Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Audiobook Review: Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant

Title: Into the Drowning Deep
Author: Mira Grant
Publication Date: November 14, 2017
Publisher: Orbit
Pages: 440
Add to Goodreads

Seven years ago, the Atargatis set off on a voyage to the Mariana Trench to film a “mockumentary” bringing to life ancient sea creatures of legend. It was lost at sea with all hands. Some have called it a hoax; others have called it a maritime tragedy.

Now, a new crew has been assembled. But this time they’re not out to entertain. Some seek to validate their life’s work. Some seek the greatest hunt of all. Some seek the truth. But for the ambitious young scientist Victoria Stewart this is a voyage to uncover the fate of the sister she lost.

Whatever the truth may be, it will only be found below the waves. But the secrets of the deep come with a price.

I picked up Into the Drowning Deep after seeing several people talk about how absolutely horrifying it was. I didn't have a great experience with my first Mira Grant book, but this one was written many years after that one and wasn't YA. The idea of a crew being trapped on a ship is also WAY up my alley, so I decided to give it a shot.

Victoria is a scientist whose sister was lost at sea under mysterious circumstances that she believes had to do with mermaids. When given the opportunity to go on a very similar mission to the same location, she takes it, for science and for her sister. Tory is not the only person on this mission, of course. The cast of this book is large and full of scientists, TV personalities, and security. They all have their own reasons for wanting to go on this excursion, but the most interesting to me was Dr. Jillian Toth, the mermaid expert. A mermaid expert in a world where mermaids aren't believed to exist.

For a book about killer mermaids coming after people stranded on a ship, I expected this book to inspire a little more fear. There's lots of action starting once they make it to their location, but getting there takes quite a while. A significant portion of this book is spent on setting up why this voyage is happening, who every single person going is, what their functions are, and even the layout of the ship. Really much more setup than I need in a horror book, but I guess that's personal preference.

The killer mermaid action happens fairly late in the book and wasn't quite as scary as people made it out to be. Tensions were not nearly as high as they could have been and the author really didn't play up the claustrophobia of being stuck and hunted on a ship. There's a revelation that's made out to be earth shattering and I just didn't care that much about it. It really didn't make much difference to the story.

I thought the idea of this book was great! The characters were fine and the romance was even cute (although I'm not sure if we needed romance in a horror at sea book, but okay). The diversity was fantastic and honestly bumped my rating up just a bit. Overall, this book was okay, but I had hoped for a lot more.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday #249: Sequels I need to read

Today's Topic: 
Top Ten Sequels I Still
Need To Read

Happy Tuesday! I hate freebies so I decided to take the easy way out this week and share the top ten sequels I STILL need to read! A few of these are series I have LOVED but just haven't continued for whatever reason. All of them are books I definitely need to get to!

Alone by Scott Sigler
Anyone Else? by Angela Scott
Beastly Bones by William Ritter
Burning Kingdoms by Lauren DeStefano
The Cursed Sea by Lauren DeStefano

Gathering Darkness by Morgan Rhodes
Inferno by Julie Kagawa
Queen of Ruin by Tracy Banghart
Requiem by Lauren Oliver
Such Wicked Intent by Kenneth Oppel

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

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Weekly Recap: 7/21 - 7/27


Hi everyone! This week has been a bit of a mixed bag. I got A LOT of reading done thanks to audiobooks and a couple late nights! I've started diving into some indie books I've been meaning to get to in anticipation of the upcoming indie event I'm hoping to host! Speaking of, if you have ANY interest at all in getting involved with promoting indie books beyond participating in the event (and please do sign up when it's time!), please fill out THIS FORM for more information!

In less exciting news I got (another) new mattress and I'm not sure if I like it?? The last one was an absolute no - I woke up in agonizing pain every morning. This one is hybrid latex and coils and I love the way it feels but also my back is still killing me, so maybe I'm just broken? Does anyone know why a mattress would cause muscle pain in your back? We're talking shoulders all the way down. :/

And then, there's the saddest news. I found out on Book Twitter on Friday that Grace from Rebel Mommy Book Blog had lost her battle with cancer. Although I didn't know her terribly well, we did stay in contact through our blogs for the last several years. The book community has lost such a beautiful person and she will be so missed.





Monday ARC review of House of Salt and Sorrows
The topic was locations I want to see more for Top Ten Tuesday
On Thursday I continued TTT with examples of books in each setting
I binged some shows and went to the theater for Saturday Screen Time


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

Saturday Screen Time #34: Secrets, makeovers, and Schitt

Happy Saturday, everyone! I'm back today with another Saturday Screen Time and this time I've watched a lot more TV than movies. A couple of my favorites had new seasons come out and I loved every second of them! I also started something new and saw one of the weirdest films ever. Now I'm deciding whether to see Crawl before it leaves theaters...  


Midsommar - I knew I had to see Midsommar as soon as I saw the first trailer. Hereditary was an absolute trip, so I felt like I knew what to expect going into this one. I was fully prepared for whatever weirdness I'd see. This movie is definitely lighter on the horror than Hereditary was, although there was still a great sense of unease the entire time. There were several moments that were so uncomfortable the people in the theater didn't know what to do with themselves so people awkwardly laughed. This isn't your standard horror fare, so I would only recommend this to people who've seen the director's first film and know what they're getting into. (3.5/5 stars)

Big Little Lies Season 2 - I have been waiting FOREVER for the second season of this show! I wasn't sure what would come next since I haven't read the book, but I was in no way disappointed. All of the actresses were amazing and I loved (and despised) Meryl Streep's character. The story focused a lot more on the relationships between all five women this time and I loved them all, especially Renata. The mystery this time isn't whodunnit, but how will they get away with it? Definitely start this series if you haven't already! (5/5 stars)

Queer Eye Season 4 - What can you even say about Queer Eye that hasn't been said? This show is a freaking joy to watch and it makes me feel so happy every time it's on my screen! I feel like this has to be the most uplifting show on Netflix and I've even convinced my mom to start it! While season three was my favorite, I also really loved this one. A couple of the heroes weren't my favorite, but I loved seeing the Fab 5 doing what they do! (4/5 stars)

The Lion King (2019) - And now for the biggest letdown of the year. :/ If you've been following these posts for awhile, you may know that I really have enjoyed most of Disney's live action remakes. I fully expected to love this one as well and even bought IMAX 3D tickets to get the full effect! But right from the first shot I knew something was off and it never got better. Since the theater was almost empty (I was in the back and alone in the row) I even started rage texting my husband. I think the problem is that instead of making a movie that felt really different OR doing an exact remake, they went somewhere in the middle. It was really jarring to hear a line quoted word for word, but then it randomly goes off the rails. It's almost shot for shot, but with the best parts taken out and nothing great added. I was excited to see Be Prepared was there, but they absolutely butchered that. If you haven't seen this movie seven billion times since it was released, you may love it. Alas, this may be the only one I don't buy. (1.5/5 stars)

Schitt's Creek Seasons 1, 2, & 3 - On the opposite end of the spectrum is Schitt's Creek! Did I binge three seasons in just over a week? Maybe. Don't judge me. I didn't know what to expect at all with this show, but I fell in love with the whole family within a few episodes. David is an absolute treasure and every single character's delivery is hilarious! I don't think the humor in this show is for everyone, but it's definitely for me! (5/5 stars)

What movie have you been let down by recently?
What's the last show you binge watched?
Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Top Ten Continued: Fantasy settings I really want more of

This Tuesday I focused my Top Ten post around fantastical locations I'd love to see more of in books. Today I decided to see if I could find any books in each setting. It was ridiculously hard to find anything for most of these and I'm insanely bummed about it. Someone write these! If you've heard of something I couldn't find, let me know in the comments!



This one was actually less difficult than the others! The first book that came immediately to mind was The City of Ember. It has been YEARS since I've read it, but I remember loving it... Maybe it's time for a reread. The second is Stain, which I read last year. This is a retelling that's set partially underground in a world of nighttime and it's magical!



Of course, when you think of books about Camelot, The Mists of Avalon will probably be the first that comes to mind. I've never actually read it, but I've known of it for as long as I can remember. The next is The Guinevere Deception. I haven't read it yet, but I have an ARC and intend to read it soon! I was surprised I couldn't find more books set in Camelot, although there were other Arthurian Legend retellings with other settings.


The only book I could find to fit this setting was Ivory and Bone, which is surprising. Prehistory seems like an amazing setting for a book! Someone write more of these and I'll run off and finally read Ivory and Bone.



Where are all the books set on Olympus at?? There are tons of retellings about the gods but apparently very few set on the mountain itself. The Last Olympian is apparently set partially on Olympus (someone confirm, I never made it that far in the series). I also found The Flame of Olympus, which seems to involve saving Olympus, so I'm assuming it's at least a setting for some of the book.



Neverland was much easier, although there aren't nearly enough books with this setting either. The first one is Tiger Lily, which I read a few years ago and loved! Tiger Lily is a romantic retelling about Tiger Lily and Peter Pan but told from Tinker Bell's perspective. The other Neverland book I've loved is Never Never, this one with romance between Tiger Lily and James Hook.


Nope, I couldn't find a SINGLE book with Shangri-La as a setting.



This is another one with lots of stories, but I'm going to share my two favorites. Splintered is the first, of course. This is a unique Wonderland retelling with a wonderfully snarky caterpillar named Morpheus. Another favorite is Heartless, the story of the Queen of Hearts before she became the villain.


And this is where I truly hit a roadblock. The only book I could find set in El Dorado was the eighth book in the Scarlet Pimpernel series, published in 1913. Did anyone else know there was more than one? I demand someone go write a book in this amazing mythical setting!



I am supremely disappointed with what I found for Atlantis. I would have really thought there would have been tons more with such an incredible setting! The one I thought of immediately was Acheron, which is partially set in Atlantis. Atlanteans actually feature throughout the series. Next I found this  M/M fantasy romance, The Last Sun, set on New Atlantis (?) that I'm definitely going to have to check out.



I am currently reading Loki: Where Mischief Lies and it's largely set on Asgard. I haven't finished it, but so far I'm going to say I definitely recommend it! Judging by the synopsis, The Hammer of Thor also appears to be set on Asgard. This series actually sounds pretty interesting!

Have you read any of these?
Do you know of any others with these settings?
Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday #248: Locations I want to see more of

Today's Topic: 
Ten Fantastic Settings I’d Like 
to See More Of In YA

Happy Tuesday! This week I'm talking about fantasy locations I'd love to see more of in YA books. I'm used to reading about totally fictionalized worlds, but there are quite a few that already exist (and some more abstract) that I'd love to see in more books! Bonus points to anyone who can tell me what films six of these came from (the rest were just art)! 

Asgard | Mount Olympus | El Dorado
Neverland | Wonderland | Underground
Shangri-La | Prehistoric Anywhere | Camelot | Atlantis

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

Monday, July 22, 2019

ARC Review: House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

Title: House of Salt and Sorrows
Author: Erin A. Craig
Publication Date: August 6, 2019
Publisher: Delacorte
Pages: 416
Add to Goodreads

In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed.

Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls' lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.

Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn't sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?

When Annaleigh's involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it's a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next.

My absolute favorite kind of book to read is a weird, spooky fantasy retelling and let me tell you, this book was right up my alley! I really didn't know much about the fairytale this book is based on, but the cover and description immediately caught my attention.

Annaleigh's family has terrible luck. In fact, many people believe their family is cursed by the gods. Her mother died years ago followed by four of her older sisters who have died one by one and left her family in a state of perpetual mourning. After the latest tragic death, Annaleigh worries that they haven't been as accidental as previously believed and decides to take matters into her own hands.

I. Loved. Annaleigh. It isn't often that I find a main character that I absolutely adore, but Annaleigh is amazing! She is smart and brave and resilient and loves her sisters with a passion. Speaking of her sisters, there are a ton of them. Eight sisters is a lot to keep up with and I will definitely admit that I still couldn't name more than a few of them, even after finishing the book, but that didn't take away from my enjoyment of the story.

This wouldn't be a good YA retelling without a fantastic romance! At first there is a hint of a love triangle between Annaleigh, her childhood friend, and a boy she meets in town, but thankfully it is quickly resolved. And it's a good thing because the romance is so wonderfully swoon-worthy, I couldn't get enough! There was a moment when I thought that things had happened a bit too quickly, but when I realized how much time had passed in the story, I quickly changed my tune. Everything about the romance is perfect and I would love more of these characters!

Of course, this story is a retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses, so there has to be dancing and there is a ton of it. House of Salt and Sorrows has no shortage of magic and gods, ball gowns and dancing, but Erin A. Craig has put a whole new creepy spin on it and I loved it! The villain is not who you'd guess and the reveals are incredibly well written. This book will seriously have you second guessing everything you've read by the end. There are so many twists and turns I'm surprised I didn't end up with whiplash!

And speaking of creepiness, let's talk about the atmosphere! This author knows how to take a reader and plant them right in the middle of a new world. I felt like I could see the cliffs and feel the salt on my skin while reading this book. The world was so easy to picture, I felt like I could see myself in it without even trying. I cannot wait to see what beautiful, gothic world Emily A. Craig comes up with next!

In case it wasn't obvious, this was an amazing read! I was so invested in this mystery and the characters I couldn't put this book down. House of Salt and Sorrows is a unique, spooky YA retelling that I can see myself reading multiple times. If you're a fan of dark fantasy or retellings, definitely give this a try!

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Weekly Recap: 7/14 - 7/20


Hi everyone! This has been another super productive week! I caught up almost completely on candle orders and am excited to be bringing some changes to the shop! Keep an eye on my Instagram if you care about that sort of thing. I also got quite a bit of reading done (and a lot of listening). I found and binged two seasons of Schitt's Creek and was super excited when a new season of Queer Eye dropped! On Saturday I did one of my longest recent runs and was super proud of myself for it!

I also decided to bring back an indie read-a-thon challenge later this year that I'm really excited about! I'm still ironing out the details, but I'm currently looking for a few people who enjoy reading and promoting indie books to help out by reviewing some books (some of them free) and maybe even hosting a challenge! If that sounds like something you'd be interested in, please comment or send me a Twitter message!


Nothing new this week!




The topic was auto-buy authors for Top Ten Tuesday
Wednesday second chance review of Ten
On Thursday I went back down the TBR Hole
On Saturday I asked if you would read that ugly book


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

Would you read that ugly book?

I will totally admit that I judge books based on their covers. When I'm browsing the shelves or looking through my library's app, I definitely give priority to books that are eye catching. The chances of me picking up a book with an ugly cover are usually slim to none, so today I decided to do something different. I'm picking out some of the ugliest books I could find, actually taking time to read the blurbs, and then deciding if I'd give them a chance.

When sixteen-year-old Cynda goes to stay with her father and his second wife, Susan, at their remote bed-and-breakfast inn in Maine, everything starts off well despite legends about ghosts and a murder at the inn. But Cynda feels like a visitor in Dad's new life, an outsider. Then intense, handsome stranger Vincent Morthanos arrives at the inn and seems to return Cynda's interest. At first she is blind to the subtle, insistent signs that Vincent is not what he seems-that he is, in fact, a vampire. Can Cynda free herself-and her family-from Vincent's power before it's too late? Full-bodied characterizations and page-turning suspense ensure that this eerie, riveting novel will appeal to middle school fans of mystery and horror. (Goodreads)

Um... Hm. So the fact that this was published in the 90s makes a little more sense, but this book seems yikes in a few ways. Not least of which, is that guy on the cover supposed to be the handsome stranger? Also, this is listed as YA and the synopsis makes it seem like YA, but it's intended for middle schoolers. Isn't YA for teens? Aren't teens in high school? How out of touch am I?? No, I wouldn't pick this one up.

"I could see the star it was red and it was coming towards earth at a rapid speed. My life flashed before me …Was it the end of my life as I knew it?"

Scarlet can remember her life before the new world order took over but now she is on the run with four kids from 4 different parts of the world and she has no idea who to trust and who to turn to. Will she survive the final battle between good and evil? (Goodreads)

What is this cover?? Who approved this? Actually looking at the synopsis for this book is proving difficult because my eyes keep going back to all of the weird happening. Is that a Norse temple? Are those hot pink leaves? What is going on? What on this cover looks like anything to do with the new world order and the battle between good and evil? Noooooope.

Calla is the alpha female of a shape-shifting wolf pack. She is destined to marry Ren Laroche, the pack's alpha male. Together, they would rule their pack together, guarding sacred sites for the Keepers. But then, Calla saves a beautiful human boy, who captures her heart. Calla begins to question everything - her fate, her existence, and her world and the orders the Keepers have asked her to follow. She will have to make a choice. But will she follow her heart if it means losing everything, including her own life? (Goodreads)

I feel like this book got a better cover at some point. Right? It had to have. Despite how awful the cover is, I think this is one I'd actually consider reading. I'm not usually into shifters, but I am really into the forbidden romance trop, so this does sound like something I might enjoy.

John can have any girl he wants. Jennifer's never been kissed. Everybody thinks he's perfect. She's got issues with pride and jealousy. They were best friends-once. Now, they're playing Romeo and Juliet. Virgin lips Jennifer must have her first kiss on stage with John, the guy every girl in school wants. The pressure and tension build along with each staged kiss. Both are shocked when feelings bloom. Can either tell which kisses are real and which are for show? (Goodreads)

I just want to point out that this book was published in the 2010s. It doesn't get the 90s free pass. I would not give this book a second glance if I passed it on the shelf. The synopsis ALMOST sounds interesting, but good grief, who left "virgin lips Jennifer" in that paragraph? I just. No please.

One vow. One curse. One thousand moons.

While Princess Aowyn's six brothers are favored by their father, Aowyn is the jewel in her mother's crown. When the Queen dies, Aowyn takes a vow to protect her brothers and father from the hungry eyes of the queen's handmaiden, Ciatlllait - who is more than she seems.

In order to save her family, Aowyn risks a dangerous deal with the dark creature Sylas Mortas. But magic comes with a price: and Aowyn soon realizes the one she has paid is too steep.

Only true love can reverse the spell...but it will take one thousand moons.

Set in a Celtic world, "Moonlight" is the story of faith and true love woven through a breathtaking retelling of the classic folktale "The Swan Princess". (Goodreads)

This isn't the worst cover on the list, but it isn't good. I wouldn't pick it up if I saw it at Barnes & Noble. Honestly the author's name font is making me cringe. That being said, the story does sound pretty good - we all know I love a good retelling! The one (non-cover) thing that really gives me pause is the fact that "Ciatlllait" is apparently not a typo.

The moral of the story is, I think, get a good blurb writer. I have no doubt that some of these might actually be decent, but between the cover and the synopsis I would never pick most of them up.

Finally, I leave you with these two works of art that I won't even share the blurbs for because they're too ugly:


Do you pick up ugly books?
How do you choose your next read?
Let me know in the comments!