Friday, August 31, 2018

Down the TBR Hole #2


Hi everyone! Welcome to week two of Down the TBR Hole! First of all, you guys voted by a HUGE majority for Vampire Diaries to remain on my TBR, so there it will stay. I'll be keeping an eye out for the audiobook at my library! This week isn't so much embarrassing as I think some of you might be slightly concerned for me. XD

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

THE BOOKS



I don't remember adding this to my TBR, but I'm not surprised. I've been obsessed with the history of Walt Disney and Walt Disney World for years! This book is all about former rides and attractions that I never got the chance to experience and would love to know more about. VERDICT: KEEP



THE RED CHURCH BY SCOTT NICHOLSON

I added this book when one of my Goodreads groups was reading it together. I never did get around to reading it with the group (I never do), but it stayed on my list. It has a 3.45 rating, which would usually make me get rid of a book pretty quickly. But reading the reviews, it seems that all of my friends liked it, so I think I'll have to search for the audiobook! VERDICT: KEEP



THE BRIEF HISTORY OF THE DEAD BY KEVIN BROKMEIER

I literally have no idea how this ended up on my TBR, but I do remember putting it there. The synopsis doesn't sound particularly up my alley at all. All of my friends who've read it rated it poorly. It's called lyrical and weird and I think it may just be a bit too much for me. VERDICT: PASS



TRUST BY DAVID MOODY

Oh look, another weird one! I'm not sure what I was into back when I was adding these books, but I've definitely changed as a reader. The synopsis doesn't even say much about the book?? Did I add it just for the weird cover? It has good ratings, but there are less than 400 of them. I don't think this one is for me either. VERDICT: PASS



THE FORSAKEN BY LISA M. STASSE

I think I'm starting to see a trend here... it's weird covers, isn't it? I saw that this was YA dystopia and almost immediately decided to keep it, but I'm just not sure about the synopsis. Basically, a girl in a dystopian future fails a test that says she's potentially violent and gets scent to an island of criminals where people die quickly and try to escape. I am desperately in search of good YA dystopia right now, but I'm not sure about this... Maybe I'll come back to it if I run out of other dystopia to read, but I think it needs to go for now. VERDICT: PASS



Once again, I've purged 3/5 books from my TBR list! At least this one included one YA book, but I wonder if I even realised it was YA when I added it. I'm really not sure what I was going through with the books I obviously added just for their weird covers... I'm probably off to buy a copy of the Disney book now!

Did you go through any weird book phases?
Let me know in the comments! 
Thursday, August 30, 2018

Audiobook Review: Styxx by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Title: Styxx (Dark-Hunter #22)
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon
Narrator: Fred Berman
Publication Date: January 1, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Length: 31 hours, 7 minutes

Add to Goodreads

Just when you thought doomsday was over...

Centuries ago Acheron saved the human race by imprisoning an ancient evil bent on absolute destruction. Now that evil has been unleashed and it is out for revenge.

As the twin to Acheron, Styxx hasn’t always been on his brother’s side. They’ve spent more centuries going at each other’s throats than protecting their backs. Now Styxx has a chance to prove his loyalty to his brother, but only if he’s willing to trade his life and future for Acheron’s.

The Atlantean goddess of Wrath and Misery, Bethany was born to right wrongs. But it was never a task she relished. Until now. She owes Acheron a debt that she vows to repay, no matter what it takes. He will join their fellow gods in hell and nothing is going to stop her.

But things are never what they seem, and Acheron is no longer the last of his line. Styxx and Acheron must put aside their past and learn to trust each other or more will suffer.

Yet it’s hard to risk your own life for someone who once tried to take yours, even when it's your own twin, and when loyalties are skewed and no one can be trusted, not even yourself, how do you find a way back from the darkness that wants to consume the entire world? One that wants to start by devouring your very soul?

The last time I read a Dark Hunter book was in 2014. I read Acheron, then the novella that came next, then I joined the blogosphere and found YA and left the series for quite awhile. I actually LOVED Acheron and blew through it in a few days, despite it's over 700 pages. Frankly, I was worried that anything else in the series would be disappointing after that. The only other Dark Hunter book I've really wanted to pick up was Styxx, but it was daunting and I never found the time.

When I found the audiobook through Hoopla, I decided to give it a try, especially since Hoopla said it was only 10 hours long. (Narrator: it was not 10 hours long.) For whatever reason, when I opened the book and began listening, it was suddenly 31 hours long, but I discovered this at over an hour in and was invested, so I stuck it out. Styxx is told side by side with Acheron, telling the story we've already heard but from Styxx's perspective. I think I lucked out a bit because it had been so long since I read Acheron that I really didn't remember any key events, so it was all new to me.

The first thing I will say about Styxx is that it's even darker and more brutal than Acheron was, and honestly that part of the story really didn't work for me. Unfortunately, it was most of the story. This book needs just about every single trigger warning you can imagine. Styxx is kidnapped, raped, tortured emotionally and physically, and that's just to name a few. If this lasted a few chapters to build his character, I think I would have given it more of a pass. I mean, it's set during the time of the Greek gods and we all know how they are. Unfortunately, it lasted for about 3/4 of the book and I became exhausted with it very quickly.

I did love (some of) the gods, as always. I really enjoyed getting to know more about the Atlantean and Egyptian pantheons, and of course some of the Greek gods as well. Obviously, a lot of all of the pantheons were awful. I think the Egyptian gods were the only ones who were decent throughout the book. Apollo was even more horrible in this than in previous books and honestly his scenes were difficult to read at times.

Styxx's romance with Beth was also a highlight. I really loved reading about their relationship and, even though a lot of it was filled with dishonesty, it was done in a way that allowed me to still like the characters and have sympathy for them. I also adored the relationship between Styxx and his mentor. It was one of the only positive relationships in the entire book, so it wasn't difficult to love it.

Which brings me to my biggest issue with this book aside from the constant brutality: almost all of the relationship issues between Styxx and his family could be solved if he'd just have a conversation with them. Throughout almost the entire book, Styxx's sister, brother, father, and mother believe the absolute worst about him, which leads to endless torture for him. Does he ever correct them? Of course not. For whatever reason, he has the mindset that if they want to believe the worst, that's their loss, when it's actually HIS loss. Like, of his skin and dignity. He allows himself to be repeatedly beaten down and tortured rather then give his family the really easy to prove truth, over and over and over.

Overall, I didn't care for Styxx. I liked seeing Acheron and Simi again and I thought the ending was nice, but it wasn't enough to make up for the rest. I believe that a solid 3rd of this book could have been taken out and it would have had the same effect. We still would've gotten the idea that Styxx had lived a horrible life filled with torture and that no one loved or understood him, but without the extra few hundred pages of rape and beatings. I will give her another try with the next book in the series, but I'll definitely be wary of the next book in the Acheron and Styxx series.


Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Summer is almost over: A spooky ARC & candle giveaway


Happy Wednesday, everyone! September is just days away, which means the end of Summer is right around the corner! Although it'll stay hot in Florida for awhile, Halloween and Fall decorations have started hitting the shelves (and honestly, can we hurry up with the Halloween candy, please?) and I cannot wait! This year on Halloween I'll probably don my Ravenclaw robes, despite the still 90 degree weather, and hand out candy with my friends in the neighborhood. Until then, though, I'll settle for spooky books and spooky candles!

To celebrate the end of the worst season (don't @ me), I've decided to host a giveaway! There will be two prizes this time. I'm giving away an ARC of Boneless Mercies, a unique and spooky Beowulf retelling (watch out for my review next month!), as well as one of this year's three Halloween exclusives from Cornerfolds Candles! All of these candles will also be available in our shop on September 1st!




GIVEAWAY
Must be 18 or have a parent/guardian's permission to enter.
US only. (Sorry, guys! Shipping is expensive!) Ends 9/15 at 11:59pm.
Winners will be contacted via the email within 1 day after the giveaway ends.
If winner does not respond within 3 days, a new winner will be chosen.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday #202: Non-fiction TBR


Today's Topic: 
Top Ten Non-Fiction
Books On My TBR

This week we had a freebie learning/school-related topic, so I decided to go with non-fiction on my TBR list. My list is a messy mismatched collection of random topics that I'm interested in, from true crime to survival to cults. Honestly, it was hard to narrow it down to ten! Now I'm off to see how many of these are available in audiobook format...



Beyond Belief by Jenna Miscavige Hill
Dead Mountain by Donnie Eichar
Dead Wake by Erik Larson
Denali's Howl by Andy Hall



H.H. Holmes by Adam Selzer
I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara
Lab 257 by Michael Christopher Carroll
The Lost Girls by John Glatt
My Story by Elizabeth Smart


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

Monday, August 27, 2018

Book Review: Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

Title: Spinning Silver
Author: Naomi Novik
Publication Date: July 10, 2018
Publisher: Del Rey

Pages: 480
Add to Goodreads


Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders... but her father isn't a very good one. Free to lend and reluctant to collect, he has loaned out most of his wife's dowry and left the family on the edge of poverty--until Miryem steps in. Hardening her heart against her fellow villagers' pleas, she sets out to collect what is owed--and finds herself more than up to the task. When her grandfather loans her a pouch of silver pennies, she brings it back full of gold.

But having the reputation of being able to change silver to gold can be more trouble than it's worth--especially when her fate becomes tangled with the cold creatures that haunt the wood, and whose king has learned of her reputation and wants to exploit it for reasons Miryem cannot understand.

A couple years ago when I read Uprooted, I went in knowing I would love it because I LOVE Beauty and the Beast retellings! Then I came out on the other side feeling extremely disappointed. When I heard about Spinning Silver, I was skeptical, but when I found out it was a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin I let myself get caught up in the hype. Before I actually read this book I owned the ARC, the US edition, and the UK Goldsboro edition. And I am again, disappointed.

Spinning Silver is a lot different from Uprooted, despite the matching covers. In this story we have Miryem as the main POV from the beginning. She's the daughter of a moneylender who's really bad at his job, which allows her to show how cold she is when she takes over the family business. The Staryk come every winter to Miryem's town where they rape and pillage and murder. She's just trying to keep her family afloat. Unfortunately, I found it really hard to connect with her. The attempts to make her a "cold" and "hard" character really just made her too distant and flat to relate to.

Somewhat early in this book, other POVs emerge as well. A lot of them. At first it's just Miryem and Wanda, the girl who works for her. Then another girl is thrown into the mix - Irina, the daughter of a duke who's being forced to marry the Tsar who is really more than a Tsar. Then Wanda's very young brother Stepon gets a POV, the most painful to read of them all. And then Wanda's maid(?) gets a POV. And then the Tsar gets a POV. Honestly, EVERYONE GETS A POV! To make the million POVs worse, they are all written with the exact same voice (with the exception of Stepon) and there is no indication of who is speaking. It's exhausting trying to keep up.

And amongst all these POVs, I couldn't find a single character to connect with. The characters in this book are all boring, to be honest. The Staryk King, who finds out how good Miryem is at her job and decides to use it to his advantage, is really the only one who I found a little bit interesting. Everyone is terrible to everyone. The Staryk King and the Tsar, the two love interests, are both awful people. The two couples hate each other to the point of everyone literally plotting everyone else's death. The Staryk King has no redeeming qualities and the Tsar might have one.

Moving on to the story, calling this a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin is really a stretch. The similarities start and end with something being turned into gold. This is a much too long and convoluted story about... I couldn't tell you what the moral of the story is. This book is slow and meandering in the same way that Uprooted was, but I feel like this one was worse. The romance is also similar to Uprooted in that the male love interests are jerks throughout the entire book and then they catch feelings out of nowhere.

The atmosphere and world building were really what kept me reading Spinning Silver. Throughout the first 75% of this book, the fantastical world kept me believing that the story would get better. I loved the descriptions of the Staryk kingdom and the winter woods. The "real" world, I have no idea about. I'm still not sure if it's supposed to be our world or not. Miryem is Jewish and there's a mention of Israel, but of course there's magic everywhere.

It was in the last 20% that I realized there wasn't any hope of redemption. I picked this up with every intention of loving it and finding the love for Naomi Novik's fairytales that everyone else seems to have. Sadly, this just was not for me. It's obvious from the reviews that I'm again in the minority, but I just could not find much to enjoy. The multiple POVs were too much, especially with nothing to distinguish the characters, and the story was much too slow. I think this may be my last foray into Naomi Novik's world.


Sunday, August 26, 2018

Weekly Recap: 8/19 - 8/25


HAPPENINGS OFF THE BLOG

Hi everyone! This week has been crazy busy, as it always is when I have a dog sitting client out of town. There were tons of storms, which made it stressful on my dogs and theirs, but we got through. I also got way ahead on candle making! We have Halloween stuff coming up soon and I'm so excited!! I was right about the 30 hour audiobook eating into my progress. I'm 4 hours from the end, but it has taken all week!


NEW BOOKS THIS WEEK

Nothing new this week!


THIS WEEK I READ




IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Monday ARC review of Mirage
The topic was blogging slump cures for Top Ten Tuesday
On Wednesday I talked about how trends in YA have changed
Thursday book review of The Merciless III
On Friday I went down the TBR hole
There were superheroes and witches for Saturday Screen Time


UPCOMING REVIEWS

 


We're linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Saturday, August 25, 2018

Saturday Screen Time #23: Superheroes and witches


It has been a few weeks since I've done one of these and I've watched a few things since then! A lot of people with powers and one or two psychopaths. 


THIS WEEK IN SCREEN TIME


Hellboy - I FINALLY got around to watching this after years of loving everything I've seen by Guillermo del Toro. I have to say, this is the one that did me in. I'm not a big fan of the darker superhero movies from the early 2000s, so I guess this shouldn't come as a shock. I thought the characters were interesting, though, so I'm actually interested to see the remake coming next year! (3/5 stars)

Unbreakable - I had only seen this once when I was a teenager. I'm pretty sure I was also sick when I watched it so I literally only remembered Mr. Glass. I had no idea what to expect going in, but I convinced my brother to watch it with me, and I went in hoping to enjoy it. While this was definitely slow, I really did enjoy it! Even more knowing that Glass is coming out soon! I really enjoyed watching the evolution of Bruce Willis' character, and the reveal at the end was awesome! (4/5 stars)

Split - This was my third time watching Split, but I was able to make my brother watch it after Unbreakable. Every time I watch this movie I pick up on some new piece of information I missed before. I'm so glad we're back to getting good movies from M. Night! In case you haven't seen this one, it's a bit different from his other films. It's a psychological thriller about a character with 23 personalities and features a super badass female main character. I really can't wait to see the next movie in this franchise! (4/5 stars)

Hocus Pocus - Hocus Pocus is another one I hadn't seen since I was a kid, probably 20+ years ago, honestly. I remembered absolutely nothing about it and had no idea what to expect. I think I missed out on some of the nostalgia since I think I'd only seen it once before, but I still found it enjoyable, if a little silly. I really loved Sarah Jessica Parker's character a lot! She was hilarious! (4/5 stars)

Thoroughbreds - I'm not sure what I was expecting with this movie, but I was really surprised by what I got. This is a thriller about two girls who used to be friends and have grown apart, but come back together and decide to commit a murder. The characters were both super weird and it was slower than I'd like, but I still thought it had an intriguing story and kept me interested. (3.5/5 stars)



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



Friday, August 24, 2018

Down the TBR Hole #1

A couple years ago I went through my Goodreads TBR and cleaned it out... kind of? But here we are, in August 2018 and it has just hit 402. Why are there over 400 books on my TBR? Will I ever read them all?? Nope. I've often thought about going through them again but IT IS SO DAUNTING!


I was so excited when I spotted the Down the TBR Hole meme on This Dark Material! The meme was started by Lost In a Story and it is the most perfect tool for cleaning off shelves that I've come across. Here's how it works:
  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?
This is going to be so much fun! And also possibly slightly embarrassing because I have no idea what's on the shelf. 

THE BOOKS


THE WHITE QUEEN BY PHILIPPA GREGORY

I added this book to my TBR back when I was still reading Philippa Gregory novels and thought they were the height of sophistication. I read a few from the Tudor Court series (apparently these two series have now been combined into The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels now??) but then there were just too many, I got overwhelmed, and never came back. VERDICT: PASS



VAMPIRE ACADEMY BY RICHELLE MEAD

I don't know where I heard about this series way back in the day, but there it is. I remember trying the first couple pages and thinking the MC sounded like a brat. To be fair, I wasn't reading YA back then, so I may enjoy it more now that I'm used to teenage characters. I've heard SO MANY good things about this series, but I just don't know! Is it dated? VERDICT: YOU TELL ME



FORBIDDEN BY TABITHA SUZUMA

I think I saw this on a Goodreads recommendation. A brother and sister falling in love sounds kind of gross, obviously, especially as a human who is a woman and has a brother. But also, I love the forbidden romance trope and I liked Flowers in the Attic, so maybe it's good? The ratings are honestly what has kept this on my shelf for so long! If this many people loved it then it can't be all that creepy. VERDICT: KEEP



POSSESSION BY A.S. BYATT

This was purely a case of cover love. I remember really enjoying a couple fantasy books by Patricia A. McKillip and this one looked similar to those, so onto the TBR it went. Honestly though, this book sounds a bit exhausting. And surprise! It's not even fantasy!! It's historical fiction, so joke's on me. At over 550 pages, I don't think this is one I'll actually ever attempt. VERDICT: PASS




This is another one from before I really discovered YA. I read the first two in this series in 2012 and really enjoyed them! (Can you tell I read a lot of historical fiction back in the day?) Of course, I had every intention of reading this one. Alas, it's 6 years later and I don't remember a single thing about this series. At the same time, I saw the author's answer to a question stating that this one can be read as a standalone. What if one day I'm in the mood for historical fiction?? This is why I have 402 books on my TBR list. VERDICT: PASS



Well, there you have it. I think getting rid of 3/5 (maybe 4/5 depending on what you guys suggest) is pretty good for my first round! It's funny that over half of these were historical fiction and really takes me back to the dark ages before I read much fantasy or knew that good YA really existed.

Create your own user feedback survey

Was there a genre that you read years ago that you hardly pick up now?
Let me know in the comments! 
Thursday, August 23, 2018

Book Review: The Merciless III by Danielle Vega

Title: The Merciless III: Origins of Evil
Author: Danielle Vega
Publication Date: July 11, 2017
Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 304
Add to Goodreads

Reviews for book 1 & book 4

Brooklyn knows that there's no good without evil, no right without wrong. And when a helpless girl calls her teen helpline, whispering that someone is hurting her, Brooklyn knows that she needs to save her anonymous caller, even if it means doing something bad.

Her parents and friends assure her the call was probably a prank but Brooklyn has always had a tendency to take over, whether someone has asked for help or not.

She discovers the call came from Christ First Church and finds herself plunged into the cultish community of its youth group. She's especially drawn to Gavin, the angelic yet tortured pastor's son.

Torn between an unstoppable attraction to Gavin and her obsession with the truth, Brooklyn is forced to make a devastating choice to rid Christ Church of evil once and for all. . . . But the devil has plans for Brooklyn's soul. 

I have loved the first two installments of this series, although it only just occurred to me that I never got around to reviewing book two... whoops! I finally got my hands on a gorgeous copy of The Merciless III: Origins of Evil (seriously, it's shiny!) and started reading it immediately. I'm always on the hunt for a YA horror that's actually scary and I know that this series never disappoints.

The third book in The Merciless series is actually a prequel. In this story we get to go back and find out Brooklyn's story, which begins with Brooklyn wanting to help her community by setting up a teen hotline. Not quite the Brooklyn we all know. When she gets a distraught call from a girl and finds out the call is coming from a local church, she decides to do a little detective work, but quickly finds herself pulled into the church's youth group. Of course, it has to do with a guy. Gavin is the pastor's son and he and his sister, Hope, bring her into their friend group where things seem great at first, but quickly start to get a little too weird.

First of all, it was so weird to see Brooklyn's backstory, but I really loved the insight it gave into how she became the Brooklyn from The Merciless. Gavin and Hope were both intriguing characters. I was never quite sure what to think of them or who to trust. It was clear from the first page that something was off (hello, this is a horror book), but I loved that Danielle Vega is able to keep me guessing!

The Merciless III is super fast paced and creepy from start to finish. Towards the end things start to get more scary than creepy, and I honestly found myself getting a little too creeped out to read late at night a couple times. While it isn't the scariest YA I've read, it gets the job done without being overly gory or graphic. It kept me turning pages!

My favorite thing about this book is the way it ended right back where it needed to in order to tie into the first one. Usually I'd be bothered that this third installment wasn't just released first, but after reading the others I can understand why this order works better. Although I already knew how Brooklyn would ultimately end up, I enjoyed seeing how it got there and it didn't ruin the mystery at all.

Origins of Evil is a solid third book/prequel in this series. I'll say that The Merciless as a whole is not for people who only want to get a little creeped out at Halloween. Do not read this book if you're not looking for horror! On a scale of Goosebumps to The Shining I'd probably rank it about 3/4 of the way. I can't wait to read the fourth one!


Wednesday, August 22, 2018

How have YA genre trends changed over the years?

There's something I've noticed in my relatively short four and a half years of blogging - trends in YA seem to come and go very quickly and very, very overwhelmingly.


A few years ago when I started reading YA and seriously thinking about entering the blogosphere, it was seemed like dystopia and paranormal romance were the most popular genres. Some of the most popular new books of 2013 included Allegiant, Unravel Me, Everbound, and If I Should Die.


The next year came and the dystopian novels were a little more scarce, while fantasy and retellings were gaining more traction. Then it was a couple years later and there was hardly a dystopian or paranormal romance novel to be found.

To test this theory, I decided to look at the top thirty most popular YA books of each year from 2013 through 2018, according to Goodreads. I put them all on a graph to see the change over time and, although I wasn't totally shocked at the results, it was pretty surprising to see my suspicions completely confirmed.

(Note: This isn't the most scientific graph. For books that could fit into multiple genres (fantasy and paranormal or sci-fi and dystopia, for example) I picked the one that seemed more obvious or whichever it had been shelved as most. Retellings can be fantasy, but fantasy can't be retellings. The "Other" category is mostly historical fiction. 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018)


You can see that the fantasy and retellings genres have steadily risen in popularity, while paranormal romance and dystopian fiction are all but gone. Science fiction has pretty much held steady while contemporary books have gotten more and more popular. It seems that although fantasy has technically fallen a couple points since its peak in 2016, it has actually stayed the same since the retellings have increased and they're primarily fantasy as well.

None of this is to say that any of these books haven't been published in any given year, but they didn't make the top thirty.

As a reader, this makes me wonder why these trends happen. Is it because we're reading more of the same in a given year? Do we as readers burn ourselves out on a certain genre and then look for something new? Is it because publishers only advertise what they think is popular? When I click on "genres" on Goodreads, I can see that there are dystopian books being published, but most of them aren't being published by the Big Five, and many of them are books I've never heard of.


I was inspired to write this post because I've recently found myself getting annoyed with extremely similar fantasy books being published all at once. The latest trend seems to be a girl with magic that are against the law or they aren't supposed to use who hides them from everyone but then has to use them and goes on the run/has to fight the system/is banished/something else inconvenient. (See: Sea Witch, Reign the Earth, Furyborn, Enchantée, etc.)

It will be interesting to see how the trend continues over the next five or six years. Will we come full circle back to dystopia and paranormal romance while retellings fade into the background? Or are those genres dated and gone forever?

Personally, I miss dystopian books like crazy! They were my introduction to YA and I was beside myself with excitement when I got my hands on Dry this year! What genres do you miss and hope to see again?

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday #201: Contemporary slump cure


Today's Topic: 
Top Ten Contemporary Romances I Might 
Try Next Time I'm In a Reading Slump

This is a weird topic because I actually have a really hard time getting out of reading slumps. For the most part I tend to try different things until something strikes my interest. I have heard that contemporary reads can help to pull you out of a slump so I'm switching things up today. Since I don't usually read these kinds of books, I'm listing ten that I might try next time I find myself in this situation!  



Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Burying Water by K.A. Tucker
Easy by Tammara Webber
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Paper Princess by Erin Watt



Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson
Sweet Filthy Boy by Christina Lauren
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon


I don't usually do this in my Top Ten posts, but PLEASE share some of your favorite YA or NA (preferred) contemporary romances in the comments! I definitely need suggestions! 


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

Monday, August 20, 2018

ARC Review: Mirage by Somaiya Daud

Title: Mirage (Mirage #1)
Author: Somaiya Daud
Publication Date: August 28, 2018
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Pages: 320
Add to Goodreads


//I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review//
In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing poetry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated moon.

But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place.

As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty—and her time with the princess’ fiancĂ©, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear. If Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfection...because one wrong move could lead to her death. 

Mirage caught my eye with its beautiful cover and, I'll be honest, the hype got me too. I was SO excited to have the chance to read this early and I dived in as soon as I could.

The heroine of this story is Amani, a young girl who is kidnapped from her home because she looks identical to the Princess of the empire. She learns that she is to become the princess's body double and will have to fill in for her in public, even around people as intimate as her fiance and grandmother. I really loved Amani! She was a fantastic MC who was equal parts vulnerable in a precarious situation, but also incredibly strong. For me, this can be a hard balance to strike. A huge pet peeve of mine is a lead who is so ridiculously over the top in her attempts to be strong woman that she repeatedly makes dumb choices. This character is written perfectly. All of her choices were relatable and I sympathized as she tried to find a way to survive and help her people at the same time.

Speaking of surviving, the villain, Princess Maram, is fantastic! She's the terrifying, cruel, complex character I want in a book. I was always on edge when she was around, never knowing what kind of mood she'd be in. Of course, I also really loved Idris, the princess's fiance, who Amani has to fool. He was such a great character and love interest. I'll admit it was a little inst-a-lovey, but I'm willing to forgive it because their relationship was so great! Really, all of the characters were just fantastic.

I also really loved the world building and the culture represented in this book. If you weren't aware, this is an own-voices Moroccan story and it is amazing! The way the world was created so creative and unique! It was really an interesting blend of real-world Moroccan culture, fantasy, and science fiction. The writing was also magical and lyrical, but not in a way that made it difficult to read.

So if I loved so much about it, why isn't this a five star read? Well, my real issue is with the plot. So much of the story is focused on the relationships between the characters and the descriptions of the world that not much time is left to set up the actual storyline. Simply put, there isn't much action here. Mirage is a lot of talking and walking and spending time together, which I didn't hate because I enjoyed the character and world so much! However, I desperately wanted something, anything to happen. Eventually it did, but for me it took way too long to get to the action.

Thankfully, the ending of this book didn't end on a huge cliffhanger, although there's certainly room for a second book. While Mirage had it's issues, I did find it enjoyable over all and will probably give the second one a try, especially since the characters and world are already set up. Hopefully another book in the series will be able to jump right into the action!


Sunday, August 19, 2018

Weekly Recap: 8/12 - 8/18


TRACY'S HAPPENINGS OFF THE BLOG

Hi everyone! This week wasn't too busy, which is always nice! I found the time to go to Disney for an afternoon and promptly dropped a November ARC in a fountain, so that was nice. :) Next week is going to be really busy between a week-long dog sitting client and getting candles ready for next month! I FINALLY finished Spinning Silver and I'm just glad it's finally over! Meanwhile I began an audiobook that I initially thought was 10 hours long, only to find out it was 30 hours long way after I'd gotten invested in the story. My reading progress may suffer next week also...


NEW BOOKS THIS WEEK



THIS WEEK I READ

 



CHELCIE'S HAPPENINGS OFF THE BLOG

Hi everyone!  This has been such a busy week. My work schedule got switched around so I lost days at one job and picked up more at the other. I did get a chance to cut some more fabric for my book sleeves which watching some Law and Order: SVU. I also wanted to let y’all know that I am going to be taking a break for a little bit. With working so much and being stressed, I don’t want to push myself too hard and start hating blogging.


NEW BOOKS THIS WEEK

  


THIS WEEK I READ




IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

The topic was blogging buddies for Top Ten Tuesday
Wednesday audiobook review of The Darkest Part of the Forest
On Thursday Chelcie talked about reading with the seasons
Friday book review of Girl at the Grave


UPCOMING REVIEWS

 


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