Monday, June 18, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (6/18/18)

Happy Monday, friends! I'm not going to write a long intro today, because I'm tired and not feeling super inspired. I did want to share my reading progress with you though, so...

On to the books!

It's been a great run of reads lately. Like, insanely good, to be honest. I haven't disliked a single thing I've powered through. My most recent three reads all garnered at least 4 stars, with Kiss the Ground coming in at a 5 star rating because of how fascinating it was! If you're at all interested in learning about our agricultural system, I highly recommend it.

I'm so slow at reading lately, but it's mainly because I'm trying to slow down and enjoy the books I've been excited for. Which is why I just started Spymaster by Margaret Weis and Robert Krammes, and plan to focus exclusively on this until I'm done!

I started this book, accidentally deleted it off of my Kindle, put it back on, and haven't finished. So I'll be finishing this up next as well.

That's it for me! What are you reading this week?

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Book Review: Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King

Media Type: Audio Book
Title: Sleeping Beauties
Authors: Stephen King, Owen King
Publisher: Scribner
Pages: Hardcover; 702
Release Date: September 26, 2017
Source: Library Borrow
Genre: Horror, Thriller

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy a mildly dystopian story, set in a small town.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
In a future so real and near it might be now, something happens when women go to sleep; they become shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze.

If they are awakened, and the gauze wrapping their bodies is disturbed or violated, the women become feral and spectacularly violent; and while they sleep they go to another place.

The men of our world are abandoned, left to their increasingly primal devices. One woman, however, the mysterious Evie, is immune to the blessing or curse of the sleeping disease.

Is Evie a medical anomaly to be studied, or is she a demon who must be slain?

Ah, this book. I make no apologies for the fact that I will read all things Stephen King, regardless of what the subject matter is. He's one of my favorite authors and, across the board, I've been enamored enough with his writing that he's essentially an auto-borrow/auto-buy for me. When this dark story, featuring his son as a co-writer, came out I was intrigued. It went straight to the top of my library hold list and I waited patiently for my turn. All the while, I secretly hoped I would be blown away at this.

As it turns out, Sleeping Beauties didn't quite live up to what I was hoping for. The concept of the story I did very much enjoy. Imagine a world where almost all women are out of the picture. Oh, they haven't disappeared but, worse still, they've simply ceased to function. They lie dormat, as a reminder to the men in their lives of what they've lost. I loved the idea of a world where men were left to fend for themselves. I think the Kings really took the time to ponder over what kind of madness would ensue and, for the most part, I think they hit it right on the head. Not one bit of what the men in this book did when "the Aurora virus" hit surprised me. In all its darkness and brutality, it felt right.

I also loved the idea between Evie Black's character, and the choice that she presents to the women in this book. As a gender, women have come to begrudingly accept the fact that men continue to make the rules that govern our lives. What if that wasn't the case though? What if there was a chance to start over, without that fact in place, and do things differently? This whole idea just felt so perfect to me. Watching these women choose between a new world, and the men and boys they left behind felt... right. I don't know how else to explain it. Honestly.

What really lowered my star rating of this book though was just the god awful length of it. It drags, and drags, pulling out things that could have easily been resolved in a chapter or two. Although I appreciated the time to get to know the characters, after a while I began to hate them for how human they all were and how long it took them to make decisions. Everyone was always so blind to the needs and wants of everyone else. I suppose that's real life, and that's probably why it was so frustrating. I'm not going to lie, I almost gave up on this book multiple times for how slow it was moving.

However at the end of it all, I'm glad I finished. The message here is actually one that I think is really important. One of my respected reviewer friends referred to this as a "smart book" and I'm apt to agree. This story isn't being told to be entirely easy to read and mindlessly entertaining, it's being told to make a point. I think it does that, so 3 stars are totally deserved.


Monday, June 11, 2018

Book Blitz + Giveaway: The Secret Lives of Royals by Shalini Dua

Happy Monday lovely readers! Need a little pick me up to get through the day? Look no further than this fabulous new release (TOMORROW). If you're like me, you've always had a morbid fascination with royalty. This exciting new fairy tale is sure to be a fantastic read. 

The Secret Lives of Royals
Shalini Dua
Publication date: June 12th 2018
Genres: Fairy Tales, New Adult, Romance
Olivia can’t take it anymore. She’s had enough of the big city and it’s lack of fulfilling her dreams. Then, just when she’s about to give up and move home, out of the blue, she is offered her dream job. Olivia is suspicious but that could just be the New York in her. She decides not to pull at threads. Despite her best efforts to remain blissfully oblivious, the secret to her life upgrade is soon uncovered when she finds herself invited to be part of a secret society.
Olivia learns that there is a thin curtain separating our world from theirs. Just beneath the surface, an entirely different one exists. One that is controlled by those of Royal lineage. The chosen ones, the Royals, hold the fate of the world in their hands. Will Olivia be able to bear the weight of the crown?
Add it: Goodreads / Amazon

I’m getting a very weird feeling. I consider turning around and leaving, but getting a cab on a cold rainy night before 2AM is going to be tough as they don’t begin frequenting the area until the bars start to close, and the nearest Uber appears to be 25 minutes away. Plus, I did go to all of this trouble to get my lazy self dressed and over here.

There is a crest engraved in brass metal on the front of the red door, an intricately designed crown and some lettering. I tilt my head to read it all the way around. ‘Alea iacta est memores acti prudentes uturi modus operandi’ I read aloud, and below, ‘Posteriori’. I recognize the language as Latin from the three weeks we spent on it during Intro to Languages, which was designed to help us choose one to focus on during our tenure at the university

Against my better judgment, I push on the heavy door, which creaks open. I enter into a cold stone-walled hall with a stone slab floor, lit by what appears to be a row of fire lanterns on each side. I guess this place is a bit behind the times in converting, or maybe they think it’s super ironic and hipster to not jump on the modernization bandwagon. Or maybe it’s me. I’m not exactly the authority on architectural trends. Maybe converted vintage is over and re-vintaged vintage is back in. Ugh, I can’t wait until I’m old and have an excuse not to be hip.

I walk down a windy stone hallway that seems straight out of a period film. Wow, they are really taking this theme seriously. How cool would it be if this stuff was authentic? I take a few pictures with my phone just in case. I mean as Cultures Editor, it’s always nice to be the one to discover the next big thing, like Connor said.

As I round the corner I hear, before I see, a British male mumbling to himself, apparently in debate.

“It’s so bizarre. But it couldn’t be. Could it? Stranger things have happened.”

I find myself face to face with a short-ish man, though taller than me, with glasses, wearing a sports coat with suede elbow patches. I scream in surprise and jump about five feet in the air. He seems slightly taken aback as well but less jumpy than me, or at least less vocal about it. He’s good looking in an intellectual sort of way and his dark floppy hair is conservatively combed back. I’m not sure if he’s startled by our unexpected encounter or my scream, but he does a bit of a double back.

“Sorry,” he recovers charmingly, “I didn’t see you there.”

“No, me either.” I try to breathe. I feel like I know him from somewhere.”

“Stuart Stephens.” He proffers his hand in greeting.

“Olivia Grace Thorpland.” I shake his in return. “But you can call me Gigi.”

“Hello, Gigi. Nice to meet you.” He is impeccably mannered even after our near death collision. Must be the British thing.

“So are you here for the party too?” I inquire. “Do you know where it is?”

“Party?” he asks, confused. “No, I just had a meeting here.”

“Ah, I see,” I say, although I don’t, given the hour. I definitely know him from somewhere. Got it, he’s a comedian.

“Well, care to join me anyway?” I offer politely. After all, he’s British, I’m being a good ambassador. He appears a bit bewildered.

“No, thanks. I best be going.”

“Are you sure? My friends are in there.”

“Really? Your friends are in there?” He seems surprised to see where I’m gesturing.

“Yup,” I tell him confidently.

“Oh, well, thanks for the invite, but I’m completely sure. Thanks anyway,” comes his nervous reply. “But, can I ask you a question?” I nod. “Is this all, um, kosher?”

“I, I, don’t know.” I hesitate. Is he Jewish and British? Is that a thing?

“Well, I’ll let you get on “he says. “Have a good night.”

“You too. Bye,” I reply. And with that, we walk off in opposite directions.

Finally, I reach a semi-circled entryway that has the option of five doors, one straight ahead and two on either side. These are not your ordinary doors either. They are heavy, arched, rustic, dark brown, slated wooden doors. I’m not really in the mood to crash a wedding reception, murder, or worse, a live band performance; and, given that anything could be behind these doorways, I’m about to give up on this expedition completely, when one of the doors, the entryway smack dab in the center, starts to creak open, apparently of its own accord. A feeling of unexpected dread overtakes me. I brace myself, unsure of what to expect to find behind it.

An international upbringing and a love of stories laid the foundation for wanderlust. Shalini aspires to spend her time country-hopping and consuming pop-culture, comedy and good food but the reality is often frantically downing coffee, meeting deadlines at exactly the last second and working her un-glamorous corporate job to fund all of the other pursuits. The Secret Lives of Royals is Shalini's debut novel. Her other work includes published poetry and scripts only she has read.


Friday, June 8, 2018

Small Business Spotlight: Bookish Apparel

Happy Friday, my bookish friends!

I'm here today to give you some fabulous Friday feelings, with another Small Business Spotlight. In case this is the first one that you've seen, this is a post where I share with you all of the amazing bookish finds I've stumbled across on the web. You can find the rest of them right up there (*points to the nav bar*) under "Features".

This week's theme is APPAREL, because what's better than wearing your love for reading on your sleeve?

** note that all photos are the property of the store owners **


Jane Austen Inspired Tee - New Vintage Embroidery ($26)

Love Pemberley, and want to shout it from the rooftops? This elegant "gardening club" tee caught my eye for just that reason. I wish this was a real thing. I'd join in a heartbeat.

Library Circle Skirt - RoobyLane ($58.33+)

If shirts aren't your thing, but you still want to rock your bookish obsessions, how about a skirt? Plus side is that this skirt is full, and screaming for a petticoat! What a great way to celebrate a bookish brunch!

Sirius Black Hand Painted Shoes - HeartandSolesShop ($45)

Can we all just take a minute to stop and stare in awe? This is hand painted, friends. 100% original, on a pair of shoes. I am in LOVE! Check out all the shoes in this shop, and you can even request your custom pair!


That's it for today! Did I cause you spend any money? Rest assured, I'm not sorry ;). Until next time...

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Book Review: A Single Stone by Meg McKinlay

Media Type: Ebook
Title: A Single Stone
Author: Meg McKinlay
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Pages: Hardcover; 272
Release Date: March 14, 2017
Source: Publisher
Content Screening: Mild Action Violence

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who are looking for a MG friendly dystopian novel.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
In an isolated society, one girl makes a discovery that will change everything — and learns that a single stone, once set in motion, can bring down a mountain.

Jena — strong, respected, reliable — is the leader of the line, a job every girl in the village dreams of. Watched over by the Mothers as one of the chosen seven, Jena’s years spent denying herself food and wrapping her limbs have paid off. She is small enough to squeeze through the tunnels of the mountain and gather the harvest, risking her life with each mission. No work is more important. This has always been the way of things, even if it isn’t easy. But as her suspicions mount and Jena begins to question the life she’s always known, the cracks in her world become impossible to ignore. Thought-provoking and quietly complex, Meg McKinlay’s novel unfolds into a harshly beautiful tale of belief, survival, and resilience stronger than stone.
What first drew me to A Single Stone was the fact that this is essentially a younger version of the YA and Adult dystopian novels that I love. I was so excited to see how Meg McKinlay would bring Jena's sheltered world to life, and how she would address the society as a whole. I won't lie, I had pretty high hopes for this book. Unfortunately, it failed to reach quite as high as my expectations were set.

To start with the positives, I can say that Jena's society is fairly well laid out in this book. The reader quickly understands that the mountain, and the harvest, are the focal point of life in this small society. Status in Jena's world is based on how much one is able to contribute to the community, and that means that the girls who can descend into the mountain are the elite. I loved this concept, and especially loved the fact that Jena's backstory didn't allow her to be too proud. Her life hasn't been an easy one, and so Jena takes nothing for granted. Which is important in this story.

What I missed, mainly the further I got into the book, was real character development. Although Jena definitely learns the dark secrets that her society hides, she never really grows as a person. I think, and this is completely my opinion, that the lack of real dialogue in this book is really what sets it back. We see what Jena thinks. We see what she does. We never see her really stand up for herself, or her beliefs, though. It made really falling in love with her as a character, and therefore with the characters around her, a lot more difficult.

In fact, I think what this book really needed was just more time. More pages to bring Jena into her own. More opportunity for interactions with her fellow community members and, especially, more time for adventure in the mountain. The book flew by, but I was left at the end feeling like something was missing. I loved the concepts presented in this book, but I feel like they weren't as fleshed out as they could be. So I'm sitting at a three star rating.

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, June 6, 2018

Guest Post: R.J. Corgan - The Character in the Flaw

Good morning everyone, and happy Wednesday!

You've made it through half the week, so congratulations on that! Hopefully I can keep the content flowing, and give you some distraction to help you get through the day. In my opinion, today's guest post definitely fits that bill. R.J. Corgan is here, talking about his characters in Cold Flood. I think you'll enjoy this!

For geologist Kea Wright, when a volcano erupts under an ice cap, it isn't just a good time, it's a living.

Camped at the base of an icecap in southeast Iceland, geologist Kea Wright and her team are investigating landforms created by catastrophic floods. With only days left in the field season, bad weather on the way, and the volcano due to erupt at any time, the team is struck by a tragedy that threatens to shut down the entire project.

As the team rushes to complete their work, the expedition continues to be plagued by setbacks, leading Kea to wonder if the initial tragedy was an accident after all. During her reluctant - and inept - attempts to investigate, Kea inadvertently stumbles upon a secret. One so valuable, someone is willing to kill to keep it hidden.
Find it on:


The Character in the Flaw

Asked to read a first draft, a beta reader informed me: ‘It’s okay, but your main character doesn’t have enough flaws.’ A second reader said of the same draft replied, ‘She has too many flaws!’ This led me to ask the question: When is your lead character sufficiently flawed enough to be interesting, but not too much that it alienates the reader? In the case of Sherlock Holmes, the character does heroin for a little while, either for undercover work or for fun/addiction, but only enough to make him dark and edgy. Watson, the reader’s relatable guide, dries him out. You can make you character an alcoholic, but at some point the character has to remain vertical long enough to solve a crime.

During the first character designs for Kea Wright in Cold Flood, I threw an awful lot of potential flaws at her, including alcoholism. However, the more I spent time with Kea, her overly dramatic flaws fell away. At her heart, she is just a scientist who loves glaciers, geology, and being outside. What she doesn’t love is having to play den mother to a bunch of volunteers who are using her expedition to play out their petty rivalries.

Kea faces the same things we all do: irritating coworkers, an ex who just won’t pick up the phone, and a craving for chocolate hazelnut spread. It’s when she’s placed in a situation with people determined to test her limits that her patience begins to fray. When someone is murdered, she finds herself falling apart. It’s only when she finds herself fighting for her life that she discovers the strength hidden inside her. I think all of us are main characters in our own lives: genuinely nice people, with some flaws, just trying to get through the day. It’s when you put us in exceptional, and often terrifying, situations that you may discover the heroes/heroines from the ones who just curl up into a ball and go ‘eeep.’


Thank you to R.J. Corgan for this wonderful guest post! Make sure you check out his book, and stay tuned for a review of Cold Flood very soon!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Mortal Engines - First Look!

Friends. Gather around, and let me share my complete and utter excitement about the upcoming Mortal Engines movie! I know that those of us out there who have read Philip Reeve's Hungry City Chronicles might be the minority, but I can promise you that once you see this trailer you'll be just as excited as I am! Imagine a world where resources are scare. In Reeve's world, cities travel on rolling tracks and smaller cities are eaten by the larger ones for scrap. Intrigued yet? Oh, you should be.

I'll stop rambling now, and just put this trailer here:

See, I told you. Now you're excited, right? Fantastic!

Mortal Engines will be out in the world on December 14, 2018.

Mark those calendars!


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