Saturday, August 19, 2017

Tolkien Book Tag

You may or may not know that I am totally obsessed with The Lord of the Rings! I regret to inform you that my answers will revolve mostly around the LotR films instead of the books, because I love them the most. I originally saw this book tag on The Book Nut and knew I had to do it, despite not being tagged. As usual, I tag all of my fellow LotR fans because why should anyone have to wait for a tag to join the fun?


HOW DID YOUR MIDDLE EARTH JOURNEY BEGIN?

In the early 2000s I was not super aware of popular culture. I had heard some things about The Fellowship of the Ring film, but I didn't know a whole lot about it. My best friend had the VHS (you read that right!) in her movie cabinet and I borrowed it and an obsession was born.



WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MIDDLE EARTH BOOK?

The Hobbit. It's the only Middle Earth book I've read more than once and I love it every time!



WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MOVIE?

The Fellowship of the Ring! I love all three original LotR movies, but the first one will always be magic. I actually really disliked The Hobbit films, which is super disappointing. I signed the petition in 2003 to have Peter Jackson direct The Hobbit, so I was SO excited when he finally got the chance! Sadly, I thought the movies were mostly crap. :/ I recently got my hands on a fan edit of the three Hobbit films that condenses them into one 4 hour movie and cuts out all the garbage (but not the CGI, sadly).



MOVIES OR BOOKS?

Please don't hurt me... movies. I've read the books but they were PAINFUL to get through, although I did enjoy them overall. I adored all three LotR films so much and watch them at least once a year (extended editions, of course).



WHO ARE YOUR FAVORITE CHARACTERS?

Galadriel is my #1 favorite character in the trilogy and I'm devastated that she was only in the first movie. She was my absolute favorite part of the Hobbit trilogy - I loved watching her kick ass! (Find more about that obsession in this post.) Pippin is my other favorite for many reasons but here I will cite his adorable face.



WHAT MIDDLE EARTH RACE WOULD YOU BE?

I'd hope with all my heart to be an elf! Hobbits are cool, but I hate dirt so I'm not sure I'd fit in. I could definitely picture myself living in Lothlorien or Rivendell. I could tolerate being a human, probably. Definitely wouldn't want to be a dwarf (besides, are there any dwarf women?).



BEST ACTOR/CHARACTER CASTING MATCH?

Sir Ian McKellen/Gandalf and Christopher Lee/Saruman. I love the two of them and thought they were perfectly cast to bring their characters to life!



WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PLACE IN MIDDLE EARTH?

Lothlorien, hands down. If I could leave the real world right now and go there and hang out with the likes of Galadriel and Haldir (*sobs forever*), I wouldn't even look back!



WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE QUOTE FROM THE BOOKS OR MOVIES?

Oh man, that's hard. I don't know how to do serious quotes so can we go with my favorite funny one?

Friday, August 18, 2017

Audiobook Review: The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron

Title: The Forgetting (The Forgetting #1)
Author: Sharon Cameron
Publication Date: September 13, 2016
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pages: 403
Add to Goodreads


What isn't written, isn't remembered. Even your crimes.

Nadia lives in the city of Canaan, where life is safe and structured, hemmed in by white stone walls and no memory of what came before. But every twelve years the city descends into the bloody chaos of the Forgetting, a day of no remorse, when each person's memories – of parents, children, love, life, and self – are lost. Unless they have been written.

In Canaan, your book is your truth and your identity, and Nadia knows exactly who hasn't written the truth. Because Nadia is the only person in Canaan who has never forgotten.

But when Nadia begins to use her memories to solve the mysteries of Canaan, she discovers truths about herself and Gray, the handsome glassblower, that will change her world forever. As the anarchy of the Forgetting approaches, Nadia and Gray must stop an unseen enemy that threatens both their city and their own existence – before the people can forget the truth. And before Gray can forget her.

In the city of Canaan, everyone loses all of their memories every twelve years in a terrifying event called the Forgetting. In order to cope with this phenomenon and return some semblance to their lives, the citizens write everything down and archive all of their books. This way they can remember who they are (and who their family is) when they wake up from the Forgetting. But if they don't write something down, it is lost forever, giving people the perfect opportunity to commit crimes. But Nadia is special. Somehow, she has never forgotten. She remembers the wrongs that were done to her family. Determined to learn more about the Forgetting and how Canaan came to be, Nadia stumbles upon huge secrets and unearths atrocities that no one saw coming.

Ugh. I was really intrigued by this book, and ultimately I was let down. the biggest complaint that readers seem to have about this book is that the pacing is very slow. And that is definitely true. But I have read Sharon Cameron's books before, so I knew what to expect. Despite her writing style, I still loved her other work, so I thought I could find a new love in The Forgetting as well. I was very wrong.

Yes, the pacing is slow, but that didn't bother me very much. One of my biggest issues was with the main character of Nadia. She was SO. ANNOYING. She had an endless train of thought going through her head, but she very rarely spoke aloud. The narrator of the audiobook also read Nadia in such a way that every single thought she had carried a sense of extreme urgency. It was exhausting to listen to. Taking a bath does not require an underlying panic in your voice. Calm down.

I was also majorly disappointed with the plot. First of all, the synopsis of the book makes it sound like there would be tons of action and gore. If you are familiar with Sharon Cameron's writing, you would know that you shouldn't expect that from her books. The tagline of the book is "What isn't written isn't remembered. Even your crimes." It makes it sound like that movie The Purge, where the entire city goes crazy before a Forgetting and commits every crime they can think of. The synopsis goes on to reference the "bloody chaos of the forgetting, a day of no remorse." Wrong. There is ONE crime committed during a Forgetting in this book. It is not a bloody day. Everyone gets into their bed before the Forgetting and they wake up crying because they can't remember anything. Then they read their books and everyone is fine again. No blood. No mass murder. Everyone is sad for a few minutes. Boo hoo.

I also really did not like the twist in the plot. For most of the book, I was noticing a lot of similarities to The Giver, a book which I love. I didn't mind reading a story with similar vibes. But then the twist happened and we find out the history of the Forgetting. It felt like such a cheap shot. There were so many awesome ways this phenomenon could have been explained, but the author took the easy way out. I immediately lost interest in the story after this big reveal, turned my audiobook up to 2x speed, and powered through the rest just so I could finish it.

Another small note on the plot: There were a lot of holes in the storytelling. Characters would reference a conversation that happened earlier and mention things that never actually happened. The timeline was really off during a lot of parts. And the people of Canaan could live to be at least 150 years old and it was never explained. The characters actually SAY it doesn't make any sense, yet it is just brushed over like it's no big deal. WHAT?!?!

Suffice it to say, I was not a fan of The Forgetting. I don't think I will be continuing on with this series because I am just not invested in it. The synopsis for the sequel, The Knowing, looks almost exactly like that of The Forgetting. One girl who never forgets is intrigued by the outside world and wants to learn more about Canaan. Didn't we just go through that with Nadia?

PS - Don't read the synopsis for The Knowing if you don't want to be spoiled for The Forgetting.


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Can't-Wait Wednesday #8: Warcross by Marie Lu

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

Warcross
by Marie Lu
Publication Date: September 12, 2017
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu—when a game called Warcross takes the world by storm, one girl hacks her way into its dangerous depths.

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

In this sci-fi thriller, #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu conjures an immersive, exhilarating world where choosing who to trust may be the biggest gamble of all.

Who's shocked to see this on a can't-wait post? No? Okay, so I know everyone is excited for this book but it's almost here and I couldn't resist putting this gorgeous book on my blog before it's release date! This book is giving me some Ready Player One vibes, so here's hoping I love this more than that one!


Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly event hosted at Wishful Endings.
This meme is based on Waiting-on Wednesday, which went inactive last year.
Saturday, August 12, 2017

Weekly Recap: 8/6 - 8/12


TRACY'S HAPPENINGS OFF THE BLOG

Hi everyone! I hope you all had a fantastic week. I returned home on Tuesday and have been enjoying spending time with my husband and puppies! New puppy is all done with day school and has learned a little, I guess? We still have to practice with him on leash for now, but hopefully it'll translate to off leash eventually. Yesterday we visited a local tea room and had some incredible peanut butter pie! My most exciting news is that we've had some great success with Cornerfolds Candles recently and I'm hoping the trend continues! I love making bookish candles and sharing them with others! If you haven't checked out my shop, you can find it in the navigation bar! ;)


NEW BOOKS THIS WEEK

No new books this week!


THIS WEEK I READ




MC'S HAPPENINGS OFF THE BLOG

Hi everyone! I'm away at competition this weekend with no wifi and horrible service, so this recap will be a quick one! I've had a pretty busy week getting ready for competition, so I haven't been able to read very much. I am really enjoying what I'm reading and I wish I could sit down and finish it, but it will have to wait until after comp. I'm hoping to catch up on some reading and get ahead on blog posts in the next few weeks, because I have a very busy September ahead of me. Hope you are having a great weekend!


NEW BOOKS THIS WEEK

No new books this week!


THIS WEEK I READ

Nothing this week!



IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

On Monday I did the R.I.P. It or Ship It book tag
Thursday DNF ARC review of Royal Bastards
Saturday ARC review of Bad Romance


UPCOMING REVIEWS

 


We're linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!

ARC Review: Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios

Title: Bad Romance
Author: Heather Demetrios
Publication Date: June 13, 2017
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Pages: 368
Add to Goodreads


Grace wants out. Out of her house, where her stepfather wields fear like a weapon and her mother makes her scrub imaginary dirt off the floors. Out of her California town, too small to contain her big city dreams. Out of her life, and into the role of Parisian artist, New York director—anything but scared and alone.

Enter Gavin: charming, talented, adored. Controlling. Dangerous. When Grace and Gavin fall in love, Grace is sure it's too good to be true. She has no idea their relationship will become a prison she's unable to escape.

Deeply affecting and unflinchingly honest, this is a story about spiraling into darkness—and emerging into the light again.

If you're surprised to see me reviewing a contemporary YA novel, you're not the only one - I can't believe I read it! The cover was what caught my eye at first, but then reading the synopsis hooked me. I have some personal experience with bad romance and I also know a couple people who have more in depth experience in toxic relationships than I do. I thought that if any contemporary was for me, it was this one. But while Bad Romance started out strong, it didn't end up being as good as I'd hoped.

Grace is the protagonist of this story. She is already a victim when this book begins. Her mother has married an abusive man who takes out his anger on his family and treats Grace like his own personal slave, and her mother does nothing to stop it. Grace's home life is rough and she has plans to escape as soon as high school is over. Before that can happen though, she meets Gavin, the high school's resident broody musician. Gavin is charming and gorgeous and talented. Gavin has also recently attempted suicide over a breakup and Grace (obviously) thinks this is oh-so-sweet. For whatever reason, Grace writes him a letter which begins their extremely unhealthy relationship.

Demetrios does a fantastic job of creating a relationship that's believable. It's easy to see why Grace falls for Gavin and it's just as easy to understand how their relationship devolved into such a toxic one. This is something that a lot of people don't understand - why women don't just leave when their significant others turn into abusive jerks. It isn't always that simple for a victim to leave an abusive situation and that's something the author makes about as clear as possible. Unfortunately, that's about as far as the positives go for Bad Romance.

I have several complaints about this book and the first is the choice in writing style. For some reason, it's written like a letter to Gavin, except it really isn't. Bad Romance pretends to be a letter, but instead it's written like any other book but with a jarring "you" thrown in every now and then where you'd expect to see "he." This writing style might work for some other books, but I didn't feel that it added a single thing to be addressed as the abuser in this particular narrative.

Like I said earlier, the story is believable in the way it shows abuse victims staying in relationships, it isn't very enjoyable to read. A huge part of this book is repetition. Grace goes to work, Gavin plays some music, Gavin gets mad, Grace gets upset, Grace's friends worry, Gavin says sorry, rinse and repeat. I know that this is the way a real life situation might play out but it made for a super tedious and boring reading experience.

Finally, I never felt that Grace really saved herself. While I can appreciate that sometimes it can take the interference of friends or meeting a guy who doesn't treat you like crap, it would've been so much more satisfying for Grace to pull herself out of this situation. I also wish the book hadn't started with the ending. It's so much less impactful to know how everything ends up before you even get to the actual story.

I expected Bad Romance to be a great book if not one I particularly enjoyed reading because of the subject matter. It had all of the makings of a good read, but it was executed oddly and the story really dragged on. That being said, I do think it's an important book, especially for the YA audience! I really hope more books on this topic will follow (and hopefully I'll like them more).



Thursday, August 10, 2017

DNF ARC Review: Royal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts

Title: Royal Bastards
Author: Andrew Shvarts
Publication Date: May 30, 2017
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Pages: 352
Add to Goodreads


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

Being a bastard blows. Tilla would know. Her father, Lord Kent of the Western Province, loved her as a child, but cast her aside as soon as he had trueborn children.

At sixteen, Tilla spends her days exploring long-forgotten tunnels beneath the castle with her stablehand half brother, Jax, and her nights drinking with the servants, passing out on Jax’s floor while her castle bedroom collects dust. Tilla secretly longs to sit by her father’s side, resplendent in a sparkling gown, enjoying feasts with the rest of the family. Instead, she sits with the other bastards, like Miles of House Hampstedt, an awkward scholar who’s been in love with Tilla since they were children.

Then, at a feast honoring the visiting princess Lyriana, the royal shocks everyone by choosing to sit at the Bastards’ Table. Before she knows it, Tilla is leading the sheltered princess on a late-night escapade. Along with Jax, Miles, and fellow bastard Zell, a Zitochi warrior from the north, they stumble upon a crime they were never meant to witness.

Rebellion is brewing in the west, and a brutal coup leaves Lyriana’s uncle, the Royal Archmagus, dead—with Lyriana next on the list. The group flees for their lives, relentlessly pursued by murderous mercenaries; their own parents have put a price on their heads to prevent the king and his powerful Royal Mages from discovering their treachery.

The bastards band together, realizing they alone have the power to prevent a civil war that will tear their kingdom apart—if they can warn the king in time. And if they can survive the journey . . .

Tilla is a bastard. And so is Jax. And Miles. And Zell, too. (Yup, that's a lot of bastards.) One fateful night, these four bastards cross paths and find themselves entangled with the princess, Lyrianna. The band of teens accidentally stumbles upon something they shouldn't see, and realize their parents are tangled up in an evil plot to overthrow the king. Now they are on the run, being chased by their parents and the entire kingdom.

I had a very interesting relationship with this book. Before I even picked it up, a friend told me it was horrible and she gave up just a few pages in. I decided to give it a try, but I wasn't very hopeful. I was surprised to find myself actually enjoying the story a bit. It didn't blow me away by any means, but it was enough to entertain me for a few hours. But then, when I was about 100 pages in, other things came up. Other books held my attention more, and I found myself not missing Royal Bastards at all. I thought I might come back to it in a week or two, but I eventually felt no drive to return to that story. After checking Goodreads to see what other people had to say (some of the reviews are absolutely hilarious, by the way), I decided I didn't want to invest the time in finishing a book that I wasn't loving to begin with.

One of the biggest complaints that readers seem to have about Royal Bastards is the writing. And I have to agree completely. The writing is simplistic and uninspiring. It feels as though it was written for an audience that is much younger than the teens in the book. There is very little excitement, and it takes about 100 pages for anything to happen to further the plot. Then immediately after that one action scene, nothing happens again for a long time. The language was also incredibly jarring. Royal Bastards is a high fantasy, but the characters speak with the colloquialisms used by teens today. It completely pulls you out of the story because the language doesn't fit with the world at all. It read like a poorly made, straight-to-DVD Disney movie.

The characters were also forgettable and flat. I honestly couldn't tell you anything about the personalities of the cast of characters, because nothing stood out about them. I think the girls were whiny and the boys were brooding. That's about all I can remember. And I think that even when I was in the middle of reading this book, that's still about all I could tell you about them. They have no distinguishing traits to set them apart from the crowd, and therefore, I didn't care about them at all.

I think Royal Bastards could have had some real potential. The base plot line is interesting and could have been taken in many different and unique directions. But, unfortunately, the author chose to go the route of the most obvious and trope-filled series of events, making the book boring and predictable. Combine a boring plot with boring characters and boring writing, and you have a book that I definitely don't recommend. There are so many other books out there that tell better and more exciting stories (and are well-written). There are so many other fantastic high fantasies out there, so I say don't waste your time on this one.


Monday, August 7, 2017

R.I.P. It or Ship It Book Tag

Happy Monday, everyone! We all know that Mondays are crap and mine is worse than normal this week, but I thought I'd try to make it fun anyway with a tag! I saw this in a pretty old post on Dreamland Book Blog and thought I'd bring it back. If you're reading this, I tag you!


THE RULES
  1. Write down the names of characters from different books. You can use scraps of paper, but I went with a random name picker. You can do as many as you like, but I did 20 (10 girls and 10 boys).
  2. Pull out two names at a time (from a container or your online name picker) and show them to your audience in whatever way you like. I'll just be making name graphics to share since I'm doing it all online. 
  3. Decision time! Do you ship them or do you want their relationship to die a peaceful/painful death? Tell the world!


This is a ship I can 100% get behind! I'm going to be honest, I love Luna and Neville and I would've LOVED that to be a thing, but I never really cared very much about Harry and Ginny. I know everyone else loves them, but... I always loved the little bit of interaction we got between Harry and Luna and it would've been perfect!



Well this is certainly a weird pairing - Morpheus from Splintered and Laia from An Ember in the Ashes. While I really like both of these characters, I don't think that Laia would put up with Morpheus and his crap for very long. I don't really see them working out longterm.



Oh man, this one is hard! The Darkling from The Grisha Trilogy is my absolute favorite male character in a book and I really loved Feyre until ACOWAR. After thinking it over, I'm going to say that I like this ship. The Darkling needs someone who can handle his uniqueness and I think Feyre probably can, considering Rhysand. The Darkling deserves love, okay?! I think Feyre would be good for him.



I know that people have a LOT of feelings about this ship. Draco obviously treated Hermione like garbage through most of the series, but I've read some fanfic that I actually kind of loved. I'm going to let them try it out and see where their relationship goes!



This is another really weird one... We all know that Rhysand loves a strong woman and Tris was definitely strong in the Divergent series. But I just have really mixed feelings about Tris in general. And can you imagine Tris taking a visit to the world of ACOTAR?? This would definitely be an interesting relationship, but something about it just feels icky to me.



Yessss! I love this so much and I didn't even know I needed it until I saw these names together! Amar from The Star-Touched Queen and Alina from The Grisha Trilogy would be so freaking perfect I can't stand it! They're both such fantastic characters and they BELONG TOGETHER!




What do you think about these pairings? 
Are there any you would've reacted differently to?
Let me know in the comments!
Saturday, August 5, 2017

Audiobook Review: The Gauntlet by Megan Shepherd

Title: The Gauntlet (The Cage #3)
Author: Megan Shepherd
Publication Date: May 23, 2017
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 393
Add to Goodreads

Reviews for book 1 & book 2

The Maze Runner meets Scott Westerfeld in the final novel in the gripping and romantic Cage series, about teens abducted from Earth by an otherworldly race.

Cora and her friends have escaped the Kindred station and landed at Armstrong—a supposed safe haven on a small moon—where they plan to regroup and figure out how to win the Gauntlet, the challenging competition to prove humanity’s intelligence and set them free. But Armstrong is no paradise; ruled by a power-hungry sheriff, it’s a violent world where the teens are enslaved and put to work in mines. As Nok’s due date grows closer, and Mali and Leon journey across space to rescue Cassian, the former inhabitants of the cage are up against impossible odds.

With the whole universe at stake, Cora will do whatever it takes, including pushing her body and mind to the breaking point, to escape Armstrong and run the Gauntlet. But it isn’t just a deranged sheriff she has to overcome: the other intelligent species—the Axion, Kindred, Gatherers, and Mosca—all have their own reasons to stop her. Not knowing who to trust, Cora must rely on her own instincts to win the competition, which could change the world—though it might destroy her in the process. 

The Cage is a series that I have continued reading despite not actually enjoying it at all. Megan Shepherd had such a fantastic idea with this series, one that pulled me in because of its similarity to my favorite episode of The Twilight Zone. I read the first book expecting to completely love it, especially after loving her Madman's Daughter series, but came away extremely disappointed. Book two was just slightly better and here I am having read book three, even though I swore I wouldn't. I'm happy to report I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it either.

The Gauntlet picks up just after the end of The Hunt, with Cora and Co. on Armstrong, a planet they've been led to believe will be their safe haven. They quickly learn all is not as they've been promised, however, and the action begins again almost immediately. The original crew finds itself split into three different groups all working towards a common goal - save the humans and win their spot among intelligent species.

Cora remains a character that I'm not sure whether I love or hate. On the one hand, she's incredibly dense to the point of being annoying to read about. On the other hand, her story is the best one out of all of them. I was totally fascinated by her fight to get to the Gauntlet and run it! I still don't really care at all about her love interest, Cassian, and luckily he wasn't in this book until over halfway through. I could really do without Nok and Rolf (whose name I just had to think for a full minute to remember) and their annoying storyline. I didn't totally hate Leon and Molly, but that's about all I can say for them. As you may have guessed, the characters are far from the highlight of this story.

Once again, this book had a lot of good ideas but there were also a lot of really dumb ones. Shepherd's use of evolution and DNA (see spoilers at the end) was so embarrassingly bad I truly can't believe they made it to the final draft of this book. Then there was the awful dues ex machina at the end. I was at least somewhat impressed that one main character died. The Gauntlet itself was pretty cool, although it was WAY too easily beat based on all we've been told for the entire series.

Like in the other two books, the world is really the saving grace of this series. I loved reading about all the different worlds Cora visited and I wish I could find fan art that shows the fake towns and buildings used as fronts from all of these books.

While this book was tolerable, it could have been a whole lot better. I had so many problems with this series that I was never able to enjoy it, which is a real shame considering all the incredible ideas Megan Shepherd has cooked up. I'll probably read whatever she writes next because I think she has great ideas! I just hope it's better executed than The Cage series.




SPOILERS
  • I have no idea what the thought process was behind DNA in this book. One of the Kindred puts together a serum made of all the human DNA she's had access to as the officer in charge of genetics research. By injecting this DNA into Cora, Cora then has access to every memory and experience of every human whose DNA was in the serum. Somehow she communicates with them and they help her win the Gauntlet. So basically she cheats. 
  • Similarly, the use of the "evolutionary jump" was ridiculous. Apparently once Cora completes the Gauntlet and humans are officially an intelligent species, all humans magically become smarter. Or something. But it's at different rates based on how far away they are. I don't even know, man. 
  • Cora dies in the Gauntlet, which is required for her to win. She has to be willing to sacrifice herself for the good of the species. But somehow a last minute switcharoo is pulled by people who need her alive for a trade deal and instead of drowning in water, she drowns in some kind of fluid that keeps her alive. I just cannot with the fake dying. 
Friday, August 4, 2017

Dystopia Reading Challenge: July/August Link-up & 2nd Quarter Update



Hi everyone, and welcome to the EIGHTH month of the 2017 Dystopia Reading Challenge! I hope everyone is on track with meeting their goals! I'd like to take this opportunity to apologize for not keeping this challenge as up to date as I've promised to. If you've been following my blog, then you know I've had some personal situations come up that have kept me from the blog. I've taken a hiatus and I'm back now, so here is my update! Better late than never? Things are going to be a bit different than normal this time, since we've missed a couple things.

This post will serve as the link hub for both your half-way challenge update, as well as the spot to link all your reviews from July AND August. Scroll down to the bottom to link up with us!


LINK UP RULES
  • FOR UPDATES post links as follows: "Update: Your name @ Your blog name, Goodreads shelf, etc."
  • FOR REVIEWS post links as follows: "Review: Name of book @ Your blog name, Goodreads, Shelfari, Booklikes, etc."
  • Visit and comment on the blog linked before you. This helps to create community!


WHAT I'VE READ SO FAR


Gilded Cage by Vic James (review)
The Last One by Alexandra Olivia
Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel (review)
Good Morning, Midnight by Lily-Brooks Dalton


 

1984 by George Orwell
City of Savages by Lee Kelly



2ND QUARTER UPDATE & JULY/AUGUST REVIEW LINK-UP

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Audiobook Review: Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver

Title: Liesl & Po
Author: Lauren Oliver
Publication Date: October 4, 2011
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 307
Add to Goodreads


Liesl lives in a tiny attic bedroom, locked away by her cruel stepmother. Her only friends are the shadows and the mice,until one night a ghost appears from the darkness. It is Po, who comes from the Other Side. Both Liesl and Po are lonely, but together they are less alone.

That same night, an alchemist's apprentice, Will, bungles an important delivery. He accidentally switches a box containing the most powerful magic in the world with one containing something decidedly less remarkable.

Will's mistake has tremendous consequences for Liesl and Po, and it draws the three of them together on an extraordinary journey.

From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver comes a luminous and magnificent novel that glows with rare magic, ghostly wonders, and a true friendship that lights even the darkest of places.

Liesl has been locked in the attic by her stepmother ever since her father got sick. Her beloved father passed away three days ago, and Liesl is in mourning when suddenly she notices something moving in the shadows. She is visited by Po and their companion, Bundle, from the Other Side. Meanwhile, Will, an alchemist's apprentice and bungler of all things important, accidentally misplaces a box of very powerful magic. Through mishap after mishap, Liesl and Will have to team up with Po and Bundle to keep the magic from the evil Lady Premiere and bring Liesl's father (and his spirit) to his final resting place.

One of the reasons that I occasionally enjoy reading middle grade novels is that everything is simpler in the innocence of childhood. There are no brooding romances to deal with, and if the world needs saving, it is usually handled with humor and shenanigans. That is exactly what Liesl & Po delivered, but also with some touching lessons about love and loss that people of all ages can appreciate.

The characters in this book were so dynamic and wonderful. Liesl was determined and strong, but also an artist and a dreamer with her head in the clouds. Will was hilariously clumsy and generally bad at everything. Po and Bundle were quirky and cute and made you love them right from the start. I was rooting for everyone to succeed in this book (except for the evil Lady Premiere and Liesl's stepmother, of course).

I am very torn about my suggestion for which medium to choose to read this book. The audiobook was lovely, and was narrated by Jim Dale, the narrator of all the Harry Potter books, and in my opinion, the greatest narrator of all time. He has a fantastic way of giving each character their own personality, and listening to him felt nostalgic and really sucked me into the story. However, I missed out on what are apparently wonderful illustrations in the physical copy. After reading the book, I saw a few of the illustrations, and I wish I had been able to see them while I was reading. It would have added so much more to the story. I am happy I read the audiobook, but I would love to check out the physical copy as well.

Ultimately, Liesl & Po was a wonderful little book that explored the innocence of childhood and what it means to grow up. It dealt with love and loss beautifully, while also maintaining some adventure and humor. I primarily read YA works, but I think a part of my heart will always belong to middle grade. Liesl & Po is a perfect example of why I love these types of stories. There is so much that can be said and learned about the world through the eyes of a child. Sometimes we all get too caught up in growing up and living our adult lives, and we forget to look around and notice the magic surrounding us every day. It's nice to be reminded of the little joys in life, and Liesl & Po did just that.



Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday #153: Books everyone says I should read


Today's Topic: 
Top Ten Books Everyone Says 
I MUST Read (But I Still Haven't)


Happy Tuesday, everyone! I'm back again today with another topic from the archives as we wait impatiently for Top Ten to return! This week I'm sharing ten books everyone tells me I need to read but I still haven't gotten around to picking up.  



A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
Air Awakens by Elise Kova
The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh
Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine



Legend by Marie Lu
Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.