Waiting on Wednesday: Stars Above by Marissa Meyer

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share a book that we are eagerly anticipating!

Stars AbovePublisher: Feiwel & Friends

Author:  Marissa Meyer

Release date: February 2, 2016

Synopsis from Goodreads:

The enchantment continues….

The universe of the Lunar Chronicles holds stories—and secrets—that are wondrous, vicious, and romantic. How did Cinder first arrive in New Beijing? How did the brooding soldier Wolf transform from young man to killer? When did Princess Winter and the palace guard Jacin realize their destinies?

With nine stories—five of which have never before been published—and an exclusive never-before-seen excerpt from Marissa Meyer’s upcoming novel, Heartless, about the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, Stars Above is essential for fans of the bestselling and beloved Lunar Chronicles.

Read a synopsis of each story on Goodreads.

Why I’m excited: I read the entire Lunar Chronicles series in the last five months. Cinder blew me away and made me question why I ever waited that long to read these books. I’m finishing up Winter today or tomorrow, and I just want more! More stories, more Thorne, more retellings, MORE. Please and thank you!

Advertisements

Top Ten Tuesday: [Fourteen] most anticipated NON-DEBUTS from the first half of 2016

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Today’s theme was:

Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases For The First Half of 2016

A few weeks ago, I listed the Top Ten Debut Novels from the Beginning of 2016 I’m Looking Forward to so today I’m only going to be listing NON-DEBUT titles from the first half of 2016 that I’m really excited to read. There was no way I could narrow this down to only ten, so you’ve got my top fourteen most anticipated non-debuts from the first half of 2016. 🙂

THE RAVEN KING by Maggie Stiefvater [April 26]

THIS SAVAGE SONG by V.E. Schwab [June 7]

THE ROSE & THE DAGGER by Renee Ahdieh [May 3]

A COURT OF MIST AND FURY by Sarah J. Maas [May 3]

THE UNEXPECTED EVERYTHING by Morgan Matson [May 3]

WINK POPPY MIDNIGHT by April Genevieve Tucholke [March 22]

STARS ABOVE by Marissa Meyer [February 2]

THANKS FOR THE TROUBLE by Tommy Wallach [February 23]

DENTON LITTLE’S BIRTHDATE by Lance Rubin [April 12]

WE ARE THE ANTS by Shaun David Hutchinson [January 19]

PASSENGER by Alexandra Bracken [January 5]

UNHOOKED by Lisa Maxwell [February 2]

EXIT, PURSUED BY A BEAR by E.K. Johnston [March 15]

RUN by Kody Keplinger [June 28]

What book releases are you looking forward to in the first half of 2016?

Rock My TBR Challenge: Sign Up Post

Alright. So my TBR pile is getting a little out of hand. I get so excited about a book that I buy it but then I don’t have time to read it because I already have SO many books I own but haven’t read. The wonderful Sarah over at the YA Book Traveler has created the Rock My TBR Challenge as a way to help hold us accountable for those books and get us to tackle our TBR. I’m so excited for this challenge, especially because I’d been wanting to do this for a while. But now I’ve got other people who’ll also be doing this and I’m hoping it’ll keep me with this challenge.

Rock My TBR Challenge

I have way too many books to read all of them next year in addition to all the other books I’m probably going to buy in 2016, so I’ve created a list of “high priority” books that I REALLY want to read next year. Then, if I complete all of the books on that list, I’ve got a list of “also important” books to read (because aren’t all TBR books important?). If I somehow complete all of those too, I’ll update this post with more books I want to read. I’m not including ARCs in this list (well, except for Grasshopper Jungle, but that’s because I only have it in ARC form) – these are all books I already own that have been published and that I really want to read. Books that are signed are marked with a * because I’m kind of sad I haven’t read those ones yet. If I link a sequel as well, it means I have that one too.

If any of you have one or more of these books on your TBR, I LOVE to do buddy reads, so just let me know if you are interested and we’ll see if we can schedule it! 🙂

HIGH PRIORITY BOOKS (titles linked to Goodreads)

2015-12-28 08.28.27

ALSO IMPORTANT BOOKS (titles linked to Goodreads)

2015-12-28 08.37.02

Neither of these lists are in reading order. We all know I’m a mood reader so it’ll completely depend on what I’m feeling when I go to pick up a new book. But the plan is to read at least one book per month I already own (hence the original 12 choices) and then if I end up completing those, moving on to the next 12 choices. Here’s hoping I can do it!

I will also be updating this post with links to the reviews of these books, so check back if you are interested in my thoughts!

Do you have a huge TBR too? Sign up for the Rock My TBR Challenge and link me up so I can see your list!

Thursday Thoughts: Andi’s ABCs Pocket Letter Exchange

Last month I signed up to participate in Andi’s (from Andi’s ABCs) Pocket Letter project. According to Andi’s post, “Pocket Letters are penpal letters in. pocket format. Basically, you fill all the pockets of a 9 Pocket Page Protector (or similar) and send. ~Pocket Letter Pals.” I love being crafty and making fun things for people, so I immediately jumped on this. I was paired with the super lovely Erica from Escape Under the Cover and she completely blew me away with her pocket letter. I had to share with you!

We had to fill out a little form with information about ourselves, so, of course, I included that I’m a big Potterhead – so Erica designed and created an entire pocket letter that was HP themed! Every single thing she included was Harry Potter related. SO COOL!

20151210_204914-01

This is what the overall letter looked like. It was obvious right away what the theme was and I got so excited as I started looking at all the pieces.

20151210_205012-01

One of the pocket had to be dedicated to an actual letter to your partner, so Erica addressed the letter to Mr. H. Potter – how cute is that?! If you look at the overall letter above, you’ll see that the pocket the letter was in was actually labelled Owl Post, which is adorable. The letter explained how each of the pockets fit into the theme.

20151210_205434-01

Erica also included a snake ring to represent Nagini. It was a perfect fit – in fact, I’ve pretty much worn it every day since I got the letter. I LOVE it! I’ve gotten several compliments on it as well.

20151210_210206-01

In the middle pockets, Erica put five bookmarks that she actually made herself! I got Harry, Hermioine, Ron, Luna, and Bellatrix! The last two are made from pages from the books, which is awesome (p.s. you should definitely check out Erica’s Etsy shop if you like these bookmarks because she sells them!).

20151210_204919-01

The bottom right pocket was labelled as Vault 713 and included a Gringotts Wizarding Bank Receipt – this was a gift card to Barnes & Noble. I mean, just SO ADORABLE and thoughtful. I love how everything she included was tied into this theme.

OTHER ELEMENTS

The other three pockets were some sticker flags that were almost the house color, some chocolate just in case I’m attacked by dementors, and three recipes – for Fizzing Whizbees, Elven Lembas Bread (from Lord of the Rings), and Merida Rebel’s Cherry Topped Drop Cake (from Brave). I haven’t been able to make any of these yet, but I can’t wait to try them! Plus, all of the backgrounds for the pockets were pages from books 3-5.

I just can’t believe how much thought Erica put into the project, and I LOVE every single element she included.

Make sure you check out Erica’s Etsy shop if you are as in love with those bookmarks as I am!

Waiting on Wednesday: Underwater by Marisa Reichardt

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share a book that we are eagerly anticipating!

UnderwaterPublisher: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux

Author: Marisa Reichardt

Release date: January 12, 2016

Synopsis from Goodreads: Morgan didn’t mean to do anything wrong that day. Actually, she meant to do something right. But her kind act inadvertently played a role in a deadly tragedy. In order to move on, Morgan must learn to forgive—first someone who did something that might be unforgivable, and then, herself.

But Morgan can’t move on. She can’t even move beyond the front door of the apartment she shares with her mother and little brother. Morgan feels like she’s underwater, unable to surface. Unable to see her friends. Unable to go to school.

When it seems Morgan can’t hold her breath any longer, a new boy moves in next door. Evan reminds her of the salty ocean air and the rush she used to get from swimming. He might be just what she needs to help her reconnect with the world outside.

Underwater is a powerful, hopeful debut novel about redemption, recovery, and finding the strength it takes to face your past and move on.

Why I’m excited: I can’t really explain why I am excited for this one. I mean, other than the fact that a lot people I respect are raving about it. And the fact that the description and cover are amazing. And the fact that this sounds like a powerful, beautiful, hard to read, honest contemporary. Okay, maybe I can explain it. I’m really looking forward to reading this debut.

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

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Today’s theme was:

Top Ten Books I Wouldn’t Mind Santa Leaving Under My Tree This Year

Honestly, I already own a few too many books that I need to read, but here are a few books I would love to own or add to my collection.

Haven’t read:

Already read but would love to own a copy:

What books are you hoping to find under your tree? Or which books are at the top of your wishlist?

ARC Review: This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

This Is Where It EndsAuthor:  Marieke Nijkamp

Genre: Young adult, contemporary, realistic fiction

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Publication Date: January 5, 2016

292 pages, hardcover

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

This is an important book about a super relevant subject. The subject matter is terrifying and heartbreaking and I’m sure it’ll hit close to home to a majority of the people who read it because who hasn’t seen or heard about the ridiculous amount of school/public shootings this year?

It’s absolutely disturbing. Much like the shooter in This is Where It Ends is meant to be. He is bent on revenge against a school that never cared for him and who smiles wryly as he shoots people in the head. But I wanted so much more from this book. It wasn’t until the last 30 pages or so that I actually felt anything for one of the characters. I had no connection to any of the characters. I didn’t feel like I was in Alabama or that any of these people were from there (the diversity and treatment of it is something I could go on and on about for paragraphs, but I’ll just say NO NO NO NO). I felt like I was being talked at the entire time – I wasn’t shown how these characters were feeling, the absolute terror the students in the auditorium must be feeling.

I really only felt engaged in the scenes where the shooter was present, particularly with the dialogue between him and his victims – when he stands on the stage and demands that his fellow seniors raise their hands; when he yells at his sister and says he’s always been alone; when he hunts down his victims like prey. It’s upsetting and disturbing. Well, actually maybe I only wanted it to be upsetting. But we never really understand him; we don’t get inside his head to see why he is doing this. We are told he wasn’t always this way, but all we ever see or hear is about the horrible things he’s done – he’s evil, vile, disgusting. We don’t know what made him snap, why he decided this is what he should do. The book doesn’t delve into the supreme complexity of this situation, and I just don’t think that TIWIE is a good portrayal of the psychological reasoning behind something like this. It felt very superficial.

We also get a million flashbacks and inner monologues from the four main POVs. I know this is to build backstories for these people we are meant to care about, but I really wish that we’d gotten a bit more of this before the story began versus shoving them into the chapters and disrupting the flow of the narrative. I feel like my heart should have been pounding throughout – the whole story happens over the course of just 54 minutes; I should have been on the edge of my seat.

The bottom line: For all of the really serious issues that are brought up – from the actual shooting to rape to racism, I felt nothing was actually discussed. I had barely any emotional connection to anyone, save one character. The subject matter is so important and the book had TONS of potential, but I was disappointed in the execution.

Rating: 4.5 – between Eh. This is bad and Take it or leave it.

Top Ten Tuesday: My favorite reads of 2015

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Today’s theme was:

Top Ten Best Books I Read In 2015 (you can do it by only 2015 releases, overall, by genre (top ten fantasy books I read in 2015), etc. however you choose to make your BEST list)

I obviously couldn’t narrow it down to ten, so here are my top twelve books I read this year – each title is linked to my review and includes the “bottom line” section of my reviews. Top two are in favorite order, but the rest are in alphabetical order because I couldn’t decide how to rank them.

Mosquitoland by David Arnold          Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

MOSQUITOLAND by David Arnold

Reasons are hard. Mississippi is hard. But you? You’re beautiful and quirky and plain ol’ strange, and I love you.

REASONS TO STAY ALIVE by Matt Haig

Read this book. Read this book because you have emotions and hopes and feelings. Read this book because you are human and because you are alive. Read this book to live. Reasons to Stay Alive is a celebration of life, books, words, and humanity.

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab              The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC by V.E. Schwab

A Darker Shade of Magic is a gripping, thrilling, wonderful adventure. The world-building, writing, characters, Londons, and magic are all incredibly done. I can already tell this will be one of my favorite reads of 2015.

(I WAS RIGHT!)

THE DAY THE CRAYONS CAME HOME by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

Brilliant and witty and everything I was hoping for. I can’t wait to be able to read these books to my kids one day. I was laughing out loud the whole time. I especially adored Esteban and Neon Red Crayon. I need more!

My Heart & Other Black Holes final               I'll Give You the Sun

MY HEART & OTHER BLACK HOLES by Jasmine Warga

My Heart & Other Black Holes is a beautiful, honest, heartbreaking, real, and sad book. It deserves to be read – not only by anyone that has suffered any kind of mental illness, but by everyone.

I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN by Jandy Nelson

Apparently I didn’t review this one, but I loved it so much that I convinced my teens to read this one for one of our book clubs. I just want to reread all the Noah parts every day forever and ever.

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff               A Portable Shelter by Kirsty Logan

ILLUMINAE by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Illuminae is fast-paced, emotional, and brilliant. It will make you rage, laugh, cry, and clutch the book to your chest. There’s some swoony moments, some holy-████-what-is-happening moments, some rage-y moments, and a lot of this-book-is-incredible moments. I am not even a big fan of sci-fi, but I devoured this one. Can we have the next book, please?! I ordered this book for the library, and I can’t wait for it to come in so I can push recommend it to everyone!

A PORTABLE SHELTER by Kirsty Logan

I really just wanted this review to be: OH MY GOODNESS I LOVE KIRSTY AND THIS COLLECTION AND HER WRITING AND YOU SHOULD ALL READ EVERYTHING SHE WRITES. It took a lot to not say that but just know that’s what I wanted to say. I am continuously amazed by how talented Kirsty is and I can’t wait to read what she writes next.

The Rose Society by Marie Lu               The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

THE ROSE SOCIETY by Marie Lu

If my review isn’t enough for you, I’m not sure how else to get my point across. READ THIS SERIES. You won’t be disappointed. In fact, you’re probably going to be completely enthralled, put under a spell that you won’t want to break.

THE SERPENT KING by Jeff Zentner

I haven’t written a full review of this one yet because it isn’t out for another few months, but I loved it so much, I put it out on an ARC tour around the country. Here’s part of my review on Goodreads: The Serpent King is one that will stick with me for a long time and one I won’t forget anytime soon.

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli               The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA by Becky Albertalli

Everyone needs to meet Simon. He’s so human that I feel like everyone would be more human after having met him. I don’t even know if that makes sense, but, basically, this book deserves to be read. It’s such a wonderful love story and it’ll make you feel all melty on the inside. I honestly can’t believe this is a debut.

THE WRATH AND THE DAWN by Renee Ahdieh

Apparently I didn’t review this one either. WHAT THE HECK. This book is beautiful, sumptuous, enchanting, well-written, and just wonderful. Definitely one you should read. I’ve recommended it a million times since I read it.

Which books have been your favorites this year?

Mini Audiobook Reviews: Scarlet, Cress, and Fairest by Marissa Meyer

Check out my review of Cinder, the first book in the Lunar Chronicles series, if you are interested.

Author: Marissa Meyer
Narrator: Rebecca Soler
Genre: Young adult, sci-fi, retelling
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (book) / Macmillan Young Listeners (audiobook)


ScarletSCARLET (Book 2)

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

Audiobook length: 11 hours and 19 minutes

Jesus. I just really didn’t like this one. After the incredibleness that was Cinder, I was completely underwhelmed by Scarlet, both the book and the character. The narration of Scarlet was whiny, and I’m not sure if that’s because the character was or just because the narrator read her that way. Either way, I was annoyed, and I almost stopped listening several times because of it. I found Scarlet to be completely obnoxious as a character. Plus, I just kept wanting the POV to switch back to Cinder so I could see what was happening with her. I did like Scarlet and Wolf together – probably because I thought it was a cool retelling of Little Red Riding Hood.

My favorite character is Thorne – I adore him.

I want to eventually reread this series in physical format, especially this one, because I think it’ll be nice to hear a different voice for Scarlet.

CressCRESS (Book 3)

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

Audiobook length: 15 hours and 40 minutes

Cress redeemed this series for me. After the disaster (in my opinion) that was Scarlet, I really needed a book that would hook me back in.  And this one did not disappoint. This book has a bunch of POVs, but none of them felt unnecessary and they all blended together into one cohesive story. Meyer is really great at making each POV distinct as well, which is the main problem I usually have with multiple POVs. Plus, the narrator does a wonderful job with each character’s voice – they are all different. However, I’d just like to point out how annoying I still think Scarlet is. Although I do like her character a bit more in this one.

I think my favorite part is that I can see how much Meyer’s writing has evolved since the first book. The characters are sharper, the plot is tighter, the writing is even better. The characters are flawed and not flat, and I enjoyed getting to know each of them better in this book.

FairestFAIREST (Book 3.5)

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

Audiobook length: 6 hours and 36 minutes

I don’t have much to say about this one except that Levana is certifiably insane. Although she really got on my nerves A LOT, Meyer does a fantastic job of developing this character into the crazy villain we know in the rest of the series. It was interesting to see how she got to be where she is and watch her crazy grow.

Have you read this series? Which book is your favorite? Look out for my review of the last book in the series – WINTER – soon.

Cold Weather Happiness #6: When being tired is worth it

cold weather happiness

Every Sunday during fall and winter (hopefully), I’m going to post what I’m calling “Cold Weather Happiness” – this could be anything from a song to a quote, a picture to a post about a person, lyrics to a description of a favorite place, anything that will remind me to be happy, to fight through the cold, dark place my mind goes to sometimes and remember that it’s not always like this. Read the full description in my first post.

When being tired is worth it

This past week I drove/was in the car for about 20 hours. I went to Meridian with some friends on Monday (1.5-ish hours each way) and Nashville through Birmingham with another friend (3.5 hours to Birmingham and 3 hours to Nashville each way), plus four days of to and from work (at least .5 hours each way). We also had our Holiday Open House at our library. So yeah, I’m kind of exhausted. I slept for like 11 hours last night. But it was worth it. Want to see what I did?

2015-12-08 01.03.17

On Monday, I went to Meridan to see Eddie Izzard. If you don’t know who he is, educate yourself. I’m kidding. But for real. He’s an actor and comedian from the UK, and he’s absolutely hilarious. You should really look him up on YouTube if you need a good laugh. We were only 8 rows back, so we had fantastic seats. I wish I could share some of his bits from the show, but I don’t think they’d translate well into typed words. However, I’ll just say that I haven’t laughed that hard in a LONG time. Totally worth the 3 hour round trip after a full day of work.

2015-12-09 20.46.49

On Wednesday, I drove through Birmingham to meet up with a friend and then we continued on to Nashville to see the lovely Eric Hutchinson – who I was seeing for the second time, her for the third. It was an all acoustic show, which was absolutely wonderful. The opener was a comedian named Gareth Reynolds and he was pretty funny. Eric, of course, was fantastic, and he played a lot of my favorites – including Tell the World, A Little More, Rock & Roll, Ok, It’s Alright with Me,  Breakdown More (I could go on and on, but I’ll stop there).

So even though I exhausted myself a bit this week, I got to hang out with some good people and I saw two amazing shows that had me laughing so hard I almost cried and singing along to my heart’s content. What a wonderful week.