Thursday, December 28, 2017

A Stephen King & B&N Classics Book Haul

Hi, everyone! I have another book haul video! I love book hauls and I have a serious book buying problem. However, I won't be buying books for a while because 1) I have to purchase some really expensive textbooks for the spring semester 2) I pay my own tuition and have to dish out 1K. So, there isn't really any leeway to sustain my book buying problems, which is great because I can focus on all the books I own that I haven't read yet.

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Look at how cute and punny this mug is. I'm obsessed. I also finally used it for a cup of hot chocolate and it was magnificent.

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I've only read two of these books. I listened to the audiobook of Great Expectations and gave it 4 stars. It was a fun novel and it was satisfying to finally read a Dickens novel. I read Four Past Midnight ages ago, but plan to reread it and this edition was a nice acquisition to my King collection.

Are you a fan of cute mugs? Do you love Barnes & Noble Classics? Do you recommend reading The Regulators or Desperation first? Let me know down below in the comments!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

5 stars

“That as the end of the story: no one went into the Wood and came out again, at least not whole and themselves.”

Agnieszka lives on a simple small village in the valley. She isn’t the closest village to the Wood, but she is close enough that a windy day can bring the Wood’s corruption into someone’s home causing mischief and murder. She doesn’t know why the Wood is corrupted or why walkers and other horrifying creatures inhabit it; coming out and capturing innocent souls who are never seen again and if they do come back something isn’t right. The Dragon, a powerful sorcerer, holds back the Wood and protects those who reside in the valley. With his protection he has a requirement. Every ten years a young woman from her village must be given to the Dragon and sent to live in his castle for ten years. Agnieszka is sure that The Dragon will choose her best friend, Kasia, and she loathes him for it. However, it isn’t Kasia the Dragon chooses and Agnieszka is soon to discover that she has more powers than she could have imagined.

This story warmed my heart. I love simple fairy tale stories and a Beauty and the Beast retelling is always a nice treat. This story makes me feel like I’m coming home. Fantasy readers will appreciate the simple roots that Novik takes because a simple fantasy story seeped in magic with a hulking beast and a terrifying omnipresent entity that must be destroyed is the basis for a lot of classic tales. I absolutely adored Uprooted. However, I will caution that this isn’t the story for everyone. Mainly because I’m sure that most fantasy readers, especially those who gravitate towards high fantasy, will hate this. I say this because the magic in Uprooted is not explained and it lacks any solid basis and I’m sure that can be frustrating to a lot of readers.

What makes the magic in Uprooted so wonderful for me is that it fits the lyrical writing that Novik executes. Novik weaves magic in the same one would tell a story orally or sing a song. It can be a little much a times to be reading about how magic flows, feels, and sings, but not have any explanation other than that. I found it particularly fitting for Agnieszka’s own powers, which frustrate the Dragon and the Council, because her magic goes beyond those of textbooks and logic. Her magic is based off of paths, woods, flowers, and the spirit of the earth. In contrast it fits very well with Novik’s own writing style and provides a wonderful magic based story.

Uprooted does offer a lot of things that fantasy readers will enjoy. There is the ever-beloved court politics, which I have a love-hate relationship with because I love the drama and court intrigue, but I quickly tire of the frivolous backdrop and how it hinders my favorite characters from getting down to business and defeating the big bad beasties. This is also kind of horror fantasy, which is my kind of stuff. The Wood is no joke. There are giant praying mantises that eat the heads of humans. It’s pretty dark and definitely gritty. For the hopeless romantics, there is a ship. It’s a wonderful ship that I was one hundred percent behind because they weren’t making me gag with their promises to die together in a heap of flowers (I can’t deal with that stuff sometimes).

Whimsical Writing Scale: 5

“I was a glaring blot on the perfection. But I didn’t care: I didn’t feel I owed him beauty.”

The main female character is Agnieszka. She is very brave and incredibly strong-willed. She doesn’t take no for answer because she believes that everyone deserves a chance, especially those who have been corrupted by the Wood. I particularly loved her growth and character development, especially the path she chose to take towards the end (view spoiler) My biggest bone to pick is Agnieszka’s character at the beginning willingly falling into a very popular trope found in fantasy that characters to the patriarchal narrative of pleasing the man with food and if you don’t please him, then expect to be punished. This was really the only problem I had with the narrative and it happened in Chapter 2 and was quickly remedied, but I did want to mention it in case it turned off early readers. Agnieszka is very resilient and does a lot of very funny things that make this dark story more light-hearted.

Kick-Butt Heroine Scale: 5

“But for all he saved us, we didn’t love him.”

The main male character is the Dragon or Sarkan. The Dragon is very hard, cold, and a bit standoffish. He is a stickler for the rules, perfection, and cleanliness. A great contrast to Agnieszka’s free spirit and affliction for mud. Due to their differences, they balance each other out beautifully and make my fangirl shipping heart sing. When Agnieszka called the Dragon Sarkan for the first time I was squealing. I was captivated by Sarkan. Not because he is particularly swoon worthy, but because of his strong presence and his quietly kind nature that is often overlooked. He saves people and helps those in need past what his orders decree, but he does it kindly.

Swoon Worthy Scale: 5

The Villain- This is a wild ride. Not only is the Wood a horrifying place that hosts even more terrifying creatures; it is also a grand champion at battle strategy and some of the plot twists in this book had me shook because I wasn’t expecting Novik to go there, but she went there. I loved it.

Villain Scale: 5

There is a large cast of characters. Kasia plays a huge role in this story and the friendship she shares with Agnieszka is incredibly complex. Her own storyline takes a very interesting and admirable turn that I vastly enjoyed. Prince Marek is a plague not only to the Dragon and Agnieszka, but to this story in general. His brash ignorance and desire to rush into things head on was annoying and also trigger warning because this prick doesn’t know that no means no. He plays a huge role in this story and he is the main reason for most of my irritation. There are a ton of other characters, but I won’t mention any more because I want you to learn about them and experience them for yourselves.

Character Scale: 5

I obviously loved Uprooted and highly recommend it to anyone who loves old fantasy stories that aren’t wrought with reasonings and just want to be swept away into a magical and sometimes haunting story. If you love horror, fantasy, and romances that don’t consist of batting eyes and heavy breathing, then this may be the story for you. I’m so happy that I finally picked this one up because I absolutely adored every minute of it. A definite new favorite.

Plotastic Scale: 5

Cover Thoughts: I love the cover so freaking much. It is one of my favorite covers every and when I take the dusk jacket off it looks like a white wedding dress. I loved the design so much.
Have you read Uprooted? Is it one of your favorites? Do you plan on reading it? Let me know down below in the comments! 

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Video Review of The Stand by Stephen King

Hi, everyone! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas if you celebrate it and that your holiday season was nice and cheerful. I have a full-length video review of The Stand by Stephen King, my all-time favorite novel. I do plan on writing a review for this novel, but if you know anything about me that could take five years to write. It's a serious problem. LOL Anyway, I hope you all enjoy my video review of The Stand!

Have you read The Stand? What's your all-time favorite King novel? Or just your all-time favorite novel that you want everyone to read? Let me know down below in the comments!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Books I've Read in 2017 #35-38 + I Got a Dog!

Hi, everyone! I hope you are all having a lovely holiday season. I haven't been as active as usual on social media the last couple of days because we took in a puppy who didn't have a home and was living at my dad's work. Her name is Joli and she has become one of my best friends in such a short period of time. We play a lot and she loves belly rubs and walks around the neighborhood. She was very anxious her first day with us because my dad was at work and when we took her for her first walk, she panicked because of all the large dogs. We are not sure of where she was before she came to us, but it's obvious she fought for her life. She is an angel and is a blessing from God. I absolutely adore her and I'm so thankful that we were able to take her in and give her a forever home. 
Anyway, I have some pre-filmed videos and I will be uploading them as I can. 

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Akata Witch- Nnedi Okorafor 4.5 stars This middle grade fantasy is absolutely wonderful. I absolutely loved the magic and the friendship between Sunny and her friends. I'm looking forward to the sequel, Akata Warrior, and plan on buying myself a physical copy. Check out my review here.
I, Cthulhu, or, What’s A Tentacle-Faced Thing Like Me Doing In A Sunken City Like This (Latitude 47° 9′ S, Longitude 126° 43′ W)?- Neil Gaiman 5 stars I loved this. It was such a funny little story of Cthulhu recounting his life to a human. It's very Lovecraftian and if you love Lovecraft and have read the majority of his major works then you will get all the references and jokes. It's a lot of fun! Check out my review here. It's also free on Tor's website and the link takes you to my GR review, which has the free link.
Better Homes and Hauntings - Molly Harper 3.5 stars This is a cheesy horror comedy with a lot of romance. I'd describe this as clicklit horror. It was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed reading it even though it was so cheesy. 
Dracula- Bram Stoker 3.75 stars I was a little disappointed by this one. Mainly because the beginning was strong and suspenseful. The rest of the novel quickly became underwhelming. I wasn't the biggest fan of the overall story, but I did really enjoy it. I also think that because I listened to the audiobook and it may have lessened my enjoyment a little bit. However, I do think this a great horror novel and I see why so many people love this. 

Are you a dog lover? Have you read any of these books? Do you plan to? Let me know down below in the comments!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Books I've Read in 2017 #30-34

Hi, everyone! I hope you are all doing well and reading a lot of books. The holiday season is quickly approaching and I'm so excited for Christmas this year. If you are from work or school, I hope you are enjoying your break. In this video, I'm reviewing five of the novels that I read/DNFed in 2017.

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Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers- 5 stars I loved this romance novel so much. It's one of the best romances I've ever read, but it's also just a fantastic novel.
Demon Kissed by H.M. Ward- DNF @ page 28 Wasn't a huge fan of this one. Check out my review to see why.
Glamour by Penelope Fletcher- DNF 1 star I was so disappointed in this one. I thought I was going to love it because it's so pretty and it has fairies, but I can't do the whole alpha male creep thing. Check out my review here.
The Highland Commander by Amy Jarecki- 4 stars This was a really fun Highlander romance that I think Outlander fans will love. I really enjoyed the battle scenes and the court politics. Check out my review here.
Manga Classics: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, Stacy King, Nokman Poon- 3.25 stars This is another manga classic adaptation and it isn't the strongest one, but it was a lot of fun and inspired me to finally pick up the full-length novel (which I finished yesterday and really enjoyed). 

The Best Book
If I could only recommend one book out of these five, I'd chose Redeeming Love. Not only because I gave it 5 stars, but because it emotionally moved me. It's one of those rare romance books that I tell everyone about and the friends I have in real life who have read love it just as much. It's phenomenal!
Have you read any of these books? Do you plan to? Let me know down below in the comments!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

The Crime Book by DK Publishing

The Crime Book by DK Publishing

2 stars

The Crime Book is clocks in with over 300 pages of crime. This novel covers an expansive range of different crimes and is covered in a newspaper format that feels very much like you are sitting down with a cup of coffee/tea/whatever and you are flipping through the newspaper witnessing coverage. It’s a very interesting format and I commend DK Publishing for taking the time and effort to make every page, timeline, photograph, and work of art standout and be not only eye-grabbing, but also accurate to the information being covered. The writing, however, does lose its grip after countless sections and a lot of it becomes a little boring. I can’t believe I’m saying that crime is boring, but the way the topics are covered wasn’t wholly gripping and I found myself easily putting this novel down to read something else instead.

There are a ton of different topics covered in this book and that makes it unique. Most crime books heavily focus on only one area of crime—murder or serial killers. This novel spends some time on those topics, but it isn’t the central focus on this novel and because of that I learned a lot of information on forensics and other cases that I’ve never heard of before.

Bandits, Robbers, & Arsonists
This section covers eighteen cases. The majority of the focus is on bandits and robbers, which is a really interesting period of crime because robbers and bandits became highly romanticized during the Gold Rush and the Great Depression. Some of my favorite cases were:
Burke and Hare, the original body snatchers. The term “burking” originates from Burke’s unique method of suffocation to acquire more bodies for their business.
Bonnie and Clyde, one of the most infamous couples in history. They are highly romanticized, sometimes unintentionally and sometimes intentionally by the media, but their history as bandits is scary and wrought with murder.
John Leonard Orr, a pyrophile, who failed the police psychological evaluation and became a firefighter. This guy did a ton of damage to the LA area and had an astronomical body count. He also wrote a novel while in prison that alludes to other vicious crimes he may committed.
Phoolan Devi, a popular Indian bandit who orchestrated a major mass murder of 22 people (two of them being her rapists) and was known for redistributing wealth to lower caste families and villagers. I had never heard of her before, but her story is incredibly fascinating.

Con Artists

This section covers eleven cases. Some of them are typical con cases others are elaborate schemes like the Alcatraz prison break. This section for me was a bit of a miss and some of the information was interesting, but it failed to fully hold my attention. My favorite case was Konrad Kujau and his elaborate forgery of Hitler’s diaries. The case was incredibly interesting and easily my favorite of the section.

White Collar Crimes

This section covers twelves cases of crimes that involve fraud and government coverups that are illegal. The Bhopal Disaster was my favorite case covered because I had never heard of it and I felt like it was an incredibly important topic about American companies harming foreign countries (this case India) and resulting in mass deaths.

Organized Crime
This section covers ten cases ranging from the mafia to gangs across the globe. It’s incredibly interesting and I enjoyed a large portion of this section. Some of the most interesting were the Sicilian Mafia, Hells Angels (motorcycle gang), “Freeway” Rick Ross (crack cocaine empire), the Triads (Chinese mafia), and the Yakuza (Japanese mob).

Kidnapping and Extortion
This section covers seven cases of kidnappings around the globe. The cases that I enjoyed reading the most about were the Kidnapping of Natasha Kampusch and the Lindbergh Baby Kidnapping. This section was incredibly fascinating because I’m not incredibly familiar with kidnapping cases and while there are some I know of, there are more that I have only heard vaguely mentioned or have little to no knowledge of.

Murder Cases
This section covers twenty cases of murder. Topics include the Black Dahlia murder, the Lizzie Borden trial, the Manson Family, Tupac and Biggie’s murders, and O.J. Simpson are some of the most famous cases that have widely covered in the media. My favorite cases that were new to me was the Dripping Killer, the Texas Tower Massacre, and the Murder of James Bulger. These cases were all very sad and made me depressed as well as slightly paranoid that the people around me may be killers.

Serial Killers
This section covers twelve serial killers and this is where my ARC copy started to have missing pages and began to feel frustrated. This section was almost glossed over too quickly. The majority of the topics covered were brief and I think that this was because I was missing a fair bit of pages. I was also surprised by the small amount of cases covered. This was where I started to lose interest and I just wanted this to be over with. There were a couple of cases covered that I had never about before and that was interesting, but I felt like my copy kept me from gaining a vast portion of the material and this severely hindered my enjoyment of the section.

Assassinations and Political Plots
The vast majority of this section was missing from my copy so I stopped taking notes and gave up on finishing. I quickly lost interest and couldn’t bring myself to care.

Would I recommend The Crime Book? I’m not sure. Due to the large portion of pages missing from my edition I wasn’t able to fully decide how I felt about the overall composition of this novel. However, if you are a true crime fan and enjoy collecting crime memorabilia, then this would be perfect for you.

Cover Thoughts: I love the cover. All of these illustrations pop up throughout the text and the illustrations was one of my favorite aspects of this novel.

Thank you, Netgalley and DK Publishing, for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Are you a fan of true crime? Do you like crime or detective shows? Let me know down below in the comments! 

Friday, December 15, 2017

Books I've Read in 2017 #24-29

Hi, everyone! I'm back with another video talking about some of the books I read in 2017. 

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Everything, Everything- Nicola Yoon 2 stars Meh. I was not a fan of this one at all. I can see why people like it a lot because the format is cute, but the story itself has some problems.
Sweetlings by Lucy Taylor- 4.25 stars This Tor Short is a lot of fun and I was really surprised by the story. Highly recommend! Check out my review here.
5 to 1 by Holly Bodger- DNF @ 15% 2 stars The premise was interesting, but the formatting and writing style just wasn't for me. Check out my review here.
The Iron Butterfly by Chanda Hahn- 2.25 stars This was a really cliched YA paranormal romance. It wasn't what I was hoping it would be. I'm pretty unimpressed by it and don't plan on continuing the series.
Ride Me Hard- Shari Slade 1.5 stars This one wasn't for me, but it was a quick Kindle freebie. Check out my review here.
Break Me In- Shari Slade 1 star I thought the first book was bad, but this book is 100 times worse. It's misogynistic, offensive to women, and romanticizes things that should not be romanticized. Check out my review here.

Have you read any of these novels? What are some books that let you down recently? Let me know down below in the comments.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

2017 Releases I've Read + The Ones I Need To Read ASAP

Hi, everyone! I've been seeing a lot of lists the last day about blogger's favorite 2017 books and reads. I don't want to release my absolute favorite of this year yet because there's still three weeks until the end of the year. However, looking at all these lists made me realize how many 2017 I haven't picked up yet. I've been inspired! So, here's a list of the 2017 I read and the ones that I want to get to ASAP. Disclaimer: ASAP for me means whenever I feel like it. I'm a definite mood reader. It's why I picked up The Stand this year when it was not at all my intention to. I'm just moody like that.:)

2017 Releases I've Read
January Releases
A List of Cages by Robin Roe Published January 10, 2017
2 stars Review Here
Technically, I finished this on December 31, 2016, but it is a January release and I did read it. Totally not my cup of tea and it felt like a Perks of Being a Wallflower rip-off. Also it vilifies adults and while there are shitty adults out there, not all adults are going to leave you out to hang and dry. 
February Releases
Someone to Hold by Mary Balogh Published February 7, 2017
2.25 stars Review Here
This isn't the worst HR I've read, but it certainly isn't good. Balogh is huge on the scene, but this one was lackluster and disappointing. 

March Releases
The Last Novelist (or, A Dead Lizard in the Yard) by Matthew Kressel Published March 15, 2017
1 stars Review Here
I did not like this one. At all.
Excerpts from a Film (1942-1987) by A.C. Wise Published March 22, 2017
5 stars Review Here
This is one of the best short stories I've read all year. I love old Hollywood and ghost stories. It was phenomenal. Pretty much the perfect story for me.
Mental Diplopia by Julianna Baggott Published March 22, 2017
4 stars Review Here
I was really captivated by the premise and this one is a strong short story. Definitely recommend it.
Ecdysis by Julianna Baggott Published March 22, 2017
1.5 stars Review Here
I wasn't a huge fan of this one. The story had potential, but something was lacking.

April Releases
Dark Warm Heart by Rich Larson Published April 12, 2017
2 stars Review Here
It has a creepy creature that I love coming across in literature, but this one isn't the best.
The Pocketbook of Sunshine and Rain by Nenia Campbell Published April 18, 2017
4.5 stars Review Here
I adored this poetry collection. There were some wonderful poems contained in here and I'm so happy I decided to pick it up.
The Awakening of Insects by Bobby Sun Published April 26, 2017
DNF- 2stars Review Here
The dialogue is forced and the writing choppy. Saw no point in finishing the story.

May Releases
A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas Published May 2, 2017
5 stars Review Here
I love, love this one. It came out during finals week and the minute I finished my final I rushed to BooksaMillion and purchased it. I flew through it so quickly. It's my personal favorite in the trilogy.
The Crime Book by DK Publishing Published May 2, 2017  
2.25 stars (subject to change when I write my review) 
I'm a huge true crime fan and the format for this is super cool, but the content was lackluster. There were some sections that I definitely enjoyed, but others that felt like something was missing. Not as a big of a fan as I hoped I would be.
Sweetlings by Lucy Taylor Published May 3, 2017
4.25 stars Review Here
This is a Tor Short worth reading. It's creepy and it tackles human evolution in a horrifying way. Highly recommend.
Hexagrammaton by Hanus Seiner Published May 20, 2017
1.75 stars Review Here
The writing is why I kept reading, but this story was very confusing. I've heard from GR friends that a reread helps to understand the story more. I'm just not sure if I want to reread it.

June Releases
The White-Throated Transmigrant by E. Lily Yu Published June 21, 2017
1.25 stars Review Here 
It wasn't an horrible Tor Short, but it wasn't a good one. I was completely disconnected from the story and I was letdown by the twist.  
The Highland Commander by Amy Jarecki Published June 27, 2017
4 stars Review Here
 I was a definite fan of this Highland romance. It was sexy, fun, and surprisingly well-researched. It fit the time period also offered a lot of drama and intrigue. My only qualm and the real reason why I can't rate it past 4 stars was the ending. It was a bit unsatisfying. 

July Releases
Too Scot to Handle by Grace Burrowes Published July 25, 2017
3.25 stars Review Here
I loved The Trouble with Dukes when I read it last year, but I found Too Scot to Handle to be an average HR without the depth that I wanted. Plus the sex scenes were cringey. Hoping that the third one will be a favorite when I get to it.
Dollface Volume 1 by Dan Mendoza & Bryan Seaton Published July 25, 2017
DNF 1star Review Here
NOPE. NOPE. NO. This is misogynistic and disgusting. It contributes to the cliche of graphic novels over-sexualizing women and helps to perpetuate stereotypes. This is trash.
August Releases
When I Am Through with You by Stephanie Kuehn Published August 1, 2017
5 stars Review Here 
 I loved The Smaller Evil when I read it last year and I was so excited when I won a First to Read ARC for another Kuehn novel. She has quickly become one of, if not, my favorite YA thriller writer. I absolutely loved this one. 

September Releases
Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust  Published September 5, 2017
5 stars  Review Here
I'm a huge fan of this Snow White Retelling. I saw it on a couple of peoples' favorites and I totally agree. It was a wonderful slow-burning fantasy novel. I highly recommend it. It's also a debut which is super exciting and proves to me that Bashardoust is an author to watch.

  October Releases
Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi Published October 31, 2017
DNF- 2 stars Review Here
This one was a huge disappoint for me. I thought I would love this magical world, but I felt frustrated by the world building and the characters. It wasn't for me. However, I think many will absolutely love this one.

Books I Want to Read (in random order)
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I'm really excited for a lot of these books and not all of the 2017 I have on my to read shelf is featured here. I own Strange the Dreamer and Winter Tide. So, hopefully I will get to those ASAP.

Overall, out of the nineteen new releases I read I rated only nine over 3 stars. I read more new releases than I thought I did, but the majority of them didn't blow me away. There were some great new releases though and a couple of them are on my favorites list of this year.

Have you read any of these 2017 releases? What were some your favorite new releases? Let me know down below in the comments!

Short Stories That I Enjoyed in the Last Two Weeks

Hey, everyone! I've been away for a while. I moved into my apartment, started my intern teaching tenth graders at a local high school, d...