Random Musings by Frodosco

Posts tagged “Sparkles and Lightning

15 Day Book Blogger Challenge: Day 15

15 Day Book Blogger Challenge: Day 15

15-Day-Challenge

The awesome people over at Good Books and Good Wine came up with the fabulous 15 Day Book Blogger Challenge!

Today’s Challenge is: Who are your book blogging mentors?

I’m going to keep this one short and sweet because if you go to my post for Day 3 on blogging BFFs it will be identical.

I learned my main reviewing style from the always amazing Annabelle at Sparkles and Lightning. I try to give her credit every so often when I stray too far toward copying her, and while I have since made a few changes to my style it was her blog that gave me the foundation.

You know those fun Hobbit Sized Reviews I mix in every so often? Those were inspired by the nicest blogger out there, Kimberly at Caffeinated Book Reviewer who does Coffee Pot Reviews. Hers run shorter than mine as I can never seem to cut it down to less than two paragraphs, but they definitely are where my Hobbit Sized idea came from. Again, I give her full credit, she’s freaking awesome.

Once in a while I’ll break things down into The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. While that isn’t an original way of doing things by any means, I did get it from Reading and Writing Urban Fantasy though Jennifer replaces “the ugly” with The Snuggly (to talk about the romance) and I kept it as the original cliched version.

This is not to say my content is a blatant copy/paste of other blogger’s styles and I just input new words for each book. I hope think that the alterations I make set my posts apart, but those incredible bloggers deserve credit for giving me a great foundation to work with. The rest of what you see on my blog is original to my brain (as much as it can be anyway) whether it is my design, banner, button, Pro/Con or Anthology breakdowns for reviews, and especially my rating system. Those are unique to me. However, when you ask who my bloggy mentors are? Annabelle first and foremost, Kimberly for the short and sweet, and Jennifer despite me not using The Snuggly are mine, but more than that they are my bloggy friends. Thanks as always for reading.


15 Day Book Blogger Challenge: Day 8

15 Day Book Blogger Challenge: Day 8

15-Day-Challenge

The awesome people over at Good Books and Good Wine came up with the fabulous 15 Day Book Blogger Challenge!

Today’s Challenge is: Quick! Write 15 bullet points of things that appeal to you on blogs!

I love this challenge! Quick and easy and it still sheds some light on things I love to see in blogs, can’t go wrong with that! ^.^

  • Readability – If your blog has bizarro color combinations for your text and background that make it hard to read it will drive me crazy and I won’t stick around. Conversely, if your blog has a great combination then I’m instantly more likely to read multiple posts or even subscribe, nice and easy to read people!
  • No Noise – Exactly what it sounds like. No music playing automatically, no random sounds assaulting my ears and I’m a happy camper.
  • No Clutter – Again exactly as it seems. Don’t have a crazy amount of tabs, pages or sidebars. A good array of tabs at the top, some proper organization and sidebars that don’t go on for miles goes a long way.
  • Properly Sized Photos – Your photos are all designed to fit nice and neat in your sidebar and/or posts? Hooray!
  • Appealing Colors – I touched on this with the text/background combination in point 1. To expand, here I mean with the layout of the blog as a whole. If your blog has easy tones or snazzy combinations then I’ll be excited to come back.
  • Meaningful Posts – I’m not meme bashing, but if that is all your blog consists of I’m not coming back. Same goes for ten thousand giveaways, while I appreciate your generosity or whomever is funding them it doesn’t give you actual content. So blogs with some reviews mixed in or original random posts are great to see. The latter for originality and the former for quality.
  • Unique – Yes I had to get to this at some point. If your blog looks exactly like ten others I checkout that day and nothing really stands out or grabs me then I’ll likely move on. Example of how I (try to) use original stuff is my rating system, who else uses smiling Frodos? Exactly. So if I come across a blog that is personalized and stands out from the crowd I’ll come back to check out their work at some point.
  • Consistency – I’m a hypocrite just by putting this in here since I’ve taken a hiatus twice (though there were valid reasons both times) but this is what I like to see in a blog so I have to include it. I love seeing regular posts, especially ones with high quality and/or originality. If I see single digit posts multiple months in a row on your feed I’ll probably move on unless I’m devoted.
  • Normal Levels Of Media – Not as complicated as it sounds. All I mean by this is that I prefer blogs that don’t go super crazy with pictures and even more so, gifs. A couple in a post is fine and can definitely add to the awesomeness, but too many and it just gets annoying and grating on the nerves. Less is more here.
  • A Cool Name – Just another thing to set your blog apart from the rest. It sounds simple but every time I see another blog with something like “Person X Reads” or “Person X Loves Books” I die a little inside. Again, this is hypocritical because my name isn’t the best in originality, but this is a factor nonetheless. Favorite cool blog names off the top of my head: Sparkles and Lightning, The Aussie Zombie and ARCycling.
  • Awesome Button/Icon – Whatever you’d like to call it, if you have a cool/unique/eye-catching icon that you use in your blog it gives major style points. This isn’t a must but it is a plus. Examples of some of my favorites: Reading and Writing Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance, Owl Read It and Sparkles and Lightning.
  • Current – By this I mean your information, the links you have being active, and especially any blogs or giveaways you link to all are accurate and current. If you link to a giveaway that completed months ago that’s a bummer. Link to a cool looking blog and it’s inactive or down or they moved to a different address (this is especially true because bloggers are moving to wordpress lately) and it’s frustrating. Keep your stuff updated as much as you can!
  • About Me – No not content about me silly. I mean your “About Me” page. This is another instance of being hypocritical because I’m not thrilled with mine, but having current information whether it is your age, what books you are into, any contact information or whatever is on there is huge. Yes we can find out about your style and tastes by reading your posts, but this is a big help too.
  • Search Bar – Please, please, pleeeeeaaaaaseeeee have one on your blog, preferably near the top. This helps immensely when trying to find a particular post, especially if you post very frequently. When I run into blogs that don’t have a search bar I am immediately frustrated and turned off. So ya.
  • Email Subscription – I love SO many blogs and the only way I can keep track of the ones I want to visit on a regular basis is to subscribe to those by email. I still visit others that I haven’t subscribed to in this way, but it is sporadic at best. Give me an email option and I’ll likely read every post you write. Also this option isn’t going to be taken away or made useless like so many others (GFC anyone?) so it’s a good way to stay in touch.

There you have it! 15 things I love (or hate) about blogs! What are some things you love to see? Some you hate? Would your blog fit (most) of my criteria? What changes would you like to see on my blog? Really, I’d love to hear them! Thanks for reading and come back tomorrow for a review of Kerstin Gier’s Ruby Red and tomorrow’s challenge, why do you blog on books! ^.^


15 Day Book Blogger Challenge: Day 3

15 Day Book Blogger Challenge: Day 3

15-Day-Challenge

The awesome people over at Good Books and Good Wine came up with the fabulous 15 Day Book Blogger Challenge!

Today’s Challenge is: Who are your blogging BFFS?

There are sooo many amazing book bloggers out there and I love the ones I’ve been fortunate enough to converse with and get to know better. However, there ARE a few that stand out so I’ll focus on them, in no particular order:

Annabelle @ Sparkles and Lightning – This girl is AMAZING! So incredible that I nominated her for THREE bloggy awards (Best Design because her blog is absolutely gorgeous, Most Influential because I trust her thoughts on books more than anyone else and Best Reviews because her style inspired how I do most of my reviews, clear, concise and detailed.) We talk on Twitter quite a bit (though not as much lately due to her unfortunate computer issues, I miss you love!) and she’s just as hilarious and helpful there. Give the girl a follow and subscribe to her blog, you can thank me later!

Kimberly @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer – Kimberly is another blogger I nominated for the bloggy awards, for Nicest Blogger, because she is just the sweetest there is. She’s friendly on and off of her blog, she always is there to answer any questions I have and she genuinely cares about her reader base. She was also one of the first book bloggers I connected with when I started and her Coffee Pot Reviews are the inspiration for my Hobbit Sized Reviews. Also, her meme, The Sunday Post, is an excellent way to share a recap of your posts from the past week, share your weekly book haul and even give a schedule for the next week so you readers know what to expect. She’s awesome.

Hannah @ Book Haven Extraordinaire – Hannah easily makes this list for our hilarious conversations if nothing else. Whenever I talk with her via comments on our blogs or Twitter I inevitably end up laughing. She has some of the most entertaining blog posts you can find and her book haul video posts are always must see. She’s sweet as can be and her energy is infectious, make sure to check her blog out!

Melissa @ My World…in words and pages – Some of the most informative reviews out there are done by Melissa. I actually first found out about her and connected with her via National Novel Writing Month in November of 2012 and we’ve been talking ever since. She’s an inspiration to me every day with all of the stuff she manages to do. I can’t wait to read her books in the future!

So those are some of my book blogging BFFs, the ones that have had the most impact on my blogging style and why I love this community so much. I can’t imagine what it would be like without even one of them missing from my daily blogging activities. They are great bloggers, and more importantly, great people. Thanks as always for reading! ❤


Day 81: Prophecy by Ellen Oh

Day 81

Summary From Goodreads

Kira’s the only female in the king’s army, and the prince’s bodyguard. She’s a demon slayer and an outcast, hated by nearly everyone in her home city of Hansong. And, she’s their only hope…

Murdered kings and discovered traitors point to a demon invasion, sending Kira on the run with the young prince. He may be the savior predicted in the Dragon King Prophecy, but the missing treasure of myth may be the true key. With only the guidance of the cryptic prophecy, Kira must battle demon soldiers, evil shaman, and the Demon Lord himself to find what was once lost and raise a prince into a king.

Intrigue and mystery, ancient lore and action-packed fantasy come together in this heart-stopping first book in a trilogy.

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Prophecy has many of the elements of a great fantasy novel but unfortunately it just can’t combine them effectively. Demon slaying, 7 different kingdoms potentially fighting one another whether in wars or political discourse and, of course, prophecies. All of those combined, well they’d likely make up a slightly different version of Game of Thrones, but Prophecy falls short in execution and fails to draw me in.

Let’s start with the characters. I didn’t connect with any of them. No, seriously, not one, not the MC Kira, not her siblings, not the “love interests” if you can even call them that, nobody. The main reason for this is they simply aren’t fleshed out enough. There is no reason to sympathize with them. Oh sure they go through a ton of crap in their lives, but a lot of people do, and without knowing enough about them and connecting with them there is no way to separate their plight from anyone else. Kira has many burdens she deals with, but while Prophecy seems to want to make you believe that she grins and bears them silently, or as much so as possible like a good little soldier, in reality she whines and gripes a lot. The love interests, if you even can call them that, have no spark. To top it off the little brother is just annoying, not compelling whatsoever. Blah.

While there could be plenty of world building and wonderful scenes presented considering there are seven kingdoms to develop and showcase for some reason Ellen Oh does not go that route. None of the scenery even manages to add to the book’s allure, or lack there of, as they are surface only. There could be so much done here but alas this story could be taking place in Japan or in Venezuela, you really couldn’t tell any differences in how the novel would play out.

As for the plot, I wasn’t engaged. I tried getting into it a few times, even going so far as to put the book down for a while (never a good sign) and then picking it up a couple hours later to see if it gave me a new feel or perspective. All it did was prolong my time getting through the piece. The battle scenes were akin to a hack and slash video game, one that is so repetitive as to get dull within the first half hour of play. I don’t care how trained or hyper sensitive Kira is supposed to be, she isn’t dodging every single attack at the last second in a realistic battle, especially when her and her group are outnumbered multiple times. Forget it. The pace is slow despite the action scenes mixed in and it just never piqued my interest.

I really had thought Prophecy would be a solid read especially after one of my best bloggy friends Annabelle gave it such a glowing review, but alas I just didn’t find the same things enticing as she did. Kira was a strong female MC but I don’t think that being a “badass” gives you enough leeway to be seemingly devoid of personality. Nor did I need to be reminded every other chapter about how everyone everywhere doesn’t like her at best or wants her dead at worst, I got the gist in the first few chapters, really. While Prophecy had plenty of potential (I did compare the elements it could have used to Game of Thrones after all) it wasn’t executed well in my opinion. I don’t think I’ll be reading the rest of the series. Thanks as always for reading and come back tomorrow for Day 82!

Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge #81/365

DNF


Day 68: Lucid by Adrienne Stoltz

Day 68

Summary From Goodreads

What if you could dream your way into a different life? What if you could choose to live that life forever?

Sloane and Maggie have never met. Sloane is a straight-A student with a big and loving family. Maggie lives a glamorously independent life as an up-and-coming actress in New York. The two girls couldn’t be more different–except for one thing. They share a secret that they can’t tell a soul. At night, they dream that they’re each other.

The deeper they’re pulled into the promise of their own lives, the more their worlds begin to blur dangerously together. Before long, Sloane and Maggie can no longer tell which life is real and which is just a dream. They realize that eventually they will have to choose one life to wake up to, or risk spiraling into insanity. But that means giving up one world, one love, and one self, forever.

This is a dazzling debut that will steal readers’ hearts.

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You know how many stories, whether in book or movie form, start with something like “Let me start at the beginning…”? Well I want to start with the ending. See, I wasn’t entirely sure how I felt about Lucid until I got to the last 15% or so of the book. The ending sold me, I’m not going to immediately rush to see where this fits on my top x books ever list or anything crazy like that, but it solidified Lucid as a good read. It’s dramatic, intense, and it will rip your heart out if you let it. There is such a powerful array of emotions and both MCs trying to get a grip on what they think is reality that you can’t help but be swept into their plight.

Speaking of the MCs, I did enjoy reading about both Maggie and Sloane. However, every review I’ve read seems to pick a favorite, and mine will be no different as I did connect more with Sloane. She’s more reserved, she’s the book lover and desires to be a writer, all things I feel an intimate connection to. Her personality just meshes with mine. That doesn’t mean I didn’t connect with Maggie too, just not in the same way. I liked Maggie, her backbone, her sense of humor and take charge attitude were very appealing. In the end I just can’t not feel closer to a book lover you know? ^.^

The romances. Oh boy. See this is why I can’t jump up and down and squee over the awesomeness that one of my best bookish/twitter/bloggy friends Annabelle from Sparkles and Lightning finds in Lucid. We weren’t just given one love triangle, Stoltz gave us two. I understand, symmetry between the two characters, some things need to be similar so that the worlds can stay intact, etc. etc. but that didn’t make it drive me crazy any less. Don’t get me wrong, the love triangles were pretty well done, though I thought the Thomas/Andrew one was pretty obvious in its result. Regardless, multiple love triangles was just a bit much for my taste.

The plot was done in a slow buildup fashion, no two ways about it (ironically enough). As I said, the ending portion of the book was riveting, but it took quite a while to get there and some of the early-to-middle parts developed just a tad slower than I would have preferred. On the other side of the coin some of my favorite lines were in those sections, so maybe keeping everything in was worth it after all. I certainly wouldn’t want Jade’s character to be lessened even in the slightest, it was fantastic, so I’ll take the development speed in stride in this case. Little sister characters always get me darn it.

The psychological discussions and debates (even if mostly one sided) were enjoyable. I love that sort of material, and while I wasn’t blown away by the therapy bits, they were done well. I don’t know how much more Stoltz could have delved into the character’s “condition” so maybe going into the amount of detail that there was is a good thing. I do know that I need to read another good psychological book (maybe a mind-fuck, those are fun) after reading Lucid to keep that inner-mind vibe going.

Overall Lucid was a good read. There were certainly elements (mainly one) that I wasn’t fond of, but they didn’t overshadow the many positive aspects. I’m not going to rate it a perfect 5/5 (sorry Annabelle) but I think a solid and positive four reflects upon the book pretty accurately. Neither character was perfect and neither were either of their lives, so maybe the rating for them matches that. Thanks as always for reading and come back tomorrow for Day 69 (insert joke here)!

Mount TBR Challenge #51/150+; 2013 TBR Pile #51/50; Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge #68/365

Four Smiling Frodos w Background


Sparkles and Lightning 1000 Followers Giveaway

Sparkles and Lightning 1000 Followers Giveaway!

So last week I found the blog Sparkles and Lightning  via a retweet of a contest they were having. One of the entries was following via GFC and when I did I happened to notice something pretty cool, I was the 1,000th follower! I quickly found the blogger, Annabelle, and informed her of her awesome milestone to which I believe squeals of excitement ensued. Anyway, she is now holding an amazing giveaway celebrating this achievement where TEN people will win the opportunity to choose not one, but TWO books each from The Book Depository! You can (and should) enter here http://sparkles-and-lightning.blogspot.com/2012/09/1000-followers-giveaway.html. Enjoy the giveaway and make sure to read her awesome posts and subscribe to her blog!