Friday, May 31, 2019

DNF Review: After by Anna Todd

Title: After (After #1)
Author: Anna Todd
Publication Date: October 21, 2014
Publisher: Gallery Books
Pages: 582
Add to Goodreads

Tessa is a good girl with a sweet, reliable boyfriend back home. She’s got direction, ambition, and a mother who’s intent on keeping her that way.

But she’s barely moved into her freshman dorm when she runs into Hardin. With his tousled brown hair, cocky British accent, tattoos, and lip ring, Hardin is cute and different from what she’s used to.

But he’s also rude—to the point of cruelty, even. For all his attitude, Tessa should hate Hardin. And she does—until she finds herself alone with him in his room. Something about his dark mood grabs her, and when they kiss it ignites within her a passion she’s never known before.

He’ll call her beautiful, then insist he isn't the one for her and disappear again and again. Despite the reckless way he treats her, Tessa is compelled to dig deeper and find the real Hardin beneath all his lies. He pushes her away again and again, yet every time she pushes back, he only pulls her in deeper.

Tessa already has the perfect boyfriend. So why is she trying so hard to overcome her own hurt pride and Hardin’s prejudice about nice girls like her?

Unless…could this be love?

I didn't know much about After going in. All I knew was that it had originated on Wattpad and was being turned into a movie, so it fit as the "2019 movie adaptation" category for one of the reading challenges I'm participating in. I went in with no expectations, but I still managed to be extremely disappointed with this book.

Long after I turned the first page of After, I found out that it had started out as Harry Styles fanfiction. Honestly, I didn't really know who Harry Styles was (One Direction was a bit after my time), but I do know that I've never loved a fanfiction turned novel in my life and this is no different. I made it 83% through before I finally gave up.

Tessa and Hardin are the main characters of this romantic story. They start off well enough - Hardin is the Bad Boy and Tessa the Good Girl. They're polar opposites who end up being drawn to each other. Of course, Hardin acts like a complete jerk, but I was fine with that at first. Angst can be fantastic, especially in hate to love romance! Unfortunately, this reads about how you'd expect from an average hate to love fanfic. It's bad. The writing is bad and the story is bad.
He pushes her away again and again, yet every time she pushes back, he only pulls her in deeper.  

If this line doesn't completely sum up the entire book... About half the page count could have been removed from After had the angst been cut to a reasonable level. There is more back and forth than in a Colleen Hoover novel, which is saying something. Not only that, but Hardin's jerk attitude only gets worse. This is absolutely one of the most toxic relationships I've ever read.

After is a book I might (MIGHT) have enjoyed as an angsty teenager, but I absolutely can't as an adult. I have a difficult time understanding how this series has such a huge following. I also have a hard time understanding how this story could possibly drag on for four more books. But I'm having the hardest time understanding how this ever got turned into a movie!

I hated Fifty Shades of Gray, but I'd rather read that fifty times than be subjected to the last 15% of After.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday #240: Favorite YA of the last decade

Today's Topic: 
Top Ten Favorite YA Books 
Released In the Last Ten Years

Happy Tuesday! This week's topic was a mixed bag. It was a lot of fun, but difficult! The more recent years were difficult because I had to choose between some great options! As I got closer to 2010, I had a hard time finding YA books I'd read... I didn't really discover YA until around 2012. But I found some great options and here they are!

2019: House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig
2018: Legendary by Stephanie Garber
2017: Now I Rise by Kiersten White
2016: And I Darken by Kiersten White
2015: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

2014: Unhinged by A.G. Howard
2013: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner
2012: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardgo
2011: Angelfall by Susan Ee
2010: Nevermore by Kelly Creagh

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

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Weekly Recap: 5/19 - 5/25


Hi everyone! It has been yet another hectic week. The solar installation continued through Thursday, despite a completion date of a week earlier. Alas. I also worked all week to catch up on candle orders after my vacation, but I'm happy to report they're almost done! This week I struggled yet again to read. I found myself in a bit of a slump, not having much time at all to read on vacation. For some reason, it just hasn't let up. I spent a couple nights reading Game of Thrones message boards instead of reading and now I'm back to reading but only a chapter or two at a time. I did manage to finish an audiobook though! Here's hoping it lets up soon! I think this is all just a Finale hangover. Luckily I did get some books in that I'm super excited to read and ALA is in less than a month! Hurray!





The topic was hands off for Top Ten Tuesday
On Wednesday I talked about my Game of Thrones feelings
On Friday I did the Aladdin Book Tag


I'm linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Friday, May 24, 2019

Aladdin Book Tag

Happy Friday, everyone! I am insanely excited to see the new Aladdin movie so I thought I should definitely do this amazing book tag, created by Amber at Du Livre! While I'm still a little unsure about Will Smith as Genie, I think this movie is going to be fantastic. Even the trailer gave me chills!


There was no way I could pick just one. I also tried REALLY hard to pick books that aren't super hyped fandoms. I know I failed with Caraval, but it couldn't be helped. It's definitely the one I recommend to everyone.

I definitely thought Mirage was a fantasy book based on the cover. That was my mistake for not reading the synopsis, but sometimes I like to be surprised! Imagine my surprise when I dove in and it was science fiction. :/

I'm going to have to do it. Rhysand. At least I didn't say Snape?? But seriously, Rhysand is probably one of my favorites ever. I hated him so much in book one and then fell completely in love with him, just like everyone else.

This book is WILD! If you haven't read it, I highly recommend picking it up. The main character is literally alone in the middle of space, but she definitely makes the most of it (until everything spins out of control, at least).

Sturmhond seems like he would legitimately be a ton of fun to hang out with! Not New King Nikolai from King of Scars, just Sturmhond/Nikolai from the original trilogy. New Nikolai seems really boring.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Game of Thrones is over and I have a lot of feelings

I honestly don't remember when I started watching Game of Thrones. I don't think it was with the premiere of season one just because I know I didn't have HBO back then. I do know I've been watching for several years and was highly invested in how the story played out for the main characters. Now the finale has come and gone and I've spent the last few days processing my feelings so I'm here to share them.

I'm notorious among my friends and family for being ridiculously bad at remembering details from movies, shows, and books, so I am not the person who's going to point out tiny plot holes from season two.


You have undoubtedly seen the anger on social media over the last few days regarding the series finale. I've also seen a few people who loved the way the show ended! I'm somewhere in the middle of those two camps. I tried really hard to defend season eight even after Daenerys decided for whatever reason to burn a city full of innocents. I was one of the people pointing out how violent she has been throughout the entire series, despite the fact that it just didn't feel right.

I've spent the last few days trying to put all of my thoughts about this series into words, but I think it's really simple: the showrunners very obviously wanted it to be over. I'm not sure why exactly that is, but I think that when you compare the earlier seasons to the last two it's clear that they were rushing to the finish. Maybe they knew the ending (as given to them by GRRM) and didn't know how to get there. Maybe they wanted to hurry onto their next project. I have no idea what their reasons were, but the show most definitely suffered for it. There was so much that didn't make sense in the last couple episodes, but I'll try to stick to the ones that bothered me most.

First and most importantly, what happened to my baby Dany? I loved her from the very first season and have continued to love her through every single episode. I didn't always agree with her choices, but I understood them. I understand that she was always going to be the Mad Queen, but the progression from not mad to full on genocidal maniac was over the course of a couple episodes. Yes, I get the reasons, but it didn't feel earned. They did Dany wrong. I would have been fine with her ultimately going mad and ending up dead for it, but she should've had a full season to get there.

Speaking of wasted characters being killed off too quickly, what even with the Night King?? I was willing to let it go way back when I thought the finale would make up for his quick demise, but now I'm just irritated. I cannot believe we've spent so many seasons hearing about how he is the most dangerous threat in the entire world, only to have him taken out by teleporting Arya.

But my absolute biggest issue with the entire show is King Bran. Not only does Bran have absolutely no leadership experience and no people skills, but the more I think about his part in all this, the more I wonder what he's really responsible for. When he's chosen as king he says, "Why do you think I came all this way?" Did he always know that this is how it would end? Did he know that Daenerys would kill a million innocent people? And if so, how villainous is he? I've heard people say that he doesn't interfere with the knowledge he has, but he absolutely does. Case in point: he encouraged Sam to tell Jon about his heritage, which was the catalyst for the entire Mad Queen plot point. As far as I'm concerned, Bran indirectly caused the death of the city. Don't @ me.

By the way, when exactly did he get so weird? He wasn't like that a couple seasons ago.

The rest of the character endings were also disappointing and a bit too Disney for my tastes. I thought Arya's sailing off into the sunset made no sense considering she has never given any indication that she wanted to discover new worlds. In fact, it always seemed like she was pretty set on being with her family. I was okay with Sansa's happily ever after, I guess.

Jon's, not so much. If Grey Worm hadn't outright killed him (which, why wouldn't he?) why wouldn't anyone mention him as a contender for the throne, what with his leadership, war, and king experience, never mind his actual claim to the throne. His being exiled for killing a tyrant makes no sense. Even if he was, why wouldn't he just come back to the North since it was no longer a part of the Seven Kingdoms? How would Grey Worm ever know what he did anyway once he left?

I could go on and on, but I'll cut it short. At the end of Game of Thrones, am I still glad I watched? Absolutely. I loved seasons one through six and even really liked season seven! I tried to defend season eight until the bitter end, but I finally admitted to myself that it... wasn't good. I truly wish there had been a full season devoted to the Night King and Daenerys, and maybe a ninth one to pull it all together. I'll watch the whole thing again, but I'll probably stop after Dany dies and before the sitcom epilogue begins.

What did you like or dislike about the finale?
Will you watch it all again?
Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday #239: Hands off

Today's Topic: 
Top Ten Books That I 
Refuse to Let Anyone Touch

  Happy Tuesday! This week's topic is actually pretty easy for me. I refuse to let anyone touch any of my books! :) Okay, not really, but I am extremely picky about who is allowed to read them. There are a few editions I'm much more careful with and won't let ANYONE other than myself touch. (In no particular order...)

1. Caraval Goldsboro Edition
2. Chamber of Secrets ARC
3. Prisoner of Azkaban ARC
4. 1927 edition of Wuthering Heights
5. Signed Shadow and Bone ARC
6. The Eye of the World ARC
7. Completely worthless copy of LotR I've had forever
8. Caraval UK ARC
9. Signed Gathering Dark Paperback
10. Literally every copy of the Caraval & Grisha series
11. Seriously. Don't touch them.

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

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Weekly Recap: 5/12 - 5/18


Hi everyone! I may have gotten back from vacation last week, but this week hasn't been any less insane. My mom was in town until Wednesday and we had a lot of fun hanging out together, but I am exhausted! While she was here, the installation began on my husband's solar panel system and... it's still going on. Despite the fact that it was scheduled to be completed on Wednesday night. And I'm over it. We also had friends come in on Friday night to visit and go to Disney World on Saturday. What I'm saying is things have been hectic and I am more than ready for a break! Blogging continued to suffer because of all the goings on, but I did manage to post the reviews I said I would, so that's progress! Next week I'm sincerely hoping things will be back to normal.




Nothing this week!


The topic was a page-to-screen freebie for Top Ten Tuesday
Thursday ARC review of The Haunted
Saturday book review of The Coldest Girl in Coldtown


I'm linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Saturday, May 18, 2019

Book Review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Title: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
Author: Holly Black
Publication Date: September 3, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Pages: 419
Add to Goodreads

Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown's gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black. 

Although I loved True Blood, I missed the bulk of the vampire craze of the 2000s. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown wasn't even on my radar until after I read The Cruel Prince. So many people have told me how amazing this book is, but I was wary of picking this up since it really didn't seem like my thing. After a recent poll, I decided to finally give it a chance and I'm so glad I did!

This is NOT your average YA vampire paranormal romance. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is dark and bloody and reminds me more of Anne Rice than L.J. Smith. Tana is the main character who finds herself in a Coldtown after possible infection with the vampire virus. She's joined by a cast of other characters including a vampire who is more than what he seems.

I found Tana to be a believable heroine, brave only when she had to be, although I didn't necessarily love her. I did, however, love Gavriel the vampire who Tana saved! We're told he's insane and I liked that I could actually kind of see it. He's the kind of tortured love interest I love. He also had such an interesting backstory. I'd love to read a book about Gavriel's life before he met Tana. THAT would be an amazing read! I did like that, while there was romance between the two, it didn't overshadow the story.

The best part of The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is the world building, hands down. I love the explanations this book makes for vampires in a realistic America. The Coldtowns are equal parts terrifying and fascinating. I'd love to be able to explore a place like this, but I'd definitely be too chicken to set foot in one without being infected. Coldtown society was interesting and realistic. I would seriously love to read more about this world.

I guess Holly Black is mostly known for her faerie stories, but she should definitely write more vampire books because this one was incredible! I definitely enjoyed it more than The Darkest Part of the Forest. If you're a fan of vampire books and haven't read this yet, I highly recommend picking it up! I'll just be sitting here hoping that Holly Black decides to return to this world in the future.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

ARC Review: The Haunted by Danielle Vega

Title: The Haunted
Author: Danielle Vega
Publication Date: June 4, 2019
Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 304
Add to Goodreads

From Danielle Vega, YA’s answer to Stephen King, comes a new paranormal novel about dark family secrets, deep-seated vengeance, and the horrifying truth that evil often lurks in the unlikeliest of places.

Hendricks Becker-O’Malley is new in town, and she’s bringing baggage with her. With a dark and wild past, Hendricks doesn’t think the small town her parents moved her to has much to offer her in terms of excitement. She plans on laying low, but when she’s suddenly welcomed into the popular crowd at school, things don’t go as expected.

Hendricks learns from her new friends that the fixer-upper her parents are so excited about is notorious in town. Local legend says it’s haunted. Hendricks doesn’t believe it. Until she’s forced to. Blood-curdling screams erupt from the basement, her little brother wakes up covered in scratches, and something, or someone pushes her dad down the stairs. With help from the mysterious boy next door, Hendricks makes it her mission to take down the ghosts . . . if they don’t take her first.

I am a huge fan of The Merciless series! I read them as they were released and really enjoyed every one. I was constantly impressed with Vega's ability to write truly scary horror novels for a YA audience and was excited to pick up The Haunted. I was able to trade for a copy with a friend and was eager to dive into this new, hopefully terrifying story.

This book revolves around Hendricks and her family after a move to a small town where they buy an old house with a bad reputation. The house the family chooses to renovate has a history of murder and suicide and is rumored to be haunted, so of course strange things start happening almost immediately after the family moves in. Unfortunately, that's almost the extent of the horror in this "horror" novel.

While Hendricks is okay as a character, I just got way more information about her than I ever would have needed. I don't need tons of character development, romance, or backstory in my horror novels, but this one was primarily about a girl's experience as a student at a new high school than it was about a haunted house. This book had a love triangle, high school clique drama, a crazy ex boyfriend, and a handful of creepy scenes. As much as I hate YA contemporary romance, that's really what I got with this new Vega book and I am disappointed.

The horror aspects of the book were pretty well done, but they were way too few and far between. I loved The Merciless for genuinely creeping me out, and there were a couple of creepy scenes in The Haunted, but not nearly enough to warrant the title. I did really enjoy the mystery of the house and why it was haunted, though. The ghosts had interesting stories and the resolution was satisfying.

If you're like me, looking for a super scary horror book, this isn't going to be it. If, however, you're new to YA or prefer more tame spookiness in a book that mainly focuses on the YA contemporary romance aspects of the story, you'll probably love this! It was an okay story, but ultimately wasn't what I was hoping for. I recently picked up Survive the Night by the same author and I'm really hoping that's more my speed!

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday #238: Page-to-Screen Freebie

Today's Topic: 
Five Movies That Were Better Than The Book, 
& Five Books That Were Better Than the Movie

Happy Tuesday! This week's topic is a page to screen freebie and I decided to share five movies that were better than the book and five books that were better than the movie. Let me know if you agree or not! 


Coraline by Neil Gaiman
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks


Divergent by Veronica Roth
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

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