September Releases I’m Excited For

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SEPTEMBER HAS SO MANY GOOD RELEASES.

I’m glad I got that out of my system.

No, but really, September kicks off the fall releases and I can’t lie, there are a TON of fall 2016 releases that I’m really excited for. Of course, following my usual pattern, I won’t actually read any of them. I’ll just get really excited for them to come out, buy them, and let them sit around.

But hey, no need to mention such small insignificant details, right?😉

I’m going to try to keep this list at around 5 books. Let’s see how well I do with that. Just keep in mind that this will not be a complete list of all the September books I’m looking forward to because there are MANY.

All of the synopses are from Goodreads and that’s where the links will take you!

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

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Every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown.

If only it was that simple. Katharine is unable to tolerate the weakest poison, and Arsinoe, no matter how hard she tries, can’t make even a weed grow. The two queens have been shamefully faking their powers, taking care to keep each other, the island, and their powerful sister Mirabella none the wiser. But with alliances being formed, betrayals taking shape, and ruthless revenge haunting the queens’ every move, one thing is certain: the last queen standing might not be the strongest…but she may be the darkest.

Releases: September 20th

The Fever Code by James Dashner

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Once there was a world’s end.

The forests burned, the lakes and rivers dried up, and the oceans swelled.

Then came a plague, and fever spread across the globe. Families died, violence reigned, and man killed man.

Next came WICKED, who were looking for an answer. And then they found the perfect boy.

The boy’s name was Thomas, and Thomas built a maze.

Now there are secrets.

There are lies.

And there are loyalties history could never have foreseen.

This is the story of that boy, Thomas, and how he built a maze that only he could tear down.

All will be revealed.

A prequel to the worldwide Maze Runner phenomenon, The Fever Code is the book that holds all the answers. How did WICKED find the Gladers? Who are Group B? And what side are Thomas and Teresa really on? Lies will be exposed. Secrets will be uncovered. Loyalties will be proven. Fans will never see the truth coming.

Releases: September 27th

A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess

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I am Henrietta Howel. The first female sorcerer. The prophesied one. Or am I?

Henrietta Howel can burst into flames. When she’s brought to London to train with Her Majesty’s sorcerers, she meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, young men eager to test her powers and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her. As Henrietta discovers the secrets hiding behind the glamour of sorcerer life, she begins to doubt that she’s the true prophesied one. With battle looming, how much will she risk to save the city—and the one she loves?

Releases: September 20th

The Reader by Traci Chee

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Sefia knows what it means to survive. After her father is brutally murdered, she flees into the wilderness with her aunt Nin, who teaches her to hunt, track, and steal. But when Nin is kidnapped, leaving Sefia completely alone, none of her survival skills can help her discover where Nin’s been taken, or if she’s even alive. The only clue to both her aunt’s disappearance and her father’s murder is the odd rectangular object her father left behind, an object she comes to realize is a book—a marvelous item unheard of in her otherwise illiterate society. With the help of this book, and the aid of a mysterious stranger with dark secrets of his own, Sefia sets out to rescue her aunt and find out what really happened the day her father was killed—and punish the people responsible.

Releases: September 13th

The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron

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What isn’t written, isn’t remembered. Even your crimes.

Nadia lives in the city of Canaan, where life is safe and structured, hemmed in by white stone walls and no memory of what came before. But every twelve years the city descends into the bloody chaos of the Forgetting, a day of no remorse, when each person’s memories – of parents, children, love, life, and self – are lost. Unless they have been written.

In Canaan, your book is your truth and your identity, and Nadia knows exactly who hasn’t written the truth. Because Nadia is the only person in Canaan who has never forgotten.

But when Nadia begins to use her memories to solve the mysteries of Canaan, she discovers truths about herself and Gray, the handsome glassblower, that will change her world forever. As the anarchy of the Forgetting approaches, Nadia and Gray must stop an unseen enemy that threatens both their city and their own existence – before the people can forget the truth. And before Gray can forget her.

Releases: September 13th

Every Falling Star by Sungju Lee & Susan Elizabeth McClelland

28818317Every Falling Star, the first book to portray contemporary North Korea to a young audience, is the intense memoir of a North Korean boy named Sungju who is forced at age twelve to live on the streets and fend for himself. To survive, Sungju creates a gang and lives by thieving, fighting, begging, and stealing rides on cargo trains. Sungju richly re-creates his scabrous story, depicting what it was like for a boy alone to create a new family with his gang, his “brothers”; to be hungry and to fear arrest, imprisonment, and even execution. This riveting memoir allows young readers to learn about other cultures where freedoms they take for granted do not exist.

Releases: September 13th

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova

27969081Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange marks on his skin.

The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland…

Releases: September 6th

I was aiming for 5 and ended up with 7, so that’s not too bad.😉 Like I said, though, these are definitely not all of the September releases that I’m excited for. September is full of great book releases!

What September releases are you looking forward to?


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Review of Ash by Malinda Lo

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Published: September 1st, 2009 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers | Series: N/A | Length: 264 pages | Genre: YA, fairytale retellings, LGBTQ, romance, fantasy | Source: Borrowed from library

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Summary from Goodreads:

In the wake of her father’s death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, rereading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted.

The day that Ash meets Kaisa, the King’s Huntress, her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing fairies, Ash learns to hunt with Kaisa. Though their friendship is as delicate as a new bloom, it reawakens Ash’s capacity for love-and her desire to live. But Sidhean has already claimed Ash for his own, and she must make a choice between fairy tale dreams and true love.

Entrancing, empowering, and romantic, Ash is about the connection between life and love, and solitude and death, where transformation can come from even the deepest grief.

Knowing that this was a Cinderella retelling that also incorporated a same-sex relationship, I couldn’t resist picking it up when I saw it at the library. I’d heard really good things about Malinda Lo’s writing before and had been wanting to check out some of her books too. So this seemed like a great choice for me to read.

I’m struggling with reviewing this a lot because while I didn’t enjoy it as much as I expected to, I think a lot of that has to do with me being in a bit of a reading slump, rather than being because of the book itself. I’m going to point out everything that I did and didn’t like, but keep in mind that I’m in a slump which made it hard for me to get into the story 100%.

First off, I really liked the magical elements that Lo brought into the story. Obviously, in the original Cinderella story that we’ve all known since we were kids, there’s the Fairy Godmother who helps Cinderella. So it’s not as if the original story doesn’t have magic. But I loved what Lo adds into it. Fairies are the only magical creature we actually see, but there are tons of fairy tales and other magical creatures mentioned throughout the book. I’m actually pretty interested in finding out what Lo’s inspiration was behind all of the fairytales that are told in the story.

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Lo’s writing was great too. It’s really descriptive and quite beautiful being long-winded or over the top. I know a lot of people enjoy super descriptive writing, but I usually don’t because I find it goes on for too long and I get bored before the paragraph is over. But this wasn’t an issue with Lo’s writing at all, which was a pleasant surprise.

The reason I struggled with this book so much was because I really just could not connect with Ash. I didn’t really like her as a main character. She didn’t seem to have much of a personality. I felt bad for her because of the abuse and everything that she faces, but I just wasn’t invested in her. Because I didn’t feel any kind of connection with her, I didn’t get really into the story either. I couldn’t get past not connecting with Ash and ultimately because of that, I didn’t enjoy the book as much as I could have.

Of course, I did really enjoy the fact that this had a same-sex relationship. Ash becomes really close with the King’s Huntress, Kaisa. I liked Kaisa quite a bit more than Ash actually and would’ve gladly sat there and read a whole book about her. Even without really liking Ash, I still liked the scenes with them together.

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Overall, this is a good book that I would have enjoyed so much more if I connected with Ash more. If you like reading fantasy, retellings, or books with LGBTQ characters, I’d recommend reading this. I’d personally love to reread this again in the future when I’m not in a slump and see if I enjoy it more.


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Why I’m Tired of the Books vs. Technology Dichotomy

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If you’ve been on the Internet for more than, oh, 5 minutes, you’ve probably seen the whole “books vs. technology” dichotomy. Or maybe it’s more accurately summed up as “intelligence vs. technology” and “technology is ruining the world.” Regardless, it often ends up putting you into one of two categories: you’re either A.) smart and read books and stay up-to-date in world news or B.) spend your time watching frivolous TV shows and posting on social media.

It ends up spreading the message that you can be smart and enjoy reading and engaging with thought-provoking content OR you can spend time on social media and watching TV shows that ultimately are not super important, but that are entertaining.

I’m so sick of our world being dichotomized like this because it is 100% false.

The fact that book blogs even exist is proof that that dichotomy isn’t real. We all love reading, obviously, which should mean that we fit in group A: the group of people who love to read and because of that, are intelligent. But the fact that we have blogs and use social media (I’m sure 99% of you also use Twitter) should mean that we belong to group B: people who just don’t care about anything important and would rather spend our time posting about our lives on social media.

Why aren’t we allowed to be both of those people at once? Why do I have to always be pondering the existence of man to be seen as someone who is smart and who cares about things? Why am I not allowed to sit and watch Parks & Rec on Netflix and still be seen as a respectable person?

I’m willing to bet that most people who read also watch TV and movies and play video games and do things that don’t require them to be deep in thought 100% of the time. And I’m sick of the other readers who try to act as though they are always deep in existential thought. Because by being so pretentious, they give the rest of us a bad name, making us seem as though we are all pretentious and judgmental.

I’ll even admit that for a few years I stayed away from the online book community because I didn’t want to be a part of a community that was so judgmental. Of course now after interacting with some of the people who make up the book community, I realize that most people aren’t like that at all. But from the outside, that’s what it seems like sometimes. And because of that, I stayed away from this awesome community.

This has mostly turned into me ranting about how annoying I find it when people try to act as though you can’t belong in both of those groups, that you can’t be intelligent and well-read and also enjoy watching Netflix. I could honestly keep going on and on, but for the sake of my sanity (and probably yours), I won’t. I’ll leave it at this: I think we should all keep in mind that people are not so easily divided into groups. You can’t organize people based on one interest of theirs. Not everyone who watches TV or spends a lot of time on social media is frivolous and unintelligent. Similarly, not everyone who reads books is a deep-thinker on their way to unlocking the secrets of the universe. And most importantly, you can love reading and also love watching TV. These traits are not mutually exclusive.

Have you noticed this dichotomy online? What do you think of it?


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Top 5 Books I Want to Read Before the End of the Year

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I haven’t participated in Top 5 Wednesday in quite awhile so I figured it was time to join in again. Plus this is a great topic.🙂

For those of you who don’t know, Top 5 Wednesday is currently being hosted by Sam at ThoughtsOnTomes. If you want to learn more about or are considering joining in, check out the Goodreads group. Each week has a different topic and you just post 5 books that fit that topic. All links will take you to Goodreads.

Just to keep things easier for myself, I’m only including books that I already own. I don’t know 100% what other books I’ll end up buying before the end of the year, so I figured this would be better since I know for sure that I have these.

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

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This summer I read my first book by Schwab, A Darker Shade of Magic, and really loved it and ended up also reading its sequel pretty soon after. I was really looking forward to the release of This Savage Song and was very happy to receive it in July’s OwlCrate. Most people who have read it seem to really like it and I’m hoping I will too. Plus, I might get to meet Schwab next month, so I really want to read this first.🙂

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

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This is one that has gotten some mixed reviews which I think is probably why I haven’t read this yet. It looks really good and I love the idea of all the mythology and everything that’s in this so I really want to read it. Hopefully I’ll like it.

Lost in Love by Susane Colasanti

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This is the sequel to City Love which I read earlier in the year and really loved. I don’t read enough YA romance/contemporary, so this is definitely near the top of my list for the rest of the year’s reads.

My Lady Jane by Jodi Meadows, Brodi Ashton, and Cynthia Hand

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Another book that I’ve heard really great things about. I love historical fiction and fantasy and since this is a blend of both plus some humor, I have a feeling I’ll love this.

Ruined by Amy Tintera

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To be honest, I can’t really remember reading many reviews or anything about this book, but I remember there being quite a bit of hype around it before it released which is what got me excited for it. I ended up winning a copy in a giveaway and since the idea behind the giveaway was to get books into the hands of bloggers who would read and review them, I definitely need to get to this soon.

These are 5 books that I absolutely want to read before the end of 2016! There are a few more that I could include, but I’ll stick to 5.😉

What books are you hoping to read before the year ends? Have you read any of these?


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Top Ten Books That Have Been on my TBR Before I Started Blogging

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week gives you a different theme and you come up with a list of ten(ish) books that fit that theme. This week’s theme is books that have been on your TBR from before you started blogging that you haven’t gotten around to reading yet.

I’m going to be completely honest with you guys: I could probably write a list of 50+ books that have been sitting on my TBR (physically on my shelves or just on a wishlist somewhere) from before I even started blogging. Granted, my blog is less than a year old, so this isn’t quite as bad as if I had been blogging for a few years, but still… It’s pretty ridiculous.

But since this is Top Ten Tuesday and not Top 50 Tuesday, I’ll try to limit myself to just 10 books.😛

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

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I saw this book being recommended like crazy on Tumblr a few years ago and I think I bought this with Christmas money back in 2014. Have I read it? Of course not.

Legend by Marie Lu

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You all know how much I love dystopian books and this is one of the more popular ones, so I HAD to read it. I got it as a Christmas present from my older brother years ago – maybe 2013 or 2014? I’m not sure exactly. All I know is it’s been sitting in my room for years and still hasn’t been read.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

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I actually was supposed to read this in my English class senior year of high school (that’s in 2012-2013). I started reading it and really liked it, but didn’t finish it for some reason (at this point, I have no idea why I stopped reading it). Ever since then, I’ve been wanting to pick it back up and back in November or December of 2015, I finally bought my own copy because I thought that would get me to read it, but… apparently not.

The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare

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I’m actually slightly embarrassed to admit that I haven’t read this series yet. When I was in high school, I remember one of my friends telling me I should read the series because she really liked it and thought I would too. Sooo I bought the first book and like all the other books on this list, it’s sat in my room ever since.

Pivot Point by Kasie West

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I bought this along with the next four books in a big Amazon haul last summer and haven’t read any of them yet. Why???

Dualed by Elsie Chapman

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A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan

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Of Poseidon by Anna Banks

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Altered by Jennifer Rush

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My sister has read this before I have and has begged me to read it because she loved it, but I still haven’t. This is the last one I got in that Amazon haul that I haven’t read yet.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

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This is possibly the most embarrassing one on here, simply because I have had this for almost a decade. I’m pretty sure my brother gave this to me when I was 12 or 13 and told me that I would love it and here I am, 21 years old and I still haven’t read it. Ridiculous, I know.

So, here are 10 books that have been sitting around waiting for me to read them since before I even had a blog!

Have you read any of these? What’d you include in your Top Ten Tuesday this week?


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Bout of Books: Book to Movie Adaptation Challenge

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I’m going to try not to spam you guys with posts this week so I won’t be participating in a lot of Bout of Books challenges since I have other posts that I want to put up this week and like I said, I don’t want to be spamming you guys with posts.

BUT I liked the topic for this challenge and couldn’t resist.🙂 Here’s the original post  for this challenge on Writing My Own Fairy Tale.

BEST BOOK-TO-MOVIE ADAPTATION

This is such an easy answer: The Hunger Games. I felt like this is a rare instance where the movies actually got better as the series went on, but even the first movie was really good and did a pretty good job of sticking to the book. From Catching Fire on, it was pretty much a spot-on adaptation. So these movies definitely get the award for the best book to movie adaptation.

WORST BOOK-TO-MOVIE ADAPTATION

Why do I have the feeling I won’t be the only person giving this answer? I have to go with the Divergent series. More specifically, Insurgent. I liked the Divergent movie just fine. It changed some things, but I felt overall it was the same story and I still enjoyed it. My biggest complaint with that movie was that Christina felt so unimportant but throughout the whole book series, I loved her and felt she was quite a prominent character. But then came the Insurgent movie. When I first saw it, I didn’t mind it. I was disappointed but thought it was still okay. As time goes on, though, I hate that movie more and more. And I can’t even say anything about the Allegiant movie because I didn’t  go see it. I realized that Insurgent wasn’t that good and then I heard everyone’s complaints about the Allegiant movie so I just didn’t bother.

What are your most and least favorite book-to-movie adaptations?


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Boston Teen Author Festival

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For those of you who don’t know, I go to school in Boston. So when I heard about the Boston Teen Author Festival, I got really freaking excited. I’ve gone to one book festival before (also in Boston), but that was long before I started blogging and at the time I wasn’t super into books. It was a fun thing to go to, but I definitely didn’t appreciate it fully. Plus, that festival didn’t have any well-known authors or anything there whereas BTAF does.

I’m not 100% sure that I’ll be able to attend, as I have to see what’s going on for me with school and work around that time. But I’m really hoping I’ll be able to go. It’s on September 24th which is only a few weeks into the semester, so I shouldn’t be too swamped with schoolwork. But we’ll see.

When I saw the line-up of all the authors who are going to be there, I kind of lost my mind. There are going to be so many great authors there, guys! Here are just a few of the authors that are going to be attending:

  • Erin Bowman, author of Vengeance Road
  • Cindy Pon, author of Serpentine
  • Brittany Cavallaro, author of A Study in Charlotte
  • Beth Revis, author of A World Without You
  • Roshani Chokshi, author of The Star-Touched Queen
  • Marie Rutkoski, author of The Winner’s Curse
  • Victoria Schwab (!!!), author of This Savage Song

I’ll admit I haven’t read books by most of those authors, but I have read Schwab’s writing and I’m SO EXCITED that she’s going to be there!! Seriously, I’m freaking out. And that’s maybe half of the authors that are going to be there. There are some other authors that will be there that I’m excited about too. If you want to see all the authors that will be attending, here’s the website.

There are also going to be some panels going on throughout the day that honestly sound amazing. There are 10 different panels planned and four different sessions – each panel is presented twice. If I do get to go, I’m really hoping to be able to get to 4 different panels. You can find the full list here. As of right now, the ones I’m hoping to get to are the following:

  • Who Run the World? (Flawed) GIRLS!
    Panelists: Rahul Kanakia, Emily Martin, Kate McGovern, Lauren Morrill
  • Facts to Fiction: Playing With History
    Panelists: Erin Bowman, Nicole Castroman, Lee Kelly
  • The Journey Toward Mental Health
    Panelists: Kathryn Holmes, Emery Lord, Natasha Sinel, Francisco X. Stork
  • Speculative Fiction Reflecting Our World
    Panelists: Michael Buckley, Malinda Lo, Victoria Schwab

I’m not sure of the schedule for the panels yet though, so I may have to change that list.

For the last two hours of the event, there’s a signing going on with all of the authors who are attending. I’m dying to get to meet Schwab, so I’m really excited about this!!

All in all, the Boston Teen Author Festival looks like it’s going to be an incredible event and I’m really, really, really hoping to attend on the 24th.

Which authors and panels here seem the most exciting to you?


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ARC August Week 3 Update

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It’s Sunday again which means it’s time for another update on my progress with ARC August.

Since last week, I’ve finished one more ARC: The Velvet Hours by Alyson Richman. If you read my update from last week, you’ll know that this book was taking me a very long time to get through, so when I finally finished it, I was quite happy. My review went up on Friday, so you can take a look here if you want to know more about what I thought.

Right now I’m not reading an ARC (I’m reading Ash by Malinda Lo) but hopefully I’ll have this finished in a couple of days and will get into another ARC. Starting tomorrow, I’m participating in Bout of Books so that should give me a little bit of extra motivation to get through some more books (and ARCs).

That’s all I have for an update this week! Hopefully next week I’ll have more.🙂

How are you doing in ARC August?


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Bout of Books 17 Sign Up

 

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After some deliberation, I’ve decided that I’m going to be participating in Bout of Books 17! I participated in the last one back in May and had a lot of fun doing it. This one starts on Monday and goes through next Sunday. I’m hoping it will be just as fun as the last one and that it will motivate me to get some books read.🙂

For those of you who don’t know, Bout of Books is a week-long readathon that’s pretty low pressure. You can set your own goals and while there are challenges that go on throughout the week, you’re not required to participate in them. Here’s the official blurb from the website:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 22nd and runs through Sunday, August 28th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 17 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

I’m going to go with the same goal that I set for myself last time: to read 3 books. I usually read 1-2 books a week, so 3 is pushing myself just enough that I am actually pushing myself, yet it’s not too stressful or unattainable.

Last time I didn’t participate in any challenges and to be honest, I’m not sure if I will this time either, but I might. I guess I’ll wait and see how I’m doing when it comes around.😛

As for a TBR… I’m not really sure what I’ll be in the mood to read but I’ll give myself a few options here:

I may end up going completely off my TBR (which would be no surprise, honestly), but as of right now those are some of the books I’m thinking of reading.

Anyway, I’m really excited to be participating in this again and can’t wait to get some reading done!

Bout of Books

Bout of Books Progress Updates

Day 1:

  • Pages read: 42
  • Books finished: none
  • Total pages: 42
  • Total books finished: none

Day 2:

  • Pages read: 27
  • Books finished: none
  • Total pages: 69
  • Total books finished: none

Day 3:

  • Pages read: 91
  • Books finished: Ash (started before Bout of Books, read half during BoB)
  • Total pages: 160
  • Total books finished: 0.5

Day 4:

  • Pages read: 39
  • Books finished: None
  • Total pages: 199
  • Total books finished: 0.5

Day 5:

  • Pages read: 33
  • Books finished: None
  • Total pages: 232
  • Total books finished: 0.5

Are any of you participating in Bout of Books?


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ARC Review: The Velvet Hours by Alyson Richman

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Published: September 6th, 2016 by Berkley | Series: N/A | Length: 384 pages | Genre: Adult fiction, historical fiction | Source: I received a copy from Penguin’s First to Read program.

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Summary from Goodreads:

As Paris teeters on the edge of the German occupation, a young French woman closes the door to her late grandmother’s treasure-filled apartment, unsure if she’ll ever return. 

An elusive courtesan, Marthe de Florian cultivated a life of art and beauty, casting out all recollections of her impoverished childhood in the dark alleys of Montmartre. With Europe on the brink of war, she shares her story with her granddaughter Solange Beaugiron, using her prized possessions to reveal her innermost secrets. Most striking of all are a beautiful string of pearls and a magnificent portrait of Marthe painted by the Italian artist Giovanni Boldini. As Marthe’s tale unfolds, like velvet itself, stitched with its own shadow and light, it helps to guide Solange on her own path. 

Inspired by the true account of an abandoned Parisian apartment, Alyson Richman brings to life Solange, the young woman forced to leave her fabled grandmother’s legacy behind to save all that she loved.

First of all, thank you Penguin for giving me an ARC of this through First to Read!

I’m sure a lot of you know by now that I love WWII historical fiction. So when I saw this book, I couldn’t help but request it from Penguin. However, the first half or so really has nothing to do with WWII. This is told in dual POV: some chapters focus more on Marthe and what her life was like and the others focus on Solange, Marthe’s granddaughter, and her present-day life. The first half focused a lot more on Marthe’s life as a young woman and Solange getting to know her biological grandmother. Once we get further into the book, it begins to focus solely on Solange and her life in France at the beginning of WWII.

I have mixed feelings about this book. Really mixed feelings. For the first third or so, I seriously thought about DNFing it because I found it excruciatingly boring. It went on and on about Marthe being a married man’s mistress which, quite frankly, I found boring and uninteresting. However, the last half of this book was really, really good.

As horrible as it may sound, once things started getting hard for Marthe and once the war started affecting Solange’s life, I found things a lot more fascinating. I won’t go into too much detail because I want to avoid spoiling anything, but I like to see characters struggle. Without struggle, the characters fall flat and their lives just seem boring. I found the beginning boring because it really just seemed like the author was showing Marthe as this young woman whose only concern was keeping her man happy. Yawn. When things picked up and the war started to cause concern and make people nervous and other more general life problems occurred, I was a lot more interested in the story.

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I can’t write a review of this book without at least mentioning how wonderfully it handled questions of identity and relationships. Throughout the whole story, these are two very prominent themes. Solange’s father (and Marthe’s son) was adopted and Solange didn’t know that her mother was Jewish until recently, so we get to see her really struggle with understanding where in the world she fits in and who she fits in with. Should she consider herself half-Jewish even though she knows nothing about being Jewish? Will other people consider her Jewish? Is it okay for her to develop a relationship with Marthe, her biological grandmother, even though Marthe & Solange’s father have almost no relationship? These are all things we get to see Solange grapple with throughout the novel.

Speaking of adoption… this is where one of my major problems with the book comes into play. We find out within the first couple of pages that Solange’s father is adopted. Okay. When he finds out he’s 18 years old and is quite upset and bothered to find out that the people he has known as his parents for the past 18 years are not his biological parents. Okay, I can understand that. But then he meets his biological mother and they don’t get along well at all. There’s basically no connection there at all. But this doesn’t stop him from changing his last name because the one he’s been using his whole life is “fake.” And when he later has a daughter, he gives her the last name of the biological mother that he doesn’t like, instead of the adoptive mother who he seemed to have no problems with! This just seemed like such a negative portrayal of adoptive families to me. It seemed to really be furthering the stereotype that your adoptive family isn’t your “real” family and that your biological family is, no matter how much you do or don’t get along with them. It just really, really bothered me. And even though it doesn’t play a big role throughout the book, I couldn’t let it go.

One thing that I did really like though was that books play a huge role in the story. As an avid reader, I love when characters really like to read or when books are mentioned just casually in the novel. In The Velvet Hours, Solange loves to read and write and feels the most connected to her deceased mother when reading the books she left behind. We later meet some characters who run a bookstore and one character who restores old books. Basically, books play a huge role in the story and I couldn’t have been happier with that.

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This wasn’t a bad book by any means and once I got towards the end, I was really, really enjoying it. I just wish the beginning hadn’t been so slow. I’d still recommend giving this a shot if you like historical fiction and/or books that explore identity.


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