Friday, June 23, 2017

A Death at Rosings: A Pride & Prejudice Variation by Renata McMann & Summer Hanford

A Death at Rosings: A Pride & Prejudice Variation

Series: Standalone
Genre: Historical Fiction
Age Group: Adult
Published: November 2015
Ebook - 183 pgs

The world of Rosings is turned on its head with the sudden death of Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Not yet up to the challenge of managing the estate on her own, Anne de Bourgh enlists the aid of Elizabeth Bennet, who is staying with her cousin Mr. Collins at the time. Elizabeth is capable, intelligent and quick thinking enough to help Anne manage Rosings, but is she ready for the challenge of Mr. Darcy’s return to Kent? With his rebuked proposal, his letter and her knowledge that she misjudged him between them, can Elizabeth set her own feelings aside to help save Anne de Bourgh’s estate? 

This would be the definition of inhale reading. Coming in just under 200 pages I sat down to read this story and didn't get up until I was done a couple of hours later. The story is fast paced and an easy engaging read. I really enjoyed it.

The concept may seem odd, but many of the characters balk at Anne's request just like I did. Through the story Anne's character blooms a little more, but many of the other characters remain the same. Darcy is still awkward and Elizabeth still witty. I really enjoyed seeing them in this different situation. The romance was cute and fun to read from both sides.

At times I did think Anne was actually enlisting Elizabeth's help to play matchmaker for her and Darcy. She seemed to enjoy that role for other characters and her character seemed very strong even without Elizabeth's guidance. Maybe I was reading between the lines too much, but I felt like that was an undercurrent to the story?? 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Top Ten Series I've Been Meaning To Start But Haven't

This topic is perfect for me right now! I have so many series I've been thinking about starting (and finishing for that matter) but I just haven't done it! So thank you to the Broke and the Bookish. I need to think about this more often! And if you are so inclined, please let me know which one of these is ESSENTIAL for me to start next.

A Thousand Pieces of You (Firebird, #1) The Girl at Midnight (The Girl at Midnight, #1) The Girl from Everywhere (The Girl from Everywhere, #1)

The Crown's Game (The Crown's Game, #1) The Lost Sun (The United States of Asgard, #1) Legacy of Kings (Blood of Gods and Royals, #1)

Clean Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles, #1) A Natural History of Dragons (The Memoirs of Lady Trent #1) Half-Blood (Covenant, #1)
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers, #1) 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

The Invasion of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling, #2)
Series: The Queen of the Tearling
Genre: Fantasy
Age Group: Adult
Published: June 2016 (Harper)
Hardcover - 515 pages

Rating: 4/5 

Trigger Warnings: Abusive relationships (physical & sexual)

Kelsea Glynn is the Queen of the Tearling. Despite her youth, she has quickly asserted herself as a fair, just and powerful ruler.

However, power is a double-edged sword, and small actions can have grave consequences. In trying to do what is right - stopping a vile trade in humankind - Kelsea has crossed the Red Queen, a ruthless monarch whose rule is bound with dark magic and the spilling of blood. The Red Queen's armies are poised to invade the Tearling, and it seems nothing can stop them.

Though I've knocked a star off of my rating, I don't want it to appear as if I didn't enjoy this book. I still love this series. I adore the characters and I'm anxious to read the final book. However, I didn't wholeheartedly love this book the way I did book one. There were just a few issues I want to point out.

In the first book I thought Kelsea made some rash decisions, but none of them were outrageous and I believed them. In this second book a few of her decisions seemed wild even after Kelsea was established as a risk taker. It pulled me out of the story to question her actions and how daring (and sometimes stupid) I believed her to be.

Johansen took a really interesting approach to the history of this world and I really appreciated how we learned about the past. I was skeptical at first, but the new perspective that was introduced really grew on me. When I was reading Kelsea's chapters I was just as, if not more, anxious to get back to the other perspective because Johansen left on a lot of cliff-hangers in those chapters.  Also I found these sections especially chilling because of the recent political climate.

Overall I really enjoyed this installment. It was a strong second book and, though the plot moved forward slowly, it didn't suffer from second book syndrome. These was a lot of world building and essential plot points I had questioned in the first book. I am anxious to see how this will wrap up because I still feel like we have a long way to go.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Reading Everyday in May - Vlog

Throughout May I made an effort to read every day. I was really frustrated with my lack of reading and my inability to focus on books in April so I decided to challenge myself in May. Throughout the month I read at least a little bit all but two days. I did not quite meet the challenge, but overall it helped me a lot. I finished more books rather than abandoning them and I accomplished my goal of rereading a series so I could start the last book in that series.

After I finished the challenge, I realized how many of these books were still rereads, which I had hoped to avoid, but the books I've picked up since the beginning of June have all been new reads. In the end I think this challenge helped me conquer part of my reading funk and put me on the path to a better reading attitude. 

In June I'll be continuing this challenge by joining Misty's #30dayBookBinge

I've accidentally deleted this post twice now so I think I will sign off here and let you know about my progress again at the end of the month! 

Monday, June 5, 2017

Review: Stray by Rachel Vincent

Stray (Shifters, #1)
Series: Shifters #1
Genre: Paranormal
Age Group: Adult
Published: January 2007
Mass Market: 618 pgs

Rating: 2/5

Trigger Warnings: Sexual assault

There are only eight breeding female werecats left...And I'm one of them.

I look like an all-American grad student. But I am a werecat, a shape-shifter, and I live in two worlds.Despite reservations from my family and my Pride, I escaped the pressure to continue my species and carved out a normal life for myself. Until the night a Stray attacked.

I'd been warned about Strays — werecats without a Pride, constantly on the lookout for someone like me: attractive, female, and fertile. I fought him off, but then learned two of my fellow tabbies had disappeared.

This brush with danger was all my Pride needed to summon me back... for my own protection. Yeah, right. But I'm no meek kitty. I'll take on whatever — and whoever — I have to in order to find my friends. Watch out, Strays — 'cause I got claws, and I'm not afraid to use them...

The longer I think about this book the more issues I have with it. While reading I was interested and engaged in the story if still a bit skeptical and frustrated with the length of the novel. Now though, I have a whole host of issues with it.

The first issue I had with this book was about the female lead. Faythe is not as strong a character as she is made out to be. She is immature and selfish. I have very little patience for her after 600+ pages of her antics. While we constantly hear about her struggle for freedom, it feels surface level. Faythe walks the line of cliché the entire book and I was never taken by surprise by her actions or the story.

Another issue was the extreme length of this novel. It took 300 pages for this story to become interesting. It was too long! It dragged on forever. Trimming the beginning of the story down (excluding some of the weird sexual posturing) would have really helped keep me interested at the end. When the main plot of the story finally came into view I wasn't as invested as I could have been because I had already suffered 300 pages of nonsense. Also did every villain in this story need to be from Mexico or South America? 

Finally I was disappointed in the romance. Again the story fits a trope and we see Faythe involved in a love triangle. There isn't anything interesting about this triangle either. The witty banter I expect in paranormal romance was extremely lacking. Instead Faythe plays with both boys emotions and acts like a pouty teen rather than the twenty-four year old she is.

I'll continue on with this series since I already own them, but I sincerely hope there are some improvements in book two.

My Recommendation: Read this Instead

Friday, June 2, 2017

The Rose and the Dagger by Renée Ahdieh

The Rose & the Dagger (The Wrath & the Dawn, #2)

Series: The Wrath and the Dawn 
Genre: Fantasy
Age Group: Young Adult
Published: April 2016
Hardcover - 416 pgs

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad is forced from the arms of her beloved husband, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once thought Khalid a monster—a merciless killer of wives, responsible for immeasurable heartache and pain—but as she unraveled his secrets, she found instead an extraordinary man and a love she could not deny. Still, a curse threatens to keep Shazi and Khalid apart forever.

Now she’s reunited with her family, who have found refuge in the desert, where a deadly force is gathering against Khalid—a force set on destroying his empire and commanded by Shazi’s spurned childhood sweetheart. Trapped between loyalties to those she loves, the only thing Shazi can do is act. Using the burgeoning magic within her as a guide, she strikes out on her own to end both this terrible curse and the brewing war once and for all. But to do it, she must evade enemies of her own to stay alive.

Honestly I've made it my goal to reread a series before I finish it all because of this series. I didn't reread the first book before I picked up book two and I think my grasp of the plot suffered quite a bit because of that. Even so, I enjoyed this second installment and thought it was stronger than the first. 

In the first book we learned a lot about Shazi and Khalid, but we developed their individual personalities more in this book which I appreciated. There were more characters and more descriptions of the world, but many aspects still felt like they were only developed on a surface level. The magic especially felt like it was a background part of the story rather than a driving force. 

Overall I enjoyed the story and I'm happy with the wrap up to this duology, but I wanted more from it. More character development. More tension at the climax of the story. Less pouting from the boys and more action from Shaz. I liked just about everything about this book, but nothing in the series stood out as spectacular and I wanted to wholeheartedly love it.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Top Ten Most Anticipated Books For The Second Half of 2017

These Top Ten Tuesday topics are always hard for me to narrow down.

Here are the top five books I already have preordered and am anticipating their release on an almost daily basis. All the Cooked Saints is Maggie Stiefvater's newest book and I cannot wait. All I know about this is it is set in Colorado in the 1960's and involves coyotes and miracles. The Tiger's Daughter is a fantasy novels that I've heard amazing things about. I'll be honest though the real draw so far is the cover. One Dark Throne!!! This one is the sequel (and possibly final book) to Three Dark Crowns. The first book ended on such a crazy note that I can't wait to get my hands on this one. That Inevitable Victorian Thing by E.K. Johnston has a beautiful cover and a really interesting premise. I'm anxious to get my hands on it just so I can devour it with my eyes. Last, but definitely not least at all, is The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee which sounds delightful and I've heard nothing but good things thus far.

All the Crooked Saints The Tiger’s Daughter (Their Bright Ascendency #1) One Dark Throne (Three Dark Crowns, #2)

That Inevitable Victorian Thing The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue

Then there is the group of books I am also very very intrigued about but I haven't preordered these as of now. All very interesting but I am waiting for more reviews to trickle in before I decide which ones I want. 

Mask of Shadows (Untitled, #1) Royal Bastards The Library of Fates 

Friday, May 26, 2017

Review - Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon

Dragonfly in Amber (Outlander, #2)
Series: Outlander #2
Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance
Age Group: Adult
Published- August 2001 
Trade Paperback

Rating 4/5

For nearly twenty years Claire Randall has kept her secrets. But now she is returning with her grown daughter to Scotland’s majestic mist-shrouded hills. Here Claire plans to reveal a truth as stunning as the events that gave it birth: about the mystery of an ancient circle of standing stones... about a love that transcends the boundaries of time... and about Jamie Fraser, a Scottish warrior whose gallantry once drew a young Claire from the security of her century to the dangers of his.

Now a legacy of blood and desire will test her beautiful copper-haired daughter, Brianna, as Claire’s spellbinding journey of self-discovery continues in the intrigue-ridden Paris court of Charles Stuart... in a race to thwart a doomed Highlands uprising... and in a desperate fight to save both the child and the man she loves. 

Finishing one of these is like finishing a Song of Ice and Fire book. This has been a marathon and a lot happened during this installment that I will try to keep straight when I read Voyager. Though I'm left with more questions than answers at the end of this one.

Unlike Outlander that started off with a bang, this book takes forever to get going. We spend an annoying amount of time following a new character who ogles Claire and her daughter in the "present" while Claire tries to find answers about the past. When we finally flash back to pick up where we left off at the end of Outlander, the story had my attention. I did find it hard to keep track of all the characters at times because everyone has at least two names and they show up in so many different places.

I wish I was invested in the plot and what was happening as I was in the character. I care a lot about Jamie and Claire, but sometimes we lose sight of them in the tumult of things happening around them. 

Overall I have a lot of mixed feelings, and generally a lot of FEELINGS, about this book. Jamie and Claire's story is very raw at times and I felt their pain, sadness, and fear throughout this book. Gabaldon is great at getting emotions to come through strongly, but I do feel like this could have been trimmed down. We go on a lot of tangents and the forward progression of the story is slowed down so much.

At the end of the book I am left with a lot more questions than answers. I have no idea where we will go from here and I am burning with curiosity even though the story ended on a strange note. I'll be checking out Voyager soon. 

My Last Review---> Magic Binds by Ilona Andrews

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Top Ten Books I'm Putting in My Beach Bag this Summer

This week I do not have summer recommendations. Instead, I have books I really want to read this summer. These are ten different books I want to try to read before August. However, I've limited myself to one per series and I'm anxious to marathon many of these series. 

Curtsies & Conspiracies (Finishing School, #2) Spies and Prejudice  

 The Girl from Everywhere (The Girl from Everywhere, #1) Blackhearts (Blackhearts, #1) Moon Called (Mercy Thompson, #1)

 The Abyss Surrounds Us (The Abyss Surrounds Us, #1) The Throne of Fire (Kane Chronicles, #2)  

 Code (Virals, #3)

Friday, May 19, 2017

April/May Book Haul (2017)

Two posts in one day? I am coming back in force today! I hope it lasts. It is time for a haul because I havnen't filmed one for quite a while and, of course, I've picked up some new books!

Books Mentioned:

Life Update and My Currently

Should I say oops? Hello? Welcome back? I've missed you? It has been a while since I posted anything here. Its been even longer since I wrote anything to post because I had so many posts scheduled in advance. I don't know if it was laziness or my reading blues that brought me down, but I've been away for a while. I'm writing this exactly a month after my last post went live and I think I'm finally ready to jump back into this.

So what have I been up to for the past few weeks? To give you an idea I'm using an idea from Jamie at Perpetual Pageturner who made a "Currently" post of her own recently. This seemed like a nice easy post to update you all on what I'm up to and an easy post to write after being completely unfocused for so long.

Currently Reading: Just started A Court of Wings and Ruin and I'm working on Traitor's Blade as well.

Currently Listening to on audiobook: Emma by Jane Austen. I failed to finish this for my book club so now I want to finish it before I start our next read. 

Currently Listening to: Panic! at the Disco. I've rediscovered this old favorite for running and it is working out really well. (Get it? Working out.) 

Currently Eating: Chocolate ice cream. Mmmmm

Currently Drinking: Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy - My favorite beer is finally back in season!