Wednesday, April 30, 2014

April 2014 Recap

April was pretty quiet on the reviewing front because if you don't read any books, you can't write any reviews. :( So I took a little break to try and recharge and come back to reading and blogging with a fresh perspective. I know that I have to make time for both because there's just never going to be enough hours in the day to get everything I want to do done. On some happier notes, we celebrated blogoversary #2, I FINALLY got some new bookshelves, and Game of Thrones is back! Speaking of making time for things, I always find that hour to watch GoT on Sunday nights. :D

Reviews Posted:

Featured Posts:

Discussing Game of Thrones Posts:

TBR Reading Challenge Progress:

  • Books Read/Reviewed: 1 (Total for Year: 4)

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Discussing Game of Thrones: Oathkeeper

* Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen “Oathkeeper.”

I . . . don't know what to make of this week's episode. I LOVED several scenes (oh my God—Jaime and Brienne!) and found others baffling (Bran and the Reeds getting captured by the rogue Night's Watch at Craster's Keep. And for the love of Hodor—poor Hodor!) I'm going to try to keep from sounding all, "But that didn't happen in the books!", but I guarantee nothing, Jon Snow.

Reading: It's Important

Last week, Davos had a reading lesson with Shireen Baratheon. This week, Grey Worm, the commander of Daenerys's Unsullied, has a reading lesson with Missandei. Then he's off to convince the slaves of Meereen to rise up against their masters and join Daenerys. Guess who's now the Mhysa of Meereen?

Bitch Slapped with Your Own Hand

Jaime and Bronn continue their sparring practice. Bronn grabs Jaime's golden hand and whacks him in the face with it. Jaime asks Bronn if Tyrion killed Joffrey; Bronn asks Jaime if he's going to fight for his brother.

The Kingslayer Brothers

Jaime visits Tyrion in his cell and asks him point blank if he's guilty. Jaime wants to help but is reluctant to help Tyrion escape.

On Board the Creeper Ship

Littlefinger is on his way to marry Sansa's aunt, Lysa Arryn. Sansa tells him she knows he was behind Joffrey's death. Littlefinger reveals that the poison was in the necklace Ser Dontos gave her. I hate when Littlefinger vaguely refers to his "friends;" we all know he doesn't have any.

Grandmas Can Commit Regicide, Too

Lady Olenna is getting ready to depart King's Landing and advises Margaery to act fast before Cersei turns Tommen against her. She also implies that she saved Margaery from marrying a monster, wink, wink.

You're a Steward, Lord Snow

Alliser Thorne gets all snippy with Jon, who's training some of the Night's Watch with Grenn. Slynt reminds Thorne there's going to be a vote for a new Lord Commander, and Jon is very popular while Thorne is not. Slynt suggests Thorne send Jon to Craster's Keep so with any luck, he'll be killed by the mutineers, thus solving Thorne's problem. (I refrained from making a thorn in the side joke there. It was very difficult.) Locke, aka the guy who cut off Jaime's hand, is at the Wall on Roose Bolton's orders, trying to snuff out Bran and Rickon. Jon needs a freaking personal guard.

So Let's Pretend Like Last Week Didn't Happen

Cersei is hitting the bottle again and pissed off when she learns from Jaime that Tommen only has one guard posted outside his chamber. She knows Jaime went to see Tyrion and is beyond furious that Jaime doesn't believe Tyrion killed Joffrey. And there's no reference to the scene from last week's episode that stirred quite a discussion on social media.

That's Not the Tooth Fairy

Margaery sneaks into Tommen's room in the middle of the night to work the Tyrell charm on him. Wasn't Ser Pounce the kitty too cute?


Jaime gives Brienne his Valyrian steel sword. And a suit of armor. And Pod! There's too much awesome in this scene, from all of the presents to Brienne vowing to find Sansa for Catelyn—and for Jaime—to Pod unsure of whether to call Brienne "Ser" or "Milady." The latter was in the books, and I'm glad that got kept. Hooray for staying true to the books! Brienne is off in search of Sansa with Pod as her squire, and by the old gods and the new, I mentally willed her with all my brainpower to look back at Jaime as she was riding away. For anybody else who's seen the BBC adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South with Richard Armitage, you'll remember the scene when Margaret Hale was leaving in the carriage and John Thornton was watching it drive away from the window and all he wanted was for her to look back at him. Well, since then, I've become a little obsessed with characters looking back. And Brienne looked back at Jaime! I almost started flailing on the floor.

Craster's Keep: Crazier Than Ever

Jon gets the ok from a scheming Thorne to clear out Craster's Keep of the Night's Watch traitors, and Jon asks for volunteers to accompany him. Locke volunteers. This is not good. Cut to the keep itself, and an insane Karl, the guy who killed Craster, is drinking wine out of former Lord Commander Mormont's skull. Ewwwwwww. One of the wives enters with Craster's last baby son and informs Karl that the baby must be gifted—to the White Walkers! Rast, the a-hole who berated Sam mercilessly, is tasked with bringing the baby to the woods. We see poor Ghost, Jon's direwolf, who's imprisoned by this band of sadistic lunatics.

WTF. Seriously.

Ok. So Bran and his companions are camping in the snowy woods as usual when they hear a baby crying. It's the baby, of course, and Bran wargs into Summer to find out what's going on. As Summer, Bran sees Ghost but doesn't realize how baaaaad these former Night's Watch men are. Unfortunately Summer gets caught in a trap, and Bran won't go anywhere without his beloved direwolf. Meera quickly figures out that the men are NOT friendly, but it's too late; Bran, Hodor, and the Reeds are captured, and Bran ends up revealing who he is, much to Karl's delight at 1) having a highly valuable hostage and 2) that the hostage is Jon Snow's half-brother.

Bran's storyline has really diverged from the novels here, as has Jon's to an extent. With the show renewed for at least two more seasons and no new books from which to draw source material in the immediate future, maybe we can expect to see a lot more plotlines written specifically for the show.

It's No Shadow Baby, But It's Still Freaky

I'm sorry, but I couldn't help laughing at the White Walker holding Craster's son and just riding its ice zombie horse. Another White Walker takes the baby, and at the touch of a bony finger, the baby's eyes turn that icy, eerie blue. And that's the end of this week's ep. So much crazy in one hour.

In the Next Episode

There's yet another new king in Westeros; Lysa Arryn is back; Arya does some needlework; Jon fights his former brothers.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Review: Never Fade by Alexandra Bracken

* This review may contain spoilers for the previous book, The Darkest Minds. *

Never Fade by Alexandra Bracken
Never Fade (The Darkest Minds #2)
By Alexandra Bracken
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

To Sum It Up: Ruby thought she was protecting Liam by erasing his memories of her, and she’s horrified to learn that he’s inadvertently put himself in extreme danger. He’s unaware he’s carrying sensitive data that certain people would kill for. Ruby, now working for the Children’s League, is tasked with recovering the information, but of course the mission takes on a much more personal meaning for her, no matter how hard she tries to convince herself that she needs to let go of any illusions of a future with Liam—for his own good.

Review: After being floored by the awesomeness of The Darkest Minds, how much more praise can I possibly heap on its sequel, Never Fade? The answer is: plenty more! If you want a sequel that delivers in every way, from character growth to impeccable storytelling, then you need to start this series ASAP if you haven’t already. Alexandra Bracken is a genius, and this book is a work of utter genius.

The ending of The Darkest Minds wrecked me for a few days, with Chubs’s fate unknown after being shot and Ruby removing Liam’s memories of her. That’s right. She erased herself from his mind and sent him off to be safe. Meanwhile, I wanted to cry in a corner somewhere with my crushed heart because those two so belong together! Forever! I was also devastated by the apparent breakup of their little group, which had such amazing chemistry in The Darkest Minds.

Never Fade finds Ruby now in fairly deep with the Children’s League, the sketchy organization that claims to work on behalf of the kids persecuted because of their powers. The League isn’t as benevolent as it wants the public to think it is, however, thanks to a few agents who believe the League needs a new direction—one that’s at total odds with helping kids. I was still skeptical of the motives of Cate, the League agent who got Ruby out of Thurmond in The Darkest Minds; despite seeming to truly care about Ruby and her other charges, I couldn’t forget that Cate was still League. And that’s one of the joys of reading this series: there are several shades of gray to the characters.

I was also a little skeptical of the addition of a few new characters, most notably Jude and Vida, two of Ruby’s League companions. Again, the group dynamic in the previous book had been so perfect that part of me didn’t want to see Ruby fall in with anyone who wasn’t Chubs and Liam. It’s impossible not to love Jude, though; the kid is just too sweet. Vida is the total opposite of Jude, all sharp edges. I loved that she was both a smartass and a badass, and oh how I hope that she and a certain character end up together because when two people exchange that many insults, it’s gotta be love!

In case it wasn’t already apparent, of course I’m going to say that everything about the book was impressive. I do want to make special mention of Ruby’s character development, which is simply outstanding. She’s so strong, as evidenced by her protectiveness of Jude. Ruby also continues to struggle with her conscience when she uses her powers, worrying that even though she may be doing so to save her friends, that still doesn’t make her any better than a monster like Clancy Gray. Crazy Clancy had no such qualms in The Darkest Minds, but Ruby is most decidedly nothing like him. She’s a heroine through and through, whether or not she believes it herself.

I’ve come to expect heart pulverizing endings from this series now, and Never Fade continues in that tradition. I was so traumatized that I couldn’t even cry. Ruby and company have already endured so much, both physically and emotionally, that I don’t know where they find the strength to keep pushing forward. But they do, and I cannot wait to see how the trilogy concludes.

All in All: Sometimes you just know that a book is going to be a five star read even before you crack open the cover, and Never Fade did not disappoint in any way.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Cover Reveal: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

O.M.F.G! Can you say, "Ilovethiscoverohmygodohmygod!"? I'd give . . . ANYTHING to read this book right now, but it looks like I'll be waiting until October 28 to get my grubby hands on it. Many, many thanks to my friend Micheline at Lunar Rainbows for the heads-up about the cover being unveiled today (cause I totally forgot that there was going to be Raven Cycle news on this St. Mark's Eve)!

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (37): Least Favorite Book

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme hosted by Uncorked Thoughts. The aim of this meme is to share with fellow bloggers a character, spell, chapter, object or quote from the books/films/J. K. Rowling herself or anything Potter related! A list of upcoming topics can be found here.

This week's topic is:
Least Favorite Book

GAH! But I love them all! Seriously, I can't imagine the series being complete without all seven books. I'm picking Goblet of Fire, but ONLY because I was so sad that Lupin wasn't in it after absolutely loving his character in Prisoner of Azkaban. There's not a whole lot of Sirius in GoF, either, and I can't tell you how happy I was to see both characters reunite for Order of the Phoenix.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Discussing Game of Thrones: Breaker of Chains

* Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen “Breaker of Chains.”

I thought this was a rather chatty episode and light on the action, especially compared to the craziness that went down in last week's episode, "The Lion and the Rose." Oh well, you can't have regicide every week, so I suppose a little quiet after the storm wasn't all that unexpected.

Run Sansa, Run!

We pick up with Joffrey's awesome death scene, and amidst all the chaos, Cersei is quick to notice Sansa is missing. Tywin orders the city gates barred, but Dontos is already whisking Sansa away to a really creepy looking ship. Guess who's waiting on the ship? Creepy Littlefinger! Lord Baelish promptly kills Dontos, much to Sansa's horror. You're totally not safe with Littlefinger, Sansa.

Am I the Queen?

Margaery and Lady Olenna are talking over everything that's happened. Margaery wonders if she's cursed, because, you know, she's been married to two kings and both have ended up dead. Hmm.

It's King Tommen Time!

Cersei and Tommen are in the sept mourning Joffrey when Lord Tywin strolls in. He questions Tommen about the qualities that make a good king. Some talking later, the two are exiting when Jaime arrives. Jaime and Tommen have a nice little moment before Jaime orders everyone else out of the sept. He and Cersei are alone, and she demands that he kill Tyrion. Ummmmm . . . no comment on the rest of this scene.

On This Week's Adventures of Arya & The Hound

I was still rather traumatized by the previous scene and missed a bit of what went on here. My brain tuned back in to see The Hound rob this nice man who gave him and Arya a place to eat and sleep for the night. The Hound's reasoning is that the man and his daughter were going to die anyway, so why not steal his silver now and be done.

How's It Going, Gilly?

Sam worries about Gilly being the only woman among the Night's Watch. Those two kids are so sweet together.

I Got Nothing

Stannis bemoans the fact that Joffrey is dead, but he has no army to seize this opportunity to take the throne. Guess who gets blamed for that? Davos. Guess who's then late for his reading lesson with Shireen? But Davos gets an awesome burst of inspiration that might help Stannis.

Mole's Town: Not a Very Nice Place

Sam takes Gilly there for her own protection, but she's not too happy, and looking at that place, you can't blame her. Sam feels bad, but he doesn't think she's safe at Castle Black, and he can't run away with her because he doesn't want to break his vows to the Night's Watch.


Tywin walks in on Oberyn, Ellaria, and their . . . entourage. Tywin is suspicious because Joffrey was poisoned, and Oberyn has studied—guess what? Poisons! Tywin wants to know what Oberyn and Tyrion discussed and offers a meeting with The Mountain if Oberyn will serve as a judge at Tyrion's trial.

Tyrion in Prison

Pod visits Tyrion in his cell, and, being the good, loyal lad that he is, smuggles food and a few other things in. Tyrion is to stand trial in a fortnight, and Pod asks if there are any witnesses he would like to call in his defense. When Tyrion requests Sansa, Pod informs him that she's disappeared. Tyrion asks to see Jaime and orders Pod to leave King's Landing before something bad happens to him because of his association with Tyrion.

The Wildlings Inch Closer

The Night's Watch debates how to defend the Wall against the impending Wildling attack. Grenn and Dolorous Edd (I LOVE that guy!) return with the news of what happened at Craster's Keep. Jon admits that he told the Wildlings there were 1,000 men defending the Wall, but the truth is, the Night's Watch is seriously outnumbered.

Greetings from Meereen

Daenerys and crew finally reach the city, and they're not welcomed warmly. Someone has to kick the ass of the rude guy who meets them at the gate, and guess who gets the job? Daario! And the fight's over in like two blinks. Daenerys gives a very nice speech then orders the Unsullied to launch the catapults, which contain broken slave collars, hence the title of this week's episode!

In the Next Episode

Cersei won't rest until someone pays for Joffrey's death; Alliser Thorne won't rest until he torments Jon; looks like there's going to be lots of unrest in Meereen!

Monday, April 21, 2014

ARC Review: Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Second Star
By Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley
Publication Date: May 13, 2014

To Sum It Up: It’s been nine months since Wendy Darling’s younger brothers, John and Michael, disappeared. Her parents are struggling to come to terms with the police’s assumption that the boys drowned while surfing, but Wendy refuses to believe they’re gone. She sets out on her own search to find them, hoping that following the waves will lead her to her brothers.

Review: I’m going to start by saying that I have some very mixed feelings about Second Star, even after taking a few days to mull it over before sitting down to write the review. The novel is a reimagining of Peter Pan, with a protagonist named Wendy Darling who goes searching for her two missing surfer brothers, John and Michael. Wendy believes that her best chance of finding them is wherever the biggest waves are, and her travels bring her to a small group of surfers led by the mysterious Pete. While the surfing spin on the original tale was interesting, Wendy’s actions throughout Second Star posed a huge problem for me. I spent almost the entire book frustrated with her and firmly decided on what I was going to rate the book overall. The ending, however, threw a bit of a wrench in that because, although it stopped well short of justifying Wendy’s behavior, it did cast her character in a slightly different light. Slightly.

Second Star began strongly enough; I quickly became invested in the search for John and Michael, and I gave Wendy credit for striking out on her own to find them. Things started unraveling quickly, though, with Wendy making one head-shaking choice after another. Assist with a burglary? Sure, if it leads to a clue about John and Michael. Take drugs? Sure, if it leads to a clue about John and Michael. I could not wrap my head around Wendy’s logic, or lack thereof, really, no matter how much she tried to rationalize some of her poorer decisions as the means to finding her brothers. That’s another thing—as the tie that’s supposed to bind this whole story together, I never felt depth to Wendy’s relationship with John and Michael. Okay, I realize how coldhearted I sound saying that, but I thought Wendy kept getting sidetracked by her adventures with Pete and Jas, another surfer whom I’ll discuss in a minute. Sometimes John and Michael seemed like an afterthought, referenced whenever Wendy remembered that she was supposed to be looking for them.

The other major issue I had with Second Star was the insta-love. Times two. Wendy finds herself torn between Pete and Jas, both of questionable character and, surprise, not exactly best friends. What I really couldn’t cope with was how Wendy would madly be in love with whomever she happened to be with at the time. If she was in Pete’s company, Pete was her guy; if she was with Jas, Jas was her guy. Personally, I didn’t think either made a particularly good love interest, both in the sense of having chemistry with Wendy and, um, being law-abiding citizens.

Now to address that ending. It’s a departure from the rest of the novel, which reads like a contemporary up until that point. But—the ending actually makes sense for a Peter Pan retelling, if that makes sense. It was a fitting touch, but unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to alter my feelings toward the other aspects of the book that bothered me.

All in All: This was not the Peter Pan retelling I’d hoped for.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (36): Funniest Moment in the Series

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme hosted by Uncorked Thoughts. The aim of this meme is to share with fellow bloggers a character, spell, chapter, object or quote from the books/films/J. K. Rowling herself or anything Potter related! A list of upcoming topics can be found here.

This week's topic is:
Funniest Moment in the Series

How can I not choose something to do with the Weasley twins for this week's topic? I've used this moment before for another HP post, but it happens to be the one that made me laugh the hardest, and that would be Fred and George's unforgettable exit from Hogwarts. From the second they offered to create a distraction for Harry so he could use the fireplace in Umbridge's office to contact Sirius, I knew this was going to be an amazing Fred and George moment. The Portable Swamp and the ensuing chaos were priceless, as was the way in which the students (and Peeves!) rallied to give Umbridge as much trouble as possible in the wake of the twins' departure.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

If I Stay Trailer

I'm definitely going to need to keep a box of tissues handy for this one! I loved the book (yeah, I totally cried) and hope the movie does well because I'd love to see Where She Went adapted, too.

Discussing Game of Thrones: The Lion and the Rose

* Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen “The Lion and the Rose.”

Wedding bells rang again this week on GoT, and like the last wedding, this one wasn't short on a crap mountain of crazy going down. So, if you have not yet viewed this episode and do not want to spoil all of the twists, turns, Tywins, and Tyrions for yourself, it's still not too late to quit reading this post!

Aaaand Ramsay Picks Up Right Where He Left Off

Torturing someone, of course. He's on another one of his "hunts," with a very broken Theon presumably forced to tag along. What else is there to say about Ramsay except that he's a psycho sicko to the nth degree?

Brotherly Bonding

Tyrion and Jaime have a nice little sit down. Was it really way back in Season 1 during the visit at Winterfell that they last shared a scene? Jaime is bummed about being unable to wield a sword with his left hand the way he did with his right, so Tyrion gets Bronn to spar with Jaime.

Family Reunion at The Dreadfort

That warm and loving family, the Boltons, reunite at The Dreadfort to spend some quality time together. Even Locke, the wacko who cut off Jaime's hand, joins in on the fun. Daddy Roose isn't too happy with Ramsay for the whole torturing Theon thing because the latter is actually a valuable hostage. Ramsay makes Theon reveal that Bran and Rickon are alive; Roose sends Locke (who apparently knows nothing about Jon Snow) after them, while Ramsay is assigned to take Moat Cailin.

A Spidery Warning

Varys warns Tyrion that Cersei knows about Shae, and it's only a matter of time before Lord Tywin finds out and makes good on a previous threat.

I Slash Your Gift with My Sword!

It's our first glimpse of the Lord Oaf of Highgarden, um I mean Mace Tyrell, father of Margaery. We are also forced to witness the tragic destruction of a book courtesy of Joffrey, of course, who takes his sword to Tyrion's gift. That kind of treatment of a book is just not acceptable.

Goodbye, Shae

Tyrion literally ships Shae off to Pentos, claiming that he's a married man now and needs to uphold his vows. Shae doesn't believe him, so Tyrion has to say some mean stuff to get her to leave (for her own good).

For the Night Is Dark and Full of Terrors (Like Melisandre)

We visit Dragonstone for the first time this season, and we're treated to Melisandre burning Stannis's brother-in-law. Stannis's wife, Selyse, is still cuckoo and complaining that their daughter, Shireen, is too stubborn during an awkward dinner that includes Melisandre. To Stannis's credit, he forbids Selyse from raising a hand to Shireen. So Selyse sics Melisandre on the poor kid.

Take Me to the Tree, Hodor

It's Hodor! And Bran! And Meera! And Jojen! Bran sees an odd tree, and when he touches it, he hears a voice that tells him to go north. They don't exactly have a compass for the journey they've been on, so why not head north?

It's Another Wedding!

Ah, the event we've all been waiting for: Joffrey and Margaery finally tie the knot. There's so much going on here; I was transfixed to the TV screen the entire time. Let's break the big day down, shall we?

Keep an Eye on Olenna

Lady Olenna's conversation with Sansa is verrrrry significant. I hope you were watching closely. ;)

What Husband Doesn't Want to Be Murdered in His Sleep?

Jaime warns Loras that Cersei will murder him in his sleep if Loras marries her, which he's never going to do anyway. Loras retorts with a pretty good comeback about how Jaime will never marry her, either. Ouch.

Say It, Brienne! SAY IT!

After congratulating the happy couple, Brienne has the unpleasant experience of having to talk to Cersei. She thanks Brienne for saving her brother, and when Brienne mentions that Jaime saved her, that doesn't sit well with Cersei. At all. Cersei point blank asks Brienne if she loves Jaime, and Brienne's non-response is more telling than any words she could have said there. Cersei then goes off to terrorize Pycelle.

When Tywin & Cersei Met Oberyn & Ellaria

So much witty dialogue in this scene! Oberyn refers to Cersei as the former Queen Regent and reminds her that her daughter, Myrcella, is in Dorne. Cersei is not amused.

The War of the Five Kings, According to Joffrey

And so it begins—the end of a most repugnant character. We've had to endure this smug, arrogant, demented, vile monster for three seasons, and finally. JOFFREY. IS. DEAD! But not before going out of his way to humiliate Tyrion and make everyone at his wedding experience new levels of social discomfort. Way to go, bro.

In the Next Episode

Poor Tyrion is accused of regicide. Jon tries to rally the Knight's Watch against the Wildlings' impending attack. Meereen is about to meet Daenerys!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Found Around the Shelves: SPACE!

Finally, finally, FINALLY, I got some new bookshelves last weekend! After bemoaning the total lack of room on my existing shelves, I had the opportunity to go to Ikea last Sunday and get some new, taller ones. Assembling them had to wait until yesterday, but after living with overflowing shelves for this long, a few more days wasn't going to make a difference.

Here's a pic of the Before situation. I bought 4 of these 3 shelf bookcases a couple of years ago, back when I was just rediscovering my love of books. Needless to say, loving books fills up shelves fast, and I outgrew them. Notice the small pile on top of the right bookshelf; they were there because there was no other space for them.

Fortunately, I had an empty wall downstairs in the living room, and as much as I wasn't crazy about the idea of splitting up the books between upstairs and downstairs, there was no other space for shelves. Since the living room space was pretty large, I decided to just go for it and get 3 bookcases. Plus, I don't have to worry about decorating that wall now!

These are Ikea's Billy 6 shelf bookcases. I'd seen a lot of positive reviews for them, and I like their simple design. I originally thought they had 5 shelves, but they have 6! Getting these guys home took a bit of work; Ally and her brother Denis were awesome at loading these up into their family minivan and unloading them at my house. It's a good thing they're packaged so compactly:

I actually enjoy putting stuff together, although it's a little more challenging when the furniture is taller than I am, haha! (Which is most of the time.) These were pretty easy to assemble, and for the price, I really like the quality. Here's the finished project:

It's so nice to have shelf space again! Some of the books have been moved, but the rest will have to wait until next weekend. Assembling the bookcases took quite a bit of time, time that I otherwise would have spent on, say, writing a review for today. I'm hoping to get caught up on reviews this week; the days go by way too fast!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Second Blogoversary & Giveaway!

Today marks two years since this little blog made its first post! I still remember hitting "Publish" for the first time (had no idea even how to schedule posts back then) and feeling a bit freaked out about venturing into the book blogosphere. It truly was a life-changing moment; book blogging has become such an important part of my life, and that's because of all of you. I know I say this all the time, but it's talking with you, and often fangirling with you, that makes blogging the rewarding experience that it is for me. And now we need to move on to the giveaway part before this post gets too sappy.

To celebrate Blogoversary Number Two, one winner will receive either a $20 Amazon gift card (if you live in the U.S.) or up to $20 in U.S. dollars to spend at The Book Depository (if you live outside the U.S.). Just enter the Rafflecopter form below! Again, Ally, Melissa, and I thank you with all our hearts for sticking with us for two years! ♥

** Giveaway **

  • You must be at least 13 years old to enter.
  • There will be one (1) winner. If the winner lives in the U.S., a $20 Amazon gift card will be sent via email. If the winner lives outside the U.S. and The Book Depository ships to your country (you can check by clicking here), you can choose up to $20 (in U.S. dollars) in books from The Book Depository, and I will order them and have them shipped directly to you. I am not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged packages.
  • Winner will be notified via email and have 48 hours to respond or else another winner will be chosen.
  • Giveaway ends at midnight EDT on April 19, 2014.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (35): Worst Umbridge Moment

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme hosted by Uncorked Thoughts. The aim of this meme is to share with fellow bloggers a character, spell, chapter, object or quote from the books/films/J. K. Rowling herself or anything Potter related! A list of upcoming topics can be found here.

This week's topic is:
Worst Umbridge Moment

Where to start with this one? Dolores Umbridge is one of the most odious characters in the series, and that's still an understatement. I'd love to say, "Every scene she was in!" but I'll narrow it down to when Harry goes to her office for detention and has to write with her "special" quill. I couldn't believe what a twisted, sadistic psycho she was, and she only got crazier!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Discussing Game of Thrones: Two Swords

* Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen “Two Swords.”

I was giddy like . . . a giddy person on Sunday, waiting for 9 pm. I swear that watching GoT is the fastest hour of my week; I feel like an ep has just started, and then bam—time for the closing credits already. I also feel like I just watched the premiere of Season 3 (and not only because I re-watched it over the weekend during the GoT marathon). Seriously—I'm trying to figure out where the last year has gone . . . .

Before we get going with what happened on Sunday, here's a little recap of Seasons 1-3 for anyone who needs a refresher and/or a really good laugh:

Every detail of this show is so meticulously plotted out, including the compilation of clips that are shown before the beginning of every episode. It really pays to take careful notice of them because they provide major clues to what's going to go down in the next hour.

Crying Over Melted Ice

And here we go with Season 4! We see two swords being forged, and then Lord Tywin's intimidating mug. Guess where the Valyrian steel for those swords came from? That's right—Lord Tywin had Ned Stark's sword, Ice, melted down and remade into two blades. One is for that waste of space, Joffrey, and the other is for . . . .

Who's in Lord Tywin's Office This Week?

It's Jaime! Just about everyone else in King's Landing has had a têtê-à-têtê with Lord Tywin, including both of Jaime's siblings, so why not Jaime? I gotta say, I was really digging the beard and long hair from Seasons 2 and 3, but I'm not gonna complain about his short hair/clean-shaven look. :D What was I saying? Oh, right—Jaime's daddy has basically berated everyone in the family, so this week, it was Jaime's turn because he won't quit the Kingsguard and rule Casterly Rock like a good son.

Greetings, Red Viper!

Tyrion, Bronn, and Pod are hanging around waiting for the arrival of their Dornish guests, in King's Landing for the upcoming wedding of Joffrey and Margaery. Surprise—it's not Prince Doran Martell who turns up but his younger brother, Oberyn, who has no love for the Lannisters. Expect lots of trouble (and fun!) from this guy.

Mind the Hungry Dragons

Oh my, how the dragons have grown! I remember when those three were tiny and could barely breathe fire. Now look at them—I don't think they quite fit on Daenerys's shoulder anymore.

Tyrion's Lady Troubles

Sansa, devastated over the deaths of her brother and mother, just wants to be alone. Tyrion is very sweet to her, but really, she can't stand the sight of any Lannister right now. Meanwhile, Shae wants to spend some quality time with Tyrion, but he's worried someone will find out about her connection to him, which will make her a target. As we see at the end of that scene, he's totally justified in thinking this.

Please Shut Up, Cersei

I really wanted Jaime to just whack her over the head or something with his golden hand because of the way she was whining. Apparently she's mad at him for leaving her all alone and not returning to King's Landing sooner because he was too busy being a captive and getting his hand cut off and all that. You know, not a legitimate excuse at all for not being by his sister's side.

What's in the Bag?

We catch up with Ygritte, Tormund Giantsbane, and some of their Wildling cohorts. Some other scary-looking Wildlings, the Thenns, turn up, and it turns out that they have a little thing for cannibalism. Eeewwwww!

Defend Yourself, Jon Snow

Jon is back at Castle Black and finds himself before a panel of the Night's Watch to discuss his recent adventures with the Wildlings. Alliser Thorne, the guy who tormented him in Season 1, is back and gleefully ready to have him executed for breaking his vows. Another face from the past is Janos Slynt, former commander of the City Watch who got a demotion and exile to the Wall when Tyrion named Bronn to the post. Maester Aemon, however, isn't part of Team Kill Jon Snow, and so Jon survives the day.

The Ugliest Statue That Ever Was

I can't even discuss that revolting statue of Joffrey. This kid needs to die. And just because he can, he rags on Jaime for a bit, noting that Jaime's page in the history book that records every Lord Commander of the Kingsguard is empty. I repeat: Joffrey. Needs. To. Die.

Girl Talk

Lady Olenna and Margaery are consulting over jewelry when Brienne (yay!) asks to speak to Margaery. Brienne recounts Renly's death by Stannis's evil shadow (I'm STILL traumatized by the "birth" of that thing). Brienne later has a snappy exchange with Jaime; when are those two going to realize that they belong together? When, when, when, when?!

That's a Mighty Pretty Necklace

Remember Ser Dontos Hollard, the knight whom Sansa saved by suggesting Joffrey keep him alive as a fool? Well, here he is, and he's so grateful to Sansa that he presents her with a necklace. "Hmmm," says my Inner Conspiracy Theorist.

On the Road to Meereen

Daenerys and her crew are on their way to their next stop, Meereen. Will they ever get there? Maybe by the end of the season. Hey—did you spot the new Daario Naharis? Yup; there's a new one. Since I didn't care for Daario in the books, I can't really say the recast has been earth-shattering or anything.

What the F**k's a Lommy?

Remember Lommy Greenhands? The kid who was part of Arya's little group along with Hot Pie? That's who the f**k Lommy was. Well, Arya and her new BFF, the Hound, make a pit stop where they run into none other than Polliver, the very man who killed Lommy and stole Needle from Arya. Everyone plays it pretty cool until the Hound is all like, "F**k Joffrey! I want some chicken!" and chaos ensues. Arya, with a stone-cold expression on her face, delivers the killing blow to Polliver. One more name off the list! And she has Needle back! And a horse of her own!

In the Next Episode

It's time for another wedding! Will this one be bloodshed-free? It's Game of Thrones; what do you think?!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A Bit of a Break

One of my favorite quotes from the Shatter Me series is, of course, a Warner one, when he says to Juliette in Unravel Me, "I am so tired, love. I'm so very, very tired." Well, I can absolutely relate to that sentiment at the moment, a thousand times over. Before I go any further with this post, I'd like to say that I know I'm not alone in finding it difficult to balance reading and blogging with everything that's not reading and blogging. I also realize that I wrote a similar post a few months ago. But I think I'm even more frustrated now with how I seem to be spinning in circles in just about every aspect of my life, including blogging. So I'm sorry to once again use the blog as an outlet, and if you wish to bail on this post now, I totally understand.

I've allowed something that I vowed would never happen to do exactly that—I've let both reading and blogging become a second job. This stems from my failure to turn off work mode when I come home from my actual job, which has been keeping me extremely busy as of late. I've reached this point where I actually feel guilty if I find myself sitting for more than five minutes doing nothing. I should be doing laundry. I should be grocery shopping. I should be cleaning the house. I should be writing a book review. Bottom line: I've been trying to schedule every minute of what should be free time, emphasis on the "free" part. Ridiculous? Absolutely, and it needs to stop. I'm tired of heading out most mornings with an upset stomach and generally feeling burnt out and like my time belongs to everyone except me.

So I need to make a few adjustments to my outlook. One, work is work and work mode ends the second I leave it for the day. Two, the blog is not my job, and I have to quit treating it as such. I started out the year with the right mindset, resolved not to get bogged down in schedules and stats. Somewhere along the way since I wrote my blogging resolutions post in January, my resolution to keep blogging stress-free went out the window. Right now I'm finding blogging to be a chore, and so I'm taking a few days (like, five), off. And I promise, it's not the kind of break that starts out short but ends up permanent. I just need a couple of days to recharge my blogging batteries as well as kick this nasty cold I've picked up because I'm quite rundown in general.

After the brief break, I'm adopting a Zen-like approach to blogging. No posts? No worries. I'll write some eventually. As much as I love adhering to a schedule and having posts stockpiled and ready to go, that isn't always manageable for me anymore, and I need to accept that fact. If I can knock out a few posts in a week, awesome; if not, it's not the end of the blog. I love it too much to pack it all in; I just need to take a step or two back and not make it the sole focus of my free time. One of my personal resolutions for this year was to live in the moment more, and I've been a total fail at that so far in 2014. I've got to take more time out to just enjoy life, starting now. And if that means taking short blogging breaks more often, that's what I'm going to do. I'd rather do that and return refreshed rather than struggling to keep it up and driving myself to quitting. And so, I'll see you back here in a few days! :)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

March 2014 Recap

For whatever reason, I've always thought of March as a long month, even though it's not the only one with 31 days. Well, this March just flew. I've been in a bit of a reading slump again, as well as quite pressed for leisure time to read and blog and generally do anything other than go to work and do necessary stuff around the house. On the bright side, Game of Thrones returns in a few days (I ALWAYS find time for that!), and we'll be celebrating our second blogoversary soon, too! So here's one last look back at March:

Reviews Posted:

Featured Posts:

TBR Reading Challenge Progress:

  • Books Read/Reviewed: 1 (Total for Year: 3)
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