Friday, August 30, 2013

Upcoming September Releases

Lots of September books this year, and my birthday is right in the middle... so books for me!  The ones I'm wishing for the most are:

  • The Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White
    • I'm so excited for this book because it's about Egyptian mythology.  I love mythology retellings in general, but I tend to only read ones centered on Greek myths.  This sounds like a great book and a nice change.
  • The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas
    • Fantasy is my favorite genre, especially if there's an element of magic to it.  This new series looks like a perfect match for me.
  • The 100 by Kass Morgan
    • A nice mix of sci-fi and dystopian, and it's being made into a TV show.  I'm hoping to read it before the show comes out, and fortunately it's not starting til mid-season so I have plenty of time.
  • Antigoddess by Kendare Blake
    • Like I said earlier, I love mythology retellings.  Despite reading so much Greek-based retellings, I never get tired of it.
  • Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis
    • I'm a sucker for dystopian novels, even though they can drain you.  This one's very survival-oriented, set in a world where water is a rare and precious commodity, and people will kill over a small pond.
  • Starry Nights by Daisy Whitney
    • This just sounds like a cute, magical book.  It's about paintings coming to life, and a guy who falls in love with a girl trapped in a painting.
  • The Falconer by Elizabeth May
    • I don't read a lot of steampunk, even though I've enjoyed the little I have read.  This new series looks like it will be exciting and fun to read.
  • Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
    • First, it's Brandon Sanderson.  Second, it's super heroes.  That's enough for me.
  • All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill
    • I actually already own the ARC of this book (thanks BEA!), and I've only been hearing good things about it from my fellow bloggers.  I'm really hoping I like it as much as they do.
  • The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
    • This is another book I already picked up at BEA, and I wasn't even going to read it originally.  The first book in the series, Raven Boys, wasn't impressing me, but then I read that last line, and I knew I HAD to read The Dream Thieves.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday (37) - Most Memorable Secondary Characters

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week's topic is about memorable secondary characters.  There are so many amazing secondary characters out there.  I can't believe I can only choose TEN.  But I did, and here they are.

Top Ten Most Memorable Secondary Characters

  • Neville Longbottom and Severus Snape from The Harry Potter series
    • There are so, SO many good secondary characters from this series, but these two stand out to me as the best.  Neville is amazing because he starts out incredibly timid and self-conscious, and then he blossoms into a hero.  Severus also turns out to be an incredibly deep, complex character who surprises everyone in the end.
  • Hassan from An Abundance of Katherines
    • I would read an entire book just about Hassan.  He's funny and irreverent; he has no problem smacking some sense into his best friend; and he's way less whiny than all the other characters in the book.
  • Captain Thorne from Scarlet
    • I love the addition of Captain Thorne to the Lunar Chronicles.  He added just the right amount of humor to the series, and I can't wait to read more about him.
  • Haymitch from The Hunger Games trilogy
    • Of all the people in the series, I think Haymitch is the most real.  He's not a hero; he doesn't show fake sympathy; he doesn't say meaningless fluff to cheer up Katniss or Peeta; and he's actually really smart when he's not drunk.
  • Squijum from The Unicorn Chronicles
    • I love Squijum purely for his ridiculous cuteness.  He's pretty much only in the series to provide both a comic relief and an annoying sidekick, but he's the one you remember.  If I could have a pet Squijum, I would.
  • Nico di Angelo from the Percy Jackson series
    • Nico is another character who gained a lot of depth and character throughout a series.  He changed from a whiny little kid to an interesting nemesis to a powerful ally.  I'm especially interested to see what kind of a role he plays in the next book, The House of Hades.
  • Calcifer from Howl's Moving Castle
    • I'm definitely cheating here and picking this character based on both the book and movie version.  His sarcasm is honestly what I love the most about him, and in the movie, he's voiced by Billy Crystal, who does a perfect job bringing Calcifer to life.
  • Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride
    • Once again, I'm basing this choice on both the book & the movie.  Inigo Montoya is such a great character; I think I like him the most of all.  His dedication to avenging his father, as well as his friendship with Fezzick, gives him great depth.  And who doesn't love quoting him? "My name is Inigo Montoya.  You killed my father.  Prepare to die."
  • Faramir from The Lord of the Rings
    • Like Harry Potter, this series has tons of amazing secondary characters, but as I'm not including anyone in the fellowship as secondary, I have to pick Faramir as my favorite.  Besides having great emotional depth, he also has an interesting backstory that shapes who he is and the decisions he makes throughout the books.
And there you have it.  Sorry I was lazy and didn't provide any links to Goodreads.  I will next time; I promise.  But I was in a rush to get this done, since I've fallen behind on my blogging (stupid wisdom teeth).  What do you think?  Anyone here you agree or disagree with?  Anyone you'd like to add?  Who are some of your favorite secondary characters?

Book Blogger Hop - August 23rd to 29th

Book Blogger Hop is a weekly meme hosted at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer.  There's a new prompt each week to encourage bloggers to meet new bloggers, learn about new books, and gain followers for their own blogs.

This week's prompt:  Book blogging is more than just reading.  Who helped you set up or run your blog?  Or did you do it all yourself?

I've done everything with my blog by myself.  Before starting this blog, I'd had a little experience with online journaling, thanks to my silly high school Livejournal account.  And I had a little background in html because my friends and I used to have our own Lord of the Rings fansites on angelfire back in 2001-2002 (and they still exist apparently; feel free to visit mine and see what a fangirl I was).

But even if I hadn't used Livejournal or known html, I still would have been fine setting up my blog because Blogger's formatting is so easy.  Maybe if I'd started on Wordpress or hosted my own blog, I would have asked for help.  But since Blogger is so easy to use, I've done everything on my own.

Personal Update - August 27th

A few days ago, I said that I was expecting to have my wisdom teeth removed within the next few weeks.  But things never turn out the way you plan.  When I explained to the oral surgeon that my family was leaving over the weekend for a two-week vacation so I wasn't sure when I'd be able to make the appointment for the actual surgery, he decided that the best thing to do was perform the surgery that afternoon.  Which meant I had to figure out who was coming to pick me up because my family was in NYC that day, and who was going to pick up my brother since we commute together.  It all worked out in the end, and all four of my wisdom teeth were removed that afternoon.

What this meant was that Friday afternoon, Saturday, and part of Sunday were spent dozing through TV shows and movies. And because I spent so much time passed out, I'm really behind on both my reading and blogging.  I will eventually get caught up again, but it'll probably mean that I'll either be posting like a fiend over the next few days, or I'm just going to post things late (like my Top Ten Tuesday might not get posted til Thursday).

So that's the latest with me.  I'm finally past all the pain and puffiness, and am now playing catch-up.  Things I hope to accomplish now:

  • Book Blogger Hop from August 23rd
  • This week's Top Ten Tuesday
  • Finish and review The Lost Kingdom by Matthew Kirby
  • Update my TBR list and blog page.
  • Promote my first-ever giveaway, ending this Friday.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Blog Tour - Stonefly by Scott J. Holliday

I'm so excited because I have the tour for Stonefly by Scott J. Holliday today.  I'm psyched to be participating in my first ever blog tour, sharing my review of this great book and hosting a giveaway!

Title:  Stonefly
Author:  Scott J. Holliday
Genre:  Fantasy/Thriller
Series:  Jacob Duke #1
Publisher:  Haley Road Publishing
Pages:  327
Acquired via:  Blog tour!


Synopsis from  Jacob Duke has come back to Braketon­—a sleepy, backwoods town bordering Dover, the mental institution where he spent his formative years. Jacob's intention is to enjoy Braketon's woods and water for the first time as a free man, but he soon discovers that Dover isn't through with him yet. Driven by a curse that compels him to grant any wish he hears, Jacob is drawn back into his disturbing former life by a young boy's desire to see his own father dead.

Complicating things are Lori Nelson, Jacob's friend-with-benefits who continues to put new boyfriends in his path, and Motown, Jacob's friend from his years at Dover, who carries a secret that rocks Jacob's foundation and makes him question his own morality

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Stonefly is an exciting, tense read that kept me on the edge of my seat.  Its characters and setting were great, but it was the concept that really intrigued me.  I love books like this one, with a unique idea, lots of suspense, and a sarcastic narrator.

What I Loved
  • The whole concept
    • The idea of having no choice but to grant any wish a person makes, even if it seems wrong or impossible to do?  That's so crazy.  I don't know how I'd be able to handle that.  I think this whole idea was brilliant.  It leads to lots of questions about morality and responsibility and consequences.
    • I expected this story to be really dark and possibly creepy based on the concept and a few reviews I'd read, but it ended up being lighter than I expected.  That's not to say it wasn't dark; it definitely was.  But it balanced the dark edge with the perfect amount of sarcasm and lighter moments.
  • The male protagonist
    • The majority of the books I've read recently all feature a female lead.  And the few books I've read with a male lead are YA, so the guy's in his teens.  It was a refreshing change to read something from a grown man's point-of-view.
    • One of the most interesting aspects of Jacob is that he's deaf.  I've never read a book before where the main character was deaf, and it was cool to see how someone who can't hear copes and how it can handicap him.  It also definitely added to the overall suspense.  Since Jacob can't hear, you can't "hear" what's coming either.
  • The suspense
    • Stonefly is incredibly suspenseful.  I couldn't put the book down.  There's so much tension; I was actually concerned that the final climax wouldn't live up to all of the build-up, but it was exciting and satisfying.
    • The book was really creative at building up the story and filling in the blanks in the form of "flashbacks."  Jacob's life gets filled in a little at a time, which not only gives him great character development, but also made me want to keep reading.  Each new piece of information about Jacob was a like a clue to who he was and how he might handle the craziness in his life.
  • The setting
    • The book takes place in a little town, but a majority of the flashbacks are set in the mental institution that Jacob spends most of his teen years in.  The setting of the institution was just another interesting facet of the story.  It gave insight into what it was like to live for years in a place like that, surrounded by people who are suffering from various forms of mental illness.
I will add that the only reason this book didn't get 5 cupcakes is because of the profanity and sexual references.  The profanity isn't excessive or extreme; there was just too much for my taste.  And I felt that some of the sexual references were unnecessary.

I'm really looking forward to the next book in the series.  Finding out more about Jacob and his curse and where he goes next; I'm hoping that even more mysteries will be answered and if the curse changes Jacob, his life, and his ideas of morality.

The Giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Personal Update - August 22nd

I discovered this week that wisdom teeth are evil... yes, evil.  Apparently, one of my wisdom teeth is infected, which explains the hellish pain I've been experiencing for the past two days.  And of course, there's a whole process involved in getting rid of them.  I need to visit an oral surgeon for a consultation, and then my insurance has to approve the "extraction", and once it's approved, then I can set up an appointment for it to actually happen.

What does this mean for my blog?  Fortunately my dentist did give me antibiotics and prescription-strength Ibuprofen, so for right now, everything is okay on the blogging front.  But when I do finally get these stupid teeth removed, I might take a vacation from... well, anything requiring more than couch potato brain power.  Because I've been told that it's pretty painful, and I don't think I'll really be all that concerned with blogging if my face is swollen and my jaw's in pain.

All of this is to say -  Don't be surprised if in a week or two (or three, depending on how busy my oral surgeon is), my poor blog suddenly seems neglected.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday (36) - Things that Make Blogging/Reading Easier

(Such a crazy, stressful day at work so far.  Time to take a break and finally write this meme.)  Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week's topic is things that make your life as a reader/blogger easier.

Top Ten Things That Make My Life as a Reader & Blogger Easier

  1. My sister & my coworker  -  Whenever I'm struggling with a review or trying to figure out how I feel about a book, I will talk it out with my sister or my coworker or both.  Usually, neither one of them has read the book, but they're always willing to listen and give advice, or just let me talk at them until I figure out what I want to say in my review.
  2. My parents  -  I am extremely fortunate to have parents that are not only very supportive, but also forgiving.  My room is a mess of books.  They're stuffed wherever they'll fit, piled on every flat surface available, and stacked in towers on the floor.  Even though they are forever "threatening" to kick me out if I bring home any more books, my parents still haven't yet (and I keep bringing home more and more books).  Even crazier - it was my mom who told me that I should have brought a suitcase to BEA in order to get more books.
  3. Other book bloggers  -  My fellow book bloggers are awesome, because they're a super-supportive community, and reading their reviews helps me make up my mind about whether to add a book to my TBR pile.  If a lot of bloggers dislike a book, they've just saved me from wasting my time on it.
  4. Goodreads  -  I love being able to keep track of the books I've read (including pre-blogger reads) in one place, as well as all the books I own.  I also almost never pick up a book now without reading about it on Goodreads first.  And I use it to get all my cover images and book blurbs for my reviews.
  5. Fotor  -  Before I discovered Fotor, I was making collages and banners using my computer's Paint application.  It was extremely time-consuming, and the images never looked as nice as I wanted them to.  Fotor is my go-to place now for making fun collages for TTTs and other posts.
  6. Amazon  -  I wish I could put my library on this list, but it's terrible.  And our interlibrary loan system is okay, but there are certain rules that are annoying.  So what usually happens is - I buy all my books.  And Amazon has almost every book out there, and the prices are amazing.  I used to be all about Barnes & Noble, but Amazon has better prices, I don't have to drive 30-40 minutes to the nearest store, and thanks to Amazon Prime, I get my books within a day or two of ordering them.
  7. Twitter  -  I resisted Twitter for a long time.  I couldn't see what all the fuss was about.  Now that I'm using it, I get why people love it.  And it's one of the best ways I've found to promote my blog.  (And to go along with this, tinyurl has been a great tool as well, helping me keep my tweets at 140 characters.)
  8. Excel spreadsheets  -  I would like to thank all of the bloggers I talked to at BEA who said they kept spreadsheets of their TBR lists.  I originally thought that was kind of extreme, but it's been really helpful in keeping me organized.
  9. Bloglovin'  -  I never had Google Reader, and I only recently discovered Bloglovin'.  Which meant that I followed blogs either through email (my inbox was constantly flooded, especially on Tuesdays) or by bookmarking the website and visiting it about once a day to see if there was a new post.  Then people started talking about Google Reader discontinuing and what alternatives to use, and Bloglovin' came up, so I figured I'd check it out.  I'm obsessed with it now.  Not only can I keep track of all the blogs I'm following on one page, but it's also the best way for finding brand new blogs to follow. 
  10. Blogger  -  And of course, I wouldn't be able to do any of this blogging at all if it wasn't for the Blogger platform.  Since my html/CSS code knowledge is minimal or mostly forgotten, when I started, I wasn't brave enough to try Wordpress or to host my own blog.  Blogger is super-easy to use, and the longer I've used it, the more I've been able to do with it.
And those are some of the things that help make my reading & blogging life easier.  How about you?  What makes your life as a reader and/or blogger easier?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Random Thoughts - Reading Nooks

I've always wanted a reading nook.  Someplace that was specifically set up for reading (like the above pic), or that was my own personal corner to read in.  As of right now, living in my parents' house, I'm pretty limited to where I can read.  The place I read the most often is my bed.  I don't own a chair to curl up in, and we don't have window seats.  The couches in the family room are comfortable, but not private.  So really the only option is my bed.

When I (finally) get my own place, I'd like to imagine that it will have a pretty amazing window seat.  I think window seats are amongst the best places to read.  Besides being comfortable, with all those pillows (because of course my ideal window seat would have a ton of pillows), it will also have great natural light, a secluded feel, and (hopefully) a good view to distract you when a book gets to be too heady or emotional.

But realistically, I realize that the first place I move to will most likely be a rental, and, more importantly, cheap.  So there probably won't be a window seat and no option to put one in.  I'm just going to have to wait until I buy my first home/apartment, and then I will have my window seat.

Until then, I've decided to go with the next best thing.  I want a quiet little corner of my own to put in a comfy armchair and a lamp.  Preferably with a side table for my mug of tea (or coffee, depending on the time of day) and a snack.  Round it all out with a soft throw and a squishy pillow, and it's practically perfection.

Now do I currently have room for something like this in my room?  Absolutely not.  It would require a lot of furniture being moved around, or possibly getting thrown out.  But as soon as I'm fortunate enough (a.k.a. financially capable) to have my own place, creating a reading nook will be my top priority.

How about you?  Do you have someplace special where you do most of your reading - a window seat or specific chair?  Or do you read in bed, as I currently do?  Or do you just read wherever it's most convenient at the time?  I'd love to know.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Book Blogger Hop - August 16th

Book Blogger Hop is a weekly meme hosted at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer.  There's a new prompt each week to encourage bloggers to meet new bloggers, learn about new books, and gain followers for their own blogs.

This week's prompt:  Were you a born bookworm or somebody got you into the habit of reading?

The answer to that is yes and no.  I did enjoy reading when I was young, but I didn't branch out beyond my Little Golden books.  I had my pile of "little kid" books, and I didn't read anything meant for my age unless it was for school.  So I would stay up late at night and constantly re-read these books that were written for kids three or four years younger than me.  I did this until I was in fifth-grade.

My fifth-grade teacher is one of the main people I can credit with turning me into a rabid reader.  When it rained during recess, she would read aloud from books.  I remember the first one she picked was Climb or Die by Edward Myers.  I was on the edge of my seat by the end of every recess, practically begging for it to rain again the next day so I could find out whether or not the Darcy family survives.  I approached her one day during a break and told her how much I loved the story.  So she recommended some books for me to read on my own, including Little Women.  As soon as I got home, I pulled out the book and started reading, and that was it.  I was hooked.

How about you?  Are you a natural-born bookworm?  Or did someone, or some book, turn you into one?

Book Review: The Iron Queen by Kaitlin Bevis

Title:  The Iron Queen
Author:  Kaitlin Bevis
Genre:  YA mythology retelling
Series:  Daughters of Zeus #3
Publisher:  Musa Publishing
Format:  Ebook
Acquired via:  Purchased through iBooks


Synopsis from  Life is hell for Persephone. Zeus will stop at nothing to gain access to the living realm and the Underworld, and as the only living god with a right to both, Persephone’s in trouble. Captured and tortured beyond the limits of her resolve, Persephone must find the power to stand against Zeus. But will she be strong enough? 

Meanwhile, Hades contemplates desperate measures to rescue his queen. Persephone never thought of herself as dangerous, but there’s a reason gods never marry for love. A being with the power to destroy all of creation shouldn’t place more value in one individual than the rest of the planet. But Hades...Hades would break the world for her.
To save the world and stop both Hades and Zeus, Persephone must make a difficult choice. One that may cost her everything.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

You know I have to really love a series to be willing to read a book using an e-reader.  The Daughters of Zeus series is only available as an e-book, so I've been reading them on my iPod touch.  And as annoying as that is, this series is so worth it.

The Iron Queen is the third book of the Daughters of Zeus, and hopefully not the last.  I stayed up late to read this, because like the previous two books, once I started, I couldn't put it down.

What I loved
  • Different perspectives  -  The story was told from multiple perspectives, which I always love.  It adds more depth and fills the reader in on things happening elsewhere in the story.  The book switched between Persephone, Hades, and Aphrodite.  It was interesting to see how each character reacted to the situations around them.  It also provided more insight into their personalities as well.
  • Unexpected twists  -  There were definitely things that happened that I didn't see coming.  It's always refreshing when a story can take you by surprise.  The ending was also great because it wasn't a killer cliffhanger, but it did leave some things open so there could be more books. (Please let there be more books!)
  • Hades  -  Yes, I am going to gush like a silly fangirl here because I LOVE Hades.  He's currently at the top of my fictional crushes list because he's gorgeous, passionate, romantic, heroic... I could go on, but I will spare you.
  • New characters  -  I loved some of the new characters that were introduced.  Several of the other major Olympians make an appearance, such as Athena and Ares.  There were plenty of demigods and minor gods who got some attention as well.  At first, I was worried that adding so many new characters would make things confusing, but it actually enhanced the story.  I'm hoping that if there are more books that some of these characters come back.
  • Lots of movement and action  -  Just like the first two books of the series, this book had lots of action and a fast pace, which made for a quick but exciting read.  It kept me on the edge of my seat (bed), wanting to see what happened next.
  • Character development  -  Even though the book moved quickly, there was still time for character development.  Hades and Aphrodite especially got some great depth to their characters.  I still think Aphrodite is one of the most annoying people ever, but at least now she's a much less superficial character than before.
Greek mythology retellings are my favorite, especially Hades & Persephone's story, and this is one of the best adaptations I've read yet.  I'm really hoping for another book to this series because I do not want it to be over.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday (35) - Books Set in the Western & Southern US

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week's topic was about the top ten books set in a specific time or place.  As I was looking through my books, I realized that I read A LOT of fantasy, especially epic fantasy set in other worlds.  But I didn't want to have to pick ten from that list, so I looked for books with settings that I don't tend to read as much, and I found ten books set in the western and southern U.S.A. (four in the West and six in the South).

Top Ten Books Set in the Western & Southern U.S.

The West

The South

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A to Z Bookish Survey

Jamie, from the Perpetual Page-Turner, always has the coolest, most creative posts.  Her most recent was an awesome bookish survey she created.  And of course, I couldn't wait to do it for myself.  (Check out Jamie's answers here.)

uthor you’ve read the most books from:
According to goodreads, it's Georgette Heyer.  But I still haven't marked off all the books I've ever read, and I think I may have read more books by Janette Oke (I went through a phase in high school and read pretty much nothing but her books for months).

Best Sequel Ever:

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer.  I think Cinder is amazing, but the sequel surpasses it.  The addition of Scarlet and Wolf was perfect, and I loved them.

Currently Reading:

Drink of Choice While Reading:

When I actually remember to eat or drink while reading, I drink tea.  I think there's nothing better than a cup of tea with my book.

E-reader or Physical Book?

Physical books all the way.  I will only read a book with an e-reader if there is absolutely no other option.

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated In High School:

Based solely on the Heroes of Olympus series, I would totally have dated Percy Jackson in high school.

Glad You Gave This Book A Chance:

The Host by Stephenie Meyer.  I didn't think I'd like this book after the Twilight ridiculousness, but it's so good.

Hidden Gem Book:

Important Moment in your Reading Life:

There are so many good ones, but I'm going to pick one of the first ones.  My fifth grade teacher is one of the main people who helped me discover my love of reading.  She read to us aloud in class, and she suggested I read Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, which I fell in love with.

Just Finished:

Kinds of Books You Won’t Read:

I read most every genres, but I don't like to read horror or erotica.  I also avoid graphic violence or books where kids get abused.

Longest Book You’ve Read:

Major book hangover because of:

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.  So many tears, so many feels.

Number of Bookcases You Own:

Five actual bookcases and three wall shelves, as well as my desk, wardrobe, and tv stand.

One Book You Have Read Multiple Times:

I'm a major re-reader so I've read almost all of my books multiple times.  But most recently I re-read Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones for the umpteenth time.

Preferred Place To Read:

I mostly read in bed, because it's the only place I can read that's quiet.  But I wish I had a big comfy armchair or a window seat to curl up in.

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you’ve read:

"As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once" from The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.

Reading Regret:

A regret?  I guess my biggest regret is that I let a reading slump I was stuck in last for almost a year.  I wasted so much time watching TV and not reading, and now I feel like I'm playing catch-up with all the series and books out there.

Series You Started And Need To Finish(all books are out in series):

There are several, but the series that I've had sitting on my shelf the longest, unfinished is The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini.

Three of your All-Time Favorite Books:

Unapologetic Fangirl For:

Tolkien.  I love everything Tolkien-related.  His books, the movies, the games... everything.  I even had a Lord of the Rings fansite in high school.

Very Excited For This Release More Than All The Others:

There's quite a few I'm really excited about but the top three are The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson, Allegiant by Veronica Roth, and The House of Hades by Rick Riordan.

Worst Bookish Habit:

My worst habit is probably not returning my library books on time.  I'm always paying late fees.

X Marks The Spot: Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book:

Triss by Brian Jacques (Redwall #15).

Your latest book purchase:

ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY late):

Friday, August 9, 2013

Book Review: Keeper of Reign by Emma Right

Title:  Keeper of Reign
Author:  Emma Right
Genre:  Middle-grade fantasy
Series:  Keeper of Reign #1
Publisher:  Self-published through Telemachus Press
Pages:  340
Acquired via:  Review copy sent by publicist


Synopsis from  Sixteen year old Jules Blaze, heir of a Keeper, suspects his family hides a forgotten secret. It's bad enough that his people, the Elfies of Reign, triggered a curse which reduced the entire inhabitants to a mere inch centuries ago. All because of one Keeper who failed his purpose. Even the King's Books, penned with the Majesty's own blood, did not help ward off this anathema. Now, Gehzurolle, the evil lord, and his armies of Scorpents, seem bent on destroying Jules and his family. Why? Gehzurolle's agents hunt for Jules as he journeys into enemy land to find the truth. Truth that could save him and his family, and possibly even reverse the age-long curse. Provided Jules doesn't get himself killed first.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Keeper of Reign is the first book of a new fantasy series being marketed as young-adult.  I would definitely say that this seems like a book meant for middle-grade readers instead.  The main character, Jules, may be sixteen years old, but he sounds much more like a twelve-year-old.  I gave the book to my eleven-year-old sister to see what she thought, and she agreed that Jules sounded closer to her own age.

I really wanted to like this book more than I did.  I thought it had a great idea behind it, and it could have been an epic fantasy adventure.

What I liked
  • The pacing  -  This book is definitely fast-paced and full of action.  It made the book a quick read.  There weren't any moments where the story started to drag.
  • The world-building  -  I'll admit that there isn't a lot of world-building because there's so much action, but what's there is good.  I personally love when an author builds up their setting throughout the story, rather than write a detailed (and slow) history in one of the early chapters.  That's how the author handled the world-building here.  She kept adding in details and history of Reign during the story, so the more you read, the more you were able to visualize the setting.
  • The concept  -  I think the idea for this book is great.  A fantasy world where the different creatures are suffering from a curse that's shrunk them to the size of acorns.  An evil tyrant seeking to destroy the Keepers that can overthrow him.  The friend-turned-traitor who's torn between doing what's actually right and doing what feels right.  All of these are classic elements of a good fantasy adventure.
What I disliked
  • The formatting  -  The book is 340 pages long, and instead of it having twenty or thirty chapters, it's made up of 99 chapters.  Each chapter is between two to five pages long.  This set-up bothered me, because it made character development almost non-existent.  With chapters that short, there was only time for action.  This kind of book would be good for people who aren't big readers because they need constant movement to keep their attention.  My one sister, who isn't a big reader, said that this format of short, action-packed chapters would be better for her.
  • The melodrama & predictability  -  And with such short chapters, there was plenty of melodrama.  Each chapter had to end with a mini cliffhanger, which was unnecessary for me.  It just felt over-the-top at times, especially the last few chapters.  Also, certain aspects of the story were predictable; I could see them coming, and therefore, I felt no surprise at the plot twists.
  • The grammatical errors  -  Major pet peeve here.  I know I'm not perfect.  There may even be some errors/typos in this review.  But there's a big difference between a book and a blog entry/review.  I think it's way more important to triple-check for grammatical mistakes in a book.  One or two might not be so bad, but if there are multiple errors throughout the book, it distracts from the story.
  • The writing style  -  The writing tended to be choppy, and the dialogue was sometimes stilted and cliched.  Because of the choppiness, I got a little lost a few times and had to go back a page or two to see if I missed something.  Also, the little bit of character development that was there, especially of the secondary characters, was extremely short and abrupt.
I honestly wanted to love this book, but there were too many things that kept it from happening.  I think someone who isn't into reading epic fantasy with lots of detail would love this book.  It would keep their attention with its quick pace, short chapters, and constant action.  But I personally love those epic fantasy books like The Lord of the Rings, filled with lots of descriptions and details and character development.  If Keeper of Reign had focused more on the characters and less on the cliffhangers, I think it would have been a really good book.

Book Blogger Hop - August 9th

Book Blogger Hop is a weekly meme hosted at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer.  There's a new prompt each week to encourage bloggers to meet new bloggers, learn about new books, and gain followers for their own blogs.

This week's prompt:  If you don't like a book you said you would review, do you graciously turn it down and explain why or do you struggle through it and hopefully come up with a halfway decent review?

This question is actually relevant to a review I'm struggling with right now.  For the first time ever (for me), I was asked to review a book that has turned out to be less-than-amazing, and I never realized just how much guilt would accompany that.  I mean, I feel really bad that I didn't like the book and am now going to be writing a negative (but respectful) review.  If I'd simply purchased the book myself or borrowed it from the library, this wouldn't even be an issue.  I'd have no problem writing a negative review.  But since someone asked me review it, it's different.

And yet, I stated in my review policies that I would write honest reviews, even if they're negative.  So I'm going to write it anyway, but I'll make sure to point out the positive things in the book as well.  If a book I've been sent for review is SO terrible or offensive that I don't finish it, or if I dislike it and it's part of a blog tour, I'll contact the author/publicist and let them know how I feel about the book, without posting a review.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday (34) - Write a Sequel, Please!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week's topic is books you wish had sequels, either because you loved the world/setting or you loved the characters.  I did not think I would have such a hard time choosing books for this, but as I was thinking about it, I realized that I mostly read series.  So most of the books that I love already have sequels.   But I was able to pull together a list anyway, and here they are, as spoiler-free as possible:

Top Ten (Technically Twelve) Books I Wish Had Sequels

  • Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day by Winifred Watson
    • I love Miss Pettigrew and her adventures, and would love to see if her life changes even more the next day.  And perhaps part of the reason I want a sequel to this is because I want another movie with Lee Pace and Ciarian Hinds.
  • The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
    • There are two romances in this book that I loved, and I would love to read a book about the future for either one of them.
  • The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
    • Sean and Puck.  Races with man-eating horses.  Enough said.
  • The Princess Bride by William Goldman
    • So Goldman totally teases you by including the first chapter of the fake sequel "Buttercup's Baby."  Don't tease us!  Write it for real!
  • Arabella by Georgette Heyer
    • This book makes me laugh so much.  Arabella gets Beaumaris into so many hilarious situations, and I want to read about even more of them.  Plus, Robert Beaumaris is amazing.
  • An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
    • Colin's best friend Hassan is so funny and sarcastic and irreverent.  He's my favorite character, and I'd love a book just about him.
  • The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery
    • I actually prefer this book to Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables series.  I love Valancy's character, how she evolved into an outspoken, passionate person.  And I was always in love with Barney.  I want to see how things changed in their relationship after Barney's secret is revealed.
  • Robin McKinley's books  (So I cheated here, but all of her books need sequels)
    • Spindle's End  -  I love the world/setting, and the romances that develop.  Will anyone ever figure out the truth about Rosie?
    • Rose Daughter  -  Even though I prefer McKinley's other Beauty & the Beast adaptation, I'd still love to read more about Beauty's choice in the end, and whether or not she regrets it.
    • Chalice  -  The world in this book is amazing, and as much as I'd like to know more about Marisol and the Master, I'd be perfectly happy just to have another book with this same setting.
  • Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
    • I understand that there's no way they could write a sequel to this book.  But I still want to know more about what happens to Mr. & Mrs. de Winter.  They had to be deeply affected by everything that happened to them, and I'm curious as to how much it changed their future and their relationship.
  • Austenland by Shannon Hale
    • So technically, there's already a sequel to this book, but it focuses on a completely different character going to Austenland.  I want to know more about Jane Hayes and what happens to her after returning to NYC.
Sorry if there were anything even remotely spoilerish.  So what do you think?  Are there any here you agree with?  What books do you want sequels to?  Or what books do you hope are left as stand-alones?

Monday, August 5, 2013

Story Review: The Son of Sobek by Rick Riordan

Title:  The Son of Sobek
Author:  Rick Riordan
Genre:  YA mythology retelling/short story
Publisher:  Disney-Hyperion
Format:  E-book
Acquired via:  Purchased through iBooks


Synopsis from  In this audio e-book short story narrated by Rick Riordan, Carter Kane is investigating rumored sightings of a monster on Long Island when he runs into something else: a mysterious boy named Percy Jackson. And their meeting isn't exactly friendly. . . . Includes a sneak peek chapter from HOUSE OF HADES, Book Four in the Heroes of Olympus series.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I was waiting for this crossover to happen, and then it finally did, and now I am SO happy.  Even though I dislike ebooks, I caved and purchased The Son of Sobek, because the only print version is in the back of the paperback issue of The Serpent's Shadow.  Since I already own the hardcover, I wasn't buying the paperback just to get the short story.

The story was a quick, fun read for fans of the series.  Carter Kane and Percy Jackson end up meeting each other when they both set out to take care of the monster.  It was great to see the two series' lead characters interacting and fighting (with each other and with the monster).  It was told from Carter's perspective (which I'm hoping means that the next installment will be told from Percy's), and there's plenty of humor, sarcasm, and action.

I'm really looking forward to the next part to the story, although I have no idea when that will come out, as Riordan's got a lot on his plate right now (see below).  But whenever it finally is written, I will be reading it immediately.  (Sorry for the shortness of the review, but short stories = short reviews.)

Semi-related note:  Rick Riordan just posted some updates in his blog that I am so excited for.  The fourth book of the Heroes of Olympus series, The House of Hades, is coming out in October.  The final book will be released in the fall of 2014.  But what I'm most excited for?

In 2015, Riordan will be starting a new series centered around Norse mythology.  YAY!  Norse mythology rarely gets any attention, so it's always cool to find a book or series about it.  And it's going to be written by Riordan, one of my favorite authors.  With this new series, he will have covered Greek, Roman, Egyptian, and Norse mythology.  He's pretty much the king of middle-grade/YA mythology retellings.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Book Blogger Hop - August 2nd

Book Blogger Hop is a weekly meme hosted at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer.  There's a new prompt each week to encourage bloggers to meet new bloggers, learn about new books, and gain followers for their own blogs.

This week's prompt:  How do you turn down a review request?

Like my answer last week, I can split my response into two parts - pre-BEA and post-BEA.

Pre-BEA:  Before Book Expo America, I never had to worry about turning down a request... because I never got any.  I knew nothing about ARCs or review copies or contacting publishers (and I really should have, since my dad works for a publishing company & I did as well, briefly).  I thought all of those bloggers who were getting books earlier than the release date had met some mysterious requirements to be so privileged.  Now I know that I could have been reviewing ARCs all along.

Post-BEA:  After BEA, I actually get review requests.  Which feels awesome, by the way.  But of course, not every book is the right fit for me.  So I simply respond with a polite "No, thank you" and explain that the book isn't the right fit or isn't something I'd feel comfortable reading.  And I also thank them for considering my blog.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Book Review: The Boy on the Bridge by Natalie Standiford

Title:  The Boy on the Bridge
Author:  Natalie Standiford
Genre:  YA historical fiction/romance
Publisher:  Scholastic
Pages:  234(?)
Acquired via:  ARC received at BEA


Synopsis from  Laura Reid goes to Leningrad for a semester abroad as Cold War paranoia is peaking in 1982. She meets a young Russian artist named Alexei and soon, with Alexei as her guide, Laura immerses herself in the real Russia--a crazy world of wild parties, black-market books and music, and smuggled letters to dissidents. She must keep the relationship secret; associating with Americans is dangerous for Alexei, and if caught, Laura could be sent home and Alexei put under surveillance or worse. At the same time, she's been warned that Soviets often latch onto Americans in hopes of marrying them and thus escaping to the United States. But she knows Alexei loves her. Right?

As June approaches--when Laura must return to the United States--Alexei asks Laura to marry him. She's only nineteen and doesn't think she's ready to settle down. But what if Alexei is the love of her life? How can she leave him behind? If she has a chance to change his life, to rescue him from misery, shouldn't she take it?
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I think I must be getting old.  In junior high, even high school, I would have thought this story was so romantic and heartbreaking.  But now (at the wise old age of almost-27), I thought the story was a bit over-the-top and melodramatic, like a soap opera.

The Boy on the Bridge is a romance set in 1980s Soviet Russia, when the KGB reigned supreme, and the food was apparently terrible.  The story focuses on Laura, an American exchange student doing a semester in Leningrad.  While there, she is "rescued" by a handsome, young Russian named Alyosha, and they practically fall in love with each other on the spot.

The Ups
  • The setting/time  -  One of the things I did like about the book was the setting.  I've read very few books that take place in Soviet Russia, so that was very interesting.
  • The concept  -  I think this book had a great concept behind it.  I just felt like it could have been developed more, which would have made the book a better read.
  • The secondary characters  -  I love Laura's friend Karen, way more than I like Laura.  She's a no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is friend, and I thought she was the perfect opposite of Laura.  While Laura's got her head in the clouds, Karen's trying to bring her back to Earth and knock some sense into her.
The Downs
  • Laura  -  As a main character, Laura is definitely not my favorite.  She makes some really stupid decisions, she mopes a lot, she's constantly doubting the man who's supposed to be the love of her life, she breaks pretty much every rule.  Overall, she's just an annoying character.
  • The writing  -  In pretty much every writing class I took in high school, we were told "Show; don't tell."  And I felt like this book did a lot of telling.
  • The romance  -  Laura and Alyosha's romance was pretty much insta-love.  They knew each other for what felt like two hours, and suddenly they're madly in love with each other.  No tension, no build-up, just instant love.  I understand why the romance was being rushed on one side, but it was too rushed for it to be believable.
  • The melodrama  -  My biggest problem with this book was that it was so melodramatic.  Every other chapter something crazy and over-the-top was happening.  Or the way Laura and Alyosha would talk to each other was cheesy.  At one point, Laura has to go away for a week, and Alyosha tells her "I will wilt without you."  Wilt without you?  I almost threw the book across the room when I read that line.
The saddest thing about this book was that it could have been so much better.  An extra hundred pages could have made room for more character development and building some romantic tension.  I think that the story felt rushed, and a few more pages could have changed that, or having Laura go to Russia for a whole year rather than one semester would have made the story more believable.  And cutting back some of the melodrama would also have instantly improved the story.

As it is, The Boy on the Bridge was just okay, but it wasn't the most terrible book I've ever read.  It just caused some major eye-rolling.  I still plan to give some of Standiford's other novels a shot, such as How to Say Goodbye in Robot, because I've only heard good things about them.