Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Last Minute, Last Few Books of 2013!

Hey there!

Anyone still out there? So, silly optimistic me way underrated how much of my life would be sucked away by this adorable little sweetheart:

 (yes, she does have awesome hair - and it really does stick straight up like that; I don't style it that way! :D)

Blogging has stopped being a priority and while I don't feel guilty (I'm loving every second with my beautiful girl) I do miss it and want to keep touching bases occasionally because I'm sure someday I'll want to come back full-time.

Anyway, give or take a couple books (I lose count, especially when I just grab a book to reread off my shelves) I've read 31 books since I last blogged. There's NO WAY I'm going to be able to catch up! So, instead I'll give you a few favorites:



(Clicking on the image will take you to its goodreads page) 

I read Speaking From Among the Bones (the fifth book in the Flavia de Luce series) and thought no mystery could ever be better. I LOVED it! Then I heard The Dead in their Vaulted Arches (not released until January 14th) was on Netgalley. I requested it and checked my email constantly until I was approved! Hooray! And it was the best Flavia de Luce mystery yet. Harriet! Buckshaw! Dogger! Oh my goodness the mystery, the hilarity, the sibling rivalry!

If you haven't met Flavia de Luce yet, you really need to. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is first! Go check it out.


Did it occasionally sound like a commercial for Mattel's line of Ever After High dolls? Yeah. I've never known Shannon Hale to describe hair/clothes/accessories like that. But somehow she pulls the whole thing off with aplomb. I was sucked right into what turned out to be a very interesting story, and so beautifully set in typical Shannon Hale fashion. I loved the characters! Raven Queen turns out to have surprising depth and even Apple White is not the airheaded, spoiled little princess I first thought she might be. In general, actually, it's not the "popular" kids at Ever After High who succeed or accomplish anything interesting. It's the misfits, the not perfectly beautiful ones, the ones hiding secrets of their own. I'd call this a really great book for tween-aged girls (my own nine year-old ate it up). Plus, it's hilarious! Maddie Hatter has the uncanny ability to hear the narrator and they have several conversations which had me in stitches! Highly recommended.


Percy and Annabeth make their way across Tartarus and it couldn't be more fascinating/dangerous/terrifying. And hilarious (thanks to titan-turned-janitor Bob). The rest of the crew enjoy their share of adventures and all my favorites have fantastic moments (Leo. Oh how I love Leo.). Can't wait for number 5! Last book in the series!

 While it didn't have the amazing twist that Code Name Verity had, Rose Under Fire was incredibly moving. I liked that Rose was a poet, and I loved the way she sang through her journey (especially because so many of the songs she sang were ones I learned at Girl's Camp). Absolutely worth the read, but be prepared to be put through the wringer - this is a concentration camp book.

 I had never read The Scarlet Pimpernel before. What was I thinking waiting this long??? The intrigue! The disguises! The feeling that there was no way he was going to get out of that last situation! I loved it. It's really not that long either. If you need a good classic to read next year, I highly recommend it. Then when you're done, pair it up with.....


Oh did I love this book! Diana Peterfreund has done it again after last year's near-perfect For Darkness Shows the Stars. She nails the retelling thing and I loved watching for all my favorite scenes from The Scarlet Pimpernel. She reinterpreted it so well and I loved Lady Persis. And I must say, Justen Helo was much more interesting than Marguerite in the original story. The futuristic setting is excellently done - nicely scientific, providing some really great ethical dilemmas for the characters. It just rounded out the story and made it that much better. And BONUS! Characters from For Darkness Shows the Stars make an appearance! Anyway, I'm sold and I can't wait to see what Diana Peterfreund does next. I hope, hope, hope she does another book in this series!!!

That's all for now! I'm trying not to make empty promises here, but I'll try to get my book year-in-review up soon and hopefully another post after that with what books I'm most looking forward to reading in 2014.

Happy New Year everyone!!!!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Since I've Been Gone

 Hello everyone! Yes, my baby girl finally arrived and I am loving the newborn cuddle stage, despite being completely, overwhelmingly exhausted. And she's so beautiful (and perfectly healthy!).

I have been reading up a storm! Spending 10 hours a day sitting and feeding a baby is a very convenient excuse to ignore everything else and read, read, read. I've reread some favorites and knocked quite a few titles off my to-read list. Here's a quick recap of my recent new reads:

 My rating: 4/5 stars. INTENSE. Alien invasion fiction at its very best. Lots of awesome surprise twists and turns and I will be picking up the sequel. A little disturbing and violent at times.

My rating: 5/5 stars. The conclusion to this trilogy was everything, absolutely everything I wanted it to be. So satisfying, so magical, so perfectly crafted. After an ending like that all three books have moved to the top of my Christmas wish-list.

My rating: 5/5 stars. Julianne Donaldson, you have a fan for life. I was worried that Blackmoore wouldn't live up to my love for Edenbrooke, but it was so lovely. I've already read it twice. :D I loved the slightly gothic feel too - perfect for October reading. Hurry up and publish something else Julianne!

  My rating: 4/5 stars. I loved Crown of Midnight! Celaena is a fabulous heroine and I loved the way the mystery, the courtly intrigue, the romance, and the action were all kicked up a notch (or two) in this sequel. A little violent at times for my tastes, but totally addicting and I can't wait for the next book.

  My rating: 4/5 stars. I read this one based on my love for Kasie's Pivot Point, and I did like it, but it didn't blow me away like I was hoping. It's a sweet, cute contemporary, however, and I'd say worth the read.

  My rating: 3/5 stars. Got this one from Netgalley and it was good for passing the time during one of my many sleepless nights, but I'm relieved the series is over. The romance was blah, the time travel mythology weak, the danger not impressive, and the characters predictable. The overall effect is entertaining, but not a read again or own kind of book for sure.

 My rating: 4/5 stars. I had a hard time slogging through this one. I really didn't love the characters (and Ed is annoyingly preoccupied with sex). I also had a hard time getting the whole point of the plot. BUT, there is such a clever surprise at the end! I loved it and was left thinking, "Well played, Mr. Zusack. Well played." This book tackles some tough subjects, but has a great message.

  My rating: 4.5/5 stars. I LOVE Flavia de Luce! She is such a joy to read. These books are funny, clever, creative and chock full of entertaining and lovable characters. Highly recommended if you need a good murder mystery this fall!

  My rating: 3/5 stars. Yikes! Content-wise this book (and its predecessor Monument 14) are a little edgier than I like to read (ok, much edgier in the violence department!), but the concept is so compelling, so I-have-to-know-what-happens-to-these-kids, that I've read them anyway. Sky on Fire surprised me by ending in a very calm and happy place (for almost everyone). It was such a nice ending that even though it set up another book at the end I don't feel compelled to read it. Hooray! I'm free! :D

  My rating: 2/5 stars. Another Netgalley read. This is my second Mette Ivie Harrison and I liked this as much as I liked The Princess and the Hound. In other words, bleh. I'm sorry, I tried to like it, but I just really, really didn't. I disliked almost all the characters and the writing felt choppy and tell-y to me. I wanted sweeping and adventurous and romantic and I don't feel like this book is any of those things. It bugged me a lot, and if I weren't writing just teeny blips today I feel like I could write a whole essay about what (I thought) was wrong with this book. Anyway, I'll just leave it at that.

 My rating: 3/5 stars. Transparent was very creative. I loved the invisible girl concept and this whole book is a fun X-Men vs. the mafia mash-up. I did feel like a lot of the relationships were confusing and not very well-developed. There were a lot of plot points that I felt had big logical issues and overall I was underwhelmed by the whole story. But like I said, still fun.

That's it for now! I'll be back sooner next time. Life's starting to feel more normal (ish) and I have too many books I want to read and blog about to take any more big breaks. :D

I'll leave you with one more baby pic. Yes, I'm already indoctrinating her to love all things Austen!

I'm too tired to read over this post to see if there are any grammar or spelling errors. :D If you find any, can we just agree to attribute them to major sleep deprivation? Thanks!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Fall Reading List

Here are some books I'm hoping to get read this fall! Click on the picture to be taken to its goodreads page.

Books already out I haven't gotten around to:

 This one sounds fascinating and has great reviews. Can't wait to read it - but it's taking my library forever to get it!

Kasie West's Pivot Point is still one of my top five favorite books this year and I'd love to try out her contemporary novel.

I'm behind - I totally should have read this during the summer! Still looking forward to this sequel. :D

Coming out in August:

 Early reviews are coming in and I'm just dying. Can't wait to see how this series ends!

 Not loving the cover change, but I'm still excited to see what happens to Celaena next.

Books being released in September:

 *sniff* Code Name Verity broke my heart and blew me away. I can hardly believe I'm lucky enough to get a companion novel.

 Greek mythology anyone? Definitely will be checking this out. Sounds like my kind of book!

 Kiersten White plus Egyptian mythology? Don't mind if I do.

Books being released in October:
 Do you know me at all? Then you know why I'm dying for this. Total Rick Riordan fangirl here.

 Last year's For Darkness Shows the Stars was just lovely and I'm really looking forward to this book - Scarlet Pimpernel retelling!

 I didn't rave about Slayers, but I'm still looking forward to this. I haven't read anything by Janette Rallison (in disguise here as CJ Hill) in a long time. Plus! Major cover update. Much better, don't you think?

 Final book in the Divergent trilogy! How will it end? No idea but I'm sure it will be action-packed.

And, cause I need a few spooky reads sometime around Halloween (it honestly might be that long before I blog again...):

 I need a good spooky classic and this one comes highly recommended.

 I don't think I should let a Halloween go by without reading an Agatha Christie. She's the best.

 I have no idea why I haven't read this yet. Honestly, Emily. I love Flavia and I need to read the rest of her series!!!

What are you reading in the next couple months?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Ally Condie comes to Boise!

We never get cool author events in Boise (yes, I have complained about this before), so I was thrilled to hear Ally Condie was coming. Also a little frustrated because I had a doctor's appointment I couldn't reschedule at the same time. :( 

Luckily, I got in a little early at the doctor and got out fast and was able to zip over to the library quickly. I only missed the first 15 minutes of her presentation. 

It was so fun hearing her speak! She was entertaining and down to earth and so cool. I was excited to hear about her Rio project (underwater city? Yes!) and loved hearing more about her writing process and how she balances it all with kids. 

I snuck a couple photos from where I was sitting. :)

Anyway, it was an awesome hour and then she signed books. Since I showed up late I was practically last in line - bummer because I needed to leave early to go get my kids from school (sheesh my life is busy). I mentioned needing to leave to one of the librarians and she offered to get my books signed for me - which made my pregnant, hormonal self almost start crying. 

I love librarians. :D

So, even though I'm sad I didn't get to meet her in person, I loved hearing her speak and my books are now signed and personalized! When Ally heard about me from Jen the librarian, she even decided to write a little extra in my books. Seriously, she is awesome. 

And look how cool these are!

Okay, I'm blogging from my phone and don't know how to flip the pictures, but awesome, right? You can even see my cool little personal embosser stamp (last year's Christmas gift from my husband -does he know and love me or what?). 

I loved signed books. :) I should do a blog sometime to show you my signed book collection. I have some cool ones. 

Do you have any signed books? Have you met any of your favorite authors?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

What I Read This Summer

I'm still here! And yes, have definitely been reading up a storm but with very little time to blog about it.

I'm calling the summer over for me, since my kids are officially all in school! I have hopefully a few week of this lovely, blissful freedom before my baby arrives and everything changes. I want it to both go super fast and not come too soon at the same time. I'm enjoying the extra free time, but I'm soooo sick of being pregnant!

Anyway, lots of books read so far. I went on a "I want to read brainless teenage summer romances" binge earlier this summer when I spent a lot of time reading by the pool while my kids took swimming lessons, so you'll see a lot of those on this list (books link back to their goodreads page). Sorry for this brief overview! One of these days I'll get back around to writing real reviews. I kind of miss it. :(

Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson. My rating: 4/5 stars. I'm listing my favorite of the teen summer books first. :D I loved the mixed-media feel of the book! It's full of doodles and receipts and notes and postcards. I love road trips and this one was fun with a sweet little romance (without being too heavy on the issues aspect that all YA contemporary books seem to have).

Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard. My rating: 3/5 stars. Ok, besides the whole idea of a teenage girl backpacking by herself in Central America totally freaking me out, I loved the wild, bohemian feel of this book. I like pretending that backpacking isn't dirty and totally against my perfectionist-plan-it-all-out personality - that it's adventurous and romantic and totally worth the trouble. Besides the backpacking issue, I loved the story and how Bria rediscovers herself.

Thing I Can't Forget by Miranda Kenneally. My rating: 3/5. Straight up, I'll tell you that this one pushed it for me, content-wise. More swearing and sexual content than I would like for sure (plus plenty heavy on issues), which is strange because this one had a "Christian Fiction" label on it from my library. And this book is definitely about how Kate feels about her very strict Christian upbringing, but even more about how she discovers she's against certain aspects about it. Nevertheless, Miranda Kenneally writes with so much emotion that I was sucked right into the story. Plus, the summer camp setting is fun.

The Summer I Turned Pretty (trilogy) by Jenny Han. My rating: 3/5 stars. I burned through these three very quickly and it totally made me want a beach house. That's about the only thing I really liked about this series though. Oh, ugh Belly was soooo whiny! No wonder the boys couldn't make up their minds whether to like her or not! This is the worst sort of love triangle too - it goes back and forth and it seemed like the boys themselves changed from book to book, just to make me root for one or the other. Irritating. But still - it very much filled my need for brainless summer fun.

The Moon and More by Sarah Dressen. My rating: 3/5 stars. This was my first Sarah Dressen and I'll admit: I was hoping to like it a whole lot more than I did. The romance was awful - Luke was a jerk, Theo was completely unattractive (in every way) and the whole books seemed to revolve instead around Emmaline's issues. She was dealing with her father and college and all kinds of things that seemed awfully boring. I liked her mother and sister, though. Overall, I was disappointed. Any recommendations on a better Dressen for me to try next?

So, that's the "summer" books. Here's everything else I read:

 Angelfall by Susan Ee. My rating: 4/5 stars. Angelfall was an intense and awesome post-apocalyptic book. I was blown away by the details and the world building. This book gets a bit gritty at times, but I enjoyed the ride and am looking forward to the sequel.

 Goddess by Josephine Angelini. My rating: 3/5 stars. Finally! The last book in this series! And I think it's the best of the three (though at a three star rating you can tell that I've had my struggles with the whole lot). Fortunately, Goddess has a much bigger focus on the mythology and some seriously cool things happened to tie everything together at the end. The bad news is there's more cheesy romance and people falling instantly in love and a character tragically dies but I didn't really feel anything, so... yeah I'd say I had a hard time connecting to this series emotionally. BUT, worth reading for the greek mythology fanatic.

 Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger. My rating: 3/5 stars. I wanted to love this book! Wind and air spirits and all sorts of cool new mythology not yet explored in YA! But it was so eyeball-rollingly predictable. I knew who the "bad guy" was from the start and when this person suddenly reveals their evilness at the end I was so irritated that everyone had taken so long to get the message. Potential, but I wasn't impressed with the story. Some of the mythology was very cool, though.

 Blood Moon by Teri Harman. My rating: 3/5 stars. Blood Moon is a new book this summer written by a friend of mine (or at least, an online friend!) and I've been excited to read her debut. There's some great witch history and magic here, a completely immersive and engrossing world. Plus this had lots of my favorite things - old houses and books and museums and ghosts. Yeah, Teri and I are definitely kindred spirits. :D The book gets a bit violent in places (real villains! no mamby pamby-ness here) and I had some trouble loving the first chapter where Simon and Willa have their instant attraction and fall deeply in love the first time they meet. I think I would have enjoyed this book a bit more if I had been able to enjoy the falling in love process. I would not classify this as a romance. The romantic stuff is out of the way in the first few pages and the rest is all action. I enjoyed reading it and will be picking up the sequel. Highly recommended for fans of witch stories.

Life After Theft by Aprilynne Pike. My rating: 3/5 stars. I was instantly attracted to this story because the premise is so cool and unique - a retelling of Scarlet Pimpernel about a kleptomaniac ghost? Totally intriguing. Kimberly is the ghost of a rich girl who stole things. A lot of things. Jeff is the new boy at school and Kimberly takes to haunting him, begging him to return all the stuff she stole, which he has to do incognito. It's fun and crazy and a little issue heavy, but I liked it. The book is a bit edgy for Aprilynne Pike, whose Wings series was very clean. I think I gave it a lower rating because it left me feeling kind of sad at the end and that was not what I was in the mood for when I read it.

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo. My rating: 4.5/5 stars. Sequel to Shadow and Bone and I loved it! I've been looking forward to this sequel for a while and it was just as awesome as the first with its cool Russian-ish setting and crazy Grisha magic system. Lots of complications for Alina and Mal and some great new elements to the story. I loved the ice dragon (so beautiful and tragic) and pretty much every word out of Sturmhond's mouth. Plus! Flying ships! I just wanted this to keep going. I now have plenty of proof that I need to purchase the whole series for my shelves and I can't wait for the final book. Check it out if you love fantasy and magic.

 Taken by Erin Bowman. My rating: 4/5 stars. Taken was a bit of a surprise. At the beginning I was irritated by its gritty Hunger Games wannabe-ness. It really starts in almost the exact same way with the exact same feeling. But it doesn't take long before the whole thing is turned on its head when Gray discovers what's outside and where all the men are being taken. This whole crazy sci-fi, futuristic element comes in and was so interesting I flew through the entire rest of the book and really wanted the sequel when I was done. There was even an awful love triangle and it didn't bother me because I was so interested in the story and setting. Read it if you're looking for a new dystopian.

 Unbreakable by Elizabeth Norris. My rating: 4/5 stars. This is the sequel to last year's Unraveling, which I loved more than I'd expected to. Unbreakable is just as fabulous! Love the parallel universes and the sci-fi elements and the FBI stuff and just the whole amazing complex mess! This book is action-packed and I'm a little sad that it's all over - and really over because this is a two book series. Recommended for sci-fi fans who love detective stories and espionage. :D

Vortex by S.J. Kincaid. My rating: 4/5 stars. Ok, last year's Insignia was so good. I had no idea if Vortex would be able to live up to it, but I was thoroughly impressed. These books are surprisingly funny. My husband actually thought I was rereading The Hero's Guide because I laughed out loud so much while reading it. The humor is kind of immature in places, but I'm kind of immature myself so it works for me. :D So, we've got the cool space academy thing going on, plus the antics of Tom and his friends, plus some very real danger from Tom's enemies in high places, plus don't forget Medusa - she's still awesome. There's a lot of win in this series! I think this is especially good if you're nerdy and like computer programming and hacking and such. With computers in everyone's brains there's a lot of potential for both humor and very scary danger with just that one element. Highly enjoyable!

And look! I even read non-fiction!

 The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp. My rating: 3/5 stars. Read this in preparation for my baby girl. I've never had a colicky baby, but it could happen and I've been hearing great things about this book. I gave it a lower rating not because the advice and techniques on how to calm a baby aren't sound, but because it was really long and drawn out and seemed to repeat the same things over and over again. Plus, I just got the feeling that Dr. Karp is a bit arrogant. He thinks he's got the perfect method here and I've had three babies before, all of which did not fit into his perfect mold. Let's face it - there are things that work for some babies and not for others. IT'S OK. As a parent you just figure out what your baby likes and do your best.

Parenting with Love and Logic by Foster Cline and Jim Fay. My rating: 4/5 stars. Read this highly recommended parenting book because it was kind of a rough summer with all my kids at home and me not wanting to go anywhere ever. We had a lot of fighting and screaming and yelling around here and I was hoping this would help me figure out how to deal with things a bit better. It's a great book and all the advice makes perfect sense. Nothing here was earth-shatteringly life changing, but it was a good reminder of some things I try to do anyway. This is a very sound parenting book and I highly recommend it.

And that's it! Stay tuned - I have a post scheduled soon (shocker, I know) with my fall reading wish-list. There are so many books I want to read before this baby gets here! We'll see if I manage to get at least a few in.