Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

13578987This book has been on my TBR since it first released I’m pretty sure. I remember seeing the description and thinking “Wow, that sounds really neat!” I remember buying it as a Kindle daily deal at some point quite a while ago and just never got around to reading it until now. There has been so much hype lately around Leigh Bardugo, I just couldn’t put it off anymore and I’m glad for that because I really enjoyed the book.

So just in case you are one of the people left in the world who still has not read Shadow and Bone, the book is centered around our orphaned heroine Alina. She is a map maker in the king’s First Army along with her best friend, Mal, who is a soldier in the army as well. The author does a pretty good job with the world building, as the world is meant to more-or-less parallel/alternate Russia. However, in the middle of it all is The Fold, a dark epicenter filled with winged beasts called the Volcra, that will show mercy on no one. When the Army travels through The Fold, Alina must save Mal’s life and unknowingly calls upon a light within herself that turns out to be a rare Grisha power. The Darkling, and many others, take notice of this gift and whisk Alina away to the Little Palace. Here she settles into what should be a life of comfort, but in stead is hard training and (spoiler) meetings with the Darkling, who is filled with secrets.

36315977That’s about all I can say plot-wise without going into bigger spoilers. Regarding my character impressions thus far, I will say that I am not 100% impressed with Alina but I am not disappointed. Orphan-to-Princess/Powers isn’t my favorite trope so that might be part of it. I definitely don’t dislike her though, I’ll say that. She’s just not my Katniss (my favorite heroine ever). Mal–the best friend–is pretty ok as well. Thus far he is pretty stubborn and he was a little “I didn’t notice you before but I see you now” and to me he loses points for that. The winner of the book, however, is the Darkling. I love dark characters with secrets. I’m sorry, guys. Other examples: Jean Claude in the Anita Blake books. The Darkling has the good one-liners, the moves….oh man, I’m sorry, but if we’re making him the villain, he’s my favorite villain because….yeah. Just, yeah. Its all up in the air as to what direction the series is going to go at this point and I am definitely reading on!

Book Soundtrack: “Over” by Portishead

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Tag Tuesday: Falling for Fall

Hi everyone! Today is the perfect fall day and how could I possibly do any other tag than the “Falling for Fall” tag from my fellow GREAT Blogger Jackie at The Bookworm Cafe. So here we go!

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  1. What is your favorite Fall scent? Nothing beats Mother Nature’s fresh morning dew on fallen leaves. Or the smell of an apple barn in the fall! Oh, love it! But I guess when it comes to commercial scents, Bath & Body Works’ Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin and/or Apple Pumpkin. Both are SO GOOD!! Yum!
  2. Do you prefer apple stuff or pumpkin stuff? Apples in September and Pumpkins in October. But really everything all the time, lol!
  3. What is one thing that you look forward to every single Fall? Going to apple orchards and pumpkin patches. Reading mysteries and suspense books. Decorating. Wait, the question only called for one thing didn’t it? Whoops! ;P
  4. How do you like to spend the more chilly/cloudy days in the Fall? Cuddled up with a book and a cup of tea or cider.
  5. Which do you prefer: Halloween or Thanksgiving? All of the above!
  6. What is one thing you do to embrace the Fall season? ALL THE THINGS!! lol. Decorate my house and office desk, light candles, read seasonal books. 
  7. What photos would you like to get this Fall season? I just took fall-themed engagement photos!
  8. Favorite childhood memory from this season? Carving pumpkins with my mom and brother.
  9. What is your favorite trend (fashion/makeup/etc) so far this season? Oooh, this is probably the area that I follow the least. I do know I like the slouchy sweaters/cardigans though.
  10. Describe what the Fall weather really looks like where you live. I’m in the midwest so the leaves are changing and falling and pumpkins are growing and we have apples and gourds and all the good stuff!

I hereby tag:

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Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert

25062038Little & Lion is the story of two siblings who go by the nicknames Little and Lion. Little, aka Suzette, comes home for the summer from boarding school after experimenting with her female roommate and is still questioning her own sexuality. Meanwhile her stepbrother Lion, aka Lionel, has been struggling with severe bipolar disorder. As Suzette settles in at home, she finds herself falling for the same girl as Lionel, and Lionel’s bipolar spirals out of control. Suzette has to confront all that she has said and not said to help her brother before it is too late.

In my opinion, Lionel was a fantastic character who, in his illness, was fantastically portrayed. I was not a fan of how Suzette handled it, but honestly, it was probably a realistic reaction to how a sibling or close friend might react to those confessions. Suzette was constantly monitoring and overreacting to Lion’s confessions and it drove me crazy. I hated the back and forth between his issues and her issues. It was all just too much for me. I wish the book had just been about either his troubles with bipolar and summer drama or her struggles with sexuality and summer drama. Having the book be about both just crammed so much drama and emotion into one little book.

All of that being said though, it was still a pretty decent story. I still liked all of the diversity and appreciated Brandy Colbert’s writing. If you’re into diverse books and/or can relate to either of these scenarios, then you’ll probably enjoy this book so give it a shot!

Book soundtrack: American Jesus by Bad Religion

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Nyxia by Scott Reintgen

27426044Nyxia is the first in a trilogy about a boy named Emmett who is leaving Earth as one of ten recruits under the Babel Corporation. Each of the recruits is competing for a lifelong prize of money and care for themselves and their families. En route to the planet Eden, Emmett fights for his life and learn to manipulate a curious substance called Nyxia. As the days go on, however, more and more secrets about Babel Corp., about Nyxia, and about the other people on the ship are discovered and deciding how to deal with these secrets is becoming more difficult every day.

I was both excited and wary to read this one. I saw that Nyxia was a mix between Ender’s Game (Sci-Fi) and the Hunger Games (Dystopian/Fantasy). I loved both of those books, and I really enjoy dystopian/fantasy genres but sci-fi can go either way in my opinion. Well, in Nyxia’s case, the sci-fi aspect was actually one of the more interesting parts of the book. I thought the concept of Nyxia was interesting, the training programs and technologies were cool, and I liked the ship and the scoreboard.

What I didn’t like as much about the book was the absolute obsession with the scorekeeping and friends vs enemies. This was all reminiscent of The Hunger Games, as it was a tournament of ten young people against each other for a “prize,” but it was much more annoying (in my opinion) in terms of certain repetitions. It made the pacing feel so slow and cyclical.

I have high hopes, however, that the next two books in the series will get better. I think that the ideas and concepts will flesh out more because they have a lot of merit. I really like the idea of a corporation with a lot of secrets; a planet with natives whom we haven’t really met yet; future relationships (good or bad) between the recruits. So I definitey think there is potential in the series and I can’t wait for the next installment!

Book soundtrack: Bangarang by Skrillex

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Assaulted Caramel by Amanda Flower

Hey everyone! So fall is upon us here in the Midwest and with the changing seasons, I tend to change genres a bit because I’m a mood reader. Hot, sunny weather means I want to read positive, love-vibes. Its contemporary romance weather to me typically. Cooler, autumn weather typically means cozy mysteries, thrillers, sci-fi, etc. Winter for me is fantasy, fantasy, fantasy. And spring? Paranormal. I don’t know why I feel this way about these genres and the seasons….that’s just how it is! All that being said, here’s my first cozy of the season! Its an ARC from Netgalley that just released on 8/29/17!

33290628Assaulted Caramel was a pretty good cozy mystery about Bailey King, who has taken a break from her job as assistant chocolatier at a world famous New York chocolate shop to take care of her ailing Amish grandfather. Her quick trip turns into a long haul when a dead body turns up in her grandparents’ own small chocolate shop and Bailey becomes the prime suspect.

So this book was actually very well written for a cozy, in my opinion. It was the first in series and it had just the right amount of balance between main character mystery, grandparent ailment problems, New York promotion drama, best friend fun, potential man romance for later down the road, small town sheriff conflict, etc. All of the cliches you expect in your mystery lite and just the right amount. I didn’t find the characters annoying….and the one character had a pet potbelly pig! Cute!! 🙂 I loved it! Overall, it wasn’t a groundbreaking read, but I wasn’t bored, I wasn’t really in LOVE with it, but I did like it!

How do you choose what genre and/or book to read next?

Book soundtrack: Mercury & Lightning by John Mark McMillan

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Reader Problems Book Tag

Hi everyone! To make up for my missed #TagTuesday last week, my weekly tag falls on a Saturday for this week. I was tagged by Dora, more formally known in our blogging family as Dorka at Berries and Books for the tag for the week, which is Reader Problems, and if some of these don’t just rub you the wrong way, then you are broken! Here goes:

1. You have 20,000 books on your TBR. How in the world do you decide what to read next? I am a mood reader so it depends on what kind of mood I am in. I think that my mood depends a lot on the weather and the season, so if it is summer and it is sunny, I’ll probably choose a contemporary romance. If its fall and its dreary, I’ll probably pick suspense or horror. Winter I tend to choose more fantasy/dystopian. etc. One other thing that determines what I read next is any other ARC/galley deadlines. If I told a publisher I would read something and have a review up by a publication, then I’ll make sure that I have that done. If I’m doing a tour and I need to get a book read and do my photos and a review, then I will have to prioritize reading that book.

2. You’re halfway through a book and you’re just not loving it. Do you quit or are you committed? If I made it halfway, I will likely finish. Less than halfway, probably not. Unless its an 800-page book, but I don’t read long tomes very often and honestly  that is part of the reason. Another consideration is, again, if I am committed by a publisher. If I have to finish it to write a review, then I will. If not, I probably will. But usually, I try to give a book the benefit of the doubt because usually, endings are the best parts.

3. The end of the year is coming and you’re so close, but so far away on your Goodreads reading challenge. Do you try to catch up and how? The holiday season can either be the biggest help or hurt to TBR lists. Personally, I get a small break from work around the holidays so I like to think positive and hope that I will reach my goal. If not, it really isn’t the end of the world. I will just adjust my goal for next year.

4. The covers of a series you love do. not. match. How do you cope? I. HATE. THIS. But really, what else is there to do except wait until you can collect the copies you need. Trade away for what you want, order them online. If you really love them so much, that’s just what you have to do.

5. Every one and their mother loves a book you really don’t like. Who do you bond with over shared feelings? There has to be someone else out there who feels the same way. I know there are hundreds and thousands of people who love”Queen Maas” for example but I’m still in the dark about her books. I know I’m in the vast minority on that. I feel so lonely in this…but I have met a couple of people who either dislike (GASP!) or have not yet read her books. Again, very few…but they do exist. So while I FEEL alone, I am not alone. You just have to search and wait until you find those few and far between who are like you. The book community is shockingly huge once you really get into it.

6. You’re reading a book and you are about to start crying in public. How do you deal? Oh, I’ll cry over a book in public. Not purposely, but if I have to, I will. I have. The pain is real.

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7. A sequel of a book you loved just came out, but you’ve forgotten a lot from the prior novel. Will you re-read the book? Skip the sequel? Try to find a synopsis on Goodreads? Cry in frustration?!?!?!? Yeah, this has happened to me. I’ve tried to find the synopsis on Goodreads. I’ve tried Wikipedia. I’ve tried just going on in the sequel. A good author will recap everything for you and you should be fine and things will come back to you. But a really good book will be worth the reread. However, rereads are time consuming so its rather a tossup, in my opinion.

8. You do not want anyone. ANYONE. borrowing your books. How do you politely tell people nope when they ask? Sorry, but I just put my foot down and say no. Maybe I’ll escort them to use my B&N discount or take them to the library but no, not taking my babies…I mean, books.

9. Reading ADD. You’ve picked up and put down 5 books in the last month. How do you get over your reading slump? Knock on wood, but I really don’t get this problem.

10. There are so many new books coming out that you’re dying to read! How many do you actually buy? The one that I truly intend to read next. When I have a coupon. Usually. Hopefully.

11. After you’ve bought the new books you can’t wait to get to, how long do they sit on your shelf before you get to them? Ohhhh, you got me. Probably a really long time. Ohhh, the pain!!! I’m so sorry bank account!! But my shelves look beautiful!!

Moving forward, I tag:

Linda @ Linda’s Little Library

Sarah @ Book Hooked Nook

Cassandra @ Cassie Winters

Stephanie @ Phannie the Ginger Worm

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Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero

Hi everyone! So I know I have been MIA for a little while. My apologies. I started a new full-time job! My very first full-time job, actually!! It has been a very exciting ride! So far I am absolutely loving it and I count myself so lucky to be working in my field and in a job where I like the people as well as what I am doing. So far I am still in training but hey, things are going so well. 🙂 Anyway, as you can see from my post title, I have a review today. Here goes:

32905343If you have heard of Meddling Kids, you know that we are expecting the Mystery Machine and its cohorts. Scooby Doo and Shaggy too, right? Well, more or less. We know the characters are knock-offs and its set in the 90’s and things have to be a little different but still…nostalgia, man!! It has to be good!! Plus, that COVER!!! RIGHT?!?!

Hmmm. Not for me. I did not connect with ANY of the characters. And I was bored. I was bored 97% of the time. I should have put it down and not finished but I kept going because it was an ARC and I felt obligated and come on, that COVER! And yeah, so sue me, I did want to see how it ended. (There was a little bit of a loose end, now that I really think about it….but I’ll let that be…maybe there’ll be a sequel).

Here is one perk to the book: If you are needing to build your vocabulary, for example, taking your SAT’s soon?, read this book. There are so many ridiculously advanced words in this book (myriaphonic!)….why? No idea. So the writing is….good? But big, flashy words don’t make writing good. Cantero goes from big words and descriptive narrative to scriptive writing.

Andy: Yes, I think so.
Peter: I’m a ghost and you can’t see me. I’m only in crazy-Nate’s head.
Nate: I’m not crazy.
Kerri: But I’m not a lesbian!
Andy: Not yet. And yes Nate, that’s why you broke out of an insane asylum ten minutes ago.

Meanwhile, Tim cuddled with his penguin and the gang continued towards the Zoinks River….yeah, that’s right. So, that’s the jist. Maybe (hopefully) you will enjoy it far more than I did. I will not deny that it had its fun, female ass-kicking moments. It also had its moments as an okay mystery novel. However, don’t get your hopes up as a Scooby Doo knock off, in MY opinion. Just go watch the reruns.

Book Soundtrack: “Love Train” by The O’Jays

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*Mystery Blogger Award*

Its #SundayFunday and I hope it is treating you all well! I have a “to do” list about a mile long because I start a new job tomorrow! My world is about to be flipped upside down because I am going from basically unemployed to full-time in a snap! YIKES!!! Yes, I am terrified but at the same time I am so excited. This will be my first full-time job and I feel so blessed to have found something in my field and close to my house.

Ok, that’s enough of the personal mumbo jumbo, that’s not why you’re all here. On to the bookish! I was just nominated for the ominous-sounding but truly fun *Mystery Blogger Award* by Maggie @ The Caramel Files. Here’s the scoop:

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The Rules:

  • Put the award logo on your blog
  • List the rules
  • Thank whoever nominated you and include a link to their blog
  • Mention the creator of the award and provide a link to their blog as well
  • Tell your readers three things about yourself
  • Nominate 10-20 people
  • Notify your nominees
  • Ask your nominees any five questions of your choice, specifying one weird/funny question
  • Share a link to your best post(s)

About me:

  • Since I mentioned “my field” and what-not, I’ll elaborate a little and then get back to books. My first degree is a Bachelor’s in Music, and I have been teaching voice and piano lessons part-time for the part 6 years since I graduated. I recently went back to school and got another degree (Associate’s) in Health Information so I now can work full time in a hospital with medical records and still teach part time on the side.
  • I am a trained classical singer, meaning that I sing opera. Of course, I can also sing (or teach) pretty much any genre out there, but I do love the challenge, beauty, and complexity of opera.
  • While I love wearing beautiful gowns and putting on stage make-up to sing, I also love camping, canoeing, and being outside in general. I spent every summer growing up at a camp and then I worked there for many years and its my home away from home. My music friends in college never understood this about me.

My Favorite Post So Far: The Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag …It got a great reaction from readers and it was one of the most fun tags I have done! Plus there were just so many great books I/we got to talk about in general so that’s always awesome.

Maggie’s Questions:

  1. Is there a book or story you feel parallels your life? If yes, tell us all about it! This is perfect timing for this question because I just finished the best book for this: 257521542 So you know how I mentioned earlier that I enjoy that weird mix of fancy opera and down-and-dirty outdoors? Yep, this book has it. Now I’m not saying that you have to be into both of those things to enjoy this book. Its not a book for opera-lovers. It is contemporary-YA and it is a powerful read, it also just happens to have those other two elements in it and I love it for that all the more, and that is what parallels my life. A lot of the other details in the story do not (in fact, pretty much none of the story line has anything to do with my life, lol).
  2. What title would you choose for your autobiography and why? Hmm. Life Songs – Pretty open-ended. I’m not very creative when it comes to writing, which is why I read books and not write them.
  3. What are the last three books you chose to DNF?
  4. What was your favorite book as a child and why? I don’t think I had any one favorite book as a child. My grandmother ran a “Books on Parade” branch out of her basement so I had access to kids books all the time and we were constantly reading everything that circulated. I remember reading Goldilocks, Clifford, Goodnight Moon, later as I grew up Anne of Green Gables and Harry Potter.
  5. Is there a genre you absolutely refuse to read? If yes, why? I don’t read Harlequin Romances or high fantasy. To me the romances are just too cheesy and get boring and high fantasies are just too ‘out there’ for me to wrap my head around. Too many places and names for me to remember and pronounce and wrap my head around and my brain gets overloaded.

Questions for my Nominees:

  1. How many books have you read so far this year? What is your goal for the rest of the year?
  2. If you could spend a day with any bookish character, who would it be and why?
  3. Piggybacking off of Q2, what would you want to do in your day with chosen bookish character (where would you go, what would you see…could be real or a setting in their book, etc.)?
  4. If you could do one as a full time job, which would you choose: reading books or writing books?
  5. What is your most and least favorite book you have read this year?

I nominate:

Listening to: “Golden Lion” by Yeah Yeah Yeahs

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Everything Beautiful Is Not Ruined by Danielle Younge-Ullman

I LOVED this book. I know that not everyone who reads it will love it in the way that I did, mainly because this book hit my two main teenage/college hobbies: camping and singing. Not only that but Ingrid’s journey and trials were told through her experiences in these activities, making her connections with the outdoors and with her life in music even stronger. If you’re thinking about reading this book, let me give you a little bit of a synopsis:

257521542Everything Beautiful Is Not Ruined is told from Ingrid’s point of view, but through two different timelines: one as she is growing up with her opera star-gone wrong mother, and one in the present on a month long wilderness survival-turned disaster trek she wasn’t quite expecting. Growing up, Ingrid and her mother lived a wonderful life, with Margot-Sophia Lalange performing in the spotlight of the great opera houses until she does exactly what she knows not to do–she over sings and does not take care of her voice thus resulting in vocal nodes and the end of her career. Ingrid’s mother becomes bitter regarding music and theater, and the glamorous life ends. Ingrid struggles to fit in at school and she grows up taking care of her mother. Eventually, a role in the school play and (of course) a boy will change many things for both Ingrid and her mother.

5-star ratings are very difficult to earn from me, but I’m feeling generous today and I will round up a 4.6 rating on this one to a 5 for a few reasons. First of all, the wilderness survival camp is one for at-risk teens and while Ingrid didn’t feel that she wasn’t “at-risk” so she didn’t need to be there, she still toughened up and took it like a champ. I think that a lot of her thought processes were exactly like mine would have been (I won’t really give more information than that because it’s part of the humor and charm [lol…sass?] of Ingrid). Second, the way that passion for music and performing on stage is described. How you get up on stage and more or less don’t always know if you did well or not. Or Margo-Sophia’s phrases like “You did well last night but today you must be better. Always better.” In some ways she often comes across as self-centered but her career and that state of mind was her entire life. It was her state of mind for years. It was hard to see her discourage Ingrid from pursuing music but she was completely horrified for her. The one thing I did NOT like was how Ingrid treated Isaac after the show and the incident with the other girl. I didn’t think that blaming him so strongly was fair at all and I hated that. I thought that was the big chink in the book for me. And the end, of course, is a cryfest and my biggest weakness in books. It could have been more played up but I think it was just the right amount considering the characters so I say it was very well done. Overall, wonderful book. It is one that I highly recommend.

–I was given a copy of this book by Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review–

Book soundtrack: “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What A Wonderful World” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole

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ARC August Update

Hello, everyone! Its about halfway through August, so I am figuring that now is a good time to officially declare my goals and update my status for the ARC August event. So here is what I am working with:

Physical ARCs:

  • The Best Kind of Magic ✔
  • Little & Lion
  • The Spellbook of Lost and Found
  • Girls Made of Snow and Glass
  • First We Were IV ✔

eARCs

  • Everything Beautiful is Not Ruined – in progress
  • Assaulted Caramel
  • Grave Errors
  • Meddling Kids – in progress
  • A Conspiracy in Belgravia

 

The ten on my list are the ten being published the soonest, or whose dates have just passed and I need to get my reviews in to the publishers/Netgalley (oops!). Basically the ones that I need to catch up and keep up on. Finishing all ten would be a dream, but if I finish half of them I’ll be pretty happy. As always, the more the merrier.

Are you participating in ARC August? What are your goals? How is your progress?

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