Saturday, June 30, 2018

Book Riot's 2018 Read Harder Challenge - June Update: The Hidden Blade & A Conspiracy in Belgravia


It's already the end of June - meaning 12 of the 24 tasks for Book Riot's 2018 Read Harder Challenge are complete!  The tasks I completed required me to read a romance novel by or about a person of color and a mystery by a person of color or LGBTQ+ author.  For the tasks, I selected The Hidden Blade (The Heart of Blade Duology #1) by Sherry Thomas and A Conspiracy in Belgravia (Lady Sherlock #2) by Sherry Thomas respectively.  Read on to see my mini reviews and what's next for July:



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I wouldn't exactly say that historical romance is my go to genre, but The Hidden Blade by Sherry Thomas really surprised me. As it turns out, it was exactly up my alley - think Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon meets Downton Abbey. I particularly enjoyed getting to know her cast of characters as they face the challenges coming to them. Both Ying-ying and Leighton are equally fascinating and are equally well-developed as they each feel like they could walk right off of the page. The diversity in this historical fiction novel is quite refreshing and the settings are all vibrant. I will need to read book two of The Heart of Blade Duology, My Beautiful Enemy.

I read this novel from June 5 - 8, 2018 and my review is also on Goodreads.



❋ ❋ ❋ 

Sherry Thomas is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors - I've particularly enjoyed the first novel in her Heart of Blade Duology and her take on Sherlock Holmes is easily one of my all time favorites. As a huge fan of the classic character, I found myself pleasantly surprised by A Study in Scarlet Women and I was so excited to try the sequel to the Lady Sherlock series, A Conspiracy in Belgravia. Luckily for me the sequel was just a brilliant as book one and I absolutely thoroughly enjoyed being back in Charlotte's world and with all of these characters again. Long story short but if you love this iconic detective you need to dive into the Lady Sherlock series by Sherry Thomas. I can't wait for the release of book three, The Hollow of Fear.


I listened to this audiobook from June 18 - 23, 2018 and my review is also on Goodreads.


Next Up For July:

An essay anthology 


My choice: Supernatural and Philosophy: Metaphysics and Monsters... For Idjits edited by Galen A. Foreman - I've other books in the Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture series and they've all been fascinating, so of course as soon as I realized they tackled one of my favorite tv show's I knew I needed it in my life!

A book of social science


My choice: Smoke Gets In Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty - If you've ever watched Doughty's Ask A Mortician channel on YouTube, then you'll know why I've been meaning to try her first book.

Friday, June 29, 2018

The Friday 56 (With Book Beginnings): Ash and Quill (The Great Library #4) by Rachel Caine + 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, Ash and Quill (The Great Library #3) by Rachel Caine.  I've absolutely loved the previous installments of the series and I'm so happy to be back in this world.  I've actually got an ARC of book four, Smoke and Iron, from NetGalley and I plan on jumping immediately into the next story after I complete this installment.



Beginning:

Books burned so easily.

Paper tanned in the fluttering heat, then sparked sullen red at the edges.  Flames left fragile curls of ash.  Leather bindings smoked and shriveled and blackened, just like burning flesh.

56:

What wasn't burning would be shaken apart.  And yet, as he looked around, he didn't see despair.

He saw determination.

50/50 Friday: Favorite/ Least Favorite Genre

For those of you that keep up with my reading habits, you may already know this, but here they are:



Least Favorite - Romance



Favorite - Fantasy

Thursday, June 28, 2018

And Then There Were Crows by Alcy Leyva (ARC) - Review


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

Amanda Grey has always been stressed out by life in NYC from the train to public restrooms. For her, avoidance has always been a great policy. Luckily, the apartment she shares with her parents is a great place of refuge against the stresses of city life. She goes from focusing on dealing with her own demons to dealing with actual demons since she accidentally unleashed the Six Shades of Hell on her city, and there's the fact that she's rented out a room to a very real demon, who goes by D. If she wants to make it through this she's going to have to accept the help of Barnem, the guy who lives upstairs, who just happens to be a seraphim. Though to tell the truth, she can't be sure if Barnem is motivated by roommate loyalty or the wish to enslave all of humanity.

And Then There Were Crows by Alcy Leyva is a decent debut urban fantasy novel. This novel provides a good introduction to Amanda's world. Leyva's tone and writing style is quite addicting right from the beginning. The description alone pulled me in and as I read the novel I particularly liked his brand of urban fantasy and the sarcastic sense of humor. His storytelling also keeps up a decently fast pace, so the action never lags. As for the characters, my favorite was the anti-social Barnem. I will say that Amanda isn't exactly a likable character, but she is fascinating and comes very strongly across the page. She has a sharp mind and an even sharper tongue, and it's not exactly difficult to see yourself in her as she deals with everything that's thrown her way from the mundane to the magical. This easily could have been a four star read for me, but unfortunately I felt just a little out of the loop from very early on. I was starting to wonder if this was actually a sequel. However, once I started to get into the story and the author's style of writing I began to get into the swing of things, but I still wish some of the fantasy elements were explained better from the get go. Overall, if you're looking for an intriguing new voice in urban fantasy you may want to try Alcy Leyva's And Then There Were Crows. I doubt it's for everyone, especially our leading character, but otherwise it has many great elements to make it compulsively readable.


I read this ARC from June 25 - 26, 2018 and my review is also on GoodreadsAnd Then There Were Crows by Alycy Leyva will be released on July 3rd, 2018.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Series I Don’t Plan On Finishing


Happy Tuesday everyone!  Welcome to the first Top Ten Tuesday now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is Series I’ve Given Up On/Don’t Plan to Finish - I'll be focusing on Series I Don't Plan On Finishing.  Here we go:


Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard - I've read the first three books in the series, but I have no plans of reading War Storm.  I thought it was only going to be three books - imagine my disappointment when there was zero resolution by the end of King's Cage


The Giver series by Lois Lowry - I've only read book in school and you know what, I've never been interested in taking it any further.


Gallagher Girls series by Allie Carter - I liked book one well enough, but not so much as to continue on with the series.


Vampire Academy series by Kristin Cast - I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed book one, but now I have to admit that I've lost interest.


Beautiful Creatures series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl - I don't know about you but I was kind of underwhelmed by book one in this series and that ending came across as a total cop out.


The Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa - I loved book one, but I haven't for some reason I'm not all that interested in continuing the series.


Lux series by Jennifer L. Armentrout - Book one of this series was alright and I especially liked that our main character's a book blogger, but I not convinced that I really need to pick up the sequel.


Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon - The first book in this series was okay, but I actually think I prefer to stick with the tv adaptation in this case.  And since I've only read book one, everything after the first season of the show is a surprise.


All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness - I really wanted to like book one since it has a really fantastic hook, but it didn't live up to the hype for me.  I don't think I'll be coming back for round two.


Ender's Saga by Orson Scott Card - The first book in the series is a sci-fi classic, but I have no interest in reading any more of Card's work.

Have you read continued on with any of these series?  Do you think I should keep going, or should I just give it up?  As always, thanks for visiting my blog and perhaps even commenting down below!

Monday, June 25, 2018

The Trial and Execution of the Traitor George Washington by Charles Rosenberg (ARC) - Review


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

Jeremiah Black, an officer of the King’s Guard and British special agent, lands on the beach in late 1780 when the American Revolution is at its height but is currently deadlocked between the two sides. Black's mission is to change the tide of the war by kidnapping George Washington and sneaking him back to London on nearby ship with help from American Loyalists. Some of the Loyalists, though, would prefer to just kill Washington instead of sending him to England to stand trial for high treason.

I can't resist a good alternate history story and The Trial and Execution of the Traitor George Washington by Charles Rosenberg certainly presents an intriguing hook. I can't say I've read a "what if" novel where so much of American Revolutionary history as we know it hangs in the balance. This is my first book by this author and I'd say it's a great introduction to his imaginative take on the time period. I also enjoyed his presentation of both countries at war - and due to his writing we feel like we're right in the middle of everything from the moment of his capture through to his trial. As interesting as Black and the rest of the cast are to follow, I was hoping we'd actually get to see a bit of the story through Washington's eyes - whether that came in the form of alternating chapters or just small segments of text where we could get a closer look at Washington than what we had the opportunity to in the end. Even though the author has such a great hook, there are some moments that didn't quite work for me. Some scenes, especially closer to the end, are too dull when you should be riveted to your seat. On a similar note, at times I felt to distantly removed from the cast and events to be fully invested throughout the novel.

Overall, if you're in the market for a creative and believable alternate history on the American Revolution and the fate of one of America's founders, you ought to look into The Trial and Execution of the Traitor George Washington by Charles Rosenberg. It has a brilliant hook that will keep you reading to the very end. You'll have to bear through the slower moments, but it's well worth trying out. I will certainly need to look into more of Rosenberg's work in the future.

Thanks again, NetGalley!


I read this novel from June 23 - 24, 2018 and my review is also on GoodreadsThis novel will be released on June 26th. 

Music Monday: Barns Courtney


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.

Rules:

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.

This week I'm spotlighting Barns Courtney - I just happened to hear "Fire" (2016) on the radio where they said it was one of their big songs from last year.  I don't remember hearing it at all last year, but I'm glad I've finally heard it for the first time because his voice is pretty fantastic.  Courtney only has a few songs posted on his YouTube channel right now, but my next favorite is easily "Glitter & Gold" (2016).  I will definitely need to pick up a copy of his debut album, The Attractions of Youth (2017) asap!  If you're a fan of Imagine Dragons and Kaleo, I have a feeling you like Barns Courtney too.





Friday, June 22, 2018

The Friday 56 (With Book Beginnings): Golden Son (Red Rising #2) by Pierce Brown + 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 #BeatTheBacklist reads, Golden Son (Red Rising #2) by Pierce Brown.  I really enjoyed Red Rising back when I read it this past November for Sci-Fi Month and I can't wait to see where Darrow goes from there.  This year long challenge gives me a great opportunity to get caught up on this trilogy.  



Beginning:

My silence thunders.  I stand on the bridge of my starship, arm broken and held in a gelcast, ion burns still raw on my neck.  I'm bloodydamn tired.

56:

"You have a weird sense of humor."

"I know.  But I'm so glad you get my jokes.  So many prickly Peerless these days.  Duels!  Honor! Blood!  All because they're bored.  There's no one left to fight.  So gorydamn tedious."

50/50 Friday: Favorite/ Least Favorite Title



Favorite - The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky - This was a difficult choice, but this is one of my favorite reads and I love the cover - I don't know about you but I can relate.


Least favorite - Old Tractors and the Men Who Love Them: How to Keep Your Tractors Happy and Your Family Running by Roger Welsch - I've actually seen this book come across desk at my rural library.  I can't say if it's actually a decent read or not, but every single time I've seen it (and the author's other books) I can't help but cringe.

What are you reading this weekend?  Have you tried any of these books?  As usual, thanks very much for visiting my blog and perhaps even commenting down below!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: My Summer TBR


Happy Tuesday everyone!  Welcome to the first Top Ten Tuesday now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is Books to Read By the Pool/At the Beach (this can also serve as your Summer TBR), so I'm going to share some new and upcoming releases coming out this June - August.  Hopefully, I'll be able to get to all of these books on my Summer TBR this season!  Here we go:

June:



A Thousand Perfect Notes by C.G. Drews - Release date: June 7th - I'm really excited to try Paper Fury's debut novel - my hopes are very high to say the least!  I've ordered a copy, now I just have to hope it shows up soon!


A Reaper at the Gates (Ember Quartet #3) by Sabaa Tahir - Release date: June 12th - I have absolutely loved the first two books of this series and I'm absolutely dying to get to this!  I just picked up my copy this past Friday and I just can't wait!


My Plain Jane (The Lady Janies #2) by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows - Release date: June 26th - My Lady Jane was so much fun, I can't wait to see what these authors do with Jane Eyre!


Trail of Lighting (The Sixth World #1) by Rebecca Roanhorse - Release date: June 28th - I don't know about you, but I think this urban fantasy novel is going to be absolutely awesome!

July:


Smoke and Iron (The Great Library #4) by Rachel Caine - Release date: July 3rd - I love this series and I can't wait to dive into both book 3 and 4 (at least I won't have to wait long after reading Ash and Quill until the release of the next installment)!


Hullmetal Girls by Emily Skrutskie - Release date: July 17th - I don't know about you, but this sounds like it's going to be a stunning YA sci-fi story! I added it to my tbr as soon as I heard of it.


Kill the Farm Boy (The Tales of Pell #1) by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne - Release date: July 17th - Terry Pratchett meets The Princess Bride as written by Dawson and Hearne?!  I need it!


Scream All Night by Derek Milman - Release date: July 24th - YA horror that dives into cult horror classic movies - this sounds like the kind story of book I'll get hooked on!

August: 

#Murdertrending by Gretchen McNeil - Release date: August 7th - I was approved for an ARC via NetGalley and the concept of The Hunger Games meets The Purge sounds pretty intriguing to me.


The Raging Ones (The Raging Ones #1) by Krista & Becca Ritchie - Release date: August 14th - I've seen this one all over the place lately and it sounds like it has a lot of potential.  I wish the cover wasn't quite so boring though.

What books do you want to read this summer?  As always, thanks for visiting my blog and perhaps even commenting down below!

Monday, June 18, 2018

Music Monday: Beck & The Record Company


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.

Rules:

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.

I've been hearing both of these two songs on the radio lately and I love the sound of both songs.  I've enjoyed Beck's music for a while and I really like "Dreams" as well, especially when you hear it back to back with "Life to Fix" by The Record Company.  I'd never heard of that one before, but I've got to say I'm a new fan.  Now, I'm off to listen to more of their music!



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Sunday, June 17, 2018

Sunday Funday: Weekend Update, Book Haul, and Incredibles 2 (2018)


Oh my!  What a week - so much has happened!  Earlier this week I went on a road trip to Cincinnati with a friend.  We'd been planning it for ages and it was so exciting to actually go down and see the sights.  I also had the opportunity to pick up a few new-to-me books that I'm really looking forward to trying.  Plus, on Friday night I treated myself to seeing Incredibles 2 which was absolutely awesome!  Keep going to see some of my favorite photos from the trip, my book haul, and my mini review of the movie:

Newport Aquarium


A shark and a giant grouper saying hi during the dive show.
That grouper is probably about 800 pounds by the way.


Moon jellyfish - so ethereally beautiful, don't you think?


A shark swimming overhead - so creepy!


That giant grouper's back!


The Cincinnati Zoo


A couple of elephants playing in the water while another one grabs a bite to eat.


It took me forever to spot the vulture - see him?


I've never seen young giraffes race before these two - their legs were going everywhere!


Fiona and her mother, Bibi, are taking a nap.  I'm going to be honest Fiona is one of the animals I was most looking forward to seeing.  That little hippo is just about 800 pounds now, so about the size of that giant grouper from the Aquarium in comparison.


I took a lot of pictures of the penguins, but this one is one of my favorites of one partially underwater.


I really love this one too - I mean, what secret meeting did this guy stumble into?


This owl, the one in who's really leaning over to look at me, was really staring at me from the second I walked into the room.  I thought he was just looking in general, but as soon as I moved he had to keep his eyes on me!


Cincinnati Art Museum


This was an amazing surprise - we didn't realize they were having special exhibition featuring the Terracotta Army!  I've always wanted to see these figures, but never expected I'd get the chance in person! Being in the presence of these 2,200+ year old warriors was easily the highlight of the entire trip!  It's simply extraordinary (and almost overwhelming) to see them up close and in person - the photos just don't do them the justice they deserve.  You need to do yourself a favor and try to see this exhibit - it runs until August 12th if you're in the Cincinnati area.






Even the horse looks so realistic and stunning!



Look at that detail - there is even tread on the bottom of the kneeling archer's shoe!



What would be even cooler - seeing them with their weapons intact, in this case a bow!


This charioteer is only missing the reins of his chariot.


I took these two photos to show the general layout of the main room of the exhibit - for the most part my photos of the figures travel in order of the display.


I can't describe this experience in any better way than to say it was absolutely mind blowing!


Book Haul


Morning Star (Red Rising #3) by Pierce Brown - I've been looking for a copy of the third book to complete my collection, and now I'll be ready for when I get there as a part of the #BeatTheBacklist Challenge.  I can't believe I dug up such a great looking copy from a thrift store!

Necropolis by Michael Dempsy - I spotted this at a thrift store too and I honestly couldn't pass it up either.  I mean, noir cyberpunk - how could you go wrong?

A Reaper at the Gates (Ember Quartet #3) by Sabaa Tahir - I'm dying to see where this series goes and when I saw it for only $12 at WalMart I couldn't resist!


The Renegade Queen (Rebellious Times #1) by Eva Flynn - I picked up this fictionalized story of the life of Victoria Woodhull at the library.  She was a fascinating real life figure - in fact, she was the first woman to run for President of the United States back in 1872 - and I'm intrigued to see how she'll look in historical fiction.

Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl - I had no clue that Pessl, the author Night Film which is one of my all time favorites, was releasing a new YA sci-fi mystery thriller novel at the beginning of this month until I happened to see it come across my desk at the library.  Although I've seen a few mixed reviews for her newest released, I'm still really excited to give it a shot.


❋ ❋ ❋ 

I can't believe it's been fourteen long years since the release of the first movie. The first film is still one of my favorites, and luckily this sequel is pretty fantastic. Seeing Incredibles 2 on the big screen is so much high octane fun and it has a great sense of humor. Plus, it has a killer soundtrack. Even though I've seen a lot of superhero movies since 2004, this movie still manages to feel refreshing. I absolutely love getting to the dynamics of the Parr family again. Elastigirl and Frozone are still some of my favorites, but Jack-Jack totally steals the show. I loved getting to see more of his powers - his scenes with that raccoon and his interactions with Edna Mode are absolutely priceless. Of the new supers to join the team, my favorite is easily Voyd; her powers are similar to Blink's from X-Men. My only issue with the movie is that the third act is a bit predictable, but overall I absolutely loved this movie and I wouldn't say no to a third outing with The Incredibles. By the way, did you catch the references to The Outer Limits, Johnny Quest, and Dementia 13?


My review was originally posted on Letterboxd.

Next Up At The Movies:



Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom - Release date: June 22nd - I've loved this series for the last 20+ years, so of course I'm going to see this!


Ant-Man and the Wasp - Release date: July 6th - I enjoyed the sense of humor in Ant-Man a lot more than I expected to and I'm really looking forward to this, especially since Hope gets her moment.  Plus, it's the newest installment in the MCU - I have to see it in theaters!  Of course, I've also got to know what these guys have been doing since Avengers: Infinity War.


Finally!  If you've made it all the way to the end, congratulations!  What have you been up to?  Have you been on any little vacations, seen anything cool, picked up any new-to-you books, or seen a great new movie?  As always, thanks for visiting my blog, and perhaps even commenting down below!