Winter 2017 Comment Challenge: January Sign-up

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We’re back! This past summer FLYLēF and A Kernel of Nonsense hosted the Comment Challenge, pairing book bloggers together and encouraging them to comment on each other’s blogs. Because of all the positive feedback, we’ve decided to bring back this challenge for this winter. We hope you join us and challenge yourself to spread some comment love while making some meaningful connections with other book bloggers.
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  • The Winter 2017 Comment Challenge will run from January through March
  • You are welcome to sign-up for one month or all winter long
  • Bloggers will be paired before the beginning of each month and will be asked to comment on each other’s blogs
  • At this time the challenge will be for English-only blogs
  • If you participated over summer, we will try our best to partner you with a different blogger, but please note this may not always be possible
  • Though it is not required, we strongly encourage you to create a sign-up post each month you participate
  • You have the option of signing up for 5+ or 10+ comments per month
  • Giveaway: at the end of March, two participants will win a book of their choice.
  • At the beginning of each month we will put together a post where you can sign-up, link-up with your own sign-up post, and enter the giveaway
  • At the end of December, we will be posting January Comment Challenge partners on our blogs as well as informing participants by email

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  • Sign-up: starting today through December 26th, you can sign-up to participate in this challenge for January
  • Create a sign-up post: link-up each month with your own sign-up post. What we suggest you include:
    • Announce your intention to participate in whichever month
    • Link back to your hosts: Lonna @ FLYLēF and Alicia @ A Kernel of Nonsense
    • Include the Comment Challenge graphic
    • State how often you intend to comment on your partner’s blog and if you know who your partner is, introduce him/her
    • Share any thoughts you have about the challenge and whether you’ve participated before
  • Spread the word: for this winter challenge, we’re encouraging participants to tweet using #Winter2017CC (please see the giveaway for an chance to earn entries by doing this)
  • Enter the giveaway: Details regarding the giveaway are below
  • Comment: starting January 1st be sure to comment on your partner’s blog and have fun!

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If you cannot view the image below, click here for a direct link to the Google Doc.

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January Link-up: be sure to create a sign-up post before the month is out, letting everyone know that you will be participating. As always, please visit other participants’ sign-up posts and cheer them on. Please note, the final day to add your link will be December 31st.


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At the end of March two participants will be selected to win a book of their choice worth up to $20 (INT). Details and Rafflecopter link are below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway Details:

  • Giveaway ends March 31st 2017
  • Open internationally as long as Book Depository ships to you
  • Two (2) lucky winners will win one book of their choice worth up to $20 USD
  • Winners will be emailed and will have 72 hours (3 days) to respond or another winner will be chosen
  • Prizes will be fulfilled within 2 weeks. For newer releases, prizes will be fulfilled 2 weeks from the book’s release date.

All In by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

All In by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Title: All In
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Series: The Naturals, #3
Pages: 378
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Release Date: November 3rd 2015

      “Three casinos. Three bodies. Three days.
      After a string of brutal murders in Las Vegas, Cassie Hobbes and the Naturals are called in to investigate. But even with the team’s unique profiling talents, these murders seem baffling: unlike many serial killers, this one uses different methods every time. All of the victims were killed in public, yet the killer does not show up on any tape. And each victim has a string of numbers tattooed on their wrist. Hidden in the numbers is a code—and the closer the Naturals come to unraveling the mystery, the more perilous the case becomes.
      Meanwhile, Cassie is dealing with an equally dangerous and much more painful mystery. For the first time in years, there’s been a break in her mother’s case. As personal issues and tensions between the team mount, Cassie and the Naturals will be faced with impossible odds—and impossible choices.”

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      “You close your eyes and remember coming up behind her. You remember closing your hands around the chain. You remember her fighting.
      You remember the moment when she stopped.”

In All In, Jennifer Lynn Barnes’s third installment in her Naturals series, Cassie and the crew tackle another serial murder case, but the pasts of several teens come back to haunt them. Barnes writes very plot-driven novels that manage to be fast-paced and engaging, but also gives room for her characters to breathe. Sometimes a story focuses so much on interpersonal relationships that the plot takes a backseat, but Barnes’s ability to create a mystery that needs to be solved is what really stands out to me with this series.

Cassie, Dean, Lia, Michael, and Sloane are very different from one another, they all have individual hang-ups and there’s always that underlining conflict among some of them, but at the end of the day, they are willing to fight for one another. Cassie spent so many years growing up with only her mother to rely on that trusting other people and opening up to them is something she struggles with. Haunted by all the unanswered questions surrounding her mother’s murder, Cassie’s drive stems from the guilt she feels over her mother’s death and the belief that she can do something to make up for it. As the child of a serial killer, Dean’s whole identity is tied to what his father did. He constantly wrestles with himself over his ability to step into the mind of a serial killer and if this means that he’s capable of committing murder himself. If I have any criticism of this third installment, it’s that I wanted to see more of Dean’s character arc.

Of all the characters, I think Lia is the most puzzling. She’s less defined by her ability to spot a lie than her ability to tell a convincing one. She doesn’t give a lot away, is curt, and sometimes purposefully rude. I’m hoping the final installment introduces more of her past, which I believe will round-out her character more. Michael is a character that I find frustrating. In the first two books, I really found it hard to like him, but this novel really helped in resolving some of the issues I had with him. Sloane is the one character that I felt I knew very little about going into this one, but the plot hits really close to home for her and gives us a glimpse at this incredibly intelligent and vulnerable girl.

All In adds a lot of layers both to the characters and the overall plot of the series. The story is compelling and never suffers from unnecessary pauses. I’m really eager to see how the author resolves a really interesting storyline she introduces at the end of this one, but also a little afraid of where it might take these characters that I’ve grown rather fond of.

Rating: 4/5

★★★★

Top Ten Tuesday: Holiday Book Ideas for the Kids in My Life

Top Ten TuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is an original blog meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is “Holiday Gift Guide freebie (ten books to buy the YA lover in your life, 10 books to buy for your dad, etc.).” I wasn’t sure how I was going to approach this week’s topic until I realized that I’ve been spending a lot of time looking up books to buy my niece and nephews (two eight-year-olds and an eleven-year-old). So I thought I’d share with you some of the books I’m considering for Christmas gifts. Covers are linked to Goodreads.

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Have you had the pleasure of reading any of these? What’s the last kid’s book you bought? I’m open to more suggestions if you have a recommendation for my niece and nephews (two third graders [boy and girl] and a sixth grader [boy]). Let me know in the comments and be sure to leave a link to your own TTT post, so I can visit.

Mini Reviews: The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind + The Forgetting

MiniIt’s been a while since I put together a couple of mini reviews. I’m seeing a pattern emerge with these mini reviews, that I’m more likely to write them when I’ve rated a book three stars. It’s always those books in the middle that are sometimes hard to find all the right words for. This week I’m reviewing Meg Medina’s The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind and Sharon Cameron’s The Forgetting. Covers below are linked to Goodreads.

Title: The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind
Author: Meg Medina
Series: N/A
Pages: 256
Publisher: Candlewick
Release Date: March 13th 2012 

      “Sixteen-year-old Sonia Ocampo was born on the night of the worst storm Tres Montes had ever seen. And when the winds mercifully stopped, an unshakable belief in the girl’s protective powers began. All her life, Sonia has been asked to pray for sick mothers or missing sons, as worried parents and friends press silver milagros in her hands. Sonia knows she has no special powers, but how can she disappoint those who look to her for solace?
      Still, her conscience is heavy, so when she gets a chance to travel to the city and work in the home of a wealthy woman, she seizes it. At first, Sonia feels freedom in being treated like all the other girls. But when news arrives that her beloved brother has disappeared while looking for work, she learns to her sorrow that she can never truly leave the past or her family behind.

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“What would you do here in Tres Montes. Sonia? We both know that not even a magic girl can fill stomachs with wind and spells.”

Meg Medina’s The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind is a story of a girl who learns to define herself when her entire identity has been defined by how other people see her. For people in Tres Montes, Sonia Ocampo’s birth was a blessing that brought peace to the town when they were sure it would crumble under a storm. Over the years, her prayers on their behalf have kept them safe and healed the sick. But this gift has become a curse to Sonia, she grows weary of shouldering the town’s burdens and it feels impossible to continue when she begins to doubt her gift. Although I found this story enjoyable, I couldn’t help but want more. The novel itself was very short and I would have liked to have spent more time with Sonia and her town before she chose to leave it. With family ties at its core, The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind is a beautifully told coming-of-age story that is both heartbreaking and hopeful.

Rating: 3/5

★★★


Title: The Forgetting
Author: Sharon Cameron
Series: N/A
Pages: 403
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: September 13th 2016

      “Nadia lives in the city of Canaan, where life is safe and structured, hemmed in by white stone walls and no memory of what came before. But every twelve years the city descends into the bloody chaos of the Forgetting, a day of no remorse, when each person’s memories – of parents, children, love, life, and self – are lost. Unless they have been written.
      In Canaan, your book is your truth and your identity, and Nadia knows exactly who hasn’t written the truth. Because Nadia is the only person in Canaan who has never forgotten.
      But when Nadia begins to use her memories to solve the mysteries of Canaan, she discovers truths about herself and Gray, the handsome glassblower, that will change her world forever. As the anarchy of the Forgetting approaches, Nadia and Gray must stop an unseen enemy that threatens both their city and their own existence – before the people can forget the truth. And before Gray can forget her.”

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“We run, hard, and the ground falls away, and then we are the ones falling, soaring, and I catch a glimpse of the sparkling canyon, the misty pool below, the spray of the waterfall, three moons cresting the peak of a mountain.”

I approached Sharon Cameron’s The Forgetting with a little apprehension. Dystopian novels have had their day in my mind and they all start to sound alike after a while. This novel really didn’t offer anything new when compared to other dystopian books. I will say that Nadia’s character was different from what I typically see in these kind of novels. She’s quiet and withdrawn, a reaction to feeling very alone in the world. But Nadia also keeps herself closed off from others as a matter of self-preservation. Her closest relationship is with her younger sister Genivee, and even though her older sister Liliya is determined to be rid of her, Nadia shows a deep devotion to both. Gray himself was a likable character, but there was nothing particularly unique about him. The Forgetting wasn’t necessarily a bad book, but not much about it felt very memorable.

Rating: 3/5

★★★

Top Ten Tuesday: Let Us Be Thankful for the Little Things

Top Ten TuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is an original blog meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is “Thanksgiving freebie — tell us what you are thankful for! Books you are thankful for!” This is going to be a shout-out post to the little, yet awesome things in a book lover’s life. Click on any image below to enlarge. And a huge Happy Thanksgiving to all those who celebrate!!!

1. Bookmarks – I don’t have a huge collection of bookmarks, but I do have a couple that I just really love and how can anyone say no to those beautiful Book Depository ones they give you?

2. Author Dedications – I know I can’t be the only one who likes to read a book’s dedication before starting a book. C.S. Lewis’s dedication to his goddaughter in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe remains my favorite.

3. Book Swag – I tend to preorder quite a few books throughout the year. It’s nice to get a little something extra when preordering a book.

4. Post-Its – If you’re like me, you don’t like writing in your books, but sometimes it becomes necessary to make a note and this is where post-its come to the rescue. Sometimes I go a little overboard.

5. Little Extras on Hardbacks – I also have this thing where I like to take off the dust jacket to see if there’s any extra special something on the book itself. Sometimes it’s a simple as a little symbol and sometimes it’s lovely like this quote on the hardcover of Destiny Soria’s Iron Cast.

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6. Maps – I love maps. I find myself flipping back to a book’s map while reading because it help to picture the world the author has created. I’m all for pushing for maps to be included in every fantasy novel.

7. Pronunciation Guide – Speaking of fantasy novels…Why do authors insist on coming up with the most ridiculous names? It can be a bit much, especially when you have no idea how to pronounce the characters’ names, which is why I love it when a pronunciation guide is included in a novel where I am having trouble with names.

8. Deckled Edges – I kind of dig deckled edges. It gives off this vintage vibe which I love. The only problem is when you are trying to flip through the pages, looking for a specific passage and it becomes impossible.

9. Back-To-School Sales – If you’re like me, you like to keep a review notebook, are in love with colored pens for your blogging planner, and need all the post-it colors in the world. This can get expensive, but thankfully every July/August stores make all these available at a good price when parents are shopping for back-to-school supplies.

10. Matching Spines – Is there any greater feeling than when a series is complete and you line up the spines and they just look so perfect right next to each other?

Do you read book dedications (do you have a favorite)? Do you ever struggle with characters’ names? How to you feel about deckled edges? Let’s talk in the comments and be sure leave a link to your own TTT post, so I can visit.

The Friday 56: Iron Cast

The Friday 56The Friday 56 is a weekly blog meme hosted by Freda’s Voice. Join us every Friday and share an excerpt from a book you’ve been reading.

Rules:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader.
*Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post here in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url. It’s that simple.

**Be sure to leave a link to your Friday 56 post in the comments!**

“You’ve heard the phrase mind over matter?” she asked. “Well, that doesn’t apply here. When I recite, I give you whatever image I want, but I don’t have to convince you it’s real. Your own imagination does it for me. It’s a rare person who can overcome their own mind, and the better your brain works, the stronger the illusion.

I simply adored Destiny Soria’s debut novel Iron Cast. If you like your historical fiction to come with a bit of a fantasy twist, I’d recommend this one. Here one of the characters is explaining her ability to create an illusion simply by reciting a line from a book. You can read my full review here. Cover is linked to Goodreads.

Goodreads Synopsis:

      “It’s Boston, 1919, and the Cast Iron club is packed. On stage, hemopaths—whose “afflicted” blood gives them the ability to create illusions through art—captivate their audience. Corinne and Ada have been best friends ever since infamous gangster Johnny Dervish recruited them into his circle. By night they perform for Johnny’s crowds, and by day they con Boston’s elite. When a job goes wrong and Ada is imprisoned, they realize how precarious their position is. After she escapes, two of the Cast Iron’s hires are shot, and Johnny disappears. With the law closing in, Corinne and Ada are forced to hunt for answers, even as betrayal faces them at every turn.”