WWW Wednesdays #2

Hello everyone! Happy Hump Day! I have been bad and neglecting my reviews due to flash floods in my area. Better than a flash blizzard in my opinion, but still very messy. But regardless, I wanted to hop on the blog and state that I am still alive and starting to pick back up again. Here’s another edition of WWW Wednesdays from my end, and I’d love to hear your answers as well!

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What did you finish recently? The very last book I finished was the audiobook version of Colleen Hoover’s Ugly Love. I remember that I used to think that I didn’t care for CH; that she was just a cliche contemporary writer. The more I read her, though, the more I am drawn into her as an author. She really knows how to write out her characters and their stories and has a gift for making her books just long enough, without being boring or overly drawn out.

What are you currently reading? I am actually writing this from beneath my currently reading pile because I got a little carried away. I started reading Entwined With You in an attempt to pick the Crossfire series back up, but I am just not into it. I guess I’m not in the same mindset to enjoy it the way I did when I started with the first two books a couple years ago. Lesson learned. So I moved on to People Like Us, which is a YA thriller/mystery. I was hooked into it from the start and at over halfway through, I am still enjoying it. I’m also reading Ever the Hunted, which I am also enjoying, but I honestly did not mean to pick up another series. I want to finish The Grishaverse first. And finally, I just started the audiobook of Catching Fire (book 2 of the Hunger Games). Its a re-read obviously, but I have just been craving that rebellion of the series lately.

What do you think you will read next? I’m waiting for HP and the Goblet of Fire to become available from my library to do a buddy re-read of that next. I also have a couple of blog tours coming up so I will be reading Amid Stars & Darkness (book 1) and Between Frost & Fury (book 2) of the Xenith Trilogy by Chani Lynn Feener, as well as The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager. I am extremely excited for these books! I also want to pick up Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne. That book is just calling to me!

So that’s all for now, folks! I promise to post more soon. We still have more rain and storms in the forecast so hopefully things won’t get too ugly but we can only wait and see. Take care, friends!

Currently listening: “Mr. Jones” by Counting Crows

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Tag Tuesday: 20 Questions

I’m sorry, I lost track of who I got this from! If it was you (yes YOU reading this!) then thank you! Here are my answers for the 20 questions tag:

THE QUESTIONS

How many books are too many books in a book series?
To me, more than four is too much. But then again, I can never get enough Harry Potter so I suppose if the content really is good then why stop?

jesse-bowser-258699-unsplashHow do you feel about cliffhangers?
Cliffhangers are the devil! 😉 Just kidding. But seriously, this is why I don’t like reading books in series until all of the books are released–I hate being on edge and then having to wait in suspense for what feels like decades for the cliffhanger to resolve!!

Hardcopy or paperback?
Honestly I read the most on my iPad, but I prefer collecting mostly hardcovers. (Although I much more prefer the price of the paperbacks.) See? They all have their perks!

Favorite book?
Isn’t this always one of the most difficult questions to answer? My favorite book is between Anne of Green GablesHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. 

Your least favorite book?
Books that I think are my “least favorite” are considered such to me either because they were disappointing to me or because they drove me crazy. And these are books that I DID finish! So I will say The 100 and Meddling Kids.

designecologist-560022-unsplashLove triangles, yes or no?
I am okay with love triangles. I mean, of course, some are very poorly written and are annoying but I certainly don’t shy away from books that have them. They aren’t my favorite trope, but I don’t mind them.

The most recent book you just couldn’t finish?
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice & Virtue.  I just wasn’t all that into it at the time and I had other things to read for challenges and what-not. I’ll probably get back to it at some point but for now, its near the bottom of my TBR.

A book you’re currently reading?
I’m reading a physical copy of Caraval and I’m listening to A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares.

laura-kapfer-429073-unsplashLast book you recommended to someone?
I don’t remember for sure. Could be anything…my last blog post was Kiss of Deception by Mary Pearson, so let’s go with that!

The oldest book you’ve read? (Publication date)
In its entirety? Probably the Epic of Gilgamesh, which dates back to ancient Babylonian times.

The newest book you’ve read? (Publication date)
Everlesspublished January 2018

Favorite author?
I like Marissa Meyer, Kresley Cole, Cassandra Clare….many, many more….

Buying books or borrowing books?
There are opportune times for both. Sometimes you just need to borrow. But most of the time, I prefer to buy (even though my wallet doesn’t want me to)

A book you dislike that everyone else seems to love?
Well, this isn’t a book that I dislike but one that I have managed to avoid that everyone seems to love…the Maas ACOTAR craze. I plan to get to it eventually but I’m just not there yet. I feel like there are so many other books out there and I have several other series to finish before I start into that monster of a series.

justin-veenema-147056-unsplashBookmarks or dog-ears?
Don’t hate me….sometimes I dog-ear. Good quotes or if I absolutely cannot find a bookmark or something to use for one. But typically I am a dedicated user of bookmarks.

A book you can always reread?
Anything in the Harry Potter series or the Hunger Games trilogy.

Can you read while hearing music?
Yes, but preferably of the instrumental variety. Hearing lyrics just naturally makes me tempted to listen to them rather than focus on reading.

One POV or multiple POV? (POV’ = Points of view)
I am pretty picky about multiple POV’s. I don’t mind it per se, but if it well done then it really decreases the quality of the book for me. The same thing for books that do time jumps. Maybe even more so.

Do you read a book in one sitting or over multiple days?
Several/multiple days unless its a read-a-thon, or I have really planned it out. Especially since I read multiple books at a time.

One book you read because of the cover.
Ha, one book because of the cover?! There are many at this point! So for this one, let’s say An Enchantment of Ravens. I am absolutely in love with that cover!

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So that’s it, friends! If you are reading this and you are interested, consider yourself tagged!!! This was a really fun one to do and I hope you enjoy it too!

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On the 15th day of #blogmas …Christmas cookies happened

So yesterday was the holiday/Christmas cookie exchange at work. I got home late and needed to make 4 dozen cookies cheaply, and quickly. After browsing online, I found this amazing recipe for these Chocolate Chip Christmas Cake Cookies. All I needed to buy was 2 boxes of white cake mix, a bag of chocolate chips, and some red/green sprinkles. Everything else I already had at home. Simple! So here is the recipe:

cake-batter-chocolate-chip-cookies-christmas-2-600x900Ingredients:

1 box white cake mix

2 large egg whites

2 Tbs flour

1/2 c. oil

3/4 c. chocolate chips

1/4 c. red, white, green sprinkles

cookie-plate-1Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine the cake mix, egg whites, flour and oil, mixing well. Add in the ¾ cup of chocolate chips.

3. Roll the cookie dough into 1-2″ size balls and place 2-3″ a part on your baking sheets.

4. Gently press down on the cookie dough balls and place a few extra chocolate chips and sprinkles on top. Place in the oven and bake 8-10 minutes. Do not over bake.

Let me tell you, these cookies were an absolute hit at work! The ladies took them home to their husbands and came back to say their guys loved them! Plus the women have been devouring them like crazy too of course. They are just so yummy. And softer and quicker to make and bake than normal chocolate chip cookies. Trust me on this, my friends….you gotta try these!!

Current watch: “The Santa Clause”

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Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace

22663629All righty, I’m a little bit torn about this book. First off, I listened to the audiobook and I feel like that always throws my rating off a little bit. Was it the book I did/didn’t like or was did the reader throw my bias a bit? I actually thought the reader was pretty good on this book. She has a dramatic voice without being over the top or whiney or overdone or anything like that. I thought she was right where she needed to be. So great job to the narrator, in my opinion.

It is important to go into this book with an open mind. Just read the synopsis and go with it–don’t assume this or that, just let the story unfold. I’ve read several of the other reviews on this book and trust me, readers who expect one thing or the other only set themselves up for disappointment and this book truly is unique.

What Kali Wallace has done with Shallow Graves–in my opinion, at least–is create a unique kind of story. I don’t think I have read a book quite like this, where the main character wakes up dead and not remembering why. The mystery is who killed her, what type of creature she is, what other creatures actually live in the world, who is friend and who is foe, and how is she supposed to move on from here. There are several creep factor moments and then the book has its lulls…but overall, I was pretty entranced with the book so I recommend as a good fall/Autumn book!

Book soundtrack: “Graveyard” by The Devil Makes Three

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One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

For several months now, I’ve been seeking a good YA mystery/thriller. As I read more of them, it just seems that contemporary YA authors just fall into cliches and I dislike them and drive me farther and farther away. Not this one, though. My hope has been renewed! Thank you, Karen McManus! And this is a debut novel! Bravo!!

23472238_10100116527721319_209185853208846123_nAll righty, so as indicated by the above, that alone is a recommendation from me. One of Us Is Lying basically begins with murder in detention (dun dun DUN!!). The four survivors alternate narration as they navigate the media storm of their classmate’s death. The ‘victim’ was the school gossip mill via his own app, but also–as we find out–very interested in online chats about other school shootings and acts of violence. We learn about the four survivors’ secrets as they become closer to each other and how they ultimately unravel the truth and the lies behind what the bigger plan really was for detention that day.

Here is my brief opinion of the cliches I mentioned earlier that I usually see in YA horror and/or thriller and/or mystery: way too much high school drama i.e. the he said/she said heartbreak gossip OMG LOL ETC. BS. I can’t handle all of that. Or at least too much of that. I understand that I am reading the YA genre so I expect some of it. Fine. <u>One of Us Is Lying</u> has some, but does it with grace and gets the heck past it. There are way bigger issues to worry about. Like a MURDER. Lawyers to be hired. Press and media. Parents. Still trying to keep life in line and get into college. This was realistic to me. Yes, there were still petty high schoolers being jerks, but these kids (“the murder club,” they were taunted by the other kids in school) just banded together and got through it together and the story moved on. I loved that about this book. THANK YOU!!! Miracle!

Other big perks: I guessed at the killer, but I didn’t KNOW. Plus, I was too engrossed with the characters to really care about the story line. Sorry but, I hardly even cared about the story line. I cared about the characters’ lives and what would happen to them, LOL. There were maybe a couple draggy parts (not much though) and I marked it down to 4 rather than 5. The book wasn’t perfect. However, the end redeemed it. I loved the ending. We get our happy ending. Loved that. I can’t deny it….I absolutely LOVED it because (without spoiling anything)….yeah….dude is my GUY!!!! That’s my trope right there! ❤

So if you have not yet, check this book out. +19 weeks at the top of the NYT bestseller list and a 4.06 rating on Goodreads…this book is killin’ it (no pun intended).

Book soundtrack: “Bad to the Bone” by ZZ top

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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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*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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