Friday, February 24, 2017

Audiobook Review: Legend by Marie Lu

Title: Legend (Legend #1)
Author: Marie Lu
Narrator: Mariel Stern
Publication Date: November 29, 2011
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
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What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors.

Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circles.

Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths - until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect.
Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family's survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias's death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets. 

June is a prodigy, trained by the Republic to become one of the military's elite. She lives and breathes the Republic and is steadfastly loyal to her government. Day was born in the slums and has spent his life trying to provide for his family. He has become a rebel activist and is one of the Republic's most wanted criminals. When June's brother is murdered and Day is the prime suspect, the two cross paths and everything they believe in is turned upside down.

I found Legend to be very enjoyable, but it didn't blow me away. I found the plot to be a bit boring at first, so it took me a while to get interested in the book. The pace did eventually pick up, though, and I found myself not wanting to put the book down. By the end, I was completely hooked. I also thought the world that Marie Lu created was really interesting, but I wish she had provided more history about how it came to be. The story takes place in our future, and the Eastern and Western United States are at war. We don't get to learn how the United States ended up that way, though, and I think that would have been an interesting story.

I really enjoyed the characters of Day and June, as well as the supporting cast of characters. It took me a while to get invested, but I eventually grew to really care for them and their story. Something that I particularly appreciated was the way the romance was handled. June and Day definitely became enamored with one another, but I didn't feel like there was any instalove at all. The romance was developed well and was relatively believable. And there wasn't a love triangle! Yay! I am not a huge fan of romance, so the way this one was handled made it much more enjoyable for me.

My biggest gripe about Legend was how easy the plot was at times. The characters would encounter clues and then immediately figure them out without any trouble. Everything was a bit too convenient and predictable. The book wasn't incredibly long, so I feel like there was room for a little extra development within the plot. Even a paragraph here and there with the characters trying to interpret the clues could have made a big difference. While I enjoyed the story, every time the characters figured out a clue immediately, I had to roll my eyes a bit.

I am definitely invested in the Legend series now. I want to know what happens to the characters and how the story ends. There were a few things about the book that left me wanting more, but overall, the story is what is keeping me hooked. I think with a little more development, Legend could have been a book that I really loved. I still enjoyed it a lot, but it wasn't enough to make it to my list of favorites. I can't wait to see what happens to Day and June in Prodigy and Champion, though.

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Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Disney Princess Book Tag

You may have noticed (or maybe you haven't) that I've been a little scarce around the blog in the last week or so. I'll admit I've been in a bit of a slump and a lot of it has to do with the insanity that has been my life lately. Today I've found a tag (originally created by Soudha) to make things a little more exciting and hopefully it'll be back to your regular programming soon!

Your favorite classic

To be honest, I haven't read Wuthering Heights in over ten years, but when I did read it I LOVED it! I was obsessed with the relationship between Heathcliff and Cathy. My Wuthering Heights collection one of my most prized possessions with editions dating back to the early 1900s. I'm forever wishing someone would write an incredible YA retelling!

A book that kept you reading well past your bedtime

It isn't often that a book actually keeps me up late reading. I've always been really good about calling it quits when I need to go to sleep! Heartless kept me up late on more than one night though. It was just soooo good! I couldn't put it down! This is one of the top retellings I've ever read. The world and characters were magical and heartbreaking and I can't wait to read it again!

Your favorite classic romance

This one was hard since I'd usually pick Wuthering Heights! I don't actually read a ton of classics and most of my favorites aren't romantic. This time I chose a classic that I love to read retellings of! The story of Hades and Persephone makes the most incredible romance books and The Star-Touched Queen is one of the best I've read!

 A book about making sacrifices and fighting for your dreams

The Winner's series definitely had its ups and downs, but there's no denying it fits this category perfectly! Both Kestrel and Arin have to make sacrifices non-stop in order to fight for their dream of a better country and more freedom for all the people in it.

A book with a smart and independent female character

So many books lately have incredible, smart MCs that this one was actually hard to narrow down! I ended up choosing Falling Kingdoms because I really love Cleo so far after the first two books in the series. She doesn't always make the best decisions, but she's certainly independent and intelligent and I'm excited to see what she does in the rest of the series!

A book with a character who challenged the social conventions of his or her world

I always loved Jasmine for being a strong and independent princess who refused to be forced into an arranged marriage. Similarly, Lada refused to fit into societal norms in And I Darken. Instead of fitting into her place at court, Lada insisted on training with the soldiers and attempting to take on the world with her own army. She's incredible! 

A book whose ending was a roller-coaster of emotions

Oh... Ruin and Rising. I am still not over that ending! Even though certain things were set in stone even before it ended, I was still holding out hope until the very last page that things wouldn't end the way they were ending! I still adore the series and it's at the top of my favorites list, but that ending pretty much killed me. 

A book with a kick-ass female character

The Young Elites is a book I waited WAY too long to read! Adelina is such an unusual character and she's a total badass. She is focused on her own goals and is led by her ambition. She is a powerful and feared woman and I'm so excited to see what happens with her story in book three! 

A book featuring a hardworking, self-made character

A Court of Thorns and Roses is one of my favorite series and Feyre is nothing if not a hardworking, self-made character. Before she went to the Spring Court, she left school and taught herself to hunt in order to feed her family. Later she worked to free an entire country, and in book two she surprised me even more!  

A book that features an artist

Splintered is a series that features a few interesting artists. Alyssa, the main character, is an artist who sometimes uses bugs in her canvases. Later in the series Jeb, one of the love interests in the story, develops a very unique artistic ability. And of course Wonderland itself is basically a work of art. This entire series is gorgeous!

A book that features a mother-daughter relationship

Nobody said it had to be a normal mother-daughter relationship! Penryn and her mom have one of the strangest relationships I've ever seen in a book... but it certainly kept things interesting! And despite her mom's sometimes-unusual actions, Penryn always tried to look out for her best interest. This is one relationship I really did enjoy reading about. 

A book that features a great relationship between siblings

Wintersong is amazing for so many reasons, not least of which is the relationship between Liesl and her brother! Both of the siblings are musically gifted - Liesl is a composer while her brother is incredible at playing what she's written. Throughout the book their bond is obvious, even when it's not the main plot point. I can't wait to see more of these two in the next book! 

Who is your favorite Disney Princess?
Which of these would you have chosen differently? 
Let me know in the comments!

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday #136: books I loved less than expected

Today's Topic: 
Ten Books I Loved Less
Than I Thought I Would

I am usually a pretty good judge of what I'll like or not, but every now and then I'm surprised by how wrong I am! These are ten books I totally expected to love and ended up really not liking at all.

The Beauty of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson
The Cage by Megan Shepherd
Harry Potter & the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, & Jack Thorne
Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

Reawakened by Colleen Houck
Reign of Shadows by Sophie Jordan
Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.
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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Weekly Recap: 2/12 - 2/18

Tracy's Happenings Off the Blog

This has been a fairly uneventful week. I got a little packing done for our upcoming move and started a new show on Netflix - Shameless! I don't know if any of you have watched this but it's gold. I've already blown through season one this week and I am loving it! I also read Now I Rise, which I LOVED so much!! I am already dying for book three. Obviously, the review will be posted quite awhile from now since the book comes out in June, but know it's incredible!

New Books

This Week I Read

MC's Happenings Off the Blog

Hi everyone! It's been a pretty normal week for me...nothing out of the ordinary. I have been even more clumsy than usual this week, though, so I'm a bit sore. I tripped earlier in the week and then I hit my head really hard. I think I will just be listening to audiobooks for a few days to let myself rest. I can't believe what a klutz i am. Luckily, I have Monday off, so I get a nice long weekend. I'm visiting some friends this weekend, but hopefully it will be pretty low-key, so I can relax and rejuvenate. Have a good weekend!

New Books

This Week I Read

In Case You Missed It

Monday book review of The Star-Touched Queen
The topic was love triangles I liked for Top Ten Tuesday
Thursday audiobook review of The 100
On Saturday I discussed why reading is basically cardio

Upcoming Reviews

We're linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
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Saturday, February 18, 2017

Why reading is basically the same as cardio

Running, I hate it. I used to get a little bit of pleasure (a little) from running long distances, years ago before I hurt my knee somehow. Now I can't really do much running without that throbbing pain coming back to haunt me. Shockingly, I wasn't all that devastated that I couldn't run anymore! These days I suffer through the elliptical or walking on an incline when I absolutely must go to the gym, but the truth is I do not enjoy it at all. You know what I do love to do though? Read. I LOVE to read! So imagine how excited I was when I was told that I'm basically getting just as good of a workout by reading all the time!

Recently I met a local medical student who is currently undecided between neurology and cardiology, but has done study in both areas. We engaged in discussion about the effect reading has on health and I came away with a conclusion which he wholeheartedly supported: there's really no need to even work out if you're reading constantly. They're both working out, right? And do you REALLY want to be outside pounding pavement when you could be snuggled up in your reading nook exercising your brain?

Now listen, I know you're probably thinking I've gone off the deep end right about now, but I have sources to back this up! Reading has also been found to strengthen "muscles" (in your brain but still). More importantly, reading helps to reduce stress levels by up to two thirds, helping you to stay mentally healthy! And did you know that people who read have an average 23 month survival advantage over people who don't? So not only does reading actually work out your brain "muscles" but it is also proven to make you live longer! Why go to the gym at all?

Okay, so maybe reading isn't exactly the same as running or lifting weights, but mental health is just as important, right? All I'm saying, is maybe I'm not going to feel quite as bad about not making it to the gym considering I'll be living 23 months longer than my non-reading counterparts anyway.

*Disclaimer: please don't take medical advice from me, I'm just lazy.*
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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Audiobook Review: The 100 by Kass Morgan

Title: The 100
Author: Kass Morgan
Narrator: Justin Torres & Phoebe Strole
Publication Date: September 3, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
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No one has set foot on Earth in centuries -- until now.

Ever since a devastating nuclear war, humanity has lived on spaceships far above Earth's radioactive surface. Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents -- considered expendable by society -- are being sent on a dangerous mission: to recolonize the planet. It could be their second chance at life...or it could be a suicide mission.

CLARKE was arrested for treason, though she's haunted by the memory of what she really did. WELLS, the chancellor's son, came to Earth for the girl he loves -- but will she ever forgive him? Reckless BELLAMY fought his way onto the transport pod to protect his sister, the other half of the only pair of siblings in the universe. And GLASS managed to escape back onto the ship, only to find that life there is just as dangerous as she feared it would be on Earth.

Confronted with a savage land and haunted by secrets from their pasts, the hundred must fight to survive. They were never meant to be heroes, but they may be mankind's last hope. 

Let's set the stage: In our future, humans have fled Earth and taken to living in space stations, because nuclear warfare and radiation has rendered our planet uninhabitable. Even the smallest crimes are taken very seriously on the space stations, and our story follows a group of teens who have been convicted of various crimes. 100 criminal teens are being sent to Earth to see if it can sustain human life once again. Of course, things don't go according to plan, and the teens have to find a way to survive, while discovering just how much things have changed on Earth.

While I enjoyed listening to The 100, it didn't really impress me very much. It was an interesting story, but never went deep enough for me to connect to the story or the characters. I have listened to this audiobook twice, and I am still confused about the relationships between all the characters. Clarke used to date Wells, who is best friends with Glass, who was dating Luke, who is now dating Camille, who I think is maybe friends with someone else. I honestly have no idea. There are so many connections and the point of view changed so often that I kept losing track of who had connections with other characters. The one character that I liked the most was Bellamy, but I didn't develop any connection to or concern for the other characters.

While the story was interesting and full of action, some of the storytelling needed some work. For example, there is a scene where two space stations are sealed off from each other in an effort to preserve oxygen. Yet one of the characters climbs through the air ducts to get from one station to the other. If everything is sealed off to preserve oxygen, it shouldn't be so easy to travel through the air ducts. It makes no sense. This is the most glaring example, but there were other instances in the book where I wished details had been more fleshed out. The concept of the story is really interesting, and I kept finding myself wanting more and getting let down.

All in all, the story was entertaining, but not one that will stick with me for a long time. I haven't seen the TV show yet, but I can understand why so many people say the show is so much better. I can picture a lot of the scenes having great potential for TV. Seeing this story unravel on the screen will probably help to flesh out the details I was missing in the book. I enjoyed the story enough that I will probably listen to the next book at some point in the future. And I really want to finally watch the show. But unfortunately, I am already having trouble remembering a lot of details about the story because it didn't have a tremendous impact on me.

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