Monday, November 30, 2015

Review: Alice Takes Back Wonderland

After ten years of being told she can't tell the difference between real life and a fairy tale, Alice finally stops believing in Wonderland. So when the White Rabbit shows up at her house, Alice thinks she's going crazy.
Only when the White Rabbit kicks her down the rabbit hole does Alice realize that the magical land she visited as a child is real.
But all is not well in Wonderland.
The Ace of Spades has taken over Wonderland and is systematically dismantling all that makes it wonderful. Plain is replacing wondrous, logical is replacing magical, and reason is destroying madness. Alice decides she must help the Mad Hatter and all those fighting to keep Wonderland wonderful. 
But how can she face such danger when she is just a girl?
Alice must journey across the stars to unite an army. She discovers that fairy tales are real in the magical world beyond the rabbit hole. But they are not the fairy tales she knows. 
Fairy tales have dangers and adventures of their own, and Alice must overcome the trials of these old stories if she wants to unite the lands against Ace.
With the help of Peter Pan, Pinocchio, Snow White and heroes old and new, Alice may have the strength to take back Wonderland. 

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 3 Stars

I am usually up for a good fairy tale retelling and this was a good book in that sense. It brought Alice to life in a somewhat new way, or at least one that hasn't been explored very much. The idea of Wonderland being the result of mental illness was intriguing, especially when the beginning of the book showed how much Alice was struggling between whether she had really experience these things or whether she was truly mad.

There was also a good parallel here where Wonderland is having all of its Wonder sucked out in order to become a "logical" world like ours. The world can really feel like that at times. After a certain age you're expected to grow up and not imagine things as freely as you did when you're a child. I can see why Peter and Alice got along so well. They shared some similarities in that respect.

The plot moved along at a good pace. I didn't feel like it dragged too much. The only instances where it felt like things were becoming overbearing was when there was the continual onslaught of fairy tale characters showing up. If you like the show Once Upon a Time, then I can't see how you wouldn't like this book.

Maybe it is because I have watched that show, however, that I found the continual introduction of known fairy tale characters to get a bit ridiculous after awhile. I like these characters and it was nice to see them again, but around the 40% mark I found myself getting annoyed when yet another fairy tale person/creature showed up.

Music Recommendation

This song and its video are as surreal as I found parts of this book.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Friday, November 27, 2015

TAG: The Joy of Christmas

It's finally the day after Thanksgiving, the day when I can finally start watching Christmas movies and listneing to Christmas music without my husband giving me side eye and grumping about it. :D

To celebrate, I'm going to do The Joy of Christmas Book Tag, courtesy of Samantha from Novels & Nonsense. She created this tag; you should check it out here.

1) Anticipation: The Christmas excitement is real, what book release(s) are you most anticipating?

This title will be released shortly after Christmas and I cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to reading more of it. I was lucky enough to read an excerpt via NetGalley. There are so many questions I have regarding the world building and the powers talked about in the story.

2) Christmas Songs & Carols: What book or author can you not help but sing it's praises?

Jim Butcher is a great author and has created a wonderful man in Harry Dresden. Sure the guy has problems (Harry, not Jim), but it gives him depth and makes him all the more interesting.

3) Gingerbread Houses: What book or series has wonderful world building?

This one is a bit odd as it technically takes place in our world, though mostly in the past. However, the circus is a whole world in and of itself. The world building in this book is fantastic. To a reader, I imagine it feels like being taken by the hand and led through the circus. You keep being shown wonderful and fantastical things while you're looking around, eyes as big as saucers, trying to take everything in at once.

4) A Christmas Carol: Favorite classic or one that you want to read

I'd like to read a lot more classics than I actually get to. One of them would have to be The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens. I should probably read The Christmas Carol at some point, but for some reason the former book grabs my attention just a bit more, probably because I haven't seen a million and one film adaptations of it.

5) Christmas Sweets: What book would you love to receive for Christmas

I would love to get this illustrated copy of the complete Lord of the Rings. Alan Lee had the best illustrations of any edition I've ever seen. I have his edition of The Hobbit and would love to round out my collection of the primary texts.

6) Candles in the Window: What book gives you that warm fuzzy feeling

The whole Blossom Street series give me that warm and fuzzy feeling, though none more so than the first book when Lydia is really starting to find her feet and get her business underway.

7) Christmas Trees & Decorations: What are some of your favorite book covers?

Since these are the covers that I find the most beautiful, I think I'll let them speak for themselves. :D


8) Christmas Joy: What are some of your favorite things about Christmas And/Or some of your favorite Christmas memories?

I love watching it snow. I love roasting marshmallows over the fire. I love reading a new book and looking up to see the Christmas tree alight. 

I love having a day off of work and waking up early like a little kid to open presents. I love eating a special breakfast and then stuffing myself with an early dinner wherever we're celebrating that year.

If only real life could be like the pictures. :)

I tag Aria Mia to do this tag next, as well as anyone else reading that would like to do so.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Harry Potter Thursday - 26 November 2015

Hermione is one of my favorite characters, tied only with Luna Lovegood. I've thought about this topic before and I'm glad it finally came around on Harry Potter Thursday.

Rename the books from Hermione's point of view.

Hermione Granger and the Year We Almost Died...or Worse, Got Expelled

Hermione Granger and the Year I Did Everything and Got No Special Award to the School

Hermione Granger and the Year I Was the Cleverest Witch of My Age

Hermione Granger and the Year Ron was a Jealous Prat

Hermione Granger and the Year I Finally Got Some Recognition

Hermione Granger and the Year The Chosen One Cheated

Hermione Granger and the Year I Skipped All My Classes and Saved the World

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Top 5 Wednesday: Books You're Thankful For

This is the week of giving thanks, apparently! It's going to be hard to follow up my Top 10 Tuesday post from yesterday, but I am going to try not to have any doubles.

In order leading up to the book I'm most thankful for:

5. Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

This book introduced characters, settings, and plots that I never thought possible. There was magic all around, which made the heartache easier to bear during some parts.

4. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

This is the kind of book that I dream about right before I fall asleep. It has the landscape of a dream and the epic love story, complete with tragedy, that makes it perfect.

3. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Cath, Wren, and their father are not perfect. It is great to read a story where this is true. The fact that each of them had a problem of some sort (severe social anxiety, alcoholism, etc.) made them more real to me.

The fangirl aspects were also a tremendous tool in grounding this story for me because, really, what am I if not a fangirl?

2. The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

I don't think I've ever actually read the 1,001 Arabian Nights, so I'm not very familiar with the stories that are in them. This was a beautiful introduction into the story of Shahrzad and her tales. There's so much wonder in her story and I want to read more about her and Khalid.

1. Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

This was both a book that I was expecting and it was also something that I wasn't. The story was straightforward, but there was such a depth to it that surprised me. Reading this book and seeing Samantha's problem through her eyes, experiencing those twists and turns with her, really opened my eyes to OCD. Normally a story about a character with this disorder focuses on the behaviors, the counting, etc. This was a different take than anything I'd read before. This experience is something I wouldn't change and am most thankful for.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Thanksgiving Themed Freebie

It is hard in the day to day life to remember to be thankful, or to feel like you have anything to be thankful for. I'm going to try and think about these things this week as I'm working. You see, I work retail and starting this week through the end of December is kind of a hellish time period. People are beating each other up for deals on televisions and are often forgetting that we, the cashiers, the workers out on the floor, are human beings that just want to get out of this place in one piece.

Well, enough with that. Onto the Top Ten Tuesday list - this time, with a Thanksgiving/thankful theme!

1. Literary family I'd most like to spend Thanksgiving with

Who wouldn't want to spend a holiday with the Weasleys? It might be a bit odd as they haven't got Thanksgiving in England, or at least not at the same time as ours. The food would be amazing, the company fun, and I seriously doubt I'd ever want to leave.

2. Booktuber I'm most thankful to be friends with

Aria Mia has become one of my best friends ever through Booktube. We can talk about anything and share a lot of the same interests. I'm so glad, every day, to have met her and to have her as a friend.

3. A book I'm thankful for

I'm thankful for The Young Elites because it has a fantastic perspective. It is one of the books that made me start questioning what made a villain and what made a hero.

4. The series I'm most thankful for

Harry Potter has given me more than I could have ever expected from a book over the years. I wish that I could read the series again with fresh eyes, seeing all of my favorite characters and scenes for the first time.

5. Author I'm thankful to have discovered

Not only is Sabaa Tahir an amazing author, but she's incredibly kind to her fans. I once had a question about how to pronounce a characters name and she tweeted me the answer! It might not seem like a big thing, but it meant a lot to me.

6. A series I'm thankful to have finally started

This series got talked about so much on social media that I had to buy the first book. After that it rested on my TBR shelf (ha ha, shelf) for ages before I finally settled down to read it. I am so happy that I did because now I can see what people meant about how great it is. I recently bought the rest of the series and I'm now working up the "courage" to read the rest (it wouldn't do to read them all and agonize over the wait for book 5!).

7. A Booktuber I'm happy to have discovered

Samantha from NovelsandNonsense is one of my favorite Booktubers. She has such a good perspective on a wide variety of genres and I feel like I get a lot of literary exposure through her that I wouldn't get otherwise. Her videos are always wonderful and I love seeing her dogs from time to time.

8. Another series I'm thankful to have started

This is another series I'm thankful to have started. It's another one that was really hyped up on social media, and it's another one that is challenging my perspective on villains. The Darkling appeared to be such a great and misunderstood character in the first book, but now I'm not so sure. I have to finish the second and third book before I have a final decision.

9. A fictional family I'm thankful for AND I'd want to spend Thanksgiving with

Reading about what Marko and Alana will go through for the sake of family really hits home. A Thanksgiving feast with them would be amazing, memorable, and probably at least a little dangerous.

10. The book I'm most thankful someone recommended to me

I wasn't sure I was going to like this book at first when Aria Mia recommended it to me. I forget what it was, exactly, but it didn't sound like it would pan out all that well.

I. Was. Shocked.

It has turned into one of my favorite books and I am anxiously anticipating the sequel!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Review: Into a Million Pieces by Angela V. Cook

Allison McKready is a succubus. So is her twin sister. But while Allison spends her summer break hiding in the library behind her Goth makeup, Jade fools around as often as she can. Allison can’t believe Jade would ignore their mother’s fatal example so recklessly, but concealing a cursed bloodline and its dangerous effects is far from Allison’s only problem. Mean girl Julie’s snob mob is determined to ruin her summer, and Aunt Sarah’s Bible thumping is getting louder. Only her new friend, Ren Fisher, offers safe haven from the chaos of her life. 

When one of Jade’s risky dates leads to humiliation and sudden tragedy, Allison reels, and Ren catches her. But as her feelings for him grow, so does her fear that she’ll hurt him—or worse—in an unguarded moment. The choice is coming—love him or save him—but Allison might not live to make it. One way or another, the curse will have its due. 
I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 3 Stars

This was an odd book for me to read as I had not read a book before where the main character was a succubus, never mind twin succubi. There had been side characters in other novels, of course, but the focus afforded to Jade and Allison made it a whole different experience in Into a Million Pieces.


I liked Allison a lot because she has a lot of inner strength, which I suppose you would have to have if you were not only a succubus, but one with a sister that doesn't understand the danger of the situation she shares with you, an aunt constantly shoving religious views down your throat, and the overwhelming temptation that is an attractive male when you're a hormone ridden teenager.

There were a few aspects of her character that annoyed me. In the beginning she knows that taunting Julie is sinking down to the mean girl's level won't help or be right, but she does it anyway. That was infuriating, her knowing better but disregarding that feeling. She seemed whiny at times and a bit foolish in other moments, especially near the end.

Jade was a bit over the top for me, but I think that served a purpose because she was an example of what can happen in paranormal/fantasy books when you don't pay attention to a curse. You're a succubus, girl, get used to it!

She had her good points in that, while she didn't listen to her sister's warning or her mother's example, she did care about Allison in her own way and was protective, though like her aunt she did not go about protecting her in the right way.

Aunt Sarah reminded me of a lesser version of the mother from Carrie, until the end at least. She was unsettling to say the least because of how hard she was pushing her agenda on the girls. I understand that she was attempting to save them through the same method that "saved her", but boy was she going about it the wrong way.

Ren was a pretty cool guy and I liked him, even if Allison was suspicious of him at first. Their relationship was hurried and for me bordered on instant love which is a trope I've said before I hate. That's one of a few reasons why I think Into a Million Pieces would have benefited from being a bit longer.


There were a few segments where I thought that I would not be able to continue. It started in chapter one where things seemed to take off far too quickly, but that got better when things started to get explained. This was a fast book to get through and I did so in a few hours.

The plot was interesting to a point, but it and the writing felt rushed. I think it would have been a more satisfying novel if it had been fleshed out a bit more and certain plot points given more time to develop.

Even with the problems that I had with the book, it was still an enjoyable read that could be finished in a day, perhaps two.

Music Recommendation

This song was originally by Breaking Benjamin, but I saw this alternate take on the music video. It's a simple yet beautiful anime style picture with the lyrics appearing on screen.

It is dark enough that I was reminded of aspects of both Allison and Jade's personalities, but there was sense of hope, however small, that spoke to Allison's strength of will not to succumb to her mother's fate.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Harry Potter Thursday - 19 November 2015

Uncorked Thoughts had a particularly difficult question this week for Harry Potter Thursday:

Favorite J.K. Rowling Moment

This is a difficult question. I mean, a lot of the Harry Potter topics are, but this one is especially hard.

J.K. Rowling has done so much, both in the literary and every day world. She gave us brilliant literature and she shows every day what a kind and generous human being she is. How do you choose something among these many, many moments to single out as your favorite?

Eventually I had to bite the bullet and choose, so I went with this:

When J.K. explains the bravery and compassion that is shown by every member of the Hufflepuff house, I think it is the best defense they could have ever gotten.

Often Hufflepuffs are treated as a load of simple minded children that like to eat and don't do much else. They aren't seen a clever or ambitious or popular, they're just there. I'll admit that for the longest time I shared some of this sentiment, but having begun re-reading the series for the umpteenth time and being married to a Hufflepuff, I've come around a bit.

Looking back on the series and thinking about it, the Hufflepuff are the out and out good guys. They are friendly to all (with the exception of a bit of Goblet of Fire for obvious reasons), they're decent and hardworking, and they are brave not for any reason like recognition, but because what they're doing that requires bravery is the right thing to do.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Top 5 Wednesday: Top 5 Hunger Games Moments (Movies or Books)

To celebrate the release of the final film in the Hunger Games series, Mockingjay - Part 2, this Top 5 Wednesday is dedicated to our favorite moments from the series.

My dilemma with this week's topic is that I have only seen and read the first movie and book. My moments, therefore, will be from that portion of the story.

The muttations were a wasted opportunity in the movie. I prefer them from the books. They were a great freaky creature made all the more disturbing in the books by the fact that, when Katniss looked into their eyes, she could see the eyes of the dead tributes. It was such a heartbreaking realization for her and illustrated another depraved aspect of the Game Makers.

As terrible as we know the Capital is, the journey to it, and thus the Games, was an interesting time. Reading the books it was amazing to see Katniss experiencing these luxuries for the first time. It felt like she enjoyed them, but it was also a painful experience, knowing what she had left behind at home and what she was moving swiftly towards.

The food sounded so delicious as well.  I don't blame her for eating as much as possible while she was still able.

This part was terrible to read about. You could feel the dread and the fear coming for you off the page/screen. I don't know many sixteen year olds that would put themselves in a situation like this, what Katniss is doing for Prim, and her nobility, the love she has for her sister, makes this scene especially heartbreaking.

This scene from the end of the first movie was intense. I saw the movie before I read the book, so I didn't know what was going to happen. For a moment there it was possible to believe that they would both die rather than one of them having to face the Capital as the winner.

My favorite part: that dress! I was so happy with the way they did this. In the book it's a beautiful dress, but the fire comes from the light that bounces off the sequins. In the movie, it ACTUALLY spouts fire when Katniss spins in a circle. That was a great touch to the film.

Waiting on Wednesday: Continuing Series

I sometimes have trouble getting through a series because when I finish the first book, the next isn't out yet and then I get distracted by another series that gets started in the mean time. These are some books that are further along in a series that I've started and really see myself finishing when more volumes are published.

The third volume of the Rebel Belle series comes out in April 2016 and I would love to be able to finish the first two books before hand. It was an odd concept to me at first: the debutante becomes a Paladin? After reading a bit of the first book, though, I'm convinced this is going to be a great series to have fun reading.

Sadly this book does not have a cover yet, but it will be amazing when it  does because it is The Returned, the third volume of The Archived series. It doesn't have a projected publication date either, though fingers crossed that it will definitely be 2016. The first book was unique and I loved being able to visualize the hotel where a lot of the action took place. I still have the second book to read before The Returned comes out, but I want more now. I bet you could gobble this series up in a week or so. 

And yet another book without a cover yet, but this one is also excellent because it is book 2 in a series. What was book 1?

That's right. I so want to get my hands on Crooked Kingdom. If you've seen Six of Crows, you'll know that the book itself was gorgeous with those black edged pages and the illustrations. Just imagine how this world is going to expand and how beautiful it will be doing it!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Top 10 Tuesday: Quotes I Loved From Books I Read In The Past Year Or So

Lists are an awesome thing to make. Sometimes they're helpful in reminded you of your needed groceries. Other times they are wish lists of things you hope for in the future.

And then there's the Top 10 Tuesday list, created by The Broke and The Bookish. There are topics about a wide range of things from debut authors to author duos, etc. In searching for content for a Tuesday post, I came across this page and now I'm throwing my two cents into the ring.

Here is my first Top 10 Tuesday post: Top 10 Quotes from Book I've Read in the Past Year.

“I think you gotta be who you want to be until you feel like you are whoever it is you're trying to become. Sometimes half of doing something is pretending that you can.” 
― Julie Murphy, Dumplin'

“Libraries were full of ideas–perhaps the most dangerous and powerful of all weapons.” 
― Sarah J. Maas, Throne of Glass 

“Isn’t that what stories do, make real things fake, and fake things real?” 
― Marie Rutkoski, The Winner's Curse

 “For a few moments I want to be 5 years old again. I want someone to plunk me down in front of a Disney movie and ask me if I want apple juice or grape.” 
― Jennifer Richard Jacobson, Paper Things

“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.” 
― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

“What's that?" he snarled, staring at the envelope Harry was still clutching in his hand. "If it's another form for me to sign, you've got another -"
"It's not," said Harry cheerfully. "It's a letter from my godfather."
"Godfather?" sputtered Uncle Vernon. "You haven't got a godfather!"
"Yes, I have," said Harry brightly. "He was my mum and dad's best friend. He's a convicted murderer, but he's broken out of wizard prison and he's on the run. He likes to keep in touch with me, though...keep up with my news...check if I'm happy....” 
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 


“Hospital walls have no memory. They would crumble under the weight of so much suffering. It's better that they forget.” 
― Shaun David Hutchinson, The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley

“Everyone’s got something. Some people are just better actors than others.” 
― Tamara Ireland Stone, Every Last Word

 “We don't have to reveal everything to each other. It's OK to be private. It's OK to say no. It's OK to say, 'I'm not going to share that.” 
― Sophie Kinsella, Finding Audrey

“Being temporary doesn't make something matter any less, because the point isn't for how long, the point is that it happened.” 
― Robyn Schneider, Extraordinary Means