Monday, December 31, 2012

Looking Forward to 2013

Blog Goals
This is a list of ideas I've been kicking around for my blog. Honestly I'm not even entirely sure I will follow through on all of them but I want to spend time considering each at the very least.

1. Number one for me is always trying to comment more as well as be on twitter more. I made some big strides in commenting this year and I want to continue. There are so many amazing bloggers out there and I want to acknowledge their hard work. We post our writing online because we want to talk to others and I want to continue to be part of that conversation.

2. On the technical side, I have lots of ideas.
  • I am considering buying my own website or moving to wordpress. 
  • I would also like to study html a bit more while I'm on blogger. I don't always feel able to convert my vision to reality and would like to experiment with that more. 
  • At the least, I am thinking about adding a blog list and experimenting with a three column layout.
3. For content, I have a lot of sub-goals:
  • Write reviews or at least notes immediately after finishing. So many times this year, I waited too long and had forgotten points I wanted to make, resulting in reviews I was not very happy with
  • Link to other opinions. I especially want to link to those bloggers who inspired me to read a book and when a blogger had the exact opposite reaction to a book as me.
  • I am also planning to post ARC reviews further in advance. These will be clearly marked and will include the scheduled release date. Since many of the ARCs I read are e-copies, they have a tendency to expire and I want to make sure I get to as many as I can so that I can promote the ones I love.
  • I also want to do a spotlight of favorite books throughout the months-am contemplating a more regular giveaway schedule.
  • I don't want to go overboard with memes but I want to participate in Top Ten Tuesday and Waiting on Wednesday (and maybe others) at least once a quarter this year.
4. Reading
  • To include books I don't plan to review in my reading list (currently I have two Rhys Bowen mysteries on hold and I've struggled to write reviews of those in the past so I will not even try this time...unless something in them calls to be reviewed).
  • To not feel pressured to read-this is always an internal pressure and something I need to work out with myself.
  • To tackle both Anna Karenina and War and Peace this year-it's ambitious, I know, but they've been on my to-read list for a long time and I want to show myself that I can do it.
5. Blog Basics
  • Update "About Me" section which I think is from 2010 
  • Revise tagline: "No Frills Book Blogging"
  • Revise mission statement
6. Don't be afraid to take a break-this one is definitely a must and ties in with my desire to not pressure myself. My view of blogging is that it is something that is fun. If it is not fun, then I should step back and figure out why and if I can make it fun again.

Personal Goals
One of the problems I've had with New Year's Resolutions is making them too big and non-specific so that I eagerly jump into something and then blaze out. This year I am approaching it month by month and choosing a habit I would like to start or break. My understanding is that it takes about 30 days for something to become habit so that seems manageable. For January, I am trying both.

TO START: Making the bed every day. I used to do this as a kid but fell out of it in college. After reading about habits at Dear Author, I thought this would be a good one to start up again. Plus I have already started doing this so now I just need to continue.

This is not my bed. I just wanted to add a picture to this post.
TO BREAK: Stop picking at my cuticles. I have noticed that I am more likely to do this when I'm bored and my hands are not otherwise occupied but I have also already started breaking this. I spend my work day at a computer so I do see my fingers a lot. I don't have the patience to manicure my nails every week but I can at least make sure they're not raggedy or bleeding, which has been a problem in the past.

What are your plans for making 2013 the best year yet? Any tips for me that you've discovered as you've worked on similar issues?

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Bookworm1858's Favorites of 2012

(Warning: Long post ahead!)

How I picked the list:
Although I think almost all of these are 2012 releases, my only criteria was that I *read* it in 2012. I am bad at narrowing the list down-I ended up picking 25 books out of 300 read and that was only because I restricted it just to YA. Then I sorted it by my choice of genre and wrote a little about each book. Links are to my reviews and I only included the cover of my favorite book because I had some troubles with formatting-sorry! Where helpful, I have quoted my own review. Books are listed in the order I read them; it is not listed by preference. Make sure to read the end to see what themes I noted reoccurring in my favorites.

Steampunk-2 selections
Historical-3 selections (including favorite of the year; I think you know what that is ;)
Dystopia-3 selections
Fantasy-2 selections
Paranormal-6 selections
Contemporary-9 selections; hey it's my fave genre so no surprises there!

The Girl in the Clockwork Collar by Kady Cross-"Another delightful entry in the Steampunk Chronicles with more of the adventure, romance, and fun that could be expected!"

The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress-just read this and loved the great female characters as well as the overall light tone (I would say lighter and less romance-driven than The Girl in the Clockwork Collar)

Glamorous Illusions by Lisa T Bergren-"An exciting historical fiction that sets up relationships that I'm excited to explore over the course of the next two books." Also there is a boy named Will-swoon!

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein-I've talked about this book a lot and gifted it to several people in real-life. It's fantastic. If you have not read it yet, you need to get a copy ASAP!
Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys-this is actually a 2013 release but the amazing folks at Penguin sent me an ARC and I adored it. Expect a review in February closer to the release date and be prepared for awesome! Link is for goodreads.

Legend by Marie Lu-This stood on the strength of its characters for me: "I loved their similarities-how both are so smart and can easily adapt to various situations; how they don't want to hurt people; how they're so protective of their families; how they want to do the right thing."

Crewel by Gennifer Albin-the cover definitely played a role in my love for this book but the ending sealed the deal, pushing me to the brink and leaving me desperately guessing what might come next.

Because It Is My Blood by Gabrielle Zevin-"I don't want to go too in-depth but there are some great scenes of Anya having to kick some butt and a lot of information is thrown at us but there is still more to come. I don't really have the words to articulate my strong positive feelings about this book."

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo-this is one that I didn't really like initially (at least, not compared with how other people loved it). But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I liked it.

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman-my second favorite read of the year. I loved pretty much everything about this book, finding it to be a "Pretty dang perfect fantasy!"

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson-This Jack the Ripper story contains "great mix of different elements without being too scary" and sets us up for book two. Look for my review to come in 2013.

Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsey-despite (fully warranted) instalust, I was captivated by this story because of how its heroine embraced her role to save the world. I also really appreciate that its a standalone (although a second book could totally be added).

Everneath by Brodi Ashton-although there has been some debate over whether this book contains a love triangle, I am on the side that thinks there isn't, which made me very happy. "I really did love this book. I thought Nikki was fairly strong for her situation as well as for a YA paranormal heroine and the romance really worked for me"

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa-this could technically be classified in dystopia as well but since there are vampires, I'm putting it here. Despite the slow beginning, once Allison was turned into a vampire and the plot picked up, "even this vampire story hater was won over by the masterful writing and plotting."

This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers-I do not consider myself a zombie book fan but as this has a lot of elements of contemporary, I loved it. Great character-driven novel although not very much in the way of plot.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater-"Wow, what can I say about this beautiful enchanting magical book?" still holds. When will the next book be released?

My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan by Seth Rudetsky-a hilarious LGBTQ novel with a very light touch; recommended for other Broadway geeks.

Radiate by Marley Gibson-inspired by the author's own experience, this book hit me hard; "An emotional journey through a difficult period as navigated by a graceful inspiring young lady."

Pilgrims Don't Wear Pink by Stephanie Kate Strohm-"This is such a "me" book-I loved the MC so much and completely clicked with the sense of humor displayed. The storyline is about the summer adventures of a young woman with a love of history, color, reading, Jane other words, someone a lot like me!"

Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker-"While some people will have trouble liking Clem (I almost didn't like her myself), I really bought into her feelings (the sulking I did as a teenager-whoa) and especially her feelings about best friend Amanda and how the loss of that friendship is affecting her. I just feel like a lot of YA doesn't spend much time on female friendships, focusing instead on love triangles"

Miracle by Elizabeth Scott-Scott is one of my favorite YA authors and one of the few on my auto-buy list. This is one of her more intense reads that will sit with you for a long time.

Speechless by Hannah Harrington-"A must-read for lovers of contemporary especially if you don't usually read "issue" books. Although talking about some important things, this book seamlessly weaves them in without coming across as preachy. There are also a lot of fun moments and the writing is flawless so you should be able to lose yourself pretty easily in the narrative."

Tokyo Heist by Diana Renn-"A really fun ride through artwork, deception, and love with an exciting Tokyo/Japan backdrop. Highly recommended!"

Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo-Another book I like even more as I reflect on it. I especially loved following the characters over the course of a year as well as the main character's budding feminism.

A Midsummer's Nightmare by Kody Keplinger-despite the lack of Shakespeare, which I feel the title hints at, I loved this fun and funny book-"recommended for people who like fun contemporaries, complicated female leads, and the other Keplinger books!"

Some themes that recur among these books:
-My appreciation for a focus on female friendship
-My love of strong female leads
-Praising characters who feel strongly about their family, their honor, and performing their duty
-Books that are generally on the lighter side especially those that make me laugh while also making me think
-Characters > Plot

Do you agree with my list of favorites? Any books you're going to add to your to-read list?

Books Received and the Week to Come

On Friday, I woke up to about 7 spam comments that made it through blogger's spam filter and were actually posted. I promptly deleted them and changed my settings so that anonymous comments are no longer allowed. I hope this is not a problem for you; if you ever experience problems commenting, please email or tweet me (@bookworm1858). I don't want to have to moderate and I HATE Captcha so I hope this will be effective.

Books Received (this includes last week):

From Jen Ryland/YA Romantics-thanks Jen!
 Cinders and Sapphires by Leila Rasheed-supposed to be very much like Downton Abbey so I expect to love this.
A Dash of Magic by Kathryn Littlewood-sequel to Bliss, an enchanting MG novel.

From Amazon Vine:
The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd-Gothic thriller that is an update of a classic story? Sign me up!
Mind Games by Kiersten White: So excited about this one! I enjoyed White's Paranormalcy trilogy and am thrilled to have gotten an early copy of her newest.

I will also be receiving The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan and The Namesake by Steven Parlato through Amazon Vine.

Christmas presents:
Pearls Freaks the #*%# Out by Stephan Pastis-I love the Pearls Before Swine treasuries as Pastis includes special comments just for them. Plus these strips are a few years old so I don't really remember reading them initially.
Because It Is My Blood by Gabrielle Zevin-the amazing second book in the Birthright trilogy
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy-I have big plans for Tolstoy in 2013; check back tomorrow to find out more.

Plus I received some Barnes and Noble gift cards. Currently I am eying a gorgeous annotated Emma but haven't made my decision yet.

Week to Come:
-Later today I'm posting about my favorite books from 2012 (with the caveat that I'm still planning to read a few more books; if any of those make the favorite list, I'll mention it.)
-Tomorrow I'll be posting 2013 plans and goals
-Tuesday will be the wrap-up of 2013 with stats

Then we return to reviews for the rest of the week:

Wednesday, January 2, The Tutor's Daughter by Julie Klassen: Adult Historical Christian Romance

Thursday, January 3, The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne: Adult Christian Non-Fiction, a birthday present from one of my best friends

Friday, January 4, Delusion by Laura L. Sullivan: YA Historical Fantastical

Saturday, January 5, Just One Day by Gayle Forman: YA Contemporary

What are you up to this week? Are you ready for 2013?

Saturday, December 29, 2012

What Matters in Jane Austen?

What Matters in Jane Austen by John Mullan
4/5 stars
Bloomsbury Press, 2013
Originally published in England, 2012
320 pages
Austen Non-fiction

Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Jane Austen is my favorite author so whenever I see something related to her, my interest is piqued. While enjoying a very pleasurable rereading of Pride and Prejudice, I noticed many points that I hadn't before. I thought about age and the way the characters related to each other and the way Austen phrased. These are some of the items addressed in Mullen's work here, a true labor of love, stemming from his years studying Austen. He delves deeply into the minutiae, the little details that some may skip over but that make Austen's novels.

Among the questions are "How Much Does Age Matter?", "Do Sisters Sleep Together?", and "What Do the Characters Call Each Other?" Although I had pondered some of these themes, most of them were new to me. Especially interesting was discussions about the role of weather, if servants ever appear, and which card games are for bettors. He draws on all six of the published novels in addition to referencing Sandition. Every possible relevant item is included in his exhaustive chapters. Consequently even I found this a bit overwhelming. I would definitely not recommend this to a casual fan. No, it is most definitely intended for the serious Austen reader. You will also probably want to have read all six novels (possibly multiple times) in order to be familiar with everything he references. And be warned, that this book will probably make you want to read the books again. On tap for my 2013 is Mansfield Park and possibly Emma as well.

This book did feel on the academic side and as the book progressed, I found myself feeling a bit tired. Certain sections are referenced different times for different points and I may have read this too fast. If I read just one chapter every week or on occasion, I probably would have been able to process everything more thoroughly and not find it so dry.

Overall: Recommended for the Austen-ite; others will likely find it all too much.

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Friday Society

The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress
4.5/5 stars
Dial Books, 2012
437 pages
YA Historical Steampunk

Source: Library

I was so excited to see that my library had purchased this but I ended up mad at myself because I had the opportunity to buy a signed copy and missed out. I loved the sassy poses on the front and the tease of steampunk, a sub-genre I just adore. I also read some positive early reviews (see Jen Ryland's and Liviania from In Bed With Books)

The overwhelming impression I received from this book was one of fun! We have three distinct personalities comprising our heroic trio and they are serious about their work but not above having fun at the opportune moment. Each girl is introduced with an explosion that uniquely relates to her situation. Cora (in the center) is an assistant to Lord White, an inventor. She has been rescued from the streets and has proven to have a keen mind but she bristles when she discovers that Lord White has hired another (male) assistant. Nellie (the blonde on the left) is magician's assistant to the Great Raheem. She uses her beauty as a distraction for their magic while her agility aids in her contortions. Last to be introduced is Michiako (Japanese girl on the right) who studied to be a samurai but never took the final exam due to her master's belief that women could not be samurai. Instead she went to England and now serves as an assistant to a weapons instructor of low character. The girls meet by accident when the men they serve are all at the same function and they keep running into each other before having the brilliant idea of teaming up to solve a crisis, knowing their gender causes no impediment to their brains.

That crisis is of someone threatening to destroy London to the terror and bewilderment of most. A second more personal crisis is the mysterious deaths of poor flower girls throughout the city including an old friend of Cora's. Over the course of the book, the trio crack both cases and the scene is set for future adventures as they dub themselves the Friday Society.

As I said, I loved this book! I found it so much fun and I loved each of the main characters. Each is strong with her own personality and witty comments. The book is told in shifting third-person and every time it changed, I decided I liked that character the most-I could not make up my mind.  I also liked the supporting characters (including one I pegged as bad news) especially the suitor for Nellie who was so cute. There was a bit of romance but it is in no way overwhelming and it always takes a backseat to the more important work of the mysteries.  A main theme of the book is females facing prejudice against males, a particular favorite of mine, so that also certainly aided in my delight.

My one problem was that the book was maybe a bit on the long side? There's a lot of set-up before the big crisis of London being threatened. A few smaller incidents lead up to that as well as fleshing out the main characters but it seemed a bit much. I think it's just because it's the first book and we need to learn those things. I hope the second book (please please please let there be a second book) is more tightly paced.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Crown of Embers

The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson
4/5 stars
Greenwillow, 2012
410 pages
YA Fantasy

Source: Library

Warning: SPOILERS for book one

This sequel to The Girl of Fire and Thorns has been highly anticipated by many including myself. However after reading some disappointing second books this year, I was nervous to pick it up despite reassurances from Jen Ryland among others. In the end, I liked this book well enough but immediately after finishing it, I started reading The Friday Society and, well, I liked that one a lot more.

I just had trouble clicking with this book. It's not a bad second book; in fact, it has a lot of positives but it didn't spark my interest. Once I finally had it in my hands, I opened it eagerly but I almost had to force myself to continue to the next chapter.

What I still liked was Elisa, who is now ruling as queen after the death of her husband. She is very timid, as a foreigner not prepared for reigning in her own right and faces many trials, both internally and externally. Her greatest strength, although she doesn't seem to realize it initially, is her heart and compassion. She mostly wants to give people second chances and she wants to trust them even when they are in suspicious circumstances. Even those who hurt her in the first book have a chance at redemption.

Something I had mixed feelings about was the romance. Don't get me wrong, I quite like Elisa's romantic interest (I love how honorable he is and committed to her as queen as well as a person) but I found her dithering over him annoying. She kept saying she couldn't marry him, she couldn't be with him but for those who have read the book, what does she end up doing?

The part I liked least was how long it took for anything to really happen (I felt). Early on it seemed that Elisa would go on some kind of quest, leaving her palace. I love court intrigue but quests are fun as well so I spent a lot of time waiting for that part. Once it did finally happen, I was very happy and loved the intense magical action during those scenes. Yes, there is a lot of buildup and okay maybe Elisa almost gets assassinated pretty early on but then she has to recover and it just wasn't as page-turning as I would have liked.

Cover: I like that it's darker than the first since the situations are getting darker as well.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Scandalous, Dissolute, No-Good Mr. Wright

The Scandalous, Dissolute, No-Good Mr. Wright by Tessa Dare
4/5 stars
Avon Impulse, 2012
100 pages
Adult Historical Romance

Source: Received an e-ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This is a novella, originally from the e-book anthology Three Weddings and a Murder. As there is no murder in this book, you can rest assured only that you find a wedding. We have two characters who have been portrayed as somewhat wanton and unwilling to abide by societal rules. The titular Mr. Wright is a rake of the worst kind while Miss Eliza Cade has had her season delayed until all three of her older sisters are married due to a very youthful indiscretion.  Over the course of several years, the characters repeatedly meet and come to see each other's true nature, which is far more honorable than reputation would lead one to believe.

As I expected, this was a pretty light fast predictable read-that is why I wanted to read it! I also wanted to check out Tessa Dare's writing as I've eyed her books for some time now but have never taken the time to give any a read.

Given that Wright's first name is Harry, I kind of pictured him as rapscallion Prince Harry, which is not an awful comparison. Meanwhile Eliza's name brings to mind Elizabeth Bennet, another favorable comparison. I liked both of them but didn't love them, if you know what I mean. Given that this is just a novella, there isn't really room for other characters (which is nice; I don't mind connected romance novels which introduce the other characters who will be receiving stories later on but sometimes it tends to take away from the main couple). Here each chapter is situated around a meeting between the pair and is intensely focused on them and their budding relationship.

Overall: A fun quick read, especially recommended for those who want to check out Tessa Dare's writing without necessarily committing to a full-length novel.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
Believed to have been written 1601/2
110 pages
Play Comedy

Source: Own

This isn't going to be a proper review or anything because I lack the vocabulary and insight to really delve into Shakespeare but I have some things to share. I wanted to read this for a couple of reasons. First I have not read many plays; I believe I've only read four for school. As I am no longer in school, I will have to read them on my own in order to become more acquainted with this most great of English writers.

Second my understanding was that "twelfth night" has something to do with the Christmas season although I know that the twelfth night is actually January 5.

Lastly I adore the film "She's the Man" starring Amanda Bynes and Channing Tatum in one of his first starring roles. My entire family finds that movie hilarious and I've always wondered about the source material for it. I also love the film "Shakespeare in Love," another funny flick, which ends with Shakespeare beginning to write this play after being inspired by his love.

When I did start reading this, I must say thank you to "She's the Man" because I really relied on it to follow the relationships for about half the play. However it was of no use for me for the other half, which is a plot to fool one uptight character and let anarchy and fun-loving reign. I did not really understand it but what I thought I understood seemed rather mean.

I suspect that I would have enjoyed this more if I was watching a staged version. As it was, I struggled to follow most of the action and I was left with so many questions regarding how characters ended up in their situations and what were their motivations in those situations. I'm used to longer wordier books with loads of character development and that just doesn't happen in this play.

Rating: Well I'm still giving it 5/5 because it's Shakespeare. This will not be my final experience with this play. I definitely would love to see it staged, whether live or a film adaptation-any recommendations?

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Lady Most Willing

The Lady Most Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, and Connie Brockway
4/5 stars
Avon Books, 2012
384 pages
Adult Historical Romance

Source: Received an e-ARC through the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Potential spoilers: the set-up for this book is that there are several eligible young people and you don't quite know who will end up with who; however I will be talking about that. I don't think it should be a big deal but fair warning to you.

I'm a total Quinn fan girl as I believe I've said on multiple occasions. But for some reason I've had a prejudice against Scottish romance stories. Basically I only seek out Regency London romances but when other Scottish stories have come my way, I have turned up my nose. I guess I have absorbed some of the characters' prejudices as there Scottish lords seem to be considered on a lower level than English. So the setting did briefly give me pause although that was soon assuaged.

Also giving me pause was the framing for these three stories which is that Lord Ferguson has two nephews and he is tired of waiting for them to get married. So he and his clansmen kidnap prospective heiress brides (and accidentally a duke) from a nearby house-party and let themselves get snowed in while magic happens. On the one hand, I'm super annoyed for these girls at their fate of being abducted but on the other hand, it strongly reminds me of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, an old musical I adore so I resolved to push past that to check out the stories.

First up is the Duke of Bretton with Catriona Burns, accidentally kidnapped as she is penniless. Nonetheless the two find themselves drawn to each other and quickly fall. As you might expect, there is a lot of wit and humor in this Quinn selection.

Second was probably my favorite coupling with Fiona Chisolm and the laird's nephew the Earl of Oakley. She is ruined in the eyes of society after her fiance died falling off the ivy on her tower while the earl was thrown over my his fiancee in favor of her dance-master. This is a second chance to do things right for the pair and they were so adorable. The earl was so upright and kind of a stick in the mud but I tend to prefer that kind of hero to the charming one who gets away with all sorts of wrong-doings.

The last couple was Cecily and Robin, the laird's other nephew. She has always been waiting for true love and as soon as they meet, she knows she's found it. Meanwhile Robin thinks he is insufficient due to his upbringing and his poverty while she is an heiress. Cecily has to be the aggressive one in this relationship in order to bring them to the altar.

There is also a fourth young lady, Fiona's half-sister Marilla who is shameless in her attempts to snag a lord for her husband. As each man falls for his partner, she simply moves on to the next guy. She was incredibly annoying, both to the characters within the book as well as to me. But she manages to get her own happily ever after so all's well that ends well!

Since these are short stories, the romances move incredibly fast (most over just one day before the snow thaws enough after maybe three/four days) and aren't as satisfying as a full-length story can be. However it did a great job evoking the cold and making me smile in time for Christmas! If you like these authors and/or Regency romance tropes, I think this will work for you.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Pre-Christmas Ramblings (and the Week to Come)

So today kicks off a very exciting week in the Barclays Premier League-Manchester United is playing today, on the 26th, and again on the 29th. Looking forward to some wins as my Phildaelphia Eagles end their season with a losing record :(

Last week was a very busy week in real life; I had hardly any time to read but I'm looking to catch up over the holiday. I finished one book yesterday and plan to finish two more today with more to come tomorrow and Tuesday. The goal is to reach 300 books read for 2012 and I've only read 291 but I think I can make it *fingers crossed*  I also downloaded a bunch of e-galleys in addition to receiving a few books (too lazy to make a proper books received this week but will have one up next week) and completely scheduled my reading for January and February.

Although it is the holidays, I have a full week of blogging planned. We'll start the week out adult but you'll want to be sure to return Thursday and Friday for 2012 YA release reviews.

Monday: The Lady Most Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, and Connie Brockway
Tuesday: Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
Wednesday: The Scandalous, Dissolute, No-Good Mr Wright by Tessa Dare
Thursday: The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson
Friday: The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress
Saturday: What Matters in Jane Austen? by John Mullan

What are you up to today? Happy reading :)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Lovelier Than Daylight

Lovelier Than Daylight by Rosslyn Elliott
4.5/5 stars
Thomas Nelson, 2012
350 pages
Adult Historical Christian Romance

Book 1: Fairer than Morning
Book 2: Sweeter Than Birdsong

Source: Received a copy through Booksneeze in exchange for an honest review.

Book 3 in this trilogy picks up in 1875 with the niece of book 1's couple. Susanna arrives to attend college at Otterbein only to discover her sister's kids have been dropped off at orphanages and her sister has disappeared. Additionally a man is attempting to open a tavern in the dry town much to the ire of the temperance movement there.

I loved that alcohol and temperance played such a big role here. I did think that it leaned a little heavily on the extreme pro-temperance side (since that is Susanna's belief and she is the main character); keep in mind, that aligns with my own beliefs and even I thought it was a little extreme. But we also have a strong voice arguing for the allowance of alcohol in the person of Johann Giere, son of a brewer who is an aspiring journalist and whose feelings for Susanna put them in constant contact. There are other voices on both sides but those are the most prominent. Another historical plot aspect was the power of journalism to effect social change. Although this isn't a major thread, newspaper stories provide important documentation about the battle over alcohol and other abuses. We're in a golden period of journalism here!

Johann is a good man and their romance was so sweet. I've read the previous books and this was definitely my favorite romance. I loved the short courtship and the way that sharing their first names was such an intimate act. Although I'm a modern woman, I have idealized some of the old-fashioned mores and this romance was a great example of that.  They both placed such value and caution on pursuing this relationship in contrast to some more casual treatments of relationships in some YA novels.

However what really got me and lifted up this book was near the end when Susanna is challenged in her faith. She realizes she was acting out of righteousness rather than with the love and mercy of Jesus. The example of her aunt Ann and uncle Will was pivotal in her recognition of this fact as were interactions with her sister and Johann. It moved me to tears and caused me to reflect-a great combination.

Overall: If you like these categories (Christian historical), I would highly recommend this. I hope if you've read the other books, you also enjoy this one. This can be read as a standalone but I think the rich historical background of the others would add to your reading experience.

Cover: I really like this cover-I think the pop of yellow makes this my favorite cover of the trilogy.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Girl in the Wall

The Girl in the Wall by Daphne Benedis-Grab
4/5 stars
Merit Press, 2012
186 pages
YA Contemporary Thriller

Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I'm starting by admitting that I was sad to see that the cover had changed as the pink cover on the ARC had been what initially caught my attention when browsing titles on Netgalley. However I do think the pink suggets a more lighthearted story than is actually contained within this book as this is a very high-stakes, no-holds barred suspense story.

It starts deceptively calm with Sera dreading going to her best friend Ariel's birthday party. Why? Well, the two are actually estranged after Sera shared something and Ariel marshaled her wealth and popularity to ostracize Sera for that "betrayal." However Sera's father makes her go, with at least the plus side being that Sera gets to see heartthrob Hudson Winters perform.

The party is disrupted though when masked men burst in and kill Ariel's father and friend who they mistook for Ariel. In all the chaos, Ariel sneaks out to hide in the walls of her ginormous mansion while Sera struggles to remain calm. The two girls will have to work through their differences in order to get out alive.

I did think the story was a bit of a slow starter as I kept waiting for someone to disappear in the walls. Then it started and I kept closing my nook after each chapter feeling so tense and needing to decompress from what I had just read, only to pick it up again immediately because I had to know what was coming next. In addition to the girls rebuilding their friendship, there is also a mini-romance for each (just mini because surviving is more of a priority) and the suspense behind the attack. Obviously Ariel was a target but why and who? You'll need to read to find out!

Cover: I preferred the pink cover for the ARC but this one is okay-it's not my favorite or anything. It actually makes me think of a molestation story with the girl's eyes looking particularly vulnerable.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Scent of Magic

Scent of Magic by Maria V. Snyder
4/5 stars
Harlequin MIRA, 2012
414 pages
Adult Fantasy Romance

Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Spoilers for first book!

I adored the first book in this series, Touch of Power, last year, speeding breathlessly through every little scene. So yes I was excited for this second book...except I remembered how much I loved Poison Study while being disappointed with its follow-up. What if the same thing happened here?

I'll admit that at first I was a little listless and picking this book up to read just a chapter or two. It was certainly not as gripping as the first book...but after maybe about halfway through, I was hooked again and racing through to the cliffhanger ending!

When we pick up this book, pretty much everyone thinks Avry is dead, a situation she decides to take advantage of by disguising herself and ingratiating herself with Estrid's army to see what they're facing against Tohon. Her lover Kerrick is against this plan but accepts her decision to do this while he returns to Prince Ryne. This time the book mostly focuses on Avry with every one of her chapters being followed by a few pages detailing Kerrick's adventures.

As a big fan of their romance, I was disappointed that Avry and Kerrick spent most of the book apart. Another sadness was the lack of favorite characters from the first book-they're all mentioned and they're on Avry's mind but she's busy meeting a lot of new people, who I fortunately found to be charming additions. I really loved Avry being undercover, attempting to avoid drawing attention to her unique healer powers but still driven by compassion in addition to her cunning. At this point, I think I might like Avry more than Yelena (maybe).

As for Kerrick's story, I was surprised by how much I ended up liking it. For those who have read, his scenes with Danny up north were killer. I loved the short glimpses we got of Danny growing and learning about what his future might be like.

Cover: Just now as I was typing did I realize that Kerrick was on the cover. Before I had only seen thumbnails, I guess, and focused on Avry with her yellow pouch (I assume it holds the seeds, which makes much more sense than my original conception of them as being the size of huge pumpkins and wondering about their portability.)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Raven Boys

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
4.5/5 stars
Scholastic Press, 2012
408 pages
YA Paranormal

Source: Library

Wow, what can I say about this beautiful enchanting magical book? I'll admit that it took some time to become immersed in this book and I struggled with some character names at first and then later with some of their motivations and decisions (oh why, Adam?) But my overwhelming reaction is one of love tempered with the knowledge that this could be a very polarizing book. I can definitely see it not working for everyone although if we tend to agree on books, then you'll hopefully love this one.

One of the differences from much YA fiction is that this story is told in third person narrative shifting instead of the more typical first-person narrative. Most of the story focuses on Blue, daughter of a clairvoyant mother who does not possess any specific powers but does magnify them in others, an increasingly important talent as the story unfolds. But it also shifts to focus on the titular Raven Boys, specifically four young men (Gansey, Adam, Ronan, and Noah) with many secrets between them as well as the other characters who make up this story.

This book is just over four-hundred pages, which I feel is a bit on the long side for YA and I did feel like the story was a little slow especially in the beginning. However I persevered, having read other reviews assuring me that the payoff was worth it. And boy do I agree! The ending had me gripping the book so tightly, desperately scanning the words and flipping the pages to see what was going to come next. Every little piece at the beginning may have confused me then but by the end, I could see how it all tied together and led up to where the story is going to go. The ending even sort of ends with a cliffhanger as one of the boys reveals something that seems like it should be impossible...great way to leave me craving more.

Although I definitely think Stiefvater has a poetic writing style, I feel like it was lessened a little here, which is a good thing because that is sometimes a struggle for me.  Actually this book reminded me a bit of Unspoken but with less ha-ha funny moments (although still some good one-liners) and less alienating character/plot to me. I was able to fall much harder for this book.

Overall: My favorite Stiefvater yet-so so good!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Louder Than Words

Louder Than Words by Laurie Plissner
4/5 stars
Merit Press, 2012
247 pages
YA Contemporary

Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Earlier this year, I read What I Didn't Say, a novel where the main character loses his voice permanently. I also read Speechless where the main character willingly chooses to remain silent to atone for past mistakes. I thought it would be interesting to check out another book where the main character does not speak.

In this case, Sasha has lost her voice after a horrific car accident that killed her parents and sister. The diagnosis is selective mutism based on the traumatic incident and she speaks using a voice box. After four years of therapy, she has basically resigned herself to never speaking again. Until one day she meets Ben, who can read minds and a beautiful relationship is born. With his support (as well as the continued support of her her aunt, uncle, and best friend), Sasha fights for her voice and looks into the possibility that the car accident was no such thing.

One thing that was interesting to me was Ben's ability to read minds. Although Sasha is surprised, she quickly accepts it after he demonstrates and that's that. There isn't an attempt to make this a full-on paranormal or fantasy. It's just one element that sets Ben aside from other people in her life, not a big deal at all. And their relationship is pretty sweet, especially as he challenges her not to accept the life she was planning to accept but to want more. He's hugely supportive as they experiment with ways to reclaim her voice as well as when she investigates the accident site and discovers cryptic notes that reveal there is more to the story of the accident.

I did think the ending was a little rushed. Thankfully all my questions were answered but everything unfolded over just a few pages. We confirm that the accident was purposeful and we learn who and why (hint: the person is somewhat deranged). It just happened so fast.

Content warning: a lot of sexual stuff-I was quite surprised; it may make this book inappropriate for younger readers.

Cover: I'm a self-professed fangirl of covers that feature girls in pretty dresses but I actually really like this one. It's different, feels very arty in an appealing rather than exclusionary.

Monday, December 17, 2012


Tempestuous by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes
4/5 stars
Merit Press, 2012
181 pages
YA Contemporary Shakespeare

Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I love when contemporary YA novels take the classics and twist them to creative something different and fun. Unfortunately I thought I knew the story of "The Tempest" better than I actually did because I'm not really sure how this book relates to that play beyond a few shared character names. Fortunately that did not impair my enjoyment at all, as I found this a fun fast read.

Miranda Prospero used to be one of the most popular girls in school until one of her ideas is exposed as a cheating scandal jeopardizing the future college prospects of several of her classmates. Now she is ostracized and forced to work in the food court to repay her debt to society. The trait that always gets her in trouble is her ability to manipulate situations, arranging them to her satisfaction but sometimes with unintended consequences. However this actually comes in handy when a snowstorm leaves her, her coworkers, and many of her peers stranded at the mall. As her angry classmates take over one corner and a burglar runs rampant, Miranda takes matters into her own hands (while being handcuffed to the annoying but cute magic shop guy) to wreak vengeance and track down the thief.

I think what I liked most about this book was the fun writing. The two authors wrote very seamlessly and very polished. The plot itself is also cool. Although perhaps slightly overstuffed, there is something very compelling and more than a little wish fulfillment about staying overnight in the mall with all the food and fun contained within. Beyond stuffing themselves silly, there is looting and a rock concert. I shudder to think of the mess that would need to be cleaned up afterward but it's all alright within the confines of the book.

Miranda is of a very different personality to myself but one that I found most compelling. She is so good at sizing people up and although her former self was incredibly selfish, this new personality she is forging is more humble while still retaining her strength and sense of self. Ariel is Miranda's coworker, a home schooled sheltered sweetheart with a surprisingly deviant sense of humor. That girl is just so cute and I loved her! The last character to mention would be Caleb, the boy who is handcuffed to Miranda for much of the story, is the main person capable of standing up to Miranda's machinations and is (*surprise*) her love interest. He was perfectly acceptable in that role.

Overall: A really fun story-great for a quick read! I would love to know how it compares to the actual story if there is anyone who has read both.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Story About Jane Austen (and the Week to Come)

Today is Jane Austen's birthday and as she is my favorite author and it is a Sunday ramblings post, I wanted to share a little story about my recent experience rereading Pride and Prejudice.

I was reading it on the Kindle app on my Droid because it came loaded for free (it is very important to the story that I was reading an e-book rather than a physical copy). While most of my friends like to read, very few of them venture into the YA realm so classics tend to be where we overlap especially when it comes to Miss Austen. Except that is for one friend who hates Austen, calling her boring (!) Well I always thought that was crazy until I reached Darcy's proposal and realized that it was just at the halfway mark (according to the app-this is not something I would have noticed with my paper copy since it has notes at the beginning and end that make the length of the book deceptive). Really all the exciting stuff takes place in the latter half and I can now understand why people would discard P&P if they didn't know all the goodness that was to come.

Reviews to Come-it's another busy week on the blog!

Kim Askew and Amy Helmes offer a twisted contemporary update of Shakespeare's "The Tempest"

Louder Than Words
This is actually my second read of the year where the MC cannot speak

The Raven Boys
Maggie Stiefvater's latest, which has received great reviews

Scent of Magic
The newest Maria V. Snyder-what more do you need to know???

The Girl in the Wall
 A YA thriller that spares no punches in who may live or die

Lovelier than Daylight
The conclusion to Rosslyn Elliott's Saddler's Legacy trilogy offering a deep look into one segment of the temperance movement in 1870s Ohio.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Forever a Lord

Forever a Lord by Delilah Marvelle
3.5/5 stars
Harlequin, 2012
345 pages
Adult Historical Romance

Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This is the third book in The Rumor trilogy. I reviewed the first book Forever and a Day last year and found myself with mixed feelings. Consequently I skipped over the second book but was eager to pick up this third.

One of the most interesting parts of this book to me was the hero's involvement in boxing. And not boxing like we see now on TV but far more intense with basically no rules and no gloves to protect their hands. The hero, Lord Nathaniel James Atwood, has had an unconventional upbringing, having been kidnapped at age ten and held in New York when his lord father refused to pay the price to have him released. That leaves its marks and helps explain why he eschews the society into which he was born.

This lifestyle is also what brings him into the path of our heroine Lady Imogene who decides to invest in him with the hopes of a brighter future for herself and her brother. However in order to satisfy propriety, she marries Nathaniel so that she can more closely follow his career. Of course a love story follows.

I fear that my representation of the story may make it sound a bit on the crazy sound but in Marvelle's hands, it all flowed pretty smoothly especially the interesting boxing history as already mentioned. I was less enthralled with the characters. It's not that they were bad or bland; they just didn't spark for me as individuals although I certainly felt the passion between them. The way that each had to let go of their hang-ups in order to truly come together as a married couple was probably my second favorite part of the book.

Overall: Come for a gritty romance from Marvelle's skillful pen, stay for the neat historical facts about boxing.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Some thoughts on The Hobbit

So I did not go to a midnight showing and have not in fact seen the film yet but I did read the book...a good twelve years ago. It is also my birthday so I'm feeling celebratory and a bit lazy-this will not be a very long post.

  • The part I'm most excited about in the film is Bilbo and Gollum's riddle-off. I only read The Hobbit once but I read that section over and over again. I'm pretty sure it will be in this film (or at least I sure hope so!)
  • I'm really not sure about having this book as a film trilogy-I tend to prefer shorter films and these sound like they will have so much padding. What do you think?
  • I am very excited for Martin Freeman (see above as Bilbo) and Richard Armitage (as Thorin, the main dwarf), both of whom I've been a fan for some years now (starting with "Love Actually" and "North and South" respectively but through other projects as well). Hope to see more of them in other films going forward!
I'm not entirely sure when I'll be seeing the film as my theater has way more films in 3D which is a HUGE pain for those of us who wear glasses-wearing a second pair of glasses over your regular glasses is very unpleasant, doubly unpleasant for an almost three-hour film. And honestly I'm more excited about my Manchester United game tomorrow-soccer can be really fun.

Anyway happy Friday everyone-I'll be back tomorrow with a review and then Sunday with a post for Jane Austen's birthday. Happy reading!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Not Exactly a Love Story

Not Exactly a Love Story by Audrey Coulombis
3.5/5 stars
Random House Books for Young Readers, 2012
276 pages
YA Historical

Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

As seems to happen so often to me of late, I am of two minds about this book, one very positive, the other latching onto one element that really drags down the rating of the book because it just strikes me the wrong way. It's a huge bummer because of course I want to love every book I read.

Let's start with the good, which is that this is a historical. It is so weird to classify this it that way but it is set in 1977 while being written today so that is what it technically is (sidenote: props to Coulombis for not making any characters obsessed with Star Wars because I would have been unable to resist that temptation). But it feels very contemporary with its focus on high school, love, and family. I especially loved the family plot, which has Vinnie's parents getting divorced, his mother almost immediately remarried, and Vinnie moving across the city, forced to attend a new school and getting bullied. He's also navigating crushes including the beautiful popular Patsy who is dating Vinnie's bully.  All of these parts were just fine with a good balance struck between everything.

What is the bad then? Well, Vinnie steals the phone number to the private line of Patsy, who lives next door to him. He decides to call her at midnight and his opening line is...shall we say...not smooth. He sounds like a pervert and he continues to call her, trying to develop a real relationship. Along the way he thinks about how she could've been nicer and more understanding but it's not like she owes him anything. It's also really creepy that she learns he goes to her school but he refuses to divulge his name or his private number or anything about himself. Vinnie can learn as much about Patsy as he wants but she is stymied in learning the most basic facts about him-he has all the power in the relationship and I was really uncomfortable because Vinnie is our hero. I hope he's not going to be used as a role model for similarly awkward boys. And because it's 1977, all Patsy can do is find out from the operator that the number is local-there are no other ways to trace.

Overall: As I said, this one negative element really gave me pause and dragged down the rating of the book. It's my one big hesitation when thinking about whether or not to recommend it to others so I guess I'd say the writing is good but this one plot point was a big sticking point for me.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Rift by Andrea Cremer
3/5 stars
Philomel Books, 2012
430 pages
YA Paranormal Historical

Source: Library

Unlike a lot of people, I did not end Bloodrose furious at Andrea Cremer for one particular event (seriously, there are some angry reviews on goodreads.) So when I decided to treat myself by taking a break from review copies and choosing something special to read, this prequel to the Nightshade trilogy was at the top of my list.

It is billed as delivering the history of Bosque Mar as well as setting the scene for the rift between the Keepers and the Searchers. I have admired Cremer's world-building and history credentials (she has a Ph.D. in early modern history) so I figured this historical setting in 1404 would be incredibly realized as well as featuring the addictive writing that kept me turning pages.

Well I was partly right. I loved the historical settings and I read this book fairly quickly (sidenote: I don't always like deckle-edges but I really liked it on this book). My favorite part was probably in the beginning when we meet Ember Morrow, our heroine for the trilogy, who only survived at birth due to a very skilled healer and whose life is now owed to Conatus for sending that healer. Her father wants otherwise, preferring to use Ember as a tool to enrich his status through her marriage but he cannot fight yet. Ember for her part is thrilled to join Conatus, scorning the wifely arts of weaving and managing a household and craving adventure with her best friend Alistair Hart. 

However once she joins the order she becomes highly infatuated with her mentor Barrow Hess, whose age is probably significantly older than her sixteen years (I could not get past this-I realize he can't be that old in the grand scheme of things but this particular age gap grossed me out.)  I was so bored reading on much Ember was attracted to Barrow and since their teaching relationship requires that they spend a lot of time together, it popped up a lot.  I think it might have been more tolerable if the story was in first-person but as a third-person narrative, I don't think that much time needed to be spent on this guy.

The main reason for third-person narrative seems to be to follow Eira, a fellow warrior of Conatus, who becomes entangled with Bosque Mar. This really gains steam in the latter half but I wasn't very invested in the whole adventure. I really wish I remember Mar better as he certainly has the potential to be a very evil villain as some of his deeds in this book suggest.  But Eira was somewhat sketchily drawn here and I always felt jarred when the book shifted to focus on her to the exclusion of Ember.

Overall: My general attitude toward this book is very neutral. It didn't inspire many passionate feelings in me (except for loathing the Ember/Barrow romance, which was so dull) nor did I find it as addictive as the Nightshade trilogy. I will probably not be continuing.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Mystic City

Mystic City by Theo Lawrence
4/5 stars
Delacorte Press, 2012
357 pages
YA Fantasy Romance

Source: Received an ARC through Amazon Vine in exchange for an honest review.

This book grabbed me with its cover and further pulled me in with its one page prologue. It was a great start that was not entirely sustained but kept me well enough entertained to put the second book on my to-read list.

After the prologue, we jump back in time opening on Aria as a real-life Juliet, engaged to be married to the son of her family's biggest rival. However Aria has no memory of seeking through the depths of the city falling in love with Thomas, having overdosed weeks ago or so she's been told (honestly it's pretty obvious that she's being lied to especially if you've ever read a book before).  All she knows is that this marriage will unite the wealthy and powerful as they fight off a threat from the magical lower-classes (the mystics who are largely under control but who also exist outside of the government's thumb).

But those troubling non-memories continually plague Aria with her confusion only multiplying after meeting mystic Hunter. He seems to fit the Romeo bill far better than Thomas but the machinations of her family run deep. Since one of my favorite plot elements is the role of family, I loved exploring that side. As is made explicitly clear to Aria by her father, family comes first: "If you do not choose your family, Aria, then we do not choose you" (pg 121, ARC-will need to check with finished copy to confirm accuracy). I can't begin to explain all my love for this but it's just so good. It made me think of All These Things We've Done and the family there although of course there are many differences between the stories.

On a more humorous note, I loved Aria's attempts to sneak through the underground of the city. She has one of the most famous faces in the city (made even more so by her "romantic" love story) and zero skills, getting recognized, caught, harassed, and/or chased every time. Girl may not be very bright (her memories have been tampered with after all) but she is very persistent. I'm not sure if the author meant to portray her as a bit incompetent or if that's just my reading after so many YA novels with similar sneaking arounds.

Some other elements of note would be action and romance. The beginning is a bit slow with Aria struggling with her memories but the ending has a lot of movement and revelations. The romance was also lacking. Thomas did nothing for me although I did picture him as quite cute (think BBC Robin Hood if you want to know who I was picturing). I was pretty bored with that part generally though, preferring the family drama and Aria's attempts to negotiate out of her relationship with Thomas.

Overall: This was a fine book with some cool world-building and action-y moments but it was not true love between us. Still I am anxious to know what comes next and will thus plan to read the second book.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Perry's Killer Playlist

Perry's Killer Playlist by Joe Schreiber
4/5 stars
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2012
209 pages
YA Contemporary Action

Source: Received an ARC through Amazon Vine.

Although I liked Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick and wanted to know more about the titular chick, known as Gobi, I wasn't entirely sure a sequel was necessary. The first book had its own contained story. Still I enjoyed it enough that I instantly wanted the second and after a bit of waiting, I got to it.

I missed the first book's chapter framing device of responding to college admissions essays but this time we have song titles from classic rock, appropriate for Perry's new status as bassist for his rising band. I believe they were mentioned a bit originally but more space is spent this time. His life is pretty good-as I said, he's got the band who are embarking on a European tour and are close to cutting a CD and personally he's dating a hot older woman. Until that is they arrive in Venice and Perry seeks out Gobi and everything goes BLAM, a hundred miles an hour.

I don't want to spoil anything about the twists and turns but rest assured that it feels similar to the first book and each chapter ends leaving you wanting to start the next one immediately, which is super fun when you're reading on your lunch break, let me tell you! We get to spend more time with Perry and Gobi as well as meeting some new assistance and villains who always keep you guessing. I had no idea which way the plot would veer next and it was exciting.

I would definitely recommend reading the first book first so that you know what exactly went down there: not just Gobi's mission in New York that is a catalyst for so many actions in this book but also to see Perry's family drama. You could be brought up to speed in this book but they might feel sketchily drawn without that prior knowledge. It feels like there might be a third book to compose a trilogy but there's no cliffhanger promising that. Just as Au Revoir was primarily self-contained, Perry's Killer Playlist is too.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Ramblings and the Week to Come

I haven't talked much about the holiday season because even though I'm excited for Christmas, I'm not really feeling it as a whole yet. The only film I've watched is "Love Actually" and I've only listened to a couple of songs, which is very unlike me. Personally I am blaming Thanksgiving for coming so early and throwing everything off. I hope to feel more Christmasy as the month goes on.

In other news, I have decided to be a soccer fan and am a little grouchy today because my team, Manchester United, is playing at 5:30 AM (PT) this morning. Usually they play at 9:30 Saturday mornings. However it is against big rival Manchester City so hopefully it will be a very exciting match to justify my early rising.

Reviews to come:

Perry's Killer Playlist by Joe Schreiber
Sequel to the very fun Au Revoir, European Chick but was it necessary?

Mystic City by Theo Lawrence
I love this gorgeous cover but other than knowing it was YA, I really wondered what to expect from this book in terms of genre and plot.

Rift by Andrea Cremer
I found the Nightshade trilogy highly addictive-did I find this prequel to be the same?

Not Exactly a Love Story by Audrey Couloumbis
A historical (set in the 1970s) that feels very contemporary-I have feelings about this one!

Some thoughts on The Hobbit (and my birthday!)
I won't have seen the film yet so it's just about the book

Forever a Lord by Delilah Marvelle
Ending the week with an adult historical romance-just what I need as a palate cleanser sometimes

Reading Goals for Today:

Finish The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater-I'm about 75% done and loving it! If I wasn't planning on watching my match, I would have stayed up late to finish this.
Read The Scandalous, Dissolute, No-Good Mr. Wright by Tessa Dare-this is a novella so that seems manageable.
Start Tempestuous by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes-hoping for a really fun twist on Shakespeare

What are you up to this fine Sunday?

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