Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Second Chance Review: Ten by Gretchen McNeil

Title: Ten
Author: Gretchen McNeil
Publication Date: September 18, 2012
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pages: 296
Add to Goodreads

It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives—an exclusive house party on Henry Island. Best friends Meg and Minnie are looking forward to two days of boys, booze, and fun-filled luxury. But what starts out as fun turns twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine. And things only get worse from there.

With a storm raging outside, the teens are cut off from the outside world . . . so when a mysterious killer begins picking them off one by one, there’s no escape. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on one another, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine? 

I first attempted to read Ten way back in 2015 and I hated it. I ended up DNFing at 34% and cited the romance and teen drama as the cause. I even said the book made me feel like I was growing out of YA! I'm not really sure what I was going through on that particular day, but I was recently in the mood for a mystery/thriller and decided to give this one another try.

Ten is a retelling of And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. I'm familiar with this story because I've seen the BBC miniseries by the same name multiple times. (It's fantastic - watch it!) This retelling follows the script closely, so if you know the story then you probably have a very good idea of how things will end up, but that doesn't mean you'll have any idea who the killer will be! I was second guessing almost until the reveal, although I admit I guessed correctly near the end.

Meg is the main character of this iteration and she, along with her friend Minnie, have found themselves on a remote island at a party with eight other teens that they know to varying degrees. Of course, there is a romance. I still don't love the way the romance is written, but I do understand the need for it and I did like what it added to the plot. Many of the other characters are honestly interchangeable, but I really wasn't reading this for compelling characters - I was reading it for a murder mystery.

As I've already said, there isn't anything incredibly new in this retelling, but man was it was entertaining! The atmosphere Gretchen McNeil created on the island was fantastically creepy and, while I wouldn't call this horror, it had a good amount of scares.

I am absolutely glad I gave this book a second chance and it has made me consider doing the same with other DNFd books. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for this the first time. If you enjoy a good murder mystery, this is a book you shouldn't miss! Even if you know the story already, this is a fresh enough take to be enjoyable.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday #246: Auto-buy authors

Today's Topic: 
Auto-Buy Authors

Happy Tuesday! This week we're talking about auto-buy authors and I'm going to be super honest about the ones I will absolutely buy anything from. An author making my auto-buy list doesn't mean that I love everything they've written and an author not being on my list doesn't mean I won't read (almost) everything they release. These are just the ten I would 100% go out and blind buy whatever they drop next. I'm including a couple of my favorites from each one! I better not hear a WORD about Dan Brown being on this list. 😤

Leigh Bardugo | Grisha Trilogy, Ninth House
Blake Crouch | Wayward Pines, Dark Matter
Stephanie Garber | Caraval
Rosamund Hodge | Cruel Beauty, Crimson Bound

Sylvain Neuvel | Themis Files
J.K. Rowling | Harry Potter
Sabaa Tahir | An Ember in the Ashes

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

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Weekly Recap: 7/7 - 7/13


Hi everyone! This week was productive, so I guess it wasn't too bad. I started reading The Starless Sea and got through the first part, which I loved! A friend recommended reading each part by itself, so I took a break to read The Grace Year. Now I'm debating whether to continue The Starless Sea or pick up something else. I also gave Ten another chance and really enjoyed it this time! Anyone have any recommendations for similar books?

In non-bookish news, I worked for a few days on candles for a local spa that I'll be creating for now! It's such an exciting change and I'm ready for it! I also finally got back into my running groove. Ever since ALA it has been a challenge to get out there (or on the treadmill), but I think I'm okay now. I've got three Disney races on my schedule between now and next April, so I don't think I have much of a choice but to keep at it! Here's hoping next week goes as well.


Nothing new this week!




The topic was fierce heroines for Top Ten Tuesday
Thursday DNF review of The Last
On Friday I did the Stranger Things Book Tag
I went to the theater a lot for Saturday Screen Time


I'm linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Saturday, July 13, 2019

Saturday Screen Time #33

Happy Saturday, everyone! It has been awhile since I've had anything worthwhile to share, but I'm finally back with another edition of Saturday Screen Time! Since the last time I was here I've seen quite a few movies in theaters and also caught up on a couple shows. I'm currently working my way through the new season of The Handmaid's Tale and the newest season of Poldark, so I'll be talking about those soon! 


How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World - I bought this movie because my husband is OBSESSED with the series. Like, he watched the whole Netflix show and gets excited about every new season. I enjoy the movies, but not like he does. We watched this one and it was cute. I thought the Day Fury was adorable and the story was great! I also loved that the characters were older this time. That being said, I did zone out quite a bit. My husband loved it though. (3.5/5 stars)

John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum - I actually had to decide between seeing this or Aladdin on Aladdin opening weekend, and I went with John Wick because how can you not? I've been a Keanu fan since the early 2000s and seeing him finally being acknowledged as a badass has been glorious. I loved John Wick, didn't pay much attention to John Wick Chapter 2 (I really need to watch this), but saw Chapter 3 in theaters so I had to focus on it. I really enjoyed it! They're definitely movies that see how many people can be murdered in two hours, but you know exactly what you're getting into when you sit down to watch. Keanu Reeves was fantastic and I even enjoyed Halle Berry's brief role (4/5 stars)

Black Mirror Season 5 - Black Mirror is one of my favorite shows and I've been holding out for season 5 for what feels like forever! Imagine my disappointment when it was only three episodes long. Still, I fully expected them to be quality content, but I was honestly kind of let down. My favorite was actually Striking Vipers! Smithereens was fine. I appreciated what they were going for with Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too, but I just couldn't get into it. I'm really hoping that if there's a season 6, it's much better than this. (3.5/5 stars)

Aladdin - Like I said, I chose to see John Wick instead of Aladdin on opening weekend. Then I waited a little while longer. I was honestly terrified to see this movie because I was scared I'd hate it. After seeing it I had to think about it for a few days before deciding that I liked it. There was a lot that I loved and a lot that was weird. I was surprisingly fine with Will Smith as Genie and I loved the actors for Aladdin and Jasmine. I liked that there was more backstory for the characters and I liked Jasmine's girl power moments, even if some of them felt a bit off. I'll definitely be buying this one to watch it again. (4/5 stars)

Spider-Man: Far From Home - Obviously this was an opening weekend movie! I've loved almost every single Marvel movie and Spider-Man is hard not to love. I got chills just from the trailers if we're being honest. I never read the comics so I knew nothing about Mysterio, so that made it even more fun to watch. While I loved Tobey Maguire's Spiderman at the time, I have to say that this one is hands down my favorite. I loved this movie so much! It was so much fun and perfectly encapsulated how awkward high school is. I'll definitely be going back to see this a second time. (5/5 stars)

Stranger Things 3 - I am the only person I know who didn't binge season 3 as soon as it was released, but it didn't take me long to get through it! As soon as the season started I knew it was going to be amazing. While I really liked the first two, the kids being a bit older really helped me relate more and I loved, LOVED Eleven and Mike together. I am also forever in love with Steve Harrington, and can we talk about Alexei? There was so much I loved about this season! I'm eager to see where they take the story in season 4. (5/5 stars)

Have you ever seen a movie more than once in theaters?
Do you ever binge watch shows on Netflix?
Let me know in the comments!

Friday, July 12, 2019

Stranger Things Book Tag

Happy Friday, bookworms! This week I've binged Stranger Things 3 and it was amazing! I loved season one, though season two was fine, but this one was incredible! I already want to watch it again. I'm so hyped about it that I had to do this tag, which I found over at Blossoms and Bullet Journals.

A book that grabbed your attention on the first page

Caraval begins with a series of letters to Master Legend and that intro had me absolutely hooked. Every time I read this book I get that magical feeling again as soon as I get to the letter signed by Legend. 

A fantasy world you’d like to experience yourself


Oh, there are so many! I couldn't choose just one so I'm going with Middle Earth and Wonderland. Both have so much to see!

Your favorite bookish friends

Rhysand's Inner Circle probably remains my favorite group of bookish friends ever. I did have my issues with the end of the series, but the characters were fantastic to the end! I love how unique they are and their relationships are hilarious.

Your favorite unhinged character

I mean, really, could this go any other way? (It's Morpheus, by the way.)

A book that was the opposite of what you expected

Mirage was nothing like I expected. Based on the cover and marketing I really thought I was in for a fantasy, but it turned out to be sci-fi. My bad for not paying closer attention, I guess!

The freakiest government you can think of


I've been catching up on The Handmaid's Tale Season 3 and, yikes. It's terrifying. Similarly, the governments of The Forest of Hands and Teeth and The Hunger Games are nightmare fuel. It's always the dystopian books with governments still functioning that are the scariest. In fact, I need a new scary dystopian government to read about (a fictional one, please).

A scary book creature you would not want to go through your walls

No spoilers, but the Nightbringer. How about nope.

A book that left you wanting more

I'm sorry I keep talking about Ninth House, but the ending of this one KILLED ME! I am already dying for book two and the first one isn't even out yet. :/

Have you watched season three yet?
What are your favorite scary dystopian recs?
Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, July 11, 2019

DNF Review: The Last by Hanna Jameson

Title: The Last
Author: Hanna Jameson
Publication Date: April 9, 2019
Publisher: Atria Books
Pages: 340
Add to Goodreads

For fans of high-concept thrillers such as Annihilation and The Girl with All the Gifts, this breathtaking dystopian psychological thriller follows an American academic stranded at a Swiss hotel as the world descends into nuclear war—along with twenty other survivors—who becomes obsessed with identifying a murderer in their midst after the body of a young girl is discovered in one of the hotel’s water tanks.

Jon thought he had all the time in the world to respond to his wife’s text message: I miss you so much. I feel bad about how we left it. Love you. But as he’s waiting in the lobby of the L’Hotel Sixieme in Switzerland after an academic conference, still mulling over how to respond to his wife, he receives a string of horrifying push notifications. Washington, DC has been hit with a nuclear bomb, then New York, then London, and finally Berlin. That’s all he knows before news outlets and social media goes black—and before the clouds on the horizon turn orange.

Now, two months later, there are twenty survivors holed up at the hotel, a place already tainted by its strange history of suicides and murders. Those who can’t bear to stay commit suicide or wander off into the woods. Jon and the others try to maintain some semblance of civilization. But when the water pressure disappears, and Jon and a crew of survivors investigate the hotel’s water tanks, they are shocked to discover the body of a young girl.

As supplies dwindle and tensions rise, Jon becomes obsessed with investigating the death of the little girl as a way to cling to his own humanity. Yet the real question remains: can he afford to lose his mind in this hotel, or should he take his chances in the outside world?

I don't remember precisely how I came across The Last, but I was hooked after reading the description! I absolutely adore post apocalyptic fiction and I loved Annihilation, so I knew this would be right up my alley. Unfortunately, this book failed to deliver in almost every aspect.

The Last is a book that really doesn't seem to know what it's doing. At the very start, Jon finds himself stranded in a Swiss hotel as the world around him and everyone he loves ceases to exist. It's spectacular. But once the initial action ends, things begin to meander and get lost. This book quickly became a story about watching random people go throughout their days with no purpose other than getting high and having sex. Which, I mean, sure. If the world is ending, why not? But why is this marketed as a dystopian thriller?

There were also several plot lines that literally went nowhere. One character sees ghosts, but nothing ever comes of it. The main character briefly mentions that he doesn't think they're alone in the hotel, but that is never mentioned again either. There's also a pointless murder mystery that, although I didn't finish the book, I did see had a very unsatisfactory outcome.

I fully expected to be blown away by this book that compares itself to Annihilation, but it was one of the biggest letdowns I've had recently. There was SO much potential here for a great story. If you're looking for a post apocalyptic thrill ride, this is not the one for you. There's no tension here. If you want to read a story about a few people going through the motions in a remote hotel, maybe you'll enjoy it.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday #245: Fierce Heroines

Today's Topic: 
Top Ten Fiercest YA Heroines

Happy Tuesday! I usually hate freebie topics, but I had a lot of fun with today's character freebie! At first I was going to do a book boyfriend post, but I decided I talk enough about men. Instead I am sharing my favorite fierce heroines from some of my favorite books! 

Lada | And I Darken by Kiersten White
Theo | Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian
Milla | The Cold is In Her Bones by Peternelle van Arsdale
Jude | The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
Egwene | The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

Katniss | The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Alex | Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
Elisabeth | Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson
Audrey Rose | Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco
Lira | To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo


Hetty | Wilder Girls by Rory Powell
Lyra | Stain by A.G. Howard
Kestrel | The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
Romy | The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James

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

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Weekly Recap: 6/30 - 7/6


Hi everyone! This week has been a roller coaster! I've had some time to actually sit down and read, but I also had a few extremely hectic days. Sometimes I don't even know what to do with downtime when I get it! My husband and I have been on a mission to actually decorate our home now that we've been in it for a couple years. We finally bought some curtains that are the right length, hurray! Today we're heading out to an art gallery to take a look at some paintings by one of our favorite artists and possibly buy one?? Being an adult is wild. In more normal news, I got to start Stranger Things 3 and I am LOVING it so far! I don't remember enjoying 2 this much. I can't wait to see where the rest of the season goes.


(the edges are sprayed red!!)




Monday ARC review of Wilder Girls
The topic was books from the early days for Top Ten Tuesday
On Thursday I talked about reading outside your comfort zone
Friday graphic novel ARC review of The Magicians: Alice's Story


I'm linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Friday, July 5, 2019

Graphic Novel ARC Review: The Magicians: Alice's Story by Lev Grossman

Title: The Magicians: Alice's Story
Author: Lev Grossman & Lilah Sturges
Illustrator: Pius Bak
Publication Date: July 10, 2019
Publisher: Archaia
Pages: 208
Add to Goodreads

THE MAGICIANS: ALICE’S STORY is an all new chapter set in the world of The Magicians trilogy of novels by New York Times bestselling author Lev Grossman that retells the events of the first novel through fan-favorite character Alice Quinn.

Alice Quinn is manifestly brilliant, and she’s always known that magic is real. During her years at Brakebills College for Magical Pedagogy, she rises to the top of her class, falls in love with Quentin Coldwater, and witnesses a horrifically magical creature invade their dimension.

It’s not soon after graduation when Alice, Quentin, and their friends set their sights on the idyllic setting of Fillory—a place thought to only live in the pages of their favorite children’s books—where magic flows like rivers . . . But in this magical realm nothing is what it seems and something darker lies behind the spellbinding facade. It is in the darkness where Alice will discover her true calling and her life, and those friends, forever changed.

I read The Magicians in 2017 and, although I had some mixed feelings about the characters, I really loved it. Although I did enjoy it, I was never very eager to read book two. Then, when I did want to continue the series, I realized I really didn't remember much about the story. When I saw Alice's Story was being published, I was really excited to dive into it and get a refresher and a fresh perspective!

This graphic novel is essentially The Magicians retold from Alice's perspective. Many of the major events from the book are there, but from a new point of view and with several new storylines as well. Alice was one of my favorite characters in The Magicians so it was wonderful to see her journey to Brakebills and especially the way the book wrapped up.

I can definitely say that if you haven't read The Magicians, this probably is not a story you'll enjoy. It moves along very quickly and leaves out some key elements of Brakebills and the magical system of this universe. But if you have read the source material, this is a great addition and a fun way to see what was taking place when Quentin was not around.

I loved the art of Alice's Story! Getting to see the characters and Fillory come to life was amazing and made me eager to (finally) jump into the second book of the series. If you're a fan of this series, Alice's Story will definitely be a fun read.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Discussion & Giveaway: How often do you read outside your comfort zone?

Happy Thursday, friends! I hope everyone celebrating in the US is having a great time or at least enjoying some downtime. I'm using the day to catch up on candle making and reading, but I also thought I'd share a giveaway combined with a bit of a chat.

For the month of July I'm giving away a couple of books that are way outside of my reading comfort zone. If you know me at all, then you know I stick primarily to a handful of genres: YA fantasy and retellings, and dystopia and horror of any kind. I venture outside of these very rarely, but I have been trying more this year even if it hasn't always gone well.

In 2019 I've read four books that are completely outside the realm of what I'd usually read. The first was Forbidden, a YA contemporary that I ended up finding way, WAY to cringey and ended up not finishing. Next was Letters to the Lost, another YA contemporary. This one was by an author I already knew I liked and I did enjoy it quite a bit. Third I read Fangirl, a YA contemporary mixed with a fantasy fanfic storyline that I'd been told a million times to read. I ended up liking it, but not loving it. I'm still interested in the next book though! Finally, I read After, an NA contemporary I decided to pick up for a reading challenge and hated it so much I DNF'd and wrote a rant review. Two out of three likes isn't bad, I guess.

I'm currently reading two books that are pretty outside my comfort zone. Ninth House which, while it is by one of my favorite authors, also happens to be adult contemporary/fantasy. I'm also reading The Magicians, another adult fantasy that's a bit more dense than I'm used to. Sometimes it is refreshing to read something totally different!

How often do you read books that are outside your comfort zone?
Are there specific genres you tend to stick to? 
Let me know in the comments!


This month I'm giving away TWO books to one winner! The first is a SIGNED hardcover of Wild and Crooked by Leah Thomas and the second is an ARC of How the Light Gets In by Katy Upperman. Click the book covers for more information about them!


Must be 18 or have a parent's permission to enter. No giveaway accounts. Ends 7/31/19.
Winner will be contacted via the email within 3 days after the giveaway ends.
If winner does not respond within 3 days, a new winner will be chosen.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday #244: Books from the early years

Today's Topic: 
Top Ten Books I Remember
Reading in Elementary & Middle School

Happy Tuesday! This week was fun because I got to dig back through Goodreads and remember some books I'd forgotten completely about. I'm including books from both elementary and middle school since these are the ten I remember most distinctly. Middle School was when I started getting into heavier fantasy and I guess I've never gone back. I can definitely tell from this list that I was never really into contemporary fiction, even as a child. 

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
The Doll People by Ann M. Martin & Laura Godwin

Magic Treehouse Series by Mary Pope Osborne
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
Taliesin by Stephen Lawhead
Winter Rose by Patricia A. McKillip

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