Saturday, April 30, 2016

Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

I read this for the Reading Assignment Challenge and it is also a Once Upon a Time read for mythology. It also fits the Prequels and Sequels challenge, the Series Enders challenge, Flights of Fantasy challenge, Full House Challenge for Laugh Out Loud Moments, and Reading Bingo as Read a Middle Grade book. It also works for the purple path on Story Sprites for Tight Male/Male friendship and there are actually several of these in the book, but I think Jason and Leo would be the best example. This will have spoilers for the rest of the series.
The Blood of Olympus (The Heroes of Olympus, #5)
 The 7 demigods are slowly making their way to Athens to face the giants and Gaea where the prophecy that one of them will not make it ways over their heads. While they fly and sail on the Argo 2, Reyna, Coach Hedge, and Nico are shadow traveling the Athena Parthenos back to Half-Blood Hill in the hopes of avoiding a war between the Greek and Roman demigods and to heal the gods. All of the demigods must face their biggest faults and fears if they can even hope to defeat the earth mother and her children. With August 1 looming over their heads, can the crew sacrifice one of their own to save the world and will the world fall to fire or storm?

Perfect ending! I love Riordan's books and even though the final books in his series usually make me cry, they always end with hope. I also loved the humor in this series and the clean and not overly romantic moments. The action is perfect and I loved hearing from 9 different characters. I don't know how Riordan managed to keep them all in character, but it was well done. I really can't decide which character is my favorite, but I am hoping that some of them will return for The Trials of Apollo. I think Annabeth is probably still my favorite, but Leo was also fun. I feel like we saw Percy's flaws more with this series, which I liked and I feel like he became more of a traditional hero with flaws that could have caused a really bad ending. I think the pairings of characters works well and that we will see some of these couples again soon. I recommend this series to tweens all the way to adults and I love how Riordan tackles issues in his series and does so seamlessly with his plot. This is obviously a 5 cups of cocoa read for me and will definitely take the top spot for favorite middle grades read this year and possibly will take the top spot for my favorite read of the year. Keep the books coming Rick!

World Without Princes by Soman Chainani

This was my April TBR list book and also works for Flights of Fantasy, Retelling Challenge, Prequel and Sequel Challenge, Royal Challenge, for Reading Bingo as Author's Sophomore Book, and for Full House challenge as Library Book. It also works for Story Sprites pink path as Competition among characters. It is also a Once Upon a Time Read for fairytales. Wow I did not realize this would fit some many challenges. This review will have spoilers for the first book, because the second book shows the consequences of the characters actions in the first book of the series, so go read the School for Good and Evil first. :)
A World Without Princes (The School for Good and Evil, #2)

Sophie and Agatha are back home, living their happily ever after or at least that is what they think. As Sophie tries to cope with her father getting remarried, Agatha begins thinking about Tedros and what if. When both girls inadvertently wish for a different ending, they are thrown back into the dangers of the School for Good and Evil, now renamed the School for Girls and Boys. The fairytale endings have all changed and the girls are the ones in charge, dumping princes, taking over kingdoms, and bonding in sisterhood, but not everyone is happy with their situation. As Agatha and Sophie try to work through Agatha's wish for Tedros, there are sinister forces trying to change the end of the story. With betrayal comes a cost and the cost could be the world as they know it.

This was a powerful sequel and I am still processing my thoughts on it. The ending is sort of a cliffhanger, but choices are made. I am not so sure how I feel about true love conquers all, even friendship, kind of ending it had, but I think some of this will be ironed out in the third book. I loved revisiting all the secondary characters and I still love Agatha and Sophie and Tedros is still too macho, although less so by the end of the book. I did quickly read this one and I am excited for the next, so 4.5 cups of cocoa and a fun, dark read if you like fairytale twists. Hope everyone enjoyed their TBR reads this month!

Friday, April 29, 2016

On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder

I read this one for the Little House on the Prairie Read-a-long and the Newbery challenge.
On the Banks of Plum Creek (Little House, #4)
Harper and Row

Laura and her family have moved from the wilds of Indian Country to the cooler climate of Minnesota. Pa plans to make a fortune off of wheat crops, but the unpredictable weather and grasshoppers may change his plans. While in Minnesota, Laura is able to go to church and school for the first time and she meets Nellie Oleson, a spoiled child. Through all the changes, the Ingalls family weathers the storm and hope to make a life on the banks of Plum Creek.

I love how Laura gets back at Nellie with the leeches. Nellie deserved so much worse, but Laura patiently bides her time until she tricks the brat. I also like that Laura has such positive teachers who build her up, both her regular school teacher and the Sunday school teacher. I loved the idea of the Christmas tree using presents as decorations and how the rich people in the East sent wonderful items to those in the West who had less. Again I marvel at how much the Ingalls survive through, floods, insect plagues, and blizzards! I wish she had talked a bit more about the quilt making, that is what I missed in this one, the details about how they made things that were in the first three books.

As far as being a Newbery honor, it was well deserved. There were so many memorable scenes and you really feel like you can understand what life was like for people back then. I remember this was one of my favorites in the series, because of the secondary characters Laura really brought to life. I can also see why these were the characters chosen for the TV show, like Reverend Alden and Nellie and her family.

I love revisiting Plum Creek and this one is a 5 cups of cocoa read for me!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Spring Into Horror Read-a-thon Wrapup

This is hosted by Michelle @ Seasons of Reading and True Book Addict, Castle Macabre and The Christmas Spirit blog. I listened to 5 CDs of Blood of Olympus, read 60 pages in Frankenstein, and read 360 pages in World Without Princes and finished it! So not too bad on the reading end, but I did not socialize at all. I planned to not have to work as much as I did this week and it really cut into both socializing and reading. Hope everyone had fun and thanks again to Michelle for hosting!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

This was another book club book and works for the New Authors challenge. It also works for Book Club worthy book for the Full House Challenge and a Book the Made you cry for the Reading Bingo challenge. It also works for the Story Sprite challenge, purple path, Story with a Strong Family Bond.
Still Alice
Gallery Books

Dr. Alice Howland has always worked with language and is shocked when her linguistic skills betray her. As she begins struggling to find words and getting lost in familiar places, she goes to a neurologist and learns the worst news possibly, she has early onset Alzheimer's. As she begins planning for her lack of future, her family is devastated. Her husband cannot deal and denies the truth for as long as he can, but her children step up, particularly her daughter, Lydia, who moves her life around to be with her mother. As Alice loses herself, she gains love, love for her actress daughter and her grandchildren. Even without her remarkable mind, she is still Alice.

I am tearing up just writing this review, but this is a scary and mind-blowing read. Mental illness is never treated as well as physical diseases and those who suffer from them are ostracized by others, even well meaning others. Alice mentions that if she had cancer, she would have a support group, but since she has Alzheimer's, people scatter. I think it makes us all rethink how we treat those with mental illness and that there are worse things than dying. Living is hard, particularly with a diagnosis like Alice's, but underneath it all, she is still the mother her children love and she can still feel love. This is a powerful, but extremely challenging read and it will break your heart. 5 cups of cocoa and a book every one should read! 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Spring into Horror Read-a-thon Midweek Checkin

This is hosted by Michelle @ Seasons of Reading and True Book Addict, Castle Macabre and The Christmas Spirit blog. So far I have listened to 3 CDs of Blood of Olympus and read 16 pages in Changeless. I hope to start Frankenstein tonight, to get in a little of the horror element. I am enjoying the Facebook page, even though I haven't participated on it yet. Thanks again to Michelle for hosting!

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

This was another book club book and counts for Reading Bingo as a book with a number in the title. It also counts as a New Author and Debut Novel on Full House.
The Thirteenth Tale
Atrium Books

When Vida Winters, the best selling novelist, contacts Margaret Lea to write her biography, Margaret is surprised. True, she writes biographies of dead authors, but to write a living author's biography, Margaret is not sure, however she reads one of Winters' books, The Thirteen Tales, with only twelve tales, and she is intrigued. Mrs. Winters promises to tell Margaret the truth and to reveal the elusive thirteenth tale and that begins a story, part ghost story, part Gothic novel about twins. Both Mrs. Winters and Margaret are drawn to the idea of twins, both through tragedy, and as Mrs. Winters tells the story of Adeline and Emmeline March, her story, the truth of both Margaret's life and Mrs. Winters' life are finally told, but it may be too much for either of them to bare. How does one go on without the other half?

Wow, this was a twisting, turning, wonderful read! You do feel like you are reading Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, and several classics rolled into one and you will not guess all the ends of the plot. Once a huge twist is revealed, you have to go through and rethink the whole book and like Margaret at the end of the Thirteenth Tales, you are going to feel like the story should go on. This book was awesome for discussion and every single person in our book club loved it. 5 cups of cocoa and I will be hunting down her next book soon!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Life Sentences by Laura Lippman

This was a book club book and will count for Setting begins with a B on the Full House challenge.
Life Sentences
William Morrow

Set mainly in Baltimore, the story is about Cassandra Fellows and her desire to remain a well-known and well-paid author. Cassandra wrote two stories of her life, both bestsellers, and then a novel, which tanks. She believes the best thing to do would be go back to nonfiction and when she hears about a case involving a former classmate, Calliope, and the use of the fifth amendment to hide the disappearance of Calliope's child, Cassandra believes she has hit the jackpot. She goes off in search of her former classmates and becomes involved in an affair with a classmate's husband, learns that her father and stepmother lied to her, and learns her own story is not as straightforward as she always believed. When she learns the truth about Calliope, she also learns what telling the truth really costs and how lies can become life sentences.

I wanted to like this one, especially because one of the ladies in book club loves her books, but it was unanimous that no one really ended up enjoying the book. I really liked Lippman's style, but hated all of the characters and by the end I didn't care what happened to them. They were all selfish, self-indulgent people and the story was too much about Cassandra and not enough about Calliope. I also wanted there to be more of an ending to the story, but it really was just about living with lies. 2 cups of cocoa, although I might try one of her other books someday.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Telling the Bees by Peggy Hesketh

This was a book club book read and will also count for New Author to You on Full House challenge and for the New Authors challenge.
Telling the Bees
G. P. Putnams' Sons
 Alfred Honig has lived his whole life next door to the Bee Ladies, growing up with Claire and her sister. When he finds them murdered, he begins to wonder about their lives and particularly about Claire and how their friendship had become estranged. As Alfred begins to regret the decades of not talking to his friend, he also learns who she truly was and how he had misjudged her and the depth of his love for her.

This will be a short review, but it was a pretty good read. The book is full of details about beekeeping and Hesketh does a good job making that part interesting, although if you have no interest in the subject, it could drag you down. I really think I could have my own beehive now and take care of bees after reading this one. The relationship between Claire and Alfred and Claire and her family is intriguing and I did not make the connection with the murderer and the Bee Ladies, until right before the author told it, so that was good. It was a clever read and I liked it well enough. 3.5 cups of cocoa.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Soulless by Gail Carriger

I read this for the Steampunk Reading Challenge and Flights for Fantasy. It also works on my Reading Bingo for book with a steamy romance, mainly for the time period and what I normally read. and on First in a Series for Full House. It also counts for the New Authors challenge, since this is the first one I have finished by her.
Soulless (Parasol Protectorate, #1)

Alexia Tarabotti doesn't really expect much out of life, but to be left alone. She is Italian, tall and dark skinned, and with a strong face, and in her twenties, so a spinster she will be. On top of her unacceptable looks for the time period, she is also preternatual and has no soul and the ability to negate supernatural powers. However Alexia has attracted the attention of the Alpha werewolf Lord Maccon, who wants Alexia, not just for the way she attracts him, but also because she seems to be the key for solving some supernatural murders and disappearances. Can Alexia nab one of the most eligible bachelors and solve the mystery? More importantly, will there be food along the way?

I loved this start to the series. Gail Carriger created some hilarious moments and captures the stuffiness of the Victorian period with a nice blend of steampunk creations and a hot under the collar romance. I loved the secondary characters as much as the first, particularly Lord Akeldama, a gay vampire, and Lord Maccon's beta Professor Lyall, who is charming and smart with his gadgets. The romance was a bit steamy, but not too over the top and also a bit sweet. I loved the mystery element and I can't wait to see what hijinks Alexia gets up to in the next book. 5 cups of cocoa and a strong start to the series!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Spring Into Horror Read-a-thon Signup

This is hosted by Michelle @ Seasons of Reading and True Book Addict, Castle Macabre and The Christmas Spirit blog and you can sign up at this link. You only have to read one "scary" book and Michelle allows us to read mystery or Gothic to fulfill that requirement.

My reading list:
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan
Changeless by Gail Carriger
A World Without Princes by Soman Chainani

Can't wait for the readathon! Thanks to Michelle for hosting!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

My April TBR: And the Winner is...

This is hosted by Michelle @ Because Reading. With 12 votes, 5 of them went to this book:
A World Without Princes (The School for Good and Evil, #2)

The other two books had 4 and 3 votes a piece, so this was a very close call! I can't wait to catch back up with Agatha and Sophie and see what exactly a "world without princes: means. Thanks to everyone who voted and to Michelle for hosting!

Friday, April 8, 2016

2016 Bookish Resolutions Challenge March Update

 BookishResolution Challenge 2016
The 2016 Bookish Resolutions Challenge is hosted by Laura @ Trips Down Imagination Road and Michelle @ Because Reading and you can sign up at this link. For this challenge you must have 2 of 3 main goals, Blogging, Reading, and/or Personal and then subcategories for these goals.

My goals:

Reading Goals

1. Read at least 6 Classics. This was a goal I barely completed last year, but something I want to continue doing. So far I have only finished Peter Pan, but hopefully I can get into another classic soon.
2. Read at least 70 books this year. I did not do this as a goal for the Bookish Resolution last year, but I did have it as a goal. I just missed it by 8 books, so I want to challenge myself on it this time. I have finished 23 books so far, so I am going at a good pace!
3. Finish at least 4 series. I did well with this last year, but I have several more series that I did not finish. A goal I haven't started still, but hopefully soon!

Blogging Goals

4. Blog at least 10 times a month. I met this goal for 7 out of 12 months, so I want to try this one again. I blogged 11 times in March, so I barely met my goal. I hope to work on this more next month.
5. Complete at least half of the challenges I sign up for this year. I came very close to completing this goal, but not quite. I will be signing up for challenges soon. So far I have started 13 challenges out of 16, so not a bad start. I still think I have a reading challenge addiction. :)
6. Be more active commenting on blogs and on Twitter. By more active, I mean getting on Twitter and commenting on blogs at least once a week. I did really well with this. I have been checking Twitter at least once a day and at least commenting on tweets. I still need to work on commenting on blogs, but I have commented on at least one each week.
7. Review at least half of the books I read. I basically just stopped writing reviews at the end of the year and I would like to do better with this in 2016. So far I have reviewed 18 out of 23 books and I hope to review three of the books from last month that I have not reviewed yet. 

Personal Goals

8. Lose at least 20 pounds. We are going to try Biggest Loser at work and our theme this year is Libraries Transform, which is ALA's theme. I gained back most of what I lost last year, so I would love to lose that weight again and maintain the weight loss. I have lost 10 pounds so far! I did well the first part of the month, but I am going to have to work through the temptation of Easter candy.
9. Eat and drink healthier. I would like to eat at least a vegetable or fruit a day. I eat horribly and am not in good shape. I would also like to cut down on coffee and sodas, because that is all I have been drinking lately. I have managed to eat at least a veggie or a fruit a day, but not much more than that. I had only two sodas last month, but coffee is not going away any time soon.
10. Exercise more. I would love to exercise at least a few times a month and possibly up this to a few times a week as I get in a bit better shape. I don't want to push things too fast, so for the first month or so, I would like to exercise at least 3 times a month. I barely managed to squeeze in exercise again, so I really need to work on this next month.

Hope you all are doing well with your resolutions. Thanks to Laura and Michelle for hosting!

Once Upon A Time X Signup

Melissa Nucera

This is hosted by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings and you can sign up at this link. I love this challenge and had forgotten it started in March!
I am being ambitious and signing up for

I hope to read 5 books that will fulfill the categories, which are fairytales, folktales, mythology, and fantasy. I know I want to read Blood of Olympus, at least one Tamora Pierce book, and A World Without Princes. I will decide later on the other 2 books, but I have a few possible choices in mind.

I also want to try this

This involves finishing Quest the First and watching and/or reading A Midsummer's Night Dream. This is one of the few Shakespeare plays that I did not have to read in high school or college and I have not seen any of the film adaptations. I am not for sure if I will read or watch or both yet, but I want to try this.

Also I am going to try to find selections for this:

The library weeded a copy of Unnatural Creatures, which was compiled by Neil Gaiman, and I would like to read at least a couple of selections from this. I also have a copy of the Red Fairy Tales and may read a few from that as well.

Thanks to Carl for hosting!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Reading Assignment Challenge First Quarter Check In

2016HW Report Card

This is hosted by Berls at Fantasy is more fun and Michelle at Because Reading and you can sign up at this link. There are so many books I need to finish and then just ignore, so I am hoping to do this challenge to finally finish a few of these books. I am going with Reading Level 1: 12 books total, one a month.

So far I am making an A! I finished
1. Alanna by Tamora Pierce for January
2. Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie for February
3. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell for March 

I have also managed to review all 3 books, which is a bigger feat for me than actually reading them. This is a fun challenge and is really helping me to finish those books that have been on my TBR for awhile. Thanks to Berls and Michelle for hosting! Hope everyone else is doing well with the challenge!

Story Sprites Challenge Round 4 signup

SS Board Round 4

The Story Sprites challenge is hosted by Great Imaginations and here is a link to the signup. The goal is to complete a path by July 1st. You pick a color and complete those squares. You can do more than one path if you want. I am having a hard time choosing which path to take! I think I am going to try for yellow or purple, but I may try for more than one color if I get on a reading kick. Thanks to the bloggers at Great Imaginations for hosting!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Story Sprites Round 3 Wrapup

Round 3 Board

I was able to finish the pink path this time, instead of the purple I planned on completing, but I am happy with that!

For Book with Gay/Lesbian Romance, I read Carry On, which was really good. My review can be found here.

For Clairvoyance/Sixth Sense, I read Perception, which was a good ending to the series. I really enjoy Harrington's mysteries. My review can be found here.

For Characters with Code Name, I read Only the Good Spy Young, featuring Cammie "the Chameleon" Morgan. I love the Gallagher Girls series and how they are all strong girls! My review can be found here.

For Scandinavian-born character: I read Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I sort of liked it, but it was really dark. My review can be found here.

Thanks to Great Imaginations for hosting and I will be signing up for Round 4 really soon!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

April My TBR List


This is hosted by Michelle @ Because Reading. Each month you pick three books on your TBR list and people vote on the one you should read that month. I took a break in March, since I knew I would not have as much time to read in March. This month I am picking books in a series. I keep meaning to finish series and then stop either before the series ends or I read the first book and just keep meaning to pick up the second or third book and then I don't.

First Choice:
In the Hand of the Goddess (Song of the Lioness, #2)
Simon Pulse

I really liked Alanna and would love to jump back in her world, especially after the ending of the first book. Alanna is pretending to be a boy, so that she can become a knight.

Second Choice:
A World Without Princes (The School for Good and Evil, #2)

I love Sophie and Agatha and how Agatha is a great friend. This world is full of Evers and Nevers and how the world of happily ever after is changing.

Third Choice:
Out of Sight, Out of Time (Gallagher Girls, #5)

I love the Gallagher Girls series and finally jumped back into the series last month. I would love to see what is in store for Cammie and her friends.

Please vote for your favorite and you can vote even if you are not taking part in the meme. Thank you and thanks to Michelle for hosting!