Friday, May 30, 2014

Review - Landry Park by Bethany Hagen

     Landry Park

Genre: Dystopian/Fantasy/Historical Fiction 
Published: February 2014
Hardcover - 374 pgs 

In a fragmented future United States ruled by the lavish gentry, seventeen-year-old Madeline Landry dreams of going to the university. Unfortunately, gentry decorum and her domineering father won't allow that. Madeline must marry, like a good Landry woman, and run the family estate. But her world is turned upside down when she discovers the devastating consequences her lifestyle is having on those less fortunate. As Madeline begins to question everything she has ever learned, she finds herself increasingly drawn to handsome, beguiling David Dana. Soon, rumors of war and rebellion start to spread, and Madeline finds herself and David at the center of it all. Ultimately, she must make a choice between duty - her family and the estate she loves dearly - and desire.

Landry Park caught my eye because of the stunning cover. I hadn't heard much about this book when I picked it up at the library on my most recent trek. As I am addicted to Downton Abbey, I was very interested to see how the author created an aristocracy with Victorian-age courtship and traditions in a futuristic dystopian world.

Overall, I think the class system goes over really well. Because of the almost Victorian-age class system, I understand the Downton Abbey comparisons. However, I wouldn’t let it put you off if you dislike Downton. These are two totally different types of stories. I haven’t read The Selection Series so I can’t vouch for that comparison. There is a great dystopian thread to this story that was different than most dystopians I’ve read. If you are like me and don’t get hooked on dystopian stories very often, you might appreciate the historical elements to the book. I really like the balance between dystopian, historical fiction and romantic elements. The three combined make a really interesting and unique story that I am excited for more of.
Within the story the reader gets a thorough introduction to the world which never felt like serious info dumping to me. There are moments where I felt like it lacked some depth. If this is going to be just two books (based on Goodreads) I think there should have been a larger overview of the entire world rather than mostly one city. At this point to finish up this entire dystopian storyline, where the revolution hasn't really properly started, in a second book seems like a momentous task. I’ll be interested to see how many books the author actually plans to write.

I really like Madeline as a main character. She reminds me a lot of myself. She wants to read and learn and knows there are problems. She is awkward, a little shy, also naive and young but it makes sense for her situation. Hagen is taking a different sort of path than most dystopians. Madeline is privileged and comes from the upper class of the upper class, but she realizes something wrong with the society she lives in. Her struggle is what she will give up rather than what will she gain.

What I didn’t like was Madeline’s lack of growth. I think she could be/will eventually be a great heroine for this story. In this book though, I was disappointed in how long it took her step up. Because Madeline is the main character and she is in this position of power as a Landry, I wanted and expected more from her. I’m hoping in the next book she will find her voice to participate in (or lead?) the movement.
I’m very interested in continuing this series and cannot wait for the next book.
Rating ⅘

FridayReads (9)

Over the course of the last 48 hours I've finished City of Heavenly Fire and might be in a book hangover from the end of that series. So I might not feel like reading at all today. I'm going to try to listening to more of Abhorsen, the third and final book in the series, and this weekend I want to read more of Dreams of Gods and Monsters. I also have a few library books that need to be returns so I may try and finish those. I'm just not sure what I want this week I may take a few days off reading just so I don't burn myself out. My wrap up this month is going to be massive!

Abhorsen (The Abhorsen Trilogy, #3) (Audio CD)

Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #3) The Coldest Girl in Coldtown 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Top Ten Books/Series with Non-Instalove Romances

 Top Ten Tuesday is an awesome weekly post that is hosted by the Broke and the Bookish every Tuesday. This is a freebee week! I'm very excited!

**First of all I'm not going to name any couples in this post. I don't want to spoil anything for anyone!**

I really dislike it in books when couples meet or see each other across a room and know they will always love the other person. Sometimes it can be fun to read stories with quick-stick romances, but most times I want a well built foundation for a couple especially in a series. These are some of my favorite books with great romances that can even sneak up on you! Not all of the romances I'm thinking of for this are main character romances. Some are side characters too!

Seraphina (Seraphina, #1) Howl's Moving Castle (Howl's Moving Castle, #1)  Pride and Prejudice  Sabriel (Abhorsen,  #1)
Terrier (Beka Cooper, #1) The Night Circus Vessel
Shatter Me (Shatter Me, #1) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)
For Darkness Shows the Stars (For Darkness Shows the Stars, #1)

Check any of these out for awesome well built romances. 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Library Haul (2)

I went to the library a lot this month and I've checked out more books than was practical. Oh well! I can always pick them up later if I don't read them this time. This is my second of these videos. I really enjoy making them because they are just as exciting as book hauls, but I didn't spend any money. Let me know which ones I should definitely finish!

Friday, May 23, 2014

#FridayReads (8)

This week I have read a lot. I've read a lot this month period. I'm actually finishing the Lirael audio book and starting the final book in this series. I'll be starting one of the three books listed below. I'm not sure what I'm in the mood for. I'm excited for all of them! This weekend will be busy, but today is slow at work so I should have some time to read.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Chocolate Book Tag

Check out my take on the Chocolate Book Tag! I always enjoy doing tags and this one was really fun to do because who doesn't like some form of chocolate??

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Bout of Books - Wrap Up

I'm sorry I've disappeared since the fourth day of the Read-A-Thon. I've been super busy and I burned myself out with all my crazy reading right before and during this week.

Total Pages: 1366

I didn't read any of my TBR books which is sad, but I'm ok with that. I've mentioned all books I read this past week in my previous posts. After Thursday I didn't touch books all weekend! I was very busy on Friday and Sunday then I crashed on Saturday and watched a lot of Netflix. Overall, this week just wasn't a great week to make a lot of progress as far as books go.

I had a lot of fun reading this week and I read about 195 pages per day. I'm very happy with that number even though I didn't reach any of my goals. I read a lot more than I normally would in a week and I finished 7 BOOKS this week! YAY!

Check out my progress each day! 
Day 1   Day 2    Day 3    Day 4 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Review - Sabriel by Garth Nix

Sabriel (Abhorsen, #1)
Genre: High Fantasy 
Published: September 1995
Audiobook - Read by Tim Curry (10hrs 30min) 

Ever since she was a child, Sabriel has lived outside the walls of the Old Kingdom, away from the random power of Free Magic, and away from the Dead that won't stay dead. But now her father, the Mage Abhorsen, is missing, and to find him Sabriel must cross back into that world.

Though her journey begins alone, she soon finds companions: Mogget, whose seemingly harmless feline form hides a powerful spirit; and Touchstone, a young Charter Mage long imprisoned by magic, now free in body but still trapped by painful memories. With only each other to trust, the three must travel deep into the Old Kingdom, toward a battle that will pit them against true forces of life and death -- and bring Sabriel face-to-face with her own hidden destiny.

This book has launched this series into my favorite series of all time all on its own. I was absolutely been drawn into this series and I cannot get enough of the story. If you read no further hear this, I highly recommend listening to the audiobook version of this book. Tim Curry's narration is fantastic.

Nix's writing is so engaging and had me totally engrossed in this story. The magic system is slightly confusing and there is a lot going on in this story, so you need to pay attention to keep up, but I really enjoyed this book. The world is complex and well described without an info-dumping section. The pacing overall is decent, but is a little slow in the beginning. However, the story seriously kicks it into high gear after a thorough introduction to the world and characters. I was laughing, crying and sitting on the edge of my chair after the first few chapters. I love the characters so much and I cannot wait to see how their lives play out over the course of the series.

Sabriel is a classic high fantasy novel that is not only a great introduction into this world, but a complete story on its own. I could stop reading after this book and have a satisfying ending, but I would NEVER want to because I know there are other books. The second book does follow a different character and has a time gap between the two books which is interesting. It makes this series more like a set of companion books and not a series according to what I've been told. I'll make a final verdict when I finish the books.

Finally I want to mention that Tim Curry's narration made this book for me. If I had read the physical book, I probably would have liked it, but the narration is so engaging and expressive that I fell in love with the story. I listened to the audiobook over the course of three days and when it was over I was disappointed I couldn't go back to the characters and continue their adventure with them. I am already listening to and enjoying book two, Lirial, and I have the third book ready for when I finish it.

I cannot recommend this book enough for fantasy lovers and I'm so sad that I've never picked this book up before (especially considering I've had book three since I was in middle school!)

Rating: 5/5 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Bout of Books Day 4 - (0?)

Today I have something a little different! Because I basically read nothing yesterday, I thought I would do a video update for the week. I'm a little scattered because I'm tired. Forgive me.


Progress Made in Books:
1) Lirael by Garth Nix - Audiobook 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Bout of Books 10 - Day 3 (368)

Again, yesterday I spent a lot of time reading and I feel really good about my progress thus far in the read-a-thon. 

Total books finished today: 1
Books started today: 1
Books Read from TBR: 0 
Total pgs: 438 pgs

Books Finished 
1) Mr. Darcy's Obsession - Abgail Reynolds

Progress Made in Books:
1) Lirael by Garth Nix - Audiobook (10% ~ 70 pgs)

Today I didn't do very well, but we'll get to my progress for Day 4 tomorrow. 

Happy Reading! 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Bout of Books 10 - Day Two (268)

On day two I didn't accomplish quite as much as I did one Day One.  Even so, I surpassed my goal and I read a couple of great books. I even finished a book that I had been having trouble reading for months! 

Total books finished today: 1
Books started today: 1
Books Read from TBR: 0 
Total pgs: 338 pgs

Books Finished 
1) Shadow Kissed by Richelle Mead 

Progress Made in Books:
1) Shadow Kissed by Richelle Mead (268 pgs)
2) Lirael by Garth Nix - Audiobook (10% ~ 70 pgs)

I always seem to be able to pick up Vampire Academy books during read-a-thons. Maybe eventually I'll pick up one of the books I said I would read, but I'm not that worried about what I read as long as I keep up this great pace!

Happy Reading!!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Bout of Books 10 - Day 1 (555 pgs)

Yesterday was a great day for reading! This is my progress so far!

Total books finished today: 4
Books started today: 0 
Books Read from TBR: 0 
Total pgs: 555

Books Finished 
1) Georgiana Darcy's Diary - Anna Elliot (226 pgs)
2) Avatar The Last Airbender: The Search Part 2 - Gene Luen Yang (76 pgs)
3) Avatar The Last Airbender: The Search Part 3 - Gene Luen Yang (76 pgs)
4) Lover Awakened - J. R. Ward (last 50 pgs)

Progress Made in Books:
Landry Park -  Bethany Hagen (90 pgs)

This was a great reading day and today is going well as well. Hopefully I'll get to at least one of my TBR books during this week. I guess we shall see what mood I'm in.

Happy Reading!!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Review - Mistwood by Leah Cypess

  Mistwood (Mistwood, #1)
Genre: Fantasy 
Published: April 2010 
Hardcover: 304 pgs

The Shifter is an immortal creature bound by an ancient spell to protect the kings of Samorna. When the realm is peaceful, she retreats to the Mistwod.
But when she is needed she always comes.

Isabel remembers nothing. Nothing before the prince rode into her forest to take her back to the castle. Nothing about who she is supposed to be, or the powers she is supposed to have.

Prince Rokan needs Isabel to be his Shifter. He needs her ability to shift to animal form, to wind, to mist. He needs her lethal speed and superhuman strength. And he needs her loyalty—because without it, she may be his greatest threat.

Isabel knows that her prince is lying to her, but she can't help wanting to protect him from the dangers and intrigues of the court . . . until a deadly truth shatters the bond between them.
Now Isabel faces a choice that threatens her loyalty, her heart . . . and everything she thought she knew.

While I had heard mixed things about this books before picking it up, I still had high hopes based on the cover and the synopsis really intrigued me. While I did like it and enjoy it overall, there are a lot of flaws in this book. It was about what I was expecting based on what I had heard. There was a solid story with a few things that did not work for me, but I'll get to that in a moment.  The story was dynamic and interesting, but the ending was really confusing. I really think this book would have benefited if it had a few more pages. Things wrapped up really quickly towards the end of the book and I think it would have helped a few of the other issues...

Overall I had 3 main issues with this book. First there was a lack of world building that distracted me from the story. It felt like only two locations existed in this world: the palace and Mistwood Forest. I needed more to keep me rooted in the story. Second, things happened too easily. Even though our main character was supposed to be missing some of her powers, everything was easy to find and accomplish. Every problem had an easy solution. I wanted her to struggle a little more. Finally, the characters were hard to connect to for me especially the main character. Isobel isn't supposed to be human which makes her "Other" already. However, it was really hard to like her. Instead of making her "Other", I thought Cypess just made Isobel stuffy and rude.

There were moments of promise in Cypess' writing which made it even harder that I did not enjoy this book as much as I hoped.  I did really enjoy the writing and there was so much potential for this story to be really good. The writing was actually really engaging. The story kept moving and I did read this book in an afternoon. I've already read Nightspell which is the companion novel to this one and thought that was a big improvement in a lot of ways. With that in mind, I think maybe Cypess may just need time and experience to get a better story into print.

I'm going to continue to read books by Leah Cypess because this book is by no means bad and I see a lot of potential in her to become a really good fantasy author. I know she has another book coming out soon (if its not out already) and I hope to check that out soon.

Rating: 3/5 

Friday, May 9, 2014

#FridayReads (7)

I'm cutting it a little close tonight. This week I have been obsessed with the Abhorsen audiobooks by Garth Nix and read by Tim Curry. A friend recommended to audiobooks after she found out I never read the books. They are so good! Highly recommended.  I've just started Lirael today. So far it hasn't sucked me in like Sabriel did, but I'm enjoying it. I've also made a little progress in Storm of Swords this week, and I started one of my new library books. Landry Park so far really has captured my attention but I'm only 50 pgs in so we shall see....


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Bout of Books 10 -

Bout of Books

Hello everyone!

I'm going to participating in the Bout of Books again! I'm very excited about this and hoping to catch up on my reading goals during this upcoming week. I do work full time so I'll probably be limited in how much I can read, but I always aim high during these kinds of events. The video contained in this post also contains my TBR for this event.

This read-a-thon is one of my favorite events and really really easy to participate in so definitely go sign up if you can

1) Read the books on my TBR
2) Listen to 1 whole audiobook 
3) Read an average of 300pgs per day

If you don't know what the Bout of Books please read below and check out their blog:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 12th and runs through Sunday, May 18th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 10 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

Top Ten Book Covers I'd Frame As Pieces of Art

This Top Ten Tuesday is a very cool post that is hosted by the Broke and the Bookish every Tuesday. This week is lots of fun and I had such a hard time deciding! These are the ten (among many more) I would frame and put on my wall. 

The Light Between OceansBlue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle, #3)September Girls

Seraphina (Seraphina, #1) Black Beauty (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy, #1)

 11737311 The Night Circus The Fine Art of Truth or Dare
A Monster Calls

Honorable Mentions: 

Across the Universe (Across the Universe, #1) Ignite Me (Shatter Me #3) Pegasus (Pegasus, #1)bStrands of Bronze and Gold

Sunday, May 4, 2014

April in Review (2014)

This month I had a better reading month than I thought I did! I'm still a few books behind on my reading goal so I'll need to read faster to catch up. This coming month I'm participating in the Bout of Books Readathon so hopefully that will help.  

Books Mentioned: 

House of Hades - Rick Riordan 
Dorthy Must Die - Danielle Paige 
Mastiff - Tamora Pierce 
Mistwood - Leah Cypess 

Dark Lover - J.R. Ward

I'll be posting a TBR for the Bout of Books in a couple of days so watch for that if you are interested. Let me know if you read any of these! 

Happy Reading! 

Friday, May 2, 2014

#FridayReads (6)

Today I started City of Ashes. I'd like to think I'll reread the series before the last book comes out but I doubt I'll finish them all. If you are wondering why I'm starting with the second book, I reread City of Bones last year so I don't feel like I need a refresher. I also have two other books in my bag. I was inspired by  Ariel Basset on Youtube to read my mermaid books because she plans to read all Mermaid book in May. Therefore, I have The Vicious Deep with along and I also have Dreams of Gods and Monsters since I finished the second book in that series yesterday. I can't wait to dive into all these books so I'm not sure which one I'll actually be starting today. Happy Friday!


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Review - This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

   This Song Will Save Your Life

Genre: Contemporary 
Published: Sep. 2013
Hardcover: 279 pgs. 

Making friends has never been Elise Dembowski’s strong suit. All throughout her life, she’s been the butt of every joke and the outsider in every conversation. When a final attempt at popularity fails, Elise nearly gives up. Then she stumbles upon a warehouse party where she meets Vicky, a girl in a band who accepts her; Char, a cute, yet mysterious disc jockey; Pippa, a carefree spirit from England; and most importantly, a love for DJing.

**I also want to mention this book does cover topics that can be difficult for some; bullying, depression, attempted suicide and self-harm. Even though these topics are heavy, the author does an amazing job of making this book a very light-hearted and inspiring read.

Honestly, I don't read contemporary that often. It just isn't my favorite genre and it takes a really good synopsis (or a good cover) to really pull me in. This Song Will Save Your Life had both of those. Seriously, the cover is gorgeous right? I picked this up on my latest trip to the library. I had heard of it, but not a lot about it.

This turned out to be a very touching and down-to-earth story about Elsie who, like a lot of people, isn't one of the cool kids at her high school and has trouble fitting in with the popular people at school. Through a series of circumstances she finds and underground club, Start, and while there finds friendship, a little romance and she is a pretty good DJ!

First of all, this is one of the best contemporary books I've read in ages! There are so many good components to this book that make it really fantastic. Elsie is easily my favorite part of this book because I loved her voice within this book. I think it would have been easy to write this story where you would feel sympathy but not empathy. Instead Elsie an inspiring example of how to become comfortable with being different. Her character growth is outstanding and so much fun to read. I love her journey throughout this book. I was instantly hooked by the writing style because of the great narration and quote worthy passages. She is easy to relate to and I could see and hear some of my own bad high school moments by reading her story. I was never in a situation as extreme as Elsie's, but I can understand her. I had similar experiences, worries, problems and troubles when I was in school.

The music element in this book is also fantastic. Sales uses the music in such an effective way. For me, personally, I thought the author used a great mix of music from different genres. I didn't know everything, but I knew enough for the story to make sense. The author also included lyrics when you really need to understand why that song was important which was very helpful.

Something else that made me love this book was the pacing. I liked how slowly and completely Elsie's life spun out of her control. It seems like even before the story starts Elsie is slightly out of control (aren't we all). Though she thinks things are getting better, you, as the reader can start to realize what is and isn't working over the course of days and months. The slow spiral made sense and it worked really well for the overall feel of the book. It kept me interested and engaged in the story.

Overall, I just cannot say enough good things about this book. It is one of the best contemporary books I've ever read and I just love it. I will be looking into if Leila Sales has written anything else. This book has also kicked off a major reading run for me which I really needed. I would highly recommend to anyone who enjoys music, coming of age and self-discovery.

Rating: 5/5 

And now I leave you with just a couple of good quotes from Elsie, to give you a sense of that amazing voice I mentioned, and because a lot of this book is so quoteable.

“Sometimes people think they know you. They know a few facts about you, and they piece you together in a way that makes sense to them. And if you don't know yourself very well, you might even believe that they are right. But the truth is, that isn't you. That isn't you at all.”

“But you know better than anyone how the Internet sees everything and nothing, all at the same time.”