Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday #206: Faves I need to read


Today's Topic: 
Top Ten Books By My Favorite Authors That 
I Still Haven’t Read or Can't Wait to Get My Hands On

Today's topic was actually a challenge for me, mostly because when a favorite author releases a new book I usually read it immediately... which means I don't have many TBR books from my faves. This week on my blog, favorite = I've read at least a couple of their books and loved them! Some on the list are upcoming books from my all-time faves that I can't wait to get my hands on! 



Alone by Scott Sigler
Between the Spark and the Burn by April Genevieve Tucholke
The Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White
Endless Water, Starless Sky by Rosamund Hodge
Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd



The Imposter Queen by Sarah Fine
King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo
Slayer by Kiersten White
Stain by A.G. Howard
Wither by Lauren DeStefano


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Weekly Recap: 9/16 - 9/22


HAPPENINGS OFF THE BLOG

Hi everyone! This has been a super busy week but not a bad one! I did some dog sitting, ran a few miles, listened to a few audiobooks, and even found time to go to the Food and Wine Festival again for a couple hours. I'm also diving back into candle making for another couple weeks in preparation for October. I also signed up for the Fraterfest Readathon! This is super ambitious for me because I have a tendency to fail miserably at them, but I decided a spooky book readathon might be just the thing to make me finally meet a goal! Speaking of goals, I completed this year's Audiobook Reading Challenge this month! I only signed up for a few this year, but it looks like I might actually complete them all! What a nice change from 2017!


NEW BOOKS THIS WEEK

 


THIS WEEK I READ

  


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Monday ARC review of The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein
The topic was my Fall TBR for Top Ten Tuesday
On Wednesday I went back down the TBR hole
Friday DNF ARC review of Black Wings Beating
On Saturday I talked about some book cover glow ups


UPCOMING REVIEWS

 


We're linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Saturday, September 22, 2018

Four popular books that got huge makeovers


Have you ever seen a book that was just so ugly you had no desire to pick it up? I have readily admitted several times that I judge books by their covers. I know, I know. We shouldn't do it, but I can't help it! Sometimes these hideous books are lucky enough to get new covers that breathe new life into them and bring a new audience. These are four that started out rather unfortunately but ended up being popular after they had a makeover. 

Eragon started out as an indie book, written by Christopher Paolini when he was just a teenager. Of course, the book, published through his parents' independent publishing company, did not have the prettiest of covers to start with. Shortly after it was published, it was picked up by a major publisher and given a makeover. It may not be the prettiest book, but it's certainly a huge improvement and fits the feel of the story a bit better, I think.


Let me start by saying that I HATED this book! But even I can appreciate how much better the newer cover is. Honestly, I have no clue what she was thinking when that first one was designed. I did read it years ago and I have no idea how that cover fits the book at all. This is another case of a Big 5 publisher picking up an independently published book, and thank goodness they did. Yikes.


Apparently, Call Me By Your Name wasn't popular at all before the movie came out. According to Wikipedia it had sold under 1000 copies before the movie in 2017. I'll admit it wasn't even on my radar before I saw the movie, so I definitely believe it! The new cover is a movie tie in, but anything is better than the original. Surprisingly, this is the only book on this list that wasn't independently published to begin with. 


This is another book I really didn't care for (and another indie published one), but the new cover was 100% what made me want to read it. I had seen the original cover for The Siren on Kiera's Goodreads profile, but had no interest in it solely based on how ugly it was. When it was re-published by Harper with a gorgeous new cover, I was sucked in. Unfortunately, it was still really disappointing. 



Do you judge books by their covers? 
What's the ugliest book you've ever read? 
Let me know in the comments!
Friday, September 21, 2018

Mini DNF ARC Review: Black Wings Beating

Title: Black Wings Beating (Skybound #1)
Author: Alex London
Publication Date: September 25, 2018
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Pages: 432
Add to Goodreads


//I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review//
The people of Uztar have long looked to the sky with hope and wonder. Nothing in their world is more revered than the birds of prey and no one more honored than the falconers who call them to their fists.

Brysen strives to be a great falconer--while his twin sister, Kylee, rejects her ancient gifts for the sport and wishes to be free of falconry. She's nearly made it out, too, but a war is rolling toward their home in the Six Villages, and no bird or falconer will be safe.

Together the twins must journey into the treacherous mountains to trap the Ghost Eagle, the greatest of the Uztari birds and a solitary killer. Brysen goes for the boy he loves and the glory he's long craved, and Kylee to atone for her past and to protect her brother's future. But both are hunted by those who seek one thing: power.

Black Wings Beating was one of my most anticipated books of this year! It's gorgeous and the synopsis sounds so unique! I was thrilled to receive it in the mail earlier this year. Once I started reading it though, I quickly realized it wasn't going to be the book for me.

I don't have a ton to say about Black Wings Beating, but the main point I took away was that if you are not interested in birds and falconry, you may not love this book. I slogged through the first few chapters and there was just SO much bird talk. I guess I should've guessed as much from the things I mentioned drew me in, but I really didn't think it was literally going to be primarily a bird book.

The characters also weren't captivating enough to keep me interested. It's possible that they could've pulled me in had I kept at it, but Brysen seemed impulsive and annoying, and Kylee just didn't make a huge impression. I do like that the main characters were siblings, though.

Apart from the focus on the birds, the world building was interesting, if a bit of an info dump. The mythology surrounding the two clans was unique and in the bit that I read of this book I did find it to be well written. Sadly, these things weren't enough to keep me reading. If you love birds, you'll probably love this book! I just couldn't get into it.


Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Down the TBR Hole #4


Hi again! This week I'm back with five more books from my ever growing TBR list. Perhaps not surprisingly, there's another Disney book in the bunch, but my YA preferences are slowly becoming more apparent at this point in my TBR. It's interesting to see how my reading preferences changed as my TBR grew!

The Down the TBR Hole meme was started by Lost In a Story and it is the most perfect tool for cleaning off shelves that I've come across. Here's how it works:
  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

THE BOOKS


RUBY RED BY KERSTIN GIER

First of all, I was always under the impression that this was a retelling and I have no idea why. Apparently it's a historical fiction/time traveling book. After reading some reviews, I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, I don't really read historical fiction and the reviews talk about instalove and slow pacing. On the other hand... Actually, I think I'll just go with the first hand on this one. VERDICT: PASS



UNDER THE NEVER SKY BY VERONICA ROSSI

I feel like I've been whining about wanting more dystopian books for awhile now and I kind of forgot this one existed. However, MC reviewed this book on Cornerfolds and, well, she hated it. The word "savage" is also used to describe the darker skinned character on the cover and that's pretty yikesy. Then again, I can't find any reviews mentioning it as an issue in the book itself. And SO MANY reviewers I trust liked this one. Still, a lot of the reviews say this isn't a true dystopian book, so I think I'll skip it for now. VERDICT: PASS



BUILDING A DREAM BY BETH DUNLOP

A Disney book! Who's shocked? This one is specifically about architecture and I think that could make for a super interesting read. It includes the architecture of their corporate offices in addition to the parks, but I guess I could just skip over those pages. The reviews say this also includes the architecture of Celebration, Florida! Now I just need to locate a copy. VERDICT: KEEP



THE DESCENT BY JEFF LONG

This book apparently has no connection to the movie by the same name (and with a very similar synopsis), but I am still very intrigued by it! I was pulled in by the blurb then and I'm still super curious now. This book is about something being discovered in a cave, a labyrinth full of another race of beings, and it sounds so good! VERDICT: KEEP



OMENS BY KELLEY ARMSTRONG

I know that one of you prompted me to put this on my TBR. Was it you, Jessica? While it does sound interesting, I've realized over the years that urban fantasy just isn't my genre. I've kept it around just in case the mood ever struck, but I just don't think I'll ever read it! VERDICT: PASS



Once again, I've purged three books from my TBR. Never mind that I accidentally added a few more in the last week... Oops.

What have you added or deleted from your TBR lately?
Let me know in the comments! 
Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday #205: Fall 2018 TBR


Today's Topic: 
Top Ten Books On My Fall 2018 TBR

It's that time of year again when I get to share the Fall releases I'm excited to read! There are so many good books coming out that it was hard to pick just ten! Perhaps not surprisingly, the fantasy binge continues. Authors, please write dystopian books! 



Amber & Dusk by Lyra Selene
Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore
The Cursed Sea by Lauren DeStefano
Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri



Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean
The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth
Outrun the Wind by Elizabeth Tammi
Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

Monday, September 17, 2018

ARC Review: The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White

Title: The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein
Author: Kiersten White
Publication Date: September 25, 2018
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pages: 304
Add to Goodreads


Elizabeth Lavenza hasn't had a proper meal in weeks. Her thin arms are covered with bruises from her "caregiver," and she is on the verge of being thrown into the streets . . . until she is brought to the home of Victor Frankenstein, an unsmiling, solitary boy who has everything--except a friend.

Victor is her escape from misery. Elizabeth does everything she can to make herself indispensable--and it works. She is taken in by the Frankenstein family and rewarded with a warm bed, delicious food, and dresses of the finest silk. Soon she and Victor are inseparable.

But her new life comes at a price. As the years pass, Elizabeth's survival depends on managing Victor's dangerous temper and entertaining his every whim, no matter how depraved. Behind her blue eyes and sweet smile lies the calculating heart of a girl determined to stay alive no matter the cost . . . as the world she knows is consumed by darkness.

I will admit that I have never read the original Frankenstein. I know, it's embarrassing, but I've seen and read enough retellings that I feel like I have an okay grasp on the story. Even if I didn't, I absolutely would have picked up this book as soon as humanly possible because I am obsessed with everything Kiersten White writes after falling in love with And I Darken.

This Frankenstein retelling focuses on Elizabeth, a young orphan who is taken in by Victor Frankenstein's family in order to befriend him and keep him out of trouble. Elizabeth does whatever she can throughout the story to make herself useful and irreplaceable in the Frankenstein household. I found Elizabeth to be a character who was morally gray and extremely interesting. I wouldn't go so far as to say that I loved her, but I was definitely intrigued by her motives and sympathized with her fierce need to belong.

Victor Frankenstein is about what you would expect. He's passionate and dark and and a bit terrifying. He has a very intense desire to conquer death, which leads to some extremely questionable, horrific actions. Elizabeth and Victor together were all kinds of disturbing and this book makes no effort to hide it. Although it's clear that they love each other, it is definitely in a very unusual and possibly toxic way. I still found myself rooting for them, at least for part of the time.

There were other characters along this journey who were all fantastic and Frankenstein's Monster was fantastic! I thought the writing was beautiful and the world was atmospheric. The story was interesting and different enough from any other I've read to keep me intrigued. All that said, there was one big issue I had with this book and that was the pacing in the first 60% of it.

In And I Darken, a very large chunk of the book was devoted to telling you how the characters became who they were. Because that book was nearly 500 pages long and part of a trilogy, it worked for me. Something very similar happened in this book, but Elizabeth Frankenstein is 300 pages long and a standalone, which made getting through the first 200 pages incredibly tedious. Had this book been by an author I didn't know I loved, I would have given up on it. Luckily, the last third made up for it and presented an incredible story. If you happen to love character driven books, you'll probably love it start to finish!

The ending of this book is very different than the ending of the original Frankenstein, which is perfectly alright with me since this is a retelling. I really enjoyed the ending and would love to see what happens next! The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein is a unique take on a story that has been told a million times. If you're a fan of the Frankenstein story or gothic horror in general, I would recommend this.


Sunday, September 16, 2018

Weekly Recap: 9/9 - 9/15


HAPPENINGS OFF THE BLOG

Hi everyone! First of all, I hope everyone in the path of the hurricane this week is safe and has air conditioning! I've spent a few days following the storm and talking to family members who were affected. Luckily so far, so good! This week I completed my Platform 9 3/4k race, which was a lot of fun (surprisingly)! I've also been talking details for my friend's upcoming wedding. I'm so excited to be there for it! In my reading life, I gave up on Escaping From Houdini after learning that the finished copy has a completely different ending. :/ I guess I'll be waiting for the audiobook of that one. In addition to the new books I added this week, I also got the UK Waking Gods ARC to add to my collection! I'm so close to having them all!


NEW BOOKS THIS WEEK

 


THIS WEEK I READ

 


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Monday DNF ARC review of A Blade So Black
The topic was hidden gems for Top Ten Tuesday
Thursday audiobook review of The Dead & the Gone
On Friday I talked about adaptations that need to be made
Things got spooky for Saturday Screen Time


UPCOMING REVIEWS

 


We're linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Saturday, September 15, 2018

Saturday Screen Time #24: Spooky, spooky


Happy Saturday, everyone! I haven't been in much of a movie mood lately, so this week I'm coming at you with one movie and a TV series! Both are sufficiently spooky for getting into the Halloween mood (because Halloween starts September 1st). 

THIS WEEK IN SCREEN TIME


Beetlejuice - I hadn't seen this movie in YEARS, probably since I was 10 or younger. I've been on a bit of a nostalgia kick, trying to watch things that I haven't seen since childhood, and Beetlejuice made the list. It was... something. Although I do tend to love Tim Burton films, this one was a little much for me. I still enjoyed it, and maybe I'll like it again on a rewatch, but it just felt too out there. The characters were fun and I liked the atmosphere, but this one won't make my favorites list. (3.5/5 stars)

Castle Rock - Finally! It feels like forever since I watched a new TV series. I've been waiting for this season to wrap up so I could watch it all at once and I definitely think binge watching was a good plan for this show. There's so much that could easily be forgotten between episodes. I loved the creepy vibes and Bill Skarsgard is a national treasure! My biggest frustration was the abundance of red herrings and the lack of answers at the end. Still, it was a great spooky watch and I'd definitely recommend it. Just don't expect a bow wrapping it up. (4/5 stars)



Have you seen either of these? What did you think?
What are your best spooky suggestions?
Let me know in the comments!



Friday, September 14, 2018

TV & movie adaptations that need to be made ASAP


Do you ever finish a book and immediately wish someone would adapt it for television or as a film? Some would definitely work better as TV series - mostly the ones that have enough material to make a fantastic series without dragging or relying on filler episodes. Not surprisingly, I think fantasy series would be best for this. Then you have the books that wouldn't be enough for a show, but would still be great as a movie. I know we all like to whine about it when there's a bad adaptation, but with the right cast and crew, these are ten I think would be incredible! 

TV SERIES


A Court of Thorns and Roses - I LOVED the first two books in this series and, while admit the last two haven't been my favorites, this would absolutely make an amazing TV series. I would love to see Feyre on her journey of self discovery unfolding over months. And can you imagine the new viewer reactions to the romance twist?? This would be a fantastic TV series to join in on episode discussions.

And I Darken - When I think of this series I'm thinking of something like Game of Thrones or maybe Spartacus. I can just imagine seeing this with a big budget on HBO or Starz. It would definitely have to be on a network that can play more adult content. The romance, the wars, the epic scale! I would definitely pay for a subscription to be able to watch this every week.

The Eye of the World - I'm fairly confident that this has been rumored as a TV series multiple times over the years and I just don't understand why it hasn't happened yet! This epic fantasy series would be incredible to watch! Idea: instead of a Lord of the Rings series (since those movies are already perfect), how about we get The Wheel of Time? I think this is another one I'd love to see on HBO.

The Selection - I know this is mostly fluff, but it is fantastic fluff! I could absolutely see this as a CW show. I'm thinking similar to Reign. The costumes alone would be totally worth watching for! But hopefully they'd know to stop after the first three books...

Shadow and Bone - Oh look, another fantasy series! Are you shocked? I think Shadow and Bone would be perfect as a teen fantasy series. Do we even have any of those? Does Shannara count? It seems like most teen shows are more urban fantasy. I am 100% here for tortured anti-hero Darkling on an angsty teen TV show!


MOVIES 


Alive - Honestly, can we just let M. Night do this movie? I feel like we're allowed to talk about him again since he's redeemed himself and the twist is absolutely deserving of his skills. This is an amazing sci-fi series that could definitely be done with people in their early 20s instead of the younger teens in the book. I would definitely buy opening day tickets.

Caraval - As you may know, this is one of my FAVORITES! But since it's over the course of a few days, I really don't think there's enough to stretch into a TV show. I could definitely imagine this being made into a beautiful, atmospheric movie that would instantly become a favorite for me.

Salt to the Sea - I would love this to be made into a movie! I actually never knew about this ocean disaster until I read the book and I feel like it would be one of those "based on a true story" films that could actually teach a history lesson while being entertaining.

Sleeping Giants - This series deserves a trilogy! It's not enough for a show, but they could definitely pull three movies out of it and I'm really surprised it hasn't happened yet. There's so much mystery and intrigue with the ancient aliens plot that I think would appeal to a ton of people. Make it happen!

Welcome to the Dark House - Finally, since I'm always looking for a good horror movie, this is one that NEEDS to happen! It's so creepy and I think if they did it right, this could be a terrifying movie that wouldn't rely on jump scares. In a world of awful teen horror films, can we please just get Welcome to the Dark House as a good one?



Would you watch any of these? 
What would you like to see adapted for screen? 
LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS!
Thursday, September 13, 2018

Audiobook Review: The Dead & The Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Title: The Dead & The Gone (The Last Survivors #2)
Author: Susan Beth Pfeffer

Narrator: Robertson Dean
Publication Date: June 1, 2008
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Length: 8 hours, 50 minutes
Add to Goodreads

Review for book 1

Susan Beth Pfeffer’s Life as We Knew It enthralled and devastated readers with its brutal but hopeful look at an apocalyptic event--an asteroid hitting the moon, setting off a tailspin of horrific climate changes. Now this harrowing companion novel examines the same events as they unfold in New York City, revealed through the eyes of seventeen-year-old Puerto Rican Alex Morales. When Alex's parents disappear in the aftermath of tidal waves, he must care for his two younger sisters, even as Manhattan becomes a deadly wasteland, and food and aid dwindle.

With haunting themes of family, faith, personal change, and courage, this powerful new novel explores how a young man takes on unimaginable responsibilities.

I picked up The Dead & the Gone immediately following Life As We Knew It. I enjoyed that story so much that I was a bit skeptical of this one. After all, it chronicles the exact same events, but from a different city. I wasn't sure it would be enough to keep my attention, but thankfully I was wrong.

This time the story follows Alex Morales and his two sisters, whose parents aren't home, leaving them to take care of themselves. Alex's mom was at work when disaster struck and his dad was in Puerto Rico. Despite the siblings' hopes that their parents would return, Alex realizes that he has to take charge if his family has any hope of surviving.

I had some serious issues with Alex as a character. He had violent and angry outbursts towards his sisters more than once, which made me question him a lot. Still, I can understand that a situation as stressful as what they were going through could make anyone act out, and he did seem to learn and grow from his mistakes. Despite his issues, I enjoyed him more than Miranda from Life as We Knew It, but maybe that's because he was forced to be an adult, while Miranda had the luxury of being a whiny teenager.

A big part of Alex's life was his religion. He and his sisters attend Catholic schools and rely heavily on the schools and the church to help them survive. It was interesting seeing this situation play out after Miranda's family had only themselves to depend on. Things were definitely very different in this city setting versus the small town from book one.

I was again surprised that the author wrote most of the characters as very generous and the moral decline of the people of NYC was minimal. As I said in my review for Life as We Knew It, I have a hard time believing that society would hold together, but I do understand why she took this route with a YA book.

One thing I really enjoyed in The Dead & the Gone over the first book in the series was the writing style. It was much more interesting and harrowing to read this not as journal entries. I enjoyed being able to know about more of what was going on around them and not just whichever feelings or details the person writing the journal decided to share.

Aside from the setting and writing style, this book was largely the same as the first. The events were obviously the same, although it was nice to see how a large city reacted to it. I really enjoyed The Dead & the Gone and found it to be a great story even though it did share main events with Life as We Knew It. If you're looking for a new post-apocalyptic story, this is definitely one you should check out!


Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday #204: Hidden Gems


Today's Topic: 
Top Ten Hidden Gems

I feel like this topic is so open ended. What is a hidden gem, really? Just because I had never heard of a book doesn't mean everyone else and their mother hadn't. For this week I decided to go with the top ten books I loved that have under 1,000 reviews on Goodreads. And I tried REALLY hard not to share (all) the same ones I've shared in the past! 



Anyone? by Angela Scott
The Architect of Song by A.G. Howard
Beast by Brie Spangler
The Beast Is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale
City of Savages by Lee Kelly



Floor 21 by Jason Luthor
Never Never by Brianna R. Shrum
Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine
The Shuddering by Ania Ahlborn
Snow & Rose by Emily Winfield Martin


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.