Prequel & Sequel Challenge - August Wrap-Up

Hey guys!  Holy moly -- I can't believe that summer is almost over!  We've had a few spells of insanely hot weather this summer, so personally I'm looking forward to fall and some cooler weather.

This summer I took a bit of a series hiatus and read some great standalones.  I also fell headfirst into the Black Dagger Brotherhood and gobbled up six books in a row!  I haven't read many paranormal books in quite a while, so I'm thoroughly enjoying the series!  I also read the first two books in the Song of Ice & Fire series, both on audio and in print.  I was apprehensive about bouncing back and forth between mediums, but it actually worked out well and helped me to get through these chunky books a bit faster.  The narrator has this awesome British accent and Marko really likes listening to him talk, which has made our commuting a bit smoother when he just chills in the backseat, eating his snack and enjoying the story.

How about you?  Did you read many series books this summer or take a break like I did?  Did you read anything sensational?  Let me know in the comments below!

Link up your reviews below -- remember to include the number of points earned for each book!

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Life of a Blogger - Fears

My good friend, Jessi, over at Novel Heartbeat runs this awesome feature as a way for her followers to get to know her better!  Check out the list of upcoming topics here.

Today's topic is fears.  I don't have too many fears.  I'm not a fan of the creepy crawly, slithery variety ... but honestly, who wouldn't jump out of their skin if there's an eight-legged creature in the bathtub?

My only really big fear is fire.  When I was in high school, I went on a camping trip with my Ranger group and had an incident with a camp stove.  It was a white gas stove, the kind that you had to pump in order to get the gas started.  Well, I was pumping the stove and, as I went to close the pumping part, some gas shot out of the small hole at the same time as the stove flame flared up.  My hand and part of my forearm caught on fire.  Fortunately, the "stop drop and roll" instinct kicked right in and I was able to put the flames out quite quickly, but I did have a nasty burn blister for quite a while.  Also, I found that I was absolutely terrified of any type of flame for quite a while -- even a small candle on the table in a restaurant had to be moved away from me or blown out.

Luckily, with time, this fear did ebb away.  I'm certainly not the person who will volunteer to light a campfire and I will still keep my distance, but it's not a crippling fear any longer.

How about you?  Do you have any fears?  Leave me a comment below and thanks for stopping by!
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On the Futility of my Seasonal TBR Posts

The title of this post sounds kind of depressing, but honestly this post is just for fun!  I was just adding The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna (which is AWESOME so far!) to my "currently reading" shelf on Goodreads, and I realized that it was on my fall TBR list from last year.  So, just out of curiousity, I decided to revisit my seasonal TBR lists from days gone by ...

Spring 2012 - 5/10
Clockwork Prince was on this list -- this series has been on my TBR list for almost THREE YEARS!

Summer 2012 - 4/10
Clockwork Prince made this list again, as well as Outlander, which I've decided to finally read next month, along with Brie @ A Slice of Brie!

Fall 2012 - 2/5
The infamous Shantaram is on this list, which is likely why I only chose five books to read!  In my defense, I actually did read a chunk of this one.

Summer 2013 - 6/10
This was the Summer of Standalones, and I actually did pretty well!  One of the unread books on my list is the one that I'm reading now, The Lost Girl.

Fall 2013 - 7/10
I started putting review books on my seasonal TBR, so this allowed me to check off a few more.  Again, The Lost Girl is on this TBR list, as well as the infamous Requiem that seems to grace MANY of my TBR lists, but never actually gets read!

Winter 2013-2014 - 5/10
How many times must I promise to read Requiem, The Lost Girl and the Infernal Devices series?  Yikes.

Spring 2014 - 4/10
It was a list of finishing some series and starting some new ones -- but we all know that I'm not terribly good at either of those two things.

Summer 2014 - 4/10
Summer isn't over yet, there's still time to save this!  BUT, in my defense, I'm currently reading Book #5 AND I actually piled all ten books on my bedside table this summer so that I could choose directly from that pile, rather than getting distracted with my bookshelves.  Somehow, I managed to swap out Golden and The Moon & More for Open Road Summer and The Here & Now (oops!) so, after I finish my current read, I'm technically at 7/10.

This was a fun little post to write, looking back at my past seasonal TBR lists.  Although I rarely ever follow my lists exactly, or read all ten books by the end of the season, it is a lot of fun to put them together!

How about you?  Do you follow your seasonal TBR list?  Do you feel any bookish guilt for not reading according to your list?  Compiling this list has made me realize that I have been meaning to read both Requiem and the rest of the Infernal Devices series for far, far too long!  Do you have any books that you keep moving to the top of your TBR, only to not read them?  Leave me a comment below!         

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Friday Favourite - The Way the Crow Flies

Last fall, I shared Ann-Marie MacDonald's first novel, Fall on Your Knees. I had just started working at Bolen Books when I found out that a) Ann-Marie was publishing a new book and b) I could PREORDER a copy and make sure that it was waiting for me at the store on release date.  So, The Way the Crow Flies is the very first book that I pre-ordered.  I went into work on release day, found my copy on the holds shelf and paid for it with my very first staff discount!

After falling head over heels for Fall on Your Knees, I was hoping to be captivated in the same way.  Ann-Marie didn't disappoint.  She writes stories so beautifully about broken families and characters who are trying to put the pieces of their lives back together.

I've recently learned that Ann-Marie MacDonald is coming out with a new book in September and I squealed with absolute glee when I found this out!  I'm hoping to be blown away by her writing again, especially since it's been ELEVEN years since her last book!

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The Here and Now - Ann Brashares

When I heard that Ann Brashares was publishing a new novel, I immediately added it to my TBR list, even though her post-Sisterhood books have been a bit hit or miss for me.  I loved most of the Traveling Pants series, except the fourth book, but I did really like the one where they were all grown up.  Then, I DNFed The Last Summer, but was absolutely captivated by My Name is Memory.

I had heard mixed reviews about The Here and Now, but I was delighted to receive a finished copy for review from Random House (thank you!).  I went into this book with really low expectations, and was pleasantly surprised by the story!  It's a dystopian-esque story, with a time travel element.  I'm quite picky about my time travel books, after my husband explained to me how you can't mess with the space-time continuum.  Ann did this concept really well and wove together a time travel story that made sense and respected the conventions of the genre.  There were a few elements of the story that were predictable, but other moments that took me by surprise.

If you're on the fence about this one, I'd recommend that you take a chance.  Sometimes it works out in our favour when a book has less hype, and we stumble across a pleasant read.  The Here and Now definitely fell into that category for me, and I'm happy that I read it.

Note: A finished copy of this novel was provided by Random House; however, this fact did not influence my review of this book in any way.

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Book Haul [12]

It has been far too long since I've done a book haul!  So, without further ado ... here goes!
A Storm of Swords (Part 1 and Part 2), A Feast for Crows and A Dance With Dragons (Part 1 and Part 2) by George R.R. Martin
My sister-in-law purchased the first two books in the series when she was in London.  I had to have my set match with the beautiful UK covers, although I'm a little bummed that books 3 and 4 are a smaller size -- ooops!  I like that books 3 and 5 are split into two seperate books (unlike the image pictured above) because they seem a bit less daunting.

Lover Eternal, Lover Awakened, Lover Revealed, Lover Unbound, Lover Enshrined, Lover Avenged and Lover Mine by J.R. Ward
Before I had even finished Dark Lover, I went to a used bookstore during my lunch break to look for book two.  They only had books three and four, which I bought right away, and then stopped in Coles on my way back to the office to grab a copy of the second book.  Then, Chapters had a buy 3 get the 4th free sale and I picked up the next four books in the series.  After I lent Dark Lover to my sister-in-law, she wanted the next couple of books right away!

Night Film by Marisha Pessl 
I received a finished copy of this book for review from Random House -- I've heard really good things about this one, and I'm looking forward to diving in!

Of Scars and Stardust by Andrea Hannah
The premise intrigued me and the cover is really pretty, so I requested it on Netgalley.

Rabbit Ears by Maggie di Vries
This one takes place in Vancouver and centres around some really tough real-life topics.  I'm equal parts intrigued and nervous about reading this one.

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Summer Mini-Reviews

Summer feels like it's coming to an end, as our big heat wave seems to have finished and we're back to slightly chillier temperatures.  We were at a BBQ this evening and, as we prepared to head home, I actually wished that I'd brought a jacket with me!

Aside from How to Love and review books, I haven't shared much of what I've been reading this summer.  It's been a refreshing change to read just for fun this summer without trying to put my thoughts into some type of review format, but at the same time, I wanted to give you just a short reaction to some of the titles that I've gobbled up in the last few months ...

The first five books in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward:
YOU GUYS.  I remember Alexa @ Alexa Loves Books gushing over this series and, after Lauren @ Lose Time Reading posted her review of the first book, I knew that I had to give this series a shot.  And HOLY MOLY -- once I started reading, I just couldn't stop!  Wrath is so sexy, but I think my favourite book so far is Zsadist's story.

Easy by Tamara Webber
This was an Epic Recs recommendation, but it didn't blow me away as much as I had expected.  I still really enjoyed it, but there were parts of the story that were predictable.

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson
This might have been another victim of bookish hype for me.  I liked it a lot, but wasn't as blown away as I had anticipated.

Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson
Morgan Matson scores again -- another fantastic and perfect book!

Lovestruck Summer by Melissa Walker
I won this one from a giveaway at Rather Be Reading and it was so sweet and adorable!  Truly the perfect summer read.

I'm currently about halfway through Kirsten Hubbard's Wanderlove (which I know is a favourite of Jaime @ The Perpetual Page-Turner.  It's a great story so far and I've become quite captivated by the main character.

How about you?  What have you read so far this summer?  Have you read anything truly sensational?  Leave me a comment below -- and hope you're all having a great summer!

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Life of a Blogger - Favourite Restaurants

My good friend, Jessi, over at Novel Heartbeat runs this awesome feature as a way for her followers to get to know her better!  Check out the list of upcoming topics here.

Today's topic is favourite restaurants!  My husband and I eat out on a semi-regular basis, but when we find a restaurant that we like, we go there a LOT.  So much, in fact, that the people at the restaurant know us by name and ask if we'd like our usual order.  Yup, we always order the same thing too!

Here are our current favourites:

  • Martha's Bakery and Cafe.  We go here for breakfast on Saturday mornings.  They have a really cheap breakfast special (eggs, meat, toast & hash) and Marko LOVES their seasoned hashbrowns.  He eats so much that we're almost to the point where we'll have to order him his own plate!
  • Naomi Sushi.  This is our favourite sushi restaurant, and it's inexpensive but oh-so-tasty.  They have pictures of frequent customers posted near the entrance and, you guessed, it -- we're included on that wall of fame!  They make a Crazy Boy roll that's spicy and absolutely delicious.
  • Pho Toan Tang.  Pho is a relatively new discovery for me but once I tried it I just can't stop!  The chicken pho here is delicious and the staff are so friendly and kind.  For a while, we were going almost every Friday night with some friends, and the staff actually started reserving our table.
  • The Boathouse.  We haven't been here since before Marko was born, as it's a classy, fine dining restaurant, but I absolutely adore the food.  As the name suggests, they serve a lot of seafood here, which I love.  Plus, it's right on the water, so it's the perfect restaurant to enjoy a leisurely romantic meal, followed by a stroll on the water under the stars.
What about you?  What is your favourite restaurant?  Leave me a comment below!
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Top Ten Books I'm Not Sure I Want To Read

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic is books that I'm not sure I'm interested in reading anymore. As always, this feature is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish!

For today's list, I've chosen a few books that I've had on my shelves since I started blogging, almost three years ago.  If you've read any of these, let me know if I should add them back onto my TBR pile!  I think sometimes books sit on my shelves for so long that I just lose the original excitement that I had the day that I acquired them...

1. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Even my mom's read this, but I recently heard that it has it's gory, hard-to-handle moments?

2. The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
I started reading The Constant Princess, but didn't finish that one.

3. Across the Universe by Beth Revis
4. Halo by Alexandra Adornetto
I'm undecided as to whether or not I want to embark on these series ... but they're pretty.

5. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
I couldn't finish Love in the Time of Cholera, so I'm not sure if I'll like this one.  BUT it has Oprah's sticker on the front, and she's picked quite a few of my favourites.

6. P.S. I Love You by Cecilia Ahern
I LOVED the movie, and I heard that the book is even better!

7. We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates
Foxfire was a favourite university read, but I have had this one sitting on my shelves for years.  Plus, it's another Oprah book!

8. Lamb by Christopher Moore
This one's actually my hubby's, but I've heard really great things about this book!  I think it's the blah cover that always makes me pass it by.

9. The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood
I love me some Atwood, but haven't read any of her books in a long, long time.

10. Whitethorn by Bryce Courtney
The Power of One and Tandia are two of my all-time favourites.  I own this one in hardcover, which means I could probably kill a man with it and is probably why I haven't picked it up.  Because it's heavy and long, not because I'm afraid of killing someone =P

Have you read any of these titles?  Would I be missing out on a potential new favourite if I continue to pass these books by?  Leave me a comment below!

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Countdown Survey

I have a few book reviews to catch up on; however, I wasn't feeling motivated to write any of them tonight, so I decided to clear out my blog reader instead!  I saw a post from Lauren @ Lose Time Reading, who shared her Countdown Survey, which was created by Christy @ Christy's Book Addiction.  It's been a while since I've done something bookishly fun here on the blog, so here goes!

Note: my apologies for the awful formatting ... I'm still trying to get a handle on my new layout and fonts and I can't quite figure out why the font changed halfway through.  If anyone knows stuff about HTML, help a girl out?

10. Books Already Released on Your Wishlist

Pure trilogy by Julianna Baggott and Everneath Trilogy by Brodi Ashton
I haven't finished either of these series yet, but I've loved the books that I've read so far, plus the covers are gorgeous and belong on my shelves.

Both of these books come highly recommended by readers that I trust, so I know I'll love them!

I read, and loved, both of these books, but borrowed them from the library, so I don't own a copy.

9. Favourite Covers

I'll let the covers speak for themselves... the funniest part is that I haven't even read all of these, some of these beautiful books are sitting on my shelves, waiting to be read!

I haven't even read the last three on the list, but I absolutely adore these covers!

8. Not Yet Released Books You Can't Wait For

Marissa Meyer's Winter, Lauren Oliver's Rooms, and Stephanie Perkins' Isla and the Happily Ever After are the only three that I can think of off the top of my head.  There are more books yet to be released in some series that I haven't started yet (like Throne of Glass or His Fair Assassin above), which may be highly anticipated releases once I get my butt in gear and start reading these series!

7. Autobuy Authors

Lauren Oliver, Sarah Dessen, Morgan Matson, John Green, Janet Fitch, Andrew Davidson and Ann-Marie MacDonald.

6. Book Boyfriends

I'm not really a book boyfriend kind of person...

5. Books You Recommend the Most

Andrew Davidson's The Gargoyle, R.J. Palacio's Wonder, the Harry Potter series, and anything by Sarah Dessen or Morgan Matson.

4. Books You Thought You'd Like But Didn't

Amanda Maciel's Tease, Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat Pray Love, Megan McCafferty's Bumped and Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones.

3. Books That Make You Cry

I have 52 tear-inducing reads on my Goodreads shelf.  But the top three of all time?  Morgan Matson's Second Chance Summer, John Green's The Fault in Our Stars and Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things.

2. Books You Never Plan on Reading

Anything by Cormac McCarthy or William Faulkner -- blech.  Had enough of these two in an American lit class when I couldn't even bring myself to finish reading the assigned novels -- even though it meant being unprepared for the final exam.

1. Favourite Genre At the Moment

This summer has been all about contemporary standalones, but I've also been getting into fantasy again.

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Life of a Blogger - Best Childhood Memory

My good friend, Jessi, over at Novel Heartbeat runs this awesome feature as a way for her followers to get to know her better!  Check out the list of upcoming topics here.

Today's topic is best childhood memory.  It's hard for me to just pick one, since I had a really wonderful childhood, so instead I'll choose something that I know won't be possible for my son Marko to enjoy, just because of how times have changed.

There was a part near my house that had this awesome set of brambly bushes across one end of the park.  If you pushed through the outside edge of the bushes, the world disappeared as the bushes swallowed you up. Inside the bushes, there were lots of openings and pathways in between the branches, which was perfect for creating and visualizing all kinds of imaginary games -- from castles to forts to magical fairy lands.  By the time I was a teenager, this maze of bushes had been removed from the part as it presented a safety concern for children playing at the park (I think transient people were hiding out in the bushes, but I'm not 100% sure).

It saddens me sometimes how our world has become so untrusting and that Marko is going to grow up in a world that is so vastly different from the world that I grew up in.  Even if he doesn't have a forest of bushes to play in, I will strive to give him as many opportunities as I can to allow his imagination the freedom to roam and grow!

How about you?  What's your favourite childhood memory?  Leave me a comment below!
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