Monday, March 30, 2015

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

I have had this on my TBR for awhile, so it will count for the Take Control of Your TBR Pile challenge. Well, I didn't plan on reading it this month, but since I have to review Shadow Scale on audio, I wanted to read the first one in the series. I am so glad I had to read it, because I loved it!
Seraphina (Seraphina, #1)
Random House

Seraphina is divided between two worlds. Having a dragon mother and a human father, she must hide the fact of what she is, half dragon. Her father felt betrayed by the woman he loved, since she never told him she was a dragon and in part shuns Seraphina and makes her swear to secrecy. In Seraphina's world, dragons can adopt human form and only their emotionless manners and slight smell make them detectable. Most dragons are forced to wear a bell, because of their ability, but Seraphina's mother and her uncle did not have to do this. Seraphina feels angry toward her mother, but since her mother died in childbirth, Seraphina can not express any of this to her. Seraphina has her mother's gifts, the gift of music and her mother's memories. She is assistant to the music master and teacher to the young princess Glisselda. Through her work and through hanging around her uncle and teacher, Orma, Seraphina meets Lucien Kiggs, a prince born of an elicit elopement, but he is still betrothed to the princess. Despite what she is and who she is, Seraphina develops feelings for Lucien. In her world, dragons and humans have an uneasy peace, one that could be shattered at any time. Seraphina will be caught in the middle of this fragile peace and she may have to sacrifice her secret, her love, and her life to stop that peace from dissolving.

I love the world Hartman created and the characters are wonderful! The romances are heartbreaking and believable. I love the fact that Hartman has also created a believable world inside Phina's head! This is my favorite read of the year so far. 5 cups of cocoa!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Brief Thoughts on Clockwork Princess

I kinda knew this would happen. I did not finish Clockwork Princess by the deadline. This month flew by and one of my book club books just dragged on. Then when I decided to switch to the audiobook of CP, I received an audio to review which was the second in the series. This means I have to finish the first book and the second book of that series (Seraphina and Shadow Scale) before the April 6 deadline. So I have to stop for the moment on CP. Good news is that I am halfway through it and I love it. It is breaking my heart and I have already cried at one point, a rarity for me. I sometimes cry at the end of books, but rarely just halfway through. This one is just so good that I want to savor the whole experience, so rather than quickly pushing through it, I am going to slowly finish it. I wanted to at least briefly talk about it, since it is part of the monthly challenge and I had hoped to finish it in time. I love the steampunk side of it, the triangle romance will break your heart, and the secondary characters are great. I love the Shadowhunter world she has created and I like this series even more than the Mortal Instruments. I will miss these characters so much and that has led to a slow down of my reading. If you like paranormal romance or steampunk or late 1800s gothic style romance or retellings of Tale of Two Cities, pick this one up! Hopefully I can finish this one by May and have a proper review later.

School of Wizardry by Debra Doyle and James D. Macdonald

I ordered this book over a year ago, because one of my friends really enjoyed this series and recommended it as a sort of Harry Potter read-a-like. It was written before HP and really is more of a medieval look at wizardry, so it is and it isn't like HP. This is my second book for the Take Control of your TBR Pile challenge.

School of Wizardry (Circle of Magic # 1)

Randal is pretty content with his life, training to one day be a knight, but that changes when Madoc the Wanderer visits his uncle's castle. Madoc introduced Randal to magic and he has a gift of seeing the future. Randal leaves his life behind and follows Madoc when he leaves. Madoc agrees to take him to the Schola Sorceria, the School of Wizardry, and Randal trains hard to be a wizard. In the beginning he is not a very good student, but he has raw power. He meets a few friends, including Lys, a girl musician, who listens to Randal and tries to help him with his problems. When another master wizard takes notice of Randal and offers to train him, Randal jumps at the chance, but will it prove to be his undoing?

This was a nice quick read and I have already started the second book. The school is not as well developed as Hogwarts and really is not the focus of the story. Randal and his talent and the medieval society he lives in have more of the spotlight. I like the mix of the historical period with the authors take on magic and recommend this one to those looking for a quick, magical read. 4 cups of cocoa.

Eli the Good by Silas House

This was a book club book for this month, but also one that has been on my TBR list for a while, so it fits the Take Control of Your TBR challenge for this month. This is the first House book I have read.

Eli the Good
Candlewick Press

The summer of Eli's tenth year proves to be his coming of age year. His aunt comes home hiding a secret, his sister seems to do everything she can to test his mom, and his best friend Edie's parents are getting a divorce. It is also the summer of 76, the bicentennial and his father, a Vietnam vet, is suffering from PTSD, but refuses to get help. Eli as a child of Vietnam is faced with his father's horrible flashbacks and he and his sister resent their parents for loving each other more than their children. As both of them try to figure out their place in the world, they inflict pain on their parents and friends, and both parents must learn it is best to deal with problems rather than ignore them and think that you are appearing strong.

I couldn't really tell that this book was set in Kentucky and he uses a fictitious town. This was told from the perspective of grown Eli remembering being young and often Eli's young thoughts seem to be too wise for his years. The storyline was intriguing and it was interesting to see how Vietnam affected the children of veterans. Both Eli and his sister Josie are as damaged by the war as their parents and it affects both of their actions and their relationship with others. Overall I enjoyed the book and House's descriptive writing style. 3 cups of cocoa.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Outsider by Ann Gabhart

This was a book club for this month and will also be my Kentucky book for the Reading Road Trip Challenge.
The Outsider (Shaker Series, #1)
Fleming H Revell Company

Gabrielle is content with her life with the Shaker community. She has the special gifts of song and the gift of seeing the future. Unfortunately her gift of seeing the future is often the gift of seeing death when it is coming. She misses her mother some, but gets to see her at the meetings and she believes her father is dead, so there is nothing to draw her to the outside world, until Dr. Scott comes to the aid of another Believer, Nathan. Dr. Scott feels an attraction to Gabrielle as does Nathan and both see her as a thing of beauty. Gabrielle fights their advances and feels only brotherly love for Nathan, but her attraction to the doctor is more. When he forces her to kiss him, she knows that she loves him, but tries to stay with the Shakers. Gabrielle is censored by her community, but most still want her to stay, but with Dr. Scott pulling on her heart, she has a difficult choice. When war draws him away, will he return and if he does will Gabrielle want to leave with him?

I think Gabhart researched the time period very well and she attempts to be unbiased toward the Shakers, but she does show them as very controlling and not sympathetic. The Shaker life was difficult and very secretive and they faced prejudice in their own time, which Gabhart presents well. The story starts with the barn burning, showing this prejudice. I think she did fairly well trying to present their way of life as both good and bad, but ultimately the Shakers are the "bad guys" of the story. The romance for me was okay, Dr. Scott is neither a good or bad man, but he did force her to kiss him, so that left me a bit soured toward him. Gabrielle was a very innocent character and that was dishonorable of him, no matter what his motives. He wrecks havoc in her life, when it may not have been necessary and in the end I am not for sure which decision would have been best for her. However after certain events, I think she would have come to the same conclusion in the end, so it was good that she had him as an option.

This was a bit of a slow read, because most of the time the characters are just thinking, but it was a good historical fiction and the first Christian fiction romance book I have read. I may try the genre again and I might try Gabhart's other series later. 3 cups of cocoa.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

COYER Winter Wrapup

Winter 2014-2015 COYER Sign Ups

Obviously this should have been up a little more than a week ago and less obviously I was a bit embarrassed that I only read one book for this challenge. :( Winter at the library was wild and I basically only read my book club books and even dnf'ed a few of those. I also missed all the Twitter chats and read-a-thons, because I forgot about them until they were over. However I did chat on Facebook a bit and did finish The Rising, so there is that. I am hoping for a stronger performance in the summer. Thanks to Berls and Michelle for hosting!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

My To-Be Read list: The Votes are In!


This is hosted by Michelle @ Because Reading.
And the winner is...
Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices, #3)
Walker Ltd, Inc

 Again this month's winner was decided by a single vote! Hopefully I can finish this by the end of the month! I am over half-way done with my two book club books, but I know I will be slow reading this one. I am excited about finishing the series and I do like the characters. Thanks everyone for voting!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

March To Be Read List

This is hosted by Michelle @ Because Reading.
Michelle created this meme as a monthly meme and I enjoyed participating last month, so hopefully I can finish this month's choice too. Each month you chose three books for people to vote on and then you read and review that book. Here is the link to March's signup. For more detailed instructions click on Michelle's blog name.

I am still working on series books this month, so I am going to pick three more books from series I need to finish. I really have to work on finishing series rather than avoiding endings.

Up first, Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare.

Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices, #3)
Walker Books, LTD

I loved the other two in the series and bought this one on the day it came out and I still haven't read it. It has a steampunk supernatural feel to it.

Speaking of steampunk supernatural, I have for my second choice, The Girl with the Windup Heart by Kady Cross.

The Girl with the Windup Heart (Steampunk Chronicles, #4)
Harlequin Teen

This series has some of my favorite characters, but I still haven't read the final book. I love the attitudes of the female characters.

My final choice is not the last book in the series, but it is another series I enjoy, The Unwanteds. The particular book is Island of Fire by Lisa McMann.
Island of Fire  (Unwanteds, #3)

It does remind me of Harry Potter, but not really of the Hunger Games. I love how the characters use magic to create.

So there are my three choices, help me with my reading problem. To provide intervention, vote for your favorite. Thanks! :) Thanks to Michelle for hosting!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Take Control of Your TBR Pile: March

Take Control 2015

Take Control of Your TBR Pile is hosted by Kimberly at Caffeinated Book Reviewer and here is the signup link. The goal is to clean some books off of your TBR list, books published before March 1, 2015. I am going to aim for finishing three books, since I am just not reading fast. I hope to finish Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan, my TBR book for March, and one other to be determined book. I also have to finish three book club books this month, so I did not want to be too overwhelmed.

Thanks to Kimberly for hosting!

Bookish Resolutions Challenge February Update

Bookish Resolution Challenge

This is hosted by Michelle at Because Reading is Better Than Real Life and Laura at Trips Down Imagination Road and you can sign up at this link
My resolutions:
1. Read at least 6 Classics this year.
2. Finish at least half of the challenges that I signed up for this year.
3. Finish at least 4 series this year, particularly ones where I have only the last book in the series left to read.
4. Try to blog more, like at least 10 posts a month.
5. Get healthy!

Thanks to Michelle and Laura for hosting!

No progress on the first one, I really need to pick up a classic soon.
I finished one book for COYER, Prequels and Sequels challenge, and this book also completed the To Be Read Monthly challenge, so a little progress on item number 2.  I also finished one book for the Read it Again Sam challenge.
I finished The Rising, which helped me to finish a series, so one down on item number 3!
Fail on number 4, I only wrote 8 blog posts. :( I really need to work on blogging more.
Number 5, I am keeping my calories under 1200 now and am doing better on portion control. I still haven't had any sodas, so 5 is going great.

How are you doing with this challenge? I keep telling myself February was a short month, so I can make everything up in March!