were a lot of unexpected surprises both good and bad.

    Currently Reading:
    Magnolia - Kristi Cook. Once again I am experiencing a bout of bookish coincidence as the male lead in Magnolia is named Ryder as is the male lead in Transcender, which I did not realize going into either of them.
    Cress audiobook - Marissa Meyer. This is my favorite book of the three, but I'm liking the audio a bit less than I did Cinder and Scarlet. :(

    New to my bookshelf this week:
    The One audiobook - Kiera Cass
    Insurgent audiobook - Veronica Roth
    City of Heavenly Fire audiobook - Cassandra Clare

    Streaming Stars (Transcender #2) - Vicky Savage. I enjoyed Transcender: First Timer so much that I had to have the next book asap!

    Half Price Books:
    The Art of Lainey - Paula Stokes
    The Break-Up Artist - Phillip Siegel
    The Murder Complex - Lindsey Cummings
    All That Glows - Ryan Graudin

    Breathe, Annie, Breathe (Hundred Oaks #5) - Miranda Kenneally
    Biggest Flirts (Superlatives #1) - Jennifer Echols
    Don't Look Back  - Jennifer L. Armentrout
    Be With Me - J. Lynn
    Frigid - J. Lynn

    Giveaways & Contests:
    The Treatment - Suzanne Young. I won this during The Treatment Twitter party awhile back hosted by Nova of Out of Time. We had a great time, and I'm so excited to have this book! I'm a big fan of Suzanne's so when I got it, there was definitely some book hugging going on! Thank you so much, Suzanne & Nova!

    And this lovely stack comes with a whole heap of gratitude to my good friend & TLA roomie Karen (@TLT16) and her fellow librarian/blogger Christie (@mz_christie), both of Teen Librarian Toolbox, and the entire staff of the Grand Prairie Public Library! You guys are amazing!

    Events Attended:
    Electrifying Authors for Teens panel @ Grand Prairie Public Library featuring Lindsey Cummings, Krissi Dallas, Mary Gray, and Heather L. Reid

    Blog Tour: Transcender: First Timer by Vicky Savage

    Today, I am really excited to be part of Vicky Savage's Transcender: First Timer tour hosted by my dear friend Christina of Ensconced in Lit. I was lucky enough to be able to interview Ryder Blackthorne (aka the hottest bandit-kidnapper love interest ever of all time!) for my post. Feel free to check out the interview, my review, and the AWESOME tour-wide giveaway below! The full tour schedule can be found HERE. Please go give my fellow tour hosts some love!

    Rating: 4 stars
    Pub Date: July 20, 2011
    Genre: young adult contemporary, alt history, sci-fi, romance
    Format/Source: DRC, from the author
    Status: Book 1 of the Transcender series
    Summary: Ripped away from her quiet Connecticut life with the force of a lightning bolt and glitched into a weird alternate universe, Jaden Beckett lands smack in the middle of a kidnapping--her own!
    The powerful Inter-Universal Guidance Agency (IUGA) engineers her escape and is working overtime to return her home.

    But now Jaden's not sure where she belongs. In this world, she has her mother back (a miracle she never imagined). She's known as Princess Jaden, a member of the royal family of one of the three surviving nations,and against her better judgment, she's fallen insanely in love with Ryder Blackthorn, the most wanted outlaw in the land.

    Can the IUGA force her to go? Or is Jaden what others in the land beleive she is--a Transcender with the ability to travel among alternate worlds at will?

    She's not sure what to believe or who she can trust--except herself.

    Character interview with  Ryder Blackthorne:
    Ryder, welcome to Mary Had a Little Blog! Thanks for taking a few minutes to stop by and answer some questions. And also tell Jaden I say thank you for lending you to me forever, I mean, for the night.

    *laughs lightly* I shall pass along your thanks, and I thank you, Mary, for having me as your guest. This is not something I do very often, since we have no bloggers in Unicoi.

    So Ryder, the first time you are introduced is when Jaden wakes up after she fell. What was going through your mind in that moment?

    An overwhelming sense of relief. When she fell from the cliff, I was terrified that she was gravely injured, and I felt enormously guilty—it was I who placed her in that peril. But when I attempted to use a healing wand to stanch the wound on her forehead, she opened her eyes and slapped my hand away. I knew then that she would be fine.

    It seemed like you and Jaden had a pretty quick connection. I mean, those moments when you were riding Tenasi together and your arm was around her were pretty charged, even though it was early in your...shall we say acquaintance? Can you tell us what you look for in a girl and what specifically drew you to Jaden?

    It may have seemed like an instant connection, but our story goes back a few years when we first met at Warrington Palace. She didn’t remember me, but it’s a day I shall never forget. Her hair shone like amber in candlelight, and it was the first time I’d ever seen green eyes. I was completely captivated. You know how it is when sometimes you hear a lovely tune that haunts you day and night, or happen upon a beautiful place and feel you’ve been there before? So it was with Jaden. After our first meeting, I couldn’t get her out of my head.

    When did you realize that connection was something more than just attraction and perhaps also the thrill of a forbidden romance?

    It was in the dungeons of Warrington Palace when she saved me from reeducation—a fate worse than death. I had previously abducted her and held her against her will, which I admit that’s not the best way of showing someone you’re interested. The courage and generosity she demonstrated in rescuing me put me to shame. In a moment of clarity, I realized that her good opinion meant more to me than anything else on earth.

    I think one of my favorite parts of Jaden’s and your story is when you travel to Unicoi together. Where is your favorite spot in Unicoi, and what’s your favorite hobby or activity to do when you’re home?

    Ah, my favorite spot is also where my favorite activity takes place. Wide-open space is scarce in Unicoi, even the crops are grown inside multi-story grow houses. So the vast open field at the warrior training camp is my favorite spot. I have fond memories of training to become a warrior at an early age, but those skills must be honed in order to remain sharp. So I love to go back and practice my swordsmanship with young warriors-in-training. The thrill of competition and the smell of sweat and churned-up earth are exhilarating!

    You and Jaden risk a lot for love, for your families, for your very lives! How do you deal with all that stress?

    One does what one must. What is life but passion and sacrifice and love? I’ve often found that the higher the risk, the greater the reward.

    Can you share one thing no one else knows about you? Do you have some hidden talent or secret hiding behind your horseback-riding, slightly-naughty, silky-hair-and-ripped abs-having façade? The world wants to know!

    *smiles enigmatically* Actually, I have a number of hidden talents, but I never share them publically, and I don’t know you well enough yet to impart them to you privately. Perhaps we shall become better acquainted in the future. I can tell you that I’m very good at brushing hair.

    Several times Jaden proved she’s capable of saving herself, and you mention your admiration for her strength and her self-reliance. Why is that so important to you?

    In all honesty, Jaden possesses everything she needs in this life—courage, intelligence, combat skills, and a royal bank account. She lacks for nothing, so I believe the fact that she chooses to be with me can mean only one thing: she loves me. Of course, I would lay down my life for her, but it’s comforting to know that if I’m not around, she can take care of herself.

    Ryder, I know you’ve got a world to save so I guess I should let you get back to it, but before you go, I just want you to know that if you ever find yourself single again, you can come visit me anytime! :)

    You flatter me. I do have some tribal matters to attend to, but I’ve enjoyed our conversation tremendously and hope we shall meet again soon. Perhaps you would consider conducting a blogging seminar in Unicoi if we’re ever fortunate enough to have the internet.

    Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review as part of the blog tour. 

    I've been very cautious about what I'm reading this summer because 1. I've been burned by some books, even those that have been recommended by friends, and 2. with my limited reading time, I want to be reading books I love, not books I feel obligated to read. I am so glad Christina approached me to be part of the Transcender: First Timer tour because this book was a lot of fun! Transcender is a really unique read. Jumping genres is certainly an increasing trend, and I really like the way Vicky managed to merge historical, contemporary, action/adventure, sci-fi, fantasy, and romantic elements into this story without it feeling choppy or forced. I think fans of any genre will find something they enjoy in Transcender, but please understand that Ryder's abs are something you will have to enjoy from a distance because DIBS. :P

    I really like that this book is primarily about Jaden finding and asserting herself. She starts off as a kind of follower, doing what Ralston or her mother want her to, but eventually she learns to stand up for herself or for the right thing, no matter how much opposition she faces. Jaden's adventures in the alt-universe of Domerica might be a work of science fiction, but her struggles to trust herself is one that many readers will identify with. Add in a healthy dose of Parental Drama and horrible first dates with douche-tastic boys, and you will totally find yourself empathizing with Jaden's plight, even if you can't jump to other dimensions including worlds in which you may be a crown princess. Also, I think it's pretty fantastic that Jaden doesn't wait around for the men in her life to rescue her; she rescues herself! Add in the fact that Jaden is willing to rescue THEM when they need it, and I'm loving our outspoken sassy mc.

    I also really like the way Vicky portrays different kinds of relationships in Transcender. Jaden and Drew, Jaden and her mom, her dad, Ryder and his friends and family.... There are so many different family situations represented in the book and all are depicted in their own unique way. Ryder and Jaden do have a bit of an insta-love connection going on, but it is explained in certain terms that make me okay with that in addition to the fact that I've recently changed my views on the whole insta-love tihng. Also, I am intrigued to read Streaming Stars and Illuminosity to see how this relationship grows and changes throughout the series as a whole. Jaden's relationship with her mom is probably the most complex in the book, and I like how Vicky really explores and delves into it in each of their interactions. Even though these two characters are queen and princess, they still have normal mother-daughter moments that are very realistic and relatable.

    A couple things that I was less happy with were the pacing, which seemed incredibly fast sometimes but a little too slow at others. I would have liked some of the primary action at the end of the book to have happened earlier to build up the conflict over a larger portion of the book rather than having the conflict happen directly before the resolution. I think this happens because of the considerable amount of world-building that needed to be done as well as introduction of some series-long conflicts so I do understand, but my personal preference would have been a smoother, more uniform pace. Secondly, even though I do love the inclusion of so many different genres, sometimes I felt like the historical elements stilted the dialogue a bit too much. Jaden, in all her current-ness, obviously speaks like someone who lives in 2014 USofA. Everybody else is obviously a bit more formal as the societies of Domerica and Unicoi, the entire world in fact, is completely different. Still, I found the drastic changes a bit too distracting. Like with the pacing, I would have liked the vocabulary of the dialogue to be more moderate.

    Overall, I found Transcender: First Timer to be engaging and intruiging. I've only read book one, and even with a couple minor technical complaints, I can't wait to read the other books in the trilogy. I think Jaden and her story contain qualities that any reader will find relatable and thus enjoyable. Also, ALSO, Ryder's abs, but again I say dibs!

    Book Buy Links:

    Jaden and Ryder's story continues!
    Streaming Stars, Transcender book 2
    Pub Date: January 2, 2013

    Genre: young adult contemporary, alt history, sci-fi, romance
    Summary: Eighteen-year-old Jaden Beckett has thirty days to make the ultimate decision about her destiny. Which path will she choose? Her current life with her loving family in Connecticut? An alternate life in an intriguing parallel world with the man she loves? Or the astonishing life of a multi-universe Transcender?

    Streaming Stars, Book 2 of the Transcender Trilogy, Jaden and her mentor, Agent Ralston, return to Domerica, where she reunites with her mother and her fiancé, Ryder Blackthorn, embarks upon fantastic Transcender adventures in exotic parallel worlds, and narrowly escapes a hit squad of Black Knights.

    In the end, Jaden’s decision is anything but simple.

    Available from:

    Illuminosity, Transcender book 3
    Pub Date: May 16, 2014
    Genre: young adult contemporary, alt history, sci-fi, romance
    Summary: Mystery, romance, and high adventure in parallel dimensions. In this highly anticipated conclusion to the Transcender Trilogy, Jaden Beckett faces her greatest challenges to date. Her choice is clear: leave the love of her life or face certain death. With Warrington Palace under siege, Jaden and Ryder are wrenched away from each other, as the powerful Inter-Universal Guidance Agency seeks Jaden's ultimate demise. Heartsick and alone, she begins a new chapter of life as a Transcender, only to discover that her fiercest battle has yet to come. Is Jaden safe anywhere in the galaxy? Or should IUGA ask itself that question, having underestimated her before? With her usual wit and tenacity, Jaden fights to discover her place in the multiverse, the true meaning of destiny, and the keys to the mystery of eternal love.

    Available from:

    Follow the tour!
    Check out the other stops of the Transcender tours for interviews with Vicky and Jaden, a Transcender character quiz, and more! Don't forget to enter the AMAZING tour-wide giveaway for books, t-shirts, swag, and a $50 gift card!

    July 21  Ensconced in Lit (review) & Crystal in Bookland (Transcender character quiz)
    July 22 Pandora's Books (Transcender movie wish list) & Ensconced in Lit (character interview with Jaden)
    July 23 YA Book Nerd Reviews (review) & Wonderland of Reading (review)
    July 24 The Whimsical Mama (guest post)
    July 25 Tea and Fangirling (review) & A Reading Nurse (guest post)
    July 26 I Heart YA Fiction (author interview) & Mary Had a Little Book Blog (character interview with Ryder)

    About the Author: 
    Vicky Savage grew up gazing upon the beauty of the Wasatch Mountain Range right outsideher family’s kitchen window. She thought the Rocky Mountains would always own her heart, until she moved to sunny Florida for law school and instantly fell in love with the ocean. Her passion for new adventures and exotic locales led her on a circuitous path to writing science fiction/fantasy about strange new worlds and parallel universes. Although she has lived in seven different states and London, England, the siren call of the ocean always brings her back to her beloved Florida, where she currently lives with her husband, son, and two dogs.
    Author Links:

    Grand prize: $50 Amazon gift card, signed Transcender trilogy, and Transcender swag

    3 second place prizes: winner's choice of one signed book, complete trilogy in ebook or Transcender t-shirt

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Waiting on Wednesday: Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead

    Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases.

    Silver Shadows
    Bloodlines #5
    by Richelle Mead
    Coming July 29, 2014

    Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets—and human lives.

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

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

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

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

    Why I want it:
    Vampire Academy and its spinoff series Bloodlines are two of my favorite ya series and have been since 2008 when I was waiting for Breaking Dawn to be published, and I wanted to read about more vampires. I don't talk about VA or Bloodlines very much because they are so special to me, and I tend to keep quiet about sunch things. However, Fiery Heart totally destroyed me at the end, and I've spent the last...8-ish months in a state of emotional turmoil, thanks to Richelle. I want Silver Shadows because I need to have the current situation resolved, and I also need Richelle to raise the stakes even more to set up for a thrilling series finale in #6.

    Why I think you should want it:
    If you've ever read Vampire Academy or Bloodlines, no explanation is required. However, if you are somehow still living under a rock and haven't read any of Richelle's books (MAURA, I'M LOOKING AT YOU), this is why you should give Richelle a try: 1. Kickass heroines. Rose is the most badass ya protagonist I've ever read about, and she's one of my favorites. Bloodlines' Sydney is not the same physical presence that Rose is, but her intelligence and sense of fairness/justice/morality make her just as much of a rockstar as Rose. 2. Sexy love interests. From strong and serious Dimitri to goofy and lovable Mason, sexy and naughty Adrian to dependable and sweet Eddie, the boys of Vampire Academy/Bloodlines are also some of my favorites. Like the girls, they are dynamic and well rounded with complex motivations. 3. Swoons galore! You're bound to have some OTP ships, but that doesn't mean you won't totally love the chemistry between all the characters! Even when Richelle pairs the characters in ways you wouldn't expect, somehow it works. 4. Solid friendships. Yes, there's a lot of romance, but Richelle also focuses on friendships in the books. Whether BFFs Rose and Lissa are running around being twins at heart or Jill and Adrian (one of those unexpected combos) are doing some mind reading, the friendships portrayed in these series are pretty dang fantastic. 5. Drama, adventure, hijinks, and shenanigans! Richelle has a little bit of it all, from high school drama (school dances and dorm life!) to relationship issues (my-boyfriend-is-now-an-evil-vampire-and-I-have-to-kill-him) to parent issues to political drama, these series have something for everyone so if you do give it a try, the chances are definitely in your favor that you're going to love it.

    Will you be picking up a copy of Silver Shadows on Tuesday like I will? Have you had your copy pre-ordered for months? Tell me your thoughts and your own WoW picks in the comments!

    Weekly wrap-up: July 13-19

    I was sick this week and missed three days of work. I didn't blog very much, but I got so much reading done! I AM pretty excited, though, because one of the posts from this week was my first review in a while. I feel like I'm getting my feet under me again. I don't feel guilty about needing to focus on work this summer, but I do feel sad that I haven't been able to post as much as I had hoped. How was your week? What are you reading?

    Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #3) - Laini Taylor: 5 stars. Of course it's 5 stars. This series is one of the most poetic, beautifully written series I've ever read, and the story is just as phenomenal. Yes, writing and story are two different things, but they work flawlessly in this series. Well done, Laini!
    This Summer - Katlyn Duncan
    This Shattered World (Starbound #2) - Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner: 4 stars. Not quite as amazing as These Broken Stars but it's really quite a different story. I do love Jubilee and Flynn, and I am very interested to see how they will be part of the third book. Yes, before you get your panties in a wad, Tarver and Lilac do have some part to play, but I actually advise you to wait until after the novella releases in October to read TSW if you are lucky enough to receive an early copy. I think the novella will put things into place before you dive into the swamps of Avon.

    Dreams of Gods & Monsters audiobook - Laini Taylor & Kristine Hvam: 5 stars! I liked listening to this audio while reading it, although I was always a little behind with the audio. Khristine is one of my favorite narrators. She's crazy talented! I can't wait to listen to more audio that she's done.

    Currently Reading:
    Transcender: First Timer (Transcender #1) - Vicky Savage: 56% complete. Oh my Ryder. I'm part of the blog tour so keep a look out for my post at the end of the week!
    Famous in Love - Rebecca Serle. This is the book I read when I'm stuck in line somewhere. It's very slow going, but I like it so far. Seems very tongue-in-cheek, sassy, and fun. I'm very glad the LB employees at TLA suggested this one to me!
    Black Ice - Becca Fitzpatrick. FINALLY.

    New to my bookshelf this week:
    The Forever Song - Julie Kagawa
    The Treatment - Suzanne Young
    The Selection Stories audio - Kiera Cass
    Cress audio - Marissa Meyer. This is my next pick, then I'll probably listen to Insurgent and then City of Heavenly Fire, which I'm going to simultaneously read/listen to like I did with DoGaM.

    All That Glows - Ryan Graudin
    Shadow & Bone - Leigh Bardugo
    Siege & Storm - Leigh Bardugo
    Ruin & Rising - Leigh Bardugo

    Half Price Books:
    A Million Suns - Beth Revis
    Shadow & Bone - Leigh Bardugo
    I will be buying a bunch of books at HPB tonight for the Mighty Mississippi Book Blast event, but since that's after noon, I'll be including those books on next week's wrap-up.

    Night of Cake & Puppets audio - Laini Taylor. My Twitter soul twin Sarah told me about this last night, and I had to have it. I didn't even know there was an audio edition of this story because it's just a novella. But it's a Laini Taylor story so OF COURSE I need to listen to it! I love this novella, and I'm really excited to have the chance to listen to it. Can't wait!

    Blog Tour: This Summer by Katlyn Duncan

    Pub Date: July 9, 2014
    Publisher: Carina UK
    Genre: young adult contemporary romance
    Status: standalone
    Summary: Before college, before responsibilities, Hadley Beauman and best friend Lily are determined to have a summer to remember. There will be all the usual dramas - ex-boyfriends who don't seem to know what 'ex' means, pesky younger brothers with unrequited crushes, but what Hadley didn't anticipate was the out-of-the-blue return of the seriously hot boy-next-door, Will Carson. The boy who broke her heart when he skipped town two years ago.

    Will may have shot up a foot and filled out (oh yes), but inside he carries the weight of guilt - for leaving, for coming back... Now he's just passing through to tie up loose ends but it's clear the old chemistry still crackles between him and Hadley. Trouble is, it's built on two years of lies...

    This summer might just be the best time of their lives, but is Hadley ready for everything to change - again?



    Hadley: Orientation
     I enter the room, thankful that not many people have shown up yet. Lily is in front of a table at the far corner, talking with Tyler, only recently a rotating regular in our group of friends. Lily cackles about something Tyler says but when she sees me, her expression turns serious.

    I can’t deal with questions so I plaster on a smile and walk to them. "Hey Tyler," I give him a one-armed hug. His arm wraps around my waist and stays there.

    Lily’s eyes dart to the door then back to me. I shake my head slightly. Not now.

    "Did you have fun on the cruise?" Tyler asks.

    How could Carter do this? And where would Dad have found a replacement? At the very least he could have warned me last night. My throat constricts as I calculate the number of people in the room. With the last minute change in plans he has to pick someone who is already trained. I rack my brain thinking of who else was at the training.

    Tyler clears his throat. "Sounds fun."

    I force a laugh. "Sorry. I’m just a bit distracted right now. I’m going to see if my Dad needs any help." And if he has any more surprises for me today.

    "I’ll come with!" Lily offers. No doubt she wants more information about what happened with Carter. I don’t have the energy to argue.

    The door opens and Dad steps into the room. A herd of others come in right behind him and filter through the rows of chairs to their seats. Carter is the last to enter the room and I turn around, bumping into Lily to get the furthest seat from him. I can’t even look at him.

    "Welcome staff!" Dad says. A few of the returning lifeguards cat-call him and Lily offers a loud whistle. "I’m so glad you are all here, and on time," he eyes the stragglers who came in after him. But his smile quickly returns and as much as I’m pissed at him, I can’t help but smile.

    "I hope you are hungry because there is more than enough food to go around." His green eyes widen as he takes in the group. "Before we start orientation I’d like for the pool staff to head into the other room with Head Guard, Heath, for your assignments while I partner up the counselors." He runs down the names of the pool staff.

    Daisy and Ethan stand from their seats along with a few others I recognize from the training we had during spring break. As much as the two groups work together at the camp, the counselors and pool staff form strong bonds within their groups during the summer.

    Carter’s name is called and he slinks out of the room. I don’t look up even though I can feel him looking at me.

    "Uh." Lily slaps my arm.

    "Yup," I say, heat prickling my neck. "So did I." I glance around the room and note that someone is missing. Each age group is co-ed which warrants a male and female counselor. And without Carter in the room, I’m the odd man out. Fantastic.

    With a few minutes to process the situation, and with Carter out of sight, I make a promise that even he can’t ruin the summer for me. I’ll make it fantastic with whoever I’m paired with.

    Dad continues. "As for the rest of you," his eyes are on his clipboard, as if he hasn’t memorized the list already, "I’m going to call your assignments."

    He’s halfway down the list and hasn’t mentioned my name yet. I sink further into my chair and try to act happy when I hear Lily’s assignment with Aiden, the elusive mid-year transfer to our high school. He floated among the groups at school not picking one, but he was the shiny eye candy for most of the girls. And by the glint in Lily’s eyes, I can tell she's happy with the pairing.

    The door to the meeting room opens and Dad’s eyes flick up.

    "Are you happy?" I ask Lily.

    She turns to me smiling, but her eyes lift to something behind me, and her jaw goes slack. She grabs my arm and squeezes.

    "Ow," I say.

    "Looks like we’re all here now," Dad says.

    I meet Lily’s eyes, nearly popping out of their sockets. "What is wrong with you?" I turn to the newcomer, and all of the pieces fall together.

    I take in the apparition in the doorway. My breathing slows and I blink a few times, my mind not quite believing who is only a few feet away from me. In a few steps I could touch the person who shattered my heart into a million pieces nearly two years ago.

    My previous next door neighbor, Will Carson, looks the same, but different. His boyish face is a golden brown and the lines are more pronounced. His hair is shorter than I remember, barely touching the tips of his ears. My fingers numb knowing what the strands feel like. Or what they used to. He was thin as a boy, his strength coming in the later years of our friendship. But now his lithe muscles are tight. His chest fills the black t-shirt in a way that elicits a shiver down my spine.

    His jaw clenches in that nervous way as he looks around the room. It tightens further when his hazel eyes meet mine.

    You can read the entire first chapter of This Summer HERE!

    Book Buy Links:

    Follow the tour!
    Click on the tour banner to go to the main tour page at Rockstar Book Tours or click on any link below to check out reviews, interviews with Katlyn, fancast picks and more! Don't forget to enter the tour-wide giveaway for a $50 Amazon gift card!

    Week one:
    July 18: A Book & a Latte and Mary Had a Little Book Blog (aka ME)

    Week two:

    About the Author:

    Katlyn Duncan was born and raised in a small town in western Massachusetts. Her overactive imagination involved invisible friends, wanting to be a Disney Princess and making up her own stories. Her bibliophile mom always encouraged her love of reading and that stayed with her since. Even though she works full time in the medical field Katlyn has always made time for books, whether she is reading or writing them.

    Katlyn now lives in southern Connecticut with her husband and adorable Wheaten Terrier and she is thrilled to finally share her stories with the world.

    Author Links:

    $50 Amazon US or UK gift card

    a Rafflecopter giveaway