Monday, March 18, 2013

Getting Yourself out of that Stupid Reading Rut (I just made that up)

I've been reading a lot of posts lately from fellow bloggers who talk about how they are stuck in some kind of reading rut they can't get out of. They want to post more reviews and keep their blog updated, but they can't find the enthusiasm to do so. Why?
What I've found is that once you've been out of the reading game for a while, it's hard to get back in. Sometimes I'll finish a book but can't really be bothered writing a review. Or sometimes I won't have the time to read for a few weeks and I just don't feel the appeal of reading, as I so often do. 
But once you get reading again, everything goes back to normal, right? At least that's what I've found. As a reader and reviewer myself (gasp), I know how this feels. Reviewing books starts to feel more like a task, like something you have to do, rather than something you enjoy doing. That's a sucky feeling and a hard one to shake too.
So I thought I'd share some of my extremely non-credible tips with you all. Here we go.
  1. Read an amazing book.
    Pick a book you know is fantastic and just read it. Sit your butt down and read it. You know, one of those books you just cannot put down or stop thinking about no matter how much you try? Yeah, one of those. This always, without fail, helps me find the thing about reading that appeals to me so much.
  2. Think about why you even started reviewing books in the first place.
    Why did you create a blog to review books? What inspired you to do this? Was it because you loved reading? Wanted to meet new people? Whatever the reason, we all started reviewing for something, so think about what got you started in the first place and maybe this can give you more of a motivation to keep reviewing books.
  3. Make a list of books you want to read.
    Devise a nice long list of all the books you hope to read in the future and why you want to read them. Working off a list of books gives you a new book to look forward to, which is an amazing feeling. It's also a great way to get yourself motivated and is also kind of a goal-setting type thing, because you're working off a list of books you want to get through. If that makes any sense, I mean I'm a book reviewer for goodness sake, not a motivational speaker.
So there you have it! Three crappy tips that I hope will help you out as much as they help me when I can't get myself out of that reading rut. If you do any of these things or are thinking of trying them, please let me know how it goes down in the comments section below or just let me know if you enjoyed reading this post because it lets me know that you like this kind of thing and I can keep doing it (yay!). 
Keep an eye out for my review on The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead, which I will try to get up as soon as I can! :-)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Review: Defiant Heart by Marty Steere

Title: Defiant Heart
Author: Marty Steere
Publisher: Penfield Publications
Year of Release: 2013 (This book has not yet been officially released to the public).
ISBN: 978-0-9854014-4-3
Source: A PDF copy of this book was sent to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Number or Pages: 382
In the spring of 1941, Jon Meyer's family dies in a tragic car accident, and he is sent to live in a small Indiana town. He arrives to find himself unwanted and shunned.
Mary Dahlgren is the mayor's daughter. A pretty girl, she could have her pick of the boys in town, including Vernon King, the star of the vaunted high school basketball team. To the chagrin of her friends, though, Mary has always been more interested in books than boys. That is, until she meets Jon.
But Jon and Mary are kept apart by an insidious campaign orchestrated by Mary's father, who perceives their relationship a threat to his political aspirations, and Vernon, to whom Jon is a rival for Mary's affections. For months Jon is subjected to painful ostracism. Then, just when the young man's earnestness and perseverance begin to win over many of the townsfolk, and it appears that love my conquer all, tragedy strikes. 
As the country is caught up in war, so too are the young lovers swept up in events beyond their control, leaving both fighting for their very lives. If, against the odds, they are to be together, each will need to find the strength, the courage and the resourcefulness that beat only in a defiant heart.
I'll be honest, at first I was a little hesitant to read this book, but I found it to be quite good and the author did a fantastic job with the story without turning it into a cheap romance novel. 
So, I did like this book. I enjoyed reading it and found some parts to be quite funny. From the beginning it was interesting and immediately caught my attention, which is always a good thing. Though I am not so much a fan of historical fictions, this book was quite good. 
Set in the early 1940's, World War II has begun and there is a lot of controversy regarding Hitler's intentions in this book. Having studied Adolf Hitler myself, I found Steere's portrayals of this topic very historically accurate.
What made the book even more interesting was the constantly changing point of views. The story alternates between the perspectives of many different characters, which is great because you get an insight into that character, but with this book, because there were so many, I found it a little difficult to keep up. Despite this, I do like reading books in this style of writing when it's done properly, and the author did a great job in this book. With most books written this way, it's usually just the main characters that we see POV's from. This book was different in this way, and that was really interesting! 
The author also went into quite a lot of detail in some parts of the book and this can be either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you look at it. Good because it paints a better picture of the scene in your head, but it can be bad as too much detail can make it boring, and the reader can lose interest quickly. 
In all honesty, I leaned toward the latter.
Other than this, I thought the plot of the story was incredible and well executed. It was an interesting change, as I don't usually read books of this genre, so the fact that I enjoyed it surprised me, and I would recommend it to people who are fans of historical fiction and/or romance. But that being said, I personally don't think I will be reading another book of this genre any time soon. 
A quick thank you to the author of this book for giving me the opportunity to read your book. Though there were a few things I thought needed work, the book was very enjoyable none the less. Thank you.
Defiant Heart will be released on April 15, 2013. 
Marty Steere's Webpage

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books At The TOP Of My Spring (Autumn) 2013 TBR List

It's that time of the week again! Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, we'll make a list of our top ten something and this week, it's the Top Ten Books At The TOP Of My Spring (Autumn) TBR List. In the title, I put the word Autumn in brackets, as in Australia it's now Autumn, not spring. Now for the list!
1. The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead
I've already read Bloodlines and the sequel, The Golden Lily, but I am yet to read the third instalment in this amazing series and it's the very next book I want to read. 

2. Beautiful Creatures by Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia
This book was first on my last TTT list, Top Ten Series I'd Like To Start But Haven't Yet. So as you can probably tell, I really want to read this series soon. 

3. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
I saw the movie of this first and loved it, so after that I decided I wanted to read the book. It's been sitting on my shelf for a while now, so there's really no excuse. 

4. Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter
Again, this one has been sitting on my shelf collecting dust. Poor book. I'll read you soon, I promise. 

5. Crossed by Ally Condie
I have read the first book of this series, have the second and am yet to get the third. Once I do, I'll read this whole series again and review them. 

6. A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray (Gemma Doyle Trilogy)
I need to read these books ASAP!

7. The Elegant Art of Falling Apart by Jessica Jones
This is a memoir/biography type book and I have been wanting to read it for so long! It's supposed to be really inspiring. Anyone read it?

8. Heaven by Alexandra Adornetto
I read and reviewed the first two books in this series so long ago and I'll probably have to re-read them before I read this one. I'm actually really excited to read it!

9. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
I know! I'll read it soon. Promise.

10. Switched by Amanda Hocking
This is a trilogy, I think, and I've read only positive things about this book, so I'm hoping I'll get to read it soon!

That's all for this Tuesday guys, I hope you've enjoyed my list, and as always please leave a comment with a link to your lists! I honestly love reading all your comments every Tuesday, thanks so much everyone. :) 

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Review: Finale by Becca Fitzpatrick

Title: Finale
Author: Becca Fitzpatrick
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Year of Release: 2012
ISBN: 978-0-85707-292-4 (TPB)
Source: Purchased
Number of Pages: 453
Nora is more certain than ever that she's in love with her fallen angel, Patch, despite her Nephilim heritage making them destined to be enemies. For her, there's no turning her back on him. But now Nora and Patch must gather their strength to face on last trial. Old enemies and new are ranged against them, standing between them and the peace they so desperately crave. The battle lines are drawn- but which sides are they on? 
As the title suggests, Finale is the last book in the Hush, Hush sequence and it was just phenomenal. This book did an excellent job at fulfilling my expectations. As the last book in a popular series, readers will obviously have high expectations of the book and it's a real let down when the book isn't as great as you hoped it would be. Though there were a few things I need to criticise the book on (I'll get to that later), I did really enjoy reading this. 
At the end of Silence,  Nora swears a Changeover Vow to Hank, to transform herself into a Nephil and lead his army to freedom from fallen angels. In order to fulfil her vow, she must lead Hank's Nephilim army to war and win, otherwise she and her mother will die (terms of the vow). To make things even more complicated, Patch, the love of her life, is a fallen angel, and if she sides with the Nephilim, she risks losing him forever. 

The book had a great plot, but there are a few things I didn't like about it that I would like to express here. First off, I found the book to be a little too repetitive at times. (**SPOLIER**) As the leader of the Nephilim army, Nora agrees to train with a much stronger Nephil named Dante. He works her hard, getting her up in the early hours of the morning to train, so most chapters began with him waking her up and then going straight to training. It was always the same thing, and this made the parts of the book quite boring. 
Another thing I need to note is that Fitzpatrick's writing needs a little work when it comes to relaying past events in previous books. I felt like I was reading the last book all over again! 
Lastly, I didn't like the way she portrayed Patch and Nora's relationship. They're more in love with each other than ever, and I think that's great, but they're so possessive of each other, it's borderline obsessive!
Other than that, I loved it!

The storyline was amazing and I loved the way it ended, although a few things happened that caused tears to brim in my eyes, so if you are yet to read this one, keep the tissues close by! This book definitely had more suspense and action than the last three, and that kept the pages turning. 
If you haven't read this series yet, I really recommend getting into it. Some people aren't particularly fond of the series, I've read a few harsh reviews, but I think these books are great! I've finally completed the series and if you've read them, let me know what you thought in the comment section below. 
There are a few angel themed books out there now in YA Fiction, and in my experience, this is the best series yet. It's not perfect, but it comes pretty darn close. 

The video above is the trailer for the book, it's the best one I've seen yet (no spoilers) and it's also featured on the Official FanSite of the Hush, Hush Saga (link below). 
Review: Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
Review: Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick
Review: Silence by Becca Fitzpatrick
The Official FanSite of the Hush, Hush Saga

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Series I'd Like To Start But Haven't Yet

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, we'll make a list of our top ten something and this week, it's our Top Ten Series We'd Like To Start But Haven't Yet. 
I'm so excited about this one, honestly. This is going to be so fun to write, I hope you all enjoy it! 
1. Beautiful Creatures by Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia
I really want to get into this series, I have for a long time, and with the movie coming out, I just really want to read this series! Although, I'm more excited for the book than the movie, as there's been a lot of negativity surrounding the film. Would you guys recommend it?
2. Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr
These books sound so amazing and I really want to start reading this series. I bought a box set of the series about a year ago because it was on special, but I haven't got around to reading them yet. I will soon. I hope.
3. Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow
I have a few of these books too. I started reading Strange Angels, only got up to the first chapter though, because I brought Bloodlines that same week so I stopped reading it to read that and never really got around to finishing it. 
4. I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore
Read the first book (before I was writing this blog), bought the next two when they came out, haven't finished the series. I'll get around to it soon. Maybe. Hopefully.
5. Divergent by Veronica Roth
These books sound so good, I can't wait to read them!
6. A Great and Terrible Beauty (The Gemma Doyle Trilogy) by Libba Bray
This trilogy was given to me as a gift, and they've been sitting on the top of my shelf for years now. I should read them soon. They sound really good. 
7. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S Lewis
I know, I know, I'm a terrible person! I haven't read these yet. I have a massive volume of all the chronicles, but I still need to read them. There's a lot I need to read. I'm so delayed. 
8. Burn Bright by Marianne de Pierres
A lot of people I know read this series, so I'm thinking maybe I should read it too. Has anyone read it yet? Did you like it? 
9. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
This series got a lot of good reviews and they sound really interesting, so I would like to read them!
10. Harry Potter by J.K Rowling

That's all for this Tuesday, hope you've enjoyed my list! :)

Monday, March 04, 2013

For the Authors: How to Properly Request a Book Review from a Blogger

I'm sure many of you book review bloggers out there can relate to this- doesn't it suck when you get asked to review a book in the form of an email and it just looks like no effort has gone into it? When us bloggers receive emails from authors asking us to review our books, we're doing you a favour. We read and review your books for free, taking time out of our lives and putting time and effort into the review. After getting a lot of emails this year requesting reviews, I thought I'd just give some tips on how to properly request a review.

Tip 1: Use proper grammar
I hate it when I see grammatical errors in books, magazines, papers, emails... I need proper grammar and you would expect that to be a given with a published author. When you write us emails, don't use abbreviations like 'u' for 'you' or 'r' for 'are'. I got an email a few weeks ago that looked a little something like this: hi r u interested in reading n' reviewing my book? please let me know. Do you think I agreed to review that person's book? It's not hard to type the word you, and when you use the abbreviation like that, it just looks lazy. Don't do it (unless it's in a text or something).

Tip 2: Provide us with a blurb or summary of your book
We're not going to agree to review your book if we don't know what it's about! Give us a short summary at least so we know what to expect and also so that we can make sure it doesn't breach our review policies, for those of us who have them.

Tip 3: Be considerate of the fact that reading a book takes time
Don't expect your book to be read and reviewed the very next day because it won't happen. We have other commitments, so please be mindful of the fact that it does take time to read and write a review. Depending on the length of the book and what's going on in the person's life at that time, expect a couple of weeks before the review is posted, at least.

Tip 4: Ask, don't demand
The blogger may not want to review your book and authors need to accept that. It might be a bad time or they're not comfortable reading your book. Whatever the case, be prepared for a few declines when putting yourself out there. Make sure you request the review, not demand it. For example, you could say something like: 'Hi, I was just wondering if you would be interested in reviewing my book...?' Don't say: 'Review my book. I can send you a hard or electronic copy, thanks.' It's not nice, nor is it polite.

Tip 5: Send a picture of the cover of your book
Most bloggers like myself will probably put a picture of your book on their blog as part of a 'Currently Reading' type thing. So it's a good idea to send a picture, or ask if the blogger wants one.