September is quickly approaching, and the air is starting to give me that familiar feeling that it does every year around this time. Children and college students alike are starting to head back to school, and although my university is one that begins in mid-September, I’m slowly starting to say goodbye to friends from home and hello to my junior year of college. Wow.

Although I’m intimidated and overwhelmed by the fact that I’m halfway done with my college years, I have to say there’s no feeling in the world like starting a new year in school. It has always felt like a fresh start to me. On the first day, I put on my best outfit and brightest smile as I look forward to seeing my friends and favorite professors once again. I’m also one of those girls that absolutely loves finding the perfect school stationery for my fall quarter classes. Thankfully, my summer internship has essentially handed me those items on a silver platter, and I want to share them with my readers and viewers, too!

Below are the items I’ll be giving away this time! I picked them out myself because they are some of my favorites from Compendium, and I think they all serve a specific purpose when going back to the books. Give the photos a gander, and scroll to the bottom of this post for all the giveaway rules and regulations! Thanks again to the very wonderful Compendium for giving me free reign on these giveaways. If you do not win one of these back to school packages, check out the links below each image to purchase the products yourself. Use coupon code backtoschool30 at check out to receive a 30% discount on any and all Compendium products at www.live-inspired.com.

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Write Now Journals are perfect for lecture note-taking, journaling, or creating a keepsake photo journal of all your precious memories throughout the school year! These are the two I chose, because a) reading, duh! and b) especially for all those university students pulling all nighters, the coffee journal says it all! Click here to check out all the different Write Now Journals!

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Compendium’s Motto Journals can serve a similar purpose to the Write Now Journals, or you can make them something entirely special! I personally use my motto journal as a place to keep all my thoughts and gratitude lists throughout each day. It’s the perfect space to create a positive mindset each morning before heading to class or work, and the inspirational messages on each cover are the perfect reminders for what’s truly important in this life. Click here to check out all the different Motto Journals!

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If you have been following me for a while, then I’m sure you can guess that of course this is in my top 3 favorite Compendium products EVER! It’s a Year of Gratitude kit that is designed to help you spread the love, and recognize the many blessings that encompass your life! This is the first product I bought when I started interning, and I absolutely had to include it in this giveaway. The school year can be incredibly stressful and overwhelming, and we all forget to recognize how much we have to be grateful for when we’re slammed with tests and papers. This is the perfect kit to start right as classes begin, and to vow to continue throughout the entirety of the year. I promise you will see your life dramatically shift before your eyes if you make gratitude a daily habit. Check out the Year of Gratitude kit here!

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Thoughtfulls were Compendium’s first-ever product, and they’re at the heart and soul of all that this company stands for. These are the perfect little pop-open cards to pay it forward with. Give them to family and friends to let them know you appreciate them, or leave them around campus to brighten a stranger’s day! You can write a little note on the back, or let the words on the inside do all the talking. Check out all the different Thoughtfulls here!

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On Words are bright, bold, and full of life. You can hang these around your apartment or dorm room, or you can tie them to a bottle of wine or birthday gift for a friend or special someone! I have a bunch of these hanging in my kitchen, and they always make me smile as I (attempt to) cook. Check out all the different On Words here!

Totems 3

Last but certainly not least, the Totems Card Deck is the perfect way to start any day! I pick a new one at random each day, and somehow the words always seem to fit perfectly into what I’m feeling and experiencing in that moment. Plant this deck on your study station, and pull a new one every day (or during midterms, every hour)! Stay motivated during those hard days, or just get a boost of energy on the days when you’re feeling up! Totems are powerful, and they will remind you to live a life that you’re proud of… One of authenticity, joy, and peace. Check out the Totems Card Deck here!


Giveaway Rules & Regulations

  1. You must be a subscriber of www.youtube.com/abookaffair, seeing as this giveaway is for my subscribers!
  2. You must follow me on both Twitter & Instagram! www.twitter.com/abookaffair & www.instagram.com/alitajoy!
  3. You must be a U.S. resident! (Sorry international readers/viewers.. I love you just as much but shipping is just too expensive)!
  4. You must comment below on this video and state that you are participating in the giveaway, as well as provide your Twitter and Instagram names so I can double check that you’re a follower of mine!
  5. You must comment on said video by August 21st at midnight PST. Winners will be contacted via Twitter on August 24th and will have 5 days to respond before a new winner is selected in their place!

It’s that time again! Book haulin’ time! Except this time around, it’s not just a book haul. It’s also a GIVEAWAY! And who doesn’t love free books?! I will be giving away 5 copies of Today, Tomorrow & Everyday, which has been my go-to morning mood-lifter. By waking up each morning, making a cup of coffee, and reading through the pages of this beautiful piece of art, I have been able to set positive intentions for my day and let go of any negativity or burdens that have been weighing me down. All the details for the giveaway will be at the very end of this blog post, so scroll through the pretty pictures, perhaps put a few of your favorites in your wishlist, and find out how to participate in the giveaway below!


Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

every last word front every last word back

goodreads rating: 4.10 stars | click here to buy this book!


P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #2)

PS I still love you front PS I Still Love You Back

goodreads rating: 4.24 stars | click here to buy this book!


An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

An ember in the ashes front An ember in the ashes back

goodreads rating: 4.28 stars | click here to buy this book!


Today, Tomorrow & Everyday

today, tomorrow front today, tomorrow inside

enter in the giveaway below to win a copy of this book! | click here to buy this book & use coupon code alitajoy30 for a 30% discount!


Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

Magonia front Magonia back

goodreads rating: 3.75 stars | click here to buy this book!


Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
saint anything front saint anything back

goodreads rating: 4.08 stars | click here to buy this book!


Fight On

fight on front fight on inside

click here to buy this book & use coupon code alitajoy30 for a 30% discount!


The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz

the four agreements front the four agreements back

goodreads rating: 4.08 stars | click here to buy this book!


 Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

station eleven front station eleven back

goodreads rating: 4.01 stars | click here to buy this book!


 Today, Tomorrow & Everyday GIVEAWAY!

I am happy that Compendium is allowing me to giveaway 5 copies of this AMAZING book that you saw photos of above! Today, Tomorrow & Everyday is “a collection of thoughts on living a brave and real and gorgeous life, this book is perfect for any woman who lives each day as a journey, and makes each moment into something she is proud to call her own. Laser-cut endsheets, cloth quarter-binding, gilded edges, and a foil-stamped cover make this a beautiful and truly special gift.” I read it almost every single morning while I drank my cup of coffee to remind and inspire myself to live a life that I am proud of – a life of kindness, gratitude, and laughter. I wanted to give this away to my viewers/readers as soon as I read it for the first time, and now I have the chance! Unfortunately, this giveaway is for U.S. residents only. The giveaway ends July 10, 2015 at midnight PST. On the 11th of July, I will select 5 winners and send the copies over your way so that they can begin to brighten your day! In order to participate in this giveaway, you must be a subscriber to my YouTube channel, follow me on Instagram and Twitter! Then you must comment on my June Book Haul video with your Twitter & Instagram usernames and state that you would like to participate in the giveaway. I will randomly select winners from the comments on July 11th. All of this is explained in the video itself, as well. If you do not win a copy of the book, you can pick up your own copy for 30% off by clicking here and using the coupon code alitajoy30. This code also works on any other Compendium products! Yay! May the odds be ever in your favor.

IMG_57271070Treadmill

I recently read Treadmill by Warren Adler, and this book was unlike anything I’ve ever read before. That may be because I rarely read government/conspiracy/psychological thriller mysteries, but now that I’ve done so, I can tell you I’m never going back.

Some of you may know Warren Adler by his famous novel, War of the Roses, which was adapted into a film starring Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, and Danny DeVito in 1989. Although I have yet to read War of the Roses, I’m definitely going to now that I’ve read his latest page-turner, Treadmill. Similar to many of you, when I read book reviews online, I want to know first and foremost what the reviewer rated the book. So if you want to skip a detailed (yet non-spoiler) review for this novel, I’ll tell you right now I gave this book a 4/5 stars. It’s a good book. It really is.

I’m going to break up this review into chunks, and review each aspect of the book. First and foremost, let’s talk basic plot.

Treadmill follows Jack Cooper, a man in deep desolation. To say he’s an unhappy man is an understatement; he lost his job, his wife left him, and his mother recently passed away. To cope with the immense pain, Jack goes into isolation. The only things that keep him company are his books and his daily trips to the Bethesda Health Club. For months, Cooper doesn’t let anything get in his way of falling into complete oblivion, until he meets Mike Parrish. As a baby, Parrish was abducted and passed around. He has no real identification or records of being alive. According to the government, Parrish doesn’t exist. So when he suddenly goes missing, Jack gets sucked into a world-wind chase to find out what happened to Parrish. What he gets in return is a lot more than he bargained for, and he starts to realize nothing is as it seems.

Characters

Although from the synopsis of this novel it seems there are only a few characters, many more get introduced as the story unravels. The protagonist, Jack, is a man a related with even though we technically have very little in common. I’ve never been through divorce, I’ve never had a career, and thank God my mother is still alive and well. However distanced Jack and I are as people, the way Warren wrote about him, especially his struggles with depression, I could connect with on some level. Adler wrote him in a way in which I couldn’t help feeling immensely sorry for his routined existence, yet at the same time I also developed a lot of respect for Cooper. Overall, I’ve never read about an individual like him and he drove the plot in a unique way.

The other characters that popped up in the story were interesting, as well. I don’t want to give anything away so I won’t give names or their relations to Cooper, but I will say each character was multi-dimensional and added something to the story. Sometimes I got them all confused and jumbled, especially since for a majority of the book some of them were only discussed in Cooper’s mind and little interaction really occurred, but nonetheless they were entertaining and vital to the story.

Plot

At first I thought, who in the world is going to be able to write about a gym and its members in an interesting way? Well, Adler’s done it. I liked how a lot of the story was centered around the Bethesda Health Club. It was a unique twist on a psychological thriller that I’ve never experienced before. The plot itself was engaging and quick-paced. There was always something happening, and Cooper was always coming up with new ideas or conspiracies in his head. Reading this book was a breeze in the sense that it just flew by. The content wasn’t necessarily light and fluffy at all, but the pacing was high in energy and before I knew it, I was closing in on the last chapter. The one thing I can say about the plot of this book was that it really was unique. I don’t know how else to describe it really, but it was fresh and new to me, and definitely kept me on my toes. I also think I should mention that this book includes mature content. I usually don’t like to stamp an age on novels, but I would recommend not giving this to anyone below the age of 16 or 17. Even then, for some readers that may be a little too young.

Writing

I think it’s fair to say that Warren Adler has established himself as an accredited writer, but this book further proves it. I found a few grammar/punctuation mistakes in the novel that I was surprised by, but that seems to be an editing mishap over anything else. Warren has a really poignant writing style that really gets you into the minds of his protagonists. He uses great language and is incredibly good at setting a scene. This book is a lot more character driven than anything else, but he’s very good at getting into the minds of people, so it was successful. All in all, I think it’s fair to say Warren Adler is a very talented writer. His work with Treadmill was no exception.

So why not 5 stars then?

It may seem like I think this book is flawless, but that’s not the case. Although I think it’s a unique portrayal of the life of a seemingly invisible man in Washington DC, I did have a few problems with it. Sometimes I found the story a little too complicated to follow. Not everything always fit together and it left me wondering if some plot holes would be filled. In addition, whenever there’s 2 or more editing mistakes, that automatically sticks out in my head as a red flag. Lastly, I guessed some of the plot twists throughout the book. Not all, by any means, but some. I usually only give psychological thrillers a 5/5 stars if I’m shocked by the ending. For Treadmill, that wasn’t entirely the case.

Overall, this book is a great read. It’s quick, interesting, and probably not something you’d usually read. I highly recommend sitting down with it during an afternoon where you want to enjoy some intrigue and unsuspecting story-telling. Luckily for my blog followers and YouTube subscribers, 17 of you will win a free copy of this book!

There will be two individuals that win a signed copy of Treadmill, and then 15 individuals that win free e-copies! I don’t think I’ve ever done a giveaway this big and I’m really excited to share this story with you all! If you’d like to participate you must…

1) Be 18 years or older, or have permission by your guardian(s).

2) Be a subscriber to my YouTube channel.

3) Follow me on Twitter (@abookaffair) and Instagram (@alitajoy).

4) Comment below on my VIDEO REVIEW for this novel (on my YouTube channel) and state that you want to be in the running to win a copy of the novel.

The first two individuals that win will receive the hard-copies, and then the next 15 will win e-copies! You have until March 16th, 2015 to participate in the giveaway.

If you don’t win a copy and still would like to purchase the novel, click below:

http://www.amazon.com/Treadmill-Warren-Adler/dp/1634617762/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1425801400&sr=8-1&keywords=treadmill+warren+adler

Hooray! Today another video review went up on YouTube for The Whispers of the Fallen by J.D. Netto. In addition to reviewing the book, I am also hosting a giveaway to all my viewers – both within the U.S. and abroad! Make sure to participate in the giveaway by November 4th, 2014 for a chance to win your own copy of The Whispers of the Fallen.

Now, in addition to posting my video review of this novel, I also want to write out my thoughts. I often prefer reading written reviews over videos. I also like the written reviews to be SPOILER FREE, quick, and to the point. I just want to know… Should I spend my time reading this book? I hope I can help you answer that question today.

My rating for this novel was 3.5/5 stars. I liked this book. I really did. But it didn’t “Wow!” me. I was satisfied and intrigued, but I wasn’t completely enraptured in it. It definitely served its purpose as a pre-Halloween read though!

Essentially this book follows two best friends on an epic adventure trying to save their world. Sounds cliche, but it really is unique in its details. There are demons and angels and tons of creepy creatures in between. There are secrets and lies and plot twists all along the way. It’s definitely an entertaining read, and the world sucks you in.

I enjoyed the characters overall, however they were all pretty one dimensional. A character was either good or evil. There wasn’t much in-between, which made them somewhat unbelievable. Isaac, the main protagonist, was so damn logical that sometimes I didn’t believe he was a person at all. I think the author was trying to capture the maturity Isaac has in terms of making good choices in the midst of chaos, however sometimes it was just too much for me. I just kept thinking “shit, I would’ve had an emotional breakdown beginning on page one.”

The world-building and plot were the best parts of this book! Like I mentioned, the plot was very unique and had a lot of depth to it. J.D. Netto spent years and years developing this world, so it makes sense that it’s so intricate.

Although I appreciated the intricacy, I found it wasn’t delivered as well as it could’ve been. The writing style was a little immature for me, and I think that mostly has to do with its intended audience. Although this book is officially in the Young Adult genre, I would make the argument that it’s more geared toward middle-grade readers.

If I was reading this at age 13, I would’ve absolutely given it 5/5 stars. But I didn’t read it at age 13. I read it at age 20, and I enjoyed it and want to continue with the series out of curiosity, but I believe there are undoubtably better fantasy stories out there.

I would say give this book a go if you’re just getting into high fantasy and want to test the waters, or you’re in between ages 10-16 and enjoy a good adventure story with some creepy creatures around every corner!