Monday, June 29, 2015

Top Ten Books I've Read So Far In 2015

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
Sarah's Pick

This book was so awesome and funny, I had the best time reading it. Great characters and plot and it's basically a stand alone (with one companion novel) which I don't tend to read a lot of.
Best and most favorite book of the year! This book was so beyond fantastic and can't even describe how much. A must read series for everyone!
The Fixer (The Fixer #1) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
 Great book, political thriller, awesome guys and tough, sassy chicks!

The Orphan Queen (The Orphan Queen #1) by Jodi Meadows
I really enjoyed this book, it was fun to read, kinda creepy and had a really swoon worthy vigilante! What's not to love? 

Rook by Sharon Cameron
Just read this book and it was fun! It gives a nod to The Scarlet Pimpernel (which I read right after this) and it has daring deeds and smoochy guys! 

Christina's Pick
 The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West
A fun and light read that I fell in love with. I need more cheerful books in my life and I'm so glad I found this one :)

The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Great characters and a fantastic plot which will make you go "WHAT?!" at least twice.

 All Fall Down (Embassy Row #1) by Ally Carter
I fangirled so much after finishing this book and it resulted in a book hangover. It's written by Ally Carter. Of course it's awesome!

The Crown of Embers (Fire and Thorns #2) by Rae Carson
There are so many great things about this book. Elise's grown so much and the world building is still amazing and the romance... I shipped it from page one <3

The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson
You thought Kiss of Deception on good? Just wait until you read the sequel. It will blow your mind!

The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West

Title: The Fill-In Boyfriend
Author: Kasie West
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: 5 May 2015
Rating: 5 STARS!!!!
When Gia Montgomery's boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she'd been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend—two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley.

The problem is that days after prom, it's not the real Bradley she's thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn't even know. But tracking him down doesn't mean they're done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend's graduation party—three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.

Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship.
- Summary from Goodreads
I've been noticing lately that I'm seriously lacking in the "cheerful book" department. I know it's my own fault, but I've never been a huge fan of contemporaries so I don't try out many. But I've had a bit of a sweet tooth lately and wanted something, well, sweet to read so I got this. I'm so glad I did! I needed this book in my life. I needed the cute fluffy romance and the funny lighthearted story... I could have done without Jules, but hey, every story needs a villain. Now all of Kasie West's books are on my TBR list.

The Fill-In Boyfriend begins with Gia being dumped by Bradley because she's more interested in her friends seeing him than him actually being there. She then convinces a guy to pretend to be her date. She is controlling and slightly eccentric in the beginning, but she isn't mean. Gia is kind of clueless and doesn't understand how others see her, but her character grows throughout the novel and I love her for it.

And, of course, there is Fill-In Bradley. He's so dreamy! I totally fell in love with him. He's just so nice and sweet and he wears nerdy t-shirts that Gia doesn't understand. They create a strong friendship out of these odd circumstances and it shows how much they belong together. Gia also becomes friends with his sister, Bec. Even though things are rough for them at the beginning they end up getting along really well.

Many aspects of the plot become themes but none that take center stage and shout "Hey! I'm the main theme!" at the reader. Instead, ideas are casually introduced which become more important later. It doesn't call attention to itself, it is simple and realistic. It makes it feel like real life.

The Fill-In Boyfriend is perfect for a rainy day or a day at the beach. Let's be honest here, it's pretty much perfect for any day you are looking for a short adorable romance to brighten your day.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Strange and Ever After Blog Tour: Fancast & Giveaway

I'm so excited to be a part of this blog tour to celebrate the release of the Strange and Ever After paperback! It's always fun to imagine who would be perfect to play my favorite characters so I'm fancasting the series for the blog tour.

What do you think of my choices? Love 'em? Hate 'em? Tell me what you think either way.

Don't miss checking out the other wonderful posts on the blog tour!

Sunday, June 21st:
Ellen @ YA Bookish News - Gushworthy Scenes with Daniel Sheridan & Eleanor Fitt
Monday, June 22nd:
CJ @ Sarcasm and Lemons – Fancast/Playlist
Blog link:

Tuesday, June 23rd:
Liran @ Hearts and Crowns – Playlist
Blog link:

Wednesday, June 24th:
Samantha @ And Then Celaena Set The World On Fire. – Playlist
Blog Link:

Thursday, June 25th:
Zoey @ Uncreatively Zoey – Throwback Thursday
Blog link:

Friday, June 26th:
Christina @ Between Bookends – Fancast
Blog link:

Saturday, June 27th:
Kim @ Dreaming in Libraries – TBD
Blog link:

Sunday, June 28th:
Adriyanna @ Adriyanna K. Zimmerman – SS&D review
Blog link:

Monday, June 29th:
Laura @ Under a Mound of Books – ADS&L review
Blog link:

Tuesday, June 30th:
Kelly @ Audeamus. Let us dare. – S&EA review

The giveaway runs from June 21-July 10 and is either a SS&D book (U.S. only) or SS&D eBook (International).
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Title: The Fixer (The Fixer #1)
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Source: ARC - received a copy from the publisher at NTTBF which does not in any way influence my review of the novel.
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's
Publication Date: 7 July 2015
Rating: 5 STARS!
When sixteen-year-old Tess Kendrick is sent to live with her older sister, Ivy, she has no idea that the infamous Ivy Kendrick is Washington D.C.'s #1 “fixer,” known for making politicians' scandals go away for a price. No sooner does Tess enroll at Hardwicke Academy than she unwittingly follows in her sister's footsteps and becomes D.C.'s premier high school fixer, solving problems for elite teens.

Secrets pile up as each sister lives a double life. . . . until their worlds come crashing together and Tess finds herself in the middle of a conspiracy with one of her classmates and a client of Ivy's. Suddenly, there is much more on the line than good grades, money, or politics, and the price for this fix might be more than Tess is willing to pay.

Perfect for fans of Pretty Little Liars and Heist Society, readers will be clamoring for more in this exciting new series.
- Summary from Goodreads
I was so incredibly lucky to get an ARC from the publisher at the North Texas Teen Book Festival and I was even able to get it signed! It was the first copy of The Fixer that Jennifer Lynn Barnes had signed and that made it even more special. The thing that topped off the perfection was that The Fixer is an amazing book!

I knew from page 8 that it was going to be a great when Tess embarrasses a history teacher for bullying another student, using both history and Shakespeare as her weapons. I started to love her then, but the truth was I hadn’t seen anything yet. Tess is smart, resourceful, and is great at making allies (and enemies) even if she doesn’t know it. I’ve heard this book compared to Veronica Mars and I think it works. Tess doesn’t have the same snarky attitude as Veronica, she’s more serious, but I found the way that she created the relationships around her to be similar to VMars. They are friendships that are built in hard times and become stronger for it. I loved all of the characters and I can’t wait to get to know them more.

Tess’ relationship with her sister, Ivy, is complicated to say the least. The age gap and the fact that Tess feels like Ivy abandoned her certainly doesn’t make for a good relationship, but I kept wanting them to work things out and to form that connection that they both need. I really like Ivy, you could tell she was just trying to make amends and protect her sister. Unfortunately for her, Tess has a habit of finding trouble. Ivy also has a group of people that she works with. One of which is Adam and the other (my favorite character!) is Brodie, Ivy’s driver/bodyguard/criminal. It’s one of those awkward moments as an adult reading YA when you get a crush on the older guy. It happens, I’m not ashamed of it!

There was absolutely no romance in this book and, to tell you the truth, it didn’t need it. The plot itself and the character relationships carried it all on their own. I’m not saying that I would object if there was any romance in the later books (because I totally wouldn’t), but with everything going on in The Fixer, I didn't miss it. There is just so much AWESOMENESS in this novel I can't even address half of it in this review. The last 100-pages has so many revelations and it is intense and emotional and I will admit to tearing up a couple of time… okay, maybe it was a little more than just tearing up. It seems like the Political Thriller genre is getting a lot more attention in the YA world and is becoming one of my favorites.

The Fixer is an intense novel with fantastic and loveable characters that will keep surprising you until the very end. This book is, without a doubt, one of the best books of the year. I would highly recommend it to everyone.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Life as an ENG Major: 10 Things I Learned My First Year

A few months ago I finished my first year as an English major. I'm learning so much and there's so much to think about that I decided to write some posts about life as an ENG major. I really enjoy it and I can't imagine majoring in anything else, but there were somethings I had to get used to and other things that I had to just accept. Here's a list of 10 things I learned my first year as an English major.

You are not going to like every book
As much as I want to love everything I read, the truth is that I probably like less than half of it. Some of it just isn't my type, while others are just really difficult for me to understand. The main thing is that I try to get SOMETHING out of what I read. Maybe it's a quote, an idea, or another example of a certain era or archetype.

10 page essays are not hard when you know & like the topic
I am dead serious. I was nervous the first time I had to write a 10 analytical essay, the only time I had written that much was for a research essay in a composition II class. That teacher made the point that since we were students our thoughts didn't matter, we were only supposed to write other sources' thoughts and cite them. When I finally got to write a paper on what I loved, I had a lot of fun with it!

Talk to your professors
When your taking classes in your major, you're going to see a lot of the same teachers. These people know their subjects and they know their field, if you have questions then ask them. Some teachers are more approachable than others, so choose the ones you feel most comfortable around. I once asked a teacher how Bleak House was first published and she talked to me for a half-hour about serialized publication of Victorian novels. It was awesome!

Everyone is prejudice towards some type of fiction
You don't like YA? Well, I don't like poetry. We're even. Although other students may not like the same books as you, all of you have a love the written word in common.

Literature teachers & Creative Writing teachers often define the term "literary" differently
First day of creative writing, my professor talked about what "literary" fiction was and why it's the only type of short story we're allowed to write. The same day my critical approaches to lit teacher wrote a bunch of book titles on the board which included Toni Morrison, Stephan King, and Twilight. She asked us which ones were "literary". The answer was all of the above.

If you want a job go into technical writing
This is something I hear all the time. I, of course, went into Literature and Creative Writing which means that I can get a job in law. I don't know why, but that's what the Literature department keeps telling me. Seriously. The reality is they just don't know what to do with us.

Literary criticism is hardcore nerdom
It may put you to sleep, but think of how much these writers study their book(s). I think it's awesome and that's why I actually enjoy reading and writing it.

Literature is everything
As a Literature major I'm not just studying books, I'm studying: history, philosophy, psychology, politics, religion, culture, and so much more. Books contain the world, and we get to study it.

Keep an open mind
You think you won't like a book or a class? Well, you might be wrong. You never know until you try.

Have Fun
Seriously, you're an ENG major. If you're not having fun then why didn't you pick something practical? It is school, so it's unrealistic that you're going to love every moment, but always try to enjoy what you are doing and what you are learning.


Monday, June 15, 2015

Top Ten Books On My Summer 2015 TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Christina's Pick

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
After falling in love with a BBC show called Primeval and discovering that I actually like the Jurassic Park movie as well, I've come to realize that I'm a bit of a dinosaur nerd. I'm really hoping I like the book because it isn't my usual type, but I'm all for trying to find new books.

Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan
The fact that it sounds a lot like Revenge makes me want to read it. The fact that Sarah really liked it means that I'm likely to read it soon.
The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff
This is the only Brenna Yovanoff book I haven't read, and since I actually have it on my bookshelf, that needs to change.

The Shifter by Chris T. Acadian
Wibbly wobbly timey wimey... stuff. And it has amazing reviews on Goodreads.

Dracula by Bram Stoker
It's seriously embarrassing that I haven't read this yet. I heard someone present a paper on it at an undergraduate literature conference and realized that while I know vampire books, I don't know anything about the book Dracula. I'm sure I'm going to be surprised a lot when reading it.

Sarah's Pick
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
This is a book that I have been trying to read forever (and have even started it three times) but have yet to succeed. Maybe this summer.

The Falconer by Elizabeth May
Faeries, warriors, 1800's Scotland, yes please! This book sounds so awesome. I just recently got the audiobook so sometime this summer Christina and I plan to sit down with a craft project and listen to it.

Rook by Sharon Cameron
I just got this in from the library the other day and am really excited to read it! Ever since I've heard that it gives a nod to the Scarlet Pimpernel I have been highly anticipating it!

Spirit and Dust by Rosemary Clement-Moore
This is a companion novel to Texas Gothic which was one of my favorite reads this year. I just love the author's humor so I can't wait to see how this book is! 

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
I've seen this around for years but have never really paid much attention to it until recently and now after reading the summary I'm wondering why I've waited this long!

The Heart of Betrayal (The Remnant Chronicles #2) by Mary E. Pearson

Title: The Heart of Betrayal (The Remnant Chronicles #2)
Author: Mary E. Pearson
Source: ARC - received a copy from the publisher at NTTBF which does not in any way influence my review of the novel.
Release Date: July 7th, 2015
Rating: 5 Major Stars
Intrigue abounds in this hotly anticipated sequel to The Kiss of Deception!

Held captive in the barbarian kingdom of Venda, Lia and Rafe have little chance of escape. Desperate to save her life, Lia's erstwhile assassin, Kaden, has told the Vendan Komizar that she has the gift, and the Komizar's interest in Lia is greater than anyone could have foreseen.

Meanwhile, nothing is straightforward: there's Rafe, who lied to Lia, but has sacrificed his freedom to protect her; Kaden, who meant to assassinate her but has now saved her life; and the Vendans, whom Lia always believed to be barbarians. Now that she lives amongst them, however, she realizes that may be far from the truth. Wrestling with her upbringing, her gift, and her sense of self, Lia must make powerful choices that will affect her country... and her own destiny. -Summary from Goodreads

            Wow! That was my first thought when I turned the last page (well, that and: AAAHHHH!!!!). This book was so beautifully and powerfully written, I couldn't get enough of it! I was lucky enough to pick up an ARC at the North Texas Book Festival in March and could barely stop hugging it enough to read it! The Remnant Chronicles is easily one of my favorite fantasy series ever. It made me laugh and swoon. It clenched my heart and kept me anxious to find out what would happen next. Lia is forever cemented as one of my favorite heroines and the cast of character in this book were phenomenal.

Lia really is amazing because not only has she the strength to survive the emotional trauma carried over from the first book and her captivity, but she makes the best of it and has the ability to adapt to almost any situation. Growing up as a princess, she is armed with an understanding of “court” life and how to maneuver through it. She also has the unconventional education that her brothers gave her which come in handy in some humorous ways. There were a couple times I was just laughing out loud from something Lia did that was obviously a result of her older brothers’ influence.

            The romance was perfection. It had enough bickering to make me smile and sweetness to make me swoon. There is still a bit of a love triangle if you squint but it was done in such a believable and heartbreaking way I couldn’t get mad at it. I love romance's that bloom under these intense situations. I think it makes them even more beautiful.

            There’s nothing that I didn’t like about this book, but one of my favorite things to read was Kaden and Rafe’s POVs. Now that almost everything is out in the open we get to what they think about each other as enemies as well as rivals for a certain maiden’s heart. Their interaction is much more tense and very fascinating to read.

            I even liked the villain of this book. The dreaded Komizar. Okay, so “like” may not be the right word, but I felt he was the best kind of villain because he was charismatic but ruthless. He cared for his people but had no room for mercy. At times you believed him and felt for his cause, but then in the same scene he could send a shiver of fear into your heart. I think that me, as a reader, had the same trouble as Lia when trying to figure this guy out and that made is so much more intense because you never really knew what he was going to do.

            The world building is superb and is beautiful even in the rough lands of Venda. I didn’t want to leave it and had a major book hangover after I finished this book. I don’t know how I’m going to survive until the next book!


Friday, June 12, 2015

It's Our 1 Year Blogoversary!

It's Our 1 Year Blogoversary!
Between Bookends is now one year old and that seems totally KRAZY! This blog has been so much fun for us, doing meme's, writing reviews, and keeping in touch with the book world from our small town in the Midwest. For our blogoversary we thought we'd talk about some of the awesome book-related stuff we have been able to do this year.

Camp NaNoWriMo
Last July, not long after we set up this blog, Christina had to run it by herself for a while because Sarah was trying her hand (for the third time) at writing 50,000 words in a month. The 50,000 words were accomplished with one day to spare through lots of encouragement and pushing from Christina plus the added bonus of chocolate chips after every thousand
One chocolate chip for every thousand

North Texas Teen Book Festival
This was the first book festival we have ever attended and we were so jazzed! We spent months reading the authors books and buying the ones that we wanted to get signed and completely fangirling.
We drove down the day before and spent the 7-8 hour drive introducing our parents to the Gallagher Girls by Ally Carter on audiobook. We were pretty nervous about the next day and Sarah woke up early with a massive headache which (thankfully) went away before we had to leave.
We weren't sure what to expect, but the amount of people there was a bit overwhelming. We quickly found our footing and made our way towards the freebie's and got some awesome stuff (including ARC's for The Heart of Betrayal and The Fixer. Christina's copy was the first copy of the Fixer that Jennifer Lynn Barnes signed which was so awesome!) Carrying close to 20 books each for most of the day was not overly fun but getting them signed was!

Christina's favorite part of the day was talking Beowulf and The Curiosities with author Tessa Gratton and Sarah's favorite part was telling Rosemary Clement-Moore how much she loved the goats in Texas Gothic (which she only read 5 days before). The panels were fun and were mostly filled with the same authors. Sadly, we missed the Book Boyfriend panel with one of our favorite authors, Ally Carter, but we got into our second choice which great as well. By the end of the day we were dead on our feet but already planning our return visit next year.

Lois Lowry Talk/Signing
Though we have a pretty great library system, and get a lot of great books, we are in the middle of nowhere thus we hardly get any well known YA/Children's authors though here... or at least ones that we know. Having Lois Lowry come through was so freaking amazing and the place where they had the talk was beyond packed! There were people standing along the walls and in front of the stage, and over a hundred people were left outside waiting in the signing line. We went with a friend and we were all were able to get our copies of the Giver signed. It was awesome!

Library Book Sales
This is only about a third of the room... or maybe a quarter...
Like I said, we have a great library system and they put on an amazing library book sale that lasts a whole week! Twice a year we attend the Preview Sale, Bag Day, and one or two other times during the week. This Spring we came out of the preview sale with around 40 books each! The library book sale is some of the only times we buy books so it feels very much like Christmas!

Book Clubs
For the past three years we have been arranging a book club for us and our friends. We just read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and our next book will be The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. It is so fun to hang out with friends who read/like similar books and be able to fangirl over them.

We are also a part of our local library's book club that started last December. It's something new for us because it forces us to read outside our comfort zone (as well as making us read adult In both book clubs there is only an average of 4 people which is kind of sad but it does makes it easier for everyone to get their opinions out.

Christina and Harry Potter
As the big Harry Potter fan in our house, Christina is always looking for ways to expand her collection of everything HP. Last winter she knitted a hat for each house and a friend of her's knitted her a Slytherin scarf (we are both proud Slytherins). She is also the proud owner of Harry Potter Clue, the Harry Potter poster book, and she crocheted her own Buckbeak! And all this was only what she got this year.

Favorite Blog Posts
We've done quit a few blog posts over the year and we just wanted to share some of our favorites with you. One of our favorites was one that was posted pretty early on and we called it A Sisterly Argument: Half-Bloods vs Wizards. Basically we transcribed an actual arguement we had over who would win in a fight: Rick Riordan's Half-Bloods or J.K. Rowling Wizards. (Neither of us have conceded our argument). Besides that, Sarah's favorite post was her Raging Star Review + Fancast. We don't fancast much but this was a fun one to do. And Christina's favorite was (of course) about Harry Potter, called Back to Hogwarts Week: The Series That Lives.

All in all, we've had a great book year and have met some awesome people on the blogs. We've won some great books and have read many amazing ones. We can't wait to see what the next year holds.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Top 10 Most Anticipated Releases For The Rest of 2015

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4) by Marissa Meyer
The final novel in the Lunar Chronicles series!!! I think I'm most excited about this one because I have been with this series from the beginning and can't wait to see how it all works out!

All In (The Naturals #3) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Jennifer Lynn Barnes is on my list of favorite authors right now. I love The Naturals and cannot wait to continue the series. Who doesn't love reading about brilliant teenagers solving brutal murders?

Walk The Earth A Stranger (The Gold Seer Trilogy #1) by Rae Carson
 I discovered the Fire and Thorns series at the beginning of the year when I was bieng reading in preparation for North Texas Teen Book Festival. I absolutely love her writing, world building, characters, etc. and I cannot wait to read this one. And it's a historical fantasy set during the gold rush! How cool is that?!
6 of Crows (The Dregs #1) by Leigh Bardugo
I loved the Grisha trilogy so I knew that I would read Leigh Bardugo's newest book but I got even more excited when I heard it was about thieves! Those types of characters hold a special place in my reader heart.

Soundless by Richelle Mead
I'm not quite sure what it's about. But it's another YA by Mead so I'll definitely read it. 

Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4) by Sarah J. Maas
While this is not my favorite series I am definitely hooked. After how the last book ended I cannot wait to see the next step in Celaena's adventure!

The Unquiet by Mikaela Everette
I'm a sucker for books that deal with alt/parallel worlds but, as of yet, I have been disappointed. The Unquiet combines parallel worlds with assassins! It's going to be awesome and creepy!

Lion Heart (Scarlet #3) by A.C. Gaughen
I know this book is out already but I haven't read it yet so I'm adding it to the list. This is another series I've been with from the beginning and I love it! I've always enjoyed Robin Hood stories and I can't wait to see how Scarlet and Rob turn out in this one!

Immortal Heights (The Elemental Trilogy #3) by Sherry Thomas
After The Perilous Sea I am so ready for the conclusion. That cliffhanger last time was just mean. I am not amused... but I am impressed.

Black Widow: Forever Red by Margaret Stohl
There are no words on how beyond awesome this is going to be! To have a YA novel written about Black Widow? Purely AMAZING!!!