Monday, February 29, 2016

Mini Book Reviews: Enshadowed & Oblivion by Kelly Creagh


Title: Enshadowed (Nevermore #2)
Author: Kelly Creagh
Publication Date: August 28, 2012
Publisher: Atheneum Books
Pages: 429
Add to Goodreads

Review for book 1 

True love takes a twisted turn in the second book of this modern gothic romance trilogy channeling the dark brilliance of Edgar Allan Poe.

Varen Nethers is trapped in a perilous dreamworld—a treacherous and desolate realm where the terrifying stories of Edgar Allan Poe come to life. Isobel Lanley, plagued by strange visions and haunted by the nightmares of Varen's creation, is the only one who can save him.

Isobel knows that her only hope lies within a Baltimore cemetery. There, in the early morning of Edgar Allan Poe's birthday, a mysterious stranger known as the "Poe Toaster" will make his annual homage at the legendary poet's grave.

Only the Poe Toaster holds the key to the way between worlds. But great dangers lie ahead for Isobel. An ancient evil, draped in veils of white, is watching, challenging her for Varen's affections. When Isobel finally finds Varen, he is no longer the quiet and brooding boy who once captivated her, but a dark force, powerful and malevolent.

Could Isobel's greatest love also be her greatest adversary?

I read a ton of reviews for Enshadowed before deciding to continue with the series. Although I really loved Nevermore, people compared Isobel in Enshadowed to Bella in New Moon, which was a huge red flag. (Not to mention, who are those people on the cover?? That is NOT Varen and Isobel from the cover of Nevermore...) Ultimately though, I wanted to know what happened to Varen. I had to see him and Isobel reunited and I am so glad I decided to read this after all!

Enshadowed picks up a couple months after Nevermore with Isobel trying to make the best of her life without Varen. Although a good portion of the book was actually about Isobel trying to cover up her devastation over losing Varen, it didn't come off as mopey or annoying. I actually continued to find Isobel to be a strong character throughout this book. I was also worried about not having much Varen in the second book in this series, but I don't think it necessarily suffered for it. The little glimpses of Varen were honestly a little terrifying, but were just enough to keep me invested in his story. I also found myself enjoying Pinfeathers more and more as the book went on, surprisingly.

The story and world building in this second book were just as amazing as the first! The part of this book that actually broke my heart was when Isobel ran away. I felt so much for her parents, having grown enough to understand how painful those kinds of decisions can be, despite how good of an idea it might seem at the time, but I digress. I loved that the Poe Toaster was such a big element of the story, especially since he is someone you can actually research online. I love when books blend fantasy and non-fiction together! The dream world was explained in even more detail here and continued to be perfectly creepy!

Enshadowed had every opportunity to become an awful middle book suffering from what we like to call "middle book syndrome," but instead it held its own amazingly. And that ending was just incredible!! I finished Enshadowed and immediately had to pick up Oblivion to find out what happened next and (hopefully) get some more Varen in my life!




Title: Oblivion (Nevermore #3)
Author: Kelly Creagh
Publication Date: July 28, 2015
Publisher: Atheneum Books
Pages: 448
Add to Goodreads 


This electrifying conclusion to the Nevermore trilogy takes one last trip to the dream world of Edgar Allan Poe to reveal the intertwined fates of Isobel and Varen.

The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins? —Edgar Allan Poe

The fine line between life and death blurred long ago for Isobel Lanley. After a deadly confrontation with Varen in the dreamworld, she’s terrified to return to that desolate and dangerous place. But when her nightmares resume, bleeding into reality, she is left with no choice. Varen’s darkness is catching up to her. To everything. Threatening to devour it all.

Isobel fears for her world. For her sanity and Varen’s—especially after a fresh and devastating loss. To make matters worse, the ghostly demon Lilith wants Varen for her own, and she will do anything to keep him in her grasp—anything.

Can Isobel ever find her happy ending? Worlds collide and fates are sealed in this breathtaking finale to the Nevermore trilogy.

Let me start by saying I am SO GLAD they brought back the cover models from Nevermore for the final book in this series! Not that there was anything wrong with the models on the cover of Enshadowed, but these two ARE Varen and Isobel. When I first started reading Nevermore, I really wasn't sure what to expect, but I loved the first two books and Oblivion is an almost perfect conclusion to an absolutely amazing series!!

At the beginning of Oblivion, Isobel has once again found herself without Varen in the real world (or is it?). Things have begun to blur together and not only is Isobel not quite sure where the lines between real and dream even are, but her parents are thinking she's kind of insane, with good reason. Isobel continues to be a wonderful, strong heroine in this final book. It honestly surprises me that anyone has ever compared her to Bella! I love Isobel and the lengths she goes to to save Varen. Speaking of Varen, he's terrifying and so, so devastating to read about, but I loved him even when he wasn't particularly lovable.

This book is set mostly in the dream world which, while confusing at times, was completely awesome! I loved how much more was learned about the dream world and the veil. All of the mysteries surrounding this series came together and finally made sense. Battles were fought and won, characters loved and lost, and I loved almost every minute of it!

Honestly, there were some places where the book slowed down a bit, but it's really okay. Trilogies don't have to be all action all the time. I still really enjoyed this unique, creepy, wrap up to the Nevermore series. I feel like I actually learned a lot about Edgar Allan Poe's life and works and I feel compelled finally pick up my giant Poe book now! This amazing final chapter should definitely not be missed!

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Sunday, February 28, 2016

Weekly Recap: 2/21 - 2/27


My Super Exciting Life 

This was a super weird week for me. Nothing bad happened and I wasn't sick or anything, I just felt kind of... meh about things in general. For most of the week I was (very impatiently) waiting for my very late Deadpool Collector Corps box to arrive. It finally showed up yesterday afternoon so YAY finally! I'll be posting that unboxing next week! I had to spend too much time going back and forth between home and the VA Medical Center nearby because, you know, veteran stuff.

The bright spot in my week was definitely getting to go to Magic Kingdom on Thursday night for the DVC 25th anniversary member party! Although I didn't actually stay for much of the party (it started at 9:30pm), I did get to see some fireworks and ride a few rides!




New Books

Purchased

  


From the Library




In Case You Missed It

Monday book tour review & giveaway of After the Woods
The topic was books outside of my comfort zone for Top Ten Tuesday
I featured The Secret Horses of Briar Hill for Waiting on Wednesday
Thursday audiobook review of Unravel Me
Saturday discussion of review requests that ignore review policies



This Week I Read
  
  



Upcoming Reviews

    


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

Saturday, February 27, 2016

On review requests that ignore review policies...

Here's something I haven't talked about on my blog before: review policies. Back when I started my blog I did a LOT of stalking. I scoured the interwebs for awesome book blogs and spent hours reading review policies and slowly building my own. I'll admit, I still don't know what the heck I'm doing sometimes, but I feel like my review policy is short and sweet and easy to understand. So why does it seem like the majority of authors who email me haven't even looked at it?


The thing is, I know that authors must have seen my review policy page if they've emailed me. How do I know this? Because it is the only place my email address exists (at least it's the only place I've put it). My email address is not on any of my social media profiles and it isn't on Goodreads. They HAVE to have gotten it off of my review policy page unless there's a secret blogger database I'm unaware of.

When I read a review request from someone who obviously has not read my review policy, the chances of me actually accepting are infinitesimal. I hate to seem melodramatic, but it's honestly a little insulting to get an email from an author who wants me to spend HOURS reading and reviewing their book, when they couldn't even take 30 seconds to read over my review policy before clicking on "email me."


Allow me to share some examples with you. One of my favorites is getting emails from authors who claim to have enjoyed a review I wrote for a book... that I didn't like... and want me to review their -similar- book. No, you really don't. Promise. I also really love the emails that start with a generic "good evening," and attach the book in the email, especially when the book is in a genre I specifically state I do NOT read. Books do not review themselves and I am not going to read and review a book I'm not interested in just because it shows up in my inbox.

A really interesting request I received recently was from an author whose book was an adult historical fiction novel about homeless veterans. The requesting author acknowledged that I review mostly YA but also made mention of my "large collection of historical fiction." This particular request confused me in more ways than one, but most of all I was left wondering... where is this collection? If you go to my Reviews By Genre page, you'll find a total of three historical fiction reviews, one being an Outlander book and two out of three with a three star rating. Clearly, historical fiction is not my genre. But to be fair, I also went to check on my Goodreads historical fiction shelf. It made up a little over 10% of my read books and was 99% trashy historical romance from my late teens (I'm not ashamed).


I know for a fact that I am not the only blogger this happens to!! My good friend Jen has also written about this issue at her own blog, which leads me to wonder again, do authors even glance at our review policy pages before clicking the "email" link?

Authors, I know how hard you worked on your book! There is a reason why I only review books instead of write them. I know that your book is your baby and that you want absolutely everyone else to love it as much as you do! Don't get me wrong! I want to review books! I love getting review requests... that make sense based on my blog and my reading preferences. But I have to let you know, you're only hurting yourself by disregarding our review policies.

If the genre of your book is not listed under "Favorite Genres" in my review policy, I'm probably not going to enjoy your book anyway. It's nothing against you as a person. I'm sure we'd be friends in real life! But why would you WANT me to review a book I'm not going to enjoy?? Out there in the blogosphere, there is someone who would love your book! Someone out there has your genre listed under "favorites" and I'm sure that person would probably be thrilled to get your request! So please, PLEASE take the time to see if that person is me before adding my name to the BCC on your email.


Fellow bloggers, have you encountered this issue? How did you handle it? I'm even more interested to know if any of you have ever accepted review requests from authors who obviously haven't read your policy! I'm curious to find out if these kinds of requests ever work. Let me know in the comments!

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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Audiobook Review: Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi


Title: Unravel Me (Shatter Me #2)
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Narrator: Kate Simses
Publication Date: February 5, 2013
Publisher: HarperCollins
Add to Goodreads
Review for book 1

tick
tick
tick
tick
tick
it's almost
time for war.

Juliette has escaped to Omega Point. It is a place for people like her—people with gifts—and it is also the headquarters of the rebel resistance.

She's finally free from The Reestablishment, free from their plan to use her as a weapon, and free to love Adam. But Juliette will never be free from her lethal touch.

Or from Warner, who wants Juliette more than she ever thought possible.

In this exhilarating sequel to Shatter Me, Juliette has to make life-changing decisions between what she wants and what she thinks is right. Decisions that might involve choosing between her heart—and Adam's life. 

"It will get better," they said. "Warner is worth it," they said. "Juliette grows as a character," they said. They LIED.

I finished Shatter Me, considered for a few hours, and then got Unravel Me later that night because I really just wanted to know how the whole thing with Warner worked out. I was curious. I love a good villain and I needed to find out how he could become a love interest. Then Unravel Me finally ended and I was rooting for Juliette to hurry the hell up and die. To be honest, this was the first book that has ever made me regret keeping my reviews PG-13. There were many, many choice words I would love to say. For your sake, I'll try to keep it clean.

Unravel Me picks up shortly after book one left off, with Juliette and Adam at Omega Point trying to fit in with the other gifted people. Well, sort of. Mostly it's just Juliette and Adam making out and making huge scenes in public. But whatever. Throughout this book Juliette is attempting to discover more about her gift and what its properties are. She discovers that her super strength is pretty freaking super and attempts (poorly) to learn to control it. Mostly, though, Juliette spends the entire second book being a miserable human being.

Juliette is literally the worst heroine I've ever read about, which is saying a lot because I have absolutely hated some others. She is incredibly selfish and, despite trying to act like she gives a crap about other people, actually only cares about ALL HER FEELS and getting in the most make out sessions with as many people as possible. World needs saving? Make out. Friend is dying in another room? Better make out. When Juliette wasn't making out, she was crying, shaking, forgetting how to breathe, or counting something. She was literally useless.

Then there's Adam. Not quite as useless as Juliette, he's basically Bella from New Moon. He spends this book being pissed off or depressed, fighting or wanting to fight people, and begging Juliette not to leave him. The plot surrounding Adam in this book was one of the dumbest things I have ever seen in a book. (Guys, I am trying SO hard to keep this clean for you!) Remember back in Shatter Me when Juliette and Adam spent all night sleeping, cuddled in each others arms? Remember?? Their skin was touching all night long while they were ASLEEP? Well, just forget all of that because the author needs a convenient reason for them to break up so Juliette and Warner can be together!

Speaking of Warner, he is the least worthless of these three characters, although he still wasn't the incredible villain love interest I was promised. Yes, he has a tragic backstory. Yes, he calls Juliette "Luv" a lot. Yes, he has green eyes. That's about where it ends. I don't get it. I don't get why he's so swoon-worthy to every other person who has read this book. Despite his Big Bad status, Warner is weak and apparently "he's in love with [Juliette]" almost immediately for some reason. (WHY does everyone love Juliette??)

Kenji was honestly the only character in this book who I cared about at all. I mean, seriously, even the 10 year old brother got on my nerves. But Kenji seemed like a normal human being with normal human emotions and priorities.

I don't even have anything to really say about the plot of this book other than that it was worthless. I said it in my review of book one and I'll say it again: this is not a dystopian novel. This is crappy romance disguised as dystopia. There is zero world building and I give zero cares (I'm trying) about whether or not the world even survives. Honestly, just blow the whole thing up.

And who could forget about the writing? It is just as ridiculous in Unravel Me as it was in book one. I actually (seriously) had a headache by the time this book finally ended from rolling my eyes so much at the idiotic metaphors and descriptions. I counted at least 7 uses of the phrase "small smile" in this book and those were just the ones I paid enough attention to make note of. Of course I wouldn't leave you without a sampling of my favorite quotes from this book!

"Panic is doing backflips in my bones."

"My emotions jump out of a plane."

"He says it like it's a lit cigarette lodged in his throat."

"I am the incarnation of air."

Seriously, if it wasn't for all the ridiculous metaphors this book would be at least 100 pages shorter.

In case you hadn't guessed, I hated this book. I try not to hate many books because I understand how hard authors work to create them, but this one had not one redeeming quality. The writing was painful, I was screaming for characters to hurry up and die by the end, and the world building is non-existent. I am aware that a lot of people adore this series, but I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday #90: The Secret Horses of Briar Hill by Megan Shepherd


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

The Secret Horses of Briar Hill
by Megan Shepherd
Publication Date: October 11, 2016
There are winged horses that live in the mirrors of Briar Hill hospital. In the mirrors that line its grand hallways, which once belonged to a princess. In those that reflect the elegant rooms, now filled with sick children. It is her secret.

One morning, when Emmaline climbs over the wall of the hospital’s abandoned gardens, she discovers something incredible: a white horse with broken wings has left the mirror-world and entered her own.

Tucked into the garden’s once-gleaming sundial, Emmaline finds a letter from the Horse Lord. He is hiding the wounded white horse, named Foxfire, from a dark and sinister force—a Black Horse who hunts by colorless moonlight. If Emmaline is to keep the Black Horse from finding her new friend, she must collect colorful objects with which to blind him. But where can Emmaline find color when her world is filled with gray?
So The Secret Horses of Briar Hill is going to be a middle grade book, I believe, but I'm still really excited for it! I loved Megan Shepherd's The Madman's Daughter trilogy (even if I didn't love The Cage) and I can't wait to give this book a try!!


"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted at Breaking the Spine.
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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday #84: TBR books that aren't my typical genre


Today's Topic: 
Ten Book I Want To Read 
That Aren't My Typical Genre


When I started digging through my TBR shelf on Goodreads for today's topic, I quickly realized that I really don't read books that aren't my typical genre(s)... With no material to work with I decided to switch things a little. Here are the top ten I'd like to read that are outside of my comfort zone!


        

Blankets by Craig Thompson
The Forbidden Orchid by Sharon Biggs Waller
Loki by Mike Vasich
Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman
Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto


        

The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
The Smell of Other People's Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock
The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.
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Monday, February 22, 2016

Book Tour Review & Giveaway: After the Woods by Kim Savage

Title: After the Woods
Author: Kim Savage
Publication Date: February 23, 2016
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Pages: 320
Add to Goodreads 


//I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review//

Would you risk your life to save your best friend?

Julia did. When a paroled predator attacked Liv in the woods, Julia fought back and got caught. Liv ran, leaving Julia in the woods for a terrifying 48 hours that she remembers only in flashbacks. One year later, Liv seems bent on self-destruction, starving herself, doing drugs, and hooking up with a violent new boyfriend. A dead girl turns up in those same woods, and Julia’s memories resurface alongside clues unearthed by an ambitious reporter that link the girl to Julia’s abductor. As the devastating truth becomes clear, Julia realizes that after the woods was just the beginning.
Purchase
Amazon │ B&N │ Book Depository │ iTunes │ Kobo

After the Woods first caught my attention with it's absolutely stunning cover. Although contemporary fiction is not my usual forte, I love a good survival story and I thought that After the Woods might be my kind of book after all. Coming out on the other side, I can confidently say that this is not a survival story (and maybe that's my fault for misinterpreting the synopsis).

This book is really about Julia learning to cope with her life after the woods. She doesn't quite feel like she fits in as she used to and even finds her best friend to be oddly aloof when she should be supportive and even thankful. Julia is my absolute favorite part of After the Woods. It isn't often that I adore a YA heroine, but Julia was amazing! She is tough but realistic, sarcastic but sympathetic. So often characters in YA are unbelievably badass and way too intelligent for their age. I can also really identify Julia's need to make sense of things. I cannot imagine how I would handle going through what Julia had, but Julia was believable as a teenager who had been traumatized, even if she did make occasional dumb decisions. I even enjoyed the romance, although I know that a lot of people found it unnecessary. 

Liv was the character I really didn't understand in After the Woods. It was obvious from early on that something was just off with her, though it wasn't clear what it was. There were some big issues explored with Liv's character and it was done in a way that made sense, which I appreciated. What I didn't quite buy was her reasoning some of the things that were explored. Not all of it made a lot of sense and I was honestly left confused by some of her actions, which brings me to the plot of After the Woods. 

A lot of mystery surrounds a lot of different things in this book. Unfortunately, I was able to piece together a fairly accurate theory pretty early on. The strangest thing to me was that none of the events and none of the mysteries felt especially... urgent? I'm not quite sure how to explain the experience I had while reading After the Woods, but the best way I can think to put it is that I felt nonchalant about the whole thing. I like my mystery with a sense of imminent doom hanging over it. In this book, we know from the very beginning that the kidnapper is gone, so Julia is just kind of meandering through facts and theories. Even the big reveal at the end seemed very anticlimactic. 

I did enjoy After the Woods. The atmosphere was just the right shade of unsettling and creepy and, like I said, I loved Julia! Getting to know her better and experiencing her recovery alongside her was the best part of this book, for sure. This book also kept me turning pages to see if my suspicions were true. I just wish the mystery had been a little more mysterious and exciting. I would recommend this book to fans of slow-burn mystery and great main characters! 



Author Bio
Kim Savage is the author of AFTER THE WOODS, a debut psychological thriller for young adults coming on Feb 23, 2016 with Farrar, Straus and Giroux/Macmillan. Her second thriller for young adults comes from FSG in 2017. Before writing fiction, she worked as business journalist, pitching stories along the lines of “Stigmatized Properties: When Murder Kills Property Values”. You get the idea.

Website │ Goodreads │ Twitter │ Facebook
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Sunday, February 21, 2016

Weekly Recap: 2/14 - 2/20


My Super Exciting Life 

Okay, first question, and this is serious: is everyone going to survive the Deadpool madness?? It seems like the entire world has totally lost their minds and I'm just over here trying to figure out what I'm missing! As a rule, I don't go to see movies during opening week (unless it's Star Trek and then all bets are off) so I STILL haven't been to see Deadpool. I'm seriously thinking about going today though... We'll see what happens.

This week I spent a lot of time hanging out with puppies and catching up on reviews. I made a couple trips to Barnes and Noble where I didn't buy anything (because Amazon, amirite?) but I did enjoy just browsing the beautifully stocked shelves. This week I also saw what is my new favorite movie... twice. "What is it?" you ask. "Crimson Peak!!" I reply. First of all, Tom Hiddleston. Second, this movie was totally not what I was expecting at all. Based on trailers and marketing, I thought I was going to see a horror movie, but what I got was a gothic romance that made me feel ALL the feels! I loved it so much and I will rave about it to literally anyone who will stand still long enough. Seriously, this movie is perfect.


In other news, Pan's Labyrinth does not exist in stores. I have been hunting it ever since I saw Crimson Peak and have been totally unable to find it, so I suppose I'm off to Amazon. The last time I saw it was when it came out and I was 19 and I thought it was really, really weird. Now I want to watch it again as an adult and see if I've changed my mind, but I definitely want to see it in HD. 



New Books

Purchased



From the Library

      



In Case You Missed It

Monday book review of Ruin and Rising
The topic was bookish playlists for Top Ten Tuesday
I featured Rebel of the Sands for Waiting on Wednesday
Thursday audiobook review of Shatter Me
Saturday book review of Nevermore



This Week I Read
  
  



Upcoming Reviews

  


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