Friday, July 29, 2016

Book Chat - Deciding which books to pack for vacation

The worst part of packing for vacation is choosing which books to take. What if I don't like it? What if I'm in the mood for something else? What about all the other books I'm leaving behind? Should I pack another book if I finish all these? Overall its a bit stressful and something, I think, everyone struggles with if they are a book lover.

Two weeks ago when I went on a week long trip to my favorite place ever, the beach, I took four books and read three. I was really really happy with that. This weekend I'm going beach camping, which is slightly more stressful, and cannot narrow it down to less than three books. That's probably too many, but my brain will not let me take just two. Update: I left the house with half a dozen books in my car. This is absolutely not feasible.

Mini Reviews #3 (Poison or Protect, Be With You, Jane Austen Novellas)

Be with Me (Wait for You, #2)
Today I'm combining a few reviews from my recent reads. While I have been reading a lot of good books recently, I don't have a lot of thoughts to share. Today though I wanted to share my general thoughts about the books I've finished. I have several to share with you and like I said a lot of these were amazing. 

Be With Me by J. Lynn
Series: Wait for You (Companion) 
Genre: Contemporary 
Age Group: Young Adult
Published: February 2014
Kindle Ebook - 365 pgs

Rating: 3/5 

Teresa Hamilton is having a rough year—she’s in love with her big brother’s best friend, but he hasn’t spoken to her since they shared a truly amazing, mind-blowing, change-your-life kiss. She got out of a terrible relationship. And now an injury is threatening to end her dance career for good. It’s time for Plan B – college. And maybe a chance to convince Jase that what they have together is real.

Jase Winstead has a huge secret that he’s not telling anyone. Especially not his best friend’s incredibly beautiful sister. Even though he and Teresa shared the hottest kiss of his life, he knows that his responsibilities must take priority. He certainly doesn’t have time for a relationship. But it doesn’t help that all he can think about kissing the one girl who could ruin everything for him.

As they’re thrown together more and more, Jase and Tess can’t keep denying their feelings for each other. But a familiar danger looms and tragedy strikes. As the campus recovers, the star-crossed couple must decide what they’re willing to risk to be together, and what they’re willing to lose if they’re not

Armentrout's books are an easy grab for me when I'm feeling out of sorts with my reading. It is almost a sure bet I'll like them, and they are easy to fly through.  While the characters and stories fall into familiar tropes, Armentrout usually finds a way to surprise me. This story is a perfect example. It was fun to meet new characters while still getting glimpses of Cam and Aubrey from Wait for You. I enjoyed this romance, but the story was predictable and a tad repetitive. Still, I will continue on with this companion series.

 The Watsons
Lady Susan
Lady Susan / The Watsons by Jane Austen

Series: Both Standalones
Genre: Classics
Age Group: Everyone
Lady Susan - 3/5
The Watsons: 3/5 

Lady Susan: 
Lady Susan is a selfish, attractive woman, who tries to trap the best possible husband while maintaining a relationship with a married man. She subverts all the standards of the romantic novel: she has an active role, she's not only beautiful but intelligent and witty, and her suitors are significantly younger than she is. Although the ending includes a traditional reward for morality, Lady Susan herself is treated much more mildly than the adulteress in Mansfield Park, from Jane Austen's novel Sense and Sensibility, who is severely punished.

The Watsons:
Left impoverished upon the death of her aunt, Emma Watson has no option but to be reunited with her estranged father and siblings. Initially delighted with her new life—including the fashionable society balls to which she now has access—Emma soon realizes that her family harbors many ill feelings, not least those springing from the sisters' hopes—and disappointments—in snaring a husband. So when the eligible and suitably rich Tom Musgrove begins to transfer his affections from her sister Margaret to Emma, the result can only be further sibling rivalry and unrest. 

My Thoughts:
Overall I enjoyed both of these books, but they are not quite up to what I was expecting. Since I've already read all of Austen's full-length published works, these seemed simple compared to those. You can tell her witty writing style is there in the themes of the stories, but it is still developing. Lady Susan was a hilarious, but frustrating read because Lady Susan herself isn't likable while the other characters are. The Watsons was also good, but as mentioned in many notes about the text, it wasn't completed so we are left to wonder what it could have been. The Watsons especially had elements from many of her other stories and reminded me of Northanger Abbey in many ways. 

Poison or Protect by Gail Carriger
Poison or Protect (Delightfully Deadly, #1)
Series: Delightfully Deadly #1
Genre: Sci-Fi Historical Paranormal Romance
Age Group: Adult (Mature Themes)
Published: June 2016
Kindle Ebook - 147 pgs

Rating: 5/5

Lady Preshea Villentia, the Mourning Star, has four dead husbands and a nasty reputation. Fortunately, she looks fabulous in black. What society doesn’t know is that all her husbands were marked for death by Preshea’s employer. And Preshea has one final assignment. It was supposed to be easy, a house party with minimal bloodshed. Preshea hadn’t anticipated Captain Gavin Ruthven – massive, Scottish, quietly irresistible, and… working for the enemy. In a battle of wits, Preshea may risk her own heart – a terrifying prospect, as she never knew she had one. 

Buy Poison or Protect today to find out whether it’s heartbreak or haggis at this high tea. 

Warning: Contains men pleasing women, and ladies who know what they want and ask for it, sometimes in detail. May also contain plaid, appearances from favorite characters, and the strategic application of leather gloves. 

A few months ago I had never read a Gail Carriger book. Now, I'm preordering novellas the moment I know they exist. I'm obsessed with her witty writing and amusing characters. This story is a bit more mature, but I still really enjoyed it. There is a Scotsman who is sexy as hell and an assassin, apparently an all grown up member of the Finishing School Series, who has feminine wiles of her own to use. This was so fun. It was well developed and complete. It is definitely an adult novel, but I also definitely recommend it if you are of age and are interested in adult romance. The story left me satisfied and excited to explore more of the Carriger works.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Mid-Year Freak Out Tag

So far this year I have had an amazing reading year. I have read some of the best books and had a really difficult time narrowing down my answers to these questions. How to pick a favorite book when so many have been SO good? Want to see what I picked? Check out this tag video!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Eight Books I Enjoyed That Have Under 2000 Ratings On Goodreads

A few weeks ago this was the Top Ten Tuesday topic, but I missed it even though I had the post all ready. Unfortunately I was out of state and didn't have a way to update the blog so I missed this opportunity to promote some of my favorite books that aren't well know.

So this week I didn't love the topic and decided to use this top ten I already made instead. So this is not the correct topic for this week, but I wanted to spread the word about these awesome books!

1) Darcy's Tale by Stanley Michael Hurd (15 Ratings on Goodreads) - This book needs more ratings and more readers! This is an absolutely engrossing retelling of Pride and Prejudice from Darcy's point of view. The three installments are combined in this volume which I read in January and was addicted to.

2) Poison or Protect by Gail Carriger (651 Ratings on Goodreads) - To be fair this novella has only been out a few weeks. However it is both hilarious and full of adventure. It is a more adult romance than some of Carriger's other works (warning for explicit sexual scenes), but I enjoyed it very much.

3) Mortal Gods by Kendare Blake (1618 Ratings on Goodreads) - The second book in this series that I adore doesn't seem to get a lot of love! If you've read Antigoddess what are you doing? Read this one!

4) Fitzwilliam Darcy Such I Was by Carol Cromlin ( 31 Ratings on Goodreads) - This is another Pride and Prejudice retelling/prequel. In this story we follow Darcy from a young age. He learns a lot of lessons and I really enjoyed this version of Darcy's life.

Darcy's Tale (Darcy's Tale #1-3) Poison or Protect (Delightfully Deadly, #1) Mortal Gods (Goddess War, #2) Fitzwilliam Darcy Such I Was 

5) Jane Austen Cover to Cover: 200 Years of Classic Book Covers by Margaret C. Sullivan (526 Ratings on Goodreads) - More Jane Austen! I love this big coffee table book that features Austen's book covers since they've been published. It is hilarious to look through as well as really interesting to see the changes over time.

6) The Fall by Bethany Griffin (1796 ratings on Goodreads) - Go read this! This story is a retelling of The Fall of the House of Usher. It is creepy and really dark. Go check it out. 

7) Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson by S.C. Gwynne (1793 Ratings on Goodreads) - Stonewall Jackson has been my favorite Civil War general since I heard the story of his tragic death in high school American History. He led an interesting life and this biography is really engaging. 

8) Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in the World by Abigail Reynolds (1721 Ratings on Goodreads)  - Even more Jane Austen retellings! This might be my favorite Austen retelling. It is fun and fast and captures the characters really well. 

20819711 The Fall Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in the World

My Last Top Ten Tuesday ---> Six of My Favorite Books Set Outside the US

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Coffee Break #3

Coffee Break is a feature I started to talk about upcoming releases I'm excited for, blogs posts I'm currently reading, Booktube videos I'm watching and a general life update. July has been another busy month. I just returned from vacation and next weekend I'm going beach camping. This the second annual beach camping adventure and I'm hoping this will turn into an annual thing because it is so much fun.

Anyway since I take much longer breaks in between these posts than I was expecting, I think I'll start featuring whatever releases are next on my list of anticipated releases. Rather than just random releases that come out the week I make the post, I'll feature a upcoming release I'm excited about. 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Review - Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

Finnikin of the Rock (Lumatere Chronicles, #1)
Series: Lumatere Chronicles #1
Genre: High Fantasy 
Age Group: Young Adult (with mature content)
Source - Purchased 
Published - September 2008

At the age of nine, Finnikin is warned by the gods that he must sacrifice a pound of flesh to save his kingdom. He stands on the rock of the three wonders with his friend Prince Balthazar and Balthazar's cousin, Lucian, and together they mix their blood to safeguard Lumatere. 

But all safety is shattered during the five days of the unspeakable, when the king and queen and their children are brutally murdered in the palace. An impostor seizes the throne, a curse binds all who remain inside Lumatere's walls, and those who escape are left to roam the land as exiles, dying by the thousands in fever camps.

Ten years later, Finnikin is summoned to another rock--to meet Evanjalin, a young novice with a startling claim: Balthazar, heir to the throne of Lumatere, is alive. This arrogant young woman claims she'll lead Finnikin and his mentor, Sir Topher, to the prince. Instead, her leadership points them perilously toward home. Does Finnikin dare believe that Lumatere might one day rise united? Evanjalin is not what she seems, and the startling truth will test Finnikin's faith not only in her but in all he knows to be true about himself and his destiny.

Quick Thoughts: There are many amazing things about this book. I love the characters. I love the world. I love how the magic is just as much to blame for the problems in this society as the people are. In this age of refugee crises and border control debates, I found this novel especially relevant and it made me even more emotional. I loved this book and I cannot wait to continue on with the series.

Full Review:
To put it simply this was one of the best fantasy stories I've ever read. It was carefully constructed and written extremely well. After several failed attempts at reading this, I finally sunk my teeth into this book and read the entire thing. I'm so glad I didn't give up on it.

The heart-wrenching story of Lumatere and its people grabbed my attention and pulled me into the story after just a few chapters. This story took on an approach to fantasy I haven't seen very often before. I do think the story is a little confusing at times, but Marchetta drops you into a political mess that is ten years old. I expected to be  scrambling for answers and context. She does a brilliant job infusing information and history into the story with flashbacks and discussion. The story didn't feel info-dumpy and it is well developed. 

The characters were what really grabbed my attention. Not only were they complex and interesting, the ways they grappled with the problems they faced felt real. The culture and customs of Lumatere felt fleshed out and throughout the book I felt the peoples' desire to return to their home country in a real way. The emotional roller coaster is intense, but satisfying.

I enjoyed this book very very much and cannot wait to read book two!

My Last Review - Blameless by Gail Carriger

Thursday, July 21, 2016

A Booktubeathon Update

So far, the booktubeathon is not going very well. I'm struggling a little. Check out this short update to see what my comeback plans are.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

T5W - Most Recent Additions to Your Wishlist

I think all of us are constantly updating our wishlists as we constantly hear about new books either through a site like Goodreads or from the blogger/vloggers/social media users we follow. These are just a few of the books I've added to my wishlist recently.

1) The Finishing School Complete Collection by Gail Carriger - A paperback set of the Finishing School Series is set to be released this fall. As I am currently obsessed with Gail Carriger's works and am devouring them at an alarming rate, I am excited to get physical copies of this series. (Prudence and Imprudence are also on my list. Basically I've discovered all of her novels and want them all)

2) Goldenhand by Garth Nix - I am also a late convert to Garth Nix. I love his Old Kingdom Series and this will be the fifth installment. Since this book was just announced a few months ago, it is one of the most recent addition (and most exciting) additions to my list.

3) Secrets of the Realm by Bev Stout - This book is something I found recently on a list of audiobook recommendations. I'm excited to check it out because it sounds like a short and sweet historical fiction story with a cross-dressing girl who needs to hide and possibly pirates!

4) Captive Prince by C.S. Pacat - So many of the people I follow on Tumblr who love The Raven Cycle love this series. This recommendation and correlation alone are enough to get me to pick it up. I am really excited to check it out. It sounds amazing and hopefully I will love it as much as they do.

5) The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson - I am becoming more and more picky about the contemporary books I add to my wish list. I tend to take a long time to pick them up, but this one has peaked my interest. Plus it has a lot of good reviews and dogs!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Six of My Favorite Books Set Outside The US

This week on Top Ten Tuesday we are talking about book set outside the United States. So many books take place in the US and I'm excited. So I'm excited both to recommend books and to get recommended books.

1) The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater - This magical story is set on the fictional island of Thisby. While there isn't a good description of where in the world Thisby is, I always felt like it was off the coast of Ireland or England.

2) Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers - Grave Mercy is set in medieval France where the politics of the country are at stake. Each one of the companion books are fantastic and the series gets better as it goes.

3) Ross Poldark by Winston Graham - Another historical fiction. This series takes place in England just after the American Revolution. It is both heartwarming and heartbreaking. I love the characters and love the show too!

The Scorpio Races Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin, #1) Ross Poldark (Poldark, #1)

4) The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle - One of my favorite countries in the world is Ireland and this book is a magical contemporary set there. I loved this book and the audiobook completely captured me.

5) Soulless by Gail Carriger - My favorite setting is Victorian London which is where this steampunk, paranormal historical fiction is set. It is fabulous and witty and I highly recommend it.

6) The Martian by Andy Weir - This is set on MARS! (and also the US), but Marks trumps everything.

 The Accident Season Soulless (Parasol Protectorate, #1) The Martian

Monday, July 18, 2016

BooktubeAThon TBR

Happy Booktubeathon! This year I am ready and excited for the readathon. As is tradition, I am very busy this week, but I hope I'll be able to fit some reading in throughout the week. Check out the books I'll be reading and let me know if you are participating too!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Review - Blameless by Gail Carriger

Blameless (Parasol Protectorate #3)

Series: Parasol Protectorate #3
Genre: Historical Fiction/Paranormal
Age Group: New Adult/Adult
Paperback- 320 pgs
Published - September 2010

Rating: 4/5

*Quick Warning - Don't read this description unless you've finished book two**

Quitting her husband's house and moving back in with her horrible family, Lady Maccon becomes the scandal of the London season. Queen Victoria dismisses her from the Shadow Council and the only person who can explain anything, Lord Akeldama, unexpectedly leaves town. To top it all, Alexia is attacked by homicidal mechanical ladybugs.

At the end of book two I needed Blameless so badly! I think that is the general consensus of people who read these books. As soon as I got home I picked up this baby and started reading. Alexia forges on after the events of book two and we must as well. Armed with only her wit and her few friends Alexia takes on the world. Literally. We travel abroad in this novel and continue to broaden our knowledge of how the supernatural works within the series. 
Gail Carriger's series continues to be funny, witty and well written. I like the adventure and the new characters that keep appearing. There is a bit of everything within this series. There is historical romances, paranormal and a little urban fantasy mixed in. At this point I am very anxious to find out more about Alexia father's past. He seems like a rather interesting gentleman and overall I would like to see the series move a little faster.

This book dragged a little compared to the other two but I still enjoyed it. At the end things worked out a little too easily for my liking. I wanted a little more tension, but overall liked the outcome. Like vs love is the theme with this installment. I like everything that happened, but found it a little sluggish compared to books one and two so I didn't love it. I continue to recommend it and after a short break am ready to continue on with this series!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Ten Facts About Me

This week on Top Ten Tuesday the hosts from Broke and the Bookish have taken the focus off books in an effort to get to know the bloggers! So these are ten facts about me!

1) As you are reading this I'm on my summer vacation to the beach! I adore the beach and reading at the beach is my favorite form of relaxation. In fact I'm finishing this post as I sit on the deck drinking my morning coffee.

2) I love lemonade combined with iced tea drinks - It has been a true obsession this summer. I can't stop drinking these sweet concoctions.

3) At the end of July I will hit my four year blogiversary! - For the first couple of years I wasn't very consistent, but this blog started four years ago while just blows my mind! I cannot believe it's been so long.

4) Right now I'm obsessed with Litsy and Snapchat - My app and social media favorites change every few weeks. Right now these two are taking over my life (as well as Pokemon Go)

5) I have a really big extended family. - My mom is one of five and my dad is one of six. So both sides of my family are huge! I never realized this wasn't the norm until I was in high school. I just though everyone's families were enormous.

6) I take my coffee with hazelnut creamer. - No sugar please. (Just realized two of these 10 facts are about drinks. I do love drinks. I have a small mug collection and carry several bottles of stuff to work everyday! It is a terrible habit. Haha!)

7) I've traveled abroad twice. - I went to Europe during high school for three weeks and to Northern Ireland for 10 days while I was in college. Both experiences were incredible and I hope I can go again as an adult.

8) I donated four big bags and two boxes of books to book sales and libraries this year to try and reduce my TBR pile. - Sadly, it didn't help as much as I hoped. I got rid of a lot of books I had already taken off and separated as books I didn't think I would read. So really I only reduced my TBR by like 30 books and I could easily buy that many again!

9) I love dogs - I have a black lab named Molly who I miss terribly on vacation.

10) I've discovered my favorite books involve fantasy elements, steampunk elements and the Victorian era. - If you know of any great ones, send the suggestions my way! I've always known I like these elements alone, but recently I cannot get enough of them together.

That's it! Enjoy these few facts about me and let me know where to find you! 

Monday, July 11, 2016

Finished Series (Updated)

A few years ago I posted a list of the series I had completed in my reading lifetime. I wanted to do an update of that list and I found more than I bargained for! I'm sure there are more series I've finished too. I was really impressed with myself.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Vacation Reading!

Hello Bookish Friends!

I've been quite scarce here for a couple of weeks. Things have been quite hectic IRL so the blog always suffers for that. Tomorrow I leave for a long awaited beach getaway and plan to read as much as I can during the upcoming week. Posts will continue. I'm working on getting a few things schedule for when I am away and hope to do some working while I'm relaxing. (at least blog working is also fun working)

Fear not! I am leaving you with a post heavy day today and hopefully will be back to the regular schedule on Monday (possibly next Monday) depending on how motivated I am over the next few days. Combine the hectic work week with vacation prep and feeling under the weather. Now you see my past week or so. 

Ah anyway what I am leading up to is video about what I'll be reading on vacation. I will be leaving tomorrow morning so if you have any suggestions for beach reading send them my way. I am always willing to change my beach TBR at last minute.

Review - Changeless by Gail Carriger

Changeless (Parasol Protectorate, #2)

Series: Parasol Protectorate #2
Genre: Steampunk/Paranormal 
Age Group: New Adult 
Published: April 2010
Paperback - 374 pgs

Rating: 5/5

Alexia Maccon, the Lady Woolsey, awakens in the wee hours of the mid-afternoon to find her husband, who should be decently asleep like any normal werewolf, yelling at the top of his lungs. Then he disappears; leaving her to deal with a regiment of supernatural soldiers encamped on her doorstep, a plethora of exorcised ghosts, and an angry Queen Victoria.

But Alexia is armed with her trusty parasol, the latest fashions, and an arsenal of biting civility. So even when her investigations take her to Scotland, the backwater of ugly waistcoats, she is prepared: upending werewolf pack dynamics as only the soulless can. She might even find time to track down her wayward husband, if she feels like it.

In this installment we follow Alexia as a powerful married lady who now holds several positions within the Victorian and supernatural worlds. She is even more in her element and continues to be sassy.

Changeless introduced us to more characters and a wider view of how this steampunk world works. The new characters are interesting and continue to diversify the cast we already have. I enjoyed the additional characters and seeing the same characters from book one immensely. I cannot wait to learn even more about them in the next book.

It continues to impress me how integrated the supernatural and Victorian customs are.  I continue to enjoy that aspect of the story. The writing is fabulous and some of the lines had me in stitches. The series is hilarious as well as fun and full of supernaturals. In this installment I think we unveiled a few more mysteries and posed more questions that will need the entire series to answer.

Book two proved to be just as enjoyable as the first and just as entertaining and I couldn't put it down. The story is just as engaging and amusing as book one and I highly recommend continuing this series.

The ending to book two had me in quite a state. I needed book three on a level I wasn't expecting (like ready to leave work early to get my hands on it level) and did not have it. I recommend having it at the ready when you finish this one. 

My Review of Book One; Soulless by Gail Carriger