Book Review: Tell Me Something True by Katherine Owen

Book: Tell Me Something True by Katherine Owen

Published December 2015 by Smashwords|428 pages

Where I Got It: I own the e-book

Series: Truth In Lies #3

Genre: NA Contemporary Romance

TELL ME SOMETHING TRUE

The star ballerina finally marries the major league baseball player and the truth about Linc and Tally—his being her air and she being his water—becomes clear after the couple finally realize that their love is all that matters.

But that was the first day. The day they said, “I do.” The day the demons seemed to leave them alone, at least, for a little while.

Nevertheless, there were other days, when all the lies of the past and their ways of coping with their fears caught up to them.

And, this is that story.

“If you believe in fairy tales and happy endings,
and you want to stop right here and bask in the wonderment and joy of it all, please do.
If you want to know the rest of our story,
you need to take a deep breath
and tell yourself that everything will be okay,
that everything works out,
and life happens,
and in the end
love is all you need.
Someone has to tell you these things,
just like someone had to tell me.
All I know is that the truth never dies,
and it does set you free, whether you want it to or not.
And in the end? All you have is love.
Love is all there is.”
~ Talia Landon Presley

Man, I really needed to read this book right now.  For whatever reason, I never got around to reading it, even though I loved the first two books in the series.  It was definitely an emotional roller-coaster, with things being great for Tally and Linc for a while.  Until things weren’t okay.  We are talking about Tally and Linc, after all.

I’m not going into spoilers, but there was one particular moment I didn’t see coming.  It was so unexpected, and how much more can two people go through?  They did make it through, of course, and I’m glad their got their HEA.

Things are never easy for them, and their relationship was really put to the test in this book.  In ways that we didn’t see in the previous two books.  Everything they’ve done- every lie they’ve told, every secret they’ve kept really caught up with them, and there was a point where I thought they wouldn’t make it.

My opinion of Linc really changed in this book.  Yes, both he and Tally have issues, and in particular, Tally has a lot of things to work through, but it doesn’t mean that the things Linc did are okay.  He has his own issues he needs to work on, and even though he blames Tally for a lot of things, I think he’s equally to blame.  It does seem like they’re off to a fresh start, though, at the end of the book, so it seems like they managed to work things out just enough that they seem okay.

Tally and Linc are one of those couples who go through a lot and either don’t make it as a couple…or they do.  I’m glad they do, but they’ve had a rocky past that they haven’t completely dealt with.  Part of me was the tiniest bit frustrated that they had to go through so much, and that they still did the same thing of not communicating and spending time with people they shouldn’t, and jumping to conclusions.  But at the same time, they did realize that they had a lot of things that they needed to work on, and that they needed to make themselves better.  My heart broke for them, especially Tally.

I loved the playlist included at the end of the book, which seemed really fitting because each chapter title was a song title.  I don’t know a lot of the songs, but the ones I do know really fit, especially for the chapters they were the title for.  And each chapter had a poem at the beginning, which I also really liked because somehow, they seemed to fit each chapter.  While I don’t normally go for poetry, I liked the ones in the book enough to check out the person who wrote them.

5 stars.  I loved this book, and even though it was an emotional roller-coaster that had me sobbing by the end of it, it was worth seeing how things turned out for Linc and Tally.

Book Review: The Archived by Victoria Schwab

Book: The Archived by Victoria Schwab

Published January 2013 by Disney Worldwide Publishing|324 pages

Where I Got It: I own the e-book

Series: The Archived #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.

Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive. Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was: a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often-violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous-it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da’s death was hard enough, but now that her little brother is gone too, Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.

In this haunting, richly imagined novel, Victoria Schwab reveals the thin lines between past and present, love and pain, trust and deceit, unbearable loss and hardwon redemption.

I’m starting to think that Victoria Schwab’s books aren’t for me.  I read This Savage Song last year, and thought things were more confusing than they really needed to be.  I felt that way about The Archived, which is disappointing, because things really picked up towards the end, and it really is a cool idea.

I just wish things weren’t so confusing for most of the book.  I really like the idea that the dead are in this archives, and are basically copies of themselves.  But the concept of the Archives and Keepers and territories is so poorly explained that by the time I was interested in what was going on, it was too late.

For one thing, I kept confusing her grandpa (Da) and her dad.  Also: her dad is mentioned in the beginning of the book, which is when we see him, and then he just disappears, never to be seen again.  We see her mom quite a bit, though, so at least she has one parent who’s there.  I couldn’t quite figure out what happened to him, and I was never quite sure if he was dead or alive.  Especially with the flashbacks of how she became a Keeper.  Which was in a different font to make it obvious it was different than the rest of the novel.

What is explained about this world is never explained in a way that actually makes sense.  The timeline was weird, and there were these time jumps that didn’t make a lot of sense.  In fact, they made things more confusing because I felt like I had to keep track of more things.  I didn’t understand how everything fit, and I couldn’t picture this world at all.

The characters weren’t particularly interesting either.  I didn’t really care what happened to Mac or Wes, and I thought they were really bland.  Things did get a little more interesting towards the end of the book, but at that point, I no longer cared.  I also wondered why The Archived hadn’t been like that since the beginning.

1 star.  The book was too confusing and poorly explained to care what happened.  It’s sad, since the idea is cool, but it didn’t work for me at all.

Book Review: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

Book: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

Published February 2017 by Thomas Dunne Books|436 pages

Where I Got It: I own the e-book

Series: Wintersong #1

Genre: YA Fantasy/Re-Telling

The last night of the year. Now the days of winter begin and the Goblin King rides abroad, searching for his bride…

All her life, Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, dangerous Goblin King. They’ve enraptured her mind, her spirit, and inspired her musical compositions. Now eighteen and helping to run her family’s inn, Liesl can’t help but feel that her musical dreams and childhood fantasies are slipping away.

But when her own sister is taken by the Goblin King, Liesl has no choice but to journey to the Underground to save her. Drawn to the strange, captivating world she finds—and the mysterious man who rules it—she soon faces an impossible decision. And with time and the old laws working against her, Liesl must discover who she truly is before her fate is sealed.

I loved this book!  Wintersong was one of the books I was looking forward to reading, but I’m just now getting around to it.

I was reminded of a few books when I was reading Wintersong.  If you like the Iron Fey series, this is the book for you!  It has a similar feel to the Iron Fey series, so they’re pretty good read-alikes for each other.  I’d describe it as Hades & Persphone meets The Iron Fey meets Caraval (which I read after Wintersong but I’m still going with it because this review is obviously being written after reading both books).

I felt very much like I was in a fairy-tale, particularly a German fairy-tale.  I loved the idea of the Goblin King, and how people ended up in the Underground.  It’s such a vivid book and I really felt like I was in their world.  I really didn’t want the book to come to an end, because it meant leaving Liesl’s world, and I didn’t want to do that.  At least there’s a sequel, so there will be more to this story.  Which is good, considering the way Wintersong ended.  It’s going to be a long wait until the sequel comes out.

Liesl is such a great character- she is more courageous than she knows, and she would do anything for her sister- even agreeing to marry the Goblin King to keep her sister safe.  I think being Underground and around the Goblin King ended up being a good thing for her- she learns a lot about herself, and I feel like she becomes more confident in herself as she worked on her music.  She’s a character I can really relate to- taking care of everyone, and feeling like she isn’t good enough, even though she is, and she just needs to believe in herself.

There’s something very dreamlike about this book, and it’s very magical.  There’s something dark and…nostalgic isn’t necessarily the word I’m looking for, but…maybe lament and looking for something lost and/or forgotten?  This book is downright beautiful and poetic, and if you haven’t read it, trust me when I say that you really need to read it!

5 stars.  I’m so glad it lived up to my expectations and the hype!  This book is dark and beautiful and amazing!

Book Review: American-Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

Book: American-Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

Published December 2008 by Square Fish|233 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the paperback from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Graphic Novel

 

Jin Wang starts at a new school where he’s the only Chinese-American student. When a boy from Taiwan joins his class, Jin doesn’t want to be associated with an FOB like him. Jin just wants to be an all-American boy, because he’s in love with an all-American girl. Danny is an all-American boy: great at basketball, popular with the girls. But his obnoxious Chinese cousin Chin-Kee’s annual visit is such a disaster that it ruins Danny’s reputation at school, leaving him with no choice but to transfer somewhere he can start all over again. The Monkey King has lived for thousands of years and mastered the arts of kung fu and the heavenly disciplines. He’s ready to join the ranks of the immortal gods in heaven. But there’s no place in heaven for a monkey. Each of these characters cannot help himself alone, but how can they possibly help each other? They’re going to have to find a way—if they want fix the disasters their lives have become.

I really liked American Born Chinese!  After reading his Boxers And Saints series, I knew I wanted to read this book, since I’ve heard a lot of really good things about it.

We see three different stories in this graphic novel- Jin, Danny, and The Monkey King.  I really liked The Monkey King’s story, and I also really liked Jin’s.  I felt so bad for Jin when we first meet him in American Born Chinese, and how his classmates and teachers made assumptions about him.  I also loved the story of The Monkey King, and I really want to know more about that story, because I really liked it.

Danny’s story was my least favorite of the three.  I still liked it, but…I’m not sure what it is about his story, but it just didn’t appeal to me the way the others did.  I wasn’t sure how Danny fit into the book at first, because he seemed really entitled and I wasn’t sure why his story was included for most of the book.  It did become clear at the end, and I honestly didn’t see it coming.  Now that I think about it, I might re-read it, because knowing how all three stories connect would definitely help me see Danny’s story in a completely different way.

One of my favorite things was how it all tied together, and I really liked how the book was about liking yourself and being true to yourself, no matter what.  And I loved how well-plotted the book had to be, because everything was so detailed and thought out so well for everything to work together so well.  I can’t imagine American Born Chinese being told in any other format, and I think, if it were told more traditionally (i.e., a novel) it would lose something. Somehow, it works beautifully as a graphic novel.  I think the illustrations are what really bring the book to life.

4 stars.  Unfortunately, my initial dislike of Danny’s story is what is lowering my rating of the book.  Even though his story made more sense at the end of the book, it didn’t work for me at the beginning.  Still, American Born Chinese is a great read because it’s a really good starting point for talking about a lot of different issues.

Book Review: When We Collided by Emery Lord

Book: When We Collided by Emery Lord

Published April 2016 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens|352 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

We are seventeen and shattered and still dancing. We have messy, throbbing hearts, and we are stronger than anyone could ever know…

Jonah never thought a girl like Vivi would come along.

Vivi didn’t know Jonah would light up her world.

Neither of them expected a summer like this…a summer that would rewrite their futures.

In an unflinching story about new love, old wounds, and forces beyond our control, two teens find that when you collide with the right person at just the right time, it will change you forever.

I loved When We Collided!  I randomly picked it up at the library because the cover caught my eye, and I am so glad I did.  It’s been a while since I’ve really, truly loved a book the way I loved When We Collided.  The Hate U Give is probably the closest, at least of the books I’ve read, but otherwise it’s been quite a while since I’ve felt so excited and emotional about a book.

Vivi is bipolar, but at first, she’s very much this vibrant, colorful person.  It is isn’t until later on that we learn she’s bipolar and not taking her medication for a good portion of the book.  Even though I’m not bipolar, I have struggled with depression, and I found it was so easy to relate to Vivi.  I loved her as a character, and she is this bright, vivid character, and she, in this book, was a living, breathing person.  I feel like I don’t say that very often about characters.

As a book about a girl who is bipolar, this is an amazing book.  Emery Lord did an amazing job at capturing every single thought and emotion Vivi had, and there were times where I really felt like I knew what Vivi was experiencing and dealing with.  She is over-the-top and difficult and annoying, but I still felt for her.  You really see Vivi’s state of mind when she is and isn’t on medication, her illness isn’t manipulative at all, and I loved the way Vivi described things.

I think Vivi’s half of the book- which was so vibrant and full of life- made Jonah’s half a little bit hard.  His chapters were more dull by comparison, mostly because anyone would look dull and lifeless and lackluster next to Vivi.  He was compelling, to a degree, but not the way that Vivi’s chapters were compelling.

His story felt more tired somehow- he’s an older brother, taking care of his younger sibling after the unexpected death of his father, and a mother who has checked out emotionally.  Jonah’s story felt a little overdone, but I did really like that he realized he needed to tell someone what was going on with his mom, instead of trying to pretend like everything was fine and under control.  Don’t get me wrong, I liked that he and his older siblings did what they could for the younger ones, but I’m not the biggest fan of the older sibling(s) taking care of the younger ones because of dead/absent parents trope.

And I wasn’t into the romance at all.  I know their lives collided because of everything going on with both of them, but…it is most definitely a case of insta-love, so keep that in mind.  I’m not the biggest fan of insta-love, but sometimes, it’s okay.  This was not one of those times, unfortunately.  Their relationship worked, in its own way, with it being summer and particularly with Vivi, so the ending wasn’t that surprising.  But I felt like there was nothing between them- there didn’t seem to be a lot of chemistry, and there’s no build-up because insta-love.

I really would have been fine without the romance, and it didn’t really fit.  It didn’t take away from the rest of the book, and overall, I ABSOLUTELY LOVED When We Collided.  I just don’t know that the romance fit- it definitely didn’t work for me, because I liked both Vivi and Jonah, but not as a couple.

5 stars.  I don’t know that I did this book justice, but I thought it was completely amazing.  After finishing it, I literally hugged this book for, like, at least 5 minutes.

Discussion Post: I Miss Reading YA The Way I Used To

Every once in a while, I’d do a discussion-type post about something bookish that wasn’t a book review.  It’s been ages since I’ve done one, and I’m in a mood to talk about why I’m not as into YA as I used to be.

Reading wise, this hasn’t been a great year for me.  I haven’t been reading as much as I normally do, especially in comparison to previous years.  I am re-reading more, at least that I can recall, though this year is the first time I’m actually tracking what I’m re-reading, but for this year, a good chunk of what I’ve read has been re-reads. I’ve been crocheting a lot this year, and while audio books are great to listen to when I’m crocheting, I’ve found myself turning to Netflix or podcasts instead of audio books, and I’ve been turning away from books more than in previous years.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how little I’m reading this year, but there’s something in particular I’ve been thinking about a lot: how I don’t love YA the way I used to.

When I first started blogging, a majority of what I was reading was YA.  I loved it, and I couldn’t get enough of it. It was exciting and new and shiny, and everything was amazing and hit me right in the feels and I fangirled and said squee a lot.  There was a lot of jumping up and down in excitement and a lot of arm waving and it was something that really spoke to me.

But after 5+ years?  I’m not as in love with YA as I used to be.  It really bothered me for a while and while I still read it a lot, I’m not as excited about it as I used to be.  It still bothers me a little bit, because it’s something I really loved, and I want those feelings back.

I think maybe I’m a little burnt out on it.

I’ve read a lot of YA over the years, and I’m really starting to notice that a lot of books are really similar. Granted, I think YA’s always been like this- vampires and fairies and dystopia and…I could go on and on with the different trends.  Part of me feels like I really have to make an effort to read different genres, and to make sure I don’t read any genre back to back.  I notice tropes a lot more, and I’m reminded of similar books I’ve read, and how they compare to each other.

I feel like I’m reading the same story over and over, so I’m probably not mixing things up as much as I thought I was. That or most of what I’m picking up is in the same genre…probably a combination of both, knowing me. I’ve always been the kind of reader that just picks stuff up without really paying attention to the summary on the back of the cover.

Yes, the more I read, the more reference points I have for when I’m reviewing books.  And I’m a lot better at talking about books now then I was when I first started blogging.  I’m going to notice similarities more because I’m better at picking up on those things.  I’m a lot more critical now than I was in 2010.  It’s going to be harder for me to get excited about books the way I used to, because it takes a lot more for me to get to that point.

But I’ve noticed that over the last couple of years, my taste in books have started to change.

I’ve made more of an effort to read more diverse books- I’m reading more books that feature characters who are LGBT and characters who are people of color.  I’ve read a few translated books and books that set in different countries.  A lot of it is YA but a lot of isn’t, and I’m a lot more willing to get out of my reading comfort zone.  I always come back to YA, but I’m also not as willing to read one thing exclusively anymore.  Books are a powerful way to read about the experiences of those who are different from us, and everyone should have the chance to tell their story.

What I read is going to change over time- in middle school and high school, I used to love Stephen King, Anne Rice and Danielle Steel.  I didn’t read a lot in college, unless it was for a class, and then I fell in love with YA in my mid-twenties.  I’m going to like different things at different points in my life, and as I start reading a wider variety of books, I’ll probably start to find my new favorite book thing, whatever it may be.  Who knows, maybe I’ll still find that I love YA, and just need the book version of a palate cleanser.  Maybe I’ll read whatever I want, but still primarily read one thing.

I wonder if part of it is me getting older.

When I first starting blogging, I was 24.  I’m 31 now, and even though I feel like I haven’t changed that much…maybe I’ve changed more than I thought I have.  I still love YA, but maybe, as I’m getting older, the stories that speak to me are going to be different.  Maybe the stories I need to read have changed a little bit.  It’s not that YA doesn’t appeal to me anymore, because it still does.  Maybe, for now, I need something a little different.  It would be so much easier if I knew what that was, but if I keep reading different things, I could find it.

While this isn’t specific to YA, I’ve noticed that in general, I just haven’t been excited about reading this year. I’ve read and blogged pretty consistently since 2010 and while I’ve had a few (short) breaks and slumps, it’s never been the slump I’ve experienced this year.  If I’m going to be honest, it’s been nice to have a break.  I think it’s something I’ve really needed.  Re-reading has been nice- and really helpful, actually- because I’m reading, and not worrying about finding the motivation to review anything.

While the point of this really long post hasn’t been to come up with a conclusion for my disinterest in YA, it has been really helpful to talk about why I’m not as interested in reading it.  Even writing this, I’m starting to feel better about reading, and I’m starting to feel excited about reading…especially YA.  For some reason, I’m in the mood to read some really cute, sappy YA contemporary.  I (very sincerely) hope this is a turning point in my reading!

If anyone else has experienced this, how did you get through it?  Did your reading habits change completely, or did you take a break by reading something else?  Let me know what you think in the comments!

Book Review: Now I Rise by Kiersten White

Book: Now I Rise by Kiersten White

Published June 2017 by Delacorte Press|496 Pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: The Conqueror’s Saga #2

Genre: YA Fantasy/Historical Fiction

Lada Dracul has no allies. No throne. All she has is what she’s always had: herself. After failing to secure the Wallachian throne, Lada is out to punish anyone who dares to cross her blood-strewn path. Filled with a white-hot rage, she storms the countryside with her men, accompanied by her childhood friend Bogdan, terrorizing the land. But brute force isn’t getting Lada what she wants. And thinking of Mehmed brings little comfort to her thorny heart. There’s no time to wonder whether he still thinks about her, even loves her. She left him before he could leave her.

What Lada needs is her younger brother Radu’s subtlety and skill. But Mehmed has sent him to Constantinople—and it’s no diplomatic mission. Mehmed wants control of the city, and Radu has earned an unwanted place as a double-crossing spy behind enemy lines. Radu longs for his sister’s fierce confidence—but for the first time in his life, he rejects her unexpected plea for help. Torn between loyalties to faith, to the Ottomans, and to Mehmed, he knows he owes Lada nothing. If she dies, he could never forgive himself—but if he fails in Constantinople, will Mehmed ever forgive him?

As nations fall around them, the Dracul siblings must decide: what will they sacrifice to fulfill their destinies? Empires will topple, thrones will be won . . . and souls will be lost.

I’ve been so excited about this book and I absolutely loved it!  I was worried it would suffer from middle book syndrome, and that it would feel like it was a bridge between the first book and the third book.  This wasn’t the case at all, and it really added to the series because it felt like it added to the story.  It does set some things up for the next book, of course, but overall, it stood on its own pretty well.

I loved Lada in this book.  She is very resilient, and determined to get Wallachia back and make it into the country she believes it should be.  Lada is so determined to find her own allies, and there is something cold and unlikeable about her.  But I can’t help but love her as a character.  She is bloodthirsty and cruel and sympathetic and determined, and it’s hard not to love her.  I hate that the boyars see her as someone who’s easy to manipulate because of her gender, and yet it’s not that surprising.  Lada works so hard to show that she is deserving of her title, and I hate that she had to fight so hard for it.  I think she appreciates it a lot more because of it, and certainly more than Radu would have.

Her brother Radu is also interesting.  He does have a political savvy that Lada does not, and it would have been interesting to see how things would have gone for Lada in Wallachia if she had her brother by her side.  There is something about Radu that is more soft, but perhaps that’s because in comparison to Lada, almost anyone would seem soft and delicate.  Together, they would make an interesting but formidable team, but that is not this story.

As for Mehmed…if there’s one character I hate with a fiery, burning passion, it is Mehmed.  I didn’t have strong feelings either way in And I Darken, but he was okay in that book.  In this one, however?  He used both Radu and Lada.  He, in this book, seemed to be fully aware of Radu’s feelings for him, or at least aware enough to get Radu to do anything he said because there was no way Radu was going to say no.  And he definitely took advantage of Lada’s desire to do anything to take Wallachia for herself, using her to make sure things went a certain way.

I think that is the main difference between Lada and Radu- Lada was completely disgusted by the fact that Mehmed used her, and became more determined to get what she wanted, while Radu didn’t seem to care that Mehmed capitalized on Radu’s feelings for him.  You see two very different sides of Mehmed, and as much as I didn’t care for Mehmed, I do appreciate that he isn’t clear-cut.

I attended a book signing for Now I Rise, and something White mentioned was trying to find a middle ground.  I thought she went above and beyond that, and she really did show how things aren’t black and white, and that there is always a grey area.

I also especially liked that she took great care with how she portrayed both Christianity and Islam, and even though we don’t see prayers or anything like that, religion is still very present and something that is important to many of the characters.

And that ending!  I ABSOLUTELY LOVED the last three or so chapters.  I’m really rooting for Lada, and I’m completely on her side, because as far as I’m considered, Mehmed and Radu are somehow less deserving.

5 stars.  I loved this book, and the characters really felt like living, breathing people.  I didn’t think it was possible for this series to get better, but it did, and I can’t wait to read the next book.

Currently Obsessed With: June 2017

Currently Obsessed With is a once-a-month feature where I talking about my favorite things from the last month.

I can’t believe it’s July already!  Where has the year gone?  It feels like it was January just yesterday!

Books:

I bought a few books this month- I bought Now I Rise by Kiersten White, Glitter by Aprilynne Pike, Escape Velocity by Jason Hough, and Love Real Food by Katheryne Taylor in print.  I also bought On The Edge Of Gone and Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis, Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova, and the Nook version of And I Darken by Kiersten White, all of which are e-books.  I haven’t settled on my audible pick- nothing’s jumping out at me, but maybe something will later on.

I’ve also been getting audio books from Audio Book Sync, but the choices this year aren’t as appealing as the picks from previous years.  I’ll give them a try, though, because maybe I’ll end liking some of them.

Crochet:

I haven’t been crocheting a lot- the blanket is officially on hold until it’s cool enough to work on it again, but I haven’t picked up anything else.  I think last month I mentioned ordering an embroidery kit, which finally arrived in the mail, but has been sitting in my yarn basket since getting it.  I might pick it up, but I might go with something else. I haven’t been in much of a crocheting mood, but at least I have a few projects in mind for when I do pick up my yarn and hooks.

T.V./Movies:

I haven’t seen any movies, and I haven’t watched a lot of t.v. either.  I did watch The Keepers on Netflix, which I really liked.  It was more about the abuse that some girls at Keough High School experienced, and the lasting effects that it had, rather than the murder of Sister Catherine Cesnik.  Her murder is still unsolved, but it was horrifying to see what some of the students had to go through, and how nothing was done.  My question is this, though: why Cesnik?  It sounds like a lot of the teachers knew what was happening, so why her?  It could have been any one of the teachers.  Anyway, it was still interesting to watch.  I’m not sure what to watch next, since I have been in much of a mood to watch anything.  I have a shortlist, but I can’t decide, since I’m not in the mood for anything right now.

Around The Internet: 

June Things:

I went to the launch party for Now I Rise by Kiersten White!  It was a lot of fun, and it made me really excited to read it.  I’m not done with the book yet, but I really love Lada.  She’s willing to do whatever she can to help Wallachia, and she really cares about her country.  You know how with trilogies, the middle book feels like a bridge between the 1st and 3rd book?  You don’t get that with this book at all, which is really nice and completely awesome.

I loved hearing her talk about some of her upcoming projects, and writing this series (and writing in general).  I really need to take notes or something during author events because there are so many things I want to talk about, and then I don’t because I forget the really interesting stuff.  I did like what she said about how she likes to explore questions, and that she might not have written some of her earlier books now, because it was something she needed to explore at that time.

I got a new job!  It’s with the same company, but a different position.  I wasn’t expecting to get it, but I’m glad I did.  I didn’t realize how much I needed to change positions until I actually did, and I’ll be glad once they hire someone for my old job so I can focus on the new one.

July:

July Fourth is almost here, and I have no plans.  Maybe I’ll go see some fireworks, but then again, by the time that comes around, I might be too lazy to leave the house.  July looks like it’ll be pretty uneventful, at least at this point.

Music/Podcasts:

I’ve been on a trying-to-catch-up-on-podcasts kick lately, so no music choices for today.  If anyone has any music recommendations, I am completely willing to check out it.  I make no promises about actually liking it, but there’s no harm in trying, right?  I also have no new podcast recommendations, because I’m pretty sure I’ve shared all of the ones I would have talked about, but maybe next month I’ll have something.

Have a great week, and for those in the U.S., I hope tomorrow is full of fun and food!

Happy 20th Anniversary, Harry Potter!

I feel like I’m a little late in the celebratory Harry Potter has been around for 20 years posts, but I just really wanted to talk about it!

 

Because Harry Potter, obviously.  How can I not talk about Harry Potter?  If you need to know two things about me, it’s that I like Harry Potter and yarn.  Yarn is a completely different post, but Harry Potter…that’s why we’re here today.  I’m almost positive I’ve mentioned some of this before, but it’s worth talking about again…because this is Harry Potter we’re talking about here.

I can’t believe Sorcerer’s Stone has been around for 20 years!  I’ve spent most of my life reading and obsessing over Harry Potter, and I can’t imagine life without it.  I started reading Harry Potter when I was in high school, and I honestly have a hard time remembering what life was like before Harry Potter.

I have a lot of memories of Harry Potter, and it’s had such a big impact on my life.  I’m totally taking a trip down memory lane here:

  • I remember hearing about the books, and thinking they sounded a little stupid.  It wasn’t until I saw Sorcerer’s Stone on DVD one weekend that I checked out the first 4 books from the library and read them.  That DVD I saw?  A rental from Blockbuster…I can’t believe Harry Potter’s been around long enough that Blockbuster used to be a thing.
  • I only went to the midnight release parties for Deathly Hallows and Cursed Child.  Deathly Hallows…it was the first midnight release party I could go to, since I had no way to get to the ones for Order Of The Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince.  I honestly thought it would be the only one I’d ever go to, until Cursed Child came out.
  • I remember for Deathly Hallows, I went to the Barnes And Noble by my house, in a costume I threw together at the last minute, and then getting the book and staying up all night to read it.  I went into work that day tired, but glad I had done it, knowing it would be my last time staying up all night reading Harry Potter.  For a few weeks, everyone was reading it during their lunch break, and it was really hard waiting for them to finish so I could actually talk about it.
  • And when the Cursed Child script was released, I found myself at Mysterious Galaxy, dressed up as Fleur Delacour, and feeling like the magic was back, even if it was a script for a play I’d never see.  I don’t think I ever did a review on the script, and I haven’t picked it up since then, but still, the magic of Harry Potter was back for a night.
  • All of the time reading Mugglenet, and wondering what would happen next.  Also: all of the time I spent on fanfiction.net, and all of the fanfics I read.  Not to mention when I starting writing my own fanfiction.  Which I still do, and it’s the one thing I keep coming back to, at least for writing.  When in doubt, write Harry Potter fanfic!
  • That time I was obsessed with A Very Potter Musical.  I saw that one, and the sequel, but I never saw the third one I know is out there…
  • Really identifying as a Hufflepuff.  I always thought I was a Ravenclaw, since I LOVE reading.  But then I was sorted into Pottermore, and I was like, nope, I am not a Ravenclaw, I am a Hufflepuff, I have found my people.
  • I will always remember waiting anxiously for the next book to come out, and all of time spent reading theories and discussions.  In a way, all of the people who are reading Harry Potter for the first time are really lucky, because they don’t have to wait for each book to come out…but I don’t think I’d want to give up all of the title hoaxes and JKR’s interactive website with clues and all of the hype surrounding each book.
  • Being able to crochet some of the really cool things mentioned in the series.  I made the Luna Lovegood scarf, I have a Hufflepuff scarf, and I crocheted the hat and capelet I wore when I dressed up as Fleur Delacour.  There are so many other things I want to make, and one of these days, I will have to make more HP-themed things.

I do think a big reason why I really got into writing was my desire to write my own take on the series.  Would I still on gone on to write my stories?  Maybe, but I’ll never know for sure.  14-year-old me wasn’t very confident in her ability to write a story, but writing HP fanfic helped me believe in myself and feel more confident that I could write.

The Luna Lovegood Scarf

As evidenced by this list of Harry Potter podcasts, this post about reading Harry Potter with a sibling, a post wondering what would happen if Hermione had more female friends, Harry Potter tattoos, a wonderful post about reading Harry Potter as the series came out, and lessons we’ve learned from Harry Potter, a lot of people have been influenced by the series.  I know all of those links come from one blog, but…a lot of people have had their own experiences with HP, and I love that there’s such a range of thoughts and discussions, and things we’ve learned because of one series.

The Fleur Delacour Capelet (Left) and The Beauxbatons Hat (Right)

There’s something very special about Harry Potter, and it means so much to me.  I have a lot of really good memories associated with Harry Potter, and it’s something I’ll be re-reading for years to come.  My life would not be the same without Harry Potter.

ARC Book Review: Gilded Cage by Vic James

Book: Gilded Cage by Vic James

Published February 2017 by Del Ray|368 Pages

Where I Got It: I received an e-ARC from netgalley.com in exchange for a fair and honest review

Series: Dark Gifts #1

Genre: YA Alternate History/Fantasy

A darkly fantastical debut set in a modern England where magically gifted aristocrats rule, and commoners are doomed to serve—for readers of Victoria Aveyard and Susanna Clarke

NOT ALL ARE FREE.
NOT ALL ARE EQUAL.
NOT ALL WILL BE SAVED.

Our world belongs to the Equals—aristocrats with magical gifts—and all commoners must serve them for ten years.

But behind the gates of England’s grandest estate lies a power that could break the world.

A girl thirsts for love and knowledge.

Abi is a servant to England’s most powerful family, but her spirit is free. So when she falls for one of their noble-born sons, Abi faces a terrible choice. Uncovering the family’s secrets might win her liberty—but will her heart pay the price?

A boy dreams of revolution.

Abi’s brother, Luke, is enslaved in a brutal factory town. Far from his family and cruelly oppressed, he makes friends whose ideals could cost him everything. Now Luke has discovered there may be a power even greater than magic: revolution.

And an aristocrat will remake the world with his dark gifts.

He is a shadow in the glittering world of the Equals, with mysterious powers no one else understands. But will he liberate—or destroy?

I remember hearing about this book and being so excited about it.  It’s an alternate London, where commoners are basically slaves for 10 years to those in power.  It seemed up my alley, but I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would.  And for some reason, I never got around to reviewing this book, and since I was looking forward to it, I did want to talk about it.

It was really hard for me to get into, and I don’t know that I’m interested enough to keep going with the series. The origin of slave days seemed really confusing, and not explained very well.  It’s the same with the origin of those with skill, and for the life of me, I cannot remember how it started.  It just didn’t seem like the world was explained- you were immersed in the world, which was different, but I found myself wondering what the history was, and I hate that whatever was explained isn’t sticking.

I do wonder when it’s supposed to take place- there were times when it felt like the technology was modern enough, but at the same time, it felt like an alternate Victorian London.  I did like that, the alternate Victorian London feel, and now that I think about it, it is sort of a steampunk London, which worked pretty well with the concept of a slaveday.

Still, I feel like this book is another book in the wave of books where the upper class has powers that the lower class doesn’t have (or isn’t supposed to have, but does).  Maybe I’m just jaded about this type of book already, but for me, there are better books in this genre to read.  Maybe if I had read this book before some of the other similar books out there, I would have felt differently.  Or maybe it’s just not my cup of tea.  Either way, it’s not for me, but maybe you’ll like it.

2 stars.  For me, this one was okay, and I don’t know if I’ll be continuing the series.