Blogmas Day 3: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Whoa. Where did November go?? The past month has been so busy for me, doing what, I don’t even know! Work and holidays and just fall frolicking in general. And now we’re three days into December. Wow. Of course I’ve been reading the entire time, I just took a little step back from blogging. But now I’m back and it feels so good!

For now, I want to share my thoughts on Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. Just as a caution, this review may contain swearing (or edited swearing), as this book was an absolute mind f**k! And I mean that in the best of ways.

So yes, I heard that this book was worth a read before I picked it up. I didn’t know too much about it or the author, but I was seeing it everywhere when it released. Took me a while to actually get to reading it, though, and I AM SO GLAD I DID! I listened to the audio book and it was fantastic. 

27833670Honestly, this book reminded me a little bit of Timeline by Michael Chrichton, in that it was so well-written and (Timeline is one of my all-time favorite books) has a strong mix of science fiction and thriller and it really plays with your head and makes you think “MAN, what if this could really happen?!” Unlike Timeline, though, rather than travelling to the historical past, in Dark Matter, main character Jason Dessen is a physicist who has learned to travel to different worlds, more or less. Alternate timelines of his own life, if you will. He finds himself battling, well, himself basically, as he struggles with the question “What if I had made choice Z in stead of choice A?”

I will leave it at that so as to not spoil anything. The concepts in this book will spin your head around several times and leave you questioning your entire existence. This is absolutely the type of thriller that I love to read. It wasn’t too overwhelmingly scientific, but just enough to where I could keep up and get excited about ideas and plots and characters and action. I LOVED it and highly recommend it!

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October Reads: City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

alex-geerts-424409-unsplashOctober is absolutely my favorite month (and tends to be my most motivated month) to read in. I gather the biggest TBR–whether by accident or design–and read as much as I possibly can. I also sign up for as many challenges as I can find….and it seems like there are more challenges around as well. There are spooky challenges, trick-or-treating challenges, movie-themed challenges, classic book challenges, just everything under the sun. And I LOVE IT!!!! So as of now, we’re not even halfway through the month and already I have completely finished two books and I am halfway through another, and more than 100 pages into a monster of a horror novel (Stephen King’s “It”), which I probably won’t finish until next Halloween. Ugh. However, now that I’m decompressed post-wedding for the most part, I am going to be posting more with reviews and what I am getting myself into this fall (there is so much to DO!) and whatever else needs to go into the blog. So without further ado: my first review of the month!

October read number 1 was City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab. I’ve had my copy since it released in late August but I was waiting for October to read it (that, and…uh….wedding). This book was spectacular! City of Ghosts is about a girl named Cassidy, whose beachy summer vacation plans are going out the window because her parents are about to start shooting a ghost hunting show abroad in SCOTLAND!!! Add on top of that the fact that Cassidy can not only see ghosts, but her best friend IS a ghost, and we have the makings of an amazingly fun story!

I am always wary of reading middle grade books for fear that they will be too slow (yes, I realize that I am an adult and I acknowledge that this is a risk that I take…that’s exactly my point here). The book has its moments of defining ‘vocab’ words that a MG reader may not know, but those moments are few and far between. Ultimately, I wasn’t bothered.

43951950_2159170047735147_2880454404434034688_nProbably my favorite part was how Schwab seamlessly wove history into the story as well. In no way does it feel like we’re reading a history novel, but there is so much history all around the characters in Edinburgh and its fascinating to hear about it and even see it! And creepy at times too. I am SO glad I read this book in October. It was the perfect spooky read to kick off the month.

Which leads to my next perk: the spook effect! There definitely was some creep factor in this book! References to hangings, shootings, drownings, etc. I mean, it wasn’t all out gory or violent, but it wasn’t exactly a bedtime story either. The family and camera crew travels to graveyards and what used to be execution grounds and an old prison. I don’t say this to be spoiler-ey, but it these truly freak you out, be warned! Most of it is narrated in a pretty historical way and our ghost friend is always there to coach that its okay to be afraid of things (he’s the scaredy cat in these scenarios).

Ultimately, I can’t recommend this book enough. This is going to be one of those books that I re-read at least once or twice in Octobers to come, and I recommend that you do too. I am so glad to see that this is book #1 of more to come because I can see Schwab setting Cassidy and Jacob and her parents with their show in other historical/ghostly locations and I absolutely cannot wait!!

Book soundtrack: Mordred’s Lullaby by Heather Dale

Short Stories from Hogwarts of Power, Politics, and Pesky Poltergeists

Hi everyone! Sorry I’m slow this month so far. Big things are happening in my life, from planning my wedding, which is coming up in September, to hopefully starting up a little business with my fiancee to raise some extra income for said wedding! Needless to say these things take up loads of time when I’m already working a full-time and a part-time job! But I’m still reading as much as I can and Bookstagramming when I can and (obviously) blogging whenever I can. So here goes!

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Just in case you didn’t know, there are three Pottermore collections of short stories by J.K. Rowling:

  • #1: Heroism, Hardship, and Dangerous Hobbies
  • #2: Power, Politics, and Pesky Poltergeists
  • #3: An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide

I read them out of sequence (if there is a proper sequence…I don’t think there really is, even though they technically are numbered), and read the first one first, followed by the incomplete and unreliable guide, and I just now finished the second book. There wasn’t a real reason or logic as to why I did this, I just opened them up one at a time at random on my iPad. I finished book 1 in November of 2016 and gave it 4 stars, writing that “I liked it but…I wish it was more narrative than encyclopedic.” Book 3 I thought I remembered liking less than book 1 but I gave it 5 stars so apparently not. I even wrote that its “my favorite one so far” and that I “love all the info!” Guess I need a re-read!!

As for book number 2, Power, Politics, and Pesky Poltergeists, I also gave this 5 stars. From what I remember of the other two books, I am pretty sure I felt this one was the best formatted. I thought the chapters were longer and held more information and were more story-like. I absolutely love backstories and side characters which means that these little books were practically made for me!

I really enjoyed all of the tidbits, from the good characters whom I like such as Slughorn to the topics that I find interesting like the Ministers for Magic, and even the evillest of evil: Umbridge herself. She, too, has an interesting background. Plus, of course, there is more than what I have mentioned here and there are more quips and FYI’s thrown around…I always love reading about how Rowling came up with this name or that place or bla bla bla. Its all fascinating to me and if these tiny 75-page tidbits were 10x bigger, I would still devour them and recommend them to you all!

Listening to: “Obliviate” from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 Soundtrack

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Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Wow. Just wow.

So first of all, my surprise comes because I was not a big fan of Carry On. It was my first Rainbow Rowell read and I felt like there was so much hype around it. I gave it 3.5 stars and just didn’t get into it. I expected all this world-building and excitement like Harry Potter because I heard it was moderately based/inspired by HP and it was sort of fan fic of HP and it was very, very different from it.

fangirlHere I am a year and a half later giving Rainbow Rowell another shot because its almost Valentines day and I’m trying to read books that I have for a challenge and my edition is pink and what the hell? I’ll give RR another chance. Well surprise, surprise. I freakin’ LOVE this book!! Cath is totally me my first year away at college. I would have rather starved than ask strangers where the cafeteria was! ha! I was shy and awkward and classes and just about anything specifically college-related intimidated the crap out of me. Oh, and “freshman time.” Yeah, that was definitely a thing.

tumblr_mti8miwcni1qhz2h3o1_1280The only things that I didn’t appreciate in this book were Cath’s stubbornness (aka stupidness) about her writing project and the ending. I felt too empty at the end. Where is book 2?!?! There is so much detail in every other aspect of the book! There were so many other conflicts that occurred in the book where it felt like “Oh, after this happens and gets resolves, the book could end”….oh but wait, the book still has 225 pages yet. I’m not done!! So that was nice, but then we finally do get to the end and I don’t feel resolved hardly at all! Its not a cliffhanger by any means, but its not exactly a neat little bow either. Its just an ambiguously wrapped gift without a label or a ribbon or a tag or a bow. So that’s my little schpiel on all of that!

In the end, I’m coming away with Levi being one of my absolute favorite book boyfriends. I’m not usually the nice guy book BF type, but somehow the guy just had me under his spell and swooning. I loved all of the characters and I really appreciated the college setting. Great read overall–I’m so glad I gave Rainbow Rowell another shot!

Listening to: “Paranoid” by Kanye West

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On the 16th day of #blogmas …”The Last Jedi” BLEW MY MIND

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Here is my opinion about “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”: BEST STAR WARS MOVIE YET. Yes, I felt that it had its few flaws; its few corny moments. Overall though, I had way bigger moments of  practically flying out of my seat yelling “HOLY SH*T!!!” in shock, amazement, and pure badassery than anything else. Even my fiance, who is a HUGE fan (as in, one of those fans who you never want to play trivia with; one of those fans who has a storage unit full of collectibles) had moments of awe and wonder. Thinking about it now, I was having reservations about going to see it again, wondering if maybe it won’t be as exciting the second time around because I will know what’s coming but I don’t think that will be the case. I have a feeling the thrills and chills will still be there. I get the impression there will be plenty of “Easter eggs” (as Dan calls them) to find.

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And on an end note, we fantasy book readers need to discuss the beautiful creatures in this movie. Especially the arctic foxes, the racing creatures (I didn’t catch their names…my assignment is to look that up), and the porgs. Honestly I’m a bit indifferent about the porgs–they’re ok, but a bit overdone.

So if you wish to discuss the movie, please keep it generalized and spoiler-free or contact me privately and we can chat about it all day! I might have my fiance (Dan) write up a guest post because we’re so hyped about the new movie. Maybe after we go see it again. Have you seen it? Are you planning on seeing it? What do you/did you think?

Currently listening to: Pandora Classical Christmas – “Angels We Have Heard On High”

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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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“The Library of Fates” by Aditi Khorana

I was a little skeptical about this book because the author’s first book, Mirror in the Sky, received ratings that were quite low on Goodreads (3.29 as on 7/9). I decided to give this book a try because I was offered a free ARC from Penguin’s First to Read program, the cover is beautiful, and YA book companies were making quite a buzz about it. I am SO glad I gave it a go. Now I am on the bandwagon and recommending that everyone mark the release date of July 18th on your calendars and go buy it and read it on that day!!

32930680The Library of Fates opens with a really neat story called The Parable of Trees. (I, personally love trees and nature so I was hooked in a second!) Then we get into the rest of the book with our main character Princess Amrita, who lives an easy, sheltered life in the kingdom of Shalingar. Until the day that the Emporer of Macedon–known for being a brutal man–comes to finalize the terms of their arranged marriage and Amrita loses everything. She flees the palace and sets off on a journey that will completely transform not only her, but all those she loves.

What I really loved about this book is that most of the things that I expected would happen did not. I would think to myself “She’s going to abandon the plan to go to X and go to the Library in stead. I mean, that’s the title of the book.” But nope! The plot absolutely did not happen how I thought it would, and I loved that!!

The characters surprised me around every turn, and part of the beauty of it all was how magic and folklore was seamlessly woven into the story. There were so many elements to it and they weren’t so complex that I was bored or confused like in some fantasy books. It was a really good balance so as to make it just mystical enough to be really beautiful and special. Plus everything came out full circle in a really great way. I just loved it.

So overall, I enjoyed it enough to where I was given a free e-copy and I will probably purchase my own hard copy for my shelves. I know it won’t be for everyone, but that’s my take on it. It was a pretty quick read at 354 pages. I devoured it in about 2 days and could have read it faster if I didn’t have a lot of things going on. But this is one I could see myself reading again, and I don’t see myself forgetting anytime soon.

Listening to: “The Gateway” by Ahmad Ebadi

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“Talking as Fast as I Can” by Lauren Graham

30359022I love Gilmore Girls. I love Lauren Graham. I loved this book!

Let me just say that if you have read the actual book, go out and listen to Lauren read the audiobook. She makes it laugh-out-loud funny. I listened to it and I loved it. However, by listening to it, I missed out on looking at the pictures so I am thinking that I will go out and purchase a hard copy just so I have it, and just because I enjoyed it that much. That’s how I know its a 5* book.

Also, I am glad that I waited until I finished the newest Gilmore Girls episodes before reading the book, as Lauren goes into them, too. She does preface them first by saying something along the lines of “If you haven’t watched “A Year In the Life” yet, you might want to skip this chapter. Its all so good. I just want all of the Gilmore I can get!

Listening to: “Feels Like Summer” by Weezer

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