Sunday, January 31, 2016

Month In Review: January 2016

January is already over, well it's the last day of the month.  I swear it's so weird how fast some months just fly by. Anyway, it's been a great month here on Ali's Bookshelf.  So many great reviews and other posts, including discussion posts that I've loved writing.  

Books I Read In January

Reviews Posted in January
Other Special Posts
It's almost time for our first month of the Book Club after the revamp! Are you all ready to read Alienated? I'm super excited about this one and can't wait to start reading.  Also make sure you have joined the Goodreads group as well.  
Glance Into Ali's Month!  
 Each of these images came from Instagram throughout the month of January.  
This one is actually from today! I'm getting ready for #InCoWriMo.  Had to find a bunch of writing materials and cards. In February I'll be writing a letter every day and mailing it out to my lovely pen pals and other people that I don't even know.  Some military men and women overseas are just a few people that my letters will be going to.  
 These books are a glimpse of books that I'll be reading in the next several weeks.  
This is an instagram pick that I took to showcase a post I made on the blog.  It's one of the first #blogflashdaily posts! 
This lovely book stack was some of the books I've received lately.  Aren't they pretty? 
Just one of the books I have recieved to review for Mini Me Corner.  This one will be reviewed soon! 
So there's a glimpse into the past month here on the blog.  It's been a crazy month and I can't wait for February to be the same way.   I hope you're enjoying what I've been doing with Ali's Bookshelf lately and will enjoy the future posts. Thanks for sticking with me. 

Ali Talks: #InCoWriMo and Joining in the Fun!

Ali Talks is a post that I created for all my discussion posts, it's a post where I can talk about genre's, books, things that are happening in the blogging/reviewing world, etc.  Today though I'm going to be sharing something a bit different than I have in the past.  Today I want to talk about something else that I've been doing.  

February is going to be pretty busy for me, not only with this blog and reading, but also with writing.  No I'm not talking about working on my book, nope I'm talking about writing actual hand written letters.  Here lately I've been writing a few pen pals that I've found in the Bullet Journal community and I've loved it so far.  But this month, there is a, I guess you would call it a challenge going on called #InCoWriMo.  It's almost like Nanowrimo, but instead of working on your manuscript,  you write a letter or card every single day and send it out in the mail that same day.  

If you haven't put two and two together that means I'm going to be hand writing 29 letters to 29 different people.  Luckily I had joined a Pen Pal group on Facebook and a lot of those amazing people have joined in on the fun of #InCoWriMo, so I have plenty of people to write too.  I'm also going to be writing letters to a few troops that are overseas as well.  I think it's important to share some joy with them, seeing as they are fighting for our freedom. 

What is #InCoWriMo?

InCoWriMo is the short name for International Correspondence Writing Month.  

Anyway, I want to use this post to talk about not only #InCoWriMo, but also writing in general.  It's been years since I've actually sat down and wrote anyone an actually handwritten letter.  How long has it been for you? 

I know a few of you are asking, where do I even start? Right?  Well the first thing I did was find a pen pal.  There are tons of places to do so, all you really have to do is google it.  I also joined the Letter Writers Alliance.  To hear more about this group, CLICK HERE.   Now you don't have to join the Letter Writers Alliance, I did mainly because it's only 5$ and it's a lifetime membership.  

Mainly, find a Pen Pal and start writing.  That's really all you have to do is you want to write Pen Pal letters.  I know the next thing you're going to ask is what in the world do I write to someone that I don't know.  Right?  What I did was research.  I looked up writing your first pen pal letter, I used Google, Pinterest, and Youtube to figure these things out.  

If you want, later on this month, I will write up a post about this very topic, just comment in the comment section below and let me know if that's something you would like me to talk about. You could also take a look at my Pinterest board I created all about Pen Pal Ideas.  

I will be posting an update here on the blog, more than likely a weekly post on how I'm doing with #InCoWriMo.  That way I can hopefully keep up and keep track of how many letters I've actually wrote.  If you would like to see pictures of my letters, I'll probably be sharing a few of them on Instagram as well.    

Oh and if you would like to join in the fun of #InCoWriMo, CLICK HERE for more information.  If you're going to join in please let me know! 


Saturday, January 30, 2016

Audio Book Review: The Darkest Minds

Ali Listens is my new review title for Audio book Reviews.  I wanted to start splitting up my reviews into categories.  Something I've been wanting to do for awhile, just haven't had the chance.  More categories coming soon, but this is the one I wanted to start with. 


Title: The Darkest Minds
Author: Alexandra Bracken 
Audio Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Date: 03-08-13
Read From: Jan 1st 2016 - Jan 27th 2016
Narrator: Amy McFadden
Length:14 Hours
Reading Challenges: 2016 TBR Challenge

Authors WebsiteGoodreadsBuy This
When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something frightening enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that got her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that had killed most of America’s children, but she and the others emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they could not control. Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones. When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. She is on the run, desperate to find the only safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who have escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents. When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at having a life worth living.' to.

Have you ever had a book stay with you even after you put it down or in my case stopped listening to it? Well The Darkest Minds has done this to me.  I can't stop wondering what's going to happen to the characters and where Ruby is going to go next? Seriously not sure why it took me so long to read this book, but I know one thing for sure, I can't wait to read more of this series.

Author Alexandra Bracken's way with words had me in tears at times and grasping for what was going to happen next.  The characters are so well thought out and as you read/listen you can see their growth as they go through each trial that they go through.  Nothings ever easy for this group of kids, I will say that for certain, but for the main character Ruby, there were times I just wanted to pull her into my arms and hug her or at least I had wished Lee would do so.

My favorite plot part in this whole story isn't really the love story that's intertwined throughout and yes I must say I love that part, but I really loved how each of their, let's call them abilities, are different.  The author has a great way of explaining them as well through out the whole book.  It's almost as if she painted a picture with each word that she wrote.  Oh and I must say that I loved it every time he called her darling.  I smiled every time I heard it!

The world she created is a dystopian one I guess you would say, but at the same time it's also something more, at least for me it was.  I mean how would you feel if you woke up on your tenth birthday or even before that and knew that you would either die or have something wrong with you? I'm not sure how I would have handled that.  As the story unfolds and you get bits and pieces of what actually happened to Ruby, Lee, Zu, and Chubs, each detail of their stories, just makes you as the reader love these characters even more. 

I could seriously go on and on about this book and I assure you I have to anyone that will listen.  So much so that I now have my mom reading this book.  If you haven't read The Darkest Minds and you love dystopian books or even books with magic or super hero type characters, then this is the book for you.

Audio Book Review: 

I enjoyed listening to this story so much so and that has to do not only with the authors words and story, but also with the narration of the book itself.  Amy McFadden's voice worked perfectly with the ton of this story.  I hope she narrates the whole series because I'm already getting ready to start the next book.  The way she changed her accent for certain characters was something that I really enjoyed as well.  I could always tell which character was speaking.

 I have found my new favorite line in a book and it's from The Darkest Minds.  It's a quote that is both daunting and beautifully dark at the same time. 

“The Darkest Minds tend to hide behind the most unlikely faces.” 

I'm pretty sure you all can guess what kind of rating I'm going to give this fantastic book! 

Book Rating: 5 Puppies 
Audio: 5 Puppies 
Characters: 5 Puppies 

Here at Ali's Bookshelf we accept books in exchange for a honest review. The audio book above I bought for myself.  It wasn't a review book, but liked it enough to write a review.  We do use affiliate links here on Ali's Bookshelf, the one above is from Book Depository.



Friday, January 29, 2016

#FitReaders: Week 4

I can't believe it's already the fourth week, it's gone so by fast, but I've said that a bunch about days passing.  Anyway I was able to get a lot of steps in this week, pretty much met my goal every single day.  I might wait another week then move my goal up to 8000 steps instead of 6000.  We shall see, not sure about it just yet.
Sunday: I walked 6025 Steps, 3.17 miles and burned 300 Calories. 
Monday:  6027 Steps, 3.19 miles and burned 303 Calories
Tuesday: 6015 Steps 3.01 Miles and burned 275 Calories.  (65 Minutes of activity)
Wednesday: 6016 Steps, 3.04 Miles and 299 Calories 
Thursday: 6007 Steps, 3.03 Miles and 275 Calories (60 Minutes of activity)
Friday: 6000 Steps (So far), 3.01 Miles and 274 Calories (60 Minutes of activity)

 Total number of steps for the week:  36,090 Steps for the week! WOW

I might change today's step count by the end of the night.  We shall see! Best part is my jeans are getting lose! Which of course is making me very happy.  I haven't actually weighed myself yet, mainly because I don't want to get caught up on the numbers yet.  Want to just keep getting my steps in and see where I go from there.  

Guest Post and Giveaway: Halfway Dead by Terry Maggert

Today I have a great post for you! I have so much fun featuring authors and their books, I mean that's part of what this blog is about.  So anyway, today is one of these types of posts.  Below is a Guest post from Terry Maggert and a giveaway of either the Ebook of Halfway Dead or the audio book winners choice. 

But before we get to that, I would like to thank Terry Maggert for writing up this post for the blog and for taking the time out of his busy day to write this post.


5:20 AM Alarm. Within thirty seconds, I stand up, dislodging cats. The dogs greet me and I let them out. I must check for destruction, as one of our hounds is a Newfoundland *puppy* who most recently ate my deceased mother's Bible. 

5:21 AM Coffee in process. 8-10 cups, which is adorable because I don't know anyone who thinks that six ounces of coffee constitutes a "cup" of coffee. Please. Pipe down and hand me the bucket.

5:30 AM Dogs are in. Various animal feedings and such well underway. Cats resume glaring at me for reasons known only to them, but their ability to judge me is second only to an ex-girlfriend who lives next door.

6:00AM Stand in shower. Begin to shave. Wonder if my life is really going the way it should. Argue with my body about whether or not I'm old. 

6:15 AM Coffee kicks in. SUCK IT WORLD, I WON.

7:05 AM Drop son off at school, and remark that only sadists could think it reasonable for little kids to be in school before the sun is well up. Resolve to change rules when I become emperor.
7:06 AM Make note that I should become emperor.

7;07AM- 1:45PM Teach college history. Eat. Write furious, sporadic notes about plot points in upcoming novels. Wonder if angels would drink beer, or would that be weird, then decide that yes, my angels would certainly drink beer-- and especially if they're related to my family.
2:00 PM Enter pickup line at son's school. Exultation as I secure the prime spot. Open laptop, begin writing, and take a long, meaningful look at the unlucky minions behind me. High-five self for getting in line early. Begin fighting sleep because car is quiet and restful.

2:43 PM Son is pounding on car window in a panic, I appear to be dead but am merely sleeping. Teacher walks by, gives me mild sneer. I wipe drool, apologize to son, and drive away, somewhat sheepishly.

3:45PM Starting to get hungry again, but go for run. Every ten steps, have most brilliant novel idea EVER.

4:45PM Finish run. Close to death. Cannot recall novel ideas. Feel crushed, but remember that there's pie to eat.

7:30 PM Son is in bed, creativity engaged. Consider new characters, books, and art. 
9:55 PM Actually begin writing due to arguing about Star Wars for two hours.
1:15AM To bed. Move animals, who glare at me in the dark. Try to steal covers back from bride. Remember all the great ideas form earlier, but can't move because of cats. Resolve to write it all down . . . .tomorrow.

Title: Halfway Dead
Author: Terry Maggert
Pages: 264 pages

Come for the waffles. Stay for the magic.

Carlie McEwan loves many things.
She loves being a witch. She loves her town of Halfway, NY—a tourist destination nestled on the shores of an Adirondack lake. Carlie loves her enormous familiar, Gus, who is twenty-five pounds of judgmental Maine Coon cat, and she positively worships her Grandmother, a witch of incredible power and wisdom. Carlie spends her days cooking at the finest—and only—real diner in town, and her life is a balance between magic and the mundane, just as she likes it.
When a blonde stranger sits at the diner counter and calls her by name, that balance is gone. Major Pickford asks Carlie to lead him into the deepest shadows of the forest to find a mythical circle of chestnut trees, thought lost to forever to mankind. There are ghosts in the forest, and one of them cries out to Carlie across the years--Come find me.
Like the forest shadows, danger can run deep. The threat is real, but Carlie’s magic is born of a pure spirit. With the help of Gus, and Gran, and a rugged cop who really does want to save the world, she’ll fight to bring a ghost home, and deliver justice to a murderer who hides in the cool, mysterious green of a forest gone mad with magic.
Authors WebsiteGoodreadsBuy This

Left-handed. Father of an apparent nudist. Husband to a half-Norwegian. Herder of cats and dogs. Lover of pie. I write books.

This giveaway is for either an ebook copy or an audiobook copy of Halfway Dead by Terry Maggert.  

Book Blogger Hop #16

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop is another post I'm going to be trying out and this one has a topic each week, which is something I've been trying to bring to the blog.  I'm really excited about this one because I have a hard time coming up with something fresh to talk about and I'm hoping this helps.  
If you would be interested in doing your own post, please CLICK HERE to learn more about this great hop! 


This Weeks Topic:  Can you pass by a book store without stopping in?
Now why on earth would I want to pass a bookstore without going in? Okay I'm kidding, but seriously why? 
Now yes, I've passed a bookstore and didn't go in, not very often though.  I love going into a bookstore and just looking around, it's hard not to buy something, but come on who doesn't love the smell of a bookstore? I know I do.  So I guess the answer would have to be yes for me because I can do it, but if the question was do I want to, the answer would have been no way! 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Review: Life and Death

Title: Life and Death
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Publisher: Little Brown
Publishing Date: October 6th 2015
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 389 pages
ISBN #: 0349002487

Authors WebsiteGoodreadsBuy This
Celebrate the tenth anniversary of Twilight! This special double-feature book includes the classic novel, Twilight, and a bold and surprising reimagining, Life and Death, by Stephenie Meyer. Packaged as an oversize, jacketed hardcover “flip book,” this edition features nearly 400 pages of new content as well as exquisite new back cover art. Readers will relish experiencing the deeply romantic and extraordinarily suspenseful love story of Bella and Edward through fresh eyes. Twilight has enraptured millions of readers since its first publication in 2005 and has become a modern classic, redefining genres within young adult literature and inspiring a phenomenon that has had readers yearning for more. The novel was a #1 New York Times bestseller, a #1 USA Today bestseller, a Time magazine Best Young Adult Book of All Time, an NPR Best-Ever Teen Novel, and a New York Times Editor’s Choice. The Twilight Saga, which also includes New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn, The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: An Eclipse Novella, and The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide, has sold nearly 155 million copies worldwide.

Alright, before I share my thoughts about this book with you all, I want to say one thing.  I do not want to hear one bad thing in the comments about author Stephenie Meyer or her books.  I'm saying if you can't say anything nice, then don't comment.  Twilight is a book that got me reading again, I hadn't sat down and actually read a book for years and then Twilight was released and I devoured the whole series like it was my lifeline.  With that being said, let's talk about Life and Death shall we. 

I really wasn't sure what to think when I heard that Stephenie had a new book being released, I take that back I was wishing it was Edwards take on Twilight, but then I heard it was Twilight rewritten with Bella as a guy.  My first words was WHAT!  I bought it anyway, of course I had to have the book to add to my collection of Stephenie Meyer books.  It took me a little bit to actually pick it up and read it though.  

Once I did, I was hooked and actually ended up liking the gender swap.  The names were a little weird at first, but once I got used to them, I really got into the book.  There are some, okay a lot of differences when it comes to Twilight and Life and Death.  I'm not going to give any of those away, mainly because I don't do spoiler reviews. If you're going to read this book, remember some things are the same and with Bella being a guy in this version, the way events turn out can be different.  

There is a great twist at the end of the book, one that at first I wasn't sure about, but after I finished the book I ended up loving.  It just showed how things could have turned out if she had wrote the story a different way.  I must say though I agree with Stephenie in this instance, Bella got the better end of the deal! 

My only complaint about this book is I had a hard time believing a guy would be so whinny, but then again I'm used to reading the strong hero guys in books, not the meek and mild version of a male.  Not that it's a bad thing, because it makes sense to the character, in the long run I mean. 

So if you enjoyed Twilight and or Stephenie Meyer's writing style, you should pick up Life and Death and read this version of the story.  If you do, come back and let me know what you think.  I would love to hear your thoughts.  

So there are a few things that kept this book from getting a perfect rating from me.  But all in all, Life and Death by Stephenie Meyer was a great read! 

 Here at Ali's Bookshelf we accept books in exchange for a honest review. The book above I bought for myself.  It wasn't a review book, but liked it enough to write a review.  We do use affiliate links here on Ali's Bookshelf, the one above is from Book Depository.

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