Friday, September 30, 2016

Four books I'd love to read this Halloween

Tender lumplings everywhere. Life's no fun without a good scare! I mean, um... It's almost Halloween! As you may know, I'm a pretty big horror fanatic so Halloween is one of my favorite times of year! Every year I vow to read horror all month and every year I fail, but today I'm sharing my tentative TBR. These are the four books I would most love to read this October!

Title: The Call of Cthulu and Other Weird Stories
Author: H.P. Lovecraft
Publication Date: 1938
Add to Goodreads

I have never read anything by H.P. Lovecraft and I'm kind of embarrassed about it! I play Elder Sign, a board game based on his stories. I also just purchased a series based on Lovecraft and I'm sure it would be much more meaningful if I'd ever read the source material! 

Title: Interview With the Vampire
Author: Anne Rice
Publication Date: April 12, 1976
Add to Goodreads

In high school my library had a beat up copy of Queen of the Damned which I read and loved, but somehow I have never read the original Interview With the Vampire. I saw the movie once upon a time but don't remember much of it. After purchasing Anne Rice's new books, The Vampire Lestat, I decided it may be time to give this one a try!
Title: Coraline
Author: Neil Gaiman
Publication Date: 2002
Add to Goodreads

Here's yet another book that I've never read even though I've seen the movie based on it. I'm sure this won't be a true horror novel since it's written for children, but I'm hopeful that I'll at least be solidly creeped out! This will be my first Gaiman book, which I'm pretty sure is some kind of sin in the book world. 

Title: Say Her Name
Author: James Dawson
Publication Date: June 5, 2014
Add to Goodreads

Say Her Name was suggested to me when I was really disappointed by another YA Bloody Mary retelling. I've heard this one is thoroughly terrifying and I'm really hoping that it meets my expectations! Bloody Mary used to scare the crap out of me as a kid to the point where I was a little iffy about mirrors for awhile. This one should be a lot of fun to read!

Have you read any of these? 
Which do you think I should start with? 
Let me know in the comments!

Don't forget to check out this year's mini-challenge for Halloween, Sixteen (Bookish) Horror Films in October '16, hosted by myself, Sci-Fi & Scary, and I Push Books!
Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday #115: Fall TBR

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

There are so many amazing books coming out that it was honestly hard to narrow this down to ten! These are the ones I'm most excited about reading in the fall.  

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
The Diabolic S.J. Kincaid
Heartless by Marissa Meyer
Hunted by Meagan Spooner

RoseBlood by A.G. Howard
Stranded by Bracken Macleod
The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
This Is Our Story by Ashley Elston
Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.
Monday, September 26, 2016

Book review: Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

Title: Glass Sword (Red Queen #2) 
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Publication Date: February 9, 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen

Pages: 444
Add to Goodreads

Reviews for book 1 & book 3

If there’s one thing Mare Barrow knows, it’s that she’s different.

Mare Barrow’s blood is red—the color of common folk—but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control.

The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from Maven, the prince—the friend—who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind.

Pursued by Maven, now a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors.

But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat.

Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?

The electrifying next installment in the Red Queen series escalates the struggle between the growing rebel army and the blood-segregated world they’ve always known—and pits Mare against the darkness that has grown in her soul.

Well... wow. That was honestly one of the most disappointing sequels I have ever read, ever. I would like to begin this review with a visual representation of my reading experience:

So, yeah. That basically sums it up. I began this book almost immediately after it was released. I read just under 200 pages before putting it down. Over the months I tried a few times to read more because, well, EVERYONE loves this book and I was determined to finish it! Finally in September I got the audiobook from the library and swore to see it through. I did. I'm going to try my damndest to write this review but I obviously don't remember much from the first half so bear with me.

Glass Sword picks up immediately after Red Queen, that much I do know. Almost this entire book consists of Mare, Cal, and Co. on the run from Maven and in search of New Bloods who also have super cool powers because of reasons. It. Is. Boring. They run a bit, they find a New Blood, they convince him or her to join them, Maven almost catches up. Rinse and repeat. Over and over and over. Glass Sword is all about repetition. A few exciting things do happen here and there, but they are so few and far between that this book just drags.

Honestly, I don't know what happened between Red Queen and this. Red Queen was not entirely original (I don't think anyone is arguing that at this point) but it was fun. It was an exciting first book and there was constantly new information being revealed to keep things moving along. I enjoyed it and the ending was such a huge twist that it pretty much made me forget the problems I had with the first 95%, but that didn't happen here. My biggest problem is that Red Queen Mare was tolerable and even enjoyable, while Glass Sword Mare is a totally different human.
"Only despair drowns out my rage."
- Mare Barrow

This quote perfectly sums up Glass Sword Mare. Literally all she does in this entire 444 page book is whine about how horrible her life is and, when she isn't doing that, she is constantly mad and bitching about everything and at everyone. She is rude, annoying, and thinks that she's God's gift to the planet. Her power gives her a major god-complex and makes her completely unbearable. There are very few characters that make me want to throw a book (or audio device) across the room, but Mare has done it. Put simply, I can't stand her.

The only thing I really liked about this book were some of the other characters. I enjoyed Cal and found him to be the sensible one throughout pretty much everything. Obviously I really liked Shade also and wish so much that there was more of the two of these characters to drown out Mare's incessant moaning. I also found Farley to be mostly tolerable. That's about the best I can say...

Not even the ending of Glass Sword could save it from itself. (I actually had to just think about it for awhile to remember what happened and I just finished this book.) Other reviewers have talked about what an amazing cliffhanger the ending was and how it came out of nowhere but I really didn't see it that way. It certainly hasn't inspired me to read the next book. I won't be continuing the Red Queen series (apparently it's 4 books now?), which is so disappointing after investing so much time in a series.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Weekly Recap: 9/18 - 9/24

Happenings Off the Blog...

This week has been completely insane, honestly. I've had several extra clients all week, so that has taken up a lot of my time and energy! My husband and I also went to do some house-related stuff this week and then went to Halloween Horror Nights on Friday! I was kind of dragged there against my will, but I didn't totally hate it. I also made it all the way through the night without screaming so yay me! Yesterday we were able to make it to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival for a couple hours where we tried a hard orange cream float and some drinking chocolate! Today is definitely my day to catch up...

New Books

Traded finished copies:

In Case You Missed It

Monday ARC review of Bright Smoke, Cold Fire
The topic was audiobooks for Top Ten Tuesday
On Wednesday I posted sign-ups for a Halloween mini-challenge
Saturday audiobook review of Sleeping Giants

This Week I Read

Upcoming Review

I'm linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Saturday, September 24, 2016

Audiobook review: Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

Title: Sleeping Giants (Themis Files #1)
Author: Sylvain Neuvel
Narrator: Full Cast
Publication Date: April 26, 2016
Publisher: Del Rey
Add to Goodreads
Reviews for book 2 & book 3

A page-turning debut in the tradition of Michael Crichton, World War Z, and The Martian, Sleeping Giants is a thriller fueled by an earthshaking mystery—and a fight to control a gargantuan power.

A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved—its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the provenance of the relic. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unraveling history’s most perplexing discovery—and figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result prove to be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?

I decided to read Sleeping Giants on a whim when a friend mentioned that it sounded interesting. I'd never heard of this book, being outside of my normal circle of YA, and I wasn't a fan of World War Z or The Martian. However... I am a huge fan of conspiracy theories as well as Ancient Aliens (which I had a hunch this might be related to), so I decided to grab the audiobook when I had the chance!

Sleeping Giants is told in the form of interviews and journal entries, which makes for a really unique reading experience. Listening to the audiobook was a fantastic idea because I got to hear this as if I was sitting in on the actual interviews as they happened. Many, many characters make appearances in this book. Some become important and some fade into the background quickly, but each one has something relevant to add. It's honestly such a weirdly written book that it's hard to connect with any one character, but at the same time I felt incredibly invested in each of their stories and outcomes. The one person who ties them all together is the man conducting the interviews, who we never do learn much about. He reminded me a lot of the Smoking Man from The X-Files, only even more mysterious.

There isn't much in the way of filler in this book because of the format and I really loved that! I wouldn't say the pace is necessarily fast, but there isn't much time wasted either. I loved following along as each new piece of the robot was uncovered and assembled and found myself on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what would happen when it was complete!

My favorite part about this book is obviously the conspiracy! I love, love reading about conspiracy theories no matter how good or bad they actually are and Sleeping Giants has a good one! I'm honestly not sure why this was marketed as World War Z meets The Martian, to be honest. If I was the publisher I'd probably have thrown X-Files in there somewhere, although maybe that's just not what's "in" right now. Regardless, that's the vibe I got from this one. Although the pace isn't breakneck, I always wanted to know a little bit more. I wanted to know what the robot was, where it came from, what it was intended for, and I had a hard time turning the audiobook off when I needed to. This story is fascinating! Sleeping Giants is also loaded with twists, turns, and revelations!

Sleeping Giants was wrapped up well enough without a huge cliffhanger, then there was the epilogue which completely blew my mind and now I'm trying (and failing) to wait patiently for Waking Gods, which comes out in like a million years April 2017. Like I said, the pace was very steady and I'm not sure I would've made it through this book if I'd read the physical copy, but the cast who performed the audiobook made it come to life! Sylvain Neuvel has done an incredible job of putting together a story that's entirely unique and may produce mildly obsessive behavior. I would definitely recommend this book to fans of sci-fi or conspiracy theories!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Halloween mini-challenge: 16 (bookish) horror films in October '16

Welcome, horror junkies! 

It's the most wonderful time of the year - Halloween! (Okay, honestly I love Christmas most but Halloween is a close second.) This is my second year hosting the Horror Reading Challenge, this year with Lilyn from Sci-Fi and Scary as my co-host! With the help of Michelle @ I Push Books, who came up with this brilliant idea, we are bringing you a brand new Halloween mini-challenge for the month of October! 

The goal of this challenge is to watch 16 horror films in the month of October, but there's a catch! Each of the horror movies you watch for this challenge must be based on a book. Yes, there will be prizes at the end, but our main objective is to have a lot of fun and great discussion! We will be talking about all the movies we watch in our Goodreads discussion group

Challenge guidelines
  • » Must be a particpant of the Horror Reading Challenge (you can sign up HERE)
  • » This mini-challenge will run from October 1st - 31st
  • » All films must be based on a book
  • » Link your sign-up post or your progress page below in the linky
  • » You can track your progress on Goodreads, IMDB, your blog, or anywhere else
  • » Each movie you log will gain you an entry in the giveaway (a horror book or movie of your choice)
  • » For bonus entries, you can also read the book the film was based on 
  • » Participants who complete the challenge will receive a super awesome badge to post on their blog
  • » Please don't forget to visit the discussion group so we can talk about the movies we watch

Lists to get you started

Join the mini-challenge
  • » Link to your sign-up post below with Your Name @ Your Blog (if applicable)
  • » If you are a blogger, create a post with your goals and a link to wherever you plan to track your progress
  • » If you are not a blogger, just link to wherever you'll be tracking your progress

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Horror Reading Challenge: 3rd Quarter Update

We're 3/4 of the way through the 2016 Horror Challenge! Halloween is nearly here and hopefully that will give everyone the motivation they need to close the gap on their challenge goals with some creepy reads. If you aren't familiar with this challenge, check out all the details and (maybe) sign up here! Otherwise, congrats on hopefully meeting your goals so far!

What I've Read So Far:

4.5 - 5 Star Books

3 - 4 Star Books

1.5 - 2 Star Books

Share your progress

Top Ten Tuesday #114: books I wouldn't have finished without audio

Today's Topic: 
Top Ten Books I Wouldn't Have
Finished Without the Audio

If you've spent much time around my blog you already know I'm a huge fan of audiobooks! Often I'll pick up books on audio that I don't think I would normally read in text format. For better or worse, these are ten books I never would have finished if I'd read the hard copy! 

Burnt Offerings by Robert Marasco
The Cage by Megan Shepherd
Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

Lord of Chaos by Robert Jordan
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Trial By Fire by Josephine Angelini
The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O'Brien
The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.
Monday, September 19, 2016

ARC Review: Bright Smoke, Cold Fire by Rosamund Hodge

Title: Bright Smoke, Cold Fire
Author: Rosamund Hodge
Publication Date: September 27, 2016
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pages: 448
Add to Goodreads

When the mysterious fog of the Ruining crept over the world, the living died and the dead rose. Only the walled city of Viyara was left untouched.

The heirs of the city’s most powerful—and warring—families, Mahyanai Romeo and Juliet Catresou share a love deeper than duty, honor, even life itself. But the magic laid on Juliet at birth compels her to punish the enemies of her clan—and Romeo has just killed her cousin Tybalt. Which means he must die.

Paris Catresou has always wanted to serve his family by guarding Juliet. But when his ward tries to escape her fate, magic goes terribly wrong—killing her and leaving Paris bound to Romeo. If he wants to discover the truth of what happened, Paris must delve deep into the city, ally with his worst enemy . . . and perhaps turn against his own clan.

Mahyanai Runajo just wants to protect her city—but she’s the only one who believes it’s in peril. In her desperate hunt for information, she accidentally pulls Juliet from the mouth of death—and finds herself bound to the bitter, angry girl. Runajo quickly discovers Juliet might be the one person who can help her recover the secret to saving Viyara.

Both pairs will find friendship where they least expect it. Both will find that Viyara holds more secrets and dangers than anyone ever expected. And outside the walls, death is waiting. . . . 

Before Bright Smoke, Cold Fire I was probably one of Rosamund Hodge's biggest fans! I loved Cruel Beauty and Crimson Bound so much that this book was one of my most anticipated releases of 2016 and I made it my mission to get a copy as soon as possible. I was so excited for her newest retelling, this time Romeo and Juliet. She has done such an incredible job in the past with her standalone retellings! Her creative take on each story is amazing and I was totally expecting to be blown away by this one too. Instead I came away underwhelmed.

This extremely unique retelling is so complex, there is no way I could possibly explain it but I'll try to summarize a bit. The story is set in a fantasy world where the Ruining has taken over the world and revenants and reapers (basically zombies) roam everywhere except within the city of Viyara. This city is protected by blood magic that is maintained by the Sisters of Thorn, of which Runajo is a part. It is her mission to find a way to save the city and perhaps the world from the Ruining. Within the city there are two main families, the Mahyanai and the Catresou. The Juliet is the sword of the Catresou, meant to avenge them, and Paris is her guardian. Both Romeo and Runajo are Mahyanai. There is a ton of blood magic and other magic and religion and necromancers and gangs and zombies and murder and whew! this story is complicated. Bright Smoke, Cold Fire is definitely not a light read.

That entire paragraph is my main issue with this book. I knew going in that this would not be a typical retelling and that it might require me to think a little more than your average YA book. After all, that is why I love Rosamund Hodge so much! But this story was just too much. It is an interesting premise but for whatever reason it just didn't all mesh together quite like it should have. I was really sure who all of the secondary characters were and there were several times when I found myself totally lost and having to reread pages. I also felt like the story just kind of meandered along most of the time. Even when things happened that should have been shocking, the reaction was more of, "Oh, okay," than, "Holy crap what just happened!"

All of that being said, there were things I did like about Bright Smoke, Cold Fire. The story is not told from the points of view of Romeo and Juliet. Instead, their companions tell the story, which I really enjoyed. Romeo was way too sentimental and whiney even for me, with his constant woe is me and wanting to literally lay down and die of heartbreak. I didn't quite care for Paris either, to be honest. My favorite characters in this book were Runajo and Juliet. I loved the bond they shared and the struggles they faced, especially Runajo. Shockingly, there is very little romance in this retelling, but I think there may be more of that in future books in the series.

I did find the magic and religion aspects of the story interesting to the extent that they were explained and I understood them. The world building was incredible, even if it was way too much for me. There was a definite creepy atmosphere and the book does paint a picture that's easy to see while reading this. Still, I feel like Rosamund Hodge almost created a world that is too detailed and needs a companion encyclopedia or something.

Overall, this was an interesting story that was just too convoluted to truly enjoy. After thinking about this book for a few days, I can definitely say I want to continue the series now that I've spent so much time trying to figure out what's going on. Bright Smoke, Cold Fire definitely wasn't the work of art I expected from Rosamund Hodge, but it was still enough that I feel invested in the story and will read the next one.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Weekly Recap: 9/11 - 9/17

My Super Exciting Life 

This week was a lot of work, a lot of binging Survivor, and a little reading because I'm in the middle of a reading slump after finishing Sleeping Giants last week. Man, I hate slumps! I'm hoping I can pull myself out of it soon. It was an amazing week for book trades though! I found some incredible ARCs and finished copies. Some I've already read and some I can't wait to get to! I also had the chance to go to the local library book sale and grabbed a few new books. One series I'd never heard of, but I'm really hoping it's going to be good!

New Books

Trades (ARCs + Finished Copies):

Library book sale:

In Case You Missed It

Monday DNF ARC review of Kingdom of Ash and Briars
The topic was favorite YA Fantasy for Top Ten Tuesday
I featured X-Files: Origins for Waiting on Wednesday
Friday series review of Captive Prince
On Saturday I discussed Goodreads and pre-publication reviews

This Week I Read

Upcoming Reviews

I'm linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!