Saturday, April 21, 2018

Song of Blood & Stone by L. Penelope

Song of Blood & Stone Releases May 1, 2018!
Song of Blood & Stone by L. Penelope

First in the Earthsinger Chronicles

3.25 stars

Jasminda lives close the border of Elsira and Lagrimar. She looks Lagrimarian and has the talents of their people. She is an Earthsinger—able to heal, read emotions, and control things, but her powers are weak and she limited in what she can control. She has lived life in Elsira facing persecution and now her family’s farm faces being taken away from her. When she is traveling back from the city she comes across an Elsiran man who can speak Lagrimari. This is rare and almost impossible for Elsiran to speak. He is posing as a Lagrimari soldier, but he is one the run from other soldiers who have discovered that he is a spy. He is on a mission to reseal the Mantle (the border between these worlds) and keep the Lagrimari from conquering their lands with corrupt magic. I was really excited when I won an ARC of this from Goodreads. I didn’t remember what it was about, but I knew that it had a person of color main character and was a fantasy novel, which are few and far between. This novel has a lot of strong points. It tackles topics like ingrained and systematic racism against a people, immigration and fear of people taking away the native’s jobs, food, etc., as well as focusing on the persecution interracial couples face. Although the last one isn’t a huge focus of this novel it is hinted at repeatedly and the actions of those who are meant to perpetuate an old system and distill change show that their actions may have racist intentions. The skin color of the Lagrimari people isn’t the main reason they are persecuted; they are called “grols” for their use of magic and subjected to racist comments for their difference of skin. I really loved the topics Penelope focused on and they were superbly handled. They were my favorite aspect of Song of Blood & Stone, but these positives weren’t enough to balance all the things I disliked. Also, beware of the instalove. It’s prevalent. I wasn’t sure why these characters loved each other so much, but it is there and so you kind of have to suspend belief and just go with it. The worldbuilding is superb though. Penelope does a great job of revealing enough of the world to keep the reader intrigued and reveals more and more, so that by the end everything becomes known.

Whimsical Writing Scale: 3.5

The main female character is Jasminda. Jasminda is isolated, but she is fierce. She can hold her own in a battle and when men started to try to rape her, she wasn’t afraid to slit some throats and take those misogynistic bastards down. One thing I loved about Jasminda is that she fails earlier on in the novel. She faces defeat and is disheartened because she realizes that she isn’t a very powerful Earthsinger. I’m so tired of reading about heroines who have no magic and then discover their abilities and without training are able to accomplish high-level skills. It’s ridiculous, but Penelope utilizes Jasminda’s inability as a teaching lesson. Jasminda is also able to use the cornerstone and see visions from the Queen who has been resting for centuries. I would generally be annoyed by this, but because Jasminda is half-Lagrimari it makes sense that she can view the stone (and I won’t fully explain why because spoilers). Jasminda struggles with confidence and it’s so believable. I was rooting for Jasminda for a vast majority of this novel because she wasn’t confident in her abilities.

Kick-Butt Heroine Scale: 3.5

The main male character is Jack. Jack didn’t start off on the best footing. When he meets Jasminda he compares her skin to “a confectioner’s delight” and then goes on to wonder was the last time he had eaten. Not only his sexualizing her, but just seeing her reminds him of being hungry. I just wasn’t the biggest fan of that. Now, I’m going to talk about my biggest pet peeve with Jack and the thing that ruined this novel for me, so don’t click on the spoilers. One of my most hated tropes is a secret prince/ess and the need to hide their royal bloodline from the people around them. All of a sudden, the novel shifts from survival and search, to court politics. I love court politics, but I hate when it is introduced in this way. It’s predictable and it just always leaves a sour taste in my mouth because it ensures that when they defeat the big-bad that they will have the power to change things easily. It’s overwrought and it has saturated fantasy, especially YA fantasy. I know that this is adult fantasy, but it reads a lot like YA. After this, my enjoyment for this novel decreased completely and it went from a 4-star to a 3-star read. 

Swoon Worthy Scale: 2

The Villain- The True Father is a man who has ruled Lagrimar for centuries and is able to keep his identity hidden. He rules with an iron fist and his people are oppressed and living in squalor. He is also able to use a Cantor, an Earthsinger who finds creates new spells and isn’t opposed to use blood magic. This is an incredibly interesting concept and I’m a little sad that we only got a brief look at the Cantor and then it became almost completely ignored. It was obvious who the True Father was from the moment the cornerstone visions happened, but I did like the idea.This big, bad villain who was undefeated is suddenly defeated in the most anticlimactic way. It was very unbelievable and then everything was wrapped up so nicely in a neat little bow. The Mantle dismantle and the Singers and Silents coexisting in one country despite all the prejudice between the two. I’m not convinced it will be a smooth ride for these two.

Villain Scale: 3

There is a huge cast of characters. There are the Lagrimari refugees who Jasminda and Jack run into. They don’t offer a whole lot to the story, but they do shed light on a lot of the problems the Lagrimari people face. Also, Livette, I completely abhor tropes of women in courts being out to ruin other women. Sometimes it works, but it didn’t seem to fit her domineer at all.

Character Scale: 3.25

Overall, Song of Blood & Stone has a lot of wonderful commentary on our world translated into a fantasy setting. The world is intense and it kept my interest. The plot wasn’t very strong for me and kind of went for the turn for the worst due to my own personal preferences. However, I think a lot of readers will love this one quite a bit. I just hate that one trope that is a spoiler for the novel with al my heart and I can’t rate this book high because I would be lying to myself. I wouldn't be opposed to reading other books in this series though. Penlope and the world of the Earthsong have a lot of potential.

Plotastic Scale: 3

Cover Thoughts: I love this cover so much. It has all the folklore chapter headers in the background and it just looks so beautiful. I love the look of it so much.

Thank you, Goodreads and St. Martin’s Press, for providing me with a copy that I won in a contest in exchange for an honest review.
Are you planning on checking out Song of Blood & Stone? What are some of your favorite fantasy novels with diverse main characters? Let me know down below in the comments! 

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Dimension Drift Prequel by Christina Bauer

Dimension Drift Prequel by Christina Bauer

2.5 stars

Meimi’s mom has been comatose since her sister ran away. On the morning of her birthday, her mother wakes up and her Meimi accidentally send their building into a two-dimensional drift, which is a felony in their totalitarian government, the Authority, after calling on an alien to help find her sister. Now Meimi, is on a mission to save her skin and get rid of the evidence of this drift being opened before the government can get their hands on her. I haven’t read Bauer before, but I always associated her with fluffy writing. This writing style is definitely fluffy and fun. It’s geared more towards younger audiences and uses a lot of diction that is just ridiculous. However, the concept is much more on the older side of the YA audience, so there’s a weird dichotomy of appealing to younger and older readers that I think works pretty well. Although some older readers may completely dismiss and move on, I have feeling that many will greatly enjoy this. As an adult reader who loves dystopian, it is harder to suspend belief in certain scenarios. For instance, I don’t ever see a totalitarian government that runs off the fear it incites and the absolute reverence it receives to name a school for (re)education Learning Squirrel High School and have a professor who acts like a chipper camp counselor, but contradicts the narrative with, “Today we’re going to learn about what makes people like you pathetic. Who can tell me why you’re inferior?” (Actual quote) It just doesn’t mesh well with the overall threat or what’s actually being conveyed. However, from a young adult perspective I probably would have been enthralled by this (I’m talking eleven-year-old range).

Whimsical Writing Scale: 3

The main female character is Meimi. She isn’t a bad character, but there isn’t all that much there. She is pretty one dimensional at times and all of a sudden, I’m being told by her hot new alien crush that she is special and I’m just not buying it. This girl is obviously smart, but her family all seem to be geniuses so that doesn’t seem abnormal to me. She is just kind of there and I liked her well enough, but I’m not running around screaming her awesomeness either.

Kick-Butt Heroine Scale: 2.5

The main male character is Thorne. Oh, yes. The stereotypical object name on that of an alien. Makes a lot sense. Also, this guy has some great one liners that had me laughing and rolling my eyes.
“Never be frightened of me, Rosa Meimifloria Archer.” (what a name)
“No, because, you’ve a true heart, stellar mind, and fighting spirit. Because you’re all I think about. I’d tear apart any number of universes for you.”
That last one kills me especially because he hasn’t even known for more than 48 hours. I just can’t. This guy was the worst part of this novel, mainly because I felt like he was a distraction from the actual plot.

Swoon Worthy Scale: 1.25

The Villain- Not a big bad and not that scary. I’m always told I should fear this government, but I didn’t see anything that should make me fear it.

Villain Scale: 2

Overall, this story isn’t all that bad. It’s a fun romp and it’s a quick read. If you are looking for something light and fun that doesn’t require much thought, then this is a novel I’d definitely recommend. I do think this story and the first novel as a whole have a lot of promise and I’m sure it will garner some attention and loyal fans.

Plotastic Scale: 3

Cover Thoughts: It’s nice… I guess.
Thank you, Netgalley and Monster House Books, for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Have you read Dimension Drift? What are some your favorite dytstopian novels? Do you prefer classic dystopian or YA dystopian? Let me know down below in the comments!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Best Books of the First Quarter of 2018

Hey, everyone! I wanted to do something new today. I love looking at lists and recommendations on blogs. I usually only do that at the end of the month with a wrap-up or whenever I post a video compiling the books I've read recently. However, I thought it would be fun to try something new. Today I'll be talking about the best books that I've read in the first quarter of 2018 (January-March). If I really like this post after writing it then hopefully I will continue this through each quarter throughout this year. Let's dive right in!

5 star Reads / Books That Changed My Life
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Anne Frank Remembered by Miep Gies and Alison Leslie Gold was a story that I was not expecting to emotionally impact me the way it did. This novel was beautiful and Miep Gies' personal story is inspiring and thought-provoking. Check out my review here.
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys was a novel that I knew I would love because I loved Between Shades of Gray, but this novel blew me away. It tore at my heart and made me hate and love humanity all at the same time. The characters in this story are so profound and I have a feeling their journeys will stick with me for a very long time.
Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman is an absolute 5 star read for me. It is a wonderful journey that focuses on Tess accepting her past, healing, and finding herself. I thought it was heart-wrenching and beautiful. I love this novel so much and I can't recommend it enough to fans of novels that focus on character journeys with intense themes. Check out my review here.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas made me think. It stopped me in my tracks and broke my heart. This novel is so important and it tells an important story about speaking up or keeping quiet and how sometimes you are the only voice that can be heard.
Reign the Earth by A.C. Gaughen shook me to my core. This is my new favorite fantasy series. It blew ACOTAR out of its place for me. I loved the characters so much and the story emotionally impacted and following Shalia along on her journey was inspiring and empowering. Check out my review here
  The Long Walk by Stephen King is one of my favorite King novels and it has such a thought-provoking and horrifying plot. My feet were hurting while reading this novel and this is something that I feel will stick with me forever. I don't know if it changed my life, but it did get me thinking about humanity. Although if I'm being honest, I think that is is my favorite novel of 2018 of the books that I read in the first quarter.
Almost 5 star Books/ Still a New Favorite
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An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (4.5 stars) is an audiobook that I think everyone needs to listen to. The book is wonderful and the story is strong, heartbreaking, and gives important social commentary. This story follows Ray, Celestial, and Andre three close friends at some point in their lives. Ray and Celestial get married and are in Louisiana visiting Roy's family. They decide to stay at a hotel instead of his house and it becomes one of the worst decisions of his life. One day Roy is a free man with the world at his taking and the next he is being charged with a rape he didn't commit. As Celestial and Roy are separated the loneliness of being a convict's wife becomes too much and she turns to her oldest friend, Andre, for comfort.
A Devil in Scotland by Suzanne Enoch (4.5 stars) is one my favorite historical romances that I've read in a long time. I was so invested in this plot for revenge and with the tension between this couple. Check out my review here.
The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey (4.25 stars) was almost a series I gave up on. I decided to checkout the audiobook from the library to see if it was worth finishing the series and I was greatly surprised. I know this series has its problems, especially this book, but I enjoyed this immensely. It was fast-paced and the stakes were higher. A lot happens in 300 pages. Is it as good as The 5th Wave? No, but it holds its own ground.
The Last Star by Rick Yancey (4.5 stars) is an epic ender to a trilogy. It is a slow start though, but that ending was a bang. I really loved and respected how Yancey ended the series. Highly recommend it, but don't go in with super high expectations if you loved The 5th Wave, otherwise you will be disappointed.
The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton (4.25 stars) was a wonderful novel that focuses on a generation of witches on a secluded island and the curse that plagues them. I wish that it had more generational background on each of the women in the family and their power because it would have made Nor's abilities. Check out my review here.
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank (4.25 stars) was an emotional thing to experience in audio form. It really cements Anne's reality and it makes her a real person instead of a historical figure. However, Anne is not the kindest person and some of her entries were petty and cruel. Check out my review here.

Not A New Favorite But A Great Read

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 Manga Classics: The Stories of Edgar Allan Poe (4 stars) is a great visualization to some of the most famous of Poe's work. I love Poe, but not all of his work translates beautifully off of the page. Check out my review here.
Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge (4 stars) I listened to the audiobook of this and the narrator wasn't the best, but the world was atmospheric and I loved the incorporation of Greek mythology into the world that Nyx lives in.
The Master Plan of Evangelism by Dr. Robert E. Coleman (4 stars) looks at discipleship through many lenses and is a great motivator and guide to anyone who wants to become a leader to others in Christ.
The Merry Spinster by Mallory Ortberg (3.75 stars) is a fantastic horror retelling short story collection that focuses on beloved tales in a grim light. Check out my review here.
The Sins of Lord Lockwood by Meredith Duran (3.75 stars) was a surprising treat and I really enjoyed the fact that Duran wasn't afraid to focus on darker topics. Check out my review here.

What are some of your favorite books that you read in the first quarter of 2018? Have you read any of these novels? What is a novel that I need to get to before the end of the year? Let me know down below in the comments!

Friday, April 13, 2018

Love and Death in the Sunshine State: The Story of a Murder by Cutter Wood

Love and Death in the Sunshine State: The Story of a Crime Releases on April 17, 2018
35489151Love and Death in the Sunshine State: The Story of a Crime by Cutter Wood

1.25 stars

Sabine Musil-Buehler owns a nice little hotel in Florida with her estranged husband. Sabine’s car is stolen, but she is nowhere to be found. An investigation turns up with blood on the vehicle and Sabine’s boyfriend is beginning to look like the number one suspect in this odd case. No body, but a car and an apartment covered with odd patches of blood shows that something has gone array. Cutter Wood visited this hotel once and has developed a connection to the case. Love and Death in the Sunshine State focuses on finding out what really happened to Sabine and the connection that Cutter develops with the main suspect. I can’t help but compare most true crime novels to Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood and it doesn’t help that the publishers are doing this as well. In Cold Blood is effective because it focuses on the town, the family that was murdered, and the killers before, during, and after their crimes. Wood decides to focus on a relationship and himself. The case doesn’t become the centerpiece of this story until about 50% of the way through. It made for a very boring read. I skimmed the majority of this novel because it had no pertinence to the case and I was uninterested in Wood’s own relationships. Capote never made In Cold Blood about himself, but Love and Death in the Sunshine State is all about Cutter Wood with the convenience of a connection an odd murder. Wood’s largest drawback as a writer is overexplaining. The majority of this novel consists of frivolous information that has no importance to the true crime case that is being presented as the centerpiece of this story. I’m looking at all this from the perspective the crime being the driving force of this novel and from that perspective it does a half-baked job of really laying down the facts and delving into the people that have been affected by this crime, but if I look at this novel from another perspective. The perspective that this is a story about a young man struggling with graduate school, a serious relationship, and trying to explain the connection he has to this strange case then this novel is even worse. Wood’s writing style is not strong enough to really hold itself up without the allure of the true crime mystery. I feel like I’m being harsh, but this novel was a pain to get through and because I didn’t like the writing style my enjoyment of this novel really suffered.

Whimsical Writing Scale: 1

The crime itself is fascinating and the last half of the book wasn’t all that bad to get through. In fact, Wood’s writing style became a little bit easier to get through. I won’t go too much into the plot itself because this is a true crime novel and if I tell you all about the crime then I kind of ruin the purpose of you reading this novel. I do think that the case itself is interesting and one that I’m sure many true crime will be interested in analyzing. This isn’t the worst novel I’ve ever read and it definitely has its moments, but I don’t think this was the novel for me.

Plotastic Scale: 1.5

Cover Thoughts: It doesn’t look very sunny, but it does look like In Cold Blood.

Thank you, Netgalley and Algonquin Books, for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Do you plan on reading Love and Death in the Sunshine State? What are some of your favorite true crime novels, podcasts, or documentaries? Let me know down below in the comments!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Books I've Read in 2018 #6-8

Hi, everyone! Today I'm talking about some of the books that I've read in 2018. I had a lot to say and only got to three books in this video.

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The King of Bones and Ashes by J.D. Horn - DNF 1.5 stars This one wasn't bad, but it was all over the place. I really thought this was going to be a strong witch novel, but the storytelling wasn't linear and the multiple POVs were too much. Check out my review here.
Manga Classics: The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling, Crystal S. Chan, & Julien Choy - 2.75 stars This is a collection of several of Rudyard Kipling's stories and they are a lot of fun, but there are also a lot of duds. Check out my review here.
Flawless by Sara Shepard - 1 star I hated this audiobook. I walked away never wanting to pick up another Pretty Little Liars and I'm over books that support children being preyed upon by adult men. Statuary rape is not sexy!

Recommend the Most:
Manga Classics: The Jungle Book, I guess. It's the best rated of the bunch and it has two great stories, The White Seal & Rikki Tikki-Tavi, but besides that it's not really one I'm pushing at people.
Books Reviewed: 2
Books Rated Over 4 stars: 0
New Favorites: 0
Books That Changed My Life: 0
Owned: 0
Have you read any of these novels? Do you hate the Pretty Little Liars series like I now do? Let me know down below in the comments! 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The School for Psychics by K.C. Archer

The School for Psychics by K.C. Archer

First book in the School for Psychics series

1.75 stars

This novel follows Teddy Cannon, a misfit gambler who has been banned from the casinos on the Las Vegas Strip. She can’t kick the habit especially because she owes thousands to a dangerous man threatening her adoptive parents. Teddy has never been proven to be a cheater, but her ability to tell when people are lying has come in handy at the poker table. When Teddy is offered an opportunity to attend a school for psychics, Whitfield, that trains them to be operatives in government fields it seems to good to be true. The challenge Teddy faces is to pass her exams and not get kicked out of the school that can save her from destruction. I honestly didn’t know what to expect going into this novel. It seemed like a fun novel and who doesn’t want to read about a school of psychics? However, this book is bland and not at all what I was expecting. It’s racked full of clichés. Here is an example:
“Haven’t you wondered why you can do things other people can’t?”
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This feels so much like the famous scene in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone that I thought I was reading it for a second.
The dialogue in general within this novel is incredibly mediocre and unless I was told that this was an adult novel I wouldn’t have guessed that because the writing style seems juvenile and clunky. It’s also hard to buy that some of these characters are adults because the things they say are so cringey that I was getting second-hand embarrassment. Archer’s writing style can be very fast, but it can also be slow and I found that there was no good balance between the two. Either I was flying through the pages or forcing myself to carry on. Another problem I had was that there were so many major plot points being introduced past the 50% marker. When I’m reading a novel, I love to have new things introduced, but when new major plots are being added in without hugely impacting the story it becomes frustrating. For instance, there is a whole plot introduced in the spring semester of the story where the class has to solve whether a man killed his girlfriend or not. It was too much and it did nothing for this story. The ending I found to be the hardest to get through and stay entertained. I can’t really put my finger on it, but at a certain point I felt like the story was going nowhere particularly exciting and the plot was detrimental to the characters that I felt like I had to keep reading. I found myself getting a little bored at the climax of what was supposed to be a setup for the sequel.

Whimsical Writing Scale: 2

The main female character is Teddy. I am not a fan of Teddy at all. She is the epitome of a Mary Sue. I haven’t come across many of those lately and I was starting to think that writers were moving from this 2000s writing trope, but nope. Teddy’s power is a one-of-kind psychic ability that is just oh so rare and special. Also, Teddy is selfish. I haven’t read The Magicians by Lev Grossman, but I’ve heard all the characters are unlikable and it made me wonder if Archer was trying to capture this type of character in the similar setting that Grossman used. All I know is that even characters in the novel were calling her out for only going to people to get something to serve herself instead of genuinely caring about the people around her. In fact, I highlighted three quotes of people calling her out on this and did she change? Not really. She claimed she did, but I surely didn’t see that in her actions.

Kick-Butt Heroine Scale: 1

The Villain- I called it from the beginning of the missing blood vials. It was obvious and nobody saw it, which is completely baffling since these are all highly trained government specialists. I just don’t buy that the dean of the school didn’t see what was so stinking obvious and in everyone’s faces. Obviously, if this is the case the government is failing and everyone needs to be fired.

Villain Scale: 2

There is a wide cast of characters. The school is divided into Misfits and Alphas. Teddy and all her friends are misfits because they have never utilized their powers for success and have felt more like outcasts because of them. It makes sense that there would be two types of people who would utilize their powers, but none of the characters really stuck out to me. All of the characters were clichés of their ability. For instance, one of the characters that Teddy has a one-night stand with is a pyrokinetic and he is angsty and emo. Every pyrokinetic in film is angsty except for Charlie from Firestarter who was angry and vengeful and she was the best. Teddy’s roommate can also talk to animals and she is your stereotypical hippie who does yoga in the nude. Molly, an integral character, is a hacker and an empath. She exhibits all the usual hacker clichés, but it is amped up because of her inability to escape everyone else’s emotions. It’s hard to appreciate characters when they all represent an archetype and never expand past what the author presents to us. Then there is Clint, the dean of the school, and he feels like a younger Dumbledore and I just wasn’t buying him. Also, Teddy sleeping with her professor was just awkward and unnecessary.

Character Scale: 1.75

Overall, The School for Psychics had promise, but I wasn’t all that extremely impressed with it. I wish that I had enjoyed this novel more than I did, but this novel just wasn’t for me. I would, however, recommend it to fans of special schools that focuses more on the actual school.

Cover Thoughts: That giant blown up face in the middle of a pretty background ruins this cover for me.

Thank you, Netgalley and Simon & Schuster, for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Have you read The School for Psychics? Do you plan to? What are some of your favorite schools for extraordinary students? Let me know down below in the comments!

Sunday, April 8, 2018

March Reading Wrap-Up + A TBR

Hi, everyone!! I hope you had a lovely March! The month of March was hectic for me. It was incredibly busy school wise. It was also the mark of the end of the 2018 winter guard season and it is always incredibly busy when it comes to an end. I also participated in a social media fast and you can see a daily tracker of my thoughts and pages read here.

Books Read in March:
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the witch doesn't burn in this one by amanda lovelace - 3 stars This poetry collection follows a lot of current thoughts on feminism but places it in the context of the witch burnings. It feels very reminiscent of The Crucible. lovelace has a lot of good poems in this collection, but there were a couple where the diction rubbed me the wrong way. Check out my review here. (Netgalley ARC)
The Sins of Lord Lockwood by Meredith Duran - 3.75 stars This was a complete surprise and a novel that I found randomly on Netgalley. I'm so glad that I randomly decided to request this one because it was dark. Lockwood is captured and shipped to Australia and is forced into labor at a worker's camp. This HR focuses on PTSD as well as topics and themes that are generally ignored in the HR genre. I'm a huge fan of revenge plots and it always ramps up my enjoyment of the novel if it's there. Check out my review here. (Netgalley ARC)
You Know How the Story Goes by Thomas Olde Heuvelt - 4 stars This story feels like a creepypasta and I love creepypastas. So, naturally, I love this story and it's free on Tor's website. Check out my review here (link to story in review).
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline - 3.75 stars I listened to the audiobook of this one and I must admit if I was reading this book I would have DNFed. I absolutely can't stand Wade as a main character and his progression gets worse and worse as the story goes on. I loved the Oasis and the hunt for that these players goes on and it was hands down what made me enjoy this story instead of despise it. However, the ending sucks and I'll probably end up deducting this rating as time goes on. 
The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton - 4.25 stars I was so excited when I found out that Walton was finally coming out with another YA novel. I really loved the concept and it was fun to follow this group of witches. I really loved it, but I had so many questions that I wanted answered and it wasn't as amazing as I hoped it would be. Check out my review here. (Netgalley ARC)
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank - 4.25 stars This was my first time reading this one and I have always wanted to read it. Since finishing Anne Frank Remembered in February, I kept thinking about the Franks and their story. I knew that I needed to finally read her story and the audiobook is absolutely stunning. The narration makes this story so personal and real. Check out my review for both The Diary of a Young Girl and Anne Frank Remembered here.
The Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert E. Coleman - 4 stars I finished my leadership training class in March and with that came finishing the novel that was assigned for us to read independently while in the course. I really enjoyed a lot of the chapters and the messages that Coleman discusses in this one. Definitely glad that I read it!
The Merry Spinster: Tales for Everyday Horror by Mallory Ortberg - 3.75 stars This short story collection had a lot of gems that I greatly loved. My favorite was the story about the Velveteen Rabbit who begins to suck the Realness out of the little boy who owns him and as he becomes more real the little boy begins to die. However, there are also a lot of busts, but they didn't completely ruin this collection for me. Check out my review here. (Netgalley ARC)
The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey - 4.25 stars I immediately bought the hardcover of this book when I finished The 5th Wave three years. I haven't touched since because I've heard how much people have hated this one. My library had the audiobook and I decided to take the plunge and finish the trilogy. I knew this wasn't going to be as good as The 5th Wave because that novel was a phenomenal novel for me. However, I don't think the flack this book gets is completely warranted. I am a huge fan of Yancey's writing style and the plot went where I wanted it to. The only problem I had was Ringer. I'm not a huge fan of her and at first, I hated her story and where it progressed to, but now it doesn't bother me as much.
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones - 4.5 stars This novel follows a black man and his newlywed wife and the journey that they are forced to embark on when Ray is accused of raping a woman and is sent to prison. It follows Ray's struggle through prison, Celestial's struggle with being a wife without a husband, and Andre Celestial and Ray's friend who has always been in love with her. The audiobook is amazing and I can't recommend listening to this enough! It was spectacular and as someone who is a native of Louisiana, Ray's accent was spot on. It doesn't get a full 5 from me because there was a time when these characters were making me so angry that I almost quit listening. LOL
The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon - 2 stars Once upon a time, Jamie and Claire were my favorite couple in literature and their story was one that I gobbled up ravenously. However, The Fiery Cross completely decimated my love for this series. This book was too long and had no real purpose. Almost all of this book could be taken out and you would still get the full scope. Half of it wasn't important to the actual story and it was just a whole lot of exposition and crap I couldn't care less about. I will no longer be reading the Outlander books.
 The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton - 3 stars DNF I was so excited for this one because it is a retelling of King Lear. However, the writing was too flowery and the world building wasn't as wonderful as I thought it would be. The characters were the best part of this novel, but my copy was only a sampler and the sampler that was 100+ pages and felt like 500 wasn't compelling enough for me to want to continue. Check out my review here. (Netgalley ARC)
The Last Star by Rick Yancey - 4.5 stars This one started off a little rocky, but picked up and sucked me. Y'all I loved this ending! It blew me away. Yancey went there and it made sense. I was shocked and happy that he went there because it was ballsy and freeing. So happy that I finished this trilogy. I hope to review the entire trilogy sometime this month.

2018 Goals
 -I want to finish at least three series (five doesn't seem doable). YAAAS 1/3 
*I finished The 5th Wave Trilogy with reading two novels!
-I want to read five sequels (I don't have to finish the series). 4/5 
*Flawless by Sara Shepard is book 2 in the PLL series. 
*The Infinite Sea and The Last Star by Rick Yancey are the 2nd and 3rd book in The 5th Wave series.
*The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon is the fifth book in the Outlander series.
-I also want to read four short story collections. COMPLETED 5/4 
 *Harry Potter and Philosophy. 
*Manga Classics: The Jungle Book
*Manga Classics: The Stories of Edgar Allan Poe.
*The Merry Spinster
-I want to read three classics that are not Stephen King novels. COMPLETED 5/3 
*Manga Classics: The Jungle Book
*Anne Frank Remembered
*The ABC Murders
*Manga Classics: The Stories of Edgar Allan Poe
*The Master Plan of Evangelism (Christian Classic)
-I want to read five Stephen King novels (I've already read one in 2018). 1/5  
*The Long Walk (5 stars)
Read 2018 ARCs. Read 12/14!
Books I Posted on End of the Year Survey. YES! 1/18
*The Fiery Cross 

Overall Thoughts:
I read 13 books in March! That's a lot and is a little bit more than I usually read in a month. I didn't read any 5 star novels which is kind of sad, but I did read some novels that I enjoyed and was completely surprised by An American Marriage! It deserves all the love it has been getting. Also I finished a series and finally finished the 1443-page novel, The Fiery Cross, that I've been reading since January 4th. I also finished four novels that were on my want to finish for March which is super exciting!
Currently Reading/ Hoping to Finish in April:
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Already Finished: I Have Lost My Way, School for Psychics, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, and Gerald's Game
Netgalley ARCs: School for Psychics, Love and Death in the Sunshine State
First to Read: I Have Lost My Way
Physical ARC: Song of Blood & Stone (won from GR!)
I'm still currently reading A Wilderness Station, Helter Skelter, Against Forgetting, A Darker Shade of Magic, Amity, and rereading East of Eden. I started reading Song of Blood & Stone and Love and Death in the Sunshine State. I also started listening to The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.

Books I'm Thinking About Picking Up:
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For April ARCs, I have Dimension Drift and it's only 125 pages. So, I'll give it a go. The Mars Room and The Luck of the Bride release on May 1 and I'd like to get to them both, but I don't know if I'll get to both of them. Hooked on a Phoenix is an ARC from March that I'd like to pick up. Out of these I'm most excited for The Mars Room. It was already on my TBR and when I saw it on Netgalley and got approved I squealed a bit!
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I'm on hold for these books at my library and I'm hoping that I get to all of them in April!
I read The Hollow when I was in middle school and it was one of my favorite novels. I've been meaning to continue with this series since the second book came out I bought it the month it was released and still haven't continued. Y'all, Neil Gaiman narrates Coraline and I'm 100% here for that. I've been on hold for what feels like forever and I can't wait for this to finally become available for me. I'm going to give the Percy Jackson series a shot, but I don't know if I'll like it or not. I've always wanted to read The Chronicles of Narnia. In fact, when I was in fourth grade I started reading Prince Caspian, but it's hard to jump into a series and I never finished it. Peter from Peter Likes Books had such high praises for The Woman in the Window and its audiobook that I knew I needed to pick it up! I'm number 23 on the waiting list, but my library has 8 copies, so I may actually get to this one. Murder in the Bayou hits close to home and when I worked in traveling sales I went to Jennings and met a man who told me about the corruption in Jennings. I was interested and did some research, turns out there is a famous true crime novel revealing the corruption in a small town overrun by drugs.
Books I Own:
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I've been meaning to finish the Burn for Burn trilogy forever and since I bought this book during Black Friday from Book Outlet it has been staring into my soul. Ashes to Ashes is going to be my next read for sure! I really want to read You. I've had this one for a while now (probably a year) and I always want to read it, but when it comes to books I really want to read I sometimes take forever to get to. I haven't read a Vonnegut book since I was a senior in high school. What is wrong with me? My parents gifted me with God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater for Christmas and this is one that I must read soon! I'm going to say that The Shining is going to be my next King read, but if I'm honest I never know what King I'm going to pick up next and that's what makes him so much fun!

What did you read in March? Have you read any of these books? What are your thoughts on any of these books? Love it, hate it, or can't be bothered? 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...