Friday, June 30, 2017

Month in Review: June 2017 (+ a personal note)

Month in Review:
June 2017

June was a crazy month, but somehow I managed to read 15 books? Granted, there were a few graphic novels thrown in there that I'm able to speed through fairly quickly, but still. I credit this to finishing school and going on a complete book-reading free-for-all. It's been great. But responsibilities are soon catching up.  How was your June!?

On a more personal note: I don't normally share many personal things about my life because, you know, the internet can be weird sometimes, but I figured I should this time. I mentioned last month that my mom had been dealing with some medical issues, and with that I was referring to her being diagnosed with cancer earlier this year. This isn't the first time someone in my family has had cancer, but fortunately this time I do not think it will be life-threatening. She has two primary cancers (meaning that they are unrelated): lung and breast. She also had thyroid cancer about five years back, so she seems to be quite a popular target! She had a surgery in March to remove the cancer from her lungs (which worked, yay!) and is now doing four rounds of chemo (she just had her second round yesterday), which will be followed by a double mastectomy in September. I've been home taking care of her and it's a little overwhelming, especially since there are so many life things going on and I was planning to move in the fall, but my reason for deciding to say all of this is because I wanted to emphasize how blogging and books have honestly been my lifelines and have kept me sane throughout all of this craziness! So thank you to every reader, book blogger, author, etc. - you have all helped me the past few months whether you know it or not, and I love knowing I always have a wonderful community to come back to in the hard times.

Now, moving past all that... let's get into my monthly wrap-up!

Books read: 15 (!?)

The School for Good and Evil (The School for Good and Evil, #1)The Duke of Bannerman PrepChurch of Marvels
The Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 1: The Faust ActThe World of TomorrowYvain: The Knight of the Lion
The Strange LibraryA Wild Sheep Chase (The Rat, #3)Lost Boy: The True Story of Captain Hook
Courtesans and Fishcakes: The Consuming Passions of Classical AthensWintersong (Wintersong, #1)

The School of Good and Evil by   
The Duke of Bannerman Prep by Katie A. Nelson  
Church of Marvels by Leslie Parry  
The Wicked + The Divine by   
The World of Tomorrow by Brendan Matthews  ★ (Review to come!)
Yvain: The Knight of the Lion by M.T. Anderson  
The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami  
A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami  
Lost Boy by Christina Henry  ★ (Review +giveaway coming 7/3!)
Courtesans and Fishcakes by James Davidson  
Wintersong by S. Jae Jones  

Have you read any of these? What books did you read this month? Comment below!

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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Book Traveling Thursdays: A Book that Originally Had A Yellow Cover

Featured Image -- 266


This week I'm once again participating in Book Traveling Thursday!
"Book Traveling Thursdays is a weekly bookish meme hosted by Catia from The Girl Who Read Too Much and Danielle's Book Blog. The idea of this group is check out the list of weekly themes for each month in this meme's Goodreads page and simply pick a book to match the theme! Once you've found a book, explore different covers of various editions for that book and make a post about it.  To find out more, you can check out our Goodreads group!

This week's theme is a book that was originally published with a yellow cover. For this one, I chose: 
Slade House by David Mitchell
I loved this book! It was everything I want in a dark, twisty house story, and I definitely recommend it to anyone interested in that sort of thing. My review for Slade House can be found here!

Original Cover Design:
 Slade House
Other editions:

Slade HouseSlade HouseSlade HouseDoorgang
I custodi di Slade HouseDům za zdíSlade HouseSleido namas
Top Row: Trade Paperback. UK, UK, Dutch
Bottom Row: Italian, Czech, Polish, Lithuanian

Although the original yellow cover is my favorite, I really love the trade paperback, second UK, and Polish editions! I think they are wildly imaginative and definitely contribute to the atmosphere of the story. The Polish one really makes the house seem like a land of its own - which it sort of very much is.  The Dutch cover is also a good choice to me because the house is so intimidating and imposing, but it gives off more of an old-school haunted house vibe, which isn't completely right in my opinion. 
What do you think of these covers? Do you have a favorite? Do you have any books that you have a bad cover but are fantastic stories, regardless? Let me know!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: The Hidden Lives of Tudor Women by Elizabeth Norton

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights exciting upcoming releases that we can't wait to be released!

This week's upcoming book spotlight is:
The Hidden Lives of Tudor Women by Elizabeth Norton
Publication Date: July 4th, 2017
Pegasus Books
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

From Goodreads:

The Hidden Lives of Tudor Women: A Social History
"The Tudor period conjures up images of queens and noblewomen in elaborate court dress; of palace intrigue and dramatic politics. But if you were a woman, it was also a time when death during childbirth was rife; when marriage was usually a legal contract, not a matter for love, and the education you could hope to receive was minimal at best.

Yet the Tudor century was also dominated by powerful and dynamic women in a way that no era had been before. Historian Elizabeth Norton explores the life cycle of the Tudor woman, from childhood to old age, through the diverging examples of women such as Elizabeth Tudor, Henry VIII’s sister; Cecily Burbage, Elizabeth's wet nurse; Mary Howard, widowed but influential at court; Elizabeth Boleyn, mother of a controversial queen; and Elizabeth Barton, a peasant girl who would be lauded as a prophetess. Their stories are interwoven with studies of topics ranging from Tudor toys to contraception to witchcraft, painting a portrait of the lives of queens and serving maids, nuns and harlots, widows and chaperones. Norton brings this vibrant period to colorful life in an evocative and insightful social history."

I've read so many books and seen so many shows/movies that have  a Tudor-period setting, so I think that this book would be absolutely fascinating to read. I love reading about  overlooked women from all periods of history and all classes because I think it gives such a better picture of history and the time period. Can't wait for this one!

What do you think about this upcoming release? What are your anticipated upcoming releases?

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Releases of 2017 Thus Far!

Top Ten Tuesday is weekly book blog meme hosted by the lovely girls over at The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's topic is the best books we've read in 2017 so far. I've decided to narrow this down to my favorite 2017 releases of the year, meaning only books that have been published this year. Some of these will probably pop up on some of my end-of-year surveys/lists, so I'll keep my descriptions brief. So, here are my six favorite 2017 releases so far!

The Empire's GhostLost Boy: The True Story of Captain HookMiranda and Caliban

The Empire's Ghost by Isabelle Steiger - Review
This new epic fantasy was so good and full of incredible dialogue that I loved. The world is fantastic and despite this book appearing to be a lot of setup for later books in the series, I still found it so engaging.

Lost Boy by Christina Henry - Review coming 7/3
This book, which retells the story of Captain Hook and how he came to be, may have broken my heart a little bit. Or a lot. This book was brutal and beautiful at the same time and I loved every minute of it.

Miranda and Caliban by Jacqueline Carey
Another beautifully written story. I felt the characters were written so well and the development of Caliban's character was heart-wrenching and I just loved him to pieces. 

The Dragon’s Legacy (The Dragon's Legacy, #1)A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic, #3)A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3)

The Dragon's Legacy by Deborah A. Wolf - Review
Another incredible new fantasy that introduced a complex and exciting new world. I really can't wait for more!

A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab
This was easily one of the best trilogy/series-conclusions I've read. It was so beautiful, heartbreaking, and epic. If you haven't picked up this series yet, I highly recommend it!

This might be an unpopular pick, but I loved this final addition to the ACOTAR series. I thought it was witty, gripping, and completely brought me back to the world and characters that I so fell in love with in previous books. 

Read any of these ones? What are some of your favorite 2017 releases so far?

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Waking Land by Callie Bates

**The Waking Land by Callie Bates is available Tuesday, June 27th!**

The Waking Land by Callie Bates. Del Rey Books, 2017. Hardcover. 400 pages.

*I received a physical copy of The Waking Land courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

This is another hard one to review. I was already looking forward to this one, and then I saw Robin Hobb's (author of The Farseer trilogy) five-star review and my excitement shot up even more. After reading it, however, I'm left feeling very unsure. 

On the whole, this is a solid, entertaining fantasy that I really enjoyed. But despite that... it was still a rather average book. I don't mean that in a distinctly negative sense, but more in the sense that  I had certain expectations of this book that weren't met -- it is still a good book overall, just not what I thought. Parts of this book really stood out and seemed unique, but there were just as many overly predictable plot points as well. This book was brimming with potential and an overabundance of fantastic magical ideas, but there were so many places that just fell flat and left me wishing for more, which disappointed me. 

The characters were really a mixed bag. I loved some of them, like Alistair and Jahan, but others were just... meh. Elanna was also hit and miss. She  had many moments of seeming rather annoying and repetitive, but I did also really appreciate her moments of strength and forcefulness when she would realize that she just needed to buck up and make a decision or follow her gut, even if it didn't seem right. I was also a bit annoyed by how wishy-washy she seemed regarding her loyalties, but then I considered her position of having to choose between the place where was raised and is loyal to and a place where she is actually from and where her biological family is, and I actually understood what a difficult position that would be. So props to Elanna for struggling through such a weird situation.

Alistair, whom I mentioned above, isn't necessarily a 'main' character, but is someone I considered a main secondary character, and he really helped bring life to every scene he was in. I loved his loyalty, his strength, and down-to-earth nature that made him such a fascinating person to follow. Jahan, the love interest of Elanna, was also someone that I really enjoyed reading. Was some of his personality a little bit cliche'd? Yes. Was the romance a little odd and unnecessary? Yes. I can't deny either of those things, but despite them, I still really loved every scene he was in - he shined and brought so much life to the story.

The main thing that I really loved about this book was the magic system. I love magic that is tied to the earth, and this was an amazing take on that notion. I loved how Elanna could control the land around her and make things grow and whatnot, but I wanted so much more! Her process from not really knowing how to use her powers to using them to save her land was far too quick for my liking and understanding. I wanted to know more about how she actually used her power and learned to master it, and I feel like we just didn't quite get enough. 

Now, the romance: I liked it in general, but it was too fast. I completely understand that lust you get when you first meet someone that is so strong and it feels like you're in love - but you're not! You might fall in love one day, but it's not immediate -- it takes a while, so don't rush ahead and make things weird. If there had been just a little bit more time between the characters, it would have been just fine. 

The writing is nothing spectacular, but it is certainly well-done and enjoyable. The world-building was also okay. I felt a little confused about locations, but in the end it worked. The history in this world is a bit confusing at times, and many things are thrown around.

Overall, I am giving The Waking Land 3.75 stars! I had to get into the nitty-gritty here because it didn't quite reach four stars but it was absolutely above three. Hence, 3.75. I recommend this to anyone who loves an entertaining fantasy with some entertaining dialogue, complex political issues, and a great magic system.