Monday, March 31, 2014

Book Review: The Blood Guard by Carter Roy

I received a physical copy of this book from Goodreads and Two Lions in exchange for an honest review. 

Title: The Blood Guard
Series: The Blood Guard #1
Author: Carter Roy
Publisher: Two Lions
Publication Date: March 4, 2014
Genre: Middle Grade, Thriller, Adventure
Length: 279 pages
Format: Hardcover
Source: Goodreads

When Ronan Truelove's seemingly ordinary mom snatches him from school, then sets off on a high speed car chase, Ronan is shocked. His quiet, nerdy dad has been kidnapped? And the kidnappers are after him, too? His mom, he quickly learns, is anything but ordinary. In fact, she's a member of an ancient order of knights, the Blood Guard, a sword-wielding secret society sworn to protect the Pure--thirty-six noble souls whose safety is crucial if the world as we know it is to survive. Now all those after-school activities--gymnastics, judo, survival training--she made him take, make sense. For suddenly Ronan is swept up in a sometimes funny, sometimes scary, but always thrilling adventure--dashing from one danger to the next, using his wits to escape the Bend Sinister, a posse of evil doers with strange powers. Falling in with two unlikely companions, Great, a scrappy, strong-willed girl he's never much liked and Jack, a devil-may-care teenage pickpocket, Ronan is left with only his wits and his mom's last words of advice: Trust no one. That's a lot for an ordinary kid to deal with. But then again, maybe Ronan's not ordinary at all. 

What an unfortunate name! Evelyn Ronan Truelove's mom has kept him busy with extra-curricular activities for as long as he can remember. He might not have time for friends but he can defend himself in a sword fight!
One day his mother picks him up after school and ends up in a highspeed chase. His father has gone missing and people are after them! His mother has very little time to fill him in on what is going on (something about a Blood Guard?) before she dumps him at the train station with a cryptic message to help him find someone who is supposed to help him but before he can even board the train, more people come after him. Using some of the skills that he acquired in a gymnastics class, he evaded his followers.  Finally on the train, he meets the elusive helper and runs into an old schoolmate that ends up tagging along throughout the fast-paced, thrilling race to survive. 

The Blood Guard is the first in a new series that will thrill middle-grade readers. The language is pretty clean but there is some violence, as would be expected in a good vs. evil situation. Ronan and his companions spend the majority of the book running and fighting for their lives. 

This book was pretty enjoyable and reminded me that I don't read enough thriller/suspense novels that speed you along on a marvelous ride. That is one of the things that I love most about middle-grade novels; they are always entertaining and adventurous reads.

My Rating:
4 stars

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Stacking the Shelves #25

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by TYNGA'S REVIEWS that features the books we bought, borrowed, were gifted, and were given for review.

I'm a little late on getting some of these up. I've had some hectic weekends recently. 

In My Mailbox

(Goodreads 'First-Reads' Physical Copy) 

From NetGalley

Library Book Sale

Emma by Jane Austen
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
The Celebrated Jumping Frog and other Stories by Mark Twain
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

The Beautiful and the Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald
20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill 
(I've been wanting to read this since it was published!) 
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld 
(I got this for $2 and it's in perfect shape!) 
Wolfskin by Juliet Marillier
The Exile by Diana Gabaldon 
(This one is a graphic novel companion to the Outlander series)


I went back to the library sale on the last day and they let us fill a banana box for $5!!! I easily filled 2 boxes with 91 books. There were a lot of classics and fantasy. Unfortunately, it would take me all day (or longer) to photograph and list them all!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Friday Finds #26

Friday Finds is a blog meme hosted over at Should Be Reading that highlights the books you found and added to your To Be Read list, whether you found them online or in a bookstore and etc. They are not necessarily books that you purchased!

Here are some non-fiction books I've added to my list recently!

(I found the list online and have read 81 of them so far. I would love to make that 100+ before the year is over with.)

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
(I think this would be a pretty neat read after Rotters)

The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson
(I think I would enjoy this a lot.)

What is your favorite non-fiction book? I definitely need to read more non-fiction so recommendations would be very welcome! :)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday #27

Top Ten Things On My Bookish Bucket List 

1.  Go to an author signing.

2. Read all the books on my shelves.

3. Finish all the books on the '1001 Books to Read Before You Die' list before I die.

4. Read ALL the classics!

5. Write and publish my own book.

6. Line my walls with floor to ceiling shelves and basically live in my own library. 

7. Read more non-fiction.

8. Donate my books to people who would read and appreciate them. 

9. Own a indie [or] secondhand bookstore.

10. Make more time to read.

What's on your bookish bucket list? 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Friday Finds #25

Friday Finds is a blog meme hosted over at Should Be Reading that highlights the books you found and added to your To Be Read list, whether you found them online or in a bookstore and etc. They are not necessarily books that you purchased!

This week's theme is Book to Movie Adaptations!
Here are a few books I've added to my to-read list recently that either already have a movie adaptation out or have one coming out in theaters sooner or later.

John Dies at the End by David Wong
(I didn't know this was a book until I noticed the movie was on Netflix and looked it up.)

Twelve Years A Slave by Sue Eakin
(This one hit theaters in the past couple of months - I think but am not sure because I don't keep up with what is in theaters when)

Palo Alto by James Franco
(The reviews for this book are horrible but it's James Franco!!! and he mentioned on his facebook that Palo Alto is being made into a movie. I probably won't really like it but I'll give it a shot.)


What did you add to your TBR list recently?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Graphic Novel Group Review

I read several graphic novels through NetGalley in March and since I can't say a lot about them without spoiling something or other, I decided to do a group review.

Murder Mysteries by Neil Gaiman
illustrated by 

I've read some of Neil Gaiman's other graphic novels and enjoyed the raw adult style that is so different from his fantastical and imaginative but family friendly novels such as Stardust or Coraline. His graphic novels run more in tune with American Gods. I tend to lump his stories into two groups: the stories he writes from imagination and the stories he writes from life. His graphic novels and adult novels always seem to come more from adult life experiences even when mixed in with Greek Gods or Nephilim. Murder Mysteries definitely reads as if we are watching someone tell Neil a story even though he is writing the whole thing himself. 


Grimm Fairy Tales: Oz 
written and illustrated by Jim Brusha

This one is more like a comic than a graphic novel because of the art style. It's broken into 6 parts which really just backs that up. I've never been a big comic reader even though I enjoy both art and literature. I've only recently decided to read more graphic novels which is why I requested to read this. I found it to be a bit more tedious to read despite the very neat twists to the Wizard of Oz story and setting.


Emily and the Strangers by Mariah Huebner and Rob Reger
illustrated by Emily Ivie

I remember seeing Emily the Strange on the internet when I was a young teenager and thinking that she just looked so cool rockin' the black clothes without looking old school Gothic with all her very well drawn black cats. I wasn't even a fan of cats back then but I totally wanted a black cat because of Emily. I didn't know anything about it, though, beyond the few pictures I saw.
This graphic novel was fun and quick to read. I enjoyed finally learning more about Emily and finding out that she really is just a super awesome character with a very inquisitive mind, a knack at inventing things, and a musician! This particular story is about introvert Emily learning to get along with others enough to make a band work. It was definitely juvenile and the bright, neon outfits and hair of the other band mates heavily reminded me of Bratz or Monster High.


Overall, I enjoyed Murder Mysteries the most but didn't feel overly excited about any of these while reading. I won't let that get me down, though. I know there are more amazing graphic novels similar to Shaun Tan's 'The Arrival', Brian Selznick's 'The Invention of Hugo Cabret', and Art Spiegleman's 'Maus' out there somewhere! 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Friday Finds #24

Friday Finds is a blog meme hosted over at Should Be Reading that highlights the books you found and added to your To Be Read list, whether you found them online or in a bookstore and etc. They are not necessarily books that you purchased!

Here are some graphic novels that I have added to my TBR list recently. :)


Do you read graphic novels?
If so, what are your favorites? What would you recommend? 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Book Review: The Ghost Box by Catherine Fisher

I received a free ecopy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Title: The Ghost Box
Author: Catherine Fisher
Publisher: Stoke Books
Publication Date: October 4, 2011
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Ghosts
Length: 72 pages
Format: ebook
Source: Netgalley

A young girl must unlock the secret to a mysterious box to protect herself from an unwanted visitor. 

Thrilling ghost story

Strange things start happening to Sarah after she discovers that her house was once just an old barn with an ancient tree next to it that had to be cut down to make room for what is now her bedroom. She soon starts having very odd dreams about the tree and wakes up with a silver box on her nightstand. The box came from the dream but where did the boy come from?

I was overly fond of ghost stories as a young kid and the fascination has not ended. I still very much enjoy middle-grade novels so I thought I'd give this one a chance. While very short and not quite spooky at my age anymore, I think The Ghost Box will appeal to any young readers looking for a thrill or scare. There are also a few good lessons to be learned from this story. In my opinion, that is always a good reason for a recommendation. 

My Rating:
3 stars

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Stacking the Shelves #24

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by TYNGA'S REVIEWS that features the books we bought, borrowed, were gifted, and were given for review.

In My Mailbox

Assassin's Apprentice (The Farseer Trilogy #1) by Robin Hobb
(from Goodreads 'First-reads')

From NetGalley

(graphic novel)

Thrift Store Finds

Top Shelf

Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier
P.S. I Love You by Cecilia Ahern
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Bottom Shelf

Dogsong by Gary Paulsen
Saturday by Ian McEwan
Message in a Bottle by Nicholas Sparks
Here Burns My Candle by Liz Curtis Higgs 
Enemy Women by Paulette Jiles


What did you add to your shelves this week? 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Friday Finds #23

Friday Finds is a blog meme hosted over at Should Be Reading that highlights the books you found and added to your To Be Read list, whether you found them online or in a bookstore and etc. They are not necessarily books that you purchased!

All of these are children's books I've never read. It'd be sad if I never did.


Have you read any of these? What children's book are you eager to read this year? 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Book Review: Matilda by Roald Dahl

Title: Matilda
Author: Roald Dahl
Illustrator: Quentin Blake
Publisher: Puffin
Publication Date: first published 1988
Genre: Children's
Length: 240 pages
Format: Paperback
Source: purchased
For hundreds of kids "The Trunchbull" is pure terror--for Matilda, she's a sitting duck. 

Who put superglue in Dad's hat? Was it really a ghost that made Mom tear out of the house? Only sweet, gentle Matilda knows. Because she's the one playing all the jokes! She's a genius with idiot parents--and she's having a great time driving them crazy. But at school things are different. At school there's Miss Trunchbull, two hundred pounds of kid-hating bully. Pull a trick on "The Trunchbull" and she'll string you up. Get rid of The Trunchbull and you'll be a hero for every kid in Crunchem Hall. But that would take a superhuman genius. Or may a sweet, gentle--crafty--genius?

I just can't believe that I never read a Roald Dahl book as a kid. My first was The Witches because I knew of it from the movie as a kid but I was 19-20 when I first found a copy of the book. Matilda was always one of my favorite movies as well so I just don't know how I never knew they were both books. I more recently read Fantastic Mr. Fox and James and the Giant Peach because I was also big fans of those movies as well. What can I say? I experienced all the films first which is a little odd because I read a lot of books as a kid but no one ever recommended anything so I guess I missed the good stuff.

I loved the film as I grew up on it and wanted to have "magic powers" just like Matilda to get back at the horrors of life. I grew up with the story but this is my first time actually reading the book.
I was happy to already know most of the phrases and it was entertaining to picture it all with a pre-existing memory of the characters and more from the movie. I wonder what I would have pictured 'The Chokey' to be like when I was 8 years old.
To be honest, I think I would have been very tempted to pull awful tricks on my family and other people when they were being horrid! 

My Rating:
5 stars!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Book Review: Sweetly(Fairytale Retellings #2) by Jackson Pearce

Title: Sweetly
Series: Fairytale Retellings #2
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: August 23, 2011
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retellings
Length: 310 pages
Format: Hardcover
Source: purchased

As a child, Gretchen's twin sister was taken by a witch in the woods. Ever since, Gretchen and her brother, Ansel, have felt the long branches of the witch's forest threatening to make them disappear, too. 

Years later, when their stepmother casts Gretchen and Ansel out, they find themselves in sleepy Live Oak, South Carolina. They're invited to stay with Sophia Kelly, a beautiful candy maker who molds sugary magic coveted treats that create confidence, bravery, and passion.

Life seems idyllic and Gretchen and Ansel gradually forget their haunted past--until Gretchen meets handsome local outcast Samuel. He tells her the witch isn't gone--it's lurking in the forest, preying on girls every year after Live Oak's infamous chocolate festival, and looking to make Gretchen its next victim. Gretchen is determined to stop running and start fighting back. Yet the further she investigates the mystery of what the witch is and how it chooses its victims, the more she wonders who the real monster is. 

Gretchen is certain of only one thing: a monster is coming, and it will never go away hungry. 

Sweetly is the second book in a quartet of fairytale retellings and is well named as a retelling of Hansel and Gretel. The names have been slightly changed to Ansel and Gretchen but it is obvious what this story is about from the beginning.

Ansel, Gretchen, and Gretchen's twin sister were out playing in the woods near their house when they come across 'the witch'. It chases them and by the time they realize that Gretchen's twin is missing, it is too late. They will never see her again. After the disappearance of their sister and the death of their mother, their father remarries but also dies from grief and their stepmother finally tosses them out once they have turned 18. They leave their home state in search of somewhere they can live without the worry and fear of the woods and witches. They break down in a small town called Live Oak in South Carolina where they meet a girl their age named Sophia who runs a chocolate shop all by herself. They quickly become friends and stay on to help her but soon learn of the town's dark secret: that girls are going missing after Sophia's chocolate festival every year. Wanting to face her fears and save any other girls from disappearing like her twin, Gretchen sets out to find the truth. But is it too much? And will she end up disappearing like the other girls? 

I read Sisters Red, the first in Pearce's 'Fairytale Retelling' series, last year. I thought it was an interesting read with a neat twist but I also had some problems with it. Sweetly on the other hand kept me intrigued the entire time I read it.  I was surprised by the connections between the two very different stories. The author kind of intertwined them in a way that gave Sweetly a very surprising plot and outcome. It was also neat to see the brother of the 'hunter', Sylas Reynolds, from Sisters Red in this story. While I think the author could have taken this retelling in a completely different direction, I enjoyed the small comparisons.
The romance in this book was subtle and endearing. There was no insta-love, thankfully, and no love triangles. It was refreshing to have small love plots intertwined that didn't make me roll my eyes or want to quit reading. 

My Rating:

3.5 stars

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday #24

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

 Top Ten Popular Authors I've Never Read 

Meg Cabot
(I've been seeing her name in a lot of booktube videos, bookhauls, blogger posts, etc. but I truthfully don't even know what she writes about.)

Sarah Dessen
(One of my sisters has recommended her to me many times and I now own 3 of her books but still haven't read any.)

John Grisham
(Every book I've come across is about lawyers, etc and that really doesn't appeal to me. Let me know in the comments if you've read something from him that you think I would like .)

Jules Verne
(His stories are great from what I know from movies, etc. but I've just never gotten around to reading any.)

E.L. James
(I told myself I was never going to read Fifty Shades of Grey after watching a video of a read-through of the first 3 chapters. The writing seemed horrendous and I was loathe to read it. I might give it a try someday if I am utterly bored and have nothing better but probably not.)

James Patterson
I remember an old co-worker recommending him but he's another author that I know nothing about.)

Rainbow Rowell
(Everyone has been raving over her books lately. I have Eleanor & Park on my Kindle PC but I still haven't gotten around to reading it. Reading at my desktop is NOT comfortable.)

Clive Barker
(I love horror and own at least 2-3 of his books so I don't know why I haven't read anything from him yet.)

Jodi Picoult
(Another popular name but I haven't read her because I think she writes contemporary and I tend to stick to fantasy.)


I'd love to see what authors you haven't read yet! Link to your TTT or list some in the comments and I'll let you know if I've read them or not and which book of theirs I would recommend the most. :)

Monday, March 3, 2014

February 2014 Wrap-Up

February 2014 Wrap-Up

I read 5 books this month as well as in January which really isn't very many. I was reading 8 books a month last year but then again, I burned myself out by August so maybe it's a good thing that I am pacing myself better this year. 

I finished the last of my library books about half way through the month and am now starting on books from my own shelves. 

The Lost Writings of Jim Morrison: The Wilderness Vol. 1

Rotters by Daniel Kraus

The Companions by R.A. Salvatore

Sweetly by Jackson Pearce

Matilda by Roald Dahl

March TBR
(Disclaimer: I never stick to my TBR.)

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
A Little Princess by Frances H. Burnett
Night by Elie Weisel
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho


January Wrap-Up

Stacking the Shelves
#20, #21, #22


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Book Review: The Companions by R.A. Salvatore

Title: The Companions
Author: R.A. Salvatore
Series: The Sundering #1
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
Publication Date: August 6, 2013
Genre: Adult, Fantasy
Length: 378 pages
Format: Hardcover
Source: Borrowed
Literary Awards:
Goodreads Choice Nominee for Fantasy (2013)

This latest installment in New York Times best-selling author R. A. Salvatore's beloved fantasy saga, The Companions moves Salvatore's signature hero Drizzt into a new era of the Forgotten Realms. As Drizzt's fate hangs in the balance, he reflects on the lives of the trusted allies who stood by his side throughout his early life--the friend now known as the Companions of the Hall. Meanwhile, the first stirrings of the Sundering begin.  


I am a big R.A. Salvatore fan, first of all, and read his first three series in highschool. While I haven't read ALL of his books leading up to this one, I have recently come to own more of his fantasy novels and will continue on where I left off or possibly begin re-reading the entire series. They are that good. I have always been hooked on his characters as well as his superb fight scenes.

The Companions, while still being about Salvatore's famous dark elf, Drizzt, is mostly about the friends he had throughout his life (and Salvatore's many series). In this novel, they are all at the ends of their lives, or have already died, but are brought together in a sort of spirit realm. They are then reincarnated or reborn into the future where they are dead but Drizzt still lives so that they can help him in some way. They still have their intelligence and memories but are stuck in the growing bodies of newborn babes and have to live out their first twenty years hiding that fact. It is impossible to hide a Dwarf King's battle skills or a young spellscarred sorceress's magic.
Bruenor, Regis, and Cattie-Brie grow up in new bodies, in new lives, to new parents, in new parts of the Realms but they know that they will need to travel back to Icewind Dale and the Spine of the World to find and save Drizzt.

It is impossible for me not to immediately love any new Drizzt story. They are all so adventurous and epic. They are books that I am easily lost in and never really want to come out of. The worldbuilding is magnificent, although I'd hope it would be when more than just one author has built it to what it is.
Forgotten Realms, from what I understand, was originally created as a sort of Dungeons and Dragons fantasy world for roleplayers but soon became quite a bit more than that. I have never played D&D except to be the 'Dungeon Master' for someone playing solo only once so I really don't know anything about the role it played in the Forgotten Realms world but I am glad for it because I love reading fantasy.

This new series, The Sundering, is 6 books long, all by different Forgotten Realms authors. From what I've deduced, The Companions is just a small glance into a bigger scheme in what is happening at this time in the Forgotten Realms 'Sundering' series. Instead of focusing on the little corner of the Realms that Salvatore's stories revolve around, we are looking at the entire fictional world.  I've only ever read one other book from another author on the Forgotten Realms (Ed Greenwood) so I don't know if I will be completely lost reading the other books in this series. Will 'The Godborn' (Book 2) be about characters from a Forgotten Realms series that I haven't read? And will it be the same for the 4 books after that? Do I need to catch up on all of these authors to understand what is happening in The Sundering? That is my biggest concern for finishing this series but I think I will enjoy it regardless. 

My Rating:
4.5 stars

If you are fantasy lover and want to delve into the Forgotten Realms books, I highly recommend starting with R.A. Salvatore's 'Icewind Dale' trilogy. 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Stacking The Shelves #23

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by TYNGA'S REVIEWS that features the books we bought, borrowed, were gifted, and were given for review.

This haul is a week late. I was waiting on my my bookoutlet package and didn't have a chance to get it up in time. 


I ordered books online for the first time this past week from BookOutlet and I was really excited to get them even though they came a few days late. 

Cinder by Marissa Meyer
(I got this from the scratch & dent section for only $2.99 and it only had a very tiny rip in the bottom hand corner.
I'm so excited to read it!)

The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall by Mary Downing Hahn
(Mary Downing Hahn was one of my favorite authors as a kid and I haven't read this one yet!)
The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare
 (I've always been very interested in Native American culture and love books based off of it.)

Masquerade by Melissa De La Cruz
(I have the 1st, 4th, & 5th book in this series so I thought I'd get the 2nd so I could start it soon. Just need the 3rd now.)
Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause
(One of my sisters' favorites and I've been looking for it for a long time.)
Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier(I've heard good things about Marillier but I've never read any of her books. I love fantasy so I"m sure I'll love it.)

Seriously, that's the most new books I've bought for myself in a long time. It's really hard to break the habit of putting things in my cart already!


My fiance bought me the Divergent Trilogy box by Veronica Roth set for Valentine's Day. I've already read them, though, so they will just be pretty additions to my shelves. 

Late Night Add-In

The Ghost Box by Catherine Fisher
(from NetGalley)
(I'm almost done with this one already. )

What did you add to your shelves this week?