Saturday, December 31, 2016

December 2016 Wrap Up

Happy Holidays, everyone! I hope you all had an amazing month!
I didn't have the greatest reading month but that's to be expected with all the holiday celebrations. I hardly had time for reading and I'm surprised I even finished a book.
I'm all ready for 2017 to begin so I can bury myself in new goals and new books and ignore reality as much as possible. 

Books I Read

Pages Read: 1529

Usually I would list all the challenges I participated in this year but I'm strapped for time right now so this is going to be pretty simple.

How did you guys do on your goals this month? What was your favorite book? 

Friday, December 30, 2016

Books I Read in 2016 (on ListChallenges)

You didn't really think I was going to list all of the books I read here, did you? That would seriously take forever! Thankfully, there is a handy dandy interactive site called ListChallenges!

I'm a little obsessed with and have wasted countless hours there clicking books I've read on random lists. 
I really can't help it. I even use it to keep track of books I've read from specific popular lists like the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die List. 

I've been adding to this list all year and finally had a chance to publish it so I really wanted to share with you all and turn you onto this obsession of clicking so I don't feel so alone because it's awesome and reminds me of all the books I need to read.

StacyRenee's List of Books Read in 2016

Go forth and see how many of these 100 books you have read in the past!
 Now you get to see how many children's books I read this year.
No judging! They are really fun to read! 

Friday, December 23, 2016

Book Review: Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Title: Heartless
Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: November 8, 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling
Length: 453 pages
Format: Hardcover
Source: OwlCrate (Purchased)

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland and a favorite of the unmarried King, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, she wants to open a shop and create delectable pastries. But for her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for a woman who could be a queen. 

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the King's marriage proposal, she meets handsome and mysterious Jest. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into a secret courtship. 

Cath is determined to choose her own destiny. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans. 

My Thoughts: 
Heartless is the story of Catherine, daughter of a Marques and Marchioness, who loves to bake and has caught the eye (or stomach) of the King of Hearts. But her heart soon finds itself in the hands of the new court joker, Jest, with his bell adorned hat, quick wit, and his knack for the impossible. Knowing that the king will propose to her, Catherine struggles between her duty, her dreams, and a newly kindled fire in her heart. We all know who the Red Queen is, but in Heartless we get to know who she was. 

This was tragic and heartbreaking but such a good read. 

A few years ago I wasn't overly thrilled by the idea of retellings but then I gave Cinder a try and really enjoyed it so of course I would need to read an Alice in Wonderland retelling by the same author. Heartless has been one of my most anticipated books of the second half of 2016 so I was super thrilled to get it in the November Wonderland themed OwlCrate with the exclusive cover. (It is gorgeous, by the way!)

Heartless isn't so much a retelling of Alice in Wonderland as it is a spin off  or origin story about the Queen of Hearts but it takes place in Wonderland and has all those wonderfully quirky and kooky things that we all fell in love with. The Mad Hatter, Cheshire, and more. Meyer also included a couple of other well known favorites such as the raven from Edgar Allan Poe's 'Nevermore' and Peter Peter, Pumpkin Eater from Mother Goose nursery rhymes. These, of course, feel very out of place at first but they grow with the story and become a major part of it in Heartless. 

One of the reasons why I cannot give this a full 5 stars is because of the very slow build. For most of the story I felt like there was not much happening besides Catherine's inner turmoil. And then the ending felt so very rushed. I think if it had been drawn out a bit more and actually described instead of rushed through, it would have broken my heart a bit more, yes, but I would have felt more of what the main character was going through. 

There are many things to love about Heartless, from the characters, to the nostalgic setting, to the quick and tragic romance. I quickly fell in love with Cath and Jest and hoped for the best outcome for them but we already know (or have a pretty good idea) how this story ends. 

If you've ever wondered how the Queen of Hearts ended up so shrewd and heartless, this is the perfect retelling to read. 

My Rating: 4.5 stars

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Picture Book Review: Very Christmas by Simone Mets

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

Title: Very Christmas
Author: Simone Mets
Illustrator: Jana Pivkova
Publisher: self published by author
Publication Date: October 19, 2015
Length: 27 pages
Format: ebook
Source: Netgalley

A very, very, very bad storm hits the North Pole. Santa's workshop is very, very, very badly damaged. Urgent! "Dear Santa" letters marked with a tiny note are returned to children, both naughty and nice. The richest man in the world flies to the rescue, but solutions simply don't work. He is stumped! Will Christmas wishes go undelivered for the first time ever? Or will someone unstumpable come up with an answer? 

My Thoughts:
When a bad storm hits the north pole, Santa and his elves return every child's 'Dear Santa' letter with an apology that Christmas might not happen this year. The children are very dismayed. When a local billionaire steps in to fix the problem but fails, one little girl comes up with the solution to save Christmas by giving her old toys to younger kids who had wished for them. She rallies the other children to do the same and soon the whole town is donating their toys. All except a boy named Rowdy who would rather receive more toys and not give his old ones away. 

This is a very wonderful Christmas story about the power of giving. One little girl comes up with the idea to save Christmas and it spreads like wildfire. Including the naughty boy who doesn't want to give anything really helped pull the story together and show that even if it's not something you really want to do, giving is an amazing thing to do that makes others happy and yourself in turn. 

Just as a little side note, I absolutely loved that the return apology letters from Santa's head elf were inclusive of all types of families, not just heterosexual ones. I love to see stories that embrace and normalize diversity. 

The book itself (the ebook form, anyway) is more text than anything but has brightly colored backgrounds with snowflakes and the children's hands. I do feel like this story would have had more effect with more illustrations. For that reason, I would recommend to older children who do not need pictures to imagine what is happening. Overall, this is a wonderful story with a great moral.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Bout of Books 18 Read-a-thon Sign Up & Goals

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 2nd and runs through Sunday, January 8th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 18 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team


I've lost count of how many of these I've participated in but Bout of Books was my first read-a-thon ever so I always try to join in. 

I'm really looking forward to tackling my 2017 TBR and I'm hoping that a readathon will help me start the month (and year) on the right foot.

A few of the books I have to choose from:


Interested in participating? You can check it out and sign up HERE

Monday, December 19, 2016

Book Blitz & Giveaway: Ground Zero by Alecia Stone

Ground Zero
T.O.E Trilogy, Book 3
Author: Alecia Stone
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: February 17th, 2016

Book Description:
It happens every 26,000 years.

Only a few ever survive.

This time ...

No one will.

That is unless Charlie Blake can locate all four diamonds to restore the Talisman of El and receive his calling from the remaining three elements before the Annus Magnus strikes. With both Arcadia and the mortal world in a state of unrest, his life quickly spirals out of control as it seems everyone has put a bounty on his head. Maybe even his closest allies.

Not knowing who to trust, Charlie starts to dig up the past. When new revelations arise, he begins to question whether the Legion of Light really is what it claims to be and whether he's been fighting for the wrong side all along. The line between good and evil is no longer as clear-cut as it used to be, especially when it appears Charlie's destiny could very well be to destroy everything he loves.

Hero or villain? Charlie isn't so sure anymore.

Buy Links:

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Mary's Song by Susan Count


About the Book


Title: Mary's Song (Dream Horse Adventure Book 1) | Author: Susan Count | Genre: Children's Fiction | Number of Pages: 122 | Publisher: Hastings Creations Group | Release Date: October 20, 2016

Book Description: Mary’s heart breaks over the pending destruction of a beautiful, but damaged filly. When life is not fair, the courageous challenge the obstacles. Twelve-year-old Mary was disabled at the age of four by the same virus that took the life of her mother. While she longs to have a horse of her own, she’s limited to reading horse books. A talented artist, she spends her days on a blanket in the grass sketching the horses at the farm next door. She falls in love with one of the foals and is outraged to learn the filly is considered worthless as it was born lame. Mary befriends and enlists the help of twelve-year-old Laura, whose family owns the horse farm. Against the better judgment of the farm manager, a brief reprieve is negotiated for the foal’s life. The girls conspire to raise money to save her, but time is running out. Sadly, it appears the expensive surgery the foal needs has little chance to correct her problem anyway. Mary isn’t about to give up. She sacrifices what she holds dear, including the trust of her papa, to gain her heart’s desire. Will she lose everything in her struggle to save the foal?


In the year 1952 “ Maybe today?” Twelve-year-old Mary gripped the arm of her wheelchair with one hand and the bedrail with the other. Her weight balanced on the edge of the bed, and she inched forward onto her feet. Her legs trembled and buckled.As her knees slammed onto the wood floor, she grabbed desperately for the dresser, but snatched instead the crocheted covering. When it ripped away from the dresser top, her favorite carved horse sailed across the room, careening into the wall. One of the Morgan mare’ s legs and its ornately carved black tail snapped off asit ricocheted under the bed. Ignoring the pain in her knees, she peered under the bed. The rest of the disfigured horse lay out of her reach. Already sprawled across the floor, she scooted to retrieve the severed pieces and cradled them in her hands.
“ I have to hide you.”
 Papa would beso angry if he saw Mama’ s horse was broken. Heavy footsteps rushed toward her.
“ Lame and worthless. Just like me.”
 She slipped the broken horse into her skirt pocket. She struggled and strained to pull herself up off the floor, but collapsed as Papa burst into her room.
“ What happened? I heard a commotion... Mary?” He dropped to his knee beside her. “ What happened? Are you hurt?”
 “ I lost my balance when I tried to stand. I’ m fine.”
 “ Let’ s get you off the floor, shall we?” He lifted and placed her on the bed. “ I think it would be best to call the doctor.”
 “ I’ m fine!” Mary said a little louder than she intended. “ The hot rock therapy didn’ t help.”
 Papa sat on the bed and took her hand. “ Don’t give up. We’ll find a therapy, my Mary. We’ ll never stop trying.” He patted her hand. “ You sure you’ re all right? Maybe you should lie down.”
 “ I said I’ m fine.” But she looked out the window instead of into his eyes. She would never be all right. “ Can you take me outside now?”
 “ If you’ re sure. Let’ s get you out in some fresh air.” He dropped a paper-wrapped bundle of carrot pieces in her lap. Mary tucked her long dark hair behind her ears. Gathering her sketchpad and pencils toher chest, she drew a deep breath and nodded. In a practiced motion, he slung her blanket over his shoulder and scooped her from the bed.
“ I want to believe I’ ll walk someday, but sometimes, I just can’ t.” She tossed him a hint of a smile. He carried her through the colonial house, past the white porch pillars, and across the field. He was so strong it made her feel safe. He was certainly the most handsome papa in all the world. The white oak had not leafed yet, sohe placed her blanket in the shade of the pines out ofthe warm Texas sun. Mary smoothed her skirt and spread her art materials.
“ You were right about throwing carrots over the fence to bring the mares closer.” She retrieved an art pencil hidden in the folds of her blanket.
“ Look. Here they come.” She pointed with her pencil.
“ They see me and gallop like crazy to get here. The foals buck and kick the whole way. Our new neighbors are so lucky. I’ d like to have a pasture full of Morgan horses.”
 “ At least you get to enjoy them. I have togo now.” He kissed the top of her head. “ Have a nice day. Mr. Joe is working in the gardens, so when you’ re ready togo back to the house, holler for him.” 
“ Will you be gone long?” His face tensed, and his dark eyebrows pulled together. He looked over the meadow, frowning.
“ Only a few days this time.”
 “ I wish you didn’ t always have to go. I miss you so much.”
 “ I know it’ s hard on you. If it makes you feel any better, I don’t like leaving you either. But I have business in New Orleans, and then I’ m going to Destin, Florida. A doctor there thinks he can help you.” Her temper flared, and she slashed a big ugly squiggle across the sketchpad.
“ Not another one, Papa! You thought the medicine man would be the miracle cure. He danced and chanted and kept mein a dumb teepee for two days. Magic smoke. And for what?”
 “ wasn’ t one ofmy better ideas.”
 “ I thought Mrs. Tate was going to faint when you told her where we’ d been. She walked around the house all day shaking her feather duster and muttering ‘ pagan gods’ , something about never taking another day off, and praying real loud to God asking him toforgive you.”
 “ Glad I missed that, but I’ m not giving up. I’ ll consider any opportunity to heal you.” Hestraightened his vest and tucked his thumbs in its little pockets. “ If this technique can offer us hope, we have to try. The clinic would float you in emerald-colored seawater. Then they’ d take you to the ‘ Fountain Of Youth’ .” Her shoulders slumped with an exhale.
“ I don’ t need to get any younger. I needto walk.”
 “ And walk you shall. That is just the name given to the spring by the explorer who discovered it.” He patted her hand. “ Sketch me several poses of the filly beside the dappled gray mare while I’ m gone. What isit about her that always draws my eye?”
 “ She’ s special! I sketch her the most. The other foals will scatter, but she seems to want tobe with me. If she was on this side of the fence, I think she’ d beinmy lap.” Mary flipped to a clean paper.
“ It’ s her eyes. Our souls connect when our eyes meet. Don’ t you think they look like dark chocolate?” Mary warmed at the thought. “ She is my favorite. What a character. She hides behind her mama sometimes and plays hide and seek with me.” A frown wiped the smile off her face.
“ I think there might be something wrong. She limps sometimes.” Papa checked his watch and frowned. “ Hum, that can’ t be good. Say, when I get home, I will have a little something special I ordered for you. Don’ t ask me what itis and ruin the surprise.”
 “ No fair! Isit a book on the Lipizzaners?” “ You’ re a bad guesser.”
 “ Whatever it is, I’ ll love it.” Papa grinned, tossed a piece of chocolate in her lap, and left. “ Thanks!” She waved and sailed a few carrot offerings over the fence to the gathered herd. They rushed to grab the bribe. With ears flattened, the horses jostled, shoved, and charged at one another to gobble the carrots.
When the treats were gone, the mares went back to grazing. As the foals cavorted in circles around their dams, Mary inhaled the delight of being in their company. To draw a foal, she took a snapshot with her mind and sketched itin a great flurry. After capturing the likeness, she fussed with the details and the shading. A twine-wrapped portfolio she kept in her library bulged with sketches. Each sketch was a secret wish to ride, wild and free, someday. She imagined herself cantering across a meadow polka-dotted with pink flowers. Her hair streamed behind her. Her arms held wide asifto soar. The palomino horse moved inresponse to her thoughts. A smile lifted and softened her face. Mary shifted her useless legs to balance the sketchpad better.
“ It’ s not just a dream.” The filly cocked her feminine head to the side and peered at the curiosity in the grass. Mary stared back, hoping the filly would hold the pose long enough for her to soak in every detail. The dark graphite pencil seemed to flow on its own, and soon the rough outline ofthe curious baby splashed across the paper.
“ I will sketch you every minute until Papa comes home withmy surprise. It might be—could be—a horse.”

What others are saying...

"An excellent and engaging book from start to finish. A must read." - Amazon Review

"Susan Count knows how to write about horses, family, friendship, love, faith, and sacrifice. Her true-to-life characters easily engaged me in wanting to know more about them and how their conflicts would be resolved." - Geoffrey W.

"A genuinely touching story about friendship and recovery. I strongly recommend this to anyone looking for a good horse book perfect for middle age girls!" - Amazon Review

About the Author


One day...I began to write with no preconceived ideas about anything. I’d read what I had written the day before and add another scene to the adventure. No one could have been more astounded than I was when it turned into a book. The whole process gave me great joy and restored my spirit after a season of loss. My motivation was my desire to bless one particular young lady with a story to show her a love relationship in a family, with the Lord, and with a horse. I truly thought the story would remain in a drawer until she was old enough to read it. Surprise.

I write at an antique secretary desk which belonged to the same grandmother who introduced me to horse books. The desk has secret compartments and occupies a glass room with a forest view. Bunnies and cardinals regularly interrupt my muse, as do my horses grazing in a clearing. 

Though I am a rider and lover of horses, I make no claims of expertise in any riding discipline. I hope that my research keeps me from annoying those who would know. 

The only thing more fun than riding might be writing horse adventure stories. Saddle up and ride along!

Blog Tour Giveaway

Prize: One winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card or $25 PayPal cash prize(winner’s choice) Giveaway ends: January 2, 11:59 pm, 2017
Open to: Internationally.
How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.
Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Susan Count and is hosted and managed by Stacie from BeachBoundBooks. If you have any additional questions feel free to send an email to 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Sunday Post #45 - It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like...

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.

Hello, Sunday Posters!
I've been MIA from the community lately and it's been eating away at me. I've had so much going on in my life that reading and blogging were put on the back burner. I don't have as much time as I used to and that has really taken it's toll here but I hope to get back into this full swing, even if it means losing precious sleep to do so.
If any of you follow me on bookstagram you'll know that I've been keeping up with that. I've tried to do some blogging from my phone but I find that I get my thoughts out better with a full keyboard (so yes, I'm way behind on reviews, too!)
Despite still being a part of the bookstagram community, I feel like I'm so out of the loop. I have no idea what readathons are coming up, if there are any new challenges to join in on, or how any of you are getting on so I'll attempt to make the rounds and try to catch up a little if I can. :)

What You May Have Missed On the Blog

TTT - 2017 Books I'm Looking Forward To
Picture Book Review: Miss Your Like Crazy by Pamela Hall

Coming Soon
Book Review: Heartless by Marissa Meyer
Picture Book Review: Very Christmas by Simone Mets
The End of the Year Book Blogger Survey

Books I Finished Recently

What I'm Reading

(physical book)
A Gathering of Shadows by VE Schwab
I set this aside to read Heartless but I'm hoping I can finish it before the new year despite how busy the next 2 weeks will be.

Glinda of Oz by L. Frank Baum
This is the last book in the 14 book Oz series. I didn't want to drag this series into the new year since they are always pretty hit or miss with me. I have a few other long series I'd like to get to in 2017 so I made a point to finish these up this month. 

What I'm Watching

The OA
This show is strange and it starts out pretty slow but there's a mystery to it that kept me watching and by episode 2 & 3 I was hooked. I'm 5 hours in (in 2 days) and I can't stop thinking about this show and need to know what's going to happen next! 

I hope you all have a wonderful week! Happy Holidays if you celebrate any! 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday #97 - Looking Forward to in 2017

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

Top Ten Books I'm Looking Forward To In the First Half of 2017

The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova - I was lucky enough to receive an eARC of this for review and I devoured savored it last month. If you like Steampunk Fantasy you'll want to check this one out! 
Caraval by Stephanie Garber - I'll admit that the cover probably sells me on this one more than the synopsis but it sounds a bit like a YA version of The Night Circus so I'm in. 
RoseBlood by A.G. Howard - This is a retelling of The Phantom of the Opera. I still haven't read the original but I'm loving that all these darker, non-Disney books are getting retellings now.

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones - This is a retelling of The Labyrinth movie! The Goblin King! I actually have an eARC of this and can't wait to read it! 
Frostblood by Elly Blake - This one's about a girl who has to hide that she is a Fireblood from the Icebloods. Sounds like a great fantasy novel! 
The Crown's Fate by Evelyn Skye - I honestly think that the first book would have been fine as a stand alone but I'm intrigued at how the story may progress.

There are quite a few others that I am looking forward to but most of them haven't had a cover reveal yet. 

Throne of Glass #6

Nevernight #2
The Illuminae Files #3

Which upcoming releases are you excited about?

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Picture Book Review: Miss You Like Crazy by Pamela Hall

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

Title: Miss You Like Crazy
Author: Pamela Hall
Illustrator: Jennifer A. Bell
Publisher: Tanglewood
Publication Date: April 15, 2014
Length: 32 pages
Format: pdf
Source: Netgalley

Walnut and his mom agree that it would be fun if he could go to work with her, and they fantasize about the adventures they could share. Though it can't always happen, Walnut's mother assures him that he is always on her mind, and together they find ways to have a physical presence for each other when at work or school. This light-hearted story provides parents an opportunity to reassure children on their importance in busy parents' lives.

My Thoughts: 
Little Walnut wants to spend all day with his mom but she has to go to work and he has to go to school. At breakfast, they imagine all the things they could do together but afterward Walnut is still rather downtrodden. His mother explains that she carries him with her everywhere she goes and he can do the same. 

This is a cute little story about a mother and son who must spend their days at work and school when they'd much rather be together and how they deal with that. His mother has photos of Walnut at work, on her computer, and in a locket she wears. 

This would be a great book for children of parents who work a lot or kids who want to spend more time with their parents. It helps show that the parent is always thinking about the child and everything they do is to better their lives. 

These fluffy-tailed squirrels are adorably illustrated and the story is wonderfully light-hearted and modern. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday #96 - New To Me Authors I Read in 2016

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

Top Ten 'New to Me' Authors I Read in 2016

Jay Kristoff (Nevernight, Illuminae, and Gemina)
Technically Amie Kaufman was also a new to me author this year! I'm about to start Gemina sometimes this month but I loved both Nevernight and Illuminae!

Kelly Barnhill (The Girl Who Drank the Moon)
Oh my glob, this book was amazing! My favorite read of 2016! My only regret is not getting my hands on her other books! They are definitely in the cards for 2017 though!

Evelyn Skye (The Crown's Game)
I originally had no interest in this book but I kept seeing amazing reviews for it so I gave it a try and ended up loving it! 

Tahereh Mafi - Furthermore
I never bothered to read the Shatter Me trilogy despite its popularity but this one really caught my attention. It was wondrously weird. 

Tui T. Sutherland (Darkstalker)
This is the start to a prequel series to her original Wings of Fire series that I didn't know existed but now I want to read them all! If you like dragons, you must read these books! 

Michael J. Sullivan (Age of Myth)
This is another sort of sequel series to a previously written series. I loved this one so much I definitely plan on reading all his other books and can't wait for the next in this series! 

Naomi Novik (Uprooted)
I've known of this author for years but this is the first time I've read anything by her. This book was slow-paced but absolutely fantastic.

Ernest Cline (Ready Player One)
This is one of my favorite reads of the year. In my top 3. I'm really looking forward to the movie adaptation.

Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass Series)
I knew of this author before this year and had planned on reading Throne of Glass when it came out but wanted to read the series closer together so I waited. I'm glad I did because this series is amazing and I might have given up on it if I had to wait a year between releases. Just one more to go! 

Have you read any of these? What authors did you read for the first time this year?