Friday, July 6, 2018

Summer 2018 TBR Wipeout Intro!

TBR Wipeout Hosted by The Candid Cover

Hi everyone! This year I'm joining the 2018 Summer TBR Wipeout hosted by The Candid Cover.

I'm hoping to crack down on my giant TBR list (which is slowly shrinking a bit due to Down the TBR Hole) as well as to bring some structure to my summer and meet more book bloggers! I'm glad I'm in a great book community to try and accomplish all of these goals.

Without further ado, my readings goals for this summer:


I'm not sure if I'll get through all of them, because a lot of them are new and my library hasn't gotten them yet, so I've added some older books that I already own as well! I'm partiuclarly looking forward to Nobody's Princess as is it one of my original TBR books from *gasps* 2012. I'm also excited for Merrett's Chase and 806 which are both review requests! I have created a Goodreads shelf for this challenge- check it out if your interested in learning more about any of these books!

Monday, July 2, 2018

I Had Such Friends by Meg Gatland-Veness




I Had Such Friends
by Meg Gatland-Veness
Publication Date: August 1st 2018
Publisher: Pantera Press
Find This Book: I Had Such Friends
Rating: 4/5




*I was given an eARC in exchange for an honest review

The book’s description includes warnings about: child abuse, neglect, sexual assault, bullying, prejudice, death, and suicide. This book covered some heavy topics, and I love that the back matter of the book included awareness messaging and information about suicide prevention organizations in Australia (where the book will be published). These seniors in high school go through a lot, and everyone is not as they seem (I know that’s a horror cliché but I really just mean that the one-dimensional stereotypes people present hide the complicated, multifaceted person they really are, and this book wandered that line in a creative way.

This novel dealt with identity both in an academic setting, as well as personal/sexual identity which I haven't seen very much. Our main character, Hamish, doesn't really know who he is outside of farming with his family, and studying with his only friend until two other students take an interest in him. Why they were both independently drawn to Hamish and how his relationships with them develop created a powerful narrative. 

Hamish discovers himself through his interactions with Martin, Peter, and Annie. Some friendships fall apart and some don’t- that’s just how life is. The people who really matter should love and understand you, and not everyone in your life deserves to stay in your life. Representing positive and negative reactions to the events that take place in this novel creates a reality and almost anyone is sure to be able to relate to. Additionally, seeing LGBT+ representation in a religious suburban/rural town is something that a lot of kids can identify with, and the various reactions to these character identities was both heart-breaking and heart-warming.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Down the TBR Hole #2

Created by Lia @Lost in a Story


It works like this:
Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
Order on ascending date added.
Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if youre feeling adventurous) books.
Read the synopses
 of the books
Decide: keep it or should it go?
My Goodreads TBR currently has 854 books on it, and these are all books I added in 2012, so I'm really looking forward to cleansing my list!

Moon Demon (Daughters of the Moon #7)

I remember my sister and I loving this series back in the day. We read all of the books my library had at the time, and I guess I just never noticed when new books came out (There's 13 apparently). I now don't remember anything about this series except that a group of girls become friend over their shared moon powers (sorta like H20: Just Add Water!).

Decision: Go


Princess Ben

This appears to be a stand-alone fantasy novel, about  Princess Ben(evolence) discovering magic and being under the control of an evil queen. The synopsis itself seems cool, but the writing preview is cringeworthy. She describes herself as not pretty because  she doesn't have big boobs and because no man could "fit his hands round [her] waist".  10 she's super skinny on the cover, and 2) so much for body diversity going hand in hand with body positivity. Ugh pass.

Decision: Go

Shatter Me

This isn't even the cover of the book anymore, that's how long it's been on my TBR. A girl who's touch is fatal, being weaponized by a government that previously imprisoned her for her ability. This series isn't finished yet, but have consistently had good ratings, and the cover with the eyes are gorgeous watercolors.



Decision: Keep 


The Lovely Bones

The story of a family devastated by the gruesome murder of a teenager, told by the teenager. This seems like a compelling read. I know I have this book somewhere on my bookshelves already, and that most of my family has already read it.  I'm not sure why I haven't gotten to it yet, but this has me itching to go pick it up!



Decision: Keep


The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials #2)

I honestly don't remember anything about The Golden Compass, and I know I've read the book and seen the movie. This book is as old as I am, so if the first book didn't immediately compile me to read the next one, I don't think anyone will unless a friend really hypes this book up for me.




Decision: Go


Fire (Graceling Realm #2)

Set in the same world, but essentially a standalone from Graceling,  I'm not sure why I haven't read this already. I own and have read both Graceling (#1) and Bitterblue (#2). A fantasy story with a medieval  setting, as well as special powers AND a badass female, this book seems to have everything I'm looking for in a book.



Decision: Keep

Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices #1)

My good friend Erika has been hyping these books since the day I met her all those years ago, and I even own a copy of this book. Shadowhunters in Victorian London?Why have I not read this book that I shelved as Want To Read in 2012? I will right after I finish Cassi Clare's The Mortal Instruments!


Decision: Keep (or Erika might kill me)


Tithe (Modern Faerie Tales #1)

I loved Holly Black's Curse Worker's series, and must have put this on the TBR as it was her only other solo work at the time. One of my friend's review says it's not a book for young reader's which makes me feel a bit better about the time I might take to read this book. While I love YA, I've definitely grown out of Middle Grade books like her Spiderwick Chronicles.


Decision: Keep


Stardust

I don't remember putting this book on my TBR list, but it's written by Neil Gaiman so it's not going anywhere. I love his writing so much, he's never let me down even with his short stories and I'm so excited for this stand-alone book about a boy retrieving a fallen star for the love of his life. Now that I'm reading the synopsis, a vaguely remember watching a film based off of this book!


Decision: Keep


Thirteen Reasons Why

I'm not sure why I ever added this book to my TBR. Maybe I never read reviews about how crappy the message is? I'm not going to read a book that basically says you can blame all of your problems on other people. I refuse to support a boring main character such as Clay, and Hannah convincing all of these people that it's their fault she committed suicide.



Decision: Definitely Go

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Merrett's Choice by Ian Mitchell-Gill




Merrett’s Choice
by Ian Mitchell-Gill
Publication Date: January 26th 2017
Publisher: FriesenPress
Find This Book: Merrett’s Choice
Rating: 4/5




I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Wow! This was an action-packed book! It kind of felt like the Animorphs of my childhood- a semi-large group of teens working to each other strengths to get the mission of the book done. The characters were all developed in Merrett’s Gift (which you can read my review about here) so this adventure could focus on the the current task: busting a Senator’s son out of a cult.

This book was a lot more engaging than the first one, pulling the reader into the more plot-focused action. The students and their backstories (particularly Lydia) were all established in book 1, and this novel could really hone in on their talents and their cohesiveness as a unit. The POV occasionally shifts, but primarily stays on Lydia which I loved because I feel like I become better connected to characters when I’m not switching around viewpoints as much. Lydia in particular is wicked smart and analytical- great qualities for a team leader and the analytical quality I could personally identify with. The best part of this book for me, is that while all of the planning of the operation is in front of the reader’s face the plan isn’t obvious until it’s in motion. Sometimes books tell you the plan and then give you an update on whether or not it was successful. With the way Ian Mitchell-Gill writes, I’m figuring out what Lydia’s doing as she’s doing it even though I’ve watched her strategically put pieces in place beforehand.

So like I said, the plot of this book is about infiltrating a cult. It deals with the CIA/FBI’s previous attempts at breaking up cults and seems very well researched. The location of this cult’s base, the physical work and lack of sleep, the leader’s personality, and the shady behind-the-scenes activities felt like watching a fascinating documentary. Sure their leader intentionally misquotes religious texts to manipulate his followers, and has a criminal record, but this novel also captured the nuance of the cult followers finding a place they feel like they belong. I loved this balance and element of reality. All in all it was a quick and exciting read, and while you would get character backgrounds by reading the first book you definitely don’t need to read Merrett’s Gift to thoroughly enjoy Merrett’s Choice!

Monday, June 4, 2018

Down the TBR Hole #1

Hi everyone! I've seen a lot of blogs do this and I figured my TBR definitely needed to be lightened. This meme was created by Lia @Lost in a Story


It works like this:
Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
Order on ascending date added.
Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if youre feeling adventurous) books.
Read the synopses
 of the books
Decide: keep it or should it go?
My Goodreads TBR currently has 866 books on it, and some of them are ancient, so I'm really looking forward to cleansing my list!

Fablehaven Cover

Fablehaven


A hidden refuge for magical creatures where chaos breaks out sounds right up my alley, but it's a Children's/Middle Grade series that's 5 books long, and I think the window for me to enjoy it has long closed.




Decision: Go


The Magician (The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel #2)


I remember thoroughly enjoying the first book of this series. That being said, I read the first book of this series in 6th grade and don't remember anything about it. Another middle grade book, but this time about elemental magic.

Decision: Go


Poison Study

This is a fantasy series about a murderer who's punishment is to be a poison taster. Full of poison, magic, and rebellion, this 6 book series just got it's conclusion published in 2017. It's got a 4.15 average star rating on Goodreads and most of my friends have given it 5 stars... and if I wanted to, I could sit and read all 6 this week.



Decision: Keep


Magyk (Septimus Heap #1)

This long 7 book series has been read by most of my friends back in the 2011-2013 era with a spattering of different ratings. This also apparently has a second series which is a trilogy. That's a lot of books to commit two with a 10 year old protagonist, buuuut it's supposedly a fantasy book told  with a lot of humor reminiscent of  tradition British storytelling.



Decision: Go


Moon Called (Mercy Thompson #1)

This is an Urban Paranormal Romance book (looks to be either New Adult or Adult) with what appears to be a love triangle as well. Our MC is a coyote shifter, and many of the folks around her are what go bump in the night. No one I know has read it recently so I'd have no one to talk about it with- I think I've moved past the paranormal romance section of my life.



Decision: Go


Nobody's Princess

Just reading this synopsis got me giddy again! A mythological fiction about Helen of Sparta before she became the famous Helen of Troy everyone loves to hate? Sign me UP! I'm just as obsessed with Greek Mythology as I was when I shelved this book, maybe even more know that I've read most of the famous Greek Tragedies (multiple including Troy).



Decision: Keep


Unearthly

Another Paranormal Romance (this time YA like most of my reads), this 3 book series stars a nephilim (half angel/half human) who just finds out she's has angel dna in her. It looks like another love triangle between a guy who means 'following the rules' and a guy that means 'following her heart'. I don't have the energy for another one of these fate v love paranormal books.



Decision: Go


Goddess of the Sea (Goddess Summoning #1)

I'm not really sure what originally drew me to this series because the covers aren't really my thing and it doesn't look YA. A 25 year old drinking too much invokes a spell that brings her to an ancient time full of magic (and puts her into the body of a mermaid named Undine). Looks like another triangle between a land boy and a merman.  

Decision: Go


Glimmerglass (Faeriewalker #1)

My buddy Erika didn't give this book a stellar review and was already on the fence about it. The MC finds out the the far world exists and that she's the only one who can exist in both worlds (Fae and Human). Fae political shenanigans ensue I'd imagine. Like 30 of my friends shelved it as to-read in the early 2010's and never read it either.



Decision: Go


The Ruins of Gorlan (Ranger's Apprentice #1)

I believe this was recommended to me because I enjoyed the Pendragon series, but I'm not 100% sure. The Rangers sound like a fantasy battalion (no magic though) that protect the people from war before the war ever reaches their homeland. Uncle Rick says there is more telling than showing in this book so I'm skeptical.

Decision: Go



Did I make the right decisions?? Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, May 31, 2018

The Bird and the Blade by Megan Bannen




The Bird and the Blade
by Megan Bannen
Publication Date: June 5th 2018
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Find This Book: The Bird and the Blade
Rating: 5/5




I was given a copy of this book from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.

I was *living* for this historical fiction stand-alone book. The Prologue into Part One confused me a bit because of the timeline, but I quickly wrapped my head around the story of the book and once I picked the book up after a good night’s rest I loved the flow Bannen picked. Like I said, the timeline is a little wonky at first, but it fits the story being told perfectly. The Prologue is two character’s meeting for the first time, and the beginning of Part One is the beginning of the climax of the book. The novel then switches between the journey leading up to the climax, and little snippets of the climax. You slowly discover bits of information about the three main characters, the recent history of the empire they live in, and LOTS of fun poetry/riddles. I wouldn’t want the book set up any other way!

What I really love about the novel is how seamlessly the story flows. It feels natural, even though this specific story didn’t occur. The topic is obviously well-researched to make the plot feel so smooth. The Bird and the Blade is actually a retelling of “Prince Khalaf and the Princess of China” a story about how a great king must be a competent warrior and extremely wise. A Princess tells 3 riddles that must be answered in order to be married, a Prince and his slave respond to the call- that’s as vaguely specific as I’m going to get so that I don’t spoil anything not given away at the beginning of the book! Basically, I really enjoyed how this non-mongolian story was able to be transplanted into the chaos of the Mongolian/Song turmoil and was able to use historical East Asian events to portray this new rendition of a Persian story.

Furthermore, the characters and their development in this story felt so natural. It’s amazing what traveling across a continent in close quarters will do to a small group of travelers. Namely, a Khan in exile, a Prince in exile, and their slave. The POV is from the slave, and the father-son dynamic seen from the outside was stellar. Jinghua (the slave) is full of mystery and creates a compelling main character, even for the parts of the story when you know practically nothing about her.


This is definitely one of my favorite books of the year and I would highly recommend it to anyone who loves history, riddles, and intricate relationships (romantically and familial).

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor




Strange the Dreamer
Publication Date:  March 28th 2017
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Find This Book: Strange the Dreamer
Rating: 5/5




I was really put off by how horrendous the American cover is but I can’t believe I waited this long to read Strange the Dreamer! I really enjoyed Laini Taylor’s writing style but this was even better than Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Laini just has this way of creating awe and wonder like no other. She really captures the saying “It’s the journey not the destination”.

The prologue opens with a beautiful and sad scene that one doesn’t quote care about because it’s out of context, that the reader slowly starts to care about as the book goes on. And again, while some plot points might be predictable/foreshadowed it is the journey that matters and boy is the journey unexpected. I’ve been reading some contemporary recently and I’ve been thinking about how that has been refreshing in the face of my go-to fantasy genre, but this book brings refreshing takes to my beloved fantasy genre and its tropes.

Unfortunately, I really can’t say much without spoiling it, but Lazlo Strange and Sarai were fascinatingly intricate characters and I loved them. Even the side characters were incredibly developed and Laini Taylor’s use of language is dazzling (just like her developed world and the story she tells). Lazlo Strange is a rugged librarian who dreams of far off places, and surprise surprise he gets to go! This didn't happen the way I expected though, as with most plot points in the book. Lazlo wishes to discover the Unseen City that lost it's name, currently referred to as 'Weep', and I thought he'd just pack up his things and search for it like the Lost City of Atlantis or something- but he travels to Weep in a totally different scenario! Sarai is a goddess with a dark power which she uses to terrorize the people below who slaughtered her family. There’s a delicate balance of hurt between the ‘gods’ and the humans that it’s hard not to sympathizes with both sides. It felt very much like Greek Tragedy where there is no clear ‘right/good’ side, everyone has committed wrongs. Laini plays with the word monster in particular. All stories should be beautiful and contain monsters as her characters say, but I’m not sure if any character within the book could be considered monsters. They all have very real, complex, and understandable motivations, and labels don’t just perfectly fit people.

Seriously if you haven’t gotten around to this book already what are you waiting for??? If you love libraries, distant lands, dreams, and magic with a tragic backstory this book is for YOU.


“Good people do all the things bad people do, Lazlo. It’s just that when they do them, they call it justice.”   -Strange the Dreamer