Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly blog meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

This weeks prompt is popular books that lived up to the hype.  I haven't read many new releases lately, so I am going to pick books that I know are or have been popular in the online book community.  

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1) Caraval by Stephanie Garber

This book was one that I didn't think I would love as much as I did.  It really has it all: magic, romance, intrigue, and a stellar plotline.  I currently have the sequel, Legendary, in my possession and cannot wait to read it!

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2) The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows

Holy Cliffhanger! I loved this book, the world, the magic, the romance.  It was all great, but the ending was what did me in, I have to know what happens next.

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3) The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

This one is an oldie but a goodie.  I know that many people adore this book, myself being amongst them.  This is actually one of the books that helped foster my love of reading. I have read this book more times than I can count and yet it never gets old, and for that, I have put it on this list.

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4) City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

I love all of Cassandra Clare's books, and while this isn't my favorite of her books, it has a special place in my heart as it was one of the first Fantasy books I read, and was the book responsible for getting me into the genre.

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5) Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Of all Cassandra Clare's books, the Infernal Devices series is by far my favorite.  The characters and the storyline were amazing.  And it was in a time period I love!

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6) The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan 

I know that this series is geared toward younger readers, however, I love these well into adulthood.  I love Riordan's style of writing and the way he weaves in myths without changing or making up myths.  

Monday, July 23, 2018

The Orphan Queen ( The Orphan Queen #1) by Jodi Meadows

Image result for the orphan queen
Age Range: YA
Pages: 416
Publisher: Harper Collins Publishing
Publication Date: 05 April 2016
Genre: YA/Fantasy

Rating: 4 Stars

Wilhelmina has a hundred identities.

She is a princess. When the Indigo Kingdom conquered her homeland, Wilhelmina and other orphaned children of nobility were taken to Skyvale, the Indigo Kingdom’s capital. Ten years later, they are the Ospreys, experts at stealth and theft. With them, Wilhelmina means to take back her throne.

She is a spy. Wil and her best friend, Melanie, infiltrate Skyvale Palace to study their foes. They assume the identities of nobles from a wraith-fallen kingdom, but enemies fill the palace, and Melanie’s behavior grows suspicious. With Osprey missions becoming increasingly dangerous and their leader more unstable, Wil can’t trust anyone.

She is a threat. Wraith is the toxic by-product of magic, and for a century using magic has been forbidden. Still the wraith pours across the continent, reshaping the land and animals into fresh horrors. Soon it will reach the Indigo Kingdom. Wilhelmina’s magic might be the key to stopping the wraith, but if the vigilante Black Knife discovers Wil’s magic, she will vanish like all the others.

Jodi Meadows introduces a vivid new fantasy full of intrigue, romance, dangerous magic, and one girl’s battle to reclaim her place in the world.

My Thoughts:

In the spirit of honesty, I would never have picked this book up for myself.  The synopsis didn't excite me and, for me, there was just no real pull to the book, but I picked it up anyway because I knew a friend of mine would love it.  I decided that it wouldn't hurt to buddy-read it with her and I am very glad I did.  I enjoyed it far more than I had expected; I found it to be a good reminder that sometimes it is good to branch out and read something I normally wouldn't.

I really enjoyed the worldbuilding in this novel.  I took me a couple of chapters to really understand the inner workings of the world and the various aspects of the magic.  However, once I got that down I felt that it really hit the sweet spot, the world wasn't too complex nor did it leave me feeling like I needed more.  It was actually quite straightforward for a fantasy novel which I found quite refreshing.

I really liked Wil, she was strong, fierce, and an amazing fighter.  All things that make for a great main character, but what I liked most about her was her sense of morality and loyalty, not only to the nation she lost but also to her close-knit group of friends.  Wil didn't always make great choices but she made them not while thinking about herself but about those she loved, which only made me love her all the more.  Her loyalty made her seem more human and less that inhumanly perfect warrior queen that seems common in literature.

In fact, the only reason the book received four instead of five stars was due to the fact that I was able to call some of the plot twists. I felt that while I loved the journey, there were too many instances where the book had foreshadowing just felt too obvious and made it too easy to guess the plotline.  This being said, it has a killer cliffhanger that I did not see coming and has left me jonesing to get my hand on the next book. 

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Shop My Shelf (1)

I love to read, and I love collecting books, however, I have the bad habit of buying more books than I can really read.  Because of this, many of the books I own are sitting on my shelf unread.  To try and combat this I have decided to shop my stash, or in this case, my shelf. I am going to pick out three books either weekly or biweekly (whichever works in my schedule the best) and they are going to be placed at the top of my TBR.  Hopefully, this will motivate me to read the books that are currently collecting dust on my shelves! 

This week's picks are: 

Image result for The TellingImage result for queen of hearts bookImage result for shatter me

 Queen of Hearts                          Shatter Me                             The Telling 
Colleen Oakes                             Tahereh Mafi                   Alexandra Sirowy 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly blog meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

This weeks prompt is Favorite Novellas/ Short Stories.  I am not a huge reader of short stories/ novellas; if I am going to read a short story I tend to go for classics or horror stories.  That being said, I am starting to read some companion novellas.  

1) Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allen Poe

I am a huge Poe fan and of all his stories, Masque of the Red Death is my favorite. There is just something about the vivid descriptions and colors that make up this story that has always intrigued me.   

2)The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allen Poe 

This story comes in second because of the sinister ambiance of the story.  There is something so unsettling about having the main character as a villain, but it makes for a unique and sinister short story.  This short story is a must-read for anyone trying to delve into Edgar Allen Poe's work.  

3)A Rose for Emily by William Faulkne

I originally read this story in high school, I remember being so creeped out by the ending.  Seeing as I still remember it years later, I would say that it has quite the impact, and for that, I have placed it in third.  

4) Désirée’s Baby by Kate Chopin 

I have just recently started to read some of Kate Chopin's works, and I must say, if someone is looking to get into classics, they are a great place to start as they are not too long and are written in an easily comprehensible manner.   

5) The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin

I read this book back in high-school and it was always so memorable for me, it isn't overtly creepy or weird, but it still manages to pack a punch.  

6) The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe

I do not think that I really need to explain my self on this one lol.  But I will say this one used to freak me out as a young girl! 😅

7) The Pit and the Pendulum by Edgar Allen Poe

While I don't think that I would call this short story one of my favorites that Poe has written, it makes the list because it was the first piece from Poe that I ever read.  

8) The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irvin

This is one of my favorite Halloween reads, I read it every year and it never gets old.

9) The Monkey's Paw by W.W. Jacobs

This story is one that I have read many times and always enjoy.  I suppose I just have a thing for horror stories.  

10) The Dead House: The Naida Tapes 

This is the only modern novella to make it onto the list.  I really enjoyed this as a companion to the book The Dead House, as it cleared up a lot of the questions I had at the end of the novel.  

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Three Dark Crowns (Three Dark Crowns #1) by Kendare Blake

Image result for three dark crownsAge Range: YA
Page: 416
Publisher: Harper Collins Publishing
Publication Date: 20 September 2016
Genre: YA/FAntasy

Rating: 2.5 

When kingdom come, there will be one.

In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born—three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.

The last queen standing gets the crown. 

My thoughts:

I really wanted to love this book, unfortunately, I just didn't care for it.  I went in beyond excited to read this, the synopsis sounds amazing and I was buddy-reading it with close friends, but it, unfortunately, was just a  let down for me.  Initially, I thought that I would be getting a story full of action and suspense instead it was more about world building and setting the stage for action later in the series.  This made the pacing of the book feel painfully slow, I don't think that it really picked up till about halfway through the book.  Even after picking up, I still don't think that I was ever fully as engrossed as I hoped I would be. 

While I will admit my expectations did play a large role in my feelings of this book, it was not my only reason for disliking the book.  I really was not a fan of the writing style of this book.  The book was constantly switching from one point of view to another, sometimes even switching between people while still in the same chapter.  This made the book very confusing at times, and difficult to understand whose point of view I was reading.  I was also annoyed that we got a lot of Kathrine and Mirabella's points of view but very little of Arsionoe's.  For me at least, this made it very hard to connect with Arsinoe as a character.  I feel that I would have liked the book more if she had found a way to tell the story only from the Queen's points of view. 

Lastly was the world, while it was beautiful and fantastical, it was just too much and was very confusing at times.  The author would often reference historical events of the world and would sometimes explain and sometimes leave the reader hanging.  The world is just so intricate it seems like historical preface or appendix to give the reader some context.  I was also left confused because the author references the real historical event of Cleopatra VII ( the one we all know as Cleopatra) having her sister Arsinoe murdered, which made me wonder if this world was somehow connected to ours or if this was simply an easter egg. 

All in all, the book itself was not horrible, but I probably would not have finished it if it were not for the fact that I was buddy reading.  That being said, due to the ending, which was probably the best aspect of the book, and the fact that a friend, whose opinion I trust, has raved about the sequel, I will probably try to continue with the series.  With any luck, the rest of the series will make up for the slow start. 

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Splash into Summer Giveaway Hop!!

Welcome to the Splash into Summer Giveaway hop hosted by Bookhounds!  For my stop, I will be giving away the winners choice of book (up to fifteen dollars) from the Book Depository.  International participants welcome! 

Some possible picks: 

Image result for caraval coverImage result for legendary by stephanie garberImage result for the orphan queenImage result for the orphan queen 2Image result for winter songImage result for winter songImage result for the hate you give bookImage result for all the bright placesImage result for everything everythingImage result for the sun is also a starImage result for marking timeImage result for cleopatras moon

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Monday, May 28, 2018

Picture the Dead by Adele Griffin and Lisa Brown

Image result for picture the dead by adele griffin illustrationsAge Range: Middle Grade/ Young Adult
Pages: 272
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication Date: 1 May 2010
Genre: Middle Grade/ YA/ Historical Mystery/ Supernatural

A ghost will find his way home.

Jennie Lovell's life is the very picture of love and loss. First she is orphaned and forced to live at the mercy of her stingy, indifferent relatives. Then her fiancé falls on the battlefield, leaving her heartbroken and alone. Jennie struggles to pick up the pieces of her shattered life, but is haunted by a mysterious figure that refuses to let her bury the past.

When Jennie forms an unlikely alliance with a spirit photographer, she begins to uncover secrets about the man she thought she loved. With her sanity on edge and her life in the balance, can Jennie expose the chilling truth before someone-or something-stops her?

Against the brutal, vivid backdrop of the American Civil War, Adele Griffin and Lisa Brown have created a spellbinding mystery where the living cannot always be trusted and death is not always the end.

My Thoughts:

Honestly, I did not expect to like Picture the Dead as much as I did. This, for me,  was one of those books that sits on your shelf for years and you just keep telling yourself that you will get to it someday. In my normal reading style, I probably would never have ended up reading it, but recently I have been in a major reading slump and have had to rethink the way I choose what to read.  To try and break myself out of said slump, I have been reading books with little commitment on my part.  Ie.  books that are standalone or duologies, books that are short, and books that seem like easier reads. Because if this I decided to give Picture the Dead a try, and I am very glad I did. 

One of the most unusual parts of the book were the illustrations that accompany the text.  They are presented in the format of the protagonist's scrapbook. I have seen mixed reviews of the illustration style (examples given below), but I personally enjoyed it; they were unique and quirky though I will admit they do not really fit the time frame the book was set in. For me, the illustrations not only helped to break up the book but added some suspense. I was often excited to see what the illustration for each chapter and how it would tie into the story.  The only real drawback I found to the illustrations was that some of the handwriting in the letters were hard to read, but that being said it is not completely necessary to read the letters to understand what is going on in the book they are more companion pieces. 

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I will say that this book is perfect for a quick read.  I generally do not think of mysteries as light reads, but there is something about the flow and style of the writing that made to book feel intriguing and suspenseful while still feeling like a quick/easy read.  The plot was quick and engaging, and the pictures really help move the story along and add a lot of dimension to the story.  The plot itself is not completely revolutionary by any means. I was able to guess some of the plot twists, but for me, this did not take away from the story. 

The book itself is written in a style that both younger and older readers can enjoy.  Because of this, I think that this book would be a good introduction to reading for younger individuals.  I can see younger readers really enjoying this story not only for the plot but for the quirky illustrations that accompany the book.  In total, the presentation of this book was very unique and intriguing and could be suitable for a wide variety of individuals.