Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books For People Who Have Never Read About The Tudors

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely folks over at The Broke And The Bookish.  Every week, bloggers from all over share their own top ten list based on the topic of the week.  You can find all Top Ten Tuesdays here.

Top Ten Books For People Who Have Never Read About The Tudors

Tudor England is one of my favorite time periods ever!  I’ve been fascinated with the Tudors ever since I did a research project on Elizabeth 1 in high school, and since it’s the only era in history I’ve consistently read about, I knew it would be a great topic.  I went for a combination of non-fiction and fiction, and you can’t go wrong with any of the books I talk about.  All links will lead you to goodreads!

Non-Fiction:

  1. The Wives Of Henry VIII by Antonia Frasier.  There are a couple other biographies about the 6 women who were married to Henry VIII (that I know of) and I knew I had to include at least one of them.  I’d go with this one, since it gives the best overview of his wives.
  2. Henry VIII: The King And His Court by Alison Weir.  It’s a really good look at Henry VIII himself, and it’s a pretty long book with quite a few details, but it also give really good insight into Henry’s life and who he was.  (I will say, you can’t go wrong with Alison Weir, who is one of my favorite authors).
  3. Winter King: Henry VII And The Dawn Of Tudor England by Thomas Penn.  Initially, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to include it on this list, because I actually haven’t finished it…because I put it on hold months ago- like, last year months ago.  But even though I haven’t finished it, it’s still an interesting read, because it touches a bit on the Wars Of The Roses, which led to the Tudors sitting on the throne.
  4. Jane Boleyn: The True Story Of The Infamous Lady Rochford by Julia Fox.  It’s been ages since I’ve read it, but it’s a great biography of the sister-in-law of Anne Boleyn and a lady-in-waiting to three Tudor Queens.
  5. The First Queen Of England: The Myth Of “Bloody Mary” by Linda Porter.  I feel like this biography of Mary is good one to read, since it’s actually a really good introduction to who Mary Tudor was and what influenced her to be the person and Queen she was.

Historical Fiction:

  1. Witchstruck by Victoria Lamb.  It’s a great YA paranormal historical fiction about a witch living during the reign of Mary Tudor…and she just happens to be in service to the future Elizabeth I.  It’s a good look at what life was like during this time.
  2. Gilt by Katherine Longshore.  I was debating whether I wanted to include this one or Tarnish, but I went with Gilt because it’s about Katherine Howard, and she doesn’t pop up too often in books about this time period.  (Well, in books that I’ve read).
  3. Mary, Bloody Mary by Carolyn Meyer.  It’s a great middle grade book about Mary Tudor, and I think it would be a great way to introduce the time period to kids.
  4. The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory.  I thought about putting The Other Boleyn Girl on this list, as it’s a book a lot of people probably know.  But I actually like The Boleyn Inheritance better!  Partly because it focuses on Anne Of Cleves, Katherine Howard and Jane Rochford, but also because Gregory can tell a story that keeps you reading.  This one in particular has you invested in the characters.  (Side Note: You can’t go wrong with any of her Tudor Court books.  I haven’t read The Other Queen, but I highly recommend the rest of the series).
  5. The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir.  I tried really hard to include only one Alison Weir book, which was really hard since I’ve read so many books by her.  She’s made the jump from non-fiction to historical fiction sometime in the last few years, and so I felt like a 2nd appearance was warranted.  Overall, her historical fiction is super-accurate and authentic (for those who like that in historical fiction), which is the direct result of writing historical fiction set during the time periods that she researches for her non-fiction stuff.

2014 Already?

I don’t know about anyone else, but I can’t believe it’s 2014 already!  It really does feel like 2013 went by really fast.

I feel like 2013 was a pretty good year, and all sorts of stuff happened.  I went to a few book signings, which was totally awesome, especially because they were the first book signings I have ever gone to! I’ll definitely be going to more, because they were totally fun to go to.

Speaking of books, I read an astounding 183 books!  I had a goal of 150, so clearly I exceeded expectations there.  According to goodreads, that amounts to 50,596 pages, which is a lot of pages. Overall, I really liked what I read, to the point that remembering what I don’t like is easier.  I really feel like I’ve gotten better at picking books I’m going to like, and that if I really strongly dislike something or am very not into something, I’m probably going to put it down and not finish it.  I’ve decided to aim for 160 books this year, and if the last couple years are any indication, then I’ll have no problem meeting that goal!  I don’t have much to add in terms of books, especially because I covered it pretty well in the bookish survey I did.  And my top books of 2013.  Oh, and this post I did my favorite new-to-me authors.

Writing this post is a little weird.  I’m so used to top ten lists and book reviews and Gilmore Girls recaps that writing something that isn’t one of those is really weird.  I definitely want to do more posts where I’m just talking about whatever, because I kind of miss those.  I’m not sure how often they’ll be, but at least one or two a month.

I get the Julep Maven box now!  I love nail polish, so a monthly box that contains nail polish is perfect for me.  There’s a really good chance I’ll be sharing them.  Like now!

January Maven Box

Left To Right: Mona, an add-on, and this months selection, Farrah, Annemarie, and Hope, plus, 2 unidentified orange squares

So, my box had Farrah, Annemarie, and Hope, and I decided that I like Mona (a nail polish included in a different box) enough to add that on to my box.  They also randomly include things sometimes, and I think the orange squares may be nail buffers, but I’m not quite sure…still, it’s always fun to get some mail that’s nice and fun.

Speaking of sharing, I think I’m going to share my crochet projects.  It wasn’t until last month that I actually started taking pictures of what I crochet (well, on a regular basis) because I was doing a few gifts for people and wanted to have pictures of what I made, so I might feature that too.  Even though I’ve been crocheting for a couple years, I still get intimidated, but I’d also like to get over that, so I’ll be trying new things as far as that goes.

Actually, I have a few ideas in mind for some fun posts, so when I hammer out the details, I’ll be sure to share!  There’s so much I want to do this year, both for my blog and in general, so I’ll do a post about resolutions sometime in the next week.  Once I narrow things down and such.  I’m definitely planning on taking a look back on the resolutions I did last year, so I think I want to take a look at that to figure out what to focus on this year.

I’m pretty sure I’m done rambling for today, so I hope everyone has a great 2014!

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Read In 2013

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the lovely folks over at The Broke And The Bookish. Every week, bloggers from all over are invited to share their own Top Ten List based on the topic of the week. You can find all Top Ten Tuesdays here.

Top Ten Tuesday Header

Top Ten Books I Read In 2013

I can’t believe 2013 is almost over!  I’ve read so many good books this year, and these are the ten that stood out as the best of 2013.

  1. If I Stay/Where She Went by Gayle Forman.  I find it so hard to see these books as individual books, but they go so well-together!  The stories are completely amazing and heart-breaking and unforgettable.
  2. Lovely, Dark and Deep by Amy McNamara.  I loved this book so much!  I was still crying a few minutes after finishing it, and there’s some very quiet and reflective and beautiful about this book.
  3. Out Of Breath by Rebecca Donovan.  I was so glad when Out Of Breath came out, because I really wanted to know what was going on in Emma’s life and if she got her happy ending.  I got so invested in her story, and I’m glad she started to make peace with everything that happened in her life.
  4. This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales.  I related to Elise a lot, and I loved seeing Elise find a place where she belonged.
  5. Boundless by Cynthia Hand.  I am such a fan of the Unearthly series, and Boundless was such an amazing end to the series. There was some crying involved and a bit of “oh my god, what just happened, that better be resolved” and said things were resolved to my satisfaction…and this is why I shouldn’t read in public…but Boundless is still one of the best books I’ve read all year.
  6. Mouse Guard: Fall 1152.  This is such an adorable graphic novel, and I love the idea of sword-wielding mice in medieval Europe.
  7. This Much Is True by Katherine Owen.  There was so much angst in this book I wasn’t sure if I was emotionally stable enough to handle it, and it’s quite the emotional roller-coaster, but it was so worth it, because I wanted things to go right for Tally and Lincoln.
  8. A World Away by Nancy Grossman.  This is definitely one of my favorites from this year!  I liked Eliza’s story, but what really made A World Away great was Jessica Lawshe, who narrated the audio book, and was completely amazing!  I liked seeing Eliza in the non-Amish world, and Jessica Lawshe really brought her to life.
  9. Allegiant by Veronica Roth.  I thought Allegiant was a really good ending to the series, and it’s one of my favorite books of the year.  Mostly because of the last few chapters, which I thought were heart-breaking.
  10. Between Shades Of Gray by Ruta Sepetys.  I can’t believe it took me so long to read this one, but I’m glad I finally did!  It was such a great book, and definitely one of the best I’ve read!

And, of course, the books that came so close to making the top ten: Paranormalcy by Kiersten White, Scarlet by Marissa Meyer, With All My Soul by Rachel Vincent, Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson, and Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker.

Audio Book Review: Timeless

Timeless CoverBook: Timeless by Gail Carriger, Narrated by Emily Gray

Published March 2012 by Hachette Audio|Run Time: 11 hours, 29 minutes

Where I Got It: Audible.com

Series: Parasol Protectorate #5

Genre: Adult Paranormal/Steampunk/Fantasy

You can find Timeless on goodreads & you can find Gail Carriger on TwitterFacebook and her website

Goodreads Summary: Alexia Tarabotti, Lady Maccon, has settled into domestic bliss. Of course, being Alexia, such bliss involves integrating werewolves into London High society, living in a vampire’s second best closet, and coping with a precocious toddler who is prone to turning supernatural willy-nilly. Even Ivy Tunstell’s acting troupe’s latest play, disastrous to say the least, cannot put a damper on Alexia’s enjoyment of her new London lifestyle.

Until, that is, she receives a summons from Alexandria that cannot be ignored. With husband, child, and Tunstells in tow, Alexia boards a steamer to cross the Mediterranean. But Egypt may hold more mysteries than even the indomitable Lady Maccon can handle. What does the vampire Queen of the Alexandria Hive really want from her? Why is the God-Breaker Plague suddenly expanding? And how has Ivy Tunstell suddenly become the most popular actress in all the British Empire?

I’m feeling a little sad that I’m finished with the Parasol Protectorate series!  At least there’s her Finishing School series…

I think Timeless is my favorite book in the series!  It takes place 2 years after Heartless, and we learn more about a lot of things. Like Alexia’s father, and his role in the God-Breaker Plague, and what Floote really knows…which is a lot of things.  And we learn a little bit more about Alexia’s abilities and the abilities of her daughter Prudence, who won me over!

Seriously, Prudence is one hysterically funny child, who really has her own personality.  She definitely takes after her parents, who are entertaining as always.  There’s a lot going on, and I wasn’t bored at all.  In fact, I was thoroughly entertained, what with Ivy’s play, and the vampire Queen Of Alexandria…who needs something from Alexia and Prudence that was totally unexpected.  Still, it was one of the really interesting parts of the book, and I liked that it connected to some things in Heartless.

I also liked that Carriger focused on Egypt and London.  Not only do we follow Alexia but we see what’s going on with Biffy and the rest of the pack in London, and how they’re dealing with things over there.  And that settles things for when Conall retires as alpha of his pack.

One thing I’ve loved about this series is the narration!  Emily Gray does such a great job narrating the series, and I love how she brings the characters to life.  I really can’t imagine anyone else narrating the series, and I highly recommend the audio books in particular!

Final Thoughts:

I have really enjoyed this series, and Timeless is a great end to the series.  I liked seeing what was going on in both London and in Egypt, and the narration was great.  Timeless gets 5 stars.

2013 End Of The Year Bookish Survey

2013 End Of Year Survey

This survey is an annual survey hosted by Jamie over at The Perpetual Page-Turner, and it seems like a good way to wrap up my 2013 reading!  I have a couple other posts coming up next week taking care of a few other year-end things, but this one seemed like a good way to start the 2013 year-end stuff. As a warning…it’s going to be a long one!

2013 Survey Best In Books

1.  Best Book You Read In 2013? (If you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want or 2013 release vs. backlist)

Best YA Contemporary: That Time I Joined The Circus by J.J. Howard

Best YA Paranormal: With All My Soul by Rachel Vincent

Best New Adult: Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker

Best Adult Historical Fiction: The Trial Of Dr. Kate by Michael Glasscock

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

The Sea Of Tranquility by Katja Millay.  I just didn’t care about either character until the end of the book and by then, it was too late. Sadly, I think I over-hyped this book.

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013? 

I think I’m going to have to with Allegiant for this one.  I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started reading it, and there were tears, but I was surprised by some of the things we learned.

 4. Book you read in 2013 that you recommended to people most in 2013?

I don’t recommend a lot of books, but after finishing Between Shades Of Gray, I’m going to be recommending that one a lot!

5. Best series you discovered in 2013?

The Parasol Protectorate by Gail Carriger.  It was so fun to listen to, and I couldn’t help but giggle the entire time I was listening to it.

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2013?

I’m going to go with K.A. Tucker!  I’m really loving her 10 Tiny Breaths series.  I also want to read her Casual Enchantment series.

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

I have to go with Mouse Guard, which is a graphic novel by David Peterson.  I don’t normally read graphic novels, but I’m really glad I read this one.  It’s really hard to not like medieval mice with swords.

 8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013?

Unbroken by Rachel Caine.  I read it in a day, and I couldn’t for a better ending to her Outcast Season series.

9. Book You Read In 2013 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

I don’t re-read a lot, but I think I’m going to be reading Hex Hall again.  It was a fun read, and I can’t wait to finish the series!

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2013?

That Time I Joined The Circus Cover

11. Most memorable character in 2013? 

Eliza Miller from A World Away.  A lot of it is because of Jessica Lawshe’s narration in the audio book, but I loved seeing an Amish girl explore the non-Amish world and how she found family.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2013?

Lovely, Dark And Deep by Amy McNamara.  Every word felt carefully chosen and well-thought out.  There was also something very poetic and lyrical about it.

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013? 

This is a good one!  I don’t think I can pick just one.  This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales is my first pick, because I love Elise, and her story.  And Between Shades Of Gray, which I’ve mentioned a few times.  But it’s mind-boggling that I didn’t really know the details of the events that inspired the book!

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2013 to finally read? 

Between Shades Of Gray by Ruta Sepetys.  I am kicking myself for taking so long to read it!

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2013?

Funniest, from Timeless by Gail Carriger:

“I suppose that saves us from having to determine what to do with a butler who goes around killing people.  It certainly reflects badly upon our domestic staff.  Still, I shall miss him.  There was a man who knew how to brew a good cup of tea.”

Unforgettably sad, from Out Of Breath by Rebecca Donovan:

“I was so tired of fighting. Tired of hurting. Tired of the guilt that never released me, and the regrets that could not be changed. I didn’t want this life. They’re were only so many times I could hear that I should never have been born, before I wished it to be true.”

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?

Here’s how I did this: I went to my 2013 shelf on goodreads, and sorted by page number!  Actually, this is one of those times when I’m glad I make yearly shelves on goodreads, because it was a lot easier than looking for the 2013 books on my read shelf.

Shortest: Broken Beauty, which is a novella that clocked in at 78 pages.

Longest: I’m pretty sure The Rise And The Fall Of The Third Reich by William Shirer is the longest book I read this year.  I’m not sure what the page count is, but it was 57 hours, so whatever the page equivalent of that is…

17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!

I had a major WTF moment when I read Allegiant!

18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2013 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).

Family: Charli and Alex in Saving Wishes.  Alex seems like an awesome relative.

Romantic: Ana and Sam in Asunder by Jodi Meadows.  They’re adorable together.

Friendship: All of the different friendships in the last couple Morganville Vampire books.  Because they are there for their friends.

19. Favorite Book You Read in 2013 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

I’m going with the obvious (to me) choices of Rachel Caine and Maria Snyder.  Because they are two of my favorites!

20. Best Book You Read In 2013 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else.

I have to go with Mouse Guard again!  It’s not even funny how adorable this book is, and I love that there mice who have their own little community and have guards.

21. Genre You Read The Most From in 2013?

I think YA paranormal and YA contemporary are pretty close.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2013?

This is going to be a hard one but I’m going to have to go with Lord Maccon from the Parasol Protectorate.  It’s the first time I’ve liked werewolves on their own, and it’s because of him…

23. Best 2013 debut you read?

I don’t really pay attention to whether books are debuts or not, but I really liked The Darwin Elevator by Jason Hough.  Mostly because it’s the only debut I’m aware of…but also because it’s pretty awesome.

24. Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2013?

Shadow And Bone by Leigh Bardugo.  There is no doubt about this one!  It’s so vivid and interesting and different, and it’s the first one that came to mind.

25. Book That Was The Most Fun To Read in 2013?

I read a lot of books that were fun to read, but Beauty Queens by Libba Bray is right up there.  I couldn’t stop laughing!

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2013?

I could do a whole post on books that made cry!  However, I am going to have to go with Out Of Breath by Rebecca Donovan, because I cried almost the entire time I was reading it!

27. Book You Read in 2013 That You Think Got Overlooked This Year Or When It Came Out?

This is a good one!  I’m going to go with A World Away by Nancy Grossman.  It’s such a great book, and I loved Eliza’s story.

2013 SurveyBook Blogging

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2013? 

I know I’ve followed a few new blogs, but one of my favorites is Book Riot.  They don’t post a lot of reviews, and they lean more towards interesting book-ish news, but it’s always fun to see what they’re posting.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2013? 

My review for Beauty Queens is my favorite.  Mostly because I felt the urge to say Sparkle Ponies throughout the entire review.  And because I kept hearing the characters every single time I talked about a different character.

3. Best discussion you had on your blog?

I don’t really do discussion posts, but I’ve had some interesting conversations in the comments!

4. Most thought-provoking review or discussion you read on somebody else’s blog?

I know I’ve read a few interesting ones…but I don’t tend to keep of them.  However, I did like this one post on Book Riot about what it means to be well-read.

5. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

This year was the first year I went to book signings!  I went to books signings for The Darwin Elevator and The Plague Forge, which was awesome, and I also went to an Abbi Glines/Colleen Hoover/Jamie McGuire book signing, which was just as awesome.

6. Best moment of book blogging/your book life in 2013?

When I bought my own domain!  I’ve been thinking about it for a while, and I finally did it!

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

My most popular post is a top ten tuesday post!  I wrote Top Ten Books For People Who Like The Iron Fey back in 2012, and it’s a post a lot of people search for.  I think it might be time to do a follow-up!

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

Interestingly enough, there isn’t any particular post that I’m wishing more people would pay attention to.

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

I love the Book Riot podcast.  I look forward to listening to it every week, and it has a lot of bookish news that I wouldn’t hear about otherwise.

2013 Survey Looking Ahead

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2013 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2014?

I have so many to pick from!  My Number One pick is The Book Thief, because I’ve heard so many good things that I want to know why people love it so much!

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2014 (non-debut)?

I’m looking forward to look of books next year, and the non-debut books I’m looking forward to reading just happen to be in this post.

3. 2014 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

A Death-Struck Year by Makiia Lucier.  It’s set during the Spanish Infleunza epidemic, and I can’t wait to read it!

4. Series Ending You Are Most Anticipating in 2014?

I really excited about Sweet Reckoning by Wendy Higgins, because I have no clue how things are going to turn out.

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2014?

I really want to participate more in the book blogging community.  I feel like we’re a pretty awesome group of people, and I really want to comment more.

ARC Book Review: Salt

Salt CoverBook: Salt by Danielle Ellison

Expected Publication Date is January 7, 2014 by Entangled Teen|Expected Number Of Pages: 266

Where I Got It: I received a digital copy from the publisher, which hasn’t influenced my review in any way.  Promise!

Series: Salt #1

Genre: YA Paranormal

You can find Salt on goodreads & Danielle Ellison on Twitter and her website

Goodreads Summary: Penelope is a witch, part of a secret society protecting humans from demon attacks. But when she was a child, a demon killed her parents—and stole her magic. Since then, she’s been pretending to be something she’s not, using her sister’s magic to hide her own loss, to prevent being sent away.

When she’s finally given the chance to join the elite demon-hunting force, Penelope thinks that will finally change. With her sister’s help, she can squeeze through the tests and get access to the information she needs to find “her” demon. To take back what was stolen.

Then she meets Carter. He’s cute, smart, and she can borrow his magic, too. He knows her secret—but he also has one of his own. 

Suddenly, Penelope’s impossible quest becomes far more complicated. Because Carter’s not telling her everything, and it’s starting to seem like the demons have their own agenda…and they’re far too interested in her.

Initially, when I started reading Salt, I wasn’t sure about it.  But as I kept reading, I got wrapped up in the story!  It’s really different than a lot of paranormal/witch-y books I’ve read, because Penelope can draw her magic from her family.  It’s really different, mainly because she’s lost her own magic due to a demon stealing it…and the reason why she can draw power from her family, and from Carter, her Enforcer partner, is very plausible in this world.

Speaking of the world…I really like it!  It’s definitely intriguing, and I wish we got to learn more about it, because a world where there’s a society of witches that co-exists with our world is a pretty cool idea. And Carter and Penelope working together was entertaining at times, but also something I liked seeing, because of everything going on in the book!  Still, I’m hoping we learn more about the world Penelope lives in, because I felt like I didn’t get a good feel for this world.

I really liked how everything came together, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Penelope and Carter.  Especially because of Penelope’s secret and Carter’s connections…I’m curious as to whether those two things will collide, because I feel like Penelope’s secret is going to come out at some point.

There’s quite the assortment of characters, and I really like Penelope!  I don’t blame her for wanting her magic back, and for doing everything she can to do so.  I really do like that she can draw magic from her family and from Carter, and I like that her grandma’s so protective and worried about what could happen to Penelope.  I’m not sure how I feel about Penelope’s sister or her best friend, so I’m looking forward to seeing more of them.  I also think Carter is sort of intriguing, but I’m not sure how I feel about Carter and Penelope as a couple.

Final Thoughts:

I really liked Salt!  It’s definitely different (in a good way) than a lot of other paranormal books I’ve read, and I can’t wait to read the next book.  Salt gets 4 stars.

Book Review: Between Shades Of Gray

Between Shades Of Gray CoverBook: Between Shades Of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Published March 2011 by Penguin|368 pages

Where I Got It: Nook Store

Series: None

Genre: YA Historical Fiction

You can find Between Shades Of Gray on goodreads & Ruta Sepetys on Twitter, Facebook and her website

Goodreads Summary: Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they’ve known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin’s orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously–and at great risk–documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father’s prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives.  Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.

I finally got around to reading Between Shades Of Gray, and I am totally kicking myself for not reading it earlier!  I just loved Between Shades Of Gray, and it’s a book I recommend to anyone who hasn’t read it!

What I really loved about Between Shades Of Gray is that it follows Lina, who was sent to a work camp in Siberia.  I don’t know why, but it’s different than what I was expecting for a novel that has WWII as a back-drop.  There was a lot going on in World War II, and it was nice reading about a part of it that I vaguely knew about.  Because it seems like a lot of the focus on WWII is on the Nazi’s and the Holocaust, and maybe D-Day and Pearl Harbor, which is understandable, but it’s also…other things happened to, and yet, they don’t seem to be talked about, so I was really intrigued with Between Shades Of Gray.  At any rate, what was going on in Siberia and Russia seems so horrible, and I can’t even begin to imagine what that must have been like.

I also like that Sepetys didn’t sugar-coat anything.  It’s grim, and I was surprised that she didn’t hold back on some of the horrors that happened.  Things aren’t horribly graphic or anything, but there are just enough details to show how horrible things really were.  There is hope that things will get better, and you see flashbacks of what life was like for Lina before being sent to Siberia.  I thought the flashbacks were interesting, and I liked seeing what Lina’s life was like before, but for some reason, I felt like Sepetys could have transitioned to them better.  They really added to the book, though.

And the characters were so special!  There is an assortment of characters, and they were all so different, but they also made the story really come to life.  I mean, they all had to endure something so completely horrible, and yet you saw a will to survive and get through it.

Between Shades Of Gray is such a special book, and I’m really feeling like I cannot do it justice!  It’s a great look at a side of WWII that I’m not familiar with at all.

To Sum Up…

I still can’t believe it took me so long to read this book!  What Lina and her family went through was so horrible, and I can’t even begin to imagine what that was like,  and it’s definitely an eye-opener for me.  Between Shades Of Gray gets 5 stars.  

 

Audio Book Review: Heartless

Heartless CoverBook: Heartless by Gail Carriger, Narrated by Emily Gray

Published July 2011 by Hachette Audio|Run Time: 11 hours, 19 minutes

Where I Got It: audible.com

Series: Parasol Protectorate #4

Genre: Adult Paranormal Steampunk

You can find Heartless on goodreads and Gail Carriger on TwitterFacebook and her website

Goodreads Summary: Lady Alexia Maccon, soulless, is at it again, only this time the trouble is not her fault. When a mad ghost threatens the queen, Alexia is on the case, following a trail that leads her deep into her husband’s past. Top that off with a sister who has joined the suffragette movement (shocking!), Madame Lefoux’s latest mechanical invention, and a plague of zombie porcupines and Alexia barely has time to remember she happens to be eight months pregnant.

Will Alexia manage to determine who is trying to kill Queen Victoria before it is too late? Is it the vampires again or is there a traitor lurking about in wolf’s clothing? And what, exactly, has taken up residence in Lord Akeldama’s second best closet?

The Parasol Protectorate series has been such a fun series to listen to, and Heartless is no exception!

There’s a lot going on, and nothing is keeping Alexia from figuring out who is behind a plot that is threatening the queen.  Lord Akeldama has graciously agreed to adopt Alexia’s child, who is finally born!  With a very interesting complication at the very end of the book, which will prove interesting for whatever happens in Timeless.

We learn all sorts of thing about Lord Maccon, and that is something I wasn’t expecting!  We learn the full details of why he left his old pack in Scotland and became the alpha of the Wolsey pack.  And we also learn more about Alexia’s father, which was nice.  I mean, we’ve heard him mentioned in previous books, and I like that we learn a few interesting things about him in each book.

As for the current threat against the queen…while it was interesting to see Alexia try to sort it out…in the end, I wasn’t surprised by it.  Understandable, of course, but not a surprise.  And it led to an interesting change of scenery for the Wolsey pack and the Westminster Hive.

Lord Akeldama is one definitely one of my favorite characters, and I’m glad he had more of a role in this book!  While his nicknames for Alexia were adorable, they did start to get less amusing by the end of the book.  Actually, I loved the characters a lot, and they’re entertaining, as always.

As much as I love the series, and as much as I really liked Heartless, something felt missing, and I’m not sure what it is.  It was amusing, but not as amusing as the other books in the series.  Hopefully, everything will get back to normal in Timeless.

As always, Emily Gray did a great job narrating, and I can’t imagine anyone else narrating the series!

To Sum Up…

I really liked Heartless, and it’s a good addition to the series.  While I wasn’t as entertained listening to it, I was still pretty amused. Heartless gets 4 stars.  

Book Review: Struck

Struck CoverBook: Struck by Jennifer Bosworth

Published May 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux|352 pages

Where I Got It: Nook Store

Series: Struck #1

Genre: YA Post-Apocalyptic

You can find Struck on goodreads & you can find Jennifer Bosworth on Twitter and her website

Goodreads Summary: Mia Price is a lightning addict. She’s survived countless strikes, but her craving to connect to the energy in storms endangers her life and the lives of those around her.

Los Angeles, where lightning rarely strikes, is one of the few places Mia feels safe from her addiction. But when an earthquake devastates the city, her haven is transformed into a minefield of chaos and danger. The beaches become massive tent cities. Downtown is a crumbling wasteland, where a traveling party moves to a different empty building each night, the revelers drawn to the destruction by a force they cannot deny. Two warring cults rise to power, and both see Mia as the key to their opposing doomsday prophecies. They believe she has a connection to the freak electrical storm that caused the quake, and to the far more devastating storm that is yet to come.

Mia wants to trust the enigmatic and alluring Jeremy when he promises to protect her, but she fears he isn’t who he claims to be. In the end, the passion and power that brought them together could be their downfall. When the final disaster strikes, Mia must risk unleashing the full horror of her strength to save the people she loves, or lose everything.

I’ve been wanting to read Struck for ages, and now I’ve finally finished it!  I love the idea of a lightning addict, since I’ve never seen it before!  So it’s pretty unique.

And post-apocalyptic L.A. by way of a horrible, horrible earthquake is also pretty believable!  It’s also slightly terrifying, but given I’ve lived my entire life in Southern California, where earthquakes are pretty normal…well, it’s something I can see happening.  Add in two warring cults, and you have a crazy, slightly terrifying world.

Group one is a religuous group predicting that it’s the end of days, and that the 6th seal in the book of Revelations is happening in three days.  And group two is a group of people like Mia, who also have special abilities.  I’m not surprised by the appearance of both groups or that there’s a prophecy involving Mia, who is wanted by both sides.  I’m pretty intrigued by both sides, and I like that Mia sees both groups before finally doing her own thing.

Given how the book started- with a strong focus on Mia’s lightning addiction- I thought it would take center stage.  And it didn’t, which is slightly disappointing, because it’s really unique and different and kind of cool.  And while there were some paranormal-ish aspects, I also felt like that could have been explored a lot more.  I wanted to know a little more about both groups, especially the religious group, because they seemed infinitely more interesting than the Seekers.

Still, I really liked the two opposing groups, and how it’s a (slightly paranormal) post-apocalyptic world. It’s one of the more unique paranormal/post-apocalyptic books I’ve read in a while, since you don’t see the two combined.  Generally speaking, of course.  And lightning striking a fault line makes it even more different, but in a good way.

It seems like there might be a sequel in 2016, and I’m looking forward to more news on that book, because I feel like there’s more world-building that can be done with Struck.  There’s definitely enough story for a sequel.  The characters were okay, but there’s not a lot that’s memorable.

To Sum Up…

I really liked Struck, even though certain aspects could have been explored a little more.  It’s definitely different than quite a few books in the genre, and that’s always a plus.  Struck gets 4 stars.  

Book Review: Seers Of Light

Seers Of Light CoverBook: Seers Of Light by Jennifer DeLucy

Published February 2010 by Omnific Publishing|372 pages

Where I Got It: the nook store

Series: Light #1

Genre: New Adult Paranormal

You can find Seers Of Light on goodreads, and you can find Jennifer DeLucy on Twitter, Facebook and her blog

Goodreads Summary: Lillian Hunt has never truly lived. Always sensing more to the world than is easily perceived, she fears that her instincts are stubborn flights of fancy, or worse, mental instability. But some things—disappearing strangers, tangible dreams, and visits from malevolent creatures—cannot be ignored. Before it’s too late, Lillian is ripped from the only existence she’s ever known and thrust into a reality that she always suspected, but could scarcely believe. She must learn the truth about who she is, the powerful beings that wish to destroy her, and the two men who would die to protect her.

Jennifer DeLucy has created a unique, enchanting tale of destiny and the ageless power of love in her debut novel, Seers of Light. DeLucy’s novel charms readers with quirky characters, while sketching a haunting portrait of one woman’s journey on the path of the supernaturally gifted. But be prepared. Once you’ve entered the world of Seers, you will never be the same.

Seers Of Light is a book I have mixed feelings about.  I mean, I liked it and there is something really interesting about it, but there’s also something about it that made it a little hard to get into.

I liked Lily and how sarcastic she is.  She’s certainly a character, as are the rest of the characters we meet in Seers Of Light.  Lily’s age…I have thoughts that are all over the place.  Lily is 27 or 28, as mentioned pretty early in the book…but there’s something abou this book that makes me feel like that’s too old for her to be!  Part of me feels like Lily should be younger, and there is a certain feel to the book that makes me feel like 27/28 is slightly too old for her to be age-wise.

But as interesting and slightly quirky as they are. there’s just something about them that I didn’t find engaging or memorable.  Because I honestly couldn’t tell you anything other than the basics for the characters.

I did like the premise of the book, with Sentients fighting vampires.  DeLucy created this really interesting world, and there’s a really interesting structure for the supernaturally gifted.  I wish we saw more of that, because that felt pretty minimal.  You just get the basics of this world.  I get that Lily is very new to this world, and that the book is more about her journey, but still…you’d think she’d do more than get some basic training on how to use her gift.

As for the romance…I wasn’t surprised she ended up with William, but their romance also didn’t do anything for me.  I honestly don’t their attraction to each other…

Actually, the story is a pretty simple one, and I like that it’s so simple.  There are no crazy plot twists, and the story is just fine in its simplicity.  At the same time, though, I wish there was something a little more complex.  There were times when the book leaned towards being philosophical, which was an unexpected surprise that I’m still not sure about.  I suppose it was interesting, but…I’m not quite sure what to think about it.

To Sum Up…

There are things I like about Seers Of Light, like the world that Lily lived in, and how simple the story is. But I also felt like I didn’t really get a chance to know this world very well.  Ultimately, I have mixed feelings, and I’m not sure if I want to continue the series. Seers of Light gets 3 stars.