Sunday, August 31, 2014

Hedgie's Must Reads: August 2014

August has been a fun, but extremely busy, month! Summer never really seems to begin for me until August, and then it's over (so, really, I have a very short summer). I had lots of fun hanging out with friends, reading tons, going to the county fair and riding rides, seeing movies, and - best of all, and the highlight of every summer - attending the Renaissance Faire! With all of this going on, I'm amazed at how much I read. But it's also exhausted me. This may not be news to everyone, but I'm saying it again: September I'm taking a break from the blog. Hedgie and I will still be reading, but I'm not updating my blog for a whole month! After 4 years running, I think I deserve the break. So, enjoy this post, and I will see you again sometime at the end of September with at least a book haul.

August Reading Wrap-Up

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray (3/5)
Book #1 in the Gemma Doyle Trilogy. When Gemma Doyle's mother dies under mysterious and heartwrenching circumstances, she is sent from her home in India to a girls' boarding school in London. There, Gemma is plagued with bizarre dreams that have a tendency of coming true. It is also there that she meets three other girls - and together they in motion events that could have terrifying consequences. It took me long time to get to this book, but once I did, I enjoyed it. There are no real sympathetic characters, but they all bring a special something to the story. And as things spiral further and further out of control, the book just gets more and more interesting. Girl-read, seventeen-and-up, fans of historical fantasy.

Savage Drift by Emmy Laybourne (3/5)
Book #3 in the Monument 14 trilogy. The kids from Monument 14 have made it to a safe camp in Canada - and just in time. But not all of them are safe. Astrid is pregnant, and the military doctors and scientists are showing too much interest in her baby. Meanwhile, Niko and Dean thought they had lost Josie for good. But then they hear rumors of her being in an internment camp for Os. An internment camp that is worse than a death sentence. In order to save both Josie and Astrid, they will have to leave their safe haven and venture out into the unknown once more. Probably the most uneventful volume in the entire trilogy, it was also my favorite. It was darker, and even though not a whole lot happened. it wasn't boring. Girl-and-guy read, seventeen-and-up, fans of post-apocalyptic.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J. K. Rowling (3/5)
Book #1 in the Harry Potter series. When Harry Potter's parents were killed when he was just a baby, he was left on the doorstep of his horrid aunt and uncle's house. His life has been miserable ever since. . . .Until the day he receives an invitation to study at the Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft. For Harry Potter isn't just any normal English boy. He's the son of two very powerful wizards. And he was also the only boy who have faced the evil Lord Voldemort. . . .and lived. I finally buckled down and read Harry Potter. And it was a lot of fun. The writing is classic British, the characters memorable, and the world very engaging. Girl-and-boy read, eight-and-up, fans of fantasy and British childrens' literature.

Graduation Day by Joelle Charbonneau (3/5)
Book #3 in The Testing trilogy. Cia Vale has survived The Testing and has, so far, managed to pass all of her classes at the University. But now it's time for her take the reigns of the rebellion and end The Testing process for good. In order to do so, she'll have to trust some of her fellow classmates. And trusting the wrong one could end not only her life, but those of everyone she loves. I liked this final installment in this trilogy, and I wouldn't even call it disappointing. But I didn't really care for the final twist in the end; it wasn't needed and would have in fact made for a better book if it hadn't been there at all. Girl-and-guy read, seventeen-and-up, fans of dystopian.

Paws in the Piazza by Jerilyn McIntyre (3/5)
Harlem is just an ordinary housecat - and he's happy to be an ordinary housecat. Until the day he and his family take a trip to Venice. There, he meets Angela - the most beautiful Angora he has ever seen. And he's instantly, hopelessly in love with her. But things aren't as they seem. In this magical and ancient city, cats play a very big role in its history. And Angela and her ancestors especially are important to Venice and its other cats. But no one seems willing to explain what exactly is going on. A 96-page Middle Grade book, this is a fun animal fiction story about cats, the magic of Venice, and the adventure that hides just right around the corner. Girl-and-boy read, seven-and-up.

Forget Me Not by Shawn Martin (3/5)
Book #2 in the Shadowflesh series. Life has been good ever since Addison Wake - a three-hundred-year-old boy kept alive as a Shadowflesh - came back into Aileen McCormick's life. But it's all thrown topsy-turvy again when Aileen comes into possession of a cursed cameo that causes her to forget Addison. The memory is on the edge of Aileen's mind, taunting her. But if she ever remembers who Addison is, she will die. Though I didn't read the first book in the series, I still managed to enjoy this one pretty well. The characters are likable and the plot moves at a steady pace; neither too fast nor too slow. Girl-read, sixteen-and-up, fans of paranormal romances.

August Best Reads

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen (5/5)
Book #1 in a planned trilogy. Kelsea has been raised knowing that one day she will inherit the throne of the Tearling. Yet, when her nineteenth birthday comes and with it her moment to ascend the throne, she is woefully unprepared. Her mentors have kept her ignorant of so many things. And it is during a time of trouble that the young queen takes her place, with few friends to aid her and plenty of enemies thirsting for her blood. Without a doubt this book has flaws. But an interesting world and amazing characters is not one of them. It started out slow, but picked up in no time, and I was totally swept away and transported by this book. Girl-and-guy read, nineteen-and-up, fans of high fantasy.

The Girl From the Well by Rin Chupeco (4/5)
Okiku is a hundreds-year-old ghost who was murdered when she was young girl. Now, she haunts our world, freeing ghost children from their killers. She keeps herself distant from the lives of the normal people she meets. Until one day she encounters a strange boy with even stranger tattoos. A boy who has a disturbing and malevolent presence about him. Okiku has no choice but to become involved. 100% horror story, and downright creepy. It will keep you up at night, but not to point of where you need the lights on. . . .all night. Just part of it. Surprisingly, though, you also come to really care about Okiku. The writing style is weird and takes some time getting used to, but you eventually do. Girl-and-guy read, seventeen-and-up, fans of horror.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (5/5)
Les Cirque des Reves arrives in the middle of the night. One moment it wasn't there, the next you see its black-and-white tents, its strange clock, and the promise of amazement. Against this backdrop is a rivalry between two magicians. Each has selected a protege, and the night circus is their chance to prove who is better. But the two proteges, Celia and Marco, are not willing players in this game. And they soon find themselves falling in love. But the competition must be carried out, and it will not have a happy ending for either of them. Imagine a feast made out of words; this is The Night Circus. Full of delectable descriptions, dreamlike quality, and complex characters, it is an absolute banquet. Girl-read, eighteen-and-up, fans of whimsy.

August Worst Reads

The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima (2/5)
Book #1 in The Heir Chronicles. Jack is just another teen dealing with high school, trying to make the soccer team, and live a normal life. The only difference between him and the average guys at school is Jack has had to take special medicine every day of his life for a heart problem he had as a kid. But then one day Jack forgets his medicine. And strange things begin to happen. I liked the overall concept of this book, but it was super slow, and I didn't really care about any of the characters. The world building was great, but could there have been fewer slow parts? Girl-and-guy read, sixteen-and-up, fans of urban fantasy.

Concrete Fever by Nathaniel Kressen (1/5)
When a prepschool rich boy decides to jump off the top of his apartment building roof after his father dies, he meets a mysterious girl dancing along its edge. "Gypsy" is like no girl he has ever met, and the two decide to play out an entire romantic relationship in one night. The catch? Well, there isn't one, except everything they say must be treated as if it is truth. Written in a style that isn't necessarily bad; just strange and hard to get used to, Concrete Fever wasn't the book for me. I had a hard time caring about any of the characters, and I couldn't see past the strong profanity, immoral behavior, and unsatisfying ending. Girl-read, definitely more appropriate for adults, though the protagonists are teens.

August Best and Worst Read

Saturday, August 30, 2014

August 2014 Book Haul

So this month was a crazy book haul month. Way crazier than I thought it was going to be. I hauled 80 books total (I forgot to include one in my video; oops!). So this haul is in three parts, and I also included a video of my Renaissance Faire haul! Enjoy!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Mid-Year Book Freakout

This survey was created by Ely and Chami at A Book So Fathomless

Because I thought this would be fun, I decided to do it. And also, it'll help me kind of see where I'm at in my reading so far this year.

1)Best book you've read so far in 2014
Gah, that's a hard one. I've read so many good books this year! But I'm going to go with Jackaby by William Ritter.

2)Best sequel you've read so far in 2014
Much easier to answer: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo.

3)New release you haven't read yet, but want to
Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige.

4)Most anticipated release for the second half of the year
The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan.

5)Biggest disappointment
The Here and Now by Ann Brashares. I went into this book expecting it to be good, and loved the first 100 pages. But quite literally by page 101, it went seriously downhill.

6)Biggest surprise
The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen. This got so many bad reviews that my expectations were seriously low. Imagine my surprise when I discovered what a terrific book it is!

7)Favorite new author (debut or new to you)
William Ritter, author of Jackaby. Keep up the good work!

8)Newest fictional crush
Tomas from The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau. Once I read Book #3, I realized just how much I loved Tomas.

Newest favorite character
Nikolai from The Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. He's awesome!

10)Book that made you cry
Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo. Too many feels!

11)Book that made you happy
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

12)Favorite book to film adaption you saw this year
I'm cheating and going to say The Maze Runner. It hasn't been released yet, but I know that it'll be my favorite of the year.

13)Favorite review you've written this year
Jackaby again.

14)Most beautiful book you've bought so far this year (or received)
The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

15)What books do you need to read by the end of the year?
Umm, lots. Too many to list, actually. I'm doing well on my 2014 Series Challenge, but I still have a lot to finish.

For the fun of it, I'm actually going to challenge some fellow bloggers to do this survey. I challenge:

- Kimberly @ Turning the Pages

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Review: The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Genre: Adult, historical fantasy
Published on September 13, 2011
Published by Doubleday
Pages: 387
Read From: 8.22.14 - 8.25.14

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it, no paper notices plastered on lampposts and billboards. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. 
Within these nocturnal black-and-white-striped tents awaits an utterly unique experience, a feast for the senses, where one can get lost in a maze of clouds, meander through a lush garden made of ice, stare in wonderment as the tattooed contortionist folds herself into a small glass box, and become deliciously tipsy from the scents of caramel and cinnamon that waft through the air. 
Welcome to Le Cirque des Reves. 
Beyond the smoke and mirrors, however, a fierce competition is under way - a contest between two young illusionists, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood to compete in a "game" to which they have been irrevocably bound by their mercurial masters. Unbeknownst to the players, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. 
As the circus travels around the world, the feats of magic gain fantastical new heights with every stop. The game is well under way and the lives of all those involved - the eccentric circus owner, the elusive contortionist, the mystical fortune-teller, and a pair of red-headed twins born backstage among them - are swept up in a wake of spells and charms. 
But when Celia discovers that Marco is her adversary, they begin to think of the game not as a competition but as a wonderful collaboration. With no knowledge of how the game must end, they innocently tumble headfirst into love. A deep, passionate, and magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands. 
Their masters still pull the strings, however, and this unforeseen occurrence forces them to intervene with dangerous consequences, leaving the lives of everyone from the performers to the patrons hanging in the balance.


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? I adore the cover art. I love the colors and the swirlies and how the hand and the circus look like they're made from paper.

Characters: Where to start? There are a ton of characters in this book, and each one of them has quite the complicated past. I liked all of them equally; they each brought new and interesting dynamics to the story, and even the ones I hated I loved for what they brought. Celia's father is horrible, but he was perfect for the story. Marco's guardian wasn't much better, but he might have been my favorite, because he was so mysterious and we never got to know everything about him. There was the man who originally came up with the circus - Chandresh - a very eccentric man who also threw these awesome midnight dinners. There was the Asian contortionist, Isobel the soothsayer, Friedrick Thiessen the clockmaker, Bailey the young boy who dreams of nothing but the circus, the red-haired twins Poppet and Widget who were born opening night of the circus, our protagonists Celia and Marco, and many, many others. They were all so interesting and awesome and complex. That said, they also weren't driving force of this book. And I was perfectly fine with that.

The Romance: Celia and Marco eventually fall in love; it happens pretty quickly, though many years are supposed to have passed in the book. Because this world of The Night Circus is so whimsical and fairy tale-ish, the rushed romance really didn't bother me at all. Celia and Marco are adversaries, but they never take that attitude towards their relationship. Their competition is done with great spirit and friendliness; they have no interest in fulfilling whatever quarrel their respective masters have.

Plot: The above synopsis sums it up very well, but just like the characters are not the driving force of this book, the plot actually isn't, either. Marco and Celia's competition is pretty sedate - especially since they choose to be friends rather than rivals. It's a long time before Celia even knows who her competitor is, and by the time she does, she and Marco are already fairly good friends (or at least acquaintances). This isn't the say the plot is boring; it isn't, though a lot of people found it to be. I think it largely due to the fact that they had certain expectations when it came to the plot - that the rivalry would be something like The Prestige, when it isn't at all. This is, at its heart, a love story and about a place where dreams come true; a place where adults can be children once again. The world building is what drives this story fully and completely. The world of Le Cirque des Reves is magical, whimsical, and exactly what the title implies: dreamlike. The story follows the passing of several years, bouncing from one iconic moment to another in no particular order (but it all makes sense in the end). We learn of the circus's origins, how it affects peoples' lives, and more importantly - we get to explore the circus for ourselves. We get to see several of the tents, and no matter who you are, there is that one tent which will stick with you throughout the entire book. Mine was the tent with bottles that contained memories. The era, too, is perfect for the circus, though you can actually very easily picture running into it in the 21st century as well. While I did get wrapped up in Celia and Marco's story, I was mostly invested in the world building. And it is done spectacularly.

Believability: Not applicable. A few people complained that they had a hard time accepting that people could see all these fantastical things and not know that it was magic. Maybe so, but people are also extremely good at ignoring the obvious when it doesn't suit them. Think back of when you were a kid playing games. You knew that the games weren't real; you knew that someone else was leaving coins under your pillow. But you didn't let yourself actually, truly believe that because it was more fun to think it was magic.

Writing Style: Third person, present tense, though it really actually felt like first person. It has the "omnipotent narrator" feel to it, which I really liked. There is only one other Author who pulls off present tense so effectively, and that's Victoria Schwab. Well, now Erin Morgenstern can join her on that impressive list. The present tense worked so amazingly well that I could hardly believe it. Erin Morgenstern is a gifted writer. She has a way with words, sweeping her readers away with her descriptions and ambiance. Imagine a banquet where the desserts and delectable foods are words. That is Erin Morgenstern's writing. The writing is everything with this book. It brings the circus to life.

Content: 1 f-word. Celia and Marco eventually sleep together (surprise, right?), but it isn't a detailed scene.

Conclusion: Despite the sedate plot, the ending is actually very suspenseful. The Author has managed to make you care so much about the circus that when there's a possibility it might cease to exist, you react the way Bailey does. My only complaint with The Night Circus? It isn't real. Everyone had told me that this was a magnificent book, and I'm glad I decided to find out for myself whether or not that was true. From the very beginning, I was hooked. I didn't care how boring it was; the writing style had me completely and totally. Call this a rambling review that doesn't really tell you anything helpful. It is nearly impossible to truly describe what The Night Circus is like. You just have to try it out for yourself.

Recommended Audience: Girl-and-guy read, eighteen-and-up, fans of historical fantasy and whimsy.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday #60 + WWW Wednesday #30

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine.
It's a weekly meme about upcoming books we're excited about!

The Magnificent Lizzie Brown and the Mysterious Phantom
(Lizzie Brown #1)
by Vicki Lockwood
Publication Date: September 1, 2014

From Goodreads:

A mysterious Phantom is terrorizing London, and when Lizzie realizes she has a talent that will let her stop the crimes before they happen, she and her new circus friends feel compelled to intervene. But when one of their own is blamed for the crimes instead, their investigation takes a turn for the worse. When the truth finally comes out, the real culprit is the last person anyone expects.

Why I'm Excited

Because it sounds like a Middle Grade book that I would have adored as a kid, and I can't collect enough of those sort of books.

Trial by Fire
(Worldwalker Trilogy #1)
by Josephine Angelini
Publication Date: September 2, 2014

From Goodreads:

This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies keep her from enjoying experiences that others in her hometown of Salem take for granted, which is why she is determined to enjoy her first high school party with her best friend and longtime crush, Tristan. But after a humiliating incident in front of half her graduating class, Lily wishes she could just disappear.

Suddenly, Lily is in a different Salem - one overrun with horrifying creatures and ruled by powerful women called Crucibles. Strongest and cruelest of them all is Lillian. . . .Lily's other self in this alternate universe.

What makes Lily weak at home is what makes her extraordinary in New Salem. In this confusing world, Lily is torn between responsibilities she can't hope to shoulder alone and a love she never expected.

Why I'm Excited

I have my misgivings about this book, naturally, but it still sounds interesting, so I'm mostly excited.

WWW Wednesday is hosted by Should Be Reading

What are you currently reading?

The circus arrives without warning. No annoucements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Reves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Despite the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone, from the performers to the patrons, hanging in the balance.

More than halfway through and I LOVE it! The writing, the characters, the setting - wow. Just wow. Imagine a banquet made of words. That is The Night Circus. This is a wonderful book.

What did you read recently?

Ever since Addison came back to Aileen, her have been brighter and life is sweeter. Until a mysterious man slips a spellbinding cameo around her neck, a cameo that strangles memories. Aileen is left with not the faintest notion who Addison is.

Addison, a three-hundred-year-old fugitive from the netherworld taking the form of Shadowflesh, recognizes the cameo and the curse cast upon his unsuspecting love. But he knows breaking the curse, which may bring back her memories, will cost Aileen her life. To love her means to let her go.

But Aileen can't take her eyes off the stranger who keeps ignoring her. The stranger who pushes her into the arms of another.

Geoff, who has waited oh, so long for Aileen, tries to sweep her off her feet at the Christmas masquerade ball. But a serendipitous moment lands Aileen back together with Addison. One passionate kiss later, she knows beyond a shadow of doubt that she loves Addison, the icy stranger with smoky blue eyes.

Remembering comes at too high a price, though. Aileen must run for her life with the curse only a breath away.

The second book in a series, I gave it 3/5 strawberries. For a paranormal romance, it was good. I wasn't especially attached to anyone or emotionally invested in relationships, but that was mostly because I haven't read the first book. Overall, though, it was fun.

What are you going to read next?

For Ruthie Carmichael and her mother Rita, life has never been stable. Jobs are hard to find, men come and go. But when a set of unexpected circumstances strands them in Fat River, a small rural town in upstate New York, life takes a turn. Fat River becomes the first place they call home. The modest economic security they gain gives them peace and space for friends. The people of Fat River - Hank and Dotty Hanson, the elderly owners of the local hardware store being driven out of business by the new Walmart; Mel, the flawed but kindhearted owner of the town diner where Rita finds work; and the cross-dressing Peter Pam, the novel's voice of warmth and reason - become family. Into this quirky utopia comes Vick Ward, a smooth-talking broker who entices Rita with a subprime mortgage and urges her to buy the ramshackle house she and her daughter have been renting.

Tough and quick-witted, thirteen-year-old Ruthie - whose sardonic voice and plain-spoken observations infuse All We Had with disarming honesty and humor - never minded her hardscrabble existence as long as her mother was by her side. Through it all, the two have always been the center of one another's lives. But when financial crisis hits, their luck takes a different turn.

Time for another contemporary. I don't know if I'll finish this one; we'll see. I kind of get the feeling that I will DNF (did not finish) it.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday #59 + Teaser Tuesday #20

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish 

This week's topic is. . . .well, not all that exciting: Top 10 Books I Want to Read But Don't Own. How can I choose ten? I've got TONS of books I want to read but don't own! It wasn't until recently that I started buying books I've never read before.

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Should Be Reading

- Grab the book you are currently reading.
- Flip to a random page.
- Share 2 teaser sentences from that page!

The low orange rays from the sun make everything, including the circus, look as though it is aflame before the light disappears completely. It is quicker than Bailey expected, the moment that shifts from fire to twilight, and then the circus lights begin flickering on, all over the tents. The crowd "ooohs" and "ahhs" appropriately, but a few in the front gasp in surprise when the massive sign above the gates begins to sputter and spark. Bailey can't help but smile when it is fully lit, shining like a beacon: Le Cirque des Reves. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (pg. 109)

Monday, August 25, 2014

Review: Forget Me Not - Shawn Martin

A copy was provided by the author
in exchange for
an honest review
Forget Me Not by Shawn Martin
Series: Shadowflesh #2
Genre: YA, paranormal, romance
Published on March 31, 2014
Published by Vinspire Publishing
Pages: 307
Read From: 8.15.14 - 8.22.14

Fortune has smiled on seventeen-year-old Aileen McCormick ever since Addison came back into her life, giving her the love she has so desperately longed for. That is, until a mysterious man slithers across her path and slips a spellbinding cameo around her neck. The cameo holds more than just the image of an enchantress who hungers for souls. It possesses a curse that strangles away every memory Aileen has of Addison. 
Addison, a three-hundred-year-old fugitive from the netherworld, recognizes the wretched woman inside the cameo and the curse she has cast on his unsuspecting love. The enchanted cameo has but one purpose: to torment Aileen with hints of love she can no longer recall. 
Aileen cannot escape the deadly cameo. She runs for her life with the curse only a breath away. If she truly wants her memory back, the enchantress is all too willing to restore it. It will cost her, though. Cost her everything.


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? I do like the cover art pretty well. Still not a fan of the character impersonator, but at least she isn't a photo of a real person that's been photoshopped in. :-)

Characters: Having not read the first book in this series, I can't say anything about the characters in terms of development. I have to base my opinion of them solely on their actions in this second book (I had no idea this was a sequel when I requested it for review; bad me). Aileen took a little while for me to warm up to. Her sense of humor was a little too cliche - the sort of bubbly sarcasm that I don't normally like - and I was frustrated with her for not understanding what was going on (even though it wasn't her fault). But as the story wore on, I got used to her and didn't mind her so much. I did very much like Addison. I don't know if he's really supposed to be a bad boy, but if he is I didn't think he came across as one. Just because he wears a leather jacket doesn't make him one. Addison was decent and classy - my only major gripe with him was his dating Missy when Aileen forgot about him. Seriously - why did he date Missy, of all people?! He had to have known she was a jerk; it made no sense. Aileen's friends I really have no idea what I thought of them. Again, this is the second book in a series. I don't know the whole story behind their relationship with Aileen and all of that. The same kind of goes for Geoff, though from what I saw of him in this book, I didn't like him much. Or Missy.

The Romance: This is a paranormal romance, so Aileen and Addison's relationship does take center stage. Of course, for over half of Forget Me Not, Aileen doesn't remember Addison - which surprisingly doesn't cause as much romantic tension as you might think. Addison knows exactly what's going on from the moment he sees the cameo. He doesn't blame Aileen for what's happened, and he immediately sets about trying to fix it. . . .while dating Missy, the resident mean girl, which, again, I totally didn't get. And Aileen gives Geoff a chance, though she knows he's a jerk and isn't going to change. Overall, though, the romance wasn't that bad. I didn't become terribly emotionally invested in Aileen and Addison's struggles - mostly because I haven't read the first book!

Plot: The summary above does an excellent job of, well, summing it up. I'm not usually a fan of romance stories where one party forgets about the other. It creates unnecessary romantic tension and I hate unnecessary misunderstandings. Especially when you want to blame someone for it, but you really can't. It's not Aileen's fault that she forgets Addison; she's under a curse. And Addison, thank goodness, understands this. For the most part, Aileen doesn't make an ass of herself in getting involved with other guys. I did get frustrated with her for thinking everyone was pranking her. Seriously, Aileen - you think your best friends and your grandmother are going to team up with Missy and play a prank on you? The one plot device that made absolutely no sense to me was Addison dating Missy (as I think I've already said). Addison isn't trying to make Aileen jealous, and therefore jog her memory. He just . . . . is. And from what I understand, Missy has a reputation of being horrible to Aileen and her family. Doesn't seem logical that a nice boy like Addison who still cares a great deal for Aileen would date her, and put up with her behavior. The plot itself moves along pretty well. Not at a super duper fast pace, but it's not slow, either.

Believability: Not applicable.

Writing Style: First person, past tense. Aileen wasn't a bad narrator; like I said, it took me a little while to warm up to her sense of humor because it was kind of cliche. But after a while, I actually enjoyed her as a narrator.

Content: None.

Conclusion: I have to say that the Author had me guessing about how it would end. Aileen was in a tight spot, and there didn't seem to be too many options for her to escape Stonecypher and his cursed cameo. If I had been more invested in Aileen and Addison's romance, it would have been an extremely emotional ending. But for me, at least, it wasn't - but I think it will be for people who have read the first book and enjoyed it.

Recommended Audience: Girl-read, seventeen-and-up, fans of paranormal romance.

Others in This Series:
2)Forget Me Not

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Stacking the Shelves #61

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga's Review


Escape from Lucien by Kazu Kibuishi
Navin and his classmates journey to Lucien, a city ravaged by war and plagued by mysterious creatures, where they search for a beacon essential to their fight against the Elf King. Meanwhile, Emily heads back into the Void with Max, one of the Elf King's loyal followers, where she learns his darkest secrets. The stakes, for both Emily and Navin, are higher than ever.

Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms by Katherine Rundell
Living half-wild on an African farm with her horse, her monkey, and her best friend, Wilhemina feels that every day is beautiful. But when her home is sold and Will is sent away to boarding school in England, the world becomes impossibly difficult. Lions and hyenas are nothing compared to packs of schoolgirls. Where can a girl run to in London? And will she have the courage to survive?

The Rule of Thoughts by James Dashner
Michael completed the Path. What he found at the end turned everything he'd ever known about his life - and the world - completely upside down. He barely survived. But it was the only way VirtNet Security knew to find the cyber-terrorist Kaine - and to make the Sleep safe for gamers once again. Only, the truth Michael discovered about Kaine is more complex and more terrifying than even the worst of their fears.

Kaine is a Tangent - a computer program that has become sentient. And Michael's completing the Path was the first stage in Kaine's master plan, the Mortality Doctrine.

The Mortality Doctrine will populate Earth entirely with human bodies harboring Tangent minds. And the takeover has already begun.

But the VNS would rather pretend the world is perfectly safe. So it's up to Michael and his friends to root out Kaine and stop him before, one person at a time, humanity falls to artificial intelligence and its sinister desire to run our world.

Ghost House by Alexandra Adornetto
After the loss of her mother, Chloe Kennedy starts seeing the ghosts that haunted her as a young girl again. Spending time at her grandmother's country estate in the south of England is her chance to get away from her grief and the spirits that haunt her. Until she meets a mysterious stranger. . . .

Alexander Reade is 157 years dead, with secrets darker than the lake surrounding Grange Hall and a lifelike presence that draws Chloe more strongly than any ghost before. But the bond between them awakens the vengeful spirit of Alexander's past love, Isobel. And she will stop at nothing to destroy anyone who threatens to take him from her.

To stop Isobel, Chloe must push her developing abilities to their most dangerous limits, even if it means losing Alex forever. . . .and giving the hungry dead a chance to claim her for their own.

Amity by Micol Ostow
When Connor's family moves to Amity, a secluded house on the peaceful banks of New England's Concord River, his nights are plagued with gore-filled dreams of demons, destruction, and revenge. Dreams he kind of likes. Dreams he could make real, with Amity's help.

Ten years later, Gwen's family moves to Amity for a fresh start. Instead, she's haunted by lurid visions, disturbing voices, and questions about her own sanity. But with her history, who would ever believe her? And what could be done if they did?

Because Amity isn't just a house. She is a living force, bent on manipulating her inhabitants to her twisted will. She will use Connor and Gwen to bring about a violent end as she's done before. As she'll do again. And again. And again.

Sanctum by Madeleine Roux
Dan, Abby, and Jordan remain traumatized by the summer they shared in the Brookline asylum. Much as they'd love to move on, someone is determined to keep the terror alive, sending the teens photos of an old-timey carnival, with no note and no name. Finally, Dan receives a list of coordinates pointing to an abandoned houses in the town near Brookline, and he is convinced that the only way to end this nightmare once and for all is to return to New Hampshire College and follow the trail.

But when Dan and his friends arrive under the guise of a prospective students' weekend, they discover that the carnival from their photos isn't just real, it's here on campus - it has returned for the first time in many years. And as they sneak away from their undergrad hosts to visit the houses on their list, they find secrets far darker than anything they'd imagined.

Maid of Deception by Jennifer McGowan
Beatrice Knowles is a Maid of Honor, one of Queen Elizabeth's secret protectors. Known for her uncanny ability to manipulate men's hearts, Beatrice has proven herself to be a valuable asset in the Queen's court - or so she thinks. It has been three weeks since the Maids thwarted a plot to overthrow the Queen, and Beatrice is preparing to wed her betrothed, Lord Cavanaugh. However, her plans come to a crashing halt as rumors of a brewing Scottish rebellion spread among the court.

Beatrice's new assignment is to infiltrate the visiting Scottish delegation using her subtle art of persuasion. The mission seems simple enough, until the Queen pairs Beatrice with the worst of the lot - Alasdair MacLeod. Beatrice cannot but think that the Queen is purposefully setting her up for failure. But Alasdair could be the key to unlocking the truth about the rebellion. . . .and her heart. Caught in a web of ever more twisting lies, Beatrice must rise up among the Maids of Honor and prove what she's known all along: In a court filled with deception and danger, love may be the deadliest weapon of all.

Greenglass House by Kate Milford
It's wintertime at Greenglass House. The creaky smugglers' inn is always quiet during this season, and Milo, the innkeepers' adopted son, plans to spend his holidays relaxing. But on the first icy night of vacation, out of nowhere, the guest bell rings. Then rings again. And again. Soon Milo's home is bursting with odd, secretive guests, each one bearing a strange story that is somehow connected to the rambling old house. As objects go missing and tempers flare, Milo and Meddy, the cook's daughter, must decipher clues and untangle the web of deepening mysteries to discover the truth about Greenglass House - and themselves.


Ghosting by Edith Pattou
On a hot summer night in a Midwestern town, an innocent prank goes horrifically awry: alcohol, guns, a dare. The lives of eight teens collide in one fateful moment.

There's Maxie, just back in town and anxious about fitting in again; Felix, once best friends with the two of them, but now living on the edge; Anil, an academic star, uncertain about his father's dreams for him; Chloe, confident about her looks, but not much else; and Brendan, Emma's boyfriend, a handsome lacrosse jock simmering with anger. On the fringe is Faith, who worries about her older sister Emma's recklessness. And the boy no one knows: Walter Smith, who never fit in anywhere and lives in a world all his own.

Circle of Stones by Catherine Fisher
TODAY: Sulis, a teenage girl with a mysterious past, arrives in Bath, England, with a new identity. She feels safe at the King's Circus, a ring of old, strange stone houses where she lives with her foster family - until she pots the one person she's been trying to outrun.

THREE HUNDRED YEARS AGO: Zac is apprenticed to a mad architect who plans to create the world's first circular street, the King's Circus. Zac probes the mysticism surrounding the structure, but he has his own secret agenda.

THE ANCIENT PAST: The mythical first builder of the city of Bath, a leprous druid king, discovers its healing waters. . . .but to what end?

This Week, On The Reading Hedgehog...........

August 18, 2014 - Monday
Review: Graduation Day - Joelle Charbonneau
August 19, 2014 - Tuesday
August 20, 2014 - Wednesday
August 21, 2014 - Thursday
August 22, 2014 - Friday
August 23, 2014 - Saturday

Next Week, On The Reading Hedgehog..............

August 25, 2014 - Monday
Review: Forget Me Not - Shawn Martin
August 26, 2014 - Tuesday
Top Ten Tuesday #59: Top 10 Books I Really Want to Read But Own Yet
Teaser Tuesday #20
August 27, 2014 - Wednesday
Waiting on Wednesday #60 + WWW Wednesday #30
August 28, 2014 - Thursday
Review: The Night Circus
August 29, 2014 - Friday
Mid-Year Book Freakout
August 30, 2014 - Saturday
August Book Haul

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Guest Post: Deal Breakers

It's that time of the month again: guest post time! This month, the topic is things that make us DNF (did not finish) a book. Similar to Bookish Pet Peeves, but a bit more specific. We can have bookish pet peeves and still read it. This is for those things that simply are a deal breaker.

Katherine's Deal Breakers

It takes a lot for me to put a book down completely and not finish it. I believe in giving every book a fair, fighting chance. But sometimes, I just have to put it down, no matter how far I'm in. Here are some of the reasons I give up on books before finishing them:

  1. Disturbing and graphic violence. I wouldn't consider myself a chicken, per se. I can handle some blood and gore. However, there is a fine line between OK and downright disturbing. While reading a book, I shouldn't read about violence being so disturbing it's making me want to throw up and shudder. Example: Cain's Blood. Well, the subject matter of the book itself is kind of questionable. I mean, cloning serial killers? Really? Being the child of a psychology major mother and a psychology minor father, I'm fascinated by how the human mind works. Especially mentally disturbed, twisted minds. So I'd figure I'd give this one a shot. . . .and DNFed it 14 pages. Not only did this book have graphic sexual content, the violence and gore within those 14 pages was so much and so graphic that I wonder what was going on in the author's mind for him to WRITE such things. What really did it for me, though, was when he described the use of a woman's breast as a paperweight. Thanks, but no thanks.
  2. Graphic sexual content. I'm not a total prude. I can handle love and sex scenes, but they need to be done tastefully. This is why I avoid BDSM/erotica novels as a whole. I mean, do we really need to read the graphic details about what goes on during that period of time? Disgusting!! Example: The Education of Sebastian. Why this book has no many 4-5 star reviews is an absolute mystery to me. The storyline is a little disturbing itself; a 17-year-old teenage boy falling in love with a 30-year-old Army wife. But then, we get to see them in their, ahem, sexual element. It's not tasteful, it's AWKWARD. Supremely, terrifyingly, disgustingly awkward. So bad it's laughable. I would pull an example, but I don't want to disgust the Readers who might be reading this. You might never look at sex the same way again, and not in a good way. Imagine The Awakening by Kate Chopin got turned into a horror movie; you'd have this book.
  3. Characters who are too dumb to live. There's only so much stupid I can handle in one sitting. We're human and bound to make mistakes every once in a while. The key words are: We LEARN from them. And we use our brain. And common sense. Sometimes, I wonder if some of the characters I'm reading about have any of that at all. They are so insufferably stupid that I feel like my own IQ level is dropping because of their stupidity. Example: Wild. This should have been epic; a YA Tarzan retelling? Sign me up! Unfortunately, not even a quarter of the way through, I had to put it down, due to the main female character (Dara) constantly making questionable decisions. Like the time when she and her boyfriend Josh are camping in the woods and find a big old bear rummaging through their things. And when the bear finds out they're there, he's miffed. So he starts charging and what does Cara do? She does this. . . ."Blank with shock, Dara fumbled for her camera. It was stupid; she didn't even have it with her." There's a bear. A grizzly bear. Charging at you. About to eat you and your boy toy alive. Rip you to shreds. AND YOU WANT TO TAKE A PICTURE OF IT?!
  4. The book offends me. This doesn't happen all too often, as I like to keep an open mind about things and other people's opinions and beliefs. But if their way of thinking or ideas are so ridiculous that they are offensive, or there's a plot line that is offensive, I have to put it down. Example: No One Else Can Have You. There's this one particular scene where the main character decides it would be oh-so-clever to pretend to be a domestic abuse victim in order to try and solve the murder of her best friend. Not only that, she involves her would-be crush to go along with her. This not only offended me, it made me angry. Books rarely, if ever, make me angry. Irritated? Yes. Angry? Never. Until this book. The fact that the author would even choose to make light of domestic violence victims and their circumstances, then claim it was the "humor" of where she comes from, is disgusting. For one, I have relatives who live in the general area where the author grew up and the book is set, and their sense of humor is not like that AT ALL. What offended more is the domestic violence aspect. I had a cousin who was in two abusive relationships from when I was 8-11. It was devastating watching her become a shadow of herself, so desperately wanting to get out of her situation but not having the strength or courage to do so. Her boyfriends treated her like crap, and it broke my heart because I wasn't able to stop them. So for the author to make light of the situation disgusted me. I will never buy or support any of the books she writes, THAT'S how bad it was.
  5. It's boring. Honestly, the main reason I DNF a book is because it's boring. Either the characters are boring or the plotline is boring. Life is too short to waste on boring books; my TBR shelf is half a mile long. Ain't nobody got time for boring books!!!

Cayla's Deal Breakers

I'm the kind of reader who may hate the book I'm reading, but will finish it to the last page, even if I despise all the characters and am bored out of my mind (unless I'm "rescued" by the book having to go back to the library :D). Yes, I realize that's a pretty moronic policy for book-reading, but once I start a book, I feel really guilty if I don't finish it - not necessarily because I'm under any illusion that it'll magically get better; I just don't like leaving a bunch of books half-finished (okay, and because I like to have better fuel for ranting in my book reviews). Except for very rare occasions, there are really only two things that will make me put down a book.
  1. Overly detailed/graphic sexual content. I'm usually pretty good at screening my books, so this doesn't happen all the time. Occasionally, however, I'll be blindsided by a totally over-detailed and unnecessary sexual scene. It's happened to me with Across the Stars by Beth Revis (which was otherwise an interesting book, so I was doubly disappointed by the "mating season" which left very little to the imagination and just dragged on forever!), as well as Labyrinth by Kate Moss (this I picked up on a whim at the library and I didn't get very far at all because coming across a rather graphic scene that made me put the book down at once). As for a third example, I literally didn't get past the second page of New Dawn by Midori Snyder before coming across sexual dialogue and innuendos which, if not too graphic and frequent I can usually overlook (unless it's a terrible book and I'm searching for a reason to stop reading it :P). In this case of New Dawn, however, it opened right on the first page and, let's just say gave me a less-than-favorable impression. Having said all that, I can understand how sometimes these scenes are important and relevant to the plot. However, I still don't want to read graphic content and would much prefer a subtler technique. (For example, in The Mirk and Midnight Hour, the author implies that Sunny and Dorian are sleeping together - without stooping to writing a graphic scene. Using a more classic reference, the entire plot of The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne revolves around adultery, but we never have to see the act itself to really connect with the plot).
  2. Language. This is the second biggie for me. Language in a book is at best uncreative and at worst downright distracting. Sadly, it's also very difficult to get away from. If it's mild, I will usually overlook it. When I come across harsher language (like G-d--mit), it depends on the book whether I'll finish. If the book is awesome I probably will, but again it depends on the situation. (This happened to me with A Spy in the House by Y. S. Lee. G-d--it was said in the last thirty pages or so, so I finished it up, but I was really disappointed). It I come across the F-word, however, it's an automatic stop for me. Sadly, this rules out a lot of otherwise good contemporary books, but it's worth it to me. Having the F-word in a book really crosses a line, in my opinion, and completely ruins the story. Even if the book is awesome, I would never recommend it to anyone because of the language, and it would really be a huge mark against the book in my own opinion. I'm definitely more sensitive to language in books than most readers, but I honestly see no reason for it. Not only it language distracting and aggravating, but it adds nothing to the plot. Unfortunately, I've had to stop multiple books because of language, including Mila 2.0 by Debra Drizen, and Scarlet by A. C. Gaughen (which, while I liked the premise of the story, I wasn't really interested in finishing it, anyway).

Hazel's Deal Breakers

Cutting straight to the point:
  1. Ridiculously Slow Starts. I usually know how I'm going to like a book after the first 50 pages, and if I'm still deciding, I'll go to 100, but if nothing has happened by then, I usually give it up, unless promised by someone I trust that it does get better. Some books are slow to start, I get this, and if I like and am invested in the characters, then I will still read through the book and I don't feel like I wasted my time. However, there are those books that simply nothing happens, and you really don't care about anything and you can't see where it's going, and for those I have no patience. That's definitely something that will turn me off a book to start with.
  2. Overly Explicit Sex. I'm not a huge fan of sexual content as it is, but I can usually deal with it and at least get through a book with just lowering the rating as long as it's not too explicit. However, when authors start going into the "gory details," that's it. I don't want to read that, thank you very much. If it happens behind closed doors, I can deal with it, but I really have no desire to know every little detail. On the subject of content, I have I have never stopped reading a book for foul language alone. I will rate the book lower, but that alone has never made me actually close a book.
  3. Super Annoying Main Characters. Now, this can kind of go two ways, and it really depends on the mood I'm in. If I'm in the kind of mood that I just can't put up with a bloody annoying female character with an attitude, then I'm not going to read the book at all. However, there are times when I just really want to rant about something, and then I will actually finish reading the book just to be able to write a review. Do I ever enjoy an annoying main character? Um. . . .no, obviously. Rarely, they might change in the course of the story, but most of the time, I really don't care enough to find out. Again, if I can't stand the character and I'm only 50 pages in, then I'm out.
  4. Blatant Authors. One thing that ticks me off to no end in books is when authors use it as an excuse to tote their personal opinions and thrust them upon readers. Like adding a randomly gay character who has no reason to be gay, or turning a long-time straight character gay randomly for no apparent reason. (I have several authors in mind). Other favorites are obvious environmentalists. No, I don't promote pollution, but I don't go around and shout at people. And I think books are a glorious thing for trees to become. Feminism is the one I really hate. The instant I smell a feminist book, I close it. No thank you.
  5. Love Triangles & Other Bloody Annoying Romantic Problems. If I know there's going to be a love triangle in a book, then 99.9% of the time, I will put a book down. I have read so few where it is actually something I care to read about. Any romance that involves a wishy-washy heroine stuck between two guys who the reader can obviously see which is the better one, then I can't stand it. If the heroine falls for a creepy dude, and can't stop talking about how hot he is and how good he smells, then 99.9% of the time, I'm not going to finish the book. If the book promises a plot line but ends up just being about the bloody romance, then that's it, I'm out.
  6. What The Dickens is Going On? I'll admit, some books take a while to figure out exactly what is going on. Sometimes that's a really cool thing. Sometimes it really isn't. I have picked up books before where I start reading them and 50 pages in, I still have no idea what the dickens is going on. Whether it's skipping around between characters and places too much with no explanation, or simply the plot is indefinable, I have no desire to read a book I can't even figure out. Not only does it make one feel stupid, it's a continuous aggravating and you cannot form an opinion on a book if you don't even know what the heck it's about. All of the previously mentioned issues, I might push on with just to write a review, but this one never, because how can one write a review without knowing what the story is about?

The Reading Hedgehog's Deal Breakers

I thought this would be an easy topic for me. But I just realized that it isn't, because about two years ago, I stopped DNFing books. That's right - I rarely DNF a book, even if I know it's horrid and it has a million deal breakers in it. I've never liked not finishing a book, and it's only gotten worse. So, because I only have so much time and standards to uphold, I made a rule with myself: I have the first 50 pages to DNF a book. If I reach 100 pages, I have to finish it, no matter what. Otherwise I have just spent a good amount of my time on 100 pages of a book that I'm not going to finish - and I could have been reading a different book instead! So if I encounter any deal breakers in that first 50 pages, I will DNF the book. And here are those deal breakers:
  1. Explicit sexual content. I am an adult and I am not squeamish. Being able to deal with sexual content has, in my humble opinion, nothing to with maturity level. I have a very sacred view on it; that it's something that should be kept in private between a husband and wife. I don't want to read, watch, or hear about it. And over half of the time, explicit sexual content isn't even between a husband and wife. Why am I explaining this? Because I want you to understand why it disgusts me. Explicitness - of any kind, really - in books is so totally unnecessary and is only put there for one reason: reaction. If the author needs to convey something of a sexual nature (and sometimes a story needs it), there are ways to do it without explicitness.
  2. Strong profanity. This is actually the one deal breaker I am probably most lax about, much to my chagrin. I realize that there are characters who have foul mouths, but the author seriously does not need to populate their book with such colorful words in order to convey this fact. Profanity always detracts from a book I'm reading; there's a reason I take off entire star/strawberry ratings if the strong profanity count exceeds a certain number (note: strong profanity = f-word, s-word, g--damn). Sexual scenes you can generally flip past. Profanity, not so much. The best I can do is blot the words out with a black pen (if I own the book, naturally; I don't do this to borrowed books) so I can read a "censored" version when I re-read the book. But like I said, while this is actually a deal breaker I hate more than explicit sexual content, I actually tend to ignore it more often. Unless the book exceeds 5+ f-words; but by the time that happens, I'm already halfway through the book.
  3. Agenda-pushing books. I realize that authors cannot totally remove their own personal opinions from their writing; it's impossible. But there is a difference between having some characters and situations reflect your personal opinions, and pumping your books full of agendas. I really hate it when authors do that. Fiction - especially Middle Grade and Young Adult - is not the place to get on your political podium and spout your opinions. If it's in keeping with a character's personality to share certain opinions, that's fine. I can go with that. But when it feels like the author is pushing something down my throat, I will DNF that book almost every time.
  4. Murder-worthy protagonists. I'm not just talking about annoying characters that I kind of want to strangle, or that I want to punch, or even characters whose deaths make me happy. I'm talking about the protagonists who stir up my blood so much that I have to resist throwing the book in the fire. Protagonists who cause me to set the book down and go shoot my bow for a while; until my rage has subsided. Protagonists I simply. Cannot. Stand.