Monday, July 31, 2017

Too Scot to Handle by Grace Burrowes

Fourth and Final Book for BookTubeAThon 2017 Completed!
Too Scot to Handle by Grace Burrowes

Second book in the Windham Brides series

3.25 stars

Too Scot to Handle follows Anwen Windham, a red-headed firecracker who never gets to speak or mind due to her succumbing to near-death at a young age. Her over-protective sisters don’t allow her much freedom, but one place she is able to help is at the orphanage, The House of Urchins. Colin MacHugh sees through Anwen’s quiet nature and they find themselves at a constant battle of wits. When the orphanage faces closing down, the Windhams through a card party to raise funds to save the boys. However, Colin has made enemies in the London ton and everything surrounding Anwen and Colin is about to implode if they don’t move quick enough to uncover who is plotting against them. One word that comes to mind when trying to describe this novel is underwhelming. I adored the previous novel to the Windham Brides and couldn’t wait to dive into this one. Sadly, I found this novel incredibly easy to put down and this is not a winning factor for a Historical Romance novel. HRs need to be fast-paced and un-putdownable. When I pick up an HR, I’m expecting to fly through this novel. When I pick an HR novel with a Scottish leading hero, I’m expecting to be smitten and ready to move to Scotland. This novel fell in the middle of those expectations. I do still want to move to Scotland and find myself a kilted hottie, but I wasn’t smitten with Colin and I feel like he’s a pretty forgettable hero. This novel does, thankfully, become fast-paced and the “mystery” enhanced the pace.

The writing in this novel is a little… flaky. The opening has a nice allusion to OG historical romance novel, Pride & Prejudice, which is sure to make Jane Austen fangirls swoon, but the opening chapter is a drag. Colin’s opening PoV was jarring and didn’t grab me into the story. However, it quickly goes into alternating PoVs with a wide cast of characters outside of the primary focus. I don’t mind Burrowes style of random PoVs, but it does take me away from the central story and it can get a little redundant and cumbersome for such a short novel. The only outside PoVs that were central to this story were the “villain” and besides that one PoV, I don’t feel it was necessary to have PoVs from the orphanage, the Windhams, and the previous couple from book 1 who are now recently married and honeymooning. It’s too ambitious for a novel that doesn’t need to be overly ambitious.

Whimsical Writing: 3

Anwen is a sweet character. She has a good heart and wants to help those in need, probably because she herself knows what it is like to be absolutely hopeless and near death. However, I didn’t find her all that interesting. She’s a nice character, but that’s it. Nice. Sweet. Plain. She doesn’t really bring anything to the table for me and I’m sure I’ll forget about her until I pick up the next Windham Brides novel. There was also a feminist conversation with her sisters about how they were tired of men being considered gentlemen when their actions were far from polite on the ballroom floor. However, this conversation quickly turned from a promising moment of feminists putting their feet down and turned to gossiping about the all so swoony hero and Anwen’s romance with him.

Kick-Butt Heroine Scale: 3

Colin is also just a nice character. He was a soldier, but I didn’t really feel like he was. I’ve read HRs where the hero is a soldier and those novels really showed different facets of what a man faces. Love in the Afternoon is a perfect example of a hero suffering with PTSD and really struggling to face or fit in with society. A recent read, The Highland Commander, had an intense battle that the navy hero participated in and this really showed the risks that men enlist to in fighting for their country. Even the previous novel in this series, The Trouble with Dukes, shows how rumors about a soldier and his actions to defend his country could brand him as undesirable by polite society. However, Colin didn’t feel like a soldier. There was constant mentioning of it and his obsessive tendencies to have a regimented schedule, but it didn’t feel real. I do like Colin, but I don’t love him. He’s go the usual dashing qualities, but nothing that really stands out.

Swoon Worthy Scale: 3

The Villain- Well, I’m not sure how to express my extreme dislike for this character without spoiling several major plot points, so this section will be a spoiler section, so skip ahead past the villain scale if you don’t want to be spoiled. The Montague drama was extremely annoying. From the start, Montague is annoying, crass, and rude. Have you ever a met person who just says things that leave a bad taste in your mouth, but you don’t want to jump to conclusions about the person’s character? That’s how Montague is in this novel. Although I instantly saw him to be the dirty, conning, manipulative snake that he is and couldn’t for the life of me fathom why Colin would even stay in presence. It was obvious that they were never friends and were only using each other for different personal gains. Montague was using Colin for his money- to buy him beer- and make him look like a nice guy who is taking the wayward Scot in and showing him polite society. Colin was using Montague to learn about society and make connections. Colin was, in my opinion, wasting his time and it all came to fruition in the end when Montague showed his true colors. The true thief was obvious from the start, but that’s okay. It was still a fun “mystery”.

Villain Scale: 3.5

I love the sisterly bond between Charlotte, Elizabeth, and Anwen. There were some wonderful scenes full of love as well as annoyance. It felt authentic and it was one of my favorite parts of this novel.

Character Scale: 4

I did really like the couple in this story. They worked well together and were interesting. They don’t stand alone on their own, but as a couple they are cute. However, these cringey sex scenes have got to stop. Please don’t call orgasms rainbows. “Make me see rainbows. Make me feel rainbows.” NO THANK YOU! This novel is sure to be a hit for fans of Grace Burrowes and I do recommend it if you are a fan of The Trouble with Dukes.

Plotastic Scale: 3

Cover Thoughts: It’s kind of cringey and I don’t know why. I think it’s the dress.

Thank you, Forever Central Publishing for sending me a physical copy in exchange for an honest review.

Other Windham Brides books:
1) The Trouble with Dukes 4.25 stars 

Have you read Too Scot to Handle or The Trouble with Dukes? What are some of your favorite HR novels? Any memorable characters that you just love to gush about? I'd love to hear about them below in the comments! 

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Dollface Vol. 1- A Mini Rant


It's 2017 and I'm tired of reading graphic novels that's only purpose is sexualizing women. If your stories only features are big boobs, short skirts, and women having no minds, then you should probably not be a publishing artist. This is not quality content. This is why people stigmatize graphic novels and miss out on great pieces like Saga, Vol. 1 and Descender, Vol. 1: Tin Stars. If your first ten pages consist of sexual innuendo that could be on an episode of Family Guy, then there probably isn't a good joke anywhere to be found. I will not finishing this graphic novel or supporting it. If you want to read about boobs, women who are only meant to be paper dolls on the page, and put into situations that always happen to be sexual, then this may be for you. I personally want a good story with substance, plot, and emotion. Dollface lacks that.

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Thank you, Netalley and Diamond Book Distributors, for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. 

Are you tired of seeing certain tropes in literature that do nothing to further discussions? Let me know what bugs you down below in the comments! 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Pictures of Hollis Woods Review + Sci-fi Book Haul

Helloooooooooo, everyone! Today is day 2 of BookTubeAThon and I finished a book today (my second book completed for the read-a-thon so far). Usually I take time to contemplate and write reviews later, but I didn't take any notes on this novel because it was for children and it was so short. So, I wrote my review within hours of finishing it. I hope you enjoy my review and my Sci-fi book haul!

828084Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff

3 stars

Hollis Woods has spent her whole life running. Running from the houses she's put in under the foster care system, but also running from herself. Told in alternating points of Hollis' life- the past with a family she loved and who loved her back and the present with her current caretaker, an older woman who forgets things far too easily. Hollis is faced with the consequences of running from herself and how it has affected her confidence, psyche, and self-perception. In this novel, Giff tackles tough subjects like Alzheimer's and the effect it has on our loved ones as well as what happens when we believe the things that people tell us instead of defining ourselves. Hollis' struggle to cope with her own self-loathing at the young age of twelve-years-old portrays how adults' negatives words and admonishments shape our younger years, but also gives us hope that there are adults out there who are quick to love, cherish, and nurture the good that they see in young ones. This is a very intense story for the targeted age group, but I think it's very apt to start exposing children to these kinds of topics, especially topics like self-perception, disease infecting loved ones, and the struggle that children face with defining themselves. Giff's writing is nothing special, but it's an important story and one that has moved and affected millions. I remember how jealous I was that the higher reading group was reading the book that had a Hallmark movie coming out and my mom bought me a copy of the book after we watched the film together. I found it recently in her bedroom on a bookshelf and I instantly knew that I wanted to finally pick this one up. I'm twelve years late to picking this book up, but I'm really happy that I finally picked this one up. This isn't a groundbreaking novel for adults, but it is for children and I think that's so important.

Whimsical Writing Scale: 3

Character Scale: 3.25

Plotastic Scale: 3

Cover Thoughts: I don't particularly like the cover, but it's nostalgic for me because I recognize and know it so well.

Here are the books that I've acquired in the last couple of months in the sci-fi genre. I have two other book hauls posted so far and you can check them out by clicking the links down below.

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I've only read 1/7 of these books, which kind of sucks, but I sci-fi is a genre I have to be in the mood for, but I like to keep a lot of them on hand. I've read reviewed and made a video on Fahrenheit 451 which I gave 4 stars. 

Have you read any of these books? What are your thoughts on them? Let me know down below in the comments!


Thursday, July 13, 2017

BookTubeAThon 2017 TBR


Hi, everyone! BookTubeAThon is quickly approaching and is during July 24th through July 30th!

The challenges for the 2017 BookTubeAThon are:
1) Read a book with a person on the cover.
2)Read a hyped book.
3) Finish a book in one day.
4) Read about a character that is very different from you.
5) Finish a book completely outdoors.
6) Read a book you bought because of the cover.
7) Read seven books.

I'm a mood reader, so this TBR is subject to change or whatever. 

What books are you reading for the BookTubeAThon? Let me know down below in the comments!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Seven Tor Shorts Completed (Tor Short Challenge)

I don't know if there is a Tor Free Shorts Challenge, but I'm all up for dominating this fun collection of imaginative stories.  Tor Shorts have some of the most simple, but elaborate story lines spanning into a small amount of pages. I'm embarking on my journey to conquer these beautiful stories.The best thing is that these stories are free! FREE! Something so awesome being free is just an absolute treasure trove. These stories are short and can usually be read within 5-30 minutes and that's such an awesome thing!  If you are interested in taking on the Tor collection, let me know!
So far I've read these stories:
    Bridge of Snow by Marie Rutkoski- 5 stars because this story is set in the Winner's Curse world with an excellent fairy tale story.
    The Witch of Duva by Leigh Bardugo- 5 stars because I love Bardugo and this story was A+.
    The Too-Clever Fox by Leigh Bardugo- 5 stars because it's beautiful. 
    Excerpts from a Film by A.C. Wise- 5 stars because it's full of ghosts, old Hollywood starlets, and beautiful writing.
     All the Snake Handlers I Know Are Dead by Dennis Danvers- 5 stars because it's a stunning magical realism story.
    Red as Blood and White as Bone by Theodora Glass- 4.5 stars because the story's transitions were beautifully done, but I wanted more.  
    Little Knife by Leigh Bardugo- 4.25 stars because it's beautiful, but something felt missing. I did love the ending!
    Ponies by Kij Johnson- 4 stars because it was super creepy.
    Among the Thorns by Veronica Schanoes- 3 stars because it was sick and creepy, but I wanted more.
    The Log Goblin by Brian Staveley- 3 stars because it's a simple story.
   Friedrich the Snow Man by Lewis Shiner- 2.5 stars because it was funny, but nothing special. 
   Ecdysis by Julianna Baggott- 1.5 stars because I was confused by the story line, but appreciated the author's attempt.
   Orphan Pirates of the Spanish Main by Dennis Danvers- 1.5 stars because it was weird and not in a good way.
    meat + drink by Daniel Polansky- 1.25 stars because the pacing was choppy and the story wasn't doing it for me.
    The Last Novelist (or a Dead Lizard in the Yard) by Matthew Kressel- 1 star because I absolutely hated this story and was lost the whole time.

I have seven Tor shorts that I've devoured since April and I've come across some really interesting ones that you should check out if you love short stories.

Mental Diplopia by Julianna Baggott

4 stars

Patient Zero woke up the sound of music one day from her past. She began to experience the world in two times- the past and the present. This phenomena is known as mental diplopia, but when they tested Patient Zero's blood they didn't expect to see a virus strain. They didn't expect this to be the start of the apocalypse. This is a very beautiful story. It's quite harrowing. It left me feeling hopeful, empty, and nostalgic all at once. Baggott's writing really flows in this short story and I liked the interwoven reflections of philosophy and childhood games such as butterfly catching. The butterfly catching sequence was probably my favorite section of this story.

Whimsical Writing Scale: 4

The main female character is unnamed, but I still feel connected to the character. I did like how the romantic interest, Oliver, was named and we experienced the evolution and the decline of their relationship as the fear of the monsters goes on. It's a very interesting character study.

Character Scale: 3.5

I highly recommend checking this Tor Short out. It's simple, but it stays with you. There is a lot to reflect on while reading and after reading. That alone makes this story stand out.

Plotastic Scale: 4.5

Cover Thoughts: I love this cover, especially since it depicts my favorite section in the story.
34845675Dark Warm Heart by Rich Larson
2 stars
This is a story that I'm not sure how to describe. It's quite unsettling. A wife's husband comes back home after surviving frostbite and he becomes obsessed with transcripts that could lead him to understanding something about himself. It's a very a strange story and I wish that there had been more expansion upon the overall explanations. I can't really digest my thoughts on this without talking about the ending, so don't click the spoiler tag unless you have read or don't care about spoilers. I did enjoy that the transformation was that of a Wendigo. I remember the creature from Supernatural and it remains to be one of my favorite episodes. I also liked the ending and the implications that it held with a pregnancy and a second transformation. I do think this story would have improved if it had expanded further and didn't end abruptly. Also seeing product placement for CUTCO a product I used to sale is a little weird.
Whimsical Writing Scale: 2

Character Scale: 1.5

Plotastic Scale: 2.25

Cover Thoughts: I love the cover. It's dark, creepy and stays true to the Tor illustration style.
Sweetlings by Lucy Taylor

4.25 stars

This is a dark story. It is an uncomfortable tale about a settlement near the East Coast after the world has ended. Humans are not the dominate species anymore and generations have passed since the end. Mir lives in a world where trilobites are bigger than before. Old Four Legs have started to evolve onto land and hunt human prey. Shocking of all is the evolution of humans. The ending of this story is bleak and shows that sometimes evolution may not be as a great for the human race as we hope it will be in the future.

I was really surprised by the content of this story. It's starts out slow and meanders, but as the story progresses it feels very unsettling. It feels as though I'm watching creatures that I shouldn't be. It's disturbing, but also fascinating. Taylor has a great writing style that alludes to where this story will go from the very beginning. It's a well-done short story that I highly recommend checking out.

Whimsical Writing Scale: 4

We have three main characters: Mir, her father, and Jersey. Mir is a character who is very unreliable because she doesn't disclose anything until it is too late and must be told in the story. It makes for a very interesting format. Her father is obsessed with evolution and it takes a dark turn. The scene at the end chilled my bones and I was waiting for her to start chomping on her like she was a trilobite. That didn't happen, but it was still a very dark scene. Jersey is the boy closest to her age on the settlement and it is understood that they will produce offspring together. I find this to be very interesting that (view spoiler)

Character Scale: 4.5

Overall, I think this a Tor short worth reading. It's very bleak and doesn't offer much to hope for humanity, but it's a good story.

Plotastic Scale: 5

Cover Thoughts: I absolutely love this cover. Tor shorts have the best covers.
The Awakening of Insects by Bobby Sun
This is a short story, but the writing felt disconnected, the dialogue was forced, and I quickly lost interest in the story. I'm going to find better Tor shorts to read that won't make me feel bored while reading.

Cover Thoughts: It's pretty.
Hexagrammaton by Hanus Seiner

1.75 stars
I have no clue how to describe this story. There seems to be space, aliens, and a revolution. There's also a virus and cryptology. I have no clue what happened or what was going on. The writing was very well done and was the reason I kept reading, but the writing is also a hindrance for this story because it moves along with no cohesive flow and the plot is flying out the window- it's all over the place. Anyway, if you like scifi, you'll probably like this. It's decent, but I have no clue what happened.

Whimsical Writing Scale: 3

Character Scale: 1

Plotastic Scale: 1

Cover Thoughts: The cover is pretty, but it's not my favorite of the Tor shorts.
 The White-Throated Transmigrant by E. Lily Yu

1.25 stars

This story follows a woman who doesn't seem to have a place. She hits a bird while driving and brings it to the Kingston Ornithology Museum. She ends up helping a worker there and learns how to preserve birds. Of course, there is a slight fantasy twist because this a Tor short, but this is a very idle story. There isn't much plot or really any purpose to the story. I don't mind stories or novels that have no purpose or message to send, but this was dreary. Not dreary in a sorrowful, haunting story kind of way, but dreary in the sense of heavy-lidded eyes and boredom closing in. I didn't particularly care for this Tor short, but I'm sure it will appeal to many. This isn't a spoiler, but just my own thoughts on where I wish the story had gone. I got the feeling that Winona was a detached sociopath and I'm kind of disappointed that she wasn't. She seemed to enjoy skinning birds too much and the "twist" just didn't really fit with how she was caring out her life.

Whimsical Writing Scale: 1.5

Character Scale: 1

Plotastic Scale: 1.5

Cover Thoughts: This is gorgeous. I'd love to have a print of the best Tor covers because they have so many beautiful ones.
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)? by Neil Gaiman

5 stars
"We had fun in those days, carnage and destruction, sacrifice and damnation, ichor and slime and ooze, and foul and nameless games. Food and fun. It was one long party, and everybody loved it except those who found themselves impaled on wooden stakes between a chunk of cheese and pineapple."

I can't say that I'm a fan of Lovecraft. I like him and I've read more than ten of his short stories, but my tastes range from strong dislike to really enjoy. The only story by him that I've absolutely loved and gave a full 5 star rating to was The Colour Out of Space (which is alluded to in this story). However, I do really like Lovecrafts mythos and concepts, even if when I explain them out loud I can't keep a straight because they sound ludicrous. This is good fun. It's portrays exactly how I feel about Lovecraft. I appreciate his intellect and his world-building, but you can't help but poking fun of it. Gaiman does an excellent job of sticking to the mythos that Lovecraft has created, but also making Cthulhu a slightly humanized soul who is relaying her story to Whateley. I loved it and I laughed out loud several times. I don't recommend this to people not well-versed in the Cthulhu mythos, but if you've read a story or two by Lovecraft then you should be able to understand what is going. This is a Tor Short I definitely recommend!

Whimsical Writing Scale: 5

Character Scale: 5

Plotastic Scale: 5

Cover Thoughts: LMAO at the painting above Cthulhu's fireplace.
Read for free here:  
Have you read any of these Tor Shorts or plan to? What are some of your favorite Tor Shorts? Let me know down below in the comments! 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Horror Book Haul

Hi, everyone! I'm bringing you my second book haul in a series of book hauls. This one is specifically centered around the horror genre, but I do have a fantasy book haul that you can watch, if that's more your jam. 

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I've read 3/6 of these books, so that's pretty good. I read and reviewed My Life as a White Trash Zombie (5 stars). I read The Bazaar of Bad Dreams and reviewed it in a video (4 stars). I do plan on writing a review for this book, but that will be a while from now. I also finished Dracula a couple of days ago and gave it 3.75 stars. 

Have you read any of these books? Have any recommendations for me? 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...