Tuesday, February 28, 2017

February 2017 Wrap Up

This seemed to be a pretty good reading month for me. I read 6 fiction novels, one graphic novel, and two non-fiction. A lot of them were pretty short and the two longest books were quick reads because of their formatting so I don't feel like it's a huge accomplishment but I did cross quite a few off my 2017 TBR. Hopefully next month will be just as good or better! 

Books I Read:

Total Pages Read This Month: 

Reviews & More

Open Giveaways

Challenge Updates

I just realized that I can't remember if this challenge is for books on your TBR in general or if it's books on your TBR that you actually own. I'm just going to count books from my shelves from before 2017. 

1. Gemina
2. The Exile

Total: 7/40

1. Jorie and the Magic Stones
2. Ever the Hunted

Total: 6/25

10/26 books

How many books did you read this month? I'd love to hear what your favorite read of the month was! 

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Sunday Post #53 - The Bergens are coming! Aaaahhh!

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer
It's a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog and showcase books and things you received, share news about what is coming up on your blog for the week ahead, and more.

This week has been a bit testing. My hubby took a few days off work to build us a shed and it rained all three days but was bright and sunny as soon as he went to work. The toddler and I were stuck inside most of the week but we finally got out today and did some gardening. We harvested lots of broccoli yesterday and started lots of seeds for summer. I was able to get quite a bit of reading done but not as much blogging as I would have liked. The downside to my week (other than the neighbor chopping down the majority of our shade trees) was the movie Trolls. There's just sooo much singing and I'm already so over that movie but it's all the lovebug wants to watch now. 

New To My Shelves

I made a thrift store run this week and found a few good books.
The Story Garden was a Goodreads giveaway win. I love it. It's illustrated and has great tips for propagation and stuff which is great because that's one of the big things I'm working on this year; making more plants out of what I already have. :)

What You Might Have Missed
I shared a Book Blast & Giveaway for The Rise of Miss Notley by Rachael Anderson  as well as my Can't Wait Wednesday.
I posted two quick reviews of non-fiction books for Black History Month. I also reviewed Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill, which I liked but didn't love. Last of all, I shared some of the March new releases I'm looking forward to. 

Books I Finished This Week

Currently Reading

Currently Watching

Santa Clarita Diet on Netflix
Suburban Zombie Mom. It's a little funny. I've always loved Drew Barrymore so I gave it a chance. Not too impressed though. 

What I'm Listening To

Followed By Ghosts - A New Dawn
I'm not sure if this is the right version so I might come back and 
switch this up. 

Have a great week, everyone! :)

March 2017 Most Anticipated Releases

Another great month full of great new books! Here are a few that I'm really looking forward to! 

March 7th

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco - (Young Adult) This one is about a girl who accidentally raises her brother from the dead! 

March 14th

Hunted by Meagan Spooner - (Young Adult) This sounds like a fantastic Beauty and the Beast retelling! 

March 21st

Shadow Run by AdriAnne Strickland & Michael Miller - (Young Adult) This science fiction novel is marketed as Firefly meets Dune. That sounds awesome and I definitely need more science fiction to read.

March 28th

Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves - (Young Adult) fantasy
The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi - (Middle Grade) An action-packed steampunk version of Jumanji
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor - (Young Adult) This one has been hyped up a lot for the past year, I'm guessing because everyone loved this author's other books but I haven't read them yet. I have a sample copy of this somewhere so I'm going to go dig it up and read it to see if I really am interested.

What March releases are you looking forward to?

Friday, February 24, 2017

Book Review: Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill

Title: Ever the Hunted 
Author: Erin Summerill
Series: Clash of Kingdoms #1
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: December 27, 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Length: 392 pages
Format: Hardcover
Source: Borrowed

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

Seventeen-year-old Britta Flannery is at ease only in the woods with her dagger and bow. She spends her days tracking criminals alongside her father, the legendary bounty hunter for the King of Malam--that is, until father is murdered. Now outcast and alone and having no rights to her father's land or inheritance, she seeks refuge where she feels most safe: the Ever Woods. When Britta is caught poaching by the royal guard, instead of facing the noose she is offered a deal: her freedom in exchange for her father's killer.

However, it's not so simple.

The alleged killer is none other than Cohen McKay, her father's former apprentice. The only friend she's ever known. The boy she once loved who broke her heart. She must go on a dangerous quest in a world of warring kingdoms, mad kings, and dark magic to find the real killer. But Britta wields more power than she knows. And soon she will learn what has always made her different will make her a daunting and dangerous force. 

My Thoughts: 
Britta Flannery was raised to hunt and track alongside her father's apprentice, Cohen. They were great friends but then he left to work for the king and never came back. When her father was murdered there was no one left to care for her so she did what she did best, and was caught poaching. Rather than hang her right away, she is asked to track her father's murderer; Cohen, the boy who stole her heart.

This book had a lot of potential but ultimately fell flat for me.

First, let's talk about the things I liked.
We start out with a strong character who knows how to hunt and track. She seems to be a strong female character. She eventually finds out that she has magical abilities other than her ability to tell when someone is lying or telling the truth. So, magic. Yay magic!

There's this underlying 'coming war' between the country she grew up in, Malam, and the neighboring country, Shaerdan, where her mother came from. Shaerdan is a land full of 'Channelers' and 'Spiriters' who have different powers pertaining to the five elements. 

Eventually, and this may be a little spoiler-y but, Britta ends up running all over the country with Cohen, the boy she loves who supposedly killed her father but she believes that he didn't so they are on the run. Anyway, they tease each other constantly. The word 'teased' is used sooo much that I have to make a point of it. Cohen teases her, she teases back, and then she shuts down and pushes him out. And then it happens all over again. They have a history but Britta can't accept that he would care for her so she shuts him down every single time for every little thing. And then the part that really bothers me; she puts on a dress and he's all over her and she finally accepts it. As if wearing a dress was the only reason they finally accept each other's attentions. It's no longer teasing because she's no longer dressed like a boy. Ugh. I liked that there was a little bit of romance in this and that it wasn't entirely insta-love between strangers but it was also kind of irritating. 

There were some slow parts. 'Traveling' can quite often be boring in literature. Most of this book was traveling and no, it wasn't all boring. There were plenty of twists and plot turns to keep it interesting, but at the end I felt like most of it was just traveling. I felt like descriptions were lacking considering this is a unique world. If there had been a bit more of something other than just a little talk of 'Channelers' and 'Spiriters', I might have been more interested. 

The ending was... odd. I'm not entirely sure what to make of it. It leaves me with many questions so I'll be keeping an eye out for a sequel. I have a feeling it will be quite different so I'd like to see if Britta and Cohen's story gets better or worse.

My Rating: 3.75

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The March Against Fear & Shackles From the Deep (Black History Month Non-fiction Book Reviews)

Many thanks to National Geographic for providing copies of these books in exchange for an honest review.

The March Against Fear by Ann Bausum
Published on January 3, 2017 by National Geographic Society

The March Against Fear highlights the last great walk of the civil rights movement and the emergence of black power. 
Beginning with the story of James Meredith, who fought for his right to attend Ole Miss, which at the time was one of the most revered all-white universities. By the time he graduated from Ole Miss, movement leaders had started the historic march on Washington.
Ann Bausum has put together a harrowing account of the 1966 march from Memphis, Tennessee to Jackson, Mississippi. What started as a modest effort grew to a momentous movement, amidst opposition from nearly all sides. 
Full of photos and quotes, The March Against Fear does a wonderful job of emphasizing this age of activism.  

Shackles From the Deep: Tracing the Path of A Sunken Slave Ship, A Bitter Past, and A Rich Legacy by Michael Cottman
Published on January 3, 2017 by National Geographic Society

Shackles From the Deep is a first person account of the author's search for his roots. As a diver and journalist, Cottman investigates the Henrietta Marie, a slave ship that sunk near Key West, off the coast Florida.
This book reads almost like a fiction novel in the way that it sucks you into it's narrative and you feel like you are part of the story. Except that this story is all too real and reminds us of the horrors of slaving and it's incredible impact, even hundreds of years later.
Including color photos of artifacts pulled from the Henrietta Marie shipwreck, this is a fascinating read perfect for any young readers looking to learn more about this subject. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

I Can't Wait For... Daughter of the Pirate King!

Can't Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Tressa @ Wishful Endings and spotlights the books we are excited about and have yet to read. This meme is based on Waiting on Wednesday which is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine. 

I can't wait for Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller

Expected Publication: February 28, 2017
by Feiwel & Friends

Goodreads Synopsis:
A 17-year-old pirate captain intentionally allows herself to get captured by enemy pirates in this thrilling YA adventure. 

Debut author Tricia Levenseller blends action, adventure, romance, and a little bit of magic into a thrilling YA pirate tale. 

Why I Can't Wait For It: 
It's been a while since I've read any pirate fiction (besides the little bit added to 'The Assassin's Blade' by Sarah J. Maas and 'A Gathering of Shadows' by VE Schwab) so I'm really hoping that this is amazing! I honestly want something epic like The Pirates of the Caribbean but anything with pirate ships and open-sea adventures will do! 

What can't you wait for?

Monday, February 20, 2017

Book Blast & Giveaway: The Rise of Miss Notley by Rachael Anderson

The Rise of Miss Notley by Rachael Anderson
When Miss Coralynn Notley’s father barters her off to the first titled gentleman to come along, she realizes she must flee her home or be forced to wed a despicable man. Driven by desperation, she applies for the position of housekeeper at Tanglewood Manor, the home of the handsome Mr. Jonathan Ludlow. The moment Jonathan sees Miss Notley, he is intrigued. She is far too young and inexperienced, yet there is something about her that that inspires a certain hope within him. Does he dare offer her the position of housekeeper or will doing so result in catastrophe?   

 Cora nodded and followed Mr. Ludlow into the parlor. He closed the doors and stood in front of them with his arms folded, looking far more intimidating than he had during their last meeting. He said nothing, merely lifted an inquiring eyebrow and waited. Caught unprepared, Cora stared at him, trying to organize her thoughts into words. After a few moments of awkward silence, he lost patience. "What is it you wished to speak with me about, Mrs. Notley? Or are we to stand here staring at each other all afternoon?" Not knowing how else to begin, Cora blurted, "Why have you hired me, sir?" He blinked a few times before frowning. "I believe I have made that perfectly clear. You are to be the housekeeper, are you not?" This was going to be more difficult than she had imagined. "Yes, of course, but there has been some talk about, or rather concerns expressed . . ." How did one put this delicately? "About . . .?" he prodded, obviously not thrilled that his morning regime had been waylaid. "About the reasons I have been offered the position," she quickly said, hoping that would be enough to make him understand her meaning. Unfortunately, his brows drew together in confusion. "What are you saying, Mrs. Notley? I have hired you to do certain duties that will hopefully make my household run more smoothly. What other reason could I possibly have for offering you the position?" "You have hired me to do a job I am untrained to do," she said. "While I am grateful for the opportunity, I also find it necessary to clarify that I have come here to be a housekeeper and only a housekeeper. Even though I am young and . . ." Her voice drifted off. Had she almost referred to herself as pretty? Goodness, this was proving to be very awkward indeed. "Beautiful?" he finally guessed, not looking at all pleased with the direction the conversation was taking. "I was going to say not repulsive," she fibbed. "Very well," he said. "Even though you are young and not repulsive . . ." He moved his hand in a circular gesture, urging her to finish her thought. Cora straightened her shoulders and forced herself to continue. "I am not the sort of girl who would ever . . . fraternize with her employer." Her face infused with heat, but she forced her gaze to remain steady. "I see." He walked slowly towards her, rubbing his chin with his hand. A few steps away, he stopped and eyed her quizzically. "Have I made any improper advances towards you?" "No, sir." "Have I spoken to you in an unprofessional manner?" "No." "Have I looked at you in a way that has made you feel uncomfortable?" "No." Cora suddenly wished she had not felt the need to clarify anything. He made her feel as though she had put the cart before the horse when what she had been trying to do was see that the cart and horse simply stayed in their proper places. Was that so wrong? "Might I ask who, exactly, has led you to believe that I am the sort of man capable of—how did you put it? Fraternizing with my help?" "I, er, would rather not say, sir." Though Cora felt no loyalty towards Sally, she refused to bring Mr. and Mrs. Shepherd's names into the conversation. "I did not mean to besmirch your name or cause any offense, Mr. Ludlow. I merely wanted to make my feelings on the matter clear." "And you have." "Good." Cora dropped into a quick curtsy, anxious to get away. "I shall go and find Watts now." She was almost to the door when his voice stopped her. "Once again, you are attempting to scuttle away before we have completed our conversation." Slowly, she turned around and lifted her eyes to his. "I never scuttle, sir." "What would you call that rapid walk of yours?" "A rapid walk." 


Author Rachael Anderson
A USA Today bestselling author, Rachael Anderson is the mother of four and is pretty good at breaking up fights, or at least sending guilty parties to their rooms. She can’t sing, doesn’t dance, and despises tragedies. But she recently figured out how yeast works and can now make homemade bread, which she is really good at eating.


$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Giveaway
Ends 3/15/17 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sunday Post #52 - Chocolate, Chocolate, and More Chocolate

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer
It's a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog and showcase books and things you received, share news about what is coming up on your blog for the week ahead, and more.

I hope you all had a lovely week!
Mine was just fine thanks to chocolate. I've probably eaten a bit too much but I can't help it. My husband loaded me up on the good stuff like I asked instead of the stale stuff that comes in a heart-shaped box. I also received a hibiscus plant (I very much dislike being given cut flowers because they die.) I've already had three flowers bloom since then!
It was beautiful out earlier this week so I did lots of gardening, but the past few days have been wet and cold. At least we seem to be avoiding all the sickness going around down here so far. 

New To My Shelves

What You Might Have Missed
I didn't get much blogging done this week thanks to the holiday and a birthday celebration but I was able to get 2 reviews up (I'm still so behind!). I finally shared my gushy fangirl review of Outlander by Diana Gabaldon as well as my review for my most recent middle-grade read, Jorie and the Magic Stones by A.H. Richardson


Books I Finished This Week

Currently Reading

It's starting to become a habit that I finish my book on Saturday and may or may not be reading anything while I type up my Sunday Post, which is currently the case, but I do plan on starting these asap. 

Currently Watching
Outlander (Season 1)
I've been kind of literally dying to watch this since I finished the book and my husband surprised me with it this week. I'm really loving it so far and the soundtrack is amazing (but I already knew that because I downloaded it as background music to listen to while I read the book.) 

What I'm Listening To
I've been a bit obsessed with this song this week. 

Have a wonderful week! 

Friday, February 17, 2017

Book Review: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Title: Outlander
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Series: Outlander #1
Publisher: Dell Publishing Company
Publication Date: June 1, 1991
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
Length: 896 pages
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased

The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is just back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly, she is a Sassenach--an "outlander"--in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of Our Lord...1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life, and shatter her heart. For here, James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire--and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

My Thoughts: 
Claire Beauchamp and her husband, Frank, are taking a holiday in Northern Scotland in 1945 after being separated so long during the war. When they come across an ancient pagan ritual at the standing stones of Craigh na Dun they are entranced by the women's dance and quickly leave before taking a good look around. The next day, Claire returns to find a flower she had glanced at the base of a split altar stone but with a sudden cacophony of noise finds herself in the middle of the eighteenth century. Before she knows it, she is accosted by Frank's ancestor and is saved and kidnapped by a highlander. 

Acting on her skills as a war nurse, she patches up a young man named Jamie, is whisked away to a castle where she learns she has traveled back in time to the year 1743, and gets caught up in a war-torn country and her own emotions and desire for the handsome Jamie Fraser.

This book was so good it gave me a bit of a hangover. It has been a long time since I was thoroughly enamored with an adult book. I haven't felt so much joy, anticipation, dread, or so many butterflies in a long, long time. This book gave me 'all the feels' or rather, I cycled through emotions that I haven't felt from just reading a book in almost a decade.

I never got into the idea of "bookish boyfriends" but I completely understand why it's a thing now.
Jamie Fraser, while not perfect, is one of the most well-written, admirable, and utterly flawed characters that I've ever encountered in literature. Apologies for being unabashedly gushy but I can totally picture myself in this story and want more. Yes, I totally want my own Jamie Fraser now. 

Outlander is both dreamy and sexy and even though that is not the typical sort of books I read, I fell right into it. I don't always enjoy overly 'sexy' literature but this was well written and wasn't too graphic. The middle of the book did have some excessive intimate moments but I wasn't overly bothered by it for once. I really enjoyed reading about the 'thrust together to save their lives' sort of relationship, though it wasn't instalove, which would have bothered me to no end.

Plus, there's just so much more story than the romance. Historical fiction is always fun to read for me, as I learn so much about different times and places. Outlander is set during a pivotal time in Scottish history. We also get a good look (or listen) to the Gaelic language and Scottish dialect. 

Of course, this book has it's flaws, though they fit the time period very well. There are many mentions of rape and there are times when Jamie himself forces himself on Claire, though he didn't do it maliciously, it still reeked of rape in my eyes despite that Claire's passion and attraction to him made it seem like less. I had a hard time stomaching those parts, to be honest but they weren't so prominent that they outweighed the rest of the book. 

My Rating: 5 stars

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Book Review: Jorie and the Magic Stones by A.H. Richardson

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Title: Jorie and the Magic Stones
Author: A.H. Richardson
Publisher: Serano Press
Publication Date: December 26, 2014
Genre: Children's / Middle-Grade, Fantasy
Length: 268 pages
Format: Paperback
Source: author

When Marjorie went to live with her frosty maiden aunt, she couldn't imagine the adventures she would have with dragons--good and bad--and all the strange creatures that live in a mysterious land beneath the Tarn. The spunky 9-year-old redhead forges an unlikely friendshiip with an insecure young boy named Rufus who lives with his crusty grandfather next door. When Jorie finds a dusty ancient book about dragons, she learns four strange words that will send the two of them into a mysterious land beneath the Tarn, riddled with enchantment and danger. Hungry for adventure, the children take the plunge, quite literally, and find themselves in the magic land of Cabrynthius. Upon meeting the good dragon, the Great Grootmonya, Jorie, and Rufus are given a quest to find the three Stones of Maalog--stones of enormous power--and return them to their rightful place in Cabrynthius. Their mission is neither easy nor safe, and is peppered with perils in the form of the evil black half-dragon who rules the shadowy side of the land. They have to deal with a wicked and greedy professor, the tragic daughter of the bad dragon, caves of fire, rocky mountainous climbs, and a deadly poisonous butterfly. Jorie must rely on her wits and courage to win the day. Can she find all three stones? Can she emerge victorious? She and Rufus have some hair-raising challenges, in which they learn valuable lessons about loyalty, bravery, and friendship. 

My Thoughts:
Nine-year-old Jorie goes to live with her aging aunt in a big manor house with a endlessly deep 'tarn' (pond) on the property. There are old stories about the house, the tarn, and her ancestor Maalog Doonan that intrigue her, so when she finds an old book full of dragons and strange words she is determined to learn it's secrets. She quickly makes friends with the neighbor boy, Rufus, and they try to discover the secrets of the book together, which leads them to the magical world of Cabrynthius where Jorie--the girl with the 'hair on fire'--must find the three magical stones and save the land from the evil dragon lord that wants the stones, and the magic, for himself. 

This was such a fun adventure. It has a very simple 'old-fashioned' feel to it that makes it perfect for young readers that aren't yet into really complex plots. It reminded me so much of the books I read and enjoyed as a child, like 'The Hobbit' and 'The Chronicles of Narnia'. 

Jorie and the Magic Stones has some of my favorite fantasy elements. It starts out with a big manor house, an ancient tome, and a story about warlocks and magic. Then once you discover that there is a magical world that Jorie can travel to, there are dragons, shifters, and many other strange and fantastical creatures. 

The characters are intriguing and I really enjoyed the budding friendship between Jorie and Rufus. 

The dialogue is easy to follow but there are quite a few names and locations that are a little difficult to pronounce and I think the intended audience may have problems with them. 

My Rating: 4 stars