5/22/15

A Sense of the Infinite - Hilary T. Smith

I read, and loved, Wild Awake, Hilary's debut novel.  It always makes me a little nervous when I pick up a writer's second novel, because I never know if it'll live up to my expectations.

A Sense of the Infinite blew me away, in a similar yet completely different way.  Hilary's writing style is INCREDIBLE.  She weaves together such beautiful phrases, and I'm captivated by her writing style, which I find quite similar to Lauren Oliver's style, but also unique in her own way.  She writes truly special books that are heartbreakingly beautiful because she touches on topics that are hard to read at times.  A Sense of the Infinite is no exception, as it contains themes of teen pregnancy, abortion, eating disorders, friendship, identity and many others.

I find it hard to write about books that I really, really loved.  So I'll just say this: if you haven't yet read a Hilary T. Smith novel, go pick one up.  Her writing style might not be for everyone, but if you like a beautifully written novel that doesn't shy away from darker topics, you won't be disappointed!

I received an e-galley for review from the publisher via Edelweiss; however, this did not affect my review of the book in any way.

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5/13/15

TBR Pile - Standalones I Need to Read

I've always wondered how many unread books were actually sitting on my shelves.  My shelves have a bit of a wonky organization system (I can easily find things, but my husband can't), and it makes sense to me so I haven't bothered to change it.  Sometimes I wish that I actually had a TBR shelf to choose from, but most of the time I prefer not to have a specific shelf because I don't want physical proof of the sheer number of unread books in my house.  But, well, curious minds need to know.  So here's the first part of a several post series, outlining the standalones that I have yet to read.  Let me know in the comments below if you see any of your favourites here, and books that I should bump up my TBR list!

Middle Grade:

  1. Dragon Rider
  2. The Gammage Cup
  3. Searching for David's Heart
  4. The Red Badge of Courage
  5. Absolutely Normal Chaos
  6. The Tiger Rising
  7. The Last of the Really Great Wangdoodles
  8. The Magickers
  9. The Thief Lord
  10. Dragon Rider
  11. Just Ella
  12. Stowaway
  13. Music of the Dolphins
  14. Flush
  15. Spinners
  16. Sexy
  17. Lyddie
  18. The Wave
  19. Drive
  20. Bite
  21. The Thief
  22. Girl Coming in for a Landing
  23. What's In a Name?

YA:

  1. This Song Will Save Your Life
  2. The Moon and More
  3. Golden
  4. The Miseducation of Cameron Post
  5. Velveteen
  6. This Girl is Different
  7. The Glass Arrow
  8. Saint Anything
  9. The Start of Me and You
  10. Imaginary Girls
  11. Wild Roses
  12. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
  13. The Glass Arrow

Adult:

  1. The Robber Bride
  2. Alias Grace
  3. P.S. I Love You
  4. Midwives
  5. The Law of Similars
  6. The Story of Danny Dunn
  7. How to Kill a Rock Star
  8. In the Company of a Courtesan
  9. Knocked Up
  10. The Virgin Suicides
  11. I Love You Like a Tomato
  12. Burial Rites
  13. The Undomestic Goddess
  14. The History of Love
  15. One Hundred Years of Solitude
  16. Shopgirl
  17. Italian Fever
  18. I Shall Be Near to You
  19. Atonement
  20. The Birth House
  21. The Last Letter from Your Lover
  22. The Falls
  23. We Were the Mulvaneys
  24. Back Roads
  25. Rooms
  26. Keeping Faith
  27. Songs of the Humpback Whale
  28. Mercy
  29. The Elegant Gathering of White Snows
  30. Shantaram
  31. Atlas Shrugged
  32. Sea Glass
  33. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
  34. Amy and Isabelle
  35. All My Puny Sorrows
  36. Night Film
  37. Bedtime Story
  38. Forever Interrupted
  39. After I Do
  40. Firefly Lane
  41. A Light Between Two Oceans

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5/11/15

In All Series-ousness -- Two Years Later

Almost two years ago, I shared a post where I promised myself that I would finish all the series that I had started, and refrain from starting any new series unless all of the books were out.  Since that post, I have definitely done a better job of committing to some series-ous reading, but I thought I give myself a reality check and list them all out:

Here are the series that I said that I would like to FINISH (with those crossed off that I did finish):
Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa (Iron Daughter, Iron Queen and Iron Knight)
Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare (Clockwork Prince & Clockwork Princess)
Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead (books 2-6)
Luxe Series by Anna Godbersen (Envy & Splendor)
Bright Young Things Series by Anna Godbersen (Beautiful Days & The Lucky Ones)
Sookie Stackhouse Series by Charlaine Harris (I've only read the first two books)
Inkheart Series by Cornelia Funke (Inkspell & Inkdeath)
Delirium Trilogy by Lauren Oliver (Requiem)
The Chemical Garden Trilogy by Lauren DeStefano (Fever)

Nightshade Trilogy by Andrea Cremer (Wolfsbane & Bloodrose)
Ruby Oliver Series by E. Lockhart (books 2-4)
Birthmarked Trilogy by Caragh M. O'Brien (Promised)
Girl of Fire & Thorns by Rae Carson (Crown of Embers & The Bitter Kingdom)
Cemetery of Forgotten Books by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (Angel's Game & Prisoner of Heaven)
Sea of Trolls Trilogy by Nancy Farmer (Land of the Silver Apples & Islands of the Blessed)

Series that I had planned to binge-read because all the books are out:
Graceling Trilogy by Kristin Cashore
Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta
Darkness Rising Trilogy by Kelley Armstrong
Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon (I read Outlander, but won't be reading more of the books)
Starcrossed Trilogy by Josephine Angellini
Covenant Trilogy by Jennifer Armentrout

Here are the series that I had committed to reading upon release of their final installments:
2013
October:
Mara Dyer Trilogy by Michelle Hodkin (The Evolution & The Retribution of Mara Dyer) 
Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth (Allegiant)
November:
Legend Trilogy by Marie Lu (Prodigy & Champion)

2014
January:
Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi
Everneath Series by Brodi Ashton (Everbound & Evertrue)
February
Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer (Scarlet & Cress)
Pure Trilogy by Julianna Baggott (Burn)
Article 5 Trilogy by Kristen Simmons (Breaking Point & Three)
Final Book in the Shatter Me Trilogy by Tahereh Mafi
March:
Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare (City of Heavenly Fire)
April:
Days of Blood & Starlight and Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor
Dust Lands Trilogy by Moira Young (Rebel Heart & Raging Star)
October:
Unwind Trilogy by Neal Shusterman (UnWholly & UnSouled)

Series that I had planned to binge-read when all of the books are out:
Shadow & Bone Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo (2014)
Unraveling Trilogy by Elizabeth Norris
Grave Mercy Series by R.L. LaFevers (2014)
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (2016 -- although I may read book 1 earlier, since I own it)

There are 38 series included in this list, and I have now finished 16 of them!  Of course, there are a few other series that I have since added to the list (ahem), so I think I'll do another updated series TBR post soon.

Putting this post together reminded me of a few older series that I had planned to tackle, so I picked up the following books at the library the other day:

  • Burn, the final book in Julianna Baggott's Pure trilogy
  • Everbound and Evertrue, the second and third books in Brodi Ashton's Everneath trilogy
  • Rebel Heart, the second book in Moira Young's Dust Lands trilogy
  • Beautiful Days, the second book in Anna Godberson's Bright Young Things trilogy
I definitely want to read Burn one day, but every time I have borrowed it from the library, it gets returned unread (sometimes late, and I've even paid fines on this unread book!)  I loved Everneath, but I can scarcely remember the storyline, which has prevented me from reading further.  It's the same story for Rebel Heart.  I won the final book in the Bright Young Things trilogy from one of Epic Reads' Tea Times, so I read the first one, and thought it was okay, so I've been unmotivated to continue.  I kind of just want to unhaul the third book, but then I also feel like that might be a bit ungrateful because I won a copy.  Thoughts?
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    5/8/15

    April Wrap-up

    I know that I say this every month, but where is 2015 going?!?  I can't believe the year is flying by so quickly, but I'm also grateful that spring is here and we've been blessed with some truly incredible sunny weather so far.

    The Books

    Books Read: 7 (Legend, Shadow & Bone, Prodigy, Champion, Siege & Storm, Challenger Deep, Requiem)
    Of these books, all but one were books off my own shelves.  One book was a review copy.

    Books Acquired: 6 (Siege & Storm, Ruin and Rising, The Truth About Forever and Lux: Beginnings)
    I have acquired a total of 15 books so far this year, and have already read 6 of them.  That's almost half!  I'm not reading immediately after purchasing, as I had originally promised myself in my new year's resolutions, but I have read a few immediately after buying them.  I'm keeping the pile of recently purchased books on my nightstand, so that I can choose my next read from this pile.

    The Challenges

    Prequel & Sequel Challenge: +24 points (10 points for finishing the Legend trilogy, plus 2 points for the Prodigy and Champion; 2 points for Siege and Storm and 12 points for Requiem)
    Flights of Fantasy: 2 more books read (Shadow & Bone and Siege and Storm) for a total of 5 books so far!
    TBR Challenge: 5 more books off my shelves, for a total of 10 so far!

    The Blog

    I shared a list of top ten characters that I'd like to check in with, inspiring book quotes, all time favourite authors, as well as the most badass characters that I've read.  I read quite a few review books this month, and shared my reviews for 99 Days, Things We Know By Heart and Challenger Deep.  I also made my very first order on Book Outlet and then shared a subsequent post about this being one of my new bookish distractions!  Finally, I shared two more of my new On My Nighstand feature, as well as participating for the last time in Life of a Blogger -- it was fun, but it's come to an end.

    The Other Stuff

    April was a pretty quiet month in our household.  We were supposed to head to the Island to visit my parents, but double booked ourselves with also promising to cat sit for my sister-in-law, so we postponed our trip until later in May.  The weather has been all over the place this month, with warm sunny days followed by freak hail storms!  We've made the most of whatever sun we have had, and have spent many lovely afternoons at the park.  I forsee a lot more of these types of days in the coming months!

    Hope you had a great April too!  And thanks for stopping by =)

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    5/6/15

    On My Nightstand - May 6

    Although I'm not really writing reviews these days, On My Nightstand is a bi-weekly feature that allows me to share what I'm currently reading, some thoughts on what I just finished reading and what's coming up next from my TBR pile.

    On my nightstand:

    I just finished a book this evening, so I'm actually NOT reading anything at the moment!  My co-worker is lending me her copy of Kristen Ashley's Rock Chick, so that'll be my next read for sure!  I'm excited -- I haven't read a contemporary in quite a while, and my co-worker is absolutely obsessed with Kristen Ashley's work.  I hope that I love it as much as she does!

    Recently shelved as read:

    I have spent the past few days savouring the final chapters of Leigh Bardugo's Ruin and Rising, and finally read the last few pages tonight.  What an epic series!  I loved every moment of it, and am now highly anticipating Six of Crows in September.  I love that her new book will take place in the Grisha world, but revolve around different characters.  I totally think that J.K. Rowling should adopt this idea.  I would gladly read about different characters in Harry's world!

    I also finally, FINALLY finished A Storm of Swords, which is good because the show started up again!  I'm going to wait until after the season is over to start book four, just so that I'm not reading and watching all over the place.

    Also, I read (and loved!) the final book in Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series,
    City of Heavenly Fire.  I really, really liked it, although I still think that the series should have been a trilogy.  The series did have a Harry Potter-esque feel to it, since I feel that I have been experiencing these characters' adventures for so many years, so it was a bit bittersweet to say farewell.  Fortunately, I still have the Infernal Devices series to read and enjoy.

    Calling my name from the shelf:

    I'll be picking up a copy of Sarah J. Maas' A Court of Thorns and Roses this week, and diving straight into this book.  I just found out that it's new adult?!?  Super pumped to read something new and different from this amazing author!

    How about you?  What are you reading this week!  Let's chat in the comments below and thanks for stopping by!

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    4/28/15

    Top Ten Books Which Feature Characters Who Are Badass


    Top Ten Tuesday is, as always, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Today's topic is top ten characters who are _________ and I chose BADASS.  Having recently finished Heir of Fire, I am all about kickass female heroines these days.  If you love these types of books, read on!

    1. Celeana Sardothien from the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas
    Of course the top spot on this list belongs to the Celeana.  She's fiercely loyal, a kickass assassin and she loves to read!

    2. Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
    Hermione kicks ass with her MIND, solving problems and riddles like nobody's business.

    3. Ismae from the His Fair Assassin series by Robin LaFevers
    I have only read Grave Mercy so far in this series; however, I imagine that the characters from the next two series will be equally badass!

    4. Tris from the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth
    Tris is the definition of a badass female character!

    5. Katniss from the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
    Ditto for Katniss!

    6. Karou from the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor
    Although Karou is a sensitive artist, she also has to deal with a lot of trials and heartache throughout this trilogy, which makes her a pretty kickass heroine in my books.

    7. Cinder from the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
    Pretty much all the characters (Scarlet, Cress, Iko, etc.) are pretty badass, but since Cinder is the main character in the first book, I chose her for this list.

    8. June from the Legend trilogy by Marie Lu
    It's been quite a long time since I read the first book in this series, but I remember June standing out as a pretty awesome female character!

    9. Clary from the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare
    Clary starts off a bit wimpy, in my opinion, but quickly becomes a strong female character.

    10. Astrid from White Oleander by Janet Fitch
    I struggled to think of one more YA character, and then realized that Astrid is the ULTIMATE badass female character!  This girl goes through SO MUCH insanity over the course of the story, and emerges on the other end a completely different person from how she was in the beginning of the novel.

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    4/23/15

    Things We Know By Heart - Jessi Kirby

    I've had a copy of Golden sitting on my shelf since shortly after its release date.  I bought it based on all the positive reviews that I'd seen from bloggers whose recommendations I trust, so I knew that I would love it too.  Yet, for some reason, the book remains unread!  I even went through two summers where I craved nothing but contemporary standalones, and still this book remains on my TBR pile.

    When I saw Things We Know by Heart pop up on Edelweiss, I have no idea what compelled me to download it.  I had previously decided to be very careful about how many review books to take on, and had basically decided to only download books by authors that I had previously read or books that I was really excited about reading.  I'd heard nothing about this book, and only grabbed on a whim because I just know that I will love Golden....whenever I get around to reading it.

    I am SO GLAD that I took a chance on this book, and am now determined to read every last word that Jessi Kirby has read.  This book was absolutely fantastically written.  I did have a couple of problems with the plot because I found some elements of the story to be predictable, but the writing is absolutely flawless.  In fact, it's been quite a while since a book has inspired me to grab a pen and jot down a few quotes; I scribbled down several beautiful quotes from this book!

    This is the one that started the waterworks though, and kept me thinking long after I'd finished the final pages: it's terrifying to realize how much your world is wrapped up in loving another person.  This quote really resonated with me and I paused on that line for quite a well, letting the words settle.  It's true in my life; I love both my husband and my son so incredibly much, that it does scare me sometimes how intense those feelings really are.  My husband and I have mentioned that to each other a few times, about how devastated we would be if we were to lose each other.  There are no words that could possibly explain how that would make me feel, and it's something that I don't even want to think about, but we were being realistic and talking about the what-ifs in the world, and making sure that the other person would be okay.  (As we always do, we then lightened the mood by deciding that my husband would end up a chess-playing recluse with 27 cats, always yelling at the kids to get off his lawn while shaking his cane in the air!)  To bring this back to the book again, I just love how Jessi managed to pack so much emotion and feeling and thoughtfulness into her prose, and I am definitely looking forward to checking out the rest of her work!

    Hope this rambling review makes sense to you all -- I had to type it out immediately after finishing the book, while the ideas and thoughts are all fresh in my (slightly rambling) mind.

    If you haven't tried any of Jessi Kirby's work, don't be like I was and push her down the TBR list.  Take the plunge -- I assure you that you won't regret it!

    Note: I received an e-galley of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  The fact that I received a review copy of this book did not influence my opinions in any way.

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