Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Three reasons why I absolutely refuse to read A Song of Ice and Fire

Listen, you guys, I love Game of Thrones! It's one of my absolute favorite shows and I'm as devastated as the next person that season nine isn't coming out this year. That being said, I absolutely will not read A Song of Ice and Fire.

So you may be asking, "Tracy, if you love the story so much, why won't you read the series? The source material is always better!" Usually I would wholeheartedly agree! While I actually don't think the book is always better (see: The Lord of the Rings fight me), I do usually prefer to read the source material when I plan to watch, or have already watched, a movie or show based on a book or series. I actually originally DID plan to read A Song of Ice and Fire when I started watching the show! I even went so far as to download the first audiobook and listen to the first chapter. But then...

He takes FOREVER to write each book

I hope I don't offend anyone when I say that I don't trust George R.R. Martin as far as I can throw him. I started doing a little bit of research on the brilliant creator of the Game of Thrones TV show that I loved and found that he was actually incredibly unreliable when it came to his bestselling series. While he was writing a book every two years in the beginning (as authors tend to do), the distance between books gradually grew to five years, then six years, and now the world has been waiting SEVEN years for book six with no concrete publication date in sight. Just see for yourself:

I can already feel the fans descending.

Here's the thing: George R.R. Martin is 69 years old. If it takes seven years to finish each additional book, assuming there are eight (and honestly, who knows?), he will be in his 80s before the series reaches its completion. And that's assuming the time between books doesn't continue on its upward trend! Am I saying an author is obligated to provide the fans with a complete series? Not necessarily. (Although I do think it's pretty terrible to start a decades-long series and then show no interest in completing it. Fans, after all, do choose where to invest their time and millions have invested in A Song of Ice and Fire.) However, this is reason number one why I definitely won't be finishing it until (if) it's finished.

He wants his series to die with him 

See, I've been burned before by an ever expanding fantasy series. The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan began as a six book series (although I've also heard that it was intended as a trilogy), but eventually expanded to twelve, and finally ended at fourteen books. When I began reading the series for the first time, there were ten books. I read the first three and then the unthinkable happened.

The author died after the eleventh book, at age 58. But knowing he couldn't leave his series unfinished, Robert Jordan chose to leave detailed notes so that a successor could be chosen to complete it after his death. Brandon Sanderson took up the mantle and the series finished strong (from what I hear - I still haven't gotten there yet). It still took over 20 years to complete the series and it lagged around books nine and ten, but I will forever respect the author for making sure his fans got a complete story.

George R.R. Martin is the complete opposite on this issue. I've already mentioned Martin's age. Although some fans get annoyed when you bring it up, no one lives forever. It's a valid concern for anyone who's read or is thinking of reading the series. In 2013, George R.R. Martin said that he does not want anyone to continue his series after his death. So in the event that the author does die before his series of maybe seven, maybe eight books is complete, he very likely doesn't plan to leave notes for anyone to wrap it up in his absence. His series may never be complete, but at least he'll have his pride!

The show is going to finish it anyway

As irritated as I was by all this when I was first getting into the show and hoping to read the books, does it really even matter now? Originally, Winds of Winter (book six) was supposed to be published before the sixth season aired. Instead, the publication schedule got pushed back (we're now waiting on season nine and book six still hasn't been published), and the show has way outpaced the books. With season nine being the final season of Game of Thrones and the showrunners knowing Martin's planned ending, there doesn't seem to be much reason to read the series even if it ever does reach its end. I know that the books and show diverge in many areas, but what reason would I have to invest in a seven or eight book series when I've already watched a nine season TV show that ends the same way?

While I know that there are tons and tons of fans of A Song of Ice and Fire that will certainly read whatever Martin puts out, and while I know there will probably be future fans who will pick it up in decades to come, it seems that a lot of people are just tired of the waiting. I read one comment on Reddit (in my yearly Winds of Winter check) in which a guy said he'd gotten two degrees and become a doctor in the time he'd spent waiting for Winds of Winter! I feel that George R.R. Martin may have shot himself in the foot by taking so long. Not only are people getting tired, but the show is spoiling major plot points with every season.

So yes, I love Game of Thrones. I am DYING to see what happens in season nine and I'm sad that I have to wait another year for it but at least I know that the ending is coming next year! Not in a year or two or seven or never. I feel terrible for the fans who were with the series from the beginning, rereading the entire thing in anticipation of each book since there was so much time in between to forget important details. For all of you, I truly, truly hope that Martin actually does get it together in time to complete the series. For me, though, I'll continue to love the show and refuse to read the books.

Have you read A Song of Ice and Fire? 
How do you feel about the ever changing publication date for Winds of Winter? 
If you're a show lover like me, do you ever plan to read the books?
Let me know in the comments!
Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday #172: Books I can't believe I liked

Today's Topic: 
Ten Five Books I Can’t 
Believe I Read (and Liked)

Okay, so... I had no idea where to go with this week's topic. I decided to pick out some books I can't believe I read and liked because they were quite far outside of my reading comfort zone. Looking for books to list actually made me realize just how little I do read outside of my comfort zone! No shame, though. I know what I like. 

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Captive Prince by C.S. Pacat
The Good Nurse by Charles Graeber
Room by Emma Donoghue
The Royal We by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.
Monday, January 29, 2018

ARC Review: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

Title: The Belles (The Belles #1)
Author: Dhonielle Clayton

Publication Date: February 6, 2018
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Pages: 448
Add to Goodreads

//I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review//
Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orléans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orléans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.

But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite—the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orléans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land. But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie—that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision.

With the future of Orléans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide—save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles—or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever.

It's a fact that I am a sucker for pretty covers, so of course The Belles sucked me right in the second I saw it! It's easily one of the most gorgeous books of the year! Add to that a synopsis that's equally as eye catching, plus a powerful female MC, and I hoped I'd have a new favorite on my hands! I was SO excited to get an advance copy of this book, although I'll admit I was intimidated by the size. Still, I dove in as soon as I was able and am happy to report that I did enjoy it, even if it was a bit bigger than it really needed to be.

Camellia is a Belle, a controller of beauty who helps the people of Orleans become who they want to be (as long as they can afford it). The story begins as she's competing for the position of favorite Belle, the one chosen to live in the palace and work for the royal family and court. At first, she doesn't get everything she wants, but it's only a matter of time before her wish comes true and she's positioned in the royal palace just like her mother before her. Camellia was definitely a strong, powerful woman, although I didn't end up loving her quite as much as I thought I would. She is very good at what she does, but she's also selfish and needlessly indecisive. I do wish more had been explained about why Camellia was so much more powerful than her sisters. Instead, the only thing that we're really told is that she likes to disobey rules and experiment. In nearly 500 pages, I feel like more of Camellia's backstory and more of an explanation about her powers could've been provided.

In the beginning of the book Camellia is with her sister Belles, but they are quickly split up. Although we're told a lot about what a close relationship they all have, not much of that is seen and the majority of interaction between them is negative. I'd hoped to get more of a glimpse into the bond they shared. I did enjoy Camellia's relationships with both Bree and Ivy and found them to be one of the best parts of the book! There was also a hint at a romance or two, but it was not central to the story. It seemed at first that there might be a love triangle brewing, but that didn't really happen, thankfully. I did love Camellia's relationship with Remy, her personal guard.

As I've already hinted at, I do wish there had been more explanation for the Belles themselves and how their powers worked, as well as the society of Orleans and how it functioned. All we really ever saw was the palace and its immediate surroundings and the only things that ever seemed to happen in the world had to do with Belles and beauty. I understand that the author was making a point, but this world most definitely needs to be fleshed out a bit more (which sounds crazy since I'm talking about a nearly 500 page book). There were endless descriptions about people's hair and dresses and the Belle's appointments and goings on. I do wish that most some of this had been left out in favor of more world building. As the story was told, however, it could've easily lost 150 pages and still gotten all the same points across. It was needlessly bloated with descriptions that dragged down the pace for no real reason.

None of this is to say that I didn't enjoy this book, because I did! The concept of The Belles is incredibly unique and, although the story was dragged down in places by too many descriptions, I kept turning the pages because I wanted to know what would happen next and where Camellia would end up. The villain was certainly scary and added a sense of urgency to Camellia's actions, and there was a twist that completely took my breath away!

A word of warning, The Belles does end on a massive cliffhanger. I actually (somehow) didn't realize that this was a series and as the book was coming to an end I was trying to figure out how it could possibly wrap up. It didn't. I hate all cliffhangers, but this one was extremely abrupt and left way too many questions. I guess it did its job though, because I'll definitely be reading the next book to see what happens next.

The Belles definitely had its issues. It was overly long and in dire need of more world building. But it was also incredibly enjoyable with an intriguing concept and its definitely a story that I plan to jump back into when book two comes out a year from now! I'm looking forward to seeing how Camellia copes and honestly I'm just so excited for the romance that I know is inevitable in book two.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Weekly Recap: 1/21 - 1/27


Happy Sunday! I am happy to report that this week was much more laid back than last week was. We started the week by taking a day trip to Epcot where we got to experience the Festival of the Arts and eat some amazing food! It was awesome, as Disney always is. I've been slowly making my way through Outlander season 3 this month and I'm hoping to finish the last two episodes tonight before our free month runs out! We've also been making it a point to get to the gym as often as possible, so hurray for being productive and healthy! Lastly, I'd like to take a minute for a shameless plug. As you probably know, I make bookish candles! We're doing our first ever limited edition box in February and boxes are on sale (through the "shop" link in the navigation bar or clicking the picture below). These boxes are OTP themed and include four candles and one bar of soap based on some favorite ships! Please check it out if you get a chance!






Hi, everyone! This week was...weird. It dragged on forever and was an emotional roller coaster. I worked a ton and didn't really read anything unfortunately. I'm totally exhausted this weekend. BUT I got some exciting news this week that I will be able to share soon! I've been waiting for this news for a really long time, and I'm so excited for it! Not much else to update this week. Life has been full of work and pretty boring lately. Have a good week!


No new books!


Nothing read this week!


Monday ARC review of The Hazel Wood
The topic was books I love but don't remember for Top Ten Tuesday
Thursday audiobook review of None of the Above
On Friday I talked about series I loved but randomly stopped reading
I watched movies about magic and sharks for Saturday Screen Time



We're linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Saturday, January 27, 2018

Saturday Screen Time #9: Magic and Sharks

Hi, everyone! This was a slow week with another not great film picked by my husband and a Netflix shark movie. I didn't hate everything, so yay for that! Before we get into the movies, I'd like to say a couple words about my favorite movie websites. 

I used to be an avid IMDB user until they decided to do away with the message boards. I was irritated by the decision along with a lot of other long time users and started looking elsewhere. If you ever click the links I provide, you'll notice that I link directly to Letterboxd. I have no idea how long this website has been around but I LOVE it! Although there's no discussion, there are tons of user reviews and you can keep a film diary with ratings and notes, along with watch lists and any other lists you'd like to keep. 

My other favorite is Fan TV, which is super handy for finding out where a movie is available for streaming. You can search for a movie or show and it tells you if it's available on Netflix, Prime, Hulu, Vudu, etc. 

That's it! Without further ado... 


The Dark Tower - Oh man. This film. It isn't good. Let me start by saying I haven't read this series, but I am familiar with it. I read The Gunslinger approximately a hundred years ago and don't remember much about it, but I do remember the western vibes. I mean, it's literally about a gunslinger. I watched this movie and thought that it was just a kind of okay fantasy flick. There wasn't anything amazing about it to set it apart from the rest and it felt like a lot of wasted potential. I don't know much about the Man in Black and that really sucks because he seems like a super intriguing character! I was also annoyed by the distinct LACK of the Dark Tower. It's there for about 10 seconds in the beginning so we can be told the Man in Black is trying to destroy it, then it's gone. Like I said, I don't know much about this series, but I do know that the Gunslinger, Roland, is obsessed with it in the books. This series really should've been made into a TV series, Game of Thrones style. I'm giving it two stars because it was a decent generic fantasy, but mostly I just want to read the series now. (2/5 stars)

47 Meters Down - Fun fact about me: I LOVE shark movies! Jaws, Deep Blue Sea, Open Water, even The Shallows. I love them all! So I was excited for this to come out, but not enough to spend money on it after I saw the ratings. Luckily, it's on Netflix now! I'll admit, I was nervous when I realized Rapunzel Mandy Moore was in it, but she actually wasn't awful. As shark movies go, this wasn't terrible. It kept my interest and kept my adrenaline going. But there were soooo many things that didn't make any sense. For example, why would any grown woman be stupid enough to get into a shark tank with no dive training? Why did they fall 47 meters down so quickly with no apparent physical problems? Why were the sharks hardly in this? And WHY does the CGI look like it's from 1999? I didn't love it, I didn't hate it, and I'll probably watch the sequel. (3/5 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 26, 2018

Series I loved, but randomly stopped reading

I love a good series! In fact, I read WAY more series than standalone books. I just love the vast worlds and story arcs that come with a three or four book series and often feel let down when a story only lasts 300 pages total. But sometimes when I browse my shelves I find books that I'd kind of forgotten were there... Books I just pass right over when I'm looking for something to read. I'm not talking about series that had unenjoyable first installments! Today I'm talking about those series (and we all have them!) that you just put on the back burner and completely forget about. Here are five series I started reading, really enjoyed, and randomly never finished.

Winterkill by Kate A. Boorman
(Reviews for book 1 & book 2)

I spotted Winterkill one fateful afternoon on Netgalley and was immediately pulled in by the weird, vague setting and dystopian plot. I read the first book and was totally hooked on the story! I also got an ARC of the second book, Darkthaw. While I enjoyed it, I did find some faults with the book, which certainly isn't unusual for a second book. Despite enjoying the series overall, I never have gotten around to reading Heartfire, the final book. I do really want to know what happens! I've just never found the time or motivation to find out.

Razorland by Ann Aguirre

The Razorland Trilogy (now Series) was one of the first YA series I ever read, which is exactly why I never reviewed them on this blog. I blew through the first three books in a week or two and found them totally engrossing. They were part of the reason I found myself loving survival and dystopian books! When Vanguard came out I was a little excited, but also confused about why it had been released after the series had been over for so long. Ultimately, I didn't pick it up on release and still haven't had the chance to read it. I am curious to know where the series could go after its ending, but it just hasn't been at the top of my list.

Dark-Hunter Series by Sherrilyn Kenyon

This is another series that I started reading before I blogged. I made it to book 15 before wandering away, but I'm still incredibly curious about where the series has gone! One reason I've stopped reading this series is because there are just SO MANY BOOKS! Not only are the Dark Hunter books never ending, but now there are Dream Hunters, Were Hunters, and Hellchasers tied in. It's honestly a little intimidating! Not to mention, Acheron was the last full-length Dark Hunter book I read and it was a masterpiece! I think I'm subconsciously afraid nothing else in the series can live up to it (although ratings say Styxx comes close). I do hope to one day get back to it, but I haven't read any Dark Hunter books since 2014. :/

The Young Elites by Marie Lu
(Review for The Young Elites)

It was inevitable, being a part of the YA blogging community, that I would get on the Marie Lu hype train at some point. I started with The Young Elites and really liked it, then I read The Rose Society and REALLY liked it, then I... never reviewed it. And never read The Midnight Star. I don't have any idea why other than the fact that, even though I loved The Rose Society while I was reading it, I never felt much of a desire to see what happened next. I don't know how to explain it, but there you go. I'm sure I'll finish this series at some point, especially since I own it. For now it remains one that I constantly browse past when I'm looking for my next read.

Wayward Pines by Blake Crouch
(Review for Wayward Pines)

Last but not least is Wayward Pines, a series that captured my attention and still crosses my mind regularly. This is seriously a series that stays with you! But again, I read and reviewed book one, read and loved book two, but never reviewed it. I even started reading book three but never finished it! I honestly felt that the series was perfect at the end of book one. Book two was interesting, but not nearly as much as Pines. The Last Town seems interesting, but I wasn't sure at the time that it was necessary. Looking at the ratings now, this is probably the series I'm most likely to finish in the near future.

Have you finished any of these? Am I missing anything amazing?
What series have you started but never completed?
Let me know in the comments!
Thursday, January 25, 2018

Audiobook Review: None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio

Title: None of the Above
Author: I.W. Gregorio
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pages: 328
Add to Goodreads

A groundbreaking story about a teenage girl who discovers she was born intersex... and what happens when her secret is revealed to the entire school. Incredibly compelling and sensitively told, None of the Above is a thought-provoking novel that explores what it means to be a boy, a girl, or something in between.

What if everything you knew about yourself changed in an instant?

When Kristin Lattimer is voted homecoming queen, it seems like another piece of her ideal life has fallen into place. She's a champion hurdler with a full scholarship to college and she's madly in love with her boyfriend. In fact, she's decided that she's ready to take things to the next level with him.

But Kristin's first time isn't the perfect moment she's planned—something is very wrong. A visit to the doctor reveals the truth: Kristin is intersex, which means that though she outwardly looks like a girl, she has male chromosomes, not to mention boy "parts."

Dealing with her body is difficult enough, but when her diagnosis is leaked to the whole school, Kristin's entire identity is thrown into question. As her world unravels, can she come to terms with her new self? 

Krissy has it all. She is a track star, the homecoming queen, and she has the most amazing boyfriend and best friends. But one day, what should be a normal trip to the gynecologist changes her life forever. Krissy discovers she is intersex. She has androgen insensitivity syndrome, meaning that she has XY chromosomes, but she has lived her whole life as a female.

I feel that I should note that I am a cisgendered female before I begin this review. I have no experience with what Krissy is going through, so I cannot claim whether her story is accurate or not. However, it is clearly obvious throughout the book that it was written by someone who has also never had these experiences. I.W. Gregorio is a doctor who has worked with numerous intersex teens, so there is a lot of great information present. But the story itself feels forced and like it was trying to fit into a typical contemporary novel mold

Plot-wise, this was a very standard, teen's-life-gets-turned-upside-down-but-then-she-meets-a-boy-and-everything-is-good-again type of story. You could see the ending coming from a mile away. I don't need intrigue in my contemporaries, so this was ok with me. I liked the boy a lot, so I didn't mind too much. I did have a problem with the fact that suddenly everything in Krissy's life was fine again when a boy liked her. That is one of my most hated tropes of all time. That is not the way life works and I hate it when books and movies put that ideal on such a pedestal.

Boring plot development aside, the biggest problem with this book is the repeated use of slurs towards intersex, trans, and really any LGBT people. Krissy has a discussion with her doctor about what intersex really means and what slurs should not be used to describe those with AIS. Yet Krissy immediately starts using those slurs against herself, telling others those slurs and letting them think it is ok to use them, and using those slurs against others with AIS. She is horribly transphobic and repeatedly makes derogatory comments about trans people.

And now for the saddest part. I don't do this often, but I really feel the need to include a trigger warning for this book. Suicide is joked about multiple times throughout the book and sexual assault is used as a plot device for the main character to have an "epiphany" about herself. In addition to the large amount of sexuality-related slurs, this book could be really harmful to someone who is questioning their identity (or really to anyone in general).

It was really sad to see a book that was meant to be enlightening and encouraging go so wrong. Do I think this book is important? Yes. Intersex is not a term we see very often and I definitely think more people should read about it. This valuable information is the only thing that brought up my rating slightly. Can I recommend that people read this book? Maybe. Take my warnings into consideration and read this story with a grain of salt. Learn about intersex and AIS from it, but don't treat it as a comprehensive guide to the intersex experience.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday #171: Books I love but don't remember

Today's Topic: 
Ten Books I Really Liked but 
Can’t Remember Anything About

This week's topic was so much fun! I got to go back through my Goodreads account and find so many books I'd forgotten about! For today I picked ten books that I know I read and rated 4 or 5 stars on Goodreads, but don't remember anything about. 

The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory
Children in the Night by Harold Myra
The Crown of Eden by Thomas Williams
Deception Point by Dan Brown

Enclave by Ann Aguirre
Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes
Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn
Od Magic by Patricia A. McKillip
Warrior's Song by Catherine Coulter

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.
Monday, January 22, 2018

ARC Review: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

Title: The Hazel Wood
Author: Melissa Albert
Publication Date: January 30, 2018
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Pages: 368
Add to Goodreads

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother's stories are set. Alice's only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother's tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong. 

The Hazel Wood caught my eye months ago, back when I first read the synopsis on Goodreads. I scrambled to trade for it as soon as possible... and it sat on my shelf for months before I finally worked up to reading it. The hype was strong and unfortunately it just didn't live up to it, mostly because, as I'll explain more, this fantasy novel doesn't contain much fantasy.

Alice is the MC of this story and she is... not that great, to be honest. I wanted to sympathize with Alice. She's had a rough backstory and her mom has been stolen away. She just isn't very sympathetic. Alice is a bit rude to everyone around her, including people who are trying to do everything they can to help. Finch, for example. I really loved Finch and thought he was a great side character and not-fully-realized love interest. You read that right! There isn't a lot of romance in The Hazel Wood, which could be either a pro or a con, depending on your preference. Personally, I would've preferred a bit more of a fleshed out relationship between Finch and Alice, even if it wasn't fully romantic. As the story was told, their interaction kind of just made me dislike Alice more.

There are tons of other super interesting characters in The Hazel Wood, but none of them are around for long enough to get to know. I really wished we could've learned more about the crazy fan who finally made it to the Wood or even some of the creepier, more fantasy-ish characters. Honestly, I'd have settled for more about Alice's elusive grandmother!

Now, allow me to talk about the story and why I feel like this book might have been falsely advertised just a bit. The Hazel Wood has been marketed as a fantasy book about a dark and creepy fantasy wood that Alice has to find. The problem is, it takes most of the book for this to actually happen. For the majority of The Hazel Wood, there is no Wood, just Alice and Finch talking about it. They talk and ride in the car and have run-ins with police officers and ride some more. This is more contemporary, maybe urban fantasy until almost the ending and that just wasn't enough for me. Once Alice finally made it to the Hazel Wood, things started to get more interesting and I just wish we'd had more of THAT. (You know, fantasy in a fantasy book?)

Likewise, the world building was fantastic! Once we got to The Hazel Wood, that is. Up until then, I guess it was okay? But it was just a normal city. I didn't feel particularly creeped out, which is how a lot of people have said this book made them feel. When the fantasy finally happened, it was great! I loved how uneasy I felt about the Wood and Althea's house and everything that came after. I loved the Hinterland and the Stories and every.single.thing. There just wasn't enough to love.

My other issue with The Hazel Wood was with the pacing, and honestly that probably ties back into the lack of fantasy. I don't read contemporary books because they bore me out of my mind, which is exactly how I felt with this. It took me forever to read because I could barely slug through each chapter... until they got to the Wood - I know I must sound like a broken record! A lot did happen, but I didn't feel any real sense of urgency or danger that kept me turning the pages.

I've heard that there will be another book in this series (was this originally planned?) and I honestly have no idea where the author could possibly take it. If it's back to the Wood, I may give it a chance! Melissa Albert does know how to craft a good fairy tale, as evidenced by last chunk of this book and I would love to read anything she writes in the future if it's actually fantasy. Unfortunately, this just... isn't. If you enjoy contemporary AND fantasy, this is probably a book you will love! But if, like me, you can't stand contemporary fiction, you may want to steer clear.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Weekly Recap: 1/14 - 1/20


Happy Sunday, everyone! This week was... a lot. Monday started exciting because my husband and I were getting ready to celebrate our 5th anniversary at Disney World for three nights! We don't get to go away very often because we have three dogs, but we'd been planning this trip forever and had hired a dog sitter. Unfortunately, we had some serious communication issues with our sitter and ended up coming home Tuesday night instead of Thursday morning. It was extremely stressful and caused probably the worst anxiety attack of my life, but we were able to make the most of it and head back Wednesday evening for an incredible dinner at Animal Kingdom Lodge! Later in the week we actually made it to the gym a couple of times! Good habits forming, perhaps? I signed up for the Nargle 9K, which I can't wait to complete (in chunks, probably). I'm so excited to complete this goal!




Hi, everyone. This week has been a bit of a bust. I've been super distracted and I haven't been able to focus on anything. I've picked up a bunch of books this week but none of them have stuck. I'm about halfway through Unearthed, and I'm not really loving it. I started Furyborn, but it's on my Kindle so I have been making my way through it veryyyy slowwwwwwlyyyy. Maybe his weekend I will be able to find a book I want to read. Wish me luck!



Nothing read this week!


Monday audiobook review of And the Trees Crept In
The topic was bookish goals for Top Ten Tuesday
Thursday ARC review of The Crown's Fate
I watched a couple remakes for Saturday Screen Time



We're linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
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!


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

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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
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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


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!!






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!


Nothing new this week!




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



We're linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!