Friday, July 31, 2015

Our July Favorites & August TBR

Hi friends!! Hope you've had some good reading in July! Here's what we loved and what we are looking forward to next month!


JULY FAVORITES

Jamie's Pick


God Shaped Hole
If you are wondering if this is a religious novel because of the title, not at all. You'll see what the "god-shaped hole" is that they talk about but the main characters aren't religious. But wow wow wow this book! This book WRECKED me and had me up until 2am reading (and sobbing) which is BIG for me. It's an adult fiction pick and just a great story about love. Read my full review!

 

Lauren's Pick


This book was just too cute and was exactly what I needed at the time. It was light and I blew through it in just a few days. You will fall in love with all of the characters without even realizing it.


Bridget's Pick


This book had so many great elements: history, horror, a little bit of romance (just enough to be sweet and not barfy)—sooo good. If it sounds like something you'd be interested in, check out my other blog in a few days for my review and an ARC giveaway!

ON OUR TBR FOR AUGUST

Jamie's Pick


Legacy of Kings
I am so excited for this historical fantasy -- ALEXANDER THE GREAT! The author knows her crap too when it comes to history so it's very promising!

 

Lauren's Pick


This book has been on my TBR list for way too long and it seems like I would that I would just adore. It's time to shove some books aside and make this one a priority!


Bridget's Pick


I think I might keep with my historical fiction theme after reading Orphan Number Eight and loving it. In the past, historical fiction hasn't really been my "thing," but it's been tickling my fancy recently. This one sounds really good! 


Tell us your favorite book you read in July and a book you are planning to read in August!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Lauren Reviews An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir 
Published: April 2015 by Razorbill
Source: Bought
Rating: 4 Stars

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free. Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do. 
But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.


I did a buddy read on this book with some fantastic ladies I met on Instagram. We all had the book and had kept putting it off and so we banded together to tackle this one. I really enjoyed this book. The only reason it didn't get 5 stars from me is because of Laia. She has done everything so she can save her brother, but at the same time she kind of half-asses it. If you're going to spy, then spy. Don't tip toe around it. 


Other than that, the world building aspect of the novel was on par, as were the characters' personalities. I could easily understand and feel the emotions that each character portrayed, which is something I think every book needs. I do wish I could've known more about Helene. She isn't mentioned in the summary of the book or even in most reviews that I've read. She is not one of the two main characters, but I believe she had a HUGE role in this book and overall... she was just badass. She's like the female equivalent to Braveheart's William Wallace. 


This was a wonderful debut and everyone is excited that this will not be a stand-alone novel. I admit.. I'm excited too. I just know I'll forgot everything and have to re-read this before the sequel comes out. This gets taxing, but more often than not.. it's worth it. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Ten Characters Who Are Fellow Book Nerds


For future Top Ten Tuesday topics & info on how to participate, click here!

This week's topic is inspired by Jamie's Top Ten Characters Who Love Words.

Lauren's Picks


The main character, Diana, in this book has centered her entire life around books. Albeit old ones, but fascinating books none the less. She studies them for a living and loves her job. Actually, I'm kind of jealous. 


Tyrion Lannister from this series is the witty, mostly drunken, bookish man with smarts. He just may be one of the smartest characters in the series and he credits his intelligence to books often. 


Jamie's Picks

3. Celaena from the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas

There are MANY things I love about Celaena but I freaking loved that she was a reader. She feels sad that nobody reads the books in the library and uses her charm to get Dorian to allow her to read them (he gives her his favorite and wants to discuss them!!). She stays up too late reading and devours books left and right…all while waking up the next morning and being a badass.


4. Paige from Emery Lord’s The Start Of Me & You
She’s a writer and has aspirations to go to a summer screen writing program. She’s been dubbed “Grammar Girl” (a nickname she isn’t too fond of). She’s a bookworm who love to reread and when she was younger would sneak off to read at slumber parties (I FEEL YOU GIRL)! And she won’t back down from a debate about Jane Austen.



5. Liesel from Markus Zusack’s The Book Thief
Liesel is a voracious reader who even did some breaking and entering to get some reading material.



Julia's Picks

6. Hermione from Harry Potter
How can we make a list of book nerds and not include Hermione who is almost literally always reading? I loved that she was a reader and could relate a lot to her bookish tendencies as I grew up reading Harry Potter. Book nerds unite!

7. Isaac Vainio from Libriomancer
Isaac is a Libriomancer which means he is entrusted with the sacred art of being able to pull things out of books and use them in life. There are of course strict rules, but the rules are meant to be... bent right? By nature of his job, Isaac would have to be a reader if only to catalog all of the cool shit you could pull from stories, or the things that should be avoided.

Bridget's Picks

8. Quentin from The Magicians
Quentin is an Ivy League-bound high school senior who discovers, much to his surprise, that he is a magician, and is admitted to a secret college of magic in upstate New York called Brakebills. Since childhood, he's been obsessed with a Narnia-like series that takes place in a land called Fillory—but after graduating from Brakebills, he and his friends discover that Fillory is real, and it's in trouble.

9. Madeleine Hanna from The Marriage Plot
An English major in her senior year of college, Madeleine is writing her thesis on Jane Austen and George Eliot, purveyors of the marriage plot that is the central conceit of many of the greatest English novels. So—English major, loves Austen and Eliot...how could she not be a book nerd?!

Kimberly's Picks
10. Jess from Ink and Bone
In a world where owning books is illegal, Jess knows the true value of the printed word. To him, a book is almost literally priceless. (His father has a different opinion.) I've only just started this book, but it is already a love story to book nerds.



Who are some of your favorite book nerds in fiction??







Monday, July 27, 2015

Do you prefer reading hardcovers or paperbacks?

I’ve always been a paperback girl myself, but now that I’m older I tend to track new releases a little more—Stephen King’s, at least—and as such, I always end up with hardcovers.

This is good for my burgeoning collection of first editions, but not so great for ease of reading. Then again, it’s always nice to be able to mark your page with the dust jacket of a hardcover. As you can see, I’m pretty conflicted, so I’m going to make a list of the pros and cons of each. If you have any to add, let me know in the comments!

Paperback* Pros and Cons

PRO: Small, light, and portable. More so than hardcovers, at least. If I can’t fit a book in my purse, that’s a strike against it (or at least that particular edition). I like that the pages are thinner and easy to flip, and when they get older they have this charming “old book” smell.

PRO: Smaller, more compact text. Maybe this is just me, and surely I won’t feel this way as I get older, but the trend toward 1.5-spaced paragraphs in books bugs me. I want to see a page look like this:



Not like this:



It’s sort of distracting for me if there’s too much space between each line. It also seems like such a waste of paper. This is something that bothers me about some trade paperbacks, too.

PRO: No slipcovers to rip/damage. Is there anything worse than a damaged slipcover?

CON: Still easy to damage. It’s easy to shove a paperback in your purse or backpack and go, sure, but that also means it’s easier to damage them that way. Bent covers, smushed pages—ugh, the worst. And they don’t have heavy covers to flatten the crumpled pages back into shape, so you have to pile other heavy books on top of it.

PRO: Cheap. Even if you do destroy your paperbacks, at least you have the cold comfort of knowing that you (probably) didn’t pay over $10 for it.

Hardcover Pros and Cons

PRO: They’re preeeetty. It’s no secret that hardcovers are often much prettier than their paperback cousins. Hardcovers are made to be displayed, whether in the bookstore to convince you to buy them or in your home so you can show off your collection.

CON: Large and sometimes awkward to read. Personally, I like to read in positions that aren’t really conducive to heavy hardcovers—I’m often holding the book over my head in one way or another. They also aren’t the easiest to travel with. I will say, though, that if I’m reading while I’m doing something else (i.e. eating, most likely) I like hardcovers because most of the time they’ll lie open on the table and I don’t have to exert any effort to keep reading. So their size and weight is sort of both a pro and a con here.

PRO: Potentially valuable. No one collects “first edition paperbacks.” (At least, no one I know of.) And why would you? A book is published first in hardcover if the author is big enough, and if they’re not, then why would you be keeping their first editions anyway? The exception, obviously, is if you have original paperbacks from before an author was big enough to merit a hardcover publication. They also use higher-quality paper and binding than paperbacks do, so they’re harder to damage.

CON: Dust jackets/slipcovers. Why oh why must dust jackets be a thing? They are probably my number one annoyance with hardcovers. They make the book slip around in your grip; they’re easy to damage; really, they’re so much more trouble than they’re worth. The only good thing about them is that you can use the flaps to mark your place, but half the time even that results in bending or otherwise abusing the slipcover. I long for the good old days when books’ covers were actually imprinted on the cover rather than on a piece of paper that covers the cover.

How about you? Do you prefer hardcovers or paperbacks? Did I miss any pros and cons for either one?


*”Paperback” refers to “mass market paperback,” in almost all cases, unless I specify trade paperback.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Tahleen reviews about 3/4 of The Martian by Andy Weir

Title: The Martian
Author: Andy Weir
Publisher: Brilliance Audio, 2014 (print edition available from Crown)
Narrator: R.C. Bray

How can you not want to keep reading a book with this as a first line: "So I'm pretty much f***ed."

This is the story of Mark Watney, one of the astronauts on the Ares 3 mission on Mars. Through a series of very unfortunate events, Mark ends up left alone on Mars, stranded, with the entire world thinking he's dead. He must depend on his wits, engineering skills, and botanist background to keep himself alive.

I am enjoying this book VERY much. It's a great audiobook; R.C. Bray is a great reader. But what I'm really enjoying is how funny it is. I never expected to laugh so much while listening to a book about the dire situation of a guy stranded on Mars. But it is extremely entertaining.

There is a lot of technical stuff going on, but I think that's part of the reason why I like it so much too. I'm not a technically minded person; I don't know much about engineering or space exploration or Mars. But Weir does a great job explaining it, especially to lay readers. I think it's because I can actually believe this stuff could happen. I don't really have to suspend my disbelief much. And from other reviews I've read, it sounds like most of the science is pretty solid.

I also like the writing technique of using log entries. It makes sense, considering he is utterly alone and there would be no conversation, so his goofy personality comes out and it's great. But even though it is very funny, it's also a thriller. So far Mark has almost died a BUNCH of times. So sometimes I'm in my car laughing, or sometimes I'm white-knuckled, gripping my steering wheel.

Bonus: This is going to be a movie soon starring Matt Damon. So there's that. This book would definitely translate well to film. Not to mention it won an Alex Award, which are given to adult books with teen appeal.

I don't yet know how the story of Mark Watney ends, but I'm definitely looking forward to finding out! I highly recommend this audiobook, for science buffs, nerds, or anyone who enjoys a great story.

Disclosure: I got a copy of this audiobook from my local library.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Lauren Reviews The Escape by Hannah Jayne + Giveaway

The Escape by Hannah Jayne
Published: July 2015 by Sourcebooks Fire
Source: eARC
Rating: 3 Stars

When two boys walk into the woods, and one comes out covered in blood, what would you believe?

Fletcher and Adam venture into the woods for an afternoon hike, but when day turns into night and neither boy returns, their town is thrown into turmoil. Avery, the detective's daughter, is the one to find Fletcher - dishelved, disoriented, and covered in blood. He has no memory of what happened, but Avery can't shake the feeling that something's off. When Adam's body is finally found, Avery is determined to uncover the truth. But if she stands by her gut, and Fletcher, is she standing by a friend, or a murderer? The answer might cost her her life.

This was a nice psychological thriller that I read in about two sittings. Fletcher is the weird kid in school that most people just ignore, Adam is the jock that every adores, and Avery is the smart girl that people just label as the police chief's daughter. Adam is one of Fletcher's only friends and they go on a hike that ends up in tragedy. The day after the hike, Fletcher is found close to death by Avery, while Adam was still missing.

Fletcher tries so hard to remember what exactly happened to him. You can almost feel his agony with himself, his anger at not being able to remember to help Adam. Adam's body is found and Fletcher's life is thrown into a hellfire. Now his classmates say he killed Adam, instead of previously speculating that there was a killer on the loose. 

This has the small town feel that reminding me of the Salem Witch Trials. I felt like the townsfolk where scared, and looking for someone to blame. All the while Avery takes up a place beside Fletcher to help him remember.. to remember anything and to also just be his friend. Avery takes after her dad and tries to do a little detective work. She thinks of everyone's safety at all times and always has her sights set on finding Adam's killer. 

Overall, I enjoyed this book. Unfortunately, I guessed who the killer was midway through the book, but to be fair.. I do that quite frequently and it is annoying. I run books and movies for myself. I'd recommend this book if you are looking for some mystery, detailed/in-depth characters, and a completely mind-bending reading experience.


About the Author
Hannah Jayne is possibly the only person living in Silicon Valley who has never worked in high tech. When she’s not writing, she’s obsessively watching HGTV or shopping at Target.. also obsessively. Find out more about Hannah’s urban fantasy, young adult thrillers, and latest obsessions at hannah-jayne.com.



Now on to the giveaway! Giveaway ends July 31st. Open to U.S. and Canada residents only. Must be 13 or older to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Cross-posted at The Tattooed Biblio

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Ten Books That Celebrate Diversity/Diverse Characters


For future Top Ten Tuesday topics & info on how to participate, click here!

Today we really wanted to highlight books that feature diversity*. There have been a lot of discussions and panels in the past couple years about the lack of diversity in publishing or the lack of attention these great titles get mainstream. The group We Need Diverse Books has been really leading the charge in highlighting diverse books, advocating and educating. I highly checking out their site for great recommendations, to learn what they are about and how you can help! Top Ten Tuesday has been a great source of recommendations and highlighting books that might not get talked about all the time so I'm hoping everyone will find some really great diverse books to check out

*For the purposes of this topic our definition of diversity is aligned with that of WNDB: "We recognize all diverse experiences, including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities."

Lauren's Picks


The main character of this book is a smart teenager (he literally can remember every single thing he's ever heard in his entire life), but everyone calls him "retarded". They call him that in the literal sense because everyone thinks he is mentally retarded, as well as using it as an insult or a broad term meaning "slow". He has zero control over his body. He cannot move any muscles, cannot swallow... he can't even look where he wants. BUT.. he is there. He can read.. hell he's probably smarter than me. And he perseveres throughout this small little book. It is definitely an interesting read and with one of the most unique main characters that is disabled that I've ever stumbled upon.



The main character of this book is a young Korean girl who turns into a picture bride, which back in in the 1910s were young women who were matched with a man overseas, then that man would send money for his new bride to come to his country. The main character was tricked into marrying an abusive, poor farmer in Hawaii. The main character in this book blossoms into a strong woman and makes life long friendships with other picture brides, all of whom stay true to their heritage and make the best of a seemingly impossible situation. I read this book years ago and still think about the main character's strength when she was trapped in a far away place, where everyone spoke a different language, with an abusive husband, and virtually nothing to hang on to.  


Tahleen's Picks

 

 


This memoir in verse won many awards this year, including a Newbery Honor and the Coretta Scott King award. It's just lovely. Woodson recounts both her life growing up in North Carolina and New York City, as well as a subtler, more general look at the way the world was while she was growing up. I listened to the audio, narrated by Woodson herself, and I still want to read the print book.




I love this series. Not only because they are fun and funny, great for kids around the third grade level, but because they are so true to the modern Hawaiian culture. Characters talk in pidgen, every character has a different ethnic background (I believe Hawaii is one of the most if not THE most diverse state in the union), and just little details that clearly show us what it means to live in Hawaii. I love that so much; reading these books must feel like home to the kids who live there, and it exposes those who don't to a wonderful and rich culture.

Jamie's Picks


5. The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds: I loved this book so much! The main character is a black teen living in Brooklyn and his story resonated so much with me. He is grieving the loss of his mother and it's just such a beautiful, quiet novel. I dog-eared so many pages!

6.  Written in the Stars by Aisha Saaed: I could not put this down at all! The main character is an American Pakistani. Part of culture is arranged marriage but she's secretly had a boyfriend who is a family friend. Her parents find out, are beyond furious and take a family trip to Pakistan that ends up being more than just a family vacation. I loved how it explored arranged marriages and I definitely learned a lot/squashed some preconceived notions I had about arranged marriages.



7.  To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han: Oh this duet of books (the sequel is Ps I Still Love You) is so delightful and romantic. I seriously could shed a little tear that I have no more books to read about Lara Jean. These books capture the intricacies of firsts -- first loves, first crushes, first heartbreak, first kisses, etc. I loved being reminded of what it's like to be young and in love. Plus the sisters in this book are my favorite ever!! The main character and her sisters (her dad is white) are Korean American and I was really touched at Jenny's launch party for PS I Still Love You when she touched on how much it meant to her and how important it was that her cover was not white-washed which is a disgusting and all too often practiced thing.


8.  None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio: This book made me cry along with teaching me what intersex is. I honestly didn't quite know what it was and learned right alongside of the main character, a teen girl, who finds out that she is intersex. It was so hard to watch her struggle with this new part of her identity and all the crap she got from people at school who were so, so cruel and misinformed.

Kimberly's Pick

 

9. Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern: This book will make you reconsider a lot of preconceptions that you might have had before. Amy was born with Cerebral Palsy, and can't walk unassisted, can't speak and even needs help with things such as eating. For many, you see an individual like this and think they'll most likely live with their parents forever. No romances. Wrong.


Bridget's Pick

 

10. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng: The story of a mixed-race family in the 1970s and how significant race can become even when you do your best not to let it affect the things most important to you








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