Sunday, May 31, 2015

Weekly Recap: 5/24 - 5/30

My Super Exciting Life 

As you can tell, I'm back from vacation! And it was so much fun!

Week one was at Disney World where we did the Wild Africa Trek at Animal Kingdom. We spent some time dangling over crocodiles on a rope bridge, which was pretty awesome! Unfortunately, I got pretty sick by the fifth day there, which also happened to be the day before the cruise. It was so bad that I ended up in the ER getting IV hookups and making sure I was okay to go on the cruise, which I was.

The next week was spent in the Caribbean. We went to Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Mexico, and Disney's private island, Castaway Cay. Yes, I was really queasy for the first few days, but it was just amazing! We ate at some amazing fine dining restaurants and my husband surprised me with a couple's spa package.

And... I'm back to reality. So... yeah. We're seriously considering booking a 14 day cruise through the Panama Canal next May, so that would be incredible! But for now I'm just hanging out at home taking the summer off and doing absolutely nothing.

New Books

This has been an AMAZING book buy week! First I got Crimson Bound and End of Days on Amazon and then Kiss of Deception, Trial by Fire, and Lailah came from! Lailah is the first "Scratch and Dent" book I've ever ordered. I got it because it was $3 cheaper, but I don't think I'll do it again. The dust jacket is ripped in a few places, the bottom of the book is significantly banged up, and there's writing on the front. Oh well! 

In Case You Missed It

Monday audiobook review of The Vault of Dreamers
The topic was the summer TBR list for Top Ten Tuesday
I featured Serafina and the Black Cloak for Waiting on Wednesday
Thursday I discussed my boring physical TBR books
The topic was how long my TBR list is for Feature & Follow Friday
On Saturday I shared my #TBRTakeover read-a-thon post

This Week I Read


Upcoming Review

I'm linking up to Stacking the Shelves and Sunday Post

Saturday, May 30, 2015

#TBRTakedown Read-a-thon

So... today when I was pursuing the interwebs I came across a read-a-thon that seems to be picking up a lot of speed in the BookTube community. Even though I'm not going near YouTube with a 10-foot pole, I thought it sounded like a lot of fun and might even help me with these physical TBR issues I've been having lately.

Here's the announcement video for the challenge!

The idea behind this read-a-thon is to whittle away at all of those books that have been slowly piling up on your bookshelves over the course of a week (June 1-7). There are five mini-challenges to make it a little more interesting!

  1. A book that's been on your TBR shelf over a year!
  2. An unread sequel sitting on your TBR shelf.
  3. A first book in a series on your TBR shelf.
  4. An "out of your comfort zone" book on le TBR shelf!
  5. A book from your most recent book haul!

Five books in a week is a little too ambitious for me since it's physical copies only and audiobooks don't count so I've decided to combine some of these categories and plan to read a total of 3 books.

Here is my TBR for the read-a-thon (I'm an extremely indecisive mood reader and can't make this decision now... so these are the options):

A book that's been on your TBR for over a year/A first book in a series 


An unread sequel/A book from your most recent book haul


An "out of your comfort zone" book


So there it is! The read-a-thon begins on Monday and I am SUPER excited to get started on this one! Is anyone else planning to participate?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Feature & Follow #49: TBR List

Happy Friday, fellow book lovers! Feature & Follow is a blog hop hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. The goal of Feature & Follow is to meet new bloggers, make friends, and gain readers.

This Week's Question: 
How many books have you 
got on your TBR list? 

Well... this is embarrassing. I think I have more books on my TBR list than my read list on Goodreads. That has been confirmed. My read list on Goodreads is currently at 337, while my to-read list is at 419. I didn't start tracking religiously until last year, so maybe that will level out at some point.

It's doubtful.

My bookshelf runneth over... with books I don't read

I'm talking about those books that you buy and then they just sit on your bookshelf for years, untouched. You know the ones. They're all at least five years past their publication date and their covers aren't really what's "in" right now. You bought them at a yard sale or a library book sale (or even on thinking they sounded good for under a buck. In the back of your mind you knew you'd never really read them. But maybe... maybe one day you'll be in the mood for that book.

I have so many of those books. They sit on my shelves and look less glamorous somehow than the ones I was absolutely dying to have and willing to pay full price for. Why do I even buy them?

I've done it since high school. I go to book sales and scout out the 50 cent section, loading up on books that might be good one day when I miraculously run out of every other amazing new-release book on the entire planet and have absolutely nothing else to read.

And yet... every time I decide to go through my books to get rid of some, I find some reason to keep them all anyway.

Until yesterday they were all on my bottom shelves, but then I decided to alphabetize everything. I always feel so bad for all of my less fortunate books. I feel like they're blatantly jumping off the shelves at me like, "I know I'm old but read me anyway!" And I feel bad for putting their authors into a box. Like it's somehow their fault that I found their books five years too late.

I've almost missed out on some really amazing series this way. For example, when I started blogging last year The Selection was pretty outdated, but I ultimately gave it a try.

That's not even a great example though, since there are still sequels being released. There are books that are just collecting dust because they're not necessarily popular at the moment. Someone tell me I'm missing out!! 

Here are all the books that I'm currently -not- reading because of the steady stream of awesomeness that's hitting the shelves this summer:

I finally made a TBR jar after reorganizing in an attempt to finally read some of these poor, unloved books that are going unread. Despite my status as a hopeless mood reader, I'm hoping this might work since I'm taking the summer off (of life) and don't have any other pressing deadlines.

Am I the only one with this problem? Does anyone else have a ton of (cheap) books that they bought on a whim but will probably never read? Tell me I'm not alone, people!!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday #51: Seraphina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty

Happy Wednesday, fellow book lovers! This week's "can't wait to read" is:

Seraphina and the Black Cloak
Robert Beatty
Publication Date: July 14, 2015

A spooky mystery-thriller about an unusual girl who lives secretly in the basement of the grand Biltmore Estate.

"Never go into the deep parts of the forest, for there are many dangers there and they will ensnare your soul."

Serafina has never had a reason to disobey her pa and venture beyond the grounds of Biltmore Estate. There's plenty to explore in the shadowed corridors of her vast home, but she must take care to never be seen. None of the rich folk upstairs know that Serafina exists; she and her pa, the estate's maintenance man, have secretly lived in the basement for as long as Serafina can remember.

But when children at the estate start disappearing, only Serafina knows who the culprit is: a terrifying man in a black cloak who stalks Biltmore's corridors at night. Following her own harrowing escape, Serafina risks everything by joining forces with Braeden Vanderbilt, the young nephew of Biltmore's owners. Braeden and Serafina must uncover the Man in the Black Cloak's true identity before all of the children vanish one by one.

Serafina's hunt leads her into the very forest that she has been taught to fear. There she discovers a forgotten legacy of magic that is bound to her own identity. In order to save the children of Biltmore, Serafina must seek the answers that will unlock the puzzle of her past.

Well, you know I love thrillers (horror) and this one is set in my home state! The Biltmore Estate seems like a perfect place for a creepy story! I can't wait to get my hands on this one!

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday #45: Summer reads

Today's Topic: 
 Ten Books I Plan To Have In 
My Beach Bag This Summer

Fun fact: I don't go to the beach! So... these are the top ten books I plan to read this summer while I'm taking time off of school life.


The Cage by Megan Shepherd
Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge
Even When You Lie to Me by Jessica Alcott
Hook's Daughter by Heidi Schulz
Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley


The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes
Shutter by Courtney Alameda
Sweet by Emmy Laybourne
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish -  a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers. Each week they post a new Top Ten list and everyone is welcome to join. Click here to get involved!
Monday, May 25, 2015

Audiobook Review: The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O'Brien

Title: The Vault of Dreamers
Author: Caragh M. O'Brien
Publication Date: September 16, 2014
Publisher: Roaring Book Press
Pages: 432
Add to Goodreads

From the author of the Birthmarked trilogy comes a fast-paced, psychologically thrilling novel about what happens when your dreams are not your own.

The Forge School is the most prestigious arts school in the country. The secret to its success: every moment of the students' lives is televised as part of the insanely popular Forge Show, and the students' schedule includes twelve hours of induced sleep meant to enhance creativity. But when first year student Rosie Sinclair skips her sleeping pill, she discovers there is something off about Forge. In fact, she suspects that there are sinister things going on deep below the reaches of the cameras in the school. What's worse is, she starts to notice that the edges of her consciousness do not feel quite right. And soon, she unearths the ghastly secret that the Forge School is hiding—and what it truly means to dream there. 

It took me awhile to get around to reading The Vault of Dreamers for a couple reasons. First, I'd heard some pretty mixed reviews and I wasn't sure if it would be worth it. Second, I just wasn't sold on the description. I'd also never read anything by the author. But when I got the chance to listen to the audiobook I jumped at it! It seems that audiobooks are the only way I'll spend time "reading" certain books...

The main character in this story is Rosie and right away we know that she's a rule breaker. From the first moment we meet her, Rosie is running off doing what she's not supposed to be doing when she shouldn't be doing it. But that's part of her charm, right? I honestly did like Rosie for the most part! I didn't really have any serious issues with her other than her complete inability to trust anyone, but I guess she's come by that honestly.

Shortly after the story begins, Rosie meets Linus, a dishwasher in the school cafeteria. Their romance was satisfying enough for most of the book, but it just wasn't... great. In fact, all of the relationships in The Vault of Dreamers seemed a little inauthentic.

What I did love about this book was the story - it was totally unique! The Forge School seemed super fishy from the get go and it made me wonder why the students and their parents weren't a little more inquisitive about the whole sleeping regimen... but whatever. I can suspend my belief that much. A reality show as the cover for the whole operation was a really unique way to approach it, and never getting a moment of privacy definitely added to Rosie's problems. The creep factor as Rosie slowly uncovered the mystery of the Forge School was pretty awesome and I'll admit I was a little weirded out by it, which is good.

I also felt like the world building was pretty great! The stark contrasts presented throughout the book were tangible. Caragh M. Obrien certainly does a fantastic job of putting together a setting that feels real.

Unfortunately, despite the positives, The Vault of Dreamers just wasn't what I hoped it would be. Maybe my expectations were too high despite the mixed reviews, but I just wanted MORE from this book. The way Rosie interacted with, well, everyone was just weird to me - and not in a good way. I also wish a little more had been explained about the dreams and their purpose... The way the book ended left me totally unsatisfied, especially the way things went with Linus.

Overall, this was a decent book. I might read the second one just to find out what happens next, but I definitely don't feel any hurry to get to it.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday #50: A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston

Happy Wednesday, fellow book lovers! This week's "can't wait to read" is:

A Thousand Nights
E.K. Johnston
Publication Date: October 6, 2015

Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to her village, looking for a wife. When she sees the dust cloud on the horizon, she knows he has arrived. She knows he will want the loveliest girl: her sister. She vows she will not let her be next.

And so she is taken in her sister's place, and she believes death will soon follow. Lo-Melkhiin's court is a dangerous palace filled with pretty things: intricate statues with wretched eyes, exquisite threads to weave the most beautiful garments. She sees everything as if for the last time.But the first sun rises and sets, and she is not dead. Night after night, Lo-Melkhiin comes to her and listens to the stories she tells, and day after day she is awoken by the sunrise. Exploring the palace, she begins to unlock years of fear that have tormented and silenced a kingdom. Lo-Melkhiin was not always a cruel ruler. Something went wrong.

Far away, in their village, her sister is mourning. Through her pain, she calls upon the desert winds, conjuring a subtle unseen magic, and something besides death stirs the air.

Back at the palace, the words she speaks to Lo-Melkhiin every night are given a strange life of their own. Little things, at first: a dress from home, a vision of her sister. With each tale she spins, her power grows. Soon she dreams of bigger, more terrible magic: power enough to save a king, if she can put an end to the rule of a monster.

Ooooh! Another retelling?! This one sounds so good! I've only read pieces of the original One Thousand and One Arabian Nights, but the story is definitely an intriguing one! I can't wait to get my hands on this one!

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Book Review: The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Title: The Winner's Curse (Winner's Trilogy #1)
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Publication Date: March 4, 2014
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Pages: 355
Add to Goodreads
Reviews for book 2 & book 3

Winning what you want may cost you everything you love.

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction.

Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

I am almost ashamed to admit that The Winner's Curse sat on my shelf for over three months waiting to be read. To be honest, I really just wasn't sure what to expect from a book categorized as High Fantasty, Science Fiction, History, and Dystopia. I mean, how can a book be both historical AND dystopian? I really still don't know the answer to that question after reading it, but I am glad I took the plunge because this is one book that really lives up to the hype!

Kestrel is the main lady in the Winner's series and I loved her almost immediately. I loved that she went against the grain (what YA heroine doesn't though?). She's the general's daughter and is obviously in good social standing, but doesn't seem to let it go to her head. Her fighting skills aren't amazing, but she was just the right balance of awesome and "normal" for me to love her! I also really enjoyed getting to know Arin. There were things about him that I couldn't be sure of for most of the book and I really liked that. One of the things that really won me over was the romance between Kestrel and Arin.

First of all, NO love triangle! Not at all, not even a little bit. What a breath of fresh air! Not only that, but the romance was really slow and because of that it was believable. Kestrel was actually pretty indifferent towards Arin in the beginning, which made their eventual romance all the more satisfying. As the plot moves and things get more difficult, their relationship gets even better (better to read, at least).

Ahh, the plot... Who doesn't love a good conspiracy?! I loved the way what is happening in the book is slowly revealed to the reader in the same way it is to the characters. Sometimes it's nice to be completely in the know, but the way this book worked out was really fantastic! Seeing all the pieces of the bigger picture come together as more of the events unravel had me up late more than once because I couldn't put it down! The dynamics of the government that has been created and the long-past war and its outcomes were so detailed and...real. My one complaint is that it did seem to be a little slow in the middle, but it certainly picked up again in the last third of the book.

Oh, and when the synopsis says this book is "set in a richly imagined new world" it isn't joking! I'm about to move on to book two and I still can't figure out what cultures this is even based on. For a minute I was thinking maybe somewhere in Asia, then I thought Russia, but I think I've given up. This world is like nothing I've ever encountered before. It's complex and feels so real I almost feel like I could go there!

So anyway, welcome to another review where I just rant and rave about how awesome everything is. In case you couldn't tell, I loved this one! Yes, there was a little bit of lag in the for maybe the second third, but it definitely wasn't enough to detract from the story or its characters. The ending totally threw me for a loop! Definite cliffhanger alert!! I'm reading book two as soon as I can get my hands on it because now I have to know what happens next!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Feature & Follow Friday #48: Organization

Happy Friday, fellow book lovers! Feature & Follow is a blog hop hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. The goal of Feature & Follow is to meet new bloggers, make friends, and gain readers.

This Week's Question: 
How do you organize your books? 
Either at home on your bookshelves or 
on your reading-device, or on your bookish 
platform like Goodreads, Leafmarks or Booklikes.

Home bookshelves: I have three. The first one is filled with only YA books. The top shelf has some of my favorites and the second shelf is my immediate TBR. The other shelves are just... the rest. The second is really old books and adult titles. It's pretty much organized by favorite authors: J.R.R. Tolkien, Anne Rice, Dan Brown, Michael Crichton, Philippa Gregory... The last bookshelf holds my middle grade books and Disney-related books.

Goodreads shelves: These are really disorganized. The only real organization is by genre and last year I started trying to track them by year. One day I'll get in there and make it pretty. 
Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday #49: The Last of the Spirits by Chris Priestley

Happy Wednesday, fellow book lovers! This week's "can't wait to read" is:

The Last of the Spirits
Chris Priestley
Publication Date: June 16, 2015

Sam and Lizzie are freezing and hungry on the streets of Victorian London. When Sam asks a wealthy man for some coins, he is rudely turned away. Months of struggle suddenly find their focus, and Sam resolves to kill the man. Huddling in a graveyard for warmth, Sam and Lizzie are horrified to see the earth around one of the tombs begin to shift, shortly followed by the wraithlike figure of a ghostly man. He warns Sam about the future which awaits such a bitter heart, and so begins Sam's journey led by terrifying spirits through the past, present and future, after which Sam must decide whether to take the man, Scrooge's, life or not.

A perfectly layered, tense and supremely satisfying twist on one of Dickens' most popular books, cleverly reinvented to entice a younger readership. 

I really don't read many middle grade books, but this one caught my attention right away! Mostly because of the gorgeous cover... and then because of the description! I love a good ghost story AND a good retelling. This one sounds awesome!

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Book blitz & giveaway: The Fever by Megan Abbott

This book has been out in hardcover since last year, but now it's coming out in this GORGEOUS paperback! I'm not sure which cover I like more!! 

Title: The Fever
Author: Megan Abbott
Publication Date: May 12, 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Pages: 336
Add to Goodreads
The panic unleashed by a mysterious contagion threatens the bonds of family and community in a seemingly idyllic suburban community.

The Nash family is close-knit. Tom is a popular teacher, father of two teens: Eli, a hockey star and girl magnet, and his sister Deenie, a diligent student. Their seeming stability, however, is thrown into chaos when Deenie's best friend is struck by a terrifying, unexplained seizure in class. Rumors of a hazardous outbreak spread through the family, school and community.

As hysteria and contagion swell, a series of tightly held secrets emerges, threatening to unravel friendships, families and the town's fragile idea of security.

A chilling story about guilt, family secrets and the lethal power of desire, The Fever affirms Megan Abbot's reputation as "one of the most exciting and original voices of her generation" (Laura Lippman). 

About the Author
Megan Abbott is the Edgar®-winning author of the novels QueenpinThe Song Is YouDie a LittleBury Me DeepThe End of EverythingDare Me, and her latest, The Fever, which was chosen as one of the Best Books of the Summer by the New York Times, People Magazine and Entertainment Weekly and one of the Best Books of the Year by Amazon, National Public Radio, the Boston Globe and the Los Angeles Times.

Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Salon, the Guardian, Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times Magazine, The Believer and the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Born in the Detroit area, she graduated from the University of Michigan and received her Ph.D. in English and American literature from New York University. She has taught at NYU, the State University of New York and the New School University. In 2013-14, she served as the John Grisham Writer in Residence at Ole Miss.

She is also the author of a nonfiction book, The Street Was Mine: White Masculinity in Hardboiled Fiction and Film Noir, and the editor of A Hell of a Woman, an anthology of female crime fiction. She has been nominated for many awards, including three Edgar® Awards, Hammett Prize, the Shirley Jackson Prize, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Folio Prize.


5 winners will receive a paperback copy of THE FEVER! US Only.

Ends on May 22nd at Midnight EST!

Top Ten Tuesday #44: Authors I'm dying to meet

Today's Topic: 

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish -  a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers. Each week they post a new Top Ten list and everyone is welcome to join. Click here to get involved!