2014 In Review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Wow! I did better than I thought this year! Here’s to more growth in 2015!

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,000 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 17 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Goals for 2015

Top Ten TuesdayAgain, thanks to Jamie over at The Broke and the Bookish for this Top Ten Tuesday topic (what an alliteration)! I’m not really one for resolutions, but I do like that idea of goals I should set for myself for 2015. This list will mostly be teaching/blogging/reading related.

1. I want to read 120 books.

This seems like an arbitrary goal because I’m currently sitting pretty at 136 books read for 2014. My goal for the year started at 100, but by June, I had hit 83 books, so I bumped it up to 120! However, since this will be my first year of teaching, that reading time will be cut tremendously. I still want to keep up with reading and blogging, too. So that is a lofty goal to me.

2. I want to add more features other than *just* reviews to my blog.

I am a huge reviewer. I love reviewing books and giving authors and publishers my feedback, whether it’s good or bad. But, I’ve become Twitter friends with some FANTASTIC bloggers, and I want to emulate the awesomeness that are their other features on their blogs.

3. I want to be a creative, fun teacher.

This job kind of landed in my lap. I’ve been in school for 7 years. I graduated on December 16, 2014 and I got my first teaching job at a middle school on December 5. I had all of my training in high schools, so this is honestly a huge endeavor for me. Middle school and high school are two completely different worlds. Not only do I want to be fun, but I want to excel and I want my kids to learn so much from me.

4. I want to move out of my parents’ house.

As much as I love my parents, I think it’s high time I get out on my own. I am 27 and I feel like such a loser for living with my parents (not saying that people my age or older living with their parents are losers, I know the economy sucks right now, but for my personal feeling…I’m a loser). I want to be able to find and afford a place sometime in the near future. Somewhere to call my very own.

5. I want to find the courage to consistently email publishers for physical ARCs!

This may sound like a dumb one, but I am so petrified of emailing publishers for ARCs since I don’t have a huge following on Twitter or my blog (yet)! But, thanks to previously mentioned Twitter friends, I’ve gained more courage when emailing publishers with requests.

6. I want to pay off my car!

I got in this horrible accident 4 years ago. I had to go through one surgery on my shoulder because of it, and I may have to go through another one. I am finally going to trial on January 9th, and I’m really hoping I get some kind of settlement, mainly so I can pay off my car. The sooner I pay that off, the sooner I can achieve my goal of moving out!

7. I want to be a better friend.

This past semester has been rough with student teaching and working. A lot of my friends fell on the wayside, and I want to be sure that I am being a better friend to the friends that I adore.

8. I want to relax more.

I have a really hard time relaxing. Even when I am relaxing, I’m always doing something else, along with sitting on the couch. I want to just sit and enjoy a book or sit and play a game on my Kindle without freaking out about doing something.

9. I want to spend more time with my sister.

My sister is 19 and too cool for me, but the older we get, the closer we become. I want to foster this new relationship of ours and make it grow. I want one of those relationships with my sister where we’re best friends and tell each other everything. I’ve always been jealous of those kind of relationships, because my sister is 8 years younger than me. We’re finally at a point where we understand each other and I’d like to make a habit of us actually being friends.

10. I want to go on a real vacation.

I don’t remember the last time I actually went on a vacation. I want to go away for a week. I want to go somewhere I’ve never been and I want to fly to my destination. I’m starting my new job on January 5th and I’ll have paid summers off, which means I can fly somewhere, stay in an awesome hotel, and just be away for like a week without having to take time off of work. It’ll be awesome.

Some of these things sound kind of petty, but they’re all a big deal to me. I want to try and fulfill all of these! Tell me what some of your goals are for 2015!

Book Review: The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone by Adele Griffin

The Unfinished Life of Addison StoneAuthor: Adele Griffin

Release Date: August 12, 2014

Genre: Docu-fiction

Page count: 256

I. LOVED. THIS. BOOK. I also have a lot to say about this, so here is your synopsis from Amazon:

From the moment she stepped foot in NYC, Addison Stone’s subversive street art made her someone to watch, and her violent drowning left her fans and critics craving to know more. I conducted interviews with those who knew her best—including close friends, family, teachers, mentors, art dealers, boyfriends, and critics—and retraced the tumultuous path of Addison’s life. I hope I can shed new light on what really happened the night of July 28.

-Adele Griffin

1. The layout and formatting of this book was so awesome!

I’ve never read a book like this in my entire life. Not until I did a little digging on the book did I realize that Addison Stone was not a real person, just a figment of Griffin’s imagination. The whole thing is laid out in the form of interviews the author “conducted” with the people who were closest to Addison ranging from her high school boyfriend to her best friend to her family to her acquaintances in New York. There is a vast cast of characters who tell their version of events in Addison’s life. Peppered between the interviews, there are articles Addison was featured in, magazine covers, interviews with her school paper, and photos of Addison. The acknowledgements tell you who posed as Addison for these photos, but they’re given credit as if they’re actual photos! This was so awesome, almost like watching a documentary on an artist taken too soon.

2. The character of Addison Stone was truly haunting.

Before I found out this whole thing was fabricated – and also feeling stupid for thinking this was all a real biography – I was completely haunted by Addison Stone. I finished this in a day. My nose was buried in this at work. I couldn’t get enough of Addison. Bravo to Griffin for creating this totally engrossing character who I felt was so real that I Googled her. My first clue should have been that the only thing that popped up was this book, but that didn’t stop me!

3. The supporting cast of characters were equal parts abhorrent, fascinating, and supportive to Addison.

There are many people “interviewed” for this book. By far, my favorites were Lucy, Addison’s best friend since childhood, and Zach, the guy who pretty much ruined Addison’s life. There’s nothing like a good villain, and Zach is as close as you get in this book. Zach and Addison date when she first moves to New York. They have a horrible breakup, and after that, a string of revenge pranks happen between the two. From Zach blacklisting Addison from parties to Addison burning down his house, the fun never ends! We find out Addison comes from a broken home. Her parents’ interviews are equal parts sad and hopeful. The whole cast of characters is brilliant.

OVERALL: five stars!! I can’t really say much more about this book without sounding repetitive, so just go read it! It is awesome, the story is engrossing, and the whole docu-fiction element is so new and refreshing. Trust me when I say you’ve never read a book like this! Click the link below to order!

Click to order!

ARC Review: Twisted Fate by Norah Olson

Twisted FateAuthor: Norah Olson

Release Date: January 20, 2015

Genre: Mystery, Romance, Psychological thriller

Pages: 272

I received this as an ARC from Epic Reads. I have some wavering opinions about this book. Part of my issue was MAYBE that it was an ARC and needed serious help. But, overall, I really enjoyed this. So, without further ado, here’s your synopsis from Amazon:

Two sisters. One mysterious boy.

Ally and Sydney couldn’t be more different—one shy, the other popular and outgoing—and when a new boy moves in next door, tensions between the sisters escalate. Graham is attractive, peculiar, and perhaps a little dangerous, and both girls are drawn to him in ways they can’t quite explain. As each girl’s relationship with Graham unfolds, the more complicated the truth becomes—until a shocking encounter turns their sleepy coastal town upside down and questions everything the sisters thought they knew about themselves and each other.

Told in alternating points of view by a wide cast of characters, Twisted Fate is a tensely wrought psychological thriller, perfect for fans of We Were Liars by E. Lockhart.

1. I loved the multiple points of view. Some people hate this, but I really like it.

One of the things I really, really liked about this were the many, many points of view we get from both main characters and fringe characters. The main chapters are told from the points of view of the sisters – Ally and Sydney – and Graham, the mysterious boy next door. Then, chapters pop up that are in the points of view of Syd’s school counselor, some policemen, and even Graham’s stepmom, Kim. These were wonderful, because they added to the mystery of the book, which starts on page one.

2. While I loved these points of view, there were some that definitely needed work.

I know I read this as an ARC and that may be why this problem exists. However, there was one chapter from the point of view of Syd’s guidance counselor, then mid-chapter, it switches to Syd’s point of view. Now, if the book had done this from the beginning and set a precedent for it, it would’ve been okay. But, nowhere else in the book does this happen. Olson does a great job of telling you whose point of view we’re seeing and writing in that character’s voice. However, this was not the case with this particular chapter. There was another issue in I think one of Ally’s chapters where, instead of her saying, “I set my backpack down on the floor,” she said, “I set her backpack down on the floor.” Call me nit-picky. Maybe I am. But, I have to take solace in the fact that this is an ARC and that will all hopefully be fixed before publication.

3. This “psychological thriller” was pretty easy to call if you pay attention.

You know I’m never going to give you spoilers intentionally. However, from the beginning, there are HUGE clues as to the “psychological” part of this thriller. Just make sure to pay attention when you’re reading. If you call the weirdness early, this book gets even more weird and creepy. I loved the creep factor of this because I didn’t expect it.

4. The creep factor is high in this one. I had a hard time reading it in the dark. There were times where my skin was crawling.

I honestly didn’t expect this book to creep me out as much as it did. I guess, in my defense, I can tell you that I didn’t really read the whole synopsis. I won this ARC from a contest Epic Reads was holding, and was stoked, because the ARC cover is beautiful and haunting. This was a thriller in every sense of the word. It’s a short read, and I could have put it down, but the mystery of it was driving me crazy. I had to know what was going on, hence why I finished this in one sitting. As I was finishing this at 1 a.m., I was regretting reading this in the dark. This was seriously creepy. Graham is a really mysterious and strange character and I think he was written really, really well.

OVERALL: 4 stars!!! I really did love the mystery of this, regardless of the errors it contained (grammatically and otherwise). I loved the dynamics between the sisters and the other characters and I love Graham as a character. He’s not necessarily a villain, but…you’ll see when you read. This book comes out on January 20, 2015 so click the link to pre-order, especially if you’re ready for a creep fest!

Click to Pre-Order!

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Wouldn’t Mind Santa Bringing This Year!

Top Ten TuesdayThank you to the ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish for this awesome Top Ten Tuesday topic! This Tuesday’s topic is Santa and the bookish surprises he may have for me in his bag. Here are the top ten books I would LOVE for him to bring to me (released or unreleased, because there are a TON of awesome 2015 releases coming)!

1.

BeastkeeperBeastkeeper by Cat Hellisen

Creepy forests, magic, and curses! Sign me up! This book looks so awesome. I was denied a digital galley from NetGalley, so of course, that makes me want it even MORE. This book releases on February 3rd, so if I get gift cards, I’m definitely setting some aside for this!

2.

Chasing PowerChasing Power by Sarah Beth Durst

Telekinesis used for thievery and teleportation and ancient incantations to save lives? YES. I am so excited for this book. And, will you LOOK at that cover?! The font! The lightbulb! This will make a fantastic addition to my shelf.

3.

Rebel BelleRebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins

Lately, I’ve been obsessed with Southern gothic YA, and this is pretty close. This looks more like a Southern paranormal/fantasy. She obtains powers? There’s a prophecy? She needs to protect someone with her newfound powers? AND I get to participate in a Southern cotillion? Oh, yes. I loved Hawkins’s Hex Hall series, so I’m very excited about this one.

4.

Blood of My BloodBlood of My Blood by Barry Lyga

If you loved I Hunt Killers as much as I did (which is A WHOLE TON), you’d be as excited about this as I am. Jasper is a teenaged Dexter, except he’s never actually committed a murder; his dad is the murderous mastermind. Jasper is always trying to escape his fate. Game ended on such a huge cliffhanger, that I am desperately hoping Santa buys into my adoration of this series.

5.

StrayStray by Elissa Sussman

This. Book. Looks. So. Awesome. The synopsis touts a comparison combining Disney and the Grimm Brothers’ stories. SIGN ME UP!! I had ordered this used from Amazon a few months ago, but the order was canceled because it was out of stock, so instead of re-ordering, I decided to wait for Santa. Fingers crossed!

6.

This Shattered WorldThis Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Oh, don’t even get me started on These Broken Stars! I was so strongly and emotionally connected with these characters, that I cried actual tears. It actually snuck up on me. I didn’t think I’d like the first book as much as I did, but wow! I can’t wait for this series to continue.

7.

The Orphan QueenThe Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows

I am convinced Jodi Meadows is the queen of fantasy world building. Her Incarnate series totally caught me by surprise. I was especially impressed by her world building and character development. I got to speak to her at the Vegas Valley Book Festival, and I loved her before…but after that, color me obsessed. She’s so wonderful and I can’t WAIT to read this! This comes out on March 10, so there’s one more thing I’ll be saving gift cards for!

8.

Half WildHalf Wild by Sally Green

OH GOD. I LOVED HALF BAD SO MUCH, I DON’T EVEN HAVE THE WORDS TO EXPLAIN IT. My post about my 5 favorite books of 2014 features Half Bad and I can’t wait to live in this world again. So much yes. I have to wait for this one, too. This comes out on March 24, so by sheer will, I need to save my gift cards for this!!!

9.

Stitching SnowStitching Snow by R.C. Lewis

This book’s synopsis makes me think of Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles series, and I love that series, so here we go. Recently, I’ve been trying to read more scifi and fantasy, so this sounds right up my alley! Evil queens, princesses, and alien planets? So. Much. Yes.

10.CompulsionCompulsion by Martina Boone

As mentioned above, my obsession with the Southern gothic subset of YA is out of control. This synopsis kind of reminds me of William Faulkner mixed with a bit of modern YA. I can’t wait to read this! Plus, look at that bad ass cover! Yes.

So, here you go, Santa. I need all of these under my tree, please. If not, you can just bring me gift cards and I’ll order them myself! Share with me some of *your* book wishes from Santa in the comments!

Book Review: Beware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker

Beware the WildAuthor: Natalie C. Parker

Release Date: October 21, 2014

Genre: Southern Gothic YA, mystery, paranormal

Pages: 336

Holy wow, I loved this! This book just confirmed my new obsession with the Southern Gothic genre. Here’s your synopsis from Amazon:

Southern Gothic gets a whole new twist in this debut novel, sure to appeal to fans of the New York Times bestselling Beautiful Creatures series.

The swamp in Sterling’s small Louisiana town proves to have a power over its inhabitants when her brother disappears and no one but Sterling even remembers that he existed. Now Sterling, with the help of brooding loner Heath, who’s had his own creepy experience with the swamp, must fight back and reclaim what—and who—the swamp has taken.

1. I don’t live in the South and I’ve never visited, so the town of Sticks, Louisiana was like a whole new world for me.

One of the things I love most about the Southern Gothic genre is the look into the life of Southerners. I’m from the Midwest (Nebraska), but I was raised in Las Vegas, Nevada where we don’t really have that small town, known everyone since you were in diapers, knowing everyone’s business mentality. The town itself was like a character to me because it wasn’t anything that I am used to. Everyone knows everyone’s past and the locals have mannerisms and customs that are completely foreign to me. The town of Sticks likes to ignore its problems with the swamp – and problems in general – which makes Sterling a fish out of water when she goes searching for the truth.

2. The swamp itself was the main character and that was so interesting to me.

Coming from somewhere that doesn’t have a swamp, (I really only studied them in school) it was awesome to see a town that sits right on a swamp. The swamp itself has its own mythology. Old Mrs. Clary who runs the General Store is the expert on the swamp and makes charms to protect people from its magic. The townspeople erect a fence around the swamp and decorate it with Mardi Gras beads and voodoo like protection charms to keep themselves safe from the swamp. As far as they know, the swamp itself is a sinister creature. Even after Sterling finds out the truth about the swamp, the town still believes in the swamp’s power. I’m trying my hardest not to give you any spoilers, so I apologize for being so vague.

3. I really loved Sterling as a main character.

Sterling starts as this girl who is pretty much throwing a temper tantrum because her brother – really, her protector for her entire life – is leaving for college and she sees it as her death sentence. Phineas – her brother – has spent his entire life sheltering Sterling from their abusive father, fights, and general unpleasantness. It is arguable that he has really prevented her from living any sort of life. So, when he disappears and no one remembers him, she continues to waste away more. I like to think of her lack of eating as a hunger strike, showing her brother that she WILL die when he leaves her for college at Tulane University. As the story goes on, though, she develops into this strong and formidable young woman. I really enjoyed her character development through this book.

4. The magic, mythology, and craziness of this town are so super awesome, that I almost want to live in this book.

Yes, there is scary magic that happens because of the swamp, but I still want to live in a town with a cool, evil swamp! People rarely go beyond the fence they’ve built, and the first time Sterling does it in the book, I was petrified. I was actually sweating. Sterling is on a mission to save her brother. Shortly after her brother disappears, a girl emerges from the swamp – her name is Lenora May, what a Southern name – and takes Phineas’s place in everyone’s mind as Sterling’s sister. This sets the entire story in motion so Sterling can go into the swamp to save her brother. Every scene that takes place in the swamp is terrifying and so incredibly awesome all at the same time. If you like small town mythology and magic, this is definitely the book for you.

OVERALL: four stars!! I loved this book! It dragged a bit towards the beginning, but once crazy stuff started happening, it did NOT stop until the very end. I like how this book stuck to the rules of the swamp and magic that it put forth at the beginning. You don’t know who to trust and you’re guessing at every turn. I loved that about this book! If you love Southern Gothic, or have never read anything from the genre, give this book a try! It’s a super fun and fast ride that’ll keep you guessing until the end! Click the link below to order!

Click to Order!

Beware the Wild is a riveting and atmospheric page-turner readers won’t want to miss.

Succumbing to Peer Pressure: My Top 5 Favorite Books of 2014!

I decided to do a top 5 instead of a top 10, because I know if I did 10, I would talk myself into 20, then 30, then it would just get ridiculous. So, I’m narrowing this down to 5.

5. Faking NormalFaking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens

This book was incredible. I love when books bring sensitive issues to light in a beautiful AND relateable way. Stevens’s writing is engrossing and gorgeous and I couldn’t put this down. The whole book is heart-breaking and powerful. I was sobbing through a lot of it because I wanted Alexi to find some peace. This was a great debut full of modern day issues and a cute romance (which is also believable). The characters seem like friends instead of characters in a book. I adored this.

4.

The Young ElitesThe Young Elites by Marie Lu

This book has had a lot of hype around it. I went to ALA over the summer and I met Marie Lu and she is really nice and wonderful. ALA is where I got my signed ARC of The Young Elites, and I was so so happy. I didn’t know how I was going to end up feeling about this book about halfway through, since it kind of dragged a little smack in the middle. But, just to give you a brief description: Adelina Amouterou is a young, female Darth Vader. The world building is phenomenal, I loved all of the characters, and the action was intense. I loved this so much. I can’t keep going on. I feel like I could take up the entirety of this post about how much I loved this book. Moving on!

3. Half BadHalf Bad by Sally Green

THIS BOOK WAS SO CRAZY!!! Not only did I love the new take on magic and witches, but it is a glaring social commentary on what is actually good or evil. There is no Black and White, but in this universe, there definitely is. I devoured this (even though it is quite lengthy) and adored it the whole way through. The writing was amazing, the story was engrossing, and I loved everything about this. I recently read the novella centering around this world (and one of my favorite characters in the book, Gabriel) and I finished it in half an hour. I want to live in this world. Not as a witch, mind you, because to be any kind of witch in this world is absolutely dangerous, but as a spectator. I think this is Green’s debut, which is so impressive. I can’t sing this book’s praises enough.

2. Another Little PieceAnother Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn

Earlier this year, I fell in love with Quinn and her creepy stories when I read (Don’t You) Forget About Me. While that book was deliciously creepy and awesome, this one was MORE so. I picked this up at the Vegas Valley Book Festival in October. I wanted to stick around to meet Quinn because I ADORE her work, but of course, that’s the day I caught a vicious cold. Anyway, this is definitely a case of body snatchers and it is weird and awesome and I loved it! Not many books can creep me out, and not many authors can creep me out, just like Quinn does. I will read anything she produces; I am a fan for life. This was amazing, I suggest you become a fan for life, too.

1.

Heir of FireHeir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

I am positive this is on a lot of bloggers’ best of lists. For damn good reason. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Maas for getting me back into fantasy. I picked up Throne of Glass at a friend’s suggestion, thinking I would hate it. I haven’t read a fantasy I enjoyed in years…until ToG. I picked up Heir of Fire at ALA in Vegas over the summer, and I swear I scared the pants off of the nice ladies at the Bloomsbury Publishing booth because I squealed SO loud. I ate this book up, as I had with the previous installments. I love Celaena Sardothien with a fierceness I never knew I could possess for a literary character. This book was definitely no disappointment. I will read anything Maas produces, which is why I’m waiting on pins and needles for not only the next ToG installment, but also A Court of Thorns and Roses that comes out in May.

Thanks for reading my best of list! This is the first time I’ve done one of these, and I really had to think HARD to narrow this list down to five. As I said, I couldn’t do ten, because then I would talk my self into 20 and 30 and you would never see the end of this post. I would love to hear how your reading year went! Leave me some of your favorite books of the year (even if they weren’t necessarily published this year, as is my case with Another Little Piece) in the comments below and happy reading for next year! There is so much coming out, we should all feel blessed by the reading fairies. Have a great holiday season, everyone (however you celebrate) and have a great New Year!

Book Review: Alistair Grim’s Odditorium by Gregory Funaro

Alistair Grim's OdditoriumI received this as a digital ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Here is your synopsis from Amazon:

Grubb, age twelve (or thereabouts), has never known anything beyond his miserable existence as a chimney sweep, paid only in insults and abuse by his cruel master.

All of that changes the day he stows away in the coach belonging to a mysterious guest at the inn that he is tasked with cleaning. Grubb emerges from Alistair Grim’s trunk and into the wondrous world of the Odditorium. Fueled by a glowing blue energy that Grubb can only begin to understand, the Odditorium is home to countless enchanted objects and an eccentric crew that embraces Grubb as one of their own.

There’s no time for Grubb to settle into his new role as apprentice to the strange, secretive Mr. Grim. When the Odditorium comes under attack, Grubb is whisked off on a perilous adventure. Only he can prevent the Odditorium’s magic from falling into evil hands-and his new family from suffering a terrible fate.

Grubb knows he’s no hero. He’s just a chimney sweep. But armed with only his courage and wits, Grubb will confront the life-or-death battle he alone is destined to fight.

1. The hero, Grubb, is amazing!

Grubb encounters a hard life. He doesn’t know where he came from, but he lives with Mr. and Mrs. Smears. Mrs. Smears is a lovely woman who treats Grubb (like the worm, but with double b’s in case you wanted to write it down) like her own son. She loves him fiercely, then she dies. After her death, he is faced with Mr. Smears who is ruthlessly cruel and employs Grubb as a chimney sweep. He doesn’t feed the boy, because he thinks Grubb will get too fat to fit up into the chimneys he’s sweeping. Throughout all of this, Grubb is a nice boy. He’s our narrator and our hero, and I just want to hug him. The poor boy has suffered a hard life and is rewarded with this crazy adventure. The adventure itself is an accident, and through it all, Grubb maintains his positive outlook and his manners. He addresses everyone as “sir” and “miss.” He’s brave and modest – every time something good happens to him, he marvels at his miraculous fortune. He’s absolutely brilliant and I was never annoyed by him (other than when he couldn’t run because his legs were “frozen in fear”). He’s just the cutest little hero ever, and I adored him.

2. The Odditorium is so awesome!

At first, the Odditorium seems scary. It is covered in black paint and it is quite daunting, even to the imagination. When Grubb finds himself inside the Odditorium with Mr. Grim, he is petrified. He is used to receiving beatings, and he expects the same from Mr. Grim, especially when he makes mistakes. But Mr. Grim is the complete opposite of Mr. Smears. The Odditorium itself seemed like a character to me, because we know next to nothing about the building until about halfway through the book. I loved the mystery surrounding the Odditorium and its inhabitants. There are secret passageways and forbidden doors and spectacular residents contained inside, and I loved this so much.

3. The pictures in this book are so awesome! I didn’t expect them, and they impressed me every time I stumbled upon one.

This book does a great job of description without the use of pictures, but the well drawn portraits inside only help you to dive into this story’s world. They appear maybe once per chapter and they are great! I read this as a digital ARC, so they may look different in print, but even on my Kindle they were so great! They almost reminded me of the drawings in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. They were in black and white, and they only helped my mind wrap around the crazy stuff that happened in this book.

4. The adventure is so amazing.

This book dragged a bit for me in the beginning. There is a lot of build up. When Grubb first starts narrating, he tends to get ahead of himself before he’s explained anything, so even if you feel like the book is lagging, you remember the explanation Grubb promised you. As soon as the madness starts, it doesn’t stop. It really did keep me hooked until the end. I can’t tell you much about the adventure, but just know it deals with people brought back from the dead, fairies, sirens, trolls, dragons, and a ninja. Intrigued? I was, too.

5. Prince Nightshade is an awesome villain.

Although Prince Nightshade is a villain, I actually kind of liked him. Yes, he is evil and out to destroy the world, but he has some human elements that made me actually like him. He treats Grubb with respect (other than the normal villain stuff), but he is also untrustworthy. Is the kindness real, or a trick? I didn’t find out in this book, but I bet I will in the next installment. Prince Nightshade has ambition and I like that in both a hero and a villain.

OVERALL: FIVE STARS!! What a fun adventure for a middle grade! This had a lot of magic and mythology involved and I loved Mr. Grim as the mysterious “sorcerer” and crazy guy in town. If you want a fun, magic filled ride, then this is definitely the book for you. So much thought and creativity went into this book, and I was definitely impressed. This book comes out on January 6th, 2015 so click the link below to pre-order!

Click to Pre-Order!

Book Review: A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

A Thousand Pieces of YouHere’s your synopsis from Amazon:

Cloud Atlas meets Orphan Black in this epic dimension-bending trilogy by New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray about a girl who must chase her father’s killer through multiple dimensions. Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their groundbreaking achievements. Their most astonishing invention, called the Firebird, allows users to jump into multiple universes—and promises to revolutionize science forever. But then Marguerite’s father is murdered, and the killer—her parent’s handsome, enigmatic assistant Paul—escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite refuses to let the man who destroyed her family go free. So she races after Paul through different universes, always leaping into another version of herself. But she also meets alternate versions of the people she knows—including Paul, whose life entangles with hers in increasingly familiar ways. Before long she begins to question Paul’s guilt—as well as her own heart. And soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is far more sinister than she expected.

A Thousand Pieces of You, the first book in the Firebird trilogy, explores an amazingly intricate multiverse where fate is unavoidable, the truth elusive, and love the greatest mystery of all.

1. The main character, Marguerite, really annoyed me for the most part.

Marguerite is the daughter of two brilliant physicists who invented this dimension hopping device called the Firebird. She missed the blessed genetics that allow her to be great at science and instead she is the artsy one of the family. She paints, and it brilliant at it. However, throughout the whole book, she’s always doubting herself and calling herself stupid because she isn’t a science genius. This really bothered me, because her narrative is riddled with self deprecation and very nearly self-loathing. I don’t like this in main characters, especially girls, who are supposed to be the heroine. Everyone has doubts, yes, especially when dealing with something this monumental. She spent most of the book worried that she’s not enough, when she very clearly IS. I wanted to scream at her to believe in herself through more than half the book.

2. I really enjoyed the parallel dimensions.

I had to read Cloud Atlas for a college course called Writing About Literature. I loved that book. I liked that book’s version of fate and choice. This book had elements of that, yes, but combined with parallel dimensions! I thought it was super interesting and intricate that the rules of parallel dimensions were that a version of you had to exist in whatever dimension you were traveling to. I thought that was really creative. Sometimes, it got a little confusing, especially when Marguerite was in one dimension, acting like a different version of herself, while she was still herself. But, if you pay attention to the rules, you should be fine.

3. The world building! Wow!!

Usually with a sci-fi like book, the author has to build just one world. In this one? There are at least 4 very well built worlds with consistent rules and characters. My favorite world was the first dimension they jumped to, in a futuristic London. It was insanely impressive how well these worlds were developed and how much time it must have taken to dream up all of them – even the original dimension where Marguerite is from. I’m not telling you much, because I want you to form your own opinion! Don’t take my word for it – but these worlds are seriously crazy and cool.

4. The love story makes me want to vomit.

I usually do an insanely heavy eye roll when I read any type of love story, regardless of genre. This one was so confusing at times, that I couldn’t keep up, even if I thought I was rooting for someone. At first, I thought there would be a love triangle (which elicits my most extreme eye roll – I hate them) but that fizzled out quick, which I was grateful for. Marguerite falls for one version of Paul, then can’t call up those same feelings for her Paul, and tells her Paul she’s feeling unfaithful. I hated that SO much. It’s the same guy!! This is where the parallel dimensions thing gets a tad confusing.

5. This book started out with a bang, and I thought there would be a ton of scientific mumbo jumbo (I’m an English major, I don’t speak science) and I was right.

There was a LOT of science jargon, but I’m glad the author made Marguerite the artsy one, because that made it acceptable by the world’s standards to explain all these huge science terms in normal English that even I could understand! I really appreciated that. As far as I know – which isn’t a lot, admittedly – the science stuff is pretty spot on, and it looked like Gray did a ton of research to get into this. I appreciate that immensely, especially because I didn’t get super confused between all of these rules set forth about parallel dimensions.

OVERALL: 3 stars! This book was overwhelmingly meh for me. It wasn’t super exciting, it wasn’t engrossing, but it was a really cool concept. I loved Marguerite’s parents and the graduate students that were like her adopted brothers. I liked the mystery of this, but I was so bored through most of it. I’m proud of myself for finishing it. But, please, DO NOT take my word for it and read it yourself! I only write these reviews to help, but I really want you to form your own opinion! Click the link to order!

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Book Review: The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz

The Ring and the CrownI hate giving less than stellar reviews, so I’m sorry for this one. Here’s your synopsis from Amazon:

Magic is power, and power is magic…

Once they were inseparable, just two little girls playing games in a formidable castle. Now Princess Marie-Victoria, heir to the mightiest empire in the world, and Aelwyn Myrddyn, a bastard mage, face vastly different futures.

Quiet and gentle, Marie has never lived up to the ambitions of her mother, Queen Eleanor the Second. With the help of her Merlin, Eleanor has maintained a stranglehold on the world’s only source of magic. While the enchanters faithfully serve the crown, the sun will never set on the Franco-British Empire.

As the annual London Season begins, the great and noble families across the globe flaunt their wealth and magic at parties, teas, and, of course, the lavish Bal du Drap d’Or, the Ball of the Gold Cloth.

But the talk of the season is Ronan Astor, a social-climbing American with only her dazzling beauty to recommend her. Ronan is determined to make a good match to save her family’s position. But when she falls for a handsome rogue on the voyage over, her lofty plans are imperiled by her desires.

Meanwhile, Isabelle of Orleans, daughter of the displaced French royal family, finds herself cast aside by Leopold, heir to the Prussian crown, in favor of a political marriage to Marie-Victoria. Isabelle arrives in the city bent on reclaiming what is hers. But Marie doesn’t even want Leopold-she has lost her heart to a boy the future queen would never be allowed to marry.

When Marie comes to Aelwyn, desperate to escape a life without love, the girls form a perilous plan that endangers not only the entire kingdom but the fate of the monarchy.

1. Let’s start with a positive, shall we?

I totally dig this world. It’s like a re-imagining of the world and its history. This was during a time where royalty and balls and someone’s name meant everything to everyone. I believe I want to place this time period in the 1800s with the crowns and jewels and revelry…but add in some magic. This world is so cool, because it pairs the pompousness of royalty and privilege with that of real magic. Aelwyn’s father is “the Merlin” which is, as far as I can figure, a station put into place because of Merlin himself. Merlins help the crown run the country and provide magical help when necessary. Aelwyn also visits her aunt Viviane in Avalon! Sounding familiar? One of the things about this book I found fascinating was the world, most definitely.

2. This was so boring. It is a wonder I didn’t fall asleep while reading this.

There were maybe only three instances in the book that were exciting. The “plot” the two girls (Aelwyn and Marie) hatch is so boring. There is not anything in the book to make this interesting, even though there were many opportunities to MAKE it exciting. I didn’t know that there was a dastardly plot until the last 15 pages, which were incidentally the most exciting. There were so many opportunities the author left open for herself to put in more excitement and action, but it ended up falling flat. We have to follow these boring society women through their hunt for a husband during the London Season, and I just couldn’t get into it.

3. The writing is gorgeous.

Even though I didn’t like the actual story, the writing was beautiful. This is the first book I’ve read from de la Cruz, so I was very pleasantly surprised at the beauty of her words. I am a sucker for a great writer, so that could be one reason I actually finished. Not only was her world building stellar, but she painted me such vivid pictures that I felt like I was *in* the story, even if I found the story dull.

4. The characters. I only liked two of them.

We can maybe chalk this up to me not liking the story, and therefore, not liking the characters, but I don’t think that’s it. I hated Prince Leo because he is an abhorrent ass. I hated Isabelle (even though I had a TON of sympathy for her) because she was a rotten brat. I disliked – didn’t hate – Princess Marie because she wants to throw her life of luxury away to marry for love (HELLO!!! You’re a princess! You don’t get to do that, especially not in this world. Come on). I disliked Ronan because she admits at every turn that she is husband hunting in London. While we’re in Ronan’s narratives, she always talks about how she cannot return to New York unless she finds a husband. I understand being broke, trust me, I do, but I could never just marry anyone for money! I know we live in a different world, but still. She really annoyed me. I really liked Prince Wolf, though. He seemed to be the only one with any type of moral compass and brains. There were two side characters named Archie and Perry who were the comedic relief. I would read a book solely about them.

5. This read like a Jane Austen novel.

I hate Jane Austen. I hate Jane Austen with a burning passion. Her books are boring, her stories are drab, and I can’t stand the way she writes. This book read a LOT like a Jane Austen novel, which is probably the main reason I didn’t take a liking to it. There is even a reference to Austen in the book (surprised?) so that should’ve been my first clue. If you like Austen, though, you might like this book.

OVERALL: 2.5 stars. It wasn’t a bad book! And as I said, I hate writing less than stellar reviews, so I’m sorry about this one, but I want to be honest with you. The story dragged. As soon as something exciting happened, it was over too fast and not explored enough. The most exciting part was the last 15 pages, and I am amazed I didn’t just throw this on my Did Not Finish pile. However, if you like romance, royal dances, fancy dresses, and royal drama, then this book is for you. And, if you’re a Jane Austen fan, this would be right up your alley! Again, don’t take my word for it! Read it!

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