Thursday, February 27, 2014

Take Control of Your TBR Pile Signup

Take Control of Your TBR Pile 2014

The Take Control of Your TBR Pile is hosted by Kimba at Caffeinated Book Reviewer and the signup link is here. I have so many books on my Kindle and on my physical shelves that I need to read. I also have out a few books from the library that are on my TBR. I am going to try to finish at least 5 books this month from my TBR. My reading list:
Snow: A Retelling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (Once Upon A Time)
Simon Pulse

Snow by Tracy Lynn
Cruel Beauty
Balzer + Bray

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Perfect Lies (Mind Games, #2)

Perfect Lies by Kiersten White
Dutton Books

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
Dark Frost (Mythos Academy, #3)

Dark Frost by Jennifer Estep
The Calling (Darkness Rising, #2)

The Calling by Kelley Armstrong

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Review Copy Cleanup 4.0 Wrapup

Review Copy Cleanup 4.0

Well, I did not do very well this time. I did finish Jinx's Magic and I hope to have the review up soon, but that is the only review book I finished this month. :( Work was crazy and stressful and I just could not keep my reading mood going. I ended up rereading books rather than starting new ones. I forgot to post weekly updates, which contributed to my only finishing one book. I have at least started Perfect Lies, but there is no way I will finish it by the 28th. Thanks to Celine and Vicky for hosting! I plan on trying again with the next Review Copy Cleanup!!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Fault in Our Stars by John Green

This was my Random Read for the month, so I finally read it. I bawled like a baby at the end, but that is the only spoiler I will give.
The Fault in Our Stars
Dutton Books

Hazel has accepted the fact that life for her will be short, but she keeps her sarcastic sense of humor and attends youth cancer support group meetings to please her parents. She meets Augustus Waters, literally in the heart of Jesus, as the support group leader likes to say. Gus has lost a leg to osteosarcoma, bone cancer, but like Hazel he retains his sense of humor. Hazel and Gus begin a tentative friendship that slowly evolves into more. Even though she has to take oxygen every where she goes, because of her thyroid/lung cancer, Hazel Grace, as Gus calls her, begins to experience life to the fullest. She introduces Augustus to her favorite book, An Imperial Affliction, and he arranges the most romantic of getaways. When both the unthinkable and the inevitable happen, the reader learns that what matters most is that we live, not that it will end.

Wow is what comes to mind with this book. It is amazing, heartbreaking, and yet so affirming. Sometimes, especially when we are young, we imagine the worst thing is death, but really, it is not living while we are here that is worse. I am even crying as I write this review, because the book is that powerful. You can't help but fall in love with both Hazel and Augustus, and even their friend Isaac. This book and the lost lives of all children with cancer should remind us that we have to find a cure. NO child or parent should have to go through this. John Green as usual writes brilliant flawed teens, in this case with physical flaws, that rise above the worst possible situation and remember to live.

Favorite Character: I can't choose between Hazel and Gus. They are both fighters, although Gus to me is awesome, because he is so positive.

Favorite Quote:I should probably just put parenthesis around the whole book, it was that good, but I will try to pick a couple of favorites.
"It all felt Romantic, but not romantic."
"As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once."
There are so many more good quotes, but I will stop at these.

I know others have reviewed this book way better than me, but everyone should read this book! I also want to read Esther Earl's biography now. She is the young lady John Green based Hazel upon. This is definitely a 5 cups of cocoa book!! I have been so lucky with my Random Reads this time!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Stacking the Shelves and Showcase Sunday #5



Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews and Showcase Sunday is hosted by Vicky at Books, Biscuits, and Tea and they are memes for sharing books you've purchased, borrowed, or been sent for review. The books can be physical or e-format.
 Dark Frost (Mythos Academy, #3) Crimson Frost (Mythos Academy, #4) Midnight Frost (Mythos Academy, #5)
Mythos Academy series by Jennifer Estep, K-Teen (Books 3-5)

Jack and Yani Love Harry Potter

Jack and Yani Love Harry Potter by Mary E. Twomey (I saw this one on several blogs. It sounded sort of like Fangirl with a bit older couple, so I thought I would give it a try)

Thanks to Edelweiss, Razorbill, and Walden Pond Press!

Earthquake by Aprilynne Pike (I loved Earthbound and can't wait to hear more of Tavia's story!)

Walden Pond Press

The Hero's Guide to Being an Outlaw by Christopher Healy (I loved the first Hero's Guide. Perfect for upper elementary/lower middle school, although I think an adult too would love the humor and twists on the fairy tales.)

Hope you all found some great reads!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

2014 Wicked Valentine's Read-a-thon Wrapup

 Wicked Valentine's Read-a-Thon

I actually beat my goal of three books and finished four(The Sorceress, Animal Farm, Kiss of Frost, and The Fault in Our Stars)! I was sick at the beginning of the read-a-thon and could really only sit and read, so that is the main reason I read so much. I did participate in Wednesday's Twitter party and then forgot about Saturday's. I completed one mini-challenge and read 1199 pages. I have finished two reviews and have two more to go. I think this is the best I have done on a read-a-thon! Thanks to April and Tabitha(Pabkins) at My Shelf Confessions for hosting!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Kiss of Frost by Jennifer Estep

This is the second book in the Mythos Academy series and will have spoilers for the first book in the series. Touch of Frost was my January Random Read and drew me into Estep's world. The books so far have been quick reads. This book also fits the In the Middle Challenge criteria.
Kiss of Frost (Mythos Academy, #2)

Gwen Frost is a Gypsy with touch magic, which is supposed to be a blessing, but sometimes seems to be a curse. She loves knowing people's secrets, but that sometimes comes with a price, particularly when her mom is killed in a traffic accident following Gwen revealing a secret. Gwen's first semester at Mythos Academy, a school for magically gifted warriors, was rough. A Reaper of Chaos tried to kill her and she was saved by a hunky Spartan, Logan, who rebuffed her love. She did make two friends a Valkyrie, Daphne, and a Celt, Carson, so she is not as lonely as she was. The most important discover for her is that she is a Champion of Nike and must learn to fight with Vic, her talking sword, to stop the Reapers, meaning training sessions with Logan. After all this stress, she hopes the Winter Carnival will be a time to relax, but when someone keeps trying to kill her, she realizes the Reapers are angry after the death of one of their own and they are coming for her. As she learns more of her abilities, Gwen struggles to deal with her path, but when more secrets are revealed, she begins to embrace her destiny and is driven by revenge.

This series is full of action and suspense. The making out and wild parties are a bit much, but I like the different twists Estep created with the different warrior groups. I am not for sure how I feel about Gwen and her love interest Logan, but at least more of his secrets are revealed in this book. This was the perfect fluff read after reading Animal Farm, and I like the series so far.

Favorite Quote: "'Now shut up and kiss me before I pass out.' 'When you put it like that, how can a girl possibly resist?'" "'Every creature, mortal and god alike, has free will. It's what we choose to do with that will that defines us, that makes us who we are, good and bad. Remember that.'" That is one aspect that I like about the series, it is the choices Gwen makes not just who she is, that drives the action.

Favorite Character: Gwen. She can be a bit whiny and obsessive about Logan, but she stays strong when most people would crumble. She makes stupid choices at times, but she also accepts the consequences of her actions and tries to embrace her destiny.

These are quick reads and full of action. I may fuss at the characters as I read, but I do like the books. I have already started the third one. 3.5 cups of cocoa!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Animal Farm by George Orwell

In high school we were assigned Orwell's 1984 and I also had to read 1984 again in college. His writings are dark satires of the politics of his time. He saw the horrors of fascism in WWII and the rise of communism in Russia and wanted to show that vigilance was needed to keep democratic countries from following the same path.

I remember the first time I read 1984, I hated it and did not grasp the whole point. Our English teacher was not very happy with the book, but it was one she had to teach. My French teacher on the other hand warned us almost daily that Big Brother is Watching. He was a bit of a conspiracy theorist, but he at least understood Orwell. In college I finally understood that Orwell was writing what he had seen happen and what he was afraid would happen. By that point I was a student of history and loved trying to put together the stories of our world along with how those who lived the times put them together.

I picked up Animal Farm, because that is the current book assigned to the high school honor students, instead of 1984 and for other teens it is their pick when they have to review a classic. When our teen patrons come in, they will sometime ask about the classics and I feel guilty when I can't recommend or really know what the book is about. So when I saw the Back to the Classics Challenge, I knew I wanted to try it and read a few more classics. Animal Farm is my pick for a 20th century classic.

The animals at the farm are tired of the heavy handed rule of the two legged humans. The humans take everything and do not work at all, so Major, the big boar, has a dream that says the animal will rebel and start their own society. Major passes away, but the animals remember the night he told them the dream and the song, "Beasts of England" taught to them by Major. The animals do rebel and win, chasing Mr. Jones from the farm. The pigs take the lead and learn to read and write and come up with the seven commandments to govern the farm. The most important commandment is "All Animals are Equal." As the pigs realize the other animals are not grasping education, they begin to take over the lead and two pigs struggle for power. Comrade Snowball and Comrade Napoleon are two opposite ends of the coin, and when Napoleon takes over he becomes a truly evil dictator killing and condemning animals at will. The pigs even begin to work with the evil humans and walk on two legs. In the end, Orwell shows his condemnation of communism. Not only does he condemn communism, but he shows that by working with Communists, and clinging to the idea of a lower class, the other countries are not any better.

Favorite Quote: "The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which." The need for constant vigilance is something the Founding Fathers preached in our country and something we need to continue to practice.

Favorite Character: Boxer, the workhorse. This character broke my heart. This is the one who believes so strongly in what he is taught and is so full of goodness that he is crushed in the end. 

While I believe democracy is the best form of government we have, I can see Orwell's point of being cautious on how we treat those with little say in our world, whether that is children, the poor, or the uneducated. It is easy to say people should not have rights because they don't understand how to use them and it is so wrong to take another person's say away, because we believe we are in someway superior. I thankfully had teachers and other adults who taught me humility and kindness. Hopefully when people, particularly teens, read these book, they take away the idea that all people are equal regardless of how you attempt to measure a person.  Deep thoughts for a tiny classic book! 5 cups of cocoa!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Stacking the Shelves and Showcase Sunday #4



Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews and Showcase Sunday is hosted by Vicky at Books, Biscuits, and Tea and they are memes for sharing books you've purchased, borrowed, or been sent for review. The books can be physical or e-format.

Cruel Beauty
Balzer + Bray

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge (I am a sucker for fairytale retellings and twists and I love the story of Beauty and the Beast in particular. I had to check this one out!)

The Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger ( I started Soulless and had to return it to the library before I finished it, so I thought why not just buy the whole series! I am really enjoying Soulless, it reminds me of the Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters mixed with the paranormal.)

The rest were bargain books.
Geektastic is an interesting story collection based on Comicons.
13 to Life by Shannon Delaney is werewolves and comes highly recommend by the library patrons.
The Espressologist by Kristina Springer will work as my Emma twist for the Classic Double Challenge.
Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon has Irish mythology, which I love in Michael Scott's series, so I am looking forward to this one.
Hole in My Life by Jack Gantos is his autobiography of when he piloted a drug ship and went to prison. He came to the McConnell Youth Literature Conference last year and was hilarious, so I had to purchase this!

That is all for this week! I hope you all found some great books this week!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

2014 Wicked Valentine's Read-a-thon Updates

Wicked Valentine's Read-a-Thon
I am just now getting this post up! I have a cold, which is helping my reading and resting, but I have neglected the computer. Hopefully I can get around to commenting and looking at the mini challenges soon.

Day 1 Update:
Currently reading: The Sorceress, Kiss of Frost
Progress: The Sorceress- 14 pages, Kiss of Frost- 34 pages

Day 2 Update:
Currently reading: The Sorceress, Animal Farm, Kiss of Frost, A Story Lately Told
Progress: Animal Farm- 127 pages and finished!, The Sorceress- 52 pages and finished!, Kiss of Frost- 197 pages and finished!, A Story Lately Told- 8 pages
Books finished: 3!

Day 3 Update: 
Currently reading: Jinx's Magic, The Bad Beginning
Progress: The Bad Beginning- 28 pages, Jinx's Magic- 82 pages

Day 4 Update:
Currently reading: Jinx's Magic, The Fault in Our Stars, The Necromancer (finally went off list, I knew I would!)
Progress: Jinx's Magic- 19 pages , The Fault in Our Stars- 64 pages, The Necromancer- 10 pages
Mini-challenge: Jigsaw Puzzle Cover Challenge

Day 5 Update:
Currently reading: First Frost(novella), The Necromancer
Progress: First Frost- finished (it was really short), The Necromancer- 13 pages

Day 6 Update:
Currently reading: The Necromancer
Progress: The Necromancer- 29 pages
Twitter Party

Day 7 Update:
Currently reading: The Necromancer
Progress: The Necromancer- 59 pages

Day 8 Update:
Currently reading:The Necromancer
Progress: The Necromancer- 36 pages

Day 9 Update:
Currently reading: The Fault in Our Stars, Jinx's Magic, The Necromancer
Progress: The Fault in Our Stars- 248 pages and finished!, Jinx's Magic- 7 pages, The Necromancer- 21 pages

Day 10 Update:
Currently reading: Jinx's Magic, The Necromancer
Progress: Jinx's Magic- 14 pages, The Necromancer- 4 pages

Day 11 Update:
Currently reading: Jinx's Magic, The Necromancer
Progress: Jinx's Magic- 28 pages, The Necromancer- 60 pages

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

2014 Wicked Valentine's Read-a-thon

Wicked Valentine's Read-a-Thon

Wicked Valentine's Read-a-thon is hosted by April and Pabkins at My Shelf Confessions and you can sign up and find out more info at this link. It is a fun read-a-thon with mini challenges and Twitter parties! My goal is to hopefully finish at least three books. I would also like to do a mini challenge and make time to comment on other bloggers' posts. I am so behind on my reading and have several books started.

My reading list:
 No One Else Can Have You Jinx's Magic  The Sorceress (The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, #3) Kiss of Frost (Mythos Academy, #2) A Story Lately Told: Coming of Age in Ireland, London, and New York Perfect Lies (Mind Games, #2) The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #1) Animal Farm The Fault in Our Stars

Jinx's Magic by Sage Blackwood (Katherine Tegen Books)
No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale (Harper Teen)
The Sorceress by Michael Scott (Delacorte) reread
Kiss of Frost by Jennifer Estep (K-Teen)
A Story Lately Told by Anjelica Huston (Scribner)
Perfect Lies by Kiersten White (HarperTeen)
The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snickett (Scholastic) reread
Animal Farm by George Orwell (Plume)
Fault in Our Stars by John Green (Dutton)

Monday, February 3, 2014

A Winter's Respite Read-a-Thon Wrapup

I only finished one book this time, but was really close to finishing two. It was a busy week and a sad one. My husband's grandfather passed away and we are dealing with that. I ended up reading 432 pages and made a few comments on pages. Thanks to Michelle for hosting and I can't wait until the next one!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Stacking the Shelves and Showcase Sunday #3



Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews and Showcase Sunday is hosted by Vicky at Books, Biscuits, and Tea and they are memes for sharing books you've purchased, borrowed, or been sent for review. The books can be physical or e-format. No new library books this week, but I should have a few for next week. I should also have a few physical books that I got on sale!

Bought: Kindle Books
 Between the Sea and Sky The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History Geekomancy (Ree Reyes, #1) Whisper Falls (Whisper Falls, #1) The Line (Witching Savannah, #1)

Between the Sea and Sky by Jaclyn Dolamore, Bloomsbury (This sounded interesting. A story about a mermaid and a winged man for middle grade readers.)

The Monuments Men by Robert Edsel, Center Street (I needed a history fix and WWII is about the only part of Modern History that fascinates me. The Nazis wanted to wipe out virtually all civilization that did not fit their mold including art. The movie looks really good too!)

Geekomancy by Michael Underwood Pocket Star (This is sounded cute. Where heroes get their power from comics with a mystery thrown in.)

Whisper Falls by Elizabeth Langston Spencer Hill Press (Colonial History is my area and I love that this story is about an indentured servant, an often overlooked part of our history.)

The Line by JD Horn, 47North (This was apart of the KindleFirst program. Witches in Savannah, I do like the Southern Gothic setting.)

Received for Review on Netgalley: Thanks Bloomsbury!
Dangerous by Shannon Hale (I love her writing! This is a dystopia, which is different than her usual novels, but it sounds great. Maisie must save the world but at a high cost.)

Received for Review on Edelweiss: Thanks Hachette!
Salt & Storm
Salt and Storm by Kendall Kulper (This is about whaling, a witch who can see the future including her possible death, and the boy who can save her. Sounds good to me!)

Queste by Angie Sage

Queste is the fourth book in the Septimus Heap series and this review will have spoilers for the first three books. This was another book I started in 2013 and just finished.

Queste (Septimus Heap, #4)
Katherine Tegen Books

Septimus, Jenna, and their mom and dad want desperately to find Nicko and bring him home. Jenna takes care of Ulr, who misses Snorri, who is also trapped in time with Nicko. Silas Heap believes his son is somehow lost in the forest and embarks to the Wendron Witches to seek help. Jenna and Septimus know that it is a matter of finding a way back to Nicko and Snorri. When they learn about the mysterious House of Foryx, Septimus, Jenna, and their friend Beetle plan to set out to find this magical place where time stands still and where Nicko and Snorri have left clues that they will be waiting. Meanwhile the fake Septimus Heap, Merrin has decided he cannot stand living with Simon and Lucy any longer and seeks his revenge on Septimus. He achieves this when he joins forces with a Darke ghost who saddles Septimus with the Queste, a task no apprentice has survived. Can Septimus help his brother or will he fall the same way as 20 other apprentices?

I enjoy this series and the characters are very amusing at times. There is always an element of humor even during the dark moments. This one focused more on Septimus and Jenna, so many of the other characters only had cameo moments. This one shows how even having magical power like Septimus or being a powerful ruler like Jenna has its limitations and is not always as grand as it seems. I like how Sage has created this world and how she shows the complex side of each of the characters.

Favorite Character: Beetle, he is loyal to Septimus and Jenna, even losing his job, because he wants to help them. He is a bit spontaneous, but also very diligent. Hopefully he will find his place in the next book.

Favorite Quote: "It's horrible to feel you have to be something."

Overall, I think this is a good middle grades read and can't wait to start the next one. 4 cups of cocoa!