Non Fiction – Self Help

I’m actually going to take it easy on myself and you guys this week, yay!!!

I have yet to read any of the books mentioned on this list and I will also be including a link to a Goodreads list that my female readers in their twenties, or anybody who really has no freaking clue what they’re doing with their life, might be able to relate too. If you’re not a female in her twenties, check it out anyway. If you use the recommendations and suggestions it can lead you to some interesting choices.

I don’t normally read non-fiction, it’s just not my thing. But, I fell down the self-help rabbit hole on Goodreads while I was on Christmas break this year. Anxiety that I never knew I had has cropped up ever since I started school and I am always on the lookout for ways to improve my mental health and my relationship with myself. You should always be your number one priority guys, because no one else cares as much about you as you do.

Anyways, in perusing this list I came across a few gems that I am kind of dying to pick up. Here are a few that I am looking forward to reading.

Leave Your Mark: Land Your Dream Job. Kill It in Your Career. Rock Social Media by Aliza Licht – Published May 5, 2015; 259 Pages.

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If I’m being honest, the cover is what drew me to this book. It’s gorgeous, striking, and memorable. Plus, as a Creative Communications student, anything that gives me advice on my industry is invaluable.

Aliza Licht is the senior vice president of global communications for Donna Karan International. It sounds like an awesome job, and from what I’ve read on Goodreads her tone is very light and conversational. I’m hoping it’ll be a speedy read that is clear, straightforward, and offers some insight into the industry.

I’m the type of person who likes to know what is expected, so I think that reading books like this will help me feel a little more comfortable and I’ll have an idea of what to expect and how to handle it. Social media is also a new beast in the industry and is ever changing, but having an understanding of where it’s at now and how it’s being used would make it easier to grow with it.

I just picked this up from the library last week and judging by the notes on the back I am super excited. Kelly Cutrone gave it a good review, and she has made girls cry on National TV, so that’s a great endorsement and a terrific reason to read the book. I also flipped through it casually and read a couple paragraphs and it’s looking really good.

I Am That Girl: How to Speak Your Truth, Discover Your Purpose, and #bethatgirl by Alexis Jones (Forward), Sophia Bush (Foreward) – Published March 18, 2014; 240 Pages.

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Discovering my purpose is probably the hardest thing I’ve come across so far in my life. Any advice that I can get on everything they mention in the title would really just make me feel a lot more comfortable in my life, my jobs, and my relationships. I’m hoping that this book will give me some insight into just how to feel a little more comfortable in my skin.

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve discovered that I have anxiety and the key to me managing that is being calm. And a way to be calm for me is to have a plan and concrete steps to go over. Well, life doesn’t provide you with that at all, so we kind of have to figure it out on our own. I feel like these books can at least give you a crude framework to build off of. If anything, it’s a place to start.

I’ve been thinking about it for a while and I will have to pick up more books like this and work them into my rotation. This’ll be where I start.

Just two books for me this week guys. I’m working on doing smaller posts, but we’ll see how it works out. If any of these interested you, or you are looking for something similar but a little bit different, check out this list of Non-Fiction for Women in their Twenties over on Goodreads, and as always please read responsibly.

Goodreads Links:

Leave Your Mark

I Am That Girl

Best Books 2015 Pt. 2

Hello everybody, I hope you’re having a fabulous January. I really have no complaints, I am getting stuff done and making it through piece by piece. I’m trying to be nicer to myself this year and it’s working out pretty well so far. We’ll see where I am in March, or you know, next week, or even tomorrow. It’s a one day at a time type deal for me right now.

Anyways, let’s move on to the conclusion to my Best Books of 2015.

Après vous.

Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios – Published October 7, 2014; 480 pages.

18106985This sounds like one of those cheesy romance novels about a beauty and the beast type scenario, but it’s actually a book about jinn. Or genies as you most likely know them.

Nalia is a jinn who is on the run and living as a servant in the human world on jinni slave trade, the dark caravan. She was once a member of the ruling class of jinn in Arjinna who were all slaughtered by a class of jinn that was revolting. Nalia barely escaped and now lives in constant fear of being discovered on Earth. 

She is bound to her master, Malek, and required to grant him three wishes and then she will be forced into a toxic iron bottle and passed on to the next highest bidder. Malek has found a loophole in the contract and uses Nalia to grant wishes to powerful people who now owe him favors. Nalia is constantly on the lookout for ways to escape so she can rescue her brother back in Arjinna. Enter Raif, the leader of the revolution and pretty much Nalia’s nemesis. He offers her a way out of her captivity, but at a terrible price. The entirety of the book we follow Nalia on her journey as she tries to get back to her brother.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; the vampire vortex is a real thing in the book community. I always come across books like this when I’m trying to get away from some overused trope in books, or if I’ve just read too much of one thing. I think I was running from contemporaries when I picked this one up. It’s the beginning of a trilogy and I can’t wait to see how the series progresses.

Heather Demetrios creates awesomely believable characters and even though their mythical creatures I can totally picture the scenarios that they get into. I really appreciate the conflict in the book too. War always makes for an interesting backdrop for a story.

The Naturals & Killer Instinct (The Naturals #1 and #2) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes – Published November 5, 2013 & November 4, 2014; 308 pages & 375 pages.

I picked up this one up on a whim. Have you ever been in a book store and just felt the urge to buy a book? That’s what happened the day I bought The Naturals. It’s described as Criminal Minds for teenagers and I had just been lent all the seasons by a friend of mine, so it was perfect.

It’s about a group of teenagers who have been recruited by the FBI for what they call “the Naturals program”. It’s a group of teens with special skills in profiling that the FBI wants to use to help them solve cold cases.

There’s Cassie, a natural (get it?) profiler who can piece together the smallest details and have a person completely figured out in a matter of hours. Michael, a boy who comes from wealth who is an expert at reading emotions and hiding his own. Dean, a quiet brooding boy who is also a profiler and has a really dark past. Lia, the human lie detector and master manipulator and Sloane, the resident genius. She has perfect  recall and is not allowed coffee because she starts spouting off random factoids in a high pitched voice.

In both books the team ends up getting pulled onto actual cases and their lives are put in danger as they try to track down serial killers.

There is definitely a suspension of belief that has to occur when you read these books, but when you do they are very enjoyable. the action and suspense is very well done and you can tell that Jennifer Lynn Barnes is putting that cognitive science degree to good use.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – Published August 16, 2011; 372 pages.

9969571It’s been a while since I’ve had to read a book for school, well a book that wasn’t a textbook and that I actually enjoyed. This was on a recommended list of books for one of my classes and I had to choose one. I chose this one because it was the sole fiction book on the list. Otherwise I would have probably never picked it up. I’m so glad I did.

Ready Player One isn’t something I would consider for myself. I’d heard nothing but good things about it on BookTube so it was on my radar. Video game culture has never been something that really interested me so that was a bit of a turn off for this book, but as we’re always told, never judge a book by it’s cover.

The year is 2044 and people spend more time in virtual reality than they do in actual reality. Ready Player One follows Wade Watts, a poor orphan who lives with his aunt in the “stacks” district. He competes in a virtual reality scavenger hunt to win the fortune of the deceased creator of the OASIS, James Halliday. Halliday hid an Easter Egg in the many worlds of the OASIS and created three keys and gates for “Gunners” to find as a test to find out who was worthy of his fortune.

It takes five years for the first key to be found. Wade is the one to find it and it puts his life in danger when he runs into corporations and other players who are willing to kill to claim the OASIS’ prize.

Oddly enough the thing that turned me off of the book in the first place was the thing that I liked the most. The video game and 80s pop culture references were almost like another character. They were so detailed and accurate that I actually sort of got obsessed and I now have a list of movies, TV shows, and books to read that will keep me busy for quite a while.

Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4) by Marissa Meyer – Published November 10, 2015; 824 pages.

13206900I’ve talked about this book a lot. What can I say, I read a lot of books that I was super excited about this year.

Check out my Most anticipated reads blog and my You got a taste of sweet divine pt. 3 for more of my ravings about this book and the Lunar Chronicles series.

Winter is the final book in the series and it’s a big one. It’s 824 pages! I was so excited. We follow all the characters from the entire series as they head to Luna to take down Levana, the barbaric ruler. They essentially start a war.

We learn more about Princess Winter’s past and she plays a big part in the novel. As a finale I thought this was perfect. It was long enough that we got to see everything we needed to see to tie up all the loose ends. There were a few bumps in the story but I really liked all the fairytale references that Marissa wrote in.

Something Real by Heather Demetrios – Published February 4, 2014; 413 pages.

15789443This was another one of those books that I just sort of thought looked interesting so I picked it up. Also book burnout is a thing, as I’ve said multiple times, and I was looking for something a little lighter. What I got was light with an edge.

We follow 17-year-old Bonnie Baker who has grown up on TV. She was the first baby born on national television, and since then she and her 12 siblings have starred on the reality show Baker’s Dozen. Until the scandal that rocked the show caused it to be cancelled.

Bonnie couldn’t have been happier, she finally got to experience life as a normal teenager and not as someone else’s property. Just as she’s starting to open up to her friends and be comfortable with herself her mother announces that Baker’s Dozen is headed back to the air and everyone is required to participate. Bonnie is going to have to take serious action if she wants to keep her normal life and her sanity.

In our reality TV culture we don’t usually get to see what life is like for people behind the scenes when the cameras stop rolling. We also don’t usually see the impact of the spotlight on “normal” people. I thought it was a refreshing take on pop culture and mental health as well.

Like in Exquisite Captive Heather Demetrios creates believable characters. You feel everything along with Bonnie and I enjoy those stories where you can just get lost for a bit. I found this story believable and relatable.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas – Published May 5, 2015; 416 pages.

16096824Sarah J. Maas is another writer that is featured a few times on this list. She is also a new writer that I recently discovered and I really enjoy reading her stuff. She creates great worlds and interesting characters.

In A Court of Thorns and Roses we actually do have a beauty and the beast scenario. Feyre kills a wolf in the woods to feed her starving family and is confronted by a beastly creature who demands retribution for the murder. Turns out the wolf was a faerie scout and Feyre has broken the tentative truce held between humans and faeries.

Tamlin, one of the faerie rulers, takes Feyre to live with him instead of killing her. While she’s there Feyre and Tamlin’s relationship grows from ice-cold to red-hot. But there is a darkness that is slowly infecting the light-faerie realm and Feyre must find a way to stop it or Tamlin, and his entire court, will be forfeit.

From the description, I wasn’t too sure how I would feel about this book. But I’d so enjoyed the Throne of Glass series that I gave it a chance. I was glad. Sarah J. Maas has a way with character and storytelling that is refreshing. She re-treads old ground and makes it seem new. I’m excited to see where this series goes.

Zodiac by Romina Russell – Published December 9, 2014; 336 pages.

20821306While I read a lot of fantasy based novels this year, I didn’t really read a lot of space novels at all. This one intrigued me because I’ve kind of always been obsessed with my astrological sign (Sagittarius, and proud of it thank you very much). So the idea that the signs are all planets in a solar system that are inhabited by people that personify the traits of the zodiac was just super cool and made me nerd out a little.

In the first book of Romina Russell’s trilogy we follow Rhoma Grace, a 16-year-old student from House Cancer who, after her planet is knocked off it’s orbit when one of their moons explodes and kills thousands, becomes Cancer’s new Guardian. 

As the new leader of her planet, Rho learns about the exiled 13th Guardian of Zodiac-Ophiuchus-and begins to see patterns in the stars that point to him being responsible for the destruction being wrought across the system. But Rho is a novice at reading the stars, at best. She has her own way of reading them that isn’t the normal way of doing it. Rho and Hysan Dax, an envoy from Libra, and Mathias, a member of her Royal Guard must travel through the Zodiac and warn the other Guardians in an attempt to prevent future attacks. But who will believe such a novice?

The story definitely started out with a bang to say the least. It has some great world building and I can’t wait to visit more of the planets in the coming books. We haven’t been to Sagittarius yet, but one of Rho’s best friends is a Sag so it’s good to have some representation. That is the saving grace of the series, other than that, and the great characters on Gemini, I felt the characters needed a little work and Rho was a little flat to be a main character.

Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight, Heir of Fire, & The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas –  Published August 7, 2012; August 27, 2013; September 2, 2013 & March 4, 2014; 404 pages, 418 pages, 562 pages & 448 pages.

I have talked about this series quite a bit already. I talked about it briefly in my Most Anticipated Releases blog post and my You got a taste of sweet divine pt. 2 post. So definitely check those out.

I read this entire series this year. I finally decided to give it a go and dove right in. The prequels were a great addition and a great decision to include with the rest of the series. It’s some great background on all the characters and the world as a whole.

The fifth book is due out in September of this year. I’m SUPER excited about it! I have over 1,000 pages to catch up on with this series, so it’s going to be a great summer.

The Witch with No Name (The Hollows #13) by Kim Harrison – Published September 9, 2014; 462 pages.

This was a bitter20426917sweet read for me. It’s the final book in one of my favorite series, the Hollows. I’ve talked about it before in my You got a taste of sweet divine pt. 3 blog.

Rachel has been through a lot over the course of the series. She’s battled vampires, werewolves, demons, and even gods. She’s lost a lot too, now that she’s finally accepting her fate, the hits just keep on coming. In the final book, we follow her as she tries to save her best friend from losing her soul when she goes through her first death. Rachel is being pressured to do the same for all the living vampires. On top of that, she is also tasked with saving the demonic ever after and her own world from being destroyed. She still manages to find time for a little romance, which is something long time readers have been waiting for for a long time.

I fell in love with this series. It introduced me to the urban fantasy genre and a lot of different series that I might never have picked up. It’s a great series with really amazing character development and continuity. Kim Harrison’s level of attention to detail is on point with J.K. Rowling. Something I can appreciate because a lot of Y.A. books lack that attention to detail that carries out through the books. But to be fair, those series are usually a lot shorter. You do notice something new every time you read the series and I look forward to re-reading these books for years to come.

Bitten in Two & The Deadliest Bite (Jaz Parks #7 and #8) by Jennifer Rardin – Published November 8, 2010 & June 2, 2011; 312 pages & 309 pages.

As you’ve probably noticed, I can get a little obsessive when it comes to tracking down a book series and reading all of them in the correct order. This one was no exception. I finally manged to finish the series this year and it was a little bittersweet because I discovered that the author had died in 2010. The series ending wasn’t as clean as I’d like it to be, but it’s understandable, considering the circumstances.

The Jaz Parks series follows a unit of the CIA that specializes in supernatural crimes and assassinations. Jaz, along with her partner Vayl, a vampire who is over 1000 years old, and a crack team of specialists, travel the world and take out supernatural targets that threaten the human world.

Throughout the series we learn more about Jaz’s sad past and how she got to where she is. We’re also introduced to different supernatural forces, like guardian angels, demons, and other members of the undead. In the last two books we follow Jaz as she tries to lift a curse that could cost her her soul and sentence her to an eternity in Hell. On top of that,  Vayl seems to be trapped in the past and is causing the team to have to play pretend around him so they don’t set him off.

I really enjoyed this series. I read it with a few gaps in between books so I forgot a few things every now and then, but for the most part the story was easy to follow. There were a few plot holes that bothered me, but I think they were a product of the author dying so I don’t hold them against the book. As far as characters go, Jaz is among my favorites and her relationship with Vayl and her team keeps her grounded regardless of all the supernatural craziness that goes on in their lives.

I hoped you enjoyed. I’m thinking this will be the last long list for a bit. We’ll see where the wind takes us. In the mean time, please read responsibly.

Stephanie

Goodreads Links:

Exquisite Captive

The Naturals

Killer Instinct

Ready Player One

Winter

Something Real

A Court of Thorns and Roses

Zodiac

Throne of Glass

Crown of Midnight

Heir of Fire

The Assassin’s Blade

The Witch with No Name

Bitten in Two

The Deadliest Bite

Worst Books 2015 pt. 2

Hey everybody, I’m wrapping up my list of Worst Books of 2015 this week. I forgot to mention that you may see books that I’ve already talked about in previous blog posts on both lists. I try to explain why they made each list and just because I put it on my worst list doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad book. If anything strikes your fancy you should check it out.

No use blathering on about it, here is part two:

Ten Things We Did (and probably shouldn’t have) by Sarah Mlynowski – Published June 7, 2011; 368 pages.

9266810This book fell under the same category as the Medusa Girls series. I put it on my TBR a million years ago and finally got around to reading it. When I put it on my list I was super intrigued, but when I finally got around to reading it, not so much.

Once again a book fell into my standard trap of wrong place, wrong time. It’s a middle grade book, and, as I am now on the wrong side of 25, they don’t hold my attention like they used to. I did really like the story and it was a different take on a teen aged fantasy of living on your own.

In the book we follow our main character April who gets the opportunity to finish her senior year while living at her best friend’s house. April’s parents are divorced and have both made the decision to move. April pleads her case to stay and finish school because she doesn’t want to leave her boyfriend behind. She manages to convince her father that she is staying under the watchful eye of her best friend’s mom, who is actually a flighty actress and is performing in an out of town play for the majority of the school year.

Considering all the freedom the girls had I was actually quite surprised by the restraint the writer showed in the craziness that went down. I’ve read enough teen books that basically have the characters devolve into heathens who can’t take care of themselves. April and her friends do some crazy things, like buy a hot tub and host a few ragers, but nothing ever gets too out of hand and I actually found that the characters handled themselves quite well and were real human characters. Snaps for Sarah Mlynowski.

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares – Published April 8, 2014; 256 pages.

18242896I blame this one on nostalgia. I had finished the Traveling Pants series a few months prior and happened to notice it on the shelf at the library. I also blame it on lazy writing. Maybe my tastes have changed, but I was really surprised at the poor quality of writing in this book. I thought the dialogue was weak and the main character Prenna is so one dimensional it’s ridiculous.

The story sounded interesting enough, it’s about a group of travelers who have gone back in time to escape a mosquito-borne blood plague that has destroyed the human race. Super cool idea, but she had to go and ruin it with a forbidden love story.

Prenna is a good girl and follows all the rules that were set forth by the elders of the mission and always follows them to the letter. Until, of course, a boy takes interest and she starts to question everything she was ever taught. There also is some underlying storyline about how the groups goal is to prevent the mosquito war from happening, yet the first rule of time travel club is not to change anything, so I’m just annoyed at that bit.

I really do not recommend this read, it would be good for younger readers who are just starting to get interested in reading, but for the rest of us it leaves a lot to be desired.

The Rosie Project & The Rosie Effect (Don Tillman series #1 and #2) – Published October 1, 2013 & July 21, 2015; 304 pages & 368 pages.

Both of these books were featured early on in my blog, and don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed reading them, but at the end of the day I was frustrated with Rosie as a character and the relationship ended up pissing me off.

The series focuses on Don Tillman, a man who is most likely on the autism spectrum and may have some form of Asperger’s. He is an eccentric man who is ruled by routine and logic. In the first book he sets out to meet the perfect mate and goes about it in a typical Don fashion, using a very detailed and precise  questionnaire. Enter Rosie, who is on a search of her own and is the complete opposite of Don in pretty much every way.

They inevitably fall in love, but there wasn’t anything cliche about it and Rosie never tried to fix Don, who is well aware of his social awkwardness… most of the time, and he actively tries to correct his mistakes, usually in a hilariously inappropriate way. I really enjoyed the first book and thought it was a quirky little love story.

The sequel picks up right where we left off with Don and Rosie married and living in New York. Rosie is pregnant and Don being Don, he wants to have everything meticulously planned out and he wants to be prepared. Rosie, being the complete opposite and also being in the middle of writing her thesis for University, doesn’t take too kindly to Don quirks.

Throughout the whole book Rosie just comes off as a total bitch. I’m not sure if it’s because we see the world through Don’s eyes so we understand his motivations, or if she actually is just a bitch, but her behavior really pissed me off. She knew the man that she was marrying and yet she seems surprised when he acts in an odd way and she takes absolutely no time to think about how Don’s feeling about the whole pregnancy. She just seemed like she was trying to fix him and it really irked me.

In the end, the book has a fairly happy ending. I think the series came to a good close, but it wouldn’t surprise me if we got a third book entitled “The Baby Project” in the near future.

Paper Towns by John Green – Published October 16, 2008; 305 pages.

6442769John Green is like a nerd legend in book circles. Don’t ask me why, I have no idea. I’ve read a few of his books and while I enjoy them they’re not the best thing I’ve ever read. His characters can come off as kind of pretentious and he has also been know to over use the manic-pixie-dream-girl trope in his books.

I got into John Green because his book, The Fault in Our Stars, was being made into a movie and, obviously I had to read the book first. Paper Towns was  made into a movie as well, and that’s what peaked my curiosity. I still haven’t seen the movie, but I’ve heard good things about the adaptation, which is awesome. Anytime a movie does a book justice, I am all over it. Regardless of my feelings on the book.

In the book we follow Quentin as he pines for his next door neighbour Margo. they were friends when they were little but have drifted apart since. Margo has developed a reputation for doing wild and crazy things over the years and Quentin idolizes her for it. She appears in his window one night and enlists him to help her in a revenge plot against her friends and now ex-boyfriend (One guess as to what you think happened to spark that).

They spend the night completing wild pranks and breaking into Sea World. Quentin has never felt more alive and he’s convinced that this is the start of something between him and Margo. Except the next day, Margo has disappeared. She’s been known to run away in the past, so her parents are concerned, but not surprised. As the days and weeks slip by, Margo doesn’t come back, but Quentin discovers what he believes are clues left behind by Margo for him to find her.

The entirety of the book follows Quentin trying to figure out these clues to find Margo and culminates in the coolest road trip ever. I can’t wait to see it portrayed on screen. Quentin learns a lot about himself and learns that when you idolize someone, you sort of make them into who you want them to be and forget who they actually are.

The reason this book is on my worst list is because I did not like the ending and felt that the pacing was a little off. Yes, I am allowed to be shallow sometimes.

Dreamstrider by Lindsay Smith – Published October 6, 2015; 394 pages.

17973145This book was mentioned in my Most Anticipated Releases of 2015 post way back at the beginning of my blog. I finally got my hands on it and found some time to read it over winter break. It really wasn’t what I was expecting. I just felt it could have been better.

The concept and the world building were really well done and well thought out. I did feel that the ending was a little too perfect and we probably could have done with a little more death (I’m clearly in a writing class, because I get annoyed when characters don’t suffer enough).

We follow Livia, the only known dreamstrider who can possess people and not lose herself to the madness of Nightmare. She isn’t the government’s first choice and is still too inexperienced for their liking, but she comes into her own in the book. We get a glimpse into how the government of this world works, and it’s as screwed up as you’d think it would be as they can take over people’s bodies and possess them.

The book delivers on pretty much all the promises it made, I just thought it could have had a little more oomph.There is nothing I really hated about this book, but there’s nothing I really loved about it either.

I am really glad that it is a standalone novel, I hate it when publishers drag out a story over two or three books unnecessarily.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard – Published February 10, 2015; 383 pages.

22328546This book was a highly anticipated YA release on Booktube so I had heard a lot about it before I put my name down at the library.

I’m thinking I may have to take a break from YA dystopian novels for a bit. They’re all starting to feel the same. The newest theme they’ve been sticking to is different types of blood that dictate were you fall on the social ladder or pecking order.

In Red Queen the people are divided by Red or Silver blood. The Reds are the common folk and the Silvers are the nobility and ruling class. Their silver blood is a marker for the superpowers that they possess. There are a few different powers, but they are pretty much element based (earth, air, fire, water that kind of thing).

The book follows Mare, a Red blooded commoner who discovers that she has Silver powers despite her red blood. The ruling Silver King freaks out and concocts a ruse to hide Mare in plain sight and try to pass her off as a long-lost Silver princess. The King also engages her to one of his sons as a way to keep an eye on her. Despite all this, Mare still starts working with the Red Guard, a terrorist group that is looking to upset the balance of power.

It’s a great premise and I really enjoyed the world building, but I just feel like I’ve read it before. Another reason why it might be a good time for a break. With all the hype this book got it really built up my expectations and so I was ultimately let down. Still a decent read and I will most likely finish the series one day.

Miss Mayhem (Rebel Belle #2) by Rachel Hawkins – Published April 7, 2015; 273 pages.

22465605I talked about this series during my Best read series blog post and while the series as a whole is very good I found the followup to be underwhelming when compared to the debut. I was rather disappointed when I finished it.

It’s quite a bit shorter than the first book, so that may have played a role in why I found it lackluster. In sequels characters need a little time to breath and with the book being as short as it was I don’t think they had the time to develop the characters into their new roles. It seemed like a rush to get to the last book.

I felt that it was the same story line as the first book. In the first book the climax occurs at cotillion and in this one the climax occurs at the Miss Pine Grove pageant, the similarities weren’t enough to keep me interested. While things happened that sort of moved the plot arc forward I didn’t really care where they were going.

It took me a lot longer to get through this book than it should have. Some of the great banter than came from David and Harper that made the first book so good was missing and that dynamic was a huge selling point for me.

The final book in the series has nearly 100 more pages than Miss Mayhem, so I have high hopes that Rachel Hawkins can end this story on as good a note as she started it.

Gathering Blue (The Giver Quartet #2) by Lois Lowry – Published September 25, 2000; 240 pages.

12936Who hasn’t read The Giver? Anybody? I’m pretty sure it was required reading in elementary school, but for those of you that haven’t, it is a book set in a “utopian” future where the human race has given up emotion and feeling in place of “sameness”. There are no wars, no poverty, and no public memory of what life was like before that time. The only person who carries the memories of the time before sameness is the Giver and in the novel he is training his new apprentice, Jonah, the receiver of memory.

The book basically asks the question of what we are willing to give up in order to feel safe and prevent war etc. The ending is rather ambiguous with Jonah escaping his town with a newborn baby. I always thought it was a weird way to end a book, but seeing as I was 10 when I first read the book, I let it go and moved on. I found out, years later, that it is actually part of a quartet.

There are four books, all set in the same universe, that explore different civilizations that, I’m assuming, cropped up after some big catastrophe and that all weave together. I obviously had to read them. I was on a book binge at the library and didn’t want to over do it so I only requested the second book.

This book follows Kira, an orphaned, deformed, girl who is shunned by her village due to her disability. She posses one gift that saves her from death, but that leads her to a whole other type of prison, when she is basically taken in as a ward of the state and works for the government.

It’s another dystopian world in the guise of a utopia. It’s so different from the Giver in how the village is set up, it’s very old world and archaic, whereas the world of Jonah and the Giver is more modern and civilized. This threw me off a bit and I didn’t see how it would all fit together.

This was in no way a bad book. It just really caught me off guard and wasn’t the type of sequel I was expecting. I have plans to finish the quartet this summer, so I may have a full review up later this year.

That’s all for me this week folks, I hope you enjoyed reading about my worst books of 2015. Next week we switch gears and talk about my favourites of the past year, so stay tuned for that.

A preview of what I have coming up this year on the blog are subscription boxes and book related merch, book to TV show adaptations, my most anticipated reads of 2016 (It’s short I promise, I only have so much time), and I go off the beaten path (for me anyway) and explore the world of self-help books. Should be an interesting year, thanks for spending it with me. Hope you guys have a great week, and as always, please read responsibly.

Stephanie

Goodreads Links:

Ten Things We Did

The Here and Now

The Rosie Project

The Rosie Effect

Paper Towns

Dreamstrider

Red Queen

Miss Mayhem

Gathering Blue

 

 

 

Worst Books 2015

Hey everybody, I hope you had a great Christmas season and a great break, if you had one. I am going to start with an apology, because I am going to kick off the new year with some long blog posts that will most likely be in multiple parts. So, sorry not sorry. 🙂

I read 45 books this past year. I’m kind of impressed with myself, not going to lie, seeing as I started Creative Communications this year. But, I had nine months to binge a bunch of books and I did, so that’s when these were read. I also grouped them by series, so there are only 15 entries, but 18 books represented this week. There is no real order.

In the upcoming blog posts I will be discussing the worst books of 2015 (that I read) and I have another set of posts in the works that is my best books of 2015.

Without further ado, here are my  15 worst books (and a few series that I read) of 2015.

The Heir (The Selection Series #4) by Kiera Cass – Published May 5, 2015; 342 pages.

22918050The Heir is a continuation of the Selection series by Kiera Cass. In it we follow the main characters from the original trilogy’s daughter as she goes through her own Selection process.

The war that was a focal point in the first series has long since ended, but there is still unrest in the kingdom while it adjusts to no longer having a caste system. Enter the King and Queen’s great idea to distract the public by parading their self centered daughter around in front of cameras and having the populace watch while she picks a husband.

While I have no problems  with this premise, it pretty much matches that of the original, I didn’t really like the main character. Her name is Eadlyn. Points for originality on that one America and Maxon (they’re the parents), and she’s just kind of mean. Her focus the entire book is herself and there is no thought put into the strife going on in her country. She’s a naive girl who’s in the process of growing up.

It wasn’t a terrible book, but it wasn’t a great book either. I’ve read books with similar plots before and with main characters that I related to a little better. All in all this was a meh book for me.

The series is wrapping up with one last book that’s due out this year in May, and, as is seemingly becoming the norm, a selection (see what I did there?) of novellas exist that have been released in bind ups that provide more backstory into the world and side characters.

I’m a sucker for a cheesy romance and I hate leaving things unfinished, so I will most likely be reading all of these at some point in the future, regardless of my feelings.

Rook by Sharon Cameron – Published April 28, 2015; 456 pages.

23399192Looking back I read a lot of standalones this year. I tend to read series over standalones, but I think that has more to do with the publishing industry and the genres that I read. It’s also a nice break for my brain to read something that begins and ends in one book.
Anyways, back to Rook.
The reason this book is on this list is primarily due to what I like to call book burnout. I had read so many books before this and I had a giant stack next to my bed still and it just didn’t grab my attention. It was a case of bad timing, otherwise I think I would have really enjoyed this book.
The premise is excellent. In a post apocalyptic future the world has been destroyed by meteors and the Sunken City (Paris) is essentially re-living the French Revolution. The Red Rook is both savior and vigilante who is saving the people who are sentenced to die by the blade of the guillotine and in doing so, breeding hope amongst the people.
In the book we follow Sophia Bellamy and her attempts to covertly save the inhabitants of the Sunken City and keep her family from ruin. It is a book full of political intrigue, cloak and dagger, and mysterious characters. I felt it dragged in places and sometimes I was confused as to where we were.Once it got going it kept my attention and I was able to finish it fairly quickly.
I did really enjoy the central relationship between Sophia and her arranged fiancé, René Hassard and all the little throwbacks to the past (our present). Hearing a Nintendo controller being described as a family heirloom that is worth millions is hilarious to me. And the characters disbelief in technology and how it works was a nice addition.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart – Published May 13, 2014; 242 pages.

16143347This book was, interesting to say the least. It follows a group of teens who spend their summers together on their family’s private island.

They don’t really talk or hang out throughout the year and their only contact is on the island during summers. There is an interesting family dynamic because the patriarch has a tendency to pit his daughters against each other and they in turn use their children to butter up their father. A very sad set up for everyone involved.

Tragedy strikes or is alluded too all throughout the novel and we are told the story in a non-linear set up that is still fairly easy to follow.

I just did not like it, straight up, it was not my thing. The mystery was kind of dull and really easy to figure out if you were paying attention. I sort of drifted in and out while I read this.

It was an interesting examination of grief and mental illness. But all in all I would not recommend this book, unless you were looking to read and get familiar with unreliable narrators. Because then it would be really helpful.

Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley – Published by April 28, 2015; 320 pages.

21393526I was really excited for this book. The premise was something I had never really come across before, and who doesn’t love sky pirates? Robert De Niro in Stardust anyone?

When I read it, I was a little disappointed, I felt that the story wasn’t as fleshed out as it could have been and I wasn’t very impressed with the world building either. Which is weird because it’s based on actual existing folklore.

The premise of Magonia is a girl named Aza who is suffering from a mysterious lung disease where she is essentially drowning in air. Aza’s on a lot of medication because the doctor’s don’t really know what’s wrong with her, so when she starts seeing ships in the sky everyone just brushes it off as a side effect of the drugs.

When she suffers an attack and basically dies and wakes up aboard a skyship, Aza doesn’t know what to think. What she does know is that she can breathe. For the first time in her life she takes a full deep breathe and doesn’t feel like she may pass out. Up in Magonia she is strong and capable.

The love story that’s present in the story is also a little corny and was one of the turn offs for me. I didn’t find it all that believable. For me it was all about the dialogue and I just did not feel like it was a strong part of the novel. It’s almost like it was added in as an after thought and wasn’t necessary to the plot of the book.

There is a second book in the series that is set to come out on early 2016 and I’m interested to see where they take it. This series will strictly be a library series for me from now on.

Sweet Shadows & Sweet Legacy (Medusa Girls series #2 and #3) – Published September 4, 2012 & September 3, 2013; 328 pages & 384 pages.

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Have you ever started reading a series when you were younger and you didn’t finish it and then you go on a library binge and try to clean up your TBR list? No, just me? Well that’s what I did when I read these books. I have over 300 books on my TBR and I decided to try and make a dent in it last year, which lead to me checking out the end of this series.

It’s a middle grade series about the descendants of the gorgon Medusa and how they were separated at birth and how they are destined to fight demons and other mythical Grecian creatures. It follows the three sisters as they get to know each other and how they all accept their destinies in different ways.

I think because this is a middle grade series I had just outgrown it by the time I got to finishing up the series. The insta-love and the relationships were sort of a problem for me and the book has a very happily ever after fell to it. Which can be fine, but as I’ve come to realize, it’s not always realistic or satisfying.

I’m going to chalk this one up to me not being in the target market for this kind of series anymore.

The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey – Published June 19, 2014; 460 pages.

17235026This book was a recommendation I got from a new booktuber I was watching named Regan. Her channel is called PeruseProject. She had nothing but good things to say about this book so I decided to give it a try.

It wasn’t something I would normally pick up but I’m always looking to break out of the vampire vortex I seem to get pulled into all the time.

I think this one was also a casualty of book burnout, as it is very well-written. The plot is semi-interesting and the twist is pretty easy to guess early on, but I like how in the synopsis they really don’t give anything away.

One bonus to this story is there are no unnecessary love triangles or relationships. Yay!! *happydance* As I’ve said before, I am a sucker for a good romance and I am a wee bit obsessed with shipping things but there is a time and a place for everything and after the apocalypse while you’re just trying to stay alive isn’t always the best time or place. So kudos to you Mr. Carey.

The 100 & Day 21 (The 100 series #1 and #2) – Published September 3, 2013 & September 16, 2014; 323 pages & 320 pages.

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I became obsessed with reading these books because there is a TV show (OMG it’s AMAZING and everyone needs to watch it. It’s called The 100 and it airs on the CW and it’s on Netflix) based of the books series. Like with movies, I like to read the books before I watch the show. That didn’t happen this time around. I’m kind of glad it didn’t, because the TV show is so much better. I’m finding that to be a theme. Some great TV has come from some mediocre books. Every time I went to the bookstore it was like these were calling to me and I had to stop myself from buying them a couple times.

The premise of this series is 100 youth prisoners from the failing Colony space shuttle are being sent back to Earth for the first time in centuries following a nuclear war to find out if it is livable for humans. Well that was a mouthful.

The book follows multiple POVs of key members of The 100 as they go about surviving on Earth after centuries of living up in space. They deal with all the standard survival stuff, like finding food, water, and shelter. They also have to deal with the animals and how they were affected by the nuclear war that took place and are they really the only humans on the planet?

Another big turn off for me was the insta-love and just the relationships in general that happened in the book. The main character (from the show, so naturally she stood out to me in the book) came off as kind of Mary-Sueish and I just was not as intrigued or captivated by the story as I was by the show.

So, watch the show and leave the books. You won’t see me make that suggestion very often.

 

That’s all for this weeks folks, it’s great to be back. Tune in next week for the conclusion of this list and as always, please read responsibly.

Stephanie

Goodreads Links:

The Heir

Rook

We Were Liars

Magonia

Sweet Shadows

Sweet Legacy

The Girl With all the Gifts

The 100

Day 21

“You keep on doing all the things I like, You’ve got me hypnotized.”

Hey everybody,

I hope your Christmas shopping is going well. I have no money and no time so my shopping will most likely occur in a panic the week before Christmas. I can’t wait!

As promised, kind of, I will be discussing book to movie adaptations. I was unsure how to structure this, because there are so many ways I could tackle it. Since my semester is almost over, I figured I’d give myself a break and keep it simple. I’ll just be talking about a few of my favorites this week. That leaves me the option of talking about them again in the future.

What I love about book to movie adaptations is that I find I get introduced to new books through movies now. It’s great, I love it. I’m such a ‘must read the book first’ person that I never want for new books to read.

Buckle up kiddos, we’re going on an adventure into my brain… again… the same as every week. Still, it can be a scary place, so strap in and please stow all your baggage under the seat in front of you and keep all your limbs inside the car at all times. I am not responsible for any lost or stolen items.

I didn’t want to beat a dead horse and keep talking about Harry Potter, so I did some research before I wrote this up to remind myself of what was out there, and I had a question: why the hell is Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban considered a good book to movie adaptation?

  1. It is the lowest grossing film of the entire series. Not that that’s necessarily an indication of quality, but come on!
  2. It is confusing as shit to follow whether or not you’ve read the book
  3. A SCENE THAT HAPPENS AT CHRISTMAS IN THE BOOKS AND IS A MAJOR PLOT POINT HAPPENS AT THE END OF THE BOOK AND MAKES NO EFFING SENSE!!!

Sorry, gotta let out my nerd rage on that one. I’m cool, I’m cool, let’s move on.

*Kicks dead horse one more time and runs away*

Here we go.

The Hunger Games series.

I’ve mentioned this one before. I think it’s great. They don’t deviate from the book unless they need to, and not in really obvious ways. They had to cut a few background characters, but overall the story is not affected and they respect the source material. My one gripe is that there really isn’t enough blood. It’s children murdering each other, I’m not saying it has to be gratuitous, but there definitely needed to be more blood.

 

Holes

Shia LaBeouf before he decided not to be famous anymore and became a performance artist. We were all so innocent. Another great adaptation. The entire story is in here, I believe. The only significant change they made was that Stanley wasn’t obese. The reason they did this was because it would have put to much of a strain on Shia to gain and lose so much weight in such a tight time frame. I’m guessing a fat suit wasn’t an option because they were filming in a desert.

If you haven’t picked this book up yet, what are you doing with your life?

 

Tuck Everlasting

Walt Disney clearly just has their shit together when it comes to doing book to movie adaptations. When you have source material that’s this good and a cast this good that’s on you if you mess it up. Again, a few minor changes for flow but nothing too radical. If you want to make original content, make original content. Don’t take a book and butcher it to fit into what’s popular.

 

There you go, I tried to keep it short and sweet this week. I have one more post next week and then I am taking a break for Christmas. I might pop back in during that period, but we’ll see. Have a great break you guys.

As always, please read responsibly.

Stephanie

“You got a taste of sweet divine” Pt. 3

Hey everybody,

Hope you’re doing well. Last week’s post was really long, so thanks for sticking with me. I feel like this one may be just as long, so fair warning. We’re gonna wrap up my list of top 15 read series this week. I’m excited about it, here we go!

Here is my top 5 read book series!

Number 5: The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling; 7 books

harry-potter-books
The Harry Potter series.

Those who know me are probably wondering why this isn’t higher on the list. I mean, this book series changed my life. It changed a lot of peoples’ lives. It’s just amazing and was the first time I can remember that I committed to reading a series that was this long. (How the times have changed.) Now it’s normally an accident, I’ll pick something up, read it, love it, Goodreads it, and find out there’s like five books in the series. Three of them don’t have a release date yet, and the other two had two years in between publication. And so begins the torture. #booknerdproblems.

Back to Harry Potter, if you haven’t read this series, we can’t be friends anymore. For reals, what have you been doing with your life? There are no excuses. I will admit that as I get older the first three get difficult to get through, but I just marathon those in about a day, and then move on.

The series follows a young orphan boy named Harry who lives with his abusive aunt, uncle, and cousin. On his eleventh birthday he discovers that he’s a wizard and his parent’s were murdered by the darkest wizard of the time. Harry goes on to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and makes friends, has adventures, and starts and ends a war.

There’s so much more that goes on in this series, including political intrigue, murder, impersonations and, I mean there’s mermaids, how can you go wrong with mermaids?

Just read the book series and then we can talk about it. Get on my level muggles!

Number 4: The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare; 6 books

mortal_instruments_series
The Mortal Instruments series.

Cassandra Clare has a problem. She can’t seem to stop writing about Shadowhunters, and I don’t really want her to stop. She’s obliging and is currently writing her third series that is set in the Shadowhunter’s universe. The Mortal Instruments is the first to be featured on this list as well as the first one she wrote.

This series follows Clary Fray, a girl who thinks she’s normal, until one evening she witnesses a murder. Except there’s no body and the perpetrators are invisible to everyone but Clary. What follows is her introduction to this underworld that, as a mundane, we are unable to see.

Throughout the series, Clary is inducted into this “club” of Shadowhunters and discovers more about her past and her dead father. She also learns that appearances can be deceiving and you shouldn’t always trust your eyes.

There is a host of secondary characters and b story lines that weave throughout the series. It was originally supposed to only be a trilogy, so near the middle there are a few bumps in the road as far as story goes. Cassandra has also been accused of drawing out plot lines and adding irrelevant details, but she is great at pleasing her audience.

City of Heavenly Fire is the sixth and final book that wraps up the series. It is a behemoth of a book, standing at over 700 pages. I read it in a week and loved every second of it. It perfectly sets up the following series while wrapping up the previous one. I’m happy to say that it ends as well as it began.

Number 3: The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare; 3 books

infernal-devices
The Infernal Devices series.

See what I mean about having a problem? On top of the nine books mentioned so far, Cassandra Clare has another three that delve deeper into this universe and another one on the way. The woman’s a machine.

Infernal Devices is set in 1878 and is considered a prequel to the Mortal Instruments. Honestly, you should read these in the following order. Mortal Instruments books 1-3, Infernal Devices series, and finish up with Mortal Instruments books 4-6. Best way to do it without spoiling yourselves. There are little plot nuggets throughout both series that tie both together in some way, it makes for an interesting reading experience.

In Infernal Devices we learn more about the history of Shadowhunters and their relationship with Downworlders (Warlocks, Werewolves, Vampires etc.).

We learn about the world from Tessa’s point of view. At the beginning of the series, she is simply a girl looking for her lost brother. Throughout the series she grows and changes as she finds love, heartbreak, and discovers her birthright and the truth about her conception.

As is popular in YA (Young Adult) fiction, there is a love triangle. In Infernal Devices it is between Tessa, Jem, and Will. Two Shadowhunters that Tessa meets while searching for her brother. The great thing about this love triangle, and what makes it different, is that a) it’s set in 1878 so we get to witness courtship, and b) both suitors believe that the other is equally right for Tessa. There’s a great twist at the end of the series that will either shatter your heart or make you hope for the future.

It’s a great historical fiction read, has an amazing cast of characters, and the hints that are dropped and picked up throughout both series’ just makes it unlike anything you’ve read before.

Number 2: The Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer;  4.5 books

TLC-books1
The Lunar Chronicles series.

I can’t rave about this series enough. It is so good. The world building is amazing, the use of characters is amazing, and they use fairy tales. Throw in a cyborg Cinderella, moon sickness, and a villain who tried to murder a baby and you’ve got me hook, line, and sinker.

The reason I say there are four and a half books in this series is because Fairest is not a full length novel. It’s more of a novella. It gives us Queen Levana’s (our villain) backstory. In fact, each book is written from a different point of view and the books are titled accordingly. As the series goes on, and we are introduced to more characters we do get multiple points of view in a book.

The overarching theme, or story, of the series is protecting New Beijing and the world from the Lunar’s and Queen Levana. Our heroes also need to find the lost princess Selene who is the only person who could rightfully claim the throne from Queen Levana.

I haven’t finished the series yet, as you know, because Winter came out in November (So excited!!! I’m saving it for December) so it will be interesting to see how Melissa wraps up this series.

Some good news is that we have even more Lunar Chronicles to look forward to because a bind up of short stories is set to be released in 2016. Stars Above features never before released shorts that cover even more fairy tales and teach us more about the backstory leading up to the events in the book.

And finally…

Number 1: The Hollows series by Kim Harrison; 13 books

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The Hollows is an interesting series. Not only is it the longest one on this list with 13 books,(which is funny, seeing as I said the 20+ ones are the ones I tend to dislike. This one snuck in before I made the switch) but it’s also urban fantasy that re-writes history. In the books instead of putting money into the space program in the 60s the American government put it into genetic modification.

The resulting virus was accidentally released and bonded with tomatoes. This killed the vast majority of the human population and also lead to magical and supernatural species like witches, werewolves, and vampires to come out of hiding because they were immune to the virus. This period is referred to as ‘The Turn’ in the books. The series takes place about 40 years later in Cincinnatti. It follows Rachel Morgan, a witch who is a detective/bounty hunter who works with the mundane police (FIB) on supernatural cases.

As the series progresses, we learn more about demons and their connection to the world and how Rachel fits into that. Another main focus of the books is Rachel’s relationships with her partners, a living vampire and a pixy, Jenks and Ivy. They add great colour to the series and my life’s dream is to find a way to nonchalantly work one of Jenks’ insults into a conversation.

I like the series because of the world, the character development, and the story line. It’s a fresh look at urban fantasy that combines history and supernatural elements. A great read that can easily grow with the reader.

That’s all for me folks, thanks for sticking with me through these long posts. I hope you enjoyed.

Please read responsibly.

Goodreads Links:

Harry Potter

Mortal Instruments

Infernal Devices

Lunar Chronicles

The Hollows

“You got a taste of sweet divine” Pt. 2

AUTHOR’S NOTE: WordPress updated while I was halfway through this blog post and changed EVERYTHING that has to do with linking to Goodreads etc. so I will be posting all the links at the end of the posts. Please bear with me while I figure this out/wait for a new update. Thanks! Stephanie

Welcome back guys, I hope you’ve been reading up a storm.

I am currently in a reading slump thanks to school, so if you’re not doing it for yourselves, please do it for me. The TBR stack next to my bed is getting out of control. I’m hoping to put a really big dent in it come December.

Without further ado, here is the second installment of my 15 favorite read series (That’s read pronounced like red, not reed). Maybe you’ll find something you want to pick up. Enjoy!

(It’s a long one, so get comfy!)

Number 10: The Rebel Belle series by Rachel Hawkins; 3 books

The Rebel Belle series.

This series is the first unfinished series on this list. The third and final installment, Lady Renegades, is scheduled for release on April 12, 2016. I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

So far this series has been a surprise. Don’t let the pastel colours fool you, it’s a kick ass book. It’s a great mix of femininity and badassery. It isn’t afraid to say that you can like pink and girly stuff, and still have a super cool knife collection and be a black belt in karate.

The basic premise is your typical Southern belle, Harper Price, who, I guess acquires is a good word, acquires powers unexpectedly at a school dance and becomes a Paladin. In typical YA (Young Adult) fashion Harper is charged with protecting her arch nemesis, David Stark, who is revealed to be an Oracle.

It’s the cutest thing ever, they fight using winning spelling bee words from grade school. Like, WHO DOES THAT??? People that are secretly in love with each other and meant to be, that’s who! (Sorry my inner 13 year old comes out when I get excited. Be glad this isn’t a video, the squeeing would have probably made you deaf. The words are egregious and felicitations BTW, just in case you were wondering)

The series follows Harper and David as they adjust to life as protector and protectee all while being in a relationship. David doesn’t exactly take well to his girlfriend being the one to physically protect him, which plays a major role in the series. There’s also a shadowy ancient group that is after David and want to use him to take over the world, because duh.

In the final book everything will come to a head as David has run away to protect everybody, because that always ends well, and Harper’s power’s are on the fritz. I can’t wait to see how Rachel Hawkins wraps up this series.

Number 9: The Black Jewels series by Anne Bishop; 9 books

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The Black Jewels series

This series is great. It’s a dark, rich, fantasy world that is beautifully crafted. The world building is phenomenal. Anne Bishop created an entire caste system based on dark power and magic that is inherent in the blood. This series could be a whole series of blog posts all on their own so I’m just going to talk very bare bones.

The premise of this series is a matriarchal society that is divided by power levels. There are landens, people who do not have access to the Darkness, and the Blood. They are the ruling class, but they are further broken down into other castes and then by the levels of the darkness they have access too. These levels are represented by Jewels that the Blood use to store their reserves of power.

The original trilogy is about Jaenelle, a girl destined to fulfill a prophecy and become Witch, the most powerful Queen that walks the earth. She is said to cleanse the Blood of all those that threaten it.

As I mentioned before, this is a dark fantasy series. It’s definitely meant for an adult audience. There is mention of sex, rape, slavery, and rampant abuse between the castes.

We get to further explore the world in the other six books. These books are groups of short stories and we get background on some minor characters. There are also two books that follow a different Queen in the aftermath of what Jaenelle did at the end of the original series.

I can’t really tell you much more without either being VERY long winded or giving too much away. So, I’m going to end it here and STRONGLY recommend that you at least look this one up.

Number 8: The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas; 7 books

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The Throne of Glass series.

This is a series that recently came into my life. After Twilight, I was a little gun shy to pick up something that was being so widely read, but I was seeing this book everywhere and decided to pick it up. I’m so glad I did!

I’m also kicking myself because it is the other series that is unfinished on this list. After marathoning the first two, I was devastated/pumped to learn that the series would be six books long and there would be a bind up of short prequel novellas to round out the universe. The fourth book in the saga, Queen of Shadows, came out back in September. I’m on Tumblr lock down to avoid spoilers on this one. I have high hopes for it.

The premise of the series is a female assassin who, initially, is “rescued” from a labor camp to compete in a tournament to become the King’s personal assassin. Celaena, our main character, was one of the best assassins in the kingdom before she got reckless. She was caught and sentenced to work out her days in the salt mines. Needless to say, she isn’t exactly a fan of the King.

Throughout the series we learn more about Celaena‘s backstory and what led to her being an assassin. We are also introduced to lot’s of interesting side characters as we learn more about the twisted world these people live in.

The series is just starting to kick in so there is still plenty of ground to cover. We learn more about the Fae and also the fallen kingdoms. There is also a dark presence that may be helping the King hold his throne. Cannot wait to read the rest of these and then marathon them again and again.

Number 7: The Daughter of Smoke and Bone series by Laini Taylor; 3 books

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Daughter of Smoke and Bone series.

Sometimes I’m a little shallow and I break the first rule of book club: don’t judge a book by it’s cover. But these covers we’re so pretty! I had to pick them up. I didn’t really give the story much of a thought, but it is really cool and right up my alley.

It’s a mysterious tale about an art student from Prague who works for a devil and collects teeth for him. All kinds of teeth, human teeth, animal teeth, fish teeth, you name it, Karou has dealt in it. When charred handprints start showing up on the entrances that Karou uses to get to Brimstone, the devil I mentioned earlier, and cutting her off from him that is when the story really starts to rev up.

Through Karou’s eyes we are thrust into an ancient war between chimera and seraph’s that went underground a long time ago, with the chimera on the run from their seraph oppressors.

Throughout the series we learn more about Karou, her mysterious past, and her role in the war. There is also a forbidden love story between a chimera and a seraph that may or may not have started the bloodiest part of the war.

The great thing about this series is the world building. Laini Taylor does a great job of creating these fantastic creatures and worlds but still grounds them with characters that have real, stupid, human problems. It’s a nice counterbalance to the fantastic world and events that are going on around them.

Number 6: The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins; 3 books

Hunger-Games-Alchemy-book-covers
The Hunger Games series

This could have easily been ranked higher. It’s right up there with Harry Potter and Twilight (we’ll talk about that at a later time… maybe) as far as phenomenon’s go. The movie’s are fantastic and do such a good job of ACTUALLY FOLLOWING THE PLOT OF THE BOOK!!!!!! (I have a lot of feelings on that, I’m sorry. I’ll reign it in…today.)

For those of you who’ve been living under a rock, this series is set in a dystopian America that has been separated into districts. Every district is forced to select a boy and a girl to compete in the hunger games each year. The hunger games is a fight to the death that is broadcast across the districts as a way of demoralizing them and making sure that they stay compliant to the capital. How is this a YA book you ask?

It’s a YA book because of the love triangle. Although, I must say, this is an unintentional one at best. The movie’s play it up a lot more than the books do. Ahh Hollywood.

Back to the book, we meet our heroine, Katniss Everdeen as she prepares for reaping day. The day where all the children who are eligible for the hunger games get their name put in a bowl and they choose the tributes.

In an attempt to save her sister, Prim, who was chosen, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She enters the arena with the baker’s son, Peeta, and proceeds to be the first ever double champion in history. The act of “rebellion” sets off a chain of events that leads to uprisings and war in the districts.

This book is great because it asks great questions about the media and our desensitization to violence and war. There are also some great subplots about PTSD, living with disabilities, and basic human decency and what we are willing to do to one another to survive. A great read for all ages that can spark some interesting conversations if handled properly.

That’s all for me this week. Thanks for putting up with this incredibly long post and the technical issues. You’ll find all the links to the Goodreads pages below.

Have a great week, and as always, please read responsibly.

Stephanie

Goodreads links

Rebel Belle

Black Jewels

Throne of Glass

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Hunger Games

 

“You got a taste of sweet divine” Pt. 1

Hey guys,

So if you haven’t already guessed, I read a lot (I know! Shocker right?). We’ve already talked about stanalone books that I enjoyed, but a much bigger and more frustrating group of books I’ve read are series.

Series can have anywhere from 2 to 20+ books in them. The 20+ ones are usually my least favorites just because it can sometimes be really hard to stay interested when there are two year periods between release dates. I was also the type who would re-read the entire series leading up to a new release, as I get older that just becomes less and less possible so I have definitely become more of a marathoner. I’ll wait until the entire series is out and complete before reading them. It makes my reading experience much more enjoyable.

This list is a wee bit longer than my last one so thank you in advance for bearing with me.

Here we go. I did actually try to keep this in some semblance  of an order so their ranking matters this time around.

15 FAVORITE READ SERIES

(The grammar in that title is rough I know, sorry!)

Number 15: The Minds series by Carol Matas and Perry Nodelman; 4 books

http://www.goodreads.com/series/50706-minds
Of Two Minds from the Minds series.
Click to go to Goodreads.

This series was a childhood favorite of mine. I don’t own any of them and I got them all out of the library. Because of this, and the lack of internet, I read them in the craziest order. I’m pretty sure at one point I went back and read them all in the proper order, as you should.

The Minds series is made up of four books. It’s a middle grade story so they are on the short side and probably a little simple in comparison to some of the other books on this list. It has a great world though, where imagination and the Balance are at work. Our main characters each have powers (shared by everyone in their countries) and they are betrothed at the beginning of the series, so of course they are complete opposites who eventually fall for each other.

Winnipeg even has a cameo!! Which was so awesome to an 11 year old. In a twist, our main characters are transported to the real world and forced to figure out how to get home without their powers. There’s also a great breaking of the fourth wall type scenario where they discover that they are characters in a book series.

Highly recommend for the budding fantasy reader or someone who is looking to recapture that youthful innocence they once had.

Number 14: The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series by Ann Brashares; 5 books

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series. Click to go to Goodreads.
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series.
Click to go to Goodreads.

Ah, the Sisterhood books. What little girl didn’t want friends like these?

The books tell the story of the Septembers. Their mother’s met at a pre-natal yoga class and they were all born in September. Their mom’s didn’t really stay friends after that, but the girls, Tibby, Bridget, Carmen, and Lena stay best friends into their teens. They find a pair of jeans that magically fits all of them and they use them to stay connected during their first summer apart.

In the subsequent books they spend more and more time apart and they continue to grow up. The pants are a link to each other that they use to stay connected throughout the series.

Ann Brashares released a fifth book in the series in 2011, five years after what we thought was the end of the series. Personally, it kind of ruined the series for me. The premise is that the Septembers have continued to grow up and apart over the years and the pants are no longer in the picture. There is also a tragedy that all the girls react to differently. It was well written, but I didn’t really appreciate it. It does give you a good sense of what life is like to a point.

Number 13: The Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld; 3/4 books

The Uglies series. Click to go to Goodreads.
The Uglies series.
Click to go to Goodreads.

This series has a great premise. It’s set in a dystopian society where everybody is separated by age, and also by beauty.

At 16, everybody undergoes an operation to be turned from an Ugly into a Pretty. There are segregated parts of town where the Littles, the Uglies awaiting the operation, and the Olds live. Prettytown is where you move after you receive your operation to live among all the other Pretties and you pretty much just party all the time.

Our main character, Tally, cannot wait to turn 16 and receive her operation. She’s one of the last Uglies her age and is starting to feel lonely. She meets Shay, another Ugly, who is soon to turn 16 and they become friends. She’s not sure she wants to be a Pretty at all and she questions why it’s mandatory to do so. This relationship carries the whole series and leads us into the dark underbelly of what being Pretty actually means.

This series asks some great questions about beauty and society. It’s a great look at the pressure that everyone is under to conform to a cultural norm. It’s a great fast paced read that can be re-visited at anytime.

The fourth book, Extras, is actually more of a companion novel and follows a new set of characters from Japan. I don’t really consider it a part of the series. It’s more of a standalone or a continuation, but still worth a read.

Number 12: The Princess series by Jim C. Hines; 4 books

Princess Series. Click to go to Goodreads.
Princess Series.
Click to go to Goodreads.

Princess series

I’ve already talked about and introduced you to this series when I discussed the first book, The Stepsister Scheme. The other books in the series expand on the characters that we were introduced to in the first book and we get to meet new fairy tale characters. We get to meet the Little Mermaid or in this world, the undine, and Little Red Riding Hood. All of these characters are based of of their darker Brother’s Grimm origins. Or, in the undine’s case, Hans Christian Anderson.

Because of this, the story lines aren’t all lollipops and candy canes. For example, Little Red Riding Hood is a notorious assassin and the Little Mermaid has gone insane and has murdered her sisters. In the middle of it all we learn more about Snow, Danielle, and Talia. There is also faerie meddling that takes place, and just enough death to keep it interesting and believable.

Action packed fairy tale re-tellings that put a new spin on classic characters. 10/10 would read again.

Number 11: The Looking Glass Wars series by Frank Beddor; 3 books

Looking Glass Wars series. Click to go to Goodreads.
Looking Glass Wars series.
Click to go to Goodreads.

Last but not least this week, we have The Looking Glass Wars series by Frank Beddor. This is a re-imagining of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. In the books, Alyss (notice the spelling?) is the Princess of Wonderland who, after her aunt Redd stages a coup, is whisked away to our world via puddle transport by her trusty bodyguard Hatter Madigan in a bid to save her life. (I want to give away soooo much but it’s way better if you read it for yourself, trust me.)

The premise of the books is that Wonderland is the source of imagination for all other world’s, including our own, and that the Alice in Wonderland books are a bastardization of the “true story” of what actually happened. All the characters we know from the Lewis Carroll books are present but turned on their heads. For example, Bibwit Harte is Alyss’ albino tutor and Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum are General Doppelganger, or Generals Doppel and Ganger, depending on the situation. The world building is just fantastic.

Throughout the series we follow Alyss and she finds her way back to Wonderland so she can take her rightful place as the ruler of the Queendom. There’s war, romance, and murder. All the ingredients that make for a great saga. Alyss also has to learn to trust herself and her abilities and it’s a great coming of age story that everyone can enjoy.

That’s the first part of my list. I hope you enjoyed. Please join me next week for Part 2 where I talk about my Top 10 – 6. There’s some good stuff coming guys, like angels, demons and Paladin’s, oh my!!

As always, please read responsibly.

Stephanie

“Like the stars to the night, And daytime is to light…”

Stephenie Meyer, you may know her as the author of the seminal classic Twilight. What you may not know, is that she wrote another book, and it’s good.

It didn’t sell as well as Twilight did and the movie was a blink and you’ll miss it affair. Don’t even get me started on book to movie adaptations. That is a topic for another blog post (keep your eyes peeled for that one) all you need to know about me is, the book is always better.

But that’s not what we’re talking about today. Today we are talking about The Host, Stephenie Meyer’s sci-fi romance novel.

The Host by Stephenie Meyer – Published May 6, 2008; 620 Pages.

The Host by Stephenie Meyer. Click to go to Goodreads.
The Host by Stephenie Meyer.
Click to go to Goodreads.

The Host is about the aftermath of an alien invasion. When the story starts the “Souls”, a parasitic alien race that are implanted into human hosts, are running the planet and tracking down the few rogue humans that are still managing to resist.

Melanie is one of those rogue humans who was recently caught and is about to be implanted. She is implanted with a Soul named Wanderer. In, what appears to be a rare twist, Melanie does not fade away from Wanderer’s consciousness. She fights, and she fights hard.

Over the course of the story Melanie and Wanderer get closer. Melanie shares memories of her life before Wanderer and it leads to them running away from the idyllic society that the Souls have set up and fleeing to try and find Melanie’s brother Jaime and her boyfriend Jared who, Melanie hopes, have found refuge with her Uncle Jeb. The bulk of the story is spent with Melanie and Wanderer trying to fit in with her Uncle Jeb and the other humans.

It’s definitely worth checking out and is just the right kind of different from Twilight that everybody can enjoy it.

Stephenie Meyer is a real tease when it comes to her writing. Around the time that the movie came out it was announced that Stephenie was planning on making this into a trilogy. The ending of this book is really open ended and it would have lent itself so well to a sequel. Like Midnight Sun though, it hasn’t happened yet. I have pretty much given up hope of ever reading the sequels to this book. It’s a real shame because all the characters are so likable and the struggle, though fantastical, is grounded in the human characters and is something we can all relate too.

One problem Stephenie has is that she doesn’t like killing her characters. Something that would definitely have to happen in an invasion novel. As a reader it really pisses me off that she won’t even try. Sadly it is a necessary thing that has to happen. I get fairly attached to characters, I don’t think anybody was the same after Dobby died in Harry Potter (Spoilers??? Sorry guys, but it’s been 9 years come on!) but it advanced the plot and put the war into a perspective we could understand.

Anyway, that is my rant about Stephenie Meyer and also a little bit of a plea to please write these sequels!!! I don’t think I will ever really 100% give up on them. I would love to learn more about Wanderer, Melanie and the world they inhabit.

Let me know down in the comments what book you wish had a sequel and as always, please read responsibly.

Stephanie

P.S.: She has time to write a gender swapped Twilight!! But she can’t be bothered to write a sequel to The Host? What is this!? Cut the shenanigans Meyer!

“Nothing has to be so perfect.” – Part 2

Here’s the second half of my Top 10 standalones from my Read shelf on Goodreads.

Check them out to build your library and receive customized recommendations. No this is not sponsored :P.

OK, here we go:

Number 5: Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden – Published September 27, 1997; 512 Pages.

Click to go to Goodreads.
Memoirs of a Geisha. Click to go to Goodreads.

The movie adaptation for this book was released in 2005. Being the type of person that I am, I actually get a lot of my book recommendations from upcoming movies. I know, I know, fore shame!!!  But I try my best to read the book before I see the movie. It actually exposes me to a bunch of books that I normally wouldn’t ever come across on my own.

This book is “historical fiction” if you will. It tells the story of a little girl who was sold into a geisha training school in pre World War 2 Japan. There she learns all the skills to entertain high powered men. The main character, Chiyo, soon becomes one of the most sought after geisha’s of the time. It takes us through her life and struggles to survive and even prosper in this crazy world.

I really enjoyed this book. I found it really interesting. One thing I took away that is really important is that Geisha’s are not prostitutes. Sex was never a requirement or an expectation when geisha’s entertained. The mizuage ceremony is the only instance where sex is on the table. It was considered a rite of passage for all geisha’s. It was also used to pay off their debts to the school’s for training them. It’s super fascinating to learn about all the tradition and artistry around this practice which is still around today. Albeit a more modernized version. Arthur Golden captures the essence of his characters well and it is presented as a memoir so as a reader you often forget that it is fiction.

Number 4: Faking Faith by Josie Bloss – Published November 8, 2011; 231 Pages.

Faking Faith. Click to go to Goodreads.
Faking Faith.
Click to go to Goodreads.

This is one of those books that you pick up and just have to try. It’s definitely different from what I usually read. I have periods where I just need something different. Most of my standalones come from these periods as well as the contemporaries. I can only take so many vampires.

This is a book about a girl, Dylan, who is weathering a sexting scandal and is being ostracized by her peers. In her loneliness she turns to the internet and begins following the blogs of homeschooled fundamentalist Christian girls. She becomes obsessed and begins blogging as her alter ego Faith, a girl who would fit in perfectly to this community.

As Faith, she meets Abigail, the unofficial leader of all the bloggers. Dylan ends up going to visit Abigail and her family for a few days. In pretending to be Faith she learns a lot about herself. Her real life soon becomes to hard to ignore and Dylan must make a choice between continuing the lie or growing up and taking responsibility for her actions.

Anybody who has felt alone and had questions about religion can relate to the character in this book. It’s a great look at how people of different religions interact. It never comes across as heavy handed either, which I really appreciate.

Number 3: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell – Published September 10, 2013; 445 Pages.

Fangirl. Click to go to to Goodreads.
Fangirl.
Click to go to to Goodreads.

Cath is me, and I am Cath.

Cather and her twin sister Wren (Cather and Wren, get it? I’ll wait… It’s Catherine!!! Yea I’m nerdy, but you knew that already and if you didn’t, where the hell have you been???) are Simon Snow fans. They’ve grown up with him and his book series and it has become their life. They are now going off to college and Wren is ready to move on. Cath isn’t quite ready for that yet, so college is a struggle for her. She does meet a few new people and has some new experiences and the book is all about her dealing with all the changes in her life while still being true to herself.

I really loved this book. I connected a lot with the main character. Sometimes she annoyed me, but overall I knew exactly where she was coming from and I understood the majority of her choices.

If you’ve ever identified as an introvert and a fangirl this book is the one for you. It explores what it means to step out of your comfort zone and how important it is to do that but to do it in your own way and on your own terms. Rainbow Rowell has a style all her own and she really portrays her characters well.

Number 2: Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella – Published July 21, 2009; 435 Pages.

Twenties Girl Click to go to Goodreads.
Twenties Girl
Click to go to Goodreads.

Sophie Kinsella is one of those authors that is hit or miss for me. I’ve read quite a bit of her stuff and her series, Confessions of a Shopaholic, actually annoys me. I have to read those ones in small doses. Her standalones, on the other hand, I consistently find enjoyable.

In Twenties Girl Lara Lington is sure she is seeing things. At her great-aunt Sadie‘s funeral Lara is startled by a ghost. The ghost of her great-aunt Sadie. Sadie cannot rest until she has found a necklace that has been in her possession for over 75 years and she won’t leave Lara alone until she helps her find it. Under duress, Lara agrees to help Sadie move on. It takes awhile, but eventually the aunt and niece find common ground and are able to help each other.

When I started this book I didn’t expect to like it. Once I got into it I polished it off in about two days. Sadie was super cool as a character. We sometimes forget that the elders in our life were young once. It’s really interesting to see them as something other than the old woman or man in your life. It’s a nice reminder that everybody has a story worth telling. Regardless of how many times they’ve been around the block.

Number 1: The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine – Published March 1, 2004; 304 Pages.

The Two Princesses of Bamarre. Click to go to Goodreads.
The Two Princesses of Bamarre.
Click to go to Goodreads.

I read this book for the first time a long time ago. I got it out of the library and years later went searching for it. Thank God for the internet or I would have been scouring the library shelves for who knows how long.

Princess Addie and her sister Meryl couldn’t be more different. Meryl is courageous and spends her days practicing her sword fighting in preparation for helping to rid Bamarre of all the monsters that plague it. Addie, in contrast, is afraid of even the smallest of beasts and perfects her embroidery in the safety of the castle. They do share a deep love and loyalty to one another.

When Meryl is struck by the Gray Death, a plague that took their mother from them, Addie is forced to step outside her comfort zone and save her sister. As she fights against time in search of the cure Addie must overcome all of her fears and battle gryphons, specters, dragons and even spiders. She finds the cure, but the Gray Death acts fast. Addie may not make it back in time.

There’s a nice little twist at the end of this book that really wraps the story up nicely. It’s a great tale about overcoming your fears and the importance of family. I highly recommend this book to anyone who’s looking for well fleshed out female characters that have strong relationships other than romantic ones.

Thanks for sticking with me these past two weeks, I hope you enjoyed all the books I talked about.

See you next week, and as always, please read responsibly.

Stephanie