Monday, February 29, 2016

February Wrap-Up!

Wow. February was kind of a complete wash for me, haha.

To start off with, let's talk about the one book I read in February:


The Forest Of Hands And Teeth was a book I was actually *really* looking forward to... But it failed to live up to my expectations, unfortunately :( I wrote a review over here going into more detail - maybe I've just been spoiled by Feed by Mira Grant, which was fucking fantastic.

So what have I been doing this month? Well, I had two job interviews (didn't get either, but it was good practice and I got very encouraging feedback), and the last couple of weeks have been spent more focused on my eating habits, because I've made some rather big changes there... Namely going mostly vegetarian! I might go into that in more detail in another post.

I'm hoping to do a lot more reading in March - I have A Darker Shade Of Magic and A Gathering Of Shadows to read as soon as it arrives, plus a couple of review requests and Netgalley books... Just need to actually focus on it :) I hope everyone had an awesome February and that March gets off to a great start for you!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Whee!

:D

Guess what I just got my shipping confirmation for?

:D :D

I am excited!!! New book + signed, what could be better? Pricier than normal since I ordered it from a US site, but worth it imo.

Only downside is that I'm fairly sure it's not going to match my copy of A Darker Shade Of Magic, but I'll survive.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Waiting On Wednesday # 6

Welcome to another week of Waiting On Wednesday!

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted over at Breaking The Spine, and is a chance for people to share those books that we're most looking forward to.

 

This week I have a book that's a sequel to another book that I'm in the midst of finishing... Nevertheless, I'm pretty excited as it's due out on February 23rd!


I don't want to paste in any spoilers from the summary, so instead I'll give you a snippet of the summary of the first book: 

Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.

Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London—but no one speaks of that now.

I ADORE V.E. Schwab, her books are awesome. She's also the author of The Archived, which I loved, and she's written other books as well. I definitely recommend checking this book out! 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Waiting On Wednesday #5

Welcome to another week of Waiting On Wednesday!

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted over at Breaking The Spine, and is a chance for people to share those books that we're most looking forward to.

 

Okay, so I wasn't sure what I was going to talk about today, but in light of a certain announcement... 


YES THAT'S RIGHT, THEY'RE RELEASING THE PLAY!! It's due out in July 2016 :D

I was pretty sure that they would end up doing this, but I am so, so stoked to read this! Publishing it means that it will officially join canon (whether in book or play format), and I am super excited. Hoping it lives up to my (very high) expectations. 

Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. :D

Sunday, February 7, 2016

January Wrap-Up!

Wow, I can't believe how much this month just flew by! It feels like the beginning of 2016 was just yesterday.

This month was pretty good in terms of reading - I made my way through 14 books, which I think is pretty impressive. If I did that every month of the year I'd read 168 books! Unlikely, but it's a motivating thought.

So here's a picture to give you an idea, though I'm going to run through these, of course! I'm going to link each title to either its profile over on Goodreads, or to my review of it here or there, if I did one.

1. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness: One of the better books that I read this month! This book reminded me of what it was like to have stories told to me as a child - lyrical and fascinating, and a bit haunting as well.
2. Holiday Homecoming by Jean C. Gordon: A sweet little Christian romance. Not my usual style, but it was a cute way to start off the year - I'm a sucker for romances of all types.
3. Fearless Love by Meg Benjamin: This one was another sweet, sexy romance - though not particularly Christian at all, haha. I liked this one because of how it balanced the romance against the backdrop of a community - easier said than done, and I've always been in favour of romances that manage to do this.
4. Tell The Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt: One of my first unfortunate surprises of the year. I expected to love this one but didn't, really, which was disappointing. I loved the idea of it, but the execution was lacking.
5. The Invasion Of The Tearling by Erika Johansen. This author has such an ability to weave fantasy with compelling characters, I love it. I love this series, it was one of my favourite finds last year and I can't wait until the third one comes out!
6. Crown Of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas: This book was SUCH a welcome surprise, seriously. I didn't really like the first book, if I'm honest - I know a lot of people disagree on this! I just found it kind of weak. This book exceeded my expectations, and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series.
7. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro: This book was good, though not quite as mindblowing as I might have expected given the reputation of this author. I enjoyed it but with some space from when I finished reading it I find myself thinking that it hasn't impacted me as much as I would have thought.
8. An Ember In The Ashes by Sabaa Tahir: This book was amazing, probably one of my top two or three books this month other than The Invasion Of The Tearling and A Monster Calls. I've linked my review, but I highly, highly recommend this book!
9. Hopeless by Colleen Hoover: This book has the unique distinction of being the worst book I've read so far this year, and I wouldn't be surprised if it stays pretty far up on that list. I did it as a buddy read and honestly, it's infuriating because it had so much potential but it was just completely squandered.
10. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher: This was more compelling than I had expected, honestly. It's an insight into the life of a teenager, bullying and suicide, and well written considering the depth of the topics it took on.
11. A Thousand Splendi Suns by Khaled Hosseini: Not an easy read, but very powerful and moving. It's a book that you have to make time for (and should!) but a worthy read, I think.
12. Heart Conditions by Phoebe Fox: Part of a series, this is surprisingly refreshing and entertaining. I had the privilege of reading galleys for both this book and the first in the series and I'd recommend it for those who like a bit more depth and not just fluffy or smutty romance, if that makes sense.
13. Passenger by Alexandra Bracken: Another disappointment at the start of the year, though for this one it might have more to do with me than the book itself. Many seem to love it, that's for sure. The idea is compelling and interesting, it just didn't really work for me.
14. The Book Of Negroes by Lawrence Hill: I'm still absorbing this one. Again, not an easy read. It is so very difficult to absorb at times the cruelty that people are capable of. Books like this are so important as a reminder of our history and what we need to learn from it.

So there we have it! Not a bad list, pretty varied imo - I'm proud of myself for not just having a list of pure YA or romance, to be honest. :) Here's hoping February will be a good month as well!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Review: As You Breathe Again

As You Breathe Again As You Breathe Again by Molli Moran
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Summary: Delaney Shaw isn't looking for anything complicated. After her teaching career is put on hold, she decides to spend the summer in Georgia with her best friend. Lanie lives for the here and now, and she isn't thinking past the end of the summer. She's never had any problem being unattached, because she learned a long time ago that life is safer that way.

Until Reece Walker decides to change her mind.

Almost a year after his ex-wife's death, Reece is still reeling from her passing. He's devoted himself to raising their son and working his family's farm to keep himself grounded. Reece feels like he's lost sight of the man he used to be, and he's not sure how to find his way back.

Everything changes when the woman he's unsuccessfully tried to forget walks back into his life.

Even though she's fighting their sizzling chemistry, Lanie is losing the war. But love isn't always like it is in the movies, and they have real issues. Lanie is terrified Reece's small town won't accept their interracial relationship, and she doesn't know how to let him in.

Lanie has had years to build her defenses, but Reece isn't the sort to give up without a fight. If he can counter Lanie's fears with the future only he can offer her, maybe they can both learn to breathe again.



Review: 

This book was a sometimes-odd mixture of steamy, sweet and a touch too preachy. The first bits mostly outweighed the last, but I do wish that the author had reconsidered or taken a different approach!

First, I want to acknowledge that this book is apparently the second in a series, or at least exists in a universe with other books. That's okay, though, because I didn't feel as though I was much lacking when I was reading this.

Lanie is a young teacher down on her luck, taking some time to try and get her feet under her again after she unexpectedly loses her job. She's determined not to let anything distract her... But she finds that promise to herself a bit harder to keep when Reece Walker appears back in the picture.

Reece has issues of his own - he's a single dad, and he still misses his late ex-wife. He's been reeling for the last few months, but Lanie reappearing on the scene helps him make the decision to try and pull himself together. He just hopes that she'll be willing to take a chance on him...

I picked this book in part because it sounded sweet and I can never get enough of romance, but also because the cover made it obvious that this was dealing with an interracial couple. I'm trying to read more diverse books in 2016, and this seemed like a great place to start. Overall I appreciate the effort that the author is obviously making - she draws attention to the constant awareness that a person of colour can have, and the racism and barriers that they can face just living their day to day lives.

In some areas, though, the execution left me grimacing a bit. It's a bit too much, almost - you can almost feel the author's self awareness of what she is trying to convey, and the message is overt enough that it pulled me a bit out of the story. It's difficult because it's definitely not a bad message whatsoever, but it starts to feel a bit as though you're being hit over the head with it. Still, I appreciate what the author is getting at and I think that we need more books to take on subjects like this.

That was probably my main objection to the book, other than some clunky dialogue and a touch of the characters audibly speaking to their evolution as the book progresses. While it makes sense for characters to open up to their siblings and best friends, there were times when I was just a bit too aware that the author was trying to show how the characters were changing and developing. I would have preferred to be shown more, and told less, if that makes sense.

Beyond that, however, the story was still sweet and I enjoyed reading about Lanie and Reece and the cast of characters arrayed about them. Reece's son, Jamie, is adorable, and I admired Reece's dedication to his family and the farm. Lanie is stubborn and strong and steps up to face her fears, and that makes the story all the sweeter as the two of them connect and their relationship develops.

View all my reviews

Book Haul - Illustrated Harry Potter and more!!

Okay so seriously, I wasn't planning on posting today, but then today I got the best mail of all... Book mail, of course!!

This all started due to one specific book that I saw on Book Outlet about a week or so ago, but I was good and restrained myself to only three! Pictures below... 

First up is The Forest Of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan. I've actually had my eye on this for awhile now, but it seemed like every time I checked the site it wasn't in stock, or some other reason prevented me from getting it. I finally have it, though, and I'm super excited to read it!

Next up is Ink And Bone by Rachel Caine. This one was actually on sale, I think? It's one that I've had my eye on, and it has pretty good reviews from people I trust on GR, too. Super excited to read this one as well, and oh god, you guys, look at that cover. It's delicious, and I love the feeling of it - it's not completely smooth, it's got a faint texture to it that makes it lovely to hold.

Then there's this, the highlight of my book mail today...

The Illustrated version of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone!!

I actually wanted to buy this book about two weeks ago, but it was $40, which seemed a bit much for my budget right now. (Let's not talk about how I've blown that budget on makeup and other goodies, mkay?) My friend suggested that I wait a week or two to decide if I really wanted it, and I decided that that was a good idea.

Well. My waiting paid off, because this ended up on Book Outlet for only $25.99. Why? Well, it was in their 'Scratch and Dent' section, where books are sold at a discount due to minor imperfections. Not gonna lie, I was kind of worried - but guys, all that's wrong with it is a tiny little rip in the book jacket at the top of the back cover. The book is flawless in every other way, and it's gorgeous. 












I am in love. 

I'd say that this book was definitely worth the money, and I'll likely be willing to spring for illustrated versions of the new books as they come out - either that or wait seven years and buy the inevitable set, I assume, haha. Definitely, definitely a must-have for any devoted HP fan, I think, and I'm so pleased with the way the artist depicted the world and the characters.

Now to avoid spending money for the next little while!

Have you guys bought anything recently? Let me know if you have and leave me links so I can check it out!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Waiting On Wednesday #4!

Welcome to another week of Waiting On Wednesday!

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted over at Breaking The Spine, and is a chance for people to share those books that we're most looking forward to.

 

 This week I have a book that has a GORGEOUS cover, and also sounds pretty damn interesting, too. 


I mean, just look at that. *wants* The Reader is due out in September of 2016, and here's the summary:

Sefia knows what it means to survive. After her father is brutally murdered, she flees into the wilderness with her aunt Nin, who teaches her to hunt, track, and steal. But when Nin is kidnapped, leaving Sefia completely alone, none of her survival skills can help her discover where Nin’s been taken, or if she’s even alive.
The only clue to both her aunt’s disappearance and her father’s murder is the odd rectangular object her father left behind, an object she comes to realize is a book—a marvelous item unheard of in her otherwise illiterate society.
With the help of this book, and the aid of a mysterious stranger with dark secrets of his own, Sefia sets out to rescue her aunt and find out what really happened the day her father was killed—and punish the people responsible.
An illiterate society! Intrigue and mystery! Yes very much please. :D It sounds fascinating and unique, so I am hoping that it will live up to its potential. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Review: Heart Conditions by Phoebe Fox

Heart Conditions Heart Conditions by Phoebe Fox
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Summary: Breakup Doctor Brook Ogden has spent the last year sifting through the fallout from the disastrous decision that led to her unconscious uncoupling with boyfriend Ben Garrett. Despite advising her clients you can’t be friends with an ex, she and Ben have somehow begun to stitch together a friendship—one Brook hopes is slowly turning into more. That is, until Ben introduces his new girlfriend, Perfect Pamela, a paragon of womanly virtues who is everything Brook is not.

While Brook navigates her newly volatile emotional life, an unwelcome surprise shows up on her doorstep: the ex-fiancĂ© who broke her heart two years ago—one month before their wedding. Between her ex’s desire to rekindle their attachment, her best friend Sasha’s unexpected crisis, and her own unsquelchable feelings for Ben, Brook finds herself questioning the personal progress she’s made in the last two years—and threatened with the highest-stakes Breakup Doctor failures she’s ever faced.
 


Review: What a fun addition to this series!

When I read the first book (aptly called The Breakup Doctor) two years ago, I enjoyed it but found that my squeamishness due to self-inserting with the main character got in my way. Ultimately that lead me to dock the rating a bit, simply because I wanted to be honest about my enjoyment of the book.

Thankfully that was *much* less of an issue with this addition to the series, and I quite enjoyed it!

I actually haven't read the second book in this series, but in spite of that I thoroughly enjoyed this one - which means there's something to be said about the way the author has written the characters, I think. Having read the first book, however, I can tell you that there's a lot of genuine growth and development that has taken place on the part of our main characters, and I like that. I find sometimes in books it's hard to find that sort of change - so often it feels as though the author has had to force it, or that it's not quite right, doesn't fit the characters. That's not the case, here.

I think one of the biggest things I enjoyed here was the heart involved. I can empathise with these characters and what they go through. Job issues, romance, family worries, life decisions, break-ups, emotional crises... This book touches on it all, and in a way that's very real and understandable, and drew me in. We've all had bad break-ups, and we all have our worries about our friends, families, romantic entanglements and our future lives, and this series weaves those things together with the threads of true friendship, family connections and a hint of comedy, too.

The cast of supporting characters is awesome, and although you might expect a lot of sexual tension and build-up, this series relies more on conversation and the exploration of emotions - something that I find a bit unique in the flooded romance marketplace, to be honest, and something I really enjoyed.

I'm not sure whether or not this book is the last in the series, but I definitely enjoyed it and I will be keeping my eye out for future books from this author!

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

View all my reviews

What's Making Me Happy - Beauty and Books!

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

I wasn't going to make a post today, buuuut I bought some new stuff yesterday that I want to post about, and a book that I'm intrigued about just released, so here we are.

First of all, I'd just like to take a moment to celebrate the fact that my noisy neighbour from hell FINALLY moved out. This girl, honestly... I don't begrudge people an active sex life, but when the walls are as thin as they are in my place and her bedroom was right next to mine, it made for some unpleasant times. She also made a habit of coming home and being really loud at 2-3am, and in December I woke up to hear her screaming at a friend of hers. Just so much drama, omfg. Hopefully she's moving into a house or an apartment building with thicker walls, haha.

Secondly! I spent way too much money yesterday because I suddenly decided that I needed to expand my lipstick collection. Here's what I picked up:



This is the Covergirl Oh Sugar! Lip Balm in the colour Jelly. This looks super dark but it's actually more of a gloss, which is great because I'm pretty wary of having my lipstick look *too* obvious, if that makes sense. I'm just not sure if I can pull it off, though that's probably a confidence issue.






I almost actually *forgot* to buy this... It's the Rimmel Stay Matte powder in translucent. I have very determinedly oily skin (I'm going to be mad if oily skin doesn't actually age better, for the record) and this was recommended over on Reddit as a good translucent powder to help with that. Going to try it out today, wish me luck!





I also picked up the colour 'Iced Amethyst' in Revlon's Super Lustrous line, which is supposed to be very hydrating, and I got two other glosses, one by Covergirl and one by Maybelline (I'll grab the names later if I think of it. All of them are sort of berry/mauvey tones - I definitely have a comfort zone when it comes to lipstick!

And the last thing that's making me happy? This book that I just nabbed!

A Criminal Magic by Lee Kelly is out today, and it sounds really intriguing! It's 1926 and magic has been outlawed, but the black market is thriving. The book follows Joan, a young sorceror who ends up working for a gang when her house is repossessed, and Alex, a young trainee who's supposed to infiltrate the gang.

Sounds awesome and it was only $2.99 on Kindle so I grabbed it. :D

So that's how my week is starting off! Now someone take my credit card away for my own good.

Monday, February 1, 2016

It's Monday - What Are You Reading?

Hello hello!

It's that time again - time for the What Are You Reading meme. It's hosted by Kathryn over at The Book Date - feel free to hop on over there to check out what other people are reading!

This was a slower week for me, though I'm pretty proud of the reading that I accomplished this month! I'm going to have my January Wrap-Up posted in the next few days.

Here's what I'm working on right now:

Still on my 'Currently Reading' shelf is Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon. I'm quite torn over this book, so I'm probably going to have a lot to say about it when I finish it.

Next is Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie. I actually bought this on Book Outlet along with A Little Princess and The Secret Garden - they're sweet little hardcovers, and the covers are designs that don't immediately make the age of the book obvious, if that makes sense. Surprisingly enough, I actually haven't read Peter Pan, so I decided to change that! It's quite adorable, and I'm enjoying it.

I also just picked up The Book Thief, by Marcus Zusak, and so far the style really intrigues me. I haven't finished All The Light We Cannot See yet, but it's kind of on hold so that's why it's not on here - I think it just isn't fitting my mood at the moment.

What's Up Next: 

 1. A Darker Shade Of Magic by V. E. Schwab. I know, I know. Why haven't I read this yet? Honestly, I think it's partly because my copy of it seems to have vanished, I'm not sure what I did with it. I'm wondering if I loaned it to someone at work - I'm going to be sad if it's missing, because I got the UK cover that I adore.

2. A Court Of Thorns And Roses by Sarah J. Maas. Haven't read this one either! The sequel to it is due out in May, and I really need to read this one so that I'll be ready when the next one comes out.

I think I'm going to leave the list at that, for now - hoping that I get some reading accomplished this week instead of being so distractable. (Is that even a word? I guess it is now!)