Month: July 2016

July Reading Wrap-Up & the Goodreads Bermuda Triangle #amreading

Hello, fellow book junkies!  I’ll say it right out, July was a total hodgepodge of reading, and somehow I read a record number of books: 16–too many to review in one wrap-up, so I’ll just highlight a few.

Surprise Faves

I’m one of those people who can’t watch violence of any kind. If a character on television is being beaten or stabbed, my hands are clamped firmly over my eyes until a family member says it’s safe to remove them. That is why it came as a surprise that two of the most entertaining books I read this month–Ice Massacre and Red Risingalso happen to be the most violent. In Ice Massacre, a band of island girls battle mermaid-sea demons.See my review here. As for Red Rising, I didn’t mind that the story of godlike military academy cadets battling each other on Mars was heavily influenced by Hunger Games. What did give me pause was the contrived reason for their barbaric battles. But guess what? I still enjoyed the book– kind of like crushing on a bad boy you know you shouldn’t have feelings for.

July 2016 violent but entertaining Ice Massacre & Red Rising

And The Award for Most Haunting Book Goes to. . .

There’s this thing I like to call the “linger effect,” when a book haunts me long after I’ve finished reading it. That’s what happened with The Walls Around Us, penned by the queen of atmospheric writing, Nova Ren Suma. In The Walls Around Us there’s a cutthroat ballet dancer, violent girls in a detention center, paranormal happenings, and just. . . can someone give this book a better cover, please?

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Off-the Hook Writing & the Goodreads Bermuda Triangle

Three books this month that featured notably exceptional writing were This Savage Song,  Station Eleven, and Reality Boy.

I have no qualms about declaring Victoria V.E. Schwab as my favorite author. I even say it right out on my blog’s “about me” page. V’s books transcend genre, and This Savage Song is no exception. I just adore the monster boy August. (Note to publishers of Nova Ren Suma’s book: THIS is how to do a good cover. . .)

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Then there was Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. Literary post-apocalyptic ? Sign me up. There is a reason this beauty won a National Book Award. In St. John Mandel’s expert hands, the story kept morphing in unexpected ways.

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Here’s where we get to the part about the Goodreads Bermuda Triangle. On a whim, I picked up the YA contemporary Reality Boy and was blown away by A.S. King’s writing. “Reality Boy” is 17-year-old Gerald who’s enraged and damaged by his seriously dysfunctional family and how his home life was broadcast on a reality show when he was a little boy. I tried looking up other A.S. King books on Goodreads and, no matter how I typed her name, with or without initials, neither she nor her books came up. Thus, I have determined that A.S. King resides in the Bermuda Triangle of Goodreads. Okay, so I found a workaround, and the next A.S. King book I plan to read is Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future. Great title, right?

A Book That Hurt My Brain (in a Good Way) but Didn’t Touch My Heart Like I Thought it Would

A book that stretched my brain–not always painlessly–was Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? This adult memoir penned by well-known UK author Jeanette Winterson was loaned to me by a friend who raved about how Winterson so eloquently expresses the condition of being an adoptee (which both my friend and I are). The poetry and classic literature Winterson weaves into Why Be Happy made me feel smarter.  🙂
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Disappointments

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini – I’m actually kind of mad at this book. I went into it with high expectations. I mean, it was made into a movie, right? Everyone knows about it. It must be amazing, right? Well, the writing style is decent, and the story does introduce us to the beautiful culture Afghanistan, but the whiny, ungrateful, traitorous main character and the melodrama turned me off.

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco – Rich world building, mythical creatures, tons of characters with exotic names, Japanese cultural influences (bonus!), best of all, the main character Tea has the dark power to raise the dead–including her brother Fox (my favorite character). What I didn’t realize when I started the The Bone Witch is that it is the highest of high fantasy–not my favorite genre. For me, genre isn’t a deal breaker but never connecting with the main character is. And I didn’t.

Sleeper Hit

The Cost of All Things by Maggie Lehrman – It’s not perfect but well worth reading.
Goodreads synopsis: When Ari’s boyfriend Win dies, she gets a spell to erase all memory of him. But spells come at a cost, and this one sets off a chain of events that reveal the hidden—and sometimes dangerous—connections between Ari, her friends, and the boyfriend she can no longer remember.

July Reads At a Glance w/Star Ratings

YA PARANORMAL
Red Glove (Curse Workers #2) by Holly Black audiobook 4/5 stars
The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma 4/5 stars
Inborn by Amy Saunders approx. –Netgalley ARC 3/5 stars
The Cost of All Things by Maggie Lehrman  4/5 stars
Ice Massacre by Tiana Warner –Netgalley ARC 5/5 stars
(Secret Project) by Megan Crewe  –by author request, not allowed to post review until August.

YA HIGH FANTASY
The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco-Netgalley ARC 3/5 stars

YA DYSTOPIAN FANTASY, or whatever the f*** brilliant new genre V.E. Schwab decides she’s writing
This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab 4/5 stars

MIDDLE GRADE FAIRY TALE
The Wishing Spell, Land of Stories #1 by Chris Colfer  loaner from friend 2.5/5 stars

YA SCI-FI DYSTOPIAN
Red Rising by Pierce Brown 4/5 stars

YA CONTEMPORARY
Reality Boy by A.S. King 4/5 stars
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews audiobook 3.75/5 stars
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins buddy read w/Beth, Sophie, Emma @ The Books Are Everywhere 4/5 stars

ADULT POST-APOCALYPTIC
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel 4.5/5 stars

ADULT CONTEMPORARY
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini audio book 3/5 stars

ADULT MEMOIR
Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson  loaner from friend  3.75/5 stars

— Eve Messenger

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The TBR Tag

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Hello, fellow book junkies! Today I’d like to discuss that three-letter acronym so often bandied about in the reading world, the “To Be Read” (TBR) list. Specifically, my TBR list. 😀 I first noticed this tag on Irena @ Book Dust Magic ‘s blog and believe it was originally created by Rachel from A Perfection Called Books and Dana from Dana Square. Thanks for the great tag, ladies!

How do you keep track of your TBR pile?

Like a lot of people, I track books on Goodreads, but my main TBR list is on my home computer. I have probably way more fun than I should marking books as “read” and shuffling around promising upcoming reads.

Is your TBR mostly print or e-books?

Interesting question. A year ago I would have answered without hesitation, print books. But ebooks are growing on me. Currently, my TBR is approximately 60% print, 30% Ebooks, and 10% audiobooks.

How do you determine which book from your TBR to read next?

Most of my reading choices are based purely on mood–and that’s how I like it. If reading started to feel like a chore, I’d be doomed. Sure, my TBR has gotten heavy with “required” reads like Netgalley ARCS, beta reads for writer friends, and the occasional buddy read, but after my kid-in-a-candy-shop introduction to Netgalley (“I’ll take that one, and that one, and that one. . . “) I’ve learned to keep ARCs and other “obligatory” reads down to 3 or 4 a month.

A book that’s been on your TBR list the longest?

Moby-Dick.

A book you recently added to your TBR pile?

 Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo — I couldn’t believe it wasn’t already on the list, especially after how much I enjoyed Bardugo’s amazing world building and characters Inej and Nina in Six of Crows.

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A book on your TBR strictly because of its beautiful cover?

I appreciate beautiful covers, but books don’t make it onto my TBR purely for that reason.

A book on your TBR that you NEVER plan on actually reading?

Moby-Dick. (Probably.)
But seriously, I’m pretty honest with myself about my TBR. I remove an average of 2-3 books from my TBR every month.

An unpublished book on your TBR that you’re excited for?

I’m dying to read A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab , the final installment of the Shades of Magic trilogy. I think there will be a HUGE revelation about Lila Bard. Also, Schwab has hinted she’ll be killing off many characters in book three. Hence, I’ll be reading with one eye closed–and one eye very open–to see who those fatalities might be.
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A book on your TBR that everyone recommends to you?

 The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh.  I own a copy but still haven’t read it. The reason? Most likely Fear of Hype syndrome.

A book on your TBR that everyone has read except you? 

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A book on your TBR that you’re dying to read? 

Sooooo many!

The Number of Books on your Goodreads TBR shelf?

 208.

Hmm, that last question was a bit anticlimactic, wasn’t it? Well, thanks for reading my post about one of my favorite subjects, my beloved TBR list. It’s a pretty fun tag, so if you’d like to give it a try. . .

I TAG YOU.

Happy reading!
— Eve Messenger

Don’t Judge this Book by the Title

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If you like a good story

Read.

This.

Book.

If someone had told me a week ago I would even pick up a book called Ice Massacre I would have laughed. Hard. But I am here now to say I loved this book and that its only weakness was the title.

The plot line, on the other hand, got my attention. In this modern day YA fantasy, the people of the island of Eriana Kwai are in trouble. Merpeople have waged war on them and are starving them out. Warrior mermaids–who morph into (seriously) terrifying sea demons–send fish away from the island and brutally murder fishermen. Like sirens, the mermaids can also cast hypnotic spells over men. So what do the people of Eriana Kwai do? They send a band of trained, 18-year-old women out to battle at sea.

Ice Massacre kept me on the edge of my seat. The writing is strong, the characters believable, the mermaids so, so scary. Worthy of mentioning is that the book also features diverse characters. A good plot twist also lends depth to the story; as a young girl, the main character Meela befriends an injured mermaid. When she grows up, Meela opts to defend her people and battle the mermaids but must keep her cross-species friendship a secret.

This might be one of those books that hit me at a time when I was exactly in the right mood for it. Who knows? Bottom line: it was a blast to read. 5/5 stars.

–Eve Messenger

$2.99 Kindle Book Deal & Incredible Comic-Con YA Author Panel

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The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin, Kindle edition, is on sale at Amazon for $2.99, less than the price of a Starbucks drink “tall” size, meaning “small,” which still confuses me. Anyway. . .if, like me, you’re curious to read this dark paranormal YA fantasy, here’s your chance to do it on a budget.

Speaking of author Michelle Hodkin, on Sunday 7/24  at Comic-Con in San Diego, she’s slated to be part of an INCREDIBLE panel of YA authors. Check this out! Seriously!

  • Renee Ahdieh (The Wrath and the Dawn series)
  • Victoria Aveyard (The Red Queen series)
  • Michelle Hodkin (The Mara Dyer Trilogy)
  • Lauren Oliver (Vanishing Girls)
  • Brendan Reichs (Virals series)
  • Victoria Schwab (A Darker Shade of Magic)
  • Laini Taylor (Strange the Dreamer)
  • Adam Silvera (More Happy Than Not)

The topic is “What’s Hot in Young Adult Fiction.” If you’re at Comic-Con and you get a chance to sit in on this panel, please post details on your blog or message me. I would so loooove to be there.

–Eve Messenger

What’s Your Favorite Kind of Bookmark? #amreading

Hello, fellow book junkies! I popped into my blog today to spark a bit of discussion about bookmarks.

One of my favorite types of bookmarks are the homemade kind. A friend of mine drew an amazing bookmark for herself. It’s folded into four panels. On each panel is a Pegasus representing each of the four elements so, for instance, the Pegasus of fire has flames rising from its wings, etc. I covet that bookmark so much. I’ve dropped hints but. . .

If I were a better artist, I’d probably make myself a four-fold bookmark of Kell from ADSOM wearing each of four different coats.

Then again, I lose bookmarks like cuh-razy, so I’m probably better off not investing too much time and money into them. Still, it’s fun to have pretty and unique bookmarks to choose from. Lately the bookmarks I use the most include:

  • the bookmark I bought from a local museum–I would show you a picture of it but, I kid you not, I can’t find it right now. That’s how bookmarks and I roll.
  • whatever slips of paper are randomly lying around when I decide to close my book.

What kinds of bookmarks do you like to use? Do you receive lots of bookmarks as gifts? Are you one of those people who never needs a bookmark because you can always remember what page you left off on?

Best Reads from the First Half of 2016 #amreading

Hello, fellow book junkies! Well, we’re midway through the year(?!), a fine time to reflect on all the literary delights that have come along so far in 2016. On Lila @ The Bookkeeper’s Secrets  blog I saw this “Midyear Freakout” book tag and had to give it a try. Why? Because talking about books makes reading a thousand times more fun! 🙂

The Best Book You’ve Read So Far In 2016

I’ve read so many excellent books this year, and the best one was A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab. I can’t say enough good things about it–the characters, the world building, and best of all, the writing.

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The Best Sequel You’ve Read So Far

Lair of Dreams, book two of The Diviners series by Libba Bray, has the perfect YA paranormal setting: New York City in the Roaring Twenties. All the characters established in book 1 stay true to their natures and continue to grow in Lair of Dreams. A great new character is also added, and the plot thickens.

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A New Release You Haven’t Read Yet (But You Want To)

I’ve heard Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes is upbeat, thoughtful, and very well written.

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Most Anticipated Release For Second Half Of 2016

Biggest Disappointment

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. It’s sweet, well written, with tons of fans, but I just wasn’t in the mood. DNF.

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Biggest Surprise

Totally on a whim I picked up Pivot Point by Kasie West and ended up really liking it. When faced with an important choice, main character Addison can look into the future and see both outcomes. Author Kasie West turns this intriguing concept into a heart-pumping story with a masterfully executed plot.

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Favorite New Author

Victoria V.E. Schwab is talented, versatile, gracious, and hardworking. I am such a big, big fan of her work.

Newest Favorite Character

Neither of these characters is new, but they are to me. As for my favorite, it’s a tie between Day from Marie Lu’s Legend and Agnieszka from Uprooted by Naomi Novik. These two characters’ literary worlds are as different as can be–Day lives in a dystopic urban future and Agnieszka lives in a magical sylvan past– but both are kindhearted, strong-willed and very, very talented. I adore them both.

 

A Book That Made You Cry

There’s a scene in The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner that hit me hard and definitely made me cry. Yep, that one.

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A Book That Made You Happy

Captain Marvel Further, Faster vol. 1-6 by DeConnick & Lopez.  Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel is everything, the story is fresh and stereotype-free, and best of all is the vibrant artwork by David Lopez.

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Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought So Far This Year

I’ve officially decided the book with the most beautiful YA cover of all time is A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray, not only for its colors and gorgeous watercolor art by Craig Shields, but also because the reflection features an entirely different world! Here’s an interesting article about the design process behind this amazing cover.

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Favorite Adaptation So Far This Year

Cheating Alert! I’ve seen very few movies lately, so even though the film was released last year I’m gonna go with The Martian. It’s a smart, solid, well-acted film that I hope was true to the book (which I haven’t read yet.)

What Books Do You Need To Read Before The End Of This Year?

Books I Must Read in 2016

  • The Raven Boys by Maggie Stievfater – Book number FOUR of the series just came out and I haven’t even started book one yet.
  • The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne Valente – This gorgeously written book with the deliciously long title cannot be ignored.
  • Wonder by R. J. Palacio – I’ve only ever seen rave reviews of this book.
  • Red Rising by Pierce Brown – All my go-to book bloggers love this one.
  • The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh  – Can’t wait to experience this YA literary phenomenon for myself.
  • Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson – 2014 National Book Award Winner, you will soon be mine.
  • The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami – Murakami’s brilliant A Wild Sheep Chase was unlike anything ever read before. Must have more!
  • Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen – By all accounts, this is an engrossing read, and it’s written by Sarah Dessen so. . .
  • Illuminae by Amy Kaufman and Jay Kristoff – I’m dying to catch up on this unique, massively popular YA novel.

Whew, what a fun trip that was down memory lane. I’m sending this book tag out to anyone else who’d like to try it.

–Eve Messenger