2014 Challenge Recaps

During 2014, I participated in 5 different challenges. Here is a recap on my progress and successes.

Goodreads Reading Challenge

This year I set my Goodreads reading goal to 65 books because 2013 was hectic and I didn't get to meet my reading goal. I am happy that this year I exceeded my goal and read 75 books!

Love for Books Read-A-Thon

This Read-A-Thon challenge was hosted by Jessi at Novel Heartbeat and Amanda at Confessions of a Bookie Monster. My goal for this read-a-thon was to complete two books and I met this goal!

2014 Netgalley Challenge
The 2014 Netgalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge is hosted by Falling for YA and will (hopefully) give you the incentive to tackle your review books, stumble upon new ones, and get your Netgalley percentage to the desired 80%! My goal for this challenge was 25 books and to get my percentage to at least 80%. I read 20 books and my percentage is 100%, so I sort of met this goal.

Blog Ahead Challenge
The Blog Ahead Challenge, which is a bloggery version of NaNoWriMo. It's hosted by Herding Cats and Burning Soup. It runs from November 1-30th, 2014 and the basic goal is to get "ahead" in your blog posts. My goal for this challenge was 15 pre-scheduled posts, and I completed 21! 

Top Ten of 2014 Challenge
This week long event was hosted by Two Chicks on Books, Rachel from Fiktshun, Mindy from Magical Urban Fantasy Reads, Rachel from Reading YA Rocks and Nancy fromTales of a Ravenous Reader! The event wass simple. Follow the dates and list topics as provided. I completed 4 out of the 5 lists.

Overall, I'd say for my first year of blogging, I feel really good about the goals I set for myself and the progress I made toward meeting them.

What challenges did you participate in this year? Do you feel you were successful? Do you have any challenges you are looking forward to in 2015?

Top Ten Tuesday #18 (12/30/2014)

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted over at The Broke and Bookish, and this weeks Top Ten is Top Ten Goal/Resolutions for 2015

These are my blogging and bookish goals for 2015
  1. Host my own blogging challenge (this is already set in motion, so I will need participants hint hint)
  2. Participate in at least 2 other bloggers' challenges
  3. Increase my followers
  4. Attend at least 2 bookish events
  5. Be better about blogging in general
  6. Read and comment on other blogs more
  7. Read 70 books 
  8. Re-do my blog design 
  9. Organize my book shelf (I finally have a book shelf, now I just need to get the books out of their boxes)
  10. Post at least twice a week

So, what are your blogger resolutions and goals for 2015?

Bookish Discussion: Giveaways

Seriously, who doesn't love the sweet satisfaction of winning something? And generally speaking in the book blogging world, who doesn't love getting a free book (or multiple free books), swag, and sometimes free money to spend on books?!

Yes GIF 2015 1

Book bloggers find lots of reasons to host giveaways. If you participate in a book tour, usually the publisher provides some sort of giveaway either for individual blogs or tour wide. Bloggers who are celebrating accomplishments (like blogoversaries, reaching a certain number of followers, or meeting a goal) host giveaways. Bloggers who host events (like challenges and read-a-thons) usually include a giveaway too.

As a blogger who enters these giveaways pretty regularly and would love to host more, I've got lots of questions:
Britney Spears confused dumb dumbfounded durr stupid Derp GIF
My thinking face...lol

Where do bloggers get the books (or funds) for giveaways? 
I know that when you participate in a tour the publisher/author usually provides a free book or swag for a giveaway. But lots of bloggers are giving away ARCs, boxes of books, and dollar amounts to various online book retailers. Are bloggers clearing out their shelves and giving away their personal book collections? Are bloggers paying for these giveaways out of their own pockets? If a publisher sends you an ARC in the mail, are you allowed to use that ARC for a giveaway? How many bloggers out there are using affiliate links to finance their giveaways? How do affiliate links really work anyways? 

How do you decide how long to keep a giveaway open for entries?
Again, I know if a publisher or tour host is running the giveaway, that they make this call. But for bloggers who are doing this on their own, how do you decide how long to keep a giveaway open?

Do you make any options for entry mandatory in order to unlock other options for entry and if so, why?
I assume bloggers like to host giveaways in order to increase traffic and followers, so does making certain options like "follow via bloglovin" mandatory actually accomplish that? or does it prevent non-followers from entering? 

On the flip side of that, do you allow entrants to repeat any entries daily? Does allowing entrants to tweet (or some other option) every day for multiple entries actually help increase traffic and followers?

How do you decide what to giveaway?

How do you decide how many entries to assign each possible thing a person can do to enter?

How do you pay for shipping? Again, I'm wondering if most bloggers are paying out of pocket or using profit from affiliate links for this or maybe some other unknown source?

Do you host multiple giveaways at one time? If so, how do you stay organized?

I think those are all of my questions, for now. I'm sure more will come up as the discussion ensues!

Please feel free to share your answers and any questions about giveaways that you have in the comments!

Top 10 Books I'm Looking Forward to in 2015

This week long event is hosted by Two Chicks on BooksRachel from FiktshunMindy from Magical Urban Fantasy Reads,  Rachel from Reading YA Rocks and Nancy fromTales of a Ravenous Reader!

Today's Topic is: Top Ten Books I'm Looking Forward to in 2015

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles, #3.5)The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski

The Darkest Part of the ForestRed Queen (Red Queen, #1)The Girl at Midnight (The Girl at Midnight, #1)

Covers Not Available
Throne of Glass #4 by Sarah J Maas
Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
The Copper Gauntlet by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
Winter by Marissa Meyer

Best Book Boyfriends of 2014

This week long event is hosted by Two Chicks on BooksRachel from FiktshunMindy from Magical Urban Fantasy Reads,  Rachel from Reading YA Rocks and Nancy fromTales of a Ravenous Reader!

Today's Topic is: Best Book Boyfriends of 2014

This list was pretty challenging for me. I realized that I haven't read too many books released in 2014. So here is my best shot!

Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass, #3)
Rowan from Heir of Fire by Sarah J Maas

Stolen Songbird (The Malediction Trilogy, #1)
Tristan from Stolen Songbird by Danielle Jensen

Defy (Defy, #1)
Damien from Defy by Sara B Larson

Into the Still Blue (Under the Never Sky, #3)
Perry from Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi

Cress (The Lunar Chronicles, #3)
Kai from Cress by Marissa Meyer

Invisible (The Twixt, #2)
Ink from Invisible by Dawn Metcalf

The Sacrifice

The Sacrifice (The Golden Key Legacy, Book II)

Author: AJ Nuest
Date of Publication: December 18, 2014
Source: Negalley
Summary from Goodreads: The second Faedrah Austiere walked into his life off the canvas, everything in Rhys McEleod’s world stopped making sense. Not only does her story sound like a Grimm’s fairy tale, evidently he’s been cast as the villain. If that isn’t enough, the mirror inside that old, beat up armoire at her uncle’s condo is supposedly a doorway to another world. Ever since the pathway opened, something inside him has seemed…off. If what his muse says is true, they are headed for an epic showdown, but he isn’t about to let her go. Nothing is more important than Faedrah’s protection, even if her parents refuse to accept him.
Though certain their fates are bound by more than the golden key Princess Faedrah wears around her neck, it is paramount Rhys’ true identity be kept secret. Should news of his bloodline ever reach her kingdom, their entire quest to save her people could be lost. Their only hope to prove his loyalty is to steal the map to the dark lord’s Crystal Crypt. Yet her a plan endangers her beloved more than the accusations he faces in her kingdom and, to escape evil’s grasp, she and Rhys must take a leap of faith beyond her wildest imagination.

Rating: êêê

This book picks up where the first book left off. While the book was well written, it didn't quite hold my attention the way the first book did. It feels like the middle of a story rather than a story of its own.

The romance was amazingly well done. AJ Nuest can most definitely write a hot and steamy scene that makes you swoon. There is a hilarious meet the parents scene that shows you how Rowena and Caedmon are still the same, but have grown into their roles as parents. We also get to see another favorite from the Golden Key Chronicles, Violet. We learn lots of interesting information from Violet.

There was an interesting plot twist and a killer cliffhanger. Hopefully book three picks up exactly where book two left off.

Best Book Covers of 2014

This week long event is hosted by Two Chicks on BooksRachel from FiktshunMindy from Magical Urban Fantasy Reads,  Rachel from Reading YA Rocks and Nancy fromTales of a Ravenous Reader!

Today's topic is: Best Book Covers of 2014

Here are my favorite book covers of books released in 2014 that I've read.

Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass, #3)The Assassin's Blade (Throne of Glass, #0.1-0.5)
Defy (Defy, #1)Cress (The Lunar Chronicles, #3)Stolen Songbird (The Malediction Trilogy, #1)

Here are my favorite book covers of books released in 2014 that I haven't read (but really want to).

The Cure for DreamingThe Truth About AliceBorn of Deception (Born of Illusion, #2)
Prisoner of Night and Fog (Prisoner of Night and Fog, #1)Ruin and Rising (The Grisha, #3)

Best Books I've Read in 2014

Today's topic is: Best Books I’ve Read in 2014 

Heir of Fire by Sarah J Maas: This is the book I was anticipating the most in 2014. I literally could not wait to get my hands on it. Sarah J Maas did not let me down, this was a powerful, emotional, and phenomenal book. Read my 5 Star Review here.

Stolen Songbird by Danielle Jensen: This book is one of a kind. Great writing, solid characters, and fantastic world building. This is a book that will suck you in. Read my 5 Star Review here.

Pawn by Aimee Carter: I won this book in a giveaway and didn't really know what to expect. It was unique and intense. Read my 5 Star Review here.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer: Excellent world building, great pacing, un-put-downable. I loved the characters. This is one of those books I read is 24 hours, read my 5 Star Review here.

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer: Fun new characters with an interesting new twist on fairy tale retellings. Leaves you wanting more. Read my 4 Star Review here.

Cress by Marissa Meyer: The best in the series! I think I love the fairy tale retelling in this one the best, everything ties together so nicely. The character development was perfect. The plot moved quickly. Read my 5 Star Review here.

The Shadow Throne by Jennifer Nielsen: An action packed book with a likeable motley crew of characters. Great ending to a series. Read my 5 Star Review here.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein: A captivating story about friendship. It's the type of book that you really should read a second time. Read my 4 Star Review here.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson: I loved the main character. The story was interesting and complex. Read my 4 Star Review here.

Defy by Sara B Larson: Lots of action and secret schemes, good characters and I loved the fact that the main character was a female fighter. Read my 4 Star Review here.

Chandrea: Review, Tour, Giveaway

Author: Marlene Wynn
Publication: September 22, 2014
Source: Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for honest review
Other Stops on the Tour
Summary from Goodreads: Chandrea Averill thinks she’s just like any other normal young woman. But, on the day of her 23rd birthday, her life changes forever.
Surrounded by magical creatures, dangerous sorcery, and insidious political intrigue, Chandrea desperately wants to return to Earth and the only life she’s ever known. But, the longer she stays, the more she realizes that she may be the only one with the power – both magical and political – to save the people of Lyrunia. Will she find the courage to remain and fight for her home world?

Rating: êêêê

I really enjoyed this book and found myself looking forward to reading it every night even if it was only for a chapter or two. The book was well written,  the author really took the time to make sure the reader understands the background story. She did an excellent job of keeping the reader informed throughout the book. The book has a sense of adventure to it, that kept me interested while reading and moved the plot at a good pace. Overall, I liked the characters, but it would have been nice for them to be a tiny bit flawed. The villain is perfectly hateable. The ending was fitting, it felt like a solid close, however there is clearly an open-ness to continue the story. All in all it had all the elements needed to successfully tell an epic fantasy story.

Warning: There may be spoilers ahead!

Now, one of the things that stood out to me was that the first half(ish) of the book reminded me of The Wizard of Oz. There is a girl who is transported from the US to Oz Lyrunia, there is a wicked witch evil queen who wants something that her sister has, the leading lady gathers a group to travel with, poppies golden mist that puts the travelers to sleep in nightmares, and a crystal ball mirror that allows Dorothy Chandrea to see the people she left behind in her old world. Just a few things that stuck out to me, obviously I like The Wizard of Oz and didn't have a problem with any of these small details.

About The  Auhor
Marlene Wynn is a Utah native – fondly referred to as “Utonian” by a friend. She transplanted herself in 1992 from the majestic Rocky Mountains to the beachy shores of sunny Virginia Beach, Virginia and has been there ever since. Though she has worked in the Benefits field for several years, she finally worked up the courage to chase her dream as an author.
Author links:http://www.marlenewynn.com/https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8343236.Marlene_Wynnhttps://www.facebook.com/MarleneWynn.Authorhttps://twitter.com/MWynnAuthor


Tour-wide giveaway (US and Canada)
A print copy of Chandrea – The Return of the Avatar Queen, 
A handmade fairy, 
A set of character trading cards.

Imagination Designs