Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Let's Go For A Swim! ;)

Top Ten Tuesdays is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

I'm taking a few liberties here with today's topic.

Cause it's suppose to be our top 10 beach reads but...

...I had to Google "What is a Beach Read"...and I still don't really know.

Can't wait to read everyone else's posts today and find out ;)

So, I'm taking a different approach.

Beaches make me think of the ocean and oceans make me think of the unknown and all the things that could be lurking in these unknown parts!

Here are my top 10Beach Creepy and Magical Ocean Reads :)


Undertow by Michael Buckley

Ocean-dwelling warriors take up residence on a beach in Coney Island. Everything doesn't go smoothly and will defiantly make you re-think everything you thought you knew about the sea.


The Vicious Deep by Zoraida Córdova

Mermaids with razor sharp teeth. An unknown heir and an entire civilization living under the sea. My kind of 'beach' read!


Everblue by Brenda Pandos

A tale of mermaids and mermen and the world they live in and the rules that govern them. Very detailed with lots of characters and a story that really drew me in!


Siren by Tricia Rayburn

This one's got an evil spin. No mermaids but there is something lurking in the deep dark waters! I found it very very hard to put down!


Between the Sea and Sky by Jaclyn Dolamore

The sirens in this one aren't the meany evil variety but they still pack a punch. I love this book so much! In fact,the next time I need a book to read on an actual beach, I'm taking this one with me!


So! What are YOUR Beach Reads? :)

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Book Review: Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor

Book #1 of the Into the Dim series
Genre: YA Sci-fi Historical Fiction
Publication: March 2016 by HMH Books for Young Readers
Acquisition: read a free eARC via NetGalley

Synopsis:
When fragile, sixteen-year-old Hope Walton loses her mom to an earthquake overseas, her secluded world crumbles. Agreeing to spend the summer in Scotland, Hope discovers that her mother was more than a brilliant academic, but also a member of a secret society of time travelers. Trapped in the twelfth century in the age of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Hope has seventy-two hours to rescue her mother and get back to their own time. Along the way, her path collides with that of a mysterious boy who could be vital to her mission . . . or the key to Hope’s undoing.
(from Goodreads)
3 / 5 Stars

So...yeah...not really sure on this one.

I found myself really drawn into the story. There were a lot of characters and a lot of back story and everything seemed to fit together well.

But...I don't know...there was just something about it all that didn't really work for me.

Time travel is always awesome but it didn't really like how it played out in Into the Dim. The rules? I couldn't wrap my head around. I like my sci-fi explained a bit more. Into the Dim treats everything with an air of magic but it's not substantiated.

Everything seemed just a little bit off. I couldn't really feel connected to any one thing - the characters, the setting, the romance - it all felt a little flat.

Other little quirks really got to me too - the way characters in the past acted and spoke didn't feel genuine. Also, the motivations behind the 'bad' guys wasn't as cohesive as i would have liked.

All in all, by the time I got to the climax of the story, I wasn't all to excited to see what happened. There is a twist of sorts at the end but it only made the story more muddled for me.

Oh, and there's some heavy insta-love going on. And it's creepy.

It's light on the sci-fi, heavy on character interaction and not enough questions where asked, let alone answered.

I wouldn't write it off entirely as it is a story many readers would enjoy - especially if you like lighthearted time travel. Unfortunately, it wasn't really for me.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Standing the Test of Time

Top Ten Tuesdays is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Hi guys, today in Top Ten land we are talking about books we feel differently about after time has passed.

Here are 10 6 books that time has changed my opinion about.

The Host by Stephenie Meyer
THEN = LOVE
Like I really really loved it. I recommended it to EVERYONE! I thought it was such a fantastic sci-fi. It was so so good and I was so upset that book 2 wasn't actually going to happen and I was so so happy when I heard a movie was coming out. It was spectacular.

NOW = HATE
I think past Emily was an idiot. I made a friend read it recently and she almost couldn't finish it. She hated the romance, and I was like, what romance...and then I really started to think about it and I re-read a few parts and OMG it was horrible. I was so caught up on the sci-fi (mostly because I had been in a sci-fi reading slump at the time) that I basically ignored everything else about the book - including the characters, plot, setting, words....yeah....
Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer
THEN = MEH
I read the entire series cause I really wanted to know what the hype was all about and for reasons I still can't explain, I really wanted to see how the story played out. I thought it was fluff and nonsense and it would be forgotten in no time at all.

NOW = SO MUCH HATE
I hate it for so many reasons but mostly because it made being a stalker pedophile 'sexy'. I brushed off Edward's totally inappropriate behavior because Bella was just so ridiculous, I really didn't care what happened to her. I never ever ever thought it would turn into anything. So many people have read it and so many people want to be 'in love' just like Bella and Edward (barf!) and OMG because of it, 50 shades of absolutely horribleness is something that actual exists.
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
THEN = ALL THE LOVE
Do I really need to talk about why I loved it so much? No, I didn't think so :) Seriously, I knew I would never not love these books!

NOW = MORE LOVE THEN I THOUGHT WAS POSSIBLE
Even more seriously. Time has only strengthened my love for Harry Potter and his fantastic world!
Across the Universe by Beth Revis
THEN = LOVE
It was so good! Closed in, space, dystopian, mystery, thriller, romance, sci-fi - it had so much going for it! I wanted to re-read it and then read book 2 and then re-read it again and read book 3.

NOW = MEH
I never actually read books 2 or 3...they are sitting there on my shelf...but I don't have any driving desire to pick them up...I don't know why but the shininess kinda wore off.
The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins
THEN = MEH
It was good and it got a lot of hype so I thought it should be good and I did think it was good but...nothing special.

NOW = PRETTY DARN FABULOUS
Why? Because it stuck with me. It's still here, in my head and I find myself thinking about the characters every once in a while and I recommend it a lot and that wouldn't happen if it was just a meh read. Meh reads are forgotten about. The Girl on the Train is still here - at least for now.
The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
THEN = LOVE
So many things going on and it was so complex and detailed and rich in character development and plot and setting and I couldn't put it down.

NOW = MEH
The fact that it's going to be 7 books...I don't know. It's a lot and there was all ready so much said in 1 book (ok 2, I did read book 2) that I can't see how much more could be drawn out of the story without it getting old. I could be totally wrong and maybe I will pick up book 3 (and 4 and 5 and...) but right now I'm not really feeling it.
Wow! That's a whole lotta feelings right there!
What about you guys?
What books have time changed your opinion on?

Monday, May 23, 2016

Book Review: Half Bad by Sally Green

Book #1 of The Half Bad Trilogy
Genre: YA Paranormal Urban Fantasy
Publication: January 2015 by Speak
Acquisition: received a finished copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis:
In modern-day England, witches live alongside humans: White witches, who are good; Black witches, who are evil; and sixteen-year-old Nathan, who is both. Nathan’s father is the world’s most powerful and cruel Black witch, and his mother is dead. He is hunted from all sides. Trapped in a cage, beaten and handcuffed, Nathan must escape before his seventeenth birthday, at which point he will receive three gifts from his father and come into his own as a witch—or else he will die. But how can Nathan find his father when his every action is tracked, when there is no one safe to trust—not even family, not even the girl he loves?
(from Goodreads)
5 / 5 Stars

Such a great read.

It totally missed my radar and I should be shamed for that because OMG it's good - All the praise Half Bad has gotten is 100% deserved.

I love the way it starts. Part One with short chapters and a whole lot of unknowns.

I love how Part Two adds tons of explanation but there is still so much story to tell.

I love the switching back and fourth between 1st and 2nd person point of view. It made me feel like I was both being told what was happening to Nathan and at the same time experiencing it for myself.

I love how complex Nathan's life becomes and how much detail there is in his story.

I love how it takes place in England because it adds a layer of depth and history that the same story set in America just wouldn't have.

I love that it incorporates magic and life, love and family, loyalty and duty in fantastic ways.

I'd be hard pressed to find something I didn't love in Half Bad.

It's a gripping story that I couldn't put down. Nathan is a complex character whose story I needed to know. Everything about Half Bad pulled me in, wanting more!

I'm so excited that's it's only the first book in the series. Very, very much looking forward to devouring this trilogy.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Book Review: Harmony House by Nic Sheff

Genre: YA (not) Horror Paranormal
Publication: March 2016 by HarperTeen
Acquisition: ARC trade with a fellow blogger

Synopsis:
Jen Noonan’s father thinks a move to Harmony House is the key to salvation, but to everyone who has lived there before, it is a portal to pure horror.

After Jen’s alcoholic mother’s death, her father cracked. He dragged Jen to this dilapidated old manor on the shore of New Jersey to “start their new lives”—but Harmony House is more than just a creepy old estate. It’s got a chilling past—and the more Jen discovers its secrets, the more the house awakens. Strange visions follow Jen wherever she goes, and her father’s already-fragile sanity disintegrates before her eyes. As the forces in the house join together to terrorize Jen, she must find a way to escape the past she didn’t know was haunting her—and the mysterious and terrible power she didn’t realize she had.
(from Goodreads)
2 / 5 Stars

A fast, couldn't put down, need all the answers read without a solid story line to go with it.

Not fantastic. Kinda out of control and underdeveloped at the same time which was disappointing because I was looking forward to a good horror story.

Harmony House isn't really a horror story. Jen does live in a creepy house and there are connections to past horrors and whatnot but overall it's more a story of abuse and unexplained abilities - neither of which is satisfactorily wrapped up in my opinion.

I really wanted to love Harmony House but right from the start I knew I was going to have a hard time with Jen. Her language is filthy, which doesn't bother me at all but it didn't fit with the story. Her father is ridiculous and horrible in so many ways and she's shrugs is off as religious zeal. She's almost raped and / or assaulted on her first night in the new town and does pretty much nothing about it. Oh, and she has...powers? That do...something? Because of...reasons? I have no freaken clue.

Honestly, I don't know how I finished it.

It gets weird, and strange and none of it is enjoyable and so much of it is predictable and man, the ending was horrible.

Can't say I recommend this one and going by other reviews, I don't think I'm alone.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Armchair BEA - Introduction

Armchair BEA

Hello everyone!

I'm so excited for all the lucky (and exhausted ;) folks in Chicago this week for Book Expo America!

I've been to the expo in real life but this is my first year participating in Armchair BEA!

To find out more about Armchair BEA and to join in on the fun - click HERE

For today's post, I'm going to introduce myself and share a little -- I'm super bad at this so bear with me!
1. What is the name you prefer to use?
Emily is good :)

2. How long have you been a book blogger?
I started blogging in the summer of 2009 - took a break in 2014 and started up again last year. So 6-7 years or so.

3. Have you participated in ABEA before?
Nope!

4. What is your favorite genre and why?
Paranormal mainly. Sci-fi is a close second. I love everything about the unknown - the mystery of it, the excitement.

5. How do you arrange your bookshelves? Is there a rhyme or reason? Or not at all?
Well...there is a rhyme and reason...but I might be the only one who can tell ;)
I do mostly alphabetical by author, but it's spread across almost every room in the house - and there are some series, like Harry Potter that get their own special place. I actually have all my book cases named so I can keep track of it all.

6. What is the most interesting thing that you have learned through your reading this year so far?
For years I've read mostly YA and mostly paranormal. I stayed away from contemporary and only ready 'adult' sci-fi. This year I took a few more risks with my reading choices and have been pretty pleasantly surprised!

Well, that's all I've got for now!
Hope everyone is having a great Armchair BEA so far!

Happy Reading Everyone!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Book Review: The Mystery of Hollow Places by Rebecca Podos

Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication: January 2016 by Balzer & Bray
Acquisition: received a free ARC at ALA Midwinter 2016

Synopsis:
All Imogene Scott knows of her mother is the bedtime story her father told her as a child. It’s the story of how her parents met: he, a forensic pathologist, she, a mysterious woman who came to identify a body. A woman who left Imogene and her father when Imogene was a baby, a woman who was always possessed by a powerful loneliness, a woman who many referred to as “troubled waters.”

Now Imogene is seventeen, and her father, a famous author of medical mysteries, has struck out in the middle of the night and hasn’t come back. Neither Imogene’s stepmother nor the police know where he could’ve gone, but Imogene is convinced he’s looking for her mother. And she decides it’s up to her to put to use the skills she’s gleaned from a lifetime of reading her father’s books to track down a woman she’s only known in stories in order to find him and, perhaps, the answer to the question she’s carried with her for her entire life.
(from Goodreads)
3 / 5 Stars

Unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed with this one. I was thinking there would be more mystery (judging a book by it's title, me = guilty).

And there was mystery, just not really what I was expecting. Nothing was very mysterious. It was more of a contemporary coming of age tale then a thriller.

I was expecting secrets and maybe some unexplained happenings. What I got was family drama and predictable actions.

But again, my expectations were off.

I'm not saying I didn't enjoy the read. The writing, the characters, the emotion - it was very well done. Imogene was hard to like but I did admire her determination.

If contemporary isn't your natural go-to read, I would say skip this one.

If your a fan of contemporary YA then I would say give it a go.

The plot wasn't for me but I do think others would enjoy it and I wouldn't hesitate to try another book by Rebecca.


Thursday, May 5, 2016

Book Review: Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace

Genre: YA Paranormal
Publication: January 2016 by Katherine Tegen Books
Acquisition: received a free ARC at ALA Midwinter 2016

Synopsis:
Breezy remembers leaving the party: the warm, wet grass under her feet, her cheek still stinging from a slap to her face. But when she wakes up, scared and pulling dirt from her mouth, a year has passed and she can’t explain how.

Nor can she explain the man lying at her grave, dead from her touch, or why her heartbeat comes and goes. She doesn’t remember who killed her or why. All she knows is that she’s somehow conscious—and not only that, she’s able to sense who around her is hiding a murderous past.

Haunted by happy memories from her life, Breezy sets out to find answers in the gritty, threatening world to which she now belongs—where killers hide in plain sight, and a sinister cult is hunting for strange creatures like her. What she discovers is at once empowering, redemptive, and dangerous.
(from Goodreads)
5 / 5 Stars

Good! So good! So very very good!

God, I loved this book.
It was strange, and weird and totally implausible but at the same time, totally realistic.

It's part mystery, part paranormal discovery.

Basically, it's a story about a girl. And the things that have happened, are happening and will happen to the girl.

Sounds boring right? Well, it's not!

This girl, isn't ordinary. And while her journey could fit into a number of plots, her unique circumstances make for hella good storytelling.

Nothing really fits into perfect boxes for Breezey. Her life, her death, her afterlife. It's all a jumble which is exactly how the real world works.

I love how there aren't any absolutes. There are questions and answers and mysteries to solve but all of the bits and pieces don't exactly fit together in the end.

At the end of Shallow Graves I kinda wanted a little more. More of Breezey's story and more of her world but at the same time, I liked that there were still loose ends.

Shallow Graves is a perfect match of fantastic storytelling and unanswered questions. Oh! And fantastic imagery - love it!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Where Are They Now

Top Ten Tuesdays is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Hey guys.

Today in Top Ten land we're all talking about childhood characters we'd love to revisit as adults. Characters from our childhood we'd like to check up on now, or characters we've read about recently we'd want to see in ten year or so.

I thought a lot about this topic because often, for me, characters in books tend to stand still in time. They never break out of their stories.

However, I was able to come up with ten four characters whose futures I would love to know about.

Anne from Anne of Green Gables
Now, I know that in reading the complete Anne series, we get to see Anne grow up and even meet her children. What I was thinking though is...what is Anne's family like in present day? What are her great-great-great (?) grandchildren up to. What is Avonlea to the Blythe family now? Does her family tell stories about her? How many descendants does she have?

Harry Potter
Come on - who doesn't what to see what Harry Potter is up to as an adult? That little bit we get of him and his family at the end of The Deadly Hallows? Not nearly enough! Those tidbits Rowling throws out every now and then? Seriously lacking in detail! I want more! I would be happy with 10 more books in the series. 20 more! I don't think I would ever get tired of Harry.

Aislinn from the Wicked Lovely series
This is one of the few longerish series that I actually read all the way to the end - so I know how everything turned out for everyone. There were a lot of loose ends to tie up but everything did 'end'. But what about now? How is Aislinn doing? What is her life like now? How has she adjusted (or not adjusted) to everything?

Cas from The Abyss Surrounds Us
This is a 10 years from now one. Let's just say, I didn't really agree with a lot of Cas's decisions and I wasn't too thrilled with how her story played out and I know there is going to be another book in the series but still. What is Cas like in 10 or 20 years time? Does she still feel the same way about the things she did in her youth?

Monday, May 2, 2016

Book Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Book #1 of Shades of Magic
Genre: Adult Fantasy
Publication: February 2015 by Tor Books
Acquisition: bought

Synopsis:
Kell is one of the last Antari, a rare magician who can travel between parallel worlds: hopping from Grey London — dirty, boring, lacking magic, and ruled by mad King George — to Red London — where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire — to White London — ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne, where people fight to control magic, and the magic fights back — and back, but never Black London, because traveling to Black London is forbidden and no one speaks of it now.

Officially, Kell is the personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see, and it is this dangerous hobby that sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to take her with him for her proper adventure.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save both his London and the others, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — a feat trickier than they hoped.
(from Goodreads)
5 / 5 Stars

It's been a very long time since I've read a book that I've loved as much as I love this book.

It's good.

Seriously good.

Fabulously, tremendously good.

Schwab knows how to tell a story. I mean, I knew that already. But OMG was I blown away by A Darker Shade of Magic.

Every character, every setting, every little detail, every big detail - EVERYTHING was perfect.

I grew up with fantasy. Sweeping, epic fantasy stories passed down to me by my parents. ADSOM 100% reminds me of these stories I read and loved when I was younger.

Complete and full and timeless.

I sometimes have a hard time putting myself in a different worlds within the same story but that didn't happen here. Gray, Red, White, Black - it was all so easy to envision.

And man, did I wish I could visit Red London. It's got magic, and Kell and secrets and Kell and mystery and did I mention Kell lives there?

Since finishing ADSOM (oh, and a big thank you to whoever popularized this acronym - makes it so much easier to gush over talk about via Twitter and the like ;)

What was I saying? Oh yes - since finishing ADSOM I've been recommending it to just about everyone. Friends, family, strangers - no one is safe from my tremendous love for this book!!

So, have you read it yet? ;)

(btw - book 2? Also ridiculously fabulous!)

Sunday, May 1, 2016

April 2016 Wrap Up: The Mini Blarg Edition

March was very blarg - very very very blarg.

April was only a little blarg. Kinda like the annoying littler brother of March.

I felt horrible in March -- and only slightly horrible for a small part of April.

It just took so so long for me to get back on track - of everything! Blogging, reading, life!

Very happy to say that everything is just about normal here in my little chunk of crazy town.

And! Because I do still live in crazy town (I should stress, of my own choosing) I'm keeping it simple again this month with the visuals.

:)

THE REVIEWS

Read Bottom Up by Heel Shah and Skye Chatham | REVIEW 4/5 Stars
Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke | REVIEW 2.5/5 Stars

APRIL 2016 READS
Seven Black Diamonds by Melissa Marr
Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle
Username: Evie by Joe Sugg
Harmony House by Nic Sheff
Winky Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke

Hope everyone had a great
March!
Happy Reading!