Friday, August 26, 2016

REVIEW: The Queen by Kiera Cass

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 11:00 AM 0 comments
Title: The Queen
Genre: Dystopian Romance
Author: Kiera Cass
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication: December 2nd 2014
Cover Rating: 3/5

This was an amazing backstory on not only Queen Amberly but King Clarkson when he was prince and his parents. I was definitely shown where the cruelness King Clarkson has came from. We also get to learn more about the castes and how some of the occupational hazards towards reproduction and other health issues.

With seeing this glimpse into the past it made me really want to know more about the first ruler and how everything came to be the way it was. We get some insight into journals from a past ruler but besides that there isn't much else and I would love to read more about it.

On thing that did really bother me(not with the author or writing) was that King Clarkson was treated so horribly by his own father. He hated his father. But he turned into his father once he became king. I would have thought after all the years of dealing with his own father would make him a better person. It didn't. He did pretty much the same stuff, if not worse, to Maxon. I was seriously hoping King Clarkson would eventually see the error of his ways. But maybe the pressure of being king was just too much for him to handle so he became his father.

Overall, I gave the book 4/5 stars.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

REVIEW: The Elite by Kiera Cass

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 12:00 PM 1 comments
Title: The Elite
Genre: Dystopian YA
Author: Kiera Cass
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication: April 23rd 2013
Cover Rating: 5/5

The Elite starts pretty much exactly where The Selection ended but I would tell that this book was going to a bit more serious and intense just with how it started. The book took on a different tone from page 1 and I had no idea what I was in store for.

Even though The Selection series is this guilty pleasure book for so many readers, there are still a lot of moments I sat here wondering WHAT IF. What if the United States Didn't exist anymore. Would there be a time when people really had no idea what Halloween was? Would computers become obsolite? This book brings up so many questions that I am not sure if anyone really wants the answers to. It also brings up things that COULD happen. Things with the US and China. Building a fiction book that is based off of some real facts can get really scary.

I think the best way to describe this series is to imagine the Unite States, years in the future, but all of the things we have now are pretty much gone. I think I would compare some of the events in this book to WWII. There are banned books and woman seem to be right back where they started with their rights to vote or join that military. This book is the United States in the future but it is also how we were in the past. We have mad so much progress in equality and rights but it can all be taken away. Just because we are free right now doesn't mean that can't change.

One thing this book did make me realize is, knowing a series has a sequel is a spoiler on its own. Like knowing that the next book is called The One and these books are told from Amerca's perspective leads me to believe that America will always be around. It sucks but it's also nice to know because with how The Elite ended I had no idea how this would play out. I do wish I had the suspense of not knowing but knowing more books are out there kind of just gives it away.

Overall, I gave this book 4.5/5 stars.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Author Spotlight: 100 Days of Cake by Shari Goldhagen + Interview

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 12:00 PM 1 comments

After serious pursuits of literature at Northwestern (BSJ) and Ohio State (MFA), Shari Goldhagen discovered she had a knack for sifting through celebrity trash and worked as a gossip writer for publications including The National EnquirerUs Weekly, and Life & Style Weekly. And her articles on pop culture, travel and relationships have appeared everywhere from Cosmopolitan to Penthouse. She has received fellowships from Yaddo and MacDowell and currently lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.

Title: 100 Days of Cake
Genre: YA Contemporary w/ Mental Health
Author: Shari Goldhagen
Publisher: Atheneum Books
Publication: May 17th 2016
Cover Rating: 5/5
The title, 100 Days of Cake, makes me think of one of those cozy, food related, mystery books I always see in Mass Market Paperback at Wal-Mart or the grocery store. But it's deeper than that. This book is about a young adult with a mental health problem and how she navigates through a world that doesn't really understand what's going on. Mental health is still such a taboo subject and it shouldn't be anymore.

I believe everyone can benefit from reading this book. I learned some things about myself and I think other could learn some things about their lives or their friends lives. Everyone knows at least one person struggling with mental health related issues and if you don't think you know anyone then maybe you are that person and there is NOTHING to be ashamed of.

Molly is suffering. No, she's not dying or anything but she is suffering. But what can you do when even the most mundane of tasks, like turning off the alarm clock or getting out of bed, cripples you? Nothing... But the truth of this book was very on point. The fights Molly got into with literally EVERYONE she loved and cared about were so real. That stuff really happens, it's happened to me and it sucks so much that people just can't understand what you're going through. 

Veronica was such a horrible sister. I mean, yeah, she was probably suffering too because of the whole dad situation but saying what she did to Molly? That's just not something that should ever come from anyone's lips. 

Elle was a good best friend. She had her quirks... I think it would be easier to name quirks she didn't have , though. But her heart was in the right place. Elle's character was just one of many that has their own personal story interwoven into this book. I loved that it didn't just focus on one problem. It focused on the problems each character had outside of Molly's depression. 

The next thing I want to say is probably very trivial but Molly's attachment to the pet she gets is so heartbreaking and real because pets aren't just pets to most people. And this pet helped Molly so much. 

This book made me happy, sad, upset and it also gave me a lot of moments of clarity. When Molly did or said something I found myself reflecting on it and realizing a lot of the things she was saying or doing were things I do or have done. I think this is the most accurate and truthful book I have ever read. There is nothing sugar coated, besides the 100 cakes, and Molly is an actual teenage. When YA books are written with no sex, cussing, drugs, alcohol, etc, I feel like it is such a bold-face lie and it's how authors or publishes want to believe teenagers are but they were teenagers once so they should know these portrayals of teenagers or high school are fake and people can't relate to them. This book.... This book is relatable on a very person and painful level.

At the end of the book something happens and really don't know how I feel about it. I know I want to be angry and disgusted because of things that were said to Molly. But on the other hand I also know that the situation in the book is realistic to the situation. There needs to be more awareness about depression, anxiety and other "invisible" illnesses. 

There is SO much I want to talk about like Alex, Molly's dad, her mom, the fish store, Dr. B(UGH!).... But I won't spoil anything for anyone. Please go pick this book up. You truly won't be sorry.

On a more personal note. I connected with this book on a level that I never thought would be possible. Just seeing Molly's life made me realize that a lot of the things I have been through are actually the norm for depressed people. The best way I have ever described depression is it feels like im looking at a rainbow but the color is slowing being sucked out of it so when it's done I'm just left with this shades of grey rainbow. Then as the depression starts to back off the colors come back but not in the correct order or even in the same areas. 

Overall, I gave the book 5/5 stars.

1) What is the best part about being an author?
Ever since I was a little kid, I always made up stories. Even before I could write, I’d dictate these tales about Wonder woman and Batman to my mom (I guess I was an early adopter of fan fic) and she would write them down for me. So it’s cool that I occasionally get paid to do this thing I’ve been doing for, you know, ever. And it’s exciting to have that stuff out in the world so it’s not just in my head.
But it’s also terrifying because these stories are such a big part of who I am—even if the characters are nothing like me at all. In addition to fiction, I do a lot of magazine work, and sometimes I write about extremely personal things from my private life. Weirdly I feel way more exposed writing fiction. 

2) Are you currently working on any new books?
Always. Even when I try to turn it off, that part of my brain never really shuts down—much to the dismay of family and friends.
 I have a couple of YA projects I’m tinkering with and another adult novel that I’ve been working on for more than a decade. We’re talking so long that I went back to work on it a few months ago and was stunned that all the characters were using Sidekicks instead of iPhones.   There are parts of it I love, but there’s a plot issue I’ve never quite made work. I think I’m finally on to something this time, but. . . 

3) What actress do you think would fit the role of the main character in 100 Days of Cake?
When I’m writing, a character is so specific in my head that it’s hard to image any real person filling that role. Still it’s definitely fun to cast. I think Hailee Steinfeld might be able to capture Molly’s sort of flat sense of humor as well as her moments of unfettered optimism. 

4) What is your favorite type of cake?
I’m a fan of carrot cake (sometimes I can convince myself it’s not that bad for me, since you know, vegetables) and red velvet cake. But I’m actually more of a savory fan. I’d be the person trying 100 Days of French Fries. 

5) Are you a full-time writer or a part-time writer?
I guess I’m technically a full time writer. I do have a day job: I’m a writer at a celebrity weekly. So literally “writer” is my job title. And then I do a lot of freelance pieces for magazine or websites, which is nice because it lets me explore things that interest me. For instance, I’ve always been a comic book fan, so a few years ago I wrote a bunch of different pieces about various comic cons and the origins of superheroes. And I work for a spa magazine, which is a great way to try out new spa treatments for free. 
I always say I wish I had more time to devote to fiction, but there have been times when I’ve done nothing but fiction and got a little too in my head. I’m still trying to find the right balance. And you know still be able to pay for my kid and my cat and my husband.   

6) What are 5 fun facts about you?
1. I try to sneak the names of my friends and their kids into my novels. Like a street will be named after someone and someone else will be mentioned as a major character’s first grade teacher. It’s kind of an easy way to tell if my friends actually read the books. 

2. When I was a reporter, I interviewed Donald Trump a few times for various Celebrity Apprentice events. At the time I kind of loved him since he gave really great quotes. Did not see this presidential candidate thing coming. . .

3. My college roommate’s father owned a company that made frozen macaroni and cheese. After we graduated, Sheri (yes, someone at Northwestern housing thought it was hysterical to put people with the same names together) and I had no money so we ate Kwimby’s mac & cheese multiple times per day. I inexplicably lost like ten pounds. 

4. I grew up in Cincinnati and am extremely defensive of Cincinnati style chili (and the Cincinnati Bengals, though they’re pretty indefensible). My love for Cincy chili is so strong that when I was in high school I actually got a job as a waitress at the Skyline Chili by my parents’ house. I was a bad waitress—so bad that the owner still mentions that whenever my parents go there.  

5. Multiple former roommates and ex-boyfriends will tell you, I’m the world’s worst mover. Despite good intentions and a nose for finding free boxes, my address changes rarely go smoothly. By far my weirdest moving experience ended with me wearing a bridesmaid dress and having breakfast at a fire station. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

What I Read This Week: August 15th-21st

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 12:00 PM 0 comments

Finished 08/15/2016
I read this book in 2 days. But for some reason I didn't get any other reading done. This book dragged on a little for me but... EDWARD CULLEN!!! Nuuuuuuuu.

Monday, August 22, 2016

What I Read This Week: August 8th-14th

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 4:54 PM 0 comments

Finished on 09/09/2016
I don't know how to rate these. It feels like I'd be rating the bible or some other high and mighty piece of literature. I can say that out of the 4 HP books I have read so far that this is my least favorite.

Finished on 09/10/2016
This is my second favorite one so far. I have been noticing that Hermoine seems to be a bit more annoying in the books.

Finished 09/11/2016
I really wasn't liking this novella at first. It actually took me until the last few pages for me to decide to continue on with the series. This series is going to be a cluster-fuck of Fairytale and Disney characters so I guess we will see where it leads.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

What I Read This Week: August 1st-7th

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 1:16 PM 0 comments

Finished 08/05/2016
This is my first ever read through of the Harry Potter books. I read this book in about 2 hours. I have seen a few of the movies due to my younger brother being obsessed with Harry Potter and I can say that the movies are pretty spot on.

Finished 08/05/2016
Now... This book. This book right here... it messed with my head. I really enjoyed it. It was a murder/mystery book and I kept going back and forth with who I thought was the bad guy. I think I suspected everyone at one point or another. This book will be spotlighted soon so keep a look out for that.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Release Day Review: Detached by Christina Kilbourne

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 12:00 AM 0 comments
Title: Detached
Genre: Contemporary-Mental Health YA
Author: Christina Kilbourne
Publisher: Dundurn
Publication: ebook-August 13th/Paperback September 6th 2016
Cover Rating: 4/5
If you want to read an impactful book about teen suicide then I suggest thing book, highly! This was one of those books where it wasn't so much about the story or the world-building. It was about a subject matter, mental health, and I think the author did this book justice. 

When I met Anna she was a little depressed. She felt like she was different from most kids but she also thought most people had the same feelings or thoughts that she did. As the book progressed I watched her make a steady decline. Her personality changed, she was getting more and more withdrawn from the world and you could just tell what direction everything was going. If only that was how the real world worked. If only we all came with little instruction pamphlets that other people could read and see a change in behavior before something horrible happens.

I love how the book was told in interchanging perspectives. It was mainly Anna, her best friend, Aliya and her mother. It was also really interested to see just how mental health had effected/affected all of these lives. From Aliya's aunt to, in the end, Anna's mother. It might not have been a direct effect to some people but even an indirect effect is enough to shake the very foundation of the world. Just knowing that the rate of teen suicides is rising each year is startling.

The family dynamic in this book was amazing. Sadly, not everyone has this kind of support system. But it was lovely to see the relationship between brother/sister, mother/daughter, husband/wife. Some relationships were strained and I think I would have rated the book lower if there wasn't at least a few strained relationships. It is nice to see such a great dynamic but the reality is there are more sad endings than there are good ones. There are more torn apart families than there are supportive ones.

Once I got about a quarter of the way through the book I read a specific part that kind of bothered me and I haven't been able to let it go. I know this is stupid but the line said something about it being September and it felt like the middle of summer... now, it doesn't say what day in September it is and the author is Canadian, I believe, and that's where the book takes place. So... it was the middle of summer. I have no idea why this little thing bothered me so much but it stuck with me for a long time.

The end of the book was inevitable. But as Anna was trying to piece her life back together the author used very vivid imagery to help show us how bad depression does hurt someone. This one moment in particular. Anna was staring out the window at something and just marveling in its color. I found that to be rather beautiful. As human beings we sometimes forget that this world we inhabit is beautiful. We are to busy to stop and just notice the little things in life.

Overall, I gave this book 4.5/5 stars.

*DISCLAIMER* I received this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the Publisher/Author for allowing me to read and review the book.

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