Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

This book will be my June 2016 Reading Assignment Read. Unfortunately I did not finish a book in May, so I will have to try to make that up in July. It also works for Once Upon a Time Challenge since I read it before June 21st, just have not had time to review it.
The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, #1)
Disney Hyperion

Magnus Chase becomes more powerful after he dies. Magnus is the child of a Norse god, something he learns shortly before dying, when his uncle has him retrieve a sword that once belonged to his father. Magnus also happens to be the cousin of Annabeth Chase and they only share a brief conversation before most of the excitement begins. Because Magnus fights a fire giant and dies, a Valkyrie named Sam, takes him to Valhalla. There he learns that Ragnorak will begin soon, unless he can stop the Fenris Wolf from being released. Joined by a dwarf and an elf and Sam, who has been exiled from being a Valkyrie, the four race against time to stop the end of the world.

I liked hearing more about Norse mythology, which is one area of mythology that I haven't studied at all. This series is a little more YA than Riordan's other series, but still fine for middle school age. I didn't really like Magnus all that much as a character, which surprised me, but he is whiny at time, an "atheist," (really more of an agnostic, no matter how much he brags on being an atheist), and not all that impressive in this book. I think he will slowly mature. I did however really like Sam. Sam is a Muslim girl trying to deal with all the expectations in her life along with all the requirements of being a Valkyrie and she is not whiny at all. She is the stronger of the two, but has been dealing with her dual life for awhile, so I am hoping her mature will rub off on Magnus.  I did also love that the relationship between the two is not going to be romantic. Sam has an arranged marriage with a fiance she loves and the relationship between her and Magnus is more like brother and sister, reminiscent of Carter and Sadie. I am really happy about this, because it allows for more action in the book, rather than mooning over another character. Really the main problem I had was with religion in this book, which surprised me, because Riordan deals with this so well in his other series. He says Magnus is an atheist and tries to make this cool, but Magnus even admits to not knowing for sure, which makes him agnostic. Sam's religion is kind of glossed over and I would love to have seen a bit more of her Muslim heritage, because it does play a role in her life, but from the bit we see, it seems to be portrayed accurately. I am sure it is hard for him to include religion without really talking about his own beliefs and trying to accurately portray those of others, so other than Magnus' one rant, it was not badly done. This book is definitely more action packed than Riordan's others and a bit more mature. It is not quite as good as the Olympians and Lost Heroes, but few books are. 3.5 cups of cocoa and I can't wait until October!

The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder

I read this for the Little House Read-a-long and for the Story Sprite purple path for setting winter/snowy. It is also a Newbery read for the Newbery challenge.
The Long Winter (Little House, #6)
Harper and Row

Well this book is definitely about winter and snow! Laura and her family who have settled down close to De Smet decide to spend the winter in the store that Pa built in town instead of in their shanty, after a Native American predicts a long winter. Good thing Pa believes the man, because blizzard after blizzard hits the area and the trains cannot make it to town. Living on meager provisions, Laura and her family struggle through the winter, but they are a family who grows stronger in horrible conditions. When the town is out of food, Almanzo Wilder and another young man, Cap Garland decide to risk their lives to find a farmer who may have grown some extra wheat. Will they make it before the next blizzard and will the families be able to survive until spring?

This one definitely shows how hardy the Ingalls and other frontier families were! It also shows Pa's levelheadedness in dealing with price gouging and Almanzo's heart as he braves the elements for others. I also enjoyed how music plays such an important role in keeping them sane and almost cried with Laura when Pa could not play because of his swollen fingers. It was also nice to have another Mr. Edwards cameo as he leaves money behind for Mary's college fund. Laura definitely matures in this one and becomes more of an adult than a child as she helps Pa twist straw and tries to keep a cheerful front with her younger sisters. 5 cups of cocoa and a sweet story of a scary time.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

2016 Virtual Adult Summer Reading Program signup

VASRP Graphic 1

Virtual Adult Summer Reading is hosted by Valerie and Octavia and you can sign up at this link. I love Summer Reading and the theme for this challenge is Get Hooked on Books! I would like to do Minnow Level which is 6 to 10 books. Valerie and Octavia are going to have monthly Twitter chats and weekly challenges, so this looks like a lot of fun. I am going to read books for my book clubs and a few books I have been wanting to read.

My reading list:
The Time Traveler's Wife
The Zookeeper's Wife
Kentucky Heat by Fern Michaels
Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare
In the Hand of the Goddess by Tamora Pierce

I will update this as needed, particularly when I find out what August's book club books are. Thanks to Valerie and Octavia for hosting! 

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter

This was my June TBR book and will also work for the Prequels/Sequels challenge and for the purple path for story sprites for book with a sarcastic character, since there are several of these in the book. It is also my first COYER read! I used it on the Bingo sheet as E24 on Board Two. This is the fourth book in the series, so it will have spoilers for the first three books.
Out of Sight, Out of Time (Gallagher Girls, #5)

Cammie knew when she left last summer that searching for answers about the Circle would be dangerous and she knew that her friends and Zach would be angry with her for not telling them she was leaving, but what she didn't know is that she would not remember the summer at all. Cammie wakes up in a convent in the Alps with no memory of the summer and finds out it is October. She quickly calls her mother and is taking back to the Gallagher Academy. Only she is not the same Cammie. She has black hair, is rail thin, and can now operate a rifle. She knows she must remember what happened this summer, because the Circle no longer needs her alive and that again makes her a danger to everyone. However she knows that she can't run anymore and that her friends and family always have her back.

I loved this one and so far it is my favorite in the series. Cammie and her friends have to mature quite a bit in this one and Cammie's relationship with Zach becomes a true relationship with shared secrets and a few kisses, definitely still middle school appropriate for younger YA readers. The plot in this one is awesome and wraps up a few dangling points, like what happened to Cammie's father and just exactly who the Circle is. I also loved that you can see the girls growing up, but still growing together. In ways the girls' friendship and relationship to the school reminds me of Harry Potter and Hogwarts, but only in that both accurately depict how we change over time and how we become more mature. I will hate to see this series end and will be hopefully starting the last book soon. 5 cups of cocoa! This is a great quick read series!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

COYER Summer Vacation signup


I am definitely signing up for COYER Summer Vacation, since that is the challenge that first brought my attention to COYER. The signup link is here. I love all the fun challenges and the interactions between participants. As far as a reading list goes, I am still not for sure. I would love to finish at least 10 books by the end of COYER and to finish one or two ebooks. Other than that, I hope to make a reading list soon. You all should definitely sign up for this one. Thanks to Michelle, Berls, and Stormi for putting this all together!

Sci-Fi Summer Read-a-thon Wrapup

I was able to finish both books by June 7 with a total of 300 pages! I still need to write the review for These Broken Stars and Sword of Summer. Thank you to Michelle for hosting!

My May TBR: And the Winner is...


So I spent most of the week with a tie and had to ask the COYER group for help. Thanks you guys, because not only did the tie break, but I had my highest number of votes ever at 20! The winner by two votes is...
Out of Sight, Out of Time (Gallagher Girls, #5)
Hyperion Books

I am excited to visit with Cammie and her friends again and I will be one book closer to finishing the series. Thank you all again!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

June 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 finished last month's book, hooray, so that is two months in a row! I decided to go with series books for this month. One is the second in a series, one is the fifth, and the final one is a second in the series and maybe the last I am not for sure.  

First Choice:
In the Hand of the Goddess (Song of the Lioness, #2)
Atheneum Books

This is second in the Alanna series and a gift from my OTSP Secret Sister. I love the cover and Alanna is a strong female lead who wants to be a knight. I read the first one back in January.

Second Choice:
Out of Sight, Out of Time (Gallagher Girls, #5)
Hyperion Books

This one is the fifth in the series and I finished the fourth one back in March. I love the Gallagher spy school and the friendship between the girls. This is the next to the last book in the series.

Third Choice:
Percy Jackson's Greek Heroes

This is told from Percy's perspective and I really enjoyed the Greek gods one. I don't know how many Riordan plans to write in this series, but this is the second one so far. I read the Greek gods one last year.

2016 Bookish Resolutions Challenge April and May 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. So I didn't update at all in April and honestly I did awful in both April and May, so I am going to admit my defeats and try to improve in June!!!

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. Still have only finished Peter Pan, but have started Frankenstein.
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 finished 30 books now, but I need to really work on finishing more this month.
3. Finish at least 4 series. I did well with this last year, but I have several more series that I did not finish. I have finally finished one series! Hoping to start another series ending book 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 18 times in April, so good there, but barely reached 10 in May. 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. I have started all my challenges so far this year! I know I have a reading challenge addiction, but it is so much fun! I have met goals in a couple of them, but still working on reading more.
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. Twitter is going well, but I need to be looking at blogs more. With summer reading, I will probably only want to come home and veg out on the computer, so I am hoping to do better this month.
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 27 out of 30 books and I hope to review one more book out of those read, so I am excelling at this one! 

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. HaHaHa. I have gained back at least 5 of the 10 pounds I had lost. I have been stress eating like none other and not exercising at all, unless you count walking to the fridge and cabinets to get more food!
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. HaHaHa. Coffee and sodas are my best friends and I went a few days without veggies and fruit. I am starting to do better with eating fruit now that it is summer and I found a tangerine balsamic that I love, so I am eating salads more. I am going to try to cut down on sodas again. I think coffee is here to stay, but if I can work on the sodas I will be happy. June has to be better!!!
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 don't remember the last time I exercised, some time in April I think. I will be moving around more with summer reading, but I have to start back exercising really soon!!

Hope everyone is doing a bit better with their goals than I am, but June is a new month and I am going to work harder this month. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Sci-Fi Summer Read-a-thon Signup and Starting Post

This is hosted by Michelle @ True Book Addict, Castle Macabre and The Christmas Spirit blogs and you can signup at this link.
So I am a little late to signup, but at least it just started today. I plan on finishing Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer this week and I would also like to read on These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner. That would be one fantasy and one sci-fi. I also have other books that I need to read this week, that don't fit the genres, so that will probably be my only two for the read-a-thon. Thanks to Michelle for hosting!