Wednesday, September 30, 2015

October/Spooky TBR

During this month of spooks and ghouls I'll be working on a little project. Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. This year I'll be reading as many Halloween themed books as possible leading up to October 31st. Then I plan to post some reviews and recommendations closer to the day so you can have some festive reading ideas. I'm excited for this project and these are the books I'm planning on checking out.

Books Mentioned: 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Top Ten Books to Try if You Like Cassandra Clare's Books

If you are anxiously awaiting the release of the next Cassandra Clare series just like me, maybe these series will help the time pass quickly. Depending on which Clare series is your favorite, some of these may appeal to you more than others. If you enjoy The Mortal Instruments, you many enjoy the contemporary romance suggestions as much as the paranormal ones. While if you enjoyed The Infernal Devices, the Historical Fiction recommendations may appeal more.

For more information about Top Ten Tuesday check out The Broke and the Bookish for weekly topics and great posts!


Storm (Elemental, #1) Virals (Virals, #1) Obsidian (Lux, #1) Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna, #1) '

Historical Fiction: 

A Great and Terrible Beauty (Gemma Doyle, #1) Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin, #1)

Contemporary Romance

Wait for You (Wait for You, #1) Pushing the Limits (Pushing the Limits, #1)

Manga Adaptation:

Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices: Manga, #1) Clockwork Prince (The Infernal Devices: Manga, #2) Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices: Manga, #3)

My Last Top Ten Tuesday ----> Series I Need to Finish

Monday, September 28, 2015

Review - Hold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany Schmidt (ARC)

Hold Me Like a Breath (Once Upon a Crime Family, #1)

Series: Once Upon a Crime Family #1
Genre: Contemporary Fairytale Retelling
Published: May 2015 by Bloomsbury
ARC - 400 pgs
Source: Goodreads Giveaway (Bloomsbury)
Add it // Buy it

Rating - DNF (Unfinished)

Penelope Landlow has grown up with the knowledge that almost anything can be bought or sold—including body parts. She’s the daughter of one of the three crime families that control the black market for organ transplants.

Penelope’s surrounded by all the suffocating privilege and protection her family can provide, but they can't protect her from the autoimmune disorder that causes her to bruise so easily.

And in her family's line of work no one can be safe forever.

Penelope has ever wanted is freedom and independence. But when she’s caught in the crossfire as rival families scramble for prominence, she learns that her wishes come with casualties, that betrayal hurts worse than bruises, that love is a risk worth taking . . . and maybe she’s not as fragile as everyone thinks.

Ever since winning an ARC of it from Goodreads and Bloomsbury, I’ve tried to read this book several times and it never worked out. Before I thought I wasn’t in the mood for the book, but now I believe it is the book. At this point I’ve read about a third of this story and I’m too frustrated to continue. This will be a DNF for me which I’m really disappointed about.

Personally, I thought the adaptation part of this story was very clever. This is a retelling of The Princess and the Pea and the main character has a rare condition which makes her very delicate. She has wealth and privilege because her family is at the top of the black market for organs. At the start this seemed like a well-built adaptation.

However, Penelope is frustratingly immature and had too many contradictions in her character. For example, in the beginning Penelope flaunts that she eavesdrops and believes she has a good idea of what is going on in the family business. Later when she has an opportunity to sit in on a meeting about serious business, Penelope zones out and explains how she has no idea how to use money. I understand the author was trying to show how naïve she was, but instead I just found it intensely annoying and contradictory to her earlier behavior.

The story was also slow to start and had a lot of predictable turns already. The romance also seemed like a huge focus of this story when many other plot points could have been explored in more detail. From other reviews I’ve checked out, it doesn’t seem like things will improve from here especially since many of them mentioned insta-love and a love triangle later on. (UGH!) At this point too many thing have piled up and I don’t have any interest in picking this up again.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

September Book Haul (2015)

The monthly book haul is upon us and hopefully you won't see another for a little while. I'm going to cut down on my TBR pile. I am going to reduce it from this ridiculous number. I know it doesn't actually matter how many books I own to read, but I want it to be lower.

Books Mentioned: 

Friday, September 25, 2015

Series Review - Penryn and the End of Days by Susan Ee

Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days, #1) World After (Penryn & the End of Days, #2) End of Days (Penryn & the End of Days, #3)

It's been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.

Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.

Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.

Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels' stronghold in San Francisco where she'll risk everything to rescue her sister and he'll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.

This series is a little wacky. I was completely wrapped up in the books while I was reading, but looking back now I realize how much crazy stuff happened. There is action that starts on page one and keeps rolling the whole way through the series. Penryn is a kick-ass heroine. The writing style was very engaging and fast paced. Each of the first two books only took me a day to read. Once I started them I just could not stop!

Penryn, her family and Raffe are really interesting characters. There is a large cast of characters in this series for an apocalyptic world especially later in the series. Susan Ee introduces a diverse cast of characters and I was so worried about everyone throughout this series! There is a lot of suspense and you never know when a character could die or reappear! It was interesting for sure.

There is a lot of violence and some gruesome scenes throughout this series. I don't think this series is for the faint-of-heart. There is no glamorous after world in this end of the world situation. This series is gritty and takes on the darker aspects post-angel invasion. I was really impressed with the writing and enjoyed all the seriousness Ee wrote into the series. These characters are in a dire situation and everyone acted like it.

However, when looking with a critical eye there are some problems. Throughout the series I had a lot of questions about the origins of the angels, how their world worked and why they came to Earth. I didn't receive a lot of answers. However, I think the story works without the answers. This is Penryn's story. This is her journey through the world and we know what she knows. I could visualize the situation really well. The gaps in her knowledge of the angels are huge and we do not get a lot of details, but a lot of things go unexplained not just the angels. This apocalyptic story reminds me of the character-driven-dystopian world from Shatter Me. Just like in that series, I felt disconnected from the world but very focused on the characters.

Quick Thoughts: 

This series gets a Heck Yes from me! Go check it out! It is violent and gritty so be wary if you are squeamish. There is a darkness to this series I haven't seen in many YA series and I really liked it. I am going to miss this series and I think I read through it too fast!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

How I Find Audiobooks (aka My Audiobook Obsession)

Because transparency is a thing, I want to tell you I am not sponsored by Audible, Overdrive or Book Outlet. They don't know who I am or that I'm writing this post. They haven't sent me anything or asked me to talk about them. I am giving my opinions about these services and businesses all on my own without any compensation. 

Audiobooks have sucked me in. You might know this. I mention my audiobook selections in wrap-up videos and sometimes do reviews on them as well. In the past year or so I've read quite a few and collected some I really want to check out in the future. What has sparked this obsession? For me, it is the genius that is audiobooks and how easily I can get my hands on them. My absolute favorite thing about audiobooks is being able to "read" while I do something else. I can listen to them while I drive to work or while I'm doing housework. They make mundane tasks a lot easier to handle and can make time pass a little quicker. I've listened to them while I work out sometimes too, but I find I need my eyes to be occupied during that battle for mental distraction.

A few things to mention before I go any further. I am wholeheartedly trying to reduce my TBR pile (and failing miserably if I’m honest). However, when I’m being good audiobooks are my way of picking up something that isn't on my TBR pile without adding a physical book to my collection. I also have a smartphone which is required for a couple of the apps I'm talking about and I have a CD player in my car. All of these things make it fairly easy for me to listen to audiobooks on the go or at home. Because I have them on me so often, I've had questions from family and friends about why I like audiobooks so much and how I get my hands on so many. I have a few ways of adding to my collection. I either pick them up from my local library, purchase a CD set (usually on Book Outlet) or purchase them through Audible!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Mini Reviews - Series Starters

Here I am behind in my reviews, already starting second books in series without writing up my thoughts about book one. I don't want to skip my reviews on these books, but now it’s hard to distinguish each installment in the series. My solution is write up some mini reviews!

Antigoddess by Kendare Blake  

Synopsis: The gods are dying. Athena is sprouting owl feathers and Hermes is wasting away. As they search the world for answers and allies, they come across some familiar faces. While the gods have been on opposite sides of wars before, there was never a fear that some of them would die. 

My Thoughts: Obviously Blake knows her mythology and she uses it. I really enjoyed her take on old myths and the voices she created for the gods. The interpretation is excellent. This first book really hooked me and sets up the series well. I’m pretty sure Blake is going to rip my heart out more than once. The multiple POVs worked really well and the juxtaposition of the gods’ thought processes and the humans’ really made them distinct. Antigoddess feels different than a lot of YA I’ve read. There is a seriousness and maturity I really enjoyed seeing from Blake and I’m excited to see where we go with the rest of this trilogy. 

Rating: 4/5

Monday, September 14, 2015

Library Haul (6)

This past weekend I took a trip to my library because my library card apparently expired! The whole way to the library I told myself I wouldn't pick up many books. Maybe an audiobook and another I told myself. Ha! After talking to the librarian I proceeded to pick up five things! I completely ignored my own good judgement and now have a bunch of things to pick from.

Books Mentioned: 
The Red Queen by Phillipa Gregory
Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Stonewall Jackson by James I Robertson Jr.
Neil Patrick Harris by Neil Patrick Harris

Friday, September 11, 2015

Review - Beauty by Robin McKinley

Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast

Series: Standalone
Genre - Historical Fiction/Fairytale Retelling
Published - Harper Collins (1978)
Ebook - 328 pgs
Source - Library Book
Add it // Buy it

I was the youngest of three daughters. Our literal-minded mother named us Grace, Hope, and Honour. . . . My father still likes to tell the story of how I acquired my odd nickname: I had come to him for further information when I first discovered that our names meant something besides you-come-here. He succeeded in explaining grace and hope, but he had some difficulty trying to make the concept of honour understandable to a five-year-old. . . . I said: ‘Huh! I’d rather be Beauty.

The sisters’ wealthy father loses all his money when his merchant fleet is drowned in a storm, and the family moves to a village far away. Then the old merchant hears what proves to be a false report that one of his ships had made it safe to harbor at last, and on his sad, disappointed way home again he becomes lost deep in the forest and has a terrifying encounter with a fierce Beast, who walks like a man and lives in a castle. The merchant’s life is forfeit, says the Beast, for trespass and the theft of a rose—but he will spare the old man’s life if he sends one of his daughters: “Your daughter would take no harm from me, nor from anything that lives in my lands.” When Beauty hears this story—for her father had picked the rose to bring to her—her sense of honor demands that she take up the Beast’s offer, for “cannot a Beast be tamed?”

Since reading Cruel Beauty earlier this year, I have been on a Beauty and the Beast retelling kick. The stories are familiar and a bit predictable, but I enjoy seeing the twists each author puts on the original tale and what they use from the original story. The only other book I read by Robin McKinley really disappointed me. I wasn’t actively avoiding her works and I wanted to read something else by her. Finally, while searching Overdrive for something to read, I stumbled across this which is one of her most popular stories.

Beauty was a very straight forward retelling with minor deviations from the original story, but McKinley added an enchanting backstory and details to  her version. The basic tale, Beauty offers to live with a Beast to spare her father’s life, is woven in with magic and a story of sisters I really enjoyed and couldn't put down. I was enchanted by the world she created and the story she told.
While I enjoyed the story and the characters, the writing is a bit wordy and description heavy for me. It slowed me down when I wanted the story to keep moving at critical moments. However, I did have a very clear picture of the world and setting McKinley was describing so there were good and bad things about the style.

The little bits of magic and extraordinary magic in this story were another part of what sucked me into this story. The characters and storyline are charming. Beauty's voice was well-developed. She and her interests were well defined, and I enjoyed her as a main character. I was invested in all the characters, especially her horse, and was very sad to leave them when Beauty went to live with the Beast. The story is built well so it doesn't rely to heavily on the original tale but has familiar elements.

My only real complaint about this story is the ending. The whole book was fabulous up until the end. The last few pages felt very rushed and thrown together. It frustrated me a lot to end the book on that note. I wanted more explanation and resolution to the story! The pieces fit together, but it wasn’t very satisfying to me.

Quick Thoughts: This was one of the best Beauty and the Beast retellings I've read. The story has many familiar elements, but McKinley builds a charming, independent world. Her version of this classic tale had me engrossed and I can only wish it went on a little longer.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Pretty Books (3)

One of the things I love about books is the covers. There are so many amazing covers on my shelves and this series of videos is my way of showcasing them. This is the third video like this I've made and you can find the ones here and here


Happy Reading! 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Popular Children's Books I Never Read

There are so many books in the world. It is impossible, of course, to read them all especially as a child. I read a lot as a child. I read all kinds of books. However, there are quite a few books I missed out on in elementary school and wish I had read during those years. Many of these have been favorites of friends or fellow bloggers and many of these appear on favorites lists. Some of these I think would be great to read even though I've grown up, but there are some I don't think would have the same magic.

These are the titles I'm sad to say I never read as a child. (I am especially sad I never read Matilda as a kid. So many people tell me this was the book that inspired their love for reading). Are any of these the same for you? I might do a companion post about my favorite books I did read as a child because I think some of mine are unusual.

Matilda Anne of Green Gables (Anne of Green Gables, #1) A Wrinkle in Time (A Wrinkle in Time Quintet, #1) 

To Kill a Mockingbird Dealing with Dragons (Enchanted Forest Chronicles, #1) The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, #1)

The Princess Diaries (The Princess Diaries, #1) Stargirl (Stargirl, #1) Artemis Fowl (Artemis Fowl, #1)

Coraline Bridge to Terabithia

What do you wish you had read as a child? Are there any books you think may have changed your life as a child? Could they now? 

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Ten Finished Series I Have YET to Finish

Everyone has a list of series we've started but haven't squeezed into our reading schedule yet. New series and installments keep being published while some of these completed series have been sitting on my shelves for years! Luckily, most of these have finished up fairly recently and I have most of the books. Cross your fingers for my reading future.  This week the Broke and the Bookish want us to feature these series on Top Ten Tuesday.

1) The Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead - I was one of the last people to start this series and I think I'll be the last person in the world to finish it. I really enjoy this series, but haven't been able to pick up the last three books to finish it off!

2) Lux Series by Jennifer L. Armentrout - This series is one I cannot believe I haven't finished yet. I read this series before it was popular! I was there when book three was published! Ugh I'm so mad at myself about this one.

3) Virals Series by Kathy Reichs - Hopefully, I can read the rest of this series soon. I need the last couple of books in the series, but I'm anxious to see what the kids do in the next few books.

4) The Circle Reforged by Tamora Pierce - Honestly, I don't know if this series is finished. I don't know if this is even a real series. Is it just companion novels? I own them all maybe I should try and find out.

5) The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Braken -  At some point I should read more of this series, but I wasn't really impressed with book one and I might need some convincing to pick up book two.

6) Elemental Series by Brigid Kemmerer - I love this series. I bought them all and need to pick up the next book asap!

7) Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson - Why haven't I read more of this series? The first book was amazing!

8) The Poldark Saga by Winston Graham - I don't know if it is even fair of me to list this series. It has been published for quite a while (the first book came out in the 1970's) but I just found this series a couple of months ago.

9) The Archived by Victoria Schwab - I know this series isn't actually over! However, the next book in the series isn't going to be published by the same publisher and Victoria has mentioned she has no idea when it could be published. Even with all these factors, I haven't picked up book two. I should fix that.

That's it this week! I cannot remember a tenth series I've started and really want to finish. I'm not sure if I'll finish all these series, but I hope I can someday!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Friday, September 4, 2015

Review - Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

Practical Magic

Series: Standalone 
Genre: Magical Realism
Source: Library Book Sale
Paperback - 317pgs
Add it // Buy it 

Rating - 2/5 

When the beautiful and precocious sisters Sally and Gillian Owens are orphaned at a young age, they are taken to a small Massachusetts town to be raised by their eccentric aunts, who happen to dwell in the darkest, eeriest house in town. As they become more aware of their aunts' mysterious and sometimes frightening powers -- and as their own powers begin to surface -- the sisters grow determined to escape their strange upbringing by blending into "normal" society.

But both find that they cannot elude their magic-filled past. And when trouble strikes -- in the form of a menacing backyard ghost -- the sisters must not only reunite three generations of Owens women but embrace their magic as a gift -- and their key to a future of love and passion. Funny, haunting, and shamelessly romantic, Practical Magic is bewitching entertainment -- Alice Hoffman at her spectacular best.

Everyone says the book is always better. I would argue the book is always better if you don't already love the movie. When I stumbled across the inspiration for one of my favorite movies at a used book sale, how could I say no?

There are big differences between these two stories though and I think my expectations were too high for the book. While I enjoyed the book overall, it never really clicked for me. The writing style is a little strange and is heavy on description. I did like the darker moments in the book, but they never amounted to anything. Most of the time there were too many descriptors for the situation. It made the story drag on and on.

While I wanted to love all of the characters, I didn't like any of them. There was never a time when I really felt connected or invested in the characters because the story switched narrators every few pages. The magic did not impress me either. The magic was too overt to be mysterious and was much less charming than I wanted it to be. I definitely found this book interesting and I read it very quickly. After I started though and the story didn't click with me, I found I was more interested in finding out the differences between this story and the movie.

Quick Thoughts: This was not my favorite example of magical realism. Overall, it just didn't keep my attention and wasn't anything spectacular. I don't know if I'll be picking up anything else by Alice Hoffman anytime soon.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Ten Characters You Just Didn't Click With

Everyone encounters characters while reading that we just don't click with. It could be anything that causes this disconnect, but it really affects the way I see a book. They are often few and far between, but some of them really stick out. This week's Top Ten Tuesday is all about these characters. These are the characters I didn't jive with.

1) Sally and Gillian Owens (Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman) - These two ladies were not the witches I wanted. The writing style in this book make it really hard to connect with any of the characters, but I wanted to like them so much!

2) Nix (Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge) - From the beginning Nix and I just didn't get along. Most of the time she was too whiny and indecisive for me to like, I didn't trust the characters she did and overall it just didn't gel for me.

3) June (Legend by Marie Lu) - While I was reading Legend, I couldn't connect with June. I just could not understand her motives and why she did the things she did. Day worked a little better for me, but overall I didn't connect well to this book.

4) Jacob (Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children) - During the first half of this book, I really liked Jacob. Once we arrived on the island though, things really went down hill for me. Jacob seemed like a totally different character and I didn't like the decisions he was making.

5) Isabel the Shifter (Mistwood by Leah Cypess) - This character was so frustrating. I didn't click with her at all! Instead of being an interesting, mysterious character, I found her boring character without a lot of depth.

6) Trinity (Scorched by Mari Mancusi) - Too much love triangling to make me like this girl!

7) Dan Crawford (Asylum by Madeline Roux) - Dan is really paranoid and makes a lot of dumb decisions so most of the time I was just frustrated with him.

8) Tris Prior (Divergent by Veronica Roth) - I liked Tris. I really liked her. I just didn't really like her all the time. Sometimes I found it really hard to connect with her and found her to be too cold. Overall, I just didn't like her as much as most readers.

9) Cassie (Ice by Sarah Beth Durst) - This GIRL! GAH!

10) Rose (This One Summer by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki) - I don't have a good reason for this one either. Rose just wasn't a character I really enjoyed reading about. She was a typical teenager and I just had a time connecting with her.

Who did you have a hard time clicking with?