Reading Slump – TBR Un-haul

I’ve not been reading this last week or two. Slumps are very discouraging. Usually, to lift me out of the slowdowns I read some urban fantasy steampunk historic paranormal romance kind of books and they seem to satisfy my need for fun fluff. When I’m down they are my junk food and I love them for it but lately, even those haven’t helped me out of this hole. So, I was trying to figure out what to read and looked through my Goodreads to-read list and Amazon wishlist but found books I don’t remember adding. I realized as I looked at these books I had no plan to read them so, I started to remove them. It feels good to un-haul books on my to-read list. Almost as good as a physical book un-haul. I realize I felt overwhelmed by my own expectations, what I or others think I should read. And my Amazon wishlist was not completely a list of book I want to maybe own one day but just another to-read list probably created before Goodreads came along. Therefore, I purged and I feel better for it. Still unsure how to get out of this reading slump, instead, I have taken up playing some video games too long left unplayed and through this avenue, I have satisfied my need for stories. Currently, I am playing Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and I am loving it. This is the historical fiction adventure I needed. So glad to have Nathan Drake’s quirky, sarcastic character back, solve puzzles, and find treasure.

How do you get out of a reading slump? Have you and how do you purge your to-read list?

Book Review: Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor

This book is the sequel in the Strange the Dreamer series. You should definitely read the first book Strange the Dreamer before picking up Muse of Nightmares. The first leaves the reader with so many questions and this one is the answer key. In fact, this book leaves off right where the first one ends. I’ll try to leave this review spoiler free so it is thin on book summary.

What can I say about this book other than it is amazing. It ripped out my heart and then fix it back into my chest and filled it again almost to bursting. I finished reading this book before bed and I couldn’t go to sleep because I was just so happy. I feel like I was on a journey right along with the characters feeling everything they feel. Laini is a words smith. She makes the reader understand how characters can be good and bad by creating the clearest, realist picture of people. The magic and the world are huge and detailed but not confusing. Plus, shout out to an epilogue I needed to read. Perfect closure to a story leaving me satisfied and dreamy.

In this book, we follow the same cast of characters but even a few new ones, Nova and Kova, enter the fold becoming a critical point of the story. Lazlo returns but we spend less time in his head. Sarai also returns and as the title of the book leads you to believe, yes this is her book. She is sweet, strong, and instead of breaking people down she is learning to use her magic to help people. Rudy, Feral, and Sparrow are back. I think Sparrow gets a little more magical growth in the story but Rudy and Feral set the perfect teenage tone. Minya is a marvelously complex character. All the pain she holds and knowing every decision made was to protect the others. Even though I disagreed with her so many times, it is so easy to understand her position completely. The character with probably the most unexpected arc is Thyron. I don’t want to give anything away but at first, I was a little confused why he was getting page time. Let’s be honest he isn’t the best person in the first book but it made me so happy to see him develop. (Squeal!) Lastly, Eril-Fane and Azareen. Sigh. So much emotion.

Yes, these books are considered young adult but the themes in this book are ones we are constantly facing throughout life. How grief can be blinding and holding on to pain is such a negative weight. Learning to let go of hurt and learning from mistakes and after all that knowledge, you can still do good. Moving on from the ugliness. Thank you Laini Taylor.

ARC provided in exchange for an honest review.  Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor will be published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on October 2nd, 2018.

Purchase Muse of Nightmares through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Book Depository.

Purchase the first book in the series, Strange the Dreamer, through AmazoneBooks.com, Barnes & Noble, or Book Depository.

Book Review: (Don’t) Call Me Crazy by Kelly Jensen

(Don’t) Call Me Crazy: 33 Voices Start the Conversation About Mental Health edited by Kelly Jensen is a collection of essays, poems, and art on how bestselling authors, actors, and artist have coped and thrived with mental illness. This is a very important anthology. It covers mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, trichotillomania, eating disorders, bipolar issues, PTSD, and many more.
This isn’t about the science or trying to find a cure. This is more about experiences. Everyone writes about their struggle with their illness. Some of it is how their illness has affected their lives, from misdiagnosis to popular stigmas. There are discussions about defining words, the language used by others, not letting words define you as a person, and how you are not your mental illness. Also, how people found help, and how they still work with their health today. There are authors that recommend other titles, fiction or non-fiction if the reader would like to continue their education and learn more. And even some helpful meditations.
This was a tough review to write and I don’t know if I have given it the proper write up it deserves. I highlighted many phrases or descriptions that clicked. Some of the most relatable works in this anthology for me were, The Train of Overthinking by Gemma Correll; this cartoon, for me, perfectly represents getting stuck in the loop of negative thoughts and Black Hole by Victoria V. E. Schwab which just made me feel less alone about getting stuck inside my head.
I wish I had something like this when I was a teen. Some books and movies put a Hollywood spin on some illness or just completely got it wrong. This anthology allows realistic representation and helps suffer feel less alone. You don’t have a mental illness but maybe you know someone who has or is currently going through some stuff and all I can ask is read this. It can help you have a better understanding, a little more compassion, and start conversations.

ARC provided in exchange for an honest review. (Don’t) Call Me Crazy: 33 Voices Start the Conversation About Mental Health edited by Kelly Jensen will be published by Algonquin Young Readers on October 2nd, 2018.

 

Purchase this title through Amazon, Book Depository, or Barnes & Noble.

Book Haul

This book haul will be short since I don’t buy a lot of books anymore. I didn’t have a book review ready this week because I’m a slow reader. I’m hoping this will be better than posting nothing.
Mostly I go borrow from the library. It saves money and if I’m not downloading a library e-book, it’s a nice time out. But this past month I did buy and receive a few books and I would love to continue to share my love of books and support authors.


First I had some digital dollars left in my Amazon account and there is an Amazon e-book sale on Leigh Bardugo’s Wonder Woman: Warbringer. I’m a fan of Wonder Woman so I needed it plus sale! You understand.
Book Depository, Amazon, Ebooks.com, and Barnes & Noble.


When I was younger I may have sponsored whales or dolphins but the first animal I really found a connection with was wolves and I sponsored a wolf from the Sawtooth Pack. Jim and Jamie Dutcher lived intimately with this pack of wolves and now has written about the virtues they observed in wolf society and behavior. Basically, anything that has to do with wolves, especially the Sawtooth Pack I will buy. Amazon, Book Depository, Ebooks.com, and Barnes & Nobles.


I received a Barnes & Noble gift card from my mom so I took advantage of the 50% off sale and bought, Circe by Madeline Miller. I don’t think I could tell it any better so, “In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child–not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power–the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.” Need I say more? Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, and Ebooks.com.


The second book I bought was Dread Nation by Justina Ireland. The reader follows Jane McKeene, a Black teen. Zombies rise from their graves during the Civil War. The US ends the war with a compromise that frees the enslaved but forces them into combat schools that train them to slay the undead. Yup, had to have. Amazon, Book Depository, Barnes & Noble, and Ebooks.com.


I’m currently reading an advance copy of (Don’t) Call Me Crazy by Kelly Jensen. Algonquin Young Readers gave me this book filled with essays, lists, poems, and art which 33 contributors including actress Kristen Bell, figure skater Nancy Kerrigan, and bestselling YA authors like Adam Silvera, and Victoria Schwab. The novel explores ways these people have coped and thrived with mental illness. If you’ve ever struggled with your mental health, or know someone who has this is the book. Review coming soon. On sale October 2, 2018. Amazon, Book Depository, and Barnes & Noble.


My next read will be Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers was so amazing and give me an advance copy. It is the sequel of Strange the Dreamer which was like a dream, wonderful and heartbreaking. I love Laini Taylor’s writing and can’t wait to get to this read. Review coming soon. On sale October 2, 2018. Amazon, Book Depository, and Barnes & Noble.

That concludes my list. What do you think of my list? Is there any you would or would not recommend. Would you like to see more post like this one? This blog won’t be book reviews forever. I do plan on getting back to discussing some writing struggles. Until then, I hope you find your perfect read.

Book Review: How to Stop Time by Matt Haig

Tom Hazard looks 41-years-old but he has a rare condition. He ages at a slower rate and is actually four-hundred-and-thirty-nine-years old. Tom is protected by a secret society for people like him and with their help, he must move around every 8 years to not create suspension. The number one rule to this secret club, don’t fall in love which hasn’t been a problem for Tom. This time around he decides he will move back to his old stomping grounds, London, to become a high school history teacher but when he meets a woman at work he starts to remember the fulfillment and hurt that comes with any life. Now, Tom’s current life is haunted by his past experiences and he must decide if he will stay stuck in his former memories or finally begin living in the present.

How to Stop Time alternates between present-day London and Tom’s many past memories but I was never confused. Haig does a good job of keeping the story moving but not disorganized. The synopsis of the book will have you think this is a love story between two people but I think it is about following Tom during a time when he feels his life is spent and is questioning his place not only in the world but in the secret society. There is a love story but it’s not the novel’s main focus like the movie, “The Age of Adeline” or the book, The Time Traveler’s Wife. The romance is slow burning and a reader may be confused when they start reading and find nothing happens with this present day romance until the last half of the book. It takes Tom a long time to accept his feelings. I think the main theme of the book was more about the heaviness of being alive. How a group of people you thought was protecting and helping you may have been hurting you? Also, seeing the good, “to love food and music and champagne and rare sunny afternoons in October. You can love the sight of waterfalls and the smell of old books.”

I really enjoyed this book. I found myself marking many passages that stuck with me. The read can be a little slow at times (what life is always exciting?) but it was quite thrilling by the end.

Some favorite quotes:

“That’s the thing with time, isn’t it? It’s not all the same. Some days – some years – some decades – are empty. There is nothing to them. It’s just flat water. And then you come across a year, or even a day, or an afternoon. And it is everything. It is the whole thing.”

“And, just as it only takes a moment to die, it only takes a moment to live. You just close your eyes and let every futile fear slip away. And then, in this new state, free from fear, you ask yourself: who am I? If I could live without doubt what would I do? If I could be kind without the fear of being fucked over? If I could love without fear of being hurt? If I could taste the sweetness of today without thinking of how I will miss that taste tomorrow? If I could not fear the passing of time and the people it will steal? Yes. What would I do? Who would I care for? What battle would I fight? Which paths would I step down? What joys would I allow myself? What internal mysteries would I solve? How, in short, would I live?”

Purchase this title through Amazon, Book Depository, Barnes & Noble, or Ebooks.com.

Book Review: City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab is a middle school, paranormal novel and the first book in the Cassidy Black series. Cassidy must go to Edinburgh, Scotland when her parents, ghost hunters, get a TV show. Her parents can’t see ghosts but Cass can. Ever since her drowning Cass can pull back the Veil that separates the living from the ghost but she is not alone. She is joined by her best friend Jacob, the ghost who saved her that day in the river. In Edinburgh Cass meets Lara, a girl that can also see the dead, and learns she has a lot more responsibility but can Cass keep herself safe in a city with many more ghost, a veil grabbing at her, and an evil woman in red known to snatch children’s life force.

I am not the intended age group however, ten-year-old me ate this up. I loved reading the way the Scottish history and superstitions were spun into the story. Schwab does a great job with the book’s atmosphere. It felt as if Edinburgh was another character and the description of the Veil left me with a vivid picture of the in-between. Schwab was able to make a creepy, chilling setting without being gruesome. Also, through their interactions, rules, and secrets, I really enjoyed Cassidy’s relationship with her best friend, Jacob.

My negative, there is a great deal of background before the subplot takes over. The story falls into the first book in a series flaw, a slow beginning and an over too soon ending but I still found myself invested. The end gifts the reader with nagging little questions about what haunted city setting could possibly be next (I have my mind set on Paris) and the ending’s ominous undertone with certain characters.

I enjoyed this novel as an adult reader and if you know middle school readers with a pension for ghost stories, look no farther then City of Ghosts.

ARC provided in exchange for an honest review. City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab will be published by Scholastic Press on August 28th, 2018.

Purchase this title through Amazon and Book Depository.

 

Book Review: Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren.

After a few embarrassing meetups in college Josh Im and Hazel Bradford reunite years later. Josh is sweet, thoughtful, and sensible while Hazel it quirky, funny, and straightforward. After Josh’s last relationship ends horribly Hazel convinces Josh to go on double dates with her. The dates they pick for each other don’t always work out but they have fun spending time together and the more time spent together the stronger the romantic tension.

This is the first novel I’ve read by the writing duo Christina Lauren and it was such an entertaining rom-com read. There were even parts that made me laugh out loud.

Hazel may lack a filter and be a bit zany but she has a big heart and doesn’t come across too over the top. I thought she was clearly believable and likable. Josh is a sweet straight man which makes it easy to fall in love with him. I was never left believing these characters would never work. Their friendship/romance was a little the opposite attract trope but didn’t feel thrown together or so contradicting to feel stretch thin. Instead, the relationship between Josh and Hazel was a slow burn, a lovely way to build tension, and with the feeling of a well-suited pair. Christina Lauren also does a great job of making the characters’ responsible adults talking about real-world topics like sex, testing, and bleeding without any shame, or guilt.

My only negative with the book was with the ending. I won’t give anything away but it felt rush. I would gladly pick up another novel by Christina Lauren in the future. They can paint clear scenes and deep characters without heavy fluff. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes contemporary romance and is looking for an energetic and cheerful read.

ARC provided in exchange for an honest review. Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren will be published by Gallery Books on Tuesday, September 4th, 2018.

Purchase this title through Amazon or Book Depository.