Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday #196: Favorite books under 250 pages

Today's Topic: 
Top Five Favorite Books Under 250 Pages

It has occurred to me that I never read novellas or short stories... Whoops! For today's topic, I've included two novellas, but in order to have more than two books on the list, I also included three other books under 250 pages that I've loved!

Fairest by Marissa Meyer
Floor 21 by Jason Luthor
Insylum by Z. Rider
The Raft by S.A. Bodeen
Stygian by Santino Hassell

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

Monday, July 16, 2018

ARC Review: Contagion by Erin Bowman

Title: Contagion (Contagion #1)
Author: Erin Bowman

Publication Date: July 24, 2018
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 432
Add to Goodreads

Perfect for fans of Madeleine Roux, Jonathan Maberry, and horror films like 28 Days Later and Resident Evil, this pulse-pounding, hair-raising, utterly terrifying novel is the first in a duology from the critically acclaimed author of the Taken trilogy.

After receiving a distress call from a drill team on a distant planet, a skeleton crew is sent into deep space to perform a standard search-and-rescue mission.

When they arrive, they find the planet littered with the remains of the project—including its members’ dead bodies. As they try to piece together what could have possibly decimated an entire project, they discover that some things are best left buried—and some monsters are only too ready to awaken.

It's no secret around my blog that I LOVE horror! Horror books, horror movies, horror shows - I love them all. So when I saw this compared to 28 Days Later and Resident Evil, but set in space, I knew it was going to be the book for me!

Contagion begins by introducing us to the crew who is dragged into this rescue mission that they aren't at all qualified for. The main characters are Thea, a microbiology intern who's assisting a renowned scientist, and Nova, a pilot who really isn't ready for a mission this intense. Both girls were interesting characters with well developed backstories and I ended up really enjoying both of them. The side characters were equally well written, although there is of course one that I utterly despise.

Dylan, the captain of the crew, is a complete moron without a single redeeming quality. She's set up as a romantic interest, but I honestly couldn't have cared less if she'd been eaten in the second chapter. She had no qualms about risking every single other person under her command to serve her own interests. I did understand her initial reasoning, but it came to a point where I just couldn't believe that anyone in a military command position would be that stupid. But I digress.

Contagion starts slowly, but the action quickly picks up once the rescue crew makes it to the planet that issued the distress signal. Things go south quickly when they realize that they're too late. The crew they've come to help is dead or missing and they have no idea why, and no idea whether they should stay to find out.

Like I said earlier, the main selling point of this book was the horror aspect. It's in the FIRST sentence of the synopsis! And, while this was an interesting book with an undeniable creep factor, it really wasn't terrifying. I love the idea of having to unravel what happened to wipe out an entire crew, but the way that they got there and the repetitiveness of some of the horror left me wanting more. That isn't to say that it was bad, by any means! I think a lot of people who are less eager to be kept up at night with the lights on will probably love this. Personally, I expect more scares from a good horror book.

Still, the story was a good one. There isn't much I can say without spoilers, but the whodunnit aspect of Contagion was fantastically done and there were multiple twists that surprised me. This book is fast paced with a creepy atmosphere! It does end on a cliffhanger, but not a terribly frustrating one, and there is a tiny hint of romance. If you're looking for a good, creepy science fiction thriller, this is probably a book you'll love! Just don't come looking for anything as terrifying as 28 Days Later.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Weekly Recap: 7/8 - 7/14


Hi everyone! This week has been busy, but good. My shelves are all done! You can see the entire journey here, if you'd like. Aside from organizing my new shelves (which was so much fun!), I did some dog sitting and we finally got our bedroom painted. One by one, projects around the house are being checked off. I also got a decent amount of reading done, finally! Oh, and while you're here, I'm going to do a shameless plug and tell you to check out my Instagram page if you're interested in winning my ARC of A Blade So Black!






Hi everyone!  It’s back to work for me, but I’d much rather still be up in the Adirondacks with my family. Thankfully I have a long weekend coming up and I’ll be headed to New York City for Epic Reads Day with my boyfriend. Now I just gotta make it through a couple more days of work.




Nothing read this week!


The topic was the best books of 2018 for Top Ten Tuesday
On Thursday I talked about the aftermath of a blogging slump
Friday ARC review of My Plain Jane
On Saturday I shared my mid-year audiobook challenge progress


We're linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Saturday, July 14, 2018

2018 Audiobook Challenge Mid-Year Update

I can't believe the year is over half over!! But here we are at the half year check-in for one of the few challenges I signed up for in 2018. This year I chose a smaller goal than previous years - My Precious. The goal is 30-50 books and I'm calling it 30+ for simplicity's sake (and to make it more easily attainable). I'm already just over 50% to my goal, so yay me for staying on track! I'll admit that I didn't make it all the way through all of them, but an attempt was made! 

Out of these books, my favorites have been The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Reign the Earth, and Hunting Prince Dracula! My least favorites have been King's Cage, And the Trees Crept In, and The Night Circus, although I definitely disliked more than I've liked so far this year. 

Here are links to the ones I've reviewed:

What audiobooks have I missed this year? What are some of your absolute favorites (fantasy or horror preferred)? Let me know in the comments!
Friday, July 13, 2018

ARC Review: My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, & Jodi Meadows

Title: My Plain Jane (The Lady Janies #2) 
Author: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, & Jodi Meadows
Publication Date: June 26, 2018
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 464
Add to Goodreads

Review for book 1

You may think you know the story. After a miserable childhood, penniless orphan Jane Eyre embarks on a new life as a governess at Thornfield Hall. There, she meets one dark, brooding Mr. Rochester. Despite their significant age gap (!) and his uneven temper (!!), they fall in love—and, Reader, she marries him. (!!!)

Or does she?

Prepare for an adventure of Gothic proportions, in which all is not as it seems, a certain gentleman is hiding more than skeletons in his closets, and one orphan Jane Eyre, aspiring author Charlotte Brontë, and supernatural investigator Alexander Blackwood are about to be drawn together on the most epic ghost hunt this side of Wuthering Heights.

First off, shame on me for not ever having read Jane Eyre before.  I'm not really much of a classics person and I think I have my strict english teachers to blame for that.  But after reading this book it really make me want to go out and grab Jane Eyre just so I can say that I've read that book as well.

Now that I got that off my chest... THIS BOOK WAS AMAZING!

From what I have heard people say this book follows most of the major plot points of Jane Eyre, but there is a bit of a twist.  Our plain Jane is a seer.  She can see and talk to ghosts.  The supernatural element in this novel really added to the story line and added such a unique twist to the classic.  I love it when authors can take a well-known story, keep it recognizable, and totally put their own spin on it!

I love how Charlotte Brontë had her own character in this book.  For those of you who, like me and are oblivious when it comes to classics, Charlotte is the author of the original book, but in this book she is best friends with Jane and is slowly writing and coming up with ideas for the novel.  If that made any sense at all.  Even though Jane is supposed to be front and center I really feel like Charlotte steals the show.  She is such a strong, smart, and independent character in a time period where that was generally frowned upon.  It was also such a cool idea to see her develop her most famous work throughout the course of this book as she followed her friend through thick and thin.

The references!  There were sooooo many of them that I couldn't help but laugh out loud and share them with whomever was near me while I was reading.  #Sorrynotsorry to my boyfriend and mom.  It was their fault they sat near me lol.  The best reference by far had to be the Princess Bride one!  That has to be one of my top ten movies of all time which makes anything that much better if they reference it in any way shape or form.  There was also a Scooby Doo reference that I almost missed if I hadn't had to reread a bit because I was laughing so hard.

The romance in this book was on point.  I'm not talking about Jane and Mr. Rochester so I won't say who to avoid spoilers, but it was done so well.  It felt very genuine and sweet.  At times (you know if you've read the book) the romance had me crying, laughing, and begging for them to just admit their feelings for each other.  And if there ever was another book that followed this one as an actual series there is another romance that I would've really liked to see how it panned out.  Plus the adventures that couple could go on would be of epic proportions.

Now you don't have to have read My Lady Jane to read this one as they both are separate books, but there is a little part you won't get in the end of this book if you haven't read My Lady Jane first.  I love when authors do this kind of thing even if the books aren't specifically in a series.  Just having that little link almost makes the books that much better for me.  And, of course, you don't have to have read Jane Eyre first either.  I haven't burst into flames yet lol.  I'm for sure going to read it now though!

So if you have a love for Jane Eyre or a love for Ghostbusters or you just want to have a good laugh this is definitely a book that you should pick up in the future!  You definitely won't regret it!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

The aftermath of a blogging slump

Blogging slumps. We all have them. They always suck and they're always difficult to pull out of. But what happens when you finally DO get back to normal and everything else doesn't?

As some of you may remember, last year was one long, awful slump for me. A lot of changes and big events happened in my life and I went through a bit of a rough bout of depression that left me struggling to read and struggling to find the motivation to blog and blog hop. As much as I love all of these things, I found myself lacking the drive to actually do them, even though not doing them made me miserable.

My awful blogging slump lasted nearly a full year, but then I was back! I feel good! I love reading again! I love blogging and blog hopping and interacting! What I found, though, was that while many of my good blogging friends stuck by me and were still here when I got back, the community as a whole had continued on without me. I had to find my way back in. From one year to the next my visitor stats dropped by almost half and in the months that I've felt back to normal I have struggled to bring them back up to pre-slump numbers.

This is the aftermath of a huge blogging slump (and of course, by blogging slump I mean depression that leads to an inability to blog).

I've been back, like I said, for a few months, although I still don't feel like I'm all the way here. Some days it's still not as easy as it used to be to get online and comment back. Sometimes it's discouraging to see that the level of interaction I had a year and a half ago is so different, although I love every single comment I get! Sometimes it feels like my blog will never be completely back to where it was.

So how do you recover? Of course, I'm only one person, but here is my answer:

You recover from a book blogging slump by learning to love it all over again for what it is: a hobby that you love and wouldn't know how to live without. Of course, the visits and the followers and the comments are all fantastic! But at the end of the day, that's never what book blogging has been about for me. It has been about reading books that I love (or don't) and sharing them with the community. It's about interacting with other book lovers because that's a type of (vital) interaction I don't get in real life.

What I'm trying to say is that, while the aftermath of a blogging slump isn't pretty, it is possible to enjoy it. It's so easy to get overwhelmed by stats, since that's what publishers focus on. But if you're currently in the position I was in last year, don't give up hope! It's okay to take the break you need, love yourself, and when you get back your blog and the community will still be here. There will be time to rebuild your stats and you'll still have the books while you do!

Have you ever found yourself in a blogging slump that wasn't just a small hurdle? How did you deal with the changes when you finally got back? I'd love to discuss it!