Saturday, August 31, 2019

Retellings Reading Challenge: Third Quarter Update & Link-up


Happy September, bookworms! Welcome to the third quarter update and link-up of the 2019 Retellings Reading Challenge! I hope you've all made some progress and read some amazing retellings so far this year! As a reminder, this challenge is still open to join! To get started, I'll share my progress for this quarter:


WHAT I'VE READ

   
  

This quarter I got quite a bit of reading done! The retelling mood struck and I couldn't stop! I read some big upcoming releases and some fun indie books, along with a couple I've been putting off for too long! My favorite of this quarter was definitely Wild Savage Stars!


GOODREADS GROUP UPDATES

In case you missed it, we also have a group on Goodreads where we discuss books we've been reading, share suggestions to fill bingo spaces, and do a group read each month. You can join the group HERE if you haven't already! Here's what we read in June, July, and August: 

  

Each month the group nominates a bingo topic to group read, then we nominate books based on that topic. Finally, we vote on which book to read and discuss throughout the month. For June, we voted to read The Golem and the Jinni to fill the Middle Eastern Mythology Retelling space. Circe was our July read and filled the Greek Mythology Retelling space. In August we read The Beholder to fill the 2019 release space. Voting is still open for September if you want to get involved!


LINK-UP

Now it's your turn! Link up to your reviews for the challenge to get an extra entry in the year-end giveaway! As a reminder, you can also get extra entries for getting bingo or filling your bingo card completely. Do NOT share your quarterly updates in this link-up! This is for reviews only. Instead, share links to your updates in the comments! 

Friday, August 30, 2019

Why don't people read indie?


You may have (possibly, maybe?) noticed that the indie book read-a-thon I've been talking about for the last few weeks has disappeared from my sidebar. If you're wondering why, let me tell you: I had to cancel it due to an incredible lack of interest. I have hosted several other events and reading challenges over the years and have participated in countless others and they've all had varying levels of success. None get ignored quite to the same extent as those focusing on independently published books.

Before I blogged I read a lot more indie books than I do now. I didn't know what was hyped or being pushed by publishers. I looked at books on shelves or Goodreads and picked whatever was interesting. These days I have to go out of my way to read indie books, I'll admit. It can be difficult to put aside whatever the next big thing is to read something from a self-published author. But years in the community has introduced me to some amazing indie authors, so I do attempt to read outside the Big Five whenever I have the time or I find something that looks especially amazing.

This year I decided to attempt an indie reading challenge (with a slight facelift from my first attempt). This was to be a ten day reading challenge, again to promote indie authors. I, along with some participating blogs and authors, shared about the challenge on social media and on our blogs. It didn't take long to realize that, despite getting views, no one was signing up. After over a week and double the views of other recent posts, one person had signed up besides those who were participating in the event by posting reviews and hosting giveaways.

Please don't take this post as me whining that no one wanted to participate in my challenge. I have hosted several other challenges with varying levels of participation and have enjoyed all of them! But this failed challenge makes me wonder - why don't many people, especially in the blogosphere, read indie books?

I'm curious to hear from everyone. Do you read indie books? Why or why not? I'll admit I am a major cover judger so I tend to only pick up the ones with prettier covers and more reviews. I've definitely had some misses, but I've found some favorite books by reading outside of the Big Five!

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

ARC Review: Loki: Where Mischief Lies by Mackenzi Lee

Title: Loki: Where Mischief Lies
Author: Mackenzi Lee
Publication Date: September 3, 2019
Publisher: Marvel Press
Pages: 416
Add to Goodreads

This is the first of three young adult novels from New York Times best-selling author Mackenzi Lee that explores the untapped potential and duality of heroism of popular characters in the Marvel Universe.

Before the days of going toe-to-toe with the Avengers, a younger Loki is desperate to prove himself heroic and capable, while it seems everyone around him suspects him of inevitable villainy and depravity . . . except for Amora. Asgard's resident sorceress-in-training feels like a kindred spirit-someone who values magic and knowledge, who might even see the best in him.

But when Loki and Amora cause the destruction of one of Asgard's most prized possessions, Amora is banished to Earth, where her powers will slowly and excruciatingly fade to nothing. Without the only person who ever looked at his magic as a gift instead of a threat, Loki slips further into anguish and the shadow of his universally adored brother, Thor.

When Asgardian magic is detected in relation to a string of mysterious murders on Earth, Odin sends Loki to investigate. As he descends upon nineteenth-century London, Loki embarks on a journey that leads him to more than just a murder suspect, putting him on a path to discover the source of his power-and who he's meant to be. 

I have never read a movie or comic tie-in book in my life, at least that I can remember. I know a lot of people enjoy the recently published DC novels, but I have always been skeptical of them. Then I saw Loki on the cover of a book and that trend was destined to change. I am a massive Marvel fan and fan of Loki in particular, so this immediately shot to the top of my TBR list.

This book begins with Loki on Asgard and struggling with his magic in a family that doesn't welcome it. Odin doesn't allow Loki to master his skill and instead regards his magic as a threat, but Loki sees hope in Amora, Asgard's sorceress-in-training. The two predictably get into mischief, though, resulting in Amora's banishment to Earth to die a slow, human death. Later, Loki is sent there against his will to investigate magic that has been detected and more shenanigans ensue.

I was not expecting to love this book as much as I did! Loki is such a fantastic character, but I was hesitant to get more of his backstory. Mackenzi Lee did such an amazing job weaving this tale and tying it into the current MCU Loki that I fell even more in love. It was strange to see him as an insecure teenager unsure of his abilities and watching him grow into the arrogant villain we all know and love made him so much more relatable.

All of the relationships in this book were so well written. The banter back and forth between Thor and Loki was exactly what you'd expect and I loved the new level it brought to their sibling rivalry. It was also interesting to get even more insight into Loki's relationship with Odin. It has always been obvious that Loki didn't feel he lived up to his father's expectations, but it was eye opening seeing that from his point of view as a younger character. There was also a bit of romance in this story and I LOVED it! I won't say anything more about it so as not to give anything away, but it was so nice to see such a beloved character get a moment of happiness.

The ending of Loki: Where Mischief Lies seemed to lead straight into the MCU stories we already know, which I thought was a really nice touch. I loved how this book took a character everyone already loves and brought a new level of understanding to why he is who he is. I really can't wait to read the next instalment in this series whether it continues Loki's story or moves onto a new character. If you're a Marvel fan, I definitely recommend grabbing this one as soon as possible!


Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday #253: Library faves I need to buy


Today's Topic: 
Books I’ve Read From the Library
That I’d Like On My Personal Shelves

Happy Tuesday! This week was a little difficult for me since I have a tendency (a problem) to go out and buy books I love. It was hard to come up with ten for this list as a result! XD I did persevere though! Several of these are books I've read in years past but just never got around to buying. Maybe it's time to add a few more to my shelves! 



A Dance of Silver and Shadow by Melanie Cellier
Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart
Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd
The House by Christina Lauren



Pines by Blake Crouch
Reign the Earth by A.C. Gaughen
Return to the Dark House by Laurie Faria Stolarz
The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes
Snow and Rose by Emily Winfield Martin


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

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Weekly Recap: 8/18 - 8/24



HAPPENINGS OFF THE BLOG

Hi everyone! Well, this week has been wild, once again. I was able to see a rheumatologist on Friday regarding the positive ANA test and so far it's looking like good news. Based on my history and exam the doctor said she didn't seen anything concerning, but did order several more blood tests to rule out any autoimmune diseases. Apparently a positive ANA test can mean nothing? Please continue sending those good vibes!

In the bookish world, I got some decent reading done this week! Even better that most of them were really good! There are definitely a couple sequels I'm now dying to get my hands on. I also spent some time this week teaching myself how to paint book edges. Now I feel pretty confident in my abilities, BUT I'm scared to paint any of my favorites just in case I regret doing it later. :/

If you're interested in indie books, please check out the upcoming read-a-thon in the sidebar! This read-a-thon is focused on indie books and authors and will have lots of mini challenges and prizes to win! Indie books don't get nearly enough love.


NEW BOOKS THIS WEEK

  


THIS WEEK I READ

   


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Monday ARC review of There Will Come a Darkness
The topic was tropes I love and hate for Top Ten Tuesday
On Wednesday I talked about out of control special editions
Thursday ARC review of Crown of Coral and Pearl


UPCOMING REVIEWS



I'm linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Thursday, August 22, 2019

ARC Review: Crown of Coral and Pearl by Mara Rutherford

Title: Crown of Coral and Pearl
Author: Mara Rutherford
Publication Date: August 27, 2019
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Pages: 432
Add to Goodreads


For generations, the princes of Ilara have married the most beautiful maidens from the ocean village of Varenia. But though every girl longs to be chosen as the next princess, the cost of becoming royalty is higher than any of them could ever imagine…

Nor once dreamed of seeing the wondrous wealth and beauty of Ilara, the kingdom that’s ruled her village for as long as anyone can remember. But when a childhood accident left her with a permanent scar, it became clear that her identical twin sister, Zadie, would likely be chosen to marry the Crown Prince—while Nor remained behind, unable to ever set foot on land.

Then Zadie is gravely injured, and Nor is sent to Ilara in her place. To Nor’s dismay, her future husband, Prince Ceren, is as forbidding and cold as his home—a castle carved into a mountain and devoid of sunlight. And as she grows closer to Ceren’s brother, the charming Prince Talin, Nor uncovers startling truths about a failing royal bloodline, a murdered queen… and a plot to destroy the home she was once so eager to leave.

In order to save her people, Nor must learn to negotiate the treacherous protocols of a court where lies reign and obsession rules. But discovering her own formidable strength may be the one move that costs her everything: the crown, Varenia and Zadie. 

Crown of Coral and Pearl came onto my radar a few months ago when I saw the gorgeous cover and read a synopsis that promised an incredibly unique fantasy novel. I love the idea of a village in the ocean and forbidden romance is my favorite trope! This book had so much potential to be amazing, but sadly turned out to be one of the most generic fantasy books I've read in awhile.

Nor and Zadie are twins in Varenia, a village on the ocean that values beauty above all else. Nor was unfortunate enough to have a run in with some coral that resulted in a scar as a child, making her less desirable than her sister. Zadie is ultimately chosen to be sent to Ilara to marry the prince, but doesn't want to go, while Nor desperately wants to see more of the world. When Zadie is injured, Nor gets her chance.

All of that - that one paragraph - took over 30% of the book to get through. Almost 150 pages in and Nor is only just getting ready to leave for Ilara. When I read the synopsis I expected that actually getting Nor to Ilara would be a very small part of the story, especially since it's all laid out in the synopsis, but it dragged on. The writing (especially the dialogue) also left a lot to be desired.

The slow pace would have been fine if I was able to connect with any of the characters, but I just didn't care about any of them. There's a romance plot not mentioned in the synopsis that I just couldn't care less about and the instalove between Nor and Talin was already apparent when she was getting the warm fuzzies after literally seeing him once for a few minutes.

Varenia was really the one saving grace, but I really would have loved if it had been developed a bit more. It took me several chapters to realize it was apparently a city built on stilts. That is an amazing idea and I would have loved to see more done with it!

I wanted to love this book so much! There was so much potential here, I just wish it had been executed better. I went back and forth over whether to finish this, but after seeing that many people thought the first third was the best part, I knew this just wasn't the book for me.


Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Special editions are out of control: Caraval & The Cruel Prince


In 2017, way back when only Caraval was out in the wild, I made a post discussing how out of control it seemed special editions were. Oh, what a sweet summer child I was. At the time of that original post there were only 12 editions of Caraval but I'm back with an update! Buckle up, collectors!

I'm here again to talk about the ridiculous number of special editions on the market for books that have been out for a very, very short time. Today I'm focusing specifically on two of the series that seem particularly out of control at the moment: Caraval and The Folk of the Air. Correct me if my math is wrong. Numbers are hard. (Again, I'll be sticking to US and UK editions for the sake of time.)


THE CARAVAL SERIES
Caraval: 13, Legendary: 11, Finale: 11

This time around all three books in the series have been published and they are all fantastic! While Finale was the weakest of the three in my opinion, I still collected each one in both the standard US and UK editions. I also ended up with some extras of Finale since the publisher and book boxes all decided to go off the deep end with that one. I did not collect the UK paperbacks, but they're out there too. 


It isn't unusual to have separate hardcover and paperback releases, nor is it unusual to have different covers in different countries. There were also B&N editions of Legendary and Finale. So far, so good. 

But. UK editions of the Caraval editions are more than they appear. 


Each UK edition is actually FOUR editions - each one has four hidden covers. In fact, there were five editions of Caraval: four "standard" hidden covers and one Tesco exclusive.

But wait, there's more! All three books had Goldsboro releases, which were signed, numbered, and had sprayed pages. In addition, there was a misprint Goldsboro release of Caraval that is also a collector's item. You might think that's enough, but no!


There are even more exclusive editions! Caraval received multiple special edition paperbacks in the UK while Legendary received a Waterstones exclusive paperback edition. Finale was the real icing on the cake, though. On top of the US and UK editions, Goldsboro edition, and B&N edition of Finale, Fairyloot and Owlcrate both had their own exclusive editions.

BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!


As if all of that wasn't enough, there has recently been an announcement of a new deluxe edition set by Fairyloot! For whatever reason, there will be three new books with three new covers. I am honestly baffled at this new set, but I digress.


THE FOLK OF THE AIR TRILOGY
The Cruel Prince: 6, The Wicked King/The Queen of Nothing: 5 

I hadn't actually started reading The Cruel Prince when I made my first post, but now I'm sucked into that series, so it has found a place today. When the first book was published, Owlcrate immediately jumped on board and created different covers, so they're going to be included with the standard editions here. 


For whatever reason, the UK cover of The Cruel Prince had a very slightly different cover than the US version, but that hasn't happened in the other two releases. Each one had a B&N exclusive cover and each has an Owlcrate cover as well. 

For the release of The Queen of Nothing Fairyloot has thrown its hat in the ring with a new edition. This will include an exclusive cover and sprayed edges. Of course, you know they'll be selling matching editions of the first two later on!


Then, for REASONS, Illumicrate is also releasing their own special edition of The Cruel Prince! This one will have an exclusive cover and special dust jackets. Obviously there will also be editions of the other two to match on sale next year. Literally who asked for all of these?? This series has been out for LESS THAN TWO YEARS!



I just. Why? I have seen other bloggers complain about the entitlement of the people who do set out to own each and every edition and that is NOT what I'm here to do. If this is your passion and you can afford it, by all means!

I am a book collector and I am obsessive when it comes to my favorite series. While I do not have any intention of collecting EVERY edition of Caraval, I actually do have six copies of it including advance copies. But what I don't understand is why there are so many special/exclusive/collector's/deluxe editions of books that have been in the world for under three years!

I'm not sure exactly why, but it makes me uncomfortable to see publishers engaged in what seems to be a blatant money grab by allowing so many exclusives to be published at once. And honestly, how special are they really when there are just SO many? 


HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT ALL OF THESE BEING PUBLISHED?
DO YOU COLLECT MULTIPLE EDITIONS OF YOUR FAVES?
LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS!

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday #252: All the tropes


Today's Topic: 
Tropes I Love and... Not

Happy Tuesday! This week it’s all about tropes and I definitely had to think a little for this one. The topic was supposed to be tropes we love but I branched out to include some that I am not the biggest fan of also. Let’s see how unpopular some of them are. 😅


LOVE 

Love Triangles (when done right)
Enemies to Lovers
Strong Female Friend Groups
Secret/Unknown Royalty
Villain Gets the Girl (sue me)


NOT SO MUCH

Insta-Love
Outlawed Magic (SO overdone)
Not Like other Girls™
Conveniently Missing Adults
Group of Misfits Save the World*

*One exception to this is There Will Come a Darkness, which I LOVED.


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

Monday, August 19, 2019

ARC Review: There Will Come a Darkness by Katy Rose Pool

Title: There Will Come a Darkness (Age of Darkness #1)
Author: Katy Rose Pool
Publication Date: September 3, 2019
Publisher: Henry Holt Books for Young Readers
Pages: 496
Add to Goodreads


//I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review//
The Age of Darkness approaches.
Five lives stand in its way.
Who will stop it... or unleash it?

For generations, the Seven Prophets guided humanity. Using their visions of the future, they ended wars and united nations―until the day, one hundred years ago, when the Prophets disappeared.

All they left behind was one final, secret prophecy, foretelling an Age of Darkness and the birth of a new Prophet who could be the world’s salvation . . . or the cause of its destruction. As chaos takes hold, five souls are set on a collision course:

A prince exiled from his kingdom.
A ruthless killer known as the Pale Hand.
A once-faithful leader torn between his duty and his heart.
A reckless gambler with the power to find anything or anyone.
And a dying girl on the verge of giving up.

One of them―or all of them―could break the world. Will they be savior or destroyer? 

What. A. Ride. I requested a copy of There Will Come a Darkness without knowing much about it, but I had a gut feeling that I was going to love it. It actually took me a couple tries to get into this book, but once I did, I was all in!

There Will Come a Darkness is told from five points of view. Hassan is a prince living in another city after his is taken hostage. Ephyra is the Pale Hand, a healer who has the power to take lives. Beru is Ephyra's sister, sick and in constant need of healing. Anton has the gift of sight and is on the run from his past. Jude is the leader of a faithful army that hasn't been seen in a hundred years. They're all affected in some way by the Witnesses, a radicalized group looking to wipe the Graced off the planet.

I'm usually not one for multiple POV stories, but this one was a perfect balance. I'm not quite sure how Katy Rose Pool won me over, honestly, but she made me care deeply about each of these characters and their stories. I loved that this wasn't one of those books where every single thread comes together into a perfect little bow. Each character wasn't important to the story, but as individuals also. I did really enjoy that no romantic plot overshadowed the story, although there was a little romance sprinkled throughout.

In addition to five incredible characters, the world is also wonderfully crafted. There are several distinct cultures and each one is clearly defined. There seem to be inspirations from multiple real cultures although I can't put my finger on them and I don't want to try in case I end up saying something dumb. The mythology of the Prophets was really interesting and the magical system of the Graced was definitely unique.

As I mentioned, this book took a little bit to get up to speed, but once it did I was fully invested. The story isn't non-stop action, but switching between POVs made it feel like there was always something important happening and I never felt bored. The ending was certainly a bit of cliffhanger, but it was wrapped up nicely enough that it didn't absolutely kill me.

If you are a fan of interesting magical systems, well built worlds, and dark fantasy, you're definitely going to want to pick this up! I'm not sure how I'm going to wait a whole year because I'm already dying to see what happens in book two!


Sunday, August 18, 2019

Weekly Recap: 8/11 - 8/17



HAPPENINGS OFF THE BLOG

Hi everyone! This week has continued my reading slump. I've picked up and put down three books before finally settling on A Heart So Fierce and Broken, which I think has done the trick! I hope. This week's haul are both older books, one given to me by a friend and another picked up at a used bookstore. Hopefully I can make time to read them both soon!

In other bookish news, I shared the rules and sign up sheet for the Indie Love Read-a-Thon, which is coming up at the beginning of September! If you're a fan of indie books or would like to read more of them, please sign up! I promise there will be tons of awesome prizes!

Last week I mentioned that my doctor had ordered a bunch of tests because of back pain and, apparently, weakness in one arm that she was able to detect but that I don't notice. The good news is almost every test came back normal. The bad news is one test called an ANA test came back positive for antibodies. The other good news is they already tested me for two major autoimmune diseases and those came back negative. One test could also mean absolutely nothing, but now I have to go to a specialist to determine if there's actually anything going on. It's a lot to process, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it's nothing to be concerned about. Please send happy thoughts my way!


NEW BOOKS THIS WEEK

 


THIS WEEK I READ



IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Monday ARC review of Wild Savage Stars
The topic was characters I want to be friends with for Top Ten Tuesday
On Friday I went back down the TBR hole
On Saturday I shared the sign up for the Indie Love Read-a-Thon


UPCOMING REVIEWS



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