Sunday, September 23, 2018

Weekly Recap: 9/16 - 9/22


Hi everyone! This has been a super busy week but not a bad one! I did some dog sitting, ran a few miles, listened to a few audiobooks, and even found time to go to the Food and Wine Festival again for a couple hours. I'm also diving back into candle making for another couple weeks in preparation for October. I also signed up for the Fraterfest Readathon! This is super ambitious for me because I have a tendency to fail miserably at them, but I decided a spooky book readathon might be just the thing to make me finally meet a goal! Speaking of goals, I completed this year's Audiobook Reading Challenge this month! I only signed up for a few this year, but it looks like I might actually complete them all! What a nice change from 2017!






Monday ARC review of The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein
The topic was my Fall TBR for Top Ten Tuesday
On Wednesday I went back down the TBR hole
Friday DNF ARC review of Black Wings Beating
On Saturday I talked about some book cover glow ups



We're linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Saturday, September 22, 2018

Four popular books that got huge makeovers

Have you ever seen a book that was just so ugly you had no desire to pick it up? I have readily admitted several times that I judge books by their covers. I know, I know. We shouldn't do it, but I can't help it! Sometimes these hideous books are lucky enough to get new covers that breathe new life into them and bring a new audience. These are four that started out rather unfortunately but ended up being popular after they had a makeover. 

Eragon started out as an indie book, written by Christopher Paolini when he was just a teenager. Of course, the book, published through his parents' independent publishing company, did not have the prettiest of covers to start with. Shortly after it was published, it was picked up by a major publisher and given a makeover. It may not be the prettiest book, but it's certainly a huge improvement and fits the feel of the story a bit better, I think.

Let me start by saying that I HATED this book! But even I can appreciate how much better the newer cover is. Honestly, I have no clue what she was thinking when that first one was designed. I did read it years ago and I have no idea how that cover fits the book at all. This is another case of a Big 5 publisher picking up an independently published book, and thank goodness they did. Yikes.

Apparently, Call Me By Your Name wasn't popular at all before the movie came out. According to Wikipedia it had sold under 1000 copies before the movie in 2017. I'll admit it wasn't even on my radar before I saw the movie, so I definitely believe it! The new cover is a movie tie in, but anything is better than the original. Surprisingly, this is the only book on this list that wasn't independently published to begin with. 

This is another book I really didn't care for (and another indie published one), but the new cover was 100% what made me want to read it. I had seen the original cover for The Siren on Kiera's Goodreads profile, but had no interest in it solely based on how ugly it was. When it was re-published by Harper with a gorgeous new cover, I was sucked in. Unfortunately, it was still really disappointing. 

Do you judge books by their covers? 
What's the ugliest book you've ever read? 
Let me know in the comments!
Friday, September 21, 2018

Mini DNF ARC Review: Black Wings Beating

Title: Black Wings Beating (Skybound #1)
Author: Alex London
Publication Date: September 25, 2018
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Pages: 432
Add to Goodreads

//I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review//
The people of Uztar have long looked to the sky with hope and wonder. Nothing in their world is more revered than the birds of prey and no one more honored than the falconers who call them to their fists.

Brysen strives to be a great falconer--while his twin sister, Kylee, rejects her ancient gifts for the sport and wishes to be free of falconry. She's nearly made it out, too, but a war is rolling toward their home in the Six Villages, and no bird or falconer will be safe.

Together the twins must journey into the treacherous mountains to trap the Ghost Eagle, the greatest of the Uztari birds and a solitary killer. Brysen goes for the boy he loves and the glory he's long craved, and Kylee to atone for her past and to protect her brother's future. But both are hunted by those who seek one thing: power.

Black Wings Beating was one of my most anticipated books of this year! It's gorgeous and the synopsis sounds so unique! I was thrilled to receive it in the mail earlier this year. Once I started reading it though, I quickly realized it wasn't going to be the book for me.

I don't have a ton to say about Black Wings Beating, but the main point I took away was that if you are not interested in birds and falconry, you may not love this book. I slogged through the first few chapters and there was just SO much bird talk. I guess I should've guessed as much from the things I mentioned drew me in, but I really didn't think it was literally going to be primarily a bird book.

The characters also weren't captivating enough to keep me interested. It's possible that they could've pulled me in had I kept at it, but Brysen seemed impulsive and annoying, and Kylee just didn't make a huge impression. I do like that the main characters were siblings, though.

Apart from the focus on the birds, the world building was interesting, if a bit of an info dump. The mythology surrounding the two clans was unique and in the bit that I read of this book I did find it to be well written. Sadly, these things weren't enough to keep me reading. If you love birds, you'll probably love this book! I just couldn't get into it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Down the TBR Hole #4

Hi again! This week I'm back with five more books from my ever growing TBR list. Perhaps not surprisingly, there's another Disney book in the bunch, but my YA preferences are slowly becoming more apparent at this point in my TBR. It's interesting to see how my reading preferences changed as my TBR grew!

The Down the TBR Hole meme was started by Lost In a Story and it is the most perfect tool for cleaning off shelves that I've come across. Here's how it works:
  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?



First of all, I was always under the impression that this was a retelling and I have no idea why. Apparently it's a historical fiction/time traveling book. After reading some reviews, I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, I don't really read historical fiction and the reviews talk about instalove and slow pacing. On the other hand... Actually, I think I'll just go with the first hand on this one. VERDICT: PASS


I feel like I've been whining about wanting more dystopian books for awhile now and I kind of forgot this one existed. However, MC reviewed this book on Cornerfolds and, well, she hated it. The word "savage" is also used to describe the darker skinned character on the cover and that's pretty yikesy. Then again, I can't find any reviews mentioning it as an issue in the book itself. And SO MANY reviewers I trust liked this one. Still, a lot of the reviews say this isn't a true dystopian book, so I think I'll skip it for now. VERDICT: PASS


A Disney book! Who's shocked? This one is specifically about architecture and I think that could make for a super interesting read. It includes the architecture of their corporate offices in addition to the parks, but I guess I could just skip over those pages. The reviews say this also includes the architecture of Celebration, Florida! Now I just need to locate a copy. VERDICT: KEEP


This book apparently has no connection to the movie by the same name (and with a very similar synopsis), but I am still very intrigued by it! I was pulled in by the blurb then and I'm still super curious now. This book is about something being discovered in a cave, a labyrinth full of another race of beings, and it sounds so good! VERDICT: KEEP


I know that one of you prompted me to put this on my TBR. Was it you, Jessica? While it does sound interesting, I've realized over the years that urban fantasy just isn't my genre. I've kept it around just in case the mood ever struck, but I just don't think I'll ever read it! VERDICT: PASS

Once again, I've purged three books from my TBR. Never mind that I accidentally added a few more in the last week... Oops.

What have you added or deleted from your TBR lately?
Let me know in the comments! 
Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday #205: Fall 2018 TBR

Today's Topic: 
Top Ten Books On My Fall 2018 TBR

It's that time of year again when I get to share the Fall releases I'm excited to read! There are so many good books coming out that it was hard to pick just ten! Perhaps not surprisingly, the fantasy binge continues. Authors, please write dystopian books! 

Amber & Dusk by Lyra Selene
Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore
The Cursed Sea by Lauren DeStefano
Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri

Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean
The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth
Outrun the Wind by Elizabeth Tammi
Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa

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

Monday, September 17, 2018

ARC Review: The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White

Title: The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein
Author: Kiersten White
Publication Date: September 25, 2018
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pages: 304
Add to Goodreads

Elizabeth Lavenza hasn't had a proper meal in weeks. Her thin arms are covered with bruises from her "caregiver," and she is on the verge of being thrown into the streets . . . until she is brought to the home of Victor Frankenstein, an unsmiling, solitary boy who has everything--except a friend.

Victor is her escape from misery. Elizabeth does everything she can to make herself indispensable--and it works. She is taken in by the Frankenstein family and rewarded with a warm bed, delicious food, and dresses of the finest silk. Soon she and Victor are inseparable.

But her new life comes at a price. As the years pass, Elizabeth's survival depends on managing Victor's dangerous temper and entertaining his every whim, no matter how depraved. Behind her blue eyes and sweet smile lies the calculating heart of a girl determined to stay alive no matter the cost . . . as the world she knows is consumed by darkness.

I will admit that I have never read the original Frankenstein. I know, it's embarrassing, but I've seen and read enough retellings that I feel like I have an okay grasp on the story. Even if I didn't, I absolutely would have picked up this book as soon as humanly possible because I am obsessed with everything Kiersten White writes after falling in love with And I Darken.

This Frankenstein retelling focuses on Elizabeth, a young orphan who is taken in by Victor Frankenstein's family in order to befriend him and keep him out of trouble. Elizabeth does whatever she can throughout the story to make herself useful and irreplaceable in the Frankenstein household. I found Elizabeth to be a character who was morally gray and extremely interesting. I wouldn't go so far as to say that I loved her, but I was definitely intrigued by her motives and sympathized with her fierce need to belong.

Victor Frankenstein is about what you would expect. He's passionate and dark and and a bit terrifying. He has a very intense desire to conquer death, which leads to some extremely questionable, horrific actions. Elizabeth and Victor together were all kinds of disturbing and this book makes no effort to hide it. Although it's clear that they love each other, it is definitely in a very unusual and possibly toxic way. I still found myself rooting for them, at least for part of the time.

There were other characters along this journey who were all fantastic and Frankenstein's Monster was fantastic! I thought the writing was beautiful and the world was atmospheric. The story was interesting and different enough from any other I've read to keep me intrigued. All that said, there was one big issue I had with this book and that was the pacing in the first 60% of it.

In And I Darken, a very large chunk of the book was devoted to telling you how the characters became who they were. Because that book was nearly 500 pages long and part of a trilogy, it worked for me. Something very similar happened in this book, but Elizabeth Frankenstein is 300 pages long and a standalone, which made getting through the first 200 pages incredibly tedious. Had this book been by an author I didn't know I loved, I would have given up on it. Luckily, the last third made up for it and presented an incredible story. If you happen to love character driven books, you'll probably love it start to finish!

The ending of this book is very different than the ending of the original Frankenstein, which is perfectly alright with me since this is a retelling. I really enjoyed the ending and would love to see what happens next! The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein is a unique take on a story that has been told a million times. If you're a fan of the Frankenstein story or gothic horror in general, I would recommend this.