Monday, February 29, 2016

Audiobook Review: The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

Title: The Royal We
Written by: Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
Published: April 7, 2015 by Grand Central Publishing
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: "I might be Cinderella today, but I dread who they'll think I am tomorrow. I guess it depends on what I do next." 

American Rebecca Porter was never one for fairy tales. Her twin sister, Lacey, has always been the romantic who fantasized about glamour and royalty, fame and fortune. Yet it's Bex who seeks adventure at Oxford and finds herself living down the hall from Prince Nicholas, Great Britain's future king. And when Bex can't resist falling for Nick, the person behind the prince, it propels her into a world she did not expect to inhabit, under a spotlight she is not prepared to face. 

Dating Nick immerses Bex in ritzy society, dazzling ski trips, and dinners at Kensington Palace with him and his charming, troublesome brother, Freddie. But the relationship also comes with unimaginable baggage: hysterical tabloids, Nick's sparkling and far more suitable ex-girlfriends, and a royal family whose private life is much thornier and more tragic than anyone on the outside knows. The pressures are almost too much to bear, as Bex struggles to reconcile the man she loves with the monarch he's fated to become. 

Which is how she gets into trouble. 

Now, on the eve of the wedding of the century, Bex is faced with whether everything she's sacrificed for love-her career, her home, her family, maybe even herself-will have been for nothing.

This was my book club book for February and despite the fact that I didn't read it before book club, I still wanted to take the time to read it. But that may have been because I have had a copy staring at me from my kindle library for months now. It's not usually my kind of read but I had heard nothing but great things and so I read it for a change of pace. And I'm glad I did because it was extremely delightful. Like all my favorite contemporaries it was the perfect combination of serious and silly with great characters.

I wasn't entirely sure what to expect when it came to the plot development of this book. I knew going in that it was sort of like a reimagining of the relationship between Prince William and Kate Middleton but I didn't know what that would entail. This was actually a fantastic complicated love story with lots of drama. The book takes the characters through almost ten years of their relationship, from friendship, to dating, to break-up, to rekindling. Nothing about their relationship was easy, and that was unbelievably refreshing in the best way. I have often speculated about what these bookish ships would be like after the happily ever after and I loved that Cocks and Morgan showed us that. And they also showed us an incredibly realistic love triangle. I had so many conflicted shipping feels throughout this book and this book definitely showed a wide range of relationships, everything from casual hookup to true love. It was well-rounded and realistic love story.

But the romance wasn't the only thing that added to the drama in this book. The secondary plot revolved around the inclusion of Bex into the royal family and the celebrity that came with it. I feel like the authors did a great job of showing the negative affects of being famous (ironically this coming from people who blog about celebrities). I couldn't help but feel for Bex as the paparazzi invaded her personal life, followed her home and everywhere else, all so they could write all kinds of ridiculous stories about her. It was so invasive and dramatic. So much of that had to do with Bex's need to cultivate a good image and be like royalty despite not having been bred for it. There was also a lot of conflict as she had to impress the royal family, especially Nick's father Prince Richard and the Queen. It just made Bex all the more sympathetic.

But honestly, the characters didn't need much help being sympathetic. Cocks and Morgan did a great job with their characterizations. This is a book has a huge cast of characters, I honestly can't even begin to count how many secondary characters there was, but every single one of them was unique, engaging, and blossomed off the page. I loved every one of them, even the more odious ones. The royal family was great, especially Nick's brother Freddie who could have been the typical "playboy prince" but was so fun and surprisingly complex. I loved Bex and Nick's friends especially Gaz who was great comic relief, Cilla who was so sweet and supportive, and Bea who was snarky and complicated. I also loved Bex's family like her parents and her sister Lacey who was kind of annoying but had good development. But of course there are Bex and Nick. Nick could have a bit of a one-note cliche prince but he had a lot under the surface. Bex was the perfect heroine in her imperfectness. She made so many mistakes throughout the book and was a great combination of smart, sassy, and stupid. I loved her development throughout the book. Every character felt so genuine and likeable.

Part of the enjoyment of the characters may have actually been because I listened to this on audio. Seriously, the audio on this was fantastic. I think I made the right choice in listening to the audiobook for this one. I don't listen to a lot of contemporaries on audio because I usually like my audios to be full of action and adventure and while this book didn't have much of that it did have tons of drama. And the narrator (Christine Lakin) really brought the drama. She perfectly captured Bex's uncertainty, her awkwardness, and her sense of humor. But the best part was that there was so much emotion in her narration. I could feel the pain in her voice. She made me cry when Bex and Nick broke up, she made me swoon during the kissing scenes, she made me nervous during the dramatic parts. This was a pretty long book and I probably would have drifted in and out of focus if I was reading it instead of listening.

My only criticism is that there were some strange moments with the narrative structure. Not necessarily the plot development, or the pacing even, just the narrative. It took place over a long period of time and there was not a consistent flow to the book. Sometimes it would show us a snapshot then flash forward and sometimes it would take us through a whole year. It made things confusing, especially towards the end when things moved really quickly. And speaking of that ending. I liked the way it resolved but I feel like there are a lot of unanswered questions. I get that you want to leave things open for a potential sequel but I didn't feel like there was a clear resolution, which is something I wanted.

On the whole this was a great read. It was full of romance and drama that had me engrossed and likeable and realistic characters who made me laugh and cry. It perfectly balanced serious moments with dramatic plot points about the effect of celebrity and a complicated love story with funny moments full of banter. This is not my typical read but I loved it.

I give The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan 9 out of 10

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. I'm not a huge romance fan but I am a huge fan of this book. This to me is contemporary at it's finest. It's silly and sad, romantic and dramatic. It perfectly balances the plot with great characters who jump off the page and totally had me guessing what would happen next. I would absolutely recommend this book, especially the audio.

Have you read The Royal We? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Stacking the Shelves: February 2016

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews

It's almost the end of the month and the last Saturday which means it's time for my monthly Stacking the Shelves and book haul. I am still on a book buying diet but all the amazing books came out this month so of course I bought a bunch. There were some of my most anticipated new releases that came out this month so I had to, you know. Plus I got some really great review books that I'm excited about. I also spent some time stalking Netgalley again this month so I also picked up a bunch of review books.


1.) Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto - (Add to Goodreads / My Review)
This was one of my most anticipated debuts, so I preordered this one and ready it already. It was fun.

2.) A Criminal Magic by Lee Kelly - (Add to Goodreads)
I'm on a book buying diet and should not have bought this but it was impulsive. I'd heard good things and the e-book was on sale so I bought it.

3.) Out of Easy by Ruta Sepetys - (Add to Goodreads)
This was another impulse buy. But after loving Salt to the Sea I needed more Ruta Sepetys and this was on sale and sounds great.

4.) Calamity by Brandon Sanderson - (Add to Goodreads / My Review)
I obviously needed the final book in the Reckoners trilogy in my life. It was amazing, obviously.

5.) A Gathering of Sadows by V.E. Schwab - (Add to Goodreads)
I also needed the next book in the Shades of Magic series. I'm reading it now and loving it.

For Review

6.) Roses and Rot by Kat Howard - (Add to Goodreads)
Thanks Saga Press! This is a retelling set in a boarding about sisters and it fantastic. I can't wait to read it.

7.) And I Darken by Kiersten White - (Add to Goodreads)
Thanks Random House! I flailed so hard when I got approved for this on Netgalley. Gender bent Vlad the Impaler. Need.

8.) The Smell of Other People's Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock - (Add to Goodreads / My Review)
Thanks Random House! I thought this sounded interesting and it actually blew me away. It was gorgeous!

8.) Devil and the Bluebird by Jennifer Mason-Black - (Add to Goodreads)
Thanks Amulet! Britt talked this on our debut podcast and then I saw it on Netgalley and snagged a copy. I canny wait!

9.) Girl About Town by Adam Shankman and Laura L. Sullivan - (Add to Goodreads)
Thanks Simon & Schuster. This is historical fiction set during the 1920's so I am so on board.

10.) The Girls by Emma Cline - (Add to Goodreads)
Thanks Random House! Another historical fiction but this one is set during the 1960's and again, I am so on board.

So those are all the books I got this month. Thank you so much to the amazing publishers who approved my request on Netgalley and Edelweiss. What books did you get this month? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Book Review: The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

Title: The Lies of Locke Lamora
Series: The Gentleman Bastards #1
Written by: Scott Lynch
Published: February 16, 2016 by Delacorte (Random House)
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: The Thorn of Camorr is said to be an unbeatable swordsman, a master thief, a ghost that walks through walls. Half the city believes him to be a legendary champion of the poor. The other half believe him to be a foolish myth. Nobody has it quite right. 

Slightly built, unlucky in love, and barely competent with a sword, Locke Lamora is, much to his annoyance, the fabled Thorn. He certainly didn't invite the rumors that swirl around his exploits, which are actually confidence games of the most intricate sort. And while Locke does indeed steal from the rich (who else, pray tell, would be worth stealing from?), the poor never see a penny of it. All of Locke's gains are strictly for himself and his tight-knit band of thieves, the Gentlemen Bastards. 

Locke and company are con artists in an age where con artistry, as we understand it, is a new and unknown style of crime. The less attention anyone pays to them, the better! But a deadly mystery has begun to haunt the ancient city of Camorr, and a clandestine war is threatening to tear the city's underworld, the only home the Gentlemen Bastards have ever known, to bloody shreds. Caught up in a murderous game, Locke and his friends will find both their loyalty and their ingenuity tested to the breaking point as they struggle to stay alive..

I had heard nothing but good things about this book. So many of my blogger friends love this book and I had high hopes going into it. But it may have fallen a little short because of those expectations. I mean I liked it, but not as much as I thought I would. And usually I am overflowing with thoughts instantly after finishing a book but with The Lies of Locke Lamora I had to take the time to sit with my feelings because I really wasn't sure what I thought.

I will say, I loved the characters here. I am always a sucker for books about thieves and rogues, so those within The Lies of Locke Lamora were right up my alley. This is book about a gang of thieves that are part of this criminal underworld. First we have their leader, Locke. What I liked about Locke is that he's not your usually hero. He's not a brilliant fighter, he's more of a thinker who finds himself in situations he has to fight his way out of. I loved seeing Locke try to plan and prepare only for things to go horribly wrong. It was refreshing and it made me root for him. I also really liked Jean, his best friend and partner. Jean is the fighter of the group but you wouldn't be able to tell by looking at him. He's heavy-set with glasses, both tradition signs of a thinker but Jean and his hatchets were the muscle of the group. They were a great team and their bromance was fantastic. There were also tons of great other character like their mentor and the other members of the group. And then there was the villains. And there were a lot of them. It was definitely an us against the world kind of things between the antagonists and protagonists and I liked that. Part of what made this book good was the characters and the way that the author played with traditional character tropes in fantasy.

But as much as I liked the characters, the character development didn't always work for me. I'm usually more of a plot-driven reader but I do like when characters come out of the book having learned something about themselves. And I think Locke and Jean did kind of get there but it wasn't as big a part as I would have liked. Especially considering that I enjoyed the characters. I think that was because a lot of the character development occurred through flashbacks where we saw Locke and Jean as kids and how they became thieves. And while I liked learning about their history it was more of just their way of saying that this is how Locke is. And because this was focused  it did add a bit too much exposition for me and may have taken away from the plot development.

That plot too was slow and sometimes muddled for me. This is a long book, although 750 pages is honestly nothing when it comes to Adult Fantasy, but it felt long. It was a bit of a slog for me. Because it was long and the first book in a new series it had to take it's time explaining and elaborating on the cons. We also had to get to know the world and the characters. I already mentioned the flashbacks and how they pulled me out of the plot but I think it was more than that. I went into this book expecting a self-contained heist story and that's not what it was. Now don't get me wrong, those moments where he did have to use quick thinking and crazy shenanigans to get out of a jam were the best parts but they were kind of few and far between. Sure, there were interesting cons and moments of adventure where the characters had to get their way out of whatever bind they were in but there was no planned big finish. It was very much just an set up book and those are usually not my favorites. Although the general plot development was interesting and played with the tropes in a creative way, it didn't totally work for me.

But I did absolutely love the world of this book. It was definitely an immersive world. Camorr is the kind of fantasy world that I love. It expertly combines mystery, magic, and intrigue. There is even a little but of religion that is factored into the world. Sometimes fantasies focus too much on one aspect and neglect the other. But here they are perfectly complimentary. I think that fact that there was so much to the world added a lot to the feel of it being a set up book but thankfully, the world was so engaging. Scott Lynch does a great way of setting the scene. From the dark streets and docks, to the secret hideouts of the criminal underworld, to the palaces and homes of the elite. It had a typical Medieval/Rennaisance quality that a lot of fantasy has but it was fantastic. I loved exploring the world and it helped to make this book compelling and interesting.

On the whole, this was a good read. It may have been a little bit of poor timing as I read it before and after two very anticipated releases. I liked it but not as much as I had hoped. I think it may have just suffered from a but of First Book Syndrome but I am really interested to see where things go in future books. I know there are a ton more books in the series so I may try to keep going. It had a great world and complex character that I can get behind succeeding.

I give The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch 8.5 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy/Borrow. If you are a fan of fantasies and like books about thieves and rogues then definitely check this out. I would maybe not recommend this book to anyone who is more of a plot-driven reader and instead say you should read it if you like character-driven stories.

Have you read The Lies of Locke Lamora? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

ARC Review: The Smell of Other People's Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

Title: The Smell of Other People's Houses
Written by: Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock
Published: February 23, 2016 by Wendy Lamb Books (Random House)

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: In Alaska, 1970, being a teenager here isn’t like being a teenager anywhere else. Ruth has a secret that she can’t hide forever. Dora wonders if she can ever truly escape where she comes from, even when good luck strikes. Alyce is trying to reconcile her desire to dance, with the life she’s always known on her family’s fishing boat. Hank and his brothers decide it’s safer to run away than to stay home—until one of them ends up in terrible danger. 

Four very different lives are about to become entangled.

*** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. ****

What an unexpected surprise this book was. I had been hearing a little bit about it lately but all the reviews were so good so when I saw it on Netgalley I grabbed a copy and I am so glad that I did because this book was great.

The Smell of Other People's Houses is about four teenagers and their desire for more than what they have. Narrative structures with a lot of different character perspectives can be hit or miss for me but here it seemed to work. Despite the fact that they may have been in different places or be going through very different things there was this overarching theme about wanting to break out and away from who or where you are. This is a theme that I always love and it was fantastic here. Plus each character is so sympathetic and engaging, you can't help but fall for them and want to see them succeed. If I had to pick a favorite I think it would be either Ruth or Dora. They were both going through really different things but their lives were not easy and my heart definitely went out to them.

But I think the other reason that I liked the changing perspectives was because there was so much overlap. Their lives intertwine in complex ways that kept me interested. There are so many subtle ways that the characters interact and influence one another's lives for the better. It had this subtle undercurrent of the power of not only friendship but how perfect strangers can help you get through life even when you least expect it. It was brilliant and subtle in the way it made you feel that too. It's not a book that really spells things out for you and while I appreciated that, it did make things a little confusing at times. I had to keep reminding myself who the characters were and how they knew one another.

Despite being categorized as historical fiction, this book has a timeless quality that will appeal to fans of contemporaries and coming of age stories. It doesn't really reference a lot of specific historical events. The setting is less about the time period and more about the actual location of Alaska. It had a great small town feel to it with quirky town activities and trips salmon fishing and on ferries in waters full of Orca whales. I also loved that the characters had a lot of diversity, appropriately including Alaskan natives as a big part of the story. It's not so much about a time and place as it is about the people. At times it's heart-breaking and emotional but in the end it had such a satisfying that I left with unexpected warm fuzzies.

This is a short read coming in at 240 pages but the impact of the book was similar to those of twice it's size. There is so much packed into the story that you almost have to take your time with it. And the gorgeous and lyrical writing also makes you slow down and let the words and emotions really sink in. This is a book full of feels and the writing allows you to not only feel the emotions of the characters but the beautiful and tragic setting of the book as well.

On the whole, The Smell of Other People's Houses really impressed me. It is a fantastic and beautiful read full of great characters that you can't help but empathize with and an emotional plot that will stick with you long after you finish. I loved it.

I give The Smell of Other People's Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock 9.5 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy! I would not hesitate to recommend The Smell of Other People's Houses. Especially for anyone who is looking for a good coming of age story or a character-driven book with amazing writing. It's a brilliant debut and a great read.

Have you read The Smell of Other People's Houses? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Podcast Review: The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

Title: The Girl From Everywhere
Series: The Girl from Everywhere #1
Written by: Heidi Heilig
Published: March 3, 2016 by Hot Key Books
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: It was the kind of August day that hinted at monsoons, and the year was 1774, though not for very much longer. 

Sixteen-year-old Nix Song is a time-traveller. She, her father and their crew of time refugees travel the world aboard The Temptation, a glorious pirate ship stuffed with treasures both typical and mythical. Old maps allow Nix and her father to navigate not just to distant lands, but distant times - although a map will only take you somewhere once. And Nix's father is only interested in one time, and one place: Honolulu 1868. A time before Nix was born, and her mother was alive. Something that puts Nix's existence rather dangerously in question... 

Nix has grown used to her father's obsession, but only because she's convinced it can't work. But then a map falls into her father's lap that changes everything. And when Nix refuses to help, her father threatens to maroon Kashmir, her only friend (and perhaps, only love) in a time where Nix will never be able to find him. And if Nix has learned one thing, it's that losing the person you love is a torment that no one can withstand. Nix must work out what she wants, who she is, and where she really belongs before time runs out on her forever.

*** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. ****

I'm really excited for this review because in addition to having a written review for you, I also have a podcast review! If you haven't been following Please Feed My Bookworm Thoughts, it is the bookish podcast I have been doing with Britt from Please Feed the Bookworm. This is our first ever review so check out down below to listen to our thoughts or visit us on Soundcloud. But be warned, the second half of the podcast does have spoilers. The written review is spoiler free though.

The Girl From Everywhere was one of my most anticipated 2016 debuts. It sounded like an absolutely amazing exploration of time travel and family. And it was good. Just one more on a list of great time travel books coming out recently. However while I loved the character moments, the general plot development didn't always work for me.

My favorite thing about this book was probably the more character-driven moments. For one thing, I really liked Nix as a main character. She was a great combination of strength and vulnerability making her a complex character that I was rooting for. She’s smart, resourceful, and tough. I like how much people rely on her and treat her as an equal but that she makes mistakes and isn’t perfect. But my favorite characters were the secondary ones, especially those on the ship. Kashmir was great, Bee was fun, even Rotgut. And then there was her father, who I surprisingly loved. He had really great development throughout the book. But better than that, the relationships between Nix and the other characters were really fantastic. I particularly liked how she and her father related to each other and how that developed throughout the book. Even the romances were great and kind of refreshing. Some readers might get annoyed with the love triangle but for me it worked. But that was probably because there really weren't many romantic moments. It was just the start of something, maybe.

The setting and historical aspects too were really interesting. Most of the places that they traveled was really interesting, and there was a great combination of history and mythology that I really appreciated. But the bulk of the story took place in 19th Century Hawaii and the author did a great job of developing that setting. I read this book as part of my pirate month and you had not only really great sailing and high seas elements of this story but the tropical island really came alive. There was beautiful coastlines, waterfalls, jungles. It made me want to go to Hawaii more then I already do. There were also some subtle political intrigue and interesting historical moments which I honestly knew very little about. This had me looking up and researching Hawaiian history because I needed to know what actually happened and that to me is the mark of great historical fiction.

But as much as I liked the historical elements, the time travel stuff didn't totally work. I think I could have used a little bit more of those aspects. I like my time travel to have clear rules and yes, there were specific rules and the way they actually traveled was interesting, but it just was a much smaller part of the story than I was hoping for. I like my time travel to for lack of a better phrase, to go big or go home. Here the time travel was more of an undercurrent. I was thinking there would be more conversation of the butterfly affect and other aspect of time travel but here it was more subtle. They didn't even really talk about or explain the consequences of travelling through time until two-thirds of the way into the book.

However, when that time travel stuff did kick in, it was a fantastic read. It did have a bit of a slow start to me with quite a bit of exposition before getting into the heart of the story, but in the end the plot was incredibly intricate. Things came full circle and little things from earlier in the book came back in a big way during the climax. I saw a review from Alex at The Book Buzz where she called it a heist and that is so accurate. The heist elements were so brilliant and definitely my favorite part despite it not totally connecting with the historical elements. And that may have been because that was the big finish. I was definitely on the edge of my seat during the last 15% of the book. And while this is the first book in a series, I really appreciate that this one had a clear ending with exciting prospects of what will happen next.

All in all, a good read that had great characters who interacted in fantastic ways, and interesting historical settings that combined history and mythology perfectly. Despite the slow pacing and the fact that it took me awhile to get into it, finished really strong with a conclusion that brought things full circle.

I give The Girl From Everywhere 8 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy/Borrow. I would recommend to fans of historical fiction or anyone looking to try time travel for the first time. But I would also recommend this book to readers who like more character based stories that explore family relationships. That was the best part of this book to me.

Have you read The Girl From Everywhere? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. And don't forget to check out the podcast down below for more of my thoughts and learn what Britt thoughts of the book. Especially if you read the book because we have spoilery thoughts in the last 20 minutes. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

My Blogger Reputation and Giveaway

I'm so excited to be a part of this awesome event as part of the upcoming release of Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton, one of my most anticipated debuts of 2016. I just bought a copy of the UK paperback from The Book Depository and I cannot wait to read it. It sounds like an absolutely amazing combination of fantasy, mythology, and Westerns in a Middle Eastern desert setting. Sign me up.

About the Book:

Title: Rebel of the Sands
Series: Rebel of the Sands #1
Written by: Alwyn Hamilton
Published: March 8, 2016 by Penguin
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands. 

 Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there's nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can't wait to escape from. 

Destined to wind up "wed or dead," Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she'd gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan's army, with a fugitive who's wanted for treason. And she'd never have predicted she'd fall in love with him...or that he'd help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.

Get a copy: (Penguin / Amazon / Book Depository)

In a world where metal and magic clash with deadly consequences, Amani finds herself becoming a myth in the making, legendary for her sharp-shooting skills, more gunpowder than girl. So, inspired by Amani’s legendary skills and growing reputation, Penguin had asked bloggers to come up with our own blogger reputation post, highlighting skills, behaviors, designs, or habits that you would be famous for in the blogosphere. So what am I know for?

As a blogger... THEMED MONTHS!

Me without themes. Or sometimes with, you know.
I think most bloggers and followers of My Thoughts Literally know that my thing is picking a different theme every month and reading a bunch of different books that fit that theme. Currently my theme is pirates (although I'm basically done with the pirate reads I had planned). Past themes have been genres like Science Fiction, High Fantasy, and Mystery or concepts like Time/Dimensional Travel, Geek Books, Adventure/Survival, Anti-Love, and Supernatural Christmas.

I love taking the time to explore in depth a particular genre and concept but it's great too because then I don't spend too much time focusing on a particular type of book. Next month will be something totally different so it keeps things fresh at the same time. And the themes definitely keep me focused. When I don't have a theme I tend to just stare at my bookshelf unclear of what comes next. I need structure or I face crippling indecision.

And I know a lot of fellow bloggers and members of the bookish community have told me that they love the theme idea. A lot of people are mood readers so they don't necessarily want to do it themselves but they think it's a cool and creative concept for the blog. Right? You guys think that right?


You have probably heard me bragging about how good I am at solving mysteries. I like to tout this
reputation for sure because I am a little conceited and often super proud of myself for figuring things out in mysteries or fantasies. Especially if it's an author whose books I often don't solve stuff in like Brandon Sanderson. But I also like figuring twists out and mysteries because I hate surprises. I'm just as excited, if not more, about getting something right as I am about having my mind blown.

But here's the truth as to why I say that I'm so good at this... I love theory-crafting. Often when I'm reading a book where there is a huge mystery element, my brain is working a mile a minute and I spend a lot of the book suspecting and accusing people of things they may have done or will do. I tend to narrow these theories down as clues start coming in but I operate under a guilty until proven innocent mantra while reading so that helps.

I think a lot of bloggers know me for my ability to solve mysteries. Mostly because I shamelessly brag about it but that's how reputations work right? I don't know. But if you want verification, ask Michelle at Pink Polka Dots Books who I was DMing about Dangerous Girls and whose faith I'm trying to restore for not figuring out her OTSP Secret Sister last round.


You may have seen my discussion post where I talk about why I find romance superfluous and wish books didn't feel like they have to have it. Or you've heard me complain about how I didn't like the romance in a book and that I don't read contemporary romances because love is a secondary plot to me to the main thread of a book.

And yeah, it is kind of frustrating to not be the shipping type and not enjoy books that were otherwise great because I didn't like the romance but I'm used to it. It happens so often. But honestly I like being this way because when I do find a ship that I like and a romance that I enjoy then it's even better. It's such a rare thing that the ships I do ship I fall hard. It's quality of quantity for me. Plus doesn't it help you all out too. I'm not going to steal your book boyfriends or book girlfriends. That's not my thing, more for you.

I know I've talked to a few bloggers about this who fall into the same romancephobic camp. It's nice to find those fellow readers who could do without that kiss at the end of the world. And hey, if you didn't like the ship and you want to complain about how stupid it is, you know where to find me.

Those are my reputations. What are yours? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. And to celebrate the pending release of Rebel of the Sands, Penguin has an amazing giveaway. Don't forget to enter down below and check out this book when it comes out in two weeks!

   a Rafflecopter giveaway

Top Ten Tuesday: Reads I Liked in a Genre I Don't Usually Read

A weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

I read a little bit of  everything but of course I have a favorite genre (fantasy) and genres that I read often (historical fiction). For this prompt it was easy to pick a genre. Contemporaries aren't usually my thing. But if you saw my discussion post few weeks ago then you know that I am breaking out of that comfort zone a little bit and reading some more contemporaries, even a few romances. So here are ten I read last year and loved. They are unintentionally in a particular order.

1.) Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson 
(Add to Goodreads / My Review)
You knew this one was coming. It's the contemporary romance that made me realize that I don't hate contemporary romances. I talk all the time about how much I liked it and that this surprised me.

2.) Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
(Add to GoodreadsMy Review)
I'm not sure what exactly inspired me to read this one but all the great reviews probably. It was my favorite debut of 2016 and super cute and adorable and funny.

3.) Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
(Add to Goodreads / My Review)
I mean you could say that this is historical fiction because I'm pretty sure it's set in the 90's. But it has the feel of a contemporary romance and it's wonderful.

4.) I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios
(Add to Goodreads / My Review)
I know a lot of people really liked this book but I was still nervous. But it was insanely relateable with great characters and a romance that I definitely shipped.

5.) Dumplin by Julie Murphy
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I was surprised at the tone of this book. It's not all girl power, big girls are beautiful. It has those elements but there's a lot of insecurity too which made it all the more amazing and enjoyable.

6.) Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone
(Add to Goodreads / My Review)
This was a really complex story that dealt with mental health in a way that was fantastic and honest. I thought it was a great coming of age story and a great romance and friendship.

7.) Top Ten Clues You're Clueless by Liz Czukas
(Add to Goodreads / My Review)
This is another one with a mystery, which is why I read it, so it may not belong on this book but it's also a really cute book about friendship and a sweet romance.

8.) Everything, Everything by Nicole Yoon
(Add to Goodreads / My Review)
I had heard really good things about this book and I ended up reading it because I heard there was a good plot twist. It was actually a pretty good story of family and I liked the romance too.

9.) My Best Everything by Sarah Tomp
(Add to Goodreads / My Review)
This is such a complex contemporary. I mean it's about moonshine you guys. But it's a great romance and coming of age story about a good girl exploring the real world for the first time.

10.) More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
(Add to Goodreads / My Review)
I really should not have liked this book. It's contemporary, a romance, and it's sad on purpose and has some of my triggers. But it was a really beautifully written book.

What Contemporary Romances do you like? Any recommendations for me based on the books that I listed? What genre do you not read very often? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Book Review: Calamity by Brandon Sanderson

*** This is the final book in a trilogy so if you haven't read Steelheart and Firefight proceed with caution. But seriously, if you haven't read those books you must get on that! They are fantastic and everyone should read them. ***

Title: Calamity
Series: The Reckoners #3
Written by: Brandon Sanderson
Published: February 16, 2016 by Delacorte (Random House)
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: When Calamity lit up the sky, the Epics were born. David’s fate has been tied to their villainy ever since that historic night. Steelheart killed his father. Firefight stole his heart. And now Regalia has turned his closest ally into a dangerous enemy. 

David knew Prof’s secret, and kept it even when Prof struggled to control the effects of his Epic powers. But facing Obliteration in Babilar was too much. Once the Reckoners’ leader, Prof has now embraced his Epic destiny. He’s disappeared into those murky shadows of menace Epics are infamous for the world over, and everyone knows there’s no turning back... 

But everyone is wrong. Redemption is possible for Epics—Megan proved it. They’re not lost. Not completely. And David is just about crazy enough to face down the most powerful High Epic of all to get his friend back. Or die trying. 

The last book in the series.


No, I won't subject you to that. I could, mind you, but I won't. But seriously, I absolutely love this series and the final book was such a fantastic ending. It made me laugh, it made me cry (tears of joy and sadness), it took me on an epic (pun intended) adventure befitting of a Sanderson book.

One of my favorite thing about this series is the powers system. It's creative and complicated with endless iterations. I always love magic systems that plays with the tropes and Sanderson absolutely plays with the traditional superhero concepts in this book. In fact these aren't even really heroes at all, they're not even really antiheroes. People with powers are essentially the villains of this world. The people with powers in this book are very easily corrupted by them throughout the book. They have ruined things and take full advantage of their powers to lord it over those who are mere mortals.  I find this such a fantastic concept and I love exploring not only the powers but how it affects the people around them. We definitely get to see Epic powers at play in a big way. Characters who we know with powers get to use them even more and it's amazing to see them in all their glory. But even deeper than that, Sanderson explores what it means to be an Epic here, including more about how they got their powers and their weaknesses. It was so satisfying to learn about it but I do still have question. Most notably... More please?

This gif is so very awkward fanboy David, I had to use it.
But I want more of this series because I love these characters so much. This Reckoners has some truly amazing characters. It's a diverse and quirky cast and some of my all-time favorites. I absolutely adore David and his terrible metaphors, although in this book I think those were at a minimum. But even without them, David's voice is amazing. He has this great balance with humor, intelligence, resourcefulness, and impulsive dedication to his cause. He's really the hero of this book and it's been so fantastic to be along for that journey. But there are also some really fantastic secondary characters. Those from the second book joined some old-favorites from the first and it was great learning more and seeing Megan, Cody, Abraham, and Mizzy in action. And then of course there is Prof. Seeing Prof in action was both amazing and heart-breaking. I have come to know and love every last character in this series, even some that I probably shouldn't (like Obliteration). But they're so fun and real. I love their development and the relationships between them. It's a great crew and I love them so much I'm not ready to let them go.

But once again this book took me on an action-packed adventure full of vivid details and so much excitement and mystery. Brandon Sanderson is known by his fans (including me) for his ability to constantly surprise us. I'm good at solving mysteries and I almost never solve a Sanderson twist. When I read his books, my brain works a mile a minute and I desperately attempt to figure everything out before he rips my heart out again. with this book I had all-kinds of crazy theories going in and I was wrong on all of them. But, when they were proven wrong my theory crafting through the middle of the book did come up with the right solution so I'm calling that a win. But in general this is an incredibly fast-paced read. The stakes are really high and more than once I found myself biting my nails, worried and shocked by the way things were going for our heroes.  It built to an amazing conclusion and I just flew through these 400 pages, reading them in just a few days because I couldn't put it down. In the attempt to expand and explain it did have some moments where resolutions felt sudden or not complete enough but it was a hugely satisfying ending to a great series. And when I was finally done I was left with this strange combination of satisfaction and desire for more.

On the whole, Calamity was a great conclusion to a fantastic dystopian series. It was an action-packed read full of mystery and intrigue with great characters and a fantastic world full of interesting explorations of power and how it corrupts. It's so good. I'm not ready to let it go! *clings for dear life.*

I give Calamity by Brandon Sanderson 10 out of 10 stars
(It's probably closer to 9.75 stars but I'm giving it 10 because rounding and Sanderson)

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: BUY! I cannot recommend this series enough. It got me into Brandon Sanderson and it will always hold a place in my heart for that but it's also just a brilliant series. Fans of The Reckoners series will absolutely love this series and if you like superheroes, anti-heroes, or are looking for a books full of action then check these books out.

Have you read Calamity? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!