Saturday, March 31, 2018

Book Riot's 2018 Read Harder Challenge - March Update: The Opposite of Loneliness & As You Wish


I can't believe March is coming to a close already - meaning 6 of the 24 tasks for Book Riot's 2018 Read Harder Challenge are complete!  The tasks I completed required me to read a book published posthumously and a celebrity memoir.  For the tasks, I selected The Opposite of Loneliness by Maria Keegan and As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride by Cary Elwes respectively.  Read on to see my mini reviews and what's next for April:


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The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan strikes me as optimal reading for current high school seniors or college students. Keegan's potential as a writer is palpable. If she had had more time to develop her voice she might have become the voice of a generation. As it is, though, she's not quite there. Personally, I think I preferred her short stories to her essays, except for the title essay. That essay reads like the college version of high school commencement speech, but I like the sense of hope which in retrospect it's very sad considering her own fate a few short days later. Otherwise, in regards to her writing, it often sounds she's trying much to hard - aiming for cultured and literary, but comes off as affected and pretentious. Like I said, though, I think that if she had more time to develop her craft, she could have been great.

I read this book from March 1 - 2, 2018 and my review is also on Goodreads.



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When I learned that I needed to tackle a celebrity memoir for the 2018 Book Riot's Read Harder Challenge, As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride on audiobook was at the top of my list. The Princess Bride is one of my favorite movies and as it turns out this memoir is a lot of fun. Hearing Cary Elwes discuss his experiences while making the film and it's legacy is fantastic. It's also pretty cool that he was able to bring together many others who worked on the film to lend their voices to this production. I only wished I could seen some of the photos included in the print edition. If you're a fan of Cary Elwes and The Princess Bride, then you absolutely need to try this celebrity memoir.


I listened to this audiobook from March 4 - 7, 2018 and my review is also on Goodreads.


Next Up For April:

A book of true crime 


My choice: The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson - This nonfiction book has been recommended so many times, both by friends and on the job - this has been one of the most popular nonfiction books (that isn't about WWII) that we can't keep on our shelves at the library, so I'm excited to try it for myself!

A classic of genre fiction (i.e. mystery, sci fi/fantasy, romance) 


My choice: 1984 by George Orwell - I have absolutely no idea why I haven't already read this sci-fi classic, which was originally released in 1949.  Though, I have seen the movie adaptation (released in 1984), which is brilliant if difficult film to watch.  I need to finally check this classic off my tbr!

Friday, March 30, 2018

The Friday 56 (With Book Beginnings): Duel of Wits by Peter Churchill + 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, Duel of Wits by Peter Churchill.  I just happened to find this at a used bookstore a little while ago.  I have to admit, I had never heard of Peter Churchill before but I've looked him up since then and have learned that he was a British secret agent during WWII.  Anyway, his book is a true story and covers four secret missions in France he worked from July 1941 to April 1943.  By the way, a fictionalized version of the character appears in the movie Odette (1950).

Beginning:

"Gentlemen!" began Major Roger de Wesselow, addressing the fourteen recruits assembled for their first course of sabotage at Wanborough Manor, "you will be give three weeks' intensive instruction in this school of subversive activity.  There will be lectures and practical exercise in map reading, demolitions, weapons training, the Morse code, fieldcraft, and close combat."

56:

I well remembered that the French Section had told me the correct procedure for contacting Louis was to swallow a stomach-ache powder (which they provided), ring at the door, and queue up for a very legitimate medical treatment.  The idea behind this was that neither the servant who opened the door, nor anyone else, could possibly suspect such a caller of being anything but a very sick and miserable individual.

50/50 Friday: Best/ Worst Book You Read For School


Worst - The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand - This one actually made my 50/50 Friday last week.  Like I said then it was hands down the worst book I had to read for school.  It was probably the angriest I've ever been while reading a book for class.


Best - The Beetle by Richard Marsh - Maybe not the best, but definitely the most fun to read in class.  I was in a college course where we read Gothic Horror novels and this was totally one of the highlights, especially considering I'd never even heard of it before that class.  It's interesting to note that this supernatural thriller came out in 1897, the same year as Dracula, and was initially a bigger commercial success.  It stayed in print 1960 until it was re-released in 2004.


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

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Take Place In Another Country


Happy Tuesday everyone!  Welcome to the first Top Ten Tuesday now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is Books That Take Place In Another Country.  Here we go, in no particular order:


Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty - I had no clue that this was set in Australia until I started listening to the audiobook and realized everyone was speaking with Australian accents.


Sadia by Colleen Nelson - This MG/ YA Contemporary follows a Muslim Syrian immigrant to Canada.


Never, Never and Never Again by K.M. Breakey - This new release is primarily set in post-apartheid South Africa and covers current events in the country.


Murder, Magic, and What We Wore by Kelly Jones - This YA Fantasy Mystery is set during the Regency Era in London, England.


Warcross by Marie Lu - This epic new series opener by Marie Lu takes place in Tokyo, Japan when the characters aren't in game.


Want by Cindy Pon - Pon's #OwnVoices debut YA Sci-fi novel is set in a near-future Taipei, Taiwan.


Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor - One of my favorites - it still makes me want to visit Prague, Czech Republic.


Rook by Sharon Cameron - This post-apocalyptic dystopian set in future Paris never seemed to get quite enough love.


The Walled City by Ryan Graudin - This YA dystopian thriller is set in a fictionalized version of the real-life Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong which was demolished in 1994.


Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landry - This MG/ YA urban fantasy is set primarily in Ireland.  I really hope to continue this series this year because book one was so much fun.

Have you read any of these books?  What is your favorite country to read about?  As always, thanks for visiting my blog and perhaps even commenting down below.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Full Fusion by N.J. Damschroder - Blog Tour, Excerpt, & Giveaway


I'm very excited to welcome you all to my leg of the Full Fusion blog tour, hosted by Rockstar Book Tours!  Today, you'll find the details and summary for this novel, an exclusive excerpt, an about the author, N.J. Damschroder, a giveaway, and the blog tour schedule.  Thanks for visiting my stop on this blog tour!


About The Book:
Title: FULL FUSION (The Fusion Series Volume 1)
Author: NJ Damschroder
Pub. Date: June 4, 2014
Publisher: Dragonsoul YA 
Pages: 322
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Find it: AmazonB&NiBooksTBDGoodreads

Eighteen-year-old Roxie Sebastian lives a charmed life, and she knows it. Too bad she can't feel it. 

All her life, she's felt disconnected from the world around her. Everything changes just before graduation, when she's drawn to an eerie, brilliant light-which narrowly misses her as it blows up her friend Lincoln's car. Clearly someone's after Roxie, and finally Lincoln tells her the truth: He and Roxie are angels, beings from another dimension, and that light is her soul, separated from her human body in a traumatic birth. 

Once a skeptical Roxie rules out the other possibilities-like Lincoln created this delusion to escape his abusive father-she accepts her gut-deep knowledge of the truth. But someone has been screwing with her light, using it to commit crimes, and their actions are about to cause irreparable damage to two worlds: the one she lives in, and the one she can't remember. 

Aided by her best friend Jordan, her boyfriend Tucker, and Lincoln, Roxie tracks down the criminal and uncovers many more secrets not only of her past, but of the history of their race on Earth. And then Roxie faces a horrible dilemma-the only way she can stop them from ripping apart both worlds is to fuse with her light...which could be tainted by the evil with which it was used. 


Excerpt:

Lincoln had tackled me better than the Patriots’ star safety could have. He rolled again so he covered me as the world lit up—red, gold, black—and roared. The ground shook under me, the sky wiggled above, and my ears had been stuffed with cotton. Everything slowed, got sluggish, but my brain processed what was happening. I had a direct line of sight under Linc’s arm, to the blazing ball of fire that had been his Firebird.

My lungs managed to suck in the air Linc had knocked out of them, and with air came chaos. From shoulders to ankles, I hurt from the impact of his tackle. My eardrums cringed from the noise, which, if I concentrated, I could tell was a mix of roaring fire, sirens, and screams/shouts, probably from people who’d been in the pro shop or Hall. My eyes felt seared by the light that had zoomed past, not nearly so seductive and friendly as it had seemed at first.
I didn’t want to ask. But I had to. “What the hell was that?”
“Are you okay?” Linc looked down at me but didn’t get up. I realized he was touching me from shoulder to ankle, something Tucker had yet to achieve. Embarrassingly, excitement zinged me in the expected places. His mouth was too close. His eyes bore into mine, demanding answers, but it was too intimate. He could see way too much, and I hadn’t given him permission.
“Get up.” I turned my head to the side and pushed at his shoulders, disturbed by the quick burst of sensation. “I’m okay, but you’re heavy. Get up.”
“Not yet.” He raised his head, which pulled his body a little bit off mine, and I risked looking at him to see what he was doing. His gaze scanned the lot, walkways, and steps nearby, unceasing, intense. He seemed oblivious to the condition of his car, and was acting as if someone had shot at us or something. And then I understood.

Someone had.
About NJ:



Natalie J. Damschroder is an award-winning author of contemporary and paranormal romance, with an emphasis on romantic adventure. She has had 24 novels, 7 novellas, and 16 short stories published by several publishers, most recently with Soul Mate Publishing, Entangled Publishing, and Carina Press. She recently debuted her Fusion Series, a young adult paranormal adventure series, with Full Fusion, as NJ Damschroder. Learn more about those books here.

Natalie grew up in Massachusetts, and loves the New England Patriots more than anything. (Except her family. And writing and reading. And popcorn.) When she’s not writing, she does freelance editing and proofreading. She and her husband have two grown daughters, one of whom is also a novelist. (The other one prefers math. Smart kid. Practical.)


Giveaway Details:



3 winners will receive a Box Set of the FULL FUSION Series, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:

Week One:

3/19/2018- Caffeine And CompositionInterview
3/19/2018- A Gingerly ReviewReview

3/20/2018- Twirling Book PrincessExcerpt
3/20/2018- The UndergroundReview

3/21/2018- Elley the Book OtterGuest Post
3/21/2018- Wonder StruckReview

3/22/2018- Am Kinda Busy Reading- Review
3/22/2018- Two Chicks on BooksGuest Post

3/23/2018- BookHounds YAInterview
3/23/2018- two points of interestReview

Week Two:

3/26/2018- Always MeExcerpt
3/26/2018- RhythmicBooktrovertReview

3/27/2018-Smada's Book Smack-Review
3/27/2018- Wonder StruckExcerpt

3/28/2018- books are loveExcerpt

3/29/2018- Reading for the Stars and Moon- Review
3/29/2018- A Dream Within A DreamExcerpt

3/30/2018- Paulette's PapersExcerpt
3/30/2018- Diary of an Avid ReaderReview

Music Monday: Songs I Didn't Think I'd Like, Pt. 4


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.

"How Long" by Charlie Puth (2017) - Honestly, this is the only song I like by Puth - I didn't have high expectations at all when I first heard this.  Imagine my surprise.  By the way, I actually had no idea what he looked liked before I watched this video for the first time.



"That's What I Like" by Bruno Mars (2017)
- I was disappointed after hearing "24K Magic", so I guess I wasn't expecting too much from this one either since it's from the same album.  Am I the only one who kind of associates this song with Rhy Maresh from V.E. Schwab's Shades of Magic series?




Sunday, March 25, 2018

The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton (ARC) - Review


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

The kingdom of Innis Lear has been drained of it's magic and vitality due to the decisions of an old king obsessed with prophecies. Enemies know the country is weak and are willing to do what it takes to wrest some control into their own hands. The king's three daughters, Gaela (ready to do anything for war), Reagan (cunning and manipulative), and Elia (almost a perfect Disney-esque princess) know that a new monarch needs to be crowned to bring the kingdom back to its old power and defend itself, but their father won't select an heir until the longest night of the year when prophesies will align. The three sisters are unwilling to wait and let such an important decision be left to chance so they must prepare for war while their island kingdom must brace itself for the fallout of a house divided.

Firstly, I want to mention that the ARC I received from NetGalley was only a "Preview Excerpt", which means that instead of getting the complete 576 page long ARC we get give or take 200 pages. It just seems to randomly stop at that point rather than coming to a end at a decent point. Regardless, my review is of the first ~35% of the novel that I had access to - and unfortunately, I'm not all that interested in coming back for the rest of the story. The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton is one of those novels where I preferred the concept behind the story to the actual execution of it - I mean, as soon as I heard King Lear retelling I was there. The author writes beautifully and the story is full of potential, but the pacing just barely creeps by. Not much of anything actually happens in the pages I did have access to read. There are about six P.O.V. characters, by the way, and I was expecting to really be fascinated by three complex sisters, but I didn't find myself interested in them. I preferred the characters of Ban the Fox and Aefa, but they don't get nearly enough page time during their P.O.V. chapters. In the end, everything comes across as far too flat and distant for me to really get attached to Gratton's story.

Overall. I had high hopes for what I got to read of The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton, but unfortunately it just wasn't my cup of tea. I was too disconnected throughout, didn't find myself interested in following any of the main cast, and the pace was crawling. While Gratton's writing style is certainly beautiful, if the first 35% from my preview excerpt is anything to go by I highly doubt I'll be back for the final section. Too many books, too little time.

Thanks again for the opportunity, NetGalley!


I read this ARC preview excerpt from March 22 - 25, 2018 and my review is also on GoodreadsThe Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton will be available on March 27, 2018.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Nothing But Sky by Amy Trueblood (ARC) - Review


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

Grace is a wing walker for a barnstorming team and she only feels truly alive when she's 500 feet in the air. She is determined to prove her team's skill against other flashier teams by getting into the World Aviation Expo, and earn a coveted Hollywood contract. No one has questioned the reasons behind the death defying stunts she performs until Henry, a kind and loyal young man scarred from his tour of duty on Great War battlefields a few years earlier, joins the barnstorming team as their new mechanic. With each trick, he pushes her to consider why she's such a daredevil. Despite her annoyance with his interference, she realizes she's beginning to like him and she continues to push her limits in the air. When one of her tricks saves a pilot's life, her team is invited to the Expo and she jumps at the opportunities it offers. After a stunt goes wrong, however, she is forced to reevaluate if whether her life, and Henry, are worth risking for their final trick.

Nothing But Sky by Amy Trueblood was one of my most anticipated 2018 YA debuts. From the moment I heard about it, it sounded exactly like something I needed in my life. I mean, YA historical fiction set in 1922 about a barnstorming team trying to make it big? Sign me up! If you don't already know, barnstorming was a popular type of entertainment during the Roaring Twenties featuring stunt biplane pilots performing aerobatic maneuvers and aerialists doing wing walking, stunt parachuting, and midair plane transfers among other things. A major part of why I wanted to give this a try is because I've been to quite a few modern airshows and have seen quite a few amazing stunt biplane pilots perform (sans wing walkers). In fact, I live fairly close to a small airport and I sometimes have the opportunity to see one of my favorite stunt pilots practice his craft. It's really cool (and kind of nerve wracking) to see a biplane do an epic tailslide right over your backyard. Needless to say, I was really looking forward to looking to trying this debut and luckily I was not disappointed in the least. In fact, Nothing But Sky may be one of my favorite reads of 2018.

The world of the Roaring Twenties that Amy Trueblood develops in this YA historical fiction debut is completely riveting and immersive. The author has clearly done her research to make her story as accurate as possible. I loved seeing the real life people and places from the time period. My favorite cameo was easily the moment Grace and Bessie Coleman (an aviation pioneer and accomplishing barnstorming pilot) share. Although the story is primarily set ninety-six years ago, the story still feels quite timely. In regards to our cast of characters, Grace, our leading lady, is absolutely fantastic. I wouldn't have been surprised if could have soared right off the page. She's determined, vibrant, tenacious, and also a bit stubborn - and honestly, I can't say I fault her for that. She's exactly the kind of character I love. As for her budding, slow burn relationship with Henry, it's sweet seeing them get to know one another. The two don't start off on quite the right foot, but it's wonderful seeing them come to trust each other on a personal level and as members of the team. Their romance isn't at the center of the story, but it's refreshing to watch them grow both as individuals and together.

Overall, Nothing But Sky by Amy Trueblood is a brilliant YA historical fiction debut. I'm so lucky to have been approved for this title on NetGalley and it was an honor to stay awhile in this author's world with her characters. If you're interested in historical fiction set post-WWI during the lively Roaring Twenties, early aviation, death defying stunts, women like Bessie Coleman, Lillian Boyer, Ethel Dare, and Gladys Ingle, truly vivid characters, and Flygirl by Sherri Smith, then you will absolutely need to try this new release. I expect this novel will be one of my favorite debuts of 2018, and perhaps even one of my favorite reads of year as well. One thing's for sure, I am certainly looking forward to Amy Trueblood's future projects.



Thanks again, NetGalley!

I read this ARC from March 21 - 22, 2018 and my review is also on Goodreads.

Friday, March 23, 2018

The Friday 56 (With Book Beginnings): Playing With Fire (Skulduggery Pleasant #2) by Derek Landy + 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, Playing With Fire (Skulduggery Pleasant #2) by Derek Landy.  I loved book one a couple of years ago when I read it and I finally got my hands on the next couple of titles in the series which I plan on tackling for this challenge.  I've heard so many wonderful things about the series and I can't wait to see how things continue for Skulduggery and his apprentice, Valykyrie.


Beginning:

Valkyrie Cain hit the parapet and tumbled, unable to stop herself, and with a panicked gasp she disappeared over the edge.

56:  

Valkyrie made herself relax, remembering the drills she'd run with Skulduggery and Tanith, conditioning her body to relax when every part of her wanted to scream.

50/50 Friday: Favorite/ Least Favorite Classic Novel



Least Favorite - The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand - Hands down the least favorite classic I had to read for school.  I had to read it and write an essay on it and I honestly hated every second.



The Complete Sherlock Holmes  by Arthur Conan Doyle - This pretty easily takes the number one spot!

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

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Books On My Spring TBR


Happy Tuesday everyone!  Welcome to the first Top Ten Tuesday now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is Books On My Spring TBR.  This week I'm sharing ARCs and challenge books I plan on reading in April and May.  Here we go:


Children of Daedala by Caighlan Smith - I'll be reading this ARC very soon - and it sound like this dystopian has potential with a labyrinth as a major feature.


Bookish Boyfriends by Tiffany Schmidt - I'll also be reading this ARC this Spring as well - it's sounds like it'll be pretty cute with a girl who's classic literary crushes come to life.


The Oddling Prince by Nancy Springer - This ARC I've been approved for is a fantasy set in ancient Scotland, how cool is that!


A Graveyard Visible by Steve Conoboy - I can't wait to try this ARC of this YA horror novel.  Doesn't that cover look great?


The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson - I'll be reading this in April for Book Riot's Reader Harder Challenge - it'll fulfill the true crime task.


1984 by George Orwell - I'm also reading this for the Read Harder Challenge in April - it'll fulfill the classic genre fiction task.


Tsarina by J. Nelle Patrick - This is going to be one of my Reader Harder Challenge books for May - it'll fulfill the task for a book set in a BRICS country (Russia).


The Garden of the Gods (Corfu Trilogy #3) by Gerald Durrell - This is also going to be May Read Harder Challenge books - it'll fulfill the task to read a book about nature.


The Silkworm (Cormoran Strike #2) by Robert Galbraith - I plan catching up on the Cormoran Strike series for #BeatTheBacklist.


Career of Evil (Cormoran Strike #3) by Robert Galbraith - I've heard a lot of fantastic things about the second two books in the series, and I can't wait to get all caught up on it.

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

Monday, March 19, 2018

Music Monday: Bishop Briggs


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 a couple of my recent favorite songs by Bishop Briggs - "White Flag" (2018) and "Dream" (2017).  I love her unique voice and style.  If you'd like to learn more about her, check out her Twitter, YouTube, and website.