Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday #237: Books Netgalley denied me

Today's Topic: 
Top Ten Books I REALLY Wanted,
But Was Denied on Netgalley

This week's topic was supposed to be about meaningful quotes, but I absolutely could not tell you more than two or three quotes period. I definitely couldn't think of any that are meaningful in any way, so instead I decided to make today a freebie and talk about ten books I was denied on Netgalley. Some of these I got as ARCs in other ways, some I read after release, and some I still haven't gotten to!

A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston
Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan
The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman
Ensnared by A.G. Howard
Finale by Stephanie Garber

Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh
Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor
Shutter by Courtney Alameda
The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
Sweet by Emmy Laybourne

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

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Weekly Recap: 4/21 - 4/27


Hi everyone! This has been another slow week around the blog. I've had so much going on in my personal life and also with my business that I just haven't been able to find the time I'd like to blog! But I will definitely be queuing up some posts in the coming week. I'm ready to get ahead again! This week we ordered a fresh food delivery service for my DOG. I never thought I'd see the day, but here we are. He's in another one of his not eating phases and he's lost some weight and I'm at the point where I'll do anything to get him to eat every meal I put down. Let's hope he loves his expensive new food. -_-


Nothing new this week!



The topic was my first ten reviews for Top Ten Tuesday
Thursday book review of Girls With Sharp Sticks
Saturday audiobook review of Lady Smoke



I'm linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Saturday, April 27, 2019

Audiobook Review: Lady Smoke by Laura Sebastian

Title: Lady Smoke (As Princess #2)
Author: Laura Sebastian

Publication Date: February 5, 2019
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pages: 512
Add to Goodreads

The Kaiser murdered Theodosia's mother, the Fire Queen, when Theo was only six. He took Theo's country and kept her prisoner, crowning her Ash Princess--a pet to toy with and humiliate for ten long years. That era has ended. The Kaiser thought his prisoner weak and defenseless. He didn't realize that a sharp mind is the deadliest weapon.

Theo no longer wears a crown of ashes. She has taken back her rightful title, and a hostage--Prinz Soren. But her people remain enslaved under the Kaiser's rule, and now she is thousands of miles away from them and her throne.

To get them back, she will need an army. Only, securing an army means she must trust her aunt, the dreaded pirate Dragonsbane. And according to Dragonsbane, an army can only be produced if Theo takes a husband. Something an Astrean Queen has never done.

Theo knows that freedom comes at a price, but she is determined to find a way to save her country without losing herself.

Ash Princess caught me off guard early this year by being completely amazing! I immediately got a copy of Lady Smoke to see what happened next and now I'm kind of regretting it since I have to wait until next year for book three. 

Lady Smoke picks up shortly after Ash Princess leaves off. Theo has taken Soren captive and is using him as leverage against the Kaiser, but things don't go exactly as she planned. In this part of her story she must team up with Dragonsbane and a foreign king in order to secure her throne. In this book Theo has fully accepted her role and has determined that she'll make whatever sacrifices are necessary for Astrea. I loved her. It was easy to become frustrated just because I wanted her to be HAPPY! But I loved her character growth and her resolve and loyalty. 

All the other familiar characters are also here for book two and they were all, again, amazing. Of course, I'm still firmly on Team Soren, but I also like Blaise. I know that some people are tired of the love triangle, but I totally get it. It makes sense to me that Theo would be torn between her childhood friend and a new contender. I don't hate it, but I'll be happy when she finally settles on the right choice. :) 

I also really enjoyed the female relationships, both good and bad. I can't wait to see more of Theo and Art together! And then there's Cress, Theo's friend turned enemy and this is a GOOD use of this trope! I feel like this isn't something you see very often without romance involved (or maybe I just haven't seen it much?), but I am here for it! Cress is a force to be reckoned with and I'm so intrigued by her. 

One of my favorite things about Lady Smoke was getting to see the wider world that Theo lives in. The politics could easily get boring, especially with the addition of so much strategy along with other kings and a potential marriage alliance, but it kept my attention! I also enjoyed getting more information about the mines and the magical system of the world. 

Although I didn't necessarily find that this book dragged, I do with that it had focused less on the marriage alliance and more on, well, everything else. I liked that there were scenes of Theo getting to know her people and I would have liked to see more of that and more action. I know that the possible alliance had a purpose, but it seemed like that particular plot point could have wrapped up quite a bit sooner. Still, once things took off in the second act, it was non stop! 

Lady Smoke wasn't quite as strong for me as Ash Princess, but I still really, really enjoyed it! I can't wait to see what happens in book three, especially between Theo and Cress. Something tells me the next one is going to be a wild ride. 

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Book Review: Girls With Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young

Title: Girls With Sharp Sticks (Girls With Sharp Sticks #1) 
Author: Suzanne Young
Publication Date: March 19, 2019
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 400
Add to Goodreads

The Girls of Innovations Academy are beautiful and well-behaved—it says so on their report cards. Under the watchful gaze of their Guardians, the all-girl boarding school offers an array of studies and activities, from “Growing a Beautiful and Prosperous Garden” to “Art Appreciation” and “Interior Design.” The girls learn to be the best society has to offer. Absent is the difficult math coursework, or the unnecessary sciences or current events. They are obedient young ladies, free from arrogance or defiance. Until Mena starts to realize that their carefully controlled existence may not be quite as it appears.

As Mena and her friends begin to uncover the dark secrets of what’s actually happening there—and who they really are—the girls of Innovations will find out what they are truly capable of. Because some of the prettiest flowers have the sharpest thorns.

Girls With Sharp Sticks is my second book by Suzanne Young after The Program, which I read several years ago. I was intrigued by the cover of this book and the synopsis pulled me in even more! I really didn't know what to expect or whether this was even a dystopian book, but I knew I had to read it as soon as possible. (Readers should be aware that there is physical and sexual assault in this book, so if that's something you'd rather avoid you may want to skip this one.)

Mena is the main character of this story. She attends Innovations Academy and is extremely close with many of the other girls. After meeting a boy on a field trip, she begins to open her mind just a little bit more to the world around her. I loved her friendships with the girls most of all! The girls of the academy are fiercely loyal to each other and I loved how they supported and helped each other. I also really enjoyed the romance though! It wasn't the main plot point of the story, but was just enough for those of us who love at least a little romance in all of our books.

The school and those who ran it were absolutely terrifying. The entire school was run by men with the only other woman being one of their wives, who was a graduate of the academy. I hated them all. When girls asked too many questions or become defiant, they received treatment to bring them back in line. It was infuriating watching the girls go throughout their days without question and then absolutely helpless to do anything once questions did arise. I feel like the scariest part about this story is the knowledge that it doesn't seem that far off from something that could really happen.

While I loved many parts of Girls With Sharp Sticks, I did feel that it was very predictable. At the beginning, I had an inkling that something felt off and quickly formed an idea of what I thought could be happening. The more I read, the more obvious it became that I was correct. Maybe the fact that everything is pretty much out in the open is what makes it scary? But I have a feeling that the big reveals were supposed to have more impact than they did.

I can't say much more without spoilers, but I will say that I did definitely enjoy this super disturbing, super feminist story. I wish that it had been a bit less easy to predict, but the relationships and the world building were fantastic despite that. I can't wait to see what happens next!

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday #236: First ever reviews

Today's Topic: 
(First Ten) Books I Reviewed

Oh no. Oh yikes, I do not want this topic! Way, way back when I started blogging I reviewed mostly free books that I was able to read on my Kindle or books won in giveaways. I also accepted review copies indiscriminately and hadn't really discovered YA yet. It was a dark time. Here are my first ten reviews along with links to them. I'm not looking because I know they're probably awful. XD 

FEED by Mira Grant
Year Zero by Rob Reid
Sleep Tight by Rachel Abbot
The Shuddering by Ania Ahlborn

A.I. Apocalypse by William Hertling
Baby Talk by Mike Wells
Silver Moon Light by Mara Woolf
The Montauk Monster by Hunter Shea

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

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Weekly Recap: 4/14 - 4/20


Hi everyone and Happy Easter! This week was my birthday! And I was sick! But now I have antibiotics and am feeling much better. I never thought there'd come a day where I'd be excited to be able to go running, but here we are. This week was also the Game of Thrones season premier and it was AMAZING! My husband and I got ready with Game of Thrones Oreos and glued ourselves to the TV. In other news, I hope you're all having a wonderful holiday weekend! Yesterday I baked three layers of cake and today as you're reading this I'm probably attempting to make frosting and decorate it and hopefully it isn't going horribly wrong. Wish me luck!





The topic was rainy day reads for Top Ten Tuesday
Wednesday audiobook review of Ash Princess
On Friday I did the Game of Thrones book tag
I branched out from just horror for Saturday Screen Time



I'm linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Saturday, April 20, 2019

Saturday Screen Time #31: Superheroes, vampires, and creeps

Happy Saturday, everyone! In the time since my last Saturday Screen Time I've watched even more (gasp!) horror movies, but this week I have a bit more variety. I've also watched some superhero movies and vampire shows! As much as I adore horror films, I'm feeling like I may have to start branching out, at least for a few weeks. I'm starting to feel like everything is pretty average. 


Channel Zero: No-End House - I'm always a little wary with anthology shows because I'm always worried later seasons won't live up the the first. I'm excited to say that No-End House was just as amazing as Candle Cove! This season revolves around characters who enter a haunted house that doesn't end when they leave. This is again based on a creepypasta that I've never read, but I'm definitely going to have to look it up! If you're looking for a horror show that isn't AHS, you might want to give this one a try. (4.5/5 stars)

Captain Marvel - I'll admit I was nervous about seeing Captain Marvel. I'm not sure why, but every time a new Marvel character is introduced I feel like I won't love them, even though it's almost never true. I ended up seeing this one twice because it was just that good! Captain Marvel is the female superhero I didn't know I needed in my life. I loved how kickass she was without being sexualized at all. I know a lot of people adored Wonder Woman but that movie just didn't do it for me. Captain Marvel is the pinnacle of female heroes as far as I'm concerned and I can't wait to see her in Endgame! (5/5 stars)

The Bay - I've been trying to watch The Bay for a LONG time, ever since I saw it on a list of best found footage movies. For whatever reason, it was really elusive and I had a really hard time getting my hands on it. Thankfully I finally found it on Tubi, a streaming service I didn't even know existed. Unfortunately, it was... not great. It's a pretty typical found footage movie about a parasitic outbreak, which wasn't what I was expecting at all. The scares are pretty standard and the characters were hard to care about. This just wasn't for me. (2/5 stars)

Creep - I had watched Creep years ago but decided to give it another watch after seeing Creep 2 a few weeks ago. Honestly, I'm terrible at remembering details so I couldn't remember much about it. I do remember being pretty, well, creeped out by it. Somehow it wasn't as scary as I remembered. The main character was still super creepy and I did like the way the movies were tied together. I don't think I'd give this a third watch though. (3/5 stars)

Us - The hype has been REAL for Jordan Peele's next horror movie. I was so excited to finally get to see this after loving Get Out, but it was a pretty big letdown. While Get Out did a great job of blending horror with a message, this one was way too on the nose with its allegory. The film tries too hard to explain too much, while not making sense of anything. The logistics of this world don't make sense and there are a TON of plot holes. I wish that more had been left to the imagination instead of trying so hard to make this make sense in real-world America.  (2.5/5 stars)

The Originals Season 2 - I hadn't watched The Originals since the first season aired, but after finally finishing The Vampire Diaries I decided to give it another chance. I'd heard that it was much, much better and more mature than later seasons of TVD and that is absolutely correct! I had forgotten how much I loved the Mikaelson family and jumping back into their world was so much fun! Klaus is terrifying as always, but I loved seeing his softer side (at times). The parental drama was a bit much, but the relationships between the siblings more than made up for it. (5/5 stars)

The First Purge - Hm. Yikes. The first couple movies in this series were just so good. I'm not sure what went wrong here, but it was painful to watch. I think this is another case of a horror movie trying to explain way too much that really never needed explanation. Less is more in the world of The Purge and the explanations are over the top ridiculous. I'd suggest stopping with the second movie in this franchise. (1/5 stars)

What was your favorite recent release?
What has been your biggest recent letdown?
Let me know in the comments!

Friday, April 19, 2019

Game of Thrones Book Tag

With Game of Thrones back and just amazing as always, I'm excited to pour some of the hype into an awesome book tag! This tag was created by Claire Rousseau on Booktube and showcases some of the show's best characters!

A character that's all about revenge

Lada Dragwlya is the most badass of all female characters and is out for revenge from the very beginning of her series. I love how fierce she is and how hard she goes for what she believes is hers.

A book that featuring political intrigue

This is a recent favorite and one that has the perfect amount of political intrigue! It has to be done just right to hold my attention and Ash Princess definitely did.

A villain you love to hate

Keris Veturia is the worst of the worst in the world of An Ember in the Ashes. There are Bigger Bads, but she is the one I hate the most. I hope she dies the same way Joffrey did, to be honest.

A coming-of-age story

Can I say Harry Potter? I'm saying Harry Potter. Although I didn't get to grow up with the characters, I never get tired of seeing them go from children to adults over the course of the series.

A ship you don't like

There is no other answer besides Alina and Mal. I hate them together so much. I'd rather Alina have ended up with herself than ended up with Soggy Bread Mal.

A kickass older character

I'm going with another obvious choice: Gandalf. He's amazing in the books and the movies and I love him. Literally who else is more badass than he is?

A book featuring dragons

I don't usually care for books about dragons, but Talon is such a unique series! I love the idea of dragons hiding right under our noses and the characters in this book are amazing.

A character you grew to love

Nesta Archeron was so hard to love from the very start, but over the course of the series she really grew on me. She's still a bit rough, but I understand and love her character so much more!

Favorite magical system

Completely ignoring everything undone by King of Scars, I'm going to go with the magic of the Grishaverse. I think it's so unique and I love how each category is so distinct.

A character whose weapon is his mind

Kestrel is such a brilliant character, which really comes through more as the series goes on. I loved Kestrel for a lot of reasons, but her ability to strategize was high among them.

Did you watch the season premiere?
Who's your favorite character?
Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Audiobook Review: Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian

Title: Ash Princess (Ash Princess #1) 
Author: Laura Sebastian
Publication Date: April 24, 2018
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Pages: 432
Add to Goodreads

Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Fire Queen, was murdered before her eyes. On that day, the Kaiser took Theodosia's family, her land, and her name. Theo was crowned Ash Princess--a title of shame to bear in her new life as a prisoner.

For ten years Theo has been a captive in her own palace. She's endured the relentless abuse and ridicule of the Kaiser and his court. She is powerless, surviving in her new world only by burying the girl she was deep inside.

Then, one night, the Kaiser forces her to do the unthinkable. With blood on her hands and all hope of reclaiming her throne lost, she realizes that surviving is no longer enough. But she does have a weapon: her mind is sharper than any sword. And power isn't always won on the battlefield.

For ten years, the Ash Princess has seen her land pillaged and her people enslaved. That all ends here.

Ash Princess has been on my radar since it was published, but for some reason I never got around to reading it until now. I was surprised upon finally reading it to find that it was not a Cinderella retelling! I don't really know why I assumed it was other than the title, but I definitely enjoyed this original YA fantasy!

Theo has been a prisoner in her own home for ten years, forced to bend to the will of the Kaiser to stay alive after he killed her mother. She has grown complacent, even making friends with the daughter of one of her enemies, but she starts to consider things differently after an old friend reappears in her life unexpectedly.

Theo was such an incredible character! She is definitely one of my new favorites. It's very easy to understand how she chose to follow the rules of her enemies instead of fighting every second of the last ten years, but I loved watching her realize her strength. I loved how blurred the lines were between good and evil. Morally gray characters are my absolute favorite and I adore when an author can make a case either way.

Speaking of other characters, there is absolutely a hint of romance and, yes, a love triangle. While this isn't a trope I always enjoy, I felt that it worked really well here. While one of the love interests made sense as someone Theo had always known, I also really liked her chemistry with Soren and I am wholeheartedly on that ship.

While I am getting a bit sick of elemental magic in general, I liked the way that it worked in this book. The magic system is familiar, but still manages to be unique. I also enjoyed the politics and the world, although I would have liked seeing a bit more of it. Based on the way Ash Princess ended, I assume there will be much more of the world in book two and I can't wait to see all of it! The author definitely took her time crafting what we did see of world and its different cultures.

This book was everything I could have hoped for, although I went in with no expectations at all. There was magic and romance, twists and mystery! And the ending was BRUTAL! I am just so glad that I already have book two available to read immediately.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday #235: Rainy Day Reads

Today's Topic: 
Rainy Day Reads

Oh no. This is such an open ended topic and I am horrible with those! I stared at the screen for quite awhile trying to figure out what a rainy day read was. I decided there are two distinct types of books I'd classify as "rainy day" books. The first is a quick read with a mystery that you can't stop reading until the end. The second is a super moody book that fits the weather. These are the ten that I came up with! 

Alone by Cyn Balog
The Cold Is in Her Bones by Peternelle van Arsdale
Girls With Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig
Pines by Blake Crouch
The Raft by S.A. Bodeen
The Shuddering by Ania Ahlborn
Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

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

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Weekly Recap: 4/7 - 4/13


Hi everyone! Well, this has actually not been a busy week at all, at home or around the blog. Instead of blogging or doing much else, I've been laying around trying not to die. What started as a cold on Monday seems to have progressed into a sinus infection and I literally might not make it, you guys. I couldn't think well enough to even write a review. I am EMBARRASSED to have only posted twice this week. What even?? I haven't had a week this bad in years. But alas, here we are. Hopefully next week will be better! At the very least I'll be seeing a doctor tomorrow if I'm still not better. I fear antibiotics may be in my future. In better news, today is my birthday! I'm trying to enjoy it despite feeling very under the weather. :/





The topic was crazy things I've done for books for Top Ten Tuesday
On Thursday I talked about weird books



I'm linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!