Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday #150: Most anticipated for the rest of 2017

Today's Topic: 
Top Ten Most Anticipated Books
For The Second Half of 2017

These are always my favorite topics to do because they're always so easy! Which really works out because this almost didn't get done due to a puppy emergency yesterday... But anyway. Here are my top ten most anticipated! And yes, this list does include Dan Brown. Judge me. I've been waiting years. YEARS!

The Becoming of Noah Shaw by Michelle Hodkin
Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows
Even the Darkest Stars by Heather Fawcett
The Glass Spare by Lauren DeStefano
The Hummingbird Heart by A.G. Howard

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust
The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana
Origin by Dan Brown
Warcross by Marie Lu

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.
Sunday, May 28, 2017

Weekly Recap: 5/21 - 5/27

Well this week was insanely busy. First of all, I feel like I should apologize for being seriously awful at commenting back. :/ I hate when that happens and I promise to be better! My posts were also seriously lacking this week. As in, there weren't many... But a few things were going on. First, the new Harry Potter inspired candle selection was released on Etsy!

You can click on the image or the "shop" button in the nav bar for more details! The second thing that happened was I worked on planning TWO vacations - one for my brother and his friend who are spending 5 days at Disney World, and one for my husband and myself. We recently found out that he'll have the opportunity to go to Europe for work and I get to go with him! I'm so excited but there's SO much planning to do! Sadly, my reading suffered this week and my only book read was a DNF. 

Hi everyone! I'm currently celebrating one of my closest friends as they get married this weekend! It's sure to be a wonderful time and I'm so happy for them! I'm also looking forward to a long weekend. Sorry for the short update, but I have some celebrating to do! Have a great week!

No new books this week!

The topic was unusual beach reads for Top Ten Tuesday
Thursday audiobook review of Pandemonium
Saturday mini DNF review of 1984

We're linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Saturday, May 27, 2017

Mini DNF Review: 1984 by George Orwell

Title: 1984
Author: George Orwell
Publication Date: June 8, 1949
Publisher: Signet Classics
Pages: 328
Add to Goodreads

The year 1984 has come and gone, but George Orwell's prophetic, nightmarish vision in 1949 of the world we were becoming is timelier than ever. 1984 is still the great modern classic of "negative utopia" -a startlingly original and haunting novel that creates an imaginary world that is completely convincing, from the first sentence to the last four words. No one can deny the novel's hold on the imaginations of whole generations, or the power of its admonitions -a power that seems to grow, not lessen, with the passage of time. 

As a lover of dystopian fiction, 1984 is one I've heard about over and over for as long as I can remember. I've always had some interest in reading it, but classics from this time period usually bore me to tears and I was scared to give it a try. When sales surged after the recent election, I officially added it to my TBR and finally decided to read it a few weeks ago. I should've listened to my gut.

This book started interestingly enough, jumping right into the world building. I was intrigued by the disturbing society and attempted to draw the parallels between this world and our society. The main character (I don't remember his name - was it mentioned?) was a bit of a rebel, which I liked. I enjoyed the little tidbits about the world before, but really wished there was more of it. I definitely would like to know more about how the world got to the state it was in.

The other thing I wished there was more of (or any of) was action. So much of what I read was world building, I would have loved to have seen anything happen whatsoever! The world was interesting, yes, but not interesting enough to keep me turning pages.

Alas, I gave up at under 50% in. It's very possible that my issues with this book were solved a few pages after I finally gave up, but I just couldn't force myself to continue. I know that there was a movie made and maybe I'll give that a try to see what happens after I gave up!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Audiobook Review: Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

Title: Pandemonium (Delirium #2)
Author: Lauren Oliver
Narrator: Sarah Drew
Publication Date: February 28, 2012
Publisher: HarperTeen

Add to Goodreads
Reviews for book 1 & book 3

I’m pushing aside
the memory of my nightmare,
pushing aside thoughts of Alex,
pushing aside thoughts of Hana
and my old school,
like Raven taught me to do.
The old life is dead.
But the old Lena is dead too.
I buried her.
I left her beyond a fence,
behind a wall of smoke and flame.

Lauren Oliver delivers an electrifying follow-up to her acclaimed New York Times bestseller, Delirium. This riveting, brilliant novel crackles with the fire of fierce defiance, forbidden romance, and the sparks of a revolution about to ignite. 

After the events of Delirium, Lena is on the run. She is still reeling from her escape into the wilds and her separation from Alex, and now she has to learn how to survive. She finds herself taken in by the Resistance, and her eyes are opened to a whole new way of life. But when she crosses paths with a boy who is a leader of the Delirium Free America movement, she begins to question which side she wants to be on.

Wow. I honestly think this is one of the most disappointing sequels I have ever read. I really loved Delirium and I was so excited to continue on with the series, but I really disliked this book. Everything that I loved about Delirium was missing from Pandemonium.

One of my favorite things about Delirium was the world and the way that the society had merged science and faith. There was a very political theme in Pandemonium, pitting the Resistance against the members of the Delirium Free America. But we barely learned anything more about the society and how our current America developed into the one in this series. I was so intrigued by the world in the first book, and I was so upset that I didn't get to learn anything more about the world in the second.

I also found Pandemonium to be incredibly boring. The book was told through two different timelines: "Then" and "Now." The "Now" sections had a bit more action in them, but the "Then" chapters were SO BORING. It was just pages and pages of a bunch of kids surviving in the woods. Nothing happened at all to develop the plot, and I was frequently tempted to skip these chapters entirely.

I really enjoyed all of the characters in Delirium, but I had some problems connecting to the characters that I was supposed to sympathize with in Pandemonium. Julian, Lena's new love interest, had decent character development and I found myself liking him by the end of the book. But I didn't feel any connection to any of the characters that were part of the Resistance. Maybe this is because I found their chapters to be incredibly boring, or maybe they just had poor characterization. But I don't care about what happens to them or their cause whatsoever.

I will still give the final book in this trilogy a try, because I want to see how it ends. I'm crossing my fingers that this series is seriously suffering from second-book syndrome, and things will get better in the next book. I really think this was the most disappointing sequel I have ever encountered. I was so excited to pick it up, and now I am left dreading the third book. Hopefully I can enjoy Requiem more than Pandemonium.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday #149: Unusual beach reads

Today's Topic: 
Top Ten Unusual Beach Reads
I Want To Read Eventually

This topic... Every year I dread it. I hate "beach reads" so much that there's no way I could put together a list of books that I liked. So this year I decided to go with books that are summer/ocean/island related that probably aren't what you usually think of when you go looking for a beach read - and I learned that Jeff Probst writes books! Who knew?!

The Aqua Secret by L.L. Hunter
The Black: Arrival by Paul E. Cooley
The Deep by Peter Benchley
Drown by Esther Dalseno

Jaws by Peter Benchley
Leviathan by Jared Sandman
The Poseidon Adventure by Paul Gallico
Stranded by Jeff Probst

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.
Sunday, May 21, 2017

Weekly Recap: 5/14 - 5/20

Happy weekend, everyone! This week has been slightly easier with the puppy. He's had fewer accidents in the house, although they haven't completely stopped. I will be so happy when he's fully house trained and I don't have to clean up after him! The most exciting event of the week was previewing Pandora, the brand new land at Disney's Animal Kingdom! You can check out my experience in yesterday's post! I've also been hard at work getting new candles ready to go up for preorder, so keep an eye out!

HOW IN THE WORLD IS IT ALREADY THE END OF MAY???? Seriously, where the heck did this month go? I feel like I have accomplished nothing this month. I've been working my butt off, so I've barely read and I haven't done much blogging. I honestly don't have much to report for this week. I basically just worked and slept. My cats have been fighting a bit, so I've been working on getting them to calm down. And trying to teach the new kitten not to eat all of her brother's food. This weekend is the first weekend in MONTHS that my boyfriend is away and I have the entire weekend to myself. It's weird to have nothing to do. I miss him, but I'm also really enjoying my down time. I have a lot of chores to do, but I'm also catching up on a lot of reading! It feels amazing!

No new books this week!

Monday audiobook review of Norse Mythology
The topic was books with absent mothers for Top Ten Tuesday
I featured Bad Romance for Can't-Wait Wednesday
Friday ARC review of Defy the Stars
On Saturday I shared my experience at Pandora in Disney for the Weekend

We're linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Saturday, May 20, 2017

Disney For the Weekend: Pandora Preview

Happy Saturday, everybody! It's been a little while since I've brought some Disney for your weekend, but I have something exciting to share!

You may or may not know that Disney is bringing Avatar's Pandora to Animal Kingdom. Why? I haven't the slightest clue, honestly. I have no idea why Disney thought a movie from almost 10 years ago was the best material to work with, but here we are anyway. Pandora opens on May 27th, 2017, but I had the amazing opportunity to attend an Annual Passholder's preview this past Monday and I have the details for you!

I arrived at Pandora at the beginning of my two hour window, which was 12pm - 2pm. Let me be the first to tell you, two hours is not nearly enough here. Sure, there are only two rides, but there is SO MUCH to look at! Walking up to the new land, you really cannot see anything.

Although I knew there should be floating mountains on the horizon, all I could see were the standard Animal Kingdom theming. I trekked on and the hype was building! A Cast Member handed me a FastPass for Flight of Passage, which ensured that not every guest would rush the ride right out of the gate. The trail wound around for a while until I finally came upon some distinctly alien plant life. 

I couldn't tell you what this thing is supposed to be, but it was pretty cool! The theming in this land has all the extra touches you'd expect from Disney World. Everything was totally unreal, but believable at the same time. And my favorite part was that I really felt like I was IN Pandora. I couldn't see any other part of Animal Kingdom once I crossed the threshold. I kept on down the path a little more and finally I saw what I'd been looking for!

Didn't I tell you it was gorgeous?? The floating mountains really look like they're FLOATING! I don't know how Disney Imagineering pulled it off, but they did and the pictures really don't do it justice. There are multiple levels to explore. You can see the mountains from several angles and they look incredible no matter where you're standing. 

Once I got my fill of sightseeing, I headed over to Na'vi River Journey: Discover Shaman of Songs, a dark boat ride through Pandora. I really don't know how to explain this to you other than that it's awesome. Yes, it's just a dark ride, but there is so much new technology in this ride that my jaw was open the entire time. There are realistic projections and amazingly fluid animatronics, among other things. I won't spoil it all for you, but I will share a couple videos from inside!

When I exited the ride, my time had come to experience Flight of Passage! I will preface this by telling you that I get severe motion sickness. I cannot ride any simulator without a hefty dose of Dramamine and even then I get pretty nauseous, to the point that I usually will not do them. But this was something new and had beed described as "Soarin' on steroids," so I decided to brave it and see what happened! 
The FastPass queue was well-themed and seemed to be leading us deep into some kind of laboratory. I know there is another really awesome animatronic in the standby queue, but I didn't have the chance to see it! Once we were lined up, we were ushered into a pre-show where a "scientist" described what we'd be experiencing. We were told we'd be matched with an avatar based on our genetic makeup in order to ride a banshee. It was honestly one of the longest pre-shows I've ever been in and I could have done with it being a little shorter. 
Finally, we were sent into the room with the ride vehicles! They looked a lot like motorcycles, which was a little weird, but I hopped on, donned my 3D glasses, and waited as the restraints locked into place behind my back and legs. I sat there and waited... and waited. 
The lights began to flash suddenly, momentarily blinding me. Then the wall was gone and in its place was a massive screen and on the screen was Pandora. I was flying! And I could feel the banshee breathing against the sides of my legs! It was the single most odd and cool ride vehicle I've ever been on. I soared through the skies on my banshee, mist in my face, and the scents of Pandora washing over me. This is definitely a full sensory experience. We banked and turned and plummeted at the last second to avoid another massive flying creature, and I didn't get the least bit nauseous. Whatever the ride engineers did with this particular simulator is A+ and I hope that this is how every simulator in the future is made. My flight did seem to last for a decent amount of time, but it wasn't nearly long enough! I exited the ride area with a smile on my face and already calculating when I could come back to do it again. 
I exited through the gift shop, where there were some really unique Pandora items for sale, including tiny banshees that could sit on your shoulder and move. I didn't even ask how much those cost, instead heading towards the one restaurant inside Pandora.

The restaurant was quick service, but the fare was pretty unique as far as Disney quick service goes. The first main option were bowls made at the grill including things like sweet potato hash, quinoa, kale, wood-grilled chicken, beef, and tofu. The second was steamed pods filled with a hamburger or curry vegetable filling. Obviously I skipped both of those and went straight for dessert. 

Ordering was the same as every other Disney counter service, but was quick and painless. I ordered the Blueberry Cream Cheese Mousse, solely based on how pretty it looked in the pictures. I was not disappointed! I don't know how to describe it to you, but it was blueberry and cream cheesey and delicious. The inside was purple! And the outside was so gorgeous I didn't want to eat it (but I did)! I will definitely be ordering this dessert again. 
After I finished eating, my time had come to an end and I had to leave Pandora for the day. Like I said, two hours isn't nearly enough. I snapped one more picture in front of the floating mountains before heading out. 

Although I've seen some people say Pandora didn't live up to their expectations, I loved it! I do wish there was a little more to do, but I expect that with the massive wait times that are soon to come, what's there is probably plenty to keep everyone occupied. I thought Pandora was fantastic and I hope all of you get to experience it someday too! 

Have you been to Pandora? Did I forget anything?
Let me know in the comments!