Thursday, October 19, 2017

Review - American Gods by Neil Gaiman


Series: Standalone
Genre: Urban Fantasy 
Age Group - Adult
William Morrow (first published July 2001)
Audiobook - (635pgs)

Rating: 5/5

Locked behind bars for three years, Shadow did his time, quietly waiting for the magic day when he could return to Eagle Point, Indiana. A man no longer scared of what tomorrow might bring, all he wanted was to be with Laura, the wife he deeply loved, and start a new life. But just days before his release, Laura and Shadow's best friend are killed in an accident. With his life in pieces and nothing to keep him tethered, Shadow accepts a job from a beguiling stranger he meets on the way home, an enigmatic man who calls himself Mr. Wednesday. A trickster and rogue, Wednesday seems to know more about Shadow than Shadow does himself.

Life as Wednesday's bodyguard, driver, and errand boy is far more interesting and dangerous than Shadow ever imagined. It is a job that takes him on a dark and strange road trip and introduces him to a host of eccentric characters whose fates are mysteriously intertwined with his own.

Along the way, Shadow will learn that the past never dies; that everyone, including his beloved Laura, harbors secrets; and that dreams, totems, legends, and myths are more real than we know. Ultimately, he will discover that beneath the placid surface of everyday life, a storm is brewing - an epic war for the very soul of America - and that he is standing squarely in its path.

The full cast edition of this audiobook completely captured me. This book follows a lot of small threads that all come together to make an epic story, much like America is made of many people who make up the whole. It is really hard to pinpoint what this book is about. On one hand we are following Shadow as he works for Wednesday and on the other we are following a larger story about American lore and what America IS. The pace is quite slow especially at the beginning and the end. The audiobook really helped keep me invested and focused on this book. It would've been a lot harder to get through a physical copy of this story.

This book is jammed packed with mythology and history. I really enjoyed how Gaiman broke up Shadow's story with smaller chapters about how different gods arrived in America. It was a nice way to build up the narrative of the gods without someone explaining it exactly how it happened. These chapters were some of the most emotional parts of the book and the one that hit me the hardest was the story of Wututu and her brother Agasu. I listened to this section twice and cried though the whole thing.

Throughout the book I felt like I was reading this book at the right time. Even though the book was originally published in 2001, many of the struggles and storms in this book are still raging within America. There were a few moments I found predictable during, but overall I really enjoyed this book and I was blown away by the audiobook. I was not expecting to enjoy this as much as I did at all.

Hopefully, I'll be watching the TV series at some point in the near future. I'd really like to see how certain sections are interpreted. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

T5W - Shapeshifters/Werewolves

This week I was really excited to participate in Top Five Wednesday. Paranormal creatures are some of my favorite parts of books. Two of my favorite genres are urban fantasy and paranormal so I had a hard time narrowing this down to just five books. I did use a loose definition of shapeshifter for this Top Five Wednesday, but they are all shifters of some kind.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Magic Dreams and Magic Steals Combo Review

Magic Steals (Kate Daniels, #6.5)
Magic Dreams (Kate Daniels, #4.5)
Series: Kate Daniels Series 4.5 & 6.5 
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Age Group: Adult
Published: 2012/2016
MD Addit // Buy it
MD Rating: 4/5
MS Rating: 4.5/5

Alpha Pack leader Jim Shrapshire has always been the strong, silent type. But something has come over him--a magic force currently residing in one of the Pack's headquarters. Were-tigress Dali Harimau has always wished she could get Jim's attention--but now he needs her help. 

Stricken with a magic-sickness, Jim needs Dali's flair for magic. And to save him, she must challenge a powerful, dark being to a battle of wits. 

These are two very fun novellas that I picked up because I need Andrews' writing in my life and I need a taste of the Kate Daniels world while I wait for Magic Triumphs. Dali is quite the opposite of Kate in many ways and it was really interesting to see the world from a different perspective. 

Dali's magic is another awesome element to these stories and her self-depreciating humor really amused me. Not only is she funny, she doesn't take any crap either. She knows her magic, even if it doesn't always work for her, and she doesn't let anyone tell her otherwise. Even so, she has her human moments, like when her mom embarrasses her or she worries Jim doesn't like her, which made me love her even more. 

Can we have more Jim and Dali screen time? These two are fantastic and a little less toxic than Kate and Curran. (and by a little I mean they aren't toxic at all) I loved their slow burn romance and I want to see more of their adventures together.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Review - Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs

Series: Mercy Thompson #4
Age Group: Adults
Genre: Paranormal
Published: February 2009 (Ace Books)
Hardcover - 309 pgs
Add it // Buyt it

By day, Mercy is a car mechanic in the sprawling Tri-Cities of Eastern Washington. By night, she explores her perternatural side. As a shapeshifter with some unique talents, Mercy has often found herself having to maintain a tenuous harmony between the human and the not so human. This time she may get more than she bargained for.

Marsilia, the local Vampire Queen, has learned that Mercy crossed her by slaying a member of her clan - and she's out for blood. But since Mercy is protected from direct reprisal by the werewolf pack (and her close relationship with its sexy Alpha), it won't be Mercy's blood Marsilia is after.

At the end of Iron Kissed I was convinced and disappointed Briggs was going to gloss over any further repercussion from the events of that book. Instead, Mercy continues to struggle with what happened which was realistic and I liked that Briggs took the time to address it. Mercy continues to develop as a character and the entire cast of characters finally feels fleshed out and full of personality.
Bone Crossed is mostly a bridge book. Mercy needed time to recover, like I mentioned before, and Briggs needed to fill in some holes she had left open during the first few books. The book did its job though the plot of this installment was a little bland for me. Most of the details have already escaped my brain. The romance in this series is starting to take a larger role as well, but it is nicely balanced and everyone had issues to work through.
There is a distinct lack of women in this series though. Mercy doesn't have many close female relationships and she is combative with most of the women in her circle. I'd like this to change, there are some promising signs, in the future. Even though most werewolves are men, it would be nice to see Mercy have some female relationships.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

End of Year Book Tag

The lovely Ariel Basset created a really fun tag for the transition to the end of 2017. I had a lot of fun answering these questions and I had a chance to wear my favorite romper one more time since the weather has been warm here in the Northeast. I hope you will check out Ariel's cool original video after you listen to my answers.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

My Used Book Shopping List

This post is shamelessly stolen from TrishaJennReads. Her blog is gorgeous and full of fun context so I recommend you also check out her original post as well. 

I adore shopping in a used book store or browsing a used book sale. There are always books you are hoping to find, but it rarely works out that way. Most of the time when I browse the sales, I find something I've never heard of rather than something I am looking for. However, there are a few titles I keep my eyes peeled for when I browse a book sale. 

Across the Universe by Beth Revis
Persuasion by Jane Austen
Outlander Hardcovers
Tamora Pierce Books of Any Variety
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
Austenland by Shannon Hale

Friday, October 13, 2017

September Real Time Book Haul

September was a weird month for me. I've had some weird health issues going on and it has made me lethargic. Even though this haul idea didn't work the way I wanted it to, I think I will try it again in the future. What did you pick up in September?

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Review - Code by Brendan Reichs and Kathy Reichs

Series: Virals #3
Genre: Science-Fiction
Age Group: Young Adult
Published: Young Arrow (2013)
Paperback - 408 pg

Rating: 4/5

The Virals are put to the ultimate test when they find a geocache containing an ornate puzzle box. Shelton decodes the cipher inside, only to find more tantalizing clues left by "The Gamemaster." A second, greater geocache is within reach—if the Virals are up to the challenge.

But the hunt takes a dark turn when Tory locates the other box—a fake bomb, along with a sinister proposal from The Gamemaster. Now, the real game has begun: another bomb is out there—a real one—and the clock is ticking. 

After a very long break between books, I've finally picked up the third book in this series. I forgot how much I love this group of intelligent and quick thinking kids. At times this is a mix of Scooby-Doo and the Temperance Brennan novels which is a lot of fun to read. This particular book features a serial killer, which as a crime show fan I approve of, and the kids need to beat him at his own game.

Just like the other novels in this series, the story starts off a little slowly, but events start to pile up as the book continues. By the second half it was hard for me to put this book down because I need to know what will happen next! 

Tory's strong personality and her independence are both qualities I admire in her, but I wish Reichs balanced the characters a little more. At times Tory's take-charge attitude was a little overwhelming and the other three characters get overshadowed.  I really enjoyed how Reichs has written this group. All of the characters read as teens and have teen problems even though they are incredible smart and inventive. They worry about high school bullies and curfew while they try to defeat a killer. 

Though the pack does some pretty unbelievable things with their enhanced abilities, I had the hardest time believing their break ins at the lab. After the events in book two, Tory mentions a lot of increased security measures. I don't believe the kids could skip through these so easily. This part of the story really bothered me especially since it happened multiple times throughout the book. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

September Wrap Up

In September I read quite a few books. During the month I felt like I was really struggling to read even though I read a lot of good books. Hopefully I won't struggle quite as much in October. Check out my wrap up to see exactly what I read last month!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Top Ten Books With Fall/Autumn Covers

Once again we have come around to Top Ten Tuesday. This week I've chosen my favorite orange, red, yellow and brown covers. Some of these are my favorite books of all time. I wonder if there is any further correlation between my favorite season's colors and my favorite books.

The Red Pyramid (Kane Chronicles, #1) The Will of the Empress (Circle Reforged, #1) The Scorpio Races Homegoing Dragonfly in Amber (Outlander, #2)

The Winner's Kiss (The Winner's Trilogy, #3) This Monstrous Thing In Search of Lost Dragons Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2) Imprudence (The Custard Protocol #2)

Monday, October 9, 2017

Review - The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher


Genre: Autobiography 
Age Group: Adults
Published - November (2016)
Audiobook - 5 hours 10 minutes

Rating: 4/5

When Carrie Fisher recently discovered the journals she kept during the filming of the first Star Wars movie, she was astonished to see what they had preserved—plaintive love poems, unbridled musings with youthful naiveté, and a vulnerability that she barely recognized. Today, her fame as an author, actress, and pop-culture icon is indisputable, but in 1977, Carrie Fisher was just a (sort-of) regular teenager. 

With these excerpts from her handwritten notebooks, The Princess Diarist is Fisher’s intimate and revealing recollection of what happened on one of the most famous film sets of all time—and what developed behind the scenes. And today, as she reprises her most iconic role for the latest Star Wars trilogy, Fisher also ponders the joys and insanity of celebrity, and the absurdity of a life spawned by Hollywood royalty, only to be surpassed by her own outer-space royalty. 

Listening to this audiobook was incredibly emotional for me which I did not expect going in. The memoir itself is very interesting and full of anecdotes about Fisher's time on set before, during, and after she was cast in the Star Wars flims. She also covers her affair with Harrison Ford and her experience/struggle being Leia since the film's production. Because the audiobook is read by the author, her inflection made the writing a lot easier to understand. I can imagine some of the stories would not come across as well in text as they did when Carrie Fisher told them. 

Even though the book was incredibly funny, Fisher touches on many dark points in her life as well. Her struggles with drugs, alcohol, anxiety, and growing up in Hollywood are all a part of this story and she reflects on most of it with humor. However, these sections were difficult to listen to knowing Fisher (and her mother who she mentions often in this book) has since passed away. As I mentioned at the beginning this was incredibly emotional and I cried a few times as I listened to it.

Carrie Fisher's daughter. Billie Lourd, reads the journal entries from which this book sprang into life which was rather haunting. I'll admit it put me in strange head space and I was completely submerged in this book when I was listening to it. It was a strange experience listening to Fisher relate her personal life in her own voice six months after her death. Even so I would highly recommend the audiobook and I will be reading more of Fisher's books in the future. 

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Updates, Birthday Haul, & Currently Reading

I know I haven't updated you on any of the books I read or purchased last month. Don't worry that is coming soon. However, I'm really excited about the books I'm reading right now and all the books I picked up for my birthday so I skipped ahead a little bit.

This month I'm trying to do the #30daybookbinge again which is hosted by Misty at The Book Rat as well so there are some updates about my plans for that. Let me know what you are currently reading!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Top Five Things That Will Make Me Instantly Want To Read A Book

Out of all the book recommendations I see and hear on a daily basis, how do I pick which ones to purchase.

1) If Sam (Sam's Nonsense), Sam (Thoughts on Tomes), Lia (Lia Cooper) or Misty (The Book Rat) recommend a book- These four ladies combined make up the majority of my book that I pick up based on recommendations. They are superb at what they do and it is rare that I dislike something they recommend. Their reviews are fantastic and I love their other content too. Check them out.

2) Covers - There are a lot of different things that attract me to a cover. There are a few examples here, but this could be its own post or video so I'll let you take a look at these.

The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling, #1)   The Burning Sky (The Elemental Trilogy, #1) The Summer of Chasing Mermaids 30809689 24790901
How do you say no? 

3) The words Fairytale, Jane Austen or Myth in conjunction with retelling or reimagining: Honestly I can never have enough retellings on hand. They are usually easy to fly through so I can fly through them if I'm in a good reading mood and they break me out of a reading slump if I am having trouble finding something I want to read. I tend to keep an eye on the Kindle Deals and Book Bub for steals to keep my ereader well stocked.

4) If Tamora Pierce or Garth Nix Wrote it - I could include other authors and make this a list, but these two publish books less often than most main stream authors. Because of this, I tend to be on alert for their books and instantly want them.

5) An Original Concept- While #3 on this list tells you I like tropes, if something sounds interesting and new I definitely want to give it a shot. Books with diverse casts and a fresh take on some of my favorite tropes grab my attention as well. In this world of redundant/recycled plot lines anything that seems new is worth a second look.

What grabs your attention about a book? What makes you want pick up one book over another?

Friday, October 6, 2017

September Real Time Book Haul (2017)

This month I tried something a little different with my haul video. Even though it didn't work out quite like I planned, I think it was fun and I may try it again in the future. What books did you pick up this month?

Review - Prince's Gambit by C.S Pacat

Series: Captive Prince #2
Genre: Fantasy M/M Romance
Age Group: Adult 
Paperback: 404 pgs
Published: Berkley (2015)

Rating: 4/5

With their countries on the brink of war, Damen and his new master Prince Laurent must exchange the intrigues of the palace for the sweeping might of the battlefield as they travel to the border to avert a lethal plot.

Forced to hide his identity, Damen finds himself increasingly drawn to the dangerous, charismatic Laurent. But as the fledgling trust between the two men deepens, the truth of secrets from both their pasts is poised to deal them the crowning death blow . . .

I don't know where to start.

After being captivated but also a little taken aback by Captive Prince, I was very interested to see where this book would go. However, the amount of violence in book one shocked me and I wasn't sure this series would be for me. This book resolved my hesitation.

Pacat shifts the battle in book two. Instead of a battle of court politics, there are more actual battles and political strategy in this book. Daemon and Laurent are incredibly smart individually and when they work together it is awesome to watch. While I know the sexual tension was the focus of this book, I was confused by some of the action sequences. The different allies, countries and other groups I was getting mixed up. I think we needed just a little more context or explanation for these.

The tension between Daemon and Laurent in this book is an impossible slow burn that had me ready to tear my hair out. It is as delicious as it is frustrating to read. I really enjoyed how slowly this story turned Laurent's character over and it wouldn't have been believable any other way. Obviously there are still issues with Laurent and he can still be a horrible person and did horrible things, but watching him redeem parts of his character is interesting and I'm interested to see where that part of the story goes. 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Finally Fall Book Tag

The Fall weather finally arrived here this weekend in the Northeast as I type this and I'm hoping it is here to stay. We've had too many days in September above 80 and I'm ready for the sweater weather. To celebrate I've been watching quite a few fall tags so expect to see some in the coming weeks from me!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Review - The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie


Series: The Abyss Surrounds Us #1
Genre: Science-Fiction
Age Group: New Adult
Paperback - 273pages
Publisher - Flux (2016)

Rating: 4/5

For Cassandra Leung, bossing around sea monsters is just the family business. She’s been a Reckoner trainer-in-training ever since she could walk, raising the genetically-engineered beasts to defend ships as they cross the pirate-infested NeoPacific. But when the pirate queen Santa Elena swoops in on Cas’s first solo mission and snatches her from the bloodstained decks, Cas’s dream of being a full-time trainer seems dead in the water. 

There’s no time to mourn. Waiting for her on the pirate ship is an unhatched Reckoner pup. Santa Elena wants to take back the seas with a monster of her own, and she needs a proper trainer to do it. She orders Cas to raise the pup, make sure he imprints on her ship, and, when the time comes, teach him to fight for the pirates. If Cas fails, her blood will be the next to paint the sea.

When I put this in my bag to take along to the beach earlier this summer, I didn't even think about it being atmospheric. As I read it next to the water and heard crashing waves in the background, I couldn't put this book down. I absolutely devoured this story like a Reckoner pup would devour a barrel of fish. Things start out with a bang and Cas's world is rocked right from the start.  Because this book is rather short, jumping right into the action worked really well.

Even when the fighting stops, this book was impossible to put down. The author does a great job of making Cas's position more and more precarious and making the reader feel that tension throughout the book. For a debut I think storytelling is incredibly effective. The world is extremely interesting and, though there are a few info-dumps, the world is well thought out and feels complete.

The characters are fantastic. I really enjoyed both of the main leads. Cas and Swift are developed independently of one another and as their worlds collide they explore and talk about how complicated their feelings and their situation is. I cannot speak to the representation in this novel, but I really enjoyed this romance and the two characters. I have a weakness for the friends to lovers trope and this book really hit me in the feels.

Though I have heard mixed things about the next book in this duology, I cannot wait to check it out for myself and see where Cas is headed. 


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Book Boyfriend/Girlfriends

This week on Top Ten Tuesday we need to pick out our top ten book boyfriends and girlfriends. I adore all of these characters and have crushed on all of them at some point very seriously. Who is your biggest book crush?

1) George Cooper (Song of the Universe Series by Tamora Pierce) - George was my earliest inclination of a book boyfriend. I still remain a dedicated Geroge fan all these years later.

2) Captain Frederick Wentworth (Persuasion by Jane Austen) -

3) Daemon Black (Lux Series by Jennifer L. Armentrout) - I swoon over all of Armentrout's main male character, but I swoon over Daemon most of all.

4) Blue Sargent (The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater) - While I couldn't choose just one of the boys from the Raven Gang, I can choose Blue. I kind of have a book crush on all of the characters in this friend group though.

5) Touchstone (The Abhorsen Series by Garth Nix) - Ever since my first read through of this series, I have been in love with this man. He and Sabriel make a killer team!

6) Cassandra and/or Swift (The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie) - Both of these ladies are totally crush worthy. For some read Swift looks like Kate Mckinnon in my head so that definitely helps.

7) Percy Jackson (The Percy Jackson Series by Rick Riordan) - I grew up with Percy so I've always had a bit of a crush on this kid. He is just too sweet.

8) Cam Hamilton (Wait for You by J. Lynn) - Again, I love Armentrout's love interests. Cam is so sweet and I adore him

9) Nikolai Lantsov (Shadow and Bone Series by Leigh Bardugo) - KING OF SCARS!! We are getting more Nickolai. I cannot wait!

10) Soap (The Finishing School Series by Gail Carriger) - I just finished this series this past week and it was so emotional. I will always be #TeamSoap

I could name about a dozen more like Kate Daniels, Will Herondale (of course), and Jamie Fraser just to name a few honorable mentions. Well, they aren't really honorable mentions. I just wanted to mention a few characters that aren't going to be mentioned as often.

Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School, #1) Obsidian (Lux #1) Shadow and Bone Persuasion

Monday, October 2, 2017

Review - Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger


Series: Finishing School #2
Genre: Paranormal Historical Fiction
Age Group: Young Adult
Paperback: 310 pages

Rating: 4/5

Sophronia's first year at Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality has certainly been rousing! For one thing, finishing school is training her to be a spy--won't Mumsy be surprised? Furthermore, Sophronia got mixed up in an intrigue over a stolen device and had a cheese pie thrown at her in a most horrid display of poor manners.

Now, as she sneaks around the dirigible school, eavesdropping on the teachers' quarters and making clandestine climbs to the ship's boiler room, she learns that there may be more to a field trip to London than is apparent at first. A conspiracy is afoot--one with dire implications for both supernaturals and humans. Sophronia must rely on her training to discover who is behind the dangerous plot-and survive the London Season with a full dance card.

Carriger has a wonderful talent for writing stories that are amusing, charming and delightful. The first two books in this series have been as fun as the Parasol Protectorate Series. However, this second book felt like a holding pattern. Though I enjoyed seeing how the girls had matured, the supernatural parts of the story seemed to stall until very late in the book. Then we rushed to the finished.

I do quite enjoy how boys are a part of this story, but they do not distract our heroine from her mission or her friends. The girls are focused on their studies and each other more than they are worried about the boys except when they can be used as practice and to discover the enemy agenda. I could go on and on about how this is amazing and clever, but I will retrain myself.

Once again Carriger has integrated her paranormal series into the historical setting seamlessly. I love the way this series sits in historical London like it actually happened that way. As a prequel this series is very interesting and I've already moved on to the next book because I cannot wait to find out where these girls end up.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Bookshelf Tour #3 (Final)

This month I am determined to get back into this blog. After being very flaky all year, I will jump back on the bandwagon. October is my birthday month (in face my birthday is today!) and the height of my favorite season and it contains Halloween. So this month I'm hoping to post everyday as well as read everyday for the #30BookBinge hosted by Misty of The Book Rat.

I have found I work well with goals and rewards. This month I don't have a reward picked out for my goals. Any thoughts for that? Any way today I have the final bookshelf tour to share. Happy Reading!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Review - The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas


Series: The D'Artagnan Romances #1
Genre: Historical Fiction 
Age Group: Adults
Audiobook- 22hr 45 mins
Dover Publications - 560pgs

Rating: 3/5

With its rousing cry of "One for all, and all for one," Alexandre Dumas's thrilling adventure novel has captivated generations of readers since its initial publication in 1844. Action, intrigue, and romance abound in this swashbuckling epic, which traces a country lad's path to the French court of the early 1600s and the glorious fraternity of the king's men, the Musketeers.
A son of impoverished nobility, D'Artagnan arrives in Paris to find the Musketeers disbanded by the cunning Cardinal Richelieu, who hopes to seize power from the weak-willed Louis XIII. The daring and ambitious youth proves his mettle in the company of the famous Musketeers — Porthos, Athos, and Aramis — and joins them in a heroic struggle to defend the king and his lovely queen, Anne of Austria.

So often, I am not patient enough for classics. The language is different than what I am used to and the action takes a lot longer than a lot of modern books. In the end it is me that is the problem and not the book. Though my experience with Three Musketeer movies did not prepare me for this book, I did find some of the plot lines very interesting.  

There are actually four main characters in this story and their antics are amusing. All four of them have a strong bromance even though some of their actions would not be considered heroic. Through the book we follow a series of plots that are somewhat interconnected and each new thread picked up just as the last one was losing my interest. The audiobook definitely helped me get through this book and still enjoy it. 

However, Dumas meanders in many different directions throughout the story and a lot of our "heroes" actions are rather selfish and immoral. I wasn't exactly impressed since my impressions as a child put the Musketeers on the same level with Robin Hood. Overall, I think the book could have been trimmed down a bit by being less repetitive and more concise, but the action and adventure was fun to read.I enjoyed some of the plot lines, but I was annoyed that women were either in need of saving or were villains. All the things that annoyed me about this novel were combined when we spent four or five chapters following a women's every move in a jail cell. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Top Ten Books On My Fall TBR List

Though I have made this list of ten books for Top Ten Tuesday, I doubt I will finish all of these by the end of the year let alone in the next three months! Last year I did this same post and I only read two books from that post! That is my record so we shall see if we can beat it.

7728889The Hate U Give 28260587

6587387 26542535 20443235

30319101 20764879 25810368

Friday, September 15, 2017

Review- Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

Genre: Biography
Age Group: Adult
Hardcover 818 pgs
Penguin Press (2004)
Add it// Buy it

Rating: 5/5

In the first full-length biography of Alexander Hamilton in decades, National Book Award winner Ron Chernow tells the riveting story of a man who overcame all odds to shape, inspire, and scandalize the newborn America. According to historian Joseph Ellis, Alexander Hamilton is “a robust full-length portrait, in my view the best ever written, of the most brilliant, charismatic and dangerous founder of them all.”Few figures in American history have been more hotly debated or more grossly misunderstood than Alexander Hamilton. Chernow’s biography gives Hamilton his due and sets the record straight, deftly illustrating that the political and economic greatness of today’s America is the result of Hamilton’s countless sacrifices to champion ideas that were often wildly disputed during his time. “To repudiate his legacy,” Chernow writes, “is, in many ways, to repudiate the modern world.” Chernow here recounts Hamilton’s turbulent life: an illegitimate, largely self-taught orphan from the Caribbean, he came out of nowhere to take America by storm, rising to become George Washington’s aide-de-camp in the Continental Army, coauthoring The Federalist Papers, founding the Bank of New York, leading the Federalist Party, and becoming the first Treasury Secretary of the United States.

Though I enjoy biographies, I don't think I would have found this one or enjoyed it as much without the Hamilton musical. I was deeply obsessed with the music when I originally borrowed the audiobook from Overdrive, but I picked up the physical book at Christmas when I couldn't finish 36 hours of audio in two weeks. Finally after many fits and starts I made it my mission to focus on this monster this summer. Unlike Angelica, I am completely satisfied. 

Hamilton's life is a whirlwind and completely captured my attention. He overcame tremendous odds to even make it to the American Colonies and it was a very interesting read. I really enjoyed the writing style and the narrator of the audiobook was fantastic. I did find myself skimming most of the sections about Hamilton's financial policies. They were a bit over my head and his personal as well as his political battles interested me much more. 

While some of the topics can be a little dry, the final few chapters detailing the duel and its aftermath had me in tears. Chernow does a fantastic job of weaving Hamilton's story through the many historical events he was at and connecting you to his life. I can highly recommend this to any fan of the musical as well as any history buff.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Bout of Books TBR (Round 20)

Happy Bout of Books! One of my favorite readathons is happening this week and I can't wait to read what I've picked out. I doubt I'll get a lot accomplished because life is very hectic right now, but I'm going to give it my best shot.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Review - Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs

Iron Kissed (Mercy Thompson, #3)
Series: Mercy Thompson #3
Genre: Paranormal 
Age Group: 
Mass Market: 287 pgs.
Ace - 2008 
Add it // Buy it 

Rating: 4/5

Mechanic Mercy Thompson can shift her shape - but not her loyalty. When her former boss and mentor is arrested for murder and left to rot behind bars by his own kind, it's up to Mercy to clear his name, whether he wants her to or not.

Mercy's loyalty is under pressure from other directions, too. Werewolves are not known for their patience, and if Mercy can't decide between the two she cares for, Sam and Adam may make the choice for her...

Trigger Warning: Rape, Date Rape, Drugging.

Does every paranormal series hit its stride with book three? If so, I'll go back to a couple I haven't continued. Paranormal series can be a bit formulaic, but so far Briggs has kept things interesting and surprised me many times. I really enjoy the way she sets up her stories. She continues to build up the rules of this world by expanding Mercy's circle from werewolves and vampires to the very dangerous fae.

I'm absolutely addicted to the fast pace of these books and I love how trim they are. Even though they are just 300-400 pages, nothing is missing. There is a fantastic amount of action and I've become very attached to all the characters. One thing I like, especially compared to the Kate Daniels Series, is the relatively small cast of characters.

Briggs expanded her characters and her world once again in this installment and I've been completely hooked. Though many of the elements have been used before, this series is fresh interesting and original. I can't wait for more.

My Last Review---> Captive Prince by C.S. Pacat

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Bookshelf Tour (Part 1)

For ages I've wanted to publish a bookshelf tour like I did for my TBR shelf. It took a lot more work to capture all these books! I'm excited to bring you part one today and you will see the next installment soon!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Review - Captive Prince by C.S. Pacat

Captive Prince (Captive Prince, #1)
Series: Captive Prince #1
Genre: Fantasy
Age Group: Adult (Mature) 
Paperback - 314 pgs
Berkley - January 2014
Source - Library 

Rating - 3/5 

Trigger Warnings: Rape, physical abuse, torture, pedophilia.

Damen is a warrior hero to his people, and the rightful heir to the throne of Akielos, but when his half brother seizes power, Damen is captured, stripped of his identity, and sent to serve the prince of an enemy nation as a pleasure slave.

Beautiful, manipulative and deadly, his new master Prince Laurent epitomizes the worst of the court at Vere. But in the lethal political web of the Veretian court, nothing is as it seems, and when Damen finds himself caught up in a play for the throne, he must work together with Laurent to survive and save his country.

For Damen, there is just one rule: never, ever reveal his true identity. Because the one man Damen needs is the one man who has more reason to hate him than anyone else

There a lot of mixed reviews about this book. I come down somewhere in the middle of it all. I see why this story is highly criticized but it did keep me engaged and interested to see where else this story will go. I kept turning the pages because the characters are so well developed and have a lot of layers to them. Laurent seems irredeemable at this point, but I want to know what happens to Damen and the hype around this series has me interested enough to continue reading.

The trigger warnings I mentioned are not given lightly. This story is intense to read. I don't think I quite knew what I was getting when I started it. Slavery permeates across this world and every culture has slaves. It took me about half the book to really wrap my mind around the world and customs Pacat created. I wasn't looking for romance in this first installment, but I wasn't expecting the brutality either.

I've spent a lot of time thinking about this book and how complicated my feelings are about it. On one hand I found the characters fascinating and the complex political situation that played out in this story made me read this story in a day. Several months later I'm still disgusted by parts of this and enthralled by others. 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

If We Were Having Coffee

Since I've hit a blogging slump again, I thought I would try out this post I've had on my list for ages. Jamie from The Perpetual Pageturner has a series called If We Were Having Coffee. I love this series and I've always meant to write one of these for my own blog. So here is my first crack at it!

If we were having coffee...I'd tell you I'm thirteen books ahead on my Goodreads Challenge and right on track to read 40,000 pages in 2017. This summer has been amazing stretch of reading for me and I've plowed through quite a number of books. Right now I'm listening to Norse Gods by Neil Gaiman and finding the audiobook quite addictive.

If we were having coffee...I'd tell you my vacation in Cape May was gorgeous and I've had trouble staring at a computer since. The beach house we rented had finicky WIFI and my cell service was terrible. Hence, I was cut off from most of the world's news and social media for a whole week. Since I returned to Pennsylvania, I've had a hard time doing technology things. My brain is still in vacation and disconnected mode.

If we were having coffee...I'd mention I'm having trouble keeping up with everything. On top of adding a new, larger library selection to my Overdrive (I joined the Free Library of Philadelphia recently and so should you if you live in PA), I also discovered Hoopla thanks to a friend. Right now I am overwhelmed with choices and I've borrowed a lot in the past few weeks. Hopefully I actually finish most of this, but right now I'm feeling stretched thin.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Tome Topple/Beach Weekend TBR

It seems like I just returned from vacation, but my friends and I have an annual tradition of doing a girl's beach weekend. This year it falls right at the beginning of the Tome Topple Readathon. So my plan is to kick off this readathon in a serious way by hitting the beach and reading ALL day. However, I have a few more things on my TBR than just Tome Topple books. Check it out to see what I'll be reading!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Top Ten Things I've Been Doing to Avoid Writing Blog Posts

I'll be honest. Over the past few months I've been really lazy here on the blog. Summer has been passing so quickly and I've been doing just about everything except working on blog posts. Mostly, I've gotten out of the habit of writing reviews and brainstorming posts.

What have I been doing you might ask? Well, let me tell you!

1) Reading (Glad this one made it to the list) 

2) Vacationing

3) Starting a Free Trial of Hulu

4) Staring at my books

5) Comparing Netflix and Hulu

6) Watching baseball games (Go Yankees!)

7) Making lists of reviews I need to write 
(then being scared stiff by the sheer number)

8) Giving my dog belly rubs

9)  Getting enough sleep

10) Anything and everything

So hopefully I'll be back working on my posts and get back in the habit of writing reviews too! Here's hoping that will work out!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Review - Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs

Blood Bound (Mercy Thompson, #2)
Series: Mercy Thompson #2
Genre: Paranormal
Age Group: Adult
Kindle Edition  - 335 pgs
Ace Books - 2007

Rating: 4.5/5

Mechanic Mercy Thompson has friends in low places - and in dark ones. And now she owes one of them a favor. Since she can shapeshift at will, she agrees to act as some extra muscle when her vampire friend Stefan goes to deliver a message to another of his kind. 
But this new vampire is hardly ordinary - and neither is the demon inside of him.

After the first book, I thought I had a good handle on how these books were going to go. As we all know, paranormal series tend to be a touch predictable and formulaic. And I like that! Blood Bound still had some of those elements, but its dark turn at the beginning took me by surprise. Mercy is a stronger character in this book and the cast of characters is more developed. I liked how we mainly focused on Mercy in this book with some asides about some romantic interests.

Briggs has a tendency to info dump on her readers, but I hope this will fade as the series goes along. Overall I like the world and how it has a twist on the traditional humans knowing/not knowing about magic. It makes the story interesting in other ways and forces Briggs to be creative about how things get done.

Mercy is relatable and believable. I like how she doesn't want to be treated like a weakling but knows her limits. I hope we continue to learn about her powers (I'm sure we will) and find some answers to that mystery. Really hoping Briggs doesn't stretch that bit out for ages. Will continue very soon! 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Review - Magic Stars by Ilona Andrews

 Magic Stars (Kate Daniels, #8.5, Grey Wolf, #1)
Series: Kate Daniels #8.5/Grey Wolf #1
Genre: Paranormal/Urban Fantasy
Age Group: Adult
NYLA - December 2015
Ebook -64 pgs

Rating- 5/5

Scarred, solitary Derek Gaunt has separated from his Pack, and is truly a lone wolf. With no family he answers to no one; but is fiercely loyal to a chosen few. So, when several of those close to him are murdered, he’ll stop at nothing to hunt their killer through the magic-drenched streets of Atlanta.

Never one to be left on the sidelines, equally determined—some might say stubborn—Julie Lennart-Olsen soon joins in his pursuit; and what began as revenge turns into a race to save the city. Their search pits them against powers they never imagined and magic so old, it predates history. It may cost Derek his life, but there are things for which even he would risk everything.

Honestly, I could read a million of these Derek and Julie adventures. Julie, like Kate, is smart, witty and knowledgeable. She can kick butt and outsmart her opponents. Derek complements her well and has a lot of experience and brute strength to balance their teamwork out. I like how this story follows the same basic format we see in the Kate Daniels Series and I am holding out hope we will see the two of them again after the Daniels Series finishes. There have been vague mentions of it on the authors' social media. Please please please give me the Julie and Derek adult romance right now!

The pacing and story structure are familiar like I mentioned, but it is on a condensed scale.  I enjoyed the plot line a lot and sincerely hope there are more to come. The novellas in this series are just as much fun as the full-length novels!

My Last Review---> Moon Called by Patricia Briggs