Sunday, January 31, 2016

January End of the Month Challenge Wrap-Up (and One New Challenge Sign-up)

Hello everyone!  Since one of my blog goals for the year was to make sure I was keeping up on my challenges every month, I'll be posting an end of the month wrap-up, discussing my challenge achievements today instead of a Sunday Post. I'm also going to join into another challenge today and use this as my sign up post for it.  I'm actually a book behind on my Goodreads Chalelnge goal today, and I'm going to blame it on a book that gave me a severe hangover this past week, November 9.   I did a Stacking the Shelves yesterday, so that won't be included here either.  So, hang on, I hope you'll wade through my long post!

I think we should definitely start with my own Challenge.  I know I called it a series starter challenge, but the more I've thought about it, the more I think it is either a series, or an author maybe that is new to you.  So if you haven't joined in yet, please do HERE!  At the end of February I'll probably be hosting another giveaway for the people who are participating.  My goal was 4 new series this year.  And I would say I'm right on track with that.  Here is the link to the review of the one series I started this month:
If I choose to do the new author idea for myself for this series, I will have another one to include for February, and will also have to probably up my goal of 4 for the year at that rate.   If you've joined my Challenge, how did you do this past month?

For this challenge I have to actually use the same book as above.  It was actually one of my planned books from my original sign-up post HERE.  So I won't add it again to this post since you can just go click on the link above.  I'm right on track with this one as well, as my goal was only 11 most likely.

Now, for my goal on this, I was going to give feedback on 10 books to try to get my feedback rating back up to 80%.  I've got two books that I've done this with so far.
There are other books that I didn't finish, and I did try to go back and add feedback on them.
  • The Borden Murders by Sarah Miller - I didn't finish it, but reviewed it as a good book on Netgalley because it is something I would purchase for my school library.
  • Sneak Peek:  Soundless by Richelle Mead - I didn't even start this. When I first requested it, I thought it was the full book.  I don't like sneak previews.  I prefer to wait until the whole book is available to read.  And so that is what I added to the feedback on Netgalley.
I haven't actually raised my rating because I have added a few new books as well.  Oops.

  • My first goal was to subscribe to comments.  Well, unfortunately, I did this.  The reason I say unfortunately is because most of the time it isn't just subscribing to replies to my comment, it is to all comments on the post.  So I had to stop doing it.  :-(
  • I'm doing better about not actually downloading every egalley that I think I might want.  I am still writing all that are available down in my calendar.  What I need to do this month is make a mark of some sort on which 2 I actually have downloaded.
  • My next goal was about not having to post every day of the week this year.  It's really  hard to get out of that routine.  So much so that I've had to even take breaks, make myself take breaks and skip a day when I was feeling a bit overwhelmed.  I've still got to work on not signing up for tours unless it is a book I already know I'm going to read or am dying to read.  And I've gotten better about that.  I've stopped looking through all the tour emails I get other than a quick perusal.  
  • Then my goal of an end of the month challenge post is starting out great with this post!
  • The two reviews a week goal, still doing well with keeping it up!
  • On my reading goals I haven't done any of that really, no recommended books, no classics, but I have worked on my Goodreads goal, one book behind though!
  • For my personal goals, I have actually been to the gym once, so kind of working on it.  Haven't done well with saving money though.  I did get some organizing done in my house, got my bookshelves worked on one weekend.  Shared some pictures of that back then as well.  
If you want to check out what my actual goals were, go HERE.

I've decided to go ahead and join into this Challenge again as I have at least read one to get going.  Here is the info on what it is all about:
This challenge is for all of you series readers who are scared to death of that last book in the series. You anxiously await it. You stalk it. You get your hands on it as soon as possible. But then…you put off reading it for fear that it might not be everything you thought it would be. Or, maybe you just have a backlog of series started and you need to finish that last book. 

Levels: (how many series enders you are planning to read)
Level 1: 1 – 5
Level 2: 5 – 10
Level 3: 10 – 15
Level 4: 15+

My goal is going to be Level 3 as I have about 12 or 13 I want to read.  One is already done, and I'll put the link below.
  1. Will to Survive (Rule of Three #3) by Eric Walters
  2. The Countdown by Kimberly Derting
  3. Yellow Brick War by Danielle Paige
  4. The Crown by Kiera Cass
  5. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
  6. Lady Renegades by Rachel Hawkins
  7. Reborn by Jennifer Rush
  8. Graduation Day by Joelle Charbonneau
  9. Revolution by Jenna Black
  10. Redemption by Debra Driza
  11. Illusion by Martina Boone
  12. The Shadow Cabinet  by Maureen Johnson
  13. United by Melissa Landers
If you want to join in, go HERE to the sign-in page.  So I'm already ahead with even just signing up right now!

So there you have it.  A really long end of the month challenge check-in post.  Maybe next month I'll figure out a more streamlined way to do it.  How did you do on your challenges this past month?

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Stacking the Shelves - January 30th, 2016

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews.  It is a way for us to share the new books we have collected.  This is actually going to cover the last two weeks, as last weekend I took a much needed day off from blogging.  I'm not including this with my normal Sunday Post, as tomorrow I'll be doing an end of the month post instead.  So, without further ado, here are the books that joined my library over the past two weeks.

Books purchased:
  •  I haven't started the After series by Anna Todd, but it sounds like it could be my kind of read, other than how huge the books are!  But anyway, the first two were available on the bargain table at the Barnes and Noble where I work, or one was there, and I ordered the other in as a bargain one, $5.98 each, can't beat that as they're like $15 normally, and I even got my employee discount of 30% off the bargain price!
  • I work at a school library, but the book I Work at a Public Library has a lot of things that remind me of the library a little, but a lot of times of things at the bookstore as well.  
  • I got Pure by Jennifer L. Armentrout from the bookstore where I work.  I'm slowly ordering each of her books, one by one, because I know I'm going to love every single one!  So about once a month I order one into my bookstore for my discount.  Now on the bottom of the pile you'll notice Sentinal, same series as Pure.  I found that at Half Price Books, so I grabbed it, because of course 50% off is better than my 30% off employee discount.  
  • The other two in the pile, Wake by Amanda Hocking, and The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan, are from Half Price Books as well.  I have decided to go there more now that I have a few authors to try to catch up on their books.  Like JLA, and now Anna Todd as well.  I've already read the whole Wake series, but I don't know if I own them all or not.  If I find I already actually had this one, I'll just donate it to the school library where I work.
Books won:

The first two I won from author Cynthia Leitich Smith on her blog, Cynsations.   Now, you  only see one copy of Shade Me by Jennifer Brown, but I actually ended up with two free finished copies this week!  One I won from the author herself. The other I got for participating in the blog tour through Irish Banana Tours.  The second copy went to my school library, I'll be the first one in the district to have it available for my students!  You can read the post that I did for the book HERE.

Physical ARCs:

The first one I got from another awesome and successful book trade!  The other one I found when I walked into work at the bookstore one day and it was sitting out for employees to take if they wanted.  I was so excited that I was the first one there to see it!  Cannot wait to read it!!


So, I have yet to actually read a book by Frances Hardinge, although I've requested and received egalleys so far.  This one I MUST read.  It is part of my goals for the year.  And then I'm really excited for Gifted, because it is by an author that I really enjoyed their other book, HungryAnd finally, Alight, is the sequel to a book by another favorite author of mine.  While the first book didn't quite blow me away, I'm hoping the sequel will kind of tie some things together and make me remember why I loved the author so much.


 The first one I'm very excited about because I'm a huge Brenna Yovanoff fan, thanks to Maggie Stiefvater actually!  The first time I went to meet Stiefvater, she had both Yovanoff and Tessa Gratton with her, and so I found two new favorite authors.  I've been waiting to see what Yovanoff would put out next.  Kingdom of Ashes is another one I'm very excited for. The first book in that series was pretty original, but also I'm  not quite sure where it will go next, so I need to read on and find out.

So, those are the awesome additions to my bookshelves the past two weeks.  What did you add to your shelves?

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Review: The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd (TBR Pile Challenge and It's New to Me Challenge)

The Madman's Daughter is a book I'd wanted to read for a long time.  I believe some time last year I won it in a giveaway on another blog.  But I keep forgetting to leave notes in those books to remind me when I blog about them.  This is the 2nd book by this author that I've read.  The first was The Cage, which is not related to this story at all.  Once again though, this author has written a story that is very unique.  I love that it is a retelling of a classic story, while not a fairy tale, still a story that is great to have more insight into. 

Basically it is kind of a retelling of The Island of Dr. Moreau.  Or more precisely not necessary a retelling, but some additions to the story.  The main character for us is Juliet, who is the daughter of Dr. Moreau.  Her father left her and her mother when she was just a girl.  He left because whatever kind of experiments he was doing were considered against the laws of nature, and he was chased out by the other doctors and scientists of the time.  As far as Juliet knows, he is dead.  Because she and her mother had to work at horrible low paying jobs, and lived terrible lives.  Juliet is 16 years old, and of course has an interest in medical science, as well as quite a vast knowledge of it thanks to her father.  But all she can do now is work as a maid at a college nearby.  But one day she discovers her father's old assistant is in town.  Montgomery was about her age, but because he was a boy, her father took him in and taught him to be his assistant.  She finds out from Montgomery that her father is still alive, and on an island where it seems he has continued his experiments.

As I mentioned, she works as a maid.  And one of the men she works for is kind of a jerk.  After she has a bad interaction with him, she decides she must leave town, and so she insists that Montgomery take her back with him.  They do, but the ship ride is long, and it is on an older, sketchier ship.  On the way the ship rescues a man who is floating by himself on a raft in the middle of the ocean.  His name is Edward, and he says he's from a well-to-do family back in London.  While they are on the island, her father tries to get Juliet and Edward together, as he feels they would be a good match, and he could take care of her back in town.  But Juliet still feels an attraction to Montgomery, which she's unsure if he reciprocates.

Now the island is full of genetically modified animals that are now very human like thanks to her father.  While they mostly seem to follow his rules, some are growing uneasy and unhappy.  Not to mention there is someone or something on the island that has begun killing.  Dr. Moreau takes the medicine away from his creatures in punishment, and then all chaos breaks loose.  Making it a fight to stay alive, and figure out how to get off the island.

Really an interesting way to make this story come alive.  I've never actually read the original story, but have seen the movie, the newer one.  This story makes me want to go back and watch the movie again, especially since I didn't really enjoy the movie, but think maybe now I will.  Maybe watching the original instead.  I'm looking forward now to reading the next book in the series, and I was glad to read that it would be based on another story instead of just a continuation of this one.

And this book also will count towards two of my challenges:  TBR Pile, as well as the challenge I'm hosting this year:   It's New to Me.  It's not too late to enter into my challenge either!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices #1) by Cassandra Clare

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where we spotlight upcoming releases that we're eagerly awaiting.   I know everyone else has probably already put this as their WOW, but I finally am getting around to it closer to the time of when it will be published.  I loved the way the Mortal Instruments series ended, and I've been so looking forward to finding out where these new characters will take the story.  Here is the blurb from Goodreads if you haven't read it yet:

Los Angeles. It’s been five years since the events of the Mortal Instruments when Nephilim stood poised on the brink of oblivion and Shadowhunter Emma Carstairs lost her parents. After the blood and violence she witnessed as a child, Emma has dedicated her life to to discovering exactly what it was that killed her parents and getting her revenge.

Raised in the Los Angeles Institute with the Blackthorn family, Emma is paired as a parabatai with her best friend, Julian Blackthorn. A series of murders in the city catch her attention — they seem to have the same characteristics as the deaths of her parents. Could the murderer be the same person? And her attention isn’t the only one caught: someone has been murdering Downworlders as well. The Fair Folk make a deal with the Institute: if the Blackthorns and Emma will investigate the killings, they’ll return Mark Blackthorn to his home. The catch: they have only two weeks to find the killers. Otherwise it’s open war between faeries and Nephilim.

The Shadowhunters of the Institute must race against time to catch the killers, even as they begin to suspect the involvement of those closest to them. At the same time, Emma is falling in love with the one person in the world she’s absolutely forbidden by Shadowhunter Law to love. Set against the glittering backdrop of present-day Los Angeles, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches from the warlock-run nightclubs of the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica.

I'm just so excited to see what will happen with this new family.  What about you?  Are you planning to read this one?  What book are you anticipating this week? 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Audiobook Review: The Infinite Sea (The 5th Wave #2) by Rick Yancey

Once again I listened to this as an audiobook from the public library.  And for the most part, I was able to pick right back up and remember what had happened at the end of the first book.  The narrators for the book were really good.

We got to hear about Ringer's point of view, and at first, I was not enjoying it.  I love Cassie, and of course Ringer isn't a fan of hers!  And when we move away from Ringer's part at the beginning, well, let's just say we're left hanging a bit, and it wasn't till the last part of the book that we join back in and find out what has happened to her,  In her second section of the book, I began to feel more on her side.  And grew to really be worried about her.  Okay, stop reading now if you haven't read the first book, because there will be spoilers!  You can go and read my review of the first book, HERE.  And let me say I did go see the movie this week, and I enjoyed it.

So, our group of characters has holed up in an old hotel after they've escaped the enemy base camp that was training them to fight the other humans.  Part of the reason they're staying there is because Evan told Cassie that he would find her there. Even though she knows he had to have been blown up in the explosions he created to help them get away.  But everyone else knows they can't stay.  As I said, the story begins with Ringer's view point.  They've found a flyer in the hotel for a nearby system of caves, and they think that would be a safe place to go and stay.  Cassie refuses to go, saying she'll stay and wait for Evan, while they go on.  Knowing that Evan is an Other no one really quite trusts him, even with what the saw  him do.  But Ringer is tired of waiting, so she decides/volunteers to go scope out the caves.  She plans to go by herself.  Yet she gets out in the woods, and soon she feels that someone is following her, and she sees the drones flying overhead, as well as the Black Hawk helicopters that the enemy is flying.  When she has to shoot to defend herself, it will be a surprise who she has hit.  And afterwards, she will realize that giving herself in to the enemy may be the only way out of the situation.  Then we jump to Cassie.

For Cassie we see how her brother Sam has changed, how he doesn't quite trust her anymore, and from the way he was being trained by the Others, he doesn't understand why she doesn't want him to have a gun and defend everyone.  Another young one, called Teacup, had basically latched herself onto Ringer and wasn't happy when she left.  Soon other people in the group go out, and they start disappearing. In between the happenings with Cassie and Zombie/Ben and the others in the hotel, we jump to Evan's point of view.

Evan is alive, and very hurt.  For now, his body will probably heal like the Others, but it seems to be taking longer.  On his way to try to get to Cassie, he runs into an old friend of his.  An Other.  But he doesn't like her anymore, and he knows that now he'll have to get away from her in order to keep Cassie safe.  And so his search for Cassie becomes even more dangerous with a broken ankle among other injuries.

Back with Cassie's group, Zombie's injuries are also getting worse, but he won't let anyone talk him out of being a part of all of it.  Soon more things will escalate in the hotel.  Evan and his friend Glory will show up, and they will have more problems to deal with.  When we leave Cassie and the crew at the hotel, Evan has given them the address to a place that he says will be safe for them. And he promises he will do his best to get to Cassie once again, even though he may now be completely human, no longer alien at all.  And then the end of the book is all through Ringer's viewpoint.

We find out what has happened to Ringer, that by giving in to the enemy, they've taken her in and basically hooked her up to their systems.  But in the process there is so much that her body doesn't want to take it, and wants to reject the system they've inserted.  So the end of the book is spent with her basically trying to survive and have her body adjust to the new improvements that have been added.  But she doesn't want this, if it wasn't for the fact that they have someone she feels responsible, she would kill herself and be done with it. While she is in there, one of her guards becomes a friend, and soon she thinks maybe he's sending her a secret message, a way to get out.  When she plans her escape, things will almost go as planned. But it seems Colonel Vosch may be one step ahead, even when she thinks she's getting one over on him.  And now she doesn't know who to trust.  We're left at this point, and we don't know what will happen to anyone, and if they will meet back up, and who is still alive, and who isn't.

In this story there are so many exciting things that happen. So many good questions raised. Like, why are the aliens dragging all of this out?  They could have killed all of the humans much easier.  Why are they turning their children into bombs and sending them out to kill the humans left?  So many things that made me think as well. And now I can't wait till the next book comes out, because I  need to know!

On another note, I saw the movie last week.  I enjoyed it, but definitely can see the issues that people had with it.  It had the same issues with not understanding the relationships really between the characters because it is kind of glossed over. Something that if you read, you'll just know what it is supposed to be, kind of how I felt they did with the first Twilight movie.  People who read the book understood why Edward and Bella fell in love, but they left that stuff out of the movie.  So a fun movie, but many things could have been better.  I would encourage you to go see it with no expectations, and you will enjoy it.  At least I did.  My biggest complaint was that Evan didn't have chocolatey brown eyes like Cassie described several times in the books.  Hollywood needs to understand that we don't always need blue eyed boys.  The actor could totally have worn contacts, and still been hot.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Review and Giveaway: Elementals: The Prophecy of Shadows by Michelle Madow

About Elementals: The Prophecy of Shadows:
Title: Elementals: The Prophecy of Shadows

Author: Michelle Madow
Publisher: Dreamscape Publishing
Release Date: January 26, 2016
Series: Elementals #1
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Format: eBook and paperback
ISBN: 2940152448849 

Filled with magic, thrilling adventure, and sweet romance, Elementals: The Prophecy of Shadows is the first in a new series that fans of Percy Jackson and The Secret Circle will love!

When Nicole Cassidy moves from sunny Georgia to gloomy New England, the last thing she expects is to learn that her homeroom is a cover for a secret coven of witches. Even more surprisingly … she’s apparently a witch herself. Despite doubts about her newfound abilities, Nicole is welcomed into this ancient circle of witches and is bedazzled by their powers—and, to her dismay, by Blake—the school’s notorious bad-boy.

Girls who get close to Blake wind up hurt. His girlfriend Danielle will do anything to keep them away, even if she must resort to using dark magic. But the chemistry between Blake and Nicole is undeniable, and despite wanting to protect Nicole from Danielle’s wrath, he finds it impossible to keep his distance.

When the Olympian Comet shoots through the sky for the first time in three thousand years, Nicole, Blake, Danielle, and two others in their homeroom are gifted with mysterious powers. But the comet has another effect—it opens the portal to the prison world that has contained the Titans for centuries. After an ancient monster escapes and attacks Nicole and Blake, it’s up to them and the others to follow the clues from a cryptic prophecy so that they can save their town … and possibly the world.

Buy Links:  Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo  |  iBooks

Add to your TBR List:  Goodreads

My Review:
First, I have to say thanks to Barclay Publicity and Netgalley for allowing me to read an e-galley of this.  I have been a fan of Michelle Madow since her first series, Transcend Time.   I actually even met her my first time at BEA in 2012, standing in the blogger day conference line.  And then I got to see her again when I went in 2014, and I remembered to get a picture with her:

However, not one time that I've seen her have I had one of her books to get autographed.  Next time, I will for sure!    I have to say that this new series kept right up with what I've enjoyed about her books so far, and I'm very excited to read on after I finished this one.  

Now the blurb above pretty much tells you what the story is about, so I don't want to repeat all of that.  So, I'm going to tell you the things I really liked about it instead!  I love the theme children of the gods of Olympus idea being used again in this type of story.  We got to have more of a romantic teen story than you really get with the Percy Jackson series, although I do love that series!  I feel like all of the characters had something small about them that made them different from other similar characters in similar stories.  The way that all of it unfolded was great as well.  I love the little clues the five main characters got, and how they learned just what "abilities" they had.  This was the way they learned who their Olympian "parent" was.  The story around Blake and his girlfriend Danielle is interesting.  I do like that Nicole pretty much sticks to her guns about not dating Blake until he officially breaks up with Danielle, as well as realizing that to start dating him right away after they do, will cause many issues for the group.  My only complaint was that at first it seemed to kind of move too quickly and skim over things that I wanted more details on.  But as the book went on that got better, and by the end I was really happy with how it was written.

 About Michelle Madow:

Michelle Madow grew up in Baltimore, graduated Rollins College in Orlando, and now lives in Boca Raton, Florida. She wrote her first book in her junior year of college, and has been writing novels since. Some of her favorite things are: reading, pizza, traveling, shopping, time travel, Broadway musicals, and spending time with friends and family. Michelle has toured across America to promote her books and to encourage high school students to embrace reading and writing. Someday, she hopes to travel the world for a year on a cruise ship.

To get instant updates about Michelle's new books, subscribe to her newsletter and follow her on Amazon!

Connect with Michelle:  Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Instagram  |  Goodreads

  • Michelle is offering up a fabulous prize during her Elementals: The Prophecy of Shadows Virtual Tour event. One (1) lucky winner will receive a Kindle Fire 7”! To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below:  
     a Rafflecopter giveaway