Sunday, January 31, 2016

Fandom Mashups (39)

Fandom Mashups is a feature hosted by Lunar Rainbows Reviews. There's a different scenario each week, and you choose a "dream team" of five characters from five different fandoms whom you think are best suited for the situation.

This week's topic is:
Your team of annoying characters came through for you last week - but now you're stuck with them O.O Which characters (heroes OR villains) do you want to come and get rid of them? (Part 2 of 2)

It's time to get rid of those annoying characters from last week! Whenever possible, I tried to match up each annoying character with the character I felt was best suited to get rid of him/her, lol.

  1. Rose Hathaway (Vampire Academy): Rose can teach Elena from The Vampire Diaries a thing or two about how to be a badass heroine in a vampire book.
  2. Obi Wan Kenobi (Star Wars): Yes, Obi Wan once tried to teach young Anakin Skywalker to use the Force for good, and things didn't . . . work out so well. So here's his second shot at getting Anakin to quit being so whiny, and if Obi Wan fails to get through to him again, well, we all know that Obi Wan will do what he has to do.
  3. Celaena/Aelin (Throne of Glass): She's not here to take out anyone specific; obviously, she could eliminate everyone on the entire list while barely lifting a finger. So she's kind of here as backup, in case there are any especially troublesome characters. XD
  4. Fred & George Weasley (Harry Potter): OK, totally cheating here with two characters, but you can't get revenge on Filch without including both Weasley twins.
  5. Arya Stark (Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire): Arya's been through a lot, but she doesn't moan about like her cousin, Robert/Robin Arryn does. I have a feeling that Arya wouldn't put up with her cousin's whining for very long, and if anyone could make him quit, she could.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (116)

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme hosted by Uncorked Thoughts and Lunar Rainbows Reviews. The aim of this meme is to share with fellow bloggers a character, spell, chapter, object or quote from the books/films/J. K. Rowling herself or anything Potter related! A list of upcoming topics can be found here.

This week's topic is:
What Do You Think Your Best Subject Would Be? Not Necessarily Your Favorite But the One You Think You'd Be Best At.

Definitely NOT Potions, lol. It reminds me of cooking a bit, and I am a microwave kind of girl all the way! XD I think Charms would be more my strong suit. I'm good at memorizing things, so committing all of the incantations and wand movements to memory wouldn't be a problem. Plus, Charms always sounded like a fun subject; I'm pretty sure I'd forget I was even in school whenever I was in that class.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Pre-Ordering Books, or: I Need to Read This NOW!

Confession: when it comes to waiting for much anticipated new releases, be they books, movies, or whatever, I am not a patient woman. You’re talking to someone who went running to Best Buy the day that the original Star Wars trilogy became available on DVD for the first time. I am also guilty of going to midnight releases for various Twilight movie DVDs. (Did I really do that? Ah, yes. Yes I did.)

Unsurprisingly, I do pre-order books. Not often—just the ones that I must read the very same day they’re released or I shall be very grumpy. I’m talking about The Raven Cycle, Throne of Glass, and any Shadowhunter novels. Yes, I am all about instant gratification when certain books are involved. These are the titles that I clear the rest of my reading schedule for and time my current read to end so that I can dive straight into the new arrival on its release day (as long as there isn’t a delivery mishap, which, unfortunately, has happened). The day that a release date is announced for George R.R. Martin’s The Winds of Winter, I’ll be adding that to my Amazon cart faster than you can say winter is coming.

Something I’ve noticed lately is the offering of some nifty swag to those who pre-order various titles. I have to say, there have been a handful of books that I’ve definitely been motivated to order sooner rather than later because the incentives were very sweet indeed, and they were books I’d planned to buy eventually anyway.

Do you pre-order books? Are there any upcoming releases that you absolutely MUST have in your hands the day they’re available? Have pre-order goodies ever persuaded you to place your order before the release date?

Monday, January 25, 2016

Review: Chase Tinker and the House of Mist

Chase Tinker and the House of Mist by Malia Ann Haberman
Chase Tinker and the House of Mist (Chase Tinker #4)
By Malia Ann Haberman
Crossroad Press
Format: eBook
Source: Author

To Sum It Up: The evil Marlowes have taken almost everything from the Tinkers—including the magical Tinker house—and Chase is determined to get it back. With the help of his family and friends, Chase follows every possible lead on the house’s whereabouts, a search that takes him around the world and even back in time. Locating the house is only half the battle, however, as a final showdown between the Tinkers and the Marlowes awaits Chase and his allies once they do find the Tinker home.

Review: The Chase Tinker books have all been very enjoyable reads, and Chase Tinker and the House of Mist sees the series close with a strong finish. Our young hero faces his biggest challenges yet, including the theft of his family’s beloved home by the dastardly Marlowes. The Tinkers and the Marlowes have clashed before in the series, but this one, the battle for the house, promises to be the most explosive of all—and it doesn’t disappoint.

While the series has maintained a charming sense of whimsy through, it also hasn’t shied away from going a bit more serious in tone with each successive book. Chase Tinker and the House of Mist starts off on a very somber note, another reflection of the series’ maturity. What’s impressed me the most about these books is how they’ve moved forward in a way that respects Chase and his readers growing up, but not too fast.

Most of the novel focuses on the search for the house, with the majority of the action saved for the finale. Not to worry, though: there’s plenty to engage your interest until the house—and the Marlowes—is found. We learn about Persephone’s backstory, and Chase and Nori take a heart-pounding trip back to 18th century Scotland where Chase hopes to gain some insight from Augusta, one of his ancestors (this Outlander fan fully appreciated this bit of time travel to Scotland). There’s also a return of some magical acquaintances Chase and company have made during the course of their adventures. Although it’s the Marlowes’ insatiable greed for power that has brought faeries, vampires, warlocks, and leprechauns together with the Tinkers, the reunion is still nice to see.

The all-out confrontation between the two magical families is as intense as can be expected from these mortal enemies, and then some. Here again I commend the series for not walking away from a centuries-old feud with a light step. The conclusion to both the book and the series is well-balanced; there are some serious consequences of the Tinker/Marlowe hostilities, but in the end, readers who’ve watched Chase fulfill his destiny should be quite satisfied with this last chapter of his story.

All in All: This has been a little gem of a series, especially because of how awesome the house is. Standing out among books on magic can pose quite the challenge, particularly when geared toward younger readers, but this series is definitely worth checking out.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Fandom Mashups (38)

Fandom Mashups is a feature hosted by Lunar Rainbows Reviews. There's a different scenario each week, and you choose a "dream team" of five characters from five different fandoms whom you think are best suited for the situation.

This week's topic is:
You've met a SERIOUSLY annoying person and try as you might, you can't seem to get rid of him/her. As one final last ditch effort, you've decided to make yourself a team of annoying characters to fight fire with fire, because what could go wrong? Which characters from within your fandoms are you going to pick? (Part 1 of 2)

Looking over my picks for this week's topic, I can confidently say that I would NOT want to be locked in a room with them, lolol. Not everyone may find these characters annoying, but they all grated on my nerves quite a bit:

  1. Elena Gilbert (The Vampire Diaries): Specifically, Elena as she's portrayed in the the VD novels that I read. And I only read said novels (three total) because Melissa begged me to. (I feel she still owes me coffee or something for that.) Book Elena lacks common sense about 99.9% of the time, which is one of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to fictional characters.
  2. Anakin Skywalker (Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones): Specifically, Anakin in this movie. He comes off so petulant, like if Obi Wan doesn't let him have his way, Anakin gets all pouty about it. This is not the future Darth Vader I pictured in my mind at all.
  3. Tris (Divergent): I quit Divergent after one book, and Tris was a big factor in that. The way she treated her "friends" really, really bothered me. I understood that they were also her competitors, but I thought she could be really two-faced with them.
  4. Argus Filch (Harry Potter): This guy is always in the place where you least need him to be. He's also incredibly annoying in the Lego HP game because if he catches you prowling around Hogwarts after hours, he literally grabs you and won't let go until your teammate rescues you.
  5. Robert/Robin Arryn (Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire): No matter what name this kid goes by, he's a little brat. To be fair, his mother is mostly to blame for that, but excusing his behavior goes out the window (or should I say, Moon Door? XD) whenever I think of him destroying Sansa's Winterfell that she built out of snow. It's hard to believe that he's a cousin to the Stark children.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (115)

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme hosted by Uncorked Thoughts and Lunar Rainbows Reviews. The aim of this meme is to share with fellow bloggers a character, spell, chapter, object or quote from the books/films/J. K. Rowling herself or anything Potter related! A list of upcoming topics can be found here.

This week's topic is:
Would You Rather Have Potions with Snape or Tea with Umbridge?

Potions with Snape! Class with him would be far from pleasant, but at least I don't think he'd try to slip Veritaserum into my tea. Or worse, because Umbridge is completely unhinged and capable of anything.

Monday, January 18, 2016

ARC Review: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
Salt to the Sea
By Ruta Sepetys
Philomel Books
Format: Print ARC
Source: YALLFest
Publication Date: February 2, 2016

To Sum It Up: In 1945, Joana, Florian, and Emilia are among the thousands trying to flee East Prussia as Soviet troops close in. All three have suffered so much loss during the war and are heavily burdened with secrets, but hope may be within reach if they can secure places on board the German ship, the Wilhelm Gustloff. The trek to the Gustloff is rife with danger, but it may be the trio’s only chance of surviving.

Review: Buzz for Salt to the Sea had already been building before I went to YALLFest last November, so when I spotted the ARCs that were available at the event, I was ecstatic. I like to think that I only gasped slightly, but I’m pretty sure that the reality was closer to a very audible squeal.

Alas, I still haven’t read Ruta Sepetys’s much acclaimed Between Shades of Gray (Ally has, though!), but her excellent 1950’s New Orleans-set Out of the Easy compelled me to pick up Salt to the Sea without hesitation. I tend to read historical fiction with medieval, Regency, or Victorian settings, but Sepetys’s skill at recreating the time period for Out of the Easy impressed me so much, I believe that she could write about any historical era. Out of the Easy also drew me in with its richly drawn characters, which is key to holding my attention whenever I read fiction that doesn’t have a paranormal/fantasy/dystopian element to it.

And so I went into reading Salt to the Sea feeling confident that I would be completely gripped by its story even though ordinarily, I’m not particularly drawn to World War II historical fiction. But therein lies the magic of Sepetys’s prose: her storytelling fully immerses you in the time and place she’s writing about. The chaos and destruction that war brings are made all too real here. You can’t help but feel for three of the main characters—Joana, Florian, and Emilia. Their lives have been shattered, their families have been torn apart, and their chances of escaping the absolute hell they’re living appear very slim throughout the novel. The three are essentially caught between the Nazis on one side and the rapidly advancing Soviet troops on the other, and every step the trio takes toward possible escape aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff could be their last. Fear, danger, and desperation pervade the pages, yet there are also a few stolen moments of hope to counterbalance the bleakness a bit.

The multiple POV narration works extremely well here, and the convergence of the story lines is both seamless and for the most part, quick. There’s compassionate Joana, who fled her native Lithuania four years ago and whose medical training has made her the de facto nurse of the group she’s traveling with; Florian, originally from East Prussia and a former restoration apprentice who’s seen firsthand the extent of the Nazis’ theft of Europe’s art treasures; Emilia, a fifteen-year-old Polish girl whose well-intentioned father sent her to live with friends in East Prussia where he’d hoped she would be safe but instead she’s been through unimaginable horror; and Alfred, a German sailor who firmly holds to Nazi ideology and who has delusions of becoming a great war hero. Sepetys develops her secondary characters just as much as her primary ones, too. The elderly gentleman whom the rest of Joana’s group calls “the shoe poet” because he used to be a cobbler and has a knack for making deep, philosophical observations is particularly endearing. There’s also little Klaus, found only with an address on a piece of paper pinned to the front of his coat. The shoe poet becomes like a grandfather to the boy, and their relationship is one of the most touching aspects of the book.

Salt to the Sea is an incredibly powerful, moving story, the type that you’ll still be thinking about long after you’ve read it. It will also absolutely break your heart, but it’s a story that needs to be read—and remembered.

All in All: This is a stellar work of historical fiction. The print ARC has an afterword on the actual events that inspired the novel (my guess is that the finished book will, too), and though not long, it, too, was an interesting read. Salt to the Sea is a compelling book from cover to cover, and I definitely need to read Between Shades of Gray soon.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Fandom Mashups (37)

Fandom Mashups is a feature hosted by Lunar Rainbows Reviews. There's a different scenario each week, and you choose a "dream team" of five characters from five different fandoms whom you think are best suited for the situation.

This week's topic is:
You've decided to start a band - you know, because you rock and it's time the whole world knew it! Which characters do you want in your band?

Thinking about this week's fandom mashup made me realize that I've read quite a few books in which music plays a central role. I love playing Rock Band, but that's about the extent of my musical "talent." XD So I'd have to be a roadie or something for this band, but so long as I got to hang out with these characters, that'd be absolutely fine with me!

  1. Cole St. Clair (The Wolves of Mercy Falls): BELIEVE ME, it was extremely tough choosing between Cole and Sam, but Cole's snark would make this entire experience that much more entertaining, so I'm going with Cole. I know Micheline won't be surprised by my answer, and I'm curious to see if she chose Sam, lol!
  2. Jem Carstairs (The Infernal Devices): OK, I know Jem is more of a classical musician being a violinist, but I think his extraordinary talent would make this band unique, and I'm already imagining a rock meets classical mashup!
  3. Mia Hall (If I Stay): Another classical musician, cellist Mia would complement Jem perfectly.
  4. Lisa Simpson: Because this band needs some baritone saxophone!
  5. Seraphina Dombegh (Seraphina): An outstanding musician herself and used to collaborating, Seraphina would have zero problem keeping up with the rest of this band.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (114)

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme hosted by Uncorked Thoughts and Lunar Rainbows Reviews. The aim of this meme is to share with fellow bloggers a character, spell, chapter, object or quote from the books/films/J. K. Rowling herself or anything Potter related! A list of upcoming topics can be found here.

This week's topic is:
Which Character Would You Want to Be Stranded on an Island with?

Gotta go with my favoritest character from the HP-verse on this one—Sirius! I'd want to hear every. Single. Marauders. Story. Ever. Plus, maybe he'd teach me how to be an Animagus? And, if we should ever decide to return to civilization, I'm sure Sirius would come up with a brilliant plan because after all, the guy busted out of Azkaban. XD

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Book Loot (21)

It's the first Book Loot post of 2016! Over the holidays, I was spoiled most royally by Braine of Talk Supe and Micheline of Lunar Rainbows Reviews. Thank you again, girls, for these lovely new shinies! ♥♥♥

Phoenix Rising by Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Vicious by V.E. Schwab
Sabriel by Garth Nix

I also received the final book in the middle grade Chase Tinker series for review (Thank you, Malia Ann Haberman!):

Chase Tinker and the House of Mist by Malia Ann Haberman

And finally, I could NOT avoid getting on board the Truthwitch train, so I bought a copy along with Passenger, which I also HAD to have because it's Alexandra Bracken!

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken
Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Fandom Mashups (36)

Fandom Mashups is a feature hosted by Lunar Rainbows Reviews. There's a different scenario each week, and you choose a "dream team" of five characters from five different fandoms whom you think are best suited for the situation.

This week's topic is:
With your team of villains poised to take over, you're going to need all the help you can get - and then some! Who are your pick of heroes to save the Universe?

This week's topic is the sequel to last week's post, with the heroes/heroines arriving to save the day!

  1. Rey (Star Wars: The Force Awakens): Rey is my new favorite heroine! She totally, totally KICKS ASS in The Force Awakens, and I'm a fangirl for life now.
  2. Celaena/Aelin (Throne of Glass): Like there could be a proper villain stomping without this chick. She'd set the world on fire if she didn't get the call. XD
  3. Harry Potter: To take care of our little Voldemort problem from last week, we need The Chosen One!
  4. Thor: Since we also had a little Loki problem last week, this calls for Thor's help to clear it up.
  5. Aang (Avatar: The Last Airbender): The cool thing about Aang is that he would try to defuse the situation as peacefully as possible. If that fails: AVATAR STATE!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (113)

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme hosted by Uncorked Thoughts and Lunar Rainbows Reviews. The aim of this meme is to share with fellow bloggers a character, spell, chapter, object or quote from the books/films/J. K. Rowling herself or anything Potter related! A list of upcoming topics can be found here.

This week's topic is:
If You Could Change One Thing from the Second Film, What Would It Be?

This is probably just me, but I always felt that the ending was a little . . . awkward? Of course I'm happy that Hagrid returns to Hogwarts after so wrongly being taken to Azkaban, but the Hagrid lovefest that breaks out in the Great Hall at the end of the film has always made me scratch my head a bit. Maybe I just have secondhand embarrassment on Hagrid's behalf, because having everyone looking at me and clapping for me would have left me mortified, lol.

Monday, January 4, 2016

ARC Review: The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman
The Dark Days Club (Lady Helen #1)
By Alison Goodman
Format: Print ARC
Source: YALLFest
Publication Date: January 26, 2015

To Sum It Up: Eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall is about to be presented at the court of King George III and Queen Charlotte. Despite her rank, however, her marriage prospects are somewhat questionable because of the rumors surrounding her mother’s reputation, whispers that go so far as to label Lady Catherine a traitor to England. But Helen’s concerns become far more serious after one of the maids in her aunt and uncle’s household disappears, and Helen’s own inquiries into the matter lead her into a shadowy world that she had no idea existed. Helen also finds herself under the unwelcome scrutiny of Lord Carlston, an earl with a highly disreputable character of his own but who may be the only person who can explain why Helen is so keenly perceptive and what secrets her mother may have hidden.

Review: I am still swooning hard over this book.

Like Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series, Cassandra Clare’s The Infernal Devices, and Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle novels, The Dark Days Club brilliantly pairs a specific time period in English history with the paranormal. While those other series are set in Victorian England, The Dark Days Club takes place during the Regency. If you love Jane Austen’s novels and ever wondered what they would be like with a supernatural element to them, this book is one thousand percent for you. In case you couldn’t tell already, this is going to be a gushy review.

Not only am I still swooning over this novel as a whole, but I’m still utterly in awe over Alison Goodman’s superb recreation of Regency England. I’m not an expert or anything on the time period, but the descriptions of the clothing, the food, the dances, the specific places in London—they all feel so incredibly authentic. As a huge fan of Jane Austen’s works, I inhaled every detail here. Some readers may find the painstaking attention to the world a bit much, but I absolutely loved the fully immersive reading experience. Whenever I had to put the book down, I did not want to leave the Regency!

Lady Helen is a fantastic protagonist, all thanks to Goodman’s exceptional writing. I instantly appreciated Helen’s sharp wit; in that way, she reminds me of Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice. While very mindful of the behavior expected from a lady of her rank, Helen also isn’t afraid to push the boundaries of propriety when deemed necessary, like becoming personally involved in investigating the disappearance of a maid in her aunt and uncle’s employ. By Helen’s side is her steadfastly loyal lady’s maid, Darby, and despite the upstairs/downstairs social divide à la Downton Abbey, there is genuine friendship between the two young women.

It’s also refreshing to see Helen struggle to come to terms with the truth about who she is and why she possesses an uncanny knack for reading people’s faces. I don’t want to give too much away here because the gradual unveiling of the book’s paranormal aspects is a key part of its compulsive readability. I’ll just say that Helen has to choose between the life she’s been raised for (marrying well and managing a household, attending balls and other high society events) or helping defend England against a supernatural threat that most of its denizens know nothing about. Unlike some other heroines who discover that they have otherworldly talents, Helen isn’t clamoring to enlist in the fight against evil. She’s truly torn, and some of her hesitation can be attributed to being uncertain of whether or not she can trust the person who introduces her to that other, terrifying world: William Standfield, Earl of Carlston.

His lordship is a most enigmatic figure, with a very bad reputation to boot. Goodman certainly gives the reader a workout trying to figure out the earl’s character. Even Helen, with her acute perception, finds reading Lord Carlston extremely difficult. My intuition tells me that the gossip is untrue and that there’s a tragic past lurking somewhere. I just don’t believe that he’s on the same level as some of the book’s shadier characters. I must admit—the earl intrigues me very, very, very much, and in spite of her misgivings, he intrigues Helen, too. There is palpable tension between the pair straightaway, and with both of them being such strong personality types, many of their interactions result in some highly entertaining verbal sparring that I loved. I suspect another character of villainy, and therefore I stand by Lord Carlston!

The sole itty bitty quibble I had with The Dark Days Club was that the ending felt a bit rushed, but this is one of those instances where I’m looking the other way. When I consider the novel as a whole, I cannot give it anything less than five stars, and that’s just for the two scenes that brought to mind Lizzy and Darcy’s dance at the Netherfield ball in Pride and Prejudice. The novel also fully delivers on the “dark” part of its title; I cannot blame Lady Helen for thinking twice about signing up for this particular club. Do not think twice, however, about picking up this amazing book if you love all things Regency like I do. If I could jump back into that world this very second, I’d be there.

All in All: Be forewarned: this is the book I’m pushing on everyone this year because it deserves all the love with its beautiful prose, outstanding portrayal of its historical period, and complex protagonist. And yes, I think Lord Carlston deserves some love, too.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Fandom Mashups (35)

Fandom Mashups is a feature hosted by Lunar Rainbows Reviews. There's a different scenario each week, and you choose a "dream team" of five characters from five different fandoms whom you think are best suited for the situation.

This week's topic is:
In a nightmare come to life, a gang of villains from all magical realms have somehow teamed up and are set to takeover all of the Universe! Which villains are on this terrible team?!

I'm stretching the magical part of this week's topic a bit, as not all of my picks have strictly magical powers. But they're all pretty evil! XD I'd love to see these characters assembled around a conference table discussing their plans; quite a few of them have a touch (or maybe a lot more) of egomania, so it would be entertaining to see the inevitable infighting, lol.

  1. Voldemort: It truly wouldn't be a villain party without this guy.
  2. Loki: Loki is all about the world domination, by any means necessary.
  3. Maleficent: I'm talking about the Maleficent from Disney's animated Sleeping Beauty. Let me tell you, she scared the crap out of me as kid, and whenever I think "evil," I still think of her.
  4. Zaheer (The Legend of Korra): Zaheer was more of an anarchist than a takeover kind of villain, but I don't think he was any less dangerous. He's extremely calculating and extremely good at it, which makes him a huge threat. I could totally picture him as the mastermind of this bunch.
  5. Darth Vader: Yes, I've got Star Wars on my mind right now, as many of us do. The original trilogy, particularly A New Hope, was my childhood, and for me, Vader will always represent the epitome of evil (so in your face, er, mask, Kylo Ren! XD).

Saturday, January 2, 2016

The Reading Games: January Kickoff

The three of us got together on Christmas Eve to have a little meeting about possible ideas for the blog for 2016. Something that we ended up discussing was how we all want to read more in the new year, and Ally suggested that we have a little family contest among ourselves to motivate us. And so The Reading Games were born!

Each month, we're going to make a list of the books that we're planning to read in that month. For every book read, we get a sticker on the sweet poster board tracker that Melissa and Ally created:

EDIT 1-3-2015: After checking with Ally, we only get the sticker for the month if we read ALL of the books we said we would in that month. This is to motivate us to complete our reading lists for the month. Ally and Melissa also inform me that we don't have enough stickers to award one sticker for each book read. XD

Whoever racks up the most stickers at the end wins a prize (plus bragging rights): we're all kicking in a few dollars for a new book to go to the victor. We'll be making progress posts at the end of each month and then also posting the new reading lists for the beginning of the month.

Our January reading lists are:


The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
Palace of Mirrors by Margaret Peterson Haddix
The Isle of the Lost by Melissa de la Cruz

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
Chase Tinker and the House of Mist by Malia Ann Haberman
Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey
The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman
Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined by Stephenie Meyer

This should be very interesting, as we're all highly competitive people lol, but it's also going to be a lot of fun. We'll report back at the end of January with how we did!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Reading and Blogging Resolutions for 2016

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope 2016 brings you the best of all things bookish and beyond!

It’s also that time again—resolution time! For probably the first time ever, I did pretty well with following through on last year’s list. Since keeping things simple seemed to work out rather well, I’m going to stick with that approach for this year’s list:

  • Read 40 books. That’s been about my average the past two years, so maybe it’s my personal magic number or something, lol.
  • Go to YALLFest again. The girls and I had an absolute blast at this event last year, and we unanimously agreed that we’d like to return to Charleston in 2016, maybe with some extra time to explore this charming city more.
  • Write discussion posts regularly. This is something that I set out to do every year, but I struggle a lot with thinking up interesting topics. I’m participating in the 2016 Book Blog Discussion Challenge to motivate me to stay on track with this resolution.
  • Write more, period. I’d like to try my hand at creative writing, just for fun. It’s going to be very informal, basically me hand writing made up stuff in a notebook, lol.
  • NYC reads. New York City will always be special to me, and I’d like to start highlighting books I read that are set in NY. I haven’t yet quite figured how I’m going to do this—maybe a paragraph or two as part of a regular review, or maybe in a separate post.
  • New blog design. I love our current design, but after almost four years, it’s time for a change. This one is also not mobile device-friendly, and for that reason alone needs an update. Changing things up scares the crap out of me in general, and I’m also daunted by this task because I’m not very artistic. I’ve got some serious HTML5/CSS studying to do this year as well, but I actually love the coding stuff.

I typically write a post in the fall featuring all of the upcoming books that I can’t wait to read, but there are so many amazing titles releasing in the first half of 2016 that I NEED to mention them NOW.

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken
Publication Date: January 5

I am so, so excited for this, and it’s almost here! The cover is gorgeous, and oooh—time travel!

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
Publication Date: January 5

This has a gotten a tremendous amount of buzz, but it was the comparisons to Avatar: The Last Airbender that made me go weak in the knees and sold me on pre-ordering.

A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab
Publication Date: February 23

A Darker Shade of Magic was one of my favorite books of 2015, and I am so ready to return to its world of parallel Londons and check up on Kell and Lila.

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare
Publication Date: March 8

It’s the start of a brand new Shadowhunters series! And I can’t wait to see which familiar faces from the other series turn up here.

Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan
Publication Date: April 5

Another beautiful cover, and a New York setting! The Lynburn Legacy books have conditioned me to expect a rage-inducing cliffhanger.

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
Publication Date: April 26

Say hello to my favorite book of 2016! Oh, I expect it to utterly destroy me, but I’m going to love it anyway! The therapy group forms right here, right now. GANSEY MUST NOT DIE!

What’s on your reading/blogging agenda for 2016? And good luck to everyone who’s participating in reading and blogging challenges this year!