Thursday, July 2, 2015

I am unrealistically, egregiously ambitious when it comes to my July TBR, especially considering two of the books are very large and will be quite time-consuming. But I want to must read them all. For those of you who don't have the vision of an eagle or superhero and since I was trying to be all artsy (read: generally pleasing to the eye) in the picture, here's what's on my reading list for this month:

YA Review Copies
The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George
Of Dreams and Rust by Sarah Fine
A Million Miles Away by Lara Avery
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick
The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle
The Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman
Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray

Children's Books for Review
Good Night, Firefly by Gabriel Alborozo
Little Birds Bad Word by Jacob Grant
Wild Feelings by David Milgrim

And that's just the review copies I plan to read. But I should mention that I may opt out of any that I decide reviews are too poor for. I tend to lose interest when I see so many of my friends not enjoying a book. *shrugs* What are ya gonna do?

That might actually be favorable for my other reading goal this summer, which is to read more for pleasure. (Not that reading ARCs isn't enjoyable, but reading for review often involves stress, at least for me, so I'm trying to tamp that down a bit.) In keeping with that theme, I plan to re-read or at least re-listen (or re-read by way of audio) to some old favorites. Give those old books a chance to shine once again, if you will.

I know that there are probably a few re-reading challenges around, but that's not what this is. I don't do challenges. Not anymore, anyway. I mean, I do the Goodreads "see how many books you can make it through in a year" challenge, but I'd read and read and read without that, so I don't really count it. And that's not what this is anyway. This is solely for fun. =)

The first series I plan to re-read is The Rephaim by Paula Weston as I wait desperately for the final book to appear on my doorstep. I did this last year before Shimmer released, but I just love this series so much, and it never hurts to have a refresher.

The Elementals series by Brigid Kemmerer was just released on audio over the last couple of months, and since I only read the first three books, I'd really like to start over and finish out the series with a bang. The bang being that we finally got Michael's book, and being the oldest Merrick brother, his story is sure to be the hottest. *rawr* Especially from what I remember of him in his prequel story and from his brothers' books. ;0)

Which brings me to my next re-listen: The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater. I probably re-listen to these audiobooks at least twice a year. (Which could probably also be said for The Scorpio Races. I have a real affection for Maggie's work.) I didn't think I'd like Will Patton as narrator when I first listened all those years ago, but he's really grown on me, especially his voices for Ronan and Persephone. What seemed weird at first became the way I heard them in my head, as well, reading the later books. These audiobooks are perfection, and while I wait and pray that The Raven King's release isn't pushed back again, they'll be the best of company.

My sister is currently reading Crown of Midnight, at my insistent prompting, of course, and as she ask questions and wants to discuss, I find myself really, really wanting to experience the series with her. She doesn't read nearly as much as I do, so I should be able to keep pace with her on audio if I wait a bit. I'm hoping we'll both be ready for Queen of Shadows in September. I mean, I know I will be, but I want her to be there right along with me. She's not sure if she wants to read The Assassin's Blade, isn't sure if she really needs to read about Celaena's life before the events of Throne of Glass, but I'm hoping she changes her mind. I mean, SAM. And the suffering and the longing and just all of it. When I start my re-listen of the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas, I will definitely be starting with the prequel novel first. And, of course, after this I'm going to force her to read ACOTAR. It's only right. :D

I'm sure there will be some other reads and re-reads thrown in for good measure. I always like to deviate from a schedule, even if I'm the one who set it. Something about bucking the system, I guess? =) I mean, I already know I'll be re-reading What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick this month as part of the promotion for The Boy Most Likely To. And my hold on the Crimson Bound audio at the library should be coming in soon, as should the hold for His Golden Materials. I caught The Golden Compass on TV one day and though it wasn't the best adaptation, it made me really want to experience the series again. Even that tear-soaked final book. And after reading Illuminae, I just had to grab Jay Kristoff's other series, so now I'm listening to The Lotus Wars on audiobook. It's narrated by Jennifer Ikeda and it's pretty fantastic.

So, yeah, a pretty busy reading month ahead of me, lol. I'm getting a little short of breath just reading back through this. But I listen to audio pretty quickly, so I'm not worried on that front. And Katie and I will knock those children's books out in one go.

I'm kind of sad because April and I usually compile a list of summer books to challenge ourselves to read each month the kids are out of school, but she's on a break from the blog right now. It's probably for the best considering all of the books I already need to read, but I miss her all the same. :(

Anyway, what are your reading plans this month? Doing any re-reading? ;-)

Yay! Summer is in full swing! You know what that means! SYNC recently announced the list of audiobook pairings up for grabs this summer, and today kicks off the 9th week of the program for 2015. Here's what you can grab through Wednesday of next week...for free!

This week's YA title is Echoes of an Angel by Aquanetta Gordon with Chris Macias, performed by Robin Miles for Christian Audio.

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When Ben Underwood became blind at the age of two, anyone would have thought he faced a life full of hardship and uphill challenges—a world full of things he’d never be able to see and activities he’d never be able to enjoy. But as far as his mom, Aquanetta Gordon, was concerned, nothing was impossible for Ben . . . and so he accomplished the incredible. Known as “the boy who could see with sound,” Ben mastered human echolocation—the ability to detect the size, shape and location of objects through the reflection of sound waves. By clicking his tongue and “seeing” the waves, Ben could ride his bike, shoot baskets, identify objects, and even play video games. Some called it a miracle, but to Ben and Aqua, the real miracles were the otherworldly experiences God gave Ben—physical and spiritual—that others couldn’t explain. Echoes of an Angel is the remarkable true story of how a child who seemed destined for darkness brought light to the world. It’s the story of a single mom who encouraged her son to push beyond his limits, even as her heart clenched with protective love and fear. And it’s the story of a family’s unshakable faith . . . in God and each other.

This week's classic title is Buddha Boy by Kathe Koja, performed by Spencer Murphy for Full Cast Audio.

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With his shaved head and begging bowl the new kid is an automatic target for the bully boys of Edward Rucher High—an easy mark for their casual cruelty. Watching this, Justin would gladly stay as far from the newcomer as possible—until their economics teacher pairs them for a project and he finds himself becoming fascinated by the kid the others mock as "Buddha Boy." The thing is, friendship with an outcast always carries a price, and soon Justin must decide if he can stay silent in the face of what he knows. A scorching portrait of contemporary high school life, featuring a character listeners will never forget.

Will you be picking up either of these titles? Remember, they're only available through Wednesday, and new titles will be put up on Thursday for download. To download this week's titles, just click here to be taken directly to the SYNC download page.

I hope you take advantage of this program. I've been doing it for the last few years, and I've had the opportunity to listen to a ton of great audio for free.  If you've never tried audiobooks before, it's a great opportunity to do so without the obligation of buying one that you might not enjoy.  And if you love audiobooks, well, it's a great time to stock up on some titles you may have missed or discover new ones.  Win/win.  =)

Happy listening!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's WoW selection is...

Title: The Mirror King
Author: Jodi Meadows
Series: The Orphan Queen, book #2
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: April 5, 2016

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Wilhelmina has a hundred enemies.

HER FRIENDS HAVE TURNED. After her identity is revealed during the Inundation, Princess Wilhelmina is kept prisoner by the Indigo Kingdom, with the Ospreys lost somewhere in the devastated city. When the Ospreys’ leader emerges at the worst possible moment, leaving Wil’s biggest ally on his deathbed, she must become Black Knife to set things right.

HER MAGIC IS UNCONTROLLABLE. Wil’s power is to animate, not to give true life, but in the wraithland she commanded a cloud of wraith mist to save herself, and later ordered it solid. Now there is a living boy made of wraith—destructive and deadly, and willing to do anything for her.

HER HEART IS TORN. Though she’s ready for her crown, declaring herself queen means war. Caught between what she wants and what is right, Wilhelmina realizes the throne might not even matter. Everyone thought the wraith was years off, but already it’s destroying Indigo Kingdom villages. If she can’t protect both kingdoms, soon there won’t be a land to rule.

In this stunning conclusion to THE ORPHAN QUEEN, Jodi Meadows follows Wilhelmina’s breathtaking and brave journey from orphaned criminal on the streets to magic-wielding queen.

Did I know this was a duology? Because that fact is causing much elation over here. I am all about less trilogies. Also, The Orphan Queen was fantastic and I can't wait to see how Wil gets herself outta this one.

What are you desperately waiting for this Wednesday? Let us know in the comments or share a link to your own WoW post!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the awesome ladies at The Broke and the Bookish. Apparently, they are overly fond of list-making and love to share their bookish lists with the rest of us book nerds.  =) We're game.

This week's topic is the Top Ten Books I've Read So Far In 2015:

Jen's Picks:

So, as you can see, I couldn't narrow it down to just ten, but I got as close as I could. =) And it's also pretty obvious that I read mostly fantasy, though I did run across a few really awesome contemporary novels during the first six months of the year.

Which novels made your list? Be sure to share a link to your TTT post so we can visit!

Monday, June 29, 2015

So, last week I participated in the "Blog Most Likely To..." promotion and mentioned that I'd be re-reading My Life Next Door by way of the audiobook. I did and it was awesome. But I expected nothing less. =) I reviewed the book back in June of 2012 when I first read it, but I had some further thoughts to add to the conversation now that I'm done with my re-read, er, listen...

Title: My Life Next Door
Author: Huntley Fitzpatrick
Narrator(s): Amy Rubinate
Series: My Life Next Door, book #1 (companion series)
Length: 10 hrs 39 mins
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Publication Date: March 25, 2013
Source: purchased audiobook
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

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"One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time."

The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, messy, affectionate. And every day from her rooftop perch, Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs up next to her and changes everything.

As the two fall fiercely for each other, stumbling through the awkwardness and awesomeness of first love, Jase's family embraces Samantha - even as she keeps him a secret from her own. Then something unthinkable happens, and the bottom drops out of Samantha's world. She's suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

A transporting debut about family, friendship, first romance, and how to be true to one person you love without betraying another.

My original review can be found here, but below are some other thoughts I had upon my second reading of this fabulous book:

I really, really don't like Sam's mother. I didn't like her the first time I read this book, even in the beginning, but I liked her even less this time around. She didn't give her daughters a chance to be who they were and focused too much on her career and constituency. And I straight-up hated that smooth-talking boyfriend of hers. Slimy slimeballs are slimy.

I adore George to the nth degree. And if it weren't for Jase, he might just be my favorite Garrett. His sweet, childish fear of near-impossible things coming to pass -- black holes and air bubbles in IVs and eating Babe -- was so endearing. And the way he basically proposed to Sam, first on his own behalf and then on Jase's…*sigh*. He might just be the cutest secondary character ever.

Jase is one of the most swoon-worthy boys I've ever encountered in a YA novel. He's responsible. He's a family man. He's respectful of Sam and her boundaries. He's good with his hands, plays football, and has a knack for fixing things. And he's a car guy, rebuilding a classic Mustang on his own dime. YUM!

Sam and Jase are such responsible, drama-free characters and their relationship is one of my absolute favorites. Even after all the books I've read over the past three years. Theirs is not just a summer fling…it's the real deal, and it brings all the swoons and more than its share of feels. Jase works hard and looks to the future, especially where it concerns Sam. And they have frank discussions about things that matter. And when things got really tough, Jase gave Sam a chance to explain, and they worked through it instead of letting it ruin their relationship like so many characters before them.

I am more excited than ever to read Tim's story! I remember seeing such potential in his character when I read this book all those years ago, and it was even more pronounced this time around. He was practically begging for his own book, and I'm so glad the author decided to let his story see the light of day. From my original review: "Tim has substance abuse issues, a poor work ethic, and he’s driving his family crazy. But if you can endure his outlandish behavior and really see beneath the surface, he’s a really nice guy who just needs someone to take him under their wing and help him make some better decisions." And I stand by that 100%, knowing that Jase and his family have already paved the way for a better version of Tim to shine.

Amy Rubinate is a pretty talented audiobook narrator. I've listened to her narrate really sad novels and really uplifting novels, and though her voice doesn't really change, she owns the story with her performance. I loved listening to this book on audio as much as I loved reading it the first time.

GIF it to me straight:

About the Author:

Huntley Fitzpatrick grew up dreamy and distracted in coastal Connecticut. She flourished in a family of bookworms where everyone always had their nose in a book. She kept an exhaustively thorough journal which frightened her boyfriends but has proved very useful in her career as a writer. Her debut contemporary Romance, MY LIFE NEXT DOOR, was published in June of 2012 by Penguin-Dial for Young Readers. Now she laughs with and eavesdrops on her six children who provide her with perspective and material. She is represented by the amazing Christina Hogrebe of the Jane Rotrosen Agency.

Find Huntley:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr | Goodreads

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Happy reading!

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