February Wrap-Up/March TBR

February

From last month:
The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown – Finished

ARCs
Rebel, Bully, Geek, Pariah by Erin Jade Lange – DNF 22%
How Willa Got Her Groove Back by Emily McKay – Finished
Holding Court by K.C. Held – Finished and reviewed
You Were Here by Cori McCarthy

Blog Tours
Kingdom of Ashes by Rhiannon Thomas – 2/20 – Finished, blog tour
Nora & Kettle by Lauren Nicolle Tanner – 3/1 – Finished
Meritropolis by Joel Ohman – 3/8
Blackheath by Gabriella Lepore – 3/10

Other
The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord – Finished and reviewed
Manners & Mutiny by Gail Carriger
Ten Thousand Skies Above You by Claudia Gray – Finished, review coming
The Amber Room by Steve Berry (for school) – Finished
Bird Box by Josh Malerman (for school) – Finished
Last Year’s Mistake by Gina Ciocca – Finished, review coming
Gambit by C.L. Denault – 2/28 – Finished and reviewed
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley (for school) – Finished
Madly by Amy Alward – DNF 11%, I just ran out of time!
Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler – Finished, review coming

This month I finished 13 books and had 2 DNF.

March

ARCs
Finding Hope by Colleen Nelson
What You Always Wanted by Kristin Rae
Future Shock by Elizabeth Briggs
Railhead by Philip Reeve
Lucky Me by Saba Kapur

Blog Tours
Meritropolis by Joel Ohman – 3/8
Blackheath by Gabriella Lepore – 3/10
How to Get Your Heart Broken by Rose Fall – 3/16

Other
The White Queen by Phillipa Gregory (for school)
Manners & Mutiny by Gail Carriger
Outspoken by Lora Richardson
Austenland by Shannon Hale (for book club)

Holding Court by K.C. Held [ARC]

The women in Juliet’s family all have special “gifts”. Her grandmother can read peoples’ auras while her mother has a talent for knowing when ancient artifacts are made and whether they’re real or fake. Both women have been able to start businesses that capitalize on their abilities but Juliet just wishes hers would go away. She calls it Psychic Tourette Syndrome (PTS for short). Without warning Juliet will blurt out a prediction for the future–someone just has to interpret it first since the things she blurts never make sense. Juliet just wants to land a summer job that doesn’t immediately fire her for “blurting” but when she does, she doesn’t expect to stumble across a dead body.

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For some strange reason I was under the impression that this book was going to have a time travel element? Yeah, I’m not sure why either. I was pleasantly surprised when this turned out to be a mystery because I don’t actually come across very many YA mystery books. At first this book was just pretty “meh” for me (perhaps because I was waiting for the time travel to come in and it never did), but towards the end I started to get into it.

Juliet isn’t my favorite protagonist–frankly she was kind of annoying at times. I was taken aback that she didn’t seem to be trying to hide her ability from other people. She was embarrassed by it, but people seemed to know that she was kind of psychic. In books (and movies) people usually try to hide their special abilities, but it didn’t seem like Juliet or the other women in her family were too concerned about it. The secondary characters were kind of interesting, but mostly flat. I wished that Juliet’s best friend Cami had been a more prominent character, but since she was so background-ish I felt like she was turned into a cardboard cutout best friend. Gran was a fun, quirky character (I liked her Eleanor Roosevelt quotes) but I thought Grayson was pretty vanilla as a love interest.

The plot itself was pretty good. Once I realized it was a mystery things started to make more sense. And I’ll be honest, I didn’t know who the killer was until it was revealed. It was interesting how Juliet’s blurts played a role in solving the mystery–I almost wished that they had played a bigger role. The only (admittedly minor) plot point that didn’t make sense to me was Angelique’s pregnancy. She’s supposed to be not too noticeably pregnant, but then literally two days after people figure out she is, she goes into labor…uh…what? Sorry, but I don’t think you’re going to be able to hide that you’re nine months pregnant–even under a nun’s habit.

Overall, this book was pretty good. I think it had some weak points, but there were some strong points as well. The last thing that was a little weird was the way some of the chapters were separated. Like usually a chapter starts in a different scene than the last chapter ended, right? Well a few times a chapter would end and then the next chapter would start in the same scene literally five seconds later. It was just kind of unexpected and took me out of the story at times.

Overall Rating: 3
Language: Moderate
Violence: Heavy, but most of it is “off-screen”
Smoking/Drinking: None
Sexual Content: None

Note: I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

BOOK TAG: Unpopular Opinions Book Tag

I was tagged by Deanna @A Novel Glimpse! She always tags me for these at just the right time (i.e. When I don’t have a post already scheduled for the day).

 1. A popular book or series you didn’t like.

I know I’m going to get a lot of flack for this, but I didn’t like the Throne of Glass series. I remember liking the first book quite a bit, but then after reading the second I consciously made the decision to not continue with the series. I think eventually I’ll give it another try, but at this point it’s not a top priority.


2. A popular book or series that everyone else seems to hate but you love.

Okay, I had a hard time with this one because it’s usually the other way around (see question 1–I could have put a lot of different books up there). I wouldn’t necessarily call my choice a “popular” book, but I chose Instructions for a Broken Heart by Kim Culbertson. I gave it four stars and remember liking it quite a bit, but on Goodreads it only has 3.3 stars with some pretty scathing reviews.


3. A love triangle where the main character ended up with the person you did NOT want them to end up with (warn people for spoilers) OR an OTP that you don’t like.

I’m going to steal Deanna’s answer for this one: Anna and Etienne St Clair from Anna and the French Kiss. Just…no. He cheated on his girlfriend with Anna. There’s nothing about that situation that is romantic. End of story.


4. A popular genre that you hardly reach for.

LGBT books are super hot right now and I think for good reason. It’s so awesome that authors are trying to bring more diverse characters and issues into the conversation and not just with sexual orientation but with race and ethnicity as well.


5. A popular or beloved character that you do not like.

Sorry for this but I’m choosing Lola from Lola and the Boy Next Door. I’ll be honest, I just didn’t really like any of the books in this series.


6. A popular author that you can’t seem to get into.

I’m just going to say A.S. King on this one. I’ve read a few of her books and have thought they were okay…but mostly they’re just kind of weird. This type of magical realism is very strange to me. I just have a hard time figuring out what is actually real and what is just in the character’s head.


7. A popular book trope that you’re tired of seeing.

Good girl falls for and reforms bad boy. Inevitably the good girl ends up compromising some values or morals and I don’t like that (see Grease). I’m of the very strong opinion that you should never change yourself just for a boy. I’d much rather read a story about a good girl finally seeing and falling in love with the good boy who’s been there for her all along.


8. A popular series that you have no interest in reading.

Vampire Academy. I don’t know much about this series, but I’m pretty over vampires. Zero interest there.


9. The saying goes “The book is always better than the movie”, but what movie or T.V. show adaptation do you prefer more than the book?

I can’t think of any that I really and truly prefer to the book, but I absolutely LOVE the movie version of Austenland. I love both the movie and the book equally, but differently.


 

I tag anyone who wants to do this!

HW Assignment: Prompt 4

This week we were asked to read a variety of articles featuring book controversies and to respond to at least one of them. Topics included celebrity book clubs, fake memoirs, and author mills.

First, I would like to briefly talk about fake memoirs. My initial reaction is one of disgust–especially about the people who would write a fake holocaust survivor memoir. It seems disrespectful and kind of exploitative. At the same time, nobody would bat an eye if these works were published as fiction in the first place. It’s not the story itself that people seem to have an issue with, but the manner in which the story is presented as true. It makes me wonder why these people made the decision to present their stories as truth. Why didn’t they pursue the fiction route in the first place? The only thing I can think is that these stories wouldn’t be interesting otherwise. What makes these particular stories compelling, in the end, is that people think they’re true. They seem to be stories about people who have overcome great trials and just wouldn’t have the same emotional impact as a work of fiction.

The article that I really thought was interesting was the James Patterson article. I honestly had no idea that he has collaborated with other authors and has perhaps contracted out some ideas. It seems to me that James Patterson has created this brand and is actually taking a risk by attaching his name to books that he didn’t fully write. If the book ends up being a dud due to the coauthor, James Patterson is probably even more implicated than the coauthor would be. At the same time, I do see the argument about Patterson reaping the benefits without necessarily earning it–taking credit for other peoples’ work. In the article, though, PW spoke with at least one of Patterson’s coauthors and he didn’t seem to mind or be angry about it. So I guess that makes me feel like, if the coauthors don’t care, then why should we? The last point I’ll make is this: how is this situation different from a singer “taking credit” for songs that they didn’t fully write? Let’s be honest, do we really know how much Taylor Swift actually does in the songwriting process? But we definitely recognize “Shake It Off” as a T-Swift song, ignoring the fact that there are two other names listed under “writers”. This is normal in the songwriting industry, so why the double standard here?

ANNOTATION: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

 

6218281The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

Genre: Mystery

Publication Date and # pages: April 28th 2009, 374 pages

Plot Summary: Flavia de Luce is an unusual girl. At eleven-years-old, Flavia has a deep passion for chemistry (poisons in particular). One morning she stumbles upon a dying man in the cucumber patch and her father is consequently arrested for murder. In order to clear her father’s name, Flavia must discover who the real killer is–all while avoiding her two annoying older sisters. This is the first book in a series.

Characteristics of Mystery: I would describe this book as a Cozy. Amateur detective with an unusual hobby, a puzzle to solve, small-town feel, quirky secondary characters

Appeal Terms: Leisurely plot, quirky characters, small-town setting, light tone

Read-alikes: Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple; The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R King; Hotel Paradise by Martha Grimes

BOOK TAG: Burn, Rewrite, Reread Book Tag

I was tagged by Aimal @Bookshelves & Paperbacks. She’s awesome and has one of the prettiest blogs IMO, so go check her out!

RULES:

  • Randomly choose 3 books. (Use the ‘random’ option on your Goodreads read shelf).
  • For each group, decide which book to burn, which one to rewrite, and which to reread. (A lot like Kiss, Marry, Kill.)
  • Repeat until you’ve completed three rounds.

 

Round 1


Reread: Austenland by Shannon Hale. I’ve already reread this book once and will be rereading it for a second time for a book club I’m in so…also I practically watch the movie on a daily basis.

Rewrite: Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier. I know that this was originally written in another language, but there are some plot things I’d rewrite.

Burn: Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood. This book was just okay. Honestly, I feel very “meh” about it.

Round 2

Reread: Life of Pi by Yann Martel. Beautifully written and an incredible story. If you haven’t read this book yet, it should definitely be on your bucket list.

Rewrite: Firefight by Brandon Sanderson. I like this book, I really do. But I think I might make a couple of tweaks here and there.

Burn: The Forsaken by Lisa M Stasse. I honsetly don’t remember much from this book so…if I had to burn one of these three this would be the one. But I’d rather not burn any of them.

Round 3

Reread: What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen. Because Sarah Dessen is queen.

Rewrite: Getting Over Garrett Delaney by Abby McDonald. I actually remember liking this book quite a bit, but I’m sure there were at least a couple of things that I would change.

Burn: Spousonomics: Using Economics to Master Love, Marriage, and Dirty Dishes by Paula Szuchman and Jenny Anderson. I think I read this not too terribly long after I’d gotten married and it helped to put some things in perspective maybe…but can you really apply economics to marriage? In some cases, but I probably wouldn’t use this as a marriage bible.


That was actually quite fun! I tag whoever wants to do it!

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Get Me Out of My Comfort Zone

top-ten-tuesday

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: Ten Book I Enjoyed Recently (last yearish) That Weren’t My Typical Genre/Type of Book (or that was out of your comfort zone)

1) The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown – I’m not a HUGE nonfiction reader, but I really enjoyed this one!
2) The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness – I think this is classified as Science Fiction? I’m not sure because I don’t read a lot of Science Fiction.
3) Skyscraping by Cordelia Jensen – I almost never read books written in verse and I didn’t expect to enjoy this one, but I did.
4) Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson – When I read romance it’s generally YA Contemporary, but I’m glad I gave this one a shot.
5) In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters – I don’t think I’d classify this book as horror, but it’s about as horror as I get.
6) Wonder by R.J. Palacio – This is a middle grade book that I read for a class. It definitely made me think about things in a different way.
7) The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman – What is this, magical realism? I’m not sure, but I liked it.
8) Last Bus to Wisdom by Ivan Doig – This is about as close to a Western I think I’ll ever get.
9) All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – I don’t often stray into the Adult Fiction genre, but I’m glad I did for this one.
10) Uprooted by Naomi Novik – A little more in the Fantasy genre than I would normally read, but I still liked it.