Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: My Fall TBR

There are so many awesome books I'm looking forward to reading this fall! 

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson – Eeep, this book comes out one week from today, and I am so excited, you guys! I have been absolutely dying to read AEOR ever since first seeing the gorgeous cover art by Charlie Bowater (who has done some equally fabulous art for the ACOTAR series, in case you didn't know). The premise sounds so magical, and I am totally ready to be swept up into another faerie fantasy world!

Hiddensee: A Tale of the Once and Future Nutcracker by Gregory Maguire – I've never read a Gregory Maguire book before, despite the popularity of Wicked, but I am really intrigued by Hiddensee, which promises to be an origin story of the toymaker Drosselmeier and the enchanted Nutcracker. I love The Nutcracker ballet––it's been one of my favorite Christmas traditions since I was a little girl––so I can't wait to read a new, perhaps more grown-up, version of that story.

Berserker by Emmy Laybourne – So many of the fall new releases this year have gorgeous covers, and Berserker is no exception. Even though this one sounds like it's a little outside my normally preferred genres (I'm not a huge fan of stories set in the Wild West), the mash-up of that world with Viking mythology certainly sounds original!

That Inevitable Victorian Thing by E.K. Johnston – I absolutely loved BBC's Victoria miniseries that was on TV earlier this year, so this alternative history novel about a descendant of Queen Victoria sounds pretty cool!

The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli – I just added this book to my TBR today; up until now I'd avoided it because honestly ... I just really, really hate the cover. And for better or for worse, I am definitely a person for whom the cover plays a major factor in determining whether or not I pick up the book to read the summary. I know, I know, it's bad! But I'm old and set in my ways, haha. I probably wouldn't have looked into this book at all if I hadn't seen a giveaway for the ARC by chance on Twitter (they totally should've gone with the ARC cover; so much prettier!). Anyway, seeing the ARC was what finally made me decide to read the summary, and oh my gosh, this sounds so good!

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden – I finally snagged a paperback copy of this while checking out Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh before the Tower of Dawn event a couple weeks ago. It's been on my TBR list for a while, and I'm excited to read it, especially since I've been on a fairy tale retelling kick lately.

Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody – I got this book as part of the July Unicorn Crate, but of course I haven't gotten around to reading it yet. But maybe that's for the best, because a story about a dark traveling circus sounds like the perfect October read!

The Falconer by Elizabeth May – Yes, the majority of the books on this list are about faeries. Your point? :P

The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins – ... or they're fairy tale retellings. Oh well!

The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell – Picked this up over the weekend when I went out to grab a copy of Night of Cake and Puppets by Laini Taylor. It was an impulse buy, because this book really hadn't been on my radar, but after reading the summary and finding out it was about time-traveling magicians, I decided to give it a try.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: What I Read as a College Freshman

For this week's topic, I had to do some digging through my Goodreads shelves to find out just what I was reading back in 2009 and 2010. The topic title is a bit misleading, as this list really encompasses some of my most memorable reads from the end of my senior year of high school through the end of my freshman year of college.

Oh, the fall of 2009. The Vampire Diaries had just started its first season, New Moon had just come out in theaters, and my obsession with YA paranormal romance was in full swing. Maggie Stiefavater and Cassandra Clare ranked high on my favorites list at the time.

To be honest, if it hadn't been for Stephenie Meyer, I probably never would have picked up The Hunger Games. Even after reading her praise for it, I was still pretty skeptical about whether or not it would be my kind of book. Boy, was I proven wrong! I read it over summer vacation before leaving for school and was hooked. The Road was another book that ended up surprising me with how much I enjoyed it ... though I'm not really sure enjoy is the right word. Can you really say you enjoyed a book that scared the absolute hell out of you? It was one of the books I read for my freshman intro to fiction class, one of the first classes I took that counted toward my English major, and it's stuck with me (not to mention given me nightmares) ever since.

As you can see, my last three picks don't fit neatly into one category. In between all the crazy dystopian and mythical creature-ridden worlds I was reading about, there were occasionally some that were more familiar. Going into freshman year of college, it had been my plan to major in English with a concentration in creative writing. So, in my attempt to learn more about how other writers did it, one of the books I read was Stephen King's On Writing. It's an interesting look into not only his writing process but his life as well, and I recommend it even if, like me, you're not a Stephen King super fan. I'm still haunted by his description of the procedure his doctor performed on him as kid to try to rid him of ear infections. *shudders*

When I wasn't reading about vampires, werewolves, or demon hunters, you could usually find me reading a Jodi Picoult book. I loved the way she wove so many characters' stories together, and I read quite a few of her books the summer before I went off to college. Once of the last books I read and loved that summer was Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen. I was looking for a beachy summer read to get me ready for our annual family vacation to Florida, and this was the perfect pick.

That's it for me! Are there any books from your freshman year of college, required reading or otherwise, that have stuck with you, or any favorites from that transitional summer leading up to your first time away from home?

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Back to School - Elementary School Favorites

Being an elementary school kid in the '90s was pretty great. We had Lisa Frank, Harry Potter, Sailor Moon, and Pokemon, just to name a handful of pop culture phenomena of the day. And back-to-school shopping was the best because there was always a plethora of notebooks, folders, pencils, backpacks, lunch boxes, and pretty much everything else under the sun sporting your favorite characters so you could show off your obsessions to all your friends. It was like being involved in fandom life before any of us even knew what fandom was. My absolute favorite part of each new school year was going to registration and getting my school supplies list, which was always color coded by what grade you were going into. My dad would usually take me to Office Depot or Walmart afterward and let me go to town in the back-to-school aisles. (Does anyone else remember the school bus stickers they'd put on the floor to lead you to the school supplies section? Is that still a thing? Because it totally should be.)

Of course there were other great things to look forward to in elementary school, especially if you were a bookworm. Library day was the highlight of my week, and throughout the year there was always the  Scholastic Book Fairs and monthly catalogs. There was nothing like getting a brand spanking new Scholastic catalog to take home and mark up to my little heart's desire (only to have my parents tell me that no, I could not order the entire catalog).

Yup, being a '90s kid was pretty awesome. So in honor of the back-to-school topic this week, I'm giving a rundown of some of my favorite books from my elementary school days.

1. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling: Obviously Harry has to be at the top of the list! I will be forever grateful to my third grade teacher for reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone to our class and introducing me to the one book series that's had the greatest impact on my life--even though she messed up one small detail. To this day, my mom teases me about how for a year I insisted Hermione's name was pronounced Her-mee-own, because that's how my teacher pronounced it, and obviously teachers are never wrong. Duh, Mom. (Judging by the running joke J.K. Rowling slipped into Goblet of Fire about Viktor Krum having difficulty pronouncing Her-my-oh-knee, I'd venture a guess that I wasn't the only one with this problem.)

2. The Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler Warner: Come to think of it, third grade was a pretty great year of reading for me because I was also introduced to The Boxcar Children series. We did a whole unit on it in school, and I went on to read the rest of the books on my own. I think I checked out every one my school library had.

3. Hank the Cowdog series by John R. Erickson: I don't remember much about this series other than the fact that it was about a dog who worked as a "sheriff" on a ranch, and I breezed through the books because I thought they were totally hilarious.

4. The Jewel Kingdom series by Jahnna N. Malcolm: The Jewel Kingdom is a series about four sisters (all princesses) who are each given their own kingdoms represented by--you guessed it--different types of jewels. There's Demetra, the Diamond Princess; Emily, the Emerald Princess; Serena, the Sapphire Princess; and Roxanne, the Ruby Princess. Each book focused on a different princess and her animal friend and their adventures throughout the various kingdoms. These books hold a special place in my heart because of how I interacted with them. At the time, my best friend and I were so in love with these books that pretty much every time we went over to each other's house, we would "play Jewel Princesses." Basically, we'd get dressed up in old Halloween or dance recital costumes and just play pretend, each of us choosing one of the princesses to be. We would create new characters and storylines and spend hours playing in that make-believe world.

5. Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech: Walk Two Moons is one of the first books I remember enjoying not so much for the story (though I did love the story) but for the writing itself. I remember reading it out loud in the car to my grandma because I just loved the way the words sounded. I ended up reading a lot more of Sharon Creech's books throughout elementary and middle school.

6. Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar: The ridiculous situations in these books cracked me up as a kid, and honestly, they're still pretty funny today.

7. Holes by Louis Sachar: Pretty sure that this was a staple for all elementary school kids of the late '90s/early 2000s. A note to future generations of elementary and middle schoolers who will read this book: ignore the Shia LaBeouf movie. Just read the book.

8. The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids by Debbie Dadey: The Bailey School Kids books were just as funny as the Wayside School books, but with a touch of spookiness. My love for these books probably explains my later obsession with YA paranormal romance. Clearly I had a thing for the supernatural even as a little kid.

9. The Royal Diaries/Dear America series (various authors): I went through a phase toward the end of elementary school and through middle school where I loved historical fiction. I devoured the Royal Diaries series (during one trip to the library, I checked out every copy they had available, which was probably around ten books!). The ones that really stuck with me were Marie Antoinette and Sondok. I think what I liked most about the series was getting to read about different cultures and time periods.

10. Little House in the Big Woods and Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder: I think I was in first or second grade when my grandma got me the box set of the Little House books, and they're some of the first longer chapter books I remember reading on my own. Little House in the Big Woods was always my favorite because the way Laura Ingalls Wilder described life in the cabin in the woods sounded so cozy! It made me want to live in a log cabin too.

So, any of my fellow '90s kids remember these books? What were some of your own favorites?

Sunday, August 6, 2017

#TheReadingQuest Challenge

banner by CW of Read, Think, Ponder

Hey, all! So ... long time no blog! Life has been pretty busy the past six months, but I'm finally hopping back on board the blogging train, and lucky for me, it just happens to coincide with this super awesome reading challenge that I hope will inspire me to blog more (and get back on track toward my 2017 Goodreads goal). 

If you haven't heard, Aentee of Read at Midnight has created #TheReadingQuest, a video game-style reading challenge that runs between August 13 and September 10. I'm absolutely blown away by the creativity that went into making this challenge, and I'm so excited to participate! For more info on the challenge, check out Aentee's sign-up post.

You can choose from four character classes to start your quest, and given that I've been on a serious fantasy kick of late, I'm starting out as the Mage.

artwork by CW of Read, Think, Ponder

As a Mage, I'll be starting with the First Down quest path. In no particular order, here are the books I'll be reading for my main quest (I've included the format as well since point distribution varies depending on pages read versus minutes of listening).

Air Awakens by Elise Kova
Format: e-book

Not gonna lie––98 percent of the reason why I downloaded the "box set" of this series from Kindle is the gorgeous cover art. But the story sounds awesome too: magic and libraries––what more could you ask for?

The Waking Land by Callie Bates
Format: hardcover

How pretty is this cover? The Waking Land sounds like a fantasy with a more subdued plot, but magical nonetheless, so it'll serve as a nice break from all the angst, drama, and action of some of the other books in my TBR.

Rhapsodic by Laura Thalassa
Format: e-book/audio

I've seen a lot of people on Tumblr comparing Rhapsodic to A Court of Mist and Fury, so I'm looking forward to this one a lot! (I'm not totally sure that this fits into the mythology category, though. I think it might be based on the Hades/Persephone myth, but if you've read it, let me know if I'm wrong.)

Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas
Format: hardcover

This'll be cutting it close to the end of the challenge since I'm not getting my copy of ToD until September 7 at the SJM tour event, but I just had to include it! 

Roar by Cora Carmack
Format: hardcover

Roar's summary is giving me some serious Throne of Glass/Aelin Galathynius vibes. Bring it on!

If any of you are doing the challenge as well, let me know which character class you've chosen and what you plan on reading!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

That's a Wrap: January 2017

Read in January

  • I Work at a Public Library by Gina Sheridan: While this book was hilarious, it definitely made me rethink my long-held idea that working a public library would be a fun job. I'm going to be forever scarred by the story about the "crutch guy." *shudders*
  • The Unthinkable by Amanda Ripley: I kind of cheated by saying I read this one. I mostly skimmed it toward the end, so it could technically be considered a DNF.
  • The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis: What an intense, emotional (and timely) book! I have a feeling this one's going to stick with me for a while
  • The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines: Confession time: I love the HGTV show Fixer Upper. Chip and Joanna are my favorite reality TV couple, and I love seeing their beautiful house flips, so when I saw that they had a book out, I knew I had to read it. I got the audiobook from my local library and listened to it on my commute to work. It was really interesting to hear how they met and fell in love and the ups and downs they went through to get to where they are today.

Watched in January

  • This Is Us: I know I'm not alone when I say this show gives me all the feels
  • Game of Thrones (Seasons 1 and 2): And so begins my epic rewatch of GoT before season seven premieres. It's really surprising how many characters that I forgot (or didn't even realize) were in season one! Somehow I completely missed that Renly Baratheon was on the King's Council during Robert's reign, or that Meryn Trant was part of the Kingsguard and supposedly killed Syrio Forel!

Listened to in January

The Magnus Archives (Season 2)
Alyssa of Books Take You Places mentioned this podcast on Twitter back in the fall, and when I saw that it was a horror anthology podcast, I knew I had to check it out. I was instantly hooked and listened to about ten episodes in one sitting (which, by the way, I do not recommend unless you're okay with being creeped out for days afterward, LOL). At first I thought it was just going to be a random collection of spooky stories, but the more you listen to it, the more you start to see the threads in each episode that connect to a larger, overarching story. Oh, and did I mention that the narrator has a British accent? Yeah. So there's that. ;)

The Magnolia Story
Empire of Storms (still making my way through this one)

Banks. I'm absolutely obsessed with the song "Gemini Feed." I think I've listened to it at least twice a day for the past month!

Random Things in January

Something else I started in January was my new bullet journal. I love doodling and making lists, so a bullet journal is the perfect way for me to unwind in the evenings and also keep track of what I'm reading this year! I've gotten a lot of inspiration from Pinterest and Tumblr and also from this really awesome BookTube video that Alexa recommended in her Sunday Mix post.

Looking Forward to in February

Book Releases

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones (February 7)
A mix of Beauty and the Beast and the Hades and Persephone myth? Need it now!!!

The Dragon's Price by Bethany Wiggins (February 21)
It's official. I'm becoming a fantasy nerd. If you've got dragons and royalty in a book, I'm down!


In February I'll be participating in the Love-a-Thon hosted by Alexa Loves Books, The Novel Hermit, The Daily Prophecy, and Super Space Chick. I've participated in this event once before, and it's such an awesome way to meet other people in the book-blogging/bookstagram/BookTube community! Hope to see you guys in this round!

I'm also participating in round six of the totally awesome Secret Sister Project hosted by Brittany, Alyssa, and Amy of On the Same Page. If you don't already know, OTSP Secret Sister is a project to spread cheer throughout the book-blogging community (though you don't necessarily have to be a book blogger to participate). I've already been assigned my sister, and I'm so excited to start planning her monthly care packages! While sign-ups are closed for this round, you should definitely consider signing up for the next round in July!

Hope to see you guys around the blog in February!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Lunar New Year Book Tag

I saw Alexa from Alexa Loves Books post this tag earlier today, and it looked like so much fun! I tag anyone who feels like participating! 

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. Twilight was the first romance book that I fell totally head over heels in love with when I was a teenager. I've read it too many times to count!

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas. Fae queens, magic-wielding assassin queens, witch queens––ALL THE QUEENS! (Not too mention the several extremely attractive princes!)

Heart's Blood by Juliet Marillier. So many of the books I read any more a part of a series, so it's kind of cool to find a standalone that I really love. Heart's Blood is a Beauty and the Beast retelling, and it was one of my favorite reads of 2016.

Zuzanna and Mik in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor. Not only do they provide much-needed comic relief, but they are just an adorable couple. The novella about them, Night of Cake and Puppets, is so sweet!

Chaol Westfall from the Throne of Glass series. Oh, Chaol, I have so many mixed feelings about you! He's so pig-headed about his ideas of what's right and wrong in Heir of Fire and Queen of Shadows, and for a while, I kind of hated him for how he was treating Celaena/Aelin and Dorian. He redeemed himself by the end of QoS though, and I'm interested to read SJM's novella about him when it comes out this summer.

I'm a teensy bit obsessed with the magnetic character bookmarks sold on Etsy. Nerdy Girl Designs and Happy Hello Art are my favorite shops; they both make such adorable bookmarks, and thanks to them, I've got quite the collection going. 

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. Cath and Levi are too cute for words. I definitely need to reread this book again soon.

This is a tough one because so many of the books I read are the "big names" in YA. To be honest, I can't really think of any books I've read recently that haven't gotten some kind of recognition or don't already have a following. 

Oh, that's easy: A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas! I'm going to need to take May 2 off work just so I can stay home and read ACOWAR cover to cover. I haven't been this excited for a book release since Breaking Dawn!

The original US Harry Potter covers will forever be my favorites. One of my favorite parts of rereading the series is getting to see all the detail Mary GrandPré put into not just the cover art but the chapter heading art too.

Throne of Glass series: Arobynn Hamel. Oh man, did I hate this guy! Pretty much any time he appeared in Queen of Shadows, I had a strong urge to chuck the book at the wall.

The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis. It doesn't get much bolder than having a main character who goes after and kills men that sexually assault women. And I can't say that I felt sorry for any of her victims. It's an intense book.

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