Books I've Read

Book Review: Crow Flight by Susan Cunningham

crowflightTitle: Crow Flight

Author: Susan Cunningham

Genre: YA Contemporary/Mystery

Series: none

Edition: ebook ARC from NetGalley

Blurb: Gin trusts logic a little too much. She even designs programs to decide what to eat and how to spend her time. All that changes when she’s paired with a new transfer student, Felix, on a computer modeling assignment to explain certain anomalies in the behavior of crows.

As she enters Felix’s world and digs further into the data behind crow behavior, Gin uncovers a terrible secret. And the wrong decision could equal disaster squared . . .

Review: Another review for NetGalley, and it was a very pleasant surprise! I enjoyed this book a lot more than I thought I would. Not that I had a bad expection, but I had no expectations at all.

Let’s start with our main character, Gin. I absolutely loved her. More stories about nerd girls, please! I could relate to her on a level that I did not expect. She loves computers and making these models and apps to help her with her life. She is awkward and has trouble making friends at school, but she is also very confident and knows who she is. She doesn’t expect to find her self-worth through other people. Her goal is to get a very prestigious internship and then go to Harvard.

She doesn’t quite know what to do with Felix, and for most of the story, I didn’t either. He was a big part of the mystery, even though he seems like mostly a normal, nice guy. A big part of this story was trying to figure out what was going on with him and, of course, with his family’s pet crows. In the beginning, their behavior seems almost magical (to the point that I almost thought this had fantastical elements at one point, but it doesn’t – they weren’t actually “talking” to the crows, they are just very well trained).

The story itself did drag in some places, but it also really kept me invested. I didn’t want to put it down. I was a bit disappointed in the ending, as I was expecting more of a final confrontation, but if there was one, it happened offstage somewhere. It was a satisfying ending, I just wish we had seen it more on the page, especially since so much time was spent leading up to it.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book. It was interesting and fun to read with some really good characters.

GoodReads rating: 4 stars

Teaser Tuesday · Top Ten Tuesdays

Teasers and Top Tens – 1/29/19

tuesday

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Purple Booker. Here are the rules if you want to play along:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! 

Gin sent the message and watched her cursor blink, waiting for Felix’s response. She felt exhausted, but also wired, as though she had drunk an entire pot of coffee. Because Felix didn’t think she was crazy.

Crow Flight by Susan Cunningham

Just finished this book, and by “just finished,” I mean I literally just read the last sentence before I opened WordPress. Review to come on Thursday!

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TTT-NEW

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is:

The Ten Most Recent Additions to My To-Read List

This dovetails off my post from yesterday a bit, since those are all books that I found last week through the blogging community, but I wanted to list more than just those books again. The books below are books that I actually do have copies of, not just books that I want to find someday, along with their blurbs from GoodReads.

1. Never-Contented Things by Sarah Porter

Prince and his fairy courtiers are staggeringly beautiful, unrelentingly cruel, and exhausted by the tedium of the centuries―until they meet foster-siblings Josh and Ksenia. Drawn in by their vivid emotions, undying love for each other, and passion for life, Prince will stop at nothing to possess them.

First seduced and then entrapped by the fairies, Josh and Ksenia learn that the fairies’ otherworldly gifts come at a terrible price―and they must risk everything in order to reclaim their freedom.

2. Dion: A Tale of the Highway by Jonathan Maas

The Note
After a bizarre dream a man wakes up in the middle of a deserted highway, with no clothes, and no memory of who he is. In front of him is a vehicle with keys and a note inside: Drive this forward. Drive, or there will be consequences. The consequences will be immediate, and they will get worse with every transgression.

The Highway
The task is straightforward, but what happens next is anything but. As he unravels the mysteries of both his past and future, he’ll come to understand that there are dark truths around him, and he’ll find that those who wrote the note meant every word of their threat. But underneath the terror he’ll find an inner strength, and he’ll find the power that comes from reason. He’ll need them both – because his decisions on this lonely night will impact this world in ways he can’t even begin to imagine.

3. Cobweb Bride by Vera Nazarian

In an alternate Renaissance world, somewhere in an imaginary “pocket” of Europe called the Kingdom of Lethe, Death comes, in the form of a grim Spaniard, to claim his Bride. Until she is found, in a single time-stopping moment all dying stops. There is no relief for the mortally wounded and the terminally ill….

Covered in white cobwebs of a thousand snow spiders she lies in the darkness… Her skin is cold as snow… Her eyes frozen… Her gaze, fiercely alive…

While kings and emperors send expeditions to search for a suitable Bride for Death, armies of the undead wage an endless war… A black knight roams the forest at the command of his undead father … Spies and political treacheries abound at the imperial Silver Court…. Murdered lovers find themselves locked in the realm of the living…

Look closer — through the cobweb filaments of her hair and along each strand shine stars…

And one small village girl, Percy—an unwanted, ungainly middle daughter—is faced with the responsibility of granting her dying grandmother the desperate release she needs.

As a result, Percy joins the crowds of other young women of the land in a desperate quest to Death’s own mysterious holding in the deepest forests of the North…

And everyone is trying to stop her.

4. Zocopalypse by Angel Lawson

The last time Alexandra sees her scientist father he tells her to wait two weeks for him to return. If he doesn’t, she and her mother must find her sister, over three hundred miles away, in one of the states under quarantine.

A virus is infecting the healthy, turning them into raging, cannibalistic versions of their former selves. Dr. Ramsey has spent months studying the E-TR virus, including Alex in his trials. Before he leaves he hands Alexandra what may be the most valuable information in existence. Information that more than one powerful group would go to great lengths to possess.

Alexandra is no match for this world — one where men and women crave the taste of flesh and the weak are a liability, but she made her father a promise. One she intends to keep no matter how many lives are lost on the way.

5. The Girl In Between by Laekan Zea Kemp

Bryn Reyes is a real life sleeping beauty. Afflicted with Klein-Levin Syndrome, she suffers episodes of prolonged sleep that steal weeks, and sometimes even months, from her life. But unlike most KLS patients, she doesn’t spend each episode in a catatonic state or wake up with no recollection of the time she’s missed. Instead, Bryn spends half her life in an alternate reality made up of her memories. For Bryn, the past is a place, until one day a boy she’s never met before washes up on the illusory beach of her dreams with no memory of who he is.

But the appearance of this strange boy isn’t the only thing that’s changed. Bryn’s symptoms are worsening, her body weakening as she’s plagued by hallucinations even while awake. Her only hope of finding a cure is to undergo experimental treatment created by a German specialist. But when Dr. Banz reveals that he knows more about her strange symptoms than he originally let on, Bryn learns that the boy in her head might actually be the key to understanding what’s happening to her, and worse, that if she doesn’t find out his identity before it’s too late, they both may not survive.

6. The Rule of One by Ashley and Leslie Saunders

In the near-future United States, a one-child policy is ruthlessly enforced. Everyone follows the Rule of One. But Ava Goodwin, daughter of the head of the Texas Family Planning Division, has a secret—one her mother died to keep and her father has helped to hide for her entire life.

She has an identical twin sister, Mira.

For eighteen years Ava and Mira have lived as one, trading places day after day, maintaining an interchangeable existence down to the most telling detail. But when their charade is exposed, their worst nightmare begins. Now they must leave behind the father they love and fight for their lives.

Branded as traitors, hunted as fugitives, and pushed to discover just how far they’ll go in order to stay alive, Ava and Mira rush headlong into a terrifying unknown.

7. Stain by A.G. Howard

A high-fantasy gothic fairytale inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s The Princess and the Pea.

Once upon a nightmare, her fairy tale begins…

After Lyra—a princess incapable of speech or sound—is cast out of her kingdom of daylight by her wicked aunt, a witch saves her life, steals her memories, and raises her in an enchanted forest … disguised as a boy known only as Stain. Meanwhile, in Lyra’s rival kingdom, the prince of thorns and night is dying, and the only way for him to break his curse is to wed the princess of daylight, for she is his true equal. As Lyra rediscovers her identity, an impostor princess prepares to steal her betrothed prince and her crown. To win back her kingdom, save the prince, and make peace with the land of the night, Lyra must be loud enough to be heard without a voice, and strong enough to pass a series of tests—ultimately proving she’s everything a traditional princess is not.

8. Rising Tide: Dark Innocence by Claudette Melanson

Isolated and sheltered by her lonely mother, Maura’s never been able to make friends. She seems to drive her classmates away—except for the odd times they pay enough attention to torture her—but she doesn’t understand why. Maura considers herself to be a freak of nature, with her unusually pale skin and an aversion to the sun that renders her violently nauseous. Her belief is only worsened by the fact that almost everyone around her keeps their distance.

Even her own father deserted her before she was born, leaving Maura alone with her emotionally distant mother, Caelyn. Even though Maura is desperate for answers about her unknown parent, Caelyn remains heartbroken and her daughter can’t bring herself to reopen her mother’s wounds. Or is there a more sinister reason Caelyn refuses to utter a word about her long-lost love?

When a cruel prank nearly claims Maura’s life, one of her classmates, Ron, rushes to her rescue. Darkly handsome & mysteriously accepting, Ron doesn’t seem to want to stay away, but Maura is reluctant to get too close, since her mother has announced she’s moving the two of them to Vancouver…nearly 3,000 miles away from their hometown of Indiana, Pennsylvania.

If life wasn’t already challenging enough, Maura begins to experience bizarre, physical changes her mother seems hell bent on ignoring, compelling Maura to fear for her own life. Vicious nightmares, blood cravings, failing health and the heart-shattering loss of Ron—as well as the discovery of a tangled web of her own mother’s lies—become obstacles in Maura’s desperate quest for the unfathomable truth she was never prepared to uncover.

9. A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

In a lush, contemporary fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast, Brigid Kemmerer gives readers another compulsively readable romance perfect for fans of Marissa Meyer.

Fall in love, break the curse.

It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper Lacy. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom. 

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.

10. Reign of Queens by Melissa Wright

Three Full-Length Fantasy Series Starters from Author Melissa Wright

The Frey Saga Book One: Frey

Frey lives in a world where humans are fairy tales. A world where the powerful rule, where her magic is broken. That life is a lie. When dark secrets unravel, she’ll have to risk everything to rise above a dangerous past.

Shattered Realms Book One: King of Ash and Bone

When monsters break through the veil between worlds, Mackenzie Scott has nothing left to lose. Her brother is marked, her future is vanished, and all that remains is a desperate need for revenge. She devises a plan to stop them, and finds an injured stranger that just might be the key. But he’s not the helpless boy he appears to be. He’s one of them. And he’s got plans of his own.

Descendants Series Book One: Bound by Prophecy

Aern’s only job is to protect the chosen. The trouble is, she’s the key to a prophecy and everyone wants her. When the opposition descends, their only hope is to stick together, but the truth unravels, and together might prove the biggest complication of them all.

Happy Tuesday everyone!

Added to GoodReads

Added to GoodReads – 1/28/19

goodreads

Happy Monday! I started this particular feature several years ago and have done it off and on since. Basically, it is a chance to highlight some books that I have been adding to my GoodReads list over the last week (or in this case, the last few days) from comments and reviews throughout the book blogger community.

  • The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman – This book was featured by Rants and Raves of a Bibliophile for their “Waiting on Wednesday” post. It is set for release in April 2019.
  • Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson – Another “Waiting on Wednesday” feature, this time from The Perks of Being Noura. I have seen it on a few other blogs as well. It is set for release in June 2019.
  • The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani – This was featured in a very lovely review over at Silver Button Books. This book is already out there, so check it out!
  • The Flower Girls by Alice Clark-Platts and Need To Know by Karen Cleveland – Both of these were features on a “WWW Wednesday” post at The Secret Library. I have also seen The Flower Girls shared on many other blogs as well. It was just released last week – Happy Book Birthday! Need To Know is already out as well.
  • Will Haunt You by Brian Kirk – This book was reviewed by Laura at FUOnlyKnew. While she only gave it 3 stars, it still sounds very intriguing in a twisted, bizarre way, so I think I will eventually give it a go. It is set for release in March 2019.
  • Louis & Louise by Julie Cohen – This book was given a glowing review by Beth at Bibliobeth. Very thought provoking. GoodReads has this listed as published in 2019, but no firm date, so I’m not sure if it’s out yet or not. If it isn’t yet, it should be soon.

Thank you to these lovelies for sharing their reviews and commentary. Have you read any of these books? Anything else you would like to recommend? Be sure to leave them in comments!

Weekly Wrap-Up

Weekly Wrap-Up – 1/25/19

Happy Friday everyone! Not gonna lie, this has been a rough week for me. I’m getting read to go into a very emotional time of the year for me, and all of my depression triggers are attacking full force. I’ll get through it, as always. Trying to stay focused on the positive. Like my kitties:

amber
Amber Kitty likes to sleep on her back. She’s weird.
sophie
Sophie Kitty likes to sit in boardgame box lids and “help” us play.

So how are things going at the blog? Well, I am actually quite pleased by how well this month has been going. One of my New Year’s resolutions was to try and rejuvenate my little corner of the Internet here, and I think that has gone pretty well. I’ve posted nearly every weekday this month, which is a vast improvement over posting once every three weeks or so, like I was doing. Plus, I plan to revive an old feature I used to do on Monday, so that will be something to look forward to.

I’m also glad that I seem to have made my way out of my reading slump, at least for now. Here’s what I’ve read so far in the last week:

  • I got approved for another ARC from NetGalley, Crow Flight by Susan Cunningham, and so far have read the first 17 chapters. Hoping to finish that one up to review it next week.
  • I finished Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. This was technically a re-read for me, since GoodReads says I read it back in 2016 (I have no memory of this, but GoodReads doesn’t lie), but it looks like I never actually reviewed it here. I’ll get that done after the Crow Flight review.
  • Since I finished Throne of Glass, I have moved on to Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas and have read the first 7 chapters.
  • Made really good progress on Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey. I’ve now read up to chapter 62 (there are 80-something chapters, I think – this book is a behemoth). Hoping to get that one finished maybe next week.
  • Last but not least, because I don’t have anything else to read (hahaha), I have joined the #PotterHeadReadAlong19 over at The Perks of Being Noura. They read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone for the month of January and, since January is almost over, I figured maybe it would be a good idea to jump in February with Chamber of Secrets. Nope! Started reading Sorcerer’s Stone and have read the first 4 chapters. It’s the shortest of the books, so I should be able to finish it before the month is out. Besides, it’s been a few years since I’ve read the series, so this will be fun. And stretching an entire book over an entire month will still give me plenty of time to read other things.

So that is pretty good progress right there! I feel really good about it!

In other news, my daughter and I have also joined a gym. We went for the first time this week to exercise and it was actually pretty fun. Maybe getting some regular exercise will help with the depression bit. I sure hope so.

Have a great weekend, everyone, and I will see you again on Monday!

Books I've Read

Book Review: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing

an absolutely remarkable thingTitleAn Absolutely Remarkable Thing

Author: Hank Green

Genre: Science Fiction

Series: This is the only book so far, but GoodReads shows a book two is planned.

Edition: Hardcover, pre-ordered as soon as I heard about it

Blurb: The Carls just appeared. Coming home from work at three a.m., twenty-three-year-old April May stumbles across a giant sculpture. Delighted by its appearance and craftsmanship–like a ten-foot-tall Transformer wearing a suit of samurai armor–April and her friend Andy make a video with it, which Andy uploads to YouTube. The next day April wakes up to a viral video and a new life. News quickly spreads that there are Carls in dozens of cities around the world–everywhere from Beijing to Buenos Aires–and April, as their first documentarian, finds herself at the center of an intense international media spotlight.

Now April has to deal with the pressure on her relationships, her identity, and her safety that this new position brings, all while being on the front lines of the quest to find out not just what the Carls are, but what they want from us.

Review: First, a disclaimer. I was a huge fan of both Hank and John Green since I found their Vlogbrothers channel on YouTube. I liked their funny videos that made me laugh, their serious videos that made me cry, and everything in between. This drew me in to reading John’s books, which I absolutely loved. So when I heard Hank was also writing a book, I knew I would buy it immediately and that I would love it too, no matter what.

What I’m saying is, I am not the most unbiased reviewer where the Green brothers are concerned.

That said, I thought this book was really, really well done. First off, the Carls are just plain cool. Giant metal beings that just appear across the globe, they are both fascinating and slightly sinister at the same time. You never know exactly what they are or where they came from (until the end, sort of – this book is screaming for a sequel). I don’t want to spoil too much, but there was one instance where something April and her friends did caused the hand to fall off of the Carl in New York. The statues are completely still, but the hand falls off and skitters away AND NO ONE CAN FIND IT. It ran into a restaurant or a club, but then just seemed to disappear. The weirdest bit – the hands on all the other Carls across the world vanished at the same time.

So that’s the gimmick. Let’s talk about our main character. April is very relatable. She had big hopes and plans, but is stuck working in a dead end job she hates. She finds this amazing thing, makes a video that goes viral, and has her entire life upended. She is now a media sensation, the target of both adoration and hatred. We watch her personality change, how she suddenly becomes obsessed with the numbers of hits and followers, of trying to stay relevant in a growing number of people talking about the phenomenon. It does go to her head, and one thing that I liked was that Hank was not afraid to make April a little bit unlikable during part of this time. She becomes very selfish, and that takes its toll on her relationships and friendships.

It made me wonder if this was something that Hank (and John) had to deal with once they started getting some acclaim as YouTubers (it really took off after Hank made a video of a song he wrote anticipating Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows –  wow, that was a long time ago). If so, it never showed on the outside, but that’s kind of the point. April tries to present herself in a very positive light, no matter what is happening on the inside, so that none of her followers ever really see the real April. What I really liked about this book was how it not only covered the fantastical story about the Carls, but also showed the very real issues of dealing with social media and Internet celebrity culture.

This book is a very unusual book, but I enjoyed it very, very much.

GoodReads Rating: 5 stars

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday – 1/23/19

WWW New

WWW Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Sam at Taking On a World of Words. Three questions, three answers. Let’s go!

What are you currently reading?

This has actually taken a sudden turn as of yesterday. I found out that I got approved for another NetGalley ARC – Crow Flight by Susan Cunningham. This one is already out, so I wanted to get a review up sooner rather than later (probably next week). I am also starting Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas today, book two in the Throne of Glass series. I’ve also read a lot more of Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey this past week, and I’m about halfway through now.

What did you recently finish reading?

I finished Terrestrial Magic by Marina Ermakova, my other ARC. You can read that review here. It was a very enjoyable read. I also, obviously, finished Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. It was also very good and I am looking forward to seeing how the rest of the series goes.

What do you think you’ll read next?

What I currently have on my plate will take me a while, but I am planning on reading Heir of Fire, the next book in the Throne of Glass series. And Kushiel’s Chosen, the next book after Kushiel’s Dart. If I can get through both of those series, that will cross two unfinished series off of my list for my reading goal! I knew I had to start the Jacqueline Carey books early in the year, since they are pretty long, and I wanted to give myself plenty of time.

How is your reading week shaping up?

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday – 1/22/19

tuesday

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Purple Booker. Here are the rules if you want to play along:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

The shutters swinging in the storm winds were the only sign of her entry. No one had noticed her scaling the garden wall of the darkened manor house, and with the thunder and the gusting wind off the nearby sea, no one heard her as she shimmied up the drainpipe, swung onto the windowsill, and slithered into the second-floor hallway.

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

This is literally the first sentences of the book. I am starting it today and really looking forward to seeing how this story plays out.

No Top Ten Tuesday this week. The topic was “Books I Meant to Read In 2018 but Didn’t Get To” and my answer would be SO MANY!! 2018 was not a great reading year for me, and I have a stack of books to get through, so hopefully 2019 will be better.

Leave your teasers in comments!