Sunday, December 30, 2018

Weekly Recap: 12/23 - 12/29


Hi everyone! I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas! My husband and I went out on Christmas Eve night to get Starbucks hot chocolate and see Christmas lights. There were some really amazing displays! That night we watched Elf because he had NEVER seen it before! Can you imagine? On Christmas day we had a quiet day at home, made Christmas dinner for just the two of us, and FaceTimed with my family. The rest of the week has been very relaxed. I did a bit of cat sitting, binged a season of Catfish (don't judge), and tried to get some exercise in! The highlight was when my dad FaceTimed me and we watched some extremely embarrassing home videos from when I was around 11. Yikes.





The topic was books I'm hoping to get for Top Ten Tuesday
Wednesday audiobook review of Scythe
On Friday I shared my 2019 goals and resolutions
Saturday graphic novel review of The Girl Who Owned a City



We're linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Saturday, December 29, 2018

Graphic Novel Review: The Girl Who Owned a City by O.T. Nelson & Dan Jolley

Title: The Girl Who Owned a City 
Authors: O.T. Nelson & Dan Jolley 
Illustrator: JoĆ«lle Jones
Publication Date: April 1, 2012
Publisher: Graphic Universe
Pages: 125
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My parents are gone, so I'm responsible for my little brother Todd. I have to make sure we stay alive. Many kids are sick or starving, and fierce gangs are stealing and destroying everything they find. Lots of people have given up, but here on Grand Avenue, some of us are surviving, because of me.

I figured out how to give the kids on Grand Avenue food, homes, and protection against the gangs. But Tom Logan and his army are determined to take away what we've built and rule the streets themselves. How long can we keep fighting them off? We need to find another place for us to live safely.

A strong place, a secret place.

In a world like this, someone has to take charge.

I found The Girl Who Owned a City while searching for one more book to complete this year's graphic novel challenge. I was looking for a dystopian story and this one grabbed my attention with its amazing cover! Unfortunately, what was inside wasn't as good as I'd hoped.

The Girl Who Owned a City takes place in a world that has recently lost all of its adults. The children are left behind to fend for themselves and Lisa is no different. She and her brothers are fighting to defend their home and supplies, but gangs are popping up all over and Lisa knows she has to do something to keep them safe.

Characters are really the most important part of a book for me. Although I like my books to be plot driven, the characters have to be sympathetic and relatable. Lisa is neither of those. For whatever reason she decides to take the formation of "her" city into her own hands, failing to accept input from her friends and ignoring them when they voice valid concerns. Even once she takes control of "her" city and proclaims its citizens are her responsibility, she continually throws herself into harm's way at the expense of her people. The villain of the story is also ridiculously simplistic and wishy washy.

This book is kind of a mess. I guess it's based on a 1975 young adult novel and maybe that's better, but I just could not get into the story. It's choppy and quick and nothing is explained. Lisa goes from trying to defend a street to running a city/fortress inside of a school. Things happen too quickly, which I guess may be due to the graphic novel format. Then again, I've read many graphic novels that were much better written than this.

I also hated that the epidemic itself, the one that wiped out everyone over a certain age (12, I think?) is never delved into. Why did the adults die? How did they die? Is this a worldwide epidemic or is it confined to Lisa's town/state/coast? What is even going on in this world?? As a lover of dystopian fiction, my favorite books are always the ones who build complex worlds that are at least somewhat believable as a potential future.

I didn't go into The Girl Who Owned a City with any expectations, but of course I did hope to enjoy it. Sadly, it was too rushed with characters and a world that were very much lacking in development. The art was pretty for sure, but that may be the only thing I liked about it.

Friday, December 28, 2018

2019 Challenges and Resolutions

Hi everyone! Welcome to the last week of 2018! Can you believe another year has come and is almost gone? It's true that time goes by faster as you get older. I was kind of hoping my parents had lied about that one! Today I'm sharing the reading challenges I'm participating in for 2019 as well as my non-bookish resolutions.



This year I'm back to hosting after taking a year off from responsibilities. I am so excited to have a Retellings Challenge going again! This is my absolute favorite genre and there are a ton of them being released in 2019! My goal for this year is going to be High Fae, which is 16-20 retellings.

Top 3 TBR: Stain, Echo North, Wild Savage Stars


I've participated in the Audiobook Challenge every year since I started blogging (I'm pretty sure) and it is one of my favorite parts of the year! Of course, I'd listen to a lot of audiobooks regardless, but I there's something great about marking goals off a list. It definitely pushes me to get to more audiobooks as well.  


This is something I've been needing to do for awhile! I have SO MANY backlist books on my physical shelves and my Goodreads TBR that I feel like I'll never get around to reading. This year I'm going to tackle this challenge and make a real effort to mark some off my list. My goal is to read 10 backlist books in 2019.

Top 3 TBR: Finnikin of the Rock, Alone, The Glass Arrow


I'm doing it again!! This year I shocked myself by completing the PopSugar Reading Challenge and I'm going to attempt it again for 2019! I was able to read tons of books I wouldn't have ever read otherwise and it was by far the most difficult challenge of the year. I can't wait to see what I'll have to read for this year's topics!


I hate, hate, hate that Goodreads won't let you set goals early! Regardless, this year I'll be pledging to read 80 books. Two years ago my goal was 100 and I failed miserably due to some personal circumstances. For 2018 I decided to set my goal to 75 and surpassed it. In 2019 I'm going to take a slightly larger step towards getting back to where I was.

  1. Run a "real" 5K and 10K, and log 500 miles - Last year I resolved to run(ish) a 5K with Hogwarts Running Club. I met that goal and then a lot! My very first race with them was a 9 3/4 K, which I completed by mostly walking. That was in January and now I've run more 5Ks than I can count on my own, not in "real" races. I've also run/walked a few 10Ks, which I never thought I'd be able to do when I wrote my goal post last year! This year I'd love to complete a 5K and a 10K in a "real" race. I'm already signed up for Star Wars Rival Run 5K! The other part of this goal is that I want to run 500 miles in 2019. I started logging my 2018 miles in March and logged just over 400, so I think I can do it! 
  2. Get Perfect Prefect with HRC - Although I really want to push myself to run IRL races in 2019, I still want to run with HRC! Last year I made Perfect Prefect by registering for every race event, but I did not run the half marathon. I still hope to finish it and haven't put the medal on my wall yet! But I'd love to make Prefect for 2019. I want to start a pin collection!
  3. Join (or start) a real life book club - So real talk, I need actual, tangible, in real life friends. It isn't that I don't adore all of you! I've made some amazing friends through blogging, many of which I've met in person and expect to be friends with for many years to come! But I don't get to hang out with you guys often and I desperately need to meet some local book nerds. I managed to locate an adult YA book club about 30 minutes from my house, but it's only made up of a few people and who knows if it will take off. I'm planning to go to the first meeting and hopefully it'll be amazing, but if not I'm going to attempt to start my own in my town because we NEED more book clubs! 
  4. Get back to volunteering - Back in the day I used to volunteer a lot. Of course, everyone needs those extracurriculars for college applications, then I was voluntold to do a lot of things during my time in the Air Force. I even tried to get back to volunteering since moving to my current town, but was really surprised at how difficult it can be to do! There are applications, background checks, sometimes interviews. It's basically like getting a job! But I'm determined to do it this year. I'm feeling good again and I want to give back even if it's in a minor way. 
  5. Visit all the museums - This one is really just about fun. There are so many museums in the big cities on either side of me that I've never been to! I'd really love to find a great science museum and go to a planetarium. I did recently visit our local art museum and, although it was tiny, it was a fun afternoon. I'm definitely vowing to check out as many museums as possible in the new year! 

That's it for 2019! In 2018 year I made five non-bookish resolutions and managed to pull off three of them. Let's see if I can beat that in the year to come!

Are you signed up for any challenges?
Do you make New Year's resolutions?
Let me know in the comments!
Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Audiobook Review: Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Title: Scythe (Arc of a Scythe #1)
Author: Neal Shusterman
Publication Date: November 22, 2016
Publisher: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
Pages: 435
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Thou shalt kill.

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

Scythe has been on my to-read list for two years, but I never could muster up the courage to read it. I started Unwind years ago and couldn't get into it, so I wasn't sure this super hyped Shusterman book was for me. Over the summer, though, I got a copy of Dry and LOVED it, so I knew I had to give Scythe a chance and thank goodness I did!

Citra and Rowan live in a future America where there is no death and the population is controlled by scythes. The scythes live under their own law and must meet (but not exceed) quotas of people "gleaned," although they're free to glean in whatever way they see fit. Everyone fears and respects them - Citra and Rowan are chosen as apprentices. Scythe Faraday goes against convention and takes two apprentices, planning for one to become a scythe at the end of their training. Of course, things go awry and nothing works out as planned.

I really loved both Citra and Rowan, although I liked Rowan a tiny bit more. I definitely appreciated them more when they were separated and were able to explore their strengths individually. Both characters were forced into terrible situations and faced them in believable ways that made me love them even more than I did to begin with. Of course there is a hint of romance, but it's extremely minor as far as YA goes. The villains in this story are also incredibly well written. Their motivations are complex and totally within the realm of believability. Morally gray characters are my favorite and there are many of them here.

One thing Neal Shusterman definitely excelled at was world building. I love dystopian novels and the best ones truly make me see them as real. The Handmaid's Tale and The Hunger Games are so great because the worlds are believable. Scythe belongs right up there at the top of the list. This world is so well written that I felt like I could picture myself there (yikes) while reading!

There are so many things to love about Scythe! The concept of having to control Earth's population because humans have overcome death is fascinating to me. The way the scythes were developed and the way they discussed these difficult issues in their journals was amazing and really made me think about morality in a different way. I also loved how intense things felt at times. There were definitely many slow moments, which was honestly my main issue, but there were other moments that felt so urgent that I couldn't turn the audio off.

Scythe is a must-read if you're a fan of dystopian fiction! There are definitely quite a few slow points but it will be worth it if you can get through them. I definitely plan on picking up Thunderhead as soon as possible!

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday #219: Gifts I'm hoping for

Today's Topic: 
Top Ten Five Wishlist Books
I Hope Santa Brought

MERRY CHRISTMAS! So I actually rarely actually put books on my Christmas list. My family doesn't seem to like buying them and most of the time I end up getting them for myself anyway. I did add a few this year though! They're a little weird and not what you'd usually find on my blog, but here we go!

As Old As Time by Liz Braswell
Lab 257 by Michael Christopher Carroll

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

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Weekly Recap: 12/16 - 12/22


Hi everyone! First of all, thank you all so much for sticking with me while I was away last week! I guess having content ready to be posted helps a lot too... Like I said in my last recap, I was away for a week on a cruise with my parents and husband. We celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary while we were there and it was amazing! I went snorkeling in Saint Maarten and Haiti, and did an escape room on the ship (I did not escape). I can't wait to go again! Back at home, I finished up my last reading challenges, although reading has been slow. I did get my most anticipated book of 2019 and I'm making my way through it already! I can't wait to share my review! In puppy news, I finally have something positive to report: he made it through our trip just fine and has not been sick in two weeks! Fingers crossed that he's over the worst!






The topic was my Winter TBR for Top Ten Tuesday
Wednesday mini reviews of Out of the Easy and A Wrinkle in Time
On Thursday I did the Bookish Naughty Or Nice Tag
On Friday I shared my 2018 Reading Challenge Updates
I watched horror and cartoons for Saturday Screen Time



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

Saturday Screen Time #27: Horror and Cartoons

Happy Saturday, everyone! I've watched a few movies since my last post, again mostly horror. I seem to be on a horror roll lately. More and more, I've been trying to go into them completely blind and it has really been a wild ride! Of course, I also had to throw in a Disney movie (as you do). 


Ralph Breaks the Internet - Wreck it Ralph surprised me when I first saw it in theaters. I didn't expect to love it so much, but it quickly became one of my new Disney favorites. I wasn't sure they could do it again, but Ralph Breaks the Internet is fantastic! This movie doesn't take itself too seriously and Disney making fun of its princesses is definitely a highlight. It also has a wonderful message about how friendships evolve. If you enjoyed the first Ralph movie, definitely check this one out too! (4.5/5 stars)

The Ritual - I've had this on my watchlist forever, but just hadn't committed to watching it. I downloaded it from Netflix just in case I decided veg out in my room on my recent cruise and found myself watching it one night before bed. It was awesome! This is a horror movie that feels claustrophobic and uneasy from the very beginning. I hadn't read any spoilers and had no idea what it was about, so I won't spoil it here. Trust me, go in blind. (4/5 stars)

Green Room - I can't remember where exactly I heard about this movie, but I'm confident I've seen it on a few "must watch" lists recently. I decided to give it a try, again not knowing anything about it. This movie is nuts. It's about a band who goes to play a gig, realizes it's for a bunch of white supremacists, and find themselves in a really bad situation. It's terrifying and gory. There were a lot of moments where I wanted to yell at the characters and gore horror really isn't my thing, but overall it isn't a bad movie if it's the kind of horror you're into. (3/5 stars)

The Sixth Sense - My parents had NEVER seen The Sixth Sense! I remember the first time I ever saw this movie and I don't think I've ever had the chance to show it to someone new. I was so excited to be able to show it to someone who was totally unspoiled on the ending! I have nothing to say about this movie other than I really miss this era of M. Night. If you've somehow never seen this, WATCH IT. (4.5/5 stars)

Are you an M. Night Shyamalan fan?
Do you have a favorite filmmaker?
Let me know in the comments!

Friday, December 21, 2018

2018 Reading Challenges Final Update

Happy Friday, everyone! Today I'm sharing my 2018 reading challenges final update and looking back at what I've managed to accomplish this year. Last year was rough. I only signed up for three challenges and didn't manage to complete a single one! In 2018 I was feeling a bit better and more determined to meet my goals. I signed up for three challenges again and also participated in the Fraterfest Read-a-Thon. Here's how that went!


This is a challenge I've participated in every single year since I started blogging. This year I committed to a goal of 30+ audiobooks and managed to beat that by 10! Since I read so many that sharing all the links would be excessive, here are the best and worst audiobooks I was able to get to this year:



I love graphic novels, but this ended up being more challenging than I expected it to be! It came down to the wire and I had to scramble a bit to get a couple more in, but I managed to get them! Here are the best and the worst: 



I REALLY did not think I was going to complete this challenge! There were several times when I almost gave up, but I managed to pull it off. I didn't make it to the advanced categories, but I did check every other box and I am so proud of myself! You can see everything I read for this challenge on my 2018 Challenges page, here! I had to go way out of my comfort zone to get them all, so here are some books I read that I wouldn't have otherwise. 


Wooo I actually participated in a read-a-thon and read some books! I only made it through four, but it felt like a huge accomplishment!


This year I set my goal to 75 after failing miserably in 2017. I managed to beat it by quite a few books, although I'll admit a couple were DNFs. Here's hoping I can keep it going in 2019! 

So that's it! I completed my goals this year and I couldn't be happier! Keep an eye out in the next week or two for my 2019 challenge goal post!

Do you participate in reading challenges?
Did you meet your goals this year?
Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Bookish Naughty or Nice Tag

Book tags are so much fun and I'm always on the lookout for a new one to tag myself in! (I'm a rule breaker.) I spotted this one at The Blacksheep Reader (originally created by Jenniely) and thought it looked way too fun not to do. If you're reading this, I tag you to participate too! The rules are easy! Just check off what you're guilty of this year, link to this post and the original tag, and tag whoever you want.


Whoops. Well, you know, sometimes the ARCs that show up on my doorstep are unsolicited and sometimes they're not even genres I read! To be honest, this has happened for all kinds of reasons. I try REALLY hard to review every ARC I receive, but sometimes things happen. It doesn't help that I'm definitely a mood reader and I have to try really hard to make myself read books I'm not feeling at the moment.


NOPE! Not this year! Actually, I don't think my feedback rating has been below 60% since my first year of using it. I very quickly learned not to request books I wasn't absolutely dying to read.


I feel personally attacked. The other day I got a comment on Goodreads from my aunt and I was so excited because no one I know in real life EVER comments on my Goodreads (or my blog, for that matter). She had commented on a review that I had promised, but hadn't written, wanting to know when it would be posted. I had completely forgotten what the book was about.


Not since I was in middle school, thankfully. I picked up the habit from my mom (who is not very nice to books), but thankfully learned the error of my ways early on.


Y'all. I dropped an ARC I was super excited to read IN A FOUNTAIN at Disney World trying to take a Bookstagram photo.


I DNF books regularly. Like, a lot of books. Life's too short to read books you aren't enjoying.


Nope, but I almost did more than once. I almost bought the Strange the Dreamer and Muse of Nightmares set from Illumicrate. The set that was $50. The set of the series that I hated. :) But I didn't.


Definitely not. I tend to only read at night while in bed. If anything, I do other things when I'm supposed to be reading and then get mad that it's taking me so long to finish my current read.


Yes, this I am guilty of. It was my first experience skim reading a book that wasn't for school. I was just not enjoying it at all, but was obligated to finish it. I feel like I retained enough details to know what it was about.


No, I actually completed it this year! After an embarrassingly bad 2017, I was super determined to complete my goal this year and I obliterated it! Okay, I only beat it by a few books, but I'm super proud of my comeback!


Not this year! I actually moved a pretty long distance away from my favorite library, so now I only check things out digitally. It works out well because nothing is ever overdue!


What even is this? I don't believe in book buying bans.


Would I do that?? Okay, yes I would. And I have. Once or twice. It's possible that I've had to look up summaries to finish reviews before.


I would NEVER!


Heck no! I have to meet those goals!


I don't have enough bookish friends in real life for this to happen. XD


I have done this for sure, but not this year! Again, severe lack of bookish friends.


Again, I would NEVER!


I do take the covers off my books when I'm reading them, but I usually put them on my nightstand where they're safe.


No, thank goodness! My dog has sat on them though.

I think this means I'm on the nice list??

Are you nice to your books?
Do you loan them out to friends?
Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Mini Reviews: Out of the Easy & A Wrinkle In Time

Title: Out of the Easy
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Publication Date: February 12, 2013
Publisher: Philomel Books
Pages: 348
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It's 1950, and as the French Quarter of New Orleans simmers with secrets, seventeen-year-old Josie Moraine is silently stirring a pot of her own. Known among locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer. She devises a plan get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie tangled in an investigation that will challenge her allegiance to her mother, her conscience, and Willie Woodley, the brusque madam on Conti Street.

Josie is caught between the dream of an elite college and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans lures her in her quest for truth, dangling temptation at every turn, and escalating to the ultimate test.

With characters as captivating as those in her internationally bestselling novel Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys skillfully creates a rich story of secrets, lies, and the haunting reminder that decisions can shape our destiny. 

Before Out of the Easy I had read two other Ruta Sepetys books and loved them both! I knew I had to get my hands on this one and had every intention of loving it. Unfortunately, this one just was not for me.

Josie's story is set in New Orleans in the 1950s. Josie wants to go to college, but her life does not seem to be going in that direction. Her mother is a prostitute and she has been raised in the brothel, but she is determined to make her own path. On the way to her goals, she finds herself caught up in a murder mystery.

I found the relationships in this book to be really well written. I liked the strained dynamic between Josie and her mother and Willie was really my favorite! I also really liked getting to know Josie's friends and acquaintances, but that's where my enjoyment ended. As good as the synopsis sounded, I just was not intrigued by the plot at all. I was so bored reading this that I eventually just gave up.

Sepetys novels are character driven and this is no different, but I've always been intrigued by the stories as well and that wasn't the case here. If you can enjoy a painfully slow book with great characters, you may love this historical fiction novel! I just need a little more to keep me hooked.

Title: A Wrinkle in Time (Time Quintet #1)
Author: Madeleine L'Engle
Publication Date: January 1, 1962
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Pages: 288
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It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger.

"Wild nights are my glory," the unearthly stranger told them. "I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me be on my way. Speaking of way, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract".

Meg's father had been experimenting with this fifth dimension of time travel when he mysteriously disappeared. Now the time has come for Meg, her friend Calvin, and Charles Wallace to rescue him. But can they outwit the forces of evil they will encounter on their heart-stopping journey through space?

I distinctly remember reading A Wrinkle in Time for the first time in the fourth grade and loving it. I didn't continue the series, but the first book made a huge impression at the time. This year, a very long time later, I needed to read a childhood classic for a reading challenge and decided to visit this again. Sadly, it just didn't hold up.

A Wrinkle in Time is about a girl named Meg whose father has been missing for years. She gets the chance to rescue him along with her brother and friend after meeting a strange woman named Mrs. Whatsit. The three find themselves catapulted through time and space and end up on fantastic adventures while on their mission.

This book has a message and it hits you over the head with it from beginning to end. As a child, I suppose things being spelled out could be beneficial. It was too much as an adult and I quickly became annoyed with the preachiness. I also found that, even as a lover of fantasy books, this one was just too ridiculous and cartoony.

I can appreciate that I am not the target audience and I obviously did love this when I was, but man. A Wrinkle in Time managed to be over the top while also being extremely dull. The characters were terribly annoying and I didn't care for the way the plot jumped from one thing to another. This is a hard review to write because, like I said, I adored this as a fourth grader! Sadly, the nostalgia was not enough to keep this on my favorites shelf.