Super read-alikes for Superbowl LII

I know this community is super into football, right? Wait, we’re not? Ah, just kidding of course. I’m actually not a HUGE fan myself, but I married someone who has three brothers and they all love sports of any kind. I have watched more sporting events with these guys in the last five years than I had my entire life previous. I would go so far as to say that I haven’t missed a major sporting event for the last five years. Baseball, football, basketball of course, but also golf, tennis, soccer, horse racing, etc. THESE GUYS LOVE SPORTS.

So my purpose with this post is to help make the Superbowl a little more accessible for those of us who will only be watching for the commercials and the half-time show.

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Here’s to you guys

The New England Patriots

The Patriots and Tom Brady are the obvious favorites of this Superbowl. They’ve been like eight times in the last 10 years. They’re a dominant dynasty. We all agree that these guys are good. Their defense isn’t great so they’ll mostly be counting on their #1 offense (led by Tom Brady of course) to outscore their opponent.

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If you like the Patriots, you might also like:

Cassandra Clare books

I think most readers and bloggers would say that they like these books. Cassandra Clare keeps coming back to the same world with new-ish stories and you can pretty much count on a new book coming out every year. These books have a consistency that could be perceived as either comforting or boring depending on the reader. I would say that the overall idea behind these books was pretty unique at the time and hasn’t been able to be adequately replicated by anyone since. The series is super mainstream these days after having both a movie AND a popular TV show made based on it.

This series is the Patriots. While there’s not a ton of depth throughout the series (defense), the fact that the series remains consistent and that a new book comes out so often means that nobody can forget that it exists (offense). I mean, the first book came out over ten years ago, but like Tom Brady, there’s still something really ageless about it.

The Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles were a surprise this year. The last time they made it to the Superbowl was in 2004. They have a great new quarterback, Carson Wentz, but when he got injured at the beginning of December, there wasn’t much hope that the team would get this far. Luckily, they came up with a backup plan. Nick Foles had been the Eagles QB in the past, but was replaced by Wentz as the starter. He got a chance to come back and has helped the team to make it to the Superbowl. With their amazing defense, the Eagles hope to shut Tom Brady down.

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If you like the Eagles, you might also like:

unwind dystology

Neal Shusterman made a big splash a couple of years ago with National Book Award winner Challenger Deep and there has been a moderate amount of buzz surrounding his recent Arc of a Scythe series. But did anyone remember that he has a four book series that came out before that? Shusterman’s Unwind series is a social commentary that was ahead of its time.

This series and Neal Shusterman are the Eagles. Shusterman’s had some really great recent stuff (Carson Wentz), but when it comes down to it, it’s the past (Nick Foles) that’s going to make an impact. Like the Eagles, the Unwind Dystology doesn’t necessarily have a “star player”, but it’s really effective as a “team”. On Goodreads, all four books have a significantly higher than 4-star rating (4.18, 4.25, 4.23, 4.48 respectively). Cassandra Clare’s books may be flashy and get a lot of publicity, but I think Neal Shusterman’s books deserve our respect as well.


So there’s my in-depth bookish analysis of the Superbowl. I hope football makes a little more sense now and that you feel inspired to read some of Neal Shusterman’s books (to be completely transparent, I haven’t actually read any of his books either, but I plan to).

What books would you say best represent these two teams? And are you going to be watching the Superbowl today?

And here:

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I know this is what you really came for
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Buzz Books 2018 | Young Adult Spring/Summer (part 2/2)

NetGalley puts out this great compilation every season of some of the hot new Young Adult books that will be coming out. Here are my thoughts on the last 6 books featured and here’s a link to my thoughts on the first 6. As always, covers link to Goodreads.

Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen (3/20)

Orphan Monster SpyCover: This seems like a historical fiction war thriller maybe? Which is potentially intriguing, but just based on the cover I don’t know that I would pick it up off a shelf. 4/10

Premise: OKAY. This premise is actually super interesting to me. As we all know, I love books about boarding schools and this sounds like it’s right up that alley. This book sounds like a cross between Wolf by Wolf and the Finishing School series. 9/10

Excerpt: The book starts off pretty fast-paced and I really like the German that’s sprinkled throughout. I’m definitely interested in reading more–hopefully the main character continues to hold my interest. 8/10

TBR?: Yes

Furyborn by Claire Legrand (5/22)

FurybornCover: I don’t know…this just looks like a lot of books that are being published right now. Some kind of high-ish fantasy land where a girl comes from nothing to become a super powerful queen/leader/ruler. It just seems a little generic at this point? I think a few years ago this would have really appealed to me though. 6/10

Premise: Does this book involve some kind of time travel too? I don’t know, I’m really not interested in this. The premise does not appeal to me at all. 2/10

Excerpt: I can already tell that this world is going to take way too much set-up time than I would want to invest. And the writing was fine, but not good enough to keep my attention. Also, already knowing that it’s a trilogy is another strike against it imo. 2/10

TBR?: No

Twelve Steps to Normal by Farrah Penn (3/13)

Twelve Steps to NormalCover: I feel very neutral about this cover. I like the simplicity of it and the overall design, but it just doesn’t really look like it’s going to be about something that I’m interested in. 5/10

Premise: The summary makes me slightly more interested in this book. I like the idea of the main character having to come back to her old life and reevaluate things. I’m less certain about the fact that it’s written by a Buzzfeed writer. I’ve read some really great things on Buzzfeed, but also some things that weren’t so well-written. 6/10

Excerpt: The writing feels fresh, in a way. I think the main character will be interesting and difficult at times, but overall likable. I also think we’re going to see some really complicated interactions between her and her dad and that’s kind of exciting to explore. 7/10

TBR?: Yes

Frat Girl by Kiley Roache (3/27)

Frat GirlCover: This book just feels like it’s trying too hard. The tagline on the cover is “there’s a feminist in the frat house”. That just seems like it’s going to come with such obvious complications. In my opinion, a book could have the same overall topics and themes but handle it in a much more subtle and mature way. This feels like too much. 2/10

Premise: Yeah okay, that summary is pretty much exactly what I thought it might be. It just leaves me with a big, sarcastic, “Gee, wonder how this is going to turn out?”. It has the slightest potential of becoming a cute college romance, but I can just tell that the main characters are actually going to bug the crap out of me. 4/10

Excerpt: I can already tell that I don’t like any of these characters. The main character herself is fine, but her two friends are too snarky and rebellious to feel realistic. 3/10

TBR?: NO

Reclaiming Shilo Snow by Mary Weber (3/6)

Reclaiming Shilo SnowCover: This looks like it will be some kind of sci-fi book with probable romance between a human girl and a not-quite-human boy (my money’s on cyborg, but could be alien I suppose). Again, maybe would have appealed to me a few years ago, but now…yawn. 4/10

Premise: The summary told me nothing except that this is actually the second book in a series. That is not necessarily something that is in this book’s favor. After reading the summary for the first book, I am still not very interested. 3/10

Excerpt: I’m going to skip the excerpt since the book is not the first in a series. Wouldn’t want to spoil anything.

TBR?: No

Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young (4/24)

Sky in the DeepCover: This cover is slightly intriguing. Why does she have an axe? It’s kind of giving me Thor/Norse vibes. What exactly is this book about? 5/10

Premise: Hmmm…I can’t tell if this is going to be like a resurrection book or zombies or something else…dark magic maybe? I’m a little more interested than I was before. 6/10

Excerpt: I’m just not sure about this one. Again, I’m not sure that the time it takes to setup this new world is worth my investment. The main character seems okay though. 6/10

TBR?: Maybe, we’ll see what other people say about it.

Let me know in the comments if you’ve heard anything about these books!

5 blog posts that I want to share | January 2018

This is a new series that I’d like to start where I spotlight some blog posts that I’ve really enjoyed throughout the month. I just decided to start doing it, though, so most of the posts here are from the last week or so. Hopefully next month I can try to bookmark posts as the month progresses and give a full month recap. So let’s get started!

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Anne @ Books Baking & Blogging reviewed Strange the Dreamer – Hi, yes, I am completely in love with this book too. Her review is great and just really hits all of the same reasons that I loved this book as well. It’s so good! For anyone who hasn’t read it yet, it was my favorite read from 2017…so go read it!

Maren @ The Worn Bookmark started a new reading challenge – I absolutely love the idea of this challenge! She’s challenging herself to read books set in different geographic locations and she’s dropping pins on a Google Map to keep track. I think I would love to do something like this, but I might not be very good at keeping it up.

Zoe @ My Life with Books gave some audiobook recommendations – I have a love/hate relationship with audiobooks. I really like the idea of them, but often I can read a book faster than I can listen to it, so it almost feels like a waste of time. I’m also very picky about my audiobooks because I have to like the reader’s voice. With baby boy coming this year, I’m thinking this could be a great opportunity to really dive into audiobooks and Zoe gives some great recommendations to start me off.

Kristilyn @ Reading in Winter talks about being a bookish mom – An especially timely post for me. I’ve had my concerns about how my reading habits will change when the baby comes (I’m officially less than 100 days from my due date!). This post really helped me to adjust my expectations.

Carrie @ Cat on the Bookshelf gave some tips on finding good FanFic – I have always been both intrigued and overwhelmed by the idea of FanFic. I just have no idea where to even start! Carrie gives some really good tips for both people who have already delved into the FanFic world and for newbies like me.

One thing I really love about this community is how open bloggers seem to be with each other and the interesting things that we talk about. I love reading your guys’ discussion posts and more often than not they really get me thinking. So thanks for sharing your thoughts with me, I hope that my contributions can measure up even a little bit.

What posts have you enjoyed that I missed from this month? Let me know in the comments!

Buzz Books 2018 | Young Adult Spring/Summer (part 1/2)

NetGalley puts out this great compilation every season of some of the hot new Young Adult books that will be coming out. Here are my thoughts on the first 6 books featured and be on the lookout for my thoughts on the next 6. As always, covers link to Goodreads.

Fawkes by Nadine Brandes (7/10)

FawkesCover: I’m not super jazzed about this cover. It looks like it’s going to be a bad fairy tale retelling. Other than that, I have no indication of what this book might be about. What genre is it even? Fantasy? Historical Fiction? It could be horror for all I know. 3/10

Premise: This is literally the summary, “Nadine Brandes thrusts readers back to the time of anarchy and Guy Fawkes, with fantastical twists and unlikely love in Fawkes.” That still gives me almost nothing. I’ve heard of Guy Fawkes, but I have no idea who he is or what he did. I guess this is historical fantasy? Maybe? 3/10

Excerpt: I can already tell that the magic used in this world is too complicated. There are masks and colors that respond to types of voices…on top of that, I think the author’s trying a little too hard to be poetic in the descriptions. I also found the main character to be annoying and whiney after just the first few pages. 4/10

TBR?: No. This one just isn’t for me.

The Boy from Tomorrow by Camille DeAngelis (5/8)

The Boy from TomorrowCover: Just from the cover I think I can tell that this one is more middle grade than YA. It looks like it might be about a kid who time travels to the past? If I was in the target age range I think this cover would definitely appeal to me. 7/10

Premise: This sounds a lot like the movie Frequency. Again, if I was younger, I think I would really dig it. 6/10

Excerpt: It’s kind of interesting…even though this is clearly a middle grade book, I think the author has written in a very mature tone. The characters act like they’re 12, but think as if they’re older. I also like the aspect of having some interesting historical facts included since one of the characters lives in the past. 7/10

TBR?: Maybe. I wouldn’t usually add a middle grade to my TBR, but since this one reads a little older, I might.

Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne (5/1)

Brightly BurningCover: This cover does not appeal to me at all. Something about the text…the font that was chosen and the image…the colors… It just doesn’t look interesting to me. Probably some new space book where a girl from Earth falls in love with some guy from space. 2/10

Premise: Okay, well I was right about it being a space book. For some reason this seems like it might be a retelling of an old classic? But I think it’s probably one I haven’t read because the names and overall premise don’t sound very familiar to me. I’m just going to say, though, that having a 19-year-old boy be “notorious throughout the fleet for being a moody recluse and a drunk” seems a bit of a stretch. I mean, how long could he really have had that reputation for? Already I can tell that I’m going to want the characters to be older. 5/10

Excerpt: Not really a smooth beginning. It’s hard to join a story already in progress, but I feel like right off the bat there was a conversation between two characters that didn’t feel genuine and only served to catch the reader up to speed. It just didn’t feel as organic as it should have. Props to the author for including a diverse character right away, though. 5/10

TBR?: Nah.

Unbreakable by Sara Ella (5/1)

UnbreakableCover: Man, what is with these covers? None of them are speaking to me. This looks like a fairy book that I would have read 10 years ago. I don’t like the font and the imagery gives me no clues as to what this book might be about. 2/10

Premise: I guess this is the third book in a trilogy that I have never heard of before. Other than that, no clues from the summary. 3/10

Excerpt: The writing doesn’t seem too bad, but I just did a quick skim since I haven’t read the first two books. 5/10

TBR?: No and not just because I haven’t read the first two books. I read the synopsis for the first book and just wasn’t interested in that one either.

Legendary by Stephanie Garber (5/29)

LegendaryCover: Yes. HECK YES. I loved the cover of Caraval so much and this one is just as intriguing and magical. I love the colors and the text and how it looks both simple and complicated at the same time. 8/10

Premise: For the most part, I really liked Caraval, but I did have some issues with it. I hope that this book is able to build on the first instead of repeating elements. I like the idea of Elantine’s Day, but if it’s too much like Caraval then I’ll be disappointed. 7/10

Excerpt: Some of my issues from the last book stemmed from Scarlett as a character/narrator. So maybe with Tella as the new main character and narrator some of those issues will go away? I’m as intrigued as Tella by the deck of cards and I really liked the way her mom talked about fortune telling. 8/10

TBR?: YES. Actually, it already was. But if it hadn’t been, it definitely would be now!

Chemistry Lessons by Meredith Goldstein (6/19)

Chemistry LessonsCover: Okay, this looks like it has the potential to be a really cute and fluffy contemporary romance and I am HERE for it. I like the font choice, I like the periodic table in the background, I like that the droplets are little heart shapes…I’d definitely pick it up off the shelf and read the back. 7/10

Premise: Oh man, this premise seems a little risky. It could go well, or it could be extremely over the top and annoying. All I want is a smart girl main character who ISN’T a spazz. Up to this point, that has been too much to ask for apparently, but we’ll see with this book. 6/10

Excerpt: Just from the excerpt I think that I’ll like Maya as a character pretty good. It seems like she’s surrounded by a quirky cast of diverse secondary characters as well. I also like that the book really feels like it’s set in Cambridge, Massachusetts. 7/10

TBR?: Yeah, I’ll give this one a shot.

Let me know in the comments what you’ve heard about these books!

Weekend trip turned nightmare | S.T.A.G.S by M.A. Bennett [ARC]

S.T.A.G.S. STAGSGreer just started at her new boarding school, a posh place called St. Aidan the Great School. As a scholarship student, she doesn’t fit in among the elite upper class–the ones who look born to be wearing the black Tudor coats that is their school uniform. So when she gets invited to spend the long weekend with the “it” group on campus, the Medievals, she leaps at the chance. The invitation says they’re in for a fun weekend of “Huntin’, Shootin’, and Fishin'” and Greer can’t wait to prove to these popular upper classmen that she deserves to be friends with them (and maybe even more in the case of Henry de Warlencourt). What she doesn’t expect is to have the picturesque weekend marred by creepy servants and terrible “accidents”.

TL;DR – There was way too much clumsy foreshadowing. The plot wasn’t as exciting as it initially sounded. Characters were just…meh. Pass.

I had pretty high hopes for this book. If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that I have a strangely specific passion for books about unique boarding schools. This book also sounded like it had some Hunger Games elements to it so I was all in. Unfortunately, I don’t think that the writing was up to par the entire time and the plot was a little weak.

The way the book is written, Greer is essentially narrating the events to the reader. She drops a lot of “hints” throughout the book as to what is actually happening. But instead of creating suspense, as maybe the author hoped, it destroys it and becomes more than a little annoying. There is a time and a place to use foreshadowing effectively, but it was just too heavy-handed in this book–not at all subtle and definitely overkill. Greer keeps referencing how the weekend ends and she makes it seem like a really big deal. By the time we actually get to that point, I was a little let down. It almost didn’t seem like as big a deal as Greer had made it out to be throughout the book.

Like I said earlier, the plot was intriguing to me going in, but once I was actually in the book, it started to make less sense. I understand how the entire plot comes together in the end, but it still seems a little bit of a stretch–just not very believable. I’m not saying that every plot has to be super believable, but in this case, a believable plot would have made the book seem a lot more interesting. I don’t want to get too much into it because of spoilers, but I feel like this same plot could have been done in a much more intriguing and clever way.

The characters themselves were just okay. I don’t really feel like any of them were fully fleshed-out, not even Greer. That made it hard to really care for any of them. It didn’t really matter to me if they made it out alive or not. I think it would have been a lot more interesting if Greer hadn’t been the object of a certain character’s affections. The author made it seem like he might like someone else at the beginning and I think following through with that would have been a lot more unexpected and interesting. And wouldn’t have had a huge impact on the story line.

Overall, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this book. There were so many parts of it that just dragged. I was really hoping this book would be so much better than it was.

Overall Rating: 2
Language: Moderate
Violence: Moderate
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate
Sexual Content: None

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

New Year, New Mini-Reviews

Apparently I’m already 2 books behind on my Goodreads challenge. How is that even possible??? Regardless, here are a couple of books that I’ve already finished in 2018.

I Am the MessengerI Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

I first read this book around the time that I was a freshman in high school. At that point, I remember enjoying it but in hindsight, I feel like I was too young to really get it. Recently my husband and I were discussing how great this book is and I decided to reread it now that I’m about 10 years older (I’m more committed than ever to the reread). Guys. This book is SO GOOD. It just makes you think. It makes you look around at the people you see every day and it also makes you think about the people you don’t. I love how spectacularly normal Ed is, but he still makes an impact–sometimes by doing something so small. Zusak gives the reader an unapologetic look at what it means to be human by showing normal, daily struggles. He also illustrates that anybody can make a change. There is a moderate amount of adult content in this book, but I would definitely recommend it for older teenagers. Honestly, this should be required reading in all schools. 5/5

RenegadesRenegades by Marissa Meyer

I’ll be honest, this book was pretty disappointing to me. I still liked it, but not as much as I’d hoped I would. I love the Lunar Chronicles and Heartless. AND I love superheroes. I really thought this would be a match made in heaven, but something about it just wasn’t as satisfying. I think part of me was making direct comparisons between this book and the Reckoners trilogy by Brandon Sanderson. The world building just didn’t really compare. It also took a while for me to feel any connection towards the main characters and even at the end, I don’t feel like I really know any of them. Nova could be a really likable and complex character, but I feel like we were more told that instead of being shown it. One thing I did really like was the idea of Adrian’s power–very original. The ending was a surprise and I am interested to see how that plays out, so I’ll for sure be reading the next one. Overall, I still liked it, but was ultimately left wishing it was a bit more. 4/5

7 ways to keep yourself from going crazy on NetGalley

For book bloggers, NetGalley is a magical place where maybe, just maybe you might get a chance to read the next Sarah Dessen/Morgan Matson/”insert author here” book before everyone else. In my experience, it’s a lot easier to get approved for digital galleys on NetGalley than it is to get publishers to send you physical copies (I’ve only succeeded at that like twice). Perhaps this is why it’s so hard to practice self-control once you get on the site. There’s just an enormous potential to receive free books.

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Me with all my free books from NetGalley

So how do you keep yourself from requesting every book that you see? Well, after a couple of years, here are some tips that I’ve come up with to (hopefully) keep your ARC load manageable.

1) Only request books that you actually want to read.

Baby Reading

This seems like a no-brainer, but I have definitely found myself being approved for a book and then wondering why the heck I requested it in the first place. Getting on NetGalley when you’re bored is sometimes like going grocery shopping when you’re hungry. EVERYTHING SOUNDS GOOD. But then when it actually comes time to eat (or read/review) you’re left with a bunch of things that don’t really sound that appetizing. So make sure when you’re requesting that the book actually sounds really good to you. Not just pretty good or okay.

2) Keep a record of books that you’ve requested.

List

Even though you can view all of the books that you’ve requested on NetGalley, it’s easy to forget just how many books you might have already requested or when they’re all being published. I’ve had times where I’ve been approved for books weeks later. All of the sudden, I have 7 books to read and review for April and I’m not really sure how that’s happened. I suggest keeping a list in a more visible place as you’re requesting books. That way, if you’re on the fence about a book, you can see if you’ve already requested a lot of books being published in the same month and use that to help you make your decision.

3) Only request books that have a future publishing date.

Sometimes NetGalley has books on it that have already been published. I fell into this trap early on where a book would sound good, I requested it, but then found out that it had been published the year before. It didn’t seem so bad at the time, but when I also got approved for future books, the ones that had already been published got pushed to the back burner. For me, there just isn’t the same urgency to review already published books as there is to review books that are still to come. Eventually I created a rule for myself that I could only request books that were going to be published in the future.

4) Get to know which publishers you like and which ones you don’t.

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There are certain publishers that will almost always produce good quality books (HarperCollins, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, etc.). I feel pretty safe requesting books from these publishers. But there are other publishers that I have found to be hit or miss for me (SOURCEBOOKS) and still others that I don’t request books from anymore (Entangled Publishing). It might take you a little bit to establish which publishers you like, but eventually you’ll figure it out. I know that no matter how cute and fluffy a book sounds, if it’s published by Entangled Publishing, I’m most likely going to end up regretting my request.

5) Keep a schedule of ARCs that you’ve already been approved for.

This is similar to keeping a record of ARCs that you’ve requested, but even more important imo. These are books that you’ve already committed to reading and reviewing. If you’ve already got 5 books scheduled for this month, maybe rethink that book you’re about to request that comes out next week. Really consider if you have the time to read and adequately review all of the books on your schedule before potentially adding another one.

6) Set a request limit for yourself. AND STICK TO IT.
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It does Lindsay, it really does

Setting a limit for how many books you can request on a given day will keep you from requesting every book that sounds remotely good. Instead, you’ll have to prioritize which books you actually want to read. Having a limit will force you to actually consider if it’s worth it to request a book or if you should save your request for something else.

7) Do judge a book by its cover.

This is so superficial, I know. But it’s a really easy way to keep yourself from going overboard since it eliminates a number of previously eligible books. If a cover doesn’t look interesting to you, don’t even look at the description. You might miss out on a great book here or there, but I think it’s worth the “risk”.

Now that you’ve figured out how to effectively use NetGalley…go forth, request, read and review!

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Did I miss any NetGalley tips? Do you have any NetGalley horror stories? Let me know in the comments!