Monday, February 29, 2016

February Wrap Up

This month I raced through books. I read at a speed I don't think I've read at before. It was fast and furious. I read fourteen books this month and loved a lot of them. Check out my video wrap up to see exactly what I was working on this month.

Friday, February 26, 2016

A Postpocolypse (aka. Technical Failure)

So you may have noticed a distinct lack of posting on my part this week. I've posted some tweets about this, but nothing here on the blog. My laptop was having some technical issues and I had to take it in to be serviced. Unfortunately for me this meant losing the device for a whole week. Everything is fixed now and it turns out all the clicking and sputtering that had been happening can be attributed to a piece of hinge breaking off and getting stuck in the fan!

panda facepalm embarrassed oh noNormally, I would have had at least my bare bones done. I usually try to have two or three posts scheduled a couple of weeks in advance in case a catastrophe like this happens. (Also because scheduling is easier than writing the night before). Then I fill out the week depending on what's happening. However, none of my videos were edited or uploaded and my posts were really just outlines. I've been a bit of a blogging slump these past couple of weeks and fell behind. - Lack of ideas and lack of time to film/edit/upload or even write posts

Maybe this was the universe's way of giving me a break. At the end of the year I felt very burnt out and maybe its time I cut back a bit? I've been posting five days a week for over four months now and feel that strain on my creative juices. If you have any suggestions on keeping those juices flowing I am all ears. Even though I feel like I've been missing forever, its only been a week for you. The flip side of this is I've gotten a lot of reading done this month which will translate into some new reviews and fuel for new post ideas (ideally).

This post has gotten a little out of hand.

I meant to pop in and say sorry for the radio silence this week and I'll be back with something new on Monday. Since I have nothing bookish lined up for today (though I may have time to film a Friday Reads tonight), I'll just share a little about my life. This week at work we've started a new year of fitness challenges and I'm trying to get back into the running game. (Between Thanksgiving and Valentine's I did next to nothing fitness wise. YIKES) I also downloaded a biography of Elizabeth Warren from Overdrive and am very interested to listen to that. My beautiful dog and I had some extra bonding time last night because there was a thunderstorm and she was afraid of the thunder.

What have you been up to? Did your computer crap out on you this week too? See you next week! 

Friday, February 19, 2016

Review- Oblivion by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Oblivion (Lux, #1.5)
Series: Lux 1.5 
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Source: Purchased
Published by Entangled Teen (2015)
Ebook - 1005 pgs (Books 1-3)
Paperback - 350 pgs (Book 1)
Add it // Buy it

Rating 4/5

I knew the moment Katy Swartz moved in next door, there was going to be trouble. Lots of it.
And trouble’s the last thing I need, since I’m not exactly from around here. My people arrived on Earth from Lux, a planet thirteen billion light years away. Plus, if there’s one thing I know, it’s that humans can’t be trusted. We scare them. We can do things they only dream about, and honestly, we make them look weak as hell. ‘Cuz they are.
But Kat is getting to me in ways no one else has, and I can't stop myself from wanting her—or wanting to use my powers to protect her. She makes me weak, and I’m the strongest of our kind, tasked with protecting us all. So this one simple girl…she can mean the end for us. Because the Luxen have an even bigger enemy—the Arum, and I need to stay on my game.
Falling for Katy—a human—won't just place her in danger. It could get us all killed, and that’s one thing I’ll never let happen... 

It is no secret Jennifer L. Armentrout writes the men that make my heart melt and out of all of them Daemon Black takes the cake. The Lux series has been one of my favorites for ages and I am ashamed to say I haven't finished it yet. So when I heard Oblivion would be released and the ebook would be 1000 pages of Deamon's perspective  from the first THREE books, I practically broke my mouse preordering a physical and ebook copy. This turned out to be a great way to recap the story so I could finally read the final two books and read from Daemon's perspective.

Somehow I forget how addictive Armentrout's writing is and am surprised when I cannot put her books down. Oblivion was no exception. Deamon's perspective of Katy is fascinating to read. I loved his version of events and seeing his character evolve over the first three books in the series. I was fangirling all over the place and I can't help it. Daemon is sexy that's his whole appeal. I've established he would be a great boyfriend for me as well since I love ghost hunting shows and books. Seriously Daemon Black is one of my top book boyfriends.

So if I loved this so much, why only four stars?

There were quite a few editing mistakes I picked up on during the Obsidian section of the ebook, but in Onyx and Opal it didn't seem to be as big of a problem.  Usually I don't pick up on that too much, but it really caught my attention in book one. At the beginning the writing seemed a little stiff and it felt like it took some time for Armentrout to hit her stride with Daemon's POV, but then the flow of the story took over.

Overall it all worked really well and I enjoyed this version of events immensely. I'm so happy this was released. Thank you to Jennifer L. Armentrout for working hard to make sure this was published. It is nice to have even more of this world and these characters to enjoy.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

T5W - Top 5 Books I Was Recommended

One of the truest mantras in my life is So Many Books, So Little Time. When someone fervently recommends me something I try to give it as much merit as when I pester someone to read something I've loved.

1) Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan - My coworker recommended my this autobiography a couple of years ago. It follows a young woman who is suddenly struck by an illness that changes her life dramatically. It was fast paced and extremely interesting. I tore through this book and have explored the biography genre more since reading it.

2) Sabriel by Garth Nix (The Old Kingdom Series) - My best friend insisted I listen to the audiobooks after she learned I hadn't read this series. I will always be grateful. This series is amazing and I love the audio versions so much. Amazing fantasy series!

3) Poldark by Winston Graham - After my cousin and I had a long discussion about the BBC series and Aidan Turner, she recommended me the books. Honestly, I love them equally. Both are full of interesting characters!

4) Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya - This manga was recommended to me by my closest set of friends in high school after they all read it. It bonded us even closer and this is such a cute story! I also highly recommend.

5)  Storm by Brigid Kemmerer (The Elemental Series) - All of the books on this list came from personal recommendations except this series. I love this series so much, but I never would have know about it without booktube. I can't wait to read the last book and find out what happens. Thank you booktube for recommending a lesser know, but still great, series.

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness Sabriel (Abhorsen, #1) Ross Poldark (Poldark, #1) Fruits Basket, Vol. 1 (Fruits Basket, #1) Storm (Elemental, #1)

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Eight Books That Should Have a Score

This isn't exactly the topic for Top Ten Tuesday this week. I've modified it a little bit because once I had this idea I couldn't let it go. Which books would be perfect to write a score for? Which books when I'm reading need some epic music? As always the inspiration for this post is from The Broke and the Bookish. Their Top Ten Tuesday posts are fantastic.

Personally I listen to music scores while I'm reading. The words don't distract me, but depending on the feel of the story some music can sink me deeper into the story.

Because these are books I wish had a score, I tried to pick books that haven't been made into movies or shows because they already have some kind of music written for them.

1) A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab - My wish is going to come true because this book is being made into a television series already. I'm dying to see what the theme song will be. We need some epic music for this adventure story.

2) Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo - This epic heist story could use some face-paced heart pounding music to really ramp up the action. My heart was already pounding through this book, but what if there was music during some of those scenes in the Ice Court? Something along the lines of Pirates of the Caribbean?

Monday, February 15, 2016

25 Bookish Facts About Me

This tag has been floating around booktube for ages. I've seen quite a few people do it and enjoy these videos so much. They are very interesting and I like getting a glimpse into people's personalities that don't show through during their normal videos. In short, they are a lot of fun. So when Jessethereader put out a blanket tag for anyone interested in participating, I jumped at the chance.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Review - Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley

Rose Daughter
Genre: Fairytale Retelling
Series: Standalone
Source: Purchased
Published: Open Road Media (2014) 
Kindle - 308 pgs 

Rating: 2/5

Once upon a time, a wealthy merchant had three daughters . . . and when the merchant’s business failed, he and his three daughters left their grand house in the city and moved to a tiny cottage buried deep in the countryside. The youngest daughter, Beauty, is fascinated by the long, thorny stems of an unknown plant that overwhelms the neglected cottage, and she tends it until, the following summer, its rich, fragrant flowers are the most glorious things the sisters have ever seen: roses.

An old woman tells Beauty: “Roses are for love. Not . . . silly sweethearts’ love but the love that makes you and keeps you whole. . . . There’s an old folk-tale . . . there aren’t many roses around any more because they need more love than people have to give ’em . . . and the only thing that’ll stand in for love is magic, though it ain’t as good.”

There’s no magic in the town of Longchance, but, the old woman adds, Beauty may not know that this is the result of a sorcerers’ battle that happened many years ago, a battle that left a monster, or perhaps a beast, in an enchanted palace somewhere in the deep forest . . . and a curse concerning a family of three sisters.

To be honest Beauty and the Beast is my favorite fairytale. Nothing really compares to Belle who loves to read and The Beast who gives her that beautiful library that I saw as a child and dreamed about having since. I've read a few retellings and one of the ones I liked the best was Beauty. There were a few things I had issues with, like the abrupt ending, but overall when I read it last year I liked it. 

When this title promised to be better, I anticipated 20 years of writing experience would indeed work in McKinley's favor. After this long drawn out retelling though, I would stick with the original.

This retelling is completely independent of Beauty no matter what Goodreads would have you believe. (TBH - I think part of my struggle with this book was I anticipated it coming full circle back to Beauty at some point) The first half of the book was slow but manageable. The sisterly relationship is quite similar to the first retelling and I enjoy that bond in both stories. The book seemed to take a turn when Beauty traveled to the Beast's castle. The writing became too description heavy and drawn out for me to really focus on the story. Several times I found myself lost or confused about what was happening and had to reread long sections to try and absorb it again. There was a particular section at the end of the book where Beauty is lost and struggling to find her way out of Beast's castle. I nearly gave up at that point! That section was odious to read. These drawn out sections reduced my investment in the characters to nothing and I skimmed the rest of the way through the story. Overall, I was disappointed.

The story of Beauty and her family is interesting and I was pleased with their character arcs. Her sisters especially have more character depth. Beauty wasn't as spunky or lively as the other two. Just like Beauty I felt their absence after she left home for the castle. The lore McKinley created within the story was interesting and well constructed. The mystery was simply drawn out too long and too focused on growing roses. The hard part is I understand What the author was trying to do. After reading her author's note at the end I see how she was trying to incorporate her love of gardening and struggle with gardening roses into this story. As a plot device though it made the plot meander too many times. 

Personally, I was glad to finally get to the end of this story. It seems I will always have a love/hate with McKinley's writing. I've adored some of her books and others have fallen flat like this one. We'll see what my next read brings. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

January Favorites (2016)

The first month of 2016 was quite a month. I was very busy at work and didn't have a lot of time to do what I wanted. However I do have a few favorites even though I don't have a full favorites list for this month.

Book Favorite:

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter, #7)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows! I finally finished my reread of this series and loved every moment of this last book. I had forgotten so much of what happened and enjoyed all the adventure from start to finish.

Monday, February 8, 2016

February Currently Reading (2016)

So far this month I have started many books and I'm trying to finish them all too! Right now I'm focused on two and hopefully I'll be able to finish many books too! I've been doing these currently reading videos rather than TBR videos and they work much better for me.

What are you reading right now?

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Friday, February 5, 2016

Reviews - Newt's Emerald by Garth Nix (Narrated by Faye Adele)

Newt's Emerald

Series: Standalone
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Purchased
Published: Katherine Tegen Books (2015) 
Hardcover - 304 pgs 
Audiobooks - 6hrs 23 min. 

Rating: 4.5 / 5

On her eighteenth birthday, Lady Truthful, nicknamed “Newt,” will inherit her family’s treasure: the Newington Emerald. A dazzling heart-shaped gem, the Emerald also bestows its wearer with magical powers.

When the Emerald disappears one stormy night, Newt sets off to recover it. Her plan entails dressing up as a man, mustache included, as no well-bred young lady should be seen out and about on her own. While in disguise, Newt encounters the handsome but shrewd Major Harnett, who volunteers to help find the missing Emerald under the assumption that she is a man. Once she and her unsuspecting ally are caught up in a dangerous adventure that includes an evil sorceress, Newt realizes that something else is afoot: the beating of her heart.

In Newt’s Emerald, the bestselling author of Sabriel, Garth Nix, takes a waggish approach to the forever popular Regency romance and presents a charmed world where everyone has something to hide. 

After reading Nix’s other series, The Old Kingdom Series, I expected something totally different from this story. To be completely honest at first I took this standalone fantasy much too seriously. A few chapters in I realized this was a lighter story with just a feather dusting of magic. After I realized this had a different tone, I had much more fun reading. In comparison to the Abhorsen Trilogy, this story was simple, but a low-key fantasy I still loved.

Young Lady Truthful is a plucky young heroine who grew on me through this book. While the book is short, Truthful has a full fledged adventure and really won me over.  She is spunky and is determined to be included in the search for the emerald without being an irritating or whiny character. She does faint quite a lot, but I think that is to be expected in a Regency era England.

There were so many things I saw coming, but I enjoyed it anyway. I fell in love with the characters and their eccentricities. The romance and plot are fun. I liked how the romance slowly gathered speed and, while noticeable, wasn’t the main focal point of the book. Truthful is focus on finding the emerald and helping her father much more than her own romantic interests.

Surprisingly, there was very little world building in this story. I was a little disappointed about that since I enjoy Nix’s world building so much in his other series. However, this story was more character centered and a standalone so I understand there wasn’t as much time to explain the magic and world. I still had a clear picture of this fantastical England and a good understanding of the magic. As a fan of Victorian England I appreciated the little touches Nix added to make this story historically accurate regarding fashion and trends.

While not as complete or complex as Nix’s other books, this story is just as enjoyable. The characters are fun and I was grinning like a fool over the romance. The narrator is ok. I did find her voice a bit irritating, but overall she read the story well. I would recommend the audiobook. 

Happy Reading!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Pretty Books (4)

Some books are more beautiful than others. In my Pretty Books Series I feature some of the most beautiful ones on my shelves. Some have great covers while others have eye-catching spines or have a surprise under the dust jacket. All of them are beautiful!

Pretty Books Playlist: