Currently Obsessed With: The NaNo Procrastination Edition

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my U.S. readers!  I hope it’s a fun holiday for all of you, and I’m looking forward to all of the food.

I feel like I haven’t done one of these in forever!  The last time I did one of these, I resolved to do them more often but that’s never happened.  Honestly, I feel like I haven’t had enough to talk about as far as non-review posts go.  There has been the occasional cool stuff on the internet post, but that’s been about it.

I’ve been in a blogging mood lately, though.  I’ve been catching up on reviews that I haven’t felt like doing, and in an effort to write something that’s not my novel, it seemed like a good time to do something different.

There’s nothing like procrastination to get me to do something different.  And it is my favorite time of year.

November!

AKA the month where I write a ridiculous amount of words in the span of 30 days.  This year, I’m writing a YA apocalyptic/sci-fi story where alien invasion meets the 4 horsemen of the apocalypse.  It’s going better then I expected, considering I didn’t feel like planning anything.  Good, as in I’ve actually reached 50,000 words!  It’s definitely a year for pantsing it, and it’s been a while since I’ve done that.

My brain, however, has decided it needs a break, so it’s time to catch up on blogging, and I may pick up one of my crochet projects to give my mind a break more of a break.  It always ends up being a good reset, and I always go back to my project refreshed.  I’m hoping it will get me back in the noveling mindset.

I may or may not do some sort of wrap-up post in December.  I’m really thinking about it, because I feel feel like talking about it a little more.  It kind of makes me wish I had a second project to work on but I don’t have the energy for multiple novels this year.  Ever since that one crazy year where I did three 50,000 word novels in one month, I’ve been burnt out on the multiple novels in one month thing.  Maybe next year, I’ll have a smaller project to work on as a break from the main one.

Nail Polish & Skin Care Land

It’s been I don’t know how long since I’ve talked about nail polish, and earlier this year, I was sad to see the Julep Maven subscription box get discontinued.  I haven’t found a great nail polish subscription box to take it’s place, which is sad because I loved getting nail polish every month.

If anyone knows of a nail polish-only subscription box, let me know in the comments!

I have fallen in love with the ILNP brand.  They have some amazing colors, and while I have a lot of purples, they have a lot of other gorgeous colors.  I’m glad I gave them a try, and I’m always looking to see what else I want to try.

I don’t know why, but for some reason, I’ve gotten super-into skincare.  It’s that time of year where I can’t slather on enough lotion, and it seems like my skin is a lot drier than normal.

I’m in love with this 72 hour Hydrator from Clinique, and my face feels a lot more hydrated/less dry since I’ve been using it.  I’m also in love with this lip mask from Laneige.  My lips have been so dry and cracked, and they’re so much softer.

I’ve barely made a dent in it, and I’ve been using it for a couple of weeks.  A little goes a long way, and I like it so much I got the chocolate mint one!  There were a couple of nights where I didn’t use it, and I noticed the difference in the morning.  Combined with O’Keefe’s Cooling Relief Lip Repair Balm (which I actually found at Wal-Mart), my lips are no longer cracked and peeling and super dry.

Speaking of subscription boxes…

There are a couple of boxes that I really like!  There’s the Feeling Fab box, which I’ve been getting for a few months, and I really like it!  It’s a lot of skincare, but they’re more sample sizes, which is good, because it’s a good way to test stuff out.  It’s been interesting, but it’s also been really fun and I’ve found some stuff I want to keep using.  I’m going to have to get a picture one of these months.

I also love the Lit Box from Frostbeard.  I’ve been a fan of their shop on Etsy for a long time now, and even though I’ve only been getting their box for a couple of months, it’s fun to get a new scent, plus other really cool stuff that goes with their scent of the month.  I love that you have the option to get either the candle or the wax melts- I’m a wax melt person, but when I saw they had it, I knew I had to get it.

Other Fun Stuff

I’ve been to a couple of book signings, and I had a blast at both events.

I got The Guinevere Deception signed, and having a new Kiersten White book to read is really exciting!  Plus, Kiersten is funny and her signings are always really fun to go to.

I also got to meet Marissa Meyer, and I had an amazing time listening to her talk about how much her Renegades trilogy changed since she got the original idea!  I’ve been a fan since reading her Cinder series, and I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to see her in person.

Things I’m Looking Forward To

I’m going to Disneyland with my family next month!  That’s the main thing I’m excited about, and I’m glad to take an actual vacation for once.  It’s been a few years since I’ve taken one, and I can’t wait to go.  I’m tempted to take a day and go to Universal Studios for the Wizarding World Of Harry Potter.  It’s not too far of a drive from Disney, so it would be the perfect time to go.  It’s close enough I could make the trip up there if I don’t make it, so we’ll see if I make it over there.

Honestly, that’s the main thing I’m looking forward to, and I feel like I’m missing a few other fun things.  But it’s November, and my brain can only handle so much right now.  I’m going to leave it here, and I’ll be back soon!

Happy Thanksgiving/Happy Thursday!

Audio Book Review: Archenemies by Marissa Meyer, Narrated by Rebecca Soler and Dan Bittner

Book: Archenemies by Marissa Meyer, Narrated by Rebecca Soler and Dan Bittner

Published November 2018 by Macmillan Audio|Length: 14 hours, 33 minutes

Where I Got It: I borrowed the audio book from the library

Series: Renegades #2

Genre: YA Fantasy

Part thriller, part superhero fantasy, here is the fiercely awaited sequel to the New York Times-bestselling Renegades by Marissa Meyer, author of the Lunar Chronicles.

Are Nova and Adrian each other’s worst nightmare?

In Renegades, Nova and Adrian (aka Insomnia and Sketch) fought the battle of their lives against the Anarchist known as the Detonator. It was a short-lived victory.

The Anarchists still have a secret weapon, one that Nova believes will protect her. The Renegades also have a strategy for overpowering the Anarchists, but both Nova and Adrian understand that it could mean the end of Gatlon City – and the world – as they know it.

I really liked Archenemies!  With how Renegades ended, I knew I had to read this one, just to see what happen.

I was surprised that the cliffhanger wasn’t a huge part of this book.  It’s there, throughout the book, but I really thought it would play a larger part in the book.  I’m a little disappointed with the lack of follow up on the cliffhanger, and it really makes me wonder how the cliffhanger in this book is going to be handled.  I mean, is it going to be hovering in the background, or is it actually going to be a plot point in the next book?

Like Renegades, I thought Nova’s story was much more interesting.  Adrian’s story was a nice contrast to Nova’s, but his story just isn’t one I particularly care about.  As much as I love Nova, I was getting a little tired of how she needed revenge because the renegades didn’t save her family in time.  It was fine in the first book, but it was repetitive in this book.  I feel like it’s going to get a lot worse in the last book, with how this one ended.

Nova has a lot of conflicted feelings in this one- as much as she wants revenge on the Renegades, I also feel like it’s possible she won’t be able to follow through after getting to know at least some of the renegades.  We’ve been building to her revenge for the last two books, and I’ll be disappointed if we don’t get it.

Also like Renegades, it seemed like the Renegades were a lot worse than the villains.  I just don’t like them, especially where Agent N is concerned.  I hated that they used Max for it, especially because he’s just a child.  I’m glad that Nova wasn’t the only one who was concerned about it’s use and that she wanted regulations put in place.  Its use can go both ways, and it certainly doesn’t seem like they realize that it could fall into the very hands they want to use it against.

Even though I’m not a huge fan of Adrian or his story, it does show why they think the way they do.  I understand their point, but I also get Nova’s point.  Like I said earlier, Nova and Adrian are a nice contrast to each other, and it does show both sides.  Still, I’m not feeling anything warm and fuzzy towards the Renegades, and I’m having a hard time feeling any sympathy for them.  It’ll take a lot for me to change my mind about them, and I can’t see myself changing my mind in the last book.

It’s an interesting mix of superhero story and thriller and maybe even dystopia.  I really like what she’s done with the superheros, even if it is cheesy and cliche.  It’s fun and entertaining, but it does have its serious moments.

And since I listened to the audio book, I should probably talk about the narrators.  Once again, we have Rebecca Soler and Dan Bittner narrate the book.  They did a great job narrating, and I could picture them as Nova and Adrian.

4 stars.  I really liked Archenemies, and I can’t wait to listen to the next one to see what happens next.

Book Review: Renegades by Marissa Meyer, Narrated by Rebecca Soler And Dan Bittner

Book: Renegades by Marissa Meyer, Narrated by Rebecca Soler and Dan Bittner

Published November 2017 by MacMillan Audio|Length 16 hours, 58 minutes

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

Series: Renegades #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

From #1 New York Times-bestselling author Marissa Meyer, comes a high-stakes world of adventure, passion, danger, and betrayal.

Secret Identities.
Extraordinary Powers.
She wants vengeance. He wants justice.

The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies—humans with extraordinary abilities—who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone…except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice—and in Nova. But Nova’s allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.

I really liked Renegades.  It’s odd, because it’s a mix of dystopia and fantasy, but I thought I worked really well.

I really liked Nova and I felt really bad for her.  The book is narrated by both Nova and Adrian, and I found I cared for Nova’s story more than Adrian’s.  Since I listened to it on audio, there was no skimming over Adrian’s sections, and I did notice that it wasn’t the typical alternating chapters- it was sections.  They each got a few chapters where one would narrate, and than it would switch to the other one.

I was more bored with Adrian’s, like I mentioned, and I think it’s because he’s one of the “good guys.”  By the end of the book, I thought the Renegades were a lot worse than the villains.  There’s one moment in particular that made me hate them, and I hate both what they were doing, and how they went about it.  And people think they’re the good guys?  Never have I so badly wanted them to be taken down, and I need Nova to be the one to do it.

I think part of why the Renegades seemed horrible was perspective.  Especially when Nova was narrating.  She has every reason to hate them, and with everything she’s learning about them, it’s hard to like them.  You do see that at least some of them have the best of intentions, and maybe that was the Renegades at the very beginning, when they first came into power.  But as they are in the book?  They are not the good guys they think they are.

One thing I thought was frustrating was the secret identity thing.  I thought it should have been a lot more obvious to the characters, but maybe that’s because I knew things the characters didn’t.  That was something that kept me from loving it, and I kept waiting for them to figure it out.  Maybe in the next one?

And the ending!  I’m curious to see how things go in the next one with how things ended.  I’m not going to say what happened, but because I was listening to it in my car, I was yelling at the audio book.  It’s not bad, but…it’s a cliffhanger?  Which I kind of expected, but not like that.  It really took me off guard, but in a good way so I’m anxiously awaiting the next one to see what happens next.

Since I mentioned I listened to it on audio, I should probably talk about the narration!  I really liked Nova, and I liked Rebecca Soler as her narrator.  I thought Dan Bittner did a great job narrated Adrian, but I did like Soler’s narration more.  I don’t think I’m completely used to male narrators, and it’s pretty rare that I’ll listen to a book narrated by a guy.  Still, he did do a great job as Adrian, and I could picture both of them as the characters.  I’m also glad they went with two different narrators, because it really helped distinguish between the two characters and what was going on, especially when they were in the same scenes, and you;d switch from Nova to Adrian, or Adrian to Nova.

It’s also pretty long, so it took me a while to get through it.  I definitely had to take a break and listen to the radio every once in a while.  Not being it was boring, because it wasn’t!  I just need to have something fade in the background every once in a while.

4 stars,  I really liked Renegades, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Book Review: Heartless, Conviction, and Court Of Fives

heartless-cover-marissa-meyerBook #1: Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Published November 2016 by Feiwel & Friends|464 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Re-telling

What It’s About: Long before she was the terror of Wonderland, she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love. Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.

Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

In her first stand-alone teen novel, the New York Times-bestselling author dazzles us with a prequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

What I Thought: I really liked Heartless!  The Lunar Chronicles is one of my favorite series, and when I found out Meyer was coming out with another book, I knew I had to read it!  At first, I wasn’t sure about it, and initially, it was just okay.  But the more I read, the more I fell in love with the book, and the more I liked Catherine.

She’s an interesting character, and at first, she really is the sweetest person who loves baking.  It was hard to see her becoming the Queen Of Hearts that we all know in Alice In Wonderland, but the change she made into the character we all know was really believable.  It was a pretty fast change, but it worked for her character, and it was easy the events that led to her change were so easy to believe and made perfect sense for her.

By the time I was finished, I was ready for more set in this world, and that was when I realized that it was a stand-alone.  Which is fine, since it is Meyer’s take on Alice In Wonderland and the Queen Of Hearts.  But I am curious to see what Alice In Wonderland would be like if it were done by Meyer, because she did something pretty cool with Cinder.

My Rating: 4 stars.  It took me a little bit to get into Heartless, but by the end, I really wanted more set in this world!

conviction-coverBook #2: Conviction by Kelly Loy Gilbert

Published May 2015 by Disney Hyperion|352 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

What It’s About: Ten years ago, God gave Braden a sign, a promise that his family wouldn’t fall apart the way he feared.

But Braden got it wrong: his older brother, Trey, has been estranged from the family for almost as long, and his father, the only parent Braden has ever known, has been accused of murder. The arrest of Braden’s father, a well-known Christian radio host, has sparked national media attention. His fate lies in his son’s hands; Braden is the key witness in the upcoming trial.

Braden has always measured himself through baseball. He is the star pitcher in his small town of Ornette, and his ninety-four-mile-per-hour pitch already has minor league scouts buzzing in his junior year. Now the rules of the sport that has always been Braden’s saving grace are blurred in ways he never realized, and the prospect of playing against Alex Reyes, the nephew of the police officer his father is accused of killing, is haunting his every pitch.

Braden faces an impossible choice, one that will define him for the rest of his life, in this brutally honest debut novel about family, faith, and the ultimate test of conviction.

What I Thought: I really wanted to like Conviction, and it seemed like it would be a great book, but it ended up being really frustrating to read. There were so many different angles, and I felt like none of them really got the attention they deserved. There’s Braden, and the complicated family stuff- his mom left him, and the same happened with his half-brother’s mom. There’s a dad, who seems abusive, and pushed baseball on his kids because his dream of being a professional baseball died when he got injured. And all of the stuff with a brother, who’s gay, and was kicked out and basically almost killed by their dad. On top of that, Braden’s dad is accused of killing a cop, and people may or may not have lied about what happened that night.

I felt like a lot of things weren’t clear, like with what happened on the night that the cop died, and things were hinted at, but for the most part, nothing was clearly mentioned or explained. That was when it matched up with what was previously mentioned in the book, and there was definitely at least one time, where things didn’t match up at all.

Not only that, but you have different time lines- there’s Braden’s memories of his dad, there what happened the night the cop died, and what was going on in the present, and it made things less coherent and really jumbled. It didn’t feel very focused, and I felt like I was reading all of these different pieces that didn’t really come together. The flashbacks were also poorly done in my opinion, and randomly thrown in with no transitions before and after.

My Rating: 2 stars. I didn’t dislike it enough to give it 1 star, but it was really confusing and all over the place. I can see why people like it, but it wasn’t for me.

court-of-fives-coverBook #3: Court Of Fives by Kate Elliott

Published August 2015 by Little, Brown Books For Young Readers|448 pages

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

Series: Court Of Fives #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

What It’s About: On the Fives court, everyone is equal.

And everyone is dangerous.

Jessamy’s life is a balance between acting like an upper-class Patron and dreaming of the freedom of the Commoners. But away from her family, she can be whomever she wants when she sneaks out to train for the Fives, an intricate, multilevel athletic competition that offers a chance for glory to the kingdom’s best competitors.

Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an improbable friendship between the two Fives competitors—one of mixed race and the other a Patron boy—causes heads to turn. When Kal’s powerful, scheming uncle tears Jes’s family apart, she’ll have to test her new friend’s loyalty and risk the vengeance of a royal clan to save her mother and sisters from certain death.

In this imaginative escape into an enthralling new world, World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott’s first young adult novel weaves an epic story of a girl struggling to do what she loves in a society suffocated by rules of class and privilege.

What I Thought: I picked up Court Of Fives based solely on the recommendation of Gail Carriger, and it was a fun, interesting read. I do feel like there are a lot of similar books out there, plot-wise but I really liked this one because it felt different enough to hold my attention. I really liked the competition, and how things aren’t what they seem.

It’s interesting that the history they know seems to be slightly different than what actually happened (which isn’t surprising at all), and I was really intrigued by the original story, and the parallels to Jessamy’s family, particularly with her parents. I did like that her dad stuck by her mom, even though it would have advanced his career a lot more. He still seemed really ambitious, and it didn’t seem to matter in the end, since they lost their main protector. But it did seem to matter to him, at least for a little while.

I kind of wish the competition was explained a little more, because even now, I’m not quite sure how to explain it, or even what it is. Something about it reminded me of the actual Hunger Games, but far less deadly. And something that relies a lot more on actual practice and logic and strategy. I’m definitely looking forward to reading the rest of the series, and how things work out for Jessamy and her family.

My Rating: 4 stars. This was intriguing and interesting and a really good read.

 

Book Review: Stars Above by Marissa Meyer

Stars Above CoverBook: Stars Above by Marissa Meyer

Published February 2016 by Feiwel & Friends|369 pages

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

Series: Lunar Chronicles #4.5

Genre: YA Fairy Tale Re-Telling/Dystopia

Blog Graphic-What It's About

The enchantment continues…

The universe of the Lunar Chronicles holds stories—and secrets—that are wondrous, vicious, and romantic. How did Cinder first arrive in New Beijing? How did the brooding soldier Wolf transform from young man to killer? When did Princess Winter and the palace guard Jacin realize their destinies?

With nine stories—five of which have never before been published—and an exclusive never-before-seen excerpt from Marissa Meyer’s upcoming novel, Heartless, about the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, Stars Above is essential for fans of the bestselling and beloved Lunar Chronicles.

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

Since this is a short story collection, I thought I’d talk about each story.  I’m going in the order that they appear in Stars Above.

  1. The Keeper: This is the first story in the book, and it’s about Scarlet’s grandmother and how Cinder came to be under her care.  I really liked it, because we only get a glimpse of her grandma in Scarlet, and we get to know more about her.
  2. Glitches: This story is all about how Cinder came to live with Garan and his family.  I feel like this story gives some insight into why Adri treats Cinder the way she does- not completely, but enough to not really like Adri.
  3. The Queen’s Army: This story is about the army Levana built, and we see Wolf and how he became Wolf!  I liked it, but it’s not one of my favorites.
  4. Carswell’s Guide To Being Lucky:  It’s not one of the more memorable stories, and it’s not one of my favorites, but I did like seeing Carswell at a young age.
  5. After Sunshine Passes By: I loved it, mostly because it’s about Cress, and how she came to live on the satellite at such a young age.  I also really loved Cress- I can’t decide if I love Winter or Cress more, as far as the main series goes, so it’s no surprise this was one of my favorites!
  6. The Princess And The Guard: This is another one of my favorites, because we see how Winter got her scars, and why she stopped using her gift.  I really felt for Winter!
  7. The Little Android: This is my least favorite of the group.  Even though it’s set in the same world as the other stories, we only briefly see Cinder, and it doesn’t have anything to do with the other stories.  It is a really good re-telling of The Little Mermaid, though.
  8. The Mechanic: I’m sort of in the middle on this one.  It’s a scene we see in Cinder, where Kai stops by Cinder’s stall to have her fix Nainsi, but from Kai’s point of view.  Which was nice to see, but at the same time…I don’t know, I’m feeling neutral about it.
  9. Something Old, Something New: After The Princess And The Guard and After Sunshine Passes By, this is my favorite.  It’s an epilogue of sorts, to the entire series, but especially Winter.  I loved catching up with all of the characters and seeing what they were up to.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

4 stars.  I ranged from not liking a story (The Little Android) to loving a couple stories (After Sunshine Passes By and The Princess And The Guard), with everything else falling somewhere in the middle.  It’s a pretty good addition to the Lunar Chronicle series, and most of the stories (except for Glitches) was new to me, so it was nice to have new stories for one of my favorite series.  It’s also nice to have all 9 stories in one volume, and it’s a great book for any fan of the series.