Friday, March 31, 2017

Review - Origin by Jennifer L. Armentrout


Series: Lux #4
Genre: Paranormal
Age Group
Paperback - 364 pgs
Entangled Publishing - August 2013

Rating: 4/5

Daemon will do anything to get Katy back.

After the successful but disastrous raid on Mount Weather, he’s facing the impossible. Katy is gone. Taken. Everything becomes about finding her. Taking out anyone who stands in his way? Done. Burning down the whole world to save her? Gladly. Exposing his alien race to the world? With pleasure.

All Katy can do is survive.

Surrounded by enemies, the only way she can come out of this is to adapt. After all, there are sides of Daedalus that don’t seem entirely crazy, but the group’s goals are frightening and the truths they speak even more disturbing. Who are the real bad guys? Daedalus? Mankind? Or the Luxen?

Together, they can face anything. 

This year is apparently the year I tackle the oldest books on my TBR shelf. First came Across a Star-Swept Sea; now I've taken on the fourth Lux book. I adore the first three books in this series. They are fantastic. The world is solid. I love the characters and the romance. I've put off this installment for literal years. 

Origin is packed with action, adventure and swoon-worthy moments. My favorite alien couple is holding their own again government agencies and doing their best to keep themselves safe. Though this isn't my favorite in the series, we get more answers in this installment which I appreciated. This does take the series to a whole new level of weird, but nothing Armentrout hasn't already laid the groundwork for or I considered out of the realm of possibilities. 

After the events of Opal Katy and Daemon are separated. Neither is handling it well, but I thought the author did a good job of creating the duel perspective in these first few chapters. The first three books are in Katy's POV (if you want Deamon's POV check out Origin) so this the first time we hear Deamon's opinions about anything that is going on. I enjoyed this immensely. 

I will say I was disappointed about where we left off. A few decisions at the end of the book grated on my nerves, but I am still invested and want to find out what happens next. (Because I have no idea where this is going!) Can't wait for more and now that I have a copy of Opposition that matches the rest of the books, I am highly motivated to pick it up. 

My Last Review ---> Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews

Thursday, March 30, 2017

March Wrap Up (2017)

Hey everyone! This month has been a little slow, but I did enjoy the books I read. Let me know the books you read in March and what you think of my recent reads.

Monday, March 27, 2017

End of Winter Favorites

Recently (i.e. the last six months) I haven't been doing many favorites posts or videos. I did make a Top Five Non-Bookish Favorites video for the recent Top Five Wednesday topic. However, I didn't cover all my normal topics and I still have a few new things I want to cover. I love a lot of things!

Book Favorite

 The Girl Who Drank the Moon

So far in 2017 I can say with confidence my favorite book has been The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill. This delightful middle-grade novel has stolen my heart after it took me by surprise in January. Obviously I've been pushing it on my friends ever since then and trying to get as many people as possible to read it. Check out my review! 

Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest. They hope this sacrifice will keep her from terrorizing their town. But the witch in the forest, Xan, is kind and gentle. She shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster named Glerk and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon, Fyrian. Xan rescues the abandoned children and deliver them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest, nourishing the babies with starlight on the journey.

One year, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight, filling the ordinary child with extraordinary magic. Xan decides she must raise this enmagicked girl, whom she calls Luna, as her own. To keep young Luna safe from her own unwieldy power, Xan locks her magic deep inside her. When Luna approaches her thirteenth birthday, her magic begins to emerge on schedule--but Xan is far away. Meanwhile, a young man from the Protectorate is determined to free his people by killing the witch. Soon, it is up to Luna to protect those who have protected her--even if it means the end of the loving, safe world she’s always known. 

Blog/Video Favorite
These last few months have been a bit slower on the blog front, but I like it this way. My brain isn't as scattered. I do a better job reading and writing about what I read. Anyway I do have a favorite post and video I've made recently. The first is my Valentine's Day post about my Top Ten Tuesday post on my Top Ten Couples/Ships. I really enjoyed writing this post and seeing the comments about those couples.

This month I've embarked on a mission to do a bookshelf tour of my TBR Bookshelf. I'm also hoping to do my regular bookshelf at some point. However, I've only posted one of the three videos so far. I am working on getting the other two posted A.S.A.P.

Image result for grace helbig not too deepRelated image

Random Favorite - Podcasts! 

 Throughout March I've barely read any books, but I have listened to a lot of podcasts. There are two I've been listening to the most. Stuff You Missed in History is a fascinating podcast about lesser know events and people in history. Not Too Deep with Grace Helbig is hilarious though I do pick and choose which guests I listen to.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

My Favorite Podcasts (TryPod)

This month I've been listening to a lot of podcasts. I've been neglecting my reading and listened to SO MANY podcasts. I'm hoping things will balance out in the future but I've been doing a lot of listening this month. These are my three favorites and I'd love to hear any suggestions you may have.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Review - Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews

Magic Shifts (Kate Daniels, #8)

Series: Kate Daniels #8
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Age Group: Adult
Source: Purchased used
Hardcover - 342 pgs
Ace Books - 2015

Rating - 4.5/5

After breaking from life with the Pack, mercenary Kate Daniels and her mate—former Beast Lord Curran Lennart—are adjusting to a very different pace. While they’re thrilled to escape all the infighting, Curran misses the constant challenges of leading the shapeshifters.

So when the Pack offers him its stake in the Mercenary Guild, Curran seizes the opportunity—too bad the Guild wants nothing to do with him and Kate. Luckily, as a veteran merc, Kate can take over any of the Guild’s unfinished jobs in order to bring in money and build their reputation. But what Kate and Curran don’t realize is that the odd jobs they’ve been working are all connected.

After Magic Breaks I was really excited for this series to shake things up a bit. I was tired of the Pack and I was tired of Roland. I wanted something different and the Andrews answered my prayers. While Roland and Pack business are involved in this book, we go back to basics. Kate and Curran hunt down something weird in Post-Shift Atlanta. I LOVED it. 

While most of my favorite side characters were missing from this installment, I liked spending time with just Kate and Curran. Obviously we had to lose some of the pack because Kate and Curran left. They needed it. Their relationship has been strained and, honestly after reading the description of the next book, I'm worried this is the calm before the storm. I just loved that we had a filler book here. After so much build up in previous books to meet the (anticlimactic) villain of the series, it was nice to spend time in Atlanta. 

Overall this book was just what the series needed in my opinion and I've already started the next book. This series is one of my favorites.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

February/March Book Haul

Should I just stop pretending I'll slow down my book buying? It seems I can get it down to four or five books each month, but if I dip below that my book buying surges back with a vengeance. Maybe I'll just stop fighting and stick with my lower than last year numbers. I'm still trying to lower that TBR though!

Books Mentioned:

Monday, March 20, 2017

Review- Spider Gwen Vol. 0 - Most Wanted?

 Spider-Gwen, Vol. 0: Most Wanted?
Series: Spider Gwen Issues #1-5
Genre: Superhero Comics
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: Library
Marvel - 2015
Paperback - 112 pgs

Rating - 2/5

IN ONE UNIVERSE, it wasn't Peter Parker who was bitten by the radioactive spider, but Gwen Stacy! She's smart, charming and can lift a car ... just don't tell her father, the police chief. Now, in the wake of Spider-Verse, Gwen swings into her own solo adventures! And she soon finds herself between a rock and a hard place when the Vulture attacks, and NYPD Lieutenant Frank Castle sets his sights on bringing her down. Then, still haunted by Peter's death, Gwen visits his only family: Ben and May Parker. But what really happened the day Peter died? Find out right here as the spectacular Spider-Gwen steals not only the spotlight, but also the hearts of comic fans worldwide!

Well, I can say I enjoyed the art, and I liked Gwen's outfit.

The rest was not so good. I am so disappointed by this. It sounded cool. It looked cool! UGH! Overall, this lacked focus and context. I expected some confusion. I knew I was jumping into the middle of a story. However, I think it was a mistake to throw readers into the middle of 50 different plot lines without an origin story. #confusing

Also as I mentioned in my February Wrap Up, because the authors named this collection Volume 0. It made me think this would be a precursor for things to come. I believe, incorrectly, this would be an origin story or introduction. Instead, we are plopped in the middle of a lot of plot lines. #NotAFan

I did like Gwen and her band is kickass. I am going to continue the series, but I was less than impressed with these first few issues.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

TBR Bookshelf Tour #1 (Top Shelf)

While many people have done bookshelf tours, I took a less conventional approach. I decided to go shelf by shelf on my TBR shelf then I hope to go over my normal bookshelf soon. This shelf is the one I film in front of and it is the most accessible. Let me know what you think of any of these books or which ones I should put at the front of the list.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Review - Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier


Series: Sevenwaters #1
Genre: Fantasy
Age Group: Classed as YA (I would put it between YA and adult)
Source: Purchased Used
Hardcover - 455
Tor Books - 1999

Rating: 3.5/5

Lovely Sorcha is the seventh child and only daughter of Lord Colum of Sevenwaters. Bereft of a mother, she is comforted by her six brothers who love and protect her. Sorcha is the light in their lives, they are determined that she know only contentment. 

But Sorcha's joy is shattered when her father is bewitched by his new wife, an evil enchantress who binds her brothers with a terrible spell, a spell which only Sorcha can lift-by staying silent. If she speaks before she completes the quest set to her by the Fair Folk and their queen, the Lady of the Forest, she will lose her brothers forever. 

When Sorcha is kidnapped by the enemies of Sevenwaters and taken to a foreign land, she is torn between the desire to save her beloved brothers, and a love that comes only once. Sorcha despairs at ever being able to complete her task, but the magic of the Fair Folk knows no boundaries, and love is the strongest magic of them all...

Right off the bat I want to mention that there are several trigger warnings for this book. Number one being an explicit and violent rape scene. Also there are several instances where a depressed character contemplates and attempts suicide. Both of these scenes are early on in the story..

There are a lot of elements of this story I did enjoy. The setting is beautiful. I loved Sorcha's character and her strong bond with her brothers. There is a nice slow burn romance involved which is very well done. Overall I enjoyed the story and the characters and this retelling of the Celtic swan myth/fairytale is beautiful. I really enjoyed the crossover of the swan myth and the fae elements. Sorcha's pain comes across in a very real way and I felt her anxiety saving her brothers very strongly. 

However, the very beginning of this book is like molasses. The plot is very slow to start and there is a lot of info dumping about the world and characters. I had a really hard time making my way through it. While I thought the writing was beautiful, it is very repetitive and drawn out at times. The end of the story completes Sorcha's story, but leaves several other plot lines open. 

I was also a little disturbed the rape scene was so explicit and descriptive while depictions of consensual sex were glossed over and practically excluded from the story. This bothered me a lot and I have a hard time reflecting on the book without wondering why this was the case. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Reasons to Decrease My TBR

Over the course of 2017 I am diligently working to reduce my TBR. I am trying to buy fewer books, be more conscious of the books I choose to buy and weeding out books on my TBR shelf I am no longer interested in. Check out a few reasons why I'm trying to do this.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Top Ten Books On My Spring TBR

Honestly I never accomplish these lists. I make them and try to read everything on them, but I always fail. Broke and the Bookish keep tempting me with this topic though! However, I did just make a list of some books I want to read by June 30th. So I'm going to pick ten from that list to focus on this spring. Cross your fingers for me!

30319101 Ungodly (Goddess War, #3) Curtsies & Conspiracies (Finishing School, #2) 

 Homegoing The Invasion of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling, #2) Code (Virals, #3)

The Red Pyramid (Kane Chronicles, #1) The Winner's Crime (The Winner's Trilogy, #2) The Immortal Heights (The Elemental Trilogy, #3) 

A Natural History of Dragons (The Memoirs of Lady Trent #1)

 My Last Top Ten Tuesday---> Top Ten Ships and Couples

Monday, March 13, 2017

Review - The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

Series: Star-Touched Queen Companion Series #1
Genre: Fantasy
Age Group: Young adult
Source: Purchased
Hardcover - 342 pgs

Rating - 3/5

Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…

But Akaran has its own secrets—thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most…including herself. 
Overall, I think this book suffered from too much hype. The story was good, the characters were good and the writing was good, but nothing stood out as exceptional. I found the Indian culture interesting and enjoyed the vivid world the author created. I also really enjoyed the Hades/Persephone parallels throughout the book. 

However, I was frustrated Maya spent most of the book wandering (or being ordered) from room to room in a giant palace. While I enjoyed the descriptive writing, it slowed down the plot and made the book drag especially when there were long gaps between the action-y parts. 

These long pauses and the wandering around the castle made it hard for me to connect to Maya. Throughout the book I felt distant from her and had a hard time following the logic of her decisions. Though I ended up enjoying the romance in this story it felt a little too contrived and was insta-love (even though it makes sense in this book). It worked in the end, but it took me a while to get over how quickly that happened. His one liners are gold though.

Overall it felt a lot like A Court of Thorns and Roses (especially at the end) and Cruel Beauty (third party) to me. There are different elements and the characters are different, but in essentials it boils down to a very similar story.

PS: I loved Kamala to bits. I hope we see her again.

Friday, March 10, 2017

#FridayReads (March 10, 2016)

Yesterday was a beautiful morning so I filmed a quick update while my puppy ran around and enjoyed the warm weather.

Review - Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund

Series: For Darkness Shows the Stars (Final)
Genre: Sci-Fi Dystopian
Age Group - Young Adult
Source - Purchased
Balze+Bray - 2013

Rating -  4/5

Centuries after wars nearly destroyed civilization, the two islands of New Pacifica stand alone, a terraformed paradise where even the Reduction—the devastating brain disorder that sparked the wars—is a distant memory. Yet on the isle of Galatea, an uprising against the ruling aristocrats has turned deadly. The revolutionaries’ weapon is a drug that damages their enemies’ brains, and the only hope is rescue by a mysterious spy known as the Wild Poppy.

On the neighboring island of Albion, no one suspects that the Wild Poppy is actually famously frivolous aristocrat Persis Blake. The teenager uses her shallow, socialite trappings to hide her true purpose: her gossipy flutternotes are encrypted plans, her pampered sea mink is genetically engineered for spying, and her well-publicized new romance with handsome Galatean medic Justen Helo… is her most dangerous mission ever.

Though Persis is falling for Justen, she can’t risk showing him her true self, especially once she learns he’s hiding far more than simply his disenchantment with his country’s revolution and his undeniable attraction to the silly socialite he’s pretending to love. His darkest secret could plunge both islands into a new dark age, and Persis realizes that when it comes to Justen Helo, she’s not only risking her heart, she’s risking the world she’s sworn to protect.

There is going to be a lot of fangirl in this review. I adore For Darkness Shows the Stars. As a futuristic space retelling of Persuasion, which never gets the spotlight, I had high expectations and it surpassed them. Now, several years later, I read the companion. It surpasses all my hopes and dreams and might even beat out the first book. 

The writing is absolutely brilliant once again. Peterfreund really improved her explanation of the Reduction in this book and built a completely different culture from the same roots as Darkness. The essentials were similar to book one but this world was vibrant, colorful, and futuristic. It was a huge contrast to Darkness and showed me how skilled Peterfreund is at world building.

Now I must talk about the characters. I loved watching Persis analyze and pick apart important details while she pretended to be silly and ignorant. This was brilliantly done and Perefreund introduced a complex and strong-willed female main character. The romance between Persis and Justen was built and cultivated throughout this book. It worked really well and I only wish there was more story to read about these two. 

I have another Scarlet Pimpernel retelling on my shelf and I am now anxious to read it. 

My Last Review ---> The Girl Who Drank the Moon

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

T5W -Top Science-Fiction and Fantasy #BooktubeSFF Babbles

This week Top Five Wednesday and the Booktube SFF Awards are crossing over for a topic no one can resist. Top Five Favorite Science-Fiction and Fantasy Titles!! Yay and also Noooooo! This topic was super difficult to narrow down. Check out my video to see which ones I chose.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Review - The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

The Girl Who Drank the Moon
Series: Standalone
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Purchased
Age Group: Middle Grade (Recommended for everyone)
Ebook- 368

Rating: 5/5

Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest. They hope this sacrifice will keep her from terrorizing their town. But the witch in the forest, Xan, is kind and gentle. She shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster named Glerk and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon, Fyrian. Xan rescues the abandoned children and deliver them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest, nourishing the babies with starlight on the journey. 

One year, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight, filling the ordinary child with extraordinary magic. Xan decides she must raise this enmagicked girl, whom she calls Luna, as her own. To keep young Luna safe from her own unwieldy power, Xan locks her magic deep inside her. When Luna approaches her thirteenth birthday, her magic begins to emerge on schedule--but Xan is far away. Meanwhile, a young man from the Protectorate is determined to free his people by killing the witch. Soon, it is up to Luna to protect those who have protected her--even if it means the end of the loving, safe world she’s always known.

This story was absolutely delightful. After hearing this book won the Newberry Award Medal, it was on my radar, but I picked it up without knowing much more about it.

The writing was beautiful and brilliant. The pacing is fast but manageable. I was hooked from the beginning and quickly breezed through the first half of the book without putting it down. Barnhill created a solid fantasy for kids without writing down for kids or oversimplifying the story. The story touches on mental health, grief, politics, corruption, adoption as well as truth and memory. Luna's story is right on the cusp between a children's story and middle-grade, but it was delightful to read as an adult too. It is touching and I enjoyed the story very very much

From the first chapter this story was a surprise. The character are morally grey. No one is totally good or evil. Each character has redeeming qualities and pitfalls to grapple with. I loved how Barnhill set up the story and how each perspective had something essential to add. Not only are the characters morally grey, so is the magic and how people view it. I really enjoyed how people and events were examined from many different points of view.

While the book was for kids, it wasn't written down to young audiences. The author didn't avoid complex subjects and included tough subjects that I've seen others skip over. This was excellent.