Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Reading Wrap-Up

I can't believe it's time for the 2014 Reading Wrap-Up! So many books this year! And so many of them good! It was so difficult to choose; to narrow it down! But I did, and here are the best and worst reads of 2014! As usual, they are ordered alphabetically by author's last name, because I can't choose which one is better (or worse) than the other. In total, I read 130 books this year. Woot! Woot! I read 5 1-strawberry books, 14 2-strawberry books, 42 3-strawberry books, 52 4-strawberry books, and 17 5-strawberry books. It was a good year.

Best Reads of 2014

Sea of Shadows
(Age of Legends #1)
by Kelley Armstrong
YA: fantasy
Rating: 4 out of 5 strawberries

Thief's War
(Knight & Rogue #4)
by Hilari Bell
YA: fantasy, adventure
Rating: 5 out of 5 strawberries

All the Light We Cannot See
by Anthony Doerr
Adult: historical fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5 strawberries

172 Hours on the Moon
by Johan Harstad
YA: suspense, horror
Rating: 4 out of 5 strawberries

Cruel Beauty
by Rosamund Hodge
YA: fairy tale retelling
Rating: 4 out of 5 strawberries

The Queen of the Tearling
(Tearling #1)
by Erika Johansen
Adult: fantasy
Rating: 5 out of 5 strawberries

The Night Circus
by Erin Morgenstern
Adult: historical fantasy
Rating: 5 out of 5 strawberries

The Shadow Throne
(The Ascendance Trilogy #3)
by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Middle Grade: adventure
Rating: 4 out of 5 strawberries

(Jackaby #1)
by William Ritter
YA: historical fantasy
Rating: 5 out of 5 strawberries

by V. E. Schwab
Adult: paranormal
Rating: 4 out of 5 strawberries

The Screaming Staircase
(Lockwood & Co. #1)
by Jonathan Stroud
Middle Grade: supernatural
Rating: 4 out of 5 strawberries

The One Safe Place
by Tania Unsworth
YA: dystopian
Rating: 4 out of 5 strawberries

The Cure for Dreaming
by Cat Winters
YA: historical fiction, supernatural
Rating: 4 out of 5 strawberries

2014 Worst Reads

After the Parch
by Sheldon Greene
YA: futuristic
Rating: 1 out of 5 strawberries

Concrete Fever
by Nathaniel Kressen
Adult: contemporary
Rating: 1 out of 5 strawberries

by Rainbow Rowell
YA: contemporary
Rating: 1 out of 5 strawberries

by John Tammela
Middle Grade: nonfiction
Rating: 1 out of 5 strawberries

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

December 2014 Book Haul

It's time to show off the books I got in December! Given previous months, I'm very proud of myself. I didn't go overboard. I treated myself to a few unplanned buys, but not many and mostly stuck to what I had listed in my budget.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Review: Anna Dressed in Blood - Kendare Blake

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
Series: Anna #1
Genre: YA, supernatural, horror
Published on October 17, 2011
Published by Tor Teen
Pages: 316

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: he kills the dead. 
So did his father before him, until his gruesome murder by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead - keeping pesky things life the future and friends at bay. 
When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn't expect anything outside of the ordinary: move, hunt, kill. What he finds instead of a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, but now stained red and dripping blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian house she used to call home. 
But she, for whatever reason, spares his life.


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? It's spooky and gray with splashes of red - yes, I like the cover. Perfect for this book!

Characters: Cas is an awesome protagonist. He's sarcastic, smart, and maybe one of my new favorite teen male protagonists. Even when he's in a bad situation, Cas doesn't lose his sense of humor. He keeps his swagger while he tries to make it work to his advantage. I didn't think I would like Carmel at first, but she quickly grew on me. She's a popular girl, but she isn't typical, and she isn't squeamish. I came to really care about Anna, especially when we got her backstory. I wanted to like Will, but he quickly crossed the line and I began to dislike him a lot - even though I sort of felt sorry for him at the same time.

The Romance: It wasn't as weird as I thought it was going to be. Normally the whole "guy falls in love with ghost" plot device doesn't really work for me. It's. . . .strange. But the romance was actually extremely subtle and not the story's main focus.

Plot: Cas Lowood hunts ghosts. It's an occupation he inherited from his father, who was murdered by a ghost he was hunting. Now, Cas and his mother (who's also a witch) travel around, following local lore and legend, looking for malevolent ghosts and demons to put to rest. Where they go after they've been taken care of, Cas doesn't know. And he doesn't want to. When he gets a tip about Anna Dressed in Blood - an especially violent ghost who's been tearing people limb from limb - he knows there's something special about her. But he isn't prepared for her when he finally does meet her. Anna Dressed in Blood has never spared anyone. As soon as they cross the threshold of her house, they are dead. But Cas she spares. There's much more to Anna than just a mere tortured soul. And Cas is determined to find out what. Okay, this book seriously reminded me of Supernatural. Massively so. Which made me love it all the more. The plot is fast-paced and engaging and there's lots of mystery going on. Especially about Cas's father's murder. This is a duology; you know it's going to come up at some point. And when it does - well, let's just say it got interesting. At the same time, along with all the action and spooky stuff, there's a lot of world building done. And it's woven in almost seamlessly, so there's no information overloads and the plot is never slowed down, but the information isn't sparse.

Believability: Not applicable.

Writing Style: First person, present tense. Loved Cas as the narrator; added a lot of humor, though this is a very dark story. The humor is subtle and rare, which makes it that much better when it did happen. I didn't mind the present tense at all. My only niggly was the red ink, but that's just me.

Content: 27 s-words, 14 f-words, 4 g--damns. The ghosts - especially Anna when she's morphed into her creepy, torturous self - are downright disturbing and demonic at times. The murder scenes are violent and brutal. And while there's humor in the story, it's mostly very dark.

Conclusion: What a climax! So, so creepy! But not drawn out to the point where it got boring. This didn't need a sequel. But I definitely see where there's room for one. Anna Dressed in Blood is creepy, disturbing at times, and engaging. It also has surprisingly complex characters that you learn to love and to hate. It's a lot more than a horror story (though it's also that). And I have to admit that I wasn't expecting that.

Recommended Audience: Girl-and-guy read, eighteen-and-up, fans of horror, dark ghost stories, and Supernatural!

Others in This Duology:
1)Anna Dressed in Blood
2)Girl of Nightmares

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Stacking the Shelves #71

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


Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can't wait. In just a few weeks she'll have the operation that will turn her from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty. And as a pretty, she'll be catapulted into a high-tech paradise where her only job is to have fun.

But Tally's new friend Shay isn't sure she wants to become pretty. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world - and it isn't very pretty. The authorities offer Tally a choice: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. Tally's choice will change her world forever. . . .

The Only Thing to Fear by Caroline Tung Richmond
It's been nearly eighty years since the Allies lost World War II in a crushing defeat against Hitler's genetically engineered super soldiers. America has been carved up by the victors, and sixteen-year-old Zara lives a life of oppression in the Eastern American Territories. Under the iron rule of the Nazis, the government strives to maintain a master race, controlling everything from jobs to genetics. Despite her mixed heritage and hopeless social standing, Zara dares to dream of an America she's only read about in banned books - a land of freedom and equality.

Rumblings of a revolution are growing in the Territories, and a rogue rebel group known as the Alliance is plotting a deadly coup. Zara might hold the key to taking down the Fuhrer for good. . . .but it also might be the very thing that destroys her. Because what she has to offer the Alliance is something she's spent her entire life hiding from the world, under the threat of immediate execution by the Nazis.
The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings
Close your eyes and feel your enemy's weakness.

Mind over body.
Mind over body.
Mind over body.

Now survive.

Welcome to the Murder Complex. You cannot see us. You cannot feel us. But we are here. And we control your every move.

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld
Believing is dangerous. . . .

Darcy Patel is afraid to believe all the hype. But it's really happening - her teen novel is getting published. Instead of heading to college, she's living in New York City, where she's welcomed into the dazzling world of YA publishing. That means book tours, parties with her favorite authors, and finding a place to live that won't leave her penniless. It means sleepless nights rewriting her first draft and struggling to find the perfect ending. . . .all while dealing with the intoxicating, terrifying experience of falling in love - with another writer.

Told in alternating chapters is Darcy's novel, the thrilling story of Lizzie, who wills her way into the afterworld to survive a deadly terrorist attack. With survival comes the responsibility to guide the restless spirits that walk our world, including one ghost with whom she shares a surprising personal connection. But Lizzie's not alone in her new calling - she has counsel from a fellow spirit guide, a very desirable one, who is torn between wanting Lizzie and warning her that. . . .

Believing is dangerous.

The Accidental Highwayman by Ben Tripp
In eighteenth-century England, young Christopher "Kit" Bristol is the unwitting servant of notorious highwayman Whistling Jack. One dark night, Kit finds his master bleeding from a mortal wound, dons the man's riding cloak to seek help, and changes the course of his life forever. Mistaken for Whistling Jack and on the run from redcoats, Kit is catapulted into a world of magic and wonders he thought the stuff of fairy tales.

Bound by magical law, Kit takes up his master's quest to rescue a rebellious fairy princess from an arranged marriage to King George III of England. But his task is not an easy one, for Kit must contend with feisty Princess Morgana, goblin attacks, and a magical map that portends his destiny: as a hanged man upon the gallows. . . .

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray
Marguerite Caine grew up surrounded by cutting-edge scientific theories, thanks to her brilliant physicist parents. Yet nothing is more astounding than her mother's latest invention - a device called the Firebird, which allows people to leap into alternate dimensions.

When Marguerite's father is murdered, all the evidence points to one person - Paul, her parents' enigmatic star student. Before the law can touch him, Paul escapes into another dimension, having committed what seems like the perfect crime. But he didn't count on Marguerite. She doesn't know if she can kill a man, but she's going to find out.

With the help of another physics student, Theo, Marguerite chases Paul through various dimensions. In each new world Marguerite leaps to, she meets another version of Paul that has her doubting his guilt and questioning her heart. Is she doomed to repeat the same betrayal?

As Marguerite races through these wildly different lives - a grand duchess in a Tsarist Russia, a club-hopping orphan in a futuristic London, a refugee from worldwide flooding on a station in the heart of the ocean - she is swept into an epic love affair as dangerous as it is irresistible.

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

December 22, 2014 - Monday
December 23, 2014 - Tuesday
December 24, 2014 - Wednesday
December 25, 2014 - Thursday
December 26, 2014 - Friday
December 27, 2014 - Saturday

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

December 29, 2014 - Monday
Review: Anna Dressed in Blood - Kendare Blake
December 30, 2014 - Tuesday
December Book Haul
December 31, 2014 - Wednesday
2014 Reading Wrap-Up
January 1, 2015 - Thursday
Happy New Year!
January 2, 2015 - Friday
Review: Pennyroyal Academy - M. A. Larson
January 3, 2015 - Saturday
Mini Break!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Guest Post: Best Reads of 2014

Time for a guest post, and this time through I asked my friends to talk a little about their top five favorite reads of 2014! Because yes, we're getting that time of the year! Can't believe it!

Cayla's Top 5 of 2014

To be honest, I didn't read as many books this year as I was hoping (my unfinished 2014 challenge on Goodreads mocks me). Nevertheless, I did read a couple of great, memorable books this year. I should note this list doesn't include books that were re-reads (North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell would have made it, otherwise).

  1. Ripper by Stephan Petrucha: This is one of the few books in recent years that has thrown me totally for a look (minus Agatha Christie). I'd almost forgotten what it was like to be completely surprised by an ending and I enjoyed every minute of it. Even if the rest of the book sounds boring (and it isn't), you ought to try it just for the ending. ;) Still, there was much more to enjoy in Ripper, from the characters (Hawking is still one of my favorites from this year) to the intriguing mystery. This book definitely stood out in my year as a very memorable read. Now when is Petrucha going to write another book like it?! ;)
  2. The Shadow Within by Karen Hancock: I've been making my way through this series, slowly but surely. I'm always a little hesitant to pick up a book in it because they're so long with such tiny print, but I never regret it once I start. Hancock has a very beautiful way of writing with gorgeous descriptions and great dialogue. Plus, she has a wonderfully realized world with great characters. I find it very easy to lose myself in her stories, and this one was no different. It's one of those books that you just want to find a comfortable place to cuddle up in for a few hours and sink into the world you're reading. I'm a little hesitant to read the rest of the books in the series just because I don't want it to end! :)
  3. The Mirk and Midnight Hour by Jane Nickerson: In all honesty, I didn't enjoy this book as much as the author's first Strands of Bronze and Gold, but it was still a standout amongst all the books I read this year. This is another author who really has a beautiful way of writing. Her imagery and descriptions build palpable tone and I love it! :) Her characters also have surprising complexity and realism and develop nicely throughout the novel. The time period and location for this story was very unique for a fairy tale retelling (Mississippi during the Civil War) and it added a lot of charm. Probably one of the best parts about the book was that everything just seemed so vibrant and real. I did take a little issue with the theme of voodoo throughout, but I still enjoyed it.
  4. The Princess in the Opal Mask by Jenny Lundquist: I'll start right off by saying that this book is nothing spectacular when it comes to plot or prose, but I really enjoyed it. First of all, I'm a big fan of fairy tale and fantasy stories and sometimes I want to get away from the heavy and angst-y mood in a lot of YA books and just read something light. This book fit both of those qualifications to the bill. :) I loved the idea of a decoy queen and the use of masks and I found the main character (Wilha) both sympathetic and interesting. I'm really looking forward to the second book from this series!
  5. Dracula by Bram Stoker: I have a book club to thank for me picking up this one (I likely wouldn't have read it otherwise). More recent paranormal books (*cough* Twilight *cough*) have kind of turned me off vampires entirely, but this book reminded me of the dark, scary, monstrous potential that vampires have (you can keep your sparkly, angst-y teenagers, thanks). The second half of this book was especially good and Dracula, of course, was both creepy and despicable. There were also many other interesting characters that developed nicely and all had their own roles to play. It was a nice change of pace from my usual reading and it was interesting to read the book largely responsible for starting the legend of vampires.

Katherine's Top 5 of 2014

  1. In the Woods by Tana French: Actually, the entire Dublin Murder Squad series were the best mysteries I've read all year. The series concerns a special police task force in Dublin, Ireland. The characters are emotionally complex, and the writing style is beyond gorgeous, and the whole series is just the best!! My favorite has to be In the Woods (though my least favorite is Faithful Place).
  2. Gated by Amy Christine Parker: I have this weird fascination with studying different religious beliefs and cults. Problem is, most fictionalized versions portray either over-the-top antics or dumb down the cults actions. With this book, I got a realistic portrayal of the physical and psychological manipulation of a cult. This book follows a girl named Lyla who moves with her family to the Midwest to become part of a Apocalyptic cult. But after she meets an Outsider, she starts to question the beliefs she's been taught. Gripping and spellbinding, you won't want to put this book down.
  3. Blood of My Blood by Barry Lyga: The final book in the Jasper Dent Trilogy by Barry Lyga. I've made no secret of my love for this series; I seriously think it's the best YA mystery series of all time. And the final book was everything I could ever hope for and more. The characters were just as likable as ever, and the twist at the ending. . . .oh my lanta THAT TWIST!!! If you haven't picked this book up already, you definitely should.
  4. Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman: Without a doubt, the best historical fiction book I've read this year. This new series follows Gretchen Mueller and her quest to find out what really happened to her father the night he died. With the help of a Jewish reporter named Daniel, Gretchen has to get close to the people her father worked with, the Nazi party. The author did a brilliant job portraying the characters in this book, especially Adolf Hitler and Gretchen's psychopath brother Reinhard. They're personalities are truly terrifying. And Daniel is the ultimate book boyfriend to read about.
  5. Every Breath by Ellie Marney: This book series is a runner-up in my "Best YA Mystery Series." A reimaging of Sherlock Holmes set in Australia, it follows James Mycroft (Sherlock) and Rachel Watts (Watson), as they try to solve the murder of a homeless man they called their friend. I personally thought the reimagining was done wonderfully, though fellow Sherlockians will probably disagree with me, hehe!!

Hazel's Top 5 of 2014

  1. Jackaby by William Ritter: Victorian era, mystery, amazing heroine, quirky detective, and faeries - what is not to like, I ask? Probably my favorite 2014 release and possibly my favorite read of the year. I can't say enough about this one!
  2. Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater: Continuing to love The Raven Cycle, and this one did not disappoint. In fact, it was better than I expected and less painful, too. As always, Maggie manages to write something so strange, yet so perfectly amazing, and once again leaves us with many questions and a terrible cliffhanger to boot. But I can't stop loving these books all the same.
  3. I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga: I read the whole trilogy this year, after a long time of it being on my TBR and loved it. So dark, so intense and addicting. It's been a long time since I read a book that really got into the psychology of a killer like this one did. Not books for the faint of heart, but my dark side loved it.
  4. The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen: I have loved this trilogy since the beginning, and the last book was no exception, very much everything I hoped for, and tied up the end perfectly. The only problem was that it was hard to let go of Sage, who has become one of my favorite fictional characters.
  5. Vicious by V. E. Schwab: I love me a good revenge story, and this one was totally awesome. I read this at the beginning of the year, and I still say it's one of the best reads of 2014. Villains done right are ones you actually find yourself caring about. This was a dark story, but wonderful as well. I have a feeling I'm going to be talking about this one for a while yet.

The Reading Hedgehog's Top 5 of 2014

To be honest, picking only 5 was hard. Thank God that in my Reading Wrap-Up at the end of the year, I don't limit how many I can choose! For this, though, I had to only narrow down to five. And bloody hell, I've read a lot of good books this year!

  1. Jackaby by William Ritter: Anyone who has been following my blog and Youtube channel saw this coming. I have raved about Jackaby to anyone who will listen (and even a few who won't) ever since I got an ARC and sped through it in one evening. Sherlock meets Doctor Who is as perfect a description as a person can give. Don't think it would work? Trust me; it does. Abigail becomes the assistant to R. F. Jackaby - investigator into the paranormal, supernatural, magical, and all things bizarre. The characters in this are amazing, the setting is amazing, the writing is amazing - this book is just amazing. Please, read it now!
  2. Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge: I am alone in loving this book so much. But it seriously is the best retelling of Beauty and the Beast I've read. It was unique and dark. The characters were flawed, but I loved them. The world building was different and sometimes confusing, but it all came together at the end. The writing was gorgeous. I just loved this book so much.
  3. Vicious by V. E. Schwab: Want a book where absolutely everyone in it is a villain on one level or another? Maybe I'm weird, but I like reading about villains. A lot. And this book is filled to the brim with them. And in some weird way, you start to sort of side with a few of them. This is a dark story, filled with dark characters, and it's awesome.
  4. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern: Another book I have been raving about nonstop and I'm sure a lot of people want to tell me to shut up. But it was so good! Seriously, if words were food, this book was a proverbial banquet. Every word and description just melted, and drew you further and further into this incredible world. I never wanted to leave.
  5. The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud: I loved, loved, loved this book! The scariest thing I've read all year. My hair was standing on end, and there's also a healthy dose of humor thrown in between. Very dark humor, mind you, but humor nonetheless. I loved the characters and the writing and the setting. Way, way awesome!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Review: The Crown of Embers - Rae Carson

The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson
Series: Bitter Kingdom Trilogy #2
Genre: YA, fantasy
Published on September 18, 2012
Published by Greenwillow Books
Pages: 410
Read From: 12.13.14 - 12.19.14

Elisa is a hero. 
She led her people to victory over a terrifying, sorcerous army. Her place as the country's ruler should be secure. But it isn't. 
Her enemies come at her like ghosts in a dream, from foreign realms and even from within her own court. And her destiny as the chosen one has not yet been fulfilled. 
To conquer the power she bears, once and for all, Elisa must follow a trail of long-forgotten - and forbidden - clues, from the deep, hidden catacombs of her own city to the treacherous seas. With her go a one-eyed spy, a traitor, and the man whom - despite everything - she is falling in love with. 
If she's lucky, she will return from this journey. But there will be a cost.


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? I do like the cover. I like the color scheme and the gem in the middle. I don't even mind the character impersonator, as she's not very prominent. The cover art is nice, but it doesn't wow me.

Characters: Elisa has grown so much as a character since the first book. She's more confident, proactive, and strong. At the same time, she still has some crippling doubts about her abilities. She is still scared and worried. It makes her human, and still gives her areas in which to grow. I can't wait to see what Elisa is like in Book #3. She's not so helpless in this one. And she also decides to learn how to defend herself. She's going to be so awesome when she's come into her own. And can I just say how much I love Hector, Captain of the Royal Guard? He's so awesome! Caring, protective, but also prepared to help Elisa stand on her own two feet. I also loved Martin, for however short of a time he was in the book. I've always liked Xemina, Elisa's guardian and nurse, but I started to dislike her in The Crown of Embers. I didn't like how she treated Hector, though I suppose she thought she was doing what was only right. Storm, a new character, is one of my new favorites, as is Tristan. Storm is mysterious and interesting and Tristan is just nice and adorable.

The Romance: Is it giving things away to say that Elisa and Hector start developing feelings for one another? No, I don't think it is. ;) I love Elisa and Hector, so I was totally okay with the pairing, and their romance was very sweet. My only complaint is Elisa's constant focus on wanting Hector physically, and worrying about getting pregnant. It cheapened their romance, and I hate it when that happens.

Plot: Elisa is the queen of Joya d'Arena, after Alejandro - the king she was forced to wed - dies. She has conquered the invading Inviernos and is now working to rebuild her kingdom and build faith in her people and counselors that she can rise to the task as ruler. However, the Inviernos will not stay down, and as assassination attempt after assassination attempt piles up, Elisa begins to suspect that someone within her own court is working with the enemy. Her Godstone is strangely quiet after her miraculous feat, and she still doesn't know how to harness it's power. In order to defeat the Inviernos, Elisa will have to draw more power. And in order to do so, she must travel to a place of myth, rumored to be the source of greatest power. But tapping into such raw power will come at a very high cost. It feels like there's more at stake in The Crown of Embers, and the pacing is much faster than it was in The Girl of Fire and Thorns. Multiple characters come close to death - and some don't recover. After what this Author did to Humberto and Alejandro, I didn't put anything past her. No character was safe! With the intrigue and mysterious quest to find the source of power, the plot was much more engaging and complicated. And I always enjoy complicated and engaging plotlines. The world building continues to amaze me. I love the Arabic/Hispanic flair she's chosen for her world, and I enjoyed learning more about the Inviernos and Joya d'Arena and its politics.

Believability: Not applicable.

Writing Style: First person, present tense. This is a series where the present tense is almost entirely unnoticeable. I kept thinking it was in past-tense. That's how present tense should work. You forget that it is.

Content: Elisa and Mara talk about "doing it," but not in any real detail.

Conclusion: Torture! Pure torture! Ahhh! I'm glad I own The Bitter Kingdom! This is definitely a trilogy that improves with each book. I liked The Girl of Fire and Thorns, but it felt slow at times, and I couldn't wait for the moment that Elisa got her mettle. The Crown of Embers was faster-paced, had a lot more intrigue, and a romance I thoroughly enjoyed.

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

Others in This Trilogy:
1)The Girl of Fire and Thorns
2)The Crown of Embers
3)The Bitter Kingdom

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!!

Merry Christmas to all!

I'm keeping this brief, but I hope you are all having a wonderful holiday! Mine has been awesome. It was an insane few days before Christmas. Last-minute gift shopping (got everyone covered, though! Yay me!), and then tons of baking. Stayed up into the wee hours baking snickerdoodles for the cookie potluck at swing class - that was a blast. Sugar highs and a live jazz band! And then of course craziness at work, more sugar highs just to get through the day, and insanity all around!

Had a wonderful Christmas Eve after I got home from the craziness. Slipped on cuddly socks and unwrapped presents. I received a beautiful blue Venetian mask, hedgehog stencils, snuggly pajamas (holiday tradition), hedgehog earrings, and best of all - my very own video camera! I can do longer, crisper, better Book Hauls now! It's the worlds most adorable camera, too - so tiny and cute and perfect. It seriously is no bigger than my hand. Smaller, even. It's perfect!

Then we watched A Christmas Carol with George C. Scott (the best version), as we always do, while eating homemade pizza, sipping sparkling cider, and cookies.

Today will be filled with preparing Christmas dinner, unpacking stockings (yes, in my family, we do prezzies on Christmas Eve; stockings Christmas Day. It extends the excitement), and fiddling with Robert my video camera (yes, I named it. Just as I named my mobile phone. Don't ask; I just happen to name inanimate objects). And then tomorrow I'm going to see PNB's The Nutcracker! Another holiday tradition! Can't wait!

Hope you all have the best of Christmases and I'll see you before the New Year!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday #72 + WWW Wednesday #42

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

by Brandon Sanderson
(Reckoners #2)
Publication Date: January 6, 2015

From Goodreads:

They told David it was impossible - that even the Reckoners had never killed a High Epic. Yet, Steelheart - invincible, immortal, unconquerable - is dead. And he died by David's hand.

Eliminating Steelheart was supposed to make life more simple. Instead, it only made David realize he has questions. Big ones. And there's no one in Newcago who can give him the answers he needs.

Babylon Restored, the old borough of Manhattan, has possibilities, though. Ruled by the mysterious High Epic, Regalia, David is sure Babylon Restored will lead him to what he needs to find. And while entering another city oppressed by a High Epic despot is a gamble, David's willing to risk it. Because killing Steelheart left a hole in David's heart. A hole where his thirst for vengeance once lived. Somehow, he filled that hole with another Epic - Firefight. And he's willing to go on a quest darker, and more dangerous even, than the fight against Steelheart to find her, and to get his answers.

Why I'm Excited

- It's the third Reckoners book!
- I am dying to find out what happens next! With all the twists at the end of Steelheart, I simply must know!

The Case of the Missing Moonstone
by Jordan Stratford
(The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency #1)
Publication Date: January 6, 2015

From Goodreads:

Lady Ava Byron, age eleven, is a genius. Isolated, awkward and a bit rude - but a genius. Mary Godwin, age fourteen, is a romantic. Adventurous, astute, and kind, Mary is to become Ada's first true friend. And together, the girls conspire to form the Wollstonecraft Detective Agency - a secret constabulary for the apprehension of clever criminals. Their first case involves a stolen heirloom, a false confession, and an array of fishy suspects. But it's no match for the deductive powers and bold hearts of Ada and Mary.

Why I'm Excited

- I am a sucker for Victorian mysteries, especially Middle Grade.
- This sounds adorable beyond words.

WWW Wednesday is hosted by Should Be Reading
What are you currently reading?
A girl from the forest arrives in a bustling kingdom with no name and no idea why she is there, only to find herself at the center of a world at war. She enlists at Pennyroyal Academy, where princesses and knights are trained to battle the two great menaces of the day: witches and dragons. There, given the name "Evie," she must endure a harsh training regimen under the steel glare of her Fairy Drillsergeant, while also navigating an entirely new world of friends and enemies. As Evie learns what it truly means to be a princess, she realizes surprising things about herself and her family, about human compassion and inhuman cruelty. And with the witch forces moving nearer, she discovers that the war between princesses and witches is much more personal than she could ever have imagined.

Halfway through this first book in a series, and loving it. It's a lot darker than I was expecting, but it's awesome. The characters are awesome, the world is awesome, and I'm loving it. Did I already say that?

What have you recently read?

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. They follow legends and local lore, destroy the murderous dead, and keep pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

Searching for a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas expects the usual: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian house she used to call home.

Yet she spares Cas's life.

I gave this first book in a duology 3 out of 5 strawberries. It was spooky, it was creepy, and downright disturbing at times. I liked the characters well enough, and the premise was intriguing (though it did remind of Supernatural quite a bit). I was even surprised that the romance was not nearly as prominent as some readers led me to believe. This isn't a complaint; romance between ghost and living person is something I always prefer to not be in a book. It's weird. But overall, this was a good book.

What do you plan on reading next?

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday #70 + Teaser Tuesday #31

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

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic: Top 10 Books I Wouldn't Mind Santa Bringing Me.

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Should Be Reading

He flicked his dark eyebrows, and then he was gone. A smile crept across her face as she watched him go. If Maggie really was mistaken, if he hadn't actually killed a dragon. . . .well. . . . Pennyroyal Academy by M.A. Larson (pg. 142)

Monday, December 22, 2014

Review: Emma and the Blue Genie - Cornelia Funke

Emma and the Blue Genie by Cornelia Funke
Genre: Beginning Reader, fantasy
Published on October 14, 2014
Published by Random House
Pages: 96
Read From: 12.19.14 - 12.19.14

One dark night, Emma finds a mysterious green bottle floating in the ocean. When she pulls out the stopper, she sets a blue genie free! 
Most genies grant three wishes, but Karim can't grant even one anymore. A yellow genie stole his magic nose ring, leaving him small, powerless, and trapped in that bottle. Emma and her noodle-tailed dog have to help Karim get his nose ring - and his magic - back!


A thoroughly charming tale of bravery, magic, and loyalty that only Cornelia Funke could write. With full-color illustrations, Emma and the Blue Genie invites readers to go on a whimsical Arabian Nights-like adventure with Emma and her dog, as they journey to a distant land to help Karim the Blue Genie reclaim his stolen magic nose ring from the evil Yellow Genie. He makes impossible demands on Karim's caliph and is slowly destroying Karim's city. But with the help of one courageous girl and dog, Karim might be able to defeat the Yellow Genie for good.

Needless to say, I loved this book. It's Cornelia Funke and about djinn. I loved The Arabian Nights ever since I was a kid. So much magic and treasure and strange things - what's not to love?! If this had been published when I was still a child, it would have been one of my absolute favorite books. As an adult, it actually still is.

Fans of Cornelia Funke won't be disappointed at all.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Stacking the Shelves #70

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


Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz
Days after Holmes and Moriarty disappear into the waterfall's churning depths, Frederick Chase, a senior investigator at New York's infamous Pinkerton Detective Agency, arrives in Switzerland. Chase brings with him a dire warning: Moriarty's death has left a convenient vacancy in London's criminal underworld. There is no shortage of candidates to take his place - including one particularly fiendish criminal mastermind.

Chase is assisted by Inspector Athelney Jones, a Scotland Yard detective and devoted student of Holmes's methods of deduction, whom Conan Doyle introduced in The Sign of Four. The two men join forces and fight their way through the sinuous streets of Victorian London - from the elegant squares of Mayfair to the shadowy wharfs and alleyways of the Docks - in pursuit of this sinister figure, a man much feared but seldom seen, who is determined to stake his claim as Moriarty's successor.

Gathering Darkness by Morgan Rhodes
Darkness has fallen upon Mytica, and the Golden Princess will be a prisoner no longer.

Cleo's forced marriage to Prince Magnus ended in the gruesome decimation of Jonas's rebel army. Now, she vows to take control of her own destiny - even if it means being as cunning and deceitful as greedy King Gaius, who stole her father's throne.

Princess Lucia's powers are growing stronger by the day and, much to Gaius's delight, the magic of the Kindred feels closer than ever Out of nowhere, Alexius, a handsome stranger from Lucia's dreams, arrives at the palace, promising that he knows the secret to unlocking the sorceress's full potential. Gaius is convinced that Alexius holds the key to unlocking the godlike force of the ancient elements. But Magnus doesn't trust this intruder for a minute. In times as dark as these, he of all people knows not to trust even the most angelic of faces.

But the King of Blood is not the only one in pursuit of total domination. Two beautiful and cunning royals from across the Silver Sea have come to Mytica with a plan to take in much more than the local culture. The race is on to uncover the Kindred. Whoever wins will control the fate of Mytica. . . .but fate can be fickle when magic is involved.

Thunder by Bonnie S. Calhoun
With evocative descriptions of a strange new world that combines elements of disturbing scientific advances, devious political conspiracy, and survival in a hostile wilderness, Bonnie S. Calhoun weaves a captivating tale of a society more like our own than we may want to admit. From the tension-laced first scene to the captivating last page, Thunder is an epic journey into the heart of humankind that explores how far we are willing to go when we're pushed to the limit.

Ticker by Lisa Mantchev
When Penny Farthing nearly dies, brilliant surgeon Calvin Warwick manages to implant a brass "Ticker" in her chest, transforming her into the first of the Augmented. But soon it's discovered that Warwick killed dozens of people as he strove to perfect another, improved Ticker for Penny, and he's put on trial for mass murder.

On the last day of Warwick's trial, the Farthings' factory is bombed, Penny's parents disappear, and Penny and her brother, Nic, receive a ransom note demanding all of their Augmentation research if they want to see their parents again. Is someone trying to destroy the Farthings. . . .or is the motive more sinister?

Desperate to reunite their family and rescue their research, Penny and her brother recruit fiery baker Violet Nesselrode, gentleman-about-town Sebastian Stirling, and Marcus Kingsley, a young army general who has his own reasons for wanting to lift the veil between this world and the next. Wagers are placed, friends are lost, romance stages an ambush, and time is running out for the girl with the clockwork heart.

Scorpion Mountain by John Flanagan
Fresh off of victory over their longtime nemesis, Tursgud, Hal and the Heron, summoned by King Duncan, set sail for Castle Araluen. Thrust into the dangerous world of Araluen, the Herons learn of a threat to Queen Evanlyn and whispers of a deadly sect known as the Scorpion Cult. Rumors say that Iqbal, who previously tried to assassinate Evanlyn at her wedding to Horace, might be planning another attempt. Not waiting to see if the knife will strike true, the Herons join forces with Gilan and his fellow Rangers to track down the would-be assassins.

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways. . . .until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else - an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah's story to tell. The later years are Jude's. What the twins don't realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they'd have a chance to remake their world.


Beneath the Stone Forest by Jordan Quinn
Clara invites Prince Lucas on her journey to map out the Stone Forest and visit the gnomes who live there. Unfortunately, Lucas has a visiting cousin who's a royal pain and doesn't want to get her hands dirty. But when Princess Bell's puppy gets lost in the tunnels beneath the Stone Forest, she realizes that the subjects who make up a kingdom are just as important as their rulers.

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

December 15, 2014 - Monday
December 16, 2014 - Tuesday
December 17, 2014 - Wednesday
December 18, 2014 - Thursday
December 19, 2014 - Friday
December 20, 2014 - Saturday

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

December 22, 2014 - Monday
Review: Emma and the Blue Genie - Cornelia Funke
December 23, 2014 - Tuesday
Top Ten Tuesday #70: Top 10 Books I Wouldn't Mind Santa Bringing Me
Teaser Tuesday #31
December 24, 2014 - Wednesday
Waiting on Wednesday #72 + WWW Wednesday #42
December 25, 2014 - Thursday
Merry Christmas!
December 26, 2014 - Friday
Review: The Crown of Embers - Rae Carson
December 27, 2014 - Saturday
Guest Post: Best Books of 2014

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Hedgehog Life: December 2014

Merry Christmas!

Well, almost. It's just a few short days away! I hope you have all had a wonderful December - and continue to do so! I don't know about you guys, but it's been crazy busy for me. Between work, Christmas shopping, Christmas baking, Christmas decorating, and going to holiday parties and events, it's just been nonstop come-and-go.

Of course, I got sick earlier this month, so that cut into my schedule rather rudely. Gave me a few days off to recuperate, but I'll tell you: getting sick isn't how I want time off. And I was so sick that I didn't get any reading or blogging done. It just kind of threw things off just enough to be annoying. But I recovered quickly! There was no way I was going to miss a night of swing class, so I told that bug who was boss. . . .And paid for it the next day. ;-) Worth it, though!

Despite running here and there, it's actually been a pretty quiet December. Oddly enough, it feels like I got a lot of things done early, so I can sit back and enjoy the other things, like baking and watching Christmas movies. And I've actually gotten out of my reading slump as well!

Yeah, you saw that I took a mini holiday from the blog. Didn't post anything. Well, hopefully I'm back on track again. I sped through three books last weekend, and I haven't done that in a while. All very good books, too! I read:

- Mara Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw
- The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters
- The Princess in Black by Shannon & Dean Hale
- Emma and the Blue Genie by Cornelia Funke

I am almost done with:

- The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson
- Wolfsblood by Hazel West
- Dracula by Bram Stoker

So maybe I'll get through a lot more books this month than I initially thought I would!

Merry Christmas, everyone!