Sunday, June 30, 2019

June 2019 Recap

Can you believe that the year is already HALFWAY OVER?! I went to Michael's yesterday and they already had FALL DECORATIONS on sale, right next to the Fourth of July stuff, lol.

June was a pretty good reading and blogging month. I've been including reading in my bullet journal habit tracker, and being able to see how many reading days I've had in a month really does keep me motivated. I also have a general writing tracker, under which I include writing blog posts, and it's been equally helpful in staying consistent with blogging.

I hope everyone is enjoying summer and getting in some beach days!

Reviews Posted:

Featured Posts:

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on My Summer 2019 TBR

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

This week's topic is:
Books on My Summer 2019 TBR

I'm in between books at the moment and had been thinking about what my next read should be when I saw this week's timely TTT topic. Summer puts me in the mood for fun, breezy reads, but I'm also looking to get caught up on some sequels. So my list is a mix of those:

1. Vengeful by V.E. Schwab

3. Reticence by Gail Carriger

4. Dawn Study by Maria V. Snyder

5. Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

6. City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

8. Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

9. What If It's Us by Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera

10. The Disasters by M.K. England

What's on your summer TBR?

Monday, June 24, 2019

Review: Defy Me by Tahereh Mafi

* SPOILER WARNING: This review contains spoilers for the previous book, Restore Me. *

Defy Me by Tahereh Mafi
Defy Me (Shatter Me #5)
By Tahereh Mafi
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

To Sum It Up: Not only has The Reestablishment publicly discredited Juliette’s ability to lead as Supreme Commander of North America, but they’ve also used the ensuing chaos as a distraction to capture her and Warner. Separated from one another, each clings to the hope that the other is still alive. Juliette and Warner are also both experiencing strange flashbacks that make them question whether they can trust their own memories. As The Reestablishment moves forward with their plan to turn Juliette into their ultimate weapon, Kenji must rely on help from an unlikely source to find her before that happens.

Review: I admit I was a tad nervous going into Defy Me because I’d just read Shadow Me, a novella from Kenji’s POV, and it wasn’t quite what I’d hoped it would be. Although I loved reading from his perspective, the novella didn’t delve into his backstory as much as I’d expected. Shadow Me was basically the last few chapters of the previous book, Restore Me, as told by Kenji. So I wasn’t sure what awaited in Defy Me, but I’m thrilled to say that it was one explosive roller coaster ride of a read.

Tahereh Mafi doubles down on the dystopia in this second book of the new trilogy. We find out just how terrifying The Reestablishment is and the lengths the supreme commanders will go to in order to cement their grip on the world. We’re talking genetically engineering their children and reprogramming them when necessary, among other extremes.

Restore Me ended in chaos, first with Juliette appearing to have killed a roomful of people and then her and Warner’s capture. In Defy Me, we discover that of course The Reestablishment orchestrated everything. Juliette once again becomes their science experiment in their quest to create the perfect weapon at all costs. There is literally nothing more important than maintaining their power, even their children’s lives.

Flashbacks play an important role in Defy Me, and once it becomes clear how they figure into the present, prepare for some serious heartbreak. The book keeps the intensity level on maximum high until nearly the end. There were many times when I was almost too afraid to continue reading because I feared for Juliette, Warner, Kenji, and their friends so much. The novel’s spot-on pacing, however, compelled me to keep turning the pages even when I wasn’t sure I wanted to know what might happen next in those pages.

The ending of Defy Me was a bit of a surprise, but in a good way. After everything that preceded it, I expected a cliffhanger, but this was a quieter close, though no less effective. I hope that the wait for the final book, Imagine Me, goes by as fast as the wait for Defy Me did because I need that last book like air.

All in All: I’m loving the continuation of this series so much. Defy Me did not disappoint.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Releases of the Second Half of 2019

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

This week's topic is:
Most Anticipated Releases of the Second Half of 2019

I'm trying to get back into participating in Top Ten Tuesday again, and I'm off to a great start, coming up with only 9 books for this week's topic, lol. I know I'll be kicking myself after this posts, when I inevitably remember all of the releases that I was looking forward to in the latter part of 2019. Here's what I've got for now, though:

1. Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater

I can't tell you how excited I am for this first book in the Ronan Lynch-centered Dreamer Trilogy!

2. Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Rise of Kyoshi by F.C. Yee with Michael Dante DiMartino

I LOVE all things Avatar: The Last Airbender and was swooning over the posters featuring the cover art that were given out at last year's YALLFest. Thrilled to finally be able to read the book soon!

3. Reticence by Gail Carriger

The final Custard Protocol book is almost here, and I'm both sad to see the series end but also looking forward to one last adventure with the crew of The Spotted Custard.

4. The Magnolia Sword: A Ballad of Mulan by Sherry Thomas

Another beautiful cover, and what sounds like a fantastic Mulan retelling.

5. The How & the Why by Cynthia Hand

Adoption is the subject of Cynthia Hand's upcoming novel, and as an adoptee, I'm quite interested to read this.

6. Tunnel of Bones by Victoria Schwab

I need to get a move on reading the first book, City of Ghosts, lol.

7. Angel Mage by Garth Nix

Angels + magic + Garth Nix? Yes, please!

8. The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

Ruta Sepetys writes incredible historical fiction and here turns her focus on Spain during Franco's dictatorship.

9. The Institute by Stephen King

Stephen King's nonfiction On Writing forever changed my world recently, and it's about time I finally read his fiction.

What books are you most looking forward to in the next few months?

Monday, June 17, 2019

Review: Shadow Me by Tahereh Mafi

Shadow Me (Shatter Me #4.5)
By Tahereh Mafi
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased

To Sum It Up: As Juliette prepares to face the sector leaders of The Reestablishment as supreme commander, the rest of her world seems to be falling apart. Kenji tries to support his friend, but he has his own distractions to deal with. He needs to find his focus quickly, though, as Sector 45 is in danger of being obliterated.

Review: I LOVE Shatter Me’s resident smartass Kenji Kishimoto, so I was thrilled by the news that the newest Shatter Me novella, Shadow Me, would feature his POV. Kenji’s unfiltered, in-your-face snark is one of my favorite things about the series. Plus I was hoping to learn more of his backstory.

I was surprised that Shadow Me only touched on that briefly. Instead the novella is more of a retelling of the last few chapters of Restore Me from Kenji’s perspective. I was a bit disappointed by that. I didn’t feel we got to dive into his character the way that we did with Warner’s in the series' first novella, Destroy Me. With Kenji being the kind of person who freely shares whatever is on his mind, I’d hoped to gain more insight into that mind rather than just observing the chaos of the ending of Restore Me through his eyes.

While of course I enjoyed Kenji’s often hilarious take on everything and everyone—especially Warner—Shadow Me didn’t shed as much light on his character as I’d expected. I’d read if all over again, though, because: Kenji.

All in All: Not essential reading in order to follow the series, but no doubt Kenji fans will want to check this out.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

2019 Mid-Year Rewind

Can you believe almost half of the year is behind us? I know I can’t! My mom used to warn me that time would just keep speeding up the older I got, and was she ever right.

Speaking of getting older, I’m another year older today, and this seemed like the perfect time to reflect on the year so far. I’m happy to report that I’m two books ahead of where I was last year and one book shy of being on target to make my Goodreads reading challenge. That will likely change, but at least I should have one moment this year when I can say that I was on track!

2019 didn’t start off so promising. Reading and blogging were still these massive boulders that I just couldn’t get rolling no matter how much effort I gave them. I managed some blogging momentum with the return, for better or for worse depending on how you feel about the final season that just aired, of Game of Thrones. Writing episode recaps made me blog consistently, and it’s so much easier to stay with something once you get over that initial obstacle of actually sitting down and beginning.

And then a few weeks ago I started reading this book called On Writing. Reading it was pure magic—that’s the only way I can describe it. So thanks to Stephen King’s outstanding memoir/guide on writing, my love for reading has been rekindled. Reignited, more like, because after finishing On Writing, all I wanted to do was read. Oh, and write, of course.

I’m also participating in NovelKnight's Beat the Backlist challenge this year and have three backlist reads under my belt so far for 2019. A lot of books that are at the top of my TBR are backlist titles, so I hope to make steady progress with that challenge before the year is out.

How has your reading/blogging year been going? What are your favorite reads from the first half of 2019?

Monday, June 10, 2019

Review: On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
By Stephen King
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased

Review: I don’t read nonfiction often, and I hadn’t read any Stephen King books before On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. After reading this masterpiece, it became apparent that I’ve been missing out on both fronts and A LOT.

I hesitate to use “life-changing” when describing books because I think it’s a term that’s easily overused, but there’s zero hesitation when I say that On Writing was a life-changing book for me. Not only is King’s writing advice delivered in a manner that’s encouraging and never pedantic, but I feel like I’m also a better reader thanks to this book. Looking back on the times when a book just didn’t click with me and I couldn’t quite nail down why, now I could probably go back and figure it out because of King’s brilliant guidance in On Writing. I had so many aha moments while reading this. King’s conversational prose makes it seems as though you’re just hanging out, talking about writing. He gently walks you through his writing process without imposing it. This is what’s worked for him, but by no means is the reader compelled to follow it.

The book opens with a look at the life experiences that shaped King into a writer, and if he ever pens a full-length autobiography, sign me up. This memoir section of On Writing is mesmerizing; I’d only read a handful of pages when I realized that I should have picked up King’s books a long time ago. His storytelling prowess is incredible. The odds of me finding a nonfiction book difficult to put down are slim, but I found it difficult to put this nonfiction book down. I even stayed up late to finish it; I can’t remember the last time a book motivated me to fight off the siren song of sleep.

King emphasizes the importance of writing with honesty, and he leads by example here. Again, reading his prose is like having him chatting by your side. Every word on the page seems effortless. He imparts an astonishing amount of invaluable writing wisdom in just under 300 pages—truly the work of a genius.

I wish that guides on every subject were as engaging, inspiring, witty, and exquisitely crafted as On Writing is. This is the type of book that offers something fresh with every reread, and I absolutely see myself rereading this many times over.

All in All: Essential reading for anyone thinking of becoming a writer. I don’t think I can ever read another book on the subject because this one is perfect.