Friday, July 31, 2015

Hedgie's Reading Recap: July 2015


That time of the month again! Time to look at all the books I read! I'm proud of myself! I read quite a few - and a pretty good variety as well! And yes, you'll have noticed that this feature's name as changed yet again!



Thursday, July 30, 2015

July 2015 Book Haul


I was amazingly good this month. Like, I can't believe how I good I was. . . .With books, that is. I totally broke my bank with clothes, though. Again. Just. . . .We're not going to talk about that.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: A Night Divided

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



A Night Divided
by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Publication Date: August 25, 2015

From Goodreads:

With the rise of the Berlin Wall, twelve-year-old Gerta finds her family divided overnight. She, her mother, and her brother Fritz live on the eastern side, controlled by the Soviets. Her father and middle brother, who had gone west in search of work, cannot return home. Gerta knows it is dangerous to watch the wall, to think forbidden thoughts of freedom, yet she can't help herself. She sees the East German soldiers with their guns trained on their own citizens; she, her family, her neighbors and friends are prisoners in their own city.

But one day, while on her way to school, Gerta spots her father on a viewing platform on the western side, pantomiming a peculiar dance. Then, when she receives a mysterious drawing, Gerta puts two and two together and concludes that her father wants Gerta and Fritz to tunnel beneath the wall, out of East Berlin. However, if they are caught, the consequences will be deadly. No one can be trusted. Will Gerta and her family find their way to freedom?

Why I'm Excited
- It's Jennifer A. Nielsen.
- It's historical fiction - and about East Berlin!
- It's about an escape - and more specifically, tunneling! I love tunnel stories!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday #87 + Teaser Tuesday #48

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


Top Ten Characters That Are Fellow Book Nerds. Easy topic! The majority of my favorite characters are fellow book nerds! Let the list begin!


  1. Hermione Granger from Harry Potter. I look forward to seeing how many lists have her at the top. She's a pretty no-brainer, immediate choice.
  2. Sarah Crewe from A Little Princess. I think she's the first protagonist I met who shared my book passion, and it's part of why I loved her so much.
  3. Meggie Fulchart from Inkheart. Let's not forget her dad, Mo, too! And Elinor! And Resa! And Darius! And, yes, even Orpheus. Let's face it - the Inkworld Trilogy is full of book nerds. :)
  4. Matilda from Matilda. Also looking forward to seeing how many lists have her among them. I didn't meet Matilda until I was older. Shockingly, I was not raised on Roald Dahl - not sure why that is. But I wasn't and didn't actually read any of his books until I was in my early teens.
  5. Flavia Gemina from The Roman Mysteries. She can be found anywhere reading Homer or Virgil - anything she can get her hands on.
  6. Catherine Morland from Northanger Abbey. Not just books - she loves novels. My friends and I joke that I am a cross between Emma Woodhouse and Catherine Morland: Emma because I get a kick out of matching people (never with any serious intention, though), and Catherine because I read too many novels (and other reasons, too).
  7. Mr. Norrell from Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. I think he has some of the best lines about books; I want to put all of them on T-shirts and totes and plaques.
  8. Tyrion Lannister from A Game of Thrones. The most well-read character of them all. And therefore all levels of awesome.
  9. Celaena Sardothian from Throne of Glass. As much as I dislike Celaena, I have to admit that yes, she's a book nerd - and it annoys me because I dislike her and characters I dislike should never share one of my passions! It rubs me the wrong way.
  10. Atrus from Myst. All of the D'ni are book nerds, quite honestly. Hell, they write books that link to other worlds! Can't get much more book nerdish than that! :) 

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!

He licked away the sweat from his upper lip. The painstaking process of removing the charred pieces of her shirt from the burn on her shoulders had begun more than an hour ago, and we were all in agony listening to him try to disinfect the area. Never Fade by Alexandra Bracken (pg. 288)

Monday, July 27, 2015

2015 TBR Update #3

So it's been a while since I've done one of these updates, but I'm going to try and do them on Mondays on a regular basis. Not only so you can stay up to date on my reading challenges, but also my TBR progress for the months.

So my July TBR has 20 official books. Out of those, I have completed 2 this week:
  • A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman (4/5)
  • Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (5/5)
I have 15 left to read:
  • Never Fade - Alexandra Bracken
  • Waistcoats & Weaponry - Gail Carriger
  • The Eye of Minds - James Dashner
  • Under the Egg - Laura Marx Fitzgerald
  • An Abundance of Katherines - John Green
  • Libriomancer - Jim C. Hines
  • The Lost Kingdom - Matthew J. Kirby
  • Devoted - Jennifer Mathieu
  • Hidden - Donna Jo Napoli
  • The Spindlers - Lauren Oliver
  • Asylum - Madeleine Roux
  • The Sin Eater's Daughter - Melinda Salisbury
  • Circa Now - Amber McRee Turner
  • The Whispering Trees - J. A. White
  • Bad Luck Girl - Sarah Zettel
I have also read:
  • The Uninvited by Cat Winters (3/5)
I am currently reading 2 books:
  • Never Fade by Alexandra Bracken
  • A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
I have caught up on 0 series, and I have started 0 new series/trilogies/duologies.


For my 2015 Reading Challenge, I have completed 22 items:
  • A book with more than 500 pages: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
  • A book that became a movie: Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
  • A book published this year: Firefight by Brandon Sanderson
  • A book by a female author: Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas
  • A mystery or thriller: Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz
  • A book with a one-word title Ticker by Lisa Mantchev
  • A book from an author you love that you haven't read yet: Slaves of Socorro by John Flanagan
  • A book based on a true story: Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz
  • A book at the bottom of your to-read list: The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
  • A book based entirely on its cover: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
  • A book you can finish in a day: Beneath the Stone Forest by Jordan Quinn
  • A book set somewhere you've always wanted to visit: A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab
  • A book set in high school: Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
  • A book with magic: Thursdays with the Crown by Jessica Day George
  • A book by an author you've never read before: Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne
  • A book you own but have never read: Hollow City by Ransom Riggs
  • A book with bad reviews: Immortal Beloved by Cate Tiernen
  • A graphic novel: Locke & Key Volume 1: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez
  • A book that made you cry: Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
  • A classic romance: Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
I have 13 planned reads that I have yet to complete:
  • A book of short stories: Clockwork Fairy Tales by Various Authors
  • A book with a number in the title: Survival Colony 9 by Joshua David Bellin
  • A book written by someone under 30: Wolfsblood by Hazel West
  • A book with nonhuman characters: The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail by Richard Peck
  • A book set in a different country: Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
  • A nonfiction book: Unbroken by Lauren Hillenbrand
  • A book a friend recommended: Impossible by Nancy Werlin
  • A trilogy: Delirium, Pandemonium, Requiem by Lauren Oliver
  • A book that was originally written in a different language: Dream a Little Dream by Kerstin Gier
  • A popular author's first book: The Spindlers by Lauren Oliver
  • A book that won a prize: An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
  • A book set in the future: The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
  • A book that scares you: Asylum by Madeleine Roux 
I have 16 categories to still plan and complete:
  • A book your mom loves
  • A book more than 100 years old
  • A book you were supposed to read in school but didn't
  • A memoir
  • A book with antonyms in the title
  • A book that came out the year you were born
  • A book from your childhood
  • A book with a love triangle
  • A book with a color in the title
  • A book that takes place in your hometown
  • A book set during Christmas
  • A book written by an author with your same initials
  • A play
  • A banned book
  • A book based on or turned into a TV show
  • A book you started but never finished

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Hedgehog Life: 7/20/15 - 7/26/15


I thought that after my last week, I'd have another whirlwind one. But to be honest, it wasn't that crazy! It was actually downright relaxing. I need to do something about this; I have too much free time. ;-)

This Week I Read:
- The Uninvited by Cat Winters (3/5 strawberries)
- A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman (4/5 strawberries)
- Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (5/5 strawberries)

This Week I Reviewed:

What's In Store For Next Week:
Monday: 2015 TBR Update #3
Tuesday: Top Ten Characters Who Are Book Nerds
Wednesday: Waiting on Wednesday with A Night Divided
Thursday: July 2015 Book Haul
Friday: Hedgie's Reading Recap: July 2015
Saturday: Hedgie's TBR: August 2015

Aside from a lunch date with a couple of friends - to catch up on life - I have devoted the week to reading and cleaning out my closet, bedroom, and library. Life has been a bit hectic - and not in a good way - so I also took the time to update and reorganize my planner. I feel so much better now. The constant annoying buzz I had at the back of my head whenever I tried to read has gone away and maybe I can staple my trousers to a chair and get on with my TBR (and writing)!

I finished up the week with going to see a play: Seussical the Musical. A few friends starred in it and it was just so much fun to watch. A perfect way to wipe out the remaining cobwebs, kick back and relax.

Keep reading, my friends!

Friday, July 24, 2015

ARC Review: The Uninvited - Cat Winters

The Uninvited by Cat Winters
Genre: Adult, historical fiction, supernatural
Published on August 11, 2015
Published by William Morrow
Pages: 368
Read From: 7.12.15 - 7.22.15













SYNOPSIS
Twenty-five-year-old Ivy Rowan rises from her sickbed after being struck by the flu, only to discover that the world has been torn apart in just a few short days. 

But Ivy's lifelong gift - or curse - remains. For she sees the uninvited ones - ghosts of loved ones who appear to her, unasked for and unwelcomed, for they always herald impending death. On that October evening in 1918, Ivy sees the spirit of her grandmother, rocking in her mother's chair. An hour later, she learns her younger brother and father have killed a young German out of retaliation for the death in the Great War of Ivy's older brother Billy. 

Horrified, she leaves home and soon realizes that the flu has caused utter panic and the rules governing society have broken down. Ivy is drawn into this new world of jazz, passion, and freedom, where people live for today, because they could be stricken by nightfall. But as her "uninvited guests" begin to appear to her more often, she knows her life will be torn apart once again, and Ivy has no inkling of the otherworldly revelations about to unfold.

Review


Dear Uninvited,

Having been written by Cat Winters, I knew I would love you. And I looked forward to seeing what she did in an Adult novel versus her usual genre: YA! The era and the premise all sounded wonderful and spooky and intriguing - something I have come to expect from this author. So I opened you with bated breath, anticipating the usual enjoyment I find in her supernatural historical fiction. Oh, Uninvited, what an incredible disappointment you were.

It's 1918, World War One is raging and the Spanish flu grips the world. Ivy Rowan has just recovered from it herself on the night that her father and brother return from murdering a German in town after they received news of Ivy's other brother Billy's death overseas. Sickened by their crime, Ivy packs up her bags and moves in with May - the gorgeous war widow in town. Ivy is torn up with guilt over what her family did, and to make amends, she determines to help the brother of the murdered German in any way she can. But even in this, she can't find peace. For reasons unknown to them, the Rowan women have always had the ability to see the Uninvited - ghosts - of loved ones when the death of another is near at hand. And Ivy is seeing them with more and more frequency.

What a promising plot! Ghosts, the Great War, the flu, fear-fueled prejudice, a friendship - then romance - formed through mutual guilt and pain. It's absolutely my type of read. So where did you go wrong? I did like Ivy Rowan as a protagonist; she stands by what she believes to be true, And I even liked Daniel, the brother of the German Ivy's father killed. He has quiet strength while struggling his own loss and demons. All of the characters were vivid and lifelike. I have no complaints there.

But your pace, Uninvited. It took about 200 pages before any ghosts showed up. And when Cat Winters promises ghosts, I expect ghosts. The majority of your page time boiled down to Daniel and Ivy sleeping with each other. I knew it was going to happen; in an Adult novel - and even YA - I am never surprised when the couple has intercourse. But their decision to hop in was quite literally out of the blue and so completely fueled by a desire to forget their guilt and pain. It cheapened what could have been a very romantic relationship to a bitter, disappointing "lose yourself" satisfier. I couldn't at all find Ivy and Daniel's relationship meaningful or beautiful after that.

The rest of your pages, when it wasn't focusing on Daniel and Ivy having sex, was spent with Ivy helping two Red Cross nurses ferry flu victims from their homes to hospitals. And still no sign of any ghosts. There wasn't even any foreshadowing to indicate that maybe something would happen later on. You quickly became a drag to read and my disappointment mounted until I simply didn't want to read you anymore. Where were my ghosts? Where was the melancholy, Gothic-esque atmosphere I was used to? Where was the romance I could support wholeheartedly?

Never one to give up, though, I persevered. And I'm so glad I did. For in your last fifty pages, you revealed a plot twist that made up for every single thing I disliked about you. It was a plot twist that reminded me of why I love Cat Winters' books so much, and I was launched from utter disappointment to complete satisfaction. That was one bloody good plot twist. I saw it coming half a minute before it was revealed and it just made it all the more perfect.

And this is why you are so hard to review. With all of Cat Winters' books, you're very well written and brimming with historical atmosphere. Your characters were good! And that ending was sublime. However, you were mostly a drag to read, as your promised plot of ghosts and foreshadowing was lost among tedious reiteration and a romance ruined by carnal desire. But at least least in the end you did deliver.

Feeling somewhat satisfied,
~ Mara A. ~

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Review: Saint Anything - Sarah Dessen

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
Genre: YA, contemporary, romance
Published on May 5, 2015
Published by Viking Juvenile
Pages: 417
Read From: 7.18.15 - 7.18.15













SYNOPSIS
Peyton, Sydney's charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion's share of their parents' attention and - lately - concern. When Peyton's increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident? 

Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekend, and pitch in the care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time.

Review

Dear Saint Anything,

I never thought I'd find a contemporary novel that would speak so thoroughly and warmly to my soul. You are my first Sarah Dessen novel and I don't think I could have chosen a better one. No other could have made me fall so totally and completely in love with her writing. You came into my life when I needed you.

Sydney is a very nice, unassuming protagonist. She tries to be a good friend, student, and above all daughter. But her parents are so absorbed with Peyton that they never pay attention to her efforts or what she wants. The only time they notice anything about Sydney is when they want to take their frustration over Peyton out on someone and they imagine that Sydney might make the same mistakes as Peyton, even though Sydney has done absolutely nothing to ever make them suppose that she would. On top of being ignored and punished for her brother's mistakes, Sydney also deals with the guilt of what her brother did. Her mom is obsessed with Peyton, but seems to forget entirely that the person he hit is the real victim. So Sydney bears the burden for her entire family. Some Readers might find her quiet acceptance of her parents' slights annoying. But as someone who has a habit of doing the same thing, I totally understood. And with her family dealing with such a difficult situation, it would be even harder to stand up for yourself and risk being perceived as unfeeling and selfish. And I just loved that Sydney's solution to being swallowed up by her brother's shadow wasn't to be a bratty, rule-breaking brat. Instead, she fought to be the best person that she could, while silently pleading to be seen for who she was. Just once. It spoke so deeply to me that I found myself crying a lot.

Sydney's parents drove me up a wall, especially her mom Julie. She completely ignored her daughter, denied her even the smallest request, then took her anger and frustration with Peyton out on her. To top it off, Julie never listened to Sydney about Peyton's creepy friend Ames who had a thing for Sydney and was just a total user. Oh my gosh, I hated Ames so much!! And I hated Julie for not tuning in to what a manipulative little creep he was!

However, the Chathams I loved. Layla was all levels of awesome and fun and quirkiness, with her fry obsession and protectiveness of Sydney and her family. I immediately fell in love with Mac, of course; I would so love him as my big brother. I wanted to cry and laugh and squeal with joy when he told Sydney that she was never invisible to him. Good feels all around!!

Probably what surprised me the most was how subtle the romance was in you, Saint Anything. It's obvious from the beginning which direction the romance is going to swing, but it isn't at all the main focus of the plot and it's very gradual. Sydney is best friends with Layla and it's made pretty clear to her that being interested in Mac is kind of off-limits once you're friends with Layla. On top of that, Mac is actually a pretty secondary character and then gradually becomes more and more prominent as the story continues. You aren't just a sweet romance novel, Saint Anything; you're also about family and difficult struggles and fighting to be seen in the world; of being heard in the face of tragedy.

You were full of so many feels for me, Saint Anything. I adored and connected to your characters, I loved your plot, and that ending was so perfect and wonderful and - I just can't even. You spoke to me on so many levels; you are my new go-to book and I can't even begin to imagine how many times I'm going to re-read you. Some Readers may not feel so strongly about you as I did because they didn't connect in the same way, but for people out there who are like me - this book is a must read.

Feeling totally understood,
~ Mara A. ~

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: Queen of Shadows

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



Queen of Shadows
by Sarah J. Maas
(Throne of Glass: #4)
Publication Date: September 1, 2015

From Goodreads:

Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she's at last returned to the empire - for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past. . . .

She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die just to see her again. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen's triumphant return.

Why I'm Excited

- After the build-up in the third book, I am extremely curious to see what happens next.
- I hate Celaena as a protagonist, but Sarah J. Maas has built a rich, epic fantasy world that I love exploring.
- Maybe I'll like Celaena in this one!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday #86 + Teaser Tuesday #47

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


Top Ten Books That Celebrate Diversity




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!

He guided me behind the counter and lowered me down to a pale wooden chair with a rose carved into the back. I thought of Sigrid lying somewhere inside that cold and cavernous hospital. And her children. Little gold spots buzzed before my eyes. I sank my face into my lap and interlocked my fingers behind my skill to squeeze the wooziness out of my brain. The Uninvited by Cat Winters (pg. 183)

Monday, July 20, 2015

2015 TBR Update #2

So it's been a while since I've done one of these updates, but I'm going to try and do them on Mondays on a regular basis. Not only so you can stay up to date on my reading challenges, but also my TBR progress for the months.

So my July TBR has 20 official books. Out of those, I have completed 0 this week:

I have 17 left to read:
  • Northanger Abbey - Jane Austen
  • Never Fade - Alexandra Bracken
  • Waistcoats & Weaponry - Gail Carriger
  • The Eye of Minds - James Dashner
  • Under the Egg - Laura Marx Fitzgerald
  • An Abundance of Katherines - John Green
  • Libriomancer - Jim C. Hines
  • The Lost Kingdom - Matthew J. Kirby
  • Devoted - Jennifer Mathieu
  • Hidden - Donna Jo Napoli
  • The Spindlers - Lauren Oliver
  • Asylum - Madeleine Roux
  • The Sin Eater's Daughter - Melinda Salisbury
  • Circa Now - Amber McRee Turner
  • A Time to Dance - Padma Venkatraman
  • The Whispering Trees - J. A. White
  • Bad Luck Girl - Sarah Zettel
I have also read:
  • Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez (3/5)
  • Locke & Key: Head Games by Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez (3/5)
  • Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen (5/5)
I am currently reading 4 books:
  • The Uninvited by Cat Winters (ARC)
  • A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman
  • A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
  • Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
I have caught up on 0 series, and I have started 1 new series/trilogies/duologies (Locke & Key).


For my 2015 Reading Challenge, I have completed 20 items:
  • A book with more than 500 pages: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
  • A book that became a movie: Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
  • A book published this year: Firefight by Brandon Sanderson
  • A book by a female author: Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas
  • A mystery or thriller: Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz
  • A book with a one-word title Ticker by Lisa Mantchev
  • A book from an author you love that you haven't read yet: Slaves of Socorro by John Flanagan
  • A book based on a true story: Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz
  • A book at the bottom of your to-read list: The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
  • A book based entirely on its cover: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
  • A book you can finish in a day: Beneath the Stone Forest by Jordan Quinn
  • A book set somewhere you've always wanted to visit: A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab
  • A book set in high school: Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
  • A book with magic: Thursdays with the Crown by Jessica Day George
  • A book by an author you've never read before: Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne
  • A book you own but have never read: Hollow City by Ransom Riggs
  • A book with bad reviews: Immortal Beloved by Cate Tiernen
  • A graphic novel: Locke & Key Volume 1: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez
I have 10 planned reads that I have yet to complete:
  • A classic romance: Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
  • A book of short stories: Clockwork Fairy Tales by Various Authors
  • A book with a number in the title: Survival Colony 9 by Joshua David Bellin
  • A book written by someone under 30: Wolfsblood by Hazel West
  • A book with nonhuman characters: The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail by Richard Peck
  • A book set in a different country: Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
  • A nonfiction book: Unbroken by Lauren Hillenbrand
  • A book a friend recommended: Impossible by Nancy Werlin
  • A trilogy: Delirium, Pandemonium, Requiem by Lauren Oliver
  • A book that was originally written in a different language: Dream a Little Dream by Kerstin Gier
I have 21 categories to still plan and complete:
  • A popular author's first book
  • A book that won a prize
  • A book your mom loves
  • A book that scares you 
  • A book more than 100 years old
  • A book you were supposed to read in school but didn't
  • A memoir
  • A book with antonyms in the title
  • A book that came out the year you were born
  • A book from your childhood
  • A book with a love triangle
  • A book set in the future
  • A book with a color in the title
  • A book that made you cry
  • A book that takes place in your hometown
  • A book set during Christmas
  • A book written by an author with your same initials
  • A play
  • A banned book
  • A book based on or turned into a TV show
  • A book you started but never finished

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Hedgehog Life: 7.13.15 - 7.19.15


This week has actually not been that busy. Compared to others. . . .

This Week I Read:
Sweet by Emmy Laybourne (4/5 strawberries)
- Locke & Key I: Welcome to Lovecraft (3/5 strawberries)
- Locke & Key II: Head Games (3/5 strawberries)
- Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen (5/5 strawberries)

This Week I Reviewed:
- Diary of a Mad Brownie by Bruce Coville
- Sweet by Emmy Laybourne

What's In Store For Next Week:
Monday: 2015 TBR Update #2
Tuesday: Top 10 Books That Celebrate Diversity
Wednesday: Waiting on Wednesday with Queen of Shadows
Thursday: Review of Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
Friday: ARC Review of The Uninvited by Cat Winters

I've been reading lots, though not as much as I should. I'm in a bit of a reading funk. I'm still plowing my way through an ARC of Cat Winters' new book The Uninvited - her first Adult novel. I'm almost done with it, but I have to confess that it's been a big disappointment to me so far. And it's made me not really want to read anything.

So! Instead, I've been. . . .Well, shopping. Clothes shopping. Dancing is awesome, but it does make it difficult to maintain a wardrobe that fits a person. As soon as I buy a few new things, I lose more weight and my new items don't fit so well anymore! It's a conundrum.

Apart from that, and dancing (of course), I've been not up to much. Or maybe I have and I just can't remember. I can't remember. . . .I know I did stuff this week, but I don't know what it was. How irritating. Couldn't have been too exciting, I guess!

Keep reading, my friends!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

ARC Review: Diary of a Mad Brownie - Bruce Coville

Diary of a Mad Brownie by Bruce Coville
Genre: Middle Grade, fantasy
Published on June 30, 2015
Published by Random House
Pages: 208
Read From: 07.07.15 - 07.08.15













SYNOPSIS
Meet Angus! Angus is a brownie - a MAGICAL creature from the Enchanted Realm that secretly loves to do chores for humans. 
Meet Alex! Alex is an ORDINARY kid. 
Angus as a temper problem. Alex has the world's messiest room. 
For better or worse (and things are going to get a whole lot worse!), the two are about to be thrown together by a centuries-old curse. 
Featuring diary entires, newspaper clippings, police transcripts, grumpy cats, annoying older brothers, terrible poetry, daring rescues, ancient magic, the occasional fit of temper, and more, Bruce Coville brings fantasy, adventure, and humor together in a one-of-a-kind tale of family and friendship that will have readers laughing out loud!


Review

Dear Diary of a Mad Brownie,


I'm always open to Bruce Coville and Middle Grade novels. So when a friend handed you to me, I was all for it! Plus, you were a quick read; perfect for a breather between some of my longer novels. You were a treat read.

You're narrated through the journal of Angus, a brownie that's been cursed to serve the same family forever - or until the curse is broken. Angus doesn't mind it so much, until the current woman he lives with dies and he's forced to travel all the way to America to serve the next girl in line. Alex could use a brownie. She's been deemed the world's messiest girl by both her family and her teacher. It's a job that only a brownie as courageous and hardworking as Angus could accomplish. But there's one problem: Alex doesn't want a brownie. And unfortunately for Alex, she has no choice, for the curse won't allow Angus to leave. To make matters worse, the curse also has a bad side effect for the male members of Alex's family. So unless Alex wants to end up homeless, she and Angus must set out to break the curse once and for all.

Angus is a thoroughly amusing, fun narrator; I just loved him. And Alex is full of spunk and intelligence. Combined with Angus's short temper and penchant for mischief, the two make for quite the dynamic duo. I am a sucker for the journal-narration style, and this narration was also interspersed with letters, relevant newspaper clippings, some journal entries from Alex, and various notes exchanged between other characters. I really don't know what it is about this narration style, but I love it.

The plot itself was really fun, too. You could be accused of being preachy about being tidy, but it was done in such a humorous way and the plot of the curse became so prevalent that I really didn't care. You were just a fast, fun, humorous read that I really, really, really enjoyed.

Feeling amused,
~ Mara A. ~


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: Percy Jackson's Greek Heroes

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



Percy Jackson's Greek Heroes
by Rick Riordan
Publication Date: August 18, 2015

From Goodreads:

Who cut off Medusa's head? Who was raised by a she-bear? Who tamed Pegasus? It takes a demigod to know, and Percy Jackson can fill you in on all of the daring deeds of Perseus, Atalanta, Bellerophon, and the rest of the major Greek heroes. Told in the funny, irreverent style Readers have come to expect from Percy, (I've had some bad experiences in my time, but the heroes I'm going to tell you about were the original old school hard luck cases. They boldly screwed up where no one had screwed up before. . . .) and enhanced with vibrant artwork by Caldecott Honoree John Rocco, this story collection will become the new must-have classic for Rick Riordan's legions of devoted fans - and for anyone who needs a hero. So get your flaming spear. Put on your lion skin cape. Polish your shield and make sure you've got arrows in your quiver. We're going back about four thousand years to decapitate monsters, save some kingdoms, shoot a few gods in the butt, raid the Underworld, and steal loot from evil people. Then, for dessert, we'll die painful, tragic deaths. Ready? Sweet. Let's do this.

Why I'm Excited

- I like anything related to the Percy Jackson series.
- Pretty illustrations!
- If it's anything like Percy Jackson's Greek Gods, it'll be awesome and the most comprehensive compilation of Greek mythology you'll ever find.

Monday, July 13, 2015

2015 TBR Update #1

So it's been a while since I've done one of these updates, but I'm going to try and do them on Mondays on a regular basis. Not only so you can stay up to date on my reading challenges, but also my TBR progress for the months.

So my July TBR has 20 official books. Out of those, I have completed 3:
  • Let's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid (2/5)
  • The Wicked Will Rise by Danielle Paige (4/5)
  • Sweet by Emmy Laybourne (4/5)
I have 17 left to read:
  • Northanger Abbey - Jane Austen
  • Never Fade - Alexandra Bracken
  • Waistcoats & Weaponry - Gail Carriger
  • The Eye of Minds - James Dashner
  • Under the Egg - Laura Marx Fitzgerald
  • An Abundance of Katherines - John Green
  • Libriomancer - Jim C. Hines
  • The Lost Kingdom - Matthew J. Kirby
  • Devoted - Jennifer Mathieu
  • Hidden - Donna Jo Napoli
  • The Spindlers - Lauren Oliver
  • Asylum - Madeleine Roux
  • The Sin Eater's Daughter - Melinda Salisbury
  • Circa Now - Amber McRee Turner
  • A Time to Dance - Padma Venkatraman
  • The Whispering Trees - J. A. White
  • Bad Luck Girl - Sarah Zettel
I have also read:
  • Diary of a Mad Brownie by Bruce Coville (4/5)
I am currently reading 3 books:
  • The Uninvited by Cat Winters (ARC)
  • A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
  • Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
I have caught up on 1 series (Dorothy Must Die), and I have started 0 new series/trilogies/duologies.


For my 2015 Reading Challenge, I have completed 19 items:
  • A book with more than 500 pages: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
  • A book that became a movie: Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
  • A book published this year: Firefight by Brandon Sanderson
  • A book by a female author: Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas
  • A mystery or thriller: Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz
  • A book with a one-word title Ticker by Lisa Mantchev
  • A book from an author you love that you haven't read yet: Slaves of Socorro by John Flanagan
  • A book based on a true story: Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz
  • A book at the bottom of your to-read list: The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
  • A book based entirely on its cover: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
  • A book you can finish in a day: Beneath the Stone Forest by Jordan Quinn
  • A book set somewhere you've always wanted to visit: A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab
  • A book set in high school: Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
  • A book with magic: Thursdays with the Crown by Jessica Day George
  • A book by an author you've never read before: Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne
  • A book you own but have never read: Hollow City by Ransom Riggs
  • A book with bad reviews: Immortal Beloved by Cate Tiernen
I have 10 planned reads that I have yet to complete:
  • A classic romance: Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
  • A book of short stories: Clockwork Fairy Tales by Various Authors
  • A book with a number in the title: Survival Colony 9 by Joshua David Bellin
  • A book written by someone under 30: Wolfsblood by Hazel West
  • A book with nonhuman characters: The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail by Richard Peck
  • A book set in a different country: Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
  • A nonfiction book: Unbroken by Lauren Hillenbrand
  • A book a friend recommended: Impossible by Nancy Werlin
  • A trilogy: Delirium, Pandemonium, Requiem by Lauren Oliver
  • A book that was originally written in a different language: Dream a Little Dream by Kerstin Gier
I have 22 categories to still plan and complete:
  • A popular author's first book
  • A book that won a prize
  • A book your mom loves
  • A book that scares you 
  • A book more than 100 years old
  • A book you were supposed to read in school but didn't
  • A memoir
  • A book with antonyms in the title
  • A book that came out the year you were born
  • A book from your childhood
  • A book with a love triangle
  • A book set in the future
  • A book with a color in the title
  • A book that made you cry
  • A graphic novel
  • A book that takes place in your hometown
  • A book set during Christmas
  • A book written by an author with your same initials
  • A play
  • A banned book
  • A book based on or turned into a TV show
  • A book you started but never finished

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Hedgehog Life: 7/6/15 - 7/12/15



You know, as soon as I say: "This upcoming week is pretty slow," things get busy again! How does this happen, I ask? Do I have a band of imps following me that, as soon as I say something like that, they do everything within their power to make things crazy for me?

This Week I Read:
- The Wicked Will Rise by Danielle Paige (4/5 strawberries)
- Diary of a Mad Brownie by Bruce Coville (4/5 strawberries)

This Week I Reviewed:

What's In Store For Next Week:
Monday: 2015 TBR Update #1
Tuesday: Last 10 Books That Came Into My Possession
Wednesday: Waiting on Wednesday with Percy Jackson's Greek Heroes
Thursday: ARC Review of  Diary of a Mad Brownie by Bruce Coville
Friday: 

Dance lessons continue! I never thought I was a "good dancer." I'm a fair dancer; I can keep a beat, I learn quickly, I'm getting better at being in tune with my lead and also doing stylistic improvising when it's appropriate, and I'm a lot less stiff and nervous than I used to be. But I'm still not a "good dancer." I have plenty of places to improve; hence the lessons. Like any dancer wanting to constantly improve, I actually am better than I think, but I'm still so-so. And LindyHop has just proven how much I still need to work on. Regarded as the most (or one of the most, at least) athletic, most complicated social dance style out there, I'm having a ton of fun trying to master it. I am the furthest thing from being even moderately good at it, but I really, really enjoy the challenge, and it's helped me be more aware of myself even during East Coast and Blues. What makes things even more difficult is not having a lead I can practice with on a regular basis. It's not impossible, but it does make it harder to work on certain things.

So other than being busy, busy with dancing (and I have plans on getting even more busy with dance in August), I've had a few other things on my plate. Like reorganizing my library yet again. Doing that reaffirmed that yes, I really must be on a book buying ban - for realzies this time. I simply cannot buy any more books right now. Not only because I can't really afford it, but also because I don't have the room. I need to read what I have first.

Thursday night, some gal pals and I went and saw Rifftrax Live: Sharknado 2. Because we need our seasonal dose of bad movie. Compared to the last Rifftrax Live, this was a walk in the park. I didn't walk away feeling defiled, at least. ;-)

Friday my aunt and my mom went to Debbie Macomber's teahouse in Port Orchard. I was going to take pictures, but my camera was being wonky. Again. Sigh. . . .I don't often get to do girl days with my aunt and mother, so it was super duper fun being able to do it. Very relaxing.

And then Saturday night was a crystal craft day with friends! Jewelry, windchimes, weird little statue thingies - it was so much fun. So while my week was super busy, it was a really fun busy. Next week. . . .Well, I would say it isn't as busy, but I know as soon as I say that the imps will make sure that it is! :-P

Keep reading, my friends!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Review: The Wicked Will Rise - Danielle Paige

The Wicked Will Rise by Danielle Paige
Series: Dorothy Must Die #2
Genre: YA, fairy tale retelling
Published on March 31, 2015
Published by HarperCollins
Pages: 293
Read From: 7.1.15 - 7.6.15












SYNOPSIS
My name is Amy Gumm - and I'm the other girl from Kansas. After a tornado swept through my trailer park, I ended up in Oz. 

But it wasn't like the Oz I knew from books and movies. Dorothy had returned, and she was stealing magic from the land. The Wizard was back. Glinda could no longer be called the Good Witch. And the Wicked Witches who were left? They'd joined forces as the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked, and they wanted to recruit me. 

My mission? Kill Dorothy. 

And when a group of former - possibly still - Wicked Witches tells you to do something, it's kind of hard to say no. Except my job as assassin didn't work out as planned. Dorothy is still alive. The Order has vanished. And the home I couldn't wait to leave behind might be in danger. 

Somehow, across a twisted and divided land, I have to find Nox and the rest of the Order, protect the true ruler of Oz, take Dorothy and her henchmen down - and try to figure out what I'm really doing here. But in a place where the line between good and evil shifts with a strong gust of wind, who am I supposed to trust? 

And who is actually wicked?

Review


Dear The Wicked Will Rise,

You are actually a really hard one to review. I was more than extremely eager to start you the moment I could. I absolutely loved your first book - Dorothy Must Die - and I could not wait to return to your twisted, dark, evil version of Oz. I'll say this right now: you didn't disappoint me in the least. But I read you so quickly that I didn't really absorb anything. And that makes it hard to write a review.

You pick up where Dorothy Must Die left off: Amy and Ozma are being taken to the queen of the flightless monkeys by Ollie after a failed attempt to assassinate Dorothy. The Order is scattered to heaven only knows where, and on top of having to track them down, Amy must also steal back from Dorothy's three henchmen what the Wizard originally gave them: the Lion's courage, the Scarecrow's brains, and the Tin Woodman's heart. One is already crossed off the list; now the other two remain. And only then can Dorothy be killed. But there's much more going on in Oz than Amy and even the Order realize.

You waste no time in getting into the action - and yes, you got even darker than I thought possible. It seems like the moment I think, This can't possibly get any more gruesome and twisted and upsetting and awesome, Danielle Paige pulls something to totally trump everything else. You opened up with just such a scene and it wowed me while simultaneously causing my mouth to literally fall open in shock. Did not see it coming!!

I loved each and every character you introduced: Lulu, queen of the Wingless Ones - monkeys who cut off their own wings as protest against Dorothy's reign - was disappointing and tragic and brave all at once; Ozma completely off her rocker yet intimidating when her true nature showed through; Button Bright and Polychrome such awesome renditions of the two classic characters that I practically squealed when they showed up. Let me reiterate that I hated the original Oz books and all the characters in them (except Toto), but I'm positively thrilled at how Danielle Paige has portrayed them, especially Bright and Polychrome. They are true to the original characters while being new and unique all at once.

You threatened for a while to have a potential future love triangle with Amy, Nox, and Pete - which I was not happy about. I like Nox and I like Pete, but I like Amy with Nox and Pete as a friend. Thank goodness, Wicked Will Rise, you pay close to no attention to the romance and also resolve this "potential" love triangle that completely worked. It could have gotten awkward and weird on so many levels.

So where did I have issues? I didn't, really, other than you were super short compared to Dorothy Must Die. My misgivings have to do with where the third book is going. That ending, I'll admit, I didn't really see coming. I guessed aspects of it, but not the overall conclusion. And I'm still not sure how I feel about it. It worked and was brilliant and was by no means a bad ending. But I worry how it's going to effect the next book; whether it will make it a little disappointing. I'm just not sure how I feel about it.

You are everything a second book in a series should be, Wicked Will Rise. You furthered the world and the plot and the characters. I loved all of the old characters and all of the new ones, and I love the direction this series is taking. Amy grows so much as a protagonist and is, to borrow the words of one of my friends, one of the most real protagonists I have ever read in YA fiction. Her struggles are understandable, her misgivings, her fears, her stubbornness, her distrust, and her fighting spirit. Dorothy continues to be a terrific villainess, as does Glinda, and this is an Oz that I really enjoy exploring. I can't wait to see what happens next, even if I'm a little worried about it.

Feeling intrigued,
~ Mara A. ~

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Review: Let's Get Lost - Adi Alsaid

Let's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid
Genre: YA, contemporary
Published on July 29, 2014
Published by Harlequin Teen
Pages: 338
Read From: 6.27.15 - 6.30.15













SYNOPSIS
Five strangers. Countless adventures. One epic way to get lost. 
Four teens across the country have only one thing in common: a girl named Leila. She crashes into their lives in her absurdly red car at the moment they need someone the most. 
Hudson, Bree, Elliot, and Sonia find a friend in Leila. And when Leila leaves them, their lives are forever changed. But it is during Leila's own 4,268-mile journey that she discovers the most important truth - sometimes, what you need most is right where you started. And maybe the only way to find what you're looking for is to get lost along the way.

Review

Dear Let's Get Lost,


You haven't gotten the most glowing reviews, but I wanted to try you anyway. I like road trip fiction and was in the mood for a fun, light read. My expectations weren't very high going into you and I'm glad they weren't.

You tell the story of five teens: Hudson, living in a small town as a mechanic with a promising future as a doctor at an expensive college; Bree, a young woman living on the road while struggling with the loss of her parents; Elliot, whose declaration of love to his lifelong friend on prom night didn't go so well; and Sonia, who's dealing with the loss of her longtime boyfriend and now suffering guilt now that she's fallen in love with someone else. All four of these teens have one thing in common: Leila. When they need a helping hand the most, Leila comes into their lives in her bright red car and offers hope that they never thought was possible. Leila herself has secrets, too: she's traveling across the country to see the Northern Lights, but she's being quiet about why.

Your narration is told in five different short stories that are all connected. I liked the narration style: it was easy to follow, the writing was simplistic but charming, and it was a pure fluff read. At first, Let's Get Lost, I was prepared to be indignant with you. Hudson's story started out interesting, as he takes Leila around his small town and shows her its hidden treasures. Hudson is a friendly, nice smalltown guy, easy to like. But I was extremely unhappy with how his story ended, and I was prepared for you to be a book about irresponsible teens messing their lives up. So I left Hudson's narration, prepared for more stupidity.

Bree's narration started out with the appearance of keeping the plot up. She's run away from home, discarded all responsibility, and goes around shoplifting. I didn't find anything to like about Bree; I was too annoyed and disgusted by her behavior (for the record, I don't approve of "harmless" vandalism and "small" theft, and I do really get tired of such themes in YA contemporary). But then Bree's story took on a different turn; Leila actually helped her (unlike Hudson, whose life she kind of ruined).

Elliot's story began with him getting drunk and contemplating suicide after his best friend tells him that she doesn't want their "golden friendship" to be ruined with confessed romantic feelings. I wanted to tell Elliot to get over himself. But then Leila shows up, almost hitting him with her car, and she sets out to help him win the girl before the night is out - because that's how it always goes in the rom-coms Elliot loves so much. Sure, Elliot's story was sappy and cliche and a little ridiculous, but I actually found myself grinning ridiculously throughout all of it. Sometimes even I need sappy, and it was sweet and adorable. Elliot's story warmed my heart.

As did Sonia's. It's the eve of her best friend's wedding, but Sonia is feeling anything but joyful. She had dated her friend's brother Sam, but then he died. And now she's fallen in love with her friend's brother-in-law, and Sonia is completely wracked with guilt. Is she betraying Sam's memory? Will his family ever forgive her? Enter Leila. This story, too, had me grinning like a fool. It was so sweet and a little sad.

Finally, we get to Leila's story. We at last find out why she's going to see the Northern Lights; why she's so vague about her past when people ask. I really liked this section; it made me really attach to Leila's character. But then the ending rolled around and I was prepared to be all indignant again. All of the other parts of the story were good; what was the point of Hudson's story?! I'll give you this, Let's Get Lost: you didn't leave me hanging. Everything - absolutely everything - came around full circle.

But despite this, you were still mostly an okay book. I liked aspects of you and your characters weren't bad, but I didn't deeply attach to anyone or any of the circumstances. You were a fun, fluffy, quick read - and there's nothing wrong with that. I need that from time to time. You just weren't my favorite.

Feeling so-so,
~ Mara A. ~

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: The Uninvited

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



The Uninvited
by Cat Winters
Publication Date: August 11, 2015

From Goodreads:

Twenty-five year old Ivy Rowan rises from her bed after being struck by the flu, only to discover the world has been torn apart in just a few short days.

But Ivy's life-long gift - or curse - remains. For she sees the uninvited ones - ghosts of loved ones who appear to her, unasked, unwelcomed, for they always herald impending death. On that October evening in 1918 she sees the spirit of her grandmother, rocking in her mother's chair. An hour later, she learns her younger brother and father have killed a young German out of retaliation for the death of Ivy's older brother Billy in the Great War.

Horrified, she leaves home, to discover the flu has caused utter panic and the rules of governing society have broken down. Ivy is drawn into this new world of jazz, passion, and freedom, where people live for the day, because they could be stricken by nightfall. But as her "uninvited guests" begin to appear to her more often, she knows her life will be torn apart once more, but Ivy has no inkling of the other-worldly revelations about to unfold.

Why I'm Excited

- It's a NEW CAT WINTERS book!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I looooooooooooooooove her books!
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