Thursday, July 31, 2014

Life of a Blogger: Favorite Outings


LIFE OF A BLOGGER: Favorite Outings

Life of a Blogger is a weekly meme by Novel Heartbeat.  It gives us a chance to talk about non-bookish passions and interests.

Some of my favorite outings are:

Wine Tasting/Beer Tasting/Really anything tasting

I am very lucky that I live 5 minutes away from a huge winery tasting room area.  There are over 100 tasting rooms in Woodinville, plus a few breweries and distilleries too.  I don't really drink wine at room, but I love love love wine tasting.  

The Beach

Beaches in Washington State are definitely not like Californian or Floridian beaches, but they have a beauty of their own.   My favorite beach is our beach property on Lopez Island, followed by Richmond Beach, which is near to where my grandparents lived and would often take me.


I love all those carnival rides like the Octopus and Scrambler.  Like the old school carnivals.  Too bad they are so expensive now!


My dad and I are season subscribers to The Seattle Shakespeare Company, so we generally see about 4-5 plays a year.  Someday I hope to see all Shakespeare plays performed.  

The Zoo

I LOVE animals.  Anytime I visit somewhere I try to find a zoo to visit.  For my birthday we went to the Woodland Park Zoo's fundraiser party and I got to see all sorts of neat animals.

So those are a few of my favorites!  What are some of yours?


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund [Joint Review!]

For Darkness Shows the Stars (For Darkness Shows the Stars, #1)4 out of 5 Robots!

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund
Series: For Darkness Shows the Stars #1
Genre: YA Sci-Fi
Release: June 12, 2012
Hardcover:  402 Pages
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
My Copy: Publisher
Reviewer: Julia and Shannon
Buy the Book: Amazon

Book Summary:
It's been several generations since a genetic experiment gone wrong caused the Reduction, decimating humanity and giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.

Elliot North has always known her place in this world. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family's estate over love. Since then the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress, and Elliot's estate is foundering, forcing her to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth--an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliot wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she let him go.

But Elliot soon discovers her old friend carries a secret--one that could change their society . . . or bring it to its knees. And again, she's faced with a choice: cling to what she's been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she's ever loved, even if she's lost him forever.

Inspired by Jane Austen's Persuasion, For Darkness Shows the Stars is a breathtaking romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it.

(Courtesy of the Publisher)

Julia and Shannon's Thoughts:
1. What did you think about this book?
Julia: For Darkness Shows the Stars was a pleasant surprise, I had anticipated a book based primarily on a romance, but that isn't the feel I got when I was reading. There is a great romance intertwined with the plot, but I don't think it is what propels the novel forward. Elliot's life on the farm and how she had to deal with her father and those that were in her care is fascinating. The love/hate between her and Kai is just icing on the cake!
Shannon: I also thought it was going to be more of a grand-sweeping romance...and it wasn't.  Not really.  The romance was actually pretty sedated, all things considered, and the plot does focus more on the farm and Elliot's struggles to protect those around her.

2. Are you familiar with Persuasion by Jane Austen, which this novel is based on?  If so, how do you think it compares?
Julia: I am familiar with Persuasion, but I read it over 10 years ago... and though there are many similarities, I wouldn't necessarily recommend this one to all Jane Austen fans. It's an enthralling read, but not enough like the original that all her fans will love it like I did.
Shannon: I'm not terribly familiar with Persuasion, other than have watched the movie a long time ago.  I do think the romance had a particular Austen-ian feel to it in that it is understated yet grand at the same time.

3. Was there anything you disliked about this book?
Julia: It was incredibly slow to start, I didn't get into it until about 20%. Thankful that I kept going because it really paid off, the ending is sweet.
Shannon: I agree that it starts slow.  I also had a hard time following different sects of society, like the Luddities, the Reduced and the CORs.  The other thing was that Kai and Elliot's past is told in a series of letters written between the two.  While I loved this concept, I wish that their relationship showed more of their romance and their feelings for each other.  It would have established a better baseline for their relationship. Elliot kept saying how much she loved Kai, but their letters never really showed that very much.

4. Was this book different than you expected?
Julia: Yes, I thought there would be so much more lovey dovey stuff. I have to say, I wish there would have been a little more, but it was refreshing too.
Shannon: I was not expecting it to have dystopian elements and I was also expecting a larger focus on the romance (again...."sweeping romance" is what I had in mind). 

5. Would you recommend this book?  If so, who would you recommend it to?
Julia: I definitely would. Anyone who loves a sweet, slow paced romance novel with a great plot.
Shannon:  I would too.  I think people that like their books plot first, romance second or a more slower romance. 

Disclosure:  I reviewed a copy free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

My Last Kiss by Bethany Neal [Review]

My Last Kiss4 out of 5 Robots!

My Last Kiss by Bethany Neal
Genre: YA Mystery/Paranormal
Release: June 10, 2014
Hardcover:  288 Pages
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
My Copy: Publisher
Reviewer: Shannon
Buy the Book: Amazon

Book Summary:
What if your last kiss was with the wrong boy?

Cassidy Haines remembers her first kiss vividly. It was on the old covered bridge the summer before her freshman year with her boyfriend of three years, Ethan Keys. But her last kiss--the one she shared with someone at her seventeenth birthday party the night she died--is a blur. Cassidy is trapped in the living world, not only mourning the loss of her human body, but left with the grim suspicion that her untimely death wasn't a suicide as everyone assumes. She can't remember anything from the weeks leading up to her birthday and she's worried that she may have betrayed her boyfriend.

If Cassidy is to uncover the truth about that fateful night and make amends with the only boy she'll ever love, she must face her past and all the decisions she made--good and bad--that led to her last kiss.

Bethany Neal's suspenseful debut novel is about the power of first love and the haunting lies that threaten to tear it apart.

(Courtesy of the Publisher)

Shannon's Thoughts:
My Last Kiss is an kind of an odd book.  I felt parts of it worked really well.  But over parts seems a bit clunky.  In general, I enjoy this types of books that start at the end and jump all around as the mystery unfolds.  My Last Kiss does this type of story telling well.  How did Cassidy really die?  Who was really involved?  What really happened on the bridge?  I will admit I was actually thrown off a few times, which is rare for me. The mystery, in and of itself, is compelling.  I was anxious to find out the answer, but there were a few things that kept me from absolutely loving this book.

The first thing is the length.  It does drag a bit.  It would lose focus on the main mystery and then I would lose interest.  Secondly and most importantly, is the issue of Cassidy herself.  She's a fine character, but not the most likeable.  And depending on your tolerance for cheating characters, you may not like her at all.  I never quite bought into her reasons for the things she did.  Her reasoning always felt weak to me.  Mostly though, I felt Cassidy's ghostly presence to be very clunky.  First of all, she can be seen and felt by Ethan, but no one else.  I don't know why. It was especially awkward when Ethan starts playing "translator" for Cassidy. I think the book could have accomplished its goal without this aspect.  So while I liked the central mystery and the events that lead to Cassidy's demise, I wasn't too sure about having Cassidy and Ethan team up Scooby-Doo style to solve it. 

Overall, a good read.  If you like these kinds of mysteries like me, I recommend giving it a try!

Disclosure:  I reviewed a copy free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.


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