Saturday, July 30, 2016

Review: The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4) by Maggie Stiefvater

Book info:
TitleThe Raven King  
Author:  Maggie Stiefvater
SeriesThe Raven Cycle #4  
Genre:  YA Fantasy/Adventure
Published:  April 26th, 2016
Source:  Purchased myself

This is a book that I am going to have a really hard time reviewing.  I love this series so much.  I love this author's writing so much.  The first book, The Raven Boys, was so good and got me so in love with this series.  What was so exciting about that first book is that my last name was almost a character's last name in the book.  Don't believe me?  Too crazy?  Well here is a picture I took of the actual tweets with the author about it.

I try not to be too annoying, but it's hard not to remind her of this and say how sad I am that the character ended up on the cutting room floor whenever I go to one of her events.  Book 2, The Dream Thieves, also blew me away.  And again, book 3, Blue Lily, Lily Blue, just great, and I loved it.  Now, I will try really hard not to give any spoilers with this book for those of you who are caught up, but, I can't promise that for the three books before this one if you haven't read them.  So if you are behind, click on the links for those books and read those reviews first.  Just know that while this was a good ending to the series, it's almost like the amount of extra time between when it was due out, October 2015, and when it actually came out, April 2016, built it up too much in my head and I felt a little tiny bit of something missing for that wait.  But still, so so good, and you need to read the series!

But now, on with my review of this one.  The last book left off with such a sad place, the death of one character I'd grown to really like in the short time we got to know them.  Some new characters showed up, including Blue's father.  To learn exactly who or what Blue is, that was really neat and such a great surprise to me.  The daughter of the lost king, such a quirky character, which totally brought in something we'd been missing since the death or loss of other characters from before.  The tension in Blue and Gansey's at first hidden relationship, to the will they or won't they kiss, when we've all known what that kiss is supposed to mean for Gansey since the very first book.  We learn just how much of Ronan's life is a dream, or came from a dream.  And then there is Henry Cheng, I love his character, and what his past brings to the story really did add a whole other aspect that made the story even better.  Ronan getting a chance at love and happiness, well as happy as Ronan ever gets, that totally brought a smile to my face and made me so happy.  Of course there is the king to be found to see what kind of wish Gansey could be granted, maybe so he won't have to die?  And then Cabeswater itself is in trouble.  There are just so many strings that intersect in so many different ways that I can't even really tell too much about any one event without giving away another major event or plot line.

Here's my thought on how it all ended.  I feel like Maggie did a great job, believable, and perfectly normal for her type of world ending.  There are things about it that almost felt a little too easy to me, but I can't even explain what about it made me feel that way, so I can't even use that as a negative for the book.  I didn't have any trouble enjoying the book, to the point that as I read I wanted to know what was going to happen, but unlike the other books in the series, I didn't have problems setting it down and going on to do other things.  So there was something missing in that aspect I guess. But it wasn't the characters.  As usual, the characters were the best part of the story, and I will be sad to be done with them.  I know the story is over, but I could totally read on about their lives after it all.  Ronan and Adam, Gansey and Blue, and what about Henry?  You must read this series, and you must see how it all ends if you've read all of it so far.  

Friday, July 29, 2016

Discussion Post: To DNF or Not To DNF, That Is The Question - Or How Do You Decide If You Should Give Up On A Book?


Once again my discussion post has been pushed off until the end of the month.  And it changed topics several times.  But, I've seen a lot of other posts about DNFing, so I thought I would join in since I have some big thoughts about it too, and of course there will be gifs.  Today I've chosen a bunch of gifs from a new favorite show, Brooklyn Nine Nine.  Also, a reminder that the 2016 Discussion Challenge is hosted by Feed Your Fiction Addiction and It Starts at Midnight.  If you want to check out any of my earlier posts you can go to these links:



My title of course refers to Hamlet's "To be, or not to be" famous quote.  I often feel conflicted on whether to give up on a book.  There was a day though, before blogging, before working at a bookstore, when I didn't give up on books.  I either fought my way through to the bitter end, or I put a bookmark in it (yes, sometimes that was a folded page corner) and set the book aside to pick up and finish later.  Once Goodreads came around, I actually left those books on my currently reading shelf.  Until recently.  When I decided that having 20 books on my currently reading shelf was just silly.  So I moved those books to another shelf, the DNF one, or else I have another "series I may not finish" shelf on Goodreads.  My Goodreads DNF shelf has 68 books on it currently.


While it has gotten easier to decide to give up on a book due to all the other books I have to read just waiting on me, it still is never quite that easy.  When I have heard such great things about a book.  Or when I requested it on Netgalley or Edelweiss.  But I've also learned that I can still give those sites a review, and explain to them why I didn't finish it.  However, one thing is that I don't feel like I can give a review to other people if I haven't given it a fair chance.


The reason I don't do reviews on my DNF books is because I know that there are probably many other people who will enjoy the book.  But now, I begin to wonder if I should give more of a reason on Goodreads at least, to others looking to figure out whether they will like a book or  not.  So I guess one question I would like anyone reading this to discuss in the comments is about reviewing DNF books.  Do you DNF?  If you do, do you review them?  Whether you DNF or not, do you want to read a review of why someone did DNF?

 

The other question I have for discussion, if you do DNF, when do you decide to do it?  I've heard many different things.  Some do after 10%, others take their age subtracted from 100 and read that many pages first.  So far I haven't necessarily followed anything specific.  I do try to do at least 10%, but I go until I just can't keep reading, can't make myself read anymore without having to actually work to concentrate.


Please, chime in below and share your thoughts on this whole DNF thing with me!  I am always looking for any tips that make things easier, or make me feel better about doing something the way I'm already doing it.  And because I couldn't go without at least one Supernatural gif, here you go:

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway - Wax by Gina Damico

About the Book:

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Title: WAX

Author: Gina Damico
Pub. Date: August 2, 2016
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Pages: 368
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Find it: AmazonBarnes and NobleiBooksGoodreads  


 
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Paraffin, Vermont, is known the world over as home to the Grosholtz Candle Factory. But behind the sunny retail space bursting with overwhelming scents and homemade fudge, seventeen-year-old Poppy Palladino discovers something dark and unsettling: a back room filled with dozens of startlingly life-like wax sculptures, crafted by one very strange old lady. Poppy hightails it home, only to be shocked when one of the figures—a teenage boy who doesn’t seem to know what he is—jumps naked and screaming out of the trunk of her car. She tries to return him to the candle factory, but before she can, a fire destroys the mysterious workshop—and the old woman is nowhere to be seen.

With the help of the wax boy, who answers to the name Dud, Poppy resolves to find out who was behind the fire. But in the course of her investigation, she discovers that things in Paraffin aren’t always as they seem, that the Grosholtz Candle Factory isn’t as pure as its reputation—and that some of the townspeople she’s known her entire life may not be as human as they once were. In fact, they’re starting to look a little . . . waxy. Can Poppy and Dud extinguish the evil that's taking hold of their town before it’s too late?

My Review:
It's been a while since I've read a book by Gina Damico, but I'm happy to say that I immediately remembered why I had loved her Croak series so much.  The characters she writes are snarky and fun.  The dialogue makes me laugh out loud as I'm reading, even when I'm sitting in a crowded fast food restaurant by myself.  The idea behind the story is definitely creepy, and there are definitely those moments that would be great in a horror movie.  But the characters themselves make it more than that, make it more like the self-deprecating style of the Scream movie franchise, well the first two, which were the good ones anyway.  
I definitely identified with the main character, Poppy.  Her love of lists, and when she goes into the office store to get a new notebook?  Oh yeah, that's me.  I love new notebooks, but there is always something more about them than just liking the cover, even then I am a little picky about which ones I buy.  And the reasons don't always make sense to anyone else, but I have them.  The loving, funny family that she comes from, I love for once that a YA character can have one of those types of families.  
A fun tidbit in the story deals with the famous Madame Tussaud, whose wax creations are well-known and emulated even today.  I enjoyed the bit of history added to this aspect of the story, and am intrigued to go do some of my own research just to find out how much of that was true.  Really, the story is overall a fun romp in a small town where you have extremely quirky characters, something I'd say this author excels at from my experience with her books so far.  
 I didn't ever get around to reading her last book, but I know that it is now bumped up on my TBR list as I can't wait to get to know another set of her characters and creative worlds.  
About Gina:
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Gina Damico is the author of Croak, Scorch, and Rogue, the grim-reapers-gone-wild books of the Croak trilogy. She has also dabbled as a tour guide, transcriptionist, theater house manager, scenic artist, movie extra, office troll, retail monkey, yarn hawker and breadmonger. A native of Syracuse, New York, she now lives outside Boston with her husband, two cats, and one dog, and while she has never visited hell in person, she has spent countless waking hours at the Albany Regional Bus Terminal, which is pretty darn close. Visit her website at www.ginadami.co.


Website | Tumblr | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | Goodreads  

Giveaway: 
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--> 3 winners will receive a hardcover of WAX! US Only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

--> Tour Schedule:
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Week One:
7/25/2016- Two Chicks on Books- Interview
7/26/2016- Eli to the nth- Review
7/27/2016- BookHounds YA- Guest Post
7/28/2016- Lisa Loves Literature- Review YOU ARE HERE!
7/29/2016- The Cover Contessa- Interview


Week Two:
8/1/2016- Here's to Happy Endings- Review
8/2/2016- Ohana Reads- Guest Post
8/3/2016- A Dream Within A Dream- Review
8/4/2016- YA Book Madness- Interview
8/5/2016- A Gingerly Review- Review

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Review and Author Interview: Wake the Hollow by Gaby Triana

Book info:
TitleWake the Hollow  
Author:  Gaby Triana
Genre:   YA paranormal, retelling
Publisher:  Entangled Teen
Published:  August 2nd, 2016
Source:  Netgalley

My Review:
I really enjoyed this book that was kind of a new take on the whole Headless Horseman and Sleepy Hollow story by Washington Irving.  Also a look at the author, Irving, and his history.  This is the kind of story that grabs me and makes me want to look more into the actual history and any of the theories that were put forth.  

The main character is Mica Burgos.  She spent the first 12 years of her life living in Sleepy Hollow with her parents.  Her mother was kind of known as the crazy lady in the town, always researching crazy theories about Washington Irving, the author that the town claims as their most important figure.  They even have two families that are said to be descended from branches of his family, and they are the ones that made Mica's life miserable.  When her father had the chance to move his family to Miami after becoming very successful, Mica's mother chose to stay, and Mica left and didn't ever really contact her mother again.  Until one day she receives a cryptic note from her mother, and shortly after, her mother is found dead.  Unable to get back until weeks after the funeral, Mica comes back to a mystery.  Her father is out of the country on business, and he gets a condo/townhome set up for Mica and her nanny/family assistant to live there while she goes back to settle her mom's affairs.  

She is met by her  best friend from back then, a boy named Bram.  Bram was the only person who seemed to give her a chance, even going against  his own family, one of the two descended families, to be her friend and support her.  But he seems to have feelings that are more than just friendly, and Mica knows that she will leave Sleepy Hollow again as soon as she figures out just what the mess her mother left for her is.  So many things are happening.  First, Mica has always seen ghosts or heard voices, something her mother used to do.  And when she gets to town, she immediately begins to feel like she is being followed.  There are hints that maybe her mother's death wasn't a natural heart attack as she was told.  A famous journal of Washington Irving was stolen, and everyone seems to blame Mica's mother for it.  But Mica doesn't find the journal, although she does start finding pages that could belong to it.  As well as finding a family tree/ancestry chart, that shows a possible link from Mica's family to the whole big deal in the town.  It all relates to a theory that the new student teacher in town, Dane Boracich brings up in his first lesson in class.  And there is something else strange about this new teacher, he seems to be following Mica.  

And things just get spookier from there.  At one point, Mica thinks that she may actually see the headless horseman, although it seems he is after someone who is threatening her.  There seem to be all different people around town who have some kind of reason or possibility of being the way that her mother possibly died.  Then there are the journal pages that Mica's mom has left all over for her.  No matter how many times she tries to call, Mica can't seem to get her father on the phone, and things get even weirder when her father's assistant leaves her all alone.  She goes to stay with her mom's friend and their old neighbor.  Trying to get into her old house is difficult when the realtor with the key won't call her back.  The police won't answer any of her questions either.  Mica will have to decide who to trust.  Her old friend Bram, although he comes from a family that could be at fault with her mother's death, not to mention his creepy roommate that comes from the other family, and had always been hateful to Mica since she turned him down years ago as well.  And then there is the new teacher, Dane. When Mica finds out that maybe he isn't exactly who he says he is, can she trust him?  All of it will come to a head at the big annual HollowEve event where Bram will get to play the part of the Headless Horseman, and Mica will learn not only who she can trust, but what exactly her mother was trying to hide for her to find, and just how deadly finding it could be.

A great retelling/reimagining of both Sleepy Hollow, as well as possibly Washington Irving's life.  I'm now very intrigued to go learn more about Irving.  I  like how the author of this book included a reading guide at the end, as well as giving the steps she took for writing this.  The ending is a good one, although in a way, there is a bit of an opening left, giving us a peek at what might be coming up for Mica in the future, or at least it made me want to know more!

Author Interview:
When I signed up for this book with the publisher, they asked if I would be interested in working with the author to do anything else, and I was lucky enough to get to do an interview.  Here is what she had to say:
1.  What does your writing process look like?  Do you know the whole story when you start?  Or do you just start writing and go with it (seat of the pants writing)?  If you plan it out, how do you do that?  Outline, note cards, post-it notes, etc.?

I have to know which way I’m headed before I start. This means first, I’ll brainstorm by hand, usually in a notebook I’ve bought just for the book I’m working on. Then, since I need to know my beginning, ending, and a few events in the middle before I start, I’ll fill in about 1/3 of an outline before I start writing, creating the rest of the outline as I go. Late nights are best for me. It’s when my kids are all asleep, and I can think the best.
 

2.  How do you come up with your ideas for your stories?
 

Ideas come in many ways. Sometimes I have an ending in mind before anything else, so I’ll work toward that ending. Sometimes I have a concept only, no characters or plot, just an idea to figure out, and sometimes I have a character in mind and work around that. Real life is a great source of inspiration, so I use a lot from my own dramatic life. :P

3.  How long have you been writing?
 

I’ve been writing since I was in the 3rd grade. I always knew I wanted to be a writer! Oh, you meant professionally. :) I’ve been writing and publishing since 2002, so 14 years writing young adult.

4.  What tips do you have for aspiring writers?

Thinking your story has to be perfectly thought out before you start is a big mistake. Just write. Even if it’s terrible, even if it’s not exactly what you want it to be, just write. Play “what if” with a notebook—this is going somewhere comfy and brainstorming a list of all the things that could happen in your story. Before you know it, you’ll have a bunch of events to plug into an outline chronologically, and before you know it, you’ll have a completed novel. 

Some fun questions

Favorites
Books/authors/genres: I’m a big fan of horror—Stephen King, Joe Hill, Anne Rice
 

Movies/TV Shows: I don’t get to watch much TV because I’m always writing, but I love The Conjuring and Downton Abbey.
 

Music: I’m a child of the 70’s - 80’s, so anything from then. I also love anything you can dance to and anything that tells a story, including country music.
 

Food/writing snack: Oh, man. Chocolate! Also, strawberry Dole bars and Cheerios are easy to grab so I don’t have to stop writing.
 

Social Media Site: I use Facebook and Instagram most. Everytime I use Twitter, I feel like I’m alone in space with lots of meteors flying past. No one is listening, but there’s a lot of movement.   

I love all the answers listed here!  I got some great things for myself in writing tips, and the fact that the author loves some of my favorite horror authors, as well as one of my favorite scary movies, The Conjuring, tells me that I'll be looking forward to more books by her!

Author bio: (taken from author's website)
GABY TRIANA is the award-winning author of six YA novels—Wake the Hollow (Coming 2016), Summer of Yesterday, Riding the Universe, The Temptress Four, Cubanita, and Backstage Pass, as well as thirteen ghostwritten novels for best-selling authors. Originally a 4th grade teacher with a Master of Science in Elementary Education and ten years teaching experience, Gaby earned Teacher of the Year in 2000, wrote her first novel, Freddie and the Biltmore Ghost, then left teaching to launch a full-time writing career. She went on to publish young adult novels with HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster, win an IRA Teen Choice Award, ALA Best Paperback Award, and Hispanic Magazine’s Good Reads of 2008. She spends her time obsessing about Halloween, Christmas, and Disney World, as well as hosting parties, designing mugs, making whimsical cakes, and winning costume contests. When she’s not writing, she might also be watching Jurassic Park movies with her boys, posting excessive food pics on social media, or helping run the Florida region of the SCBWI. Gaby lives in Miami with her three sons, Michael, Noah, and Murphy. She has one dog, Chloe, and two cats—Miss Daisy, and the reformed thug, shooting survivor, Bowie.   
Author Links:
Website:  http://www.gabytriana.com
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/gaby.triana?fref=photo
Twitter:  @GabyTriana
Youtube:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f9h2MmJSmDA&feature=youtu.be
Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/gabytriana/

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway - The Architect of Song by AG Howard


Book info:
Title: THE ARCHITECT OF SONG
Author: A.G. Howard
Pub. Date: August 15, 2016
Publisher: A.G. Howard
Pages: 425
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Find it: Amazon, Goodreads



A lady imprisoned by deafness, an architect imprisoned by his past, and a ghost imprisoned within the petals of a flower - intertwine in this love story that transcends life and death.


For most of her life, nineteen-year-old Juliet Emerline has subsisted – isolated by deafness – making hats in the solitude of her home. Now, she’s at risk to lose her sanctuary to Lord Nicolas Thornton, a twenty-seven-year-old mysterious and eccentric architect with designs on her humble estate. When she secretly witnesses him raging beside a grave, Juliet investigates, finding the name “Hawk” on the headstone and an unusual flower at the base. The moment Juliet touches the petals, a young English nobleman appears in ghostly form, singing a song only her deaf ears can hear. The ghost remembers nothing of his identity or death, other than the one name that haunts his afterlife: Thornton.



To avenge her ghostly companion and save her estate, Juliet pushes aside her fear of society and travels to Lord Thornton’s secluded holiday resort, posing as a hat maker in one of his boutiques. There, she finds herself questioning who to trust: the architect of flesh and bones who can relate to her through romantic gestures, heartfelt notes, and sensual touches … or the specter who serenades her with beautiful songs and ardent words, touching her mind and soul like no other man ever can. As sinister truths behind Lord Thornton’s interest in her estate and his tie to Hawk come to light, Juliet is lured into a web of secrets. But it’s too late for escape, and the tragic love taking seed in her heart will alter her silent world forever.


International and NYT bestselling author, A.G. Howard, brings her darkly magical and visual/visceral storytelling to Victorian England. The Architect of Song is the first installment in her lush and romantic Haunted Hearts Legacy series, a four book gothic saga following the generations of one family as - haunted by both literal and figurative ghosts - they search for self-acceptance, love, and happiness.

New Adult: Recommended for ages 17+.  


Book trailer:
  

My Review:
I don't know exactly where to begin, I just loved this book so much!  Once again Howard has created a vivid, wonderfully complex world that I lost myself in right away.  The characters were intriguing, and even with the seriousness of the story and mystery, you still get some humorous dialogue, something that is a big plus in a story for me!  Juliet is a strong female character for the time period the story takes place in.  She is able to get by even with being deaf, although she does need the help of her uncle.  And soon, once she meets Hawke, her ghost, he also becomes her ears, and what is special about him being her ears is that she can actually hear him.  He can hear her when she thinks, so she is able to talk to him and listen to him without drawing unwanted attention from the world around her.  But who Hawke is and how he is connected to Juliet, as well as the things happening in her world, is a mystery with twists and turns that will keep you turning pages and unable to put the book down.  Every time it seems that maybe there is an answer to what is behind all the intrigue and tragedies in the past, something else comes to light that either throws that all out the window or puts another piece into the puzzle's final image. I fell in love with Hawke, but knowing he is a ghost, and how much the author made sure we knew that there was probably not any way to bring him back, there was always that heartache as the romance developed.  And then Lord Thornton.  His character goes from one you don't like, to one who might be there in a manner that could only be helpful to Juliet, to even a possible romantic interest, one of true love, then back to being suspicious.  In the end all of it tied up perfectly, and I was extremely satisfied with the outcome.  When I went to mark the book read on Goodreads, I was extremely pleased to also note that this is a series, and that we will get to return to this world in some other aspect, even if not with this exact couple's story.

About A.G. Howard:


A.G. Howard was inspired to write SPLINTERED while working at a school library. She always wondered what would've happened had the subtle creepiness of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland taken center stage, and she hopes her darker and funkier tribute to Carroll will inspire readers to seek out the stories that won her heart as a child.

When she's not writing, A.G.'s pastimes are reading, rollerblading, gardening, and family vacations which often include impromptu side trips to 18th century graveyards or condemned schoolhouses to appease her overactive muse.
Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr | Pinterest | Goodreads   






Giveaway:


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All tour prizes (INTL):

2 - signed The Architect of Song paperbacks

3 - The Architect of Song e-books

1 - heart locket necklace

1 - Architect of Song poster

1 - faux leather journal

1 - 5X7 musical print

3 - The Architect of Song swag packs

1 – LitCube surprise box


13 separate winners   

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:


Week One:


7/25/2016- Dark Faerie TalesGuest Post-Hybrid Author
7/25/2016- a GREAT readReview 



7/26/2016- Lisa Loves LiteratureReview  YOU ARE HERE!

7/26/2016- BookfeverReview

7/27/2016- FiktshunCharacter Interview

7/28/2016- The Reading CaféReview
7/28/2016- Adventures of aBook JunkieReview

7/29/2016- Please Feed thebookwormReview
7/29/2016- 21st Century OnceUpon A TimesReview
  



Week Two:


8/1/2016- Once Upon a Twilight - Exclusive Excerpt
8/1/2016- Ramblings of aDaydreamerReview

8/2/2016- My Friends AreFictionGuest Post- Fashion
8/2/2016- Sarcasm and LemonsReview

8/3/2016- CornerfoldsReview
8/3/2016- BookHounds YAReview

8/4/2016- BookiemojiExclusive Excerpt
8/4/2016- Owl Always BeReadingReview

8/5/2016- Mundie MomsReview
8/5/2016- Two Chicks on Books- Guest Post- Playlist
8/5/2016- The Cover Contessa- Review