Sunday, December 14, 2014

Review: Furry Logic by Jane Seabrook

  Furry Logic, 10th Anniversary Edition: A Guide to Life's Little Challenges
Release Date: November 11, 2014
Publisher:  Ten Speed Press
Pages: 96
Source: copy from publisher via Blogging For Books (thank you!!)
ISBN-10:   1607747162
Rating: 5 Hearts
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18285437-rites-of-passage

Book Description

"The adorable and high-profile Furry Logic series celebrates its 10th anniversary with a menagerie of illustrated animals and hilarious sayings about life, love, and everything in between.

No one understands the ups and downs of life's little challenges better than the frisky critters of Furry Logic. The inspirational and tongue-in-cheek advice from series creator Jane Seabrook and her plucky animal characters will tickle the fancy and the funnybone of readers everywhere. Each intricately illustrated spread features a member of the animal kingdom with a unique take on life, from the adorably grumpy owl who advises "Smile first thing in the morning. Get it over with" to the fluffy hawk who admonishes, "If at first you do succeed, try not to look too astonished." So join the original flock of penguins, bears, frogs, and more in celebrating a decade of wit and wisdom with ten new illustrated spreads for fans looking for fresh inspiration
."

Review

Short and Sweet:

I never thought I would see myself so thoroughly reflected in a picture book.  

To Elaborate... 

Furry Logic is a picture book that anyone from a baby to an adult can enjoy. Different animals are depicted with snarky, humorous, and motivational sayings. When I saw this, I thought it would be a cute story with animals (based on cover alone), but it is full of so many laugh out loud sayings. Sometimes it plays on common inspirational phrases and twists them, and sometimes they seem to come from nowhere but make so much sense. 

There are few things I like more than snark, wit, and kindness, and I love it when those are all combined. Furry Logic meshes them in a lovely way that makes me want to read this over and over. The humor is all G-rated, so this really is a picture book for the whole family to enjoy. 

Backing up the sayings are really adorable illustrations. From owls to cats to squirrels, they are all so well done and cute. I particularly like the cat on the cover (also featured later in the book). That is exactly the face (minus the fur and whiskers) I have when its my nap time (because the best part of adulting is making your own nap schedule). 

Overall, this is an adorable and funny read to share. Since it's a picture book, it reads super quickly, giving you a fast extra motivational boost or laugh when you need it.    

5 Hearts!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Where We've Been & When We'll Be Back


Uh.... hi guys. Sabrina here. I've been meaning to write this post for weeks and weeks, but I've been a teensy bit apprehensive about a few things. 

First, the subject I'm about to address is personal and while I'm super open about it with individuals, it has been hard to make the decision to put it on the internet forever. So, please be cool and respectful regardless of your feelings about a fairly sensitive subject.

Second, I wish I'd just written it weeks ago and feel like a huge slacker with each passing day! One thing I've never been is a slacker. I'm actually a huge over-achiever, or 'was.' We shall see on that one.

So where the hell have I been?

It's complicated.

Initially, in early fall I was just busy with school and reading less. However, in mid-October I made a big decision about something I've been struggling with for 6 years. I decided to stop treating my anxiety disorder homeopathically and to speak with a doctor about my options for treatment.

So, long story short: I am an anxious person. I'm not ashamed about that even one little bit, but a few months ago I realized how much space I had made in my life for anxious thoughts and realized it was entirely too much. Basically, I'd gotten worse over time, very gradually and I didn't realize how bad it had gotten. So I scheduled an appointment and spent 20 minutes detailing how severe my 'worrying' had become. 

I told the doctor that I've worried my entire life, but in the past 6 years since my son was born, I also began to have panic attacks. I gave him some examples of the scenarios that play out in my mind when I worry, he stared at me speechless and stunned. 

You see, I had begun to worry, routinely, that my husband was dead if he was late getting home. I worried that my son had whatever sensationalized illness was currently on the news every time he coughed, or sneezed. I worried that my friends would stop caring for me, or that I would die and leave my son without a mother. 

Normal things that pass other people's minds stuck in mine for hours, unswayed by logic.

For example:

During one ice storm, I warned my husband not to park under a tree because the thing looked like it was going to fall over under the weight of the ice. That evening the tree indeed smashed his truck and my car. (Yes, I AM the Oracle). ;)



This was in February of 2011. Since then, I have spent many evenings terrified that the big tree hanging over our house would fall and kill us during bad storms. I have more than once considered waking up my husband and son to make them sleep in the unfinished basement. I'm serious. Don't worry I didn't do it.

Since I'm writing this now, you may have guessed that this has actually not happened. ;)

But, until recently it seemed very probable to me.

So, that day in the doctor's office ended with a prescription for meds (I'm going to be unspecific here, but email me if you'd like more info). I spent 2 hours on the phone that night with a good friend, freaking out about all of the possible side effects. I had anxiety about treating my anxiety.

I started taking them and within days I noticed that my chest literally felt quiet and still for the first time in forever. There had been such a constant buzz of anxiety in my body for so long, that I didn't notice its physical presence until it was gone. 
However, holy side-effects, I've never been so exhausted in my life. I still got out of bed, but it was a source of angst every morning. I came home from school and work and collapsed, literally, into bed still dressed and slept until minutes before I had to leave for the next responsibility. I wasn't anxious anymore, but I became this napping machine. I had been warned about the sleepiness, but told it would subside within a week or two. 

It didn't. It got better, but not much. So where have I been?


And I'm trying to be kind of funny about it, but it hasn't actually been funny. Ask my husband. 

Because when I'm sleeping I get super territorial about the sleeping and the not disturbing of the sleeping and nothing else matters.
Like school...
and grades....
and cleaning my house.....
and eating....
and hygiene....
and socializing....
and even reading.
Now, I should specify that I've still been living my life and that in most ways, things have improved. For example, there are a lot of things that I used to worry about that now seem super silly. The tree, for example. And I'm this peaceful, zen person who is rational about late husbands and sick kiddos. 
But my grades have been slipping. Friendships have suffered and I've basically become an entirely different person without 'my worry.' My motivation in many things stemmed from anxiety, or fear of consequences that weren't likely. Now that I'm not anxious, I've literally had to start rebuilding what motivates me from the ground up. 

This is an ongoing process. I'm still not sure where I'll end up.

So, bottom line... I'm feeling good, happy, peaceful. However, my final perspective on blogging is that it is a hobby that I want to enjoy rather than stress about. So, things are going to be different around here.

Moving forward, Samantha and I are on the same page about posting more sporadically. That means that starting in 2015 we'll be back to posting and reviewing, but it simply can't be our first priority for a variety of reasons including jobs, grades and most importantly loved ones. But we love you guys too, so we're going to try to make it work in this new, super-chill way. 

Samantha (who is the bestest, most amazing co-blogger ever, ever, EVER) also wanted to talk with you all really quick. ;)

Hi all! One of my favorite parts of blogging is that you're your own boss. If you NEED break, it's easy to give yourself one. Since college is not like that, and it's full of hide-under-the-covers-scary due dates, sometimes extended breaks are unavoidable. On my end, I've decided to graduate a semester early (December '15 woohoo!), which means my thesis also got bumped up a semester *cue crying-into-chocolate face over stress*. And, as much as I love my classes this semester, they have not been easy on the course load, with an extra emphasis on end of the semester papers and projects. Throw in some research on grad schools, work, internships, and family and friend shenanigans, and you have a calendar that's trying to make a 24-hour day stretch to 36. I've been trying to read as much as possible between everything with little luck, but sometimes life forces things to take a back seat so you can focus on driving.

The good news is that we will be back in January! And it mostly likely (but no promises) won't be completely dead on the blog until then. I'm determined to get my NetGalley percentage back up to the beautiful 80% it once was, so I will probably be posting a few random, highly sporadic reviews here and there. Do feel free to comment on any of those random reviews, and I will happily read them/try to comment back either there or on your blog (if you have one), but again, no promises. I can't wait to get back into these gorgeous books and blog my fingers off, but for now, have a wonderful and magical holiday season!!!
-Samantha-

We hope you'll stick it out with us and we can't wait to catch up with all of you after the holidays.


We Heart you awesome, bookish nerds!



P.S. I (Sabrina) would love to chat with any of you who may also be dealing with anxiety, or who may have questions. This includes concerned bookish friends (I miss you guys!) who want to say hi, strangers and everyone in between. Email me if this applies to you. Xo!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Review: The Hit List by Nikki Urang

  The Hit List
Release Date: November 11, 2014
Publisher:  Spencer Hill Contemporary
Pages: 256
Source: eARC from publisher(Thanks!)
ISBN-10:   1939392322
Rating: 5 Hearts
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18285437-rites-of-passage

Book Description

"The Los Angeles Conservatory for the Arts is supposed to be a new beginning for Sadie Bryant. Moving across the country is exactly what she needs to escape the gossip surrounding her injury, the devastating betrayal of her ex-partner, and to rebuild her career as a solo dancer.

When the school announces that the annual Fall Showcase, a performance that secures a spot studying in London, will now require each dancer to have a partner, Sadie’s fresh start is a nightmare. Now she has to dance with Luke Morrison, the school womanizer with a big ego. Sadie doesn’t know how to trust Luke enough to dance with him after her last partner left her broken, but Luke is determined to change that.

Then, The Hit List comes out. A game of sexual conquest where guys get points for all the girls they hook up with—and it seems like every guy at the school is playing.

The girl worth the most points? Sadie
."

Review

Short and Sweet:

Beautiful. Emotional. Brilliant. Loved it!! 

To Elaborate... 

Do you those books you come across so rarely that punch you in the feels over and over? Not just because the characters are facing a rough time or sad things happen, but also because the writing just speaks to you on such a personal level? This was that kind of book for me. I'm certainly not a dancer looking to be the best, but the writing shot straight to my heart over and over again. It's beautiful and meaningful, and it goes deeper than I ever imagined. 

The main couple, Sadie and Luke, are full of so much passion, intensity, emotion, hate, and love that my eyes got so angry they couldn't read about them fast enough (and I read this in a few hours). They are the kind of couple I never want to walk away from. They fight, argue, yell, kiss, and dance with everything they have, and most importantly, they aren't afraid to call bullshit on each other. They are flawed, and they are marvelous

The game of The Hit List is ridiculously realistic. I'm not sure if the game was inspired by something someone actually tried to do, but it would not surprise me to see it happening anywhere. It makes the reader and the characters take a hard look at gender objectifying, stereotyping, and just plain human hurtfulness. I always rave about books that can spark a much needed discussion, and this is definitely one of them. 

I seriously can't recommend this book enough, but I especially recommend it for people who love the movie Center Stage, who like contemporary stories with deep emotion, and for people who might be in search of a book to find meaning in.  

5 Hearts!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Review & Giveaway: A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17234658-a-thousand-pieces-of-you
Release Date: November 4, 2014
Publisher: Harper Teen
Pages: 368
Source: Finished copy from the publisher (Thanks!)
ISBN-10: 0062278967
Rating: 4 Hearts
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18285437-rites-of-passage

Book Description

"Every Day meets Cloud Atlas in this heart-racing, space- and time-bending, epic new trilogy from New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray.

Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their radical scientific achievements. Their most astonishing invention: the Firebird, which allows users to jump into parallel universes, some vastly altered from our own. But when Marguerite’s father is murdered, the killer—her parent’s handsome and enigmatic assistant Paul—escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite can’t let the man who destroyed her family go free, and she races after Paul through different universes, where their lives entangle in increasingly familiar ways. With each encounter she begins to question Paul’s guilt—and her own heart. Soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is more sinister than she ever could have imagined.

A Thousand Pieces of You explores a reality where we witness the countless other lives we might lead in an amazingly intricate multiverse, and ask whether, amid infinite possibilities, one love can endure.
"

Review

Short and Sweet:

A Thousand Pieces of You is a delightful, compelling, fantastically fun read! It definitely lives up to the excitement that its gorgeous cover has inspired in the YA community. An absolute must-read!

To Elaborate...

While I expected any story penned by Claudia Gray to be wonderful, I didn't expect to love the 'parallel worlds' aspect as much as I did. I have enjoyed other books with this concept, but had mostly tired of it until I picked up A Thousand Pieces of You.

So, what the story gets absolutely right for me is the romance. Not straight away, but before long I was feeling all the swoony feelings. I also REALLY appreciated the loving parents who are invested in Marguerite's life. Marguerite also really loves and respects her parents. And guess what? The story is still absolutely fabulous. No absent, or crappy parent dynamic necessary. I really hope to see more of this positivity in YA regarding parent/teen relationships. The dynamic between Marguerite and her father is really beautiful and important to the story.

The dimension travel was also really fascinating and exciting to follow. The characters actually 'possess' the version of themselves that exists in the multiverses that they travel to, so the original in each world is dormant, but not entirely gone. It's really interesting and a few moral concepts are introduced that are really intriguing. I've never read a story quite like this one and I'm super excited that this will be a trilogy. I absolutely want to spend more time in this world and see what happens next!

There were a few aspects that I felt picky about, for example: fairly early on, I guessed a couple of things about the 'bad guy(s).' I think that if I hadn't the twist would have been a bit more satisfying. Second of all, I was so excited that Marguerite's mother was this brilliant scientist, but then hardly any time is spent on her character development. This is a badass, genius mom-scientist. I wanted to know her like we got to know Marguerite's father. I hope to see much more of her in the next two installments!

I highly recommend this imaginative, swoony, high stakes story! 4 solid hearts!


AND the publisher has graciously sent a gorgeous, shiny, new hardcover of A Thousand Pieces of You for me to give to one lucky US winner! Enter below!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Book Blast: How We Fall by Kate Brauning

How We Fall How We Fall
Kate Brauning
Merit Press, F&W Media
Releasing November 11, 2014
Hardcover: 304 pages
ISBN-10: 1440581797
ISBN-13: 978-144058179

Ever since Jackie moved to her uncle's sleepy farming town, she's been flirting way too much--and with her own cousin, Marcus. Her friendship with him has turned into something she can't control, and he's the reason Jackie lost track of her best friend, Ellie, who left for...no one knows where. Now Ellie has been missing for months, and the police, fearing the worst, are searching for her body. Swamped with guilt and the knowledge that acting on her love for Marcus would tear their families apart, Jackie pushes her cousin away. The plan is to fall out of love, and, just as she hoped he would, Marcus falls for the new girl in town. But something isn't right about this stranger, and Jackie's suspicions about the new girl's secrets only drive the wedge deeper between Jackie and Marcus. Then Marcus is forced to pay the price for someone else's lies as the mystery around Ellie's disappearance starts to become horribly clear. Jackie has to face terrible choices. Can she leave her first love behind, and can she go on living with the fact that she failed her best friend?

Praise for How We Fall:
Kirkus Reviews: "Debut novelist Brauning tells a touching story of young, star-crossed lovers caught in a drama they have tried hard to avoid.... A sweetly written mix of mystery and romantic turmoil."

School Library Journal: "Heartbreaking and well-paced, this mystery novel challenges readers to look past preconceptions and get to the know characters, rather than focus on an uncomfortable taboo. Brauning's characters are well developed and their story engrossing. An intriguing thriller... this title will raise eyebrows and capture the interest of teens."

ALA Booklist: “…an unusual combination of romance and suspense…There is also something universal about Jackie’s struggles with her feelings and her desires, and readers will identify with her emotions, while going along for the plot’s ride. This quest for identity, wrapped up in an intriguing mystery, hooks from the beginning.”

How We Fall is available through:

All book lovers are invited to attend #YAlaunch, a giant book party for How We Fall and The Hit List on Monday, November 10th, from 6-9pm central time. Broadcast live over video, the party will allow you to see, hear, and interact with the authors. 10 YA and adult authors will be discussing everything from writing a series to how they write love interests. They’ll also be playing book games with the audience, taking questions, and giving away 100 books to guests attending online. Authors attending include NYT bestsellers Nicole Baart and Tosca Lee, Kate Brauning, Nikki Urang, Kiersi Burkhart, Bethany Robison, Alex Yuschik, Blair Thornburgh, Kelly Youngblood, and Delia Moran. It will be a fun and interactive evening for anyone who loves books and wants to spend some time with great authors. For more information and to sign up to attend, please click here. We'd love to see you there!


 



Author Bio: Kate Brauning grew up in rural Missouri and fell in love with young adult books in college. She now works in publishing and pursues her lifelong dream of telling stories she'd want to read. This is her first novel. Visit her online at www.katebrauning.com or on Twitter at @KateBrauning.
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