Friday, February 27, 2015

A Typical Day in the Life

A lot of people ask me how I maintain my current schedule and keep sane. The simple answer? I can't. The more complex answer is in this post.

3:20 am: Wake up, moan and groan a lot, check my phone for key updates, read the Daily Skimm, get out of bed and get ready for work
3:40 am: Off to work! I usually listen to the radio on the way in, to keep me awake and get motivated for the day ahead
4:00 am: Arrive at work and get down to business! At work, I listen to audiobooks while I unpack the new clothes and cosmetics, which allows me to get so much of my reading done.
9:00 am: Done with the first job of the day. I head home to run Ruby around, watch some Netflix (or blog), eat lunch and get changed for the next part of the day.
12:00 pm: Leave for my next job! I have an hour commute, so I have to plan what I'll listen to carefully. Depending on my mood (and how good the book that I'm listening to is at that time), I'll either jam to some music or plug my audiobook back in.
1:00 pm: Arrive at the community college, ready to help students get ready to start school
5:00 pm: Day is finally over! Another hour long commute with the same structure (although a little more traffic)
6:00 pm: I'm home for the day, finally. If there's a hockey game that has been recorded, that's the first thing I turn on when I walk in the door (the games start at 7pm on the east coast, so 4pm here). If not, I usually catch up on some Jeopardy or a movie while I'm eating dinner and winding down.
8:00 pm: Head upstairs and get ready for bed. Watch some more Netflix to wind down.
8:30 or 9:00 pm: Lights out! Another day down.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

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Review: Linger & Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

 























Title: Linger/Forever
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: YA Paranormal
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Series: Wolves of Mercy Falls #2 & #3
Where I got it: Audiobook from the e-library


I decided to combine these two reviews because I find it hard to review sequels sometimes when they repeat a lot of the same characters/plot, and I also read these two in quick succession so it was hard to tell them apart!


 
Main characters: 5/5

I like Sam and Grace because they're quirky and, while I like them, I definitely want to shout at them sometimes, or I'll catch myself thinking that they're a little strange. But you know what? That's a good thing. Stiefvater captures the real parts of them, even parts that I don't like annoy me. And it's the genuineness: the fact that these could be people I know. I don't know how else to explain it. Sam sometimes seems oddly quiet and awkward, and Grace has this annoying practicality about her, so it's not like I adore them, in fact they kind of get on my nerves. But I appreciate that, and all their other imperfections, and their romance is just stellar.

Secondary characters: 4.5/5

Much like Sam and Grace, I didn't really like Cole and Isabel for most of these sequels. They were fascinating, especially in contrast to Sam and Grace, but they weren't nice people. Regardless, they made for intriguing secondary characters and offset the niceness of Sam and Grace. I also appreciated the way that they grew and changed each other through the course of the novels.

Writing style: 3/5

I think the writing style is my biggest knock against Stiefvater. Her prose is absolutely gorgeous, but the pacing was not my style. The writing dragged in the middle of both novels and I was ready to put them down at some points. Especially in the final action scene in Forever, I was literally screaming at the audiobook because so much was happening and then Stiefvater would stop in the middle of this crazy action and start to describe something. There are some really beautiful scenes of loss and darkness that I applaud (like I said, the writing is gorgeous), but the pacing was too jarring and slow for me in a lot of places.

Plot: 3.5/5 
I've always liked the premise of The Wolves of Mercy Falls series because it does provide a unique spin on the werewolf theme. We get werewolves that are more scientifically created, rather than fantastically. The stories are really more about loss and romance than about werewolves. The conflict that is created is exciting and realistic (as realistic as you can get with werewolves, of course). My problem is the lack of action which, when paired with the slow pacing and the fact that most of the action happens behind the scenes (when another character is narrating and comes back and happens to hear about the actions done by another character), is painfully slow.

Ending: 1/5

I was disappointed. This is not an ending, and knowing that Sinner came out made it both better and worse. You still need to wrap up the series because Sinner is apparently a stand-alone, but yay that there's another book coming out- more answers? There were a lot of things left untied. In general, I like more ambiguous endings, but this series crossed over into laziness. This weren't just left for the reader to wonder or question, they almost seemed forgotten.

Best scene: The final action scene in Forever. I was screaming in my car (and I don't really react to books like that often!)


Positives: Complex, genuine and emotive characters, amazing premise with believable conflict stemming from it, gorgeous prose

Negatives: The ending, the pacing


Cover: I've always been lukewarm about the covers. They're unique looking and interesting, but not very exciting or eye-catching


Verdict:  What a fun series! I was definitely disappointed in the way the ending was handled (not what happened, but the lack of answers) and the pacing, but there's no denying that Stiefvater can tell an amazing and heart-wrenching story.


Rating:  6.8 / 10 (4 stars)


Your Thoughts: Have you read it? What did you think? If you haven't, will you be adding it to your TBR list? Let me know!

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Newest Member of the Family: Ruby

Some more exciting news has hit my family in the last couple weeks: we got a new puppy! Two weeks ago, we headed up to the Tacoma area with Wilson to take a look at a one year old Rottweiler puppy.

Her name is Ruby and she came home with us! It has been a crazy couple of weeks but it's been a lot of fun getting to know her!



How cute is she??

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Review: Unleashed by Nancy Holder & Debbie Viguie

Title: Unleashed
Author: Nancy Holder & Debbie Viguie
Genre: YA Paranormal
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Length: 382 pages
Original Publishing Date: November 22nd, 2011
Series: Wolf Springs Chronicles #1
Where I got it: Audiobook from the e-library
Links: Goodreads Amazon Author's Website


Synopsis from Goodreads: 
 
Katelyn McBride’s life changed in an instant when her mother died. Uprooted from her California home, Katelyn was shipped to the middle of nowhere, Arkansas, to her only living relative, her grandfather. And now she has to start over in Wolf Springs, a tiny village in the Ozark Mountains. Like any small town, Wolf Springs has secrets. But the secrets hidden here are more sinister than Katelyn could ever imagine. It’s a town with a history that reaches back centuries, spans continents, and conceals terrifying truths. And Katelyn McBride is about to change everything.

Broken families, ageless grudges, forced alliances, and love that blooms in the darkest night—welcome to Wolf Springs.

 
Main characters: 3.5/5

I'm still confused about my feelings on Katelyn. One the one hand, I was disappointed in a lot with her. I didn't like how gymnastics was her life in Los Angeles, and then she moves to Wolf Springs and suddenly rolls over like a puppy (pun intended) and never mentions gymnastics again! It made her seem like she didn't have a backbone to stand up to her grandfather and wasn't all that passionate in the first place. With this being my first impression, I didn't care for Katelyn at first. She also didn't seem to have any other interests or defining characteristics, so there was that. However, Katelyn grew on me. Her relationship with her grandfather and with Trick made her stronger, and I loved how she began to stand up for herself. By the end of the novel, I felt like I knew her, and I guess that made up for the beginning.

Secondary characters: 3/5

I understand that we're supposed to sympathize with Kat at the beginning and thus Holder and Viguie sort of alienated Kat's grandfather. However, I felt like there was a lot of potential for him and learning about his past that was kind of sidestepped in this book. Maybe it will come in the sequel?

Trick was intriguing. He was goofy and adorable, and he sounded like he had a unique physical appearance (which I feel doesn't happen often). Yay Trick. There were a few parts where I was upset at him (as Kat was), but I feel like this was the intent of the authors trying to put me in Kat's shoes (it worked). I'm sure that his issues will be explained and I have faith that he is a good guy. In other words, I love Trick!

The whole mystery with Cordelia made it hard to connect with her, because she appeared to be hiding so many things! Regardless, I liked her unique blend of confident and nervous, and I felt it made her a fascinating secondary character.

Now, all these positive characters in place, I was extremely disappointed with the Justin subplot. I didn't like Justin, and I didn't like Katelyn when they interacted together.

Writing style: 3.5/5

Like many novels, Unleashed started a little slow and needed some time to grow into its plot. The exposition led me to believe that the novel would be different than it actually turned out to be. Luckily, I liked the way it ended up better than the initial promise. Holder and Viguie's writing was mysterious, kept me entertained and confused, and moved quickly. There wasn't anything adept or beautiful to the writing style, but it did its job and I was always interested in what was happening.

Plot: 4/5 
There was some good, and there was some bad. On the plus side, Unleashed is chock full of mysteries. I was swept away in them, constantly trying to figure out, but Holder and Viguie managed to stump me and constantly leave me guessing! I love that in a novel. There was also always something happening. I was never left sitting, waiting for the next big event. Also, I caught that nod to King Lear.... love it!

On the negative side, there was little new about the supernatural premise and I was disappointed with the direction of the plot toward the end.

Ending: 2/5

Not impressed. The ending was much less surprising than I thought, and it left almost too many questions unanswered. Nothing was resolved, and it left me with more questions than answers.

Best scene: The party scenes with Trick


Reminded Me Of: Shiver meets Twilight

Positives: Intriguing main character, Trick, the pacing, the mysteries

Negatives: Slow beginning, Justin & that whole subplot, the ending


Cover: Just okay. It's not particularly striking and I don't really understand the main photo


Verdict: An entertaining, if not deep, read with plenty of mystery!


Rating:  6.4 / 10 (3 stars)


Your Thoughts: Have you read it? What did you think? If you haven't, will you be adding it to your TBR list? Let me know!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Notice Anything Different?

This change has been a long time coming, because I've felt less like a solely book-blog and more like a blog about life in general. You all can give me a hard time, because I know my new name is cheesy, but I love the connotation of Evergreen, especially in the northwest, and Amber is just pretty.

I'm excited for this change into the future! I know I've been a little lacking on posts and being active, but I'm confident that this will head me toward a better blogging future.

Look forward to a lot of new features, a lot of new friends and a lot of learning to do!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Review: Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon

Title: Carrrier of the Mark
Author: Leigh Fallon
Genre: YA Paranormal
Publisher: HarperTeen
Length: 342 pages
Original Publishing Date: October 4th, 2011
Series: Carrier #1
Where I got it: Audiobook from the e-library
Links: Goodreads Amazon Author's Website


Synopsis from Goodreads: 
 
When Megan Rosenberg moves to Ireland, everything in her life seems to fall into place. After growing up in America, she's surprised to find herself feeling at home in her new school. She connects with a group of friends, and she is instantly drawn to darkly handsome Adam DeRÍs.

But Megan is about to discover that her feelings for Adam are tied to a fate that was sealed long ago—and that the passion and power that brought them together could be their ultimate destruction.

 
Main characters: 1.5/5

Megan was sweet and realistic. I understood why she did what she did and liked her in general, but she was also boring and unmemorable. I was also completely unsurprised with the direction that her character evolved, and was uninspired by the lack of originality. The only pro I can give Megan is that she is not completely dependent, as Bella from Twilight was. At least Megan can stand up with the rest of the De Ris family and makes her own mark.

Adam reminded me of every other YA male crush out there, especially the part where he started off rude and standoffish to Megan. I'm so sick and tired of that being attractive to YA heroines, and I didn't find anything remotely attractive to their "repartee". Don't get me wrong, there were some parts where Adam was really sweet, but I still never felt a sincere connection to him.

Overall, I was disappointed in the depth and quality of the main characters, including their relationship together. I didn't understand their initial attraction to one another, and it just got worse from there.

Secondary characters: 2/5

The secondary characters were polarizing. Adam's brother and sister were straight outta Twilight, but even still, I couldn't help but like Anya. She was sweet and charming, and provided a good antithesis to Rian. Besides that however, I was unimpressed with the portrayal of Adam's family and I felt like they were pretty wooden stock-like characters.

Caitlin on the other hand was a riotous good time. I loved her quirky charm and I felt like she contributed that normalcy to Megan's life that made the novel seem more realistic than it was. Megan's father was sweet and charming in his own way too, but reminded me way too much of Charlie.

Writing style: 2.5/5

Fallon's writing style was surprisingly not awful, given how the characters were portrayed. It moved along at a good clip and kept me entertained at least. The action wasn't necessarily "edge-of-your-seat", but Fallon kept my interest and the writing didn't make me groan or moan at any given point.

Plot: 2.5/5 
I was wondering where the plot was going to go but it was something that, while not unique, was not an oversaturated market. I liked the mystery of not knowing right away what the secret was. The plot itself, however, honestly felt like something that I'd seen a million times. I could walk you through the ways that it was exactly like Twilight: new girl moves to city where she meets standoffish boy and siblings, learns their secret powers, gets involved, falls in love, etc.

Ending: 1/5

A little anticlimactic, honestly, in terms of climax. There were some parts that were overdramatic and had me rolling my eyes. It all felt very rushed as well.

Best scene: Any scene with Caitlin. I loved her!


Reminded Me Of: Haha, haven't you guessed it yet? Twilight

Positives: Entertaining writing style, premise that hasn't been done a lot

Negatives: Flat and annoying main characters, the Twilight copycat, the ending


Cover: Honestly, people were so in love with the cover, but it's not my favorite


Verdict:  An uninspiring copy of Twilight


Rating:  3.8 / 10 (2 stars)


Your Thoughts: Have you read it? What did you think? If you haven't, will you be adding it to your TBR list? Let me know!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Review: Legend by Marie Lu

Title: Legend
Author: Marie Lu
Genre: YA Dystopian Adventure
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Length: 305 pages
Original Publishing Date: November 29th, 2011
Series: Legend #1
Where I got it: Audiobook from the e-library
Links: Goodreads Amazon Author's Website


Synopsis from Goodreads: 
 
What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths - until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family's survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias's death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

 
Main characters: 4/5

First, the ugly: they are supposed to be fifteen? Give me a freaking break. Next, the bad: the fact that they are both so ridiculously smart and obviously the 1% of the population. They are the special snowflakes of the world, not someone that you could put yourself in their shoes. Also? Their romance bordered on that instalove. No good. Finally, the good. These characters are awesome and badass. I loved June's reserved nature and Day's rebellious streak. They were both intensely protective of those they loved and loyal, although to different sides, and intelligent beyond belief.

Secondary characters: 2/5

For having such amazing main characters, Legend seriously lacked on its secondary characters. June's brother, Metias, was one of the main secondary characters but I never felt like I got to know him. I liked that we learned more secrets about him as the novel went on, but it was all sort of secondary. Day's friend (God help me, I can't even remember her name) was cute, but she disappeared so early on that she very well may not have been there.

Writing style: 4.5/5

Ummm, yes. Lu knows how to pack a punch into a relatively short book and keep me on edge the whole time. Her writing is efficient and yet, the descriptions are beautiful at the same time. Best of all was the action, however. Lu has a way of making you never want to put the book down, because you don't want to miss you on what will happen next! I was completely enthralled with the events, and that was a tribute to both the plot and writing style.

Plot: 4.5/5 
I love the premise of the notorious unknown freedom fighter. Kind of like a V for Vendetta thing. Throw in the dystopian government and the romance and I am so hooked. So, world-building: check. I felt like there was a mystery but the worldbuilding leading up was phenomenal. Everything made sense and I could visualize everything in my mind. Mystery? Check. I can't say that I was thoroughly surprised by it, but I liked following along and guessing what would happen. Suspense? Oh yeah.

Ending: 3.5/5

Breakneck pace, some sad parts, definitely a set up for the sequel, but surprisingly good at tying up the loose ends of the first novel. An acceptable ending (and I have trouble with endings).

Best scene: I liked the beginning where Day and June are first showing off their abilities to the reader. Impressive!


Reminded Me Of: V for Vendetta

Positives: Exciting and fun main characters, crazy good writing, exciting premise and plot, good setup for sequel

Negatives: Secondary characters, some minor issues with the Day and June's ages and their special snowflake abilities, mediocre ending


Cover: A little boring, honestly. I expected more.


Verdict: An incredibly exciting political dystopian thriller. Can't wait to read the sequel!


Rating:  7.4 / 10 (4 stars)


Your Thoughts: Have you read it? What did you think? If you haven't, will you be adding it to your TBR list? Let me know!