ARC Review: Nemesis by Anna Banks

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Published: October 4th, 2016 by Feiwel and Friends | Series: Book 1 in Nemesis duology | Length: 368 pages | Genre: YA, fantasy, romance | Source: I won an ARC in a Twitter giveaway from Anna Banks.

Amazon | B&N | Goodreads

Summary from Goodreads:

The princess didn’t expect to fall in love–with her nemesis.

Princess Sepora of Serubel is the last Forger in all the five kingdoms. The spectorium she creates provides energy for all, but now her father has found a way to weaponize it, and his intentions to incite war force her to flee from his grasp. She escapes across enemy lines into the kingdom of Theoria, but her plans to hide are thwarted when she is captured and placed in the young king’s servitude.

Tarik has just taken over rulership of Theoria, and must now face a new plague sweeping through his kingdom and killing his citizens. The last thing he needs is a troublesome servant vying for his attention. But mistress Sepora will not be ignored. When the two finally meet face-to-face, they form an unlikely bond that complicates life in ways neither of them could have imagined.

Sepora’s gift could save Tarik’s kingdom from the Quiet Plague. But should she trust her growing feelings for her nemesis, or should she hide her gifts at all costs?

Let me start off by saying that this book really had me hooked from the beginning. The book opens as Sepora is fleeing from her homeland, Serubel, in an attempt to escape cruel treatment at the hands of her father. Literally at the end of the chapter I was tearing up because Sepora had to say goodbye to her Defender Serpen, Nuna. I was just devastated that she had to leave her loyal Serpen behind. (Not to fear, though, the whole story did not have me quite as emotional.)

After that, the book wasn’t quite as captivating for a bit but it did pretty quickly pick back up. There’s a decent amount of chapters dedicated to Sepora actually getting into Theoria which I wasn’t super entertained by. It wasn’t boring and I didn’t even realize that I didn’t like it very much until I got to see her in Theoria and interacting with the king, Tarik. It was kind of a retrospective realization that her journey across the desert wasn’t as interesting.

With that said, I absolutely loved Tarik and Sepora, both as individuals and together. Tarik is a very kind and gentle king, the complete opposite of Sepora’s father. In fact, she’s so caught off guard by him that she’s constantly wondering if he’s faking his kindness in order to get her to trust him. This just made me really fall in love with Tarik. Sepora is so stubborn and brash that it would’ve been very easy for him to be mean or harsh with her, but he’s not. He’s forgiving and understanding.

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As I mentioned, Sepora is really stubborn. I think a lot of it stems from her desire to be independent. Her whole life she’s been used as a tool for the profit of Serubel and her father, so she really wants to break away from that and be in charge of her own life. I think this is something that a lot of readers will be able to relate to. Who hasn’t felt the desire to have more control over their life? Her independence was really something that I thoroughly enjoyed and was very thankful for. Even when she starts to develop feelings for Tarik, she’s still thinking first and foremost of being in charge of her own life. To see a female character who has that really strong desire for independence and for her to be really adamant in keeping that independence was really great to see.

As a pair (not necessarily romantically, but even as friends), Tarik and Sepora are great together and complement each other really well. Sepora is a bit reckless and doesn’t really think things through before she acts on them. She acts and deals with the consequences after. Tarik is the complete opposite. He explores every option, takes a very logical approach to things, and really thinks things through before deciding on a course of action. I liked how well they balanced each other and liked seeing their two different approaches clash and cause some conflict between them.

 

I also loved the magic in this book and kind of wish we got to see more of it. Sepora is a Forger, capable of creating a very powerful element, spectorium. I can’t remember ever reading a book or watching a movie or anything that had something like that in it. I definitely appreciated the uniqueness of that particular magical ability. Tarik is a Lingot, able to discern whether someone speaks the truth or is lying. I generally don’t like to compare books when I’m reviewing them, but this was really everything I had kind of been expecting and hoping for with Truthwitch. Tarik relies on his ability as a Lingot in many ways. It’s not seen as unreliable or untrustworthy. What I really liked about Tarik being a Lingot is that he uses it to allow him to get to know Sepora. Even when he knows she’s lying to him, rather than demand the truth from her, he kind of tries to figure out why she’d be lying. This isn’t always the case, but I think it showed a certain level of respect for her privacy and with his abilities, it would have been easy to disregard her desire to keep certain things to herself.

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Going back to Sepora’s independence for a minute… I really enjoyed seeing her struggle with wanting to make sure she stays in control of her life and independent, but also struggling with knowing that she could be helping people. Her ability as a Forger makes her capable of helping struggling Theorians. Yet she knows from personal experience that she can be taken advantage of. Her father forced her to Forge constantly so that he could profit off her spectorium. She wants to avoid being taken advantage of while also wanting to help people. Seeing that internal struggle was fascinating.

The one thing that I’m not quite sure how to feel about was the way in which women are thought of by the people in the story. For example, Tarik has a harem as king and although he thinks the idea of a harem is ridiculous, it’s still seen as this great honor to be a part of it. When Tarik mentions getting rid of the harem, the idea is totally preposterous. Women in Theoria can be captured and sold. Theorian tradition has a lot of really sexist stuff going on. On the same token, women aren’t prohibited from doing things. It’s mentioned that Tarik’s top architect is a woman and you do see women in other relatively important roles. Sepora is treated with great respect by pretty much everyone in Theoria. So it’s not that women are only seen as sexual objects, but it still didn’t sit quite right with me at times. On the one hand, it was kind of a great reflection of our own society where women are capable of attaining power or high positions (although not as easily or commonly as men), but they’re also very sexualized. If Banks’ intention was to reflect our own society, she did a great job. If it wasn’t, well… it would have been nice to see women viewed a bit more respectfully. I’m choosing to go with the former explanation.😉

Nemesis was a really enjoyable book. The world, including its magic, was very interesting. Sepora and Tarik are incredibly fascinating characters (as are some of the side characters). There’s a really intriguing plot to go alongside all of this as well. Basically, this was an incredibly enjoyable book and I can’t wait to read book 2 (do I really have to wait?!) and see what’s next for Sepora and Tarik. If you’re looking for a good fantasy book and want (or at the very least, don’t mind) some romance to go along with it, I’d highly recommend checking out Nemesis when it releases on the 4th.


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The Reader Confessions Tag

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I was tagged about a month ago for this tag by Romana @ A Book Nerd. Thank you so much for tagging me! Now let’s get into it.🙂

1. Have you ever damaged a book?

Not on purpose, but yes. I’ve ripped a few pages and bent some covers. It happens.😛

2. Have you ever damaged a borrowed book?

I’m not really sure about this. I do have a tendency to make tiny tears on the bottom of pages when I’m flipping them (I do this a lot, not really sure why), so I’ve probably done that with a library book before. But I don’t remember any specific times when it happened.

3. How long does it take you to read a book?

It depends on the book and what’s going on in school (in other words, how much free time I have). Generally, I’d say around 4-5 days but it can take more, can take less. It also depends on the length of the book which is kind of obvious.

4. Books you haven’t finished?

I don’t often DNF books so this is a short list. The only one I can actually think of at the moment is Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz. I’ve had this book for years and I think I actually started reading it twice and then stopped both times. I’m not even sure why. I don’t think it was because I didn’t like it. I think I just… stopped? One of these days I may get through the whole thing haha

5. Hyped/popular books you didn’t like?

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard. I had such high hopes for that book because it looked so good and I’d seen so many people rave about it. But I was so disappointed. The writing seemed all over the place as if the author couldn’t really decide what it was she wanted to do, especially with the magic system. I also had a really hard time separating Iseult and Safi which made it confusing at times.

6. Is there a book you wouldn’t tell anyone you were reading?

I generally don’t get embarrassed by what I’m reading, so nothing comes to mind. The only thing I can think of is if I were reading erotica, but let’s be real, that will probably never happen hahaha (Not that I have anything against those who do read erotica. It just makes me feel super awkward reading sex scenes.)

7. How many books do you own?

I honestly have no idea. I have some books catalogued on Goodreads and that’s around 150 books. I know I have more books that aren’t catalogued than are, so I’m going to guess around 350. Not including ebooks which would put that number up a LOT.

8. Are you a fast or slow reader?

On book blogger standards, I’m a pretty slow reader. I read 1-2 books a week which is still a decent number of books, in my opinion. But yeah I wouldn’t consider myself a fast reader at all.

9. Do you like to buddy read?

I’ve never done a buddy read but I’d love to try it. I can see it going one of two ways. I’d either love having someone to gush about the book with or I’d feel pressured to read more because they’d probably get through it faster than I would and I’d feel bad.😛

10. Do you read better in your head or aloud?

I think this depends on what we mean by “read better.” In terms of speed, I’m faster in my head. But I pay better attention to what I’m reading if I’m reading aloud and am better able to absorb what’s going on.

11. If you were only allowed one book, what would it be and why?

THIS SO CRUEL. D: I’ll go with The Hunger Games. Because I love Katniss and I’d be 100% okay with rereading THG multiple times in my life.

I’m going to tag a couple of my more recent followers. If you don’t want to do this or have already done it before, feel free to ignore it.🙂

Birdie Bookworm

Amanda Writes

The Nerdy Novelty


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Review of Tastes of Paradise by Wolfgang Schivelbusch

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Published: June 29, 1993 by Vintage | Series: N/A | Length: 237 pages | Genre: Nonfiction, History | Source: Bought

Amazon | B&N | Goodreads

Summary from Goodreads:

From the extravagant use of pepper in the Middle Ages to the Protestant bourgeoisie’s love of coffee to the reason why fashionable Europeans stopped sniffing tobacco and starting smoking it, Schivelbusch looks at how the appetite for pleasure transformed the social structure of the Old World.

In Tastes of Paradise, Schivelbusch takes us through the history of some of the most popular mainstream drugs, specifically tobacco, alcohol, tea (to some extent), opium (very briefly), coffee, and chocolate. He basically talks about how these substances were first introduced to Europe and then how they became very popular and how they affected the social structure. This is very much a social history of the substances. It doesn’t really talk about the substances themselves, but rather their social importance in European culture.

I have to say, I’m really glad that I ended up having to read this for one of my classes this semester because I don’t think I ever would have come across it otherwise. This is a short book but it tells you quite a lot. I particularly loved reading the parts about coffee because I’m a bit of a coffee addict now and it was interesting to see how it started off as this very exotic drink only for the upper class and then turned into what it is now: a very common, cheap drink that many people have every single day.

What I enjoyed most about this was definitely seeing the differences in class when it came to these substances. Every one of them started off as something for the upper class to enjoy and to use as a symbol of their status and wealth. But slowly it expanded to the middle class who liked to use the substances to emulate the wealth of the upper class and then eventually also to the working class as it became available to them. Not only do you see a difference in availability, but you see how this difference changes desirability (after all, what rich person wants something that a poor person can have?) and also differences in consumption. It was really fascinating to see how with some substances, how you consumed it was more important for the upper class than the substance itself.

The reason I gave this four instead of five stars was because although the content itself was really interesting, Schivelbusch’s writing could be a bit dry at times. For the most part, everything is told in a very narrative way so that it doesn’t really feel like a history book, but there were parts where I got bored because he would kind of start talking in a way that really made it difficult to stay interested in what he was saying.

I liked the few parts that talked about how x substance had created this huge new social space. This was mostly with alcohol and coffee, as with those substances we see taverns and coffeehouses and the like. These sections were interesting because you don’t realize how important these areas were for people to get together and talk politics or something like that. Just getting to see how important these social spaces were and how they all revolved around a particular substance was fascinating.

One last thing that I definitely have to mention is how awesome the pictures were in this book. I’ll say that even though the book is technically 237 pages, it’s probably actually about half that length because a lot of those pages are pictures. I really liked glimpsing at these because you got to see how certain substances were depicted at different times. Schivelbusch does a great job of including pictures that really represent the popular opinion surrounding alcohol, tobacco, coffee, etc. Some of my favorites were the ones that were trying to convince people that alcohol is the enemy and is going to destroy you because the ways that people who drink were depicted were incredibly amusing.

Like I already mentioned, I’m really glad that I had the chance to read this. This is definitely a good book to read if you have any interest in history or in how substances like coffee and alcohol came to be popular or how they transformed cultures.


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Please Stop Lecturing Me About Amazon

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People love to try to convince others to do the same things we do. I’ve seen this with so many different people for so long. The biggest one I notice in the bookish community is trying to get people to shop in local indies (or really any local brick-and-mortar bookstore) rather than buying books through Amazon or B&N’s website.

What I’ve also noticed is that a lot of the time this goes from someone trying to encourage a certain behavior to lecturing you because you don’t agree with them or don’t want to change what you’re doing or can’t change what you’re doing. It gets really tiring really quickly.

Here’s the thing. I get that physical bookstores are struggling. I get that Amazon is taking over the market and also has some less-than-stellar business practices. I GET IT. And I agree with you, at least on a theoretical level, that people should do what they can to support local stores that are struggling to stay in business over a multi-billion dollar company that really doesn’t need your support.

But for me, this is not always a feasible option. I don’t have a lot of money. I’m a college student drowning in student debt. If I can get a book on Amazon for $8 that I would have to pay $18 for in an indie store, I’m going to get it for $8.

When people lecture me and tell me that I’m not a “good” bookworm because I buy a lot of my books from Amazon (or from B&N’s website which is considerably cheaper than their physical stores), it just makes me feel guilty. I’d love to be able to pay list price for every book, but I can’t. And you’re putting the faults of the entire system of capitalism onto my shoulders.

The other issue with this is that not everyone has a local bookstore to support! If you live in a city, you may have plenty of bookstores near you. But people in smaller towns or suburbs or rural areas often don’t have that luxury. There are people who have to drive an hour or longer just to get to a bookstore. Are you suggesting that they shouldn’t be able to get books in a way that’s more convenient and less of a hassle for them?

I understand that you’re trying to help stores that you love and want to see succeed. By all means, continue to support these stores. And feel free to encourage (The key word here is encourage. Not lecture.) people to do the same. But please, I am begging you, stop making people feel guilty for going for cheaper or more accessible options.

Does it annoy you when people lecture you on where you buy your books?


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WWW Wednesday (9/21)

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Hello everyone! WWW Wednesday is a meme currently hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s very simple – answer the three questions and leave a link on Sam’s post.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

27414431I’m finally (!!!) reading Nemesis by Anna Banks. I won a Twitter giveaway that Anna had MONTHS ago and it took awhile for me to get the ARC. But I got it back in July I think and was waiting until closer to the release to read it. I’m a little under halfway through it now and am really, really enjoying it. I really like both Sepora and Tarik which is nice, since I for some reason was not expecting to like both of them. I’m hoping to finish this in the next couple of days.

What did you recently finish reading?

28365348Since last week’s post, I finished one book: Revenants: The Odyssey Home by Scott Kauffman. It was an alright book, but wasn’t quite as suspenseful and mysterious as I had been expecting. My review is up if you want to check it out.

What do you think you’ll read next?

23157773So many choices! Because of release dates, I’ll probably be reading Untitled Beauty by C.E. Wilson next. It’s the first book in a new series by her and it comes out October 13th. It looks really good so I’m quite excited to get to it.🙂 After that, I have no idea! I have a few more ARCs with upcoming releases and have some new books that I bought to check out too so I’m not sure which I’ll choose first.

 

What have you guys been reading? Answer below or link me to your WWW Wednesday post!


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Top Ten Audiobooks I Want to Listen to

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly themed post hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Each week features a different theme/prompt for which you come up with a list of 10 books. This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is supposed to be anything related to TV. Since I try to only post about books, I wanted to also tie this theme into books. As a result, I’ve come up with a list of TV shows that are based on books that I want to watch (after I read the books, of course).

I was never the type of person who listened to audiobooks. Never. But once I realized that I could borrow them from my library and then listen to them on my phone, I decided to give them a try. After all, I spend a lot of time walking everywhere while I’m at school, so why not turn that time into reading (er, listening) time? I’ll admit I have been having trouble finishing them on time… but I still have some that I want to try listening to. All the ones I’m listing are audiobooks that are actually available from my library so I wouldn’t need to pay for them.😉

All the links below will take you to Goodreads!

Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

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I’ve heard really great things about this book and I’ve also heard it works really well as an audiobook because the book itself is quite dialogue heavy. And it’s narrated by Lin-Manuel Miranda who I’ve heard does a great job narrating it (would you expect anything else?). Plenty of reasons to give this one a shot.

Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

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The rest of these aren’t going to be on the list because I’ve heard anything in particular about the audiobook; they’re here because I want to read the book and I happen to be able to download the audiobook from the library.

This makes the list because I read Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy and it quickly became one of my favorites, so I want to read all her work – both stuff that’s already out and any future releases from her.

The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins

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I remember seeing this everywhere for a couple of weeks when it first came out and then it kind of… disappeared. I haven’t seen anyone mention it in quite awhile. I’d still like to give it a shot, maybe as an audiobook, maybe in physical form.

Ivory and Bone by Julie Eshbaugh

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I remember a lot of people being disappointed with this book, not because it was a bad book, but because it was marketed as fantasy and people felt it didn’t have a lot of fantasy elements and was more just historical fiction. I love historical fiction though (and fantasy) so either way, this sounds good to me.

The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye

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This is one that I know a lot of people were really excited for and then were disappointed by. I’m hoping going into this with lower expectations will make it more enjoyable. I don’t remember the exact complaints, but maybe listening to it rather than reading it will bring something to it too.

Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes

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This is one that I’ve had the opportunity to read several times and just… haven’t. I’m not sure why, exactly. Recently I’ve seen some people say that it was quite boring and that they didn’t like it. I still want to give it a shot though. Eventually.

Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Pérez

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This is a YA historical fiction romance based on 1937 New London school explosion which I honestly had not heard about before coming across this book. It seems like I could learn something (maybe?) from this book plus have a great story.

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

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This is a pretty popular collection of essays written by a woman of color about feminism and her own identity and experiences and is also apparently quite funny. What’s not to love?

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

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I remember seeing this everywhere for a couple of weeks and I don’t think I saw a single negative review of it. It sounds really good too and I’ve been in the mood for thrillers/mysteries lately, so I may have to try this out on audio.

I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid

 

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I’ve seen a few really positive reviews for this book too and again, I’ve been in the mood for mysteries/thrillers so it seems like a good choice for me. And I actually want to read this one so badly that I just put the audiobook on hold.🙂 Although there are 3 people ahead of me on the hold list, so it may take a few weeks to get it.

Have you read (or listened to) any of these? What other audiobooks would you recommend?


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Musing Mondays (9/19)

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Wow, it’s been awhile since I did one of these posts! I had some stuff that I wanted to share with you all this week though so I thought this would be a good way to do it, since nothing really warranted its own post haha

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme hosted by Books and a Beat where you answer one of the following prompts in addition to the weekly question:

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…

I bought the following book(s) in the past week…

I didn’t buy this book, but got it on NetGalley. Drum roll please… HEARTLESS BY MARISSA MEYER! Holy crap! You couldn’t technically “request” the book, you could only wish for it. Basically meaning that whether you got it or not was completely random (I think that’s what that means… I’m not too sure actually). And honestly, I think that’s the only reason I did get it hahaha I was so surprised and excited to see an email that I had gotten this one! I know a lot of people are excited for it to release. It comes out early November, so I’ll probably read it at the beginning of October. I wish I could read it right now, but I’ve got other books that I need to read first.

I also ended up getting a 20% off one item coupon from Barnes and Noble so I bought Jane Goodall’s Through a Window, which is a book she wrote about her experiences studying chimpanzees. I’ve been wanting to read one of Jane Goodall’s books for awhile now (she has several) and this semester I have to actually read a book about a primatologist’s experiences and we could choose whichever book we wanted, so I’m going to be reading this one! My written assignment is due towards the end of November so I’ll be reading this either in October or the beginning of November.

But wait! I have more!

I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…

Two things: first of all, after discovering that there’s a library branch right on the same street I work on and that, despite being an out-of-state resident, I can get a card because I’m a college student in the state, I’m going to be going to get a library card today (assuming all goes well…)! Woohoo! At first, I wasn’t really sure if I should since I always tend to go overboard at the library and then neglect my own books (this summer was proof of that). But a very formal and official Twitter poll was unanimous in saying that I should get a card. I’m really excited because I mean… who doesn’t love being able to get books for free?

Secondly, I did my first guest post last week! Fidan over at The Reader Fidan contacted me and asked if I would want to do a guest post on her blog, so I ended up putting together a list of the reasons why I wish I could be a Hogwarts student. This went up about a week ago, but head over and check it out if you want.🙂

That’s all for my stuff. Onto this week’s question!

This week’s question is: Write out a description of your life, as if it were a book’s description.

This should be interesting…

When Kourtni starts a blog dedicated to books, she never expects it will take over her life. Between writing posts and visiting other blogs, she has little time for anything else. Many posts and several months later, she has to try to balance school and blogging. Which one will win?

Wow, my life is so exciting. It’s true though – blogging has taken over my life (in the best possible way). I got into a certain rhythm over the summer balancing everything and now that I’m back at school, it’s gotten tough to keep on it all.😛  And wow, do my creative writing skills need some work hahaha


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3 Book Subscriptions I’d Like To Try

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Over the summer, I had some extra money and was luckily able to subscribe to OwlCrate. OwlCrate is a really popular YA book subscription service and I honestly really loved getting that box every month and seeing what awesome goodies it had inside. Now that I’m back in school though I’m not working as much, so I had to cancel my subscription for now. I decided to put together a list of some other book subscriptions that look good and that I’d like to try in the future just to kind of see what’s out there and maybe get some feedback from any of you who may have tried these boxes.🙂

Uppercase

My plan for over the summer was actually to get OwlCrate for April & May and then switch over to Uppercase for June, July, and August. I ended up liking OwlCrate so much that I didn’t bother, but I’d still love to get Uppercase. At first, I wanted to switch to this one because it’s cheaper but it also just looks like a great box. I like that you can choose whether to get just the book or to get the swag too.

Book of the Month

This is honestly the one that I would try out first out of all of these. I may actually see if I can do this while I’m in school because there are some really great discount codes that I’ve seen floating around.🙂 What I really like about this box is that you get to choose what book you receive (out of a group of pre-selected books). And if none of the books they have available for that month sound interesting to you, you can skip it. So you never have to worry about getting a book you don’t want. The only downside (depending on how you look at it) is that you don’t get any swag, just the book (I don’t think – correct me if I’m wrong). Another great thing about this subscription? FREE SHIPPING. Hallelujah.

FairyLoot

I’m honestly doubtful that I’d ever pay for this since it’s not based in the US and the shipping is incredibly expensive ($18!). But I’ve heard a lot of great things from subscribers and looking at their past boxes, it looks like you get quite a bit of stuff each month – plus, of course, a shiny new book.🙂 If I ever have the money, this would be a fantastic box to try out.

Have you gotten any of these subscription boxes before? What’d you think? Are there any that you’d like to try out?


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Review of Revenants: The Odyssey Home by Scott Kauffman

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Published: December 23rd, 2015 by Moonshine Cove Publishing | Series: N/A | Length: 306 pages | Genre: YA, historical fiction | Source: I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Amazon | B&N | Goodreads

Summary from Goodreads:

ONLY BETSY CAN GET HIM HOME IN TIME; ONLY HE CAN BRING HER BACK BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE.

A grief-stricken candy-striper serving in a VA hospital following her brother’s death in Viet Nam struggles to return home an anonymous veteran of the Great War against the skullduggery of a congressman who not only controls the hospital as part of his small-town fiefdom but knows the name of her veteran. A name if revealed would end his political ambitions and his fifty-year marriage. In its retelling of Odysseus’ journey, Revenants casts a flickering candle upon the charon toll exacted not only from the families of those who fail to return home but of those who do.

First of all, a big thank you to Scott Kauffman for sending me a copy of his book to read and review. Sorry it’s taken me so long to get to!

This book centers on Betsy, a young girl who lost her older brother in the Vietnam War and is now attempting to deal with her grief by working at a VA hospital, where she finds a hidden patient who fought in WWI.

This is proving to be a difficult book to review because I have so many mixed thoughts on it.

Overall, it was a good book. The two strongest points I think were that the plot was quite interesting and the characters were really well-written and well-developed. I especially liked the veteran characters because I think Kauffman did a great job making readers aware of the atrocities and injuries that veterans face. You really get a sense of how war affects their lives – both when they’re fighting in the war and when they’re back home to deal with the remnants.

The main problem I had with this and that I think did stop me from enjoying it as much as I would have was the mystery and suspense aspect of the book. Reading the synopsis, I felt like learning about this mysterious hidden patient was going to have me on the edge of my seat, frantically flipping pages, trying to figure out who he was before it was too late. But I didn’t feel that way about him. Maybe I’m terrible for thinking this way (let’s face it, I probably am), but because the patient was described as being SO close to dying, I just didn’t care if he got home to his family at all. I kind of felt like there was no point because, by the time he got reunited with them, he would die. Just as I was starting to feel invested in the mystery, we found out who he was and what his connection to this evil congressman was. So as the mystery started, it promptly ended.

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This brings me to another thing. The congressman was not nearly as threatening as I had hoped for. Again, the synopsis made it seem like it was super important for Betsy to keep her investigating secretive because if the congressman found it, it was game over. But in the book, every time the idea of the congressman founding out was brought up, it wasn’t in a “Betsy, you’re in danger” kind of way, but rather in a “the congressman will move the patient somewhere we can’t find him” way. This brings me back to the issue of not really caring if the patient got home – I didn’t, so I also didn’t care if the congressman sent him somewhere. He was sleazy for sure, but he missed the personality that would have truly made him feel like a villain.

Other than those things, though, this was a quite good book. There were some errors (my favorite: Betsy being called sweat pea instead of the much more endearing term, sweet pea), but I personally didn’t care all that much.

Like I mentioned, the characters were really great. I liked seeing Betsy’s development especially. We see her go from this very grief-stricken, depressed teenage girl to someone who is throwing herself into research that she’s not even sure will turn up any actual information, all to help get this man home to his family (if he even has any living family). There was definitely a lot of character development with her that I enjoyed watching.

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I also liked the few flashback scenes we got with Betsy and her brother, Nate. I actually kind of wish there had been more, just because I love reading about sibling relationships and I’m greedy haha Seeing the relationship they shared was nice and it helped you as a reader to understand just how devastating his death was for her.

One more thing that I really liked was how the book hints at the political corruption and greed that often is behind wars. It doesn’t delve into it much, but the veterans in the hospital make some comments about it. Even if it was just a few passing comments here and there, I still liked that it was brought up.

Just a quick note with a few trigger warnings for anyone who may need them. This obviously deals with some tough and violent topics. If you’re upset by violence or by war, I’d reconsider picking this up. Because a lot of the characters are veterans or people who lost family members in the war, there’s also mental health topics that are touched on, including suicide. So again, if that’s something that may be upsetting or triggering for you, reconsider reading this.

All in all, Scott Kauffman did a good job of crafting a believable and interesting novel that touches on the effects war has on soldiers. Where the book fell short was in its mystery and suspense regarding the patient that’s been hidden away in the hospital’s attic. This is still a good historical fiction novel though and if it sounds like something you might enjoy, I’d recommend giving it a try.


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The Liebster Award (#2)

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I did the Liebster Award a few months ago, but was tagged for it again by Melissa @ booknerdmomo and since I’ve gained a lot of followers since the last time I did it, I decided that I’ll go ahead and do it a second time.🙂 Plus the questions this round will be different anyway, since I was tagged by another person. Thanks for tagging me, Melissa!

Just as a side note… I have a little over 200 followers now that I waited so long to do this hahaha But I’m doing it anyway!

  • liebster-award-nominationAcknowledge the blog that nominated you and display the award.
  • Answer the 11 questions that the blog gives you.
  • Give 11 random facts about yourself.
  • Nominate 5-11 blogs that you think are deserving of the award that have less than 200 followers.
  • Let the blogs know you have nominated them
  • Give them 11 questions to answer.

 

What’s your favorite genre and why?

This is hard to answer because I kind of go through different phases of having a favorite genre. Right now, I think it might be historical fiction or thrillers. I’ve always been a fan of historical fiction, but I feel like I’ve been really into recently. As for thrillers, I’ve read very few but I’ve been craving them for the past few weeks.

What female character do you admire the most?

THIS IS SO HARD. To avoid having to make any real decision, I’m going to be a bit cliche and say Hermione. She’s so dedicated to her studies (she doesn’t let Ron and Harry sidetrack her) and she’s also a complete badass. Seriously, Ron and Harry wouldn’t have made it out of Hogwarts alive if it weren’t for her.

Who is your favorite author?

This may sound kind of weird, but I don’t know if I actually have one. I don’t pay a whole lot of attention to authors. I pay more attention to genre. But some authors whose books I have enjoyed a lot are Veronica Roth (so excited for Carve the Mark btw!), Jodi Picoult, and Ellen Hopkins.

What is your all time favorite quote? Why?

Are we talking just quotes from books? Or any quote? I’ll go with a book quote. This is another thing I don’t pay a ton of attention to. Well I guess I kind of do now since I try to include 1-2 quotes in my book reviews. But anyway.

I could probably pull about a hundred quotes from Harry Potter, but I have a soft spot for this one: “If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.” It’s just so damn true. How you treat people who are seen as inferior to you says everything about what kind of person you are.

What is your favorite thing about a bookstore? Besides the books.

I think just knowing that I’m surrounded by people who love books! Most of the people I know in real life don’t really like to read (not that I really care; to each their own) so it’s nice to be around people who do.

What is your favorite song at the moment?

I’m going to go with Never Be Like You by Flume featuring Kai. I have had this song stuck in my head for over a week because I just love it.

Which book do you feel like you have a completely different opinion that isn’t the opinion most people have of it?

Allegiant by Veronica Roth! Such an easy question hahaha I loved this book! I thought the ending was perfect and made a lot of sense, despite how heartbreaking it was.

Which movie adaptation of a book have you seen but haven’t read the book for?

The Help. I bought the book a month or two ago at a thrift shop because I actually really love the movie and so I want to read the book. I’ve also seen The Time-Traveler’s Wife but haven’t read it, although I may some day.

What’s your current favorite tv show?

You’re killing me with these difficult questions hahaha Parks and Recreation will always be my #1, even though it ended. As for shows that are still going, I’d probably go with either Once Upon a Time, Criminal Minds, or How To Get Away With Murder.

If you could only read one book for the rest of your life what book would that be?

I’m at a complete loss here. Only one book for the rest of my life?! I just can’t choose one.

What is your favorite thing about blogging?

100% my favorite thing is getting to talk to so many people about books! Like I mentioned before, not many people I know in real life like to read so having this community to talk to people who not only like to read, but also like to read similar books as I do, is really great.

Those were tough questions! Holy crap. Onto facts about me which will not be any easier haha

  1. I go to school at Boston University (does this even count as a random fact? I think this is right on my about page. Too bad.).
  2. I have an obsession with primates. I love them. Jane Goodall has lived my ideal life.
  3. This is really embarrassing and I can’t believe I’m actually putting this on my blog but I am also obsessed with the game Style Savvy: Trendsetters and its sequel Style Savvy: Fashion Forward. I’m pretty sure they’re meant for like 10-year-olds but I DON’T CARE. They’re so fun.
  4. I’m trying to get into audiobooks right now. I’ve never listened to them before, but I figured why not start? I do a lot of walking while I’m at school, so it’s the perfect time to listen to a book.
  5. Over the summer, I became completely addicted to coffee. I used to drink it maybe once a week and now I have at least a cup a day, often 2.
  6. I’m already starting to put together reading goals for 2017. The main one I have so far is trying to read more diversely. That’s a really vague/broad goal, though, so I’m going to try to split it up into smaller, more specific ones.
  7. I kind of want to start a bullet journal, mainly for reading/blogging purposes, but I have no idea if I’d stick with it past 2 days.
  8. I met Ed Sheeran back in 2013. He’s seriously one of the nicest people I’ve ever met in my life. (I’m pretty sure I’ve used this fact before because I love to brag about this ;))
  9. I have a problem when it comes to buying pens. I can’t stop myself. I probably have enough pens to last me the rest of my life buy I keep buying more. (Same thing with books, but that’s a bit predictable, isn’t it?)
  10. I’m a sucker for oversized sweaters. I firmly believe there is nothing more comfortable.
  11. I’d love to one day publish a book, but every time I’ve tried to write one, I’ve gotten around 500 words in and then abandoned it. Oops.

I’m so bad at coming up with facts about myself! This took me like half an hour hahaha

Okay now for my questions for my nominees:

  1. What’s the last book that you bought?
  2. 2016 only has a few months left. What’s your most anticipated book release for the rest of the year?
  3. If you could require everyone to read one book, which would it be?
  4. What has been the most challenging part of blogging for you?
  5. If you could have lunch with any character, who would you choose?
  6. How often do you DNF books?
  7. Where do you buy most of your books?
  8. Would you ever get a book-themed tattoo?
  9. If you could sign up to receive all future releases from one author for free, which author would you choose?
  10. Do you read mostly new releases, backlist books, or a mix of both?
  11. What’s one book written by or featuring a PoC that you want to read? (This can be already out or an upcoming release!)

And finally, my nominees. I’m only going to tag a couple. Now I have NO idea who has under 200 followers. So if you have more than that and I tag you, please don’t be offended haha And if you’ve already done this or don’t want to do it, no hard feelings!🙂

  1. Sam @ One Bookish Girl
  2. Ali @ Devouring Books & Lattes
  3. M @ M Reads Books

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