Friday, October 28, 2016

Title: Gemina
Author: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Narrator(s): Carla Corvo, Steve West, MacLeod Andrews, P.J. Ochlan & a full cast
Series: The Illuminae Files, book #2
Length: 12 hrs 34 mins
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 18, 2016
Source: ARC and audio provided for review by publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

Add to Goodreads
The highly anticipated sequel to the instant New York Times bestseller that critics are calling “out-of-this-world awesome.”

Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminae continues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.

Once again told through a compelling dossier of emails, IMs, classified files, transcripts, and schematics, Gemina raises the stakes of the Illuminae Files, hurling readers into an enthralling new story that will leave them breathless.

Sorry, I just really like the formatting of these books. I'd write my whole review like that, but I think I'd have a massive headache by the end. Or you'd have one, and then where would we be?

The gist of that over there being: this sequel is as awesome as Illuminae, if not more so. I'm always wary of companion series because I fall hard for the characters in the first book every time. Way. Hard. So, for a duo of authors -- as amazing pants as these two are -- to make me love the characters in their second novel just as much is kind of unheard of.

I received both an ARC and an audiobook*** of Gemina for review, and being the visual person that I am, I followed along the text while I listened. Because with a book like this, you can't just hear an E X P L O S I O N on the audio without seeing it, not the way this series is presented. This sequel is just like Illuminae, told through a dossier of emails, text-like chats, and even files from AIDAN. You didn't think you'd seen the last of him IT, did you?

If you thought Kady and Ezra had a struggle on their hands in the previous book, what with a BeiTech ship on the warpath and a deranged AI taking charge, you ain't see nothin' yet. In this installment of the Illuminae Files, the characters are subjected not only to more BeiTech goons out for blood but also an alien life form that none of them are prepared for. All I can say is, Poor cow cows.

Our heroine this time around may be a pampered princess whose daddy runs Heimdall station, but Hanna's more dangerous than she looks. And she reminded me a lot of Lilac from These Broken Stars. Except harder to kill. Nik is a good guy with a bad boy rep, but he set his sights on Hanna long ago. He's good in a tough spot and also hard to kill. Which makes their pairing in this novel all the more fun. Add in Ella, his wise-hacking cousin and Hanna's smokin' hot boyfriend -- narrated by the incomparable Steve West on the audiobook, YUM! -- plus some seriously ruthless BeiTech mercenary-types who want to take them all out, and you've got a legit cast of characters.

Lots of action, too...and laughs and sobs and all the feels, really. Just like the first book. But more so. And with a psychedelic angle. Ha, you'll see what I mean. There is nothing I don't like about this book or series, but my favorite part might just be the action as reported by that analyst. That guy is hysterical. And he's got a British accent on the audio, which makes it even funnier.

Seriously. I don't care if you're not a fan of sci-fi or haven't read anything by these authors before. YOU NEED THIS SERIES IN YOUR LIFE. It's equal parts clever and funny and action-packed and soul-crushing and you are seriously missing out if you don't give it a chance. It's rare that I can say a sequel lived up to my expectations, but that's exactly what Gemina does. So go forth and grab this book and then live long and prosper.


GIF it to me straight:

***Slight spoiler if you're listening to the audio version*** OH! There is one thing I should mention about the audio: because I'm so familiar with narrators, I was able to figure out one thing much sooner than I probably should have. No biggie; it just left me incensed on behalf of some of the characters a lot earlier in the book. If you don't listen to much audio, you probably won't even notice. ;) And I think it would be much harder to guess if you're reading the text version.

About the Authors:

Amie Kaufman is the New York Times bestselling co-author of the Starbound series. Jay Kristoff is the award-winning author of the Lotus War series. Collectively, they are 12’5” tall and live in Melbourne, Australia, with two long-suffering spouses, two rescue dogs, and a plentiful supply of caffeine. They met, thanks to international taxation law, and stuck together due to a shared love of blowing things up and breaking hearts.

Find Amie:

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | FacebookInstagram | Pinterest | Tumblr

Find Jay:

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | FacebookInstagram

One winner will receive a finished copy of Gemina. US only. Prizes provided by Penguin/Random House.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Title: Vassa in the Night
Author: Sarah Porter
Narrator(s): Madeleine Maby
Series: stand-alone
Length: 10 hrs 47 mins
Publisher: Tor Teen
Publication Date: September 20, 2016
Source: ARC received from publisher, purchased audiobook
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

Add to Goodreads
In the enchanted kingdom of Brooklyn, the fashionable people put on cute shoes, go to parties in warehouses, drink on rooftops at sunset, and tell themselves they’ve arrived. A whole lot of Brooklyn is like that now—but not Vassa’s working-class neighborhood.

In Vassa’s neighborhood, where she lives with her stepmother and bickering stepsisters, one might stumble onto magic, but stumbling out again could become an issue. Babs Yagg, the owner of the local convenience store, has a policy of beheading shoplifters—and sometimes innocent shoppers as well. So when Vassa’s stepsister sends her out for light bulbs in the middle of night, she knows it could easily become a suicide mission.

But Vassa has a bit of luck hidden in her pocket, a gift from her dead mother. Erg is a tough-talking wooden doll with sticky fingers, a bottomless stomach, and a ferocious cunning. With Erg’s help, Vassa just might be able to break the witch’s curse and free her Brooklyn neighborhood. But Babs won’t be playing fair…

What a lovely, weird little book. It was so different and unique and definitely something you have to be in the right mood or frame of mind for. But it was definitely MY kind of book. :D I'm all about the weird. It's also a retelling of sorts, but as I'm not very familiar with the original story, I can't attest to how closely this novel follows the tale of Vassilissa the Beautiful. But I can say that I'm very much in the mood for more Russian folklore now because of this book.

I love stories of fair maidens trying to outwit spiteful, underhanded tricksters. Enter sarcastic, unflinching Vassa as the fair maiden and old, seemingly harmless Babs as the trickster, and I was hooked. I really enjoyed reading to discover the connection between these two and where Erg, the faithful wooden sidekick fit in. Lest you be worried, a talking wooden doll is probably the least creepy thing about this book.

Honestly, I loved Vassa and Erg separately, but it was their banter and every encounter that made this story fun. This book could have simply been menacing and creepy, but those two together brought a hint of levity to the story that was sorely needed. Especially since there were other factors that made this novel just completely bizarre, including the fact that the store dances upon a pair of chicken legs, there are hands sans bodies that govern the store, and the security for the store (besides the severed hands, obvi) is a man-who-is-not-a-man-at-all riding a circuitous route around the store.

You discover all of these things very early on and they're not even the weirdest part of the story. Yep, it gets even weirder. For example, how all of these things are linked and why there's a witch's curse to begin with. There's little romance and a whole lot of dismemberment, so it's not going to be everyone's cup of tea, but I kind of liked how nonchalant the book was about all of that.

And even though I had a copy from the publisher, I waited to listen to this story because there are just some stories you know are going to be better on audio, and this is one. Madeleine Maby gets every bit of Vassa's snark right and her voices for the other characters are kinda perfectly creepy. This was actually the ideal novel to read (or listen to) right before Halloween.


GIF it to me straight:
After this book, I really shouldn't have been surprised at how easy it was to find a dancing house GIF.

About the author:

I write stories that seem to me to be quite true enough for all practical purposes. Among them are VASSA IN THE NIGHT, THE LOST VOICES TRILOGY, and the forthcoming WHEN I CAST YOUR SHADOW and TENTACLE AND WING. Realism makes little sense to me and I experience more truth in the fantastic. I always have new novels underway, both Young Adult and Grownup/ Literary/ Speculative. When not writing my own weird stuff, I can often be found leading creative writing workshops with amazing young NYC public-school writers via Teachers & Writers Collaborative. Or I might be drawing, or gardening, or wandering wraithlike through the streets. I live in Brooklyn, land of mystery, with my awesome husband Todd and our two cats, Jub Jub and Delphine.

Find Sarah:

WebsiteTwitter | Goodreads | Facebook | Instagram

Saturday, October 22, 2016

{The Weekend Update} 10.22.16

Saturday, October 22, 2016 with 4 comments
So, since my end-of-the-week post isn't just about what I got in my mailbox or on my Kindle each week -- though that is a big part of it, I won't lie -- I decided to change up the title and intro a bit.  I might tweak the format a bit over time, but for the most part, it'll contain the same stuff: stuff I got, stuff I did, and stuff that's coming up on the blog.  Plus, I get to use the awesome GIF you see here and blow kisses to all the people who sent me lovely books and bookish things.  Oh, and I've started linking up to Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews and Sunday Post hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer since I'm not using a specific meme title anymore.
I missed posting a Weekend Update last week and kinda fell off blogging altogether this week, so today's post will be a catch up...not that there's all that much to catch up on, lol.

Anyway, here's what I scored this week...


I received my first-ever Owlcrate this week! I've already read the book and LOVED it. I'll share my unboxing next week, just to avoid spoilers for those who haven't gotten their boxes yet. :D


RookThe Problem with ForeverI Woke Up Dead at the MallWax

Rook was a phenomenal re-read via audio. Highly recommend. The Problem with Forever was subpar, even for JLA. I Woke Up Dead at the Mall was less adorable and more touchy-feely than I was expecting, but I enjoyed it. And I'm going to read Wax as one of my spooky reads closer to Halloween. :D

So, that's my haul. =) What fabulous bookmail did you get this week?

The Week in Review:


Current Giveaways:

Check back soon!

Promotional/Discussion Posts:

Currently Reading:

Blood and Salt (Blood and Salt, #1)I'm trying to get my scary read on, can you tell? :P My #otspsecretsister got this for me last Halloween and I didn't get to it in time, so now it's on this year's spooky reads TBR. :D Corn fields be creepy, yo...

Currently Listening:

The Coldest Girl in ColdtownI don't even know what re-read/listen I'm on this time, but it's a must for me this time of year. Or whenever I can't find anything new to listen to, lol. It's just that good. Plus, that kiss...OMG!!!

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Friday, October 21, 2016

So, I haven't been posting much lately. Like, not at all this week besides today. And when I have, it's been an obligatory promotional post for a book I received for review. But that's not to say I haven't been reading...because I have. A lot. (I've also been re-reading a lot, but I'm going to focus on new-to-me reads for now.) And I'm waaaaaay behind on reviewing those books, so I'm going to try to catch you up on just what I've been reading lately with this post. (Note: Some thoughts may be pulled from my initial Goodreads reviews.) More on why I've gone to this format here. I'm going to separate these into categories because that's just what works best for me. If a title fits more than one category, I'll pick the one that it fits into best based on what I read of it.

F A N T A S Y  |  S C I - F I

The Crown's Game (The Crown's Game, #1)The Edge of EverythingEmpire of Storms (Throne of Glass, #5)Ruined (Ruined, #1)

The Crown's Game - If I'd read this before I read The Night Circus, I might have liked it better, but it just felt like a much less enchanting version of that book. On the upside, the love triangle wasn't as horrible as I expected. :P And it was narrated in part by Steve West, and well, you can never go wrong with that choice in my book. :D 🌟🌟🌟

The Edge of Everything - I'll be reviewing this book in full closer to release date, but for now, I'll just say that I really enjoyed the humor, the snark, the setting and the voice. It wasn't quite what I expected, but I liked it anyway. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Empire of Storms - Perfection. Utter perfection. But, oh, gods. I wish I had sheets with a thread count to rival this series. I mean...holy fuck. I need a journal and a family tree to keep track of it all! But it's kind of amazing what a weaver of words Maas is. And, yeah, sometimes there are too many words, but the overall effect is sheer brilliance. But I am so SO scared for that final book. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Ruined - This story was entertaining but there was nothing unique about it. I thought her previous series was just as mediocre so I'm less inclined to pick up anything else from this author. 🌟🌟🌟

Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2)The Shadow Hour (The Girl at Midnight, #2)The Sleeping Prince (The Sin Eater’s Daughter, #2)Dream On (Silver, #2)

Crooked Kingdom - This was a fantastic sequel and conclusion to the Six of Crows duology. Action-packed. Twisty. Heart-breaking. And it still managed to make me cackle like a lunatic at the most inopportune times. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

The Shadow Hour - This is one of those love triangles that's going to kill me because I honestly like both guys. I still love the magical aspects, the traveling by way of portals and such, but the romance is killing it for me...except where Dorian and Jasper are concerned. ;0) 🌟🌟🌟

The Sleeping Prince - Um, wow. So, first, I should have re-read the first book more recently before starting this one. Second, I maybe should have re-read that synopsis before starting the sequel so I'd understand it was more of a companion novel than sequel. Though, I absolutely must say, the way this book ties into the world and weaves the two narratives together is brilliant. I made a few educated guesses and was happy to see that my theories were correct, but I still wouldn't say that this novel is predictable in any sense of the word. It was because of the chaotic nature and pacing of the story that I felt I needed to grasp at straws. I'm just happy it worked out the way it did. Though that ending was killer and I don't want to wait for the next book to discover what happens next. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Dream On - I find this series adorable and enchanting, just like her time travel series, but there's not enough meat here. I do love the voice of the MC, though. She is hilariously adorkable and self-deprecating and immensely likable. 🌟🌟🌟

WintersongGemina (The Illuminae Files, #2)Traitor to the Throne (Rebel of the Sands #2)Vassa in the Night

Wintersong - I'm not allowed to really say anything about this book until next year, per the publisher's request, but hot damn. This book was achingly gorgeous. It hurt my heart. I can't wait for the next book, even though it's set to be a companion and not a true sequel, but I'll take what I can get. I also can't wait for the author to release the steamy scenes that got cut when they decided to make this YA because this book was already pretty sexy! 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Gemina - My full review of this book will go live next week for the tour, but let me just say that I did not think the authors could surpass the level of awesome they brought with Illuminae, that this would be an obvious "middle" book, but I was wrong. So. Incredibly. Wrong. It's also as fantastic on audio as the first book, PLUS this one has Steve West narrating a character, and as I said above, you absolutely cannot go wrong with that choice. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Traitor to the Throne - Another awesome sequel that kept me guessing till the end and may have even surpassed the first installment. Though, there was one little thing that could've made it better. ;0) I will review this in full early next year. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Vassa in the Night - What a lovely, weird little book. It's so different and unique and definitely something you have to be in the right mood or frame of mind for. But it was definitely MY kind of book. :D I plan to review it in full next week if I can get my thoughts together. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

S E R I E S   I   F I N A L L Y   C H E C K E D   O U T

The Thief (The Queen's Thief, #1)The Queen of Attolia (The Queen's Thief, #2)The King of Attolia (The Queen's Thief, #3)A Conspiracy of Kings (The Queen's Thief, #4)

The Queen's Thief - Dude. I seriously do not know what's kept me from this series for so long, besides the fact that I only owned books 1 and 4 - weird, right? - and my library didn't have all the books on audio. Until now. The narrator is not my favorite by any means, but it doesn't detract from the story any. At any rate, this series is just as good as I'd been led to believe, and each subsequent novel is better than its predecessor. Everything you've heard about this series is true. It really is mind-blowingly amazing. It has definitely earned a place on my favorites shelf. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Half-Blood (Covenant, #1)Pure (Covenant, #2)Deity (Covenant, #3)Apollyon (Covenant, #4)Sentinel (Covenant, #5)

Covenant - I tried. I really did. I made it through part of Apollyon before just completely giving up. Yes, the glaring similarities to Vampire Academy are as obvious as everyone said. And still, I kept listening. But I found that I got to the point where I just absolutely did not care what happened to these characters anymore, so I stopped forcing myself to continue. JLA's books are like crack, but for the most part, I've found myself immune to the allure. 🌟🌟

H I S T O R I C A L    R O M A N C E

Romancing the Duke (Castles Ever After, #1)Say Yes to the Marquess (Castles Ever After, #2)When a Scot Ties the Knot (Castles Ever After, #3)

Tessa Dare's Castles Ever After series - These were my most recent introduction to the regency romance subgenre. And they were fun. I actually think I read these out of order, but Romancing the Duke was probably my favorite. Apparently, I like surly dudes, erm, dukes. :D 🌟🌟🌟🌟

A Night to Surrender (Spindle Cove, #1)A Week to Be Wicked (Spindle Cove, #2)A Lady by Midnight (Spindle Cove, #3)Any Duchess Will Do (Spindle Cove, #4)Lord Dashwood Missed Out (Spindle Cove, #4.5)

Tessa Dare's Spindle Cove series - These weren't the next thing I read in this category, but they did come highly recommended. I think the first couple of books in a Tessa Dare series are top notch, but the subsequent novels are a little less so. I liked the first book because it really set the stage for the series, plus a soldier who wants nothing more than to keep on soldiering on who is besotted with the spinster daughter of the man who can make that happen is just such a great premise. Second only to a romance between a spinster and a known rake. The series may have tapered off for me, but it was still entertaining and quite enjoyable. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake (Love By Numbers, #1)Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart (Love By Numbers, #3)

Sarah MacLean's Love By Numbers series - Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake just might be my favorite of all of these. Again with the romance between a spinster and a rake. I just love those. =) I skipped the second book because my library didn't have it on audio. Let me know if I missed out, lol. I found the third book only okay. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

A Rogue by Any Other Name (The Rules of Scoundrels, #1)One Good Earl Deserves a Lover (The Rules of Scoundrels, #2)No Good Duke Goes Unpunished (The Rules of Scoundrels, #3)Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover (The Rules of Scoundrels, #4)

Sarah MacLean's The Rules of Scoundrels series - This series focuses on the owners of a gaming hell, all with their own sordid pasts, and it was rather fun listening as they tried and failed to avoid love. 🌟🌟🌟1/2

The Rogue Not Taken (Scandal & Scoundrel, #1)A Scot in the Dark (Scandal & Scoundrel #2)

Sarah MacLean's Scandal & Scoundrel series - My biggest gripe with these audiobooks was that they were narrated by Justine Eyre, but I honestly have to say they might have been the best performance I've heard from her. She's in her element with historical romance, at least. The books themselves are par for the course but still delightful. 🌟🌟🌟1/2

The Luckiest Lady in LondonBecause of Miss Bridgerton (Rokesbys, #1)The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy (Smythe-Smith Quartet, #4)Jane Steele

The Luckiest Lady in London - I read Sherry Thomas YA series and LOVED it, so I thought I'd venture into her historical romance. That was a good choice. This is the only one my library has on audio, though, so if I want to venture further, I'll have to do so in print. *sigh* 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Because of Miss Bridgerton - The premise of this story was all well and good, but the execution kind of fell flat for me. It was equal parts funny and entertaining, though. It at least made me want to meet the other Bridgertons and Rokesbys. 🌟🌟🌟

The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy - I think that maybe I'm just not a fan of Julia Quinn's novels...or her love interests. But this one annoyed me more than most. It would have been one thing, had the situation been explained to the MC beforehand, but that plot was just dirty and underhanded. And gross. 🌟🌟

Jane Steele - The second half was much more entertaining than the first. I expected Jane to be more governess than murderess, despite the mention of her first kill in the synopsis, but I just didn't expect quite so many murders. The mystery itself in the second half was quite intriguing, though. I should think I'd like to read further stories with Jane Steele as the mystery-solving governess... 🌟🌟🌟🌟


The Way to Game the Walk of ShameThe Hating GameShuffle, RepeatThe Problem with ForeverI Woke Up Dead at the Mall

The Way to Game the Walk of Shame - I was trading this ARC and wanted to read it before I gave it away. I don't know if that was a good idea or not. It was cute, in theory, but just never captured my attention the way the summary did. It sounded a lot like something that happened to me in high school, and I thought I'd be able to relate...but not so much. 🌟🌟🌟

The Hating Game - This was unequivocally the cutest book to ever cute in my vicinity. I'm already considering a re-listen because it put SUCH a smile on my face. It was just sooooo stinking adorable and just so funny. I can't recommend this book enough, though I'm trying. :D 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Shuffle, Repeat - Honestly, I WISH my senior year had been as momentous as June's, regardless of how she felt about it. But I'm glad the story I had laid out in my head is not what transpired in Shuffle, Repeat because I probably wouldn't have liked the book as much. :) Never have I been so happy to see my theories proved wrong. The lack of communication between two supposed friends did bug me, as did the fixation on the playlist in the beginning, but on the whole, I really enjoyed this adorable little book. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

The Problem with Forever - I keep trying to like JLA's books. They're addictive and compulsively readable, and yet I feel nothing when I read them. But I think this is probably my least favorite so far. And not even for that annoying triangle-y thing the romance tried to do. I just never felt the connection between the characters, despite their past. I've read variations of this storyline that do it FAR better. And with way less eye-rolling from me... 🌟🌟

I Woke Up Dead at the Mall - I thought this would be a funny, sarcastic look at life after death - and it was - but it was also equal parts poignant and uplifting. And even though that's not what I was expecting or even looking for with this book, I found it endearing. 🌟🌟🌟

If you didn't already know me, you can guess that fantasy is where it's at for me. But in the last couple of months -- and because my library failed to upload any new YA during that time period -- I've also discovered a real love of historical romance novels. I've always been a fan of historical fiction and romance separately, so putting the two together is kind of perfect for me. And I think of all those that I read, I've decided that Tessa Dare is my favorite. So far, anyway. I might need to branch out to some other authors. =D

Have you read any of these? What did you think? Or do you have any recommendations based on what I read? Especially in that historical romance category? ;0)

So, what do you think about this new format of mine? It took a long time to get this post together, but it was a lot less time than trying to review each of those books individually, especially when I pretty much said all I needed to say up above. :P And with the volume of books and audiobooks I consume, reviewing every single one is just about impossible.

Happy reading!

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