Monday, September 18, 2017

Muse Monthly Unboxing + Review

Today's post is a little different! I thought I would share with you a subscription box. Now, I don't get subscription boxes hardly at all -- as a broke college student, it's just not really something I can do right now. However, Muse Monthly is one that I consistently love, and consistently feel like I'm getting my money's worth. So, I thought I would share.

Disclaimer: I was sent this box by Muse Monthly. All opinions are strictly my own, as I have bought boxes in the past with my own money and stand by everything I say in this post. I received no compensation, nor use any affiliate links. I wasn't even asked to write this post. I just like 'em.

If you don't know, Muse Monthly is a books + tea subscription box. Each month, you get a new book (usually literary fiction) and a new, full-size tea to go along with it. September's book was Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, and we also got TWO teas this month.

The teas I've gotten from Muse Monthly boxes have honestly been some of the best teas I've ever had (y'all I'm still holding on to my last little bit of tea from the Feb 2016 box because it was THAT GOOD). Every box I've had from them has been so well-curated; Christina does an excellent job of picking great books, and carefully picking teas that go well with it. There is also usually another item with it, in this case a Burning Books candle that smells SO good.

So there ya have it! If there was one subscription box that I would recommend, Muse Monthly would be it. I don't buy a lot of bookish merch/items, but I think it would be cool to start showcasing the ones I do. What do you think?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Girl with the Red Balloon {by Katherine Locke}

Title: The Girl with the Red Balloon
Author: Katherine Locke
Series: The Balloonmakers #1
Genre: YA Historical Fantasy
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
source: NetGalley

When sixteen-year-old Ellie Baum accidentally time-travels via red balloon to 1988 East Berlin, she’s caught up in a conspiracy of history and magic. She meets members of an underground guild in East Berlin who use balloons and magic to help people escape over the Wall—but even to the balloon makers, Ellie’s time travel is a mystery. When it becomes clear that someone is using dark magic to change history, Ellie must risk everything—including her only way home—to stop the process.

This book took awhile for me to get into. I don't know if it was the writing style, or Ellie's narration, but after I got into the story, I was drawn into the story.

The story is told in three POV's: Ellie, Kai, and Benno. Honestly, I probably liked Kai's the least. His seemed more like info dumps, and not things that actually moved the plot along. I think I liked Benno's the best, although his were also the saddest.

I liked our characters, but still felt meh. I didn't feel that I really connected with any of them. I think they could have been written to be a bit more complex. There seemed to be a lot more telling than showing. I wasn't really drawn into the story through the characters, if that makes sense.

The plot had me intrigued and is what kept me interested throughout the story. The magic system of the balloons, although at times a bit confusing, kept me intrigued. I wouldn't say this was so suspenseful or anything, but I liked it.

In general, I felt a little mediocre about this book as a whole. It definitely has captured my interest, so I will probably pick up the second one. It has potential, and I'm curious to see if that potential is fulfilled.

More books by this author:

Katherine Locke:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Goodreads

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Welcome Home {anthology}

Title: Welcome Home: An Anthology on Love and Adoption
Edited By: Eric Smith
Genre: Young Adult
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
source: NetGalley

Welcome Home collects a number of adoption-themed fictional short stories, and brings them together in one anthology from a diverse range of celebrated Young Adult authors. The all-star roster includes Edgar-award winner Mindy McGinnis, New York Times bestselling authors C.J. Redwine (The Shadow Queen) and William Ritter (Jackaby), and acclaimed YA authors across all genres, like Adi Alsaid, Lauren Gibaldi, Sangu Mandanna, Karen Akins, and many more.

As always, it's very hard for me to review an anthology. Of course there are stories that I liked, and some that I didn't. I think this is an important one, with stories that are very needed in YA, especially.

In general, I think this anthology had a good mix, both in genre of stories and voice. Some will be good for younger audiences, and I think some will speak to older audiences. The running theme of adoption is such an important one.

Ultimately I felt that as a whole, this book fell a little flat. There were stories that I liked, but none that I truly loved, and I was left feeling a little disappointed.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Most Anticipated SEPTEMBER Releases!

First off, yes, I am back from hiatus! And I'm back with a new kind of post. I'm not sure I've ever done a post on my anticipated releases, actually. This year, I started a new way of tracking the new releases I was most excited about by month as to actually stay on top of them. It's been working out for me fairly well, and I decided, why not share which books I most looking forward to each month?

September actually has quite a few, I feel, compared to other months. So here we go!

September 1
  • The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke (review)
September 5
  • Welcome Home edited by Eric Smith (review)
  • They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
September 12
  • Warcross by Marie Lu
  • Taste of Marrow by Sarah Gailey
  • Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
September 19
  • Autonomous by Annalee Newitz
  • Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco
September 26
  • Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman
  • The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

My most anticipated for this month are probably Warcross, Hunting Prince Dracula, and The Language of Thorns. What books are you looking forward to in September?

Friday, June 30, 2017

June Wrap-Up

This summer has been insanely busy. I'm actually busier than I was during the regular semester, so rip reading. I've been pretty quiet online because of that, and haven't had much time for reading. I am also taking a small blog hiatus through July and August. You can keep up with me elsewhere on the Internet and Goodreads, and I'll see you back here in September!

Five Star Reads: When Dimple Met Rishi
Other Notable Favs: The Radium Girls, Wonder Woman: Origins vol 1, Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet vol 3
Nonfiction: Girling Up, Here We Are, The Radium Girls, Swipe Right

Movies: Finally saw Wonder Woman on Friday, and OMG OBSESSED. It wasn't perfect, sure, but it was so good and I am so in love with it.
TV: Other than being ridiculously upset that Powerless was cancelled, I haven't actually watched hardly any tv at all.

Hope you guys have a wonderful summer, and I'll see you back here in September (with some reviews I am very excited about!).

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Space Between the Stars {by Anne Corlett}

Title: The Space Between the Stars
Author: Anne Corlett
Genre: Science Fiction
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
source: First to Read

All Jamie Allenby ever wanted was space. Even though she wasn’t forced to emigrate from Earth, she willingly left the overpopulated, claustrophobic planet. And when a long relationship devolved into silence and suffocating sadness, she found work on a frontier world on the edges of civilization. Then the virus hit...
Now Jamie finds herself dreadfully alone, with all that’s left of the dead. Until a garbled message from Earth gives her hope that someone from her past might still be alive. 
Soon Jamie finds other survivors, and their ragtag group will travel through the vast reaches of space, drawn to the promise of a new beginning on Earth. But their dream will pit them against those desperately clinging to the old ways. And Jamie’s own journey home will help her close the distance between who she has become and who she is meant to be... 

I loved this one. I will say, it wasn't quite what I was expecting. I was so excited for this one, and I think I hyped it up too much. But it didn't disappoint. I still ended up loving it, even though it was different than I thought. If you're not into super "sci-fi"-type books, I think you would still like this one. It reads more as literary fiction...just set in space.

Characters: Jamie is a mess. She was before, and you can imagine how she was after. And that's not a bad thing. I can't imagine being in this position and I think it was portrayed very well. How you would feel, how you would act, how scary it would be. I also liked all the other characters. This sort of "ragtag" group of people thrown together is one of my favorites to read about when well done, and this one was. We got so many different personalities -- the cold, gruff captain; a special needs teenager; a former priest; an older woman who may be losing her mind, etc. Not everyone gets along with everyone else, and I liked that aspect too. Everyone is going to have different thoughts on the world ending, and I just loved reading about all of them.

Setting: I think the world could have been more fleshed out, but it was also fleshed out perfectly enough for the story (if that even makes sense). There wasn't an info-dump, but things were explained as they needed to be, which worked for the story.

Plot: While there was a plot (this group trying to get to earth), I also feel that this was more character based. I also feel like this was heavier on the "deep questions" side of the world ending. From social class, to religion, to who deserves to live in this new world. It wasn't so very fast-paced, but it wasn't slow either.

So if you couldn't tell, I loved this one. The characters, the world, the overall feel and mood of this story. (If you loved Station Eleven, I think you would also love this one.)

Anne Corlett:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Bread of Angels {by Tessa Afshar}

Title: Bread of Angels
Author: Tessa Afshar
Genre: Biblical Fiction
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
source: publisher

Purple. The foundation of an influential trade in a Roman world dominated by men. One woman rises up to take the reins of success in an incredible journey of courage, grit, and friendship. And along the way, she changes the world.
But before she was Lydia, the seller of purple, she was simply a merchant's daughter who loved three things: her father, her ancestral home, and making dye. Then unbearable betrayal robs her of nearly everything.
With only her father's secret formulas left, Lydia flees to Philippi and struggles to establish her business on her own. Determination and serendipitous acquaintances--along with her father's precious dye--help her become one of the city's preeminent merchants. But fear lingers in every shadow, until Lydia meets the apostle Paul and hears his message of hope, becoming his first European convert. Still, Lydia can't outrun her secrets forever, and when past and present collide, she must either stand firm and trust in her fledgling faith or succumb to the fear that has ruled her life.

I really enjoyed this one. One thing I love about Tessa Afshar is that she chooses characters to write about that aren't really talked about or written about. I don't think much thought is given to Lydia, a seller of purple briefly mentioned in the Bible as one of Paul's friends, so I really enjoyed this story and getting to envision her life.

Lydia helps her father, a renowned seller of purple. When they are betrayed, Lydia has no choice but to flee to Philippi, the only place in the empire where a woman can run her own business. I liked Lydia. Her being "fearful" is I think what we would today think of as anxiety, so it was nice to see that represented in an era where it really isn't talked about. She was just trying to do the best she could in a world that didn't afford her many opportunities. She worked hard, and I think she was a great character.

This book spans over 20 years, which I thought was refreshing. It wasn't just a story about a young girl, it shows her life, shows her as a middle-aged woman. It also wasn't a romance, although there is a slight bit there at the end, which was nice.

This was probably my favorite Tessa Afshar book to date. I loved the world she has crafted, the characters, and this story. It was a beautiful book that captivated me from the start.

More books by this author:

Tessa Afshar:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Wings of the Wind {by Connilyn Cossette}

Title: Wings of the Wing
Author: Connilyn Cossette
Series: Out from Egypt #3
Genre: Biblical Fiction
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
source: publisher

Alanah, a Canaanite, is no stranger to fighting and survival. When her family is killed in battle with the Hebrews, she disguises herself and sneaks onto the battlefield to avenge her family. The one thing she never counted on was surviving.
Tobiah, a Hebrew warrior, is shocked to find an unconscious, wounded woman among the Canaanite casualties. Compelled to bring her to a Hebrew healer back at their camp, he is soon confronted with a truth he can’t ignore: the only way to protect this enemy is to marry her.
Unused to being weak and vulnerable, Alanah submits to the marriage—for now. As she comes to know and respect Tobiah and his people, however, she begins to second-guess her plans of escape. But when her past has painfully unanticipated consequences, the tentative peace she’s found with Tobiah, the Hebrews, and Yahweh is shaken to the core. Can Alanah’s fierce heart and strength withstand the ensuing threats to her life and all she’s come to love?

I loved this one. I'm not sure if it replaced the second book as my favorite of the series, but it sure came close. This one takes place quite a bit after the first two (I thought I saw 40 years later somewhere but I could be making that up).

I said this with book 1, but one thing I enjoyed about this series is seeing the events from the perspective of other nations. I think we focus so much on the Israelites, and forget that they slaughtered whole nations. What did that feel like? So I did appreciate seeing the story from the perspective of a Cannanite. Alanah wants revenge on the Hebrews, so she disguises herself and goes to fight. Tobiah finds her among the wounded, and brings her back to camp, with unintended consequences.

Dislike-to-love tropes are one of my favorites (I freely admit) so it is probably no surprise that I loved this one. I loved Alanah and Tobiah. She was sassy and strong, but Tobiah wasn't intimidated by her. I loved their banter, as it was fun.

I won't say much about the plot, because #spoilers. I wasn't expecting the Bible story that the author brought in, but I liked it. It was an interesting perspective and a creative way to tie it all together. I enjoyed the story, flying through the book just to find out what happens to these characters I very much enjoyed. Definitely a series I would recommend to those who love Biblical/historical fiction.

Connilyn Cossette:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads