Tuesday, January 2, 2018

I'm a bit late posting this for December, obvi, but what are you gonna do? :P

I'm not making any real resolutions this year. But I'd like to work on getting healthier, which means there may be a chance for more audiobook listening. :) And I'd like to get back into #bookstagramming; I've already got so many ideas and some cool new props. But I'd also love to start posting here again a little more frequently. Not daily like it used to be; no way do I want that stress again. But I miss this more than I thought I would. I probably still won't interact on Twitter, though, because that's just a lost cause for me at this point. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

My reading fell off quite a bit there at the end of 2017, didn't it? Oh, well. Good thing I completed my reading goal in November! :P

And without further ado, here's what I've been reading lately...

(More on why I've gone to this format here in lieu of traditional reviews for each.)

Y O U N G   A D U L T

I started To Kill a Kingdom, but I didn't make it very far before the holidays hit. Oops. :)

T H E   H O L I D A Y   R E A D S

Mistletoe Between Friends/The Snowflake Inn - These two stories themselves were cute enough, but it was the execution that was lacking. I honestly can't tell you why I kept reading when I wasn't even remotely enjoying myself. The writing is just awful. I know a lot of readers enjoy this author's work -- and there are thirty distinct works, according to GR -- but I don't get the appeal. It was cringe-worthy and eyeroll-inducing and I do not plan to submit myself further to this torture by reading any more of her books. That said, I preferred Mistletoe Between Friends to The Snowflake Inn because it involved the fake romance trope, friends-to-lovers, AND a hot, nerdy scientist as the love interest, but that still couldn't save the story for me. So you can imagine how little I enjoyed The Snowflake Inn, since it didn't have any of that. :P 🌟🌟

The Afterlife of Holly Chase - I DL'd this one from the library after having an eARC for ages, and though I wasn't exactly in the mood for it, I knew that if I didn't listen now, it'd be next year before I got to it because I can't listen to holiday-themed books when it's not Christmas. At first, I loathed the main character. She was unlikable to the nth degree, but I guess every Scrooge starts out that way. In the end, she had me in tears. As far as A Christmas Carol retellings go, this one was actually really well done. It wasn't too heavy-handed with the lesson and ended up being quite light-hearted, and well, much more enjoyable than I expected. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

An Ex for Christmas - Despite the cringe-worthy cover that doesn't fit the story at all, I ended up really liking An Ex for Christmas. I mean, it was predictable and cheesy but also so adorable and addicting that I found myself reading at work or any other chance I got. Best friends-to-more stories are my kryptonite, second only to hate-to-love romances, so I had an inkling that I was going to enjoy this one. It's like the best of the holiday romance movies I've been binge-watching of late, much to the chagrin of practically everyone I know. But there's just something about romance around the holidays. The cheesier the better, I say. :) But in all seriousness, this was actually a pretty good book. It hit me in the feels but was also low drama, which is one of the reasons I'm so picky about my romance novels. There was open and honest communication, but when things did get a little rocky, it didn't take eons for the characters to reconcile or admit their feelings. Plus, the writing was good. Much better than I expected. And definitely good enough to make me want to download all of the other books my library has from Lauren Layne, which is admittedly enough to keep me reading well into the new year. :D 🌟🌟🌟🌟

T H E   C L A S S I C S

The Black Moth - I just cannot kick this habitual need to have a Georgette Heyer novel on my currently-reading shelf. As I type this, I have a tab open for Hoopla so I can grab a few more. =) I love that her novels are full of the frippery and finery I'm accustomed to in a historical romance novel, but the plots always seem fresh and completely engaging. This novel featured a disgraced brother who was actually taking the blame for his brother's misdeed and turned said disgrace into a career as a highwayman. While the real villain of the story -- not the ne'er-do-well younger brother but a true evildoer -- attempted to kidnap the would-be love of his life. It was all very cloak and dagger and I very much enjoyed it. Off to find another new favorite... 🌟🌟🌟🌟

R E - R E A D S

The Bear and the Nightingale - From my original GR review:  This fairy tale-esque story set in medieval Russia was just lovely, possibly more so because of the gorgeous audiobook. I wish it hadn't been nearly 80 degrees outside while I was reading it because it's one of those comfy stories best read near a fire. It's also one of those rare books that doesn't really have a place: not YA but not wholly adult either. In fact, it felt very reminiscent of Naomi Novik's Uprooted in that respect. But I couldn't care less because it was so atmospheric and magical and the perfect read for this time of year...assuming you live in a place that has an actual winter. *sigh* 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Uprooted - So, naturally, after re-reading the gorgeous The Bear and the Nightingale and its sequel this month, I had to re-read Uprooted. It's been too long since I read it. I remember downloading the audio from the library before and not finishing because I wasn't enjoying the narrator. I still didn't love the narration this time around but found it tolerable enough. It's just such an engaging, magical story that you can't help but fall into it. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟


Some Kind of Magic - This story was rather adorable. Maybe a tad unrealistic but still adorable. Yet, not quite The Hating Game level of adorable I was hoping for, though it still made me smile and laugh...when I wasn't cringing. The snark was on point,  and the characters -- namely Eden, Adam, and Micah -- were all perfectly written, but I always hate that feeling of anxiety that washes over me when I'm anticipating that the story is going to take a turn for the worse. And it's even more awful when it could have been avoided had there been a little honest communication between characters. I set this aside somewhere around 75% and seriously contemplated just reading the end because I didn't want to witness when things fell to pieces for the main character. But I decided not to take the coward's way out. And it was still really cute, once I got past the fallout. Now I'm looking forward to picking up the companion novel, which focuses on Eden's brother Micah.  🌟🌟🌟🌟

The Day of the Duchess - I honestly wish I remembered more from the previous books in this series, but I barely remember the sisters, not enough to distinguish them yet. Which is sad because apparently they've all been quite scandalous and should be at least a little bit memorable. I do remember their love interests, though, and I think I preferred them to Seraphina's duke. Rash behavior, snap judgments, and poor communication have led this couple into a miserable existence, and I just couldn't empathize. Oh, sure, it was entertaining to see them scheme as each attempted to get what they wanted: her, a divorce and freedom, and him, the love of his life back. But each had to atone for their part in the destruction of what they'd once shared and it took the whole damn book. And I still don't think I like Malcolm, even after all that groveling. :P I do hope that the next book is about Cecily and "the American" as that has the potential for loads of fun. 🌟🌟🌟

Too Scot to Handle - I love a punny title. I love even more when the book manages to be just as clever. I enjoyed the first book in this series well enough, but Too Scot to Handle was just lovely. A couple clearly devoted to one another and to a worthwhile cause. A nefarious ne'er-do-well who gets his comeuppance. And a general feeling of contentment when all was said and done. I loved the teaser for the next book in the series and can't wait to pick it up. And I'll probably have to make time to read Burrowes' older series so that I can better acquaint myself with the older Windhams. =) 🌟🌟🌟🌟

The Girl in the Tower - Oh, what a lovely sequel this was to The Bear and the Nightingale! I could use a hundred more books like this in my life right now. The setting in this series just comes alive, almost a character in and of itself. I just loved reading as Vasya trudged across the snowy Russian countryside, dressed as a boy to escape a miserable future. This story was both tragic and beautiful, and I wept for what Vasya stood to lose. I love the folk lore aspect and just the general fairy tale feeling of this series, and I can't wait to read the next book. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

May the Best Man Win - Love is hard. It's hard to trust. Hard to let go. Hard to let down your guard. And in that way, this messy, will-they-won't-they romance was genuine, if not a bit angsty. I just love a good hate-to-love romance, too, so May the Best Man Win definitely had that going in its favor, as well. I did find it a little unrealistic that these two people had so many friend couples in common, that they were forced to be in the wedding party, shoved together because of their height for every one of them. But it made for good chemistry and sexual tension, so whatever. =) This was more like 3.5 stars, but I'm rounding up because I'm looking forward to reading about the other best men, even if I was hoping it would be Brody featured next instead of Max. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Wilde in Love - Eloisa James' books are fun, but they never just captivate me like some other historical romance novels do. I just never care about the characters as much as I should because I find them hard to connect with. There's good banter and flouting the rules of society, but neither are hardly uncommon in historical romance. I did enjoy the cast of characters well enough to continue with the series, mostly because I'm more interested in North's story. ;) 🌟🌟🌟

Have you read any of these? What did you think? Find any new titles to check out? ;0)

Until next time! Happy reading!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

What I've Been Reading Lately {11.30.17}

Thursday, November 30, 2017 with 10 comments

So, I hit my goal of 250 books for the year earlier this week, and yet I still don't feel like I really read that much in November, at least not compared to previous months. Maybe it's because I basically took all of Thanksgiving week off from reading to focus on work and preparing for the family to arrive for the holiday. Also, I didn't really re-read this month, which is really unusual for me.

My foray into some classic novels, most especially Georgette Heyer novels, is still going well. Really well. But my attempt to get in the holiday spirit with some Christmas-themed reads is...well, not. I haven't read a single new-to-me holiday book that's been anything but meh. Might have to re-read some favorites instead. Though, I don't even know if I can take Dash & Lily again. I feel like I need something a bit more substantial this year. Plus, I've read it like five times now, lol. Suggestions for Christmas reads would obviously be welcome. :D

And without further ado, here's what I've been reading lately...

(More on why I've gone to this format here in lieu of traditional reviews for each.)

Y O U N G   A D U L T

The Knowing - I loved The Forgetting. Like, FIVE STAR loved it. It was so unique and Sharon Cameron is kind of brilliant and it was just so good. So, my expectations for the companion novel were pretty high. Where The Forgetting focused on a civilization that forgot who they were every 12 years, The Knowing takes place centuries later and features a people who cannot forget. They even remember being in the womb. It was quite the opposite story in a lot of ways...but also kind of not. I liked the parallels and what realizations they led to. And I liked the characters for the most part. But this sequel of sorts was just missing that certain something that would have made me love it as much as the previous installment. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

The Empress - Whoa. This sequel was not playing around. As with the previous book, I still never knew who to trust, who to rely on. And I still pretty much think everyone is batshit crazy. The lengths these people will go to for revenge, to see a scheme through to fruition! If this is the future -- where we've turned from everything we knew because technology was threatening our very existence -- I want no part of it. I do, however, want the next book STAT. That ending! That fucking ending! Not what I expected AT ALL and I kind of hate how it left things but also kind of love it because after everything I still, STILL did not see that coming. If The Diabolic was unexpected, The Empress was fucking unbelievable. Now I know why they sent a heady candle and bath bombs with the promotional package: you need a relaxing soak in the tub after reading something like this. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

The Last Magician - I waffled back and forth on whether I wanted to devote time to reading this. In theory, it sounded good. In practice, it was mildly entertaining. But if I'm being honest, it read like it was trying entirely too hard to be the next Six of Crows. Heisty and with a crew leader who resembled Kaz more than a little, it had its moments. But it was also supposed to occur during the early 1900s, and I just never felt like I was transported back to that time period. 🌟🌟🌟

I See London, I See France - If you like a book with a definitive happily ever after, this is not the book for you. Most of the time, I'm okay with that, but considering Sydney's trip and the implications of her summer romance, I need some sort of closure. More than a few words in a text, at any rate. Beyond that, this book was fun. I've always wanted to backpack across Europe, and though I could have used way more description, it kind of felt like I was on said trip. And some of Syd's travel tips just might come in handy if I ever do get to make this trip one day. 🌟🌟🌟

The Art of Feeling - This was a story of broken people trying to find their way back to normal, and though these stories are usually hit or miss for me, I found myself completely taken with this one. It beautifully contrasts the unending pain of a girl suffering both mentally and physically after a catastrophic accident with that of a boy who can literally feel no pain and hides inside himself to avoid any kind of emotional pain. Their interactions were adorable and weird and I loved them just the way they were. No romance necessary because these kids are SO not ready for it. Also, I loved the cast of secondary characters; they were just so genuine in their own grief and issues and made the story feel that much more full and heartfelt. I snorted. I teared up. I felt the things. Even looking back at the cover now makes me feel the things...if that's any indication of the power of this book. And I believe it is. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Invictus - I was absolutely certain this was going to be such a me book, especially after loving her Wolf by Wolf duology, but I just can't get into it. I got to a little more than the halfway point of the audio and I'm just so bored. I usually listen on my commute, but after starting this on Friday at work, I couldn't bring myself to listen on the way home and there was no impulse to keep listening over the weekend. Or on my way in this morning. So, I'm setting it aside for now. Time travel is usually my bag, so maybe it's just me and I'll enjoy it more when I come back to it some day. DNF...for now

Silver in the Blood - This was a bit of an underwhelming Dracula retelling. Mostly because there was no meat to the story and it was sooo slow to get to the heart of it. (Heh.) The narrative always felt surface level, never delving further to really capture my attention. And the two perspectives were written so similarly that it was hard to tell them apart. All in all, it was too cutesie and not at all the story I was hoping for. 🌟🌟

Devils & Thieves - You ever just know that a book is going to be for you but that you have to be in the right mood or frame of mind for it in order for it to work out that way? That's me and this book. I'd wanted to read it since I first heard about it, having loved Jennifer Rush's Altered series. But I read some mixed reviews and so I put it off. And put if off. Until yesterday when I decided I was ready for a little magic and some hot bikers. I was not disappointed! It's a little predictable and the characters are a little cookie-cutter, but I loved how the magic of the world was explained. There were a lot of different types of magic to keep track of, but it wasn't overwhelming, especially with the main character's sensitivity to it. And that ending! I would totally be okay with leaving off on that creepy note, totally left wondering, but I'm also glad to see that GR shows this is only the first book. This was such a fun story and I can't wait to see what's next for the Devils' League and their cohorts! 🌟🌟🌟🌟

T H E   H O L I D A Y   R E A D S

By Winter's Light - I've been wanting to try Stephanie Laurens out for awhile, and when I saw the holiday list on Hoopla, I thought, what better time? I love themed reads, especially holiday-themed stories with all the romance and festivities. But this one was just, well...nothing happened for the longest. And it was just so slow. Was this supposed to be more of a novella, like a bridge between the real couples featured in the series? If so, it should definitely have been shorter. 🌟🌟

The Trouble with Mistletoe - Many of my friends lurve Jill Shalvis. So, while I'm reading holiday novels to get in the Christmas spirit, I thought I'd give this one a try. My very first Jill Shalvis novel and it was an adorable romance about second chances and it definitely gave me the holiday feels but also it was maybe too angsty? It was pure banterfluff and totally adorkable until it came to what Willa wanted. That girl was spinning herself in circles, and while I was smiling and laughing through most of it, it was still not exactly what I wanted from the story. It did, however, make me keen to read the other companion novels in the series. So, now I'm on hold for a couple at the library. =) I mean, I did mention the banterfluff, didn't I? 🌟🌟🌟

One Snowy Night - Meh. I get that this was a novella, but that tension was just too easily resolved. And if I hadn't read the previous book already, it would have been even worse coming into this story with no history of the animosity between these characters outside of this trip. Or maybe not? I don't know. It was also really saccharine sweet and I'm kinda in a sour mood today so that's not helping. Think I'll stay away from romance this week... 🌟🌟

T H E   C L A S S I C S

Cotillion - Okay, so this one wasn't narrated by Richard Armitage - *sigh* - but it's definitely high up on my list of favorites as far as Georgette Heyer is concerned. I loved the constant scheming of Miss Kitty Charring; reminded me a bit of Emma but in a more helpful, honest way. Poor Freddy was ill prepared for Kitty and really had no idea what he was signing on for, which was all the better. This story was clever and absolutely delightful and it's made me even more glad that I discovered loads more Heyer novels over on Hoopla. Huzzah!  🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Pride and Prejudice - A forever favorite. I read an article earlier this year about how Mrs. Bennett and Lydia Bennett were the most misunderstood characters, how they knew what they wanted and how to get it, and so I tried to re-read it taking that into consideration. I concede the point but I still find them utterly impossible to like to any degree. Still, they're part of what makes this story so excellent, so I can't fault them for it. =) 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Faro's Daughter - Challenge completed! This was book #250 for the year and also the perfect way to complete my GR reading challenge. There's just something about Georgette Heyer novels that makes my heart happy and leaves me smiling. It also made up for that crappy holiday book I read earlier today. A palate cleanser, if you will. But I digress. I really loved the hero's capacity for jumping to conclusions -- well, after he was basically goaded to it -- and the rampant miscommunication and constant scheming on the heroine's part. I think that last aspect is what makes Heyer's novels so fun. Completely unselfish plotting that makes me laugh. Just what I needed today. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

The Grand Sophy - What is it with me and scheming heroines? Especially Georgette Heyer's scheming heroines? :D I just can't seem to get enough of them. I thought at first that my fixation with these novels was due to Richard Armitage's narration, but even without it, I love them so! I especially adore Sophy the shocking matchmaker and her endeavors to see everyone paired up and happy. What a lively, entertaining story. I will have to wait until my Hoopla credits renew before I can embark on any further Georgette Heyer adventures, but lucky for me, that day is nigh. =) 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

R E - R E A D S

The Diabolic - So, so good, even upon a re-read. And so necessary before diving into The Empress, its sequel. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟


Behind Her Eyes - Dude. What a total mindfuck. I'm actually kind of mad at my friend Sabrina for making me read this...and for making me finish it while we were on vacation and she was staying with me. "That ending, tho," she says. "You've got to read this NOW!" she says. And don't get me wrong, I was totally intrigued. I had a good theory. Everything was moving along well. Until that last fucking chapter. I really could have done without that. It just seemed so...EXTRA. Totally unnecessary. The absolute worst had already happened. Why take it there? I mean...I really, really liked it up to that point. I'm not usually a fan of thrillers. Maybe this is why... 🌟🌟🌟

The Sea King - I KNEW IT! Which is to say, this sequel was a little kinda fairly predictable at times. BUT, I enjoyed it. Not as much as the first book, per se, but still enough to continue the series, obviously. Which is kind of how I remember feeling while reading her Tairen Soul series: loved the first two books, felt so-so about the next two and then back to loving the last book. So, I have faith that I'll have fun with the rest of the series, even if I don't love every book. Especially the way this one left off. Still, I think I preferred the sections dedicated to Dilys' perspective, at least the first half of this book. Summer/Gabriella was just so...obstinate, refusing to fall in love simply because she might lose it. Love is always a risk, so it irked me that it took her so long to accept Dilys. Though it was romantic reading as he attempted to woo her. =) The second half of the book was definitely much more entertaining, full of battle and betrayal and revenge. I just wish I knew something, anything really, about the next book...especially since it'll probably forever until it's in my hands. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Have you read any of these? What did you think? Find any new titles to check out? ;0)

Until next time! Happy reading!

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Choose A Side: RENEGADES Blog Tour

Saturday, November 4, 2017 with 1 comment

Hi, my name is Jen, and I'm an Anarchist. And I hope you'll join me in my attempts to undermine the Renegades revolution! My super power is Telekinesis, which means I'm very smart and can move things with my mind...so those Renegades better watch their backs. 😈

You can choose which side you're on, as well as discover your own super power, by taking this quiz.

I've always been kind of partial to villains, so as part of my recruitment campaign, I'm sharing my Top Ten Villains in Literature below.

But first, here's a little more about the book...

Title: Renegades
Author: Marissa Meyer
Series: Renegades, book #1
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: November 7, 2017
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

Add to Goodreads

From #1 New York Times-bestselling author Marissa Meyer, comes a high-stakes world of adventure, passion, danger, and betrayal.

Secret Identities.
Extraordinary Powers.
She wants vengeance. He wants justice.

The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies—humans with extraordinary abilities—who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone...except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice—and in Nova. But Nova's allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.

Top Ten Villains in Literature/Comics

I know some readers prefer traditional villains, and while I do have some of those on my list, I've got some...different kinds of villains in my list of faves, as well. In no particular order, here are some of my favorite villains:

1. The Lilim from Stardust by Neil Gaiman - These three witches, known collectively as the Lilim, seek the heart of a fallen star turned mortal woman so that they may eat it in order to stay young so that they may cast more evil spells and continue various nefarious deeds. After finishing off the heart of the last fallen star.

2. The 7 Evil Exes from the Scott Pilgrim comic book series by Bryan Lee O'Malley - True, some are more evil than others and some are hotter than others, but evil is as evil does. And these evil exes have some fun psychic and mystical powers.

3. President Snow from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - This guy is evil incarnate. A true villain in every sense of the word. Diabolical, even. Him and those roses, tho...soooo creepy.

4. Queen Levana from the Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer - Now this is a woman with a plan. Evil genius, yes, but also undoubtedly off her rocker. Some of my favorite villains are the crazy ones.

5. The Darkling from the Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo - Um, so, yeah. Aleksander Morozova will always make my list, no matter what type of villains we're talking about. He's yummy. He's dark and mysterious. Kind of a stalker and halfway redeemable but evil when it really matters. *le sigh*

6. Other Mother from Coraline by Neil Gaiman - Man, she tries SO hard, doesn't she? She just wants a daughter of her own - to keep and sew button eyes on, but to each their own, right?

7. Valentine Morgenstern from The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare - Now, here's a guy who really knows how to f*** with your head...and his own kids. And his wife, too. And his friends. Well, pretty much anyone he meets. What an evil mastermind lurks beneath that smooth exterior!

8. AIDAN from Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff - So, maybe not a true villain by everyone else's standards, but this Artificial Intelligence was pretty malicious. Like, that death toll was only going to keep rising.

9. Amarantha from A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas - This lady knows how to play the long game. And make you cower in fear all the while. She likes riddles and kicking puppies and will kill you just for fun. Amarantha will destroy any bit of happiness you find, and it gives her immense pleasure to do so.

10. Dolores Umbridge from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling - She may not be the ultimate villain in the series, but at least Voldemort knows he's evil. Umbridge waltzes around in her pink ensembles, thinking her poop doesn't stink, all the while making it even easier for Voldemort to carry out his evil plans.

Heroes aren't perfect and villains aren't always what they seem. I do like a villain who stays the course, who remains villainous for the duration of a series. But I also love a redeemable villain or one with a tragic backstory that explains WHY he or she ended up this way. And sometimes?

Sometimes. I. Just. Like. Villains.


About the author:

Marissa Meyer lives in Tacoma, Washington, with her husband, twin daughters, and three cats. She’s a fan of most things geeky (Sailor Moon, Firefly, color-coordinating her bookshelf . . .), and has been in love with fairy tales since she was given a small book of them when she was a child. She may or may not be a cyborg.

Find Marissa:

Website | Twitter | FacebookGoodreads | Pinterest

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