Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Top Ten Tuesay: Best Books of 2017 So Far

A weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

12.) Windwitch by Susan Dennard - (My Review / Add to Goodreads)
I loved Truthwitch and couldn't wait to read the next book in the series. I didn't enjoy this one as much but I did read it at a time that I was in a massive book hangover so I maybe would have liked it more if I read it now.

11.) To All the Boys I've Loved Before Series by Jenny Han - (My Review / Add to Goodreads)
This really should just be Always and Forever, Lara Jean because that was the five star book in the series for me. But I did read all three this year and loved the series a lot.

10.) A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi - (My Review / Add to Goodreads)
I enjoyed The Star-Touched Queen but I was still incredibly surprised by how much more I loved the sequel/companion novel. This was my kind of YA fantasy with the action I was missing from TSQ, plus Gauri and Vikram were amazing! 

9.) The Edge of the Abyss by Emily Skrutskie - (My Review / Add to Goodreads)
And another amazing sequel. I was super excited for the next book in the series because I found The Abyss Surrounds Us super creative. This one was just as good and just as creative. I loved the world and the characters and basically everything.

8.) A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab - (My Review / Add to Goodreads)
This is the final book in a trilogy that I was absolutely obsessed with. The first book was one of my favorites of 2017 and I wouldn/t doubt that this one would as well. It wasn't my favorite book in the series but it was amazing.

7.) Wires and Nerves, Vol. 1 by Marissa Meyer and Douglas Holgate - (My Review / Add to Goodreads)
I'm a huge fan of both The Lunar Chronicles and graphic novels so you know I would love this book. And I did, I totally did. Iko is amazing and kickass and I loved seeing some of my favorite other characters from the main series.

6.) Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza - (My Review / Add to Goodreads)
I was actually kind of surprised by how much I loved this book. It's the only debut on the list so far and it really was an amazing and thrilling read. If you like science fiction or books with political intrigue, definitely read this one.

5.) The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli - (My Review / Add to Goodreads)
I knew I would love any book from Becky because Simon Vs. was that good, but this book was incredibly relatable and everything I was hoping it would be. It was a great follow up and a really good YA contemporary that I think a lot of people will love.

4.) Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh - (My Review / Add to Goodreads)
I enjoyed The Wrath and the Dawn but honestly, I think this one might be better. It had Renee's amazing writing and world building plus an even more action-packed plot full of surprises and characters that were complex and engaging.

3.) Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor - (My Review / Add to Goodreads)
I had heard amazing things about this book and everything they said was true. It was super engaging and thrilling. Plus I listened to the audiobook which was narrated by Steve West so there was no way I was not going to love it.

2.) Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham - (My Review / Add to Goodreads)
I am a big fan of historical mysteries and this book is the prime example of why. A great historical setting full of drama and mystery along with a present day plot that is similar and just as good. This was my favorite book of the year until a week ago.

1.) The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee - (My Review / Add to Goodreads)
This is my only 10 star review of the year, but it was that good. It had amazing and charming characters, an engaging historical setting, a thoroughly engrossing plot, a great coming-of-age story and tons of laughs. Basically it was everything!

There you have it. My favorite books of the year. These are all the books I have given five stars to so far this year. What have been your favorite books of the year? Have you read any of these? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Monday, June 26, 2017

ARC Review: The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

Title: Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue
Written by: Mackenzi Lee
Published: June 27, 2017 by Katherine Tegan Books (Harper Teen)

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: An unforgettable tale of two friends on their Grand Tour of 18th-century Europe who stumble upon a magical artifact that leads them from Paris to Venice in a dangerous manhunt, fighting pirates, highwaymen, and their feelings for each other along the way.

Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his grand tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

Witty, romantic, and intriguing at every turn, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is a sumptuous romp that explores the undeniably fine lines between friendship and love.

*** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. ***

I was unbelievably excited to read this book and it was abso-bloody-lutely amazing. I loved Mackeni's debut so I would have read anything that she came out with next but this just sounded amazing and it was. Everything I had hoped it would be with amazing characters, a thrilling plot, and brilliant writing.

Going into this book I expected it to be an interesting piece of historical fiction as the author took us through an engaging period of history. She absolutely did that. I like my historical fiction to take imaginary people and populate them in real places with real events. That's exactly what happened here. Europe in the 18th century came alive in this book. And it wasn't just the upper class goings on either. There were some dangerous and different things we got to experience as well. I loved every place and event that was explored. We were taken to so many amazing cities in Europe that I personally loved when I was there in college and Mackenzi did a great job in describing these beautiful places. It was a beautiful setting for a book and a great backdrop for this historical fiction novel.

However, my favorite thing about this book was, without a doubt, the characters. This book is full of completely amazing and likable characters. First and foremost we have our main character Monty. Monty is seriously everything. He is the perfect combination of charming and vulnerable. I loved him when he was being sullen and reckless just as much as I love him when he was being flirty and rakish. I love characters like Monty who we get to see at their best and at their worst.

But Monty wasn't the only amazing character here. The book was full of likable characters who were complex and engaging. The two most important and interesting are Monty's companions, Percy and Felicity. Percy is Monty's best friend and love interest. He's just so adorable and I love the two of them together. I ship it so hard. Then there is Felicity, Monty's sister. She's described as being bookish and a bit of a bore but she is anything but. She's snarky and plucky and is really the best out of everyone in a crisis. I really loved her and the dynamic she has with Monty is amazing and so realistic. And that is just the beginning. This book had so many amazing characters.

I think part of what made the characters so fantastic was because for me the heart of this book is in the coming-of-age. Each of the characters has this great development throughout the book. I'm not sure they really had a traditional Hero's Journey but they did got through an incredible change throughout the book. The people we meet at the beginning are not the people we see at the end. Each of our heroes go through their own journeys as they figure out who they are and who they want to be. This is something that I love about YA and it was one of the best parts about this book.

But beyond the figurative journey, our characters went on a literal journey throughout the book. The main jumping off point for the plot here is the characters' Grand Tour. It's pitched as a road trip story, something that I don't usually enjoy but I loved it here. I already mentioned how great the settings were and that in and of itself would probably have been enough but then things very quickly veered off plan and it became incredibly more interesting. I didn't know that I was getting an action packed high stakes adventure story with this book but that is exactly what I got. I seriously could not put this book down. It really built to a climax that had me on the edge of my seat and along the way there were so many amazing moments. I didn't expect to be able to finish this in a few days but I was because it was that good. I couldn't stop thinking about it when I wasn't reading and when I was reading I couldn't think of anything else.

Even though this is a love and very gushing review I feel like I cannot do it justice. I really loved it that much. It was an insanely brilliant and engaging l book that I could not stop reading and do not want to be over. It had everything I had hoped it would have and more. There was a descriptive setting, great and complex characters, and a thrilling plot full of adventure and a good coming of age story. Seriously, read it. You won't regret it.

I give The Genteman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee 10 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: BUY! Without a doubt you need to buy this book. It is my first ten star review of 2017 so that's saying something. I mean I really loved it. It's funny, it's sweet, it's trilling, it's impactful. It's brilliant. Everyone, just everyone should read it.

Have you read Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Stacking the Shelves: June Haul

A weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews

So I would normally wait a week to do this but I think with ALA coming up (see yesterday's post) I want to do my monthly Staking the Shelves a little early. Plus technically it is the last Saturday of the month which is usually when I post this so I'm good.

Anyway, I actually did pretty good this month. I didn't go overboard in the books that I bought and I didn't get too many for review. I mean obviously ALA is going to mess that up completely but I could be a little more discerning this month because of that. Anyway, I still got some books I am super excited about.


Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab Add to Goodreads
I LOVED the first book in this series. It was amazing and dark and everything I wanted it to be and expect from a Victoria Schwab book. I'm excited for the sequel

Spectacle by Rachel Vincent - Add to Goodreads
I had this book for review but I still ended up buying the audiobook. I really liked the audio for the first book and I wanted to listen and read this one.

Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine - Add to Goodreads
I didn't actually buy this book. It was one of the Kindle First books for June and I only listed it because I wanted to talk about it and it's not really for review.

For Review

House of Ash by Hope Cook - Add to Goodreads
I've said it before and I'll say it again, I can smell a historical mystery a mile away. This one sounds really dark and interesting so I'm excited to give it a try.

The Witch Who Came in from the Cold by Many - Add to Goodreads
This was originally a serial but they are publishing it as a book and I'm excited to read it. It has some authors that I love and is a spy novel set in the Cold War era.

The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding by Alexandra Bracken - Add to Goodreads
I really love Alex's previous books and I am super excited to read her new middle grade. Plus it is about a boy who discovers a demon inside him which sounds so cool.

Ferocious by Paula Stokes - Add to Goodreads
I have not read the first book in this series but I have heard really good things about Paula Stokes and I feel like it's about time I read some of her books. This one totally sounds up my alley too.

Heroine Worship by Sarah Kuhn Add to Goodreads
I really liked the first book in this series so I'm excited to see where the sequel takes us. It's such a fun super hero story and I know there will be much more hijinx in the next book.

The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones - Add to Goodreads
You had me at sold your soul to the devil. Plus I'm interested in Emily Lloyd George's series about superheroes so maybe I'll read this first and then go back to that one.

Those are the books that I got so far in June. What books did you get? Are you excited for any of these? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Friday, June 23, 2017

I'm Going to ALA

Hi Everyone,
This is just a quick update to let you know that I will be at ALA this weekend and for the beginning of next week. I'm not really taking a haitus but I'm also not really going to be around much so I thought I would just give you a quick heads up in case you were wondering where I am.

Also, I'm letting you know I'm going in case you are going as well. I know a few bloggers and bookish friends are also on their way there so if you are one of them and you see me, say hello. If I look intimidating because I'm super tall and not at all smiling, don't worry, I'm a gentle giant. I love meeting fellow bloggers whether I knew you before or not so please say hi.

This is my first time going to ALA so I'm not really sure what to expect but I'm exciting. I've been to BEA or Book Expo but I wasn't able to go this year because of reasons but I needed my bookish conference fix so ALA Annual it is. ALA is the American Library Association and they hold two conferences a year. This is the big one, the annual one. It's in Chicago this year which is where BEA was last year so at least I know the conference hall well.

 I've heard from some blogger friends who have been in the past that ALA tends to be a little more chill than BEA. Not as many long lines and there aren't really galley drops. You kind of just walk around the booths and chat with publicists and see what books they have to offer. I am all for that. I hate lines and crowds so as little as that as possible sounds great. I also don't have a ton of publicist contacts so I'm hoping to make some while I am there. Have you been to ALA? What was it like?

I was honestly a little bummed about not going to BEA this year. It is the first time since I started blogging seriously that I haven't gone and just felt really weird. The lead up to it just didn't feel right. I felt like I should be doing something to prepare and I wasn't. Then when I saw people there the FOMO hit. I wanted to be hanging out in lines with my blogger friends, I wanted to be meeting favorite authors, I wanted those book hauls. But then I remembered that I would be going to ALA in a few short weeks and that it would be just as exciting and fun. I know a few bloggers going already and I'm excited to meet some more as well as some librarians.

And of course I am ready to meet some amazing authors. I am super excited to see that some of the authors I really wanted to meet at BEA are also going to ALA. Including some that have been on my must meet author list which is cool. I can't wait to meet them and tell them how much I love their books. I will probably be awkward. I will almost certainly be awkward.

Authors I'm Excited to Meet

Marie Lu - Signing Warcross
Anna-Marie McLemore - Signing Wild Beauty
Sharon Cameron - Signing The Knowing
Cat Winters - Signing Odd and True
E. Lockhart - Signing Genuine Fraud
Maggie Steifvater - Signing All the Crooked Saints
Kerri Maniscalso -Signing Hunting Prince Dracula
Alexandra Bracken - Signing The Dreadful Case of Prosper Redding 

Any authors you know going that I should make sure I meet and talk to? Any books you know that will be there that you think I should make sure I pick up?

And I'm sure I will come home with way more books than I planned. I don't exactly know what books will be there besides the few that I have seen the ones that have been mentioned with the meet the authors but I'm sure there will be even more than that as giveaways at the publisher's booths. I will need to restrain myself like I tried to do at BEA the last couple of years. Although driving instead of flying does make it easier to take home excess books. NO! I will be good. Anyways, look out for my hauls on Instagram and Snapchat. Also, if you are not following me there and on Twitter, be sure to do that if you want updates and stuff. But I will of course do a recap when I get back.

Alright, that's all I got. See you soon, ALA! Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

DNF Mini Reviews: Spring 2017

I don't normally post reviews for books that I don't finish reading but a part of me thinks that if I don't mention my thoughts it's a loose end I need to tie up. Plus I have a whole in my posting schedule because I wasn't able to read much last weekend and this weekend is ALA. There's so many books and so little time so I'm trying to prioritize the ones that are capturing my interest and that means having to put aside a few.

So I decided to to a few quick posts to explain my thoughts on the two books I shelved as "DNF" this summer. Writing DNF reviews is a tricky subject. I didn't want to do full reviews on the book because I don't really have a well-rounded enough view on it. But I also wanted to explain why I didn't quite like the books because I try to be really honest here. So I based this post on Nikki at There Were Books Involved's DNF Q+As. This allows me to explain why the book didn't quite work for me without giving a full review. So here you go, my DNF Reviews

Title: The Shadow Land
Author: Elizabeth Kostova
Published: April 11, 2017 by Ballentine (Random House)
Source: Netgalley
(Amazon / Goodreads)                                                                                          

Synopsis: From the #1 bestselling author of The Historian comes an engrossing novel that spans the past and the present and unearths the dark secrets of Bulgaria, a beautiful and haunted country. 

A young American woman, Alexandra Boyd, has traveled to Sofia, Bulgaria, hoping that life abroad will salve the wounds left by the loss of her beloved brother. Soon after arriving in this elegant East European city, however, she helps an elderly couple into a taxi and realizes too late that she has accidentally kept one of their bags. Inside she finds an ornately carved wooden box engraved with a name: Stoyan Lazarov. Raising the hinged lid, she discovers that she is holding an urn filled with human ashes. 

As Alexandra sets out to locate the family and return this precious item, she will first have to uncover the secrets of a talented musician who was shattered by oppression and she will find out all too quickly that this knowledge is fraught with its own danger. 

Kostova's new novel is a tale of immense scope that delves into the horrors of a century and traverses the culture and landscape of this mysterious country. Suspenseful and beautifully written, it explores the power of stories, the pull of the past, and the hope and meaning that can sometimes be found in the aftermath of loss.

Why it Didn't Work For Me:
This one hurts. It hurts so badly. I'm a huge fan of Elizabeth Kostova. The Historian is one of my all-time favorite books and I even really liked The Swan Thieves. But something about this book just didn't hook me. I can't describe why. I mean it had all the hallmarks of a good Elizabeth Kostova novel, there was a fascinating setting and atmospheric plus a good amount of mystery. This should absolutely have hooked me, and yet it didn't. I just never became invested in the plot. I didn't care about Alexandra returning the urn and it felt like it was just dragging everything out. I'm sure Kostova will connect everything and have some big reveal in the end but I just didn't want to stick around for that.

How Much I Read:
26% of the e-ARC

Will I Go Back to It:
Maybe. It could have been a case of bad timing. I read this just as I was coming out of my months long reading slump and I think I was very reluctant to invest time into a book that wasn't capturing me because I didn't want to backslide. But I do love Kostova's writing and I would like to read this book because of that.

Title: The Hush
Author: Skye Melki-Wegner
Published: June 6, 2017 by Sky Pony Press (Sky Horse)
Source: NetGalley
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: In a world where music is magic, the echoes can kill you. 

Chester has been traveling from village to village, searching for his kidnapped father. One night while fiddling to earn a few coins, he accidentally connects to the Song—the music that fuels every aspect of the world. It’s illegal to interact with the Song—only a licensed Songshaper may bend music to his will—and when Chester is caught, he’s sentenced to death. 

 But just before the axe is about to fall, someone in the crowd—a member of the infamous Nightfall Gang—stages a daring rescue, whisking Chester into the Hush, a shadowy nightmare mirror-world where Music can be deadly and Echoes can kill. 

Susanna, captain of the Nightfall Gang has been watching Chester. She needs his special talent to pull off an elaborate plan. And she’ll risk everything to succeed. Even Chester’s life.

Why It Didn't Work For Me:
This one totally sounds like a book I would love. I mean it's a super unique YA fantasy and I am all about those. It also sounds really atmospheric and dark. And to me honest, it was. I picked this up because I needed a quick read before I had to read something for a blog tour. I thought I could plow through this in a few days and I didn't. Then I needed an e-book later in the month and I picked this up again and realized I just didn't want to read it. Again it just hasn't captured me. But I am not very far in. I don't know that I have given this book a fair chance but I don't really want to read it at the moment so I'm DNFing.

How Much I Read:
15% of the e-ARC

Will I Go Back to It:
Maybe. Like I said, I don't think I have given this book a fair shot. Unfortunately I just have so many other e-books for review including some that I am really excited about so I'm not sure I will take the time to go back to this one. But I do want to.

Have you read The Shadow Land or The Hush? What did you think? What makes you DNF a book and do you ever go back to it after you put it down for an extended period of time? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and happy reading.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore

A weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: Wild Beauty
Author: Anna-Marie McLemore
Published: October 3, 2017 by Macmillan

Synopsis: Love grows such strange things. 

For nearly a century, the Nomeolvides women have tended the grounds of La Pradera, the lush estate gardens that enchant guests from around the world. They’ve also hidden a tragic legacy: if they fall in love too deeply, their lovers vanish. But then, after generations of vanishings, a strange boy appears in the gardens.

The boy is a mystery to Estrella, the Nomeolvides girl who finds him, and to her family, but he’s even more a mystery to himself; he knows nothing more about who he is or where he came from than his first name. As Estrella tries to help Fel piece together his unknown past, La Pradera leads them to secrets as dangerous as they are magical in this stunning exploration of love, loss, and family.

Why I'm Waiting:

Can we talk about how gorgeous this book cover is? Because it is seriously gorgeous. I love how bright and colorful it is and how beautiful the flowers. Anna-Marie has had some seriously amazing covers but I think this one is my favorite. Even now knowing anything about this book I would absolutely pick it up based on that cover.

Speaking of Anna-Marie's other books, I am such a fan of them. I have read both of her previous books and I loved them both. She is a really amazing writer. She does a great job in establishing an atmosphere that brilliantly combines mystery and fantasy. One of the reasons I became really into Magical Realism last year is because of how much I love The Weight of Feathers. It made me want to read more of those books. It also made me want to read more books but Anna-Marie.

But even if this wasn't a book by an author I love, I still would have wanted to read this book because it sounds amazing! I always really like when a character doesn't remember who they are because it always makes for a lot of mystery and drama. And I am sure there will be an amazing magical realism here and great diverse characters because that's what all Anna-Marie's books have,

I am so excited about this book and I am absolutely planning on getting myselfg a copy at ALA this weekend and meeting Anna-Marie. It is one of my must get books.

What about you? What are you waiting for this Wednesday? Are you waiting on Wild Beauty along with me? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: YA Fantasy Series I Have Not Started but Want To

A weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

1.) Abhorssen by Garth Nix - Add to Goodreads
I severely neglected my 90's teen fantasies I think. I never read these books as a kid and I don't know why. When a new book in the series a few years ago and I wanted to read it because everyone was talking about it and I never did.

2.) His Fair Asssasins by Robin LaFevers - Add to Goodreads
I've heard really good things about this series with female assassins/nuns which takes place in Medieval times. It's a total me book and even though I own the first two books I still haven't read them. I was hoping to read them this month though.

3.) The Queen's Thief by Megan Whelan Turner - Add to Goodreads
So this is similar to Abhorsen because a new book in the series actually just came out. It seems like a series that I would love as I love me some books about thieves. Well now that there are audiobooks out and they are narrated by Steve West I may read them.

4.) The Stormlight Archives by Brandon Sanderson - Add to Goodreads
I love Brandon Sanderson, I love him a lot, and yet I have never read this series. If I'm being totally honest it intimidates me a little bit. Each book is over 1,000 pages and I don't know if I can devote that much time to any book even if it is amazing.

5.) The Study Series by Maria V. Snyder - Add to Goodreads
I have heard really good things about this series from some blogger friends who list it among their favorites when I first started blogging. I really wanted to read it but I never got around to it and now I don't know if I will ever have the time.

6.) Falling Kingdoms bv Morgan Rhodes - Add to Goodreads
This is a series with books still coming out. I was given the first book as a gift maybe last year and I had every intention of reading it but I haven't yet. I'm a little nervous because I hear there are a lot of perspectives and that often annoys me.

7.) The Archived by Victoria Schwab - Add to Goodreads
I love Victoria Schwab. I have read all her adult books and The Monsters of Verity series (well I'm reading Our Dark Duet) and yet I have never read this series. I really want to but I don't have the first book and I think it's out of publication.

8.) Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta - Add to Goodreads
This is a series that like everyone was reading last year. I wanted to be one of those people but I wasn't. I don't know why I didn't take the time to read it them but I know everyone loves it so I want to read it.

9.) Seven Realms by Cinda Williams Chima - Add to Goodreads
And yet another book where another book in the series came out recently and I couldn't read it because I hadn't read this one yet. I know a lot of people were really excited about that so I assume people like it.

10.) The Imposter Queen by Sarah Fine - Add to Goodreads
I really like my first Sarah Fine series I read and I want to read more of her books. This totally seems like one that I would love and I even recently bought the first book in the series and yet I still haven't read it.

There you have it, the ten YA Fantasy series that I have not yet read and want to read. Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Are there any you think I totally have to read?

Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!