It’s Raining Books, Hallelujah!

Hi, fellow book junkies! What a great feeling it is when a bunch of great books suddenly come raining in. By mail, library, and Netgalley, all of the following books arrived this week, and I’m like a kid in a candy store gazing gleefully at the pretty stack they make on my nightstand.  😀

The Reader by Traci Chee –Lushly told YA fantasy about a girl living in a world where reading is forbidden. Read an excerpt here.

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Timekeeper by Tara Sim Netgalley ARC – Gay clocktower mechanic boy. Magic clock mysteriously missing 2 o’clock. I’ve had my eye on this book since hearing about it almost a year ago, and I’m so grateful to have been approved for the ARC.

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My Lady Jane by Hand, Ashton, & Meadows –This lighthearted historical YA novel apparently gets a bit experimental (or maybe just plain cheeky?) The authors occasional break the fourth wall and have their Victorian characters lapse into 21st century slang. I’m intrigued.

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The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge – Blogger friends tell me the writing in this is so good. Then when Cover2Cover Mom mentioned The Lie Tree also has a dark edge, I ran right out and got it. Oh, and then the librarian told me it won some kind of award. Bonus.

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Prodigy (Legend #2) by Marie Lu – Legend was such a fun read that I had to find out what Day and June get up to in the next book, Prodigy. A prodigal investigator vs. a prodigal criminal–June and Day’s dynamic is incredible.

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Currently reading:

Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle. Eloquent prose–check. Pleasant Irish setting–check. Intriguing plot idea–check. However, the story doesn’t really catch fire until around page 160. I hear there’s a good plot twist, so I’m hanging in there.

Last but not least. . .

Dear book-loving friend, for taking the time to read all the way down to the end of this post, here is a little treat for you. (Remember to replace the word “men” with “books.”)  XOXO Eve Messenger

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How to Tell If You’re a Book Junkie II

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Directions: Mark an ‘x’ for each statement that applies to you.

[ ] 1. I have dropped a book on my face. More than once.

[ ] 2. On social media, I follow writers, not singers and movie stars.

[ ] 3. “Unputdownable” IS a word.

[ ] 4. My idea of a great weekend is starting a new book.

[ ] 5. My fingers type “Google” into the web address bar but somehow I keeping winding up at Goodreads.

[ ] 6. If I leave the house without a book I feel naked   I have a mini-panic attack. I never leave the house without a book.

[ ] 7. I freely admit I’ve hugged, kissed and/or lovingly patted a book.

[ ] 8. My favorite thing in my wallet is my library card.

[ ] 9. I plan road trips just to listen to audio books.

[ ] 10. While reading a book I am oblivious to the outside world. People can shout my name, gesture rudely, but short of bodily injury, I will not notice them.

[ ] 11. I’m happy if there’s a long wait at the mechanic/doctor’s office/airport because it means I get to read.

[ ] 12. When putting together a travel checklist, my first item is always: “books to read.”

[ ] 13. While standing in line to buy a new book I am. . . reading a book.

If you answered “yes” to any of the items on this checklist you are officially a book junkie. For further confirmation, try this test too: “How to Tell if You’re a Book Junkie.

Happy reading!

–Eve Messenger

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

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

The Sunshine Blogger Award

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Hello, fellow book junkies! Well, I’m enjoying home-cation this weekend while my family’s away, so I’m reading and writing like a nut and now get to answer “Sunshine Blogger Award” questions from one of my favorite bloggers on the planet, Shannon @ Clockwork Bibliophile . Not only does Shannon hail from the #1 place in the world I want to visit (Scotland), she has a very pretty blog with tons of insightful posts about books, and she’s so nice and friendly, too.

Rules

  1. Thank the people/person who nominated you.
  2. Answer the questions from your nominators.
  3. Nominate eleven other bloggers and give them eleven questions.

Shannon’s Questions

  1. What was the very first book you read? (if you can remember)
    I totally did not expect this question. Let’s see. . . I’m pretty sure there was a Mother Goose collection of nursery rhymes pretty early on in my childhood. More than anything, I remember carting around an activity book full of mazes, coloring pages, dot-to-dots, etc. I loved those things.
  2. Why is your favorite genre of books your favorite?
    Another good question! My favorite genre of books is YA fantasy because I appreciate great imagination so much, especially magic in all its variations, and I enjoy heights of emotion found in YA stories. I also like watching characters grow, making connections, finding themselves.
  3. If you were to write a book, where would it be set? (place, time period etc)
    The stories I write are usually set in some blended version of America and Japan, either in the present day or some mythological past. I’ve set stories in suburban neighborhoods, towns, cities, and often in natural settings like mountains or woods.
  4. Have you ever felt connected to a character because they have experienced something you have?
    For sure. I’m too shy to specify the book and character, but in a book I read not that long ago I definitely related to the emotional pain the character suffered.
  5. What is your favorite book-to-movie adaptation?
    To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s spot on true to the book.
  6. What is your favorite book-to-tv show adaptation?
    Though I haven’t read the actual books–and probably won’t–I think Game of Thrones is pretty spectacular.
  7. What was the last book you read and did you enjoy it?
    The last book I read was The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North. “Appreciated” might be the most apt word to describe how I felt about reading it. It was a brilliantly written, four-star read. If I’d felt a little more invested in the main character it would have been a five-star book for sure.
  8. What’s your least favorite book that you’ve ever read?
    *stall, stall* While I get that he’s a skilled writer, I’m not a big fan of Ernest Hemingway’s minimalist, testosterone-fueled stories.
  9. Who is your favorite blogger and why?
    Oh, gosh, there are so many bloggers I adore, for myriad reasons, but I’m going to say Carolyn @ A Hundred Thousand Stories is my favorite blogger because she’s been with me since I first started blogging, she’s taught me so much about YA books, and she makes me laugh.
  10. What’s the prettiest cover on your shelf?
    The cover of The Star-Touched Queen catches my eye from across the room all the time.
  11. What is a random fact about you that people might not know?
    I speak fluent Japanese.

I Nominate…

Sabrina Marsi
Nazahet @ Read Diverse Books
Michelle, Books and Movie Addict
Dee @ The Bookish Khaleesi
Stephanie @ Your Daughter’s Bookshelf
Astra @ A Stranger’s Guide to Novels
Cristina @ My Tiny Obsessions

My Questions –

I hope I don’t get into trouble with the Sunshine Blogger police but Shannon’s questions were SO GOOD I’m sending them out again to the next round of Sunshine Bloggers.

  1. What was the very first book you read? (if you can remember)Why is your favorite genre of books your favorite?
  2. Why is your favorite genre of books your favorite?
  3. If you were to write a book, where would it be set? (place, time period etc)
  4. Have you ever felt connected to a character because they have experienced something you have?
  5. What is your favorite book-to-movie adaptation?
  6. What is your favorite book-to-tv show adaptation?
  7. What was the last book you read and did you enjoy it?What’s your least favorite book that you’ve ever read?
  8. Who is your favorite blogger and why?
  9. What’s the prettiest cover on your shelf?
  10. What is a random fact about you that people might not know?

Whooohooo, House-cation!

Hello, fellow book junkies!  It’s amazing how much better regular exercise makes me feel, both in body and soul. Last week I finally started going for walks again for 20-30 minutes each night. The solitude of walking alone is nice, but it’s even more fun when a family member or neighbor tags along. Last Friday there were four of us chatting and enjoying the night air.

But that’s not the only reason I’m in a good mood. . .

#1 It’s Friday!!

#2 I won an ARC I’ve been really looking forward to reading: And I Darken by Kiersten White. This dark historical fantasy set in the age of the Ottoman Empire is getting all kinds of great reviews.

#2 House-cation!! With my lovely family out of town for a few days, I’ll get the house all to myself. Yes, it might get a bit lonely, but I’ll have my dogs, cats, and lovely online friends like you for company. I can watch any TV show I want (we’re a one TV household), get lots of writing and reading done, and yeah, pretty much do whatever I want.

Suffice to say, you’ll probably be seeing me around more over the next couple of days. 🙂

— Eve Messenger

Current Reads, Netgalley & Morally Ambiguous Characters

Photo: thespiritscience.net

There seems to be a common theme running through the books I’m reading this month: characters who are impossible to classify as either good or evil. This unintentional trend began with Vicious, in which V.E. Schwab punched me in the face with “who’s really the villain here?”

This month I jumped on the Netgalley train. Out of three ARCs I’ve read so far this month, my favorite was The Graces by Laure Eve. Talk about morally ambiguous characters! You never quite know what everyone’s about until the end. The Graces is a contemporary paranormal YA story about young witches, which takes place in a vaguely British seaside town (though the author never identifies the town by name–which is the only thing that irked me.) If you’re interested, here’s my Goodreads review. Check out this fantastic cover.

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I’m halfway through Nimona, which is a crazy adorable comic/graphic novel (I never quite know the difference). And again with morally ambiguous characters–I am so rooting for Nimona and her “boss” despite (because of?) the fact that nothing makes Nimona happier than hatching villainous plans.

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Have any of you read Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein? I’m about six chapters into it and having a hard time loving it. The writing is high level, and juicy plot twists are sure to come, but I’m feeling pretty textbookish about it, partly because Code Name Verity is reminding me, like a bucket of ice water over my head, why I do not like war era fiction, or technical stuff, like all the airplane model and engine part references. I want to like this book, so if you’ve read it and liked it, I’d love to hear why.

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–Eve Messenger