On the third day of #blogmas …

…we jumped in on the Book Blogger Hop! For those of you who don’t know, the Book Blogger Hop was originally created by Jennifer from Crazy-For-Books but is now maintained by Billie B. at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. The hop’s purpose is to give bloggers a chance to follow other blogs, learn about new books, and receive new followers. There is a new prompt each week so feel free to jump in any time!

BBH1

Q: What is your favorite Christmas-themed read?

A: I think my favorite Christmas-themed read is either A Christmas Carol or Skipping Christmas. A lot of people don’t realize it, but Skipping Christmas (written by John Grisham) is the book that the movie “Christmas with the Kranks” with Tim Allen and Diane Keaton is based off of. I thought the book was very well-written and I love the movie too!

I’m always on the lookout for more good holiday reads. I especially like reading cozy Christmas mysteries, paranormal, contemporary romance, etc. so if you’ve got any good recommendations, please leave them for me! Thanks!

signature

Advertisements

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

signature

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

signature

The Wrapping Up of All the Things

As always, the end of all things came too quickly. More specifically in this case #24in48, the Biannual Bibliothon, and even more significantly, JULY!! How did July get by us? I guess we say that every month. Ah, well. Time to wrap it all up.

o7f2dlnf_400x400To begin the recap, for #24in48, I completed my full 24 hours of reading plus just a little more and I felt so accomplished! In those 24 hours, I finished All Things New, and I came close to finishing Sarah Dessen’s Once and For All. I also made some progress on The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, but for whatever reason, that is a really slow read for me. It just doesn’t hold my interest very strongly.

dcj4gyko_400x400Next up was the weeklong Summer Biannual Bibliothon, which just wrapped up yesterday. My week was busier than I anticipated, unfortunately, but I did get some reading done and some books wrapped up. So during the Bibliothon, I finished Once and For All, I started a new cozy series (because they tend to keep me out of slumps and I am really anticipating fall!) called Curse the Day and I finished that book as well, I started and finished Erin Watt’s When It’s Real, and I have been reading First We Were IV and When I am Through With You. So that’s 3 finished and 2 progressed through. All things considered, I’m pretty happy with that!

And now for the overall July breakdown:

★★★★★ The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana

★★★★ Hook’s Tale: Being the Account of an Unjustly Villainized Pirate Written by Himself by John Leonard Pielmeier

★★★★ When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

★★★★ All Things New by Lauren Miller

★★★ Once and For All by Sarah Dessen

★★★★ Curse the Day by Annabel Chase

★★★★ When It’s Real by Erin Watt

So that’s it, folks. 7 books total finished for the month. 3 of them were ARC’s read before their publication dates. Average rating = 4.0

Its so weird for me to be reading so many contemporaries. As I mentioned earlier, I was craving that cozy/witchy mystery with fall coming up because I just felt a slump coming on and I think it is partially because of the genres I’m reading. I tend to read more YA contemporary romance in the summertime. It just feels right to me. I’m glad that I have been because I have been finding some gems and obviously, from the ratings above, I recommend them as well! Until next time, I also highly recommend finding yourself a readathon or two to participate in. It boosted my reading from 4-5 books read per month to 7! Sure it takes a little organization if you are going to commit and there are optional challenges you can participate in but they are all in good fun. Goodluck and as always, happy reading!

Currently watching: “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”

signature

 

Royalty Readathon + “Wires and Nerve” by Marissa Meyer

royalty-readathonSo first off, let me just announce that this week I have been participating in the Royalty Readathon! This readathon is being hosted by Kati (@toberead) and her gang. I applaud Kati’s enthusiasm for getting this up and running and her theme is so unique, its just been super fun to stick with the “royals” theme. I’ve been making some good progress (much better than the last RAT I did….oops….!!) and I’ve finished 2 books already!! So a big shoutout and thanks to Kati for everything she’s doing and I wish her all the success and growth in future reading and readathons!!

wiresThen, of course, I finished Wires and Nerve, which is Marissa Meyer’s graphic novel. It is set right after the the end of the Lunar Chronicles books so yes, you should finish Winter before you pick up this book. I had never read a graphic novel (nor a comic book nor anything of the sort) before this so I was skeptical about whether I would be able to even figure this out but it was fine. I even really enjoyed it!! The story is written from Iko’s point of view and between Iko and Thorne (who gets a lot of book time), this novel had me literally laughing out loud! Of course there is conflict and all of the heroes make their appearances but the humor and adorability factor is high. I absolutely loved seeing these characters come to life!! I was in no way disappointed. And the book is very much set up for book #2 so I am very highly anticipating that. Marissa Meyer, don’t keep us waiting too long!

Listening to: “Colors in Space” by Explosions in the Sky

signature

“The Simplicity of Cider” by Amy E. Reichert

4.5 really great, homely, nostalgic, midwestern, I-would-definitely-recommend-that-you-read-this-this-summer stars!

Not that I am biased or anything, but apple orchards are some of my favorite places in the world. I love apples, I love cider, I love apple cider donuts, I love apple crisp, I love the smell, the taste, the atmosphere, the time of year, the weather….I love it all. Hayrides, animals, (allergies), trees, mums….EVERYTHING!! Another thing that I love is Wisconsin. I am not from Wisconsin, but my family owns a “summer home” on a lake “up north” (not Door County, but I know plenty of fellow Illinois people–where I am from–who travel there and love it) and it is beautiful. Our home in WI is in a very small town that is extremely touristy in the summer months and extremely dead the other 3/4 of the year but still, it is so beautiful and serene up there. Families make so many good memories. AND THERE IS SO MUCH SNOW. So anyway, about the book. Sorry for the personal side track.

CiderThis is the story of an orchard grafting people together (read the book and you’ll see how clever this statement is – winkwink). First we have Sanna and her father who are the orchard owners in the beautiful Door County, Wisconsin. The orchard is in a little bit of trouble financially, however. Then, along come Isaac and his son Bass, who are road tripping around the country since the death of Isaac’s ex-wife. Much hard work happens, a couple little mishaps, some romance, a fair amount of information about tree growth and cider-making (which I, personally, found fascinating), all rolled into a really nice plot that was well-paced and I very much enjoyed.

As I mentioned, if you’re looking for a good summer or fall read, something pretty light and just nice to read, pick this one up. Didn’t take me long to get through at all. There is character growth, its multi-generational, and just an overall great read.

Listening to: “Home” by Phillip Phillips

signature

Bout of Books *Read a Thon* Day 6 & 7

#seasonsofbooks – This hashtag for today’s challenge got the song “Seasons of Love” from the musical RENT stuck in my head so of course that’s what I have to be listening to right now. This, of course, is making it harder for me to concentrate on choosing which books I think fit with which seasons, which is the challenge for today (this sounds like an exhausting, real-life version of If You Give A Mouse A Cookie….like, if you give a Music/Book Nerd a Challenge lol!). Okay, enough shenanigans. Down to business.

I’m going to be honest. I collect and hoard bookish Buzzfeed seasonal lists like they’re going out of style. I don’t know why but I just love them. I have all 4 seasons plus every holiday down to freakin’ Flag Day or something like that. I just love lists. And I love books. So I guess its easy to say that I love book lists! So here are the highlights of my seasonal book lists (note: I have read none of these. They are literally from my lists and they just sound good to me!):

Spring ~ The Sun is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon; Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham; Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

Summer ~ One Plus One by Jojo Moyes; Love Like Crazy by Megan Squires; Beach Town by Mary Kay Andrews

Fall [my favorite season for books and ALL THE THINGS] ~ The Magicians by Lev Grossman; Dark Matter by Blake Crouch; The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

Winter ~ The Likeness by Tana French; Heartless by Marissa Meyer; Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

So there you have it, folks. My not-at-all brief list of books for all seasons. I guess my spring books are pretty light and have some humor to them, and there’s even a non-fiction in the mix (I rarely read non-fiction…only a couple each year). Summer books are also pretty fun. I might try to get through a series in the summer. I was thinking about tackling a Sarah J. Maas this summer. Maybe. Fall is all small towns and paranormal and thrillers and cozies. I read like crazy in the fall. Winter I read a lot too. Lots of holiday books and fun series re-reads. I tend to feel Harry Potter/Hunger Games/Arcana Chronicles-ish in the winter time. What did everyone else pick? I’m so curious now! I want more lists and recommendations!! 😀

Soundtrack for today: RENT original cast recording

signature