December Wrap-up/January TBR

December

ARCs
Tarnished by Kate Jarvik Birch – DNF, 26%
The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald – Read
This Song is (Not) For You by Laura Nowlin – Read
This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp
Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley

Other
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness – Read and reviewed
The Cage by Megan Shepherd – Read and reviewed
The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow
Now and Forever by Susane Colasanti – Read and reviewed
Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton – Read

Popsugar Challenge

Classic romance: Mansfield Park by Jane Austen – Read
Funny book: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews (thank you to Lauren at Driftinglexi and Sydney at Books and Stuff for the recommendation!) – Read
Recommended by a friend: On the Fence by Kasie West (thank you to Deanna at A Novel Glimpse for the recommendation!) – Read and reviewed
Book my mom loves: Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink – Read
More than 100 years old: The Book of Mormon – Read
Supposed to read in school: 1984 by George Orwell
Memoir: Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen (another recommendation from Deanna at A Novel Glimpse!) – Read, review coming
Author with same initials: The Shadow Thieves by Anne Ursu – Read
A play: The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde – Read
Banned book: The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman
Turned into a movie/TV Show: The 100 by Kass Morgan
Started but never finished: MILA 2.0 by Debra Driza

This month I finished 13 books, 1 play, and 1 DNF.

January

ARCs
Every Big and Little Wish by E.C. Moore
Not Okay Cupid by Heidi R Kling
Under the Dusty Moon by Suzanne Sutherland
Any Other Girl by Rebecca Phillips
These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas

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Top Ten Tuesday: Exciting Early 2016 Books

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  Each week there is a new topic and this week’s topic is: Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases For The First Half of 2016

This is pretty similar to a TTT that I did a few weeks back, so there are some repeats.

On the Fence by Kasie West

Charlie has grown up in a house with three brothers (and an honorary fourth) so it’s no wonder that she’s such a tom boy. She can hold her own in any pickup basketball or backyard football game, but when it comes to girly stuff, she’s out of her depth.

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First off, I have a big issue with the cover. Even at the end of the book, I don’t think Charlie would be comfortable in a dress. So…that cover is pretty inaccurate in my opinion. It just gives the reader a different perception of who the main character is going to be.

Anyway, this book was just okay for me. I really liked some of Kasie West’s other books (The Distance Between Us and the Pivot Point duology) so I just felt a little let down by this one. The main character, Charlie, isn’t as likable to me as some of West’s other main characters. Granted, I did not grow up with three older brothers, but I felt like Charlie was a little unrealistic in how callous/clueless she was at times. Even just having some girl teammates, it seems like she should be a little more aware of some things than she actually was.

I liked that Charlie’s brothers had pretty distinct and separate personalities, but the family feels a little off-balance to me. I think that Charlie should have had a younger brother. Either a fourth brother, or Gage should have been younger. I think that would have made the family feel more complete. The other secondary characters were a little one-note to me. They didn’t have much depth and some minor characters seemed completely unnecessary to the story. For example, Charlie’s roommate at basketball camp was only there so that Charlie could talk about her feelings instead of just thinking through them for the reader.

Lastly, I thought the ending moved way too fast. And the repeated use of the word “love” made me cringe every time. In the end, this book is just okay as far as YA contemporary romances go. I enjoyed it, but probably wouldn’t choose to read it again.

Overall Rating: 3
Language: None
Violence: Mild
Sexual Content: Mild
Smoking/Drinking: Mild

Top Ten Tuesday: Christmas Wishlist

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week there is a new topic and this week’s topic is: Top Ten Books I Wouldn’t Mind Santa Leaving Under My Tree This Year

My husband knows that getting me books for Christmas is ALWAYS a good idea. Here’s a list of books that were on my Christmas wishlist:

1-4) The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
5) Her Dark Curiosity by Megan Shepherd
6) A Cold Legacy by Megan Shepherd
7) Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
8) Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson
9) Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
10) Manners and Mutiny by Gail Carriger

‘Tis the Season Book Tag

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I was tagged for this by Aimal @Bookshelves & Paperbacks.

DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE WINTER READ?

I don’t have one that I consistently read every winter, but I would definitely recommend Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn or My True Love Gave to Me edited by Stephanie Perkins.

FIND A BOOK WITH BLUE ON THE COVER

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Had to do it. So perfect.

FIND A BOOK YOU’D USE AS THE STAR ON TOP OF A CHRISTMAS TREE

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I haven’t actually read this book yet, but I do own the first in the series and plan to read it.

PICK ONE FICTIONAL PLACE THAT WOULD BE PERFECT FOR A WINTER VACATION

I’ve always wanted to go to Colby which is the beach town in some of Sarah Dessen’s books. There’s this Pie Cafe/Laundromat that I’m dying to visit.

PICK ONE FICTIONAL CHARACTER YOU’D TAKE WITH YOU ON YOUR WINTER VACATION

Kitty from To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han. That girl seriously cracks me up!

NAME ONE BOOK ON YOUR WISH LIST THIS YEAR

Any Morgan Matson book really. I love everything that she writes.

FAVORITE HOLIDAY DRINK, TREAT, & MOVIE

Drink: I’m a big herbal tea drinker. There’s nothing cozier than curling up with a book, a big sweater, and a mug of tea.

Treat: All the sweets. Seriously. All of them. I like everything.

Movie: Any of those gooey Hallmark Christmas movies. So corny, but so so good at the same time!

I tag anyone and everyone who wants to do this! #christmasfeels

The Cage by Megan Shepherd

One second Cora’s in the car with her brother driving to meet their parents at a ski resort. Next thing she knows, she’s waking up in a desert in someone else’s clothes.

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This book is CRAZY right from the beginning. I guess in the Goodreads summary, you find out right away that Cora and the others have been abducted by an alien race. I did not know that coming into this book. So when the aliens are introduced I was just like, “Umm….okay….well, I guess I’ll see how this plays out…” As you can tell by all of the ellipses, there was a lot of hesitation on my part, but I think it turned out pretty good. I’m not really a big Sci-Fi/Alien reader so I just wasn’t sure whether this would be my kind of thing.

Right off the bat, the reader and the characters are all really confused (maybe I would have been less confused if I’d read the summary more carefully, but I didn’t). The story is told from multiple perspectives so we’re privy to private information about the characters that the other characters don’t know yet. The voices of the characters were all pretty distinctive, so that was nice. I hate when you have multiple perspectives, but the voices are all the same so you can’t tell them apart.

The whole situation that these characters are in makes the reader pretty uneasy. I mean, these humans are basically being treated like animals and that can be a bit unnerving. It really made me think about how I would react in this situation. Would I be like Cora and try to escape? Or would I just accept my fate and play games all day?

Even though I enjoyed the book, I didn’t find any of the characters to be particularly likable. Nok and Rolf were both pretty annoying to me. We don’t see too much of Leon or Mali so I’m still up in the air about them. Lucky is okay but kind of weak as a person (which I find unappealing in a character). And then there’s Cora…she’s okay, but she does a lot of freaking out throughout the book. I just don’t know how I feel about her. Mostly I just need her to calm down and be a little more rational about things.

Overall, I did like this book. I know my review kind of sounds negative, but there were a lot of things to like. There’s a big plot twist at the end that I totally did NOT see coming. Like, it’s so big that I wanted to immediately reread the book with this new information in mind. The book was just kind of lacking in character development. As it is, even though the book itself is great, the characters just felt kind of flat to me.

Overall Rating: 4
Language: Mild
Violence: Moderate
Sexual Content: Heavy, but it’s mostly in a breeding context. No explicit scenes.
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

One night, Conor hears his name being called on the wind: “…Conor…Connor…”. He’s sure that he’s dreaming when a monster appears at his window. Over time the monster will tell him three stories. After that, Conor will be required to tell his story–his truth. While he’s trying to determine whether or not this tree monster is real, Conor must deal with bullies at school, a sick mother, an absent father, and an overbearing grandmother.

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I was originally going to read this as an eBook, but when I saw the physical copy, I knew that this is one of those times where the eBook isn’t going to be enough. The artwork throughout this book is AMAZING. I love the full-page illustrations as well as the textures added to pages throughout the book. Seriously. Every time I came to a new illustration, I had to show it to my husband. My husband is of the opinion that the illustrators name should appear on the front cover–which it doesn’t. I agree so I’ll let you guys know here, the illustrator is Jim Kay who also happens to be the guy doing the illustrated Harry Potter book (books? Is there going to be more than one?).

Okay, enough of that. This story is so unexpected. You think you know where the monster’s stories are going (so does Conor) and you think you know where this whole book is going but I think you may end up being surprised.

Some of you may know that this book is being turned into a film. Here’s a teaser trailer for you:

I don’t have much else to say. I loved this book. I loved the illustrations. The overall story is heartbreaking and beautiful. This is definitely a book that I would recommend and I’ll also definitely be adding it to my own personal library.

Overall Rating: 5
Language: Mild (very mild)
Violence: Moderate
Sexual Content: None
Smoking/Drinking: None