Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday #196: Favorite books under 250 pages


Today's Topic: 
Top Five Favorite Books Under 250 Pages

It has occurred to me that I never read novellas or short stories... Whoops! For today's topic, I've included two novellas, but in order to have more than two books on the list, I also included three other books under 250 pages that I've loved!


Fairest by Marissa Meyer
Floor 21 by Jason Luthor
Insylum by Z. Rider
The Raft by S.A. Bodeen
Stygian by Santino Hassell


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

Monday, July 16, 2018

ARC Review: Contagion by Erin Bowman

Title: Contagion (Contagion #1)
Author: Erin Bowman

Publication Date: July 24, 2018
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 432
Add to Goodreads


Perfect for fans of Madeleine Roux, Jonathan Maberry, and horror films like 28 Days Later and Resident Evil, this pulse-pounding, hair-raising, utterly terrifying novel is the first in a duology from the critically acclaimed author of the Taken trilogy.

After receiving a distress call from a drill team on a distant planet, a skeleton crew is sent into deep space to perform a standard search-and-rescue mission.

When they arrive, they find the planet littered with the remains of the project—including its members’ dead bodies. As they try to piece together what could have possibly decimated an entire project, they discover that some things are best left buried—and some monsters are only too ready to awaken.

It's no secret around my blog that I LOVE horror! Horror books, horror movies, horror shows - I love them all. So when I saw this compared to 28 Days Later and Resident Evil, but set in space, I knew it was going to be the book for me!

Contagion begins by introducing us to the crew who is dragged into this rescue mission that they aren't at all qualified for. The main characters are Thea, a microbiology intern who's assisting a renowned scientist, and Nova, a pilot who really isn't ready for a mission this intense. Both girls were interesting characters with well developed backstories and I ended up really enjoying both of them. The side characters were equally well written, although there is of course one that I utterly despise.

Dylan, the captain of the crew, is a complete moron without a single redeeming quality. She's set up as a romantic interest, but I honestly couldn't have cared less if she'd been eaten in the second chapter. She had no qualms about risking every single other person under her command to serve her own interests. I did understand her initial reasoning, but it came to a point where I just couldn't believe that anyone in a military command position would be that stupid. But I digress.

Contagion starts slowly, but the action quickly picks up once the rescue crew makes it to the planet that issued the distress signal. Things go south quickly when they realize that they're too late. The crew they've come to help is dead or missing and they have no idea why, and no idea whether they should stay to find out.

Like I said earlier, the main selling point of this book was the horror aspect. It's in the FIRST sentence of the synopsis! And, while this was an interesting book with an undeniable creep factor, it really wasn't terrifying. I love the idea of having to unravel what happened to wipe out an entire crew, but the way that they got there and the repetitiveness of some of the horror left me wanting more. That isn't to say that it was bad, by any means! I think a lot of people who are less eager to be kept up at night with the lights on will probably love this. Personally, I expect more scares from a good horror book.

Still, the story was a good one. There isn't much I can say without spoilers, but the whodunnit aspect of Contagion was fantastically done and there were multiple twists that surprised me. This book is fast paced with a creepy atmosphere! It does end on a cliffhanger, but not a terribly frustrating one, and there is a tiny hint of romance. If you're looking for a good, creepy science fiction thriller, this is probably a book you'll love! Just don't come looking for anything as terrifying as 28 Days Later.


Sunday, July 15, 2018

Weekly Recap: 7/8 - 7/14


TRACY'S HAPPENINGS OFF THE BLOG

Hi everyone! This week has been busy, but good. My shelves are all done! You can see the entire journey here, if you'd like. Aside from organizing my new shelves (which was so much fun!), I did some dog sitting and we finally got our bedroom painted. One by one, projects around the house are being checked off. I also got a decent amount of reading done, finally! Oh, and while you're here, I'm going to do a shameless plug and tell you to check out my Instagram page if you're interested in winning my ARC of A Blade So Black!


NEW BOOKS THIS WEEK

 


THIS WEEK I READ

   



CHELCIE'S HAPPENINGS OFF THE BLOG

Hi everyone!  It’s back to work for me, but I’d much rather still be up in the Adirondacks with my family. Thankfully I have a long weekend coming up and I’ll be headed to New York City for Epic Reads Day with my boyfriend. Now I just gotta make it through a couple more days of work.


NEW BOOKS THIS WEEK

 


THIS WEEK I READ

Nothing read this week!



IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

The topic was the best books of 2018 for Top Ten Tuesday
On Thursday I talked about the aftermath of a blogging slump
Friday ARC review of My Plain Jane
On Saturday I shared my mid-year audiobook challenge progress


UPCOMING REVIEWS



We're linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Saturday, July 14, 2018

2018 Audiobook Challenge Mid-Year Update

I can't believe the year is over half over!! But here we are at the half year check-in for one of the few challenges I signed up for in 2018. This year I chose a smaller goal than previous years - My Precious. The goal is 30-50 books and I'm calling it 30+ for simplicity's sake (and to make it more easily attainable). I'm already just over 50% to my goal, so yay me for staying on track! I'll admit that I didn't make it all the way through all of them, but an attempt was made! 


Out of these books, my favorites have been The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Reign the Earth, and Hunting Prince Dracula! My least favorites have been King's Cage, And the Trees Crept In, and The Night Circus, although I definitely disliked more than I've liked so far this year. 

Here are links to the ones I've reviewed:



What audiobooks have I missed this year? What are some of your absolute favorites (fantasy or horror preferred)? Let me know in the comments!
Friday, July 13, 2018

ARC Review: My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, & Jodi Meadows

Title: My Plain Jane (The Lady Janies #2) 
Author: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, & Jodi Meadows
Publication Date: June 26, 2018
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 464
Add to Goodreads

Review for book 1

You may think you know the story. After a miserable childhood, penniless orphan Jane Eyre embarks on a new life as a governess at Thornfield Hall. There, she meets one dark, brooding Mr. Rochester. Despite their significant age gap (!) and his uneven temper (!!), they fall in love—and, Reader, she marries him. (!!!)

Or does she?

Prepare for an adventure of Gothic proportions, in which all is not as it seems, a certain gentleman is hiding more than skeletons in his closets, and one orphan Jane Eyre, aspiring author Charlotte Brontë, and supernatural investigator Alexander Blackwood are about to be drawn together on the most epic ghost hunt this side of Wuthering Heights.

First off, shame on me for not ever having read Jane Eyre before.  I'm not really much of a classics person and I think I have my strict english teachers to blame for that.  But after reading this book it really make me want to go out and grab Jane Eyre just so I can say that I've read that book as well.

Now that I got that off my chest... THIS BOOK WAS AMAZING!

From what I have heard people say this book follows most of the major plot points of Jane Eyre, but there is a bit of a twist.  Our plain Jane is a seer.  She can see and talk to ghosts.  The supernatural element in this novel really added to the story line and added such a unique twist to the classic.  I love it when authors can take a well-known story, keep it recognizable, and totally put their own spin on it!

I love how Charlotte Brontë had her own character in this book.  For those of you who, like me and are oblivious when it comes to classics, Charlotte is the author of the original book, but in this book she is best friends with Jane and is slowly writing and coming up with ideas for the novel.  If that made any sense at all.  Even though Jane is supposed to be front and center I really feel like Charlotte steals the show.  She is such a strong, smart, and independent character in a time period where that was generally frowned upon.  It was also such a cool idea to see her develop her most famous work throughout the course of this book as she followed her friend through thick and thin.

The references!  There were sooooo many of them that I couldn't help but laugh out loud and share them with whomever was near me while I was reading.  #Sorrynotsorry to my boyfriend and mom.  It was their fault they sat near me lol.  The best reference by far had to be the Princess Bride one!  That has to be one of my top ten movies of all time which makes anything that much better if they reference it in any way shape or form.  There was also a Scooby Doo reference that I almost missed if I hadn't had to reread a bit because I was laughing so hard.

The romance in this book was on point.  I'm not talking about Jane and Mr. Rochester so I won't say who to avoid spoilers, but it was done so well.  It felt very genuine and sweet.  At times (you know if you've read the book) the romance had me crying, laughing, and begging for them to just admit their feelings for each other.  And if there ever was another book that followed this one as an actual series there is another romance that I would've really liked to see how it panned out.  Plus the adventures that couple could go on would be of epic proportions.

Now you don't have to have read My Lady Jane to read this one as they both are separate books, but there is a little part you won't get in the end of this book if you haven't read My Lady Jane first.  I love when authors do this kind of thing even if the books aren't specifically in a series.  Just having that little link almost makes the books that much better for me.  And, of course, you don't have to have read Jane Eyre first either.  I haven't burst into flames yet lol.  I'm for sure going to read it now though!

So if you have a love for Jane Eyre or a love for Ghostbusters or you just want to have a good laugh this is definitely a book that you should pick up in the future!  You definitely won't regret it!


Thursday, July 12, 2018

The aftermath of a blogging slump

Blogging slumps. We all have them. They always suck and they're always difficult to pull out of. But what happens when you finally DO get back to normal and everything else doesn't?


As some of you may remember, last year was one long, awful slump for me. A lot of changes and big events happened in my life and I went through a bit of a rough bout of depression that left me struggling to read and struggling to find the motivation to blog and blog hop. As much as I love all of these things, I found myself lacking the drive to actually do them, even though not doing them made me miserable.

My awful blogging slump lasted nearly a full year, but then I was back! I feel good! I love reading again! I love blogging and blog hopping and interacting! What I found, though, was that while many of my good blogging friends stuck by me and were still here when I got back, the community as a whole had continued on without me. I had to find my way back in. From one year to the next my visitor stats dropped by almost half and in the months that I've felt back to normal I have struggled to bring them back up to pre-slump numbers.

This is the aftermath of a huge blogging slump (and of course, by blogging slump I mean depression that leads to an inability to blog).

I've been back, like I said, for a few months, although I still don't feel like I'm all the way here. Some days it's still not as easy as it used to be to get online and comment back. Sometimes it's discouraging to see that the level of interaction I had a year and a half ago is so different, although I love every single comment I get! Sometimes it feels like my blog will never be completely back to where it was.

So how do you recover? Of course, I'm only one person, but here is my answer:

You recover from a book blogging slump by learning to love it all over again for what it is: a hobby that you love and wouldn't know how to live without. Of course, the visits and the followers and the comments are all fantastic! But at the end of the day, that's never what book blogging has been about for me. It has been about reading books that I love (or don't) and sharing them with the community. It's about interacting with other book lovers because that's a type of (vital) interaction I don't get in real life.

What I'm trying to say is that, while the aftermath of a blogging slump isn't pretty, it is possible to enjoy it. It's so easy to get overwhelmed by stats, since that's what publishers focus on. But if you're currently in the position I was in last year, don't give up hope! It's okay to take the break you need, love yourself, and when you get back your blog and the community will still be here. There will be time to rebuild your stats and you'll still have the books while you do!

Have you ever found yourself in a blogging slump that wasn't just a small hurdle? How did you deal with the changes when you finally got back? I'd love to discuss it!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday #195: Best of 2018 (so far)


Today's Topic: 
Top Ten Books I've
Read So Far In 2018

I love these topics because I get to share the books I've loved! It actually worked out perfectly, because I've only rated ten books four stars or more so far in 2018 and here they are!


A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir
Bright We Burn by Kiersten White
The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
Dry by Neal Shusterman & Jarrod Shusterman



Everless by Sara Holland
Legendary by Stephanie Garber
Reign the Earth by A.C. Gaughen
Sea Witch by Sarah Henning
Sweet Black Waves by Kristina Perez


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

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Weekly Recap: 7/1 - 7/7


TRACY'S HAPPENINGS OFF THE BLOG

Hi everyone! This week has been better than last week, but it was still kind of a mess. XD The biggest excitement of the week was that I had built in shelves installed. They're floor to ceiling and wall to wall in my office. However... the contractor was not great. My husband has had to completely sand off the paint and repaint it, fill a ridiculous amount of mistakes with wood filler, redo the hardware, etc. Luckily it should all be finished in the next day or two! I can't wait to fill all the shelves with books!


NEW BOOKS THIS WEEK

Nothing new this week!


THIS WEEK I READ




CHELCIE'S HAPPENINGS OFF THE BLOG

Hi everyone!  This week was so full for rest, relaxation, and oodles of fun!  My week on vacation was an awesome one. I loved being able to spend a lot of time with my family and make a ton of new memories. I think my favorite part of the whole trip was being able to go to the place that my dad and his siblings used to camp at when they were younger and see them relive all of those good memories. I really hope we can do something like this again in the future.


NEW BOOKS THIS WEEK

   


THIS WEEK I READ

 



IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Monday ARC review of Bright We Burn
The topic was red, white, & blue covers for Top Ten Tuesday
On Thursday Checlie shared her favorite traveling books
Friday book review of Midnight Jewel
I wondered why all the movies were bad for Saturday Screen Time


UPCOMING REVIEWS



We're linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Saturday, July 7, 2018

Saturday Screen Time #20: Why is everything bad?


I just want to watch a good movie. Is that too much to ask? I feel like between my last post and this one, everything is just... bad. I think I might have to pull out The Greatest Showman and Dirty Dancing as palate cleansers! XD Really though, I'm planning to see Ant Man and the Wasp and possibly The First Purge soon. Maybe those will make up for the last few weeks? 


THIS WEEK IN SCREEN TIME


Winchester - Aw man. Winchester was one of the most boring movies I've seen in awhile. I love the story behind the Winchester house and visiting the house is on my bucket list, but this movie was just bad. Honesty, I barely made it to the end and I really couldn't tell you what happened. I wish it would have focused more on the house and less on the haunting. You may like this if you're here for ghosts and jump scares, but don't bother if you're interested in the creep factor of the house itself. (1/5 stars)

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom - I was SO ready for this to be movie of the year! I loved Jurassic World so much, I think I saw it in theaters three times. Unfortunately, this movie was a mess. It was still fun and there were still dinosaurs eating people, but it didn't feel like a Jurassic Park movie. The best way I've heard it explained is that this is the first time we've disagreed with the main characters' actions. I didn't agree with what was happening and the big twists were ridiculous and unnecessary. I know the director has said he made this movie solely as an in-between to get the dinosaurs into the US and it shows. I'll still see the next one, but my expectations will be in check from now on. (3/5 stars)



Have you seen any of these? What did you think?
What movies have you watched lately?
Let me know in the comments!



Friday, July 6, 2018

Book Review: Midnight Jewel by Richelle Mead

Title: Midnight Jewel (The Glittering Court #2)
Author: Richelle Mead
Publication Date: June 27, 2017
Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 416
Add to Goodreads
Review for book 1

In MIDNIGHT JEWEL, Richelle Mead goes beyond the glitz and glamour of the Glittering Court, delving into the dark, political underbelly of Cape Triumph through the eyes of one girl who dares to fight for her freedom.

A refugee of war, Mira was cast out of her home country and thrust into another, where the conditions were inhospitable at best. In a life-altering twist of fate, she is given the chance to escape once more, and she takes it, joining the Glittering Court.

Both a school and a business venture, the Glittering Court is designed to transform impoverished girls into upper-class ladies who appear destined for powerful and wealthy marriages in the New World. There, Mira finds herself subjected to persecution, not only from her fellow Glittering Court jewels, but from her suitors, as well—men she would potentially be expected to give her life to.

By day, she goes through the motions, learning the etiquette and customs that will help to earn her anonymity, even making a couple true friends in the process, the forthright ladies’ maid Adelaide and the ambitious laundress Tamsin. But by night, Mira hatches a different plan entirely—one that, if exposed, could get her hanged in the highest court of Adoria.

MIDNIGHT JEWEL is the extraordinary story of a girl with few options who courageously forges a new path, finding love, passion, lifelong friendships, and maybe even a way to freedom.

Way back in my review for The Glittering Court I said I wasn't sure if I was ever going to read Midnight Jewel.  Well I did it.  I almost DNFed this book, but as I was part of the blog tour I felt like I had to at least complete this book.  There were so many reviews saying that this book was so much better than the first, but I beg to differ.

I so desperately wanted to like this book as I have loved all of Richelle Mead's books prior to this series.  I think the things that got me the most had to be the timeline of how the series was written.  Both the first and second book (and I'm guessing the third book will as well) take place over the same amount of time.  I thought this would be an interesting concept, but it makes everything so unbearably predictable.  And even though this book was told from a different point of view about 40% of the book is the same events which makes things rather redundant and honestly boring.  It felt like the author vomited up the story from the first book and added some more stuff.

Due to the book having a lot of redundant scenes made it way too long.  The book itself doesn't seem that big, but the audiobook that I listened to was over 14 hours!  That's ridiculously excessive in my opinion.  Especially when most of these scenes are the same thing as the first book.  By chapter 4 they still have not even left for the new world.  That's a lot of unnecessary words.

I was also hoping that the romance would maybe redeem this book a little, but I was sadly mistaken.  In the beginning I felt like the romance could be very promising yet it almost made me more upset.  For the sake of spoilers I won't say too much, but just because the characters have everything going against them does not make it okay for them to be together because of on little loop hole at near the end of the book.

I know this sounds awful, but I really wish this second book had been a continuation of the series and not a different point of view of the same events.  It does sound like an interesting concept, but it definitely was not for me.

That being said, I will not be finishing this series at all.  I will read Richelle's other new books, but I just can't with this series.


Thursday, July 5, 2018

Six favorite books for traveling

One of the best times to get a ton of reading done is while on vacation. And as I am on vacation at this very moment I figured that I would share some of my favorite travel books.


THE GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE
This book is so full of travel that it makes me feel like I’m going across Europe with the characters. Alas, I have never been to Europe, but at least I feel like I’ve had a taste after reading this book. Plus it’s full of humor that will have you belly laughing from start to finish.

I SEE LONDON, I SEE FRANCE
This is another book that takes you on a wild journey across Europe. There are so many laugh out loud moments that I’m not sure if I could have even counted them!  I definitely want to visit each and every city mentioned in this book!

EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING
While this book does not have as much travel as the first two, but it does make me really want to visit Hawaii just like the main character. I just wish I had as much guts to do some cliff jumping like the main character did.

TWENTY BOY SUMMER
It’s been a hot second since I read this book (way back in like 2011ish), but the one thing I can really remember is the beach vacation. Two friends have a bet to see who can kiss twenty boys in one summer, but it’s pretty hard to do that when you start falling for one of them.

ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS
This is another book that I haven’t read in a while yet it really made me want to travel to Paris!  Someone can ship me off to a private school in Paris any day if it meant I was able to explore one of my favorite cities in the world!

THE LONG RIDE HOME
When Harley loses her mother she decides to take a cross-country road trip to grieve and scatter her mother’s ashes. It isn’t long before she finds out that she is pregnant with her travel companion’s baby. Harley has to come to terms with a lot of things her mother faced when she found out she was pregnant with Harley. While this book is a little on the sadder end of things, it still was a great read full of adventure.



So whether you like to vacation somewhere in a different country or on the beach, these reads are definitely for you!

Are there any travel books that you love to read?
Let me know in the comments!


Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday #194: red, white, and blue covers


Today's Topic: 
Top Ten Books with Red,
White, & Blue Covers

This week's topic made me realize that not many fantasy books have white covers. It was HARD to track down books that fit since everything seemed to be blue. Haha! In the end, I found three white, three red, and four blue covers of books that I loved!


A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner
Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo



Sea Witch by Sarah Henning
The One by Kiera Cass
Dry by Neal Shusterman & Jarrod Shusterman
Untamed by A.G. Howard
Pines by Blake Crouch


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

Monday, July 2, 2018

ARC Review: Bright We Burn by Kiersten White

Title: Bright We Burn (The Conqueror's Saga #3)
Author: Kiersten White
Publication Date: July 10, 2018
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pages: 416
Add to Goodreads

Reviews for book 1 & book 2

Haunted by the sacrifices he made in Constantinople, Radu is called back to the new capital. Mehmed is building an empire, becoming the sultan his people need. But Mehmed has a secret: as emperor, he is more powerful than ever . . . and desperately lonely. Does this mean Radu can finally have more with Mehmed . . . and would he even want it?

Lada's rule of absolute justice has created a Wallachia free of crime. But Lada won't rest until everyone knows that her country's borders are inviolable. Determined to send a message of defiance, she has the bodies of Mehmed's peace envoy delivered to him, leaving Radu and Mehmed with no choice. If Lada is allowed to continue, only death will prosper. They must go to war against the girl prince.

But Mehmed knows that he loves her. He understands her. She must lose to him so he can keep her safe. Radu alone fears that they are underestimating his sister's indomitable will. Only by destroying everything that came before--including her relationships--can Lada truly build the country she wants.

Claim the throne. Demand the crown. Rule the world.

And I Darken was my biggest surprise favorite of 2016 and Now I Rise was one of my top three of 2017. I knew before I even got my hands on Bright We Burn that it would be one of my absolute favorites of the year, but I honestly wasn't even prepared for how amazing it was!

This book picks up right where Now I Rise leaves off. Lada is bulldozing her way through the countryside leaving bloody, violent messages everywhere she goes. Mehmed, still with the feelings, wants to work with her, which she (of course) sees as him wanting to rule her. And, as usual, Radu is there in the middle trying to keep the peace.

Lada, as always, is strong and ruthless and wonderful. There are glimpses of vulnerable and unsure Lada, but inevitably pushes it down for the sake of Wallachia. This could be seen as a huge character flaw, and sure Lada isn't a morally wonderful character, but she would not be herself if she allowed her emotions to cloud her actions, and I love her for it. There were moments in this book when I actually pitied Lada because it's so obvious that she does WANT to do what's best for her people, but doesn't always know the best way to get there.

Radu's story continues with him constantly torn between his loyalty to Mehmed and his love for his sister. His relationship with Mehmed is so multifaceted and has come such a long, long way since book one. I felt for him on so many levels as he tried do what was best for each of them without destroying anything that he loved.

Honestly, I can't choose a favorite character because they're all so incredibly written. I know that, way back in book one, some people had issues with how early in Lada and Radu's lives the narrative began, showing them throughout their childhood. Usually I have an issue with books that are slow paced or give too much detail. However, in the And I Darken series, it is absolutely warranted. All of the characters are so intricately tied together and knowing how each relationship originated and progressed makes this book so much more impactful.

This book is dark. It's brutal and gory and focuses around an inevitable war and it's awful consequences. Still, amid the darkness, there is romance and love and friendship. While it isn't fast-paces, there is a steady, tense build up to the battles and bloodshed that are certainly coming. Bright We Burn isn't always an easy book to read, but it is a perfect ending to this series. I can't say much without spoilers, but Kiersten White managed to wrap this series up in a way that was deeply satisfying, but still left me heartbroken.

If you enjoyed the other books in this series, you will love this book. This series is not for everyone and I can appreciate why some people will not enjoy it. For me, though, these books will forever have a space on my favorites shelf!