Monday, March 30, 2020

2020 O.W.L.s TBR

Hi, bookworms! This has been a... rough few weeks. As someone who struggles with an anxiety disorder, I've been having a difficult time trying to find things to keep my mind occupied while also not being able to focus on anything. I've seen this read-a-thon around before but never wanted to participate. Now it feels like just the thing I need to get excited about!

For those that don't know much about this challenge, you can find all the information on the website here. I love that you can choose what magical career you want to have! Once you choose your career, you'll see which O.W.L.s you have to pass. Then you can find the reading prompts related to those O.W.L.s.

For the challenge I chose Librarian, which is apparently very dangerous and mysterious. I'll also be attending Animagus Training, which comes with its own set of O.W.L.s. Here is my work load and (very tentative) TBR:


Ancient Runes (Heart on the cover or in the title)

Arithmancy (Read something outside your favorite genre)
The Fountains of Silence
This Monstrous Thing

Defense Against the Dark Arts (Book set at the sea/coast)
The Deep
The Beholder

History of Magic (Book featuring witches/wizards)
Howls' Moving Castle
The Near Witch

Transfiguration (Book/series that includes shapeshifting)
Wicked Fox
A Court of Wings and Ruin


Arithmancy (Read something outside your favorite genre)

Potions (Under 150 pages)

Transfiguration (Book/series that includes shapeshifting)
Crescent City

Have you read any of these?
Are you taking the O.W.L.s this year?
Let me know in the comments!

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Weekly Recap: 3/22 - 3/28


Hi everyone! Well, things have changed a lot since my last recap, haven't they? For starters, I've barely been around the blog. Things have been overwhelming so I've just been trying to focus on keeping myself cool, calm, and collected. First things first, Kovu went to see his specialist this week and was promptly hospitalized again. Not at all what we were expecting, but after many tests we did finally get a diagnosis of a liver shunt. It sounds scary, but it can be fixed with surgery! He meets his surgeon this week and then hopefully a week after that he'll have his surgery. You guys please keep your fingers crossed for him!

In other news, this quarantine is something else. I've been playing Animal Crossing like everyone else, although I seem to be quite far behind. Even with tons of time, I can't force myself to do one thing for hours on end so I guess I'll catch up one day! I've been rereading the ACOTAR series because for whatever reason it's comforting, so why not? I also stocked up on tons of new paint colors for painted edges! My library is going to be a mess. What's everyone else doing to occupy their time?





On Monday I talked about coping with current events


We'll see what happens!

I'm linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Monday, March 23, 2020

All this free time and nothing to do

Hi, everyone! I've almost started this post more than once over the last few days but I'm never quite sure where to go. As we're all very aware, the world is a bit nuts at the moment. I'm staying home except for to take my dog to his appointments, which he can't miss - we're trying to find out why he's always so ill. I've spent the last several days playing video games (Animal Crossing, anyone?), watching Netflix (sort of), finding things to clean, and not quite reading.

Something interesting that I've found about this new situation we've found ourselves in is that I've had a very hard time finding ways to fill my time. Although I'm already used to being home quite a bit, since I run a home business, there's something very different about not being able to run errands, go to appointments, or the movies. So even though I have almost unlimited free time to fill, I can't seem to sit down and focus on any one thing. If my body isn't moving, I can't seem to concentrate. Oddly, that extends to my video game body - I can focus on games.

I thought that with so much free time I'd be able to read to my heart's content, blog until my fingers fell off, and watch every movie on my watch list! Alas, the opposite seems to be true. I've been re-reading ACOTAR for a solid week because I couldn't focus on anything new, I've done one blog post a week, and I've watched one and a half movies. I can't do anything without feeling like I need to look at my phone or my mind wandering.

Is anyone else feeling this way? I think a big piece of it is just the uncertainty of everything going on and not knowing how it will play out.

One thing I feel might help is to make a schedule, although I'm not sure I'll be able to stick to it. I've also been searching for things I can do to stay social. My friend and I watched a movie and messaged throughout it, I visited another friend's island in Animal Crossing, and I'm on the hunt for buddy reads. I've also had to give myself permission to not worry about my blog. I'll come to it and post when I'm feeling up to it and focus on self care when I can't.

What things are you doing to stay sane during this crazy time? Tell me how you're staying social! How much reading have you gotten done? I would love to set up group movies or reads if anyone else is interested! Talk to me in the comments!

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday #276: Spring TBR

Today's Topic: 
Spring 2020 TBR

Happy Tuesday! This week is one of my favorite, easiest topics: a TBR list. I have to say, it took me a bit longer to find ten I was really excited for this time around. I'm not sure why, but spring feels a bit slower this year. Still, there are quite a few great books coming out and MORE THAN ONE is dystopia! 

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown
Agnes at the End of the World by Kelly McWilliams
The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant
The Dark Tide by Alicia Jasinska

The Empire of Gold by S.A. Chakraborty
The Girl and the Stars by Mark Lawrence
My Calamity Jane by the Lady Janies
The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones
Seven Endless Forests by April Genevieve Tucholke

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

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday #275: Favorite authors on social media

Today's Topic: 
My Favorite Authors To
Stalk On Twitter

Happy Tuesday! I am so excited about this week's topic because over the years I have become officially obsessed with Twitter and my favorite thing is following authors who are genuinely great people. These are ten of my favorite accounts to follow in no particular order! Some standouts are Rosamund Hodge, who not only wrote some of my favorite books, but also convinced me to watch I Am Dragon, and Kiersten White, whose daily adventures are endlessly entertaining!

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

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Weekly Recap: 3/1 - 3/7


Hi everyone! I HAVE GOOD NEWS! Well, good(ish)? Kovu seems to be very much on the mend. He went to see his regular vet on Thursday for follow up blood work and x-rays. The x-rays showed a lot of improvement in his lungs and the blood work showed that, while his white blood cell count is still high, it is definitely responding to treatment. He is still anemic, which we'll have to recheck. For now he has two more weeks of antibiotics and he's been eating and playing and yay!! I'm so relieved and sincerely hoping nothing else goes wrong.

Not much else has happened in our boring lives this week. We've been avoiding Disney World despite wanting to go because, you know, big crowds and scary virus. I've been mostly avoiding candle making because of my dog's pneumonia but I have gotten a couple short runs in! My life. It's exciting. I did finally make a Pinterest account for my blog! I legitimately have no idea how to use it (I've only ever used Pinterest for recipes and home decor), but I've been reading articles and making a go of it! 





On Monday I shared my online used bookstore experience
The topic was single word titles for Top Ten Tuesday
Friday book review of Echo North
On Saturday I posted the first Retellings Challenge update


I'm linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Saturday, March 7, 2020

2020 Retellings Challenge First Quarter Update

Happy March, bookworms! Welcome to the first quarter update and link-up of the 2020 Retellings Reading Challenge! I hope you've all made some great 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:



This quarter I didn't get a ton of reading done, but I did find some incredible retellings! Blood Heir is a retelling of Anastasia and, while its first ARC did come with some controversy, I thought the end result was really good. Echo North, a retelling of East of the Sun and West of the Moon, was a magical, five star read for me (review here)! Lastly, Desperate Measures was totally outside my comfort zone! It was super sexy but the story was just okay for me. 


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 January, February, and March: 


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 January, we voted to read Once & Future to fill the Author Duo space. Children of Blood and Bone was our February read and filled the African Mythology Retelling space. This month we're reading A Study in Charlotte to fill the Sherlock Holmes Retelling space. April nominations will begin soon!


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, March 6, 2020

Book Review: Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer

Title: Echo North
Author: Joanna Ruth Meyer
Publication Date: January 15, 2019
Publisher: Page Street Publishing Co.
Pages: 389

Add to Goodreads

Echo Alkaev’s safe and carefully structured world falls apart when her father leaves for the city and mysteriously disappears. Believing he is lost forever, Echo is shocked to find him half-frozen in the winter forest six months later, guarded by a strange talking wolf—the same creature who attacked her as a child. The wolf presents Echo with an ultimatum: If she lives with him for one year, he will ensure her father makes it home safely. But there is more to the wolf than Echo realizes.

In his enchanted house beneath a mountain, each room must be sewn together to keep the home from unraveling, and something new and dark and strange lies behind every door. When centuries-old secrets unfold, Echo discovers a magical library full of books-turned-mirrors, and a young man named Hal who is trapped inside of them. As the year ticks by, the rooms begin to disappear, and Echo must solve the mystery of the wolf’s enchantment before her time is up, otherwise Echo, the wolf, and Hal will be lost forever.

 Echo North has been on my shelf for awhile but I was always a bit scared to read it because it sounded TOO good. I didn't want all my expectations to be crushed because this book sounded seriously up my alley. I finally decided to give it a try and I am happy to say it fully lived up to everything expectation I had!

My only familiarity with East of the Sun and West of the Moon before Echo North was my brief interaction with East, a book I did not have much luck with. Because of that, the beginning of this book felt somewhat familiar but I was very excited to see where this author would take the story and how she would bring her own magic to it.

As a child, Echo had a dangerous brush with a wolf who left her scarred. Because of her appearance, the entire town treats her badly. Echo's father sets off for the city, leaving her with a new, horrible stepmother who hates her more than anyone. When Echo decides to find him, she instead comes face to face with the wolf again and ends up joining him in his enchanted house, where she'll live with him for one full year.

Yes, there are rules, but while she's stuck in his ever-changing house, she also has access to a magical library full of storybook mirrors. In the mirrors she meets others who can also walk their pages and they help Echo in her quest to understand the wolf and his strange house.

I'm not sure what I can say about this book other than I loved it! I loved Echo, even though her curiosity frustrated me. I loved the wolf even though I hated how evasive he had to be and I loved Hal! The mirrors were so unique and magical and the house itself was essentially another character in itself. I loved the magic of Echo's world and was constantly hoping to learn more. I sincerely hope the author writes more stories set in this world!

This retelling has everything I look for: fantasy, romance, mystery, and magic. Even though I had a good idea of how it would end, I loved every minute of the journey and can definitely see Echo North being a book I read more than once. If you're a lover of retellings, please don't wait another day before you give this a read!

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday #274: Single word titles

Today's Topic: 
Five Star Books
With Single-Word Titles

Happy Tuesday! This week I chose my top ten five star reads with single word titles! Not surprisingly they're almost all fantasy and several are retellings! I almost feel like some of these are cheating since they're clearly two words combined into one, but I'm fine with that! XD  

Angelfall by Susan Ee
Caraval by Stephanie Garber
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Dry by Neal Shusterman & Jarrod Shusterman
Everless by Sara Holland

Heartless by Marissa Meyer
Nevermore by Kelly Creagh
Splintered by A.G. Howard
Stain by A.G. Howard
Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

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

Monday, March 2, 2020

I tried ordering from used bookstores. Here's how it went!

In the last few years I have made an attempt to buy books from places other than Amazon for obvious reasons. I've tried making more trips to local bookstores. Unfortunately, my local options are Books a Million and a used paperback store that only seems to sell books from the 90s. Of course, I've often bought from sellers on eBay and Amazon Marketplace, but I'd heard good things about World of Books and Thriftbooks and decided to give them a shot.

Title: The Gathering Dark
Store: World of Books USA
Condition: Very Good

As you can clearly see, this was NOT a book in Very Good condition. The spine was broken in too many places to count, there were dings in the very yellowed pages, and there were stamps and writing inside. Let's review the definition of "very good" according to World of Books: Minimal amount of creasing to the spine, Square binding, Minimal or no discoloration to pages. Hm. Not quite. When I emailed World of Books I was told that the condition was fine and refused a refund or replacement. Moving on.

Title: The Ritual
Store: World of Books USA
Condition: Very Good

This book was purchased in October of last year in time for Halloween. Again, this was listed in Very Good condition from World of Books. Again, it came with a badly broken spine and severely yellowed pages. Again, they told me the condition was as they'd described. You can scroll back up to reread their definition of very good.

Titles: Ombria In Shadow & The Forrest of Serre
Store: ThriftBooks
Condition: Very Good

Next up were two books from Patricia A. McKillip, purchased with nostalgia in mind. Both these books were listed in Very Good condition on the ThriftBooks website and honestly both were questionable. While both had dust jackets in good condition, one had very yellowed pages and the other had stains in the back and a sticker in the front. I'll probably keep the one with the yellowed pages, but the other may have to go. Literally what are the stains?? But I won't hold ThriftBooks to a definition that isn't their own, so let's check theirs out. According to ThriftBooks, a "very good book" is "a copy that has been read, but remains in excellent condition. Pages are intact and are not marred by notes or highlighting, but may contain a neat previous owner name. The spine remains undamaged." I mean, technically yes, these things are true. However, it's worth noting that the "good" condition apparently may have "From the library of" labels, so take that as you will.

Titles: The Tower at Stony Wood, This Monstrous Thing
Store: ThriftBooks
Condition: Like New

A final McKillip title and This Monstrous Thing are the final books on this list. Both were ordered in "Like New" condition. The Tower at Stony Wood was especially bad. The dust jacket was ripped in several places, the pages were yellowed, and there was MOLD on the inside front cover. Obviously that one had to go. Lastly, This Monstrous Thing was purchased like new also, but came with multiple library stickers (inside and out) as well as the dust jacket glued down inside. The pages were also quite yellow. Like New books are defined as "an apparently unread copy in perfect condition. Dust cover is intact; pages are clean and are not marred by notes or folds of any kind." Obviously, neither of these were. When I contacted ThriftBooks I was given a refund, but also told that they "do allow ex-library items to be graded as Like New if the book is otherwise in perfect condition except for the library markings, as that issue is detailed with the condition note." Feels questionable to me, but what do I know?

All in all, I'd say my experience buying from used bookshops online has not been great. I have one final "like new" book coming ThriftBooks and I'm sincerely hoping that one is okay because it was one I really was excited for. Despite the issues with non-independent stores, they remain the most consistent and easiest to buy from. In the future, I definitely won't be purchasing any used books without seeing photos of them ahead of time.

Do you buy used online?
What have your experiences been?
Let me know in the comments!

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Weekly Recap: 2/23 - 2/29


Hi everyone! Well, I'm here to report that this week was no less hectic than the last several. On Monday Kovu was acting weird (for him) and that night we ended up going to the ER. When I left at midnight they'd discovered an extremely high white blood cell count but didn't know where the infection was. The next morning they called with the news that he had aspiration pneumonia and would need to stay another night. Now he's back home and seems to be on the mend (KNOCK ON WOOD), but he goes to his normal vet tomorrow for more testing to make sure.

So, could I please just get a break? I am exhausted. I feel like I've been such a drag on the community lately with all the constant issues I've had between my dog and myself. This year has just gotten off to a rough start. I'm really, really hoping I have a week soon with only great things to report!

In less depressing news, I've taken the plunge into grimdark fantasy and I think I love it?? I'm not sure what that says about me. I'm on to book two of Mark Lawrence's Broken Empire trilogy and I feel like I'm going to be obsessed. For now it looks like my YA reads will be audiobook only. 






Monday ARC review of The Shadows Between Us
On Thursday I went back down the TBR Hole
On Friday I talked about a book I'm skipping for Book Blogger Hop
I watched WAY too many movies for Saturday Screen Time


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