Saturday, May 31, 2014

Challenges updates: Spring challenges

Well, I have been slowly reading and finally feel like I want to read again. I don't really know why I went into such a reading slump, but I am glad that it is slowly coming to an end. I think it is probably time to see which challenges I really need to focus on and which ones are going ok.

First up, the two challenges that end June 20:

This is hosted by Gina at Book Dragon's Lair. Goal: 10 books by June 20.
1. Snow by Tracy Lynn-finished and reviewed
2. Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge-finished and reviewed
3. Perfect Lies by Kiersten White- finished and review is coming soon!
4. The Calling by Kelley Armstrong-currently reading
5. Flora and Ulysses by Kate Dicamillo-finished and reviewed
These were my original five. I am adding
6. Crimson Frost by Jennifer Estep- finished and reviewed
7. Cinder by Marissa Meyer-currently reading
8. Opposite of Fate by Amy Tan-currently reading
9. Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
10. If I Should Die by Amy Plum-currently reading

I hope to finish the final 4 books in this challenge. I feel like I can finish the 3 I have started and I am hoping that I will enjoy Goose Girl as much as Hale's other books and that will move it along quickly.


The Once Upon A Time Reading Challenge is hosted by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings.
I signed up for Quest the First with a 5 book goal
1. Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge finished and reviewed
2. Cinder by Marissa Meyer currently reading
3. Crimson Frost by Jennifer Estep  finished and reviewed
4. The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
5. The Calling by Kelley Armstrong currently reading
This has a similar lineup to Spring into a Good Book and I hope to finish the last 3 in this challenge.

I also signed up for Quest on Screen.
I was hoping to watch all of season one of Once Upon a Time, Frozen, and Brave and I have only watched Frozen. I think I should be able to fit in Braze, but not Once Upon a Time. Netflix has been having issues and I don't own the series on DVD. I would happily set with just watching the two Disney movies. I loved Frozen and Elsa and the beautiful music!

I hope to be able to evaluate where I am in my year long challenges soon, but for now I am going to stick with trying to finish these two.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Library Books Read-a-thon

Library Books Read-a-thon Sign Up

I have an addiction to library books, so this is the perfect read-a-thon for me! You can sign up at this link. This will be in the thick of summer reading, so I will either read a lot because I am tired and can't do anything else or I will read nothing, because I will be too tired to even read. I support two libraries, the one where I work and the one where I live, so that means I usually have quite a few books checked out.

Here are Rachael's details for the read-a-thon:
"The goal of this read-a-thon is to read as many library books as possible. If you are like me you always have books that are close to due that need to be done and fast so this read-a-thon is a great time to get those books done and get them back to the library.

I'm not going to be picky. If you want to read your own books go ahead. I just love read-a-thons so I would love anybody who could join. 
This Read-A-Thon will start at midnight on June 9th and will go until midnight of the 16th."

I will pick a book list a little closer to time, since I don't know what I will finish between now and June 9.  Thanks to Rachael for hosting!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Bout of Books 10 Wrapup

Bout of Books

I can't believe Bout of Books is already over! I can't be too sad though, since today is my birthday!! As far as my goals, I did not finish two books or read 500 pages, but I did finish two novellas and read 331 pages. I met my goals of at least new blogs, comments, and mini-challenges. I commented at least 10 times, found 4 new blogs to follow, and did five mini-challenges, and even managed to squeeze in a Twitter chat. I know that I will need to work harder on reading for the next BoB and I can't wait for it to start! Thanks to all the hosts! Hope everyone had a fun time and managed their goals!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Bout of Books Update Day 7

Bout of Books

Wow! I can't believe this is the last day of Bout of Books. I am nowhere near my reading goal, however I have meet my other goals!  Depending on how things go today, we will see about that reading goal.
Currently reading:
 Pages read:
Mini-challenges: 1
 Comments on posts:0
 New blogs:1 I thought I was already following Oh Magic Hour, but apparently it was only on Twitter.
Finished: 1 novella

Retitle Your Current Read Mini-challenge hosted by Oh Magic Hour

I am going to If I Should Die and rename it Paris Undead. Amy Plum's series is about the Revenants, those that died for others and were reanimated and continue to die for others and reanimate. There are good and bad revenants and a love story between a teenage girl and a teenage revenant. This is the third and final book in the series. Thanks to Emily for hosting!
If I Should Die (Revenants, #3)

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Bout of Books Update Day 6

Bout of Books

Currently reading: Spartan Frost, The Maelstrom, If I Should Die
 Pages read: Finished Spartan Frost, The Maelstrom- 66 pages, If I Should Die- 22 pages
Mini-challenges: 0
 Comments on posts:3
 New blogs:0

Friday, May 16, 2014

Bout of Books Update Day 5

Bout of Books

Currently reading: Spartan Frost
 Pages read:half of the novella
Mini-challenges: 1 Rainbow of Books Challenge hosted by Neon Yeti Reads
 Comments on posts:0
 New blogs:0

Rainbow of Books Challenge:
Neon Yeti Reads' Rules are as follows:
"So, you start with white on the bottom, then red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo (purple), violet (like a darker purple), and then black! The spine should have at least a majority be the color you are looking for, but just use your best judgement to get the rainbow-like flow."
The books I used were the following:
White: Austenland by Shannon Hale
Red: Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
Orange: American Colonies by Alan Taylor
Yellow: Illumination Night by Alice Hoffman
Green: The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia
Blue: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Indigo: Huntress by Malinda Lo
Violet: The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook by Dinah Bucholz
Black: Looking for Alaska by John Green

These show my eclectic taste in books!

Thanks to Katherine for hosting!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Bout of Books 10 Update Day 4

Bout of Books

Currently reading:The Maelstrom, If I Should Die,
Pages read: The Maelstrom-24 pages, If I Should Die- 10 pages
Mini-challenges: 1 Spell it out hosted by KimberlyFaye Reads
Comments on posts:4
 New blogs:3 Book Bunny's Burrow, KimberlyFaye Reads,
The Flutterby Room,

Spell It Out Challenge hosted by KimberlyFaye Reads
I decided to pick books that I have read to spell out my first and middle name. Very fun challenge!

Shatterglass by Tamora Pierce
Abandon by Meg Cabot
Ripple by Mandy Hubbard
Awaken by Meg Cabot
Hourglass by Myra McEntire

Legend by Marie Lu
Endlessly by Kiersten White
Iron King by Julie Kagawa
Goddess Test by Aimee Carter
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by JK Rowling

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Bout of Books Update Day 3

Bout of Books

Currently reading:The Maelstrom
Pages read: The Maelstrom- 18 pages
Mini-challenges: 1:Book Pairings hosted by My Overstuffed Shelves, tweeted
Comments on posts:1
New blogs: 1 My Overstuffed Shelves
Participated in the Twitter chat!

Bout of Books 10 Update Day 2

Bout of Books

Currently reading: The Maelstrom, If I Should Die, Angels in the Dark
Pages read: The Maelstrom- 28 pages, If I Should Die- 14 pages, one short story in Angels in the Dark

I did not take half of my allergy/sinus medicine today and paid the price. I had a bad sinus headache and could barely read anything for most of the night. Work was pretty busy and I had my last elementary school visit of the school year, which was a little sad. However I usually see several of those kids during the summer, so it was not as sad as when I last visit with other schools. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better reading day, but I may have to sit in on board meeting, so a little less time to read.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Bout of Books 10 Update Day 1

Bout of Books

Currently reading: The Maelstrom, If I Should Die, Angels in the Dark
Pages read: The Maelstrom- 12 pages, If I Should Die- 27 pages, one short story in Angels in the Dark
Mini-challenges: 1: If you like X, try Y hosted by the Book Barbies
Comments on posts: 2
New blogs: 0

I went on one of my last school visit for this school year today. It is always kind of sad, but hopefully I will see several of the students at the library during the summer, especially during Summer Reading. I almost killed a turtle this morning. I pulled out of my garage and was waiting for the door to finish closing, because I am always paranoid it is going to shoot back up, when I looked up and saw a turtle a few inches away from the tracks where my tire had just been. His head and feet were out, so I just knew I had run over him, but when I checked, he just looked at me and went slowly on his way. I really like turtles, so I was glad he was okay. Reading went okay today too. I did not have much time to read, but I manage to get a few pages in. Hope you all had productive days!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Bout of Books 10 Goals and Reading List

Bout of Books

I would love to finish at least 2 books or at least 500 pages for this read-a-thon. I am slowly starting to read and finish books again, so I hope I can meet the reading goal. I also want to do at least 2 mini-challenges and comment on 10 bloggers' posts and maybe find 2 or 3 new blogs to follow.

Now for the reading list:
Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
The Elite by Kiera Cass
Perfect Lies by Kiersten White
The Maelstrom by Henry Neff (book and audio)
The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels and Tractor Wheels by Ree Drummond
Illuminated by Erica Orloff
The Fire Horse Girl by Kay Honeyman
Girl with the Windup Heart by Kady Cross (in e-ARC and not pictured)
If I Should Die by Amy Plum

Novellas: (ebooks)
Angel in the Dark by Lauren Kate
Spartan Frost by Jennifer Estep

Good luck to everyone participating and I can't wait for the read-a-thon to start!

Cruel Beauty and Gilded Ashes by Rosamund Hodge

Cruel Beauty was my Random Read pick for March and I decided to review the novella Gilded Ashes with the review of Cruel Beauty. Hodge sets both stories in the world of Arcadia, a world ruled by the Gentle Lord and his demons. I received Cruel Beauty free from HarperCollins imprint: Balzer +Bray as an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
I love the covers of both of these!

Gilded Ashes (Cruel Beauty Universe)  Cruel Beauty
Gilded Ashes takes place before Cruel Beauty and is a twist on Cinderella. Maia's mother bargained with the Gentle Lord to always be around to protect her daughter. Her wish, as all the Gentle Lord's bargains are, is twisted and she is little more than a ghost who uses demons to "protect" her daughter. Maia tries to not get close to anyone including her stepmother and two stepsisters, so that no one else will become a victim to the demons. When her stepsister makes her deliver letters to the Duke's son Anax, Maia and Anax began to fall for each other. Maia will do anything to protect those around her, including give up her own happiness.

This was a great novella just the right size to care about the characters and short enough to be a quick read. I loved Maia's character and her willingness to protect those she loves. She also makes a very wise choice in the end.

Favorite Quote: "'Love is madness,' I say. 'Doesn't everyone agree that you'd do anything, endure anything to be with the ones you love?"

Cruel Beauty is a twist on the story of Beauty and the Beast. Nyx knows her one purpose in life is to free Arcadia from the Gentle Lord. She is forced to become his bride by her father's foolish bargaining and trained by her father and others who want the downfall of the Gentle Lord. She is trained to destroy the Gentle Lord and his labyrinth of a house. She knows that means doing all her wifely duties while scheming to lock him and herself in the collapsing house. However things don't work the way they are supposed to and Nyx ends up befriending Shade, who is the shadow of the Gentle Lord. Nyx realizes Shade is a prisoner like herself and begins to fall for him. Her feelings are complicated by the Gentle Lord coming to her rescue one night and she suddenly sees that he may too be a prisoner to the Fates. Nyx must decide if destroying the Gentle Lord and saving Arcadia is her true destiny or if she can save everyone without destroying her own heart.

This was a wonderful twist on Beauty and the Beast and I enjoyed it very much. The path of love is often rocky and Nyx and her love definitely have to suffer throughout their journey. I love Hodge's writing style which is perfect for twisted fairytales. She is very descriptive and gives her characters the old world style of fairytales but makes them current enough to appeal to a modern audience. Lovely is the best word to describe her style.

Favorite Character: Nyx. She is perfectly flawed. Stubborn, loyal, angry, and loving. She is not a sweet princess character, but the strong heroine.

Favorite Quote: "But you know what you are, and what you deserve. You lie to me but not to yourself. That's why I love you." "I wanted to hit him again and I wanted to cry. Most of all, I wanted to forget my mission and lose myself in the embrace of the one person who had ever seen my heart and claimed to love me after."
This is a perfect love story of two people who are perfectly flawed, but love each other flaws and all. The end was a bit different and confusing at first, but it fits with the story. A beautiful retelling.

Both of these are definitely 5 cups of cocoa! I can't wait to read more by this author and I am excited that her next retellings based on Romeo and Juliet are in the works!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Crimson Frost by Jennifer Estep

This is the fourth book in the Mythos Academy series and the review will have spoilers for the first three books. I am now addicted to the series and it is definitely a guilty pleasure.
Crimson Frost (Mythos Academy, #4)

Gwen Frost barely survived her encounter with Loki and is now on alert for any signs of the Reapers. She is completely blindsided when the Protectorate, warriors who lead and protect others from Reapers, blame her for freeing Loki. They believe Gwen wanted Loki freed and did everything to bring him back and they parade Gwen in front of the whole school and turn almost everyone against her. Gwen will have to stand trial and possibly die if found guilty. In the meantime she is free to stay at school, but is assigned a protector who will make sure she does not try to leave. Alexei, a Russian warrior, is assigned to Gwen and he and Oliver are trying to be a couple while on opposite sides of Gwen's guilt. Gwen knows she can not give up or let her guard down, as the students turn against her and Reapers attack the library. When Gwen learns their sinister plan for one of her friends, she will stop at nothing to keep Vivian and a traitor protector from carrying out their goal. The price may be too high for Gwen to pay, but as Nike's champion she knows she must fight on.

I enjoy these books more and more as the series goes on. They are quick, fluffy reads, but they do have strong female fighters and strong friendships. I like that the characters are not quite the same airhead, cliquey people as they were in the beginning and that they have started to mature. I love her myth elements and Gwen's new goal in the fight against the Reapers.

Favorite Character: I still like Gwen, who is loyal, strong, and funny. She has matured so much since the first book. She can be stubborn and a bit self-sacrificing at times, but she will defend her friends to the end.

Favorite Quote: "Weapons and armor may have power, may have magic, but in the end, that is all they are-weapons and armor. It is the people and creatures who wield them and their intentions that really matter. It is their free will that makes the ultimate difference."

I loved this one and the series is so addicting! I think this one was a 5 cups of cocoa book and my favorite in the series so far.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Spring Into Horror Read-a-Thon Wrapup

Spring into Horror Read-a-Thon

I was able to finish one book (Crimson Frost) this week and get a good start on another. I had a couple of really slow reading days, but I finally feel more motivated to read, so I am happy! I read a total of 361 pages. Thanks again to Michelle for hosting!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston

I read this for the Back to the Classics challenge as my classic by a woman author. This was also highly recommended by one of our teen patrons who said this is one of his favorites.

Janie is raised by her grandmother who works for a white family and the family dotes on Janie. Her grandmother is a former slave who was raped by her master and her daughter was not married when she had Janie. When her grandmother sees how Janie is treated by the other black children, who are mad because of her light skin and because they think she acts white, they move. Her grandmother wants better for Janie and marries her young to a black farmer who doesn't understand Janie's nature. She runs off with Joe Starks to the all-black town of Eatonville in Florida. Joe also doesn't understand Janie and tries to make her a grand lady, since he wants to be mayor. Janie begins to give up the idea of being her own person and finding real love, when Tea Cake comes along. Tea Cake treats her as his equal, doesn't care that she is light skin, and wants her to be part of his life, not his property. The story is Janie's growth as a person and how love can help us embrace who we are.

I had to read a bit of history to grasp all the concepts in this book. Hurston died penniless and for many years had an unmarked grave. She was criticized by many writers in the Black Harlem movement who thought she was not speaking out enough for a stronger black race. They did not realize she was speaking for black women whose voices had been silenced. It was only when Alice Walker and Toni Morrison saw in Hurston that black women could have a voice and that voice could be different than black men that the full richness of Hurston's work was appreciated.

I can see how she was influenced by the world around her, the early to middle 1900s, when black people had little rights, were still held down by the economic world that existed after slavery, and how they were struggling to gain back their voices. I think her novel goes beyond just the world in which she lived and resonates with both men and women today. The grandmother trying to make life better for her grandchild by determining out who she should be is like the parent today who wants better for hos or her child, without truly understanding his or her child. The themes of waiting to be alive and experiencing the joy of life without barriers, of finding someone who truly loves and sees you, and of being transformed and not limited by love can strike cords with everyone. I know it made me think about my life and what values I want to embrace.

It took me a bit to get used to the dialect, but once I did, it added richness to the story. I think this was a beautiful novel and I loved the themes and characters in Hurston's work.

Favorite Character: Janie. She tried to honor her grandmother and she tried to honor her three husbands. When she finally blooms into her own person with Tea Cake and without, she is beautiful.

Favorite Quote: "They seemed to be staring at the dark, but their eyes were watching God."

Wonderful! Definitely a 5 cups of cocoa read!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

I have loved both books I have read by Rowell! She is very funny and creates really likeable characters. I meant to write the review for Attachments sooner, but I got in a review and reading funk and just would not sit down and do it.

Lincoln can decide on what he wants to be in life or how he wants to spend his life. His sister would say he is aimlessly drifting and that he needs to move out of his mom's apartment. His D&D friends enjoy his company, but most of them worry that he is stuck in life. Lincoln remembers that he was only last alive with his ex girlfriend. When he gets a job as an Internet security officer in a pre-Y2K world, he thinks he will be doing something. However what he is paid to do is read flagged emails, emails that have language or sexual content, because the old-fashioned newspaper office where he works is worried about that. For Lincoln, the emails are a life-line, particularly Beth and Jennifer's emails. The girls talk about their whole lives, Beth's flighty, non-committal boyfriend and Jennifer's fear of pregnancy with her awesome husband. As he is drawn into their world, Lincoln falls for Beth, but how can he make a relationship with her, when she doesn't really know him and would probably think he is a stalker.

Rowell has some hilarious moments and Beth and Jennifer feel like your best friends and there were parts that were almost identical to moments I have had with friends. The Baby Gap incident was my favorite and something I would totally do. The romance part both bothered me and didn't. Lincoln is a stalker, but a nice one, but still a stalker. Beth is not ready for a serious relationship, but she kind of is, but she isn't. I think it would be almost impossible to have a relationship with someone who had read my private emails, but who knows.

Favorite Character: Jennifer. I just really relate to Jennifer. I am scared of pregnancy, but then kind of want a child. I have "pregnancy" scares all the time, even when it is not possible for me to be. I just think Jennifer captures what it is like to be in the early stages of being married and trying to balance a fun life, a career, and the need/want to start a family.

Favorite Quote:"I know that people change, I thought...I thought we were going to change together. I thought that's what it meant to be in love."

Loved this one! Fangirl is still my favorite, but this is a close second. Can't wait to read more of her books! 5 cups of cocoa!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

May Random Read: The Maelstrom by Henry Neff

Random Reads

This is a meme hosted by Sarah at You can choose to use Goodreads or create your own list or use your bookshelves.  The idea is to use and type in the number of books on your list. Whatever number you receive is your random read for the month. I have decided  to use the books on my Kindle as my list. I buy or get free far too many books on my Kindle and then never read them. My current number stands at 443, so only two books purchased last month! I finished March's read and have started April's read, so I am still one month behind. I hope to finish April's read and May's read which is number 273. Number 273 is The Maelstrom by Henry Neff, funnily enough the random read I got stuck on my first year participating in Random Reads. My goal is to conquer it this time around! It is a series about a boy who defends the world against demons. He is a reborn version of Cuchulain, a warrior from Celtic mythology. I enjoyed the first 3 books, so I hope to get into the 4th one.
The Maelstrom (The Tapestry, #4)
Random House