Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Buddy Reads, Reading Challenges, and Readathons: 2016 Edition

I hoard books a bit. There, I've said it. A book dragon would be at home in my apartment.

I'm always looking, or at least attempting, to find a way to read through my collection, even as it grows bigger and bigger. One of the fun ways to do this is to participate in reading challenges and readathons throughout the year. Sometimes I forget about them, though, or I don't prepare at all and end up reading less than I thought I would.

What I thought I'd do, in anticipation of previous difficulties, is have a post that I can update throughout the year with all of the challenges, readathons, etc., that I'll be doing.

If anyone would like to join in with me, I'll be adding the links to the respective events. Let's get started!

Buddy Reads


Inkheart by Cornelia Funke - Reading with Aria Mia (TheLifeGeek)


Air Awakens by Elise Kova - Reading with Julia (byersj09) and Jessica (NovelCravings)


Uprooted by Naomi Novik - Reading with Jessica (NovelCravings)



Biannual Bibliothon (January 3rd-9th) - Hosted by MissSassyKassie, emmmabooks, Little Red Reader, Kellys BookSpill, OHxXxSNAP13, sierrareads, and Brittni's BookFind

Clean Slate Readathon (January 10th-17th) - Hosted by Latte Nights Reviews, Novel Ink, and Lost in Lit

Latte Nights Reviews

#SlayThatSeries Readathon (March 13th-20th) - Hosted by SarawithoutanH and ReadLikeWildFire

Year Long Challenges

2016 Diverse Reads Challenge - Hosted by ChasingFaerytales and Read.Sleep.Repeat

#RockMyTBR  - Hosted by Sarah K., The YA Book Traveler

Monday, December 28, 2015

Review: Worlds of Ink and Shadow

Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne. The Brontë siblings have always been inseparable. After all, nothing can bond four siblings quite like life in an isolated parsonage out on the moors. Their vivid imaginations lend them escape from their strict upbringing, actually transporting them into their created worlds: the glittering Verdopolis and the romantic and melancholy Gondal. But at what price? As Branwell begins to slip into madness and the sisters feel their real lives slipping away, they must weigh the cost of their powerful imaginations, even as their characters—the brooding Rogue and dashing Duke of Zamorna—refuse to let them go.

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 1 Star

I have read some Bronte literature, though not all of it. I liked their writings and even knowing the stories from films beforehand did not stop my liking them. When I saw that there was a book about their younger years and that there was a bit of magic about the story, I thought it would be a very enjoyable book. However, I found it sorely lacking.

The viewpoints change every chapter, one being told by Charlotte, then Branwell, etc. That in and of itself would be fine, but I couldn't see a lot of difference between the personalities on the page. It truly felt like one person writing all the chapters. Without the characterization necessary for such a work, it fell rather flat. I couldn't immerse myself in the story due in part to this, and to another aspect of the plot.

A great deal of this book takes places within a fantasy world that is entirely in the heads of two of the main characters, Charlotte and Branwell. They each have different ideas about how the stories ought to go and you can see that. Charlotte prefers well wrapped up love stories and Branwell craves mischief. As I progressed through the novel, though, I found myself not really caring about the "people" in the book. They weren't real enough to rise up from the page, which is perhaps why the siblings spend so much time in the world of ink.

I can give this novel one star for the premise and the attempt, but  I can't honestly recommend it to anyone. There was no life, no enjoyment, that made me want to read through each chapter, anticipating what came next. Without that, it isn't a worthy read.

Music Recommendation

Browsing Youtube, I came across the band The Birthday Massacre. A great many of their songs have the mood that I thought appropriate to describe this book. The despair that appears in their music, especialy in Pins and Needles, reminded me of how Charlotte felt about her writing. I saw it as, for her, a dream but one that was more nightmare because she didn't see herself as worthy of the destiny that she ultimately had and that her work wasn't as everlasting as it turned out to be.

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

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Top 5 Wednesday: Top 5 Books of the Year

This Top 5 Wednesday is going to be particularly hard because Top 10 Tuesday last week was so similar. How does one narrow down even further than Top 10? I tell you, I do not envy judges in competition shows.

I think my spin on this is going to be my top 5 favorite books of 2015 that made me emotional. I either cried during the reading of the book or just after. That, or I curled up in a little ball and kept asking all these questions in my head about the story and didn't come up for air for awhile. :D

5. Paper Things by Jennifer Richard Jacobson

The harshness of reality that the brother and sister in this book had to face, and at such young ages, made me so sad. They were trying so hard to be good people, to be the kind of kids that their mother would have wanted, but life is harder than you think and it doesn't always work out like the stories say they will. This wasn't a crying book, but it was at least a melancholy mood book.

4. Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider

Some of the best emotional books are the ones that creep up on you when you least expect it. Did I know that this book wouldn't be all sunshine and daises? Well, yes, yes I did. It was really good, but then there's a revelation near the end that makes me have hope again before dashing said hope against a rock. I was heartbroken after finishing Extraordinary Means.

3. Saga by Brian K. Vaughn

I've read the first four collected volumes of this series so far and each one leaves me more broken than the last. There's so much emotion packed into such a short amount of time that sometimes I feel drained after reading Saga. There's war, family drama, and so much more.

2. Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

There was a pit in my stomach during many scenes in this book and I had this intense feeling. I'm not entirely sure what it was; perhaps we would say I had a major case of the feels? Anyway, this book hit home in more ways than one and it definitely ranks high on the "Let's leave the Hermit Librarian alone for a bit, shall we?" category.

1. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

I fell in love with the characters in this book and to see them suffer, and some of them not make it at all, was heart wrenching. I made this mistake of finishing this book at work and I was bawling in my office. Not a pretty picture, but it was a great book.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Top 10 Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Wouldn't Mind Santa Leaving Under My Tree This Year

Who doesn't look forward to all of the lovely bookish presents they'll find under the Christmas tree? This year's wish list was particularly heavy on the book front. Here's my top ten of the ones I really wouldn't mind seeing under my tree.

1. The Harry Potter Series - Ravenclaw Edition

I would love to have a Ravenclaw themed set of Harry Potter books almost more than anything. When I first saw them, my jaw dropped from the gorgeousness of it all.

2. A first edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

This was one of the first fantasy series I ever read. Though I haven't finished all of them yet because there are so many, I did love the introduction to the world of Oz and would certainly treasure a first edition.

3. A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking

I remember when I was in the third grade and stayed in from recess, willingly, and read my science text book. I'm not sure why I ever got out of the habit of reading science material, but why not get back into it with Stephen Hawking?

4. The Complete Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson

My grandfather used to love these comics and I never understood why. Now that I'm older and I realize it's about more than a boy and his imaginary friend, I want to read through the entire collection. Unfortunately, I don't own any of the books, so why not ask Santa for this complete box set?

5. The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth by Alexandra Robbins

I think in 2016 I'm going to try reading more non-fiction and this title caught my eye. I'm curious how this book will examine the life of outsiders after high school. That time period wasn't great for me and I wonder if this title will give me any insight.

6. Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Marissa Meyer did an exhilarating job with Cinder's story (and Scarlett and Cress, etc.). Alice in Wonderland is one of my favorite worlds/stories and I can't wait to see how her take on them goes.

7. Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

A member of the Scarlet Guard must read more about their fellow Reds, yes? I've already pre-ordered this book (and signed!), but if Santa could get it here early it would be much appreciated.

8. Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

This book has come highly recommended from many friends, Booktubers, and bloggers. I think it's time to start. It sounds like a tense thriller with a lot of intrigue.

9. Games Wizards Play by Diane Duane

Before Harry Potter there was Nita and Kit. I haven't read any new Wizard books in years; it's time for more!

10. Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates

I liked A Tree Grows in Brooklyn for its view of a simple life, a life I'd never know, and I found it fascinating for the differences and the similarities. From what I know of Revolutionary Road, having seen the movie, it looks like this would be a 50's version of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. It's another world that is similar to mine in some way, but so immensely different. The culture, the expectations, I want to read this to find out more about the characters and how they navigate such a world.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Review: The Three Sisters (The Krampus Chronicles, Book #1) by Sonia Halbach

Fourteen-year-old Maggie Ogden thinks she knows everything there is to Grandfather Clement Clarke Moore and his legendary poem,’Twas the Night Before Christmas. But all this changes Christmas Eve 1854 when Chelsea Manor receives an unexpected visitor - Henry Livingston; who’s searching for evidence to prove that his grandfather, Major Henry, is the true author of the famous holiday poem.
The night takes a strange turn when Maggie and Henry come across another intruder in Chelsea Manor. After following the peculiar boy down a secret opening within the fireplace and through an underground tunnel full of mechanical sleighs, Maggie and Henry discover Poppel, a hidden village under New York City.
Faced with the deadly challenges presented by the legend of The Three Sisters, Maggie and Henry are forced to play by Poppel’s rules and those who run the cursed village. And they quickly learn that not only is leaving Poppel harder than arriving, but there are even more dangerous lies and mysterious truths to Clement Clarke Moore, Christmas, and a menacing creature called Krampus than anyone could have known.
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 2 Stars

 This book, from the description, had a lot of potential. It reminded me of other books where the characters venture to other worlds beneath or behind our own, like Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere or China Mieville's Un Lun Dun. However, after reading the book, I found that I had been lured in with the pretense and I found myself confronted with a book that just didn't live up to its promise.

I was particularly put off by the first 20% of the book. It was an introduction to Maggie's family, which would not have been so bad had the narrative not gone on and on. There was so little information actually imparted to the reader, but the word count must have been over the top because the whole portion could have been cut down by at least half.

The research that went into this novel was obviously great and I commend the author for that. Not a lot of American readers will have heard of Krampus or, at the very least, know about his origins. It was interesting to read a story that brought that into play.

I'm not sure that I could recommend this book for anyone in particular, but I'm sure that there are some people that don't mind the extraneous detail in the beginning and could get past it to the legend in the later part of the story.

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

Friday, December 18, 2015

TAG: Truthwitch Tag

I cannot wait for Truthwitch to come out. Susan Dennard has written another great book and, while I've read the preview on NetGalley, I need to know what happens next!

In honor of this book, an original Truthwitch Book Tag was created by Danielle at Simply Thoughtful Books. She tagged any Witchlander (re: fan) of the book. From what I can tell so far, I'm a Waterwitch from Nubrevna, though I'm most like Iseult the Threadwitch. You can take the quizes to find out your place/person here.

Here, then, is my take on the Truthwitch Tag.

Ohrin Mountains
What is your favorite fictional land?

When I was a kid, I always checked closets because I thought that I might someday be able to find my way to Narnia. Sadly, I have yet to find the doorway, but I'll never give up hope.

Safia and Iseult's Friendship
Who is your favorite dynamic duo?

Inigo Montoya and Fezzik are two of my favorite characters. They work together well and are hysterical. The portrayal of this pair in the movie by Mandy Patinkin and Andre the Giant was another highlight, especially when they played the rhyme game.

Which fictional character is the ultimate hunk?

Levi is a very handsome type that has some of the best qualities I look for. He's not overly brawny, he's a total brain, and he's a gentle soul.

Who is your favorite sidekick?

This is Sumomo! She's a portable persocom from the series Chobits. Whether it's the anime or the manga, this little character would be the model I'd choose. She has a lot of functions, but the funniest is her "wakey wakey exercises" to get you up in the morning.

Who is your favorite villain/mysterious character?

Tsukiko the Contortionist from The Night Circus was not a villain, but she was definitely a mysterious character. I didn't know what to think of her for a long time, but when her big reveal came, I was jumping up and down in surprise.

A book you can't stop thinking about

There are so many to choose from and I wasn't sure whether I should go with something I've read and that I return to over and over again, or something that I'm really looking forward. I went with the latter. I'm looking forward to reading Winter, but I haven't read the previous books yet so all the amazing things I'm hearing about this book will have to wait. Why isn't there more time in the day to read?!

Name a book with low expectations, but blew you away.

I got this book as an ARC via NetGalley. I had thought that the premise sounded interesting, but when I started reading it I was less than sure. Once I got to reading, though, it really changed my opinion and held it in good standing through the ending. There was a haunted feeling to the story: sadness, despair, and a twist that I honestly didn't see coming. I knew there was something, but the reality hit me like a slap to the face.

What is a book you always go back to?

I didn't like this book when I first read it, probably because it was a part of a summer reading assignment and I had to read it the same summer that Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was released. Now, however, I love it. I count it among my favorite books.

Name a book with hype that spread quickly.

I love the look of this book and I love Leigh Bardugo's writing. The hype that surrounded/surrounds this book has been immense and I can't wait to get to it. I started the first chapter or so and it was such a tantalizing taste that I look forward to the time when I can get back to it.

Recommend a scary/mysterious read.

This is a mysterious read. You're never quite sure what's going on, but that doesn't matter because it is an enthralling story and you can't wait to continue down the rabbit hole.

Name a book that flowed nicely.

Rick Riordan's writing is very good. It flows quickly no matter what. I was particularly please with The Lightning Thief. I didn't want to put it down and I had to pick up the next book in the series right away.

Tag someone!

Aria, I tag you! I think you'd really like this tag and maybe it'll bring you into the Witchlands with the rest of us. :D 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Harry Potter Thursday: Which books would you recommend to Ron?

I'm not sure that Ron would be a big reader. Sometimes tells him he'd leave that more to Hermione, but in case he got the notion to pick something up, here's a few suggestions I think he might like.

1. The Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales

Ron seems so excited in Deathly Hallows when he talks about Beedle the Bard and surprised when he realizes that neither Hermione nor Harry have ever heard of them.

These fairy tales were my childhood and I think that Ron ought to read them and get a perspective on what Muggle fairy tales are like.

2. Fables: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham

Once Ron's caught up with what I think is the most important volume of fairy tales in the world, he might like to check out an interpretation of the classics.

3. Storm Front by Jim Butcher

Why not have Ron start reading a series about an American wizard? The wizard politics might also be interesting to him.

4. Chew by John Layman

A cool, visceral comic would be just the thing to get Ron into a more unsettling visual format and the humor as well would sway him toward this series.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Top 5 Wednesday: Books to Read by the Fire (winter/holiday recommendations)

When the snow starts falling and the fire is roaring in the fireplace, what could be better than reading by the fireside? The atmosphere alone is calming and reading only helps.

Considering that we're having an unseasonably warm winter here, I doubt I'll be reading by the fireplace with snow falling outside any time soon, but these are the books that I recommend should the occasion occur.

They're not necessarily winter or holiday themed. Some are mysteries, some are adventures, all are great fun.

1. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

3. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

4. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

5. The Princess Bride by William Goldman

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Top 10 Tuesday: Top Ten Best Books I Read In 2015

Since really starting to use Goodreads, finding out about Booktube, and realizing it's okay to read YA even if I'm not a young adult anymore, I've read a lot more than ever before.  My stats for this year surprised even me when I saw them as I was writing this post.

For my Top Ten Best Books I Read in 2015, I went to view my reading challenge on Goodreads and selected the ones that I rated the highest. There were a few graphic novels in here, so for those I'm counting the series rather than the individual volumes

1. Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

2. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

3. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

4. The Wrath & the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

5. Saga by Brian K. Vaughn

6. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

7. Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

8. In Real Life by Cory Doctorow

9. The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer

10. The Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

Monday, December 14, 2015

Review: My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories, Edited by Stephanie Perkins

This is a bit of a throwback post. Since it is so crazy at the moment, what with work and the holidays creeping up on us, I thought I'd bring out this post from my old Livejournal blog and share it with you. It's a review I did ages ago for My True Love Gave to Me, a holiday short story collection that was so refreshing and nice. It'd be a great book to read while curled up on the couch, drinking a mug of tea or hot chocolate.

Rating: 4 Stars

I think it can be hard to rate or review a short story collection, especially one that is from twelve different authors, because the voice for each is so different that one "wrong" story can drag the whole collection down. While I did enjoy the majority of the stories in this book, there were a few that either I didn't really understand in terms of feeling, and there are some that I think didn't wrap up well enough to be considered a short story rather than something that sounds like an excerpt.

Midnights by Rainbow Rowell - This story, while moderately entertaining, felt like it was an excerpt from a longer story. There was something about the pacing that made it feel like you were missing out on something. The whole story takes place on a series of New Year's Eves and it was the time between those holidays that I think we needed to know more about.

The Lady and the Fox by Kelly Link - a modern fairy tale that almost could have been a ghost story, I enjoyed trying to figure out what was going on and whether it was a fairy story or a ghost one. The ending was satisfactory.

Angels in the Snow by Matt de la Pena - a nice vignette that didn't have too much meat on the bone, but was pleasant to pass the time with.

Polaris is Where You'll Find Me by Jenny Han - I think that this was the most bittersweet story in the collection. While it is interesting to see behind veil of Santa's life, the ending was so sad. You really wonder, what is going to happen to Natalie? Can she really be happy in this world? Which is her world, really?

It's a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins - I think that Stephanie is one of those authors that just gets a love story so right. It might not be 100% believable on the time, but the way she writes makes you want it to be.

Your Temporary Santa by David Levithan - I could not muster up a cheery feeling for this story or it's characters. The act that the main character performs for his boyfriend is nice, but that's about it.

Krampuslauf by Holly Black - a typical Holly Black story that is one part creepy, one part excellent. It reminded me a bit of "The Darkest Part of the Forest", with the Fae legend. Is Krampusnacht a real thing? It seems like it could be and that both thrills and terrifies me.

What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? by Gayle Forman - this is another love story that isn't 100% believable although I can see why someone would want it to be. This was also another story that felt like it was an excerpt from a larger work. I think that the larger work would add more to this character bubble that's going on and maybe help with the authenticity of the story.

Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus by Myra McEntire - this was a Christmas joke that had me laughing. It was a breath of lightness that I needed after some of the heavier stories that preceded it.

Welcome to Christmas, CA by Kiersten White - this story set up a lot of insinuation as to what certain characters were like and then dashed them within a few pages. I'm not sure if I accept that someone's prejudices that have been held for years will change that much within a couple of days, but it would be amazing if they did. There's also a character that seems like he would make much more sense if he was a supernatural creature, which in the end he isn't. Other than that, he's really sweet if a bit creepy.

Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter - this story sounds like the basis for a Hallmark Christmas movie. It is heartwarming, has a sweet if somewhat sappy ending, and is completely improbably. This sort of thing doesn't happen and would freak me out just a little bit if it did. So, I think this story is getting put on the list of guilt pleasure that might get read again, if only very rarely.

The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer by Laini Taylor - I would love for Laini to do a whole series of fairy tale re-tellings. She has a gift that would translate those stories into something just as epic, if not more so, than the original. I liked Neve, I enjoyed her story, and I envied her spirit for believing in a future that seems grim, a future she can accept, even if no one else around her can.

Music Recommendation

I'm not sure I could pick one song that encompasses my feeling for this entire book, so instead I'm going to share with you some of my favorite Christmas carols.

Dominick the Donkey: In my family, it isn't the holidays until we hear the song about that little donkey, Dominick. I like this video especially because these guys look like they had a lot of fun filming it.

Snoopy's Christmas: another song that signals the holiday season has begun! Any of the Snoopy vs. the Red Baron songs will do.

Christmas Eve/Sarajevo: the music is so beautiful and so powerful, I look forward to it every year.

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