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Friday, March 17, 2017

Stefanie's Thoughts: Take the Key and Lock Her Up by Ally Carter



The princess is dead. Long live the princess.

Centuries ago, the royal family of Adria was killed…or so everyone thought.

Now Grace Blakely knows the truth: There was one survivor, and that survivor’s blood runs through her veins. This simple fact could cause a revolution—which is why some people will stop at nothing to keep it from coming to light.

There is only one way for Grace to save herself, save her family, and save the boy she loves. She must outmaneuver her foes, cut through the web of lies that has surrounded her for years, and go back to the source of all her troubles, despite the risk.

If she wins, she will inherit a throne.

And if she loses, she will inherit the fate of all the dead princesses who came before her.


Hi everyone,

Sorry for my absence lately. I moved recently and my apartment now looks like a disaster zone. I’ve been spending all my free time making it slightly livable (mostly so I don’t kill myself trying to walk down a hallway). I’ve very accident prone, so when I first moved in I for sure thought I’d hurt myself. Instead all I’ve done so far is burn my arm on the oven door and I did indeed trip over some of the boxes (of books nonetheless).

I did get to finishing Take the Key and Lock her Up by Ally Carter (it's been the only book I've finished since I moved). All I can say is, it was the biggest disappointment of 2017. I love Ally Carter, she is one of the five auto-buy authors I have (the others being Meg Cabot, Maria V. Synder, Tera Lynn Childs and Beth Kendrick) and I always know I’ll get at least a trilogy from her. That means a solid three year commitment of awesome action packed novels!

Embassy Row series, not so much.

Take the Key and Lock her Up was more of an OK. The first book wasn’t as good as her previous novels but I was still interested throughout. Book two I remember nothing about it and after reading this one, well I don’t know what really happened and I’m saddened to say I honestly don’t even care that I have no idea what happened.

To me this entire book felt like Grace (Our protagonist) was just complaining and whining about her life. It was full of choppy short sentences that drove me crazy. I’m not sure if they were that short to create tension or rising action, but it just annoyed me. I won’t quote any of the sentences, but some of the sentences were just so dumb; one of my biggest pet peeves was the use of some of the silliest adjectives I have ever read.

The adults read like they were carbon copies of one another; maybe I’m just saying that because I felt so old reading this book, but it felt like all the adults were the same person just given different names.
Plus the teen angst, holy cheese, was this filled with teen angst. It felt like I was back in high school, but worse. If the characters were going off in their private planes and saving the day, they were complaining. I think that actually might have been Grace’s secret weapon, not the whole secret society/royal family plot they had going on. I didn't even feel there was much action/adventure going on either.

After these three books I just realized, nobody could catch one teenager?…… I mean I get that’s the whole point to the story but really, not one adult caught her or when they had the chance, nobody did anything. Brings me back to the incompetent/carbon copy adults thing from my previous paragraph.

I never thought I would say this about an Ally Carter series, but I’m so glad this one is over. This doesn’t hold anything to Heist Society or Gallagher Girls.

A sad little star for this one and an extra one because I finished it, for a complete two stars out of five.  I'm hoping during the next week I can get everything unpacked and finished so I can get back to reading, I've missed it.


Happy reading,


Stefanie

Monday, March 13, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Spring TBR



Hey-ooooooooo- it has been a minute since I participated in a Top Ten Tuesday- Hosted by the girls over at The Broke and Bookish. I don't think I participated at all in 2015 or 2016. I found that I was being super repetitive with my lists so I needed a break.  Anywho... here we are, this week's question is a good one.


Top Ten Books on my Spring TBR




1) Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo- So excited for this one. My housemate read it and really enjoyed it (as have many of you). Therefore it's moved it's way up my list. I also really love the Grisha and I am eager to see more of their world.

 2) I Found You by Lisa Jewell- This is a book I need to read for review, but honestly. I am SO excited for it. It's a mystery novel that sounds pretty twisty. 

3) Unseen World by Liz Moore- This one snuck up on me. I haven't seen a lot of people talk about this book, but still, I am pretty curious about it. I don't know all that much about it, However,I think it's a good thing. 




4) We Are Okay by Nena LaCour- I absolutely love this cover. It's stunning. I am curious about this story. I have heard it's heartbreaking and hopeful. It's also a lot shorter than I thought, and I think I'll power through it.

5) Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas- I need to get his read. Like now. 

6) The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas- I am SUPER skeptical about this book, even with all it's praise- I just don't know- I feel the need to give it a try for myself. 

7) The Chosen by JR Ward- This is book number 15 in this series. I am invested, and I will certainly be reading this one. These characters are like family now. 




8) A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab- With the final book in this trilogy recently released, I think I am finally ready for this one. I've heard it's epic and I can't wait. 

9) The Traitor's Kiss by Erin Beaty- Another review book, but another one I am looking forward to. I have really been digging fantasy these days (although, I don't know if this is fantasy or not). 

10) I See You by Clare Mackintosh- I adored I Let You Go, and I am eager to read this one. Soon! 


There you have it, my first Top Ten Tuesday in 2+ years.

~Happy Reading Everyone



Monday, March 6, 2017

Sara's February Recap





Well, hello.

If I thought January was low key... it was nothing compared to February. I don't know what happened to the month, what did I do? Cause I certainly did not read very much, and I don't think I watched that much TV- I don't know. I did go to the movies a few times this past month (which is a lot for me).  

I saw Lion, Fifty Shades Darker and La La Land




I actually enjoyed every single one. They were all so different from one another and entertaining in their own right. I think La La Land was my favourite. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone have such amazing chemistry. The music was great. However, Lion was heartbreaking, and Fifty Shades, well it was what it was. 

Other than that, a pretty uneventful month. 




The Books:

Number of books completed 

5 
Physical books 

3


Audiobooks 

2
Physical Books: 
All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood (2 Stars)
Three Simple Rules by Nikki Sloane (4 Stars)
Three Hard Lessons by Nikki Sloane (3.5 Stars)


No Favourite of the month- or none that really stood out for me as being great. Although I did enjoy the two Nikki Sloane novels- they aren't to everyone's taste. So, I am going to leave it this month. 

Audiobooks: 

The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson (3 Stars)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (5 Stars) 

Favourite Listen of the Month





I am finally done the Harry Potter reread that I started back in late 2015. What a magical adventure it has been. Rereading The Deathly Hallows was special to me, as it was the first time I reread this book since I first read back in 2007. It was a beautiful and emotional experience it has been. 



2017 Resolutions Update:
For a recap of my 2017 "resolutions" go here
I did not read very much in February, I don't know what the heck I was doing. It's like my goal to read 2500 pages really freaked me out, and I set myself up for failure. Oh well. As of the end of February, I was still on track for my 100 book goal, and I read more books than I listened to. However, any of my other goals, including the 2017 release I failed at. However, I did start a 2017 release in February with every intention of finishing, but I got distracted. And both audiobooks I listened to, were from the library. 
Anywho, February, kind of was a write off for me. I anticipate March to be better, because I gave up TV for Lent, not only TV, but I also deleted the Facebook and Youtube app from my phone. I literally have eliminated all distractions form my my life for the next 6+ weeks. All I can do it read.  Wish me luck. 
This Month on the Blog: 


That's it for February, happy March everyone!


Thursday, March 2, 2017

Stefanie's Thoughts: The Beast is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale


These soul eaters, twin sisters who were abandoned by their father and slowly morphed into something not quite human, devour human souls. Alys, and all the other children, were spared—and they were sent to live in a neighboring village. There the devout people created a strict world where good and evil are as fundamental as the nursery rhymes children sing. Fear of the soul eaters—and of the Beast they believe guides them—rule village life. But the Beast is not what they think it is. And neither is Alys.

Inside, Alys feels connected to the soul eaters, and maybe even to the Beast itself. As she grows from a child to a teenager, she longs for the freedom of the forest. And she has a gift she can tell no one, for fear they will call her a witch. When disaster strikes, Alys finds herself on a journey to heal herself and her world. A journey that will take her through the darkest parts of the forest, where danger threatens her from the outside—and from within her own heart and soul.


**ARC received from Simon and Schuster Canada for my honest review**



Hi everyone,

Turns out I lied to you when I said I would be reviewing Take the Key and Lock Her Up; I will get to that one though. Turns out I was given an ARC of The Beast is an Animal and have decided to review that instead. Thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada for providing the ARC for this!!

I can for sure say that I have never read a book like this before. The closest book I can think about comparing it to would be The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich; both were extremely atmospheric and at one point within the forest setting I felt so claustrophobic and I loved it.

I don’t know how I felt about this story. I really enjoy books that are written in first person and this one was in third. I think that threw me off, because of this it took me a long time to get into the story. When I finally did, I realized I had no idea what was actually happening. Even after closing the book I wasn’t actually sure what the plot was.

My favorite part of the whole thing was the atmospheric feeling of the story; I can’t praise that enough. I don’t watch horror movies because I’m too much of a chicken, but I love horror-ish books. That feeling of not knowing what’s going to happen and you desperately need to know by turning that page, only to find out it’s the end of the chapter. I love creepy as well and this was full of that starting with the cover. Have you seen that cover? Holy Soul Eaters Batman!

The opening chapter really sets the creepiness and made me feel like I was put inside a Grimm fairy tale (I mean, those were so darn creepy. I think that’s why I love traditional fairy tales so much). The only downside- the first chapter was the best chapter of the entire book. The pacing of this story was so slow, to the point where I wanted to close the book, yet there was something that really made me want to keep reading and to learn about the mystery of the Soul Eaters. However, I feel like nothing was really explained and as though I was expected to know the backstory of the characters and the setting.

Alys was an interesting main character, in the point that I couldn’t figure her out. In parts of the story I liked her and in other parts I didn't. I feltlike she had the best intentions about her fellow townspeople, but it fell pretty flat. Don’t ask me about any other characters because I can’t name them and they were all pretty forgettable.

I can see people totally loving this story, because of the Gothic creepiness. This book should have been for me, but the pacing was too much of a drag (see what I did there!) for me to be fully engaged and excited to read it. Maybe it’s the Soul Eaters that appealed to me and kept me reading it. I don’t know why I kept reading it, but I guess I’m happy I did; I always get a weird, almost guilty feeling at times when I mark a book as DNF.

I’ll probably check out the author’s next book when it’s released. Give me more creepiness and a faster plot and I’d be all over that! 

This is a two out of five star read.

Happy reading,


Stefanie

Monday, February 27, 2017

My Thoughts: All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood


As the daughter of a meth dealer, Wavy knows not to trust people, not even her own parents. Struggling to raise her little brother, eight-year-old Wavy is the only responsible "adult" around. She finds peace in the starry Midwestern night sky above the fields behind her house. One night everything changes when she witnesses one of her father's thugs, Kellen, a tattooed ex-con with a heart of gold, wreck his motorcycle. What follows is a powerful and shocking love story between two unlikely people that asks tough questions, reminding us of all the ugly and wonderful things that life has to offer.






This book, All the Ugly and Wonderful Things. What can I say about this book? I hated it. I did not like it at all. I finished this one a few weeks ago and found that I to take some time just to get my thoughts in order. I remember reading the last page and my initial thoughts were why and what. Why did Bryn Greenwood chose to write this book? What was the point of this story?

The story begins when Wavy is young, living with her maternal aunt as her mother has been incarcerated for some reason or another. Early on in the story we know that Wavy is a guarded and distrustful child, who doesn't speak- not because she can't, because she chooses not to. As the story progressed, Wavy is returned to her mother and their dysfunctional existence on "the ranch". It is here the Wavy meets Kellen and their odd relationship begins.

When I first met Kellen and throughout most of the I really liked him and I felt bad for his situation. He was not the brightest crayon in the box, but he was kind and loving, and people took advantage of that. In the beginning all Kellen wanted to was to take care of Wavy, to give her a chance in this life she was put into. It was sweet. However as the story progressed and they both got older, I grew more and more uncomfortable with how things were evolving. Their relationship morphed into something different. This aspect of the story bothered me WAY more than I thought it would. Maybe this is an example of Greenwood's skill as a writer, but the way we as readers experienced the development of Wavy's feelings for Kellen and vice versa- guys, it was weird okay-  just weird. IT gave me the heebie jeebies.

The writing was phenomenal. I am certainly a fan of Greenwood's writing. She weaved a wicked story- and the angle she took in telling it was kind of incredible. She didn't normalize the situation, but she also didn't address things and make them seem like they were anything but normal. She was able to write the story and be very impartial to the events. Greenwood was able to do this by telling the story from various different perspectives. The story isn't just told with Wavy and Kellen's perspective, there are multiple voices who tell this tale. I am a big of this kind of story telling- I think it brings an extra dimension to the narrative.

For the most part, I liked Wavy, I loved her character growth, I thought she got the short end of the stick, family wise. No one wanted to take the time to get to know her, which is probably why she connected with Kellen the way she did. However, there were times, I found myself annoyed with her choices, and how she chose to view some things. Sometimes I found some of her choices didn't fit with the way it appeared her character was going. But overall, I liked her and I really wanted different things for her. Her mother and father were real pieces of work- that's all I'll say. Wavy wasn't without amazing supports though. She had a family that cared for her deeply, they just did not know how to interact with her.

The biggest issue I had with this book- as I mentioned earlier, was the point of the story. I get controversial themes- those don't scare me, but they need to have a point. All the Ugly and Wonderful Things didn't feel like it had a point. Was it just being controversial to be controversial. Greenwood has said this is semi autobiographical to a relationship she had at 13 with a much older man, which meant more to her then, than some of the adult relationships she has had. So what? It's okay for an 11 year old and a 25 year old to have a romantic relationship? I can't reconcile her experience to the story she chose to write. It was a hugely inappropriate relationship on so many levels and it really made me feel yucky- I can't describe this any other way. I felt gross reading this book.

Overall, I did not like All the Ugly and Wonderful Things. Regardless of the flawless writing and amazing character development. The relationship was to much for me- and I just did not see the point of the story. I will perhaps read more of Greenwood, depending on what she produces. I am curious to hear the opinion of any others who have read this book- There are not a lot of negative reviews of this one on Goodreads (at least, none that have actually read the whole book- mostly those who DNF'd).  Or is this something you are curious now, and want to read, I'm curious, so share your thoughts. Share them with me.

~Happy Reading Everyone!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Stefanie's Thoughts:Three Mini Reviews



Hi everyone,

Sorry about the lack of posts last week. The plague (or at least what I’m calling it) is going around my work and I think I caught a mild case of it, I wasn’t feeling like myself last week. I’m back to feeling normal and I decided instead of doing one longer review, I thought I’d do shorter reviews for a couple of the books I had read throughout the last couple weeks to make up for it.

The Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver
Ask Me How I Got Here by Christine Heppermann
Showing Off (Upside Down Magic) series by Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle and Emily Jenkins




Ella and Maddy Lawton are identical twins. Ella has spent her high school years living in popular Maddy's shadows, but she has never been envious of Maddy. In fact, she's chosen the quiet, safe confines of her sketchbook over the constant battle for attention that has defined Maddy's world. When—after a heated argument—Maddy and Ella get into a tragic accident that leaves her sister dead, Ella wakes up in the hospital surrounded by loved ones who believe she is Maddy. Feeling responsible for Maddy's death and everyone's grief, Ella makes a split-second decision to pretend to be Maddy. Soon, Ella realizes that Maddy's life was full of secrets. Caught in a web of lies, Ella is faced with two options—confess her deception or live her sister's life.



This was a 2.5 star read for me. It was suggested to me by one of my trusty book friends. We read it as a buddy-read and came to the same conclusion: awesome idea, but the plot itself was lacking. The cover was what drew me in and I loved the concept of twins. I have a sister, but she’s younger; the whole idea of twin telepathy really interests me.

The first couple of chapters were so awesome, I felt for sure this was going to be an awesome mystery. Then I got deeper into the book and realized just how much I hated Maddy as a main character; she was so mean to her sister and I just couldn’t forgive her. It got to the point that at any mention of Maddy I found I couldn’t continue reading. I was also hoping for some big in your face plot-twist or something and I was left with nothing. To be honest, I can’t really tell you anything that happened in the book.





Addie has always known what she was running toward. In cross-country, in life, in love. Until she and her boyfriend—her sensitive, good-guy boyfriend—are careless one night and she ends up pregnant. Addie makes the difficult choice to have an abortion. And after that—even though she knows it was the right decision for her—nothing is the same anymore. She doesn’t want anyone besides her parents and her boyfriend to know what happened; she doesn’t want to run cross-country; she can’t bring herself to be excited about anything. Until she reconnects with Juliana, a former teammate who’s going through her own dark places.



This was a 3 star read for me. I told myself this year I needed to read more out of my comfort zone- poetry is so far out it’s almost in another galaxy. I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this one, but I must say I enjoyed the journal entries that were included. I think some of the plot points got lost and rushed over and I feel like this might be due to novel being in verse and each chapter was less than a page. I felt no connection to Addie and I felt like the character growth wasn’t ever achieved. Sure Addie goes through a huge life experience, but I don’t know if I felt she learned from it.

I really think this book would have benefited from full prose and not verse. It was like reading one page of Addie saying something and then the next page she completely changed her mind and that was normal. I felt too that Addie herself as a character was rushed, she wasn’t very fleshed out. Addie barely had time to deal with her pregnancy, when suddenly it was over and she acted like nothing had ever happened. I’m a little disappointed with this novel; I was expecting really strong characters and didn’t get that. I did enjoy reading the book itself; it was nice to read a book written in a different style. I’m tempted to read the author’s first novel, hopefully I can track it down at my local library.

 



Some people in school are afraid of the kids in the Upside-Down Magic class. Others just call them flops. But Nory and her friends in Upside-Down Magic won't let that stop them. Not with a school-wide talent show coming up! Except... Nory's afraid her fluxing magic will go wonky and upset her father. Pepper is worried that her abilities as a Fierce will make all the animals in the show run wild. Bax has some extreme new magic skills, but they can also be extremely embarrassing. And Elliott suspects there's a Sparkie spy who's looking to uncover UDM's talent-show secrets, and to use those secrets against them.






I saw this series at my library and thought why not try it out; I try to read as many middle-grade novels I can to stay up to date when it comes to ordering books for the library I work at. I must say, this series is rather adorable and I love the tagline for the copy I read: nobody puts this Dritten in a corner. Nice mix for adults to have a laugh, while it's appropriate for the target audience (kind of like Disney movies).

This was a fun light read, full of wonky magic and spells. I'm so happy the cover caught my attention and I started reading them; I would have loved this series when I was in middle school! It reminded me of Castle Hangnail, which I have reviewed and I have read Mlynowski's other middle-grade series Whatever After. This was a solid 3.5 rating for me.


Currently Reading:  

Take the Key and Lock her Up by Ally Carter
This has been one interesting series. I loved book one, but book two felt like nothing happened. I read it on it's release day, but I can't tell you anything that happened. It's been nice getting back into Carter's writing, she always makes espionage fun! I'll be reviewing it soon!



   

 Re-Read Update:

Ghostgirl wasn't as good as I remembered, but it was still as macabre as I wanted. I gave it a three star rating this time around, when it was originally a four. I still love the plot: Charlotte Usher dies after choking on a gummy bear; if you haven't read it I highly recommend it if you love some dark comedy.


My next re-read is going to be My Fair Godmother by Janette Rallison. This is one of my all-time favorite books. I'd give it fifteen stars out of five if I could and I'm so excited to be reading this!







That's all for me today. Thanks for your patience about me missing last week. I'll be sure to be on the ball for my next full review and month-end post (it's crazy it's the 25th already!).


Until my next review,


Stefanie

Monday, February 20, 2017

Series I Probably Won't be Finishing

Hello friends, about a year ago I did an inventory of all the unfinished series and was a little stunned by what it revealed- check it out here. I had over fifty unfinished series, which is madness. Since then, I have finished a couple series, but I have also started a couple more.  I really hate starting a series, and not finishing them. However, after some serious thought, I have come up with a pretty substantial list of series I just will not be continuing. So, I thought I'd share those books with you.





1) The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare- I finished City of Fallen Angels, the fourth book in this series, and decided I was done. Personally, I think the series should have ended with City of Ashes, but what do I know?

2) The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini- I've read both Eragon and Eldest a loooooong time ago, and I really enjoyed them. But because it's been so long, I think I've just lost interest, and there are SOOOOOOOOO many other books to read.

3) Caster Chronicles by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl- I've only read the first book in this series, and I found it very unmemorable. I have zero interest in continuing with this series.

4) The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig- I was really excited to read this book when I read the synopsis, a ship and time travel- sounds like my cup of tea. However, the book was actually pretty boring. Nothing really happens, so I won't be reading the sequel, The Ship Beyond Time.





5) Fallen by Lauren Kate- This was one of the first books I read when I started blogging, and boy was it bad. I didn't think so when I first read it, but now that I have read so many other books and so many other stories, I have realized The Fallen series is not good, and I have no intention of continuing.




6) Bloodlines by Richelle Mead - I read this one before I started the Vampire Academy series and I Vampire Academy series, but I don't know, I thought it was fine, but, kind of boring. I may give this another go once I have finished the

7) Wildefire by Karsten Knight- This was another book I read my first year blogging, and I really enjoyed it. But again, it's been to long and I've lost interest.









8) Stork by Wendy Delsol- This is a little series that is pretty underrated. I read the first two books Stork and Frost and I really enjoyed them.  But, the synopsis of the third book sounds a little hokey.  I may read it, it's one book, but I don't know when or if that will happen.

9) Starbound by Amie Kaufman- I read These Broken Stars and wasn't so in love with it that I felt the need to rush and read This Shattered World when it came out. I am not opposed to reading the rest of the series, but I am not in any rush.

10) Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi- I just hated this book when I first read it. I am pretty sure I am in the minority with this one. But no, I can't.





11) The Iron Fey by Julie Kagawa- Fairies are my thing, I love them. I was pretty excited about this series. I read The Iron King and thought it was okay, went on to read The Iron Daughter and again, thought it okay. I wasn't terribly eager to read the next in the series, and now it's been a few years, and my reading tastes have matured.

12) The Syrena Legacy by Anna Banks - Another series that I really enjoyed reading. I read the first two books, Of Poseidon and Of Triton, but when Of Neptune came out, I had lost interest.


The Maybe's 

So there are a few series that I haven't fully decided to let go of. But I need your input. on- should I keep going? I am on the fence a bit about the following.



13) Me Before You by Jojo Moyes- I am not sure whether it's worth reading After You. I really liked , and I loved Lou, but I am not sure if reading on will ruin things for me.
Me Before You

14) Choas Walking by Patrick Ness -  I read The Knife of Never Letting Go at the insistence of  Aylee from Recovering Potter Addict. I really liked it, but it was really my thing. I could keep going, but I don't know. What say you?

15) Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian- I think I liked this one (I've only read the first book). I am a little curious about where things went/ended. But again, I am not sure it's worth the time.





Well that's enough I think, there are other unfinished series I could talk about it. But I haven't fully convinced myself that I am quitting. Maybe this time next year there will be another post. 
"So, please, oh please, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away, and in its place you can install, a lovely bookcase on the wall."
— Roald Dahl