Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Daisy Asks for Your Recommendations!

So I just got back from Rome yesterday and it was AMAZING! It's such a beautiful city! And it's a sad day when you realise that all the lovely photos you took are on the boyfriend's phone... Well, the one you see at the top of this post was on mine, so that's what I'm sharing.

I LOVE Greek and Roman mythology and anything about the Roman empire and it was just surreal to be walking around the city, visiting what's left of this civilization (seriously, there are gorgeous buildings, statues and fountains EVERYWHERE) and taking it all in. And also eating lots of yummy food.

But, you ask yourself, why is she mentioning this on a BOOK blog? I'm getting to it, I promise.

In the past I've loved stories about ancient Rome, Gladiator is one of my favourite movies (though as I've now learned, the events in Gladiator are not entirely historically correct), but I'm a little short on novels set in Rome. Which is why I'm asking for your recommendations. And I know you're all awesome at giving those, cause I'm still making my way through the AMAZING ones I got when I asked for fantasy recs!
Give me anything set in Rome, I don't care if it's contemporary or historical fiction, I have separation issues when it comes to this city and need to have a list so I can have a fix every now and then.

So far I have:
-The Empress of Rome series by Kate Quinn (Mistress of Rome, Daughters of Rome, Empress of Rome)
-Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae

Which is obviously not even close to enough. So please give me lots to work with! Movie recs are welcome as well!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Top Ten Books & Movies To Get Into The Halloween Spirit

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

Tahleen's Picks:

1. Hocus Pocus. No question, this is the one movie I will make sure I watch every. single. October. Sometimes September if I'm anxious. The past few years I've made it a tradition to watch it with one of my best friends from high school, and this year will be no different! I'm also planning on watching this with my tween patrons at the library.

2. The Diviners by Libba Bray. Definitely the creepiest book I've read in a long time, this is perfect for October reading. Ghosts, special powers, serial killers, what more do you want from your fright-time book of choice? (P.S., the audiobook is well-done too.)

3. Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake. Another gruesome teen ghost tale. Not for the faint of heart, or those who don't like thinking about ghosts killing people. This one is a little different, though, because the ghost in question is not necessarily all bad and has a history our main character, Cas, does his best to uncover.

Jana's Picks:

(I'm not really the hugest fan of Halloween, but I love reading Gothic novels or creepy mysteries. I don't do horror because I'm a chicken.)

4. The Caged Graves by Dianne K. Salerni - This book is an historic tale of some caged graves in Catawissa, Pennsylvania, and why they are caged. Maybe witchcraft, perhaps? There's some paranormal feelings and the setting is so creepy. It's definitely a good mood read, but it won't give you nightmares! (My review)

5. Don't Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout - It's a mystery, and it's a GOOD one. And it's creepy.

6. Ten by Gretchen McNeil - This is a YA retelling(ish) of Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None. A group of friends has a house party on a creepy island, and then a storm sets in that cuts them off from the outside world. They discovery a creepy DVD with a message: Vengeance is mine... and then people start dying. It's CREEPY.

Jamie's Picks:

7. Scream -- Okay I know people might consider this movie corny but it's a classic slasher flick and I LOVE IT and always watch it (and Hocus Pocus) around Halloween. I can't help it. I also loved I Know What You Did Last Summer as a teen!

8. Miss Peregrine's House For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs: Okay I totally thought this was going to be scary based on the cover but NO it is not. It was SO good though and so amazingly written and I HIGHLY recommend it. It has the perfect tone for Halloween!

9. The Body Finder series by Kimberly Derting: This series is great! It's about a girl who can hear the echos of the murdered and so she helps solve cases! It's not super scary either! Just mysterious and a bit twisty!

10. The Exorcism of Emily Rose: THIS MOVIE. Back in the day I used to watch a lot of scary films and let me just tell you that one of the only movies that has really, really scared me is this one. I couldn't handle it! The first Paranormal Activity kind of also scared the bejeezus out of me too.

What books or movies would you recommend to us to get in the Halloween spirit??

Friday, October 24, 2014

A Giveaway Fantasy Fans Are Going To LOVE!

Happy Friday, y'all! We have an exciting giveaway to be able to offer you! I wish I could enter because some of our very own TB&TB bloggers love this author and I've been hearing A LOT of good things about this series and her Seven Realms series! If you are a fantasy fan, you are going to want this!

What can you win?

In honor of the conclusion to the Heir Chronicles series being released this week (The Sorcerer Heir), one lucky winner will receive the ENTIRE Heir Chronicles series by Cinda Williams Chima.

How To Enter:

Prizing & samples courtesy of Disney Hyperion
Giveaway open to US addresses only.
You must be 13 years of age or older to enter.
Giveaway ends October 31 at 11:59 EST.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


The Heir Chronicles series will keep readers glued to their seats through riveting fight scenes, deadly political machinations, burgeoning romance, and the unfolding intrigues of a contemporary magical world.

Series order:

The Warrior Heir
The Wizard Heir
The Dragon Heir
The Enchanter Heir
The Sorcerer Heir

Praise for the series:

"Chima offers a pitch-perfect blend of high fantasy and small-town reality..." –The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (starred review)

"Chima uses her pen like a wand and crafts a wonderfully rich web of magic, while thankfully leaving some dangling threads for subsequent tales." –VOYA (starred review)

"A smoldering story soaked in tears, sweat and blood, constantly threatening to blaze into an inferno. Spellbinding." –Kirkus Reviews (starred review)



Cinda Williams Chima is the New York Times bestselling author of The Warrior Heir, The Wizard Heir, The Dragon Heir, The Enchanter Heir, and the four books of the Seven Realms series: The Demon King, The Exiled Queen, The Gray Wolf Throne, and The Crimson Crown. Cinda is a graduate of The University of Akron and Case Western Reserve University. She lives in Ohio with her family.

Visit Cinda Williams Chima’s Official Site
Follow Cinda Williams Chima on Twitter
Follow Disney-Hyperion on Twitter and Instagram

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Top Ten New Series Daisy Wants To Start

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

OMG, where to start with this topic?? I actually have a whole shelve on Goodreads dedicated to all the new series that I want to start and it has WAY more than 10 series on it...

1. The Winner's Curse (Winner's Trilogy) by Marie Rutkoski: I've heard REALLY great things about this book and should definitely get started on the first book soon!

2. Also Known As (Also Known As) by Robin Benway: This just sounds like a super fun series and I need a little light reading every now and then.

3. Falling Kingdoms (Falling Kingdoms) by Morgan Rhodes: treacherous betrayals and secret alliances sound like my kind of thing always. Also: the cover is so pretty!

4. Venom (Secrets of the Eternal Rose) by Fiona Paul: it's about Renaissance Venice!! Also, Fiona Paul is awesome, I loved The Art of Lainey she wrote under the penname Paula Stokes.

5. Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin) by Robin LaFevers: ASSASSIN NUNS!!! Also, my friend Mel raves about this series, soooo....

6. The Lost Hero (The Heroes of Olympus) by Rick Riordan: I still can't believe I haven't started this series yet. The only good thing about it is that by the time this TTT goes live, the last book will be released and I can just BINGE my way through it. Hopefully.

7. The Warrior Heir (Heir Chronicles) by Cinda Williams Chima: I LOVED her Seven Realms series and I need more of Cinda Williams Chima's writing in my life.

8. The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard) by Scott Lynch: I love a good fantasy and I've heard AMAZING things about this series, so I need in on the action.

9. Outlander (Outlander) by Diana Gabaldon: I love historical fiction and this sounds SO good! And also, I want to read the book before I can watch the TV series and I keep hearing all these things about Jamie being total eyecandy, so I need to read this obviously so I can go on to ogle him.

10. Sabriel (Abhorsen) by Garth Nix: I really want to expand my knowledge of fantasy novels beyond what has been released over the last 5 years, and I've heard this series is basically a must read.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Lori Reviews Make Your Own Rules Diet

Title:  Make Your Own Rules Diet

Author:  Tara Stiles

Publication Information:  November 11th 2014 by Hay House, Inc.

How I Got a Copy of This Book:  I was sent an abridged ebook version for review purposes...but I am totally preordering a copy!

Goodreads Synopsis:  In Make Your Own Rules Diet, Tara Stiles introduces readers to easy and fun ways to bring yoga, meditation, and healthy food into their lives.  As the designer and face of Reebok’s first yoga lifestyle line, author of Yoga Cures and Slim, Calm, Sexy Yoga, and the founder of Strala—the movement-based system that ignites freedom, known for its laid-back and unpretentious vibe—Tara has long been a proponent of creating a tension-free healthy life by tapping into the unique needs of her clients.  In this new book, she teaches readers how to apply this inward-looking philosophy to themselves.  When people understand what they need for true well-being, they can make their own rules—rules that will help them become their best selves.  In her rulebook, it’s no pain, much gain.  In fact, Tara stresses the importance of practicing with ease—leaving the discomfort and tension behind—because what you practice is what you manifest.  Readers will not only learn to create their own rules but also to understand when something isn’t working anymore, so they can update their rules as circumstances change.  Her approach takes readers from the kitchen, to the mat, to the cushion, in an effort to help them get to know themselves.  After leading them through some basic guidelines about how to write their rulebooks, Tara lays out tips, techniques, and practices, including:        

  • A step-by-step goal setting process so readers can figure out where they want to focus
  • Six yoga routines specifically designed to up energy levels, curb cravings, drop pounds, and enhance peace
  • Eight breathing and meditation practices to soothe the soul
  • 50 simple, delicious, plant-based recipes that can be made in minutes
  • A 7-day kick-start program and a 30-day transformation plan to launch readers on their healthy, happy, radiant path

So join Tara today as she opens readers’ eyes to a new way of living well that anyone can do—no matter where they are now.

My Thoughts:  I have been excited about this book since I first saw it announced earlier this spring or summer.  I own a copy of Stiles's other book Slims, Calm, Sexy Yoga and really like its laid-back approach to yoga.  From what I can tell, this approach carries over not only to the yoga routines in this book, but also the meditation techniques and the recipes she provides as well.

I love that Stiles encourages readers to be true to themselves, constantly reminding them that what works for one person doesn't necessarily work for another.  We are all different.  The only way to be successful at life and weightloss is to be true to yourself or you will wind up doing more harm than good.  She encourages a self-loving approach that cuts out all of the guilt and stress that come with many other diet plans.  Actually, this isn't even really a diet plan, though she does provide a couple of templates at the end of the book to show you how to make it into a plan.

The book has three main components that Stiles believes are necessary to create a healthier person, who will lose weight as a result of these lifestyle changes--yoga, meditation, and healthy food.

So, the yoga.  Stiles includes several shorter routines to incorporate into your day.  I like that there are shorter routines.  For me this is doable.  My job requires me to be at work at 6am three days a week, so I don't have a huge amount of time before going in, but I could totally squeeze in ten minutes first thing to get my day going right.  When I come home from work I am totally ready to collapse, but I could easily squeeze in an afternoon routine.  Then before bed, I can do the Easygoing Winding Down the Evening Flow routine before collapsing into bed.  On my days off or when I go into work later, I can easily do loner routines.  Stiles provides a thorough explanation and picture of each pose in the routine so you know what you need to do and how you should breathe in or transition into the pose.  This makes the yoga accessible to beginners.

The meditation...I have never done much meditation.  So I am really excited about learning more about it with the full book.  The plans Stiles creates for readers have both a morning and an evening meditation.  The explanations that I saw encouraged readers to be comfortable.  Maybe you sit on the floor.  But maybe you'd rather sit in a cushy chair.  It's up to you.  I love that.  Comfort is key otherwise you totally won't want to do it.

As for the food, I am really excited to try many of the recipes.  Stiles encourages a plant-based diet, which is totally not me.  Plus, based on my living situation, it's not realistic for me to follow the eating plan she proposes at the end of the book.  But I can definitely make some of these recipes regularly.  Just for me at lunch or for me and my dad at supper (my mom is way too picky of an eater to try any of these).

I am really excited to try out the ideas introduced in this book and to adapt them to what works for my life.  And I would highly recommend checking out the book when it is published.

In the meantime, you can go to this website for more information, including a book trailer and information about a giveaway.


Saturday, October 18, 2014

A View from Page Thirty: Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

The Great Reading Slump of 2014 continues on into October for me, so I’d say that means I should take another stab at The Slumplist. This View from Page Thirty* features a selection recommended by two commenters: Rockyriverteenlibrarian and Incredibraian (I am sensing a theme here). Incredibrarian’s recommendation said, “I haven't had a truly GOOD read since Out of the Easy.” With words like that I say no? Also, Jen reviewed this back in July of 2013 if you want to check out a full review.

The Book: Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
Release Date: February 2013
Philomel Books
Genres: Historical Fiction, YA
Series: Surprisingly, it’s a standalone!!

It’s 1950, and as the French Quarter of New Orleans simmers with secrets, seventeen-year-old Josie Moraine is silently stirring a pot of her own. Known among locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer. 
She devises a plan get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie tangled in an investigation that will challenge her allegiance to her mother, her conscience, and Willie Woodley, the brusque madam on Conti Street. Josie is caught between the dream of an elite college and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans lures her in her quest for truth, dangling temptation at every turn, and escalating to the ultimate test.
With characters as captivating as those in her internationally bestselling novel Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys skillfully creates a rich story of secrets, lies, and the haunting reminder that decisions can shape our destiny.

The View From Page Thirty:
First thought after reading the summary? Hell yeah! New Orleans! A setting I can vividly picture since I was there recently and the French Quarter has such an old world feel that I doubt much has changed since the 1950s aesthetic wise.

And I just got the title. It’s late, whatever. I mean, they even call it The Big Easy in the summary. Wow. Anyway, this book starts off with a powerful first paragraph. 
“My mother’s a prostitute. Not the filthy, streetwalking kind. She’s actually quite pretty, fairly well spoken, and has lovely clothes. But she sleeps with men for money or gifts, and according to the dictionary, that makes her a prostitute.”
Nice. I like this. I like knowing where she is coming from. The whole first chapter is a flashback to arriving in New Orleans in 1940 and how her mom got her prostitute job.  Josie isn’t a conventional kid in this chapter which make me believe that the bulk of this story we won’t be dealing with a conventional 17 year old.

The rest of the first five chapters are setting up the main plot and setting up Josie as an adult. She’s not had the easiest childhood and is trying to figure out how she wants to forge her future. One thing she does know is she wants out of the Easy (ha. See that? Now that I got the reference, I had to use it again. I wonder if this is a metaphor for her growing up and “out of the easiness” of childhood as well as the literal out of New Orleans thing. Probably. I like this title a lot if you haven’t noticed).

What I am Loving:
I am really liking the turns of phrases that just keep popping up. It is really easy to get lost in the words of this story. I am liking Josie so far. It’s easy to get attached to her. I don’t know much really about the other characters yet to make any sort of assessment on them.

What I am Unsure Of:
Damn it. I think this is a love triangle. We’ve already met the boy who has all the girls following him around but could never like me. Then there is the shop owner’s son who is that bff who probably has a secret crush on her but is like her brother or whatever. Sigh. I hope I am wrong about this one. I don’t think I am. I am so over this.

I hope that this book focuses more on her growth into adulthood and the amazing New Orleans 50s vibe that I am getting.

Final Verdict:
I am definitely continuing on with this one. The prose has some beautiful turns of phrases already and it’s easy to get lost in the story. Josie, our lead, is someone that is easy to get attached to and someone who you want to see succeed. I am holding judgment on our two male love interests, but other secondary characters have already leaped out of the pages of history and into my mind. The setting is so vivid and rich in my mind is it easy to picture every location. I haven’t read much set in New Orleans, and nothing set in a historic New Orleans, so I am looking forward to this quite a bit. Let’s hope that it lives up to what I am hoping is going to be an enjoyable ride back in time into the 50s French Quarter.

EDIT: This isn’t really an edit, since I haven’t posted this yet. But I wrote this entry after chapter 5, but I didn’t stop reading. Now I am on page 147. Remember when I was gushing over that beautiful turn of phrase? I just came across this gem and it made me laugh “God I need that coffee. I feel like a bag of smashed assholes” Ha!

EDIT 2: Again not really an edit since I haven't yet posted it. But I read this book through the night and finished at four in the morning. It was one of those stories that you just get sucked into and doesn't let you go. Sine I didn't have anything to do this morning, I figured, why not stay up and read? Anyway my fears were not realized. It was a love triangle but it wasn't a normal love triangle. I really liked how it was played. Also the story doesnt focus on her love triangle. The focus is on Josie and on Josie growing up. This was a great read and it really transported me into New Orleans. I would highly recommend this to anyone who likes historical fiction and wants to read something set in a time period you dont normally read much about. Great book! I'd give it 4.5 stars! Thanks for the recommendation guys!

*For those not familiar with a View from Page Thirty, basically it is me giving my thirty page first impression of a book. I have a personal rule that every book I start gets at least thirty pages. If I am not feeling it by then, time to move on. So I figured it would make a fun feature. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

We Need to Talk About the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Trilogy

Here’s a good question to start: WHY?

For those of you who have read Harry Potter (is there a member of the millennial generation who hasn’t?), you’ll recognize Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them as a textbook that Harry and his classmates use throughout the series. It catalogues many of the magical creatures that they encounter throughout the series, and our dear friend J. K. Rowling actually wrote it as a companion to the HP books in the early 2000s. This is all well and good, and I’m sure that a lot of people enjoyed reading it and learning more about the creatures in the books. I haven’t personally read it myself, but I’ve heard good things.


I am baffled as to how they plan to turn a textbook into a movie. NO WAIT, THREE MOVIES. Remember when they made movies out of He’s Just Not That Into You and What to Expect When You’re Expecting? They received a whopping 40% and 22%, respectively, on Rotten Tomatoes. And those were actual books! Nonfiction, yes, so I’m sure that the titles were only used because they were familiar to their target audience (i.e. women in their 20s-40s) and the plots bear little resemblance to the books themselves, but still. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is not only a textbook, it’s a fictional textbook. A fictional textbook with no plot whatsoever.

This Slate article claims that the movies will follow Newt Scamander, the (again, fictional) author of the textbook, as he…discovers where to find fantastic beasts, I guess. (???) Okay, show of hands: who cares one whit about Newt Scamander? Not me. Bully for you if you do, but Newt had no bearing on the plot of any of the Harry Potter books, so the relationship between this trilogy (oh God, it hurts to even type it) and the Harry Potter series is tenuous at best, and at worst nonexistent.

The one good thing, I hope, about this travesty (I’m sorry, I meant to type trilogy, oh well) is that J. K. Rowling apparently wrote the screenplay, so I guess that’s good. Then again, we could also have a situation on our hands like Stephen King’s Storm of the Century, which led me personally to believe he should stick to books and forget the whole screenplay thing. The first film of the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them trilogy will also be directed by David Yates, who directed the last four Harry Potter films, but that gives me even less hope because I hated Order of the Phoenix (not as much as I hated Goblet of Fire, though) and I refused to see the sixth or either installment of the seventh, so I can’t really judge his directorial chops very well.

How do you feel about making Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them into a movie trilogy? Let us know in the comments.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Top Ten Places Books Have Made Us Want To Visit

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


Daisy's Picks

1. HOGWARTS: Because seriously, who wouldn't? And a real place that's linked to it is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park and The Harry Potter Studio Tour. It would just be epic to be able to wander through all the places that exist in my head and in the movies.

2. London: I did actually visit London a couple of years ago, but all the stories about the Tudors and all the historical romances I love very much made me want to visit this city. And it was awesome. I want to go back there!

3. Nantucket: I've read a couple of books in which the story takes place on this island and it sounds pretty magical, so it's on the WANT list.

Julia's Picks

4. London and England: I am stealing Daisy's answer, because London and pretty much the whole of England has been on my to do list for ages primarily because of awesome steampunk books and all those historical romance novels. I actually popped over for a quick visit this summer and one of the things I had to do was Hyde Park because of how often the leads in historicals take a strole through it. I took a bike.

5. Middle Earth: Oh, if only I could go there! I had a hardcore Tolkien phase in high school and I would have given just about anything to take a stroll through Middle Earth. I loved all things elves so Rivendell would have been my ideal destination. So to tie this to the real world, I'd love to go to New Zealand and visit all of that amazing scenery that was shone in those movies.

6. Russia: For some reason I have always been drawn to Russia. I don't know why that is, but I seek out Russian fictional literature and would love to go visit St. Petersburg or Moscow. I don't know if I will ever get the chance at least in the near future. So I will have to be content reading lots and lots of fiction.

Jamie's Picks

7. Italy: I've been to Italy before but Kristin Rae's Wish You Were Italian made me LONG to go back and also to explore an area I didn't go to. Great descriptions and she nailed the setting.

8. Space: I WANNA GO TO SPACE & These Broken Stars by Megan Spooner & Amie Kaufman made me want to make sure I do it in style...on a luxury spaceliner. I just can't even imagine that view.

9. Lucky Harbor: Lucky Harbor is a fictional place and is a romance series by Jill Shalvis but I SO WANT IT TO BE REAL. It's this fictional small town in Washington state and I don't know...the way she wrote it I just wanted to BE THERE.

10. Wyoming: I have a friend from college who always used to show me pics from her hometown in Wyoming and it looked gorgeous. Then I read Cynthia Hand's Unearthly series -- a kickass paranormal angel book -- and I just HAVE to go there.

Tell us the places books have made YOU want to visit!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Daisy's Review of The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

Title/Author: The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
Publisher/Date published: Orbit, June 19th 2014
How I got this book: bought the audiobook


Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class.

When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite. But they don't laugh.

Melanie is a very special girl.

Let's start of by saying that I hadn't realised this was a zombie book before I started it. And zombie books are not my thing. But this is an interesting variety of zombies, and since I am conv65nced that one day an infectious disease will conquer mankind, this was actually a pretty scary concept to me. But because the summary isn't very clear on this, let me clarify for you: even though it's an interesting sort of zombie, it's still a zombie book.

All the things that give me nightmares are in this book: eating of people, apocalypse is near and just basically the scary thing that is a fungus spreading all over the planet infecting people. Also, you don't want a fungus to infect you, cause it's just plain nasty. But if this whole thing works for you, than you'll probably enjoy The Girl With All the Gifts. I have once again discovered that it's not really for me.

I did enjoy the first part of the book, where we meet Melanie and the whole class and everyone. I liked Melanie, she's smart and brave and pretty much a good little girl. And she's definitely special and different. I never really got to like Helen Justineau and dr Caldwell is the scientist villain, who also resembles a war criminal, I really hated her. I did respect Sergeant Parks, he's no-nonsense and falls back on his military training, and in the end he's a hero in my book, though I'm still not sure if I necessarily like him all that much. But I could respect him and sometimes that's enough.

I was never sucked fully into the story, while I cared in the beginning what was happening to Melanie, I just couldn't see her the same way anymore after one particular scene.
The scene where she's gnawing on the kitty and eating it alive was just horrible. Since we recently got a cat of our own, I seriously could not find myself caring about what happened to her after that, cause she frigging ATE A KITTY. Which is described pretty graphically. I just cannot.END OF SPOILER
I also felt that there were a couple of too-stupid-to-live moments from more than one of the characters, who are supposed to be pretty smart, so that was off-putting for me.

About halfway through I found myself a bit bored and I know so many people have loved The Girl With All the Gifts, but honestly, I'm feeling a bit meh about it. I considered DNF-ing it, but because I'd heard such good things about it, I made it all the way to the end, but I'm not sure if it was worth the time I put into finishing it. Everything felt so bleak, that I never had any hope at all and was constantly thinking 'well, this really can't end well', which somehow made it not as scary as it should have been and just a bit me waiting for things to start going south. Which I'm obviously not going to tell you about if I was right or not cause if this is your kinda book you should probably read it as lots of people did like it.

This basically just wasn't the book for me, and if you're not into zombies, then you probably won't like it either. This could be a case of 'it's not you, it's me', but with me really meaning it. Be warned that there are some pretty gruesome things in it.

My rating: 2 stars

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Broke and Bookish Book Haul for 9/28 - 10/11

Daisy's Book Haul

-Emerald Green by Kerstin Gier: I've heard many good things about this series and should really get started on it soon!
-Whisper the Dead by Alyxandra Harvey: I hope this series is fully of witchy goodness! Has anyone read the first book A Breath of Frost?
-Unmarked by Kami Garcia: I should stop buying sequels in a series that I haven't started, but it's SO TEMPTING.
-Not in the Script by Amy Finnegan: these books just look and sound SO cute!

Egalleys for review:
-The Chosen Prince by Diane Stanley: this just sounds like awesome MG fantasy, so I'm totally in.
-A Cold Legacy by Megan Shepherd: I loved the Madman's Daughter and still need to read the sequel but I'm very excited for A Cold Legacy!
-King by Ellen Oh: I was a bit disappointed with Warrior, but I'm still intrigued by this world and I really want to know how the series will end!
-The Marriage Game by Alison Weir: I have this obsession with Elizabeth I and all things Tudor, and Alison Weir is an amazing writer.
-An Heiress for All Seasons by Sophie Jordan: Sophie Jordan knows how to write amazing historical romances that leave me with tears in my eyes and a happily ever after, so obviously I couldn't resist requesting this novella!
-Dream a Little Dream by Kerstin Gier: so like I said, I've heard REALLY great things about her Ruby Red Trilogy and this sounds really good as well!
-The Gossip File by Anna Staniszewski: I sorta didn't realise this was the third book in a series until I went to add it on Goodreads... Oh well, will just have to get my hands on the first two books, cause it sounds like a fun series.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Kimberly's Review of Deluge by Lisa Tawn Bergren

Book: Deluge (River of Time #5)

Author: Lisa Tawn Bergren

Why I read it: Because it's a brilliant series.

Rating 5+ Stars

It's always very difficult to write a review for the final book in a series. I want to share how much I loved it, and tell everyone about it, but I don't want to spoil anything! So I will do my best to tell you about my reading experience without spoiling anything from the earlier books.

Here is the description from the first book in the series...

Gabriella has never spent a summer in Italy like this one.
Remaining means giving up all she’s known and loved … and leaving means forfeiting what she’s come to know—and love itself.

Most American teenagers want a vacation in Italy, but the Bentarrini sisters have spent every summer of their lives with their parents, famed Etruscan scholars, among the romantic hills. In Book One of the River of Time series, Gabi and Lia are stuck among the rubble of medieval castles in rural Tuscany on yet another hot, boring, and dusty archeological site … until Gabi places her hand atop a handprint in an ancient tomb and finds herself in fourteenth-century Italy. And worse yet, in the middle of a fierce battle between knights of two opposing forces.

And thus she comes to be rescued by the knight-prince Marcello Forelli, who takes her back to his father’s castle—a castle Gabi has seen in ruins in another life. Suddenly Gabi’s summer in Italy is much, much more interesting. But what do you do when your knight in shining armor lives, literally, in a different world?

An exciting premise, right? Let me also mention the extensive research the author has done to ensure that historical details are accurate. Right down to clothing, the way the country would have looked at that time, how they moved and spoke.

Not only that, the characters are wonderful. They are interesting, have unique strengths, distinct personalities and feel like people you know “in real life”. They also have flaws. But their flaws are real, and make sense. Their flaw isn't that they are clumsy. They also acknowledge their flaws and work through them.

Also, the relationships? Friendship, romance, family? You know when you read a book and you'd like to just smack one of the characters because they won't COMMUNICATE? These characters do! It is SO refreshing!

The entire series is that good. Five books can sound like a lot, but it's actually perfect. Each book is perfectly paced. It never drags, never feels rushed.

This last book.... Oh boy. I did NOT want this series to end. I knew I would miss the characters. I laughed with them, and cried tears of joy and grief with them. I felt proud of the characters by the end. My only “complaint”? I wanted more. But I felt satisfied with the ending as well, I didn't feel like things were left sloppily unresolved. It's not the perfect ending with a nice shiny bow on top (which I will admit, I love those as well). But this ending felt like the RIGHT ending.

Okay, I'll stop babbling about this so that you can go right now and get it! Check your library, the local bookstore. If you're having trouble finding it locally, check a Christen bookstore, the author is Christen and her novels are often sold there. (The books are not really “religious books”)

Has anyone else read this series? OR. What was your favorite conclusion to a book series?

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Jana: the Unexpected Library Student

Today I'm getting personal. I talk about my grad school experience all the time on my personal book blog, but I'm not sure I've mentioned it here! I just started my second year of my journey to obtaining my master's degree in library and information science, and I can't believe at the end of this semester I'll be halfway done with the program! It was a long road to get here--with a lot of self discovery, but I'm so glad I did it!

Almost two years ago I was working a really horrible job in customer service. I sat on the phones for 8 hours a day helping people with their family history work and interpreting their DNA test results to tell them where they came from. You'd think this would be an enriching experience (I know I was expecting that!), but it was the complete opposite. The clients I worked with were some of the rudest, most verbally abusive people I had ever worked with. I was yelled at, patronized, and even threatened with bodily harm on a daily basis. I was on such a short emotional chain that my self worth turned into what these people thought of me. I was told I was one of the best in the company and had people asking for me all the time, yet I still dealt with some of the meanest people on the planet. Not only that, I heard all kinds of terrible arguments between family members, I was yelled at by banks whose clients did not want to pay for our service even though they signed up for them, and I even overheard a cat be brutally attacked by a dog. I am scarred for life. It has been about a year and a half since I quit, and I still hurt over these things. My health deteriorated. I gained weight, I developed some new health problems, I had to have surgery, and I grew very depressed. Something had to change.

Two Christmases ago, my mom and I were sitting in the living room by the tree discussing my life. I had had another bad day at work and I was crying over my bleak future. I had a bachelor's degree in graphic design, and was dang good, but work prospects were few. So I ended up chained to a desk doing a job that required only a high school education. I felt like my life up to this point had been pointless. My mom was listening and commiserating with me as I vented. I refer to it as my mini nervous breakdown. She suggested maybe I needed to further my education to get an additional degree in something that I could make more of a career out of. We started thinking about what I should choose. Art has always been my life, and I had never pictured doing anything else. I had considered education before, bu decided I did not want to go to school for it. Then we thought about my blog and my love of books, and my mom thought library school. It clicked. I got very excited and immediately started investigating schools. I wanted to quit my job, but felt like I needed to stay and raise money for school. Three months later, I got the worst call I've ever had. I hung up and ran off the call floor in tears. I submitted my two week's notice a few days later, and got so sick to my stomach that I ended up being home in bed for the entire two weeks. But a weight had been lifted.

I began applying for schools, but was worried I had not made enough money to afford the program. I'm sure you can imagine my surprise when I was accepted into my number one choice, AND found out I had just enough money to afford it without having to work. What a blessing! I started the program in August of 2013, and while it's a ton of work, I feel like I am finally doing what I'm supposed to be doing. I'm still healing from some of the health problems that job brought on, but I have also received some diagnoses and am on some natural remedies that are helping me a lot. I'm happier than I've been in a long time. I also have a cumulative 4.0 in the program right now, which means I have received the highest possible grade in each class I've taken. I'm focusing on children's and young adult services, and hope to be a teen librarian one day. I am still so thankful my mom helped me figure out how to change my life. I'm actually excited about my future now. :)

So, tell me! Have you ever made a huge life-changing decision? Have you ended up in a different place than you pictured yourself ending up in? I know I never expected grad school, but this is the best decision I've ever made.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Top Ten Books For People Who Like Character Driven Novels

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

* It's been quite a few months seen we made the linky show names at random just to try it that way. Do we like this or do we like when the list shows based on the time of when you added your link (stays in place)! Let us know in the comments.*


Julia's Picks:

1. The Game of Thrones Series by George RR Martin - So this series has plot, and lots of it, but I find myself reading it for the awesome characters that Martin has written. The characters have arc and they really drive the plot along. I think this series wouldn't be nearly as possible without the awesome characters it has.

2. The Name of the Wind and A Wise Mans Fear by Patrick Rothfuss - Both of these are the only two novels completed in Rothfuss' Kingkiller Chronicles. It has a similar path as Martin where there are main characters that drive the plot. In this case the main character is literally telling the story so you get to see him move and change throughout the world.

3. Yours Until Dawn by Teresa Medeiros - Moving away from fantasy, Medeiros rights some amazing historical romance. In fact a lot of her books are more character driven and driven by their actions between each other than effected by outside sources. This one is one of my favorites because it is literally a woman and a man in a house learning to love. It's a sort of modernization (to the Regency era) of Beauty and the Beast. It's a good one.

Daisy's Picks:

4. Golden by Jessi Kirby: I LOVED this book, there's so much character development in it and just so much storytelling goodness that I would totally recommend it to pretty much everyone.

5. Emma by Jane Austen: my second favourite Austen novel, but perfect in its characterization of Emma and Mr Knightley and just all of others. I re-read it for book club last year and it was still amazing and I discovered even more things to love about it.

6. Half a King by Joe Abercrombie: so basically Yarvi, the main character in Half a King, reminds me of Tyrion from The A Song of Ice and Fire series, which is about the greatest compliment I can give any character. And I totally loved this book.

Kimberly's Picks:

7. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta: This story is entirely about the characters' development and their relationships with one another. Everything they learn and do drives the story and the plot. These characters are WONDERFUL.

8. Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard: So much of this story is based on the locations, however much of it is driven by the way our main character, Bria, changes and develops.

9. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak: The backdrop of this story is WWII, but it is not the story itself. The story is all about Liesel and the wonderful supporting cast of this book, including it's elusive narrator.

Tahleen's Pick:

10. Breakfast Served Anytime by Sarah Combs: This quiet novel is beautifully written. It takes place at a teen summer enrichment camp on a college campus, and not much happens plot-wise, but it is wonderful to watch the development of each character and the relationships they have with one another. I think that is really where Combs excels; her characters are forced to think about their beliefs and privileges, or lack thereof, but in the end can remain close to one another despite differences of opinion or belief. And the writing is lovely.

What books would you add to this list?

Monday, October 6, 2014

Jamie Reviews Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White

Title:  Illusions of Fate
Author:  Kiersten White
Publication Information: HarperTeen - September 2014
How I Got This Book:  Sent for review consideration.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary: Jessamin has been an outcast since she moved from her island home of Melei to the dreary country of Albion. Everything changes when she meets Finn, a gorgeous, enigmatic young lord who introduces her to the secret world of Albion’s nobility, a world that has everything Jessamin doesn’t—power, money, status…and magic. But Finn has secrets of his own, dangerous secrets that the vicious Lord Downpike will do anything to possess. Unless Jessamin, armed only with her wits and her determination, can stop him.

I'm so series weary but it breaks my heart that this book is a standalone to be honest. There is SO much that can be explored..I know it. The world was sparsely built but it worked and I think there could be SO much to explore within it and the magic introduced. It's a fantasy world but it feels a lot like London to me. I loved the magic element placed in a normal world and how it was only people with royal bloodlines that had access to it. I think that's something that could be explored even further. YES THIS IS ME BEGGING FOR ANOTHER BOOK. (I promise it's such a complete book but you are going to want more!).

The characters are AWESOME. Jessamin -- she's so badass. She's overcome a lot and she's currently living far away from home, is judged by the color of her skin and is trying so hard to excel in school. She refuses to let anything get in her way. I instantly rooted for her. And then there's Finn. Their path's cross and I enjoyed every moment of it. The BANTER. THE ROMANCE. It went instantly to my swoon-swoon-swoon shelf on Goodreads.  And then honestly? MY FAVORITE CHARACTER. Eleanor. So underestimated but she's a force to be reckoned with. 

The plot went full speed ahead and surprised me at times! I loved watching them try to work together to take down the baddie! 

If you like fantasy and are looking for a standalone (trust me you are going to be wishing you could have more), CHECK THIS OUT. It's soooo underrated and didn't get nearly enough attention -- plus it contains a good romance and the banter is plentiful!

Have you read this one? What did YOU think? Also, tell me any other fantasy standalones!


Friday, October 3, 2014

Lori Reviews The Signature of All Things

Title:  The Signature of All Things
Author:  Elizabeth Gilbert
Publication Information:  October 2013, Viking Adult
How I Got This Book:  I purchased it myself.  In multiple formats.  Because I couldn't help myself.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Synopsis from Goodreads:  In The Signature of All Things, Elizabeth Gilbert returns to fiction, inserting her inimitable voice into an enthralling story of love, adventure and discovery. Spanning much of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the novel follows the fortunes of the extraordinary Whittaker family as led by the enterprising Henry Whittaker—a poor-born Englishman who makes a great fortune in the South American quinine trade, eventually becoming the richest man in Philadelphia. Born in 1800, Henry's brilliant daughter, Alma (who inherits both her father's money and his mind), ultimately becomes a botanist of considerable gifts herself. As Alma's research takes her deeper into the mysteries of evolution, she falls in love with a man named Ambrose Pike who makes incomparable paintings of orchids and who draws her in the exact opposite direction — into the realm of the spiritual, the divine, and the magical. Alma is a clear-minded scientist; Ambrose a utopian artist — but what unites this unlikely couple is a desperate need to understand the workings of this world and the mechanisms behind all life.

Exquisitely researched and told at a galloping pace, The Signature of All Things soars across the globe—from London to Peru to Philadelphia to Tahiti to Amsterdam, and beyond. Along the way, the story is peopled with unforgettable characters: missionaries, abolitionists, adventurers, astronomers, sea captains, geniuses, and the quite mad. But most memorable of all, it is the story of Alma Whittaker, who — born in the Age of Enlightenment, but living well into the Industrial Revolution — bears witness to that extraordinary moment in human history when all the old assumptions about science, religion, commerce, and class were exploding into dangerous new ideas. Written in the bold, questing spirit of that singular time, Gilbert's wise, deep, and spellbinding tale is certain to capture the hearts and minds of readers.

My Thoughts:  A lot has been written about this book already.  And, I must say, the good stuff is all true.  (I don't know what the bad stuff is, so I don't know whether or not I'd agree...)  

One of my friends and I were so excited about reading this book, even before it came out, that we really kind of psyched ourselves out.  We were so afraid of being disappointed by our expectations that it took me almost a year to actually read the novel.  I loved Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love and I desperately wanted to love this novel, even knowing that the two would be so different that they might not even be comparable.  This friend and I talked about the novel so much that the abbreviation "SOAT" is in both of our autocorrects.

Somehow I was finally able to set aside my expectations, hopes, and fears and completely devour the novel.  It was fabulous.

I loved Alma as a character.  I loved how the focus of the novel was on how she was able to find completion and wonder in her work at a time when a woman was a failure if she weren't married with umpteen children by the time she was in her mid-twenties.  At the time that I read the novel, I was single, childless, in my mid-twenties, unemployed, with no idea as to what I wanted to do for the future.  I'm still single, childless, in my mid-twenties, and am not 100% sure of what I want to do for the future--I did, however, find a job--but I felt and feel better about all of it.  Not that I was feeling that bad about it to begin with, but I definitely felt unsettled by all of the question marks in my life.  I'll find my passion eventually and the other puzzle pieces of my life will come together eventually as well.  And all of that is OK.

Back to the book...I loved the grand, sweeping style in which the novel was written.  I felt like I was reading a masterful classic that completely transported me to a different place and time.  I think Gilbert's talents of describing the scene in Eat, Pray, Love definitely shine through in her descriptions of setting here.  She minutely, but not tediously, describes people, places, and objects.  I'm sure that contradicts with "grand" and "sweeping," but it really doesn't when you read the book.

Bottom line--The novel was absolutely enchanting and that is why you need to read it.
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