Thursday, January 26, 2017

What I've Been Reading Lately {1.26.17}

Thursday, January 26, 2017 with 6 comments

My first mini-review post of the year, and I've got some good -- and not-so-good -- stuff to share with you. I wasn't going to post this today, but if I don't, I'll just keep adding to it and then it'll be this behemoth of a post that no one wants to read.

The young adult titles I've been reading recently just haven't been cutting it for me for the most part, so I've been making my way through some historical romance by way of the Maiden Lane series. It's been fun. And steamy. :) What's weird to me, though, is that I only did one re-read this month. But I've been eyeing the Rephaim series again by Paula Weston, so I'm sure that'll change soon. =)

More on why I've gone to this format here. And without further ado, here's what I've been reading lately...

Y O U N G   A D U L T

Bad Blood (The Naturals, #4)Air Awakens (Air Awakens, #1)Ever the Hunted (Clash of Kingdoms, #1)Fire Falling (Air Awakens, #2)

Bad Blood - What a fantastic, edge of your seat ride this series has been! So many twists and turns and life-altering developments leading up to that insane ending. I just love how everything tied together, interwoven these characters' lives are and what it means for all of them. I'm sad that it's over, but I am sooo glad I picked up that ARC of The Naturals a few years ago. This is by far one of my favorite series. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Air Awakens - I am most undoubtedly in the minority on this one, which leads me to believe I read a completely different book than everyone else because WHAT IS THAT WRITING?!? And yet. And yet...I feel compelled to continue the series. I imagine this can only end in pain and suffering, and yet I am already completely addicted. Hoping the subsequent books succumbed to a bit more editing and that the plot overcomes most of the writing issues, but I'm not holding my breath. 🌟🌟

Ever the Hunted - I read an ARC of this one last summer and promptly forgot to review it. I obviously didn't have much to say at that point because it seemed a very middle of the barrel YA fantasy. After re-reading via audio, I think I found it even less thrilling than on my first read. There's nothing essentially wrong with it; it's just predictable and brings nothing new to the table. And though the romance was solid throughout this first book, I feel like the thing that happened at the end is going to cause waves and force the romance onto less stable ground in the sequel. 🌟🌟🌟

Fire Falling - You can't hear me, but I'm currently cursing the author. I was prepared to finish this one and leave the series behind. I just had to make it to the end. That was going to be my penance for putting the entire series on hold at the library before I'd even read the first book. But now, NOW I may have to find out what happens after that ending. This is a form of cruel and unusual punishment. Because the writing is horrendous. And yet the plot has potential. I could see this being a pretty decent tv series. I could even see enjoying audiobooks if they existed because then the writing and editing mistakes wouldn't be so glaringly obvious. Gah, why did I do this to myself?!? (ETA: I changed my mind. Other - better - books are calling to me.) 🌟🌟🌟

By Your SideResisting the RebelDoon (Doon, #1)

By Your Side - This was kind of freaking adorable. Maybe not as substantial as I'd have liked but definitely better than I'd expected based on a few reviews from trusted friends/Kasie West fans. And being a fan myself, I wanted to love this. Trapped in a library with a total hottie? I couldn't have dreamed a more perfect escape. Dax is not a bad boy, just a misunderstood one. And I loved how much Autumn wanted to understand him, to be his friend. Even when it made her question her feelings for the boy she thought she should be with. This isn't a love triangle, though, because she and the should-be guy have only flirted off and on up to the point that Autumn "meets" Dax. It's not nearly as messy as it could have been, but it's not perfect either. Which is how I like my Kasie West romances, tbh. And the way anxiety is handled...maybe not perfect, either, but it felt authentic. I have mild anxiety and I could relate. I'm glad it was addressed and how it was tackled, though there was definitely room for improvement. Another cute Kasie West novel to add to the collection. And I am amassing QUITE the collection because hers are some of my favorite fluffy books to decompress with. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Resisting the Rebel - This was cuter in some parts than in others, but overall, it was a fun read. I definitely preferred the banter between Disco and the demon when it was just them and no one else was around. ;0) Plus, all of those almost-kisses were pretty dang hot. And the friendships in this book made the story...I might not have liked Mandy at all, if not for them. And while I've always loved the fake boyfriend trope, I might like it even more because of Caleb. =) 🌟🌟🌟

Doon - Hmmm. I'm going to have to re-think my strategy of downloading an entire series from the library in hopes that when I inevitably love the first book, I don't have to wait ages for holds to come in on subsequent books. Because the last two times I've done that -- with this series and with Air Awakens -- it's totally backfired on me. Doon wasn't terrible, per se, but it wasn't great either. Also, I did not realize it was Christian fiction. I liked the premise. I liked the setting. But maybe all of my recent forays into a more adult Scotland made this one seem a little...tame? Also, it was entirely too predictable. Perhaps if I'd read this when it first released, I'd have enjoyed it more, but as it stands, I've read too many much more awesome fantasy series to give this one any more of my time. 🌟🌟

R E - R E A D S

A Curious Beginning (Veronica Speedwell, #1)

A Curious Beginning - I've been eagerly anticipating the sequel to this lovely, forthright novel since I finished it last year. And now that the release of A Perilous Undertaking is upon us, I had to re-read this first installment in preparation. I must admit that I was slightly less taken with the novel the second time around, but that's because the mystery is not so mysterious for me anymore. That's the way with these types of novels, I suppose. But I loved Veronica and Stoker just as much and I cannot wait to see what's to come of them in the next book. Which I will be reading know, as soon as my library gets a copy. ;0) 🌟🌟🌟🌟


Lady PirateBreath of Fire (Kingmaker Chronicles #2)The Highlander Takes a Bride (Highlanders, #3)The Bear and the NightingaleThe Fate of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling, #3)

Lady Pirate - So, I didn't like this one quite as much as An English Bride in Scotland, but it was still fun, if not a bit long-winded for all the loose ends that needed tying up.Speaking of being tied up, the sex scenes aren't intensely graphic as they are often wont to be in this type of story, but they still manage to be steamy. I enjoyed the romantic pairing in this novel, most especially because their situations were so were their personalities. I'm definitely going to continue perusing Lynsay Sands' backlist, though I can't promise I'll venture into her vampire stories. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Breath of Fire - I think I enjoyed this sequel slightly less than A Promise of Fire. Like 4 1/2 stars versus a full five stars for APoF. There was just too little banter and not nearly enough antagonism between Cat and Griffin. Cat wasn't nearly as snarky and self-assured as she was in the previous book. And I missed the sense of camaraderie among Beta Team. The only thing there was more of in this sequel was sex, and even that got to be a little much. I think the first book just had a better balance. However, this book had an awesome Odyssey-like quest, a gladiator-style battle royale and some serious swoons to boot. So, my overall enjoyment was pretty similar to how I felt at the end of the previous installment, only now I have to wait forever for the next book, whereas I only had to wait a month or so after reading A Promise of Fire to continue the story. *cries* 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

The Highlander Takes a Bride - Since I liked An English Bride in Scotland so much, I decided to give another one of Lynsay Sands' Highlander books a try. When I checked this audio out from the library, I wasn't aware it was actually a part of the series, and that AEBiS was the first book and that I'd totally skipped the second one. But it didn't hinder my reading experience any. I think what I probably like best about these books is that it doesn't take most of the book for the couple to fall for each other. That might be because they tend to marry early in the book for one reason or another, but I like that rather than spending time ignoring their feelings or trying to win each other's hearts, they are together from almost the beginning and instead work toward some other common goal or solving some mystery or some such thing. There was a yucky occurrence at the beginning of this story that could have kept me from enjoying it as much, but times being what they were, and the hero being who he was, I'm glad I kept reading. I think it was pretty obvious from the moment Greer met Saidh that he would be having no more dalliances with lightskirts. And Saidh, being who she was, would have handed his arse to him had he chanced it. :) 🌟🌟🌟🌟

The Bear and the Nightingale - This fairy tale-esque story set in medieval Russia was just lovely, possibly more so because of the gorgeous audiobook. I wish it hadn't been nearly 80 degrees outside while I was reading it because it's one of those comfy stories best read near a fire. It's also one of those rare books that doesn't really have a place: not YA but not wholly adult either. In fact, it felt very reminiscent of Naomi Novik's Uprooted in that respect. But I couldn't care less because it was so atmospheric and magical and the perfect read for this time of year...assuming you live in a place that has an actual winter. *sighs* 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

The Fate of the Tearling - I think I really should have done a re-read before picking this one up. Even though I felt like I really remembered the important aspects of both the previous books, I just felt...lost. I didn't connect with Kelsea at all in this book, which was hard because I liked her character immensely in the previous books. After the overlap of two worlds in the second book, I guess I should have expected the turn the story took in this final book, but I didn't. And I really, really could never have predicted that ending. 🌟🌟🌟

Wicked Intentions (Maiden Lane, #1)Notorious Pleasures (Maiden Lane, #2)Scandalous Desires (Maiden Lane, #3)Thief of Shadows (Maiden Lane, #4)Lord of Darkness (Maiden Lane, #5)
Duke of Midnight (Maiden Lane, #6)Darling Beast (Maiden Lane, #7)Dearest Rogue (Maiden Lane, #8)Sweetest Scoundrel (Maiden Lane, #9)

Maiden Lane series (books 1-9, at least)

Wicked Intentions - I erroneously read Lord of Darkness, the 5th book in the Maiden Lane series, first not knowing it was part of a series. It didn't impede my enjoyment any, though. On the contrary, it only caused me to want to read the rest of the books even more. So, here I am, starting at the beginning. And what a sensual, exciting beginning it was! I had no idea the entire series would revolve - at least loosely - around the Ghost of St. Giles, but I am immensely pleased that it does, especially knowing what I do about some of these characters from later in the series, thanks to my untimely reading of book five. I tittered delightfully when one of the characters suggests that it might be impossible for a certain character to be in the same place as the Ghost at the same time. :) Lord Caire and Temperance were lovely characters who became a balm to the other's tortured soul, but I have to admit, I can't wait to see how Silence, Winter, and Hero fare in the coming books. I'd include Godric in that list, but well, I already know his sad tale... 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Notorious Pleasures - I just love a good rake. Or a bad one, if you know what I mean. ;) And I adore them even more when they find themselves falling for paragons of virtue. I loved the glimpses of the Ghost of St. Giles and I love what I already know about said Ghost. Almost as much as I love the Ghost and what he means for St. Giles, I love how this series focuses around that darling Home for Foundlings. I'm also super glad I already had the next book downloaded when I finished this one so that I wouldn't have to wait to see more of Charming Mickey, as well, though that's another matter altogether. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Scandalous Desires - Oh, Charming Mickey lived up to his reputation in this one...and then some. Talk about swooning! I was glad to finally have Silence's story, as hers has seemed the most sad of the St. Giles characters...and also maybe the most hinted at. But I also love how previous characters make cameos and how all of their stories tie together. And though I knew who the Ghost was a long time ago, I was still excited to get that peek there at the end of this installment. Eep! Now I'm even more excited to get to the fourth book...and the only one remaining before book five, which is the one I read first and out of turn. Oops. :P 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Thief of Shadows - Finally, FINALLY we get Winter's story. And it was oh-so-delicious. Especially one particular detail that I would not have guessed, though maybe I should have. ;0) I was here for Winter Makepeace and only Winter Makepeace, so maybe that's why I didn't particularly love his love interest in this book. I didn't dislike her and she had an interesting enough backstory on her own, but like I said: here for Winter and that is all. I liked seeing him embrace his feelings, come out from behind the mask (hehe) and live a little. But now that I finally have the reserved Winter's story, I find myself needing another Makepeace brother's tale...specifically, the dodgy Asa Makepeace. Unfortunately, that story is still a few books out. Guess it's a good thing I'm making excellent time working my way through this series! :D

Lord of Darkness - book #5 previously read out of turn, you can check out that review here

Duke of Midnight - Please tell me it ain't so. The Ghosts of St. Giles have all gone legit, and so where does that leave me with the masked man love interest in this series?!? And to end it with Maximus, who was probably my least favorite of the masked vigilantes. Sigh. He was just so pompous and arrogant and sooo unwilling to change for his lady love. Until it was nearly the end of them. And Artemis...she went into this knowing what it would cost her, bravely faced that and him, and yet she wasn't my favorite heroine either. I enjoyed this installment, but it was probably my least favorite in the series so far. 🌟🌟🌟

Darling Beast - I liked Artemis' brother Apollo's story more than I enjoyed her own, unfortunately. I enjoyed the mystery of it. And the fact that he was so aware of what he wanted and what he could lose, should he be caught and sent back to Bedlam. The fact that he cared naught for his aristocratic standing and only for his lady love, well...he may not have been the prettiest of the Maiden Lane heroes, but he stole my heart. I also appreciated his love interest's back story and what she'd sacrificed. It was kind of a whirlwind Beauty and the Beast story and I enjoyed it immensely. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Dearest Rogue - Oh, gosh, I've just loved Captain Trevillion from the first, even when he was just a hard-assed dragoon in search of the Ghost of St. Giles. But he's an ex-soldier besotted with his young charge and that is way more fun. And poor Phoebe, struggling with adversity and the kid gloves everyone treats her with -- everyone but her bodyguard, that is. I didn't expect this pairing, but I kind of loved it. And now I'm more curious about the villain in this story because I vaguely remember looking ahead to other installments in this series and I believe he's a love interest at some point? Very curious... 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Sweetest Scoundrel - I've been waiting pretty much since the beginning of the series to get Asa Makepeace's story, and now that I've read it, I'm a tiny bit disappointed. He was always the outcast brother who only showed up when things really got hairy for his family - namely his sisters - but now I know that that was partially his own doing, that they never pushed him away, and that makes me all the more sad. And even angrier at the way he treated Eve when they first met. Basically, he never gave anyone a chance to be on his side, he's kind of a jackass, and it takes nearly till the end of this book for that to change. Winter shall remain my favorite of the Makepeace brothers. I found Eve just meh as a love interest, but I like that her character introduced us to the Lords of Chaos because it was getting kind of boring without any pirates or Ghosts of St. Giles around. ;) 🌟🌟🌟

Have you read any of these? What did you think? Find any new titles to check out? ;0)

Until next time! Happy reading!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

2016 End of Year Check In

Wednesday, January 25, 2017 with 7 comments

I love doing stat posts based on my reading for the year. So, if you don't like charts and graphs or analysis of any kind, you can probably skip this post. :) I did one of these posts about midway through the year, too, because I just love playing with the graphics. Er, and also reviewing my reading progress. Yeah, that.

I'm a little behind, seeing as how it's been 2017 for nearly a month now, but better late than never, right? But all of a sudden, I have the urge -- and the time -- to blog again, so here I am. I'm not going to list all of the books I read in 2016 or even my favorites since I already did the 2016 End of Year Book Survey with April, but I am going to point you to my 2016 Goodreads challenge, which does list all the books I read:

2016 Reading Challenge

2016 Reading Challenge
Jen (The Starry-Eyed Revue) has read 139 books toward her goal of 225 books.

I know a lot of people have stopped participating in this challenge for one reason or another, but it's the only one I participate in, and I've never had a problem reaching my goal. But that's because I listen to a shit ton of audio. ;0)

See? I hardly read a physical book last year, unless it was an ARC. Most everything is audio these days because it's sometimes impossible to find the time to sit down and read. Even so, I guarantee that nearly half of those audiobooks listened to were for re-reading purposes.

And a lot of the audiobooks I read come from the library because audiobooks are hella expensive. I do purchase some with my Audible subscription, but let's see where the rest of my reading material comes from...

Hmm...that's quite a bit different from the last time I did this end-of-year post full of charts and graphs. I didn't even use the library then!

I used to care to see which publishers I reviewed more for, but as I did a lot less reviewing this year than in years past, I'm not going to worry over that. Instead, I want to see which genres I read the most from:

As I suspected. =) And here's how the ratings break down:

So, it would seem I've gotten a bit pickier with my reading, giving out a few more 2 stars and DNFing a bit more than I have in the past. I'm kind of proud of that fact.

All in all, a pretty good reading year, if I do say so myself. :D So, how did your 2016 reading year stack up? Any stats I should include next time that you don't see here?

As always, happy reading!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Things 2016 Taught Me

Tuesday, January 24, 2017 with 9 comments
I haven't really been in the mindset to blog lately, and so all of my end-of-year posts are coming at you nearly a month into 2017. I'm surprisingly okay with that. I'm still not entirely sure I'm ready for 2017, either, but there's really nothing I can do about that.

In lieu of the usual resolutions post, which I always fail at anyway, I thought I'd look back at my 2016 reading year and what I've learned or maybe only just realized about myself. Because I am definitely a different reader/reviewer than I was when I started this blog almost six years ago, but I'm also a different reader just from the start of the year. There were times -- especially toward the end of the year -- where I just wanted to give up and go off the grid, but I basically took a two-month hiatus and I'm feeling refreshed and ready to reflect -- and embrace! -- some of the changes I made this year. It's honestly kind of liberating.

1. First and foremost, I no longer love young adult the best.

I've been reading a lot of adult novels lately: historical romance, fantasy, chick lit. And I'm loving it. That's not to say that I don't still enjoy young adult, but I'm branching out and it's been fun.

2. I no longer read by a schedule.

I used to keep a detailed spreadsheet of all the review books I needed to read and when they released so I knew when to read them. But that left no room for books that I didn't receive for review or promotion. I've decided it's way more fun just reading book after book without a break to post a review. And I am just SO much happier when I don't read by a schedule.

3. Putting books on hold at the library tends to make me apathetic toward reading them.

If I have to wait very long for a hold to come through at the library, it's more likely that I'm not going to be in the mood to read it once my hold comes through. Sad, but true. So, I'm trying to only put highly anticipated reads on hold so I'm not keeping others from the books they want to read.

4. Re-reading can sometimes be detrimental.

I re-read. A lot. Especially when the next installment in a series is set to release. I re-read/listen to the previous book in a series to be prepared for the next/final book when it releases...and sometimes I end up not reading the next installment because I discover my love for the series has waned upon re-reading the preceding book. (Ex: Court of Fives, Ten Thousand Skies Above You)

5. I find it way easier to DNF or give up on a series midway now.

Temptation is a fickle bitch. I've warred with myself a lot over the years as to whether I should continue a book or series, and I usually cave because I just have to know how it ends. Not so much these days. I can make an educated guess and leave it at that.

6. My drafts folder is legit full of discussion posts I started but never posted. 

I always feel like talking about stuff but then reconsider, figuring no one else wants to hear about it. But sometimes, we just like to hear ourselves talk, yeah? So I'm going to start posting some of these, I think. The ones where I actually sound coherent, anyway.

7. Social media sucks the life out of me.

I haven't missed social media all that much during my hiatus, except maybe Instagram. I don't really think I'll be on Twitter anytime soon, and I've never really been a fan of Facebook. Everything's still set to cross-post to those sites, but I'm mainly here for the books, so I'll stick to Goodreads and Instagram for bookish goodness.

I'm sure I learned some other stuff, but these are the really important points. What, if anything, did 2016 teach you about yourself?

Monday, January 23, 2017

Thanks to Disney for sending a copy of A List of Cages and for providing a prize pack to giveaway! Here's more about the book and the promotion:

Title: A List of Cages
Author: Robin Roe
Series: n/a
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: January 10, 2017
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

Add to Goodreads
When Adam Blake lands the best elective ever in his senior year, serving as an aide to the school psychologist, he thinks he’s got it made. Sure, it means a lot of sitting around, which isn’t easy for a guy with ADHD, but he can’t complain, since he gets to spend the period texting all his friends. Then the doctor asks him to track down the troubled freshman who keeps dodging her, and Adam discovers that the boy is Julian—the foster brother he hasn’t seen in five years.

Adam is ecstatic to be reunited. At first, Julian seems like the boy he once knew. He’s still kindhearted. He still writes stories and loves picture books meant for little kids. But as they spend more time together, Adam realizes that Julian is keeping secrets, like where he hides during the middle of the day, and what’s really going on inside his house. Adam is determined to help him, but his involvement could cost both boys their lives…

First-time novelist Robin Roe relied on life experience when writing this exquisite, gripping story featuring two lionhearted characters.

A List of Cages was heartbreaking and emotional and an all-around lovely book. One that I think would do everyone a bit of good to read in these dark times. It's about friendship and kindness and overcoming adversity, and it's oh-so-very touching.

And one of the quotes from the story -- "Hate ricochets, but kindness does too." -- really got me thinking about the small kindnesses we do for each other, the ones that don't take much from us but can mean the world to someone else. Especially when said kindness comes at a time when the recipient could really use it.

I remember when I was around four or five, and my parents had taken us to Dairy Queen to get sundaes. There was a little girl in the restaurant who was begging her mother for one, too, but her mother had said no. My dad, being the tender-hearted soul he is, got up without saying a word and bought that little girl a sundae of her own, despite that we didn't have a lot of money and it was a rare treat for our family as it was. The mother thanked my dad and we all went about our business. But I remember how happy that little girl was, and how inspired I was by my dad's actions. I mean, sure, nowadays the mother probably would have admonished my father for daring to undermine her authority, but things were different then and it was just a kind gesture.

And I know that kindness like that can be paid forward ten-fold. When I was just a bit older, I remember a customer in line in front of us at the supermarket offering to pay for our family's groceries, and it came at a time when we needed it most. I've always thought -- though there are times I forget -- that the more kindness you put out into the world, the more kindness finds you.

It's so easy to tell each other to "be the change" or "do unto others", but it's so much harder to demonstrate this through our actions. And yet, somehow, I must have been doing that all this time because my own daughter is the picture of kindness.

When a girl with Downs Syndrome started attending Katie's daycare, Katie befriended her and treated her the way she would any other child. And the thing is, I don't think Katie saw the girl as any different. She's never been the kind of kid who pointed out others' differences, but even her daycare teacher noted how sweet it was that when other children shied away from Katie's new friend, Katie went out of her way to be a good friend to this girl. In this way, Katie is my hope for the future.

About the author:

Robin Roe has a bachelor's degree from Cornell University and a master's from Harvard. She counseled adolescents in Boston before she moved to Dallas, Texas, to run a mentoring program for at-risk teens. This is her first novel.

Find Jessica:

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook | Instagram

One (1) winner receives:
  • A copy of A List of Cages by Robin Roe
  • A $50 Visa gift card to put towards a day of friendship
Giveaway open to US addresses only.
Prizing and samples provided by Disney-Hyperion.

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