Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday: Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

A weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: Sky in the Deep
Published: April 24, 2018 by Wednesday Books (Macmillan)


Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient, rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago.

Faced with her brother's betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.

She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.

Why I'm Waiting:

This is one of, if not, my most anticipated debut of 2018. I mean it's been on my TBR for ages since I first learned about it from I think Mackenzi Lee last year at some point.  It is a total me book. High fantasy inspired by Vikings. I mean COME ON! I've been wanting a good Viking book for ages and I'm super excited for this one in the hopes that I finally found it.

I'm also super intrigued by this book because of the character. The main character is a tough female warrior and I am totally on board for that. I love strong female characters and I am so on board for that in this book. I haven't seen a ton of early reviews for this one but the reviews I have seen were mostly really positive and even the negative ones enjoyed the character.
I am definitely excited about this book. I was approved for an e-ARC on Netgalley so I am hoping to read it sooner rather than later. But I am a little nervous. I don't want hype or my expectations to get the best of me here. I am really looking forward to this one and I hope it lived up to my hype.

What about you? What are you waiting for this Wednesday? Are you waiting on Sky in the Deep along with me? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Relationships I Would Like to Check Back In On

A weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

If you are a regular reader here you know that I am not a big fan of romance and in most books I wish there was no romance at all. But every once in awhile there will be a relationship that I am super curious about that I will want to check back in about. Sometimes it's to verify that they're still together and sometimes it's to make sure they broke up.

1.) Lara Jean and Peter K in To All the Boys I've Loved Before series by Jenny Han
Spoilers for Always and Forever, Lara Jean: I am so curious what these two are up now. Did they make it work long distance and stay together while they are away at college? I sure hope so. If these crazy kids can't make it work, who can?

2.) Kaz and Inej in the Six of Crows series by Leigh Bardugo
This relationship was so painful in how long it took to develop. Never in my life have I been so excited about two characters holding hands. But I need to check in to make sure they did more. I need that! We all do.

3.) Ronan and Adam in The Raven Cycle by Maggie Steifvater
I think we will get just this in the new Ronan series Maggie is working on. Unless it's a prequel which I am also okay with. I just feel like this ship had such a slow payoff I want to make sure they are still together and still happy.

4.) Kel and Lila in the Shades of Magic series by V.E. Schwab
And yet another book with a long payoff. I guess I really like a slowburm. Anyway, I would like to check back in to see what these two are up to. Are they being pirates together? Traveling through dimensions? Just chilling in Red London? I'm hoping all of the above.

5.) Simon and Blue in Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Another good slowburn. I really love these two and I want to make sure they are still together. Young/first love is tricky that way. But I am very hopeful that we will get some updates in Leah on the Offbeat.

6.) Abigail and Charlie in the Jackaby series by William Ritter
I don't want to give too much away because that would spoil some of the best moments from The Dire King, which was great. But I will say, there are two very specific reasons why I want to check in on this ship. I'd love a spinoff series.

7.) Kestrel and Arin the Winner’s trilogy by Marie Rutkowski
This relationship is one I am kind of surprised I shipped but they had been through so much. But I want to make sure they are still together because, as I said, they have been through so much.

8.) Chubs and Vida in The Darkest Minds trilogy by Alexandra Bracken
Now don't get me wrong, I ship these two hardcore but a part of me thinks that they aren't really in it for the long haul. I want them to stay together but I feel like they are just too different and end up

9.) David and Megan in The Reckoners series by Brandon Sanderson
This is another one like the previous one. I love these two and I ship them real bad but I feel like they are just so different. A part of me thinks that over time they would definitely break up. Sorry, David.

10.) Sophronia and Soap in the Finishing School series by Gail Carriger
So here's the thing about these two, I wasn't sure I shipped it until something happened that I was really sad about. But this series has expanded and has spinoffs but there has not been any references to Sophronia and Soap and I wish there was.

Honorable mention from some I don't ship:

How to Hang a Witch by Adrianna Mather
Is this girl still making out with ghosts? I sure hope not. There was a perfectly good guy next door.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
I didn't finish this series but I heard Anna and Etienne got engaged and like, what?

There you have it. All the ships I wish I could check back in on. What ships do you want to follow up with? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Audiobook Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander (or J.K. Rowling)

Title: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Written by: Newt Scamander/J/K. Rowling
Published: Revised Edition March 11, 2017 by Pottermore

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: A brand new edition of this essential companion to the Harry Potter stories, with a new foreword from J.K. Rowling (writing as Newt Scamander), and 6 new beasts!

A set textbook at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry since publication, Newt Scamander’s masterpiece has entertained wizarding families through the generations. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is an indispensable introduction to the magical beasts of the wizarding world. Scamander’s years of travel and research have created a tome of unparalleled importance. Some of the beasts will be familiar to readers of the Harry Potter books – the Hippogriff, the Basilisk, the Hungarian Horntail...Others will surprise even the most ardent amateur Magizoologist. Dip in to discover the curious habits of magical beasts across five continents… .

This is going to be a short and sweet review because this was a short and sweet book. I have been wanting to read this for awhile but I had never picked up the book but then I snagged the audiobook and it was the perfect time to listen with my dragon themed month. So I listened to the audio on a few drives and I am glad I did.

The fun thing about this audiobook is that it is narrated by Eddie Redmayne who plays Newt Scamander in the Fantastic Beasts movies. It gave it a really fun feel to it. Eddie has a very distinct voice so it t really felt like Newt was the one narrating the book and therefore writing it. Narrator is so important when it comes to an audiobook so I really appreciated that got such a specific and good narrator for this one.

As far as the content, it was cool to learn more about the beasts and beings featured in Harry Potter. Unsurprisingly certain creatures had more information about them. For example there was a lot of dragons, phoenixes, hippogriffs, centaurs, and other ones that feature heavily in the actual series. But other creatures didn't have much information at all. I think the point is supposed to be that we don't know much about these kinds of creatures but as a reader I would have liked to learn more. I would have especially liked there to be more about the new creatures. You can tell the ones that were added as part of the movie tie in. I liked being able to learn about Thunderbirds and Horned-Serpents but they almost felt like an afterthoughts. I know I can't  expect massive amounts of information but I just wanted more.

But as a big fan of the Harry Potter series that was a great read and listen. It was nice to get some additional information and context that makes an already interesting and deep world seem even deeper. I think fans of the series who have not taken the time to read the book should definitely do that if for no other reason than to level up your fandom cred.

I give Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling 8.5 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. I definitely recommends this book to Harry Potter fans. And if you are fan of audiobooks and you are looking for one that is short and sweet for a trip I think this is worth it for that,

Have you read Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Friday, February 9, 2018

ARC Review: Reign the Earth by A.C. Gaughen

Title: Reign the Earth
Series: The Elementae #1
Written by: A.C. Gaughen
Published: January 30, 2018 by Bloomsbury

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Shalia is a proud daughter of the desert, but after years of devastating war with the adjoining kingdom, her people are desperate for peace. Willing to trade her freedom to ensure the safety of her family, Shalia becomes Queen of the Bonelands.

But she soon learns that her husband, Calix, is motivated only by his desire to exterminate the Elementae—mystical people who can control earth, wind, air, and fire. Even more unsettling are Shalia’s feelings for her husband’s brother, which unleash a power over the earth she never knew she possessed—a power that could get her killed. As rumors of a rebellion against Calix spread, Shalia must choose between the last chance for peace and her own future as an Elementae.

This intense, richly drawn high-fantasy by the author of Scarlet will hold readers spellbound.

*** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher at ALA in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. ***

I really enjoyed the Scarlet trilogy so I was incredibly excited that she was coming out with a new book, especially one that is a YA fantasy with a world based on elemental magic. And I was not at all disappointed by this book. It was a fantastic read with great characters and an amazing world.

I honestly think that my favorite thing about this book was the characters. A.C. Gaughen really knows how to develop complex and likable characters. This book proved that even more. Our main character Shalia was so easy to root for and want to succeed. For one thing I really loved how kind and caring Shalia was. She is the kind of person that you want in powers. She sticks up for those less fortunate and wants to do what's best for her people. She is also tough and resilient despite everything that she had been through, which was a lot. There was an incredibly vicious antagonist here who I absolutely despised. But that was just another example of how A.C. Gaughen does characterization so well. Seriously, the characters just jump off the page and made this book so enjoyable.

The real great thing about the characters and heart of this book was in its relationships, both positive and negative. As far as the good relationships go, so much of this book had to do with family and the power of family. I really loved the way that Shalia and her family interacted. You can tell they loved each other so much. In fact I think my favorite character may have been Shalia's brother Kairos. Kai was amazing and such a great brother. He was protective but supportive. Then you had Calix's family which was such an interesting dynamic. The way they interacted was so different. But his sister Danae was super interesting and so was his brother Galen. The two brothers couldn't be more different, most shown by the way they treated Shalia. Calix was abusive and aggressive. And when I say abusive, I mean it. They did not shy away from the physical and emotional abuse. But Galen, by contrast, was kind and gentle. I didn't really ship it but I can see people who are more into romance would. But either way, the best part of this book was definitely the characters and their relationships.

The other really fantastic thing about this book was the world. I used to not really love elemental magic because it always reminded me of Avatar: The Last Airbender. But maybe I stopped caring about that or maybe books have just been leaning into that comparison because these days I love when books remind me of that, and this book definitely did. The magical system was based on elemental magic and in the book we got to see people using the power of water, earth, and a little fire. I really appreciated this too because it was a magical system that had clear rules and even a history to it. We didn't learn too much about it but Gaughen did a good job of showing the reader the world and not telling them about it. I'm excited to learn more in later books.

As far as the plot I definitely did enjoy it, but I feel like this is a book that just didn't have much of a plot. I'd say that it is probably much more character-driven than plot driven. There was plenty of tension and the booked moved along in a consistent and interesting way but it was less about reaching for a specific goal and more about the characters and their decisions affecting what happened. I'm not usually a big fan of character-driven narratives but I really loved the characters here and so it made it all worthwhile.

I really loved this book. It had amazing characters with great relationships, an engaging world with a great magical system, and a character-driven plot that kept me interested from beginning to end. This is a great start to a series I am really excited to see develop.

I give Reign the Earth by A.C. Gaughen 9.5 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy! This is such a fantastic book. It's a great YA fantasy read that fans of the genre should definitely read. And if you loved the Scarlet series then definitely check out Gaughen's new series.

Have you read Reign the Earth? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Discussion Post: Finding Time to Read and Blog

I know what you're thinking, "oh wow, a discussion post. How long has it been?" And honestly, I don't even know. I was trying to do at least one a month but I failed miserably at that goal and then at some point I just kind of gave up. It may have been around the time I moved and started a new job. But honestly I'm not even sure. It could have been way before that.

But this topic has been bouncing around in my head for months now, since about the time I moved and started a new job in fact. So I am finally taking the time to write this post so I can get this out of my head. And also to share with you all to see if you have any thoughts or tips for me.

This will probably come as no surprise but all of my problems on this subject started when I moved and got a new job. Did you know that I moved and got a new job? Anyway, I had a good system going for reading and blogging before. To be honest, I did a lot of blogging at work and I can't really do that anymore. My job is a lot more computer work so I can't do my blogging. I also can't listen to audiobooks like I used to because I have to listen to podcasts at work. Weird problem, I know. Finally, I don't take the bus to work anymore so I don't have time to read while I'm on the way to and from work.

Basically what this means is that the only time I have to read and blog are the few hours in the evening after I get home from work and before I go to bed. That's not a lot of time considering that I also have to make and eat dinner, and do other stuff like shower and such. Plus I now have a roommate so I can't really hide in my room and read like I used to. And I do have time on weekends to read but for some reason I never end up reading as much as I did before.

All of this has significantly reduced the amount of books I read in a month and that has reduced the amount of blog posts I have in a month. I used to be able to post five days a week and these days I am lucky if I can post three times. And I used to easily finish 12-15 books in a month and now I'm lucky if I can finish 10. I know this doesn't sound that bad but everything is relative and this feels like failure to me. Anything less than what used to be normal feels like I'm not doing my best. In my head I know I should feel bad about this because it's pretty good, but I can't help it.

But I am still plugging away. I listen to audiobooks when I drive to work and when I do stuff around the house, I read a little bit in the morning before I leave for work, I read on lunch, I spend my weekends doing nothing but reading. But I still wish I could read more. I know I used to not read at the level I did when I left Pittsburgh, and I just need to develop a new system but it's hard to get there and I want to be there now! Maybe in a year. We'll see.

So my question is, how do you get reading and blogging done? When do you find the time to read and blog? Do you have any tips that can help me get more read in a month and get more blogged in a month. Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Classics That Have Been on My TBR the Longest

A weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

I used to read a ton of classics but in the past few years since I started blogging, I haven’t really read many. No shame, I just have wanted to read YA more since I learned about all the amazing YA out there. But this means I have a whole list of classics that I have wanted to read, some since high school, that I just haven’t read yet. Here is that list.

1.) Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
This book has been on my TBR for forever because it is one of my best friend’s favorite books. I even got a copy at Borders back when that was a thing and still never read it.

2.) Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol
I mentioned Gogol in my last list. In fact I mentioned Dead Souls. I wanted to read it because I was rewatching old episodes of Gilmore Girls Rory mentioned how 

3.) Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky 
I mean basically I went through a pretty intense Russian masters phase like 8 years ago. I really wanted to read their books but like these are dense tomes and at the time I got intimidated and now I’ve lost interest.

4.) The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
My junior year of high school I was aim all honors and AP classes except for one, AP English. Shocking, right? Well all my friends were in that class and they read a lot of books I didn’t read. This was one of them.

5.) As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
This is another book that they all read and I never did. I haven’t read any Faulkner and I’m not sure why. I’ve heard really good things. I even bought a copy at a thrift store with the intention of reading it and never did.

6.) The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
My senior year of high school, while all my friends were still in AP English and I wasn’t, we had to do a report on a famous American author. I had Steinbeck. I hadn’t read any of his books. Instead of reading this one I tried to read East or Eden, failed and then read Of Mice and Men.

7.) 1984 by George Orwell
I think this might have been the book that everyone and their mother read in high school and I didn’t. I don’t know why we didn’t read it. I don’t know if we read something else instead. Maybe we just skipped dystopia in general. I wouldn’t put it past my school.

8.) Catch-22 by Jospeh Conrad
This is another book that I have a copy of but never read. I think I got it from my grandparents when they were cleaning out their house to move. It’s a really cool copy too, it has dyed blue edges to match the cover.

9.) Moby Dick by Herman Melville
I think this is another book that I wanted to read because of Gilmore Girls. It was the book Rory was reading when she met Dean. Basically I want to read all the books that Rory was reading during momentous occasions in her life. Is that weird?

10.) The Color Purple by Alice Walker
I used to say “I love the color purple, the color not the book, but that’s good too.” But it was a lie because I never read the book. I assume I would like it but I honestly don’t know because I have never read it. Even though I also own a copy I bought at a thrift store.

There you have it, the list of classics that have been on my TBR for the longest and I haven’t read. Which of these books have you read? Any recommendations? Leave me a comment with your thought. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPG READING 

Monday, February 5, 2018

ARC Review: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

Title: The Hazel Wood
Written by: Melissa Albert
Published: January 30, 2018 by Flatiron (Macmillan)

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother's stories are set. Alice's only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother's tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

There was definitely a lot of hyper surrounding this book. I was totally looking forward to it as a dark fantasy inspired by fairy tales. It was one of my most anticipated debuts. And while it was a creative and engaging read, I didn’t love it as much as I was hoping I would.

One thing that I did love about this book was the world. I’m a huge fan of YA fantasies and the darker the better, so I was really excited to explore this world inspired by dark fairy tales. And the author did a great job in incorporating the actually fairy tales into the story in a fun and engaging way. I love books that are inspired by fairy tales and especially ones who develop their own stories and that exactly what happened here. It gave it a modern fairy tale vibe which I appreciated. Plus the fairy tales were incredibly dark and vicious which I loved. They felt like the original Grimm's Brothers stories in that way.

In addition to that, the writing too was very lyrical and engaging. I think probably I liked the world the most because of the writing. The author made a point to develop a descriptive world and she did that with atmospheric writing and beautiful prose. It definitely pulled me into the story and helped give that sense of wonder and foreboding, especially when it came to the fairy tales. They were beautifully written and I kind of just want to read them.

But I will say, I liked the fairy tales way more than the actual plot of this book. The fairy tales were incorporated in an interesting way but the present day plot of the book was not very interesting. In fact it was kind of slow and totally predictable. I’m sure it was attempting to surprise us with twists and big reveals but every one of them I saw coming and because of that I just wasn’t very entertained by the plot. And while it did built to an exciting conclusion I felt like it was a bit muddled and rushed. It could have redeemed itself at the climax but unfortunately for me, it didn’t. This is one of those books where I solved the twists so early that I assumed there were more surprises, and because of that I read more into the book than there was. I’m such a plot driven reader so I just wish that there was a little more to he plot. My biggest frustration here was definitely with the plot.

The other thing I didn’t love was the characters. I think Alice was a fine MC, I did appreciate the fact that she wasn’t always very likable. She’s kind of a brat sometimes in the way she treats people. However, because of that I just couldn’t see why suddenly she would want to help them. The quest honestly just felt very out of character and because of that I kept her at arms length I think. But I also just hated the romance here. I’m hard to please when it comes to romance and for the longest time in this book I felt like this was just going to be a friendship thing, but then it suddenly turned to romance and lost me. There could have been some good stuff with the characters but it just didn’t get there for me.

All in all, I think this was a good debut with an engaging world and lyrical writing but a lackluster and confusing plot and characters I didn’t connect with kept me from fully loving it.

I give The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert 8 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Borrow. I think fans of fairy tales and YA fantasies with a word within a world element should check it out but I think it just didn’t quite live up to the hype for me.

Have you read The Hazel Wood? What are your thoughts? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!