Category: Reviews

Feb 02

eBook inBox Review

Books/Writing, Reviews 9

ebook inbox review

When I saw an advertisement for this digital book subscription box (curated by the folks at Lit-Cube) when scrolling through one of my social media feeds a few weeks ago, I had to give it a shot! I’m such a sucker for subscription boxes and I hadn’t heard of a digital book version. This is the debut month and I wanted to quickly post about it so that maybe a few other people would have a better idea about the box! So, here’s my eBook inBox review! If you also tried the January box I would love to know what books you received!

First of all, this is a very tailored box, which is awesome! You answer a questionnaire as part of the sign-up process, so hopefully you will only receive books you’re interested in. No fantasy for rom-com readers, etc. The list of categories and how I rated them is below (in case anyone is wondering HOW DID YOU GET THOSE BOOKS MINE ARE SO DIFFERENT?!?). There are 3 settings of interest: high, moderate, and none.

Teen/YA

Contemporary Romance

Paranormal/Fantasy Romance

Historical Romance

Inspirational Romance

Spicy Hot Romance

Chick Lit

Cozy Mystery

Mystery/Thriller/Suspense

Science Fiction/Fantasy

LGBT

Horror

I really like this part! While it seems like maybe they are trying to do a little TOO much in catering to EVERYONE, since it’s in digital format it might be possible to pull it off.

My January box included…no books I’d ever heard of. I will admit, when I scrolled through at first glance my heart kind of sank. No books I recognized, no authors I recognized…wah-wah.

Daisy Kirkwood and her best friend Kammie have adjusted to life on an alien planet pretty well, all things considered. And thanks to Daisy’s alien pop star boyfriend, Griffin Valentino, she has plenty of sexy new experiences to keep her busy. But it’s not possible to take a massive music nerd away from her home planet and not expect her to pine for a concert or a record store at least in once in a while.

Engaged to an Alien Pop Star (The Alien Pop Star #2), by Kendra L. Saunders. WHAT. Why on earth are you sending me Book #2 in the first month of a book box? I don’t understand. This kind of just makes me rage. Aliens are SO NOT MY THING. No matter how sexy the blurb says they are.

Remy Novem was murdered…

But she didn’t die.

Forced to escape to Somniare, a dream landscape, Remy must somehow survive living nightmares, and endless torment without using her magic. Her only hope for freedom is to hitch a ride with a human back into reality, tricking the poor creature into believing no harm will befall them.

Somniare (Somniare #1), by D.T. Dyllin. Ummm…interesting, if very creepy sounding, premise. This one I might read a few chapters of to see if it’s decent. Still not something I would have picked off the shelf for myself, but I like paranormal now and then if it’s done right.

In a crumbling, futuristic Las Vegas where the wealthy choose the characteristics of their children like ordering off a drive-thru menu, seventeen-year-old Sienna Preston doesn’t fit in. As a normal girl surrounded by genetically modified teenagers, all of her imperfections are on display. But after the death of her father, everything she’s ever known and loved changes in an instant.

Catalyst (The Deception Game #1), by Kristin Smith. Published by “Clean Teen Publishing.” Based on that alone it gets a big fat no. I hate it when people or groups feel the need to state that they are “clean” – um, so, does that make you better? No.

 

Eliana Havelock is a female with no past, whose determination to bring down a Karachi arms dealer catches the attention of the British Secret Intelligence Service. MI-6 is currently fractured due to political upheaval with many of its covert programs dissolved or disbanded. When Eliana presents the opportunity to divert an international arms disaster, the head of MI-6 partners her with one of it’s best and brightest, the enigmatic, Connor Blackwell. But in a world of secrets and hidden agendas, who can Eliana trust? And what, or who, is Eliana really after?

Havelock, by Jane D. Everly. This one sounds like it might actually be a fun read, if a little outside my usual! I’m a little confused by the listings on GoodReads because it looks like it was originally published as a serial and I can’t tell if this is just Part 1 or the entire 3-part book…ack. I think it’s the entire thing but I’m not sure.

Besides these 4 ebooks, there was also a digital art print and a digital coloring page. The coloring page was Jane Austen inspired and very pretty!

Overall Rating:

2.5/5 stars. :-/ Color me very unimpressed. I love the idea but these books just seem…meh. I didn’t like any of the blurbs enough to add them to my TBR list, even though I do plan to read the first couple of chapters of Somniare and Havelock to see if they might be worth a go.

That said, this month’s box was a FREE TRIAL, and I’m wondering if that might have affected the availability or caliber of the books in the box this time. So I’ll be giving it another month. If I’m still blue about it next month I won’t renew. I hope this eBook inBox review was helpful! I’m sure some people would love this set of books, it just wasn’t really for me.

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Jan 18

Riddle’s Tea Shoppe Review and Giveaway!

Giveaways, Reviews 11

Today I’m so excited to be giving you this Riddle’s Tea Shoppe Review – and, thanks to the very generous Aun-Juli Riddle, also bringing you a tea giveaway (at the bottom of this post). You might have seen the lovely little box of Riddle’s tea that was in my November OwlCrate review. I was so taken with both the adorable tin and the tea, that I poked around online and found both her Etsy shop (which has lots of other cool stuff as well as tea), and her Adagio Teas page, which has TONS of different tea blends. I immediately ordered 3 of the sampler tins…I couldn’t resist the artwork AND the fact that she had teas inspired by some of my all time favorite books – the Lord of the Rings!

Disclaimer: These were not supplied by Riddle’s, I bought them myself and just had to share! Also, I’m far from being any kind of professional or even a very experienced tea drinker, so excuse my lack of proper terminology. Hehe.

First, the Wonderland Elixir tea that came in the OwlCrate box. It came in the most bee-yoo-ti-ful tin, and in the most adorable little pyramid tea bags (I’d never seen anything like them!). It looks like it’s only available in loose leaf from Adagio now.

See? Am I the only person who had never seen these amazing bags? I love how they have enough room for full tea leaves to open, plus the mesh just feels delightful when you pick them up.

I can’t have enough pictures of this tin, either. And you can see the description of the Wonderland elixir right there on the box!

This is a very tasty, mildly aromatic blend with predominant flavor of peach and cinnamon. The others you can smell or taste slightly but not quite as much. It’s decaf, so you can drink it all day long if you’re sensitive to caffeine!

Next up is the Elevenses tea, first of my LotR obsession-inspired buys. Haha. This one is:

blended with white tea, oolong tea, black tea, blueberries, natural blueberry flavor, natural vanilla flavor, natural creme flavor

I’m obsessed with these little tins, too. They’re smaller but just as adorable as the OwlCrate one. I’ve thought of 100 different things to use them for when they’re empty!

I don’t really taste blueberry in this one! There’s a faint scent of it, but it doesn’t seem to affect the taste much. It’s an extremely smooth, mild tea blend. The prominent flavor to me is vanilla, but even that doesn’t over power the actual tea taste. Color is a deep golden amber. It’s mild enough to not really need a sweetener (but I add a little honey anyway…I like the flavor even a little honey adds). My husband – who until now was a strictly Southern sweet tea drinker – loves this blend and asks for it almost daily. My little loose-leaf tea steeper is getting quite a workout!

Watching tea leaves unfurl and expand is almost hypnotic.

Next is the Shieldmaiden Tea. Eowyn is probably my all-time favorite female character, or at least favorite fantasy character, so naturally I had to try this one.

blended with black tea, white peony, natural caramel flavor, ginger root, natural ginger flavor

I also love seeing how the different blends look. 😀

It has a very distinct ginger scent and flavor. I couldn’t drink it without honey, too much of a bite. Definitely a TOTALLY different tea than the Elevenses. I think this one is best to drink in the morning, very energizing – and I don’t just mean the caffeine!

Last but far from least is the Elven Nectar blend. The description is what really pulled me to this tea.

blended with black tea, apple pieces, natural peach flavor, natural apricot flavor, natural caramel flavor, marigold flowers, apricots

I love fruit, and I love caramel. Surely it couldn’t go wrong! This one is my favorite of the 4 teas here. It smells absolutely divine. I am in love with the scent of peach combined with caramel and if it came in a perfume I would TOTALLY wear it. The taste is not as strong as the smell, and it’s a very quiet, calm blend despite apparently having a high level of caffeine listed. I’ve had it before bed several times and never had problems sleeping, but I also drink really strong coffee.

Aun-Juli has SO MANY MORE blends!! I just discovered she has a few Outlander inspired blends while I was writing this post…I might need an intervention.

ANYWAY, she has very graciously agreed to sponsor a giveaway for this post! Open INTERNATIONAL (yay!), she’s offering a sample of a Hogwarts house inspired blend (can you guess mine??) for the lucky winner. Enter in the widget below and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Jan 05

November 2016 OwlCrate

Books/Writing, Reviews 7


Coming to you today with my November 2016 OwlCrate review! It’s no secret I love OwlCrate. I’ve been subscribed since January of last year (skipped one month that just didn’t sound like my thing at all) and so far every single box has been stellar. This month was one of my favorites! Sadly, I took the fewest pictures…ok, let’s be honest, most of them were crap and I didn’t realize it until I put them on the computer, and by then I had destroyed the box. Ahem.

I already knew the box was going to be Wonderland themed, but I still squealed when I opened it. 😀

Book:

The main book was an OwlCrate-exclusive cover of Marissa Meyer’s Heartless! I guessed that this would be the release this month and was already prepared to try to pawn my extra copy off on someone, but then I dug to the bottom of the box and OMG! A white cover! I was so happy. Because I might be somewhat obsessed with special editions.

This month actually included TWO books, expanding my collection of Rock Paper Books editions with a gorgeous softcover of Alice in Wonderland. This also turns out to be a special edition, but you can get a print of the cover and other stuffs with the same artwork!

Other Awesome Stuff:

  • Matching bookmark from Rock Paper Books
  • Exclusive OwlCrate “Falling Alice” button
  • “Imagination is the only weapon…” magnet from Evie Bookish . I’m so in love with Evie’s designs, I was tickled pink to get another one!
  • “Curiouser and Curiouser…” metal bookmark from Authored Adornments 

Authored Adornments has some gorgeous bookish jewelry that I’m absolutely drooling over. Like this Sense and Sensibility inspired ring.

  • Last but FAR from least, a Wonderland Elixir Tea Tin from Riddle’s Tea Shoppe Adagio Teas. I was so taken with this tea and the concept that I almost immediately went and ordered MORE tea from Riddle’s Adagio shop, which has everything from Lord of the Rings to Doctor Who to Sherlock inspired teas. I’ll have a full review of the teas, including the one in this box, up next week!

That’s it, folks! I hope you enjoyed seeing the box. If you subscribe, please use my referral link!  And oh, wait, one more pic…

Yes, that was a sign of blissful delight you just heard… 😉

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Dec 16

October 2016 OwlCrate Review

Reviews 1

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I am soooo late with this post, but better late than never, yes? That’s what I’m going to keep telling myself, anyway. 😛 OwlCrate is my favorite of the book boxes I’ve tried and I can’t just NOT review a month. So here is my October 2016 OwlCrate review, and if you love this box but didn’t get one, there are a few up for grabs in the OwlCrate shop right now! Also if you decide to subscribe be sure to use this link, it will give me partial credits and fun stuff like that. 😉

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October Book: Vassa in the Night. I have to admit I was rather surprised by the book this month. While I definitely see how it fits the theme, I had only heard it mentioned a couple of times in the book blogger circles. It doesn’t seem to have been all that popular, but OwlCrate consistently picks winners so I’m planning to make time to read it soon! This is one of the few books I’ve received from them that wasn’t already on my TBR list. I loved the bookplate that came with it.

October Goodies: The big thing in this box was the beanie from Whosits & Whatsits, which I understand a lot of people were SUPER excited about. It’s for sale now for $22 so it really was a great deal in the box. I, however, really don’t wear beanies and I’m not the biggest Disney fan sooooo…yeah, not my favorite item, but it was still cute!

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There is a beautiful and very sturdy bookmark from My Heart My Tribe. I’d never heard of the designer but I’m in love with the little bookmark. Also a cute little spinning wheel button to go with the Sleeping Beauty spinning wheel charm bracelet from The Geeky Cauldron. I have a mild obsession with these type of adjustable bangle bracelets so I was thrilled to see this one!

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Last but not least, an adorable little Oz notebook from The Unemployed Philosopher’s Guild.  I hadn’t ever heard of them either but OMG THEIR STUFF IS AMAZING. Go check it out. Seriously. There’s also the bookmark for the New World series and you can see the bookplate better here.

Couldn't resist one more picture from the Unemployed Philosophers....great stocking stuffer idea!

Couldn’t resist one more picture from the Unemployed Philosophers….great stocking stuffer idea!

That’s it for the October box! I’ll be back soon with a review of the November box. Thanks for reading!!

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Dec 13

Top Ten Tuesday #8: New-to-Me Authors of 2016

Books/Writing, Reviews 3

I’m tweaking the Top Ten Tuesday theme a bit this week. The official prompt is “Top Ten New-to-You Authors You Read in 2016,” but since I don’t think I read 10 new authors and my WISH I HAD list is still extremely long, this is the result. ALL of my books were released in 2016. Linking up to the awesome The Broke and the Bookish, as always!

These first five are books I wish I had read this year, but know that with only two weeks left, they will unfortunately be pushed to next year. They still sound amazing!

  1. Jeff Zentner’s The Serpent King. It was in an OwlCrate early this year and everyone seems to love it, but I STILL haven’t read it. It sounds amazing, and from my part of the country too!
  2. Martha Hall Relly’s Lilac Girls. I love historical fiction, but have read very little of it this year. I’m also fascinated by the WWII time period, so this just tickles all my fancies and WHY haven’t I read it yet?
  3. Kiersten White’s And I Darken. This is another that just makes me smack my forehead. HOW have I not made time for this yet? Gender reversal of Vlad the Impaler (a.k.a. Dracula)? Yes, PLEASE!
  4. Ruth Ware’s The Woman in Cabin 10. The description reminds me of a few of Agatha Christie’s darker novels. Oooh. Aaaah. I even have a copy…again, why am I not reading it? I even had a giveaway for it!
  5. Emma Donoghue’s The Wonder. Historical, suspense, suggestion of the supernatural, Ireland…yes, sign me up!! How about for more hours in the day though?

These next five I did actually read, yay! Looking back over the year I see I definitely chose more YA than I thought I would. I still love mysteries and historical fiction, but all the amazing YA I’ve found this year just kind of took over! I have detailed reviews of all of these both here on the blog (linked in the descriptions below) and on GoodReads, so check them out!


  1. Traci Chee’s debut with The Reader. I CAN’T SAY ENOUGH GOOD THINGS ABOUT THIS BOOK!!! I loved it so much. In a world where reading and books are forbidden…there is a  secret society of readers…dun dun dun dun. You NEEEEEED to read this book! I’m eagerly awaiting a release date for the second book!
  2. Michael Grant’s Front Lines. I know he’s been writing for a long time now, but I’d never read any of his books. I loved this one – women at war (as in combat, not just front line nursing) during WWII, and drafted even. So cool.
  3. Curtis Sittenfeld’s Eligible, a retelling of Pride & Prejudice. This was such a breath of fresh air, I laughed through the entire book. I thought it actually did modern justice to the original, and I’m a fairly picky reader of retellings.
  4. Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows’ My Lady Jane – a fabulous, fabulous alternate history of Lady Jane Grey’s story. It was laugh out loud hysterical, with more pop culture references than I can count.
  5. Kerri Maniscalco’s Stalking Jack the Ripper was another fabulous debut with a spunky female heroine. It’s historical fiction/mystery/YA, so I was pretty much in heaven! Suitably creepy for the subject matter and with a bittersweet ending. I can’t wait for the next one!

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Oct 17

Book Review: Throne of Glass

Book Reviews, Quotable, Reviews 3 ★★★½

Yes, I’m just now reading this book. 😛 I was very late to the Sarah J. Maas train, only discovering her books after the publication of A Court of Mist and Fury. I was intrigued by reviews I saw of THAT book, and on the strength of those alone I read A Court of Thorns and Roses, the first in that series (which I wasn’t entirely on board with but then there was a horribly cliffhanger ending sooooo) quickly followed by ACOMAF, and I’ve been obsessed with the series ever since. Naturally I wanted to read her original series as well, but to be honest I’ve been a little scared. What if I don’t like it as much? What if I just think it’s crap compared to ACOTAR? Such high expectations. Honestly though, I was kind of braced to not like it, as everyone kept saying (as with ACOTAR) not to judge the entire series off the first book. So, SJM, I love you, but something about your first book game isn’t quite meshing with me…or maybe I just take a long time to fully commit to characters. Hrm. Anywho.

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This is my Treat choice for the Halloween Read-A-Thon!

I have done my best to avoid spoilers and there are definitely no plot spoilers! However if you don’t want to know ANYTHING about the characters you might not want to read.

Throne of Glass launches us into what promises to be an epic fantasy adventure. I love the way we’re immediately thrown in with Celaena in a dangerous, scary situation because I, naturally, want to know HOW THE FUCK she ended up there. Also how she can seem to be so young and yet so skilled, so brutal…and yet so obsessed with frilly dresses.

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Both of these are totally Celaena. I’m still not sure how she does it or why, especially as she even notes that all the layers of skirts hamper her fighting skills. Only somehow she doesn’t seem to get caught in particularly bad situations while all dolled up. Hmm.

The forest was different here. The leaves dangled like jewels – tiny droplets of ruby, pearl, topaz, amethyst, emerald, and garnet; and a carpet of such riches coated the forest floor around them. Despite the ravages of conquest, this part of Oakwald Forest remained untouched. It still echoed with the remnants of the power that had once given these trees such unnatural beauty.

Maas has created a beautiful world that is by turns thrilling, intriguing, and terrifying. I would like to visit, but retain the option to return to my own world with the push of a button. 😛 Because Cain and those demon things were scary AF, and the king gives me nasty chills. I want to know all about it though, and I feel like there is SO MUCH that still needs explaining. Where did the current King of Adarlan come from? What happened to Celaena’s family and why? Why is Dorian so very unlike his father? Who is Chaol, really? How did the magic of Adarlan just…die? Where did the Faery people go?

The plot really moves along at a good clip. I loved the constant suspense of waiting for each new test of the Champions, and seeing who would be eliminated or die trying. I also really enjoyed the continuous building of tension in the court, as Celaena tries over and over to piece things together as she gains new information.  It all flows smoothly leading up to the final duel…except that Kaltain’s part seemed rather forced and contrived, to me…of course there is someone like her in EVERY court (usually several), but it was just very convenient and felt a bit out of place.  Maybe part of that was due to the influences on her, I’m not sure.

There are a couple of tropes here, and I spotted them almost as soon as the book started. I took notes as I rolled my eyes around page 47. Verbatim: “Celaena is naturally the most gorgeous woman at court, both the captain and prince will fall in love with her, and the prince is possibly/probably not the prince at all.” I was slightly annoyed.

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Not this AGAIN.

HOWEVER. The love triangle was handled much better than a lot that I’ve seen, and the special snowflake turned out to be a special snowflake through much hard work, not just being born to it. Why does she have to be so gorgeous that practically every man falls at her feet? With the exception of the other Champions, thank the gods that be. But the constant references to her beauty in the first part of the book were really annoying. Blah. The love triangle was slow in the build-up, and if I hadn’t already seen so many memes and fangirl sites over ToG I might not have been so sure about it early on (thanks, interwebz), but I still feel like it was pretty obvious.

As I’ve said many times, characters are what really make a book for me. This one is STUFFED FULL of wonderful amazing people that I want to go live with. They are flawed – each and every one of them. They do annoying things that make me want to choke them. (Chaol, anyone?) They also have pasts that I am DYING to find out about because they are such strong people but they have scars and tender spots that show through now and again and yet NO. Apparently I must wait for the next book (which, not to worry, has already been requested from the library).

“Second place is a nice title for the first loser.”

Ah, Celaena, our heroine. Despite her annoyingly perfect body and face (even with her time in the mines and the abuse to the rest of her body, her face was somehow left alone), she’s definitely someone I’d want in my corner. She’s got a backbone of steel, a quick mind, and…well, she’s The Assassin. She’s been hurt, and horribly. But she hasn’t entirely hardened herself again the entire world yet. She is, however, a badass with a flair for the dramatic, and she likes attention.

“My name is Celaena Sardothien. But it makes no difference if my name’s Celaena or Lillian or Bitch, because I’d still beat you, no matter what you call me.”

Also, she loves books and good food. Seriously, the descriptions of the library in Rifthold made me feel lightheaded and all delicious food she was forever gobbling down kept me feeling hungry. Thankyounotreally.

 “I can survive well enough on my own— if given the proper reading material.”

Girl after my own heart, I’m telling you. Such a fighting and adventurous spirit – and yet she loves books.

She had often wished for adventure, for old spells and wicked kings. But she hadn’t realized it would be like this – a fight for her freedom. And she’d always imagined that there’d be someone to help her – a loyal friend or a one-armed soldier or something. She hadn’t imagined she would be so…alone.

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No, they’re not brothers, but they might as well be.

Dorian and Chaol – best friends consisting of the crown princeling and captain of the guard – are…well, they’re just sweethearts and good guys. Dorian more openly so. Chaol is, to be honest, something of an ass, but underneath it is a soft heart that shows through from time to time and I just want him to be able to open up and trust SOMEBODY. Geez Louise, but the man seems to wear his tough guy armor 24/7 . Dorian, on the other hand, needs to grow a pair (he’s working on it, I know I know but come ON). I am solidly team Chaol, at the moment. Also, not going to spoil for anyone that hasn’t read it but…Celaena NAILED IT towards the end of the book, when dealing with these two. HATS OFF. YOU GO GIRLFRIEND. Now that, took guts.

Oh, but back to other characters. There is of course Princess Nehemiah, who is very intriguing indeed and has me dying of curiosity about her country and magic and all the sparkly creepy things she seems to know about. I’m sure we will see more of her. There’s also Nox, who I’m NOT sure we will see more of but I hope we do. The most intriguing side character by FAR though, is Elena…who I can’t really discuss without giving stuffs away. Mph.

“You could be great. You could rattle the stars. You could do anything if only you dared.”

SO MUCH POTENTIAL IN THIS BOOK. I can’t wait to see what happens next. Now that the competition is over but ALL the dastardly schemes are just getting started.

That said, I’m giving 3.5/5 stars. It definitely got better as the story progressed, but I did a lot of eye-rolling during the set-up, and still feel like the love triangle itself was/is unnecessary, even if the characters are definitely not. Also I’m still not sure on the prince thing, nothing else ever happens to make us think that Dorian isn’t the prince, but for some reason it’s still in the back of my mind.

 

 

three-half-stars

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Oct 10

Mini Review: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Book Reviews, Books/Writing, Reviews 2

This is the first of my Halloween/October reads! Stay tuned for more. 😀

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The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is such an iconic piece of literature, I was really surprised to recall that I hadn’t read the actual story (Cliffnotes…ahem)! It’s talked about so much, and everyone knows about the Headless Horseman. Since it’s almost Halloween, it seemed like the perfect time to go through some classics that have escaped me.

Obviously, this is an older work, and as such the style is very different from what modern readers now expect. I was prepared for that (and for the derogatory terms used). However, I was still expecting a creepy, hair-raising tale…and honestly, was a bit disappointed. The lead up was great! Ichabod is SO ripe to be scared out of his wits, whether by normal or supernatural means…but nothing really happens.

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It seems that nothing too horrible went on, that maybe it was after all just a joke. The best part of course is the slight feeling of “what if…” we are left with, and the locale that Irving has built up. His descriptions of the place, the stories of hauntings, and the general feelings of creepiness for the place that he gives us are worth far more than the actual main incident (which is astonishingly short, even given the short story form). Yawn.

3/5 stars. It was okay, but I was expecting better. Was this really THAT creepy when it was first published? I wonder.

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Oct 10

Halloween Read-A-Thon

Books/Writing, Life, Reviews 19

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I’m so excited to have found a group of people to do this with! As I wrote in my beginning of the month post, I was already planning to spend most of the month with Halloween-type books. This just makes it so much more fun! Many thanks to Lauren at Wonderless Reviews for putting it all together and making the gorgeous graphics available. Pretty much the rest of my month is going to be filled with spookiness and indulging my sense of the paranormal. 😀 😀 😀 I can’t wait to see what everyone else is reading.

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My pick: Stalking Jack the Ripper. This cover gives me a slight chill every time I look at it (there’s not actually blood pictured…but I keep thinking I see blood on the knife…), though from what I hear it’s not all THAT creepy of a book! I intend to find out.

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My pick: Dracula. I’m listening to this version from Audible, with different narrators for each person. So, sort of dramatized, but not exactly. I’m thoroughly enjoying it so far, but I keep getting annoyed at the way the women just accept being second-class citizens.

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My pick: Something Wicked This Way Comes. I don’t know a whole lot about this book, to be honest, but it sounds creepy AF. Lory at Emerald City Book Review posted about it a little while back and I put it on my list!

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My pick: The Werewolf of Paris. I’m trying to read some of the original supernatural stories this year, stories that started or shaped our modern day ideas of vampires, werewolves, etc. Obviously the legends of these types of creatures have been around much longer than even these books, but I thought this and Dracula were both good starts.

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My pick: Treat – Throne of Glass. I still have so many other books to read I have to mix it up a little or I will NEVER get through my pile of library books!

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My pick: The Architect of Song. While not specifically relating to Halloween, it does have a good deal to do with ghosts and again, sounds creepy AF. I am SO EXCITED to read this one!!

Fingers crossed I will get to all of these! Are you reading anything special for Halloween or autumn in general?

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Oct 08

Book Review: Front Lines

Books/Writing, Reviews 8 ★★★★

It’s a lovely fall morning here…rainy, foggy, gray, and slightly cold. I’m sitting on my glassed in porch on the 11th floor with the windows open, a cup of coffee, and blanket, laptop, and kitty all in my lap. I spent a fun evening out last night with my DH and some friends, and while of course it was fun I’m pretty sure my social interaction quota has been filled for about the next 6 months. Haha.

Best way to spend a morning.

Anyway, on to the review. Also a quick reminder: 4 days left to enter my giveaway for The Woman in Cabin 10!

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Front Lines is an alternate history of WWII. The big switch-up Grant has made is adding females to the draft and using them in ALL roles across the United States military (other countries have not made such an enlightened choice). Other than that change, the book is pretty much true to history – including attitudes towards women, people of color, and people of Asian features. It is at times harsh and heartbreaking, but the main characters of Rio, Frangie, and Rainy are sympathetic and compelling as they grow and adapt to the war and their changing roles in the world. They are not only dealing with the hard reality of being females in a still very patriarchal world, but with their own coming of age, of loss and love on a personal level, and all while being swept along in the grand scheme of the war.

The rituals are different now. It has always been that the men went off and the women wept and waved. There is no blueprint for what is happening now. There is no easy reference point. People don’t know quite how to behave, and it’s worse for the men in the station who are staying behind and feel conspicuous and ashamed.

God knows the MODERN United States army is having a hard enough time getting a grip on itself with females in the ranks, but add to that the expectations of the generation that would become the idealogical 50s housewife – the book ends in about 1943, so with a couple more years left in the war, I’m very interested to see how this shapes Grant’s version of the United States in the sequel coming next year, Silver Stars.

We spend the most time with Rio, a gutsy farm girl who finds herself in the awkward and unwanted position of being good at her army job while in her heart, just wanting to be a normal girl. Her growth is the most marked of the three main characters and I love her so much.

She [Rio] has just upended her entire life based on a diner conversation with her best friend and an awkward exchange with a boy she barely knows.

The other two girls – because really, they are all still girls when the books starts – are lovable as well, but I felt the most connection with Rio. There is also an unnamed first-person narrator that shows up in the beginning, middle, and end, and has some succinct insights on the war and the women in it.

Will you understand if I tell you that there are times when it is better to feel the pain yourself than to see it and hear it in another?

Michael Grant has, I think, either been in military service or he has done his research very, very well. His descriptions of Basic Training are spot on. His knowledge of the WWII era is commendable (I went and looked a few things up to see just how accurate he was, if it all, since sometimes historical fiction writers are VERY free with the facts) and he has altered as little as possible in his writing. He’s baldly honest with the racism and sexism of the time, enough to make me squirm in my  chair. His descriptions of events are extremely accurate as we follow our heroines through their army journey from civilian to soldier.

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The one thing that bothered me was the substitute of fug or fugging for fuck or fucking…it would be one thing if the entire book was censored that way, but the words dick (the male appendage, not the name) and goddamn are used without euphemisms sooooo…that was kind of annoying and pointless. And GOD KNOWS it’s every soldier’s right to swear. And grumble.

I loved how honest the portrayal of human nature was, and how emotions come so close to the surface during times of stress. Rio especially is torn between what she knows is waiting for her at home and what is happening in the right here right now.

Strand is there, close to her heart.
Jack is there, close.

As a medic myself, I loved Frangie and her fighting spirit, even in the face of soldiers being SO VERY HORRIBLE to her because of her race and her gender. She just never quits. But she never stops feeling, either, she just learns to put it aside at the time. I can’t wait to see her further development.

Rainy, our little intelligence soldier, felt the least realistic to me. Some of her dialogue exchanges are stilted and left me with raised eyebrows. I mean, I know it was WWII and there were a lot of green soldiers thrown into positions that ordinarily they wouldn’t have been…her storyline just seemed far-fetched at times. Almost like, well, we need this group to be here and we need them to meet up with her so let’s throw in this over-the-top mission that makes no sense to anybody. But maybe I’m just overly skeptical.

Don’t go into this expecting a happily-ever-after, or an exceptionally fast paced story. The first half of the book is fairly slow as we are introduced to all the characters and how they came to be in the army. As for the ever-afters, one – the war isn’t over, so we’re going to have to wait and see how things turn out. For another – it’s war, and people die, even the characters we’ve become attached to. Overall, 4/5 stars.

At night we cry sometimes, and if you think that just applies to the females then you have never been in combat, because everyone cries sooner or later. Everyone cries.

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four-stars

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Oct 02

Looking Forwards and Back #3 – September/October

Books/Writing, Reviews 7

Um, no? September flew by WAY too fast. It is not possible for it to be October yet. Not that I really mind…I love October, I love the change of the seasons and the year. But…yeah. I feel like I lost a good bit of the month. Which, I sort of did. Some personal issues/stresses/sadness kept cropping up and basically my only coping strategy is to sleep, if books or knitting doesn’t fix it. Possibly not the BEST strategy, but…eh. I’m still here. So far. 😛

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I’m skipping my Something Else Sunday post in favor of this one, since I would like to NOT be an entire week behind on my recap post this month. As you can see, I only read six books this month. Last weekend I literally didn’t even touch a book. It was very sad indeed. But I got past it. 😉 And here are the reviews for this month! I did horribly, averaged one a week…but one is better than none!

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The Reader – by Traci Chee. Wonderful book. Amazing. I ordered a signed copy, and am agreeing awaiting the sequel. 😀
Equal Rites – by Terry Pratchett. Awesome as expected.
Royal Blood – by Rhys Bowen. Middle of the road for this series, but not horrible.
The Cruelty – by Scott Bergstrom. Pretty solidly meh on this one.

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Anywho, I love Halloween and all the legends and stuffs that surround it. I’m using it as an excuse to go crazy on the paranormal/atmospheric/creepy type reads this month. As a result, a couple of books were shoved off of my immediate t0-read list. Which kind of makes me feel sad or like a failure, but, you know what…read what you love and what makes you happy at that time. I’ll have a full post on the titles I collected for October reads later this week…I’ll be lucky to get to more than 3 of them! But I love having choices. Haha. I’m focusing purely on my (very long overdue) library books, and my October/Halloween reads this month. I’ve added a few ARCs at the end of my list but don’t really expect to get to any of them. They’re just there to remind me, haha.

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These are the books currently keeping me from checking out any others at the library. Because, erm, they might have been renewed the maximum number of times and are now 2 weeks past the last due date. Oops.

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Somehow I still haven’t made it to Throne of Glass! Gah.

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Aaaaand all the creepy books! Haha. Or the ones I expect to be creepy. I’ve already started the audiobook of Dracula – which, by the way, is freaking amazing…the numerous narrators just MAKES the book, to me. I sort of doubt that I will get to Frankenstein, since it’s the least interesting of this particular lot, to me…but I would love to! So many creepy classics I’ve missed through the years.

What’s your favorite Halloween or creepy book for this time of year?

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