Wednesday, July 18, 2018

BookTubeAThon 2018 TBR

 
Hey, everyone! The BookTubeAThon is rapidly approaching again this year. It starts on July 30th and ends August 5th. Here's my TBR, or as I like to call it, books I know I won't actually read. 

Challenge #1: Let a coin toss decide your first read.
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Challenge #2: Read a book about something you want to do.
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Challenge #3: Read and watch a book to movie adaptation.
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Challenge #4: Read a book with green on the cover.
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Challenge #5: Read a book while wearing a hat on the cover.
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Challenge #6: Read a book with a pretty spine.
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Challenge #7: Read a seventh book.
All the books I mentioned at the end of the video.
Are you participating in BookTubeAThon? Have you posted your TBR? If so, link it down below!

Friday, July 13, 2018

January-June 2018 Releases That You Have to Check Out!

Hey, everyone! I hope you are doing well and reading a lot of wonderful and life-changing books. One of my goals for 2018 was to keep up with the ARCs that I receive from publishers because for the last couple of years, ARCs haven't been a priority, but I would request them like crazy. (I don't recommend doing that at all!) Suffice to say, I have intense ARC guilt and I'm trying to remedy that this year. It's been going really well! So far I have been accepted for 49 ARCs and have read 25 of those. I'm also currently reading two at the time that I'm writing this post. Surprisingly though I've read 29 new releases this year because audiobooks from my library allow me to check out newer titles as opposed for me waiting to stumble upon them at a cheaper price later on. Today, I'm going to list all the new releases that I've read this year and which ones I recommend reading in the latter half of this year! Asterisks (*) indicate which ones I recommend the most.

January 2018 Releases
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*The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn Released January 2nd by William Morrow 4.25 stars (audiobook)
Deadly Sweet by Lola Dodge Released January 16th by Inkmonster LLC 3 stars
Reign the Earth by Sarah Glenn Marsh Released January 23rd by Razorbill 3 stars
 The King of Bones and Ashes by J.D. Horn Released January 23rd by 47North DNF 1.5 stars
*Reign the Earth by A.C. Gaughen Released January 30th by Bloomsbury 5 stars
*A Devil in Scotland by Suzanne Enoch Released January 30th by St. Martin's Press 4.5 stars
The month of January has a wide array of releases. I read all the ARCs that I was provided with in exchange for a review in this month. 5 out of the 6 books were ARCs and one was an audiobook that I do recommend. I feel like I enjoyed the novel more because of the audio as opposed to if it I had read it. 3 out of 6 novels are favorites and books that I recommend highly. My favorites from the month were Reign the Earth, A Devil in Scotland, and The Woman in the Window. Reign the Earth was my favorite out of this month and is still one of my favorite fantasy reads of the year.
February 2018 Releases
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*An American Marriage by Tayari Jones Released February 6th by Algonquin Books 4.5 stars (audiobook)
Starlings by Jo Walton Released February 13th by Tachyon Publications 3 stars
*You Know How the Story Goes by Thomas Olde Heuvelt Released February 21st by Tor Books 4 stars (free online)
 *Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman Released February 27th by Random House Books for Young Readers 5 stars
*I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara 4.5 stars (audiobook)
The Sins of Lord Lockwood by Meredith Duran 3.75 stars
Some of the most famous and talked about best-sellers were released in February- An American Marriage (Opera Book Club pick) and I'll Be Gone in the Dark (it's everywhere + they caught the Golden State Killer!). I read all the ARCs that I was provided with in exchange for an honest review. 3 out of 6 books were ARCs, two were audiobooks, and one is a free online story. Out of the audiobooks I listened to I feel like both were fantastic and I highly recommend them, but I think that I would've benefited more from reading I'll Be Gone in the Dark as opposed to listening to it. 4 out of the 6 novels were favorites. My favorites from the month were An American Marriage, You Know How the Story Goes, Tess of the Road, and I'll Be Gone in the Dark. Tess of the Road was my favorite out of the month and is one of the emotionally impacting novels I've read this year. Plus Tess is an amazing and memorable character!
March 2018 Releases
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the witch doesn't burn in this one by amanda lovelace Released March 6th by Andrews McMeel Publishing 3 stars
*The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton Released March 13th by Candlewick Press 4.25 stars
The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror by Mallory Ortberg Released March 13th by Holt Paperbacks 3.75 stars
*I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman Released March 27th by Viking Books for Young Readers 4.5 stars
 The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton Released March 27th by Tor DNF 3 stars
I feel like March was a huge month for publishing, but not so much for famous or well-known / acclaimed novels. I read five out of the ten ARCs I received for the month of March which is not good, but I will try to go back to those ARCs in the future. All of these books listed are ARCs that I received in exchange for an honest review. 2 out of the 5 novels were favorites. My favorites from the month were I Have Lost My Way and The Price Guide to the Occult. I Have Lost My Way was my favorite because I had forgotten how much I love Forman's books and I was blown away by the raw reality she depicts.
April 2018 Releases
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School for Psychics by K.C. Archer Released April 3rd by Simon Schuster 1.75 stars
Love and Death in the Sunshine State: The Story of a Crime by Cutter Wood Released April 17th by Algonquin Books 1.25 stars
Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku by Fujita Released April 17th by Kodansha Comics DNF 1 star
Dimension Drift Prequel by Christina Bauer Released April 24th by Monster House Books 2.5 stars
April wasn't big for publishing and the books that I checked out didn't impress me. As far ARCs go, this is a month of flops. I read all four ARCs that I received from publishers. I don't have a favorite from the month and I'm not rushing to recommend any of these novels, but if they sound interesting to you definitely give them a go!
May 2018 Releases
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The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner Released May 1st by Scribner 4 stars
Song of Blood & Stone by L. Penelope Released May 1st by St. Martin's Press 3.25 stars
The Luck of the Bride by Janna MacGregor Released May 1st by St. Martin's Paperbacks 3 stars
Furyborn by Claire Legrand Released May 22nd by Sourcebooks Fire 4 stars
LIKEL1K3 by Jay Kristoff Released May 29th by Knopf Books for Young Readers 4.25 stars
It's All About the Duke by Amelia Grey Released May 29th by St. Martin's Paperback Currently Reading
May is a huge month for publishing. A lot of talked about and hyped novels were released. I've read five out of the seven ARCs that I received from publishers in exchange for a review (I'm currently reading one now). 3 out of the 5 novels were really fantastic and I'd say that Furyborn and LIFEL1K3 are favorites. LIFEL1K3 is my favorite from this month. It completely surprised me and I wasn't expecting to enjoy this one as much as I did. If you aren't a fan of sci-fi, I think that this will be a great starting point if you are interested in getting into the genre.
June Releases
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Blood Will Out by Jo Treggiari Released June 5th by Penguin Teen 1.5 stars
The Mermaid by Christina Henry Released June 19th by Berkley 5 stars
The Game of Hope by Sandra Gulland Released June 26th by Viking Books for Young Readers DNF 2 stars
There are some really interesting releases in June. None that I think are getting a lot of hype, but I definitely see bloggers, BookTubers, and bookstagrammers talking about them. I've read three out of seven ARCs that I received from the publishers. I'm going to have to play catch up with some of these, but I'll get to them when I can! The Mermaid is hands down one of the best books I've read this year. It blew me away and I can't recommend it enough. This is one of the few novels that completely blow me away and I want more people to read it.

ARCS I Still Need to Read
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Are you excited to read any of these books? What are some of your favorite new 2018 releases that I need to pick up in the second half of the year? Let me know down below in the comments!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

I Am Still Alive by Kate Marshall

I Am Still Alive Releases on July 24th!
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I Am Still Alive by Kate Marshall

2 stars

Jess is completely alone in the wilderness. Her father is gone and the cabin is burned down. She has to survive with only her dad’s dog and a few scavenged supplies from the remains of the cabin. Jess knows she doesn’t have a long time to time survive before the cold kills her. She must seek out food, build a shelter, and keep herself warm. She has to stay alive because she wants revenge on the men who killed her father and put her in this predicament in the first place. I’m not sure where this novel falls genre wise. It’s a survival story at its core but it is meant to be suspenseful. Surviving in the wilderness is scary but surviving alone and with a handicap is scarier. Jess’ situation is much more horrifying because she isn’t supposed to be in the woods in the first place. She’s supposed to be getting therapy and going to high school, but her dad prefers to live off the grid. Marshall takes this situation and uses to up the scales. The content can be shocking and huge warnings for animal cruelty because she is hunting to survive and at times it seems almost like a callous reaction. If I’m being honest, this book is kind of boring though. Besides the basic concept it’s not all that gripping. I was more invested than her relationship with her dad’s dog, Bo, than I was with her trying to stay alive and get revenge. Marshall isn’t a bad writer, but I wasn’t gripped by her style of storytelling. I found this book easy to put down and it wasn’t a priority for me to finish it. I was just kind of meander through the experience of reading this book. I didn’t really hate it, like it, or love it. I was in the weird category of indifference. This is worse than the MEH category for me because MEH means mediocre, but indifference just means that I couldn’t be bothered.

There was a couple of great paragraphs and sentences that I really enjoyed, but nothing about this story stuck with me. It’s forgettable.


“To survive you need to learn to hold contradictory things in your head at the same time. I am going to die; I am going to live. There is nothing to fear; be wary of everything. In this moment I find a new contradiction. The indifference of the wild is terrifying—I want to be remembered, to leave a mark. And it is freeing, knowing that the forest does not care, does not judge. My failure will go unmarked—no mourning, no mockery. For the first time in my life, there are no expectations of me at all. The only thing that matters is what I want, what I can do.”

Whimsical Writing Scale: 2

Jess is a very sad character to follow. Her situation feels hopeless and she has the worse luck (probably because of her lack of knowledge about survival). I didn’t really like Jess though. I just couldn’t be bothered with her at times. She didn’t feel like she had a lot of personality. I found it hard to root for her because I didn’t know her. She was just there and had all these problems, but if you asked me what her dreams are or what qualities I’d use to define her, I’d struggle a bit. Besides the obvious trait of having a lot of willpower, she didn’t go beyond that for me. She felt one dimensional.


Kick-Butt Heroine Scale: 2

The Villain- Listen, this is probably the part of the book I liked the least. It went from surviving to revenge and it became too much. It was kind of convoluted and it just seemed like Jess’ desire to survive was thrown to the wayside. Plus, I still don’t the motives behind these killers and it was just weird.


Villain Scale: 1.5

There is a couple of characters, but it’s interactions of the past. There’s her dad who is a weird character and we don’t know anything about him. It’s weird because I think I’m supposed to feel sympathy towards him and I kind of do, but also, I don’t because who even is he. Bo is the star of this book and if dog deaths destroy your soul avoid this book at all cost.


Character Scale: 1.5

Overall, this isn’t a bad novel. Like I said earlier, I’m indifferent towards it. It didn’t anger me or incite a lot of emotions, but I think fans of survivalist stories will enjoy this one.


Plotastic Scale: 2

Cover Thoughts: I really like this cover. It’s creepy and it looks ominous.


Thank you, First to Read and Viking Books for Young Readers, for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
 
 Are you interested in reading I Am Still Alive? Do you like survival stories? Let me know down below in the comments!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas

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A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas

3.1 in the A Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy

3.25 stars

“I lifted my eyes to his again and found stars and darkness waiting. Found home waiting.”

There’s no point in me telling you what this is about because if I say anything I would spoil everything, so just know that it’s a fluff fest. A Court of Frost and Starlight is a weird novel. It’s not a novel, it’s technically a novella. Think Stephen King style of a short story with enough substance to be a novel. The problem is that I went into this novel expecting SK level of substance and I don’t know why I was expecting this 230-page novel to actually deliver something other than what it promises. I guess that’s my fault. I set up an expectation of this novella will destroy my soul like Apt Pupil, give me hope like Shawshank Redemption, and empower me like Big Driver. Alas, that’s where I went wrong. Not every writer is at King’s level when it comes to writing novellas. In fact, I would say Maas is one of the worst/rockiest endeavors into this territory. That sounds harsh, but there is always room for improvement. I haven’t read her Throne of Glass novellas, so I don’t have anything to compare them to. I’ve read enough novellas in the YA genre (they are very prevalent in series) to feel confident in saying that this wasn’t a bad novella, but it wasn’t a good one either. Imagine a cake that’s three layers with icing in the middle of each other and then imagine a baker coming along and adding a random cupcake on top of the cake. It’s not a horrible idea, but it doesn’t do much for the story in terms of character development. It is a bridge between Feyre and Rhys’s story into Nessa and Cassian’s story. Not a bad idea, but this book is hard to get into for being so short. I think this is because Maas didn’t know really what she wanted ACOFAS to be. She was contracted for some novellas to bridge one series to the next and so she just kind of made up this sweet filler story about the Inner Circle celebrating Winter Solstice. There’s also so potential conflicts thrown in, but none of them are addressed in this story because that’s would be too complicated to address conflicts in this novella. We have to spend money on the other series to find out all these subplots that have been introduced along with any plots that were left open from the original trilogy.


Also, I want to preface that Maas still makes basic grammatical errors that drive me crazy. She continues to use periods at the end of questions and it drives me bananas (it’s even worse since taking a grammar course). She also has picked up a new and overwhelmingly annoying habit of using colons where a dash should be. Colons are best for listing, but she is uses it for just one word. Example: “The door: new. The display window: new.” It’s annoying. I’m going mention that Rhys’ obsession with having sex with Feyre is still randomly sprinkled in his PoV at the most serious times. It’s just weird, but I expect it from Maas at this point. (Still doesn’t mean it’s fun to read and it’s more cringey than sexy or alluring.)


Whimsical Writing Scale: 3

Feyre is still the main focal point of this story. It focuses primarily on her roles as High Lady and her desire to paint again, but being scared to / not having the privacy to express the horrors she wants to focus on in her art. It’s a nice little plot. I liked it well enough. Feyre is still a character that I like, but she has a few moments where she tries to control of people’s lives when it is not her place to do so. I never realized how much of a micromanager she is when it comes to meddling and trying to sway people to do what she thinks is best, but a lot of people struggle with that as well so it’s a believable character trait. Mor also has a couple of PoV chapters. Her chapters are insightful to where she is going to be and what she’ll battling in the upcoming novels and I’m really curious to see where she goes and what adventures she’ll face. Nesta doesn’t even get a full chapter. I’m so annoyed about. She is hands down my favorite character in the books. Everyone puts her on the back burner. They exclude her and then wonder why she is so cold. It’s because no one actively reaches out to her except Amren. Nesta deserves a great character story and I hope that she gets it because time after time we see that people don’t pay attention to her with true and genuine intentions.


Kick-Butt Heroine Scale: Ferye-3.5 Mor-3.5 Nesta-4

Rhys has a lot of PoVs in this one and I’m kind of annoyed that we don’t see him coming terms with being resurrected after dying in ACOWAR. His thought process focused all on Feyre and sometimes on the problems with the Illyrian camps, but it felt contrived. I was unimpressed by the way he treated Tamlin. I don’t even like Tamlin, but it always peeves me that characters hold grudges against others for actions committed against them but expect everyone to forgive them because entitlement. That mentality doesn’t work well in the real world or for the soul. It’s toxic and it puts a bad taste in my mouth. I can’t say I was really swooning over him like I usually do. I thought he was just alright this go-round. I guess I’m kind of disappointed by that, but I’m taking it as a sign that it’s time for Maas to move on from writing about Feyre and Rhys. The man that really stole the show was Cassian. What a sweet soul. He has a noble heart when it comes to training Illyrian women to train and be treated as equal to men. I loved him so much. He stole the show.


Swoon Worthy Scale: Rhys-3 Cassian-5

I want everyone to know that if I didn’t ship Elain and Azriel hard before I ship it SO HARD now. The tension between these two was palpable and I wasn’t even in either of their heads. They are so sweet and cute. They deserve the best because they are both sweet and pure souls who will come together and have magical sweet love. (My inner romantic is coming out. I’m embarrassed because I’m a grown adult. LOL) I also would love to see a PoV from Amren. She is an iconic character who does all these amazing things and sacrificed herself at the end of the last novel and we still don’t get to see inside her head. There was a new character introduced that I really enjoyed and I loved her dynamic with Feyre.


Character Scale: 5

Overall, ACOFAS isn’t a complete bust, but it has a lot of faults. I’m not overly impressed by it, so I’m hesitant to recommend it. A lot of people are saying that this is a novella and because of that it doesn’t need to be amazing. I disagree. If it wasn’t for the sampler of the next book I would’ve decided to throw in the towel with the series, but that sampler was a lot of fun and pumped me up for the next book.


Plotastic Scale: 3

Cover Thoughts: I adore this cover. It’s one of my favorites of the trilogy.
 
Have you read ACOFAS? Are you a fan of it, lukewarm, or not a fan? Are you excited to read Nesta and Cassian's story? Let me know down below in the comments!