Thursday, August 31, 2017

Summer 2017 Bookish Bingo - Results & Mini Reviews


BINGO!  This Summer 2017 Bookish Bingo reading challenge was hosted by Bekka @ Pretty Deadly Reviews - it ran from June (though I started a bit late) through to the end of August.  Initially, I had made my TBR for the entire board just in case.  The goal of this challenge was to get as many bingos as possible, but I'm happy earn the one because I got to read some pretty great books that I'd been meaning to get to for quite a while.  It's definitely helped me whittle down my huge TBR a bit!  Read on for my mini reviews of my bingo books:

Thriller:



❋ ❋ ❋ 

I have no idea why I put off The Cuckoo's Calling, the first book in the Cormoran Strike series, by Robert Galbraith, aka J.K. Rowling. I glad I finally decided to give it a try even if I'm four years late to the party. The mystery is tight and kept me wondering what's coming, but really I was invested in our detective and his assistant. Both Cormoran and Robin are the heart of this story - I loved their working relationship. They totally have a Perry Mason & Della Street dynamic going on which is easily one of my favorite aspects of the story. I will definitely be continuing the series on to The Silkworm. I'm also looking forward to the miniseries adaptation starring Tom Burke and Holliday Grainger.



I read this novel from August 23 - 28, 2017 and my review is also on Goodreads.


LGBT:



❋ ❋ ❋ 

Nice collection of short stories featuring one of my favorite characters of the Shadowhunter Chronicles, Magnus Bane. The first couple of stories weren't the best, but I really enjoyed all of the rest.  I particularly enjoyed getting to see more of Raphael - from how he gets his start to the character we know now - and, of course, I couldn't resist the stories featuring Alec!  Though, I have to admit, I wish the cover, if it had to feature an actor at all, would have had Harry Shum Jr.'s version of Magnus Bane.  I much prefer his performance to that of the actor's wooden performance from the movie.




I read this book of short stories from June 29 - July 6, 2017 and my review is also on Goodreads.


Free Space: 



❋ ❋ ❋ 

Brutal, brilliant, bloody - and I loved almost every second of it! I have no idea why I put off Jay Kristoff's The Nevernight Chronicle series opener. I had heard so many great things about it and luckily it did not disappoint. Honestly my mind is still reeling after everything! Mia, her not-a-cat, and Tric are all excellent characters - I have to admit that I especially loved that cat. I also wanted to know more about Mia's powers as a darkin and her abilities to manipulate shadows. The novel features great world-building. There is a map and even footnotes, which I have to admit gave really cool background information but at times the footnotes pulled me out of the narrative too much. Overall, if you're looking for an epic assassin origin story, you need this dark fantasy in your life. I can't wait to read the sequel, Godsgrave!



I read this novel from July 20 - August 23, 2017 and my review is also on Goodreads.


Royalty:



❋ ❋ ❋ 
Not quite as good as The Lunar Chronicles, but this prequel to Alice in Wonderland featuring the future Queen of Hearts is still a great reworking of Carroll's classics.  Of course, from the get go I knew things weren't going to go well at all for anyone really, but I couldn't tear my eyes away from the page.  I particularly enjoyed that the level of bizarre was up to par with Carroll - plus, it also features a few other classic fairy tales in a great way.  I liked meeting Cath and seeing all of the classic characters appear, no matter the size of their role, but Jest was easily my favorite character by far.  Like I said, I knew it wasn't going to end well, but Cath's transformation into the Queen of Hearts is certainly intriguing and gut wrenching.  I'm really excited to see Marissa Meyer's next release, Renegades.



I read this book from June 22 - 25, 2017 and my review is also on Goodreads.


Outside Your Comfort Zone:



❋ ❋ 

After finishing this novel I can definitely say that I prefer the movie adaptation more in comparison.  I don't say that often at all, but honestly I think a lot of that relies on the charisma of the talented actors, particularly James Dean as Jett Rink.  Once you make it through the first few chapters of the novel which hits you over the head with the magnitude of the state of Texas and everything in it, it certainly gets a little easier as we get to see the Leslie and Bick's relationship from the beginning.  The story does attempt to tackle heavier themes and develop it's cast, but it mostly reads like an encyclopedia entry on the development of Texas in the twentieth century.  I can't really recommend the novel, unless you want to discover the movie's source material, but the movie, although a little overlong, is much more accessible and worth your time.



Thanks for hosting this great bingo challenge, Bekka!  I'm looking forward to taking part in your future book bingos!  Has anyone else taken part in this challenge?  Have you read any of these books?  If so, how did you like them?  As always, thanks for visiting my blog and perhaps even commenting down below!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors by Curtis Craddock (ARC) - Review


❋ ❋ ❋ ❋ 

I received an eARC of this novel from NetGalley.

Isabelle is despised and neglected by her cruel father because she was born with a deformed hand and without bloodshadow magic. The neglect is fine by her because that means she has more time to follow her passions by illegally studying math and science. Although Isabelle is a princess, she doesn't believe she has any future prospects until an offer of arranged marriage to the Prince of Aragoth opens up her world. Isabelle travels from her home on Isle des Zephyrs in l'Empire CĂ©leste to the Kingdom of Aragoth with Jean-Claude, the King's Own Musketeer who has guarded since birth and is her dearest friend. Isabelle and Jean-Claude quickly learn that the two locales are quite different from one another - for one thing the people of Aragoth don't deal with things by bloodshadow but by glasswalking. The two also find themselves caught up in dangerous intrigue - the prince's previous fiancee was murdered and en route to Aragoth and Isabelle herself is nearly murdered proving that there is a plot against her. If Isabelle and Jean-Claude want to have any chance of survival, they'll need to get to the bottom of this mystery and try to prevent an oncoming war.

An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors by Curtis Craddock is an absolutely marvelous read that has easily become one of my favorite books of 2017 so far. There is so much to love about this new release, but the stunning world building, unique magic system, and outstanding characters are what really took my breath away. To begin, the world building is so complex, layered, sprawling, and absolutely immersive that I'd say it rivals the likes of The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, A Song of Ice and Fire, and Shades of Magic. I could vividly picture the world of the Risen Kingdoms. Essentially, nations are composed of floating islands surrounding a gas giant (like Jupiter) as the remains of a world destroyed long ago, and to travel between nations people sail via airships. On that note, it's clear that the Risen Kingdoms have a long and rich history that I would love to know more about in the future.

The magic system of Isabelle's world is also hooked me right away even though Isabelle herself has no magic. It's been awhile since I've seen one quite so cool that has such a rich history behind it within the novel. I don't want to give too much away, but in their religion only a few types of magic are legally sanctioned for the leading families. Two that play a major part are the ability to cast bloodshadows and to glasswalk. Bloodshadows are blood red, can feed on human life, and can enslave others by turning them into bloodhollows - this ability is particularly frightening, especially considering that the sorcerers controlling the bloodhollows can spy on their enemies using the eyes of those they've magically enslaved. Of the two, though, glasswalking, sounds both cool and convenient - sorcerers who have this ability can travel quickly by moving between mirrors - yet it could also go wrong with very dangerous consequences for the glasswalker.

Finally, I'd like to talk about our two leading characters, Isabelle and Jean-Claude, for both are the heart of the story. Isabelle is incredibly refreshing as a no-nonsense, clever, and curious young lady who has decided to take her education into her own hands when it comes to topics that are off limits to women like math and science. She even publishes scientific papers under a male nom de plume, plus she sneaks equations into her sewing and paintings. To say the least, Isabelle is a woman I could really respect and my respect and appreciation for her just continued to grow over the course of her story. As much as I loved Isabelle, though, Jean-Claude totally steals the show. Jean-Claude is a King's Own Musketeer who is incredibly loyal to Isabelle. He's protected her and been there for her as the father she's never really had since her birth. He's seen some pretty brutal stuff and he's getting a bit older - he's probably in his upper 40s - so he isn't quite what he once was, but he's the kind of person you'd want to have on your side no matter what. He's also very brave and has a cynical wit to boot.

Overall, I can't recommend An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors by Curtis Craddock enough. If you love fantasy with with a steampunk flair, epic world-building and fantastic characters, 17th century French and Spanish history, The Three Musketeers, and Treasure Planet, I have a feeling you'll love this novel, too. I can't wait to see more of this world!



I read this eARC from August 22 - 28, 2017 and my review is also on Goodreads.

Top Ten Tuesday: Hidden Gem Books In The Horror Genre


Happy Tuesday and welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish!  This week's topic is Hidden Gem Books In X Genre so it gives me a little free reign.  I'm going to share hidden horror gems this week.  Each title on my list is linked to my review.  Here we go, in order of Goodreads ratings:


Only the Dead Know Burbank by Bradford Tatum - Ratings: 72
Love classic horror films, Old Hollywood, and historical fantasy with a dose of gritty humor, then this is for you!


The Spirit Chaser by Kat Mayor - Ratings: 153
If you like Supernatural and The Conjuring, you need The Spirit Chaser in your life!


Gideon (Lauren Reardon #1) by Alex Gordon - Ratings: 321
If you like Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane, I have a feeling that you will also enjoy Alex Gordon's Gideon.


The Awesome by Eva Darrows - Ratings: 964
I expect that if Dean Winchester from Supernatural was a seventeen year old girl, he would be exactly like Maggie Cunningham, the MC of The Awesome.


Down with the Shine by Kate Karyus Quinn - Ratings: 971
Like The Awesome by Eva Darrows, Supernatural, and urban-fantasy with great comedic timing, then you need to get your hands on this.


Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto - Ratings: 1,052
Like Gail Carriger's The Parasol Protectorate, The Wild Wild West tv series, Mattie Ross from True Grit, and Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride, I have a feeling you'll love this steampunk novel!



Scowler by Daniel Kraus - Ratings: 1,200
Are you a fan of I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga, Blood Red Road by Moira Young, Cirque du Freak by Darren Shan, or Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance from Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of The Shining? Then you may very well want to check out Scowler by Daniel Kraus!


Shutter by Courtney Alameda - Ratings: 1,952
If you enjoy Dracula, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, City of Bones, Supernatural, and Ghostbusters, you will most likely enjoy this stand alone as much as I did.


And the Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich - Ratings: 2,026
If you enjoyed the atmosphere of The Others, Shutter Island, and Kurtagich's debut release called The Dead House, I have a feeling that you'll love And the Trees Crept In (aka The Creeper Man).  The audiobook production is absolutely chilling.


The Last Days of Jack Sparks by Jason Arnopp - Ratings: 2,127
If you like your scream-worthy horror laced with a sharp sense of humor, you absolutely need Arnopp's new and inventive horror in your life. I also expect that if you enjoyed Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix there's a good chance you'll like this too.



Dead Things (Eric Carter #1) by Stephen Blackmoore - Ratings: 2,460
If you like your urban fantasy on the dark side and The Dresden Files, you might get a kick out of this series opener featuring a necromancer.


Have you read any of these excellent hidden gems?  If so, how did you like them?  Do you have any recommendations for me?  Thanks as always for visiting my blog and perhaps even commenting down below!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Music Monday: Teddy Geiger & Shawn Mendes


Happy Monday everyone and welcome back to Music Monday! Let's share some songs we've been enjoying lately!  If you would like to play and I really hope you do, please see the rules and link up below.

Rules:

Every Monday share a few songs you've been enjoying lately.  It doesn't have to be a specific genre, new, or one of your favorites - just something you'd like to share with others.  If possible, share a music or lyric video of the song and your thoughts on the song(s), artist(s), and/or music video(s).

If you would like to participate in Music Monday, please join the link up by sharing your post's url.

Last week I had a real trip down memory lane and the nostalgia hit me hard - at the library I was scanning in a stack of CDs and one of them happened to be Underage Thinking by Teddy Geiger (2006).  It took me a second to place it, but I quickly remembered the lead single from the album, "For You I Will (Confidence)" - it was big stuff back during my high school days and it was a sweetly addicting song.  Anyway, I wondered what happened to the singer since I hadn't heard from him in ages.  Turns out he primarily writes songs for other artists these days - you might have heard of one of them, Shawn Mendes.  In fact, he has writing and producing credits for all of his big hits - "Stitches", "Treat You Better", "Mercy", and "There's Nothing Holdin' Me Back" (2017).  On that note, I thought I'd share Shawn's newest hit which was co-written by one of my old favorites, Teddy Geiger.  I have to admit that "There's Nothing Holdin' Me Back" has so far been the only Shawn Mendes song that I've really liked.





Friday, August 25, 2017

Mystery Blogger Award


Erica @ Erica Robyn Reads recently nominated me for the Mystery Blogger Award!  Thanks very much, Erica!  This award was created by Okoto Enigmas Blog.  Now, let's get to the tag!

The Rules:

1. Put the award logo/image on your blog
2. Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
3. Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well
4. List the rules.
5. Tell your readers 3 things about yourself
6. Share a link to your best post(s)
7. Answer the 5 questions set to you by the person who nominated you
8. Nominate 10 – 20 people
9. Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with at least one weird or funny question
10. Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog

3 Things About Myself (TV Edition):



1. I'm only really watching one new show live right now - NBC's Midnight, Texas - and I'm already hooked!


2. I'm about a quarter of the way through the first season of Veronica Mars.  I've never seen it before now, but I've always heard that it's a great series so I've had to see for myself what it's all about.  So far?  I'm liking what I'm seeing!


3. I've also just started in on 11.22.63 on Hulu - it's based on one of my favorite Stephen King books.  I like the looks of the production and I'll definitely have to stick with it.

My Best Post (By The Numbers):

The Friday 56 (With Book Beginnings): Ink and Bone (The Great Library #1) by Rachel Caine - This was posted on May 26th, 2016 and it has a whopping 3,827 views as of now! Whoa!

My Answers To Erica's Questions:

1) What is the scariest/most thrilling book you've read?


This is difficult since I've read so many scary horror and thriller books, but one that's stuck with me has been You (You #1) by Carolyn Kepnes!

2) What is your favorite book to screen adaptation?


You can never go wrong with The Princess Bride - the book or the movie!

3) Do you use your local library? If so, how often?


Well, I work at my local library, so yes, I do and nearly every day!  It's a dream and it just feeds my addiction!

4) What is your current obsession (podcast, genre, youtuber, musical artist, movie, etc.)?


I've just recently finished listening to the first season on the Britcom podcast called Wooden Overcoats - I became addicted right off the bat!  Season one has eight 30-minute episodes and I can't wait to start in on season two, plus it sounds like there is going to be a third season.  I saw it on a list of podcasts for fans of Welcome to Night Vale.  I bet you'd also enjoy it if you like Fawlty Towers and The Office.  Misanthrope Rudyard Funn and his equally odd sister run the village of Piffling Vale's only (failing) funeral parlor - it's been in their family for hundreds of years.  Their motto is to "get the body in the coffin in the ground on time" no matter what.  However, their lives are turned completely upside down when a new funeral home opens up next door run by the charming Eric Chapman.  For the first time in their "professional" lives they actually have competition - and they're on the losing side of this rivalry - and Rudyard is willing to do whatever it takes to stay in business!  Basically, imagine Basil Fawlty from Fawlty Towers if he ran a funeral home...!  You can listen to the first episode here on YouTube.  Like I said, I can't wait to start season 2!


5) Who is your book blogger role model?

There are so many great book bloggers out there that I look up to, but Alicia @ A Kernel of Nonsense tops the list!

My Nominees:

Sam @ Tsundoku
Genni @ Ready, Set, Read!
Alicia @ A Kernel of Nonsense
Greg @ Book Haven
Ashley G. @ [oddly novel title]
Sam @ We Live and Breathe Books
Carrie @ The Butterfly Reader
Rissi @ Finding Wonderland
Marilag @ Story and Somnomancy
AJ @ Read All The Things!
Amy @ A Magical World of Words
Lia @ Lost In A Story
Lys @ The Mad Reader

My Questions For My Nominees:

1. What has been your favorite read of 2017 so far, and why?

2. Dream cast your answer to number 1.

3. What upcoming book to movie or tv adaptation are you looking forward to the most?

4. If you could attend a dinner party with any five writers, actors, and/ or musicians, living or dead, who would be on your guest list?

5. Would you prefer to bring your favorite fictional characters into the real world, or would you rather be fictional with them?


Thanks again for the nomination, Erica!  As always thanks for visiting my blog and perhaps even commenting down below.

The Friday 56 (With Book Beginnings): The Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike #1) by Robert Galbraith + 50/50 Friday

 



On Friday's I take part in three weekly link ups - The Friday 56, hosted by Freda's Voice, Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader, and 50/50 Friday is a new weekly link up and it is hosted by Carrie @ The Butterfly Reader and Laura @ Blue Eye Books.  For The Friday 56, you choose a book, a book you have just finished, a book you are about to start, your current read, and share a line or a few lines that grab you (but don't spoil anything) from page 56 or 56% of the way through the ebook.  Post it and share your post's url on Freda's most recent Friday 56 post.  As for Book Beginnings, you share the first sentence or so and your initial thoughts, impressions, or whatever else it inspires, and then link up your post's url with Rose City Reader.   Then, for  50/50 Friday, every week there's a new topic featuring two sides of the same coin - you share a book that suits each category and link up on the hosts blogs.


Okay!  I'm finally taking the jump!  This week I'm spotlighting The Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike #1) by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling) - I've just recently started it and I'm already enjoying it!  I keep asking myself why I hadn't already devoured this book years ago...  Anyway, once I complete this book it will earn me (my one and only) bingo for the Summer 2017 Bookish Bingo!  Plus, have you seen the trailer for the upcoming miniseries based on the book?  It looks like it will be good - and Tom Burke, the actor playing Cormoran Strike, played Athos on The Musketeers!


Beginning: 

The buzz in the street was like the humming of flies.  Photographers stood massed behind barriers patrolled by police, their long-mounted cameras poised, their breath rising like steam.

56: (Actually taken from p. 57 since 56 is blank)

"With all the gallons of newsprint and hours of televised talk that have been poured forth on the subject of Lula Landry's death, rarely has the question been asked: why do we care?"

50/50 Friday: Book You Enjoyed With Least/ Most Pages


Least - Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way) by Sue Macy - I'm not counting picture books or anything for this category.  This however is a YA Nonfiction book that's quite fascinating.


Most - Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke - I feel like I haven't talked about how much I loved this one lately - I listened to it on audiobook and the narration by Simon Prebble is absolutely amazing!  Since I just recently did The Longest Book Tag, I decided to feature a favorite that just missed making that list since it only clocks in at 1,006 pages.


Have you read any of these books?  Thanks as always for visiting my blog, and perhaps even commenting down below!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Magical World of D.E. Night's The Crowns of Croswald

Earlier this month, I was approached by JKS Communications - Literary Publicity regarding author D.E. Night's debut middle grade novel titled The Crowns of Croswald, described as part Harry Potter, part Percy Jackson, and part Cinderella, in order to help celebrate it's July 21st release.  As you might expect that immediately piqued my interest, especially since Rowling and Riordan are a couple of my favorite authors!  Anyways, it's now time to celebrate - yesterday I received a box from the author including an ARC of her new novel, along with a few magical surprises!  This novel looks like it's going to be fun and I can wait to dive into it.  Until then, let's celebrate and check out some of these magical surprises together, shall we?

  
I have to say that this is the first time I've ever received anything like this and the thrill of opening this box was real!



This Glanagerie Bottle is really cool - the picture doesn't quite do it justice.  It's a glass bottle filled with glitter and it lights up and glows when you twist the cap on top.  Isn't that nice!


And now, the main event!  Presenting The Crowns of Croswald by D.E. Night!


Finally, here's everything together!


Have I piqued your interest?  Want to know a little more about this MG debut?  Check out the summary:
In Croswald, the only thing more powerful than dark magic is one secret... 

For sixteen years Ivy Lovely has been hidden behind an enchanted boundary that separates the mundane from the magical. When Ivy crosses the border, her powers awaken. Curiosity leads her crashing through a series of adventures at the Halls of Ivy, a school where students learn to master their magical blood and the power of Croswald’s mysterious gems. When Ivy’s magic—and her life—is threatened by the Dark Queen, she scrambles to unearth her history and save Croswald before the truth is swept away forever.
Want to find out more about the the author?  Check out her website, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.  You can also find this debut novel on Goodreads, Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, and Nook.

Thanks again to JKS Communications - Literary Publicity and D.E. Night for providing me with such a fantastic opportunity!  Like I said before, I can't wait to start reading!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Books To Complement A History Lesson


Happy Tuesday and welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish!  This week's topic is a Back to School themed freebie and I've decided to share Books To Complement A History Lesson.  Here we go, in no particular order:


Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith - Women's efforts during WWII hardly gets any page time during history class.  I would love to see this novel about the WASP incorporated on the syllabus.


A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen - This is a must read MG about a family split apart by the Berlin Wall - definitely make for interesting class discussion.


Mare's War by Tanita S. Davis - This YA novels features the African American battalion of the Women's Army Corps - another wonderful jumping off place to dive into women's involvement in WWII.


Dodger by Terry Pratchett - This would be such a fun historical-fantasy novel to include in a unit on Charles Dickens, especially the audiobook!


The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters - Cat Winters is one of my favorite new historical-fantasy authors.  She expertly blends historical fact with paranormal elements - in this case 1900s suffragette movement and a hypnotist who is the real deal - and makes them still feel timely.


Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel - Everyone learns about Henry VIII and his wives in school - this just puts a fascinating spin on the story and tells it from the perspective of Thomas Cromwell, a lawyer who was also Henry VIII's chief minister.


The Book Thief by Markus Zusak -  This YA WWII historical fiction novel is an absolute must read.  If it isn't already taught in schools, it really should be.


11/22/63 by Stephen King - This is one of my sci-fi time travel novel is one of my favorite King books and it would make an epic complement to a history lesson on JFK.


Kindred by Octavia Butler - I actually read this for a college class (not history), but I think it could be a very powerful to read in conjunction with studying about the antebellum South.


Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein - This is another YA WWII historical fiction must read.  If it isn't already taught in schools, it should be.

Have you read any of these novels?  Do you have any recommendations for me?  Thanks as always for visiting my blog and perhaps even commenting down below.