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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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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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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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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Tag Tuesday: The TBR Tag

Happy Tag Tuesday, everyone! Today’s tag is The TBR Tag and it is brought to you by the darling Maggie @ The Caramel Files. She did this one a few weeks ago and now its my turn!

How I Keep Track of My TBR Pile: My TBR is A) on my bookshelves and B) on my Goodreads account….and its a very big list!

Is My TBR Mostly Print or E-books: Honestly its hard to say. I went to one book convention and have gone on several book buying binges, but most of the ARCs I get are ebooks.

How I Determine Which Book From My TBR to Read Next: I consider mostly ARC deadlines, any challenges I’m doing, and what season it is and what I’m in the mood for.

A Book That Has Been on My TBR the Longest:

6493208 – Since 1/2/12

A Book That I Recently Added to My TBR:

335741431 – Added 8/6/17

A Book on My TBR Strictly Because it Has a Beautiful Cover:

12578305

A Book on My TBR That I Never Plan on Actually Reading:

17926775 – I mean, maybe. It has a good rating but it is super-low on my list of priorities.

An Unpublished Book on My TBR That I’m Excited for:

32336276 – Of course. Coming soon!!

A Book on My TBR That Everyone Has Read but Me:

7896527 – Wow, old cover!

A Book on My TBR That Everyone Recommends to Me:

16096824 – Yes, this is on my TBR!

A Book on My TBR That I’m Dying to Read:

22055262 – I know, I am so behind on all the goods!!

The Number of Books on My TBR:

1,112 on my Goodreads TBR list. Who knows how many on my shelves!! How about you?

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“Confess” by Colleen Hoover

(NOTE: This review contains no spoilers.) Oh, Colleen Hoover. You know how to tug on some heartstrings. This book is titled “Confess” because there literally are confessions throughout the book that are based on real-life confessions gathered by the author herself. Some are happy, while some are the stuff of nightmares.

22609310Confess begins with 15 year-old Auburn saying goodbye to her dying boyfriend, Adam. We really don’t get many details of their past or even their present, other than that they are very much in love and they are being torn apart in his last few days. Five years later, Auburn has her life together, but yet not. On her way home one day, she stumbles across a “help wanted desperately needed immediately” sign and the artist posting the sign, Owen, has troubles of his own. She ends up working for him anyway ($200 for 2 hours of work at his gallery showing) and they go our for a drink afterward and the rest of the book is history.

In this book, I actually really liked Auburn and found her to be a very realistic female character. I felt that she acted towards both Owen and Trey (the jealous, jerky competition cop in the book) in a reasonable and responsible way. She was never only thinking of herself. Often we sacrifice ourselves for those we love, and she did not only that, but she ultimately was smart about it and came out on top. Thankfully she had a good roommate, a good boyfriend, and her boyfriend’s father got his head out of his ass and all came out for the best.

14043302As for Owen, he was a little less realistic to me. Don’t get me wrong–I loved him. If a man this sweet and this caring and this amazing(ly hot) exists, I’ll take him! But he was mushy gushy from the first second and that was his “confession” (and his secret…which he never, throughout the entire book, told Auburn….stalker much?). So that sort of rubbed me the wrong way. No, he never hurt her. No, he never did anything against her will, but he called it “fate” and left it at that. But its one-sided fate. Does that count? I don’t know, its still messed up to me. Part of it is so sweet. Seriously, that ending! A punch to the gut!! BUT AUBURN WILL NEVER KNOW!!!! That is so not fair, in my opinion. I hate that. I think its sweet. So, yes, I’m a little frustrated.

So basically, if you want to know what Owen’s confession is, you’ll have to read the book for yourself because this review contains NO SPOILERS. And with that, my friends, I leave you. =]

Listening to: “No Stopping You” by Brett Eldredge

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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”

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“When Its Real” by Erin Watt

30731416When It’s Real was my first read by Erin Watt and I didn’t go into it with very high expectations. Having just come out of a let-down contemporary by another author, I was all the more ready to be crushed once again by the genre. To be completely honest, the book started off a little slow, but after about 30-40 pages, I was in love with both the “him” and “her” voices in the story. Hate-love is my trope and this was my type of book! Oak and Vaughn put each other in their places in the best of ways and it was just great. There was humor, sweetness, just the right amount of anger and snap in both characters. Plus every contemporary romance has to have an excellent cast of supporting characters and this book has it. Oak with his bodyguards (hilarious!) and Vaughn and her family…they were all a perfect compliment to the plot. I really enjoyed it.

Let me back up for just a second here and give you a more specific summary of the book. As I mentioned, the “him” is Oakley Ford–a super hot, teen rock star who hit it big when he was young. He is the son of super-star actor parents, so he has pretty much always been in the spotlight. He wants to be taken seriously and write his own music and really make a new and unique sound for himself. Enter: Vaughn Bennett. She hasn’t exactly had it easy growing up either. She lost her parents in a car accident and graduated early in order to help take care of her younger siblings. She and her older sister work hard to care for ‘the twins,’ and when the opportunity to be Oakley Ford’s fake girlfriend presents itself, the money that comes along with it is irresistible.

Then of course the fake relationship begins and Vaughn is repulsed by the arrogant Oak. Also, she has a “real” boyfriend that the publicists have to stage a fake break-up with. Needless to say, the real douche of the story is the boyfriend, but I’ll let you read all of that for yourself. The story really picks up and for me, I could not put the book down. To be honest, it was the first book I stayed up past my bedtime reading in a long time. Especially in this genre!

So if I “really enjoyed it” so darn much why didn’t I give it 5 stars? Well I’d say a solid 4.5 that I would almost have rounded up to 5 if not for the slow start. Also, there was a lot of underage drinking, drugs (pot, though not mentioned specifically), and sex. Granted its the ‘rockstar lifestyle’ and Oak is an emancipated minor but still…his ease of access to it bothered me. Oh well. Can’t knock a book too bad for that. It was still awesome and I will be checking out more Erin Watt in the future!!

Listening to: “Waiting for Superman” by Daughtry

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