Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Novellas

Happy Tuesday everyone!  Welcome to the first Top Ten Tuesday now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is Favorite Novellas/ Short Stories.  Since I've just recently discussed some of my favorite short story collections, I'm focusing on novellas this time around.  Here we go, in alphabetical order by title:

Animals Farm by George Orwell

The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole

Every Heart A Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Fairest by Marissa Meyer

The House On Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

The Mist by Stephen King

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

Have you read any of these novellas?  What are some of your favorite novellas and short stories?  As always, thanks very much for visiting my blog and perhaps even commenting down below!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Music Monday: Big Band Bash

Happy Monday everyone and welcome back to Music Monday! Let's share some songs we've been enjoying lately!  If you would like to play and I really hope you do, please see the rules and link up below.


Every Monday share a few songs you've been enjoying lately.  It doesn't have to be a specific genre, new, or one of your favorites - just something you'd like to share with others.  If possible, share a music or lyric video of the song and your thoughts on the song(s), artist(s), and/or music video(s).

If you would like to participate in Music Monday, please join the link up by sharing your post's url.

A couple week ago I picked up a copy of a CD called Big Band Bash (1989) that features many essential tracks from the genre.  Most of the songs I was already familiar with, but there were a handful that I wasn't and there were a couple that I wouldn't exactly classify as a part of that genre.  Either way all of the songs are all great and needless to say I've been listening to it a lot since I got it.  Below I've decided to share two of my favorites which I definitely consider to be essentials of the genre - "Sing, Sing, Sing" by Benny Goodman and His Orchestra (1937) and "Skyliner" by Charlie Barnet and His Orchestra (1944).

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Ash and Quill (The Great Library #3) & Smoke and Iron (The Great Library #4) by Rachel Caine (ARC) - Reviews

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Ash and Quill (The Great Library #3) by Rachel Caine is officially one of the best books I've had the pleasure of reading this year. I don't know how the author does it but this series just keeps getting better. I shouldn't be surprised anymore, but each book outdoes itself. I think I need more stars to show just how much I appreciate this series. I have no idea why I put it off for as long as I did, but I expect it must be nerves at what is surely coming for this wonderful cast of characters. I adore each and everyone of these characters, but like I've said before Wolfe and Santi are hands down my favorite in this series even if they don't get quite as much page time in this volume. Plus, I think they're one of my favorite LGBT couples in YA, especially as parental figures to the rest of the core cast. Finally, this installment is so intense and that ending is a brutal place to leave us - luckily for me since I waited to pick this up, I was actually able to jump right into my ARC of Smoke and Iron. If you can't already tell I adore this series. Rachel Caine's writing is marvelous as are her characters and world-building skills. If you call yourself a bookworm, then you absolutely need to try this series.

I read this novel from June 28 - July 7, 2018 and my review is also on Goodreads.

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I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Jess Brightwell and his allies are now in direct danger from the Archivist Magister and his supporters in the Great Library. The world is about to catch fire in all out rebellion and printed words are the spark to ignite the blaze. They'll have to use everything they've got if they want any chance of surviving this fight. It's down to the smugglers, thieves, and Scholars to save all that's still good about the library.

Smoke and Bone by Rachel Caine is the fourth installment of The Great Library series which has quickly become one of my all time favorite series. I know I've said this with pretty much every subsequent volume, but the series just manages to get better and better and this one is no exception! The stakes haven't been higher than they are here. I love the vivid world that the author has created, no matter how brutal it is to our favorite characters. I love her take on this alternate very near future, no matter how terrifying it is in terms of censorship, and that we've had the opportunity to travel and see that world from everywhere to London, Oxford, Alexandria, and Philadelphia. Here a great deal of the action is back in the city of the Great Library's headquarters - their return trip is according to plan but it's still heartbreaking for the characters who weren't let in on that plan.

As fantastic as Caine's world-building has been throughout this series, our diverse core cast of characters are some of the best I've had the opportunity to spend time with. I'm so invested in Jess, Khalila, Morgan, Glain, Dario, Thomas, Wolfe, Santi, and even Brendan. I love them all, but I have to admit that Wolfe and Santi are my two favorites. If anything happens to either of them, I won't know what to do. Maybe it's a sign that I'm getting older, but they've been my favorite characters since I started this series. Anyway, this time around several of our main cast have POV chapters. I was kind of worried about that element, but to be honest it's a great addition since Jess and the others are split up for a chunk of the story. Like I said before, the stakes are sky high and everyone is risking their lives, so you can imagine just how stressful it is to see my favorites in such danger. No one is safe, no one.

Overall, Smoke and Iron (The Great Library #4) by Rachel Caine is another brilliant installment of one of the most bookish, inventive, and addictive YA fantasy series currently out there. This story is marvelous and I didn't want to put it down, but honestly I was so stressed out while reading it because I couldn't be sure that all of my favorites would survive the oncoming war. I was truly worried bout these characters which is a fantastic testament to Caine's top-notch storytelling abilities and talent at creating diverse and realistic characters that feel as if they could walk right off the page. I know my review hasn't done the novel justice, but I can't recommend it enough. Seriously, I don't know how I'll cope until the final book is released next year - or after it's all over either.

Thanks again, NetGalley!

I read this ARC from July 7 - July 14, 2018 and my review is also on GoodreadsSmoke and Iron was released on July 3rd, 2018.

Friday, July 13, 2018

#PrideMonth 2018 - #PrideTBR Wrap Up & Mini Reviews

As you may know the month of June was Pride Month, and to celebrate the occasion I decided to tackle four LGBTQIAP books from my shelves.  My #PrideTBR consisted of The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue (Guide #1) by Mackenzi Lee, More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera, Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert, and Amberlough (The Amberlough Dossier #1) by Lara Elena Donnelly.  These had all been sitting on my shelf for quite a while and Pride Month seemed like the perfect time to tackle them.  I successfully completed all four novels before the month was out and luckily for me I liked them all.  To be honest though, I was particularly enamored with the work of Mackenzi Lee and Adam Silvera.  I hadn't had any previous experience with either of their works, but they've quickly become a couple of my favorites.  I will need to their future release!  Read on for my mini reviews of these titles:

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The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee was exactly what I needed! Why didn't I read this sooner? I mean, that was exactly my kind of YA historical fiction with some romance and a dash of fantasy. I think I'm in love with Lee's style and sense of humor. Rather than just being laugh out loud all the way through there are a lot of truly heart breaking moments for our characters. The characters really make this story - I felt like they could all walk right off the page from Monty, Percy, and to Felicity. All of them are fantastically written characters, and the best part is that all of them have flaws. I liked seeing them grow from where they started off at the beginning of their romp across the Continent - I was especially pleased to see Felicity call Monty out on his crap. Personally, I think Felicity is totally the MVP of the novel and I'm so excited to see she's the focus of the coming sequel, The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy. If you like the style of My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, and Brodi Ashton and Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Mansicalco, I have a feeling you'll like this too. By the way, did anyone else catch the moment where Monty channels his inner William Thatcher when he pulls out the, "Have you a name, my foxy lady?"

I read this book from June 13 - 28 and my review is also on Goodreads.

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More Happy Than Not is an incredibly powerful debut. I honestly have no idea why I hadn't picked up this YA contemporary earlier. I have no excuse for it, but I'm glad I finally made the plunge during Pride Month. Aaron's story packs quite the emotional gut punch that's for sure. You may need a tissue or two to make it through this book because his life is anything but easy. By the way, Me-Crazy's name is definitely appropriate. Just judging from his debut, but I think Adam Silvera could be a new favorite. Next up, I'll have to get to History Is All You Left Me and They Both Die at the End.

I read this Kindle library book from June 18 - 20, 2018 and my review is also on Goodreads.

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When it comes to Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert, I've seen quite a few mixed reviews featuring great, good, meh, and worse reviews, but I still wanted to try it out for myself. The description of the story sounded to intriguing to pass up. Now that it's all said and done though I have to admit I'm kind of underwhelmed. I liked that the story is so focused on complex family relationships particularly between siblings and that it features good representation for instersectional diversity. Unfortunately, I didn't feel particularly close to anyone in the story - they were lacking that spark of depth to really make me want to latch on. Overall, Little & Lion isn't a bad book in the least, but even though it has so much going for it it was a little too bland for my tastes.

I read this book on June 28, 2018 and my review is also on Goodreads.

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Amberlough by Lara Elena Donnelly is a brilliantly executed John le Carre meets Cabaret LGBT+ fantasy spy thriller set in a Weimar Republic, Germany-esque world. I had read many fantastic and gushing reviews of this story before going in (and just look at that awesome cover, to boot!) and, luckily for me, the story totally lives ups to it! I couldn't get enough of their world and the spies at the center of the story - Amberlough City is practically a character in its own right. All in all the story comes across as character driven and I was intrigued by everyone we met on the page, even if they were quite unlikable I couldn't help but become invested in their stories. I love the fact that many spy tactics and other things we see throughout this novel are taken from real world history. If you need a refreshingly awesome take on fantasy novels and political spy thrillers, then you absolutely need Amberlough in your life. After that ending I'm dying for the sequel, Armistice.

I read this novel from June 28 - 29, 2018 and my review is also on Goodreads.

Have you read any of these books before?  If so, what did you think of them?  Did you read any LGBTQIAP+ books for Pride Month this year?  As always, thanks for visiting my blog and perhaps even commenting down below!

The Friday 56 (With Book Beginnings): A Reaper at the Gates (An Ember in the Ashes #3) by Sabaa Tahir + 50/50 Friday

On Friday's I take part in three weekly link ups - The Friday 56, hosted by Freda's Voice, Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader, and 50/50 Friday is a new weekly link up and it is hosted by Carrie @ The Butterfly Reader and Laura @ Blue Eye Books. For The Friday 56, you choose a book, a book you have just finished, a book you are about to start, your current read, and share a line or a few lines that grab you (but don't spoil anything) from page 56 or 56% of the way through the ebook. Post it and share your post's url on Freda's most recent Friday 56 post. As for Book Beginnings, you share the first sentence or so and your initial thoughts, impressions, or whatever else it inspires, and then link up your post's url with Rose City Reader. Then, for 50/50 Friday, every week there's a new topic featuring two sides of the same coin - you share a book that suits each category and link up on the hosts blogs.

This week I'm spotlighting one of my current reads, A Reaper at the Gates (An Ember in the Ashes #3) by Sabaa Tahir, which is one of my most highly anticipated sequels of 2018.  I'm so excited to be reading this new release considering how much I loved the first two books in the series!  Then again, I know the final part is still upcoming next year so I'm scared to find out where this will leave our characters!


You love too much, my king.


"Have you ever seen so many spirits this close to the border, Darin?"  The ghosts appear to multiply by the second.  "It cannot be just to torment me.  Something has happened to Elias.  Something is wrong."  I feel a pull that I cannot explain, a compulsion to move toward the Forest of the Dusk.

50/50 Friday: Favorite Book That's The Most/ Least Quotable

Most - The Princess Bride by William Goldman - I'm going to be honest, the same thing goes for the movie adaptation!

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer - I loved this back when I read it several years ago before I started blogging.  Now, though?  I can't remember any direct quotes from it at all...

Have you read any of these books yet?  What are you reading this Friday?  As always, thanks for visiting my blog and perhaps even commenting down below!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Older Books I Don't Want People To Forget

Happy Tuesday everyone!  Welcome to the first Top Ten Tuesday now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is a throwback prompt to share your list of books on a topic that you've missed in the past and I've selected Older Books I Don't Want People To Forget.  Here we go, beginning with the oldest books:

The Beetle by Richard Marsh, 1897 - I read this excellent gothic horror novel for a college course and the best kind of insane.   It was released the same year as Dracula and was initially more popular at the time.  It stayed in print 1960 until it was re-released in 2004. It totally needs a cover change though - one that actually kind of reflects what it's about, or at least gives you the idea that your about to jump into pulpy horror rather than a bland piece of historical fiction.

Featuring the Saint by Leslie Charteris, 1931 - I love watching the classic tv show with Roger Moore and listening to the radio show featuring the voice talent of Vincent Price.

American Agent by Melvin Purvis, 1936 - This autobiography is easily one of the most fascinating I've ever had the chance to read.  If your not familiar with Melvin Purvis, he was the lead FBI agent on the case of John Dillinger, Pretty-boy Floyd, and Baby-face Nelson.  He would have only been 33 years old when this book was originally released.

Murder With Your Malted by Jerome Barry, 1941 - I've never read a mystery quite like this fun, fast-paced, thrill-ride with a great sense of humor.  The twist is fantastic and the characters are intriguing.  Plus, the main character is a soda-man so there's plenty of soda jargon featured in the dialogue.

Leave Her to Heaven by Ben Ames Williams, 1944 - I love a good noir-ish mystery thriller and this one totally hits the mark.  By the way, the movie which features a mustache-less Vincent Price is a good adaptation.

The Egg and I by Betty MacDonald, 1945 - I had no clue that The Egg and I movie from 1947 with Fred MacMurray and Claudette Colbert and led to the Ma & Pa Kettle spin off movie series was actually based on the real life memoir of Betty MacDonald until I listened to this audiobook.  The sense of humor is great and as with the movie, the Kettles completely steal the show.

Ross Poldark by Winston Graham, 1945 - I don't know about you, but I'm a fan of the tv adaptation featuring Aidan Turner and Eleanor Tomlinson.  Anyway, since I enjoy the show so much I thought I would give the source material a try - and luckily enough, it's an engaging historical fiction novel populated with wonderful characters.  I've only read the first two books so far, but I totally need to continue on with it.

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying: The Dastards Guide to Fame & Fortune by Shepherd Mead, 1952 - This satirical guidebook is what inspired the musical (and movie adaptation) with Robert Morse in the 1960s and the newer revival which featured Daniel Radcliffe (and later Darren Criss and Nick Jonas).

My Family & Other Animals by Gerald Durrell, 1956 - This is easily one of my all time favorite memoirs - it's hilarious and the characters are so vibrant!

Up the Down Staircase by Bel Kaufman, 1964 - If this humorous epistolary novel following a new teacher in a metropolitan high school isn't considered a classic, it really should be.

Have you read any of these books, or have I piqued your interest in any of them?  As always, thanks very much for visiting my blog and perhaps even commenting down below!

Monday, July 9, 2018

City of Lies by Sam Hawke (ARC) - Review

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I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Jovan is the quiet and forgettable friend of Tain, the Chancellor’s charming yet irresponsible Heir. He's also a master of poisons and chemicals. He has been trained to protect the Chancellor’s family from unknown dangers. When the Chancellor falls to an unknown poison and an army lays siege to the city, Jovan and his sister Kalina must protect Tain and save the city-state of Silasta. But treachery lurks in every corner, and the ancient spirits of the land are rising...and angry.

City of Lies by Sam Hawke is now easily one of my favorite reads of 2018 - and one of the best debut novels I've read all year long. Believe me when I saw that you need this fantasy novel in your life. The author's writing style immediately hooked me - right from the first line actually. What kept me coming back for more though was the author's stunning world-building and her brilliant character development, plus there's a fascinating magic system to back everything up. This book is over 500 pages and I was so enamored by her style that I managed to speed through it in what amounted to three or four reading binges. I didn't want to put my Kindle down for a second, but unfortunately work got in the way. If I'd had my way, I would have attempted to devour it in only one sitting!

Like I said before, this novel has some of the best world-building I've had the opportunity to experience this year. The city-state of Silasta is practically a character on its own. It's so vividly presented I felt like I could have walked the streets with Jovan, Kalina, and Tain at my side. The description of the setting with everything from daily operations, class, political and societal views, and religion (and the lies everything is built upon, naturally) is so tightly threaded into the core of the story that it felt like a living and breathing entity. Even though we really only get to see the city-state of Silasta with a taste of other locales, the story never managed to feel restricted in anyway since we have such a great sense of Silasta it becomes more than just a place in the mind of the reader.

This debut also features some truly remarkable characters with Jovan, Kalina, and Tain. Like with the world they inhabit, I truly felt like over the course of more than 500 pages I got a great sense of who they were as people as they progressed and developed. The story is told in alternating POVs between Jovan and his sister Kalina. I loved getting to know both of them, but I found myself drawn to the chronically ill Kalina in particular - as great as Jovan is Kalina really steals all of her scenes as she goes toe to toe with her equally skilled brother. As much as I enjoy a fantasy featuring assassins, I have to say it was brilliant seeing the reverse here with leading characters who have been tasked with preventing assassination via poisoning.

Overall, City of Lies by Sam Hawke is an absolutely brilliant debut that I can't recommend enough. You will want to devour this fantasy all at once because you can't put it down. If you like V.E. Schwab, I have a feeling you'll be just as impressed by Sam Hawke's storytelling, character developing, and world-building abilities. I'm certainly looking forward to seeing where the Poison Wars series goes from here. It's going to be brilliant, I can feel it!

Thanks, NetGalley!

I read this ARC from July 1 - 6, 2018 and my review is also on GoodreadsCity of Lies by Sam Hawke was released on July 3rd, 2018.