Sunday, March 29, 2015

Spring Bloggiesta 2015 Finish Line

Spring Bloggiesta 2015 | Alexia's Books and Such

Hard to believe that another Bloggiesta has come and gone already! Was able to get so much accomplished, and even learned a thing or two! Love Bloggiesta and already looking forward to the next one!

Let's see how I did:

Original Goals

  • Update book review index - done!
  • Crosspost book reviews to Amazon & Goodreads - done!
  • Catch up on emails - feel a little like Sisyphus with this one, as it kept growing no matter how many lists I unsubscribed from or how many emails I deleted! I need an Emailiesta!
  • Complete at least one mini-challenge - done!
  • Take part in at least one Twitter chat - done!
  • Create custom cover for my Pinterest review boards - a work in progress
  • Import Bloglovin' feed to Feedly - done! Was easier than expected
  • Finish removing dead links from old IMM posts - done!
  • Cheer on other Bloggiesta participants - commented on almost all participant's blogs, but some people didn't have their post up when I visited and I didn't keep track. Sorry if I missed anyone!
  • Pin at least 3 months worth of old reviews to Pinterest - done!
  • Have a minimum of 5 posts ready as back-ups - done!
  • Explore idea I have for a new meme to see if it's feasible - someone is already doing it, so back to the drawing board!
  • Write pending reviews - still have 2 pending

Added Goals

  • Research Tweetdeck vs Hootsuite and pick one - decided to take them both for a test drive! Leaning towards Hootsuite as I like being able to schedule posts in one place, but also like the real time tweets of Tweetdeck.
  • Add an About Me page to my second blog - pending
  • Back up both blogs - done!
  • Go through old drafts and either delete or update - found some half-written posts that I need to finish and publish, but also deleted a ton!
  • Research CommentLuv to see if I can easily add it to my blog - didn't get around to this one, so adding to my Goals Page
  • Find a Facebook Page Follow Me plug-in I like and add to blog - done!
  • Find social media icons I like and add to sidebar - done!
  • Check page loading speed and fix as needed - sometimes it loads fast, sometimes it loads slow, but can't figure out why...
  • Create Pinterest board for Bloggiesta challenges - done!
  • Add alt tags to photos in old posts - this is slow going as I have over 3 years worth of posts to update!
  • Update copyright to current year on both blogs - done!

Mini Challenges Completed

  • Twitter Chat Tutorial - Chats go by so fast that I always seem to fall behind, so can use all the help I can get!  
  • Trello Organizer - I'm pretty happy with the blog planner I'm currently using, but think this might help with scheduling all of my tasks. Combining this with the blog scheduler task in hopes of making my life easier!
  • Create a Blogging Schedule - Have started a rough blogging schedule using Trello and looking forward to creating to-do lists and daily tasks!
  • Organize Your Reader - I think I have too many folders, so going to try Estella's idea of daily folders (Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, etc) to simplify things. Will keep my Authors, Favorites, and non-book blog folders but use the days of the week for everything else.
  • Simplify Blogging - I keep over-complicating things so really need to work on this one! 
  • Blast From the Past - Love looking at the old Bloggiesta challenges, as there's always something I can use. For Tif's challenge, I concentrated on the various ways to promote my blog via social media.

Not bad, if I do say so myself! I didn't complete everything on my list, but got an awful lot accomplished. Also found several more blogs to follow and made a few new friends along the way. I'm counting this one as a success!

Did you take part in Bloggiesta this past week? If so, how did you do? I had a blast visiting different blogs and seeing what everyone was up to! And I made all but one of the Twitter chats, which were fast-paced but fun! I really need to spend more time on Twitter, as I enjoyed myself.

Already looking forward to the next Bloggiesta! Hope you can join us!


Friday, March 27, 2015

Trial by Fire book review

Book Review:  Trial by Fire by Jennifer Lynn Barnes | Alexia's Books and Such Title:  Trial by Fire
Author:  Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Release Date:  June 14, 2011
Publisher:  Egmont USA
Source:  Review copy received at BEA 2011
Synopsis:
Bryn is finally settling into her position as alpha of the Cedar Ridge Pack - or at least, her own version of what it means to be alpha when you’re a human leading a band of werewolves. Then she finds a teenage boy bleeding on her front porch. Before collapsing, he tells her his name is Lucas, he’s a Were, and Bryn’s protection is his only hope.

But Lucas isn’t part of Bryn’s pack, and she has no right to claim another alpha’s Were. With threats - old and new - looming, and danger closing in from all sides, Bryn will have to accept what her guardian Callum knew all along. To be alpha, she will have to give in to her own animal instincts and become less human. And, she’s going to have to do it alone. (Goodreads)

My Review:

Trial by Fire is the sequel to Raised by Wolves. In hindsight, I wish I'd read Raised by Wolves first because it might have explained how a 16 year old human girl became alpha to a pack of werewolves. 

While I'm no expert, my understanding is that a female alpha is a rarity so a human female alpha would be unheard of! And that her pack is almost all teenagers and children? Have to admit that I had a hard time getting past that.

Bryn herself is an interesting character. In many ways, she's a typical teenager with a short temper who makes rash decisions. Then she reminds herself that she's alpha, but not your typical alpha. Yeah Bryn, we got that the first 100 times you mentioned it....

When Lucas shows up on her porch half dead and asking for her help, Bryn doesn't return him to his pack immediately and puts her own pack in danger. While I understand her wanting to help the boy, it goes against everything I know about packs and alphas to be so cavalier about their safety.

There's the threat from another pack whose alpha hates Bryn and wants her females, plus the threat from a new, unknown enemy that added an interesting twist to the mix. I found myself more interested in the new enemy than the other pack and think that could have been a storyline all its own!

This was an interesting story with well-paced action, good characters, and a decent plot. Aside from a few quibbles on my part (alpha of a werewolf pack who still has to attend high school?), I really enjoyed this story. I would recommend reading the series in order though, as I felt I was missing something more than once.

Have you read this series? Should I go back and read Raised by Wolves to fill in the blanks or just go to book 3, Taken by Storm? Is book 3 even worth reading? Inquiring minds want to know!


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

2015 Book Blog Discussion Challenge

2015 Book Blog Discussion Challenge

One of my goals this year is to write more discussion posts. When I saw that Carmel at Rabid Reads had recently joined the Book Blogger Discussion Challenge, I thought that would be the perfect motivation to keep me on track!

Hosted by Nicole at Feed Your Fiction Addiction and Shannon at It Starts at MidnightI'm excited to get started!

Some Details:

  • The 2015 Book Blog Discussion Challenge runs from January 1st until December 31st, 2015.

  • Sign-ups will remain open until December 31st, 2015 at 11:59 p.m. Central. (So, you can sign up all year long! Come join us!)

  • You DO NOT have to have a book blog to join this challenge. If you don’t have a book blog, you may link up to discussions that you’ve started on Goodreads groups.

  • Every month, we’ll update this 2015 Book Blog Challenge Page with the links to that month’s Challenge linky – so you’ll always know where to find the latest link-up!

  • Share it! The more people we get to participate in this, the more awesome discussions we can all be a part of and the more fun it will be! So, invite your friends to join us!

  • This challenge is to help get us discussing books and book blogging, so talk about whatever you want as long as it’s relevant to book blogging. Discussions can be book related or book blogging related (or generally blogging related – no discussions about things that are completely off-topic like travel or fashion, etc). Discussions can also be about you personally if it’s a get-to-know-you type post.

  • There will also be monthly giveaways, so make sure you check in each month!

  • Use the hashtag #LetsDiscuss2015 to share your progress and connect with other participants on Twitter.

    Levels:

    1-12     Discussion Dabbler
    13-24   Creative Conversationalist
    25-36   Chatty Kathy
    37-48   Terrifically Talkative
    49+      Gift of the Gab

    Since I'm just dipping my toe into the discussion pool, think I'll stick with the Discussion Dabbler level. While I have a history of failing challenges, I'm going to look at this as more of a motivational tool. I like that even if I only do one post, I've met my goal!

    Now I need to come up with some topics! What would you like to discuss?

    Monday, March 23, 2015

    Crewell book review

    Book Review:  Crewel by Gennifer Albin | Alexia's Books and Such Title:  Crewel
    Author:  Gennifer Albin
    Release Date:  October 16, 2012
    Publisher:  Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
    Source:  ARC received at BEA
    Synopsis:  Incapable. Awkward. Artless. That’s what the other girls whisper behind her back. But sixteen-year-old Adelice Lewys has a secret: She wants to fail.

    Gifted with the ability to weave time with matter, she’s exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen to work the looms is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to manipulate the very fabric of reality. But if controlling what people eat, where they live, and how many children they have is the price of having it all, Adelice isn’t interested.

    Not that her feelings matter, because she slipped and used her hidden talent for a moment. Now she has one hour to eat her mom’s overcooked pot roast. One hour to listen to her sister’s academy gossip and laugh at her dad’s jokes. One hour to pretend everything’s okay. And one hour to escape.

    Because tonight, they’ll come for her. (Goodreads)

    My Review:

    Crewel is the first book in a trilogy, but I'm not sure that I want to read the rest.

    Adelice, the main character, struck me as selfish, unlikable, and unsympathetic. I know that we're supposed to feel sorry for all she's been through, but so much of it was her own fault that I couldn't muster up much sympathy.

    Trained for years by her parents to hide her ability and told that she needs to fail the testing session for her own safety, Adelice "slips" on the final testing day. To make matters worse, she lies to her parents when she gets home and lets them believe the ruse worked. 

    I got the impression that her parents had a plan in place in case the ruse didn't work, but things turned out terribly because Adelice wanted to pretend that everything would be okay. How incredibly selfish and immature!

    Almost every bad thing that happens to Adelice is her own fault. Maybe not entirely, but at least partially. And yet she won't take responsibility for any of it, which annoyed me even more!

    Yes Adelice is incredibly gifted, but too many people give her warning after warning and risk their own safety, which left me at a loss. Why would so many people try to help her when she wasn't very nice? And why wouldn't she listen?

    Even when Adelice is punished and we're told how awful the punishment was, it didn't seem to matter to her. I know I'd have a quick attitude adjustment after being left in a dark, dank dungeon for days on end, but not Adelice! Are we supposed to admire her spunk? I just thought she was reckless and foolish.

    That sounds really harsh and like I didn't enjoy the book at all, which isn't the case. I loved the idea of the Spinsters, weaving time and material like the Fates of old! I wish we had spent more time with the other Spinsters and learned more about the process.

    The world that the author has created sounds fascinating too! The Powers That Be have absolute control over their citizens, dictating every detail of their lives, from how many children you can have to when you die. Terrifying! 

    And despite the power the Spinsters have, women are definitely second-class citizens in this society. Not allowed to travel and kept in traditional female occupations, they have very few rights. I would have liked to explore this world in more detail!

    The ending left me a little torn. The big finale seemed like just another reckless action by Adelice and left me liking her even less, but I sort of want to read the next book to see what happens. I think I'll wait and maybe time will soften my feelings for Adelice.

    Have you read this series? Is it worth finishing? Am I being too harsh on Adelice? I'd love to know your thoughts!


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