Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Stationery Book Tag


Back in October, I was tagged by Giovanna @ Book Coma to complete the The Stationery Book Tag - and I'm just now getting to it, sorry!  Anyway, I thought I would share this today since Top Ten Tuesday is on hiatus until March 7th.

Rules: 

1. Thank the creator of the tag, River-Moose-Reads.  Thanks very much!

2. Answer the questions.

3. Add pictures (if you want to).

4. Tag (about) 5 people.

The Tag:

Pencils - Favorite Children's Or Middle Grade Book


Hope is a Ferris Wheel by Robin Herrera - I just happened to stumble upon an ARC of this 2014 release, and it's an absolutely wonderful middle-grade novel that doesn't get nearly enough attention.  It's definitely a must read.

Pens - A Basic Staple For Any Reader


Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling - A no-brainer!

Notebooks - Books That You Own Multiple Copies Of


You know, I don't think I have any duplicate copies of anything...

Markers - Books With Beautiful Covers






Feast your eyes - these are some of my favorite 2016 releases with awesome covers!

Glue - Two Characters That Work Together Even If They Aren't Together


Kell and Lila from A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab - They make quite a pair don't they!

Scissors - What Books Would You Like To Destroy


I wouldn't destroy them, but the following are two completely irritating books that I actually read all the way through - Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick and The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean.  Thanks, but no thanks!

Art Kit - What Completed Series Do You Own


Off the top of my head I know I have Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, The Sword of Shannara Trilogy by Terry Brooks, The Infernal Devices by Cassandra ClareThe Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson, The Wayfarer Redemption by Sara Douglass, and The Korsak Brothers by Rob Thurman.  All of these come highly recommended!

I Tag:

Genni @ Ready, Set, Read
Lia @ Lost in a Story
Laura @ Blue Eye Books
Breana & Andrea @ Our Thoughts Precisely
Ann & Clare @ Dual Reads

Monday, February 27, 2017

Music Monday: Ed Sheeran


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 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 by sharing your post's url.

This week I thought I'd share the two lead singles from Ed Sheeran's upcoming album called ÷ (Divide) which will be released March 3rd.  I've been hearing "Shape of You" quite a bit on the radio lately and while I really like it, I have to say I prefer the sound of "Castle on the Hill".  Did you see Ed Sheeran's performance of these two songs on Saturday Night Live on February 11th?  He did a fantastic job and it was great to see him again!







Saturday, February 25, 2017

A Shadow Bright and Burning (Kingdom on Fire #1) by Jessica Cluess - Review



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Henrietta Howel can catch fire, but she's had to keep that ability secret at the girls school where she works. That is until she is forced to reveal her power to save a friend's life. Instead of being executed as a witch, she's actually invited to train to become a royal sorcerer. The royal sorcerers claim that she is prophesied to defeat the Ancients, the demons terrorizing the world over. She and her fellow sorcerer trainees will train to defeat the demons and test each others powers. However, Henrietta isn't really the chosen one and she finds herself in the middle of a dangerous game with sorcerers that have plenty to hide.

A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess was one of my most highly anticipated reads of 2016, and I'm glad I finally had the opportunity to listen to it on audiobook. The narration as performed by Fiona Hardingham is excellent - she really helps bring Henrietta's story to life. The story is engrossing. I loved learning about this alternate Victorian era featuring magicians, witches, and sorcerers (all are different types of magic users) - the world-building is great, if a little rushed at the beginning. One of my favorite aspects about this YA fantasy, a genre where you can hardly turn around without bumping into a chosen one, is that Henrietta learns that she is not actually the chosen one that the prophecy mentions. The prophecy in this story refers to a female sorcerer that will defeat the demons - let's just say that female sorcerers aren't exactly unheard of, they're just more rare than say female witches (which is the type of magic user who let the demons loose in the first place). By the way, the last really well-known female sorcerer in Henrietta's world was Joan of Arc. There is also a bit of a romance in the story, but it doesn't overwhelm the story at all - that being said Rook's my favorite.

Overall, Jess Cluess's debut, A Shadow Bright and Burning, is an engaging read and comes highly recommended from me. If you enjoy YA historical fantasy (steampunk or not - this one isn't), you'll definitely want to give this 2016 release a try. Like The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye, The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman, and These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas? Then you might also enjoy this first book in the new Kingdom on Fire series. I'm really looking forward to the sequel, A Poison Dark and Drowning!



I listened to this audiobook from January 27 - February 1, 2017 and my review is also on Goodreads.

Friday, February 24, 2017

The Friday 56 (With Book Beginnings): Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo + 50/50 Friday


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.


This week I'm spotlighting one of my current reads, Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo.  I've had this on my shelf for ages and I'm finally taking the plunge into this series.  It sounds amazing and I've heard so many wonderful things about this author that I can't put it off any longer.  I'm really looking forward to this - I've got my fingers crossed that I'll love it!


Beginning:

The servants called the malenchki, little ghosts, because they were the smallest and the youngest, and because they haunted the Duke's house like giggling phantoms, darting in and out of rooms, hiding in cupboards to eavesdrop, sneaking into the kitchen to steal the last of the summer peaches.

56:

The soldier disappeared, closing the door behind him.  The driver didn't hesitate.  With a cry and the snap of a whip, the coach lurched forward.  I felt an icy tumble of panic.  What was happening to me?  I thought about just throwing open the coach door and making a run for it.  But where would I run?  We were surrounded by armed me in the middle of a military camp.  And even if we weren't, where could I possibly go?


This week I'm also taking part in a brand new linkup called 50/50 Friday, which is hosted by Carrie @ The Butterfly Reader and Laura @ Blue Eye Books.  Every week they'll have a new topic featuring two sides of the same coin - this week the topic is Most/ Least Intricately Built World.

Most:



The four Londons of the Shades of Magic series by V.E. Schwab - I can't wait to begin A Conjuring of Light!  Then again, I just don't want the series to end...

Least:


Legend (Legend #1) by Marie Lu - Unfortunately, I thought the world-building was one of the weakest points of this series.  I could have used more detail about Day and June's Republic of America.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Fireman by Joe Hill - Review


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A new plague is literally spreading like wildfire across the United States. It's called Draco Incendia Trychophyton, aka Dragonscale, and it's a highly contagious spore that marks its suffers with black and gold markings along their body and eventually causes them to spontaneously combust. Millions suffer and die from the plague and the fires it's caused. No one is safe from this new plague and there is no antidote. Harper, a nurse, and her husband, Jakob, made a pact that if they were ever infected they would kill themselves before things got too bad. However, once Harper realizes she's pregnant she decides she wants to live, at least until the baby is born. She figures the baby will be fine until then, at least if Harper lives that long. Jakob is sure that she's infected him too and goes crazy, and leaves her in the growing chaos of the newly formed Cremation Squads, posses armed to take out those with Dragonscale. That's when she meets The Fireman, a man wearing a firefighter's gear who can use his fire from the Dragonscale to his advantage as a weapon to help the infected.

Joe Hill's The Fireman really hooked me from the beginning and I quickly found myself all wrapped up in this brand new plague and the post-apocalyptic world surrounding it. I particularly enjoyed getting to know Harper and The Fireman himself. The Fireman doesn't show up all that much, but he gets some great scenes when he does. While the novel is very readable and I just had to know how it all ended, but unfortunately the novel could have done with editing. Personally, I feel that this novel could have been cut down into a much tighter narrative. The novel meanders quite a bit in the middle of the story and it slows the main plot down far too much. I listened to the audiobook which clocks in at somewhere around 22 hours - I think it could have been trimmed down to around 15-16 or so to it's benefit. Also there are a lot of references to Stephen King's works too (and quite a few other references - though I liked the Sirius Black and the Floo Network one!), some of which weren't necessary in the long run and made the story feel less original. However, my one main complaint is Kate Mulgrew's narration. She has a great voice, but unfortunately her sound didn't quite work for me in this case. She's the voice of Harper, a 26 year old woman, but Harper sounds much older. Every time we're told Harper's age I was surprised - I had it in my mind that she must, just by her sound, be in her mid-40s or 50s.

Overall, The Fireman is a good post-apocalyptic novel that has quite a few enjoyable elements and characters with great prose. I just wish it was more tightly woven with fewer diversions and meanderings to distract me. Was it just me, or did anyone else picture The Fireman himself as Pyro from the X-Men movies? I just couldn't help it when it came to that.



I listened to this audiobook from January 15 - 22, 2017 and my review is also on Goodreads.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Winter 2017 Comment Challenge March Sign-Up Post


This March I plan on taking part in the third and final month of the Winter 2017 Comment Challenge, hosted by Alicia @ A Kernel of Nonsense and Lonna @ FLYLÄ“F.  This challenge is a wonderful way to get know other bloggers in the community.  Over the Summer 2016 Comment Challenge I got to know Ellen and Sierra @ Quest ReviewsMari @ Story and Somnomancy, and Anne @ Head Full of Books.  So far during the Winter Comment Challenge, I've had the opportunity to get to know Lia @ Lost In A Story this January and Bill @ Billbrarian in February.  I'm pleased to be taking part again this March!   I plan on being just as ambitious by commenting 10+ times with my to be assigned partner - I can't wait to get to know you!  You can also tweet along on Twitter with the hashtag #Winter2017CC.  Don't forget, there is a challenge wide giveaway for participants!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Loved Less Than I Thought I Would

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Happy Tuesday and welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish!  This week's topic is Books I Loved Less/More Than I Thought I Would (recently or all time) - it's the week after Valentine's Day and I feel like covering books books I loved less than I thought I would.  Each title is linked to my review, if you'd like to see why I didn't like these so much.  Here we go in alphabetical order:


Black City by Elizabeth Richards


Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes


Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard


The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare


Mrs. Hudson's Diaries: A View From the Landing at 221b by Barry and Bob Cryer 


Passenger by Alexandra Bracken


The Reader by Traci Chee


Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard


Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death by James Runcie


Thief of Lies by Brenda Drake


Have you tried any of these books?  Did you like them more than I did?  What books have you enjoyed more than you thought you would?  Thanks as always for visiting my blog, and perhaps even commenting down below!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Music Monday: The LEGO Batman Movie


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 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 by sharing your post's url.

This week I'm spotlighting two songs featured in The LEGO Batman Movie which I saw last Saturday.  The movie was a lot of fun, if you haven't seen it yet, and it has a pretty great soundtrack.

"Who's The (Bat)Man" by Patrick Stump - This is Batman's theme song which is in the beginning of the movie - and I'd say that it perfectly fits LEGO Batman!  Be sure to pay attention to the lyrics - they get pretty funny!  Here are a few gems: "Who does the sickest back flips? Batman!" "Turn Two-Face to Black-And-Blue Face", "I 100% am not Bruce Wayne", "Who could choke hold a bear? Batman!" and "Who never skips leg day? Batman!"  It's even better when you realize it's performed by Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy!



"Friends are Family" by Oh, Hush, Will Arnett, and Jeff Lewis - You'll want to stay for the end credits for this one - it's a lot of fun and it's The LEGO Batman Movie's answer to "Everything is Awesome!" from The LEGO Movie.  Will Arnett gets a rap as Batman and Alfred even gets a guitar solo!  The song definitely fits Robin's bubbly, excitable personality.



Sunday, February 19, 2017

A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2) by V.E. Schwab - Review


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It's been four months since Lila came into Kell's life, since Rhy was wounded, since the Dane twins and White London fell, and since a dying Holland and the stone were cast through the rift into Black London. Now, Kell is restless after giving up smuggling items between Londons and he can't help but think of Lila, and he's plagued by ominous dreams. Meanwhile, as Red London is getting ready for the Element Games, an international magical competition meant to strengthen the alliance between neighboring countries, another London is returning to life and for magical balance to be achieved one London will have to fall before another can truly flourish.

A Gathering of Shadows is the perfect sequel to A Darker Shade of Magic, one of my favorite reads of 2015. Honestly, I'm not sure why I waited so long to dive back into one of my favorite worlds. Okay, probably nerves - how would my favorite characters fare, would it live up to the hype, would it be too painful? I don't know why I worried now because V.E. Schwab did an absolutely phenomenal job, reeling me right back into everything. Book two takes things to an entirely new level and manages to raise the stakes. The characters are back in top form - Lila, Kell, and Rhy alike. I also really loved our newest addition to the cast, Captain Alucard Emery (I couldn't help myself when it came to his first name - every single time I saw it I had a flash of Lon Chaney Jr. as Count Alucard in Son of Dracula (1943)). He always kept me guessing and he's so charismatic that I couldn't help but be swayed by his personality. He's a real lovable rogue, that's for sure. As I've come to expect from Schwab, the world-building is stunning, the action is epic, the banter is great, the story is intricately plotted, and the prose is irresistible.

Overall, V.E. Schwab's A Gathering of Shadows is a more than welcome return to the world(s) of the Shades of Magic trilogy. What are you doing with your life if you haven't tried this series (or V.E. Schwab's work) yet? At least I don't have to wait long for the release of A Conjuring of Magic, the third and final book in this series because I NEED it in my life right now.



I read this novel from January 5 - January 24, 2017 and my review is also on Goodreads.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Victoria Woodhull in Fiction & Nonfiction - Mini Reviews


I've read a lot about Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to run for President of the United States in 1872 (as well as many other firsts), over the years.  She came from poor, rural Ohio roots and was far, far ahead of her time.  It's an understatement to say that she was a larger-than-life figure.  Unfortunately due to history she has been mostly forgotten, but thanks to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign and nomination she is starting to be remembered (and she's putting Homer, Ohio, her hometown, back on the map).  The two books I'm reviewing below, Crossing Swords: Mary Baker Eddy vs. Victoria Claflin Woodhull and the Battle for the Soul of Marriage (nonfiction) and Outrageous: The Victoria Woodhull Saga, Volume One: Rise to Riches (fiction) are two interesting entry points to her fascinating life and work.


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This nonfiction book discusses the different philosophies of Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Christian Science movement, and Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to run for President of the United States in 1872, in regards to marriage, love, and sexuality. The two women were on completely opposite ends of the women's rights movement with Eddy staunchly defending the sanctity of marriage and Woodhull advocating for free love. Free love is a very modern idea in which women (and men) should be able to love, and/or marry, who they choose and when they choose that also includes marriage and divorce laws, women's rights within marriage, health and reproductive rights, and children's care and wellbeing. You might be able to see how quickly and easily that could be taken the wrong way, especially in those days and with a name like "free love". Safronoff discusses the free love movement by exploring Eddy's and Woodhull's totally different backgrounds and careers, as well as their own words.

Primarily, I found myself interested in picking up this book because Victoria Woodhull is such a fascinating, larger-than-life woman who lived a hundred years ahead of her time. I'm glad to see her getting remembered today after being mostly written out of history (I'm looking at you Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton!). The author manages to make her story relevant and interesting, especially considering Hillary Clinton was the first woman be nominated by a major political party in her bid for the White House in 2016. However, rather than both of these intriguing women being evenly presented, Eddy definitely gets more page time - the author states her bias towards Eddy in the preface and you can definitely get a sense of throughout. Overall, though, if you're interested in either of these influential women, I recommend trying this work of nonfiction as a good entry point into their lives and the movements they supported.


I read this book from February 12 - February 16, 2017 and my review is also on Goodreads.



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If you're interested in the life of Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to run for president of the United States in 1872, this fictionalized account (with a touch of magical realism due to the inclusion of her spirit guide and work as a spiritualist) of her life is a must read. This first volume is actually told from her perspective and covers her childhood all the way up to 1870 when she announces her intention to run for the highest office. There's a lot that happens to her and that this larger than life woman manages to accomplish in her first 32 years including going from having absolutely nothing and a crappy family life to working with Cornelius Vanderbilt, one of the richest men in the country, and becoming the first female stockbroker (along with her sister, Tennessee) on Wall Street. Victoria Woodhull was an absolutely fascinating figure in the women's rights and free love movement that is just starting to be rediscovered after being largely forgotten. After the 2016 election, it's a great time to learn about the first woman to run for president under the Equal Rights Party. I'm really looking forward to continuing Neal Katz's take on her life story in Volume 2, Scandalous: Fame, Infamy, and Paradise Lost.


I read this book from February 16 - February 18, 2017 and my review is also on Goodreads.

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Friday 56 (With Book Beginnings): Outrageous: The Victoria Woodhull Saga, Volume 1: Rise to Riches by Neal Katz + 50/50 Friday


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.


This week I'm spotlighting a current read, Outrageous: The Victoria Woodhull Saga, Volume 1: Rise to Riches by Neal Katz which I'm about half way through at the moment.  This novel is a fictionalized account of Victoria Woodhull's life from her own perspective, plus it has a touch of magical realism.  Woodhull (1838-1927), if you're not already familiar with her, was the first woman to run for President of the United States in 1872 as the nominee for the newly formed Equal Rights Party (a major part of her platform included the idea of free love), a full 48 years before women had the right to vote.  She and her sister, Tennessee, were also the first female stockbrokers on Wall Street and were friends/ consultants of the railroad and shipping tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt.  Victoria was also the first woman to address a Congressional Committee.  Later in life, she and her third husband lived in England - there's even a memorial to her at Tewkesbury Abbey.  Unfortunately, she was excluded from Susan B. Anthony's and Elizabeth Cady Stanton's History of Woman Suffrage - originally they were allies, but in the end it seemed they thought she was going too far too fast and would hurt their cause.  That being said it's really cool that this larger-than-life woman who was far ahead of her own time is getting rediscovered now.  Plus, it's getting Homer, Ohio, Victoria's hometown - a village close to my heart - back on the map!

Beginning:

I hurt.

56:

"I'm sorry, Tennie.  It must be hard for you to hear about my freedom and the friends I made along the way.  I swear to you, I will take you a way from here.  I mean it."  I broke down crying.


This week I'm also taking part in a brand new linkup called 50/50 Friday, which is hosted by Carrie @ The Butterfly Reader and Laura @ Blue Eye Books.  Every week they'll have a new topic featuring two sides of the same coin - this week the topic is Character Most/ Least Likely to be a World Traveler.

Most:



Nix from The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig - She already is a world traveler!

Least:



Maddie from Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon - She's been confined to her home for her entire life due to SCID, so she travels via books and the internet.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite TV Couples


Happy Tuesday and welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish!  In honor of Valentine's Day, this week's topic is All About Romance Tropes/Types -- top ten favorite hate-to-love romances (from books or movies or tv), top ten favorite (or least favorite) instalove romances, favorite slow-burn romances, favorite starcrossed lovers, etc. etc. Can go so many ways with this one).  I'm doing my list on my favorite tv couples.  Here we go, in alphabetical order by name of the tv show:


Willow and Tara - Buffy the Vampire Slayer


Amy and Rory - Doctor Who


Matthew and Mary - Downton Abbey


Sawyer and Juliet - Lost


Mitchell and Cameron - Modern Family


Jim and Pam - The Office


Hook and Emma - Once Upon a Time


Claire and Jamie - Outlander


Homer and Marge - The Simpsons


Glenn and Maggie - The Walking Dead


Do you like any of these couples?  What tv couple is your favorite?  Thanks as always for visiting my blog, and perhaps even commenting!