Saturday, February 28, 2015

On Holiday!

The Reading Hedgehog is going on holiday for March and most of April, if not all of it! I am in desperate need of a break from blogging. I love this blog, but lately it has been feeling like nothing but a chore, and I even kind of want to just delete it and never think about it again. I can't remember the last time I read a book without stressing over when I needed it finished so I'd have a review to post on my blog - or even read a book without dissecting everything about it. It's not fun, and I hate my passion feeling like a chore. One that I actually find myself avoiding a lot of time.

So I need a break. I don't know how I'll feel after my two-month break. I won't delete The Reading Hedgehog, but things might be different. I need to sit back and reconsider why I'm doing it and what I can change about it. Maybe I'll put all of my book stuff on Youtube and use the blog as a place to post them. I don't know. The future of The Reading Hedgehog is, for now, uncertain.

One thing is for sure, though: I appreciate and love all of my follows and the authors who have popped onto my blog and say hi to me at their events. I will always love books and I do love blogging. My life has just taken some different turns recently, and I want something more out of it all. Hence why I created a different blog: Curves In The Road. It's not much right now, but I do love it. It's a personal blog, chronicling daily life in all of its complexities, recipes, quotes, travel, fashion - anything and everything. Including books. It's a little corner of the internet that no one will probably ever find, but that's all right. Maybe it'll grow into something more eventually.

So this is me signing off. I hope the next two months are wonderful for you all. I look forward to diving head-first into life and rethinking my blogging future. See what it can become and what it needs to stop being: a burden. I never wanted this blog to become a burden or a chore or something I just didn't want to do. And I need to figure out how to change that.

I'll be checking in periodically to talk to my followers, of course. I won't neglect you guys, and maybe you'll be able to give me some ideas. If you really want to see what I'm up to, though, come over to Curves In The Road. I would very much like that blog to turn into something more, and I hope you will join me in doing that.

I will see you in May! 

Hedgie's Must Reads: February 2015



February is over! It was an incredibly busy month for me, and March isn't looking any better. I didn't get to read as many books as I had hoped I would, but I still read a lot of good ones. And because this month was so crazy, I'm cheating; you'll have to watch my wrap-up this time.

Friday, February 27, 2015

February 2015 Book Haul


I hauled 17 books this month, and I am so, so, so unbelievably proud of myself. I only went over by 10 books! And I had money in my book budget for it, so yay!


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Review: While We Were Watching Downton Abbey - Wendy Wax

While We Were Watching Downton Abbey by Wendy Wax
Genre: Adult, contemporary
Published on April 3, 2013
Published by Berkley
Pages: 384
Read From: 2.15.15 - 2.24.15













SYNOPSIS
When the concierge of the Alexander, a historic Atlanta apartment building, invites his fellow residents to join him for weekly screenings of Downton Abbey, four very different people find themselves connecting with the addictive drama, and - even more unexpectedly - with each other. . . .
Samantha Davis married young and for the wrong reason: the security of old Atlanta money for herself and her orphaned brother and sister. She never expected her marriage to be complicated by love and compromised by a shattering family betrayal.
 
Claire Walker is now an empty nester and struggling author who left her home in the suburbs for the old-world charm of the Alexander, and for a new and productive life. But she soon wonders if clinging to old dreams can be more destructive than having no dreams at all. 
And then there's Brooke MacKenzie, a woman in constant battle with her faithless ex-husband. She's just starting to realize that it's time to take a deep breath and come to terms with the fact that her life is not the fairy tale she thought it would be. 
For Samantha, Claire, Brooke, and Edward, who arranges the weekly gatherings, it will be a season of surprises as they forge a bond that will sustain them through some of life's hardest moments - all of it reflected in the unfolding drama, comedy, and convergent lives of Downton Abbey.

Review

Initial Thoughts: I went into this book with no preconceived notions or expectations. I was looking for something quick, fluffy, and different from what I usually read. While We Were Watching Downton Abbey didn't disappoint. It's pure fluff, it's fun and encouraging, and exactly what I needed. An indulgent read.


Characters: It's easy to feel for the three main characters: Samantha, Claire, and Brooke. Samantha, while seemingly has everything, lives a life where she has to strive for perfection and can never let her guard down. She's terrified that if she ever shows her imperfections, her fairy tale prince husband and his rich family won't want her anymore. Lot a pressure for one person to bear. Claire is starting a new life after having a rather disappointing one. There was no affection in her marriage, she's put all of her dreams on hold to raise her daughter Hailey, and finally she's starting new. Pursuing her dream to be a full-time writer. But she isn't used to being alone and being a full-time writer isn't as easy as everyone makes it out to be. Meanwhile, Brooke is just lost. Her rich husband has divorced her because she isn't perfect enough, she's raising two kids, has no job, and totally insecure about herself. I sympathize for Samantha, root for Claire, and feel sorry for Brooke. I adored Samantha's husband Jonathan - he was golden - and absolutely detested Brooke's ex and Samantha's leech-of-a-brother Hunter. I was so-so about everyone else. Didn't dislike them, didn't love them.

The Romance: Samantha loves her husband, but is convinced he only sees her as a charity case. Brooke still desperately wishes her ex was the knight in shining armor she thought she'd married, but she slowly starts to look beyond him and maybe can find happiness with someone else? Claire just watches it all. The romance isn't a big part of the book, but what there is of it I actually really liked.

Plot: Samantha was destitute until she married her fairy tale prince Jonathan Davis. Now she strives to be the perfect wife so he never feels like he made a mistake. Claire is getting used to life without her daughter, who's off in college now, and trying to pursue a career as a full-time writer. Brooke is just trying to sort out of her mess of a life after a a messy divorce from a man she is still in love with. The three women are from very different social backgrounds. But they bond over weekly airings of Downton Abbey, find new meaning in life, and new strength to pursue their dreams. This is a fluffy, happy, delightful book that doesn't require any thinking or effort. Just dive in. It was fun to follow along with these three women as they tried to figure out their new lives - and how they fit into them. Even more fun was to see how the story, in some ways, paralleled Downton Abbey.

Believability: Not applicable.

Writing Style: Third person, past tense. Perhaps what made the book so enjoyable. It was delectable, fluffy, enjoyable writing. At times the dialogue didn't shine and a few scenes felt forced - especially when the characters discussed Downton Abbey. I can't quite put my finger on it, but those scenes fell a little flat. But overall, it was very pleasant.

Other Nigglies: None, really.

Conclusion: The ending is as fluffy as the rest of the book. I enjoyed Downton Abbey. If this is what a "beach read" is, I want more of them! It was perfect for the mood I was in, appealed to my girly and Downton Abbey side, and it was just a lot of fun.

Recommended Audience: Lady-read, twenties-and-up, fans of fluff reads.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Stacking the Shelves #79

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


BOUGHT

While We Were Watching Downton Abbey by Wendy Wax
When the concierge of The Alexander, a history Atlanta apartment building, invites his fellow residents to join him for weekly screenings of Downton Abbey, four very different people find themselves connecting with the addictive drama, and - even more unexpectedly - with each other. . . .

Samantha Davis married young and for the wrong reason: the security of old Atlanta money - for herself and for her orphaned brother and sister. She never expected her marriage to be complicated by love and compromised by a shattering family betrayal.

Claire Walker is now an empty nester and struggling author who left her home in the suburbs for the old world charm of The Alexander, and for a new and productive life. But she soon wonders if clinging to old dreams can be more destructive than having no dreams at all.

And then there's Brooke MacKenzie, a woman in constant battle with her faithless ex-husband. She's just starting to realize that it's time to take a deep breath and come to terms with the fact that her life is not the fairy tale she thought it would be.

For Samantha, Claire, Brooke - and Edward, who arranges the weekly gatherings - it will be a season of surprises as they forge a bond that will sustain them through some of life's hardest moments - all of it reflected in the unfolding drama, comedy, and convergent lives of Downton Abbey.

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

February 16, 2015 - Monday
February 17, 2015 - Tuesday
February 18, 2015 - Wednesday
February 19, 2015 - Thursday

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

February 23, 2015 - Monday
Review: Delirium - Lauren Oliver
February 24, 2015 - Tuesday
Top Ten Tuesday #78: Top 10 Favorite Heroines From Books
Teaser Tuesday #39
February 25, 2015 - Wednesday
Waiting on Wednesday #80 + WWW Wednesday #50
February 26, 2015 - Thursday
Review: (to be announced)
February 27, 2015 - Friday
February Book Haul
February 28, 2015 - Saturday
Hedgie's Must Reads: February 2015

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Review: The Iron Trial - Cassandra Clare

The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare & Holly Black
Series: The Magisterium #1
Genre: Middle Grade, fantasy
Published on September 9, 2014
Published by Scholastic Press
Pages: 299
Read From: 2.8.15 - 2.15.15












SYNOPSIS
Most kids would do anything to pass the Iron Trial. 
Not Callum Hunt. He wants to fail. 
All his life, Call has been warned by his father to stay away from magic. If he succeeds at the Iron Trial and is admitted into the Magisterium, he is sure it can only mean bad things for him. 
So he tries his best to do his worst - and fails at failing. 
Now the Magisterium awaits him. It's a place that's both sensational and sinister, with dark ties to his past and a twisty path to his future. 
The Iron Trial is just the beginning, for the biggest test is still to come. . . .

Review

Initial Thoughts: I picked this book up because of its premise and that it's the beginning of a new Middle Grade fantasy series. I didn't pick it up because the authors (shockingly enough, I'm actually not a die-hard fan of either Holly Black or Cassandra Clare. I like them, but I don't love them). I liked the plot and the world well enough, and the characters were fun. But this book did at times feel like it tried to hard to live up to Harry Potter standards, and it just didn't quite cut it.

Characters: Call is sarcastic and stubborn. I was equal parts admiring of his rebellion and equal parts frustrated with him - but that wasn't his fault. I always get a little frustrated with characters who constantly rebel against a situation that I myself would love to be in (like a magic school). But of course, Call's trying to get himself kicked out of the Magisterium makes sense, as his father has convinced him that it's a place that will kill him. So I don't hold my frustration against Call; it wasn't him, it was me. I know Tamara was supposed to be a little snotty at first, but I immediately liked her. She's smart and brave. But Aaron was my favorite, just because because he was just so darn nice. I liked Drew, the poor boy who - I have to say, because it can't not be said - resembled Neville Longbottom a, well, a lot. And it's hard to not like a character like Neville, even though the similarities bothered me a bit (it was a little too glaring). Jasper (the Draco Malfoy of the Magisteriuam; sorry, but he was) wasn't all that fun to hate. He was just a jerk and ended up being a bit likable in the end.

The Romance: None!

Plot: Callum Hunt has been raised to fear the Magisterium - a school for magically gifted people. His father was a sorcerer and he blames the Magisterium for the death of his wife. However, when Call tries to flunk the Iron Trial - the process by which the Magisterium selects its students - he fails at it and is accepted into the Magisterium. Call is prepared for torture and spooky caves and unfeeling teachers. What he doesn't expect is the world's awesomest underground school, friends, and fascinating lessons. And the more time Call spends in the Magisterium, the less he wants to leave. Let's talk about the world building. The Magisterium is a giant magic school in underground caves that's training young sorcerers and sorceresses to control the five elemental magics: air, fire, water, earth, and chaos. They have an uneasy truce with the Enemy of Death - the most powerful sorcerer to exist who went crazy and became obsessed with chaos magic and immortality. However, the truce is weak and they're preparing for the moment it crumbles and dies. They hope that one day their new students will also include the one rare person who can defeat the Enemy of Death: a Makaris, a chaos-wielder. I'm not a bookworm who throws accusations of "this sounds like such-and-such book!" simply because it happens to have, say, two boys and a girl, magic schools, an evil sorcerer, and a prophecy about a boy who can defeat him. These are all reoccurring themes in fantasy, and most stories have a threesome of two boys and a girl. However, The Iron Trial does have some rather obvious similarities to Harry Potter, and unfortunately the impression this created was that The Iron Trial was trying to keep up with Harry Potter, rather than just being its own thing. The Magisterium tried to be as magical and whimsical and fun as Hogwarts, and sorry, but it just can't. The Enemy of Death didn't bother me in terms of being like Voldemort because every single fantasy novel out there has the world's most powerful sorcerer turning evil and being obsessed with immortality. J. K. Rowling was not original with that idea anymore than authors after her. The plot itself was fun, but predictable and perhaps a little bland. But I did have fun exploring the world of Magisterium and predictability isn't always annoying to me. Depends on my mood.

Believability: Not applicable.

Writing Style: Third person, past tense. Not going to lie, the writing didn't impress me. It wasn't necessarily bad, but I have read other novels by both Cassandra Clare and Holly Black, and this didn't live up to it. And no, it isn't because it's Middle Grade. I've read plenty of Middle Grade books that have very good writing.

Content: None.

Conclusion: I'll admit that I didn't see the twists coming, mostly because I wasn't looking for them. But most people will probably see them coming. The Iron Trial is a fairly fun Middle Grade fantasy adventure that, yes, has Harry Potter similarities. This will either make you love it more - or just frustrate you. I look forward to seeing where this series goes.

Recommended Audience: Girl-and-boy read, eleven-and-up, fans of fantasy.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday #79 + WWW Wednesday #49

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



Crystal Keepers
by Brandon Mull
(Five Kingdoms #3)
Publication Date: March 1, 2015

From Goodreads:

Trapped in a world where magic is powerful and dreams are real, Cole continues his quest in book three of a "fanciful, action-packed adventure" series (Publishers Weekly, starred review), from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Fablehaven and Beyonders series.

Cole Randolph ventures to a new kingdom as he continues his search for his friends - and also pursues his quest to mend what has gone awry with the magic in The Outskirts. Can he overcome the challenges ahead, or will he be stranded forever in a world between reality and imagination?

Why I'm Excited

- It's the third book in the Five Kingdoms series.
- Brandon Mull writes weird stuff, but it's really growing on me.

The Forgotten Sisters
by Shannon Hale
(Princess Academy #3)
Publication Date: March 3, 2015

From Goodreads:

After a year a the king's palace, Miri has learned all about being a proper princess. But the tables turn when the student must become the teacher!

Instead of returning to her beloved Mount Eskel, Miri is ordered to journey to a distant swamp and start a princess academy for three sisters, cousins of the royal family. Unfortunately, Astrid, Felissa, and Sus are more interested in hunting and fishing than becoming princesses.

As Miri spends more time with the sisters, she realizes the king and queen's interest in them hides a long-buried secret. She must rely on her own strength and intelligence to unravel the mystery, protect the girls, complete her assignment, and finally make her way home.

Why I'm Excited

- It's a new Shannon Hale book.
- It's a third book in the Princess Academy series.
- After Book #2 proved to be good, I have every confidence in this one as well.

WWW Wednesday is hosted by Should Be Reading
What are you currently reading?

Ninety-five days, and then I'll be safe.
I wonder whether the procedure will hurt.
I want to get it over with.
It's hard to be patient.
It's hard not to be afraid while I'm still uncured, though so far the deliria hasn't touched me yet.
Still, I worry.
They say that in the old days, love drove people to madness.
The deadliest of all deadly things: It kills you both when you have it and when you don't.

I'm not super far into this book, but what I've read so far I have enjoyed. Lauren Oliver's writing is wonderful; I now know what everyone was raving about. I'm liking the world, the premise, and the characters pretty well, too.




What have you recently read?

Most kids would do anything to pass the Iron Trial.

Not Callum Hunter. He wants to fail.

All his life, Call has been warned by his father to stay away from magic. If he succeeds at the Iron Trial and is admitted into the Magisterium, he is sure it can only mean bad things for him.

So he tries his best to do his worst - and fails at failing.

Now that Magisterium awaits him. It's a place that's both sensational and sinister, with dark ties to his past and a twisty path to his future.

The Iron Trial is just the beginning, for the biggest test is still to come. . . .

Book #1 in The Magisterium series, I gave this 3 out of 5 strawberries. I enjoyed it and didn't entirely see the twist coming in the end. However, it did at times feel like it was trying to keep pace with Harry Potter, and it just couldn't.

What do you plan on reading next?

This second novel begins in 1940, immediately after the first book ended. Having escaped Miss Peregrine's island but the skin of their teeth, Jacob and his new friends must journey to London, the peculiar capital of the world. Along the way, they encounter new allies, a menagerie of peculiar animals, and other unexpected surprises.

I want to read this before I forget everything in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children again!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday #77 + Teaser Tuesday #38

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


This week's topic: Top 10 Bookish Problems I Have. Only ten?

  1. Buying Too Many Books! I think most bookworms have this problem, but I have in excess. You think 10 books a month is a big haul? Oh, honey; that's a small haul for me. On average I usually buy 20 books a month. Now I do get a discount on all the books I buy, but still. I'm trying to cut back because I have a lot of things I'm saving up for: car, school, apartment.
  2. Alphabetizing Everything. Maybe this is actually due to my OCD more than having worked at a library for nine years, but I've found that my bookish pastimes have made alphabetizing an even stronger instinct than it used to be. Movies, spices - if it can be organized alphabetically I'll do it.
  3. Buying Bookmarks. It doesn't matter how many I have; I always want another one!
  4. Shunning Certain Bindings. I'm one of those persnickety people that only likes hardcovers. With a few very rare exceptions, I will not buy a book if it's in paperback. And I hate reading paperbacks. Oddly enough, in only very recent weeks, my intense dislike for paperbacks is getting a little less.
  5. It Doesn't Match! I like my series to match. I'm not super duper uptight about it, but if I have a choice, I will make sure my series matches.
  6. Getting To Bed Early? Pshaw! Yeah, I don't know of any bookworm who actually puts a book down when they should and go to sleep. It just doesn't happen. It also doesn't help that I'm a natural night owl. I never get to bed when I should.
  7. There's Never Enough Space. I'm going to let you all in on a little secret; a secret that will probably make most of you jealous (so please don't come throw bricks through my window). But I actually still have shelf space!! It's running out very fast, but I do still have it - and I haven't even had to purge my shelves yet. No, I don't live in a TARDIS, and yes, I have a LOT of books. 800+ I just happened to take an entire room of the house up and turned it into a library. Even so, this problem certainly applies to my book bag: there's never enough room in my bag!
  8. Lending. As a rule, I do not lend my books out to people unless I absolutely, implicitly trust them - and they've signed a bajillion agreement and personal responsibility forms. ;-) But in general, I won't lend. This, of course, doesn't keep people from asking. And I always have this moment of sheer panic. Because I don't want to be rude, but how do you tell someone no without making it sound like you don't trust them?
  9. When The Silence Is Broken. I can read pretty much anywhere, but I of course prefer to have silence. And yet, no one ever seems to understand that when you have a book open in your hands, it's the equivalent to "Silence! No talking! I'm busy! Go away!"
  10. Spoilers. I'm pretty relaxed about spoilers - for the most part. I won't go seek them out, and I prefer not to hear them, but I won't bite your head off and it won't ruin the entire experience for me. However, please ask me first before blurting out a spoiler!!
Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Should Be Reading

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

The streets are empty now. The whole city is silent and still. The whole city might have wound down into nothing, burned away while we were in the shed, and I wouldn't have noticed or cared. The walk home is fuzzy, a dream. He holds my hand the whole way and we stop to kiss twice again in the longest, deepest shadows we can find. Both times I wish the shadows were solid, had weight, and they would fold down around us and bury us there so we could stay like that forever, chest to chest, lip to lip. Both times I feel my chest seize up when he pulls away and takes my hand and we have to start walking again, not kissing, like suddenly I can only breathe correctly when we are. Delirium by Lauren Oliver (pg. 233)

Monday, February 16, 2015

Review: Seeker - Arwen Elys Dayton

Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton
Series: Seeker #1
Genre: YA, fantasy
Published on February 10, 2015
Published by Delacorte
Pages: 448
Read From: 2.6.15 - 2.8.15












SYNOPSIS
Quin Kincaid has been put through years of brutal training for what she thinks is the noble purpose of becoming a revered 'Seeker.' 
Only when it's too late does she discover she will be using her new-found knowledge and training to become an assassin. Quin's new role will take her around the globe, from a remote estate in Scotland to a bustling, futuristic Hong Kong where the past she thought she had escaped will finally catch up with her.

Review

Initial Thoughts: I was intrigued by Seeker's vague and ominous synopsis. And because I'm also a fantasy fan, I couldn't resist. Seeker held my attention from the very beginning, and I was very pleased to discover that I liked a lot of the characters. However, the middle dragged and I found the world building to be lacking.

Characters: Quin is a pretty strong female protagonist. She's no-nonsense, straight-forward, and doesn't have a thing about her that I would call annoying. At the same time, I also felt mostly so-so about her. Didn't hate her, wasn't hugely attached to her, accepted her as my protagonist. Shinobu was pretty awesome, though as the story progressed and his character took a downward spiral, I felt less and less sorry for him and just wanted him to pick himself back up and stop destroying himself. I didn't hate him, though, because his self-destruction was a little understandable. He and Quin both discovered that they had been lied to all their lives by their own parents; it would be pretty earth-shattering. John was, however, my absolute favorite. His worst fault was not telling Quin everything when he should have. Quin, at the same time, never listened when John had a chance to explain. And John didn't always make the right decision; I totally get that. But you know what? After hearing his story, I just couldn't fault him at all for what he did. I simply couldn't. I am absolutely on John's side. Get your revenge, man; restore your house. I'm with you all the way.

The Romance: The story begins with John and Quin being in love. As the story progresses, John's love for Quin becomes a bit obsessive and sometimes creepy. He does genuinely love Quin, but he has a duty - and promise - to keep to his murdered mother, and unfortunately his promise to her takes precedence over his love for Quin. If he has to hurt her, he will. Totally and absolutely reluctantly, and he will never lay a finger on her himself. But his lackeys will if Quin refuses to cooperate. I found their romance to be both heartbreaking and then a little creepy - which I think it was supposed to be. John does care about Quin so much, and he's torn between that and his duty to his family. The conflict kind of drives him a bit crazy, and after a little while I was like, "Okay, John, you can stop that any time. It's a little creepy now." Shinobu, meanwhile, also loves Quin. They're cousins, true, but so distantly related that it really doesn't matter. Quin, unfortunately, only sees Shinobu as her cousin. Or does she? Yeah, there's tiny bit of a love triangle going on. But it's the way a love triangle should be handled. Quin loves John just as much as John loves her. But when John goes off the deep end, things change. I actually liked the romance. John obsession and conflict added so much more to his motivations and struggles. Shinobu loving Quin wasn't creepy because they were so barely related. And Quin doesn't do flip-flopping. There's "I love John" and then "John isn't who he used to be; I'm breaking this off now."

Plot: Quin and Shinobu have been raised to believe that Seekers are good. That their mission is to protect the innocent, destroy the wicked and the evil, restore balance to the world. Quin and Shinobu have been training for this calling all their lives. But when their initiation comes, they discover that they've been lied to. And that Seekers are themselves the very evil in the world that they thought they were being trained to fight. John knew what they were, and he's been training to be a Seeker to exact revenge and regain the stolen honor of his ancient family. He'll stop at nothing to fulfill his promise to his murdered mother. But things aren't as simple or as straight-forward as either Quin or John thought. And they will all be tainted with blood by the time it's done. The thing that kept me reading the most is that for a long, long time the Reader is not actually told what happens on the night of Quin and Shinobu's initiation. It's easy to guess, but still - there's that tantalizing "what exactly happened? I must know!" I loved the premise of this story: four ancient houses with the ability to travel through the fabric of time and space (I think) to exact justice - but it turns out that that isn't their mission after all. The problem? The world building was a little weak. I got the impression this took place in the future, but there was very little exploring of this futuristic world. And how futuristic is it anyway? I also didn't totally understand the whole There concept. Were they time traveling? Traveling through dimensions? Ripping a hole in the fabric of space and time? It was muddy, and not all of it because the characters themselves didn't understand everything. The middle part of the book was also unnecessarily long. There's nothing but action in the beginning, then flashbacks to John's previous life, and then we jump ahead a few months/years. Quin has amnesia, Shinobu is destroying his life, and John is still looking for revenge. Quin's amnesia creates a whole host of problems: she doesn't remember anyone, she doesn't know why they're after her, et cetera. Where there should have been more world building, we were instead treated to page after page of needless tension and ambiguity.

Believability: Not applicable.

Writing Style: Third person, past tense. I have no complaints about the writing style. There are four narrations: Shinobu, John, Quin, and Maud (a character I didn't talk about because I can't without giving stuff away). I always love this technique, as you get multiple perspectives.

Content: Blood. Lots of blood.

Conclusion: The plot does pick up again at the end. A tiny bit more world building and explanation happens, but still - the world building is murky. I am still so on John's side, and I like Quin and Shinobu pretty well. Seeker is an interesting story and I look forward to seeing what happens next!

Recommended Audience: Girl-and-guy read, seventeen-and-up, fans of fantasy.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Stacking the Shelves #78

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


BOUGHT

The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson
Rory and her friends are reeling from a series of sudden and tragic events. While racked with grief, Rory tries to determine if she acted in time to save a member of the squad. If she did, how do you find a ghost? Also, Rory's classmate Charlotte has been kidnapped by Jane and her nefarious organization. Evidence is uncovered of a forty-year-old cult, ten missing teenagers, and a likely mass murder. Everything indicates that Charlotte's in danger, and it seems that something much bigger and much more terrible is coming.

Time is running out as Rory fights to find her friends and the ghost squad struggles to stop Jane from unleashing her special nightmare on the entire city. In the process, they'll discover the existence of an organization that underpins London itself - and Rory will learn that someone she trusts has been keeping a tremendous secret.

Monstrous by MarcyKate Connolly
The city of Bryre suffers under the magic of an evil wizard. Because of his curse, girls sicken and disappear without a trace, and Bryre's inhabitants live in fear. No one is allowed outside after dark.

Yet night is the only time that Kymera can enter this dangerous city, for she must not be seen by humans. Her father says they would not understand her wings, the bolts in her neck, or her spiky tail - they would kill her. They would not understand that she was created for a purpose: to rescue the girls of Bryre.

Despite her caution, a boy named Ren sees Kym and begins to leave a perfect red rose for her every evening. As they become friends, Kym learns that Ren knows about the missing girls, the wizard, and the evil magic that haunts Bryre.

And what he knows will change Kym's life.

Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton
The night Quin Kincaid takes her Oath, she will become what she has trained to be her entire life. She will become a Seeker. This is her legacy, and it is an honor.

As a Seeker, Quin will fight beside her two closest companions, Shinobu and John, to protect the weak and the wronged. Together they will stand for light in a shadowy world.

And she'll be with the boy she loves - who's also her best friend.

But the night Quin takes her Oath, everything changes.

Being a Seeker is not what she thought. Her family is not what she thought. Even the boy she loves is not who she thought.

And now it's too late to walk away.

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

February 9, 2015 - Monday
February 10, 2015 - Tuesday
February 11, 2015 - Wednesday
February 14, 2015 - Saturday

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

February 16, 2015 - Monday
Review: Seeker - Arwen Elys Dayton
February 17, 2015 - Tuesday
Top Ten Tuesday #77: Top 10 Book Related Problems I Have
Teaser Tuesday #38
February 18, 2015 - Wednesday
Waiting on Wednesday #79 + WWW Wednesday #49
February 19, 2015 - Thursday
Review: The Iron Trial - Cassandra Clare & Holly Black
February 20, 2015 - Friday
Review: Delirium - Lauren Oliver

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Hedgehog Life: February 2015


Happy Valentine's Day! I hope you are all having a lovely time with your books, boyfriends, girlfriends, or whoever you hang out with on this designated day of romance and friendship! Because I personally think Valentine's Day isn't just about romantic romance, but also showing friends and family members how much you love them, too!

Anyway, February has been awesome so far! Swing and rock climbing have been going great, and I've also gotten back to archery and fiddle practice! Busy me! I've also started cooking and baking again! My first attempt was a Lime Cilantro Chicken dish, and then I made a bunch of Valentine's Day sugar cookies for my friends. I at first attempted making caramel chews and chocolate, but that didn't turn out quite how I expected it to. Oh well; it was fun to try!

Valentine's Day Sugar Cookies
In current news, I recently purchased a brand new fountain pen. Yes, it's expensive, and yes, I love it. I have yet to name it (maybe Sebastian?), and I've been wanting to get an expensive, reliable fountain pen for a long time, so it was totally worth it. No more leaking! No more stuttering to a halt in the middle of a sentence! No more shaking it until it decides to start writing again! And oh my gosh, is it smooth! I can't stop writing with it! If I could, I would write these posts!

My new fountain pen! Screw cap and everything!

I also went to my very first Super Bowl party! I'm not really a football fan, though to be honest up until recently I had no opinion whatsoever and was mostly inclined to disliking it because my relatives take it way too seriously. But I decided that I kind of wanted to watch the Super Bowl this year, and a friend invited me to her big family get-together for it! I'm still not a football "fan," but I can see how it's fun to watch. I had a blast! I even found myself cheering for the Seahawks in the end!

So what are my plans for February? Well, I've started the long and arduous task of saving up for my first car! Nothing is official, but I am very much in love with the Ford Fiesta Hatchback. For a new car, it's relatively affordable, it comes in lime-green, a kayak rack (most cars do), and it's sleek and sporty and fun all at once! Plus it looks like an Oliver. ;-)

I'm also seriously considering going back to school. I know I mentioned forensics as a possible career choice, but I'm reconsidering it the more I learn about it. Instead, I'm leaning towards my initial idea: find a secretarial position in a nice office with a schedule that allows me to pursue my passions and that pays a living wage - and benefits. I don't need my job to be exciting; I just need to enjoy it and it has to give me the time to do all those things I love doing! Like dancing and rock climbing and writing and reading - and traveling now and then. So I'm going back to college for some applicable computer classes. I know, in general, how to use programs like Excel and OfficePro and Publisher. But my education on that has been me spending hours clicking on buttons to see what they do, so my knowledge is very spotty and I'm sure I'm missing out on some tricks.

My ideal goal is, in a few years, to have a job that lets me afford a car and a pleasant apartment in a neighboring town that I have always considered more my home than where I live. If I play my cards right, and I am so far, this goal will turn into reality.

So that's all that's been going on in this bookworm's life! Lots of reading and thinking about the future! Hope you all have a good rest of February!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday #78 + WWW Wednesday #48

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



Mark of the Thief
by Jennifer A. Nielsen
(Praetor War #1)
Publication Date: February 24, 2015

From Goodreads:

When Nic, a slave in the mines outside of Rome, is forced to enter a sealed cavern containing the lost treasures of Julius Caesar, he finds much more than gold and gemstones: He discovers an ancient bulla, an amulet that belonged to the great Caesar and is filled with a magic once reserved for the Gods - magic some Romans would kill for.

Now, with the deadly power of the bulla pulsing through his veins, Nic is determined to become free. But instead, he finds himself at the center of a ruthless conspiracy to overthrow the emperor and spark the Praetor War, a battle to destroy Rome from within. Traitors and spies lurk at every turn, each more desperate than the next to use Nic's newfound powers for their own dark purposes.

In a quest to stop the rebellion, save Rome, and secure his own freedom, Nic must harness the magic within himself and defeat the empire's most powerful and savage leaders.

Why I'm Excited

- It's a new Jennifer A. Nielsen book!!!!!!!!
- It's about Ancient Rome!

A Wicked Thing
by Rhiannon Thomas
(A Wicked Thing #1)
Publication Date: February 24, 2015

From Goodreads:

One hundred years after falling asleep, Princess Aurora wakes up to the kiss of a handsome prince and a broken kingdom that has been dreaming of her return. All the books say that she should be living happily ever after. But as Aurora understands all too well, the truth is nothing like the fairy tale.

Her family is long dead. Her "true love" is a kind stranger. And her whole life has been planned out by political foes while she slept.

As Aurora struggles to make sense of her new world, she begins to fear that the curse has left its mark on her, a fiery and dangerous thing that might be as wicked as the witch who once ensnared her. With her wedding day drawing near, Aurora must make the ultimate decision on how to save her kingdom: marry the prince or run.

Why I'm Excited

- I'm a sucker for fairy tale retellings.

WWW Wednesday is hosted by Should Be Reading
What are you currently reading?

Most kids would do anything to pass the Iron Trial.

Not Callum Hunter. He wants to fail.

All his life, Call has been warned by his father to stay away from magic. If he succeeds at the Iron Trial and is admitted into the Magisterium, he is sure it can only mean bad things for him.

So he tries his best to do his worst - and fails at failing.

Now that Magisterium awaits him. It's a place that's both sensational and sinister, with dark ties to his past and a twisty path to his future.

The Iron Trial is just the beginning, for the biggest test is still to come. . . .

I'm about 50 pages in and really enjoying this book so far. In fact, I was sucked in so thoroughly that I stayed a complete extra hour at work reading it! Didn't notice the clock at all!

What have you recently read?

Matteo Alacran was not born; he was harvested. His DNA came from El Patron, lord of a country called Opium; a strip of poppy fields lying between the United States and what was once called Mexico. Matt's first cell split and divided inside a petri dish. Then he was placed in the womb of a cow, where he continued the miraculous journey from embryo to fetus to baby. He is a boy now, but most consider him a monster; except for El Patron. El Patron loves Matt as he loves himself, because Matt is himself.

At Matt struggles to understand his existence, he is threatened by a sinister cast of characters, including El Patron's power-hungry family, and he is surrounded by a dangerous army of bodyguards. Escape is the only chance Matt has to survive. But escape from the Alacran Estate is no guarantee of freedom, because Matt is marked by his difference in ways he doesn't even suspect.

I gave this rather bizarre book 3 out of 5 strawberries. It was interesting, it wasn't as weird as I expected (but still weird), and made me contemplate a lot of things. It was very weird, though.

What do you plan on reading next?

The poverty 
stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.

To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.

Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the center of those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.

But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?

I've been hearing so much about this book! Time to read it for myself!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday #76 + Teaser Tuesday #37

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


This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic: Top 10 Things I Dislike When It Comes to Romances. Well, this should be easy!
  1. Do I Love Him Or Do I Love Him?! You know the classic love triangle. Girl caught in between two guys (I suppose it can happen with a guy caught between two girls, but it's rare in novels). I just can't stand it. The girl flip-flopping between the guys makes her seem flaky and ridiculous, and by the end of it I want to tell both guys to find someone else. She's not worth it!
  2. French Kissing. I'm going to admit: like everyone, I anticipate that leadup to the "first kiss." I wait for it in every Jane Austen novel. However, descriptive kissing - especially in the French fashion - is repellent to me and certainly puts me off ever wanting to kiss or be kissed by anyone.
  3. Lack of Communication. This isn't just in romances, but it does seem like that most of the tension in romances comes from the fact that the couple just doesn't communicate. They fail to explain or even mention something. If they just sat down and talked it would all be fixed! I can't stand that.
  4. Physical Attraction. Okay, that's not the best way to put it, because I'm perfectly all right with the protagonists finding one another attractive. Attractiveness is important. What I mean is I'm tired of romance being nothing but that. They go on and on and on and on about how hot the person is and how amazing they smell or how tingly and aroused they feel. That isn't love! That's lust.
  5. Insta-Love. The only time I can be okay with "oh my gosh, we've known each other for two days and I AM SO IN LOVE!!! I CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT YOU!!!" is in a fairy tale retelling or a similar story involving life-or-death peril. Circumstances can make attraction grow, depending. But I do much more prefer relationships to progress over time. Granted, novels only have so much time for that to happen, I realize. It can be tricky, but it can be done!
  6. The Alpha Male. Also known as abusive, egotistical, controlling, erotic, and perhaps even a rapist. When did this become sexy?! When did this become desirable?! Seriously! You want a guy who might potentially abuse you and fly in jealous rages?!
  7. Emotion Overload. Flip-flopping, loving, hating, upset, confused; emotions are always felt in extremes in romances. There's never rationality, there's never a moment of "let's sit and think." It's all this way or that way and I hate it. Gives me such a whiplash.
  8. Teen Romance. High school flings. Romances that aren't going to last for more than a summer. They're just shallow. And I have nothing invested in that kind of romance.
  9. Best Friends Lose. This isn't just with best friends; it's essentially the guy in the love triangle who doesn't win. Usually the guy who doesn't win is the best friend. Why doesn't the guy get to find someone else? Does he seriously just spend the rest of his life alone and still pining for Miss Flaky? That's not right!
  10. Sexual Tension. It's not needed, people!

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Should Be Reading

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

The biggest distraction from trying to puzzle out what his dad had meant turned out, to Call's surprise, to be his classes. There was no more Room of Sand and Boredom; instead, there was a roster of new exercises that made the next few weeks go by quickly. The training was still hard and frustrating, but as Master Rufus revealed more of the magical world, Call found himself growing increasingly fascinated. The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare & Holly Black (pg. 153)

Monday, February 9, 2015

Review: The House of the Scorpion - Nancy Farmer

The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
Series: Matteo Alacran #1
Genre: YA, science fiction
Published on September 1, 2002
Published by Atheneum
Pages: 380
Read From: 2.4.15 - 2.6.15











SYNOPSIS
At his coming-of-age party, Matteo Alacran asks El Patron's bodyguard, "How old am I? . . . I know I don't have a birthday like humans, but I was born." 
"You were harvested," Tam Lin reminds him. "You were grown in that poor cow for nine months and then you were cut out of her." 
To most people around him, Matt is not a boy, but a beast. A room full of chicken litter with roaches for friends and old chicken bones for toys is considered good enough for him. But for El Patron, lord of a country called Opium - a strip of poppy fields lying between the U.S. and what was once called Mexico - Matt is a guarantee of eternal life. El Patron loves Matt as he loves himself for Matt is himself. They share identical DNA. 
As Matt struggles to understand his existence, he is threatened by a sinister, grasping cast of characters, including El Patron's power-hungry family. He is surrounded by a dangerous army of bodyguards and by the mindless slaves of Opium, brain-deadened eejits who tail in the poppy fields. 
And escape from the Alacran Estate is no guarantee of freedom because Matt is marked by his difference in ways he doesn't even suspect. Around every turn in this vivid, futuristic adventure is a new, heart-stopping surprise.

Review

Initial Thoughts: This is a book that has been on my TBR for years - ever since 2002, in fact - but I never picked it up because it sounded too weird. I finally challenged myself to read it. The House of the Scorpion is weird, creepy, slightly disturbing and unsettling, but it's not the weird that the synopsis leads you to believe. It provokes a lot of thought and contemplation, and I enjoyed it a lot more than I was expecting.


Characters: It's hard to not feel sorry for Matt. He's abused and kept ignorant; treated like an animal. Then, when he's raised by El Patron, he's ignored and made aware of his inferiority as a clone. His only real friends are Maria, his nurse Celia, and his bodyguard Tam Lin. But even Tam Lin and Celia are keeping secrets from him and Maria mostly treats him like a pet, not an equal. So while he has everything he could possibly want, he's still inferior and a prisoner. I loved Tam Lin and Celia; they genuinely cared for Matt and tried to help him as much as they could. Tom was a creepy little psychopath that I absolutely loved to hate. I wavered between liking Maria and wanting to slap her. She was kind to Matt and was largely responsible for rescuing him from his initial circumstances. But she kept defending Tom and would never believe what Matt told her about him. Those are the times I wanted to slap her. Seriously, girl?! Tom has always been cruel to you and you don't believe that he tried to kill your dog?! If I were her, I wouldn't have for one moment been upset when Matt tried to get back at him. It's not like Matt ever did anything truly mean to him anyway.

The Romance: Matt develops a crush on Maria, but it's mostly in the background and doesn't take up any time at all.

Plot: Between America and Mexico, a new country as sprung up: Opium. Controlled by drug lords, it's essentially a city-state that has promised to control the immigrant problem for both borders if the two nations allow them to exist and sell drugs in other countries. One drug lord, El Patron, has the entire kingdom in his pocket. But he's dying. Matteo Alacran is El Patron's clone, developed in a cow and raised in secret. Clones, by law, have to have their minds destroyed, but El Patron is rich enough to protect his intact. Treated like less than an animal, then given the finest education he could ask for, Matt learns the kindness and cruelty of the world, all while painfully aware that he isn't human. But secrets surround Matt at the Alacran Estate. And while he might be protected by El Patron; treated like El Patron's favorite, not everything is as it seems. This is one of those plots that doesn't necessarily proceed very quickly - in fact, the beginning is rather slow - but it's a plot that has a lot to say. Beneath all of the futuristic and clone stuff, lots of interesting issues and ideas are discussed. What makes something human, the drug industry, political collapse, morality, socialism, and many other topics. Surprisingly, it's all done in a non-preachy manner and provokes a lot of thought. There is something unsettling about the world Matt lives in, and while I enjoyed exploring it, I also kind of felt queasy the entire time. The world building isn't as broad as it could have been, but we are seeing it all through Matt's eyes - someone who has been isolated from it all - so it makes sense. The plot twist, of course, is easy to guess; it's a story about clones, after all. We all know what clones are created for. But the twist is only part of the story, and the book still has a lot to say even after that climax.

Believability: Not applicable.

Writing Style: Third person, past tense. It was fine; nothing special, nothing bad.

Content: None.

Conclusion: The ending itself felt a teeny tiny bit too tidy. At the same time, it also really fit the storyline. After everything Matt goes through, you really don't want him to have to go through anything more. And a showdown simply wasn't in keeping with the book's style. The House of the Scorpion was a very interesting read. A little slow at times, a definitely weird, it provoked a lot of thought and would be good for any book club.

Recommended Audience: Girl-and-guy read, fifteen-and-up, fans of clone stories.


Others in the Matteo Alacran Series:

1)The House of the Scorpion
2)The Lord of Opium
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