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MORE Books Added To My TBR List

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More books to read! Yay! The ones below are a mix of definites, most liklies, and we’ll sees. But it’s always exciting when you can add a ton of new books to your TBR list.


Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (Six of Crows, book 1)
I passed on this originally, but recently re-read the synopsis and felt that this could actually be a story I would like. I’ve never read any books by this author so who knows what will happen.

King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo (Nikolai, book 1)
This may sound silly but I added this mostly because of the cover and somewhat because of the synopsis and title. I saw this cover on Twitter the day it was released and fell in love – is that even possible? This is probably one of the most gorgeous covers I’ve ever seen. Since the book doesn’t come out until Jan 2019 and involves a character from Six of Crows, it’ll probably be a long while before I’d get to this book. But I wanted to add it regardless.

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black (The Folk of the Air, book 1)
I’m no stranger to Holly Black’s books and writing. At first I wasn’t sure if I would like this book – I didn’t think it was the right story for me at the time or at all. But Black does all things fae well so maybe it could turn out to be a good read. I’d like to give it a try.

Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard (Red Queen, book 2)
It’s been a little over a year since I’ve read Red Queen, which I loved. I think the reason it’s taken me so long to continue this series is because of the conflict and everything was so terrifyingly good I didn’t think I was emotionally ready to continue reading. But with the series finally coming to an end and now that I’ve caught up on several books that have been long-since back-logged, perhaps it’s time to get back to it and see this through to the end. I’ve only added book two (for now).

The Red Fox Clan by John Flanagan
According to Goodreads, this title won’t be released until Aug 2018. I’m not sure if I’ll read it based on the synopsis. But it’s a book by John Flanagan so I added it to the list.

Taken by Tuesday by Catherine Bybee (The Weekday Brides, book 5)
Treasured by Thursday by Catherine Bybee (The Weekday Brides, book 7)
So I really enjoyed reading Not Quite Mine and wanted to read more of Catherine Bybee’s books. I liked what these two books are about so added them. My library doesn’t have all of Bybee’s books, so I’m not following her series in order since it seems they can all be read as stand-alones.


Have you read any of these books? If so, what did you think of them? What new books have you added to your TBR list recently?

As Always, Happy Reading!!!

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2018 Reading Challenge Complete!!!

as of 4/24/18

Earlier this week, I reached my goal of 50 books to read this year as a part of the Goodreads 2018 Reading Challenge. I did not expect to finish so soon in the year as it took me far longer last year with a 30-book goal.

The past two months I’ve just been whisking through books one after another in short periods of time. Also, I read a lot of manga of which I devoured three to four volumes in a day at a time. There’s been just so many good reads that have held my attention regardless of the post-read ratings.

Below you’ll find all of the titles I’ve read for the challenge up until the goal reached. This includes book I haven’t official reviewed yet as well as 10 post-read thoughts and review excerpts.

Enjoy!


Manga

Black Butler by Yana Toboso, Translated by Tomo Kimura
(read during challenge: Volumes 1-18)
(Volume 1 Review)

Volume 1 Image via Goodreads

I am enjoying this manga immensely. I had planned to pace the reading of this out but it’s just too good that I kept checking out volume after volume from the library. There’s just so much…right with this manga and the art is absolutely gorgeous.

Volume 1 Review Excerpt: “I really like this manga. I love each character – the main characters are so charming, especially Sebastian and Ciel! I love all the humor throughout – I laughed a lot. And I was completely surprised at every turn.”

 

Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya, Translated by Alethea Nibley & Athena Nibley
(read during challenge: Volumes 1-16)
(Volumes 1-5 combined review)

 

ARCs/NetGalley

Baby, I’m Howling For You by Christine Warren (ARC)
Alphaville, book 1

Image via NetGalley

I can definitely get behind this series. Shifters – wolves in particular – are my favorite of the paranormal/supernatural sub-genre. This book was just too too good and I need to read book 2 asap!

Review Excerpt: “First off, I fell head over heels over the fact that Renny is a librarian and Mick is a graphic novelist. *insert book-nerdish swoon* That alone deserves all the stars in the world. But of course, that was the cherry atop the sundae for my love of these two characters.”

 

Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman (ARC)

Fade to Us by Julia Day (ARC)

Image via NetGalley

There’s so much to love and admire about this novel, specifically the sister-sister relationship that develops. Brooke and Natalie make this book: from the conflict with each other to the conflict they have with other people to the conflict they have with themselves.

Review Excerpt: “Great story. Wonderful characters. Pretty cover. Awesome that musical theater was involved. And loved the sister-sister relationship. Fade to Us deserves a standing ovation. Brava, Julia Day, brava!”

 

Henry Hodges Needs a Friend by Andy Andrews, Illustrated by Colleen Madden (NetGalley)

Herding Cats by Sarah Andersen (ARC)

Image via NetGalley

For laughs, cats, telling memes, and insightful art, I highly recommend reading this graphic novel. It’s so light and funny but unapologetically serious about the life of an introvert and arts.

Review Excerpt: “Fantastic. Hilarious. Just what a creative person (and everyone) needs to hear and see. Herding Cats by Sarah Andersen is an art and narrative to be experienced.”

 

Blood Veil by Megan Erickson (ARC review)

The Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee by Deborah Abela (NetGalley review)

Image via Goodreads

I think this a novel to be added onto every TBR list if you like middle grade novels. Young readers will learn about perseverance, self-worth, failure, triumph, friendship, and a whole host of new vocabulary words. It’s a great story told really well.

Review Excerpt: “Truly…a stupendously sweet and spectacular story…It’s light, charming, wholesome, and educational”

 

Bitten Under Fire by Heather Long (ARC Review Coming Soon)
Startup Fiancé by Shilpa Mudiganti (NetGalley Review Coming Soon)

 

Novels

Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

Image via Goodreads

The YA narrative version of the song “This Is Me” in a nutshell. The struggles experienced and message that saturates this novel are truths that ring long past the story is over. I can’t help but reflect when I think about this novel: that in-your-face awareness of the flaws you perceived to be true and the flaws others see in you they believe to be true until you reach that moment when you realize you are human. This was just a really poignant YA novel and fantastic read.

Review Excerpt:Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven is written with grace and style, creating a daring and enriching story that reminds you that you are wanted.”

 

Slammed by Colleen Hoover
The Winter King by C. L. Wilson
Heart on Fire by Amanda Bouchet

Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce
The Numair Chronicles, book 1

Image via Goodreads

The nostalgia is real! I am in love with the writing and how the story was told. The author has truly outdone herself this time. I just need to know what happens next now. 2019 (the expected publication year) is so far away.

Review Excerpt: “The story I’ve been waiting to read for years did not disappoint. Nostalgic, exhilarating, tumultuous, and bittersweet; I am left one very happy reader.”

Tortall: A Spy’s Guide by Tamora Pierce
(with Julie Holderman, Timothy Liebe, Megan Messinger)

Image via Goodreads

I never thought I’d enjoy what is essentially a compilation text book, but this was so captivating to read. I learned so much more about George’s work and the world of Tortall – too much to remember, but still! This was perfect to read after spending years reading all of Pierce’s other books.

Review Excerpt: “But I really enjoyed reading more about one of my favorite fantasy worlds. It was a pleasant and delightful reading experience – so compelling I could hardly put it down.”

 

Burn Bright by Patricia Briggs
Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Image via Goodreads

I went through a back and forth with this book before even picking it up. At first, I was looking forward to reading it, then I wasn’t sure if I still wanted to read it, then I was like I think I do want to read it, and then I was back on the I-want-to read-but-don’t-know-when-I’ll-get-to-read-it phase. It wasn’t until there came a stretch of days where I needed (ahahaha, I always “need” a book to read) a quick read and decided on this. I’m so happy I did because it was better than I thought it was going to be. The book just made my admiration for John Green soar higher. Turtles All The Way Down is an incredibly brilliant story I’d recommend to everyone.

Review Excerpt: “Aza is a fantastic character and individual…Her narrative is incredibly raw and, in my opinion, an accurate representation of what the inside of a truly anxious mind looks and feels like. “

 

Scorpion Mountain by John Flanagan
The Ghostfaces by John Flanagan
The Caldera by John Flanagan

 

2nd Reads

Mastiff by Tamora Pierce
Beka Cooper, book 3

Image via Goodreads

This is how you craft an intricate, captivating plot with highly compelling characters smack-dab in the middle of a beautifully created fantasy world where the stakes are higher than ever. I love this series but this book in particular I just love so much.

Review Excerpt:Mastiff is one of those stories that stays with you long after the story is over. It’s one of my favorite books of all time. I loved it even more the second time around, though it didn’t make dealing with the conflict of the story any easier. Still, Mastiff is a book that will easily exceed all expectations.”

 

A Dance Through Time by Lynn Kurland


If you’ve taken up Goodreads’ challenge, how far along are you currently? What books are you hoping to get through before the year is out? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

AS ALWAYS, HAPPY READING!!!

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New Books Added To My TBR List!

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Last week, I found a good amount of books to add to my TBR list that I’m looking forward to reading. There are others not included below but have been marked as Want to Read on Goodreads for now because I don’t know if I’m going to/will get to reading them.

This list is – as usual – a mix of genres: from middle grade to young adult contemporary, and urban fantasy to paranormal romance. I’m also happy that half these books are from authors I haven’t read from before.

 

Down and Across by Arvin Ahmadi (reading soon)

A Possibility of Whales by Karen Rivers

The Way to Bea by Kat Yeh

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Zenn Diagram by Wendy Brant

How We Roll by Natasha Friend

Moon Called by Patricia Briggs (Mercy Thompson, book 1)

Under A Vampire Moon by Lynsay Sands (Argeneau, book 16)
Immortal Ever After by Lynsay Sands (Argeneau, book 18) (Currently Reading)
Vampire Most Wanted by Lynsay Sands (Argeneau, book 20)

The Queen’s Rising by Rebecca Ross (The Queen’s Rising, book 1)

Blood and Sand by C. V. Wyk

Lord of the Fading Lands by C.L. Wilson (Tairen Soul, book 1) (1st official read)


AS ALWAYS, HAPPY READING!!!


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Book Review: The Caldera by John Flanagan

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, Action/Adventure
Series: Brotherband Chronicles, book 7
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes, Reluctantly

 

Summary (via Goodreads):
The Herons take to the high seas to fend off pirates and rescue the heir to an empire…..

In Hallasholm, Stig is contesting the annual Maktig competition to decide Skandia’s greatest warrior. But a late-night knock on the door brings someone Stig never expected to see again, along with a request the Herons are hard-pressed to refuse: a rescue mission of epic proportions.

Across the ocean, the southern city-state of Byzantos is plagued by a crew of pirates who’ve kidnapped the son of Empress Justina. Slipping out of Hallasholm under the cover of darkness, the brotherband sets sail to recover the boy from his kidnappers, heading south to the island of Santorillos where a near-impenetrable fortress stands atop a cliff, surrounded by a lagoon–a caldera–formed by the crater of a volcano.

In this explosive seventh book in the action-packed Brotherband Chronicles, the Herons battle pirates amid stormy seas as the fate of an empire rests on their shoulders.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Quick Note: This book contains a Ranger’s Apprentice short story featuring WIll and Maddie that I decided not to read – perhaps in the future I will.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My Review:
This book could have been so much more.

I love that we get this “confrontation” with Stig’s father, Olaf (kind of obvious who the late-night visitor is after six books). We get a more concrete sense of Stig’s childhood anger and why Olaf left. Stig and his mother were ostracized for a long time because of Olaf’s transgressions, so I too wanted to know why. It was one of those cases where the child should not be punished for their parent’s sins. I admire Stig’s choice to help his father while trying to get to know the man and obtain some sort of closure before passing a final judgement. I had some doubts about that decision but nonetheless supported him.

Despite my immediate dislike for Olaf, he’s one of the most contrasting characters from the Herons in this entire series. He’s also perhaps the most opposing “antagonist.” Olaf does score points for a couple of good deeds done in the story.

This series’ modus operandi. is getting old, causing the reading experience to become lackluster. It’s been like this since book 4 or 5. The Herons travel once more to an unknown but rather cool and beautifully described land (this time, think Byzantine Empire and Constantinople). Hal once more displays his genius as a helmsman but stays humble about it – I still love Hal’s character though. The antagonist is an invader/raider-type force who is easily defeated. And all the while there isn’t much character growth and love is for sure in the air but unacknowledged.

I’m okay with authors using the same set-up in their books, but that only works – in my opinion – if the cast of characters/MCs are different each time. The Brotherband Chronicles is a long series featuring the same principle characters. By this point I’ve feel I know plenty about each character – strengths, weakness, personalities, etc. It’s past time the Herons face a real, irrevocably changing challenge, adversary and/or failure that effects at least a few of the Herons and lingers in subsequent books.

Some small wins for me: the beginning with the Maktig contest, the lovely cover art, continued Ulf and Wolf antics, and the ever faithful/always wonderful Kloof.

I will keep reading this series because I love John Flanagan’s books, his writing and how he creates his worlds and characters. Also, I want to know how the Brotherband Chronicles ends.


My Reviews: The Outcasts (book 1) | The Invaders (book 2) | The Hunters (book 3) | Slaves of Socorro (book 4) | Scorpion Mountain (book 5) | The Ghostfaces (book 6)


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Book Review: The Ghostfaces by John Flanagan

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, Action/Adventure
Series: Brotherband Chronicles, book 6
Rating: 4 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

Summary (via Goodreads):

When the Brotherband crew are caught in a massive storm at sea, they’re blown far off course and wash up on the shores of a land so far west that Hal can’t recognize it from any of his maps. Eerily, the locals are nowhere in sight, yet the Herons have a creeping feeling they are being watched.
 
Suddenly the silence is broken when a massive, marauding bear appears, advancing on two children. The crew springs into action and rescues the children from the bear’s clutches, which earns them the gratitude and friendship of the local Mawagansett tribe, who finally reveal themselves. But the peace is short-lived. The Ghostfaces, a ruthless, warlike tribe who shave their heads and paint their faces white, are on the warpath once more. It’s been ten years since they raided the Mawagansett village, but they’re coming back to pillage and reap destruction. As the enemy approaches, the Herons gear up to help their new friends repel an invasion.
 
In this sixth book in the action-packed Brotherband Chronicles, the Herons find themselves in unfamiliar lands and prepare for battle with a ruthless, unknown enemy.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My Review:
An action-packed story with a rather weak enemy, but still a real page turner.

A decision that nearly costs the Herons their lives begins the story. Although their treacherous journey through the storm could have been shorten considerably, this Part is really effective in eliciting an emotional response from the reader. Once the Herons arrive on an unknown land, the tone is already set in place.

The conflict with the storm and the bear were more dangerous and risky than the marauding Ghostfaces. The enemy tribe was defeated with the same ease the Herons defeated the assassins-cult in the previous book, which was disappointing.

John Flanagan blends history into his books so well without being so obvious about it. His writing is seamless and he’s very detailed and creative with his allusions. It made seeing the Mawagansett people and Herons acclimating and getting to know each other so much more wonderful.

There were a few sad, heartbreaking moments and decisions, so the ending was hard to accept – but it is what it is.


My Reviews: The Outcasts (book 1) | The Invaders (book 2) | The Hunters (book 3) | Slaves of Socorro (book 4) | Scorpion Mountain (book 5)


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Book Review: Scorpion Mountain by John Flanagan

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Series: Brotherband Chronicles, book 5
Rating: 4 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

Summary (via Goodreads):
… Fresh off of victory over their longtime nemesis, Tursgud, Hal and the Herons, summoned by King Duncan, set sail for Castle Araluen. Thrust into the dangerous world of Araluen, the Herons learn of a threat to Queen Evanlyn and whispers of a deadly sect known as the Scorpion Cult. Rumors say that Iqbal, who previously tried to assassinate Evanlyn at her wedding to Horace, might be planning another attempt. Not waiting to see if the knife will strike true, the Herons join forces with Gilan and his fellow Rangers to track down the would-be assassins.

In this fifth book in the Brotherband Chronicles, old friends re-emerge to take on new enemies as the worlds of Ranger’s Apprentice and Brotherband join forces!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My Review:
This was a good read but the conflicts left a lot to be desired.

I loved seeing characters from the Ranger’s Apprentice and Brotherband Chronicles collide – it felt like a homecoming or reunion of all the characters you’ve come to know and love. I just wish the characters introduced in Ranger’s Apprentice (besides Gilan) had more to do instead of being impressed by the Heron crew – though I will say those moments offered much brevity and laughter. This is in part because the Herons are really young so there’s the assumption that youth equals inexperience or incapable. The other part I think is because it hasn’t been that long since Skandia stopped it’s raiding ways so characters from other countries still maintain this long-held idea of Skandians being barbaric-esque.

Yes, the Herons are impressive and highly capable for once being a motley crew of outcasts. Even a few of the band had major character growth in this story. But it seems Scorpion Mountain was a way to showoff the skills the Herons had acquired so far. Additionally, post-read it seemed there was no way for them to lose. Not once did I think, oh no! how will they defeat the bad guys?! The conflicts weren’t big enough or imposing enough. As far as the Herons were concerned, the obstacles faced were child’s play for the most part. That is, there was an almost ease with which they succeeded. Of course, there was a major shock that would normally upset and dismantle such a tight-knit group and I though for sure it would be a major blow. But they more realistically rose to the occasion even though the outcome appeared bleak.

That said, Hal’s ingenuity never ceases to amaze me. He’s a highly intelligent young man and leader. He’s able to think far outside the box and devise something incredible. He’s learned from past mistakes and stays humble when he gets it right, remembering that any plan, even the most well-thought-out, won’t always go as planned and could fail.

But I did enjoy reading this book and can’t wait to catch up on the rest of the series.


My Reviews: The Outcasts (book 1) | The Invaders (book 2) | The Hunters (book 3) | Slaves of Socorro (book 4)


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Book Review: Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Series: The Wolves of Mercy Falls, book 3
Rating: 4 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

Summary (via Goodreads):
then.
When Sam met Grace, he was a wolf and she was a girl. Eventually he found a way to become a boy, and their loved moved from curious distance to the intense closeness of shared lives.

now.
That should have been the end of their story. But Grace was not meant to stay human. Now she is the wolf. And the wolves of Mercy Falls are about to be killed in one final, spectacular hunt.

forever.
Sam would do anything for Grace. But can one boy and one love really change a hostile, predatory world? The past, the present, and the future are about to collide in one pure moment–a moment of death or life, farewell or forever.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My Review:
Not the ended I expected – I’m certainly saddened by how things turned out – but it’s definitely the proper ending for this trilogy.

The story begins where Linger left off but in a state of limbo. No one knows what to do next or if they want to do anything about their current predicament and impending danger. This is a rather lengthy stretch of time during which the four principle characters struggle to sort out their feelings about their respective pasts and for each other. So that could have sped up a bit considering the implications of “farewell and forever.”

There is tremendous character growth and tons of suspenseful scenes once things start moving forward. I knew going into this final book that there would be a price to pay to solve the conflict, but I didn’t expect how heavy that price would be (whether the main characters “won” or “lost”).

I don’t think this third book was lacking in any way, but it was very slow to start. I’m sad to have finished such a good series.


My Reviews: Shiver (book 1) | Linger (book 2)