Saturday, January 20, 2018

Saturday Screen Time #8: Remakes all around


Happy Saturday, everyone! This week I got roped into watching two remakes by my husband. One I ended up really liking and the other was even worse than I expected it to be!


THIS WEEK IN FILM


Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle - This Jumanji remake/sequel had me a little scared to buy a ticket for a couple reasons: I loved the original and I wasn't positive how the video game aspects would work out. But my husband dragged me to see it and I'm happy to report that I did enjoy it a lot! I hadn't realized this wasn't a straight remake. Instead, it picked up right where the original Jumanji left off and there were little nods to the original throughout. I enjoyed the way the game changed to stay relevant and I LOVED watching all the adult characters become their teenage counterparts (except for Kevin Hart who played Kevin Hart). Is it a masterpiece? No, and it's also not as amazing as its predecessor, but I did really like it! I think this Jumanji will appeal to old and new fans alike. (4/5 stars)

The Mummy - I had absolutely no intentions of seeing this movie. Ever. So imagine my surprise when the red Netflix envelope came and this was inside instead of Mother! I had totally forgotten that Universal was planning this Dark Universe franchise, but I was reminded right from the opening credits. It's so bizarre to watch a movie that refuses to be its own thing and instead shoehorns in 57 new characters to build an entire universe. I'm no film expert, but it's stupid of these filmmakers to think that they can do what Marvel did over 10 years in one movie. Honestly, why do we need Jekyll and Hyde in a Mummy flick? The Mummy had no idea what it even was! Horror? Comedy? Action? Adventure? Not even the scriptwriters know! The Mummy herself looked amazing and I'll give it one star for her, but the movie is awful, I'm sad to say. A quick Google search revealed that most people must agree, because the Dark Universe seems to be dead. (1/5 stars)



Have you seen either of these? What did you think?
What movies have you watched lately?
Let me know in the comments!
Friday, January 19, 2018

ARC Review: The Crown's Fate by Evelyn Skye

Title: The Crown's Fate (The Crown's Game #2)
Author: Evelyn Skye
Publication Date: May 16, 2017
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pages: 415

Add to Goodreads
Review for book 1

Russia is on the brink of great change. Pasha’s coronation approaches, and Vika is now the Imperial Enchanter, but the role she once coveted may be more difficult—and dangerous—than she ever expected.

Pasha is grappling with his own problems—his legitimacy is in doubt, the girl he loves loathes him, and he believes his best friend is dead. When a challenger to the throne emerges—and with the magic in Russia growing rapidly—Pasha must do whatever it takes to keep his position and protect his kingdom.

For Nikolai, the ending of the Crown’s Game stung deeply. Although he just managed to escape death, Nikolai remains alone, a shadow hidden in a not-quite-real world of his own creation. But when he’s given a second chance at life—tied to a dark price—Nikolai must decide just how far he’s willing to go to return to the world.

With revolution on the rise, dangerous new magic rearing up, and a tsardom up for the taking, Vika, Nikolai, and Pasha must fight—or face the destruction of not only their world but also themselves. 

Oh boy. Here I am again, reviewing a book that I hated. I reviewed The Crown's Game when it was first released and you can check out my review of that here. It was a giant disappointment to me for various reasons, but I thought I saw a glimmer of hope for the second book and decided to pick it up. I shouldn't have wasted my time.

Basically, everything I hated about the first book stuck around for book two. One of my biggest complaints about the first book was the overwhelming number of tropes the author used. But the most annoying trope of all was the love triangle. It was weird, completely pointless, and in the second book, it became very childish. It persisted through the WHOLE BOOK until there was magical resolution in the last few pages. Just POOF, suddenly there was no love triangle anymore. All the characters came to the realization at the same time. Ugh.

Now let's talk about the plot. I was greatly disappointed with the direction that the plot went in The Crown's Game, but I think it was a decent storyline overall. But The Crown's Fate went in such a different direction that it didn't even feel like it was part of the same story. It had the darkness that I wished was present in the first book, but it was thrown into the story so sloppily that I was still not interested in it. It didn't feel like a continuation of book one at all.

This same feeling applied to the characters as well. They acted completely differently throughout the second book. They weren't nearly as interesting as they had been previously. They were mostly whiny and annoying and moody. And there was no character development whatsoever. They were the same people when the book ended as when it began. This was a huge disappointment because the characters were one of the few things that I actually liked about The Crown's Game.

All in all, I think its safe to say that I really, really dislike these books. They held so much promise and were such a letdown. If you were someone who actually liked The Crown's Game, you may enjoy The Crown's Fate as well. But it is such a change from the first book that you may also be let down by this one. There are much better fantasies out there that I would highly recommend over these books.



Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday #170: Bookish goals


Today's Topic: 
Top Ten Bookish Resolutions/Goals

Here we are a few weeks into 2018 and we're talking about bookish resolutions! I already kind of did this a couple weeks ago, but why not do it again, I guess? Like I've mentioned before, 2017 was a rough reading year, so some of my goals just center around actually reading. 

  • Read 75 books
  • Complete the three challenges I've signed up for
  • Actually take time to read every day
  • Finish and review all the ARCs that are sent to me
  • Force myself to read House of Leaves
  • Complete my incomplete Harry Potter collections
  • Find some awesome new graphic novels
  • Donate/give away the ARCs I'm just never going to get to
  • Actually read the books I put on my top ten lists 
  • Get more active on Instagram



Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.
Monday, January 15, 2018

Audiobook Review: And the Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich

Title: And the Trees Crept In
Author: Dawn Kurtagich
Publication Date: September 6, 2016
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 352
Add to Goodreads


Stay away from the woods…

When Silla and Nori arrive at their aunt’s home, it’s immediately clear that the manor is cursed. The endless creaking of the house at night and the eerie stillness of the woods surrounding them would be enough of a sign, but there are secrets too—questions that Silla can’t ignore: Why does it seem that, ever since they arrived, the trees have been creeping closer? Who is the beautiful boy who’s appeared from the woods? And who is the tall man with no eyes who Nori plays with in the basement at night… a man no one else can see?

It has been quite awhile since a book let me down quite as much as And the Trees Crept In. In fact, this book has caused me to break a long-standing tradition of not rating books I don't finish. Having completed 70% of this never ending audiobook (and reading spoilers for the rest), I feel that I know enough to confidently rate this one disappointing star.

And the Trees Crept in is a horror story that follows Silla and Nori to they're aunt's house in the woods. Silla has led them there seeking shelter from their abusive father and an impending war(?). The house is immediately creepy - blood red and creaky - but Silla and Nori enjoy their time there at first. They get to know their aunt and spend their days gardening and reading in the library.

Let me go ahead and say that none of these characters are likable. Silla grated on my nerves with her annoying, repetitive internal dialogue. Nori wasn't awful, but I just didn't find myself caring too much about her, maybe because Silla didn't and it was told from her perspective? And Crazy Aunt Cath was literally the worst, leaving her nieces all alone in her creepy manor. The only redeeming character in this entire book was the (sort of?) romantic interest, but he's not there enough to save it.

Back to the story, things take a turn for the worse when Silla and Nori go against their aunt's rules by going near the woods. This is when the story really started to get weird (and slow). I really, really thought that this book was going to be terrifying. There were moments in the audiobook when there was background whispering, which was really unsettling at first. Then everything started dragging and the rules started getting muddled (can you go into the woods or not??). The trees are creeping closer, but at the point where they completely cover the house, the book is only halfway over! I couldn't believe it when I realized there was so much more to go. It could've ended with a bang there and I would've been happy, so why did this book continue to drag for hours longer?

As much as I wanted to keep reading to find out what happened, I just couldn't force myself to keep reading. I spoiled the ending for myself, although I won't do it in my review, but suffice it to say, it was ridiculous. There was no reason for this book to go on for so, so long. It could've just been what it started as - a horror book with Slenderman and some creepy, creeping trees - but instead the author chose to flesh it out as much as humanly possible and then some.

Was the setting creepy? Yes, absolutely! I was completely entranced by the moving trees and the creepy town beyond them. There were things that the author did right, for sure. The atmosphere is definitely one of those things. I just don't understand why she took it in this direction.

I wanted to love this book SO MUCH! If you want to read a slightly creepy, pretentious book that tries to do more than it ever could have needed to, this is is the book for you! But if you're looking for a horror story that will haunt your nightmares, this is not the one.


Sunday, January 14, 2018

Weekly Recap: 1/7 - 1/13


TRACY'S HAPPENINGS OFF THE BLOG

Hi, everyone! I hope everyone's had a fantastic week! Mine has been a bit busy, but luckily I've actually had a bit of time to read! Not much has happened around the blog, but I feel good about the year so far. This week I got a couple new books from a friend who was going to be donating and was nice enough to let me have first pick. I also made a couple trades and FINALLY got my hands on an ARC of Waking Gods for my collection!!


NEW BOOKS THIS WEEK

  


THIS WEEK I READ

 



MC'S HAPPENINGS OFF THE BLOG

Hi, everyone! This week was incredibly uneventful and pretty boring. We had some really random warm weather, but now it is back to being super cold. It was a really boring week at work and it seemed to just drag on forever. I thought the weekend would never get here. I finished a couple audiobooks this week, but other than that I haven't been doing much reading. I'm hoping to get some more reading done this weekend and this coming week, because I don't have many plans. Fingers crossed. Have a good week!


NEW BOOKS THIS WEEK

Nothing new this week!


THIS WEEK I READ

 



IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Monday audiobook review of Winter's Heart
The topic was books I didn't get to last year for Top Ten Tuesday
Thursday book review of The Abyss Surrounds Us


UPCOMING REVIEWS

 


We're linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Thursday, January 11, 2018

Book Review: The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie

Title: The Abyss Surrounds Us (The Abyss Surrounds Us #1)
Author: Emily Skrutskie
Publication Date: February 8, 2016
Publisher: Flux
Pages: 273

Add to Goodreads

Cas has fought pirates her entire life. But can she survive living among them?

For Cassandra Leung, bossing around sea monsters is just the family business. She’s been a Reckoner trainer-in-training ever since she could walk, raising the genetically-engineered beasts to defend ships as they cross the pirate-infested NeoPacific. But when the pirate queen Santa Elena swoops in on Cas’s first solo mission and snatches her from the bloodstained decks, Cas’s dream of being a full-time trainer seems dead in the water.

There’s no time to mourn. Waiting for her on the pirate ship is an unhatched Reckoner pup. Santa Elena wants to take back the seas with a monster of her own, and she needs a proper trainer to do it. She orders Cas to raise the pup, make sure he imprints on her ship, and, when the time comes, teach him to fight for the pirates. If Cas fails, her blood will be the next to paint the sea.

Unfortunately, this book ended up being incredibly disappointing for me. I have heard pretty much nothing but rave reviews for this series since it's release almost two years ago, and I wish I could say the same. Ultimately, it all boils down to me wanting more from this book. The story seemed interesting, the world was unique, the characters were intriguing, but I needed so much more.

The Abyss Surrounds Us is set in what appears to be our world at some unknown time in the future. The world has been broken up into much smaller territories in an attempt to better govern the people. And there are these things called Reckoners, which are aquatic beasts of various builds that protect ships from pirate attacks. This sounds pretty cool, right? Well, unfortunately, that is pretty much the only information you get about the world in the entire book. I wanted to know so much more. What led to the division of the world? In the story, Cas meets a man who was alive before the transition, meaning that it is a more recent development. So shouldn't there still be some things getting worked out? You can't decide to divide up the ENTIRE WORLD and have everything working smoothly in just a couple years. Who came up with the idea of the Reckoners? Why was there a demand for Reckoners? How long have Reckoners been around? JUST TELL ME MORE ABOUT THE RECKONERS HOW COULD YOU CREATE SUCH A COOL STORY IDEA AND TELL ME NOTHING ABOUT IT SERIOUSLY WHYYYYYYYYYY.....

Phew, ok, now on to the characters. Again, this is something that needed more development. A pirate crew can always provide a smorgasbord of personalities and back stories, but we got barely any detail on most of the characters. We did learn about the childhood of Swift, the love interest, but by the time it came, I didn't care about her at all. And don't even get me started on Cas' character arc. It made zero sense and her personality changed drastically from one second to the next.

Cas and Swift's relationship didn't make sense at all to me. I liked the idea of them being together and I was excited about that prospect, but the development of the relationship was confusing and WAY under-developed. Cas would always think things like "the Swift I know," "I know she's clever," and "I know she cares for me," and I kept screaming HOW DO YOU KNOW THESE THINGS???? We only witnessed them having a few interactions and those were mostly full of insults and fighting. So how in the WORLD could Cas know ANYTHING about Swift? I feel like this was a terrible case of telling rather than showing. The reader was expected to assume that they had interactions "off-screen" that made them start falling for each other. But you can't tell me that Swift was really sweet and caring and only show me her being a complete jerk. I'm never going to believe you. And, this really isn't important to the story at all, but if Cas mentioned Swift's bad haircut ONE MORE TIME, I was going to throw the book across the room. This was a seriously unimportant detail and wasted so much space that could have been used actually DEVELOPING THEIR RELATIONSHIP.

Even though I didn't like the characters involved in the romance, one thing that I did appreciate about this book is that there was a f/f romance that existed without anyone having to point it out. There was no coming out aspect or negative views from the other characters. Cas and Swift being together was perfectly natural, and it was nice to read a book that included LGBT+ aspects, but didn't make them the focus of the story. This was the saving grace of the book for me.

To be completely honest, I don't understand why so many people love this book. It is a fun story, but it is missing so much. It feels like a good first draft that would become a great book if it was developed more. I see so many reviews saying that there is a vivid world and detailed characters, and I just didn't see it. Cas' development as a character made no sense and happened way too fast. The romance happened way too fast. Basically everything in this book happened way too fast.

I already own the second book, so I will probably continue with the series. I am not going to give up on this author based on this one experience. I feel so bad that I really didn't enjoy this book that everyone loves so much. Obviously, I was hoping that I would enjoy it as well. But I truly don't see what everyone finds so amazing about it. As if I haven't said it enough, I just wanted MORE.


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday #169: Books I didn't get to last year


Today's Topic: 
Ten Books We Meant To Read In 2017 But Didn't Get To 
(and totallyyyy plan to get to in 2018!!)

You may have noticed that 2017 was a rough reading year for me. As such, there were a lot of books I REALLY wanted to get around to, but just didn't find the time for. Here are the top ten that I'd love to read this year (although if I'm being honest I probably won't get to most of them).  


A Million Junes by Emily Henry
Alone by Scott Sigler
Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows
Ghostly Echoes by William Ritter
Ink by Alice Broadway



Shadow Run by Adrianne Strickland & Michael Miller
This Is Our Story by Ashley Elston
Wicked Like a Wildfire by Lana Popovic
X Files: Devil's Advocate by Jonathan Maberry


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.
Monday, January 8, 2018

Audiobook Review: Winter's Heart by Robert Jordan

Title: Winter's Heart (The Wheel of Time #9)
Author: Robert Jordan
Publication Date: November 7, 2000
Publisher: Tor Fantasy
Pages: 668
Add to Goodreads
Reviews for book 5, book 6, & book 7

Rand is on the run with Min, and in Cairhein, Cadsuane is trying to figure out where he is headed. Rand's destination is, in fact, one she has never considered.

Mazrim Taim, leader of the Black Tower, is revealed to be a liar. But what is he up to?

Faile, with the Aiel Maidens, Bain and Chiad, and her companions, Queen Alliandre and Morgase, is prisoner of Savanna's sept.

Perrin is desperately searching for Faile. With Elyas Machera, Berelain, the Prophet and a very mixed "army" of disparate forces, he is moving through country rife with bandits and roving Seanchan. The Forsaken are ever more present, and united, and the man called Slayer stalks Tel'aran'rhiod and the wolfdream.

In Ebou Dar, the Seanchan princess known as Daughter of the Nine Moons arrives--and Mat, who had been recuperating in the Tarasin Palace, is introduced to her. Will the marriage that has been foretold come about?

There are neither beginnings or endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time. But it is a beginning....

I have finally read book nine of The Wheel of Time. The farther I delve into this series the harder the books get to review, mostly because it seems like less and less happens in each one. (I just noticed I skipped reviewing book 8.) I'm going to be upfront here - it took me five months to read this even with listening to the audiobook. It's just so damn long and convoluted. I love this series, I do! Which is why I'm sticking it out. But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't looking forward to Brandon Sanderson coming on board.

Rand and Min are by far my favorite parts of The Wheel of Time at this point. Rand is absolutely the best part of this book. I loved seeing him continue to evolve as the Dragon Reborn and I'm excited to see what happens between now and the end of the series. I love his relationship with Min, although I wish all the various other women around him would disappear. I am also really enjoying following Elayne on her journey in Andor! I'm looking forward to seeing whether she achieves her goals and how certain other developments unfold. That's about where my enjoyment of these characters ends.

I am so invested in the original characters that I find myself becoming annoyed when a chapter strays to yet another new character that I have no interest in. I understand that this is a never ending extremely long series and there are tons of pages to pad with filler, but I really wish that, since Robert Jordan insisted on making each book 700 pages, he could've at least spent more time on main characters and less introducing us to the millionth unlikeable female character. To be honest, I'm even losing interest in some of the other originals, namely Perrin, Nynaeve, and Egwene. At this point, they're just in the way of the parts of the story that are actually interesting.

The storyline(s) in Winter's Heart are as convoluted as the characters. There's no reason why several of them even need to exist to move forward the main story, and the others really don't need to be as long as they are. This is a nearly 700 page book that could easily lose 300 pages and still get the point across. I truly hate complaining about this series because I love it overall, but it seems as if Robert Jordan didn't even know where the end was by book nine. (Wasn't this originally supposed to be a trilogy?) Once again, Robert Jordan spends an entire book meandering around a whole lot of nothing, only to end with a big burst of action that's supposed to have me hooked for the next installment.

As always, the world is amazing, but does it honestly need to be described in this much detail this far into the series? So much time is spent on description that it becomes tedious to read. I was happy to return to some previous settings, however.

Will I read book ten? Absolutely. I'm going to go into books ten and eleven expecting them to be more of the same (hopefully it isn't worse!), but knowing that book twelve is where the series makes a turn for the better. I love Rand, I loved the first half of this series! I definitely want to know how it ends and I'm going to stick it out! It may take me a few more years to make it through the last four, but I'll get there eventually!


Sunday, January 7, 2018

Weekly Recap: 12/31 - 1/6


TRACY'S HAPPENINGS OFF THE BLOG

Happy weekend, everyone! It has been a couple weeks since I've done a recap and I've missed you guys! This week I made a ton of candles, walked a new dog, saw some new movies, and finally took down my Christmas decorations. This year is off to a good start and I feel like I'm making decent progress on the goals I've set for myself. Although I haven't finished a book yet this year, I'm making my way through two at the moment and I feel confident that I'll get through them soon. I'm determined to bring my reading numbers back up in 2018!


NEW BOOKS THIS WEEK

 


THIS WEEK I READ

Nothing read this week!



MC'S HAPPENINGS OFF THE BLOG

Man, it's been quite a week. First of all, it was really hard going back to work after having some time off for the holiday. And the temperatures here have been absolutely frigid. Then we were hit with a huge snowstorm on Thursday. I got the day off from work, which was nice, but now there is all this stupid snow to deal with. I threw my back out shoveling (it happens literally every time) and I have been dealing with back pain and a giant migraine ever since. Needless to say, I am grumpy. But I am going to have a nice, relaxing weekend and hopefully that will help. I am mostly in between books right now and I can't figure out what I'm in the mood for at all. Woe is me. Hopefully I can get my act together this weekend and figure myself out. I don't like this start to 2018 so far. At least it's supposed to get a little warmer next week!


NEW BOOKS THIS WEEK

Nothing read this week!


THIS WEEK I READ

 



IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

The topic was new-to-me authors in 2017 for Top Ten Tuesday
On Wednesday I posted my New Year's reading goals & resolutions
Thursday ARC review of The Afterlife of Holly Chase
I loved all the movies I watched for Saturday Screen Time


UPCOMING REVIEWS

 


We're linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Saturday, January 6, 2018

Saturday Screen Time #7: I loved everything


Happy Saturday, everyone! This week I watched quite the variety of movies, from fish man romance to  a cappella. Usually there's at least one movie on the list that I didn't really like, but today I'm sharing three movies that I really did enjoy and kind of can't wait to watch again!


THIS WEEK IN FILM


The Shape of Water - The Shape of Water has been on my radar ever since I first heard about it. I've never met a Guillermo del Toro movie I didn't enjoy and, after absolutely ADORING Crimson Peak, I knew I would never miss another of his films in theaters. I had to wait forever to see this since it had a limited release prior to the wide release, but I definitely dragged my husband to the theater as soon as I could! This really is a movie that I think deserves multiple viewings. When I first saw it, I wasn't sure how I felt. I started it off at 3.5 stars, but the more and more I've thought about it, the more I realized I loved it. There were some really strange moments that I'm still not quite sold on. There's so much to unpack here, I definitely plan to go see it again as soon as possible! (4.5/5 stars)

Pitch Perfect 3 - This franchise is a guilty pleasure. I'll admit they're a totally different direction than most of the movies I enjoy, but I could really watch them over and over. I was nervous to see Pitch Perfect 3 since the reviews weren't super favorable, but I really liked it! Was it perfect? No. But I wasn't bored for a second. I think you really have to embrace how ridiculous this movie is to fully enjoy it. I'm sad that the series is coming to an end. (4/5 stars)

Wuthering Heights - Wuthering Heights was my absolute favorite book in high school, but this was the first film adaptation I've ever watched. I wasn't too sure about watching it (I figured there might be some major cheese), but it's consistently rated as one of the best adaptations out there. I'm happy to report that I really ended up loving it and it made me want to reread the book! I think it captured the atmosphere of the book and I definitely ended up having a love/hate relationship with all the characters. Speaking of which, Rick from The Walking Dead is in this. Am I the only one who didn't know he was British? (4/5 stars)



Have you seen any of these? What did you think?
What movies have you watched lately?
Let me know in the comments!
Thursday, January 4, 2018

ARC Review: The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand

Title: The Afterlife of Holly Chase
Author: Cynthia Hand
Publication Date: October 24, 2017
Publisher: Harper Teen
Pages: 400
Add to Goodreads


Before I Fall meets “bah, humbug” in this contemporary YA reimagining of A Christmas Carol from New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Hand.

On Christmas Eve five years ago, seventeen-year-old Holly Chase was visited by three Ghosts who showed her how selfish and spoiled she’d become. They tried to convince her to mend her ways. She didn’t. And then she died.

Now she’s stuck working for the top-secret company Project Scrooge—as their latest Ghost of Christmas Past. So far, Holly’s afterlife has been miserable. But this year’s Scrooge is different. This year’s Scrooge might change everything…

The Afterlife of Holly Chase is a witty, poignant, and insightful novel about life, love, and seizing second (or third) chances, perfect for readers who loved Before I Fall or Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares. 

Holly Chase is a Scrooge. She is pretty awful to everyone, completely self-absorbed, and living in the lap of luxury. Until one night when she is visited by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future. Holly thinks she is having an intense dream about Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and doesn’t take any of it seriously. Unfortunately, she should have listened to the Ghosts, because she soon finds herself dead - and working for Project Scrooge, the same company that tried to help her change her ways.

This turned out to be such a cute holiday read. It was light, entertaining, and not your typical YA story. I hadn't even heard of it until the ARC showed up on my doorstep, but the cover intrigued me and I decided to give it a try. I'm so glad I did. It is mainly classified as fantasy, but it definitely reads more like a contemporary story. It touched on a bunch of YA contemporary tropes (e.g., girl getting "saved" by an oh-so-hunky guy), but it turned them all on their head. It was such a refreshing read for someone like me, who can often struggle with contemporary novels.

The plot was cute and fluffy. There weren't many twists and turns (and most of them were predictable), but it was still a lot of fun. And every character was so lovely. Even though Holly was a total brat, I found that I could frequently sympathize with her. And I really felt her character grow throughout the book. Many of the other characters were OBSESSED with the spirit of Christmas, so they were chipper throughout the whole book and didn't change very much. But they were so much fun and added a lot of humor to the story.

I have found that I really like stories that are retellings of older books, but that acknowledge the original in the newer tale. This was a Christmas Carol retelling, but the entire premise of the book was based on recreating the original story. (I hope these descriptions make sense. I feel a bit like I’m talking in circles.) The Dickens book is the whole basis of Project Scrooge, and all of the characters have Dickensian code names. I really loved the throwback to classic literature because it was handled in such a lighthearted way. If you like the story of A Christmas Carol at all, you will probably love this book.

I think The Afterlife of Holly Chase is a great read for a lot of different readers. If you love contemporary, you will like this. Even if you don't love contemporary, you will appreciate the fact that it changes the typical YA story. If you love Christmas or classic literature, this is a must-read. But even if you don't celebrate Christmas and you want to read something about learning to appreciate life, this is a wonderful book.


Wednesday, January 3, 2018

2018 Challenges & Resolutions

Welcome to the New Year, everyone! 2017 was quite the rough year for me. My Goodreads challenge was cut in half from the year before, I didn't complete all of my blog challenges, and the amount of blog posts I wrote also went down. It's easy to let the world bog you down and feel as if you've failed when things don't go as well as you want them to, but this year I'm vowing to do better. I love reading and I love blogging and I'm refusing to let anything convince me that I don't enjoy them.

Today I'm going to write down my resolutions, on and off blog, something I've never done before. I have never been one for making New Year's resolutions, but this seems like an important year to start. In 2018 I'm committing to 4 reading challenges and 5 off-blog resolutions!


READING CHALLENGES

This year I'm joining the Audiobook Challenge for the fifth year in a row! Audiobooks are one of the ways I stay ahead on the blog and they're also how I read most of my backlist/huge books. My goal for the year will be 30+ books, the same as last year.

Top 3 TBR: Crossroads of Twilight, The Magician King, Eragon


Graphic Novels are one of the reason that I actually read more than 50 books last year. It was slow going with a constant reading slump (note: it was beyond a slump, honestly) and I found that graphic novels were a nice change of pace. This year I'm going to see what awesome books I'm able to find, starting with the rest of Buffy season 8! My goal is to read 12 graphic novels - the minimum, but I figure I'll start small.

Top 3 TBR: Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 8 Vol. 3, Monstress Vol. 2, Uzumaki Vol. 2


For the first time, I'm going to try the Pop Sugar reading challenge! I see it every year and think it looks like fun, but I've never committed to it. I figure that since I'm trying to start fresh in 2018, I might as well try out a challenge that I've always wanted to do but never have. My goal is to check all the boxes!

Top 3 TBR: Unearthed, The Golden Compass, Alone


2018 Reading Challenge

2018 Reading Challenge
Tracy (Cornerfolds) has read 0 books toward her goal of 75 books.
hide

Last but not least is my Goodreads challenge. This year I'm scaling it back from what I would usually pledge and setting a goal of 75 books. I'm hoping that combined with my off-blog goals, I'll be able to meet this one and get back on track with the things that I love!



OFF-BLOG RESOLUTIONS
  1. Actually read - Obviously, this is something I struggled with in 2017. Sometime around February I lost all motivation and only kept reading because I KNOW it's something I love to do, even if haven't felt like it lately. I'm setting a goal of reading for 30 minutes a day, a number that 2016 me would have balked at, but something that has seemed unattainable recently. If I have to, I'll set a timer for myself every day. I feel confident that if I can make myself get back to reading consistently, I'll fall back into old habits.
  2. Run(ish) a 5k - More accurately, join the Hogwarts Running Club and complete a 5k. I used to run A LOT when I was in the military, but my knees are kind of iffy these days. Luckily, this running club doesn't care how you complete a race or even if it takes a few days. It seems like the perfect way to motivate myself to be more active while also raising money for charity.
  3. Give more to charity - While the HRC is a great way to help give back, I'd actually like to give more to charity in general. I don't really know what that looks like yet, but here's a pretty good website I've found to decide how you might want to help. 
  4. Meditate consistently - Call it hokey all you want, but meditation has scientifically proven benefits. I can tell you from personal experience that I feel less anxious on days that I actually take the time to do a guided meditation. Why don't I do it regularly? I haven't a clue, but I'm going to make an effort to incorporate meditation into my daily schedule in 2018. 
  5. (Try to) learn a language - It's embarrassing, but I've taken a total of four years (semesters) of Spanish between high school and college and I can barely even read it. My trip to Europe really made me realize how far behind most Americans are in the language game, so in 2018 I'm going to pick a language and try to stick to using Duolingo for at least a few minutes each day. 



So there you have it! My 2018 reading challenges and first ever real, written down New Year's resolutions. I'm planning to do a monthly update on each of these to help keep myself accountable. Are you a resolution person? What are you resolving to do this year? Any fun reading challenges? Let me know in the comments!
Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday #168: New to me in 2017


Today's Topic: 
Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read In 2017

Welcome to 2018, let's talk about 2017! I didn't do a ton of reading last year, but I did find some great new authors that I can't wait to read more from! 


Peternelle van Arsdale - The Beast is an Animal
Lee Kelly - City of Savages
Morgan Rhodes - Falling Kingdoms
Ryan Graudin - Invictus



Lev Grossman - The Magicians
Lexa Hillyer - Spindle Fire
Roshani Chokshi - The Star-Touched Queen
Alexandra Christo - To Kill a Kingdom


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