Thursday, January 28, 2016

Cress...and Winter

Author: Marissa Meyer
Info: Feiwel & Friends, copyright 2014, 550 pages

In this third book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who's only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.

~Goodreads Description

Info: Feiwel & Friends, copyright 2015, 824 pages

Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend—the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.

Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters?

~Goodreads Description

I loved this series!  And, faithful readers, I FINISHED this series!  This is huge, because it hardly ever happens.

Meyer has created a Cinderella retelling that features fierce, independent, intelligent women who are willing to fight for what they believe in despite the forces that stand in their way.  And they're surrounded by fierce, independent, intelligent men who let them.  Which is also awesome.

Cress and Winter are the third and final installments in this epic tale.  Cress introduces us to our Rapunzel character, a young Lunar woman held captive in a satellite and being used a spy.  And in Winter we get to know the princess of Lunar (Snow White) and the stepdaughter of the evil queen Levana.

There's intrigue, revolution, and a couple of intense battles that bring the story to a satisfying conclusion.  It wrapped up a little too nicely for my liking, but I'm never really going to complain about a happy ending.  I just usually want someone to die.  Which is weird, I know.

Quick recap:  Cinder is a cyborg living in New Beijing.  She's our Cinderella, living as a servant in her adopted mother's home.  A plague is sweeping across the world, and Prince Kai, heir to the empire, is looking for a cure.  Levana, queen of Lunar, has said cure, but it comes at a cost.  She wants to marry the Prince and become, one day, the Empress of New Beijing.  But Cinder isn't who she thinks she is, and there are forces across the world who are willing to go to fight against the unholy union.

If you're a fan of audiobooks, Rebecca Soler does a fantastic job.  I read Cinder, but then listened to the rest and enjoyed every minute.  It's a fresh, creative retelling of a well known fairytale favorite, and I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Top 10 Movies from the 80's

Top 10 Reasons Why Movies from the 80s Totally Rock
(Feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

It's a freebie week!  I usually head to the movies on freebie weeks, because as much as I love to read, I LOVE getting lost in a good movie.  I love to talk about my favorites.  I love arguing about who made the best Batman or whether not Die Hard should be considered a Christmas Movie.  I love movie trailers and playing six degrees of separation.  The movies don't always get it right (especially when it comes to the books-to-movie craze), but sometimes they do, and in the 80s, they so often got it very, very right.

If you were to ask me to list my favorite movies of all time (which I'm more than happy to sit down and have that conversation with you :), 90% of them hail from the good old 1980s.  Picking just ten was extremely hard, but I managed.

What's on your list?

1) Sixteen Candles

2) The Princess Bride
3) The Goonies
4) Back to the Future

5) Ghostbusters

6) Willow
7) Clue

8) Labyrinth

9) Bull Durham

10) Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark

But let's not forget Ladyhawke and Field of Dreams and Beetlejuice and Terminator and Ferris Bueller.  Yeah.  I'll stop there so I don't drive you away, but people, I'm always up for an 80s movie night - with themed snacks of course.

Happy reading (and watching!)!

Monday, January 25, 2016


Author: Gena Showalter
Info: Harlequin Teen, 480 pages, copyright 2016
Netgalley Advanced-Reader-Copy
Release Date : February 23, 2016




Tenley “Ten” Lockwood is an average seventeen-year-old girl…who has spent the past thirteen months locked inside the Prynne Asylum. The reason? Not her obsession with numbers, but her refusal to let her parents choose where she’ll live—after she dies.

There is an eternal truth most of the world has come to accept: Firstlife is merely a dress rehearsal, and real life begins after death.

In the Everlife, two realms are in power: Troika and Myriad, longtime enemies and deadly rivals. Both will do anything to recruit Ten, including sending their top Laborers to lure her to their side. Soon, Ten finds herself on the run, caught in a wild tug-of-war between the two realms who will do anything to win the right to her soul. Who can she trust? And what if the realm she’s drawn to isn’t home to the boy she’s falling for? She just has to stay alive long enough to make a decision…

~Goodreads Description

I read this one because I liked the cover.  You have to admit, it's pretty spectacular.  And then I started to read...and I had NO idea what was going on.

Hopefully I can give a fairly coherent summary.  From what I gathered, there is Firstlife - which is basically now.  The humans in this particular tale are living their "Firstlife" on Earth, in the present.  Then there is "Everlife" which is a second life, or an afterlife.  And people have choices.  You can 1) choose to side with Myriad during your Firstlife and pledge allegiance to a realm that believes in indulgence and bliss, or you can 2) choose to side with Troika, known for its structure and conformity  and its belief in right and wrong.  Or you can 3) choose not side with anyone and end up in "Many Ends" which is a purgatory/hell where you die over and over again.

Ten is special.  Both sides want her.  But she's also stubborn and confident, wanting to make the decision on her own.  Now she's embroiled in a war between the realms and must fight for her life, and the life of her friends, to maintain her right to make her own choices.

It's not a great summary, but it's kind of a confusing book.

Here's what I liked - I liked Ten.  She's strong and determined, but she's still flawed.  Despite the hardships her life has brought her, she is loyal and steadfast.  I really appreciated the time she took to make the decision she could live with.  She didn't let th people around her sway her decision.  She wanted it to be hers and she fought like a lion to make sure that happened.

I liked the dark, mysterious, bad-boy (even though he fit every stereotype), but his name was Killian and he had an accent.  That's about all I need to be smitten.  I liked that there was another boy (and the his name was Archer) and the this wasn't really a love triangle.  Archer was just a good guy who always gave Ten the benefit of the doubt.

Taking into account that this was an advanced-reader's copy that needed some editing, I did think there were a few inconsistencies in dialogue and tone.  Killian's accent was only sometimes there, Ten's inner dialogue was clunky at times.  But Showalter does an excellent job creating a world that stimulates the imagination.  I could easily imagine the here and the here-after.  And while I wouldn't put this down as one of my favorite series ever, I do want to know what happens next.  There's a pretty decent cliffhanger.

If you're looking for a crush-worthy fictional boyfriend and a story that challenges your sensibilities, check out Firstlife by Gena Showalter.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Talkin' Books at Teen Talk : January 2016

It's our first Teen Talk of 2016!  This month we're talking about our favorite books of 2015 and what we're looking forward to in 2016.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

And so she started to write... A Time for Daring, Part II

[Obligatory reminder:  This is a quickly and unedited piece of fiction :)]  

Maybe by the end of this year I'll be a little more confident in my writing and sharing abilities.  And maybe, by the end of this year my stories won't be quite as sappy... I make no promises though.  I like sappy.  And as my writing buddy over at Book Plots & Polka Dots pointed out - there are plenty of authors who have found success being overly sentimental.

A Time for Daring, Part II (Click here for Part I)

She pulled the messenger bag over her head and laid it down beside Will.  Slowly she gazed up at the tank, following the grated ledge all the way around.  When she got back to where she started, the bag of jelly beans was sitting on Will’s lap and his fingers were sticky with melted sugar.  She had learned early to always travel with jelly beans.  Jelly beans, the Adderall for twelve year old geniuses who were often a little too excited.

“So what’s the plan?” Will asked, bringing Maggie out of her head and into the present.

“The north side of the tower will be seen by the most people.  It faces the factory.  I say we put the mural on that side,” she said, pulling out a can of purple spray paint.

“We’re calling it a mural now, are we?  You do know your ‘mural’ is just glorified graffiti, don’t you?  Remind me again why we couldn’t just toilet paper someone’s house like all of the other miscreants that roam the hallways each day?” Will said stuffing his mouth with a handful of jelly beans.  

“Didn’t your mother ever tell you not to talk with your mouth full?” Maggie asked, motioning for him to wipe off the thin line of drool that seeped down his cheek.  “Toilet papering someone’s house isn’t extraordinary.  I’m through with living a life of quiet desperation.  I’m breaking out, Will.  This is me breaking out.”

“I don’t understand you,” he muttered.

“You don’t have to.  This isn’t for you.  This is for me.  You chose to come on this little adventure.  All I ask in return is for your support,”  she continued to shake the can of spray paint and made another trip around the tower, studying the side of the tank, pretending it was a canvas and she was a painter.

When she reached Will again, he was holding the bag of jelly beans toward her.  

“Seeing as how you are my only friend, it’s the least I can do.”

She grabbed a handful of the bite-sized treats, sorted through them, and placed all of the green ones in Will’s outstretched hand.  It broke her heart a little that he wasn’t joking.  She was his only friend, this lonely boy genius.  And he had just climbed a water tower for her.  On comic book day.

“You do realize this is just a little bit cliche,” Will said, stuffing the whole handful of green jelly beans in his mouth.  “Discontented high school student climbs to the top of a water tower in a small town, ready to leave her mark.  I’m pretty sure this exact scene is in a movie somewhere.”

“You’re probably right.  You’re always right, Will.  But that’s okay.  This is about being bold and brave and willing.  I don’t really need to be original.  Purple first?”

“Purple first.”

It only took her five more minutes in her ridiculous high heel shoes to cast them off and brave the grates barefooted.  It just seemed like a wise life choice all the way around.   It would really suck if she fell off a water tower because her heel got stuck in a hole while she was trying to be extraordinary.

Maggie emptied the purple can of spray paint, and Will dutifully passed along a new color, all the while keeping watch over their quiet little town in case anyone decided to look up at the water tower on this particular afternoon.

She was extremely thankful he was there for just a brief second when he stopped her from making a critical spelling mistake.  That’s not quite the kind of mark she was intending to make on the town.  After the better part of an hour, and four empty cans of spray paint, the mural was complete.  It was by no means a masterpiece.  In fact, up close, it kind of looked like gibberish, but Will assured her that what they really needed was just a new perspective.

He was only kind of right.  When they reached the bottom of the ladder and slowly backed up about a hundred paces, she could finally read her sign clearly, sort of.  It was very obvious that her arms had gotten tired about halfway through.  She had painstakingly outlined the letters in the first word with multiple colors, but by the end, the text was hilariously small and skinny.

Maggie began to wonder if her level of extraordinary left something to be desired.  Will insisted that they get rid of any evidence that could implicate them in their crime, so they tossed the empty cans of spray paint into the dumpster behind the 7 Eleven on their short walk home and waved goodbye to one another on the corner of Simpson and Holly Grove.

When she got home, Maggie climbed the stairs up to her bedroom, past her favorite pair of green Chuck Taylors, and immediately pulled off the uncomfortable blazer and skirt for a more relaxing pair of sweatpants and her favorite “What would life be without Mr. Darcy” t-shirt.  Then she glanced over at the alarm clock next to her bed.  It was only five o’clock.

She spent the next forty-five minutes pacing down the upstairs hallway waiting for her phone to ring or to hear a knock on the front door letting her know that she had been caught and was going to be carted off to jail.  Then she decided to get her homework done and make some dinner before her dad got home just in case she needed to be in his good graces.

At seven o’clock she heard the back door open and her dad toss his keys into the bowl sitting on top of the fridge.

“Something smells good, Mags!” Maggie peeked around the corner and watched as he dipped a spoon into the gravy and sighed with contentment.  “Breakfast for dinner.  My favorite.”

He started setting the table as she pulled the biscuits out of the oven.  They filled their plates and then took their usual seats across from one another at the kitchen table.

“Sorry I forgot to drop off your shoes, kiddo.  I got called in a little early and it totally slipped my mind,” he said continuing to sigh with each bite.

“That’s okay,” Maggie muttered, pushing her food around her plate.  “I managed to not take out anyone on the stairs today.”  

And then they fell into silence.  She couldn’t tell if it was an awkward silence or a silence of contentment.  Usually they shared stories about their day at dinner.  Her dad would talk about his paperwork, and she would fill him in on the awkward thing Will said in the library as he was tutoring the football quarterback.  It was their routine, and Maggie couldn’t help but notice that this dinner was anything but routine.

Finally, her dad pushed his now empty plate aside, pulled his badge off his belt, tossed it on the table, folded his hands in front of him and looked intently across the table at her.

“So dinner waiting for me when I got home.  And not just any dinner.  My favorite dinner.  And something tells me you probably have all of your homework done already too.  Am I right?”

Maggie just nodded and took a sip of her glass of orange juice.

“Interesting thing happened at the water tower this afternoon.”  He leaned down and attempted to look her in the eye.  Maggie wished that she hadn’t eaten so many jelly beans.  The sugary candy churned and curled in her stomach and the smell of biscuits and sausage gravy was starting to make her nauseous.  Darn that Will and his candy habit.  

And here was the moment that Maggie had been waiting for the whole afternoon.  The moment when her father, the Sheriff of Mt. Pleasant, realized that his child was a delinquent and shipped her off to military school so that she could be cured of her wicked ways.

“‘There’s a time for daring and there’s a time for caution, and a wise man understands which is called for,’” the Sheriff quoted.  Maggie looked up into her father’s eyes and saw him beaming back at her.  “It’s about time, kiddo.”

And deep down, this was the moment that Maggie had expected the whole afternoon.  She was sitting across from a man who filled his school’s pool with jell-o when he was eighteen.  A man who chained himself to a beloved oak tree scheduled for the chopping block when he was twenty-six.  And a man who told his daughter every day to live a life of passion and inspiration.

“There’s a bucket and some sponges by the back door.  I’ll give you two a week to bask in your glory, then that water tower is going to need to shine like new.  Consider that your community service.”

Maggie realized that she might just live an extraordinary life after all.  She would bask in her moment.  She would walk through the park every day after school for the next week to enjoy the view.  She would remember the rush of doing something unexpected, and she would find a way to live that life of passion and inspiration.  And she would buy Will an extra bag of jelly beans as atonement for his help cleaning up her life lived deliberately.

“Oh Captain, my Captain.”

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

And so she started to write...A Time for Daring

I set a challenge for myself to write and post a "short story" based on a writing prompt at least once a month.  This absolutely terrifies me.  I'm a librarian who enjoys writing, but I know that I'm not really a writer.  I'm a dreamer.  Not a storyteller.  But they say you have to practice to hone any skill, so here I am...honing my writing skills and putting myself (and my words) out to the world.  This is me stepping out of my comfort zone.

So here we go...Part I of my first "short story".  Part I only meaning that I haven't quite completed said story - but if I post the first half I'll feel obligated to finish.  A quick write with little editing (and just so we're all being upfront with one another - you're going to see that preface every month :)

I hope you enjoy (or at the very least I hope you don't cringe too very much).  And I hope you find something that pushes you this year!

Prompt: "If we get arrested, it's your fault."

A Time for Daring

It had seemed like a good idea at first, but now, hanging precariously on the side of a water tower in high heels with a messenger bag full of spray paint and jelly beans, Maggie was starting to believe otherwise.

“If we get arrested, it’s your fault.”


“We had a deal.  I let you come, and you don’t get to whine or make me crazy,” she growled.

Confidence was the key to any good prank.  Confidence and a slight simmering anger to keep your heart pumping and your feet moving forward.  Maggie was hoping it was also enough to keep herself from throwing Will off the top of the tower.

The truth was that Maggie was not a prankster.  She was a terrible liar and a bit of a goody-goody, going as far as to ground herself in the third grade when she had forgotten to put her bike in the garage one night. Her parents hadn’t even noticed.

Maggie picked up her pace, yelling at Will to hurry up.  Her confidence was quickly waning and the slight anger was turning to panic the further she climbed.

As for Will...he was a twelve-year-old junior in high school who had become her constant shadow after she found his lost library book in the cafeteria and returned it before it was overdue.  Yeah.  He was that kind of kid, and he was most definitely not the person to take on a surreptitious mission.

Maggie was determined to not be herself for one night.  Just one night.  She would throw caution to the wind and prove to everyone that she could suck the marrow from life.  Yes, she had been reading too much Thoreau.  And, yes, she had maybe gotten a little too into Dead Poet’s Society (“Go on, lean in.  Listen, you hear it? -- Carpe -- hear it? -- Carpe, carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.”)  But she needed a moment to be wild and free.

Climbing up to the top of a water tower wouldn’t make her life extraordinary.  Deep down, Maggie knew that.  But she had to start somewhere.  She had to leave her mark on this night.  In this town.  Just this one time.

As for the high-heels...she would just have to blame that on her father’s inability to follow simple instructions.  She had accidentally left her favorite pair of green Chuck Taylor’s on the stairs that morning, and he had promised to drop them off at school during her lunch period.  Maggie’s Communications teacher required business attire for each presentation, and she had meant to bring a change of shoes (she was not known for being graceful walking up the school stairs - which explains the Great English Hallway Massacre of 2014), but she was always running out of the house at the last minute each morning, chasing the bus down the street, hoping to catch it at the next stop.

Maggie grabbed hold of the railing and pulled herself onto the grated ledge that circled the water tower.  She could hear Will mumbling about it being Wednesday and comic book day under his breath as he finished the climb.  When he finally joined her at the top, he sat down, panting, and leaned back against the tank, staring out over the trees.

Sometimes Maggie forgot he was only twelve years old.  He was smart.  Much smarter than she would ever be.  And he didn’t have to pretend to be confident.  Confidence just comes with the territory when you’re a child genius.  But he was really just a kid.  A kid tired, and scared, and wanting his new comic books. He could solve advanced math problems in his head in mere seconds. And he could also regale you with the complete history of Superman and his many incarnations.

Maggie leaned against the railing and looked out over Mt. Pleasant.  The town looked so small from atop the water tower.  It was small, but she could almost forget how small if she tilted her head and squinted just like you would at a Christmas tree.  The lights seemed brighter and the streets full of life, especially if she closed her eyes and she let her imagination wander.

It was time to be extraordinary.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Top 10 Books I've Recently Added To My TBR List

Top Ten Books I've Recently Added To My TBR List
(Feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

My list didn't look that peculiar in Goodreads, but compiled on this here blog, I think it's going to make for an interesting year of reading :)

What have you recently added to your TBR list?

My Lady Jane
1) My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand
"For fans of The Princess Bride comes the comical, fantastical, romantical, 
(not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey."

The Steep and Thorny Way
2) The Steep and Thorny Way by Cat Winters
"A thrilling reimagining of Shakespeare's Hamlet, The Steep and Thorny Way tells the story of a murder most foul and the mighty power of love and acceptance in a state gone terribly rotten."

Revenge and the Wild
3) Revenge of the Wild by Michelle Modesto
"Westie was only a child when she lost her arm and her family to cannibals on the wagon trail.  Nine years later, Westie may seem fearsome with her foul-mouthed tough exterior and the powerful mechanical arm built for her by Nigel, but the memory of her past still haunts her.  She's determined to make the killers pay for their crimes - and there's nothing to stop her except her own reckless ways."

The Fair Fight
4) The Fair Fight by Anna Freeman
"...a vibrant tale of female boxers and their scheming patrons in 18th-century Bristol."

Falling for Alice
5) Falling for Alice by Various Authors
"New Alice. New Wonderland. New stories to love."

Airships of Camelot
6) Airships of Camelot by Robison Wells
"Mankind has been all but wiped out by a Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918.  To escape disease, 
U.S. Navy officers took to their airships in search of isolated places to hide their families and make a new life.  But now, three generations later, all of the Admirals must pay fealty to Sir Ironside, the man controlling the national helium reserve, paying him with plunder they've stolen from the savage tribes of survivors left on the ground."

The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath (The Peculiar Adventures of John Loveheart, Esq. #1)
"1888. A little girl called Mirror and her shape-shifting guardian Goliath Honeyflower are 
washed up on the shores of Victorian England."

8) Wax by Gina Damico
"Paraffin, Vermont, is known the world over as home to the Grosholtz Candle Factory.  
But behind the sunny retail space bursting with overwhelming scents and homemade fudge, 
seventeen-year-old Poppy Palladino discovers something dark and unsettling: 
a back room filled with dozens of startling life-like wax sculptures, 
crafted by one very strange old lady."

The Native Star (Veneficas Americana, #1)
9) Native Star by M.K. Hobson
"In the tradition of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, this brilliant first novel fuses history, fantasy, and romance.  Prepare to be enchanted by M.K. Hobson's captivating take on the Wild, Wild West."

Yes, My Accent Is Real: and Some Other Things I Haven't Told You
"Of all the charming misfits on television, there's no doubt Raj from The Big Bang Theory - the sincere yet incurably geeky Indian-American astrophysicist - ranks among the misfittingist.  
Now, we meet the actor who is every bit as lovable as the character he plays on TV."

Wednesday, January 13, 2016


Author: Daphne du Maurier
Info: copyright 1938, 393 pages

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again . . .

The novel begins in Monte Carlo, where our heroine is swept off her feet by the dashing widower Maxim de Winter and his sudden proposal of marriage. Orphaned and working as a lady's maid, she can barely believe her luck. It is only when they arrive at his massive country estate that she realizes how large a shadow his late wife will cast over their lives--presenting her with a lingering evil that threatens to destroy their marriage from beyond the grave.

~Goodreads Description

I feel like I'm going to be stoned if I express my true opinions about this book.  So many of my book lover friends have raved, but I apparently missed that party train.  Wouldn't that be awesome.  A "party train" for book lovers...I suppose we would all be curled up onto our seats, book in hand, while soothing violin music played over the speakers.  No one talking.  Everyone absorbed.  That would be a good time.

And yes, I'm stalling, because I'm not really sure where to start.  Okay.  Here's the thing.  I think this might, in large part, be chalked up to skewed expectations.  I think I was expecting more of a Gothic feel.  A little more mystery.  A little more eerie and "ghost-y" (because that's totally a thing, and it's totally okay to make up words.)  But it wasn't.  It was whiny, and I don't deal well with whiny.

Quick synopsis according to Emily - wallflower girl works for overbearing woman and gets to travel a lot - and yet she still walks around skulking.  Wallflower girl meets rich older man and hops into a car with him, noticing the whole time that he's not much of a social butterfly and has some series issues.  Wallflower girl marries older moody man despite the fact that she can't really tell if he even likes her or not.  Couple heads home to moody man's ginormous estate where creepy housekeeper goes out of her way to make already backwards wallflower girl really uncomfortable.  Fight fight fight.  Squabble squabble squabble.  "But I love you!" Secrets revealed.  "I love you!"  "I love you too"  Oh look!  The house is burning down.

The long and the short of it...I didn't like anyone in that house.  Well, Frank and the dog were okay, but everyone else drove me absolutely batty.  "Mrs. De Winter" was so insecure that I wanted to toss her out the window. Maxim had the personality of a...well, I don't know, rock maybe?  He had no personality is what I'm getting at here.  And Mrs. Danvers was a stalker.  Like legit.  You can mourn the loss of a friend, but you don't keep their room as a shrine or encourage your new mistress to dress as her.  That's beyond weird.  That's crazy.  The woman was crazy.  You know, maybe I would put Rebecca with Frank and the dog.  We never really meet her, but she wasn't that bad.  Sure, she was an adulteress, but at least you knew where you stood with her.

And Maxim got away with it in the end!  Sure, his house burns down, but you still down get any personality out of him when he finally reveals his deep dark secret.

My rant could continue, but I'll stop there.  Needless to say, I wasn't a fan.  But I read it.  So that's something I suppose.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Top Ten 2015 Releases I Meant To Get To But Didn't

Top Ten 2015 Releases I Meant to Get to But Didn't
(Feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

This list really reveals my reading white whale.  Series.  I've said it before, and I'm sure you'll hear me say it again, but I am TERRIBLE at completing series.  I might even LOVE the series - but I, for some reason, find it impossible to continue forward when there are so many shiny and new options on the shelf.  And then I forget what happened in the previous books.  But I try the next in the series anyway, and it works as long as I know someone who has also read the series and doesn't mind my asking one hundred and one questions, and the process inevitably starts all over again if I have to wait a third, or a fourth, and ugh.

So...yeah.  The majority of my list are series continuations.  And hilariously there are a few series starters because I am a glutton for punishment:)

What's on your list?

1) The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

2) Queen of Shadows by Sarah J Maas

3) Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

4) The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski

5) Ensnared by A.G. Howard

6) Dearest by Alethea Kontis

7) Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray

8) Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell

9) Mosquitoland by David Arnold

10) Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Top 10 Resolutions I Have For 2016

Top Ten Resolutions I Have for 2016
(Feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

"Resolutions" for this particular post could be "bookish, personal resolutions" etc. according to The Broke and the Bookish blog.  I could write here that I will take all of my earned time off at work.  I'll exercise more, watch less TV, and do something that scares me.  But I'm not going to write that down here.  I'm not good at "personal resolutions", and I don't really see the point in setting myself up for disappointment.  Life sometimes just gets in the way.

But I like book resolutions.  1) because I am nerd and 2) because I've learned not to feel guilty when I don't complete them.  It's an ideal, not necessarily an expectation.  This year, though, I think I'll make "hobby" goals.  Mix it up a little bit.  A few for books.  A few for crafting.  A few of general nonsense.  And we'll see how that goes.

So here are my 10 hobby-ish goals for 2016...

1) Read the copy of Crime and Punishment I bought and finish my 2015 goal of reading a work of Russian literature.

2) Read 120 books

3) Complete at least (1) TBR list

4) Write and blog a "short story" based on a prompt at least once a month

5) Participate in and complete 50,000 words for National Novel Writing Month in November

6) Visit (5) State Parks

7) Visit (1) zoo I have never been to

8) Finish watching the American Film Institutes Top 100 movies

9) Film at least (12) video reviews

10)  Complete (3) puzzles :) (because why not?)

What are your resolutions for 2016?

Happy reading!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Salt to the Sea

Author: Ruta Sepetys
Info: Philomela Books, copyright 2016, 400 pages

In 1945, World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia, and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, almost all of them with something to hide.  Among them are Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff.  Forced by circumstances to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust one each other test with each step closer toward safety.

Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes.  Not country, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people aboard must fight for the same thing: survival.

~Goodreads Description

There are only a few authors that I would pick up a book sight unseen. Ruta Sepetys is one of those authors.  She tackles historical fiction in an accessible way, and it's heartbreaking.  Salt to the Sea is no exception.

Refugees are racing across East Prussia to escape the Soviets - their destination a harbor where German Cruise ships are waiting.  Joanna is a nurse from Lithuania who is desperate to receive news of her family.  Emilia is a young Polish girl harboring a horrifying secret.  And Florian is an academic with a mission.  The three travelers find themselves as allies as they trek through the freezing wilderness to the port in hopes of being allowed passage on one of the ships.

What I appreciate most about Sepetys is her research into historical events that are not common knowledge.  While fictional, there is a truth at the heart of each character and the circumstances they find themselves in are truly horrifying.  A history lesson and a story wrapped up in a beautiful package.  It's a jumping off part that begs the hunt for additional information.

Rita's stories are heavily character driven.  I wanted to know SO much more about the group we meet in Salt to the Sea.  Hints are dropped, context given, but I want to know these characters, and most importantly, I want to know that they're okay in the end.  From page one I was cheering them on, crying at their losses, feeling their fear.

And then it ended rather abruptly.  My only criticism.  Without given anything away, there's a bit of a skip at the end, and it took me a beat to acclimate myself to the change in direction.  I probably just wanted more, which I did.  But the story ended far too soon.

If you haven't read Out of the Easy and Between Shades of Gray, you've got time before Salt to the Sea finally comes out in February.  These are amazing reads that you should definitely enjoy.

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