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Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle #1) – Jay Kristoff

Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle #1) – Jay KristoffTitle: Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle #1) by Jay Kristoff
Publishing Info: August 9, 2016 by Macmillan, St. Martin's Press
Source: Book Depository
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: June 3, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Related Posts: Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1), Gemina (The Illuminae Files #1), Obsidio (The Illuminae Files #3)

In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church. If she bests her fellow students in contests of steel, poison and the subtle arts, she’ll be inducted among the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the vengeance she desires. But a killer is loose within the Church’s halls, the bloody secrets of Mia’s past return to haunt her, and a plot to bring down the entire congregation is unfolding in the shadows she so loves.

Will she even survive to initiation, let alone have her revenge?

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NEVERNIGHT was easily one of my favorite books of the year! I had put off reading it because I started an egalley when it was first being released and it didn’t have any of the footnotes (although someone else said they were all at the end) and I didn’t want to miss out! Then I sampled the audiobook and really did not like the narrator so I had to wait for a good time for me to read the physical copy!

This book was so cinematic and it had everything that I love. I could just picture the entire book happening as things were unfolding. The beginning of the book started out just a tad slow but it didn’t feel like it was slow in a bad way. Things took time to set up and provide a little world-building and setting, so it was a little while to get into the main action, but it was still interesting and I liked getting to know some of the characters during that time.

I absolutely loved the rest of the book. Mia is a fantastic character with a complicated history, a determined mission, and even though she’s a precious murder baby, she still has so many different layers to explore. I love a good antihero and Mia is an amazing protagonist. Each side character really has a full range of emotions, stories, and motives that make for a truly well-rounded book. Basically every element of the book from the characters to the fantasy concept to the darkness to the setting was exactly my taste!

I do have to yell at Jay, though, for one particular thing that happened at the end… I really did NOT see it coming which is surprising because it could have been a really big spoiler and I hadn’t read the book even close to when it came out so I’m surprised that I was able to avoid it for so long! It was quite surprising and unique.

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Antiheroes. Ugh, I loved Mia so much. This whole book was full of great antiheroes and morally grey characters.
Left Me Wanting More: Quick beginnings. I didn’t want it to be TOO quick to get into everything but it did take just a little while to get into things. I enjoyed the backstory but then there were a few journey scenes that were a little slow.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

I cannot WAIT to read the rest of this series! This book was absolutely fantastic and I loved every bit of it.

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BOOKS LIKE NEVERNIGHT

              

Video Review: Things I Can’t Explain – Mitchell Kriegman

Video Review: Things I Can’t Explain – Mitchell KriegmanTitle: Things I Can't Explain by Mitchell Kriegman
Publishing Info: November 10, 2015 by St. Martin's Press
Source: Netgalley
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Retelling
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 17, 2015

A complete re-imagining of Clarissa Explains it All as 20-something Clarissa tries to navigate the unemployment line, mompreneurs and the collision of two people in love.
She was a smart, snappy, light-hearted girl who knew it all at fourteen. Now a woman in her late twenties, her searching blue eyes are more serious, but mostly amused by the people around her. The gap-toothed smile that made her seem younger than she really was is gone, but she still lightens up the room. Her unpredictable wardrobe rocks just like when she was a kid, but her fashion sense has evolved and it makes men and women turn their heads.
After leaving high school early, Clarissa interned at the Daily Post while attending night school. At the ripe old age of twenty- two she had it made – her own journalism beat (fashion, gender politics and crime), an affordable apartment in FiDi and a livable wage. She was so totally ahead of the game. Ah, those were the days! All three of them. Remember the Stock Market Crash of 08? Remember when people actually bought newspapers?
All of Clarissa’s charming obsessions, charts, graphs, and superstitions have survived into adulthood, but they’ve evolved into an ever-greater need to claw the world back under control. Her mid-twenties crisis has left her with a whole set of things she can’t explain: an ex-boyfriend turned stalker, her parents’ divorce, a micro relationship with the cute coffee guy, java addiction, “To-Flue Glue,” and then there’s Sam. Where’s Sam anyway?
Things I Can't Explain is about knowing it all in your teens and then feeling like you know nothing in your twenties.

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I’ve been working on my booktubing and decided to do a video review for THINGS I CAN’T EXPLAIN by Mitchell Kriegman! It’s a Clarissa Explains It All continuation in her new adult/adult life and… well, I’ll let the video do the talking! Check out my video review on YouTube!


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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

things i can't explain gr updates

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Clarissa // Character Obsessions: Fashion, job-hunting, journalism.
I mean, that’s pretty legit Clarissa right there. There were some total Clarissa moments and then… some totally where I just wasn’t making that connection. It was hard! It’s also so so so weird reading about Clarissa’s sex life!! Adult + Clarissa was hard to reconcile.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Nah nah nah nah nah! (That’s the Clarissa theme song. For those of you who now have it stuck in your head, welcome to my world!) This was one of my favorite shows of the 90s. Heck, it still is. I need a binge watch…
Left Me Wanting More: Original feel. I just didn’t quite connect to it like I wanted to. Half the time the character just didn’t even feel like Clarissa… but I think it was hard to read and not SEE.

Addiction Rating
Try it

This didn’t QUITE do it for me but… but… Clarissa! It was fun regardless and I think people will have fun reading it. I was hoping for more of that Clarissa feel so I didn’t rate it as high as I wanted to but I think people will still definitely enjoy it!

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BOOKS LIKE THINGS I CAN’T EXPLAIN

(Click the cover to see my review!)

ATTACHMENTS    WHEN JOSS MET MATT

Mini-Reviews: Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16) & Smokin’ Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17) – Janet Evanovich

Mini-Reviews: Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16) & Smokin’ Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17) – Janet EvanovichTitle: Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16) by Janet Evanovich
Publishing Info: June 29, 2010 by St. Martin's Press
Source: Audiobook borrowed from library, Used bookstore
Genres: Adult, Cozy Mystery, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 17, 2015
Related Posts: Lean Mean Thirteen (Stephanie Plum #13), Plum Lucky (Stephanie Plum #13.5), Fearless Fourteen (Stephanie Plum #14), , Finger Lickin' Fifteen (Stephanie Plum #15), Mini-Reviews: The Audition, Plum Spooky | DNF Report: Tether, Plum Spooky (Stephanie Plum #14.5), Explosive Eighteen (Stephanie Plum #18), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Mini-Reviews: Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top-Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), , Tricky Twenty-Two (Stephanie Plum #22), Curious Minds (Knight & Moon #1), Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Dangerous Minds (Knight & Moon #2), Wicked Appetite (Lizzy & Diesel #1), Hardcore Twenty-Four (Stephanie Plum #24), The Heist (Fox & O'Hare #1)

Trenton, New Jersey, bounty hunter Stephanie Plum has inherited a “lucky” bottle from her Uncle Pip. Problem is, Uncle Pip didn’t specify if the bottle brought good luck or bad luck….
BAD LUCKVinnie, of Vincent Plum Bail Bonds, has run up a gambling debt of $786,000 with mobster Bobby Sunflower and is being held until the cash can be produced.
GOOD LUCKBeing in the business of tracking down people, Stephanie, office manager Connie, and file clerk Lula have an advantage in finding Vinnie.
BAD LUCKFinding a safe place to hide Vinnie turns out to be harder than raising $786,000. Not even local stoner Walter “Moon Man” Dunphy is up to the task.
GOOD LUCKBetween a bonds office yard sale, Mooner’s Hobbit-Con charity event, and Uncle Pip’s lucky bottle, they just might raise enough money to save the business, and Vinnie, from ruin.
BAD LUCKSaving Vincent Plum Bail Bonds means Stephanie can keep her job as a bounty hunter—and keep hunting down a man wanted for polygamy, a turnpike toilet paper bandit, and a drug dealer with a pet alligator named Mr. Jingles.
GOOD LUCKBeing a bounty hunter comes with its perks, namely Trenton’s hottest cop, Joe Morelli, and the dark and dangerous security expert, Ranger. With any luck at all, Uncle Pip’s lucky bottle will have Stephanie getting lucky—the only question is…with whom?
Sizzling Sixteen…so hot, the pages might spontaneously combust!

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Sixteen books into Stephanie Plum and you pretty much know how the story goes so I keep these going as mini-reviews! I guess I have some things to say more so on the series as it’s progressing so far than the actual book.

I love these books for what they are — just fun, easy, light reads… BUT I do think they can still have a bit of substance. The last few books have been increasingly silly and I don’t mind silly but sometimes it’s the way it’s handled. For example, Lula has always been one of the funnier characters and she adds a lot to the humor of the books with her crazy diets, fashion sense, and general no-care attitude when it comes to trouble, but lately I feel like her characters has been getting too — how do I say this without coming across poorly — dumb. The diets don’t even make sense, the reactions to being “wronged” are way over the top for what the situation is and I’m just very sad that Lula and other characters are being “dumbed down” (to be perfectly blunt) for the sake of comedy. The same goes for Stephanie sometimes but she’s more of a solid lead so I don’t see it as much and Grandma Mazur isn’t in the spotlight as much in these past few books so I didn’t notice it with her as much either, but it really holds true for a lot of characters. I don’t mind the silly things like Stephanie’s car getting blown up or destroyed every book but the characters don’t need to be stupider just so the book can be funny. I think Janet’s readers have been with her for sixteen books (more now — I’m only on book 16 so that’s as far as I can comment on right now) and we’re in it for the long haul! I’d love to see characters grown and develop instead of being stagnant or even go backwards.

I also really miss the romantic aspects of the book. Morelli and Ranger have really been on the back burner for the past couple of books to make way for some minor characters who seem to be gaining prominence, but I really miss the boys! The funny, romantic banter between Stephanie and Morelli and this crazy tension between Stephanie and Ranger were some of my favorite parts of this series so I’ve really been feeling that absence. I also think they grounded the book a bit since they both provide Stephanie with a bit of stability each in their own way so I feel like the series has been flying off the handles with all of the goofier things.

I’m still a fan and I will say that SIZZLING SIXTEEN started to get a bit better for me towards the end of the book. It wasn’t bad by any means and I’ll keep reading the series but I’m hoping for a bit more development! I like the series for what it is so I’m not asking for a lot but just the teensiest bit of characters and/or plot growth would really help push the series along instead of me having to pick up a book every few months because I just can’t read them back-to-back!

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I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

sizzling sixteen gr updates

Mini-Reviews: Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16) & Smokin’ Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17) – Janet EvanovichTitle: Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17) by Janet Evanovich
Publishing Info: June 21, 2011 by St. Martin's Press
Source: Audiobook borrowed from library, Used bookstore
Genres: Adult, Cozy Mystery, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 29, 2015
Related Posts: Lean Mean Thirteen (Stephanie Plum #13), Plum Lucky (Stephanie Plum #13.5), Fearless Fourteen (Stephanie Plum #14), , Finger Lickin' Fifteen (Stephanie Plum #15), Mini-Reviews: The Audition, Plum Spooky | DNF Report: Tether, Plum Spooky (Stephanie Plum #14.5), Explosive Eighteen (Stephanie Plum #18), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Mini-Reviews: Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top-Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), , Tricky Twenty-Two (Stephanie Plum #22), Curious Minds (Knight & Moon #1), Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Dangerous Minds (Knight & Moon #2), Wicked Appetite (Lizzy & Diesel #1), Hardcore Twenty-Four (Stephanie Plum #24), The Heist (Fox & O'Hare #1)

Dead bodies are showing up in shallow graves on the empty construction lot of Vincent Plum Bail Bonds. No one is sure who the killer is, or why the victims have been offed, but what is clear is that Stephanie’s name is on the killer’s list. Short on time to find the murderer, Stephanie is also under pressure from family and friends to choose between her on-again-off-again boyfriend, Trenton cop Joe Morelli, and the bad boy in her life, security expert Ranger. Stephanie’s mom wants her to dump them both for a former high school football star who’s just returned to town. Stephanie’s sidekick, Lula, suggests a red-hot boudoir “bake-off.” And Joe’s old-world grandmother gives Stephanie “the eye,” which may mean that it’s time to get out of town.
With a cold-blooded killer after her, a handful of hot men, and a capture list that includes a dancing bear and a senior citizen vampire, Stephanie’s life looks like it’s about to go up in smoke.

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Okay, yes! SMOKIN’ SEVENTEEN feels like we’re back on track (or at least on track for what I’m looking for in this series). Stephanie is always in bounty hunter mode but I love it when there’s a bit more mystery in the plot and this one had it! Not just finding a bad guy and where he went, figuring out how to catch someone — true mystery that had me guessing! (Okay, I guessed. But I’m okay with being right on a mystery for once!)

The boys also came back in full swing (the “vordo” sure kept things interesting haha) and it was great to see their interactions with Stephanie more and not just popping in and popping right back out. Yes, I’ll still admit that I don’t LOVE that there’s no commitment (I love Ranger, but I’m a Morelli girl) but hey, I have trouble picking too.

The characters and situations felt a lot more realistic in this book too. Sure, they’re still a bit silly but I can handle it when I have things like relationships and mysteries and the like grounding the book. I’m really happy with the way this book turnd out and I actually like that I guessed the mystery! It made the rest of the book seem more obvious and it was kind of fun to watch it turn out like that!

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I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

smokin seventeen gr updates


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Kept Me Hooked On: Stephanie. I’m really glad that things started to turn a bit towards the end. I always enjoy the books but I need more of the boys and I need a BIT more stability to keep reading the series! I’m really glad SEVENTEEN started to lean back to more cozy mystery instead of just humor.
Left Me Wanting More: Logic. I don’t mind silly but lack of logic really starts to bother me after a while! I can’t stand nonsense so the really silly decisions irked me a lot.

Addiction Rating
Read them!

If you’re a Plum fan, you’re in it this far! They’re fun for quick, easy reads and they always cheer me up a bit. I’m glad SIXTEEN ended up getting a bit more grounded towards the end and SEVENTEEN really started coming back to everything I used to love!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE SIZZLING SIXTEEN & SMOKIN’ SEVENTEEN

(Click the cover to see my review!)

 size 12 and ready to rock    MURDER UNCORKED

10 Things I Felt About This Book | Loop by Karen Akins

10 Things I Felt About This Book is a mini-review feature to give you a quick run-down of a book without those long, lengthy paragraphs. It’s designed to give you a concise impression without bogging you down and a way to keep reviews creative!

10 Things I Felt About This Book | Loop by Karen AkinsTitle: Loop (Loop #1) by Karen Akins
Publishing Info: March 24, 2015 by Macmillan, St. Martin's Press
Genres: Science Fiction, Time Travel, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: February 28, 2015

    At a school where Quantum Paradox 101 is a required course and history field trips are literal, sixteen year-old time traveler Bree Bennis excels…at screwing up.
After Bree botches a solo midterm to the 21st century by accidentally taking a boy hostage (a teensy snafu), she stands to lose her scholarship. But when Bree sneaks back to talk the kid into keeping his yap shut, she doesn’t go back far enough. The boy, Finn, now three years older and hot as a solar flare, is convinced he’s in love with Bree, or rather, a future version of her that doesn’t think he’s a complete pain in the arse. To make matters worse, she inadvertently transports him back to the 23rd century with her.
Once home, Bree discovers that a recent rash of accidents at her school are anything but accidental. Someone is attacking time travelers. As Bree and her temporal tagalong uncover seemingly unconnected clues—a broken bracelet, a missing data file, the art heist of the millennium—that lead to the person responsible, she alone has the knowledge to piece the puzzle together. Knowledge only one other person has. Her future self.
But when those closest to her become the next victims, Bree realizes the attacker is willing to do anything to stop her. In the past, present, or future.

10 THINGS I FELT ABOUT THIS BOOK

  • EXCITED. I love a good time travel book and this one somehow wasn’t even on my radar until Andi of Andi’s ABCs recommended it to me! I saw her pushing it and knew it was my kind of book.
  • DELIGHTED. As soon as I started reading, I knew it was true. This was totally a “me” book! Time travel + a feisty main character? Yes, please!
  • FRIENDLY. I loved the characters in this book and I felt like I got along really well with Bree and her friends! It’s always so great when I find characters that I instantly want to be friends with.
  • CURIOUS. The wheels were turning! The scene was set where Bree first met Finn but I was so confused how this all played out since her first encounter was when he was a bit younger than her.
  • IMPRESSED. I knew I should trust in Karen Akins and… she totally nailed it. The time travel story line always loops (Ha. Hahaha. Sorry. Bad pun.) and I LOVED how it folded on top of itself, looped back around, and always had more clues and insight coming!
  • FEELSY. I absolutely, positively developed some serious Bree and Finn feels. I loved Bree’s attitude and I loved Finn’s reactions to her. They were seriously adorable together and gahhh even thinking about them while I’m writing up my thoughts is giving me all the butterflies again!
  • NERVOUS. These kids also made me pretty nervous. I mean, of course you hope (and assume) that things will come together, but what if they don’t? What if they get themselves into or remain in serious trouble? It was a good kind of nervous that kept the plot going!
  • HOOKED. I really didn’t want to put the book down. LOOP is what one might call “sci-fi lite”. I actually haven’t looked up the “technical” definition of sci-fi lite but to me it means that things don’t get insanely technical and the overall feel is a bit lighter in the sense that a wider audience can appreciate the book and not just hardcore sci-fi fans. This can also be a double meaning for LOOP because I loved the humor throughout the book as well!
  • SLEUTHY. There were some mysteries in this book that NEEDED solving. One was actually kind of obvious for me (there were some fun clues along the way) and others totally surprised me but I was so anxious to solve them all!
  • HAPPY. LOOP just really left me with an overall great feeling! It easily became a favorite and although I didn’t give it five full stars, the amazing feelings it left me with easily bumped it up to a favorite in my book!

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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Time Travel. I always love some good time travel but it’s interesting to see the different ways that authors choose to have it all work out! I love seeing the different rules in each book and how everything works. It just fascinates me!
Left Me Wanting More: Twists? I’m really not sure what I would say is “missing” from LOOP because I just loved it overall but there was something holding me back from giving it a big old five-star rating. There was one twist that I was able to guess and it was neat and yet cheesy all at the same time haha! Definitely a lot of fun but I also think a few more big surprises would have totally knocked me over.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

LOOP was SO much fun! I don’t know why it took me so long to get my feelings out into a review but now that I have, I feel even more anxious to read TWIST and finish the pair!

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BOOKS LIKE LOOP

(Click the cover to see my review!)

DISSONANCE      ALL OUR YESTERDAYS

Mini-Reviews: The Emperor’s Soul, The Snow Queen, The Eleventh Metal, Snow White & Rose Red, Finger Lickin’ Fifteen

Naturally at the end of the year, I read a bunch of novellas to help me meet my reading challenge (no shame) but also because I got a bit restless in reading and needed to actually finish a few books. Here are some mini reviews  for a few of those books!


Mini-Reviews: The Emperor’s Soul, The Snow Queen, The Eleventh Metal, Snow White & Rose Red, Finger Lickin’ FifteenTitle: The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson
Publishing Info: October 11, 2012 by Tachyon Publications
Source: Audible
Genres: Fantasy, Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: December 25, 2014
Related Posts: Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1), The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2), The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3), The Alloy of Law (Mistborn #4), Legion (Legion #1) & Legion: Skin Deep (Legion #2), , Firstborn, Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5), The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6), Calamity (The Reckoners #3), , Perfect State, Mistborn: Secret History (Mistborn #3.5), Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell, Elantris, The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1), Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1), The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1), Snapshot, Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive #2), Edgedancer (The Stormlight Archive #2.5), Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive #3)

A heretic thief is the empire’s only hope in this fascinating tale that inhabits the same world as the popular novel, Elantris.
Shai is a Forger, a foreigner who can flawlessly copy and re-create any item by rewriting its history with skillful magic. Condemned to death after trying to steal the emperor’s scepter, she is given one opportunity to save herself. Though her skill as a Forger is considered an abomination by her captors, Shai will attempt to create a new soul for the emperor, who is almost dead.
Probing deeply into his life, she discovers Emperor Ashravan’s truest nature—and the opportunity to exploit it. Her only possible ally is one who is truly loyal to the emperor, but councilor Gaotona must overcome his prejudices to understand that Shai’s forgery is as much artistry as it is deception.
Brimming with magic and political intrigue, this deftly woven fantasy delves into the essence of a living spirit.

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THE EMPEROR’S SOUL took me a while to get into and I’m not sure why. The usual Sanderson genius was there but I think I was just incredibly restless when I started listening to this audio and I just wanted to zip through it. (Always a downfall of mine.) I really did like the different setting and Eastern influence — there’s an afterword in the book too which explains how Sanderson came up with the ideas for this novella’s magic system and it’s really quite fascinating how he pulled that little bit from actual history.

I really enjoyed the characters and how Shai’s story developed. I liked her a lot. I think I was thrown off because I was listening to the audio and although yes, Vin is a main character in the Mistborn books, I’ve only ever listened to male narrators for Sanderson books before (thanks, Michael Kramer!) so it was kind of weird listening to a female narrator.

Things really got going in the end and the action picked up a lot! I love how the story ended and it was definitely riveting. I know that this takes place in the same world as Elantris but Nikki also said it’s not really quite the same concept so I’m doubly excited for Elantris and seeing where that book will take me!


Mini-Reviews: The Emperor’s Soul, The Snow Queen, The Eleventh Metal, Snow White & Rose Red, Finger Lickin’ FifteenTitle: The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen
Publishing Info: December 12, 2014 by Audible Studios
Source: Audible
Genres: Children's & Middle Grade, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: December 15, 2014

Audible's 2014 Narrator of the Year Julia Whelan performs one of Hans Christian Andersen's most beloved fairy tales, The Snow Queen. This classic tale is a fantastical fable of two dear friends - one of whom goes astray and is literally lost to the north woods, while the other undertakes an epic journey to rescue him. This charming, strange, and wonderful story is a timeless allegory about growing up and the challenges of staying true to one's self, and it served as the wintry inspiration for the blockbuster hit Frozen.

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Yes, this is “advertised” as the inspiration for Frozen and I know, I know — I knew it wasn’t going to be Frozen. I probably sound totally uncultured by hoping it was going to be like Frozen and it’s not haha! But hey, I love the Disney movie and as most of us know, I don’t do terribly well with original versions of fairy tales.

So THE SNOW QUEEN. It was very short and really not what I was expecting. I knew it wasn’t going to be like a Disney movie, but since that was all I really had to go on, it was a bit surprising in a way. I was thrown off by the fact that it was broken up into seven parts — seven different “stories”. Really it just was not captivating to me at all — and that has nothing to do with the fact that it wasn’t Disney-fied. I tried to focus but my brain was just not having it. I think I could have connected to the story but the way it was told felt roundabout and like it dragged on, and that’s not a good feeling to have for an audiobook that I can finish in a day!

I actually really did find myself interested in the actual story of the magical broken glass but for some reason I just couldn’t get into it. I’m actually really not that into Juila Whelan as a narrator either so that probably didn’t help. This one just wasn’t for me.


Mini-Reviews: The Emperor’s Soul, The Snow Queen, The Eleventh Metal, Snow White & Rose Red, Finger Lickin’ FifteenTitle: The Eleventh Metal (Mistborn #0.5) by Brandon Sanderson
Publishing Info: July 1, 2012 by Independent
Source: Read for free online
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: December 16, 2014
Related Posts: Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1), The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2), The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3), The Alloy of Law (Mistborn #4), Legion (Legion #1) & Legion: Skin Deep (Legion #2), , Firstborn, Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5), The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6), Calamity (The Reckoners #3), , Perfect State, Mistborn: Secret History (Mistborn #3.5), Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell, Elantris, The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1), Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1), The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1), Snapshot, Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive #2), Edgedancer (The Stormlight Archive #2.5), Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive #3)

The Eleventh Metal is a Mistborn short (really not longer than a few pages) originally created for the Mistborn Adventure Game for people who have not read the series. It delves into Kelsier's time shortly after becoming a Mistborn. This sort of begins his obsession with the Eleventh Metal and what it can do, also showing some of his training on becoming a great Mistborn fighter. 

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There is no Goodreads description for this one so that little section up there is my own — I LOVED this short story. Of course after binging the entire Mistborn series, I was dying for more, especially in the original world (I love you, Alloy of Law, but I miss the original crew). I was SO HAPPY to see Kelsier again and it’s almost comical to read a short like this when I know what I do now about the eleventh metal and what comes after that. It was so incredibly nice to spend more time with Kelsier though and I just LOVE getting more backstory from original characters. It’s so cozy to hop back inside of that world again!

This one was really only a couple of pages (if spanned out into pages — I read it on Sanderson’s website) so there’s not a WHOLE lot to say about it but I highly recommending taking the few minutes to read this if you haven’t and you’re a Mistborn fan!


Mini-Reviews: The Emperor’s Soul, The Snow Queen, The Eleventh Metal, Snow White & Rose Red, Finger Lickin’ FifteenTitle: Snow White And Rose Red by Patricia C. Wrede
Publishing Info: January 1, 1970 by Macmillan
Source: Library
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: December 28, 2014

THE FAIRY TALE SERIES — Created by Terri Windling — ONCE UPON A TIME... — ...fairy tales were written for young and old alike; it is only in the last century that they have been deemed fit only for children and stripped of much of their original violence, sensuality, and power to frighten and delight. — Patricia C. Wrede, the best-selling author of Caught In Crystal and other beloved fantasy novels, brings Snow White and Rose Red back to an adult audience, in this romantic and magical retelling set in the enchanted forests of England at the time of Queen Elizabeth.
Tor Books is proud to present the latest offering in the Fairy Tale Series -- a growing library of beautifully-designed original novels by acclaimed writers of fantasy and horror, each retelling a classic tale such as Snow White and Rose Red, Briar Rose, and Tam Lin in interesting -- often startling -- new ways.


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I read SNOW WHITE AND ROSE RED with Alyssa & Amy for our December On the Same Page read (it’s one of Alyssa’s favorites) and after not liking Amy’s favorite, I was terrified. I got a couple pages into the book and was like, “Holy cow. That’s a lot of thee & thou & thy.” But as I read on, it really wasn’t as daunting as it first seemed. I’m not used to the language so yes, it did affect my read a little bit because I had to concentrate more, but overall, the book was very enjoyable!

SNOW WHITE AND ROSE RED is actually one fairy tale I remember reading as a kid (at least I THINK I read the original…) and it stuck out in my mind. I really enjoyed Patricia C. Wrede’s adaptation and how she changed the tale in little ways to make it her own story and these changes actually really helped me grow attached to the book too. I’m notoriously hesitant about fairy books but after falling in love with books like Heir of Fire and A Court of Thorns and Roses, I’m definitely coming around so I was so happy to see that not only was it something that I wasn’t afraid of in SWRR but also something that I enjoyed.

I loved the characters and they totally made the book for me. They were SO much fun with so much personality. I’m glad I was pushed to read this one with Alyssa & Amy because I would not have done it without them!


Mini-Reviews: The Emperor’s Soul, The Snow Queen, The Eleventh Metal, Snow White & Rose Red, Finger Lickin’ FifteenTitle: Finger Lickin' Fifteen (Stephanie Plum #15) by Janet Evanovich
Publishing Info: June 23, 2009 by St. Martin's Press
Source: Audiobook borrowed from library
Genres: Adult, Cozy Mystery, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: December 29, 2014
Related Posts: Lean Mean Thirteen (Stephanie Plum #13), Plum Lucky (Stephanie Plum #13.5), Fearless Fourteen (Stephanie Plum #14), Mini-Reviews: The Audition, Plum Spooky | DNF Report: Tether, Plum Spooky (Stephanie Plum #14.5), Mini-Reviews: Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16) & Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Explosive Eighteen (Stephanie Plum #18), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Mini-Reviews: Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top-Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), , Tricky Twenty-Two (Stephanie Plum #22), Curious Minds (Knight & Moon #1), Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Dangerous Minds (Knight & Moon #2), Wicked Appetite (Lizzy & Diesel #1), Hardcore Twenty-Four (Stephanie Plum #24), The Heist (Fox & O'Hare #1)

Unbuckle your belt and pull up a chair. It's the spiciest, sauciest, most rib-sticking Plum yet.
Receipe for disaster: Celebrity chef Stanley Chipolte comes to Trenton in a barbecue cookoff and loses his head - literally.
Throw in some spice: Bail bonds office worker Lula is witness to the crime, and the only one she'll talk to is Trenton cop Joe Morelli.
Pump up the heat: Chipotle's sponsor is offering a million-dollar reward to anyone who can provide information leading to the capture of the killers.
Stir the pot: Lula recruits bounty hunter Stephanie Plum to help find he killer and collect the moolah.
Add a secret ingredient: Stephanie Plum's Grandma Mazur. Enough said.
Bring to a boil: Stephanie Plum is working overtime tracking felons for the bonds office at night and snooping for security expert Carlos Manoso, aka Ranger, during the day. Can Stephanie hunt down two killers, a traitor, and five skips, keep her grandmother out of the sauce, and solve Ranger's problems and not jump his bones?
Warning: Habenero hot. So good you'll want seconds.

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I usually write up full reviews but really once you review a Stephanie Plum book, you kind of review them all as far as plot goes! Don’t get me wrong — I really enjoyed it! These books are always so quick and easy to read and I finished this audio VERY quickly. The plot never really changes — Stephanie needs to pick up bad guys. She’s constantly back and forth between Morelli & Ranger. Lula and Grandma muck things up. Cars blow up. Stephanie gets covered in something (flour, sauce, paint, etc). Good guys win in the end. Yet somehow Janet Evanovich still manages to write these books in a way that’s always entertaining to me! (If sometimes over the top)

This one was a bit more entertaining than the last. I felt like it wasn’t as goofy (although it still had its moments of course) but the plot felt more concrete and more mystery than just chasing bad guys and hunting down skips. I really enjoyed the plot (an actual murder mystery!) and sure, things got goofy, but it was all-around enjoyable and I will keep on reading this series!

My True Love Gave to Me – Various Authors

My True Love Gave to Me – Various AuthorsTitle: My True Love Gave To Me by Stephanie Perkins
Publishing Info: October 14, 2014 by St. Martin's Press
Source: Netgalley
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: October 16, 2014
Related Posts: Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door, Anna and the French Kiss, Isla and the Happily Ever After

If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you're going to fall in love with My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by twelve bestselling young adult writers (Holly Black, Ally Carter, Matt de La Peña, Gayle Forman, Jenny Han, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Myra McEntire, Rainbow Rowell, Stephanie Perkins, Laini Tayler and Kiersten White), edited by the international bestselling Stephanie Perkins.  Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or Kwanzaa, there's something here for everyone.  So curl up by the fireplace and get cozy.  You have twelve reasons this season to stay indoors and fall in love. 

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I love that these authors got together to put MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME out into the world. There are definitely some of my favorite authors’ works in here (Rainbow! Gayle! Stephanie!)  and I had soooo much fun reading all of these short stories (although some I wished would go on forever)! It’s hard to review a collection of short stories so I’ll just say a few things on each one of them!

MIDNIGHTS BY RAINBOW ROWELL

Sigghhhhh. Dreamy sighhhh. I just love Rainbow Rowell’s writing. Something about it just stirs up all of the butterflies in me and just feels so wonderful and comfortable and makes me feel like I’m coming home. MIDNIGHTS was a story about the New Years Eves that Mags and Noel share and their story just hit all the right places for me. I wished there could have been SO much more of this short story. It was truly perfection.
Rating: 5/5

THE LADY AND THE FOX BY KELLY LINK

I’ve never read anything by Kelly Link before so I had no idea what to expect, plus I think it’s REALLY hard to follow Rainbow’s beautiful story. THE LADY AND THE FOX was interesting but it had a weird feel for me… Like it was almost old and new all at once. I think this story could have been better (for me) if it was longer because I needed to really bury myself in some of the details and backstories a bit. Rainbow’s I wished could go on forever because I loved it and this I wished could go on longer because I just needed a bit more story to make that connection!
Rating: 2/5

ANGELS IN THE SNOW BY MATT DE LA PENA

I really, really liked this story! It was very different from the first two and I loved how the two characters — Shy and Haley — came together. I really liked Shy and really felt for him being away from his family and everything that was going on with his family during this holiday season. I really connected with this one (another one I wish there was more of!) and it was really interesting to get to know his character. I loved the male voice and I just really enjoyed this one a lot. And fresh snow! Sigh. It always gets me.
Rating: 4/5

POLARIS IS WHERE YOU’LL FIND ME BY JENNY HAN

This story was really cute. It definitely had a feel between Elf and The Santa Clause! The main character Natalie was adopted by Santa, lives at the North Pole with the elves, and has a crush on one of them. They don’t believe her when she says she’s kissed a real human boy before. The story is just sweet, very fun, and I love how it captures the spirit of Christmas and makes a YA story out of elves & Santa!
Rating: 3.5/5

IT’S A YULTIDE MIRACLE, CHARLIE BROWN BY STEPHANIE PERKINS

Oh, Stephanie. How does she alway write such wonderful and poignant stories? I just loved this one and everything it was about. The little romance was adorable and I loved how everything came together. It’s so funny because I never expect to find such deeper meaning in such short stories but yep, sure enough. Steph has it in there. Loved this one! Loved how it ended too.
Rating: 4.5/5

YOUR TEMPORARY SANTA BY DAVID LEVITHAN

This was definitely a little bittersweet but I loved the sentiment behind it. It was really interesting to see the family dynamic unfold in such a short story and I really would have loved to read more of this one too. Each person is not without their flaws and it was really great to see this cross-section of characters come together to keep a little girl’s dream of Santa alive, all the while trying to hold together their own dreams.
Rating: 4/5

KRAMPUSLAUF BY HOLLY BLACK

Man, I loved this one. I personally haven’t read KRAMPUS but my besties Alyssa & Amy have (and love it) so I was happy to read a little piece of Krampus through this short story. Krampuslauf was all about friendship, loyalty, and honor – including a little traditional Krampus justice. I loved the touch of magic and the feeling that there really can be magic in the world if you’re open to believing.
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

WHAT THE HELL HAVE YOU DONE, SOPHIE ROTH? BY GAYLE FORMAN

How very Gayle. I just love how she brings so many things together in one story so effortlessly (or maybe it just seems effortless). Gayle’s stories always seem to follow the vein of finding your true self and being happy with what you are, who you have, and where you want to go. So many times I’ve related to these things and I love the college setting for Sophie Roth. It’s such a big starting point for so many people to go and truly start becoming who they really are.
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

BEER BUCKETS AND BABY JESUS BY MYRA MCENTIRE

A cute little story with Southern charm about a troublemaker and a pastor’s daughter. I really enjoyed this one (though always thrown off by a female author writing a male POV when I don’t expect it! Still love) and it was a riot to see Vaughn the perpetual mischief-maker try to bring together a Christmas pageant. I also love that not everything is what it seems in this story… Lots of ideas that your assumptions about people or what you see on the surface is not quite what a person’s character is truly about.
Rating: 4/5 stars

CHRISTMAS, CA BY KIERSTEN WHITE

Oh, I loved this story. I half-expected this to have another hidden magical meaning (like real elves or a real Santa) but it was definitely more just a story of the characters making the magic for themselves. I really loved seeing these small-town characters start to find their way, and somehow all of these Christmas stories end up being the main character finding out that what he/she thought ran far deeper than they thought. It was so heart warming and really very dynamic for me. I could just picture myself in Christmas, CA.
Rating: 4.5/5

STAR OF BETHLEHEM BY ALLY CARTER

That was such a sweet story. I love the Ally Carter feel to it and how much fun! The concept was great and I loved the way it ended. The setting was wonderful (I love books set in the middle of nowhere) and I absolutely loved the characters – from “Hulda” to Ethan to Aunt Mary. I think this was one of my favorites! I just wanted to read an entire book and I was even already picturing it as a movie haha!
Rating: 4.25/5

THE GIRL WHO WOKE THE DREAMER BY LAINI TAYLOR

Wow, this was wonderful. It actually took just a little bit to get into but I really, REALLY ended up loving it. It had a bit of a Daughter of Smoke and Bone feel (well, that’s all I’ve read by Laini Taylor) and yet still very much original. I loved Laini’s writing and I absolutely adored where this story went. It was such a beautiful tale and I really just dreamily sighed at the end of it. Outstanding.
Rating: 4.5/5

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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

Screen Shot 2014-12-14 at 5.17.56 PM

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Kept Me Hooked On: Anthologies. I actually haven’t read many anthologies! Usually the novellas or short stories I read are part of a series and that’s why I pick them up. I love that these were all bound up together and even more so, that the authors took the time to team up for this.
Left Me Wanting More: Flow. Some of the stories didn’t really flow well from one to the next. I mean, of course that has to do with personal taste as well, but it was really hard to go from kicking it off with Rainbow Rowell (LOVED that one) into Kelly Link (sorry Kelly) which had a very, very different feel and totally different focus all together. I think they could have been arranged a bit differently to give the overall collection a better flow.

Addiction Rating
Buy it!

This collection was so much fun. I really loved getting twelve different Christmas stories and I wished some of them could have gone on for much longer! It’s the perfect book to read bit by bit during the holidays.

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BOOKS LIKE MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME

(Click the cover to see my review!)

        top ten clues you're clueless       stardust

Landline – Rainbow Rowell

Landline – Rainbow RowellTitle: Landline by Rainbow Rowell
Publishing Info: July 8, 2014 by Macmillan, St. Martin's Press
Source: BEA 2014
Genres: Adult, Alternate Reality, Contemporary
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 8, 2014
Related Posts: Eleanor & Park Playlist, Eleanor & Park, Fangirl, Attachments, Kindred Spirits

Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply—but that almost seems beside the point now.
Maybe that was always beside the point.
Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her—Neal is always a little upset with Georgie—but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go without her.
When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.
That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts. . . .Is that what she’s supposed to do?
Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?

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LANDLINE was a breath of fresh air. I’m made my niche reading young adult fiction and I still love it but sometimes it’s just so nice to take a break from the norm and switch things up a bit. Reading LANDLINE was a sort of wonderful crossover since I’m so used to Rainbow Rowell’s young adult books and I got the same feel of her writing but in a different age range and covering different subjects.

Rainbow Rowell is just a master of her craft. Her story telling is simply exquisite in not only the way the plot comes together but also how the characters really tell a story in themselves. I got to know the story just by getting to know Georgie and her family. Rainbow’s characters and their relationships are always amazing and they always seem like incredibly real people, and it’s just amazing to sit back and watch their stories unfold.

I’ve already mentioned how much I love the characters but the relationship between each character is just fantastic as well. Every single one is complicated. From Georgie’s relationship with her husband to her relationship with her best friend and co-worker (who just so happens to be an attractive male) — even her relationship with her children, her mother, her sister… It was just so true to life because aren’t all relationships messy?

Unlike Rainbow’s previous books, LANDLINE involved a bit of… science fiction? I guess that’s what you’d call it — with the “magic” landline phone that Georgie finds at her parents house. She realizes she’s not talking to her husband in present day, but Neal in the past which also happens to be a very critical point in their relationship. I do have to say… Wasn’t quite sold on the magic phone thing. I enjoyed the book from cover to cover and I didn’t DISLIKE it but I felt like with Rainbow’s other books, there’s just a strong sense of reality that I pull from them — and I did with LANDLINE too — but the magic phone really pulled me out of that element and felt more “cutesy”. It just took away from the emotional, serious aspect of the book for me. Not a lot! Not a lot at all. But it was enough that I didn’t quite fall in love with it the way that I potentially could have without it.

I really enjoyed how everything wrapped up and really all of the loose ends were tied back together. I had just the best feeling of satisfaction when I finished the book and I know Rainbow Rowell fans won’t be disappointed! Her books always leave me with this feeling of contentment and LANDLINE is no exception.

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I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

Landline - Rainbow Rowell

I read the majority of this on a plane so far fewer updates than usual!

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Georgie // Character Obsessions: Comedy, writing, Neal, family.
Despite the blame seeming to fall on Georgie’s shoulders for many of the issues in her marriage, I really liked her a lot. She felt really real and I was able to see how hard it must have been for her to balance a career that she loved so much and the family she loved so much, especially when her husband was willing to maintain the family when Georgie’s schedule didn’t allow it. That didn’t really mean he should do it all on his own, but through these situations, I really felt like I got to know them through every situation they went through.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Rainbow. YA or Adult. Serious or more playful. I love anything Rainbow Rowell writes. She just has that magical way with words and amazing character & relationship development that just grows with each book.
Left Me Wanting More: Heart-wrenching. The phone thing was cute. I was just hoping for something more deeply emotional like so many of her other books. Although I guess Attachments was definitely more on the cutesy side, but it was also her debut novel and I was expecting that to be more cute whereas I was expecting LANDLINE to be a bit more on the serious side.

Addiction Rating
Buy it

It’s a solid read and although it’s not my favorite of Rainbow’s books, it was still so enjoyable with all of that magnificent writing magic that she always incorporates into her books! Definitely still worth the purchase and a place next to your other favorite Rainbow Rowell books!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE LANDLINE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

        Nantucket Red Leila Howland       Just One Day Gayle Forman

Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl – Rainbow RowellTitle: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Publishing Info: September 10, 2013 by Macmillan, St. Martin's Press
Source: BEA 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary, New Adult, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: July 21, 2013
Related Posts: Eleanor & Park Playlist, Eleanor & Park, Landline, Attachments, Kindred Spirits

  Cath is a Simon Snow fan.
    Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan...
    But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.
    Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.
    Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
    Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words... And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.
    For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?
    Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?
    And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

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FANGIRL was probably THE most anticipated read of 2013. I basically started it, got 25 pages in, and then went to Twitter about how scared I was to read it because I had such HIGH HOPES and EXPECTATIONS for it. It’s so hard when ELEANOR & PARK instantly became a favorite and then the fabulous Rainbow Rowell comes out with another book that sounds like I will simply adore it. I always felt like I loved E&P so much because I really didn’t know what to expect of it so I kind of went it to it with little to no expectations. Twitter reassured me that I had nothing to worry about, so back in I dove!

FANGIRL starts with Cath and her twin sister Wren starting college and moving into the dorms. It’s hard for shy, introverted Cath because Wren has decided that she doesn’t want to room with Cath and instead get the “college experience” that everyone else has and not just hang out with her sister 24/7 anymore. Cath’s struggles not only include that painful distance from her sister for the first time, but she’s also worrying about her dad who is home alone without his girls for the first time, her roommate is extremely blunt and kind of rude, and there’s this BOY who keeps hanging out in their room that she doesn’t know what to do with. Lucky for Cath, she still has her Simon Snow (like Harry Potter) fanfic to keep her mind grounded & occupied. Her fanfic is the one thing she feels truly confident in, having tons of fans and all, so Cath sticks to that as her one true comfort when every other one has been taken away at college.

Okay. So. My thoughts on FANGIRL. This is actually really, really hard for me to review because I think of how many months I obsessed over reading this and I NEED to review this with exactly how I felt about it and not just how I wanted to feel about it. FANGIRL was not a five-star read for me like I hoped. Don’t get me wrong — I still LOVED so many things about it and it’s still somewhere in the higher four-star range, but I had some trouble at times, specifically connecting with Cath.
Oh, Cath, I totally feel your pain starting college, not knowing anyone, and feeling totally vulnerable, but please please at least leave the room? Cath was so sweet and I felt for her in so many ways, but because she was so closed off to the world, I felt like she was closed off to me as the reader. I wanted to just revel in her sadness, her fears, her adorable awkwardness and I never really felt like I got to feel her FEELINGS. Rainbow has this great way of explaining feelings to the reader without having to say them outright and you just pick them up, but because Cath was so hard to read in the first place, I feel like that wonderful way of writing sort of made Cath more closed off to me instead of helping me get in her head more.
I was super unsure in college. I actually went to a community college for two years, then went to Illinois State University and straight to living in a four-person apartment with my friend from high school, her roommate from the previous two years (who I had only met once or twice) and another girl we had NEVER met before, so I get how Cath was nervous about new people, new places… But with Reagan being so bold and Cath thinking that she didn’t even like her, why didn’t she go hole up in the library or a coffeeshop or a bookstore? If I was uncomfortable with my roommate (which believe me — it happened), I would go out into the world and find a place where I could be alone (among strangers). It just bothered me that she felt so uncomfortable in her room at times and she just stayed there. I would have bolted! But I guess that’s the difference between me and Cath.
I guess it comes down to the fact that I know Cath had reasons why she was so nervous and protective of her feelings and herself and I can totally understand that, but it still didn’t help me connect to Cath like I wanted to!

I don’t know much about fanfic so that wasn’t really a big thing for me, but I really liked the whole concept of writing and how it tied into the book. Cath ends up taking an advanced writing class and really having a hard time coming up with her own stories because all she’s ever written is fanfic. I loved the dialogue back and forth between her and her teacher and how her professor tries to guide her in the right direction. It’s great writing advice (thanks, Rainbow!) and there’s some great guidance that was not only good for Cath, but can be helpful to tons of beginning writers anywhere.

The family issues went a lot deeper than I had originally expected, and not just between Cath and her separation from Wren, but also how Cath worries about leaving her dad alone and if he’s taking care of himself without the two of them there to sort of check up on him. I won’t go into detail, but there was a lot more there that first meets the eye so it really added a great layer to the story and made Cath’s story a bit more personal to read. It was also incredibly interesting to see how Cath’s relationship with Wren completely changes from what they once had at home and how the two of them handle each situation so differently.

Okay, NOW we get to Levi. *sigh* Oh, Levi. I loved him so much. He was sooo so adorable and I loved all of the detail that Rainbow Rowell put into his character — from the physical descriptions to the way he moved to the personality quirks and even down to his studying habits. She made him so unique and so loveable. I totally swooned for him oh so much. He actually reminded me of Shane a little bit here and there so of course that added to my level of swoon, but I just loved his character. He, of course, has his flaws — and when it comes to their relationship, Cath does too —  and that’s something that he and Cath really had to work on and figure out. It kind of bothered me exactly how timid Cath was with their relationship… I mean, I get it, but I don’t. She was just SUPER timid about everything and I understand that to an extent but it actually became frustrating as a reader that it took her so long to break out of her shell for even the smallest things.

FANGIRL was a great read for me and I really, really enjoyed it, but just the timidity from Cath really prevented it from shooting to a straight five-star read for me. I really wanted to connect with her so much more. It wasn’t perfect, but of course I’ll still recommend it to anyone who’s a fan of Rainbow’s books and just contemporary fans in general. I LOVED that it took place in college instead of high school. I’m always looking for more books that take place during the college years so I really, truly loved the atmosphere!

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Cather Avery // Character Obsessions: Simon Snow, writing, fan-fiction.
I really wanted to like Cath juuuust a bit more, but she was a fun character to follow throughout the story of FANGIRL. I honestly felt for her a lot with her struggles through freshman year — I’m sure anyone who’s gone away to college can relate in one way or another — but I felt like her growth was actually kind of minimal from beginning to end. I guess a character doesn’t have to grow leaps and bounds in one book, but I really felt like it took her a WHILE to make any small changes, really. I truly felt for her character but I wanted to really FEEL all of those emotions that I think she even closed herself off from. She was afraid of so many things, including her own feelings, I think. It just made it hard for me to be like, “Yeah! Go, Cath!” when I felt like she didn’t even want to change or succeed or try to do anything at all out of her small comfort zone without someone essentially forcing her to.
Levi // Character Obsessions: Agriculture, smiling, making people happy, Cath.
Levi is adorable. I loved everything about his character (well… minus his obvious flaws that you’ll figure out). I loved his little imperfections. I love the way he made people feel about themselves. I loved his zest for life and the fact that he appreciated Cath for who she was. I really swooned over him and I think lots of other people will to! Bravo, Rainbow.
Reagan // Character Obsessions: Telling it like it is, going out, working, Levi.
Reagan was one of my favorite characters. She was pretty much the total and complete opposite of Cath — Said whatever she was thinking, wasn’t afraid of telling it like it is, liked going out, worked all the time, was confident in who she was… She was the person who actually ended up helping Cath by forcing her out of the room and sort of guiding her through her freshman year of college. I loved her humor and that we got to see the opposite of Cath in the same room with her.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Rainbow Rowell. I love her. Writing about the freshman year of college was perfection for me and I loved going through those experiences again (as awkward as some of them were). Rainbow has a unique way of writing certain things and bringing in such touching experiences to make a story so much more personal. FANGIRL kept me a Rainbow fan (of that I had no doubt) and I know I’ll be reading her books for years to come!
Left Me Wanting More: Boldness. Okay, so Cath didn’t have to go over the top in anyway, but I wanted a bit more initiative from her to.. ya know… leave the dorm room. Do anything! Go explore by herself. That’s what I did on my first day. I was afraid of not knowing where things were so I spent the day just walking around campus, finding my classrooms and making sure I knew where things were so I didn’t look like a goon aimlessly walking around. I get Cath being uncomfortable, but for Pete’s sake… Just go find the dining hall and make it look like you’re just casually walking around the dorm!

Addiction Rating
BUY IT!

Yes, I did have a lot to say and a LOT of different feelings about this book, but ultimately, I still really enjoyed it and I’m glad I have two signed copies to keep on my shelf AND I’m buying the hardcover when it comes out (because that’s what I do). I’d still recommend to buy it but just know that Cath may be a tough one to crack!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE FANGIRL

     The Book of Broken Hearts      Golden

Eleanor & Park – Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor & Park – Rainbow RowellTitle: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Publishing Info: February 26, 2013 by Macmillan, St. Martin's Press
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: February 6, 2013
Related Posts: Eleanor & Park Playlist, Fangirl, Landline, Attachments, Kindred Spirits

"Bono met his wife in high school," Park says.
"So did Jerry Lee Lewis," Eleanor answers.
"I’m not kidding," he says.
"You should be," she says, "we’re sixteen."
"What about Romeo and Juliet?"
"Shallow, confused, then dead."
''I love you," Park says.
"Wherefore art thou," Eleanor answers.
"I’m not kidding," he says.
"You should be."
Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.

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Simply put: I loved ELEANOR & PARK and I totally didn’t see it coming. I was definitely enjoying the book the whole time – Don’t get me wrong there – but I did not expect to fall in love with it. Based on everything I had seen, I was expecting ELEANOR & PARK to be a cute, upbeat love story with a strong musical connection. Obviously the music tie-in was still there, but E&P is definitely a lot deeper than I originally thought.

Eleanor has a troubled home life. Her mom and dad are separated and after her step-dad Richie kicked her out last year, our story begins with Eleanor returning home to live in a cramped house with her mother and 4 siblings. Park has a great family in his parents, brother, and grandparents who live next-door, but he still doesn’t quite fit in. He’s one step away from being the focus of the bully’s attention at school with his soft, Korean features and obvious different tastes in music (punk) and reading (comics).

The best part about ELEANOR & PARK is how naturally the two incredibly different characters fell together and fit so perfectly. It all started one day on the bus and from there, Rainbow Rowell takes the reader on an extremely moving journey to bring the characters together and really form a strong bond between the two. Yes, there were times when I was frustrated with the characters, but that’s just a natural progression of a story and well… high school.

What really pulled me in was Eleanor’s story line and how truly difficult her home life was. She was an outcast in her own home, never allowed to act naturally and sometimes I found myself questioning, what even is acting naturally for Eleanor? Her step-dad is an absolute terror, her mom does nothing about it, and Eleanor has to try to keep an eye on the little kids while still trying to hold all the pieces of her life together. My heart just went out to her!! And I felt slightly murderous towards her step-father.

I admit that I wasn’t entirely sold on the book until the very end. I won’t spoil anything, but there came a certain point in the book where the whole story took an enormous shift and I had such a strong array of emotions that simply overwhelmed me. While the book is a bit heartbreaking overall due to Eleanor’s situation, it’s also heartwarming to see these two characters learn how to love each other, never before feeling capable of it.

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Eleanor: God, my heart just broke for Eleanor over and over and over again in this book. I can’t possibly imagine what it would be like to be in her situation. She was simply stuck and I can’t even say trying to make the best of it — She was simply trying to survive. It was just shocking to hear her story and see her come out on the other side. I almost feel like she was a real person and I was honored to meet her! Everything about her felt so real and not at all like any old character in a book.
Park: Gosh, Park was like an angel in this story. He became Eleanor’s guardian angel, in a way. I loved watching his thought process and seeing his feelings develop for Eleanor because they were a surprise to him too! He’s definitely not perfect and we do see a lot of flaws in Park, but he made for such a great character as well.

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BUY IT!

Goshhhh, this book was just SO good. It was so wonderful and one I will recommend to ANYONE.

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE ELEANOR & PARK

     The Sea of Tranquility      Blaze

Man In The Dark – Paul Auster

Man In The Dark – Paul AusterTitle: Man in the Dark by Paul Auster
Publishing Info: April 28, 2009 by St. Martin's Press
Genres: Adult, Alternate Reality, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: April 14, 2012

    Seventy-two-year-old August Brill is recovering from a car accident at his daughter's house in Vermont. When sleep refuses to come, he lies in bed and tells himself stories, struggling to push back thoughts about things he would prefer to forget: his wife's recent death and the horrific murder of his granddaughter's boyfriend, Titus. The retired book critic imagines a parallel world in which America is not at war with Iraq but with itself. In this other America the twin towers did not fall and the 2000 election results led to secession, as state after state pulled away from the union and a bloody civil war ensued. As the night progresses, Brill's story grows increasingly intense, and what he is desperately trying to avoid insists on being told.

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It was a short and quick read at less than 200 pages, but concise enough that Aster didn’t need more than that. I actually think it was the perfect amount of story. I loved the alternating stories of Brill’s life, his family, his past that keep interrupting the story he is trying to tell. He’s dead on when he says that “the mind has a mind of its own” and you can’t really keep such powerful thoughts and memories at bay. The story of Owen Brick that he creates keeps the story suspenseful and pulls the reader in. We all know by now what a fan I am of dystopia — really just alternate worlds themselves — so an alternate America was too intriguing for me to pass up when I first read the description of this book. There aren’t a lot of details about this warring America, but the message is clear and seems like it could have scarily accurate possibilities if that were to ever happen. I liked that the story still stayed first person in Owen’s point-of-view so the reader is just as clouded in mystery as he is in this strange world and what will happen if and when he gets back to his “real” life in the United States that we all know as our real world.

What makes the story even better is that there really are no loose ends. It’s a concise story that doesn’t draw things out with details, wraps up the fictional story of Owen Brick’s world, and then finally concludes with wrapping up all the details, fills in the blanks, and answers all the questions of August Brill’s world by his explanation to his equally haunted granddaughter.
I really enjoyed this book. Just four stars because it didn’t completely knock me over, but it was extremely thought-provoking to me and I really enjoyed how you can see how Brill comes up with the characters for his Owen Brick story once you find out all of the “characters” in his life story. Some powerful stuff towards the end of the book as we find out more info about his wife and his granddaughter and that kind of stuff sticks with you! I’d definitely recommend it – It’s not a waste of your time, and it’s quick to read so you’d finish it in no time anyway!