Bout of Books 15.0: Villain Mashup

So today’s B.O.B challenge is so much fun. I encourage you all to leave your answers in the comments below after mine, because I’m sure you will all have an opinion on this.

Cynthia from asked us to:

  • Pick villains from two different books that you would love to see fight each other. It can be from any genre and it doesn’t even have to be a physical fight. It could be a verbal one as well.
  • Give a short reason why you think these villains should fight each other

My Answer:

Ok, so I’m hoping comics can count here but how about Loki vs. Queen Levana from The Lunar Chronicles?

The reason? Well, they both have powers of illusion and deception. (Also, I’d secretly want Loki to win because, ahem, well, all I can picture is gorgeous Tom Hiddleston and tell me you don’t want to see him take down that annoying and ruthless Levana…)

Now, if we were speaking about protagonists and not antagonists, here are my picks:

Celaena Sardothien vs. Hermione Granger

Yeah, that’s a weird combination, I know. But hey, the classic strength vs. brains match-up is quite interesting, and both characters are bad-ass in their own ways.

So who are YOUR picks? Would you bring popcorn to watch either of my match-ups? Let me know in the comments below!


Quick Tip to Read More in the New Year!

Ah, that lovely time of year when we are all so motivated and pure. If you’re like me, you probably have been setting a hefty reading goal for yourself every year. Maybe you lowballed your goal once and read some impossible percentage of books. Good for you. Or maybe, you failed horribly (goal-wise, at least) and read far less than you wanted to.

For those of you who are sticking with the goals this year, here’s a quick little tip for reading a LOT more this year: read before bed. Even if it’s just 10 minutes of reading, do it.

I’d personally recommend you opt for a real, physical book for this method. Yes, those still exist. For one, this is the perfect way to unwind, de-stress, and relax before bed. There are no bright phone or computer screens messing with your brain’s ability to fall asleep; it’s just you and a story. And then plus number two is that this is extra reading time you don’t need to schedule! You have absolutely no excuses! And this extra reading = more books read this year. Score!

Perhaps this tip is fairly obvious to you, but some people just have not given it a try. Do it! You’ll love it! (But maybe stay away from the Stephen King books, at least at night. Just a suggestion.)

While we’re on the topic of resolutions, I’ll let you know what my “hefty reading goal” is for the year: 75 books. I know, breathe in, breathe out. That’s a lot. For the average person, that’s probably a lifetime of books. But I think I’m up for the challenge this year. *suits up for the ultimate reading battle*

So tell me, what are YOUR reading goals this year? Are you setting one on Goodreads, or foregoing that altogether?  Let me know in the comments below!

Review: What the Heart Remembers by Bette Lee Crosby

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this novel for review from the author. All opinions are fully my own, as usual.


Cover image from Amazon

Hello, world! Today I bring you a review of something a little different. I didn’t participate in the Read Harder challenge that Book Riot ran this year, I did decide that I would start it in 2016. One challenge that I saw was to read a romance novel, and here came Ms. Crosby with a selection for me.

*And of course, I have to mention the beautiful cover!*

Official Plot Synopsis

Max Martinelli spent her junior year of college in Paris, and fell in love. Julien was a wickedly handsome young man who was crazy in love with her, or so she thought. He was a free-spirited artist and she an aspiring architect—impressionable, young, and standing on the brink of womanhood.

That was over three years ago but the memory of him still haunts her. Max’s life is stuck on hold because she can’t stop wondering what would have happened if she had gone back. Was Julien simply part of the magic of Paris? Or was he meant to be her destiny?

After a New Year’s Eve party that ends in disaster and bad dreams, Max decides to find out once and for all. She is going to return to Paris and search for Julien. But will her search bring forever after happiness or a truth so ugly it will change her life forever?

Even though What the Heart Remembers is Book Three in the Memory House Series it is a stand-alone novel and you need not have read the other books to enjoy it.

My Thoughts

What first drew me to the novel was the mention of France. I’ve had a long obsession with all things France, from the language to the cultures of the francophone world. So to hear I was about to read a book that took place in France was all I needed to begin reading.

My issue here though was the use of French in the book. You see, our main character is an American visiting France, so the novel is in English, but street names and shops are in French. The places mentioned in the novel, or at least the ones that I have searched, are all real, which floored me. However, this mixing of English and French got a bit redundant at times.

I’ll give you an example of what I mean. Several times in the novel, “Magasin Sennelier” is mentioned. It’s important to the plot. But the problem is the sentence phrasing. It’ll say the “Magasin Sennelier Shop.” This drove me NUTS reading since I understand what this means. Essentially, what I am reading is “The Sennelier Shop Shop” because magasin means shop. Over and over, I heard about this “shop shop” or that “shop shop.”

However, I don’t want to be overly harsh on Ms. Crosby. Maybe she does know French, or some French, and was instead trying to aid her English-speaking readers. If you don’t know French, you would have no idea “Magasin Sennelier” was a shop unless she said shop. (Or, if you had been there. Again, it’s real!) So, I appreciate how she tried to engage her full audience. It’s also fine if she doesn’t know French, but I guess I would’ve wished she at least looked up the words she was using.

Still though, this is a complaint just for grammar-sticklers like me. Ms. Crosby is an excellent storyteller who manages to whisk even the skeptical reader away into her world. There’s just something about the diction of her prose. It’s not ornate or all that descriptive like some other novels I’ve read, but the style of the words somehow captures all that you need. I admire that a lot.

As I’ve mentioned, I’m not a pure romance fan. I don’t mind a romance plot within a novel, but I don’t usually turn to books that are just romance. Probably due to the setting of the book and the multitude of characters, this plot did eventually manage to grab me. It wasn’t just a straightforward one guy, one girl story. There were other characters, other situations, and even a touch of mystery that kept me compelled to keep reading.

Overall, if you’re a fan of the romance genre looking to get away for a day or two to a romantic (and mysterious) vacation in Paris, What the Heart Remembers is the book for you, at just $4.99 for Kindle. And if you like this one, you can also grab the previous two novels (again, they can be read on their own) and experience even more of her stories!

Personally, I’d give this one 3.5 stars. I don’t think I’ll continue with the series on my own, but I truly enjoyed experiencing my first romance novel from not just any author, but from one of the masters of the genre.



Top Ten Tuesday: Most Read Authors


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly book blog meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

This week, we are discussing my top ten most read authors!

This was an especially fun theme I thought because I never knew that there is a feature on Goodreads that allows you to see your top ten authors. I would’ve made a completely different list if I had just been going off the top of my head!

One thing to note is I am not going to include authors of books I read as a child (Laura Numeroff, author of the beloved picture book If you Give a Mouse a Cookie, is on my top ten list…) or in elementary school!

  1. William Shakespeare (5) – I have High School to blame for this. I wouldn’t classify myself as someone who chooses to read Shakespeare’s works purely by choice and for fun in the same way I read comic books or, to give a relevant example, The Lunar Chronicles. I’ve read Romeo and Juliet, Much Ado about Nothing, Macbeth, Hamlet and The Tempest, in that order. However, while we’re on my subject, my favorite of Shakespeare’s plays is his last; The Tempest.
  2. Marissa Meyer (4)- The Lunar Chronicles series is one of my favorite sci-fi series, and one of my favorite series in general. I cannot wait until the next book Winter is out!
  3. Rand Miller (3)- Thank you Myst trilogy for providing me with 3 books by the same author!
  4. John Green (3)- Looking for Alaska is still my favorite of all of John Green’s books. I HIGHLY recommend it. (I even used capital letters there. That’s some serious recommendation going on there.)
  5. Dom Testa (3)- Dom Testa’s books are nostalgia for me. The Comet’s Curse was the first true sci-book I ever read, way back in about 6th grade. They were a starting point for me into some of my favorite books today.
  6. Beth Revis (3)- Oh boy, more sci-fi. I must really like sci-fi. But seriously, the Across the Universe trilogy is also amazing! (Exclamation points have been equipped!)
  7. Suzanne Collins (3)- I don’t have much to say about the Hunger Games, except that it was my first completed trilogy, and I have yet to watch any of the movies. I know, I know, how could I not watch a movie with Jennifer Lawrence in it? Isn’t that some sort of sin? The only movies I’ve seen of hers are X-Men movies.
  8. Jenny Han (3)- Nowadays, the blogosphere loves talking about her newest series that begins with To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. But, the books of hers that I read were her Summer series. (The Summer I Turned Pretty, It’s Not Summer Without You..) According to Goodreads, I gave the books a 5 star rating in 2009 and 2010.  Wow, time goes fast.
  9. Kirsten Miller (2)- More nostalgia! The Kiki Strike series also used to be one of my favorite series. A really entertaining YA mystery series for the younger end of the YA spectrum.
  10. Brian K. Vaughn (2)- I’ve read Saga Volume 1 (loved it!) and one of his Green Lantern comic trades. (Loved that one too!)

Who are YOUR most read authors? Are they your favorite authors, or you just gave their books a lot of chances? Let me know in the comments below!

Author Interview: Jennifer Alice Chandler

When Jennifer contacted me asking if I’d be interested in reviewing her book, I was ecstatic. I love sci-fi, not just novels but sci-fi anything, and here was what sounded like a fascinating sci-fi series that I hadn’t seen before. But I didn’t stop with just reading and reviewing the book. I thought I’d ask if she would be willing to do an author interview, something I’ve never done before. I think you’ll enjoy her answers!

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself; your background/where you grew up, where you live now, etc.

I originally came from Ashland , Ohio . When I was about seven, I moved to Indiana . At fourteen, I moved to Minnesota . Five years later, I was off to Illinois . I’m now in Indiana again. I’ve always loved animation. Most of the stories I come up with I visualize as animations, not all but most. I wrote a short book in fifth grade as a class assignment, but back then I lacked the discipline to write most of my ideas down. I just kept them in my head and would try to nurture them there. In high school, I wrote a couple short stories. I got encouragement from one of my teachers, Mr. Warner. That’s when I first started seriously considering writing my ideas down. The idea of being a writer occurred to me in fourth grade but actually doing it was another matter. I started writing with regularity in college. I’ve written other short stories and books, but Nocturne’s Reaping: Prelude is the first I’ve published.

2. How did you come up with the idea for the Nocturne’s Reaping series? When did you start to write it?

The concept for the series as a whole came from a two-part dream I had. The first part is actually a scene in the first chapter of book two, which is entitled Dirge. Dirge is about the aftermath of Leader Monrage’s actions at the end of Prelude. It takes place on the colony discussed at the end of the book and has a lot of dystopian elements. Both parts of the dream were about the nebula reapers. The second part of the dream featured the narrator, Aurore Bertrand, who takes on a bigger role in the story later on, and her unique interactions with the nebula reapers. I had actually been working on Lark’s back story as a separate story originally but integrated it with the other parts of the series. Besides dreams, I also use music to help me visualize characters and scenes for use in my work. I try to capture the feelings I have about the ideas and expand on them. Originally, I thought I might make Prelude into an anime-style graphic novel, but the backgrounds would have beyond my skill level in drawing. Plus, I would have lost most of the narrative. I made a note in the notebook I wrote Prelude down in that I had already begun writing Prelude in March 2012.

3. Who is your favorite character in Prelude and why?
Originally, I thought I would say Lark, but I think it’s actually Aurore. I’m currently writing book four, and she’s in that one a lot. I like the complexity of the character. I like it when stories and characters feel like a puzzle you have to put together. In terms of main characters in Prelude, I like Lark the most. She’s emotionally honest, and I can feel her pain. Plus, I think she shows a lot of strength in adversity.

4. How has your faith influenced your writing, if at all?
Certainly, I feel blessed to have survived the massive stroke I had last year and recovered from it as well as I have. I mean, I can still write which is a blessing in and of itself! I basically suffer from a genetic mutation called homozygous MTHFR which makes me prone to blood clots. I really was close to death, and there’s no other explanation for how well I’m doing besides God. Certainly that experience made me more motivated to finish editing my book and publish it. I also feel there is a spiritual reality underpinning everything in life, and God is the major part of that.

5. Why did you choose to write a sci-fi series? Do you have any favorite sci-fi authors, TV shows, or movies that you were inspired by?

I think science fiction allows you to explore scenarios while not being restricted to your current technological reality. You can also introduce new settings without having to deal with specifics of history or topography. I like delving into the intentions of characters, to feel out where they’re coming from. I liked the episode of Star Trek called “Operation: Annihilate!” where a parasitic creature controlled people by inducing pain. It was interesting to see how the characters reacted and ultimately overcame it. That’s the type of scenario I enjoy, where the setting and situation can be derived from the imagination and the human reaction can be explored. I love Fahrenheit 451. I read it before I started writing. I read The Hunger Games series in July 2013, and I found it to be inspirational. I watched Star Trek re-runs as a child. I seemed to gravitate toward the episodes that explored emotions and character development. I have to say the Alien franchise had an effect on me. I was horrified by the second film. That scene where they found that woman attached to the wall was unforgettable.

6. What kinds of things do you blog about?

Right now I blog mostly about writing and Nocturne’s Reaping. I also write about The Hunger Games series and movies. I am participating in the 2015 Library Challenge, so I write about a local library. I have some book reviews posted of books I’ve enjoyed. I’ve been reading the Bible, and when something stands out as particularly meaningful to me or where I’m at in life I’ll post a quote of it on my blog.

Note from Christina: You can find Jennifer’s blog here!

7. Do you have any advice for writers looking to self-publish, or publish their work in general?

I think it’s important to give yourself time to let your work evolve, to give yourself a chance to be inspired by new possibilities. You have to eventually let your work go, but it should be because it feels complete to you not because you are frustrated by the length of the writing and editing process.

If you have to sign a contract that requires you to sign away rights to your work, you should probably consult a lawyer familiar with intellectual property. Even hiring someone in certain countries to translate your book into a different language could entitle that person to rights to that version of the work. Trademarks, copyrights, font licenses and taxes can be complicated issues.

I’m trying to remind myself that it is inevitable that someone isn’t going to like my work. I don’t know of a thing in existence that everyone likes. On the other side, how great is it when someone does find meaning in your work. That makes it worth the effort.

I hope you enjoyed this interview/post! If you did, leave me a comment below! I hope to do more posts like this in the future when the opportunities come.