Monday, June 12, 2017

We're going on hiatus

Today I'm here to tell you something I never, ever thought I'd say: I'm going on hiatus.

I'm sure you may have noticed that things have gotten pretty quiet around here. This blog has been my baby for over three years and I hold it to a high standard, but there has been a lot going on in my life in the last several months and I've gotten to the point where I'm feeling too overwhelmed to commit right now. Try as I might, I haven't been able to maintain the quality of blogging I'd like to. As much as it saddens me, I'm going to have to take some time away to recharge and find my passion again.

MC and I have both discussed this and have agreed that we could both use the time off of blogging and we're currently planning to be back in a month. In the meantime, I'll probably still post a couple ARC reviews that I'm excited to share with you! I may pop in from time to time to comment and blog hop, but other than that I don't expect to post much new content.

Thank you all so much for sticking with me for the last three years and I can't wait to see you all again soon! I'll be around on Twitter if you need me!
Sunday, June 11, 2017

Weekly Recap: 6/4 - 6/10

Happy weekend, everyone! I hope you've all had a fantastic week that was more productive than mine! My week was (shockingly) mostly consumed by a sick puppy. I ended up taking him to the vet and found out that the poor guy has kennel cough, despite having been vaccinated against it. :/ Luckily though, none of my other girls have gotten it. Fingers crossed that they stay healthy while he recovers! In other news, all of my original label candles are on sale 20% off for the rest of the month while we make way for new labels and new scents! You can check it out in my Etsy shop!

Nothing new this week!

Hi everyone! This week has been a long one. I have been struggling to get better all week. This sickness just won't let me be. But I am very excited because I am off on vacation for a few days and I can't wait to get away from the daily grind. It's also my birthday today! Yay! I love birthdays, so I'm really excited to celebrate in the sunshine. By the way, I will be posting a giveaway on my other blog for my birthday and blogiversary tomorrow, so you should check that out and enter! I hope you all have a great week! I'm off to continue celebrating!

No new books this week! (Although I will probably be getting some for my birthday.)

On Monday I posted the June dystopia challenge link-up
The topic was most recently added YA fantasy on my TBR for Top Ten Tuesday
I featured Even the Darkest Stars for Can't Wait Wednesday
Thursday audiobook review of Shadow Queen

We're linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Thursday, June 8, 2017

Audiobook Review: The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine

Title: The Shadow Queen
Author: C.J. Redwine
Narrator: Khristine Hvam 
Publication Date: February 16, 2016
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
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Lorelai Diederich, crown princess and fugitive at large, has one mission: kill the wicked queen who took both the Ravenspire throne and the life of her father. To do that, Lorelai needs to use the one weapon she and Queen Irina have in common—magic. She’ll have to be stronger, faster, and more powerful than Irina, the most dangerous sorceress Ravenspire has ever seen.

In the neighboring kingdom of Eldr, when Prince Kol’s father and older brother are killed by an invading army of magic-wielding ogres, the second-born prince is suddenly given the responsibility of saving his kingdom. To do that, Kol needs magic—and the only way to get it is to make a deal with the queen of Ravenspire, promise to become her personal huntsman…and bring her Lorelai’s heart.

But Lorelai is nothing like Kol expected—beautiful, fierce, and unstoppable—and despite dark magic, Lorelai is drawn in by the passionate and troubled king. Fighting to stay one step ahead of the dragon huntsman—who she likes far more than she should—Lorelai does everything in her power to ruin the wicked queen. But Irina isn’t going down without a fight, and her final move may cost the princess the one thing she still has left to lose.

In the land of Ravenspire, the evil sorceress Irina rules while the true heirs to the throne, Lorelai and Leo, have been in hiding for years. Lorelai failed in her attempts to stop Irina when she was younger, and she has been plotting to defeat the queen and save her kingdom. Meanwhile, the land of Eldr has been ravaged by ogres, and Prince Kol suddenly finds himself the unwitting ruler of the kingdom. In a time of desperation, he makes a deal with Irina to save his people. He becomes the queen's huntsman, on a mission to retrieve the heart of the crown princess Lorelai.

I first listened to The Shadow Queen at the end of last year, and I rated it three stars. I thought it was enjoyable, but not really anything special. Well, apparently I was not paying very much attention back then, because I just finished listening to it again, and I loved it!

What I loved most about this story was the way that the retelling was handled. I can be really finicky when reading retellings, but I really enjoyed this one. So many of the original Snow White elements were present in the story - poisonous apples, a magical mirror, a huntsman after the princess' heart. But C.J. Redwine was able to keep these original elements while creating a story that was all her own. The world was so unique and the twist on the original fairy tale was seriously intriguing. I found myself totally engrossed in the story and wanting to know more, more, more.

I also really enjoyed the characters in The Shadow Queen. Lorelei and Kol were dynamic and interesting characters that jumped off the page. I was not entirely convinced by the romance between Lorelai and Kol, however. It seemed a bit like the romance happened out of convenience rather than actual attraction to each other. That being said, though, the romance was more enjoyable for me than most. While I wasn't convinced of their attraction to each other, I loved that Lorelai and Kol didn't let the romance get in the way of their mission. Lorelei's problems were not solved because she met a hunky king. Kol was tormented by his desire to protect Lorelai, but his need to save his people and his homeland was always at the forefront of his mind. I always appreciate stories that seem more realistic (or as realistic as magic and dragons can be) and don't have all the characters' problems solved by love.

Ultimately, I am so glad that I decided to take another listen to The Shadow Queen, because I have found a series and an author that I really enjoy. I can't believe I missed how good this book is the first time around. Now I am really excited to continue with the series and I am so glad that I have the sequel sitting on my shelf so I can pick it up immediately. I definitely recommend this one for people who enjoy reading fairy tale retellings, because it maintained the heart of the original Snow White, while simultaneously creating something completely unique and amazing.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Can't Wait Wednesday #3: Even the Darkest Stars

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

Even the Darkest Stars
by Heather Fawcett
Publication Date: September 5, 2017
Set in a fictional Himalayan kingdom, this is the story of a girl enlisted by a legendary explorer to help him climb the kingdom’s deadliest mountain – only to discover that his true mission may threaten her whole world.

Kamzin has always dreamed of becoming one of the emperor’s royal explorers, the elite climbers tasked with mapping the wintry, mountainous Empire and spying on its enemies. She knows she could be the best in the world, if only someone would give her a chance.

But everything changes when the mysterious and eccentric River Shara, the greatest explorer every known, arrives in her village and demands to hire Kamzin—not her older sister, Lusha, as everyone had expected—for his next expedition. This is Kamzin’s chance to prove herself—even though River’s mission to retrieve a rare talisman for the emperor means cimbing Raksha, the tallest and deadliest mountain in the Aryas. Then, Lusha sets off on her own mission to Raksha with a rival explorer, and Kamzin must decide what’s most important to her: protecting her sister from the countless perils of the climb or beating her to the summit.

The challenges of climbing Raksha are unlike anything Kamzin expected—or prepared for—with avalanches, ice chasms, ghosts, and other dangers at every turn. And as dark secrets are revealed, Kamzin must unravel the truth about their mission and her companions—while surviving the deadliest climb she has ever faced. 
This book sounds so many kinds of awesome!! Not to mention the cover is stunning! I'm so excited to get my hands on this - did you see that there are ghosts??

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.
Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday #151: YA fantasy reads I've added recently

Today's Topic: 
Ten YA Fantasy Books That I've
Recently Added To My TBR Lis

Happy Tuesday! This week's topic was surprisingly easy and I even managed to find ten that I didn't include in last week's anticipated list! I thought it was funny that almost half of them started had the word Beauty or Beast in some form in the title. I sense a theme... 

All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater
Beasts Made of Might by Tochi Onyebuchi
Beauty of the Beast by Rachel L. Demeter
The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh
The Seafarer's Kiss by Julia Ember
Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.
Monday, June 5, 2017

Dystopia Reading Challenge: June Link-up

Welcome to the halfway point of the 2017 Dystopia Reading Challenge! I hope everyone is on track with meeting their goals! Each month we will be posting a link-up for all of your Dystopia Challenge reviews as a way to keep up with your challenge as well as to give other participants the opportunity to see what you're reading and find recommendations! Good luck!

  • » Link up your book reviews under "Review Link-up" as follows: Name of book @ Your blog name, Goodreads, Shelfari, Booklikes, etc.
  • » Visit and comment on the blog linked before you. This helps to create community!


Sunday, June 4, 2017

Weekly Recap: 5/28 - 6/3

Well, this has been yet another embarrassingly unproductive week here on the blog. I've been continuing to plan our trip for later this year, among other things. I have had almost no time to read between that and the puppy, who had a terrible reaction to K9 Advantix II this week. Head's up: absolutely do NOT give this to your small dog if you haven't already! He also had to get his first rabies vaccine this week and the poor little guy slept the whole day away. To make the week even better, the construction crews working next door cut my cable line (again) and I am currently without the Internet until Monday afternoon. Here's hoping for a better week ahead!

Nothing read this week :(

Why, hello there, friends! I apologize for my very brief recap last week. Life has been a little busy lately. (I know I say that every week...but seriously, I'm drowning over here.) Last week I had food poisoning and had to miss some work. Then I was away for the weekend at my friend's wedding. It was a wonderful wedding and I had an absolute blast. Then on the way home from the wedding, I spent some time wandering around Providence, which is where I went to college. It will always be one of my favorite cities, so it was so awesome to go back there. But...on the way home from Providence, I felt a tickle in my throat. And within a few hours I was down for the count. I've been dealing with strep and some kind of other awful infection all week. I missed two and a half days of work (on top of being super sick on my couch on Memorial Day), and honestly, the time I went into work was no fun at all. My goal for this weekend is serious relaxation and getting healthy because MY BIRTHDAY IS NEXT WEEKEND!!!!!!! I'm taking some time off for my birthday weekend and I can't wait to celebrate and have an amazing time. It's also my blogiversary the day after my birthday, so June is a big month for me. Have a great week!

No new books this week!

Nothing read this week :(

The topic was most anticipated reads for the rest of 2017 for Top Ten Tuesday
Thursday book review of Winterspell
Saturday audiobook review of Dreamfall

We're linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Saturday, June 3, 2017

Audiobook Review: Dreamfall by Amy Plum

Title: Dreamfall (Dreamfall #1)
Author: Amy Plum
Narrator: Maria Cabezas
Publication Date: May 2, 2017
Publisher: HarperTeen
Add to Goodreads

Cata Cordova suffers from such debilitating insomnia that she agreed to take part in an experimental new procedure. She thought things couldn’t get any worse...but she was terribly wrong.

Soon after the experiment begins, there’s a malfunction with the lab equipment, and Cata and six other teen patients are plunged into a shared dreamworld with no memory of how they got there. Even worse, they come to the chilling realization that they are trapped in a place where their worst nightmares have come to life. Hunted by creatures from their darkest imaginations and tormented by secrets they’d rather keep buried, Cata and the others will be forced to band together to face their biggest fears. And if they can’t find a way to defeat their dreams, they will never wake up.

I have read several books by Amy Plum and I haven't particularly loved any of them. For some reason they just keep pulling me back in! All of the ideas behind Amy Plum's books intrigue me, they just never quite follow through. Still, when I stumbled across Dreamfall recently and saw that it was a fairly short audiobook, I decided to give her one more chance.

Cata suffers from insomnia, as do several other kids she meets throughout this book. Although they've all entered an experimental study to cure them of their sleep issues, they have very different (and interesting) reasons for doing so. Several characters are introduced throughout this book, but none of them are very well developed. In fact, I just finished this a few days ago and I couldn't tell you a single name other than Cata. Obviously, I didn't feel very strongly for any of them - my first issue with Dreamfall.

The experiment begins normally, with all of the patients falling asleep. Slowly, Cata's dreams become stranger and more dangerous, and she finds more and more people there with her. At regular intervals in between nightmares, there is a void where everyone goes to wait, recuperate, and eventually put together what's going on as best they can. Sadly, as best they can didn't really make much sense to me.

One thing Dreamfall did get right is the creepy world of nightmares that the experiment participants have found themselves in. The atmosphere is the right amount of disturbing and surreal, and it painted a clear enough picture in my head that I felt a little uneasy at times. I just wish there were more positive aspects to list!

The concept here is extremely interesting! I loved being immersed in each nightmare and slowly unraveling why the events were happening, even if the explanation never quite worked. I think that Dreamfall could have very easily been a standalone book and that perhaps it would have been better that way. For some reason Amy Plum has decided to drag this out into a series (duology?) and it suffers for it. Forcing multiple books out of this story has created an experience that's too convoluted to make sense or hold my attention.

I wanted to love Dreamfall so much! After the letdown of After the End, I'd hoped that this would be the book that made me love Amy Plum like so many other people do! Sadly, I think this will be my last attempt at her books. If you're looking for a book with an interesting premise and a pretty well done world, you may enjoy this! It just wasn't the book for me.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Book Review: Winterspell by Claire Legrand

Title: Winterspell
Author: Claire Legrand
Publication Date: September 30, 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Pages: 454
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The clock chimes midnight, a curse breaks, and a girl meets a prince…but what follows is not all sweetness and sugarplums.

New York City, 1899. Clara Stole, the mayor’s ever-proper daughter, leads a double life. Since her mother’s murder, she has secretly trained in self-defense with the mysterious Drosselmeyer.

Then, on Christmas Eve, disaster strikes.

Her home is destroyed, her father abducted—by beings distinctly not human. To find him, Clara journeys to the war-ravaged land of Cane. Her only companion is the dethroned prince Nicholas, bound by a wicked curse. If they’re to survive, Clara has no choice but to trust him, but his haunted eyes burn with secrets—and a need she can’t define. With the dangerous, seductive faery queen Anise hunting them, Clara soon realizes she won’t leave Cane unscathed—if she leaves at all.

Inspired by The Nutcracker, Winterspell is a dark, timeless fairy tale about love and war, longing and loneliness, and a girl who must learn to live without fear.

Clara Stole leads a double life. She is the eldest daughter of the mayor of New York City, but she has secretly been trained to fight by her Uncle Drosselmeyer. She is haunted by her mother's murder, and is determined to be able to defend herself. Despite all her preparation, on Christmas Eve, Clara finds herself faced with a situation she never could have imagined. Her father is abducted and taken to a magical land called Cane, and she must follow him there to try to save him. With the help of Nicholas, a cursed prince, Clara has to navigate the world of Cane while avoiding being captured by the faery queen Anise.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised and really enjoyed Winterspell. The story was intricately written and so unique. It had quite a bit of a slow start, because it required a lot of world building, but I'm glad that I stuck with it in the end. The one thing that I didn't love about this book was the romance and how it was handled. There is a love triangle of sorts, although I don't know if it should actually be called a triangle. I don't necessarily think there is anything wrong with the way the romance was written per se, but it definitely wasn't for me. There were some weird aspects to the romance that didn't sit well with me, but I understand why they were incorporated into the story, and maybe other readers won't dislike them as much as I did.

One of my favorite things about Winterspell was the way it was handled as a retelling of The Nutcracker. The Nutcracker will always be an important story to me, since it is a show that I have either been in or seen every year of my life. I loved that Winterspell had many nods to the original story, but then also took the reader on a completely different adventure. Some references to The Nutcracker were more deeply hidden, which made me feel like I was in on a secret. But anyone who has seen or heard the story of The Nutcracker will be able to recognize some of the original elements. I also appreciated reading a retelling that hasn't been overdone. We often see a lot of Alice in Wonderland, Snow White, Cinderella, and Beauty and the Beast retellings, but Winterspell seemed like a fresh new idea.

As soon as I finished Winterspell, I was left wanting more. I really wish there were more Winterspell books. The world is so intricate and unique and I would love to know what happens after the conclusion of this book. I want to spend more time in the world of Cane, learning even more about the magic system there. If you love fantasy and want to try something that is different from anything you've ever read, definitely pick up Winterspell.