June 13, 2018

Burning Bright (Going Down in Flames #5) By Chris Cannon Review

Author: Chris Cannon
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Date Published: June 4th 2018
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Page Number: 408

Synopsis: 
Bryn is back for her senior year at the Institute for Excellence, also known as shape-shifting dragon school. She isn’t sure which is scarier, the life-force sucking dragons stalking campus or the fact that she’s officially betrothed to Jaxon, a guy who will never love her. Not that she could ever love him, either… That’s just ridiculous.

Senior year should be fun. Her parents are alive, she’s finally fitting in, and she’s learning how to be a Medic. But what’s with Jaxon giving her strange looks? He runs hot and cold, and he doesn’t even have the excuse of being a hybrid fire-and-ice-breathing dragon like her. One minute they’re having a great time and the next, she wants to blast a fireball at his head. The marriage contract of doom looms over them--unless this match not made in heaven kindles a flame…
 



Review:
I was really looking forward to this book as it is the last book in one of my favorite series. The YA genre severely lacks in fantasy books featuring dragons so I was ecstatic when I came across this series, and I have been following it since book one. However, I couldn't help but feel let down by the ending of this series.

Bryn, the main character, seemed to become complacent with the Directorate controlling her life and seemed to give up in the end. Though she did start to develop feelings for a certain dragon she was betrothed to, it didn't feel real to me. Bryn had the kind of personality where she would fight anything and anyone who was in the wrong or tried to control her, but in this book, she gave up too easily for me. In addition to that, she didn't change the directorate like I expected (and hoped) she would. In the end, she didn't change the system, but she conformed to it. I can't say that I was happy about that. In the beginning, I felt like Bryn was a promise of major change and would give readers a sense of justice in the end, but I never got that. I just felt like there was something missing: Bryn's fire and resolve, a true love story, and most of all, a hard hitting climax that would end the series with a bang.

To me, the climax was lackluster and rushed. Compared to the other books, this climax just fell flat and didn't make my heart race or fear for the main characters' lives. I expected so much more and much more damage to come out of the "last battle", but I was left disappointed.

In the end, I cannot say I was happy with the ending even though Bryn seemed to be happy. I felt let down that such an amazing series so far ending with such an unsatisfying ending. I think that had we spent more time focusing on Bryn's relationship with Jaxon and building up the climactic fight, the book would have been a little bit more satisfying. I also wanted to see the directorate changed drastically and Bryn buck the arranged marriage idea even if she still chose who she was betrothed to in the end. The idea that she just let it go didn't sit well with me.

Nevertheless, I still love the series up to this point and the ending won't change the fact that this series still a favorite! I still highly recommend you read it because it is something unique and special!

June 7, 2018

COVER REVEAL: Unraveling in the Night by Lauryn April (First Look and Exclusive Content)


Today, I get to reveal the cover of the second book in Lauryn April's Cereus Vampire Chronicles series, Unraveling in the Night ! Also, Stay tuned for an exclusive excerpt and a free book!

Following the events of Unearthed After Sunset, Archer returns to Phoenix to discover Caroline has a new threat to face, one that puts both hunters and vampires in danger. Unraveling in the Night is set to be released this fall.
Synopsis:
It’s been over a year since Archibald Gregory Erickson died. He’s shed his human life, and gone on a journey of self-discovery, now Archer is back in Phoenix and finds himself quickly falling back into old habits. When danger strikes, putting Caroline in harm’s way Archer decides to stick around town a little longer, especially when it looks like Santo may be planning something. But things aren’t always as they appear. Archer and Caroline work together to uncover the cause behind a mass of vampire disappearances.
Before I unveil the eye-catching cover, I'll give you a little taste of what you are getting in this second book.
Excerpt:
Rusty mattress springs squeaked as I rolled onto my side. I lay on the floor in an abandoned building. I’d slept in. I liked getting a full eight hours rest as a human, but as a vampire, it wasn’t uncommon for me to sleep ten or even fourteen hours during the summer months. My body wanted to be awake at night, the rest of the time it seemed fine snoozing.

I headed out into the night. A few hours remained until midnight when Caroline asked me to meet her, so I decided to wander around town. Not much had changed in Phoenix since last year. It was the same eclectic metropolitan, a bustling and yet boring city filled with college students but also retirees and homeless.

I passed people of all kinds as I walked down the street. Through the window of a bar, I saw businessmen out for a drink before their ride back to the suburbs. A group of kids loitered at the street corner listening to loud music, and across the street, an old man carried a bag of groceries up his apartment stairs.

Then I saw something unusual. A block ahead, an old black van sat parked on the side of the road with the side door slid open. It waited right outside the butcher shop, and a moment later a tall man with a long face and black hair stepped outside. Dressed in a long sleeve shirt and jeans, with a complexion that hasn’t seen the sun in years, he had all the tell-tale signs of being new to town.

I slowed my pace to watch. I’d spent a lot of time as a vampire watching people, and I’d learned to notice people who were out of place. At first, I thought he was a vampire, but when he turned his head he lacked the tell-tale glow to his eyes, which also meant he wasn’t a hunter. He was human.

A bell tinkled out into the night, as the butcher shop door opened again. An unappealing meat smell drifted on the breeze. A young man in a white apron pushed a five-gallon, sealed, white bucket out on a rolling cart. He was a scrawny kid, still in his teens.

“Right in here?” The kid asked.

The man nodded. “Yeah, right in the van.”

Whatever was in that bucket must have been heavy. The young man strained to lift it. He set it in the van and the man slammed the door shut.

“Hey mister, what do you do with all this cows blood anyway?” the kid asked.

The man turned to him with a cold glare and said, “I make blood pudding.”

He was going to make blood pudding with five gallons of blood?

A moment later he drove away and I jogged up to where the kid still stood outside. He grabbed the rolling cart and pulled it back toward the door.

“Hey, what’d that guy order?” I asked before he slipped back inside. I wondered if maybe I’d heard the kid wrong. Maybe the five-gallon bucket had been filled with something else and he’d only bought a pint of cows’ blood?

“What?” His eyes were wide. “Oh, um, that guy?” He laughed. “He got five gallons of cow’s blood. Don’t ask me what he does with it, but he was here last week with the same order.”

The kid went back inside the butcher shop and I was left pondering what I’d seen. The man in the van wasn’t a vampire. I was sure of that, and even if he had been, a vampire can’t live on the blood of animals. My maker, Lila, had told me that the first night I’d turned. She’d said the blood of animals would make me sick. Then again, I’d never tested the theory myself.

I shook my thoughts free. For all I knew this had nothing to do with vampires. All sorts of people lived in Phoenix. That guy could be into weird ritual sacrifices or hell, really like the movie Carrie. One weirdo didn’t equal trouble.
Sounds interesting, right? If you like it, be sure to add it to Goodreads!
Unraveling in the Night (Cereus Vampire Chronicles #2)

Now, are you ready to see the cover?

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It looks distinctive, right? I love the clouds in the background. Since this is the second book in the series and you night not have read the first, it wouldn't be right to leave you without a little present, right? Lauryn was kind enough to give readers the first book (Unearthed After Sunset, Cereus Vampire Chronicles #1) for FREE, which you can find here! 

Awesome, right? And if you want to know my thoughts on the first book in the series, you can read my review!

What are your thoughts? Do you like the cover? Be sure to get the first book for free!

Enjoy!



May 31, 2018

College Survival Guide 101

 College is an intimidating experience and the complexities of signing up for classes doesn’t help
the nerves. Now that I am a college graduate, I feel like I can confidently advise college freshman on the ins and outs of signing up for classes, college life, and more. This only applies to United States Universities and the way they do things may differ from my university so my experience may not be the same as yours. However, I feel like this advice could at least lead you in the right direction!


THE BASICS: Signing up for classes


✤ Plan ahead! Know how many hours you need to complete to fulfill your degree requirements, the required classes, and your electives. Plan out your two (or more) years. It helps you in the long run, it keeps you on a tentative track, and it definitely helps you when you meet with your advisor to sign up for classes.

✤ Check the course list and descriptions on your schools website so you know what is available and what you can expect to learn in those classes. Make sure its what you want.

✤ Four classes a semester is full time (12 hours or 3 credit hours per class). Some people take five or more classes to graduate faster, but I recommend starting out with four classes your first semester so you know what you can handle.

✤ General Education (Gen. Ed.) classes will bore you to tears, so I liked to mix my semesters with Gen. Ed.s and electives until my main requirements like math, science, the basics, etc. were filled. It makes like easier when you are taking something you look forward to.

Make sure your schedule makes sense for you! Don’t schedule a class at 7 AM when you know you won’t like it in the long run.

Plan your schedule so that it fits your life. For me, the earliest class I can handle is at 9 AM, but I commute 30 minutes, which calls for a 2 hour wake up call before that so I can get ready.

Give yourself time to do homework, papers, projects, etc. by making sure you are out of class by 5 PM (at max) and try to get Friday’s off. Don’t freak out if you can’t get Friday off though. Some classes especially gen. ed. classes and classes that require labs will only be on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

✤ Don’t worry if the class you want to take isn’t offered that semester or if it is full. One, It will be available the next year (if it is an elective or usually small class) or if it is a popular class like gen. ed. classes usually are, it might be available the next semester. Two, You can always email the professor and ask if there is enough room for you in the class if it is full. Sometimes the cutoff is standard and not a true reflection of the available seats. It never hurts to ask!

✤ Students with more hours get seniority when registering, meaning seniors get to register first,  then juniors, and so on. So don’t worry when people start talking about having already registered. Just make a note of your college’s registration dates.

✤ I recommend signing up for classes as soon as they become available (if you are able to sign up online). I make sure to sign up as soon as it turns 12:01 AM just to make sure I get in.

GET AN AGENDA! Write everything down so that you don’t forget. I take all of my syllabi and write down everything assigned for the whole semester so I don’t forget a thing. Remember to change it if the professor does.

IMPORTANT! When professors have something assigned on a specific day, you are meant to do that assignment BEFORE class that day. Example: if you see “read Shakespeare sonnet” under Tuesday, it means you are meant to read those sonnets Monday night. If it helps, write down your homework for the night you are meant to do it, believe me, it helps.
COLLEGE LIFE: 


Self-care

➤Sometimes you just need a day of rest. Just take note of the days you’ve missed so you know how many more you can afford to lose. Remember: there is a penalty for taking more sick days than allotted, which is usually four (depending on your weekday schedule MWF or T/Th). Don’t feel guilty about staying home either. I went through a stage where I would force myself to go to class even thought my anxiety was crippling because I felt guilty for staying home. Don’t do this because you will not learn anything that day. There is no reason for you for force yourself to go to class when you know you won’t be able to focus just because you feel pressured to go. Mental health is just as important as physical help, no matter what professors say.

Reading/ blogging 

➤While in school this is hard, especially when you have other things to read and write for school. I suggest reading when you can, and if you still feel pressured to blog, make them small posts. Don’t take on/promise more than you can handle. School should come first, but you can always take breaks in between to read or write. If you want to write a blog post, piece it together throughout the week (write a little each day) and by Sunday you can have it edited and posted.

Homework

➤Do as much as you can and take notes on everything. Trust me, getting homework done early on in the week will make your life easier and if you’re an English major like me, reading is a huge part of homework: therefore, taking notes (even just an outline of what you read) will help you in the long run. There is no such thing as too many notes. Also, using colored pens to section off things, highlight certain words, etc. will really help when studying for exams.

Grades

➤ One thing to note is that most universities require a C+ to pass a class that is required for your major, for electives, you can get away with a D+ (but it won’t help you with your GPA). That being said, one bad grade on an exam won’t be the end of you. Remember that you have more opportunities to make that grade up with papers, quizzes, or other exams, and attendance also helps boost (or lower) your grade. Don’t stress over the grades you can’t change, just work harder to do better next time. Also, most classes or topics (English, foreign language, science, etc.) have tutoring programs that are free to help you. Don’t be afraid to use them if need be.

Clubs, internships, resume boosters, etc. 

➤Clubs and internships always help your resume stand out, but if I had to pick one or the other, an internship will help you more in the long run. An internship, if it’s in your field or not, will teach you important lessons that you will be able to use in the future. In my case, I want to be/am an editor. I shot for editorial jobs (specifically for books) so that I could gain experience, knowledge, and a feel for what I was going into. I have done three internships so far in my four years of college and each one has given me valuable information about the publishing industry and how editorial work works. That being said, college freshmen, start looking for internships now. This is a time when internships are the most crucial because future employers will see how dedicated you are to learning. Most places are looking for experience so that they aren’t paying newbies for subpar work. Internships are (usually) unpaid, and they are ways for employers to receive free help and for students to learn.

➤Anyway, for the publishing industry, most positions require at least 2 years of experience in that field, which is where the internships come in, they look good and they serve a purpose! Most publishing internships will be remote (unless you are lucky and live in New York) which is a bummer because you don’t get the full experience of being in a publishing office, but they still teach you a lot. Scour the internet and even social media for openings. You can usually find them at the start of each season (specifically fall, spring, and summer). Make contact and send in your resume. Your college should have a career services office/program and they can also help you not only find a job/internship but also help with your resume! Some colleges will even give you credit hours for internships if they are approved though the university! Bottom-line, internships are your friend. That being said, while clubs or sororities/fraternities look nice on a resume, they don’t really set a precedent for your future job. However, they do provide you with an avenue to make friends and have fun. Either way, I choose an internship.

Don’t be afraid to speak up in class and chat with a neighbor. 


 ➤Make friends in class and when you miss a day you can borrow their notes, trust me, this helps when it comes to tests, papers, and exams. College is not like high school, full of clicks and classes where groups congregate. Therefore, you shouldn’t be afraid to reach out. It’s more than likely that the person you want to talk to is just as nervous. In almost every classroom I have been in there has been one (or more) person that has spoken to me and we became acquaintances during that class, which also helped if the class was boring or I was struggling to pay attention. Having a friend to share class woes with made it bearable.

➤I suggest asking what their major is, what year they are, etc. You will have people ready to open up about their passion or share their struggle with choosing a major.

➤ Know that it is okay to stay quiet too. Don’t feel like you have to socialize, but realize that people in college are way more accepting than kids in high school.

Dealing with classmates or professors you don’t like. 

➤I, unfortunately, have had a lot of experience with this. I had to deal with a headache of a classmate for almost two years because we were in the same major and took some of the same classes. Not gonna lie, one of my best friends that I made in college was because we bonded over our shared (extreme) dislike of that classmate, though we were not actively mean to her. At one point, it got so bad that my friend and I had to go to the professor of the class at the time and address her rude behavior and remarks. Thankfully, the professor handled it. College professors have little to no tolerance for that sort of behavior.

➤Annoying / Irritating/ Unlikable professors are a more difficult issue. It can be hard to listen and learn from a professor when you don’t like them or are annoying. That is where “rate my professor” comes in handy. This is a website where students can anonymously rate teachers and give their honest opinion on their personality, homework/work load, and even looks (que eye roll). I suggest looking at the classes you want to take, making a note of the teachers available to teach that class (if there are multiple options for the same class) and looking them up before registering.

➤ However, the website doesn’t account for personal taste and sometimes a student and professor don’t mix. That being said, try not to focus on why the professor annoys you, but what he/she is teaching. Focus on taking notes. If it becomes too much you can always drop the class for another one (But make sure you drop the class during the first week of class or else you will be penalized and it will show up on your transcript). No one can blame you.

 ➤ If you don’t like him/her because of something offensive they have said/done or if they make you uncomfortable, report them to the dean of students or your respective department for student concerns. You are paying to learn, not to be made uncomfortable or unwelcome.

Textbooks

 ➤Rent them! Don’t spend tons of money at the campus bookstore if you don’t have to when you can find used books to buy or rent online for a third of the price. You will save hundreds of dollars a semester doing this. It’s also better this way because half (if not most) of the books you will need for class you won’t want/need to keep when it’s over. In my four years if college, I’ve kept maybe five books and that’s such a small amount since most classes have at least two required books.

 ➤Rent or buy used and save your money when you can. Sometimes you have to get your books from the college bookstore because it comes with an online program code or cd or something, and unfortunately those can be at least two hundred dollars. However, for renting books I like Chegg, Abebooks, and Amazon. You can also use a used textbook comparison site to look for the cheapest book among a lot of websites.

Perks of Being a Student

➤Make sure you are using your student status to its fullest. Software (such a Microsoft suit, Adobe suite, etc.) is often free for students. Amazon prime has a six-month free trial for students which includes Amazon TV! Stores even have student discounts now, especially during back to school season. Some theaters have them too! So search the internet for places that offer student discounts! (P.S. you can keep your student ID after you graduate and milk your student status until you can’t physically pass as a student. You’ve paid thousands for an education, it’s okay to work the system in your favor!)
There you go! There is my (semi) comprehensive college survival guide! Did I cover everything you have worried about? What helped you the most? If you still have questions, leave them in the comments below or hit me up on Twitter and I’ll try to answer to the best of my ability!



Cheers!