Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Releases For The First Half Of 2016

Happy Tuesday everyone and welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week's theme is Most Anticipated Releases For The First Half of 2016.  I'm going to try to repeat myself as little as possible here, so you may be seeing a few titles I haven't really mentioned before alongside the huge names!  Here we go, in order by release date:

Drake (The Burned Man #1) by Peter McLean - January 6th, 2015 - Hitmen!  Greek Furies!  Lucifer!  Magical accomplices!

 A Criminal Magic by Lee Kelly - February 2nd, 2016 - This one had me at The Night Circus meets Peaky Blinders, and it's written by the author of City of Savages!

Revisionary (Magic Ex Libris #4) by Jim C. Hines - February 2nd, 2016 - Isaac, Smudge, and Lena are back!!

These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas - February 9th, 2016 - It had me at Jane Austen meets the X-Men!

A Gathering of Shadows (A Darker Shade of Magic #2) by V.E. Schwab - February 23rd, 2016 - It's the sequel to A Darker Shade of Magic - of course, it's going to be on my list!

Black City Saint (Black City Saint #1) by Richard A. Knaak - March 1st, 2016 - Saint George in Prohibition Era Chicago!

Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices #1) by Cassandra Clare - March 8th, 2016 - Shadowhunters in present day L.A. - Blackthorns and Carstairs!

Half Lost (The Half Bad Trilogy #3) by Sally Green - March 29th, 2016 - It's the grand finale of the Half Bad Trilogy - it had to make the list!

The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4) by Maggie Stiefvater - April 26th, 2016 - I won't know what to do when it's all said and done!

The Last Star (The 5th Wave #3) by Rick Yancey - May 24th, 2016 - I can't wait to see how it all ends!

So, what do you think of this week's list?  Are you hyped up to read any of these books?  What are you looking forward to and do you have any good recommendations for me?  As always, all comments are appreciated and I try to respond to everyone!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Music Monday: Glass Animals

Happy Monday everyone and welcome to my eleventh 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 one or two of 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 at the bottom of this post by sharing your post's url.

 Finally, have fun sharing and discovering new to you music!

"Black Mambo" by Glass Animals (2014) - I love the eerie sound of this song.  I think the name of the group really fits this song - it sounds glassy and eerie, yet bubbly at the same time. And then there's the music video which is creepy in it's own right - probably because we never get a clear look at the singer and the whole snake thing. Yeah, I think it's mostly the snake thing.

"The 12 Days of Christmas" by Straight No Chaser (2008) - I think this is the funnest and funniest cover of this song. I get a kick out of how they intermix other classic Christmas songs into, as well as their Christmas-y take on Toto's "Africa".

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Sunday Funday: Weekend Update and Book Haul

It's been quite a while since I've done one of these posts - middle of October, I think - so I've got a fair bit to include.

This week I've actually had some time off for the holidays, and I'll have some time off next week, too.  I really lucked out this year!  I've had the chance to get some reading, blogging, and watching done that I wouldn't have had the time to do otherwise.  And most importantly, I had the chance to spend some time with the family!

First, I'd like to talk about some of the movies I've had the opportunity to see at the movie theater.  I've seen Spectre, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 3D.  I really enjoyed each movie.

Spectre was very, very good.  I liked getting further into the James Bond mythology, and seeing that the Daniel Craig films are quite interconnected.  The pre-opening titles scene was pretty stunning and perhaps the best of Craig's entries!  Dave Bautista's Mr. Hinx was a pretty great mostly silent villain - he reminded me of a combination of classic Bond villains like Oddjob and  Jaws.  I'm hoping that Daniel Craig will be back as James Bond at least one more time.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 was a stunning conclusion to the movie franchise.  It's also a faithful book to movie adaptation.  Of course, there are some changes, but for the most part they were for the better.  Mockingjay was my least favorite of the books, but I surprised myself by how much I enjoyed the film adaptations.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 3D was absolutely brilliant and I think I enjoyed it most of the three movies I've listed here.  I don't want to give too much away for those that haven't yet seen it, but it lived up to the hype!  Abrams was successfully able to blend the feel of the original series into this new story.  My new favorites are Rey, Poe, and Finn.  Adam Driver's Kylo Ren makes for an interesting villain and it's also good to see Domhnall Gleeson getting some attention as General Hux.  Of course, I loved seeing the return of classic characters, too, such as Han, Chewie, Leia, and Luke.  BB-8 is quite the scene-stealer!

As for bookish news, I've picked up quite a few books since the last time I did a book haul post, so without further ado here we go.

I picked up these used books from the middle of November up until about the middle of December at antique shops, thrift shops, and a local used/new bookstore.

The Harrowing of Gwynedd (The Heirs of Saint Chamber #1) by Katherine Kurtz - I've never read anything by this author, but it sounds like a fascinating new fantasy series to begin.

Avalon (Avalon #1) by Mindee Arnett - I remember hearing about this one when it came out last year, but I completely forgot about it until I saw it at the used/new bookstore.  It's been recommended to fans of Firefly, so I'm looking forward to checking it out.

Echopraxia (Firefall #2) by Peter Watts - I didn't realize this was a sequel until after I got it, but either way it sounds like the best kind of crazy.

The Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman - This sounds like a compelling atmospheric mystery.  I'm not familiar with the author, but apparently this was her debut novel when it was released back in 2002.

I picked these up during Black Friday at my favorite local bookstore.  It's pretty cool that they actually know me there.  They were having some decent sales that afternoon, so I thought I would take them up on them.

Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch #1) by Ann Leckie - I've been meaning to pick up this series forever.  I've heard such fantastic things about it that it's high time I see what all the fuss is about.

Redshirts by John Scalzi - I have no idea where I've been, but I've just recently heard about this book and it sounds like so much fun.

I also picked these up on Black Friday at Barnes and Noble.  I was really lucky in that I'd some membership coupons and some gift cards with me!

The Aeronaut's Windlass (The Cinder Spires #1) by Jim Butcher - Jim Butcher is one of my favorite author's - The Dresden Files is one the best series ever - I will read whatever he writes!

The Barrow (The Barrow #1) by Mark Smylie - This sounds like an awesome action-packed dark epic fantasy novel.  And, just look at that cover!

I also lucked out at Barnes and Noble by picking these up at the beginning of December.  Have I mentioned how much I love coupons and gift cards?

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff - I've been looking forward to this one for a long time and I've heard nothing but great things about it!

Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4) by Marissa Meyer - I can't adequately express how excited I am to begin this series finale!!

These two were Christmas presents - the first grandma got for me and the second I picked up yesterday with various gift card money and coupons.

The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #1) by Rick Riordan - I loved seeing what Riordan did with Greek mythology in Percy Jackson and I very intrigued by what he'll do with Norse.  Grandma chose well!

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell - As I've said before contemporary isn't my go-to genre, but I loved Rowell's Fangirl.  Understandably, I was thrilled when I heard she was actually writing this book.

These three books were also purchased yesterday using various Christmas gift card money and coupons.  Have I mentioned how much I like gift cards and coupons?

Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix - I've been hoping to get my hands on a copy of this one for a long time, but every time I consciously searched for it it was out of stock.  Until yesterday, that is.  It sounds like my kind of horror story with a dash of humor, and it's set in Ohio, too.  The design of the book is pretty cool, as well.

The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey - This novel sounds exactly like my kind of post-apocalyptic, sci-fi, horror story.  It's been praised by Joss Whedon and John Ajvide Lindqvist and it's been recommended for fans of The Walking Dead and Kazuo Ishiguro.

The Uninvited by Cat Winters - I've absolutely adored her previous YA paranormal historical fiction novels and I'm beyond excited to try her debut adult novel.

I'm hoping everyone had a wonderful holiday, and got the chance to relax and maybe get your hands on a book or two!  I hope it won't be too difficult to get back into the swing of things tomorrow!

The Liebster Award, Pt. 8

Wow!  I can't believe it - I've been nominated for the Liebster Award eight times!  Thanks so much to KayCeeK @ Wonder Struck for this nomination - everyone should go check out her blog because it's fantastic!

The Liebster Award is a tag to help new bloggers be discovered- it's also a great way to get to know the blogger!

The Rules:

1. Thank the person who nominated you and link their blog.
2. Answer the 11 questions the nominator has given you.
3. Tag 11 bloggers who have less than 1000 readers.
4. Think of 11 questions to ask the bloggers you have nominated.
5. Let them know you've nominated them through social media or their blog.

KayCee's Questions for Me:

1. If you could live inside any book, what book would it be and why? 

I'd love to live in the Magic Ex Libris series by Jim C. Hines.  Being a Libriomancer would be so cool - I'd love to be able to magically reach into books and draw objects out from them.

2. What is your favorite T.V. show? & why? 

One of my favorite new shows of the fall 2015 season was Scream Queens - I loved the dark sense of humor and all of the twists and turns.  Otherwise some of my favorite shows on now are Supernatural, Doctor Who, Once Upon a Time, SurvivorThe Walking Dead, Game of ThronesGrimm, Peaky Blinders, Sherlock, Supergirl, and Sleepy Hollow.

3. Are you embarrassed by anything you are a fan of? 

No, not usually.  I know what I like - and if you don't like it that's not the end of the world.  However, there have been times when you tell someone you enjoy fantasy, sci-fi, horror, and YA, and they immediately dismiss your tastes as too juvenile or not literary enough.  Not necessarily embarrassing, but it's upsetting to be dismissed because adult literary fiction isn't your go to genre.

4. You found a coin that grants you three wishes what are they and why? 

1. That my friends and family are well and taken care of, 2. A never ending supply of free books, and 3. A TARDIS to travel all of time and space.

5. What does blogging me to you? 

I'm guessing you mean "mean".  To me, it means being part of a community that I can interact with and share my interests with.

6. Your having a dinner party and can only have six people/characters who would they be and why? 

I could list characters, but I'm going to say family this time.  My dad's side of the family had some really fascinating figures I'd  have loved to have the opportunity to meet whom I've only gotten to know by via old photos and letters that have been saved over the years.

7. What is your dream job? 

Librarian - and I am lucky enough to work in that field in a fantastic small library.  However, I would love to work at The British Library in London.

8. How do you think your friends would describe you? 

I'm usually pretty bad at this...reserved until you get to know me, passionate about what I like, knowledgeable, jack of all trades ...

9. What is your favorite social sites? 

Goodreads and Twitter - I've linked my profiles just in case.

10. Witch one do you believe have more power, words or action? 

Words, definitely.

11. If you could see any concert who would it be and what song would you hope would be play?

I would love to see Frank Sinatra in concert.  From any time period really, but I would really like to see him early in his career with Harry James and His Orchestra or Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra.  With Harry James, I'd like to see "Wishing Will Make It So" (1939), and with Tommy Dorsey, "Blue Skies" (1940).

My Nominees:

Ashley G. @ [insert title here]
Genni @ Ready, Set, Read!
Ann and Clare @ Dual Reads
Giovanna @ Book Coma
Zhanna @ Confessions of an Addict
Brigid @ Brigid Writes Things
Captivated Reader
Smart Dames, Clever Books
Auggie Talk
Victoria @ Addlepates and Book Nerds
Hannah @ Broc's Bookcase

My Questions for my Nominees:

1. How do you organize your bookshelves?

2. You've been tasked to rewrite a book, which book would it be and why?

3. What 2016 book release are you most excited for?

4. What group of fictional friends would you like to share a lunch table with?

5. If you could recast any classic tv show with modern actors, what show would you choose and what modern actors would you select?

6. If you could see any musical group, past or present, which would you want to see and what song would you like to here them perform?

7. Which hyped book were you most thrilled by?

8. Which hyped book were you most disappointed by?

9.  What's a book that you love, but isn't very well known?

10. What social media website do you prefer?

11. What 2016 book to movie adaptation are you most excited to see?

The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn #1) by Renee Ahdieh - Review

❋ ❋ ❋ 

The Caliph of Khorasan, Khalid, takes a new bride every night only to kill her come dawn. When Shahrzad's best friend falls victim to the caliph, she vows to avenge her friend's death. She volunteers to be the next bride and plans on ending the caliph's reign of terror, all while surviving the ordeal herself. She knows each night could be her last, but she manages to enchant and beguile the caliph by weaving stories that end on a cliffhanger bringing him back for more. Over time, she begins to realize that Khalid is not exactly the monster everyone thinks he is. Unbelievably, she finds herself falling in love with him, the ultimate betrayal of her friend's memory. Either way, she's looking to uncover whatever secrets he, and the palace, still hold. Regardless of her new found love, she must be ready to take Khalid's life in retribution for all of those he has stolen.

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh is a retelling inspired by A Thousand and One Nights. I haven't read the source material, but I am familiar with some of the more popular tales. Regardless, Ahdieh's debut novel is an enthralling read from beginning to end. Both the concept and her beautiful writing style had me hooked from the outset. Her descriptions are incredibly detailed, yet every single word matters and nothing is overly done. The world-building is topnotch and the Middle Eastern flair woven into the story gives it that extra push to stunning.

Our cast of characters is quite fascinating. Both Shahrzad and Khalid are complex characters. Shahrzad actually reminds me a little of Celaena from Throne of Glass. She's very determined, fierce, and willing to put everything she has to give into her plan, however at times she seems a bit uneven. Khalid is a mysterious figure that is not at all what he seems. I wish we had actually been able to see more of his thought-process the more Shahrzad gets to know him.

The romance is actually pretty decent, especially the more we know about Khalid. Considering Shahrzad's initial goal and what she knows, or thinks she knows, about Khalid, makes the entire romance situation a bit uncomfortably complicated, at least for me. Then, we also have a love triangle with Tariq, Shahrzad's friend and first love. He has good intentions in wanting to rescue her, but as he listens less and less as the story goes on he began to grate on my nerves.

Overall, I greatly enjoyed this novel and I highly recommend it if you enjoy brilliantly written historical fantasy. If you like An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir and Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman, you will also enjoy The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh. I'm very much looking forward to it's sequel, The Rose and the Dagger, which is to be released on May 3rd, 2016.

I read this novel from December 17 - 27, 2015 and my review is also on Goodreads.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Hawkeye, Vol. 1 by Matt Fraction - Review

❋ ❋ ❋  

Clint Barton is Hawkeye, a fantastic archer and a member of the Avengers. Aside from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I don't know much about his character, but I liked where they went with him in Age of Ultron. I'd heard so many good things about this new story that I really wanted to check it out. And, as it turns out, the action is so much fun and the sense of humor is right on target.

I loved that, for the most part, each issue started out with some variation of: "Okay, this looks bad." Followed up by a panel that goes something like this:

Then, there's always an undercurrent of absurdity with his skill set like:

I can't forget to mention the artwork that brings it all to life. There are several talented illustrators who lend their talents to Matt Fraction's text. Of all of them, I believe David Aja's contributions were my favorite overall. You can't go wrong with a good car chase scene:

There's so much to like about Matt Fraction's current Hawkeye series! I honestly didn't want to put it down, and I'm really looking forward to reading the next volume.

I read this graphic novel from December 10 - 11, 2015 and my review is also on Goodreads.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Library of Souls (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children #3) by Ransom Riggs - Review

❋ ❋ ❋  

Library of Souls is a fantastic finale to the marvelous Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children series by Ransom Riggs. This installment takes up immediately after Hollow City concludes and continues at breakneck pace as Jacob and company travel from one time loop to another in an attempt to save their captured friends from a fortress at the center of everything. It's not just their lives at stake either, it's all of Peculiardom.

If you enjoyed the first two books in this series, the finale is an absolute must read for fans. It has just about everything you could want to see and it wraps up the story beautifully. I particularly enjoyed meeting the new characters and watching them interact with favorites. The new locations and times are equally fascinating. As before I couldn't look away from the selection of photos, all of which are eerily perfect. I'm looking forward to whatever Ransom Riggs has in store for us next. Needless to say, I can't wait to see the movie adaptation of this series starring Asa Butterfield as Jacob.

I read this novel from November 23 - 30, 2015 and my review is also on Goodreads.

The Friday 56 (With Book Beginnings): Ross Poldark (Poldark #1) by Winston Graham

Welcome to The Friday 56, a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice.

These are the rules:
1. Grab a book, any book.
2. Turn to page 56, or 56% on your eReader.
3. Find any sentence (or a few, just don't spoil it) that grabs you.
4. Post it.
5. Add the URL to your post in the link on Freda's most recent Friday 56 post.

I'm also taking part in Book Beginnings, a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader.  The rules are pretty simple - you share the first sentence or so and your initial thoughts, impressions, or whatever else it inspires.  Don't forget to link up your post's url with Rose City Reader.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everyone!  I hope you find everything you wanted under your tree!

This week I'm spotlighting my next read, Ross Poldark (Poldark #1) by Winston Graham.  I really enjoyed watching the show starring Aidan Turner when it aired on Masterpiece, and I can't wait until the next season begins.  I've had this on hold at the library since the middle of August and it finally came in!  I'm so excited to begin reading!

Book Beginning:

Joshua Poldark died in March 1783.  In February of that year, feeling that his tenure was becoming short, he sent for his brother from Trenwith.


After a minute he shook some water off his coat and began the trip back.  Ross followed him with an expression that was half grim, half ironic.  For Francis the incident might have betrayed the extent of his cousin's resentment - but Ross felt it should have also shown him its limitations.

It had done that much for himself.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Starting Sparks: December Edition

This is my second time participating in Emily's and Ashley G's wonderful monthly writing link up.  I had a lot of fun participating last month, so here I am this month.  This month's prompt is a line of dialog:

My Scene:

"Whoa, whoa, whoa! What are doing?!" I shout at my friend.

He's in the middle of sticking a styrofoam cup in the microwave - my microwave.

He turns his head and looks at me, surprised by my outburst. I'm not the sort to get worked up easily, so if I'm shouting he knows it's for a good reason. "Uh, I was going to melt some chocolate in the microwave." It sounds more like a question.

"Do you know what could happen if you turned that on?!"

By my tone and expression, he can tell I'm serious, but he can't help himself. "I'd have melted chocolate by now?"

I stare at him for a second. How does he not know this? Did he forget? "Remember that time in high school when we had a fire drill, and the fire department actually came and we had to freeze outside for, like, an hour before we could go back in?" I figure that that will jog his memory.

He raises an eyebrow at at me. Apparently not.

"Yeah, that wasn't a drill."

Slowly, the "drill" in question comes to him. I can tell that he's trying to work out how that could possibly relate to what's going on now. I decide to clue him in. I guess, he didn't hear the details behind that one. Oh well, it's a good story.

"Remember Life Skills class?"

He nods. "In middle school, right? When we learned the basics of cooking and sewing and stuff? I think I still have my fuzzy dice..."

Before he gets too off topic, I continue. "We didn't take the advanced high school classes, but you could also take more in-depth units on cooking, and all of that. I heard that the high school unit started off the same way as the middle school one."

By where I'm going with this, I think it's starting to dawn on him. "Fried eggs and microwave caramel popcorn?"

"Yep. Well, the teacher decided they should kick the popcorn up a notch by drizzling melted chocolate over it."

"Sounds delicious."

"I know, right? Dumb thing was she busted up a Hershey bar, put the pieces in a styrofoam coffee cup, and stuck it in the classroom microwave for thirty seconds. Momentary insanity, I guess."

He's right on the verge of connecting the dots between the not-a-drill and chocolate drizzled microwave caramel popcorn, and what he was trying to do a minute ago.

Sometimes  he can be so thick. "Styrofoam and microwaves don't get along. The chocolate melted alright, right along with the cup before it caught fire. Of course, the entire microwave burst into flames, the smoke detectors went off tripping the fire drill, we all filed outside and froze our butts off while the firefighters took care of everything."

He stares at me dumbfounded as I reach past him into the microwave and grab the offending cup. I polish off the squares of chocolate as I head back toward the living room couch. As I sit down, I look at him over my shoulder and say, "The moral of this story is: Please stop putting things in my microwave."

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Christmas Tag

I recently saw this wonderfully festive tag by Alicia @ A Kernel of Nonsense and knew I had to complete it.  Without further ado, I'll jump straight into the tag.

What's your favorite Christmas movie?

I've always enjoyed A Christmas Carol - my favorite version is the film from 1951 starring Alastair Sim as Ebeneezer Scrooge.  I also can't get enough of The Nightmare Before Christmas - it's great for Halloween and Christmas - and Christmas Vacation is so funny.

Do you open presents Christmas Eve or Christmas morning?

Sometimes mom would let me open one early on Christmas Eve, but for the most part it's always in the morning.

Do you have a favorite Christmas memory?

I would say it's the looks on friends faces when they open an awesome gift that I found for them.

Favorite Christmas food?

I love my grandmother's homemade stuffing.  I could eat it all day - and the gravy that goes along with it is special, too.

Favorite Christmas gift?

Two gifts stand out to me in particular - a sled and a bike.  I didn't receive them the same year, but both were a lot of fun.

Favorite Christmas scent?

Christmas tree and/or pumpkin pie.

Do you have any Christmas Eve traditions?

When I was really little we used to do a few things: we'd have a Christmas paper chain counting beginning at the first of December until Christmas morning, set out cookies and milk for Santa, a bucket of feed out in the barn for the reindeer, read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, and then ring the jingle bells on the upstairs doorknob just before bed.

What tops your tree?

It's an angel made of a bell - we picked it up at a craft show a few years ago.

As a kid, what was the one (crazy, wild, extravagant) gift you always asked for and never received?

Well a neighbor of our had horses, so I wanted a horse for a while.  I wasn't all that broken up about it, since I wasn't really serious about it.  But it would have been so cool to have gotten a horse...

What's the best part about Christmas for you?

Aside from giving and receiving gifts, seeing family etc., one of my favorite parts has always been decorating the tree.

I tag anyone who would like to complete this tag, but you better hurry because you only have 2 days left!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Wouldn't Mind Santa Leaving Under My Tree This Year

Happy Tuesday and Happy Holidays everyone!  This week's theme for Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is Books I Wouldn't Mind Santa Leaving Under My Tree This Year.  I'm going to try to keep it narrowed down to ten!  Here we go, in alphabetical order by author:

Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1) by Leigh Bardugo

Nightwise by R.S. Belcher

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1) by Sarah J. Maas

Ten Thousand Skies Above You (Firebird #2) by Claudia Gray

Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #1) by Rick Riordan

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

The Mime Order (The Bone Season #2) by Samantha Shannon

Nevermore (Cal Leandros #10) by Rob Thurman

Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente

Hotel Ruby by Suzanne Young

So, what do you think of this week's list?  Would you like to get any of these books as a gift this year?  What would you like to receive?  As always, all comments are welcome and I try to respond to everyone!