Wednesday, August 27, 2014

And...Discuss! Adding to Mount TBR.


Whoa, I just looked back into my records and realized that I haven't done one of these posts since December of last year! It's been a tough year for the blog. I went from working at a job where I had tons of free time, to one where I'm busy pretty much constantly. It's also been a year of flux and, well, unfortunately my blog has to take a back seat when real life gets crazy :). That's life.

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On to the discussion!

This time the topic is...
ADDING TO MOUNT TBR!

All around the internet, from Twitter to BookLikes, I've seen people discussing their TBR piles :). It's always a discussion this time of year. When we're getting down to the last few months, and your reading challenges are just that much shy of being on track. So let's chat!

How do you manage your TBR? Do you add books as you find ones you want to read? Do you have specific shelving organization to keep track of them? Or are you one of the lucky few who has no TBR?

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I happen to be one of those people who just adds books to my TBR without a care in the world. I know I should keep track of them somehow, maybe shelve them by topic or something, but I'm always afraid that I'll forget about the book before I remember to add it. The silly part about that? Once it's on my massive TBR it's lost anyway! Until I go searching for it later on. Ha! My goal for 2015 is to put a little more organization the crazy mess that is my to-read pile. If for no other reason then to find some hidden gems I might have missed. I've been so focused on ARCs this year, I think I missed out on some great books in the process. 


Monday, August 25, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (8/25/14)


http://bookjourney.wordpress.com/2013/12/15/its-monday-what-are-you-reading-214/
Click above to join in the fun!

Another Monday, another set of books to devour! I didn't blog at all last week, as you may have noticed. We're downsizing at the end of this week at work, and these last few days have felt like they fly by. So much work, so many loose ends to tie up. It's pretty insane. So I'm taking a break to do what I love. I missed you guys.


  
Last week was Bout of Books and, although I was laid up in bed with a cold most of the weekend, I did get 4 books read! The Morning Dew by Edward Lorn is a short story that will give the shivers. I loved it. Paper Towns I listened to on audio, and fell in love with. Blackfin Sky had a ton of promise, but didn't quite follow through with what I was hoping for. The atmosphere was great though! Call Me Grim was just okay. I loved the premise, but the execution left me wanting.
 

I desperately wanted to finish Heir of Fire this weekend, but I spent most of that time sleeping because I wasn't feeling well. So far, this book is rather amazing! I'm hoping the ending follows suit. I'm also listening to Outlander on audio, and loving it so far! Claire definitely has some fire. I know this book will take some time to listen to, but I like the narrator enough that I don't mind.

 
I've been reading a lot of YA lately, and have had a craving for some Middle Grade fiction. I saw Esther Ehrlich's Nest on NetGalley and promptly snatched it up. A book about quiet summers, friendship, and so much more. I can't wait to dive in.
 
That's it for me! What are YOU reading this week? Don't forget to leave a link so I can go and visit you too!


Sunday, August 17, 2014

ARC Review: Julia's House for Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke



Media Type: Ebook (ARC)
Title: Julia's House for Lost Creatures
Author: Ben Hatke
Publisher: First Second
Pages: Hardcover; 40 pages
Recommended Grade Level: Kindergarten - 3rd
Release Date: September 2, 2014
When Julia and her walking house come to town, she likes everything about her new neighborhood except how quiet it is! So Julia puts a sign up: “Julia’s House for Lost Creatures.” Soon she’s hosting goblins, mermaids, fairies, and even a dragon. Quiet isn’t a problem anymore for Julia…but getting her housemates to behave themselves is!

The first ever picture book by Zita the Spacegirl author/illustrator Ben Hatke is painted in his charming, detailed, immersive watercolors.

Delightful. That's exactly the word for Julia's House for Lost Creatures. Completely, and utterly, delightful. From the first time the reader lays on eyes on Julia's special home, it's all over. Perched on the back of a turtle, her home is the epitome of cozy and warm. The only thing missing? Friends. A house can feel much too large when you don't have friends to share it with.

What follows is an adorable story about working together, and solving problems. It's filled with trolls, patched-up kittens, and all manner of charming little creatures. With funny situations, and ample amounts of fun sounds to read out loud with little ones. This is the type of story that can be read over and over, without losing its magic. 

There's something about a well done picture book that transcends all ages. Whether you're 6, or 60, Julia's House for Lost Creatures is guaranteed to make you smile. If the cover itself doesn't already enchant you, it's certain that the pages inside this gorgeously illustrated children's book will. Julia's home, the unlikely inhabitants, and everything they get up to makes for a story that is too fun to ignore. Have a budding reader in your life? They need this book. Plain and simple.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

ARC Review: The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm


Media Type: Ebook (ARC)
Title: The Fourteenth Goldfish
Author: Jennifer L. Holm
Publisher: Random House BYR
Pages: Hardcover; 208
Release Date: August 26, 2014
Source: NetGalley / Publisher
---------------------------------------------
Content Screening: Nothing of note

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Young readers who love quirky characters and aren't afraid to dream big!

Add it on: Goodreads / Amazon / BookLikes
Galileo. Newton. Salk. Oppenheimer.
Science can change the world . . . but can it go too far?

Eleven-year-old Ellie has never liked change. She misses fifth grade. She misses her old best friend. She even misses her dearly departed goldfish. Then one day a strange boy shows up. He’s bossy. He’s cranky. And weirdly enough . . . he looks a lot like Ellie’s grandfather, a scientist who’s always been slightly obsessed with immortality. Could this pimply boy really be Grandpa Melvin? Has he finally found the secret to eternal youth?

With a lighthearted touch and plenty of humor, Jennifer Holm celebrates the wonder of science and explores fascinating questions about life and death, family and friendship, immortality . . . and possibility.

I absolutely love when Middle Grade stories aren't afraid to take on the big subjects. When they don't conform to gender norms and popular ideas. I love books that are willing to carve their own little niche into the reading world, and The Fourteenth Goldfish is definitely one of those. I wish this book would have been around when I was a young reader. Thank you, Jennifer L. Holm, for recognizing that not every little girl wants to be a princess. That sometimes, just maybe, they just need someone to show them that it's okay to dream big.

Can I please gush about the fact that Ellie, our protagonist, has parents who are divorced and are still friends? That her parents can be apart, and still love her. That her mom's new boyfriend can be in the picture, but her father can be too. I so loved this. Add in the fact that Ellie's mom was such a big part of her life, and so vibrant, and I'm sold. Wearing what she wanted, urging her daughter to be a free spirit, Ellie's mother was all about breaking the mold and I ate it up. Maybe it's not true for everyone's family but, as a girl who grew up in a home like this one, I loved it. Did I mention that I really wish this book was around when I was younger?

I also fully enjoyed the simple fact that Ellie's story had nothing to do with crushes or petty fights. It does deal with friendship. With growing apart, and learning to make new friends. Never does it even hint at worrying about boys though. No, Ellie is much bigger than that. The Fourteenth Goldfish urges its readers to think about endings, and beginnings. To look at possibilities. It's a beautiful thing.

So why the three star rating, you ask? I know, I'm gushing like crazy. To be honest, the premise of this book was utterly fabulous but it just didn't have that spark for me. While I loved Ellie and her family, the story focuses a lot on her Grandfather who, while he's a fun character, didn't feel whole. I imagine that if an elderly man suddenly became a teenager? There'd be a few more questions asked. If nothing else, I definitely wanted to see more from his point of view. I loved Ellie, I did. However this story would benefit a lot from her newly young Grandfather's point of view. After all, who better to share a new beginning than a man who has suddenly reset the clock?

The writing never pulled me in either. It's very simplistic, which is fine for the reading group it's aimed at, but I was hoping for more since it deals with so many out of the box ideas. I was smitten with Ellie's deep thinking. With her musings on morality and legacies. It was great! I would have just been so much more involved if the chapters sucked me further into their depths. So, while this wasn't my favorite read of the year, I definitely see a lot to love in The Fourteenth Goldfish. I truly believe this is a book that needs to make its way onto many a bookshelf out there. Especially those of the young girls out there who are waiting, and dreaming big.




FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Monday, August 11, 2014

BookLikes - Still Loving It!


Last year, around this same time, I stumbled upon BookLikes as a new reader's platform. I was enamored with the fact that it meshed together two of my favorite things: organization and interaction. You can read my original blog post to see my initial reactions, but I thought I'd check back in with you all and let you know how things are going. It's been a year, and I'm still in love with this site.


I do have a blog over there, along with my organized shelves. In fact, one of the reasons that I don't blog over here as often is because of how easy BookLikes actually makes it to post reviews over there! Once a book is added to your shelf, you just add your review when you're done. It's made it easy for me to keep up with my read-to-review books. Over the last year I've been able to review nearly every book I've put my hands on. 

It's also super easy to link to articles, post pictures or videos you find around the web, or share quotes from the book you're currently reading. As you can see in my screenshot above, I was sharing some thoughts from a book that I'm 75% through :). Sharing stream of consciousness while reading is so fun! That's the reason why I loved Tumblr so much, and now I can do the same thing in a book-themed group.


The shelves are great too. You can organize them however you want, and it even lets you keep track of multiple re-reads! For a girl like me, who loves reading books over and over? This is a total win in my book.

What really sold me on BookLikes though, and continues to sell me, is that they actually listen. Each week they come out with something new for the site, and it's generally something to do with things that the community has been asking for. We asked for a database that didn't link to Amazon, they gave it to us. We asked for a way to find other readers, they obliged. When a new feature of a hover pop-up didn't jive with the users, they worked to disable it so people would be happy. Awesome!

So whether you're looking to escape from Goodreads, or you simply want to add to your bookish sites, I highly suggest you give BookLikes a shot! I've found a large, vibrant community of readers who love to share with one another! It's been a blast, and I'm looking forward to seeing what comes next.




Friday, August 8, 2014

ARC Review: The Sleeping Dead by Richard Farren Barber


Media Type: Ebook (ARC)
Title: The Sleeping Dead
Author: Richard Farren Barber
Publisher: DarkFuse
Pages: Ebook; 214
Release Date: August 12, 2014
Source: NetGalley / Publisher
---------------------------------------------
Genre: Horror

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who don't mind slow moving stories with lots of atmosphere.

Add it on: Goodreads / Amazon / BookLikes
Don't listen...

When Jackson Smith attends an interview to escape his dead-end job, he witnesses a man jumping to his death through an office window. But this suicide is only the first of many he encounters. All around him, men and women begin taking their own lives. These seemingly random events make little sense to Jackson until he hears voices urging him to join the others.

Don't look...

As Jackson fights the desire to self-destruct, he flees through a mad city where the river and streets pile high with bodies of the sleeping dead, those who have simply surrendered to the strange voices.

Don't hope...

Jackson's only chance is to find an escape to this madness before giving in to the strange voices in his head.

So, since I didn't read the synopsis before I requested this book, I wrongly assumed it was a zombie novella. Am I the only one that thinks that's what the cover conveys? That's on me, of course, but I went into The Sleeping Dead expecting something much different than what I was offered. This ended up being good in some ways, but bad in others. I'll explain below.

On the one hand, the actual premise of the book caught my attention once I figured out what was going on. It'd be fair to say that it's a plague of sorts. Out of the blue, a rash of suicides sweeps across our main character's city. Watching Jefferson battle the uncontrollable urge to end his life was sad and terrifying. The voices in his head were well done, even chilling at times. I'll admit it's a bit macabre, but I simply wanted to know if he lived through to the end.

The writing didn't sweep me up, but it was solid enough. The setting was simple, but effective to the overall story. Imagine a whole city that is completely silent. Empty of the normal, everyday sounds we come to accept as part of our lives. It was eerie, and helped a lot with the whole atmosphere of this read. Kudos to Barber for that, really. I felt the unease in my core.

My problem was that, since I was expecting a much quicker moving story, I wasn't ever fully committed to the premise of The Sleeping Dead. I was frustrated that nothing overly exciting happened to our main character. I was also equally frustrated that there was no concrete explanation of what was going on. For a novella, I'll give it a slight pass. I know there's not a ton of pages to fit everything into. Still, I felt like the ending wasn't all that satisfying. So, three stars go to The Sleeping Dead.



FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Book Review: The Young World by Chris Weitz


Media Type: Ebook (ARC)
Title: The Young World
   *Series: The Young World Trilogy #1
Author: Chris Weitz
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: Hardcover; 384
Release Date: July 29, 2014
Source: NetGalley / Publisher
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Content Screening: Violence, Adult Language

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy dystopian fiction featuring teen protagonists.

Add it on: Goodreads / Amazon / BookLikes
After a mysterious Sickness wipes out the rest of the population, the young survivors assemble into tightly run tribes. Jefferson, the reluctant leader of the Washington Square tribe, and Donna, the girl he's secretly in love with, have carved out a precarious existence among the chaos. But when another tribe member discovers a clue that may hold the cure to the Sickness, five teens set out on a life-altering road trip to save humankind.

The tribe exchanges gunfire with enemy gangs, escapes cults and militias, braves the wilds of the subway and Central Park...and discovers truths they could never have imagined.
I'll admit it, I requested this book simply because it was all about teens ruling a dystopian world. Sure, I've read stories similar to The Young World before. It still never stops me from wanting to read the next one. I love seeing how each new author tackles the important points of a society like this. How the authors perceive young people, and how they would behave if a catastrophic event like this actually happened. I was eager to see what Weitz would do, and I had high hopes for this book.

First off, kudos go to Chris Weitz for explaining how the Sickness came about. Is it something that is likely to happen in real life? Probably not. Am I happy that I wasn't left wondering how on Earth only teens were left in the world? Yes, absolutely. If, as an author, you take the time to share with me where your whole story stems from, I'm happy to follow along. I'll suspend disbelief to enjoy the tale that you've woven. Just give me something to latch onto. Weitz did just that, and it made me one very happy reader.

I was also fairly enamored with the society aspect in this story. The stark contrast between the small community that Jefferson and his brother set up, and the other bands of kids around them, was interesting. I liked that, depending on who was in charge, each group of teens had their own laws, their own caste systems, essentially whatever it was that tenuously held them together. It made for a read that raised a lot of questions, and I appreciated it.

What I didn't like so much, as reflected by my rating, was the way that the narrative was done. Jefferson and Donna were our two main characters, and they couldn't be more different if they tried. Jefferson was quiet, intelligent, and mostly peaceful. Donna was rowdy, opinionated, and honestly kind of annoying at times. I didn't mind that story skipped back and forth between these two. I only wished that they didn't have such different ways of relaying their pieces of the story. It was disorienting, and frustrating.

In fact, I wasn't a fan of most of the characters. They felt like cut-outs. Like people who were included in order to make sure the group was rounded out. You have your brainy/jack of all trades guy, your unassuming girl who is actually a ninja, the flamboyant guy for comedy relief, and then Jefferson and Donna to round it all out. I didn't dislike these characters. I just never connected with them. So three stars to The Young World for great world-building and for actually letting me in on the secret of the Sickness! I see a lot of people definitely enjoying this book. I say, give it a shot.



FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (8/6/14)



"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted here, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. It's hosted by Breaking the Spine.

Can we please just take a minute to sigh over this cover? *pauses for effect* I have a huge case of cover love for Winterkill, but the synopsis sealed this for me as a TBR pile addition. It sounds like a book that's right up my alley, and I can't wait to devour it! Winterkill releases September 9, 2014.

Emmeline knows the woods outside her settlement are forbidden. The mysterious enemy that wiped out half her people lurks there, keeping them isolated in an unfamiliar land with merciless winters.

Living with the shame of her grandmother's insubordination, Emmeline has learned to keep her head down and her quick tongue silent. When the settlement leader asks for her hand in marriage, it's a rare opportunity to wash the family stain clean--even if she has eyes for another. But before she is forced into an impossible decision, her dreams urge her out to the woods, where she finds a path she can't help but follow. The trail leads to a secret that someone in the settlement will kill to protect. Her grandmother went down that path and paid the price.

If Emmeline isn't careful, she will be next.

Now that you know what I'm excited for, share out! What are you eagerly waiting for?


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Book Review: One Night Of Sin (After Hours Novella) by Elle Kennedy


Media Type: Ebook (ARC)
Title: One Night of Sin
Author: Elle Kennedy
Publisher: Entangled: Brazen
Pages: Ebook; 128
Release Date: August 4, 2014
Source: Publisher
-----------------------------------------
Genre: Romance / Erotica

HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy hot, spicy romance with plenty of between-the-sheets time.

Add it on: Goodreads / Amazon / BookLikes
A sexy category romance novella from Entangled’s Brazen imprint…
When it comes to sex, good girl Skyler Thompson always plays it safe, choosing stable and sedate over wild and thrilling. She doesn’t do one-night-stands, but one look at sinfully sexy Gage Holt and she’s willing to reconsider. He makes her want to be bad for once in her life, and she’s prepared to take what she wants.

Danger follows former MMA fighter Gage Holt like a shadow. Despite his successes as part owner of Sin, an exclusive nightclub in Boston, Gage can’t risk getting involved with a woman, especially one as sweet as Skyler. Still, he can’t resist a taste—and it’s so damn good he has to see her again.

As addicted as he is to her, Gage knows there’s no future for him and Skyler—not with his past lurking in the dark corners of an MMA cage. But Skyler’s tougher than she looks, and she’s ready to fight for her man.

Yes, my friends, it's time for another Entangled review! This time of a Brazen title which, as you might already know, means plenty of scintillating and steamy sexual encounters. I especially love Brazen novellas, because they always pack a delectable amount of hot men, lust fueled banter, and just enough story line in to make me want so much more. These novellas are a tease, and I mean that in the best way possible.

Gage is exactly the type of man that I love to read about. While I love a "knight in shining armor" character just as much as the next girl, I can't deny there's a very real part of me that loves a bad boy. Understand, please, that I don't mean a chauvinistic asshole. There's entirely too many of those floating around in the book world to count. What I mean is a man who isn't afraid of his raw sexuality. Gage is pure testosterone when he's turned on. There are times when the "sexy" things that come out of a male character's mouth make me laugh. They just sound so ridiculous. In Gage's case? I heard those words in my head, and felt it as they burned into my core. Gage is hot, plain and simple. This reader fully approves.

Skyler compliments him perfectly. She's that sweet, unassuming woman I love. The one that blends in to the background, but who you know that you'd definitely be friends with in real life. Skyler is funny. She's honest. Best of all, she's not afraid to take chances. I liked her character a lot, and I was so happy that I didn't have to wait long for things to heat up between her and Gage. These two didn't necessarily have chemistry, since this novella makes things move lightning quick, but they definitely had a connection. If, like me, you're a huge fan of pulse-pounding, blush-inducing sex scenes, you're in for a treat.

Don't feel like this is all sex and no story though. I was pleased with the story line that ran underneath Gage and Skyler's attraction. I was curious to find out more and, honestly, I would have happily read a full book featuring these two. The ending was particularly adorable, and I won't deny that I sighed audibly upon reaching it. If you're looking for something short, sweet, and undeniably seductive, check out One Night of Sin. You won't regret it!



FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Friday, August 1, 2014

July 2014 Wrap Up


Another month gone! This month was busy at work, busy at home, but also quite full of reading. I'm so close to my reading goal for the year already, and it's only just now August! This was a month of really great books, and some not so great ones. Let's see where they fell.

**********

(C) = Children / (YA) = Young Adult / (NA) = New Adult
(A) = Adult / (MG) = Middle Grade
** Books read in previous months


Books read and reviewed in July:
(A)*Novella* The Wanderer in Unknown Realms by John Connolly - Review (4/5)
(YA) The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes - Review (5/5)
(MG) Death's Academy by Michael Bast - Review (3/5)
(YA) Unwept by Tracy Hickman & Laura Hickman - Review (2/5)
(A) *Novella* Blackout by Tim Curran - Review (5/5)
(A) *Novella* The Bridesmaid by Julia London - Review (3/5)
(A) *Novella* The First Sinners by Kate Pearce - Review (3/5)
(A) *Novella* The Ties That Bind by Kate Pearce - Review (2/5)
(YA) *GN* This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki & Mariko Tamaki - Review (4/5)
(A) Meeting His Match by Katee Robert - Review (4/5)
(YA) *AB* Reboot by Amy Tintera - Review (4/5)
(A) *GN* Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer by Van Jensen & Dusty Higgins - Review (3/5)
(A) The Exiled by William Meikle - Review (4/5)
(A) Fiancee For Hire by Tawna Fenske - Review (5/5)
(MG/YA) The Fog of Forgetting by G.A. Morgan - Review (3/5)

Total Reviewed: 15
Toward Month Totals: 15

Books read but not reviewed:
(MG) The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster (5/5)
(A) Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews (4/5)
(YA) *AB* Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor (4/5)
(YA) Oblivion by Sasha Dawn (1/5)
(YA) *AB* Cruel Beauty by Rosamond Hodge (1/5)
(A) *Novella* Jack & Jill by Kealan Patrick Burke (3/5)
(A) *Novella* The Mister Trophy by Frank Tuttle (3/5)
(YA) Eternity Can Wait by Paula Bell (2/5)

Total books read in July: 23
Goal Progress: 117 books out of 150 books (78% finished)


Favorite book of the month?

It's a tie between The Naturals and Fiancee for Hire! They're in two totally different genres, so I think it's safe to say I loved them both equally :). I also want to give a shout out to Blackout. It's deliciously creepy.

That's it for me. How was you reading month?


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