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Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo (thoughts)

June 5, 2013

SiegeAndStormThe highly anticipated follow up to Shadow and Bone! I enjoyed the first book much more than I expected, mostly because I expected not to like it at all. And one of the reasons I really liked it was because of the main character, Alina. So, I was looking forward to hanging out with her once again.

In Shadow and Bone, Alina is just discovering her power and how to use it. In Siege and Storm, she is trying to get a handle on the responsibility that comes along with that power. It’s a responsibillity that I know I wouldn’t want, but Alina steps up – somewhat grudgingly at first, but mostly because she understands that with her gift she can do what no one else can. And also, it turns out she has a taste for power.

However, taking on this responsibility meant a lot of committee meetings, strategy planning sessions, and waiting around for the Darkling to strike. But don’t worry, Siege and Storm isn’t completely lacking in action. Bardugo has provided battles on land and sea – and in the air – featuring soldiers, Grisha with supernatural powers, and mythological creatures.

Really that only thing that irked me was Mal and his response to Alina’s new power and responsibility. At the beginning of the book Mal and Alina are on the run and hiding from the Darkling, and during this time Mal is in his element, keeping Alina safe and working towards a more permanent freedom. Meanwhile, Alina is wasting away and feeling useless because she’s not able to use her power and is unable to contribute to their new future together. However, once their plans are derailed and they get to the Palace, the tables are turned. Suddenly Alina is the one with all the responsibility and incredible power and Mal is reduced to playing bodyguard. And okay yes, they both could have handled some of the situations better and maybe Mal was born to be an awesome tracker and nothing else. But he had no right to make Alina feel bad about the role she had to play and try to convince her to run away, back to how things were at the beginning. Way to be supportive, mister.

Also, one of the other characters made a very good observation early in the book: for soul mates, the two of them were awfully insecure about their feelings for each other.

However, even with all that melodrama, it was still a great read. So if you’ve read the first in the Grisha Trilogy, definitely check this one out.

Source: borrowed ARC

Spring 2013 Read-a-thon Updates

April 27, 2013

I’ve said it before and I’m gonna have to say it again: if there’s one thing that can force me out of a blogging hiatus, it’s the 24 Readathon. I’ll be updating this post with my progress, so if you’re interested in seeing how my 8th Readathon (whaaaaat??) is going, check back here throughout the day.

Or come find me on Twitter.

More info on the Readathon HERE

5:00am – Hour 1 (The ‘I Might Be Awake, But Probably Not’ Edition)
I usually set my alarm for 5am on Readathon days (and wake up before it goes off), but since I’m feeling pretty run down from the week, that may not happen this time. But I should be up and about shortly! In the meantime, let’s look at the books I have lined up for the day.

I used to get a bunch of short, quick books from the library in preparation for readathon day, which was great for me reading stats, but not so good for my TBR pile. So this year I’m going to stick with books that I already have on hand. This is what I’ve pulled from the TBR shelves:

ReadathonApr13_Books

Black Hole Sun by David Macinnis Gill (I tried to start it a while ago, but immediately put it down again because I just wasn’t feeling it at that moment. But I’ve been reassured since then that it really is good, so maybe this is the time to give it another go.)
Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson (I’ve already started this, so it will probably be one of my focus books of the day.)
The Root Cellar by Janet Lunn (One of my favourites from when I was a kid. Picked for today for no other reason than because it is short-ish.)
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (Depending on how much I want to cry. But I might even start with it.)
Sabriel by Garth Nix (Book club pick, so it should probably be another focus book. I have started it, meaning I have read the prologue.)

That’s it! What’s in your readathon stack? What are you starting with? And, most importantly, what are you having for breakfast?

5:08am Edit: A few minutes late, but I am up and snuggled into my blanket nest with my first book. Let’s do this!

IMG_3607

You have every right to look scared of that monster, Eeyore.

7:35am – Hour 3 (The ‘It Feels Earlier Than Usual’ Edition)
So far this morning I’ve had first breakfast and my first nap. And am more than half way through my first book. I think we’re off to a good start.

Reading: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Munching: Hot cereal & tea
Listening: nothing but wonderful early morning silence

Books finished: 0
Total pages read: 130
Total reading time: 1hrs 49min
Total cheer comments: 0
Total naps: 1

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.

8:48am – Hour 4 (The ‘I Finished My First Book’ Edition)
… and I’m still drying my tears. I need to take a little mental break before moving on to my next book, which will probably be Suite Scarlett. I don’t have any new food pictures to share with you (although my stomach is starting to rumble for second breakfast), so instead here’s a pic of my reading spot for the day.

IMG_3605

Hooray for blanket nests!

Reading: in between books
Munching: nothing! gasp!
Listening: construction next door.

Books finished: 1
*A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Total pages read: 205
Total reading time: 2hrs 37min
Total cheer comments: 0
Total naps: 1

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.

11:00am – Hour 7 (The ‘Second Breakfast’ Edition)
Now that 2nd breakfast has been eaten and I’m comfortably into my 2nd book, it’s time to get to some cheering. I hope you’re all having a great Readathon day! Thanks to everyone who has stopped by and commented this morning :)

Reading: Suite Scarlett by Maureen JohnsonIMAG0872-1
Munching: Eggs, toast, back bacon, tea
Listening: Youth by Daughter

Books finished: 1
*A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Total pages read: 266
Total reading time: 2hrs 24min
Total cheer comments: 0
Total naps: 1

1:34pm – Hour 9 (The ‘I’ve Changed Out Of My PJs’ Edition)
I’ve changed into Real Clothes (read: yoga pants & a t-shirt) and somehow that has made me feel a little more energized and pumped for the day. Having lunch probably helped, too.

I’m really really enjoying Suite Scarlett. I actually started it earlier in the week but was having trouble getting into it. I’m so glad I decided to push through it today! Not only is it a fun read, it’s making me want to go back to New York like crazy. Like, now. If I suddenly disappear from the readathon this afternoon, it’s because I’ve booked a last minute flight and am packing my bags.

IMAG0873-1Reading: Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson
Munching: Sandwich, chips
Listening: A Lack of Color by Death Cab for Cutie

Books finished: 1
*A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Total pages read: 322
Total reading time: 5hrs 22min
Total cheer comments: 12
Total naps: 1

3:36pm – Hour 11 (The ‘Snack Time’ Edition)
IMAG0875-1I’ve hit the ‘heathy snack’ portion of the day. Still chocolate, popcorn, and leftover birthday champagne to look forward to this evening!

I’m still working away at Suite Scarlett. Right now I’m hoping I can finish this and at least start another book before I pack it in by Hour 18 tonight. I think that’s doable!

Reading: Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson
Munching: veggies, pita chips, hummus
Listening: Heavy machinery working away next door

Books finished: 1
*A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Total pages read: 375
Total reading time: 6hrs 41min
Total cheer comments: 23
Total naps: 1

8:46pm – Hour 16 (The ‘I’ve Started On The Champagne’ Edition)
IMAG0880-1Whew. As usual, this day has flown by. But I feel like I’ve been productive since my last update. I worked out, read in the bath, finished going through my cheerleading list, had dinner, finished my second book, and successfully opened a bottle of champagne without causing any damage to myself or our home.

Instead of starting something brand new, I think I’m going to move to Sabriel next. It’s our book club book for May and I should probably read past the first 15 pages.

I’ll only last another hour or two, but I should be back for one last update!

Reading: in between books
Munching: veggie beef nachos, champange
Listening: Bloodflood by Alt-J

Books finished: 2
*A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
*Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson
Total pages read: 527
Total reading time: 9hrs 16min
Total cheer comments: 40
Total naps: 1

11:12pm – Hour 19 (The ‘Time To Say Goodnight’ Edition)

This evening has degenerated into watching How I Met Your Mother on Netflix, so I’m calling it a night. Thanks for the blog comments and twitter chats and general bookish merriment. Thank you to the organizers and co-hosts – this event wouldn’t be nearly as amazing without you.

I’ll see you all in the Fall!

Final Read-a-thon Stats:
Books finished: 2 books + started a 3rd
*A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
*Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson
*Started Sabriel by Garth Nix (started)

Total pages read: 561
Total reading time: 10hrs 41min
Total cheer comments: 44
Total cheering time: 1hrs 49min
Total naps: 1

Total participation time: 12hrs 13min (not including Twitter time, working on blog posts, etc)

Weekly Round Up (03.31.13)

March 31, 2013

These were my 5 most listened to tunes from the last week, according to last.fm:

1. Falling by Haim (3 sisters + 80s inspired = awesome)
2. Forever by Haim
3. Overdose by Little Daylight
4. Hold on to the Metal by Royal Canoe
5. Jennifer by Little Comets

The sunshine has appeared and I am listening to all the summertime music with the windows rolled down. Happy Spring, indeed!

– – ~ – –

“It’s Monday What Are You Reading” is a weekly event hosted by Sheila that lets you share books you’ve read over the past week and books you have coming up.

Finished:
Cinders & Sapphires by Leila Rasheed
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Posted:
Snippet Thoughts: Madness Underneath, Cinder, This Is What Happy Looks Like, Cinders & Sapphires

Currently Reading:
The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson (reread)

Up Next: Either City of Bones by Cassandra Clare or Sweethearts by Sara Zarr

What are you reading and listening to? Did any new books find their way into your possession?

Snippet Thoughts: Madness Underneath, Cinder, This Is What Happy…, Cinders & Sapphires

March 26, 2013

MadnessUnderneathThe Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

The only other Maureen Johnson books I’ve read are the Little Blue Envelope ones, which I thought were okay. But the Shades of London books feel much more like books the Maureen Johnson of Twitter fame would write. I highly enjoyed the first in the series, The Name of the Star, and The Madness Underneath did not disappoint as a follow up. Well, until Maureen Johnson RIPPED my HEART out. Let’s just say that finishing it at my desk during my lunch break was a bad idea. I will be on tenderhooks waiting for the next book in this series to hit the streets.

Source: Borrowed (and now own)

ScarletScarlet by Marissa Meyer

Another second in a series that I had high hopes for. I didn’t quite enjoy this as much as Cinder, but it was still very enjoyable. Still being attached to where Cinder left off, I had wanted more of Cinder & Kai’s story. But Scarlet eventually won me over. Like in Cinder, I liked how Meyer reinvented the Little Red Riding Hood story and how characters overlapped from both Cinderella and the upcoming fairy tales. Looking forward to Cress – although it’s a million years away yet!

Source: Borrowed ARC

what happy looks likeThis Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

I’ve been meaning to read The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight for forever and now I’m even more certain I need to read it. Because This is What Happy Looks Like was completely adorable and filled with happy tinglies. Ellie was a relatable, regular girl who was understandably jumpy about her quiet life being disrupted. And I thought that Graham was a great mix between awkward with being a celebrity and in love with being an actor. Definitely check this one out – it will make a great summertime book.

Want a bit more? Caitlin & I put together some questions for Wilbur, Graham’s pet pig: Wilbur the Pig, Interviewed!

(All through reading it, it kept reminding me of a movie I’ve seen about a movie star in a small town – I’m thinking maybe Win A Date With Tad Hamilton? But it could have been something else. What other movies can you think of with a similar premise?)

Source: Borrowed ARC

Cinders-and-SapphiresCinders & Sapphires by Leila Rasheed

This book was like Downton Abbey, but with less substance. Downton Lite, if you will. Told from multiple points of view, it is filled with the great big cast of characters you’ve come to expect in a turn of the century English manor. You’ve got your proud heiress struggling with duty vs passion, your conniving ladies maid, your exceptionally proper yet loveable butler, and, of course, your Indian gentlemen primed to ruin it all. I actually liked the downstairs storylines more than the upstairs ones, and wish more time would have been spent on some of the upstairs/downstairs crossovers. This is the first in a series and although it had all sorts of potential, it lacked the kind of edge needed for me to what to continue with subsequent books.

Source: ARC from ALA

Weekly Round Up (03.17.13)

March 17, 2013

These were my 5 most listened to tunes from the last week, according to last.fm:

1. The Country Where I Came From by Mike Edel (a pretty folky song that makes me nostalgic for the prairies.)
2. Jennifer by Little Comets (makes me smile & long for sunny days)
3. Dust and Bones by Night Terrors of 1927
4. Shell Suite by Chad Valley
5. Dark by Luke Sital-Singh

I’ve been on a hunt for new indie pop/electronic songs and have been discovering all sorts of new music. Night Terrors of 1927 came out of that search, as well as a bunch of others that don’t doubt will be popping up on this list over the coming weeks. One song that I’ve been listening to constantly for the last couple weeks, which I’m surprised isn’t on my top list, is this fantastic mash up of Midnight City by M83 and Anything Can Happen by Ellie Goulding: Anything Can Happen at Midnight. Ugh, so good. Just when I thought I couldn’t like that M83 song more.

– – ~ – –

“It’s Monday What Are You Reading” is a weekly event hosted by Sheila that lets you share books you’ve read over the past week and books you have coming up.

Finished:
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

Posted:
Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion (book & movie)

Currently Reading:
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Cinders & Sapphires by Leila Rasheed

Up Next: Probably The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

What are you reading and listening to? Did any new books find their way into your possession?

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion (book and movie thoughts)

March 12, 2013

warm-bodiesFrom the author’s website:
R is a young man with an existential crisis–he is a zombie. He shuffles through an America destroyed by war, social collapse, and the mindless hunger of his undead comrades, but he craves something more than blood and brains. He can speak just a few grunted syllables, but his inner life is deep, full of wonder and longing. He has no memories, no identity, and no pulse, but he has dreams.
After experiencing a teenage boy’s memories while consuming his brain, R makes an unexpected choice that begins a tense, awkward, and strangely sweet relationship with the victim’s human girlfriend. Julie is a blast of color in the otherwise dreary and gray landscape that surrounds R. His decision to protect her will transform not only R, but his fellow Dead, and perhaps their whole lifeless world.

When it comes to the Zombie / Unicorn debate, I am firmly in the Team Unicorn camp. Last unicorns, killer unicorns – I’m in. Teenagers tearing each other apart – no thank you. So, when people started talking about Warm Bodies, I didn’t even consider it. Actually, I don’t even know if it registered on my radar.

warm_bodies_movieAnd then I saw the movie. Before going in, I had heard the adaptation described as a “John Hughes zombie film” – and I’d say that is spot on. While having its gruesome moments, it was funny and cute and backed by a fantastic soundtrack. In short, it was pretty much everything I didn’t expect from a zombie movie. It probably helped that I saw it at the end of a particularly wearing day at work and was most definitely in need of just this kind of movie. But as soon as the DVD comes out I can see it joining the ranks of my go-to movies for lazy Sunday afternoons.

Seeing as this was the first zombie story I can remember enjoying, I knew I had to read the book.

I started the book on a grey Sunday afternoon and finished it that evening. This is definitely not typical of my reading habits and never happens outside a Readathon day. But I was enjoying the story so much that I just didn’t want to stop to do anything else – thankfully I had no other commitments that day!

What hit me immediately was how completely different the mood of the book was compared to the movie. The movie followed the plot of the book pretty closely until about the last 3rd of the story, but the feel of each was very different. While the movie was fun and light, the book was much more introspective and sombre. And that was mostly due to R. He was a fantastic narrator and pulled me into the story, into his struggles. I honestly never thought I would sympathize with a zombie, but it happened.

I also really liked Julie. She had a sharper edge in the book and a more grim history – that maybe movie Julie also had, but we were just never told about – but above all she was still an optimist. Yes, the relationship that developed between the two of them was sweet and awkward and lovely to witness. But Warm Bodies really did feel like it was about a whole lot more than just a zombie falling in love with a living girl. It was about R’s search for meaning and Julie’s struggle to reconcile what she had been taught with her current experience. About the perils of society becoming disconnected and about finding a way to better the world.

I’m usually a Read The Book First girl, but in this case I’m glad I saw the movie first. The book was surprisingly moving and thought provoking and if I had expected a similar experience from the movie I would have been hugely disappointed. As it was, I was able to enjoy the pure entertainment of the movie and then go deeper with book.

I highly recommend both – even to non zombie fans :)

Weekly Round Up (03.03.13)

March 3, 2013

These were my 5 most listened to tunes from the last week, according to last.fm:

1. Be The Song by Foy Vance
2. Dark by Luke Sital-Singh
3. Little Numbers by BOY
4. Shell Suite by Chad Valley
5. Night Wolves by Farewell J.R

Not much to say about my top tunes this week. I had a pretty stressful week and listened to fun. on repeat quite a lot. So even though they were my most listened to band of the week, I’m surprised none of their songs showed up in my top tracks.

– – ~ – –

New on My Shelf (A combination of Library Loot, hosted by Claire at The Captive Reader and Marg at Reading Adventures, and Mailbox Monday, hosted in March by Caitlin @ chaotic compendiums.)

Two books to add to my tbr pile this week:

The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson (bought)

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion (borrowed) [I wasn’t interested in reading this until I saw the movie, which I loved. I know that the book is much different from the movie, but I’ve heard it’s also very good so I’m still very curious to see what it’s like.]

WRU 3-03-13

– – ~ – –

“It’s Monday What Are You Reading” is a weekly event hosted by Sheila that lets you share books you’ve read over the past week and books you have coming up.

Finished:
Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Posted:
Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
Reading Plan: March 2013

Currently Reading:
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Up Next: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater and then Warm Bodies

What are you reading and listening to? Did any new books find their way into your possession?

Reading Plan: March 2013

March 2, 2013
tags:

Another month, another reading plan.

February’s Reading Plan

Book club: The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
Short stories: Sleight of Hand by Peter S. Beagle (round two)
Review 1: Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
Review 2: The Love Song of Jonny Valentine by Teddy Wayne

TBR extras finished:
Wife 22 by Melanie Gideon

February wasn’t as amazing a reading month as January was, but at least I finished everything I set out to read! So, still a success.

March’s Reading Plan

Book club: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Short stories: The Grimm Chronicles Vol. 1 by Ken Brosky & Isabella Fontaine
Review: Cinders & Sapphires by Leila Rasheed
Re-read: The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

Learn more about why I started making a reading plan here.

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys (thoughts)

February 27, 2013

OutOfTheEasyFrom the author’s website:
Known among locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer. She devises a plan to get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie tangled in a police investigation that will challenge her allegiance to her mother, her conscience, and Willie Woodley, the brusque madam on Conti Street.
Josie is caught between the dream of an elite college and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans lures her in a quest for truth, dangling temptation at every turn, and escalating to the ultimate test.

I loved Between Shades of Gray, a conviction I will share with anyone who listens (and even those who won’t). So it was with great excitement and some trepidation that I started Ruta Sepetys’ latest book. Yes, they’re both historical fiction, and yes both stories take place within 10 years of each other – but the settings and circumstances surrounding them are so vastly different that they might as well have taken place on different planets. I worried that Sepetys’ beautiful writing and heart-rendering story telling might be more suited to bleak Siberia than to bustling New Orleans.

However, by the time I got to the point in the book where I was so mad at one of the characters that I actually threw my book down, I realized that those worries had long since been forgotten.

What usually draws me into a book are the characters, and there are plenty of fantastic ones to choose from in Out of the Easy. Josie is bookish and cunning, unsure of herself but so determined. While she took a little time to warm up to, she became a protagonist I didn’t have a hard time rooting for.

Out of the Easy does feature two potential male leads, but thankfully never fully delves into a love triangle. Patrick is clean cut and sophisticated and it’s easy to see why Josie feels so drawn to him. And then we have Jesse. Well, Jesse has a lot of Jess Mariano-like characteristics. So yes. A fan of him.

And then there are the cast of characters from the Quarter. This is where the book really comes alive. Josie’s life is filled with an eclectic group of people who, from the outside, might look like they’d be nothing but terrible influences but who are, in reality, what make Josie the wonderful person she is.

It’s safe to say that Ruta Sepetys’ success with Between Shades of Gray wasn’t just a one off, but that just about any story is safe in her hands. While the first is my favourite of the two, Out of the Easy is definitely also worth your time.

(Also, it won’t make you cry quite as much. Maybe just a little bit.)

Source: ALA

Weekly Round Up (02.24.13)

February 24, 2013

These were my 5 most listened to tunes from the last week, according to last.fm:

1. Shell Suite by Chad Valley
2. Night Wolves by Farewell J.R
3. Midnight City by M83
4. Closer by Tegan and Sara
5. The Mother We Share by CHVRCHES

My musical find of the week is Night Wolves by Farewell J.R. I described it on tumblr as achingly beautiful, and I stick by that. It hits a nerve somewhere deep inside me and then holds on and gives that nerve a good twist. Which makes for a somewhat uncomfortable listening experience, but the song is just so good that I’ve hit the repeat button almost before it has ended.

– – ~ – –

New on My Shelf (A combination of Library Loot, hosted by Claire at The Captive Reader and Marg at Reading Adventures, and Mailbox Monday, hosted in February by Audra @ Unabridged Chick.)

I met up with some local bloggers early in the week, which is always fun and involves much exchanging of books. This time we were joined by a couple lovely ladies from Raincoast – and they brought us presents!

Nobody’s Secret by Michaela MacColl [Raincoast]

Where’d you Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple [borrowed from Nafiza]

Neptune’s Tears by Susan Waggoner [Raincoast]

Absent by Katie Williams [Raincoast]

WRU 2-24-13

– – ~ – –

“It’s Monday What Are You Reading” is a weekly event hosted by Sheila that lets you share books you’ve read over the past week and books you have coming up.

Finished:
Sleight of Hand by Peter S. Beagle

Posted:
2012 Clean Up: Snippet Thoughts (Adult Smorgasbord)

Currently Reading:
Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Up Next: Just focusing on getting these two done.

What are you reading and listening to? Did any new books find their way into your possession?