May 28, 2020

Random Thursday

Today's theme in Leslie Gilbert Elman's Weird But True is art! This ought to be interesting! Though I've a terrible memory for such things, I've always enjoyed Art History courses! My favorite era of course was the Italian Renaissance as well as the early Greeks with the Parthenon. Trying to remember now if the sculptures I remember if they were Greek or Italian-Greek aka Italians mimicking Greek art/sculpture. I think one of my teachers used to say everything Romans did...Greeks did first.

Moving on...

(image borrowed from Wikipedia)
In 1990, Vincent Van Gogh's Portrait of Doctor Gachet sould for $82.5 million dollars making it the highest price paid at auction for a painting. It held the record until 2004 when Pablo Picasso's Boy with a Pipe sold for $104.1 million.

FUN FACT: Van Gogh appeared to have only sold one painting during his lifetime and that was Red Vineyard which sold in 1890 during an exhibition in Brussels. Though scholars continue to hunt for documentation that proves otherwise.

Daaaang! You have to really, really, really love art and want an original to throw that kind of cash around! And I'm in debates about paying $250 for an art piece I'm eyeing...and it's supposedly an original too! lol.

(image borrowed from Metropolitan Museum of Art)
Ryoei Saito, head of a Japanese paper manufacturing company bought van Gogh's Portrait of Doctor Gachet at auction and two days later he also bought a painting by Renoir for $78 million dollars. Then he apparently hid them in a warehouse saying he loved these paintings so much that he wanted them cremated with him at his death. Though, later, he says that was meant to be a joke, but no one is really sure about that! He later ran into some money troubles and was convicted for trying to bribe a government official. He died in 1996.

What happened to the painting? The Renoir was sold to pay off debts, but the van Gogh was never found. Museum curators hope that he didn't seriously have it cremated with him, but only time will tell...maybe.

Note, I just googled Renoir hoping to find a bio picture, but instead found this painting of him. Not sure who painted it as I only looked at the picture through Google! Lol. But dude, seriously, $160.5 million dollars spent in 3 days?! Makes you wonder how much Dunder-Mifflin made! Lol.

(image borrowed from Britannica)
French painter Georges Seurat did painting a little differently than others. Instead of long strokes, he did tiny little dots of color all over the canvas, creating a larger picture. His most famous painting, A Sunday on La Grande Jatte (above), measures 7 feet high and more than 10 feet across. From far away you can see this lovely moment captured on a Sunday afternoon, but up close it's nothing but random dots...about 3.5 million dots according to some estimates.

FUN FACT: It took nearly 2 years for Seurat to complete this painting!

I've seen this painting in books before, but never really realized it was composed of dots! I don't really recall this artist popping up in my one Art History class either, so maybe that's why!

(image borrowed from Wikipedia)
The modern camouflage we see on military uniforms was developed during World War I in France. It was initially used to help disguise vehicles and battleships. The people who designed and executed the painting were fine artists. The seemingly random patterns of color that made up the pattern were strongly influenced by the cubist paintings of artists, like Picasso.

FUN FACT: Grant Wood, an American artist worked as a "camoufleur" aka, a camouflage artist during WWI. His most famous painting American Gothic (above) is decidedly un-cubist and starkly realistic.

Another painting that never really came up in my class! Trying to remember what era we stopped at...I think it might have been a two part course! Lol.

(image borrowed from Wikipedia)
Costa Rica has not had an army or navy since 1948. Oscar Arias Sanchez was the president there from 1986-1990, and again from 2006-2010 and he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987 for his work to draft the Esquipulas peace accords that helped to prevent or end the wars in other Central American nations.

May 27, 2020

Waiting on Wednesday

Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and discuss the books we're excited about that we have yet to read. It's based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by the fabulous Jill at Breaking the Spine.

A new ghoulish mystery from the New York Times bestselling author of A Ghostly Light featuring Mel Turner, a ghost-whispering contractor.

Mel Turner can’t resist the chance to bring the Crockett Theatre, a decrepit San Francisco Art Deco movie palace, back to life. But there’s a catch for Turner Construction: Several artists are currently squatting in the building, and they aren’t the only ones haunting the once-grand halls of the historic theater...

When one of the squatters is found dead, the police department has a long list of suspects to investigate. Meanwhile, Mel and her fiancé, Landon, are remodeling an old house for themselves, and Mel finds being on the other side of a home renovation project more challenging than she expected.

When Mel discovers that the former owner of the Crockett Theatre died under mysterious circumstances, and that there just might be a connection to the ghost haunting her own attic, the case takes a new turn—one that could bring down the curtain for the last time.

I'm behind in this series too! I was trying to get caught up with her other series, then fell behind in this one! Luckily it's a fun one that I can easily follow since the mysteries stand on their own with little continuity between the books.

PUBLISHER: Berkley Books
GENRE: Paranormal Mystery
RELEASE DATE: June 30, 2020

May 26, 2020

Review--Imagine Me by Tahereh Mafi

The explosive finale to the New York Times and USA Today bestselling Shatter Me series.

Juliette Ferrars.

Ella Sommers.

Which is the truth and which is the lie?

Now that Ella knows who Juliette is and what she was created for, things have only become more complicated. As she struggles to understand the past that haunts her and looks to a future more uncertain than ever, the lines between right and wrong—between Ella and Juliette—blur. And with old enemies looming, her destiny may not be her own to control.

The day of reckoning for the Reestablishment is coming. But she may not get to choose what side she fights on.

I finally picked up Tahereh Mafi's Imagine Me that once again brings us the conclusion to the Shatter Me series...perhaps for the last time this go around. Things have been hectic in this new trilogy as Juliette's mysterious past has been revealed and what her destiny was all along. It was a bit of a wild ride and I'll also admit confusing, probably because I couldn't really recall the first trilogy all that well.

Juliette and Warner were trying to have a happy moment after his birthday celebration when Juliette is attacked from the inside. It seems her sister Emmaline is trying to reach her and is in some way taking Juliette over, it's a battle of wills. Warner struggles to help her and it's not long before the camp is attacked by Anderson.

As we learned last go around, Warner's father isn't dead like we all had hoped. He's very much alive and wants to drag Juliette back to the compound where the other commander's children are being held prisoner. We soon learn that Anderson has his own plans for Juliette and through a matter of science and whatnot, he's able to use mind control on her, she's now his puppet and virtually has no memory of her past or friends who are fighting to get her back.

Meanwhile we have Kenji and Warner doing just that. Fighting hard to find a way to get Juliette back to them. Kenji once again has equal parts in the storytelling with Juliette in this one. I felt like this was more his story to tell, as poor Juliette wasn't really herself for most of this book.

In a lot of ways, this one was harder to read because of that. Since Juliette isn't in her right mind anymore, it was almost like her early days in Shatter Me when things were muddled and hard to read. There's no crossing words out anymore, but there's the repeating and overflowing. It's a unique way of storytelling, I'll give Tahereh that, but at the same time, it's also really complicated to read through as a reader. And I get it. We're supposed to be as confused as Juliette, not understanding much of anything while these strange and horrible things are being done to her body and soul...but on a comprehensive level, it's really, really hard to grasp sometimes.

In some sense, I felt like even this plot was too simple. It was mostly a rescue mission, once Juliette is kidnapped, we have Kenji and Warner and everyone else trying to form a plan to get her back, then enacting on the plan, and having all sorts of hubble trouble happening along the way. Meanwhile we have Juliette dealing with her own internal struggles and sometimes not knowing about said struggles.

Imagine Me was definitely a trip! Take that as you will. I can't say I hated it, because I didn't. But I also won't say it was flawless either. It's definitely somewhere in between, but since Kenji was around a lot, he provided the necessary comedic relief!

I was also a little dismayed that Aaron and Ella didn't get to have enough time together. And yes, it was also another trippy experience when we had Aaron and Ella being referenced as such and then also as Warner and Juliette. But in the long run, Aaron and Ella are only the names they use when they are with each other. Which was sweet, but it was still confusing in the beginning.

I guess one thing I have issues with is the ending. The ending itself was great! But there are so many lingering questions I have about all the different characters in the end, mostly just what happened to them. I feel like a few were alluded to, some were mentioned, and a few others were ignored, but we're to assume they're well off enough. There was just a wide cast of characters in this one, both good and evil, I just would've liked to know who was left standing in this grand finale, but since our core characters are all okay, I guess it didn't really matter in the long run.

Imagine Me wasn't a flawless read for me, it was a little touch and go in some areas. The ending was happy enough as far as series finales go. I don't have any issue with that, not as much as I did with Ignite Me's ending when we thought that that was THE END! This is definitely worth reading if you're invested in the Shatter Me trilogies. While it was a little rough reading for me, I still enjoyed it as a whole, I just felt like something was missing at the same time. But overall, it was still an enjoyable read.

Overall Rating 3.5/5 stars

Teaser & Top Ten Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Purple Princess of The Purple Booker

Here are the rules:

1. Grab your current read
2. Open to a page
3. Pick out 2 lines that are SPOILER FREE
4. Name the title, author, etc.

"Nazeera is shaking her head, giving the room at large the same look she gives me so often--the one that expresses her general exhaustion at being surrounded by idiots." p 77

TITLE: Imagine Me
AUTHOR: Tahereh Mafi
PUBLISHER: HarperCollins
GENRE: YA Dystopian
RELEASE DATE: March 31, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This week's topic: Top Ten Favorite Openings

*in no particular order
**this one was rather harder than I thought it would be! I circled the text that I thought best captured my attention to the story at large. Some don't have circles...but you'll see because it's a nice short little note. :)

10. HALFWAY TO THE GRAVE by Jeaniene Frost--if you aren't hooked after might be reading the wrong book!
9. THE DARKEST STAR by Jennifer L. Armentrout

8. THE SHADOWS BETWEEN US by Tricia Levenseller--best opening ever!
7. STALKING JACK THE RIPPER by Kerri Maniscalco--another chilling attention catcher!

6. DEMON IN MY VIEW by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes--totally mysterious, right?
5. DEAD UNTIL DARK by Charlaine Harris--who hasn't? Lol!

4. CARAVAL by Stephanie Garber--I mean these one-liners are totally eye and attention catching!
3. LEGENDARY by Stephanie Garber

2. FINALE by Stephanie Garber--I mean seriously this right here told us that a fourth was possible! I had wondered at the time why she hadn't decided to make it a quartet! Lol.
1. INTERTWINED by Gena Showalter--one of the most amazing series ever!! That will sadly forever remain incomplete! :(


May 25, 2020

ARC Review--Fractures by Alice Reeds

They survived a plane crash.
They survived life on a deserted island.
They survived being hunted.
Now they must survive the truth—they are not who they think they are.

One minute they’re in Poland, subjected to gruesome tests they keep failing. No friends to support them. No family to claim them. No hope of ever living a normal life again.

Then suddenly, they’re trapped on an abandoned freighter in the middle of the ocean and forced to fight for survival. No food. No drinkable water. No way to get home. And strange memories of another life they don’t understand.

But how can they be living two separate lives, trapped in two separate places, at the same time? They’ll have to find the connection and uncover secrets that someone went to great lengths to keep hidden...if they’re going to survive long enough to find out who is behind it all.

I received this ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest and voluntary review. I was in no way compensated for this review.

If you were around my blog in the summer of 2018, then you know I became positively OBSESSED with Alice Reeds’ Echoes! It was a bizarre read with a truly spine-gripping puzzle and mystery to it that I devoured that book and waited endlessly for news of a sequel and finally the day came when Fractures was announced and I pounced on the chance to read it early!

Fiona and Miles thought they escaped the island, thought they escaped a maniacal enemy with plans to control them with chips all for the “greater good.” But they soon learn, as we did at that very last page, that all was not well. The saviors they thought that were on their side, turned out to be something else entirely. Instead of returning home, they are sent to Poland where they are kept in a strange house. Told they were now Kellie and Oliver. Everyone looks at them differently, almost expectantly, but Fiona and Miles are just as clueless as we are.

This time around, Miles is our storyteller, which I found to be very apt since Fiona told the first story. I think I still might have enjoyed it a bit more if the books could’ve alternated with their points of view, but seriously, I’m not complaining over that factoid. Much like the first book, we have what feels like two storylines going on. One in which Fiona and Miles are stuck on a freighter in the middle of nowhere in the ocean with no possible means of escape, and the other is seeing them stuck in the Villa where they are prisoners surrounded by strangers and other teens.

Miles’ mysterious older brother continues to make an appearance in this one and even seems to be a part of the weirdness going on. Fiona and Miles basically only have themselves to trust because it’s clear they won’t find help inside the house.

I love that this book continued to baffle me with all its mysteries and weirdness! There’s something about a book where the storyline is meant to make it hard to discover what is and isn’t real. This book will definitely keep you guessing, just as its predecessor did. It was truly a mind-boggling experience, and yet I loved every minute of it!

The mystery element continued to run very strong throughout this one! It was just impeccable! Even if you read these books back to back, I would wager that you’d still have a difficult time keeping everything together.

The ending was just remarkable as well! I admit, I would’ve liked to known how far and deep things would’ve gone if it ended at a later point, but I was quite happy with how things wound up. I was still a little unclear as to the timeline of the differing chapters we had going, the Villa versus the freighter.  But I think the whole not knowing part was its strongest part!

The relationship between Fiona and Miles still ran rather strong too. They aren’t at that happy couple stage, because obviously the crazy is still happening all around them. Though they remain stronger together, they will still hit a few obstacles that could threaten their fragile state.

All in all, Fractures was an amazing conclusion to the duology! It was just as intense and mysterious as its predecessor and had me turning the pages at breakneck speed! It was a read that I never wanted to put down or let it end! It held me riveted from the beginning until it’s heart-stopping ending. Needless to say that this read was just perfect for me! If you’re looking for an intense and thrilling mystery series, I would immediately pick up Alice Reeds’ Echoes duology because it’s not a read you’ll want to miss!

Overall Rating 5/5 stars

Fractures releases June 2, 2020


It's Monday! What are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It's a fun meme where we gather to share what we've read last week and our reading plans for this week.

Last Week I Read:

Bright Blaze of Magic by Jennifer Estep (4 stars)
Wait by Alyssa Rose Ivy (ARC) (4 stars)

Currently Reading:

Imagine Me by Tahereh Mafi

What I Plan to Read Next:

Other Posts of Interest:


May 24, 2020

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks! The meme is now hosted by Tynga's Reviews and Reading Reality.

I thought this week would never end! It was sooooo agonizingly long! I guess because I knew I had Monday off. I'm going to need to use another vacation day soon likely just because I am getting so stressed at work. I still don't really have a job title these days, it's more like dump on Jessica whatever you don't want to do anymore. I hate it. I'm still looking for a new job but it's still rough going. Not everything has opened back up despite the state and now my county area being "open." I just keep taking it one day at a time. All I can do at this point.

As far as book hauling this week I didn't do too bad! Only one special edition came in this week. I guess since everything outside has gone to crap, Amazon is deciding to sell books at full price and B&N is forgoing sending any coupons for the holidays or the rare just because. I've got a laundry list of books I need to buy but they're all full price and I refuse to pay that with Amazon. 

Here's what I got this week:

Aurora Burning by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff--ILLUMICRATE EDITION! I had a Forbidden Planet edition ordered but decided to cancel that one since I only have two editions of Aurora Rising...yeah...I went to that level of OCD of not wanting 3 copies of book 2 but only 2 copies of book 1. LOL!
And that was it! I do plan on making a few online orders today for different things as a new billing period has started! Lol. I'd rather not look at a super horrendous bill this month and just leave it at horrendous! What did you get this week? Are you saving up for anything special like I did...sorta. Lol.

May 22, 2020

ARC Review--Wait by Alyssa Rose Ivy

What’s worse than finding out you can command demons? Having that revelation time up with falling in love.

Cade’s life has been turned completely upside down. Not only must he come to terms with a new identity, he must also deal with his increasingly stronger feelings for Marigold. Before he can even process either, he must step into a new role he never expected to take on. 

Marigold is like a fish out of water. Even in the water. The one constant in her life has been her strength, but now she’s starting to question that. As she struggles to rediscover her voice and power, she must also decide whether she’s willing to take the biggest risk of all—falling in love. The problem is, that decision may have already been made for her. 

 Fighting to find a way back to the life they knew and the people they thought they were, Cade and Marigold discover that they may not be so different after all. 

*New Adult Paranormal Romance*

I received this ARC from the author in exchange for an honest and voluntary review. I was in no way compensated for this review.
I was very happy to return to Alyssa Rose Ivy’s Triton Chronicles with Wait! Cade was a character I was eager to know more about as soon as he stepped onto the page oh so long ago! And Mari is positively a delight! I love her spunky attitude and how she’s not afraid to go after what she wants.
I’ll admit, this one was a little rough in the beginning for me. Mostly because I had no book description to go by, seems Goodreads decided to forgo posting one as did Amazon and my usual sites. But nonetheless I preserved. Mari and Cade find themselves somewhere else entirely from where we ended things in the last go around. I had only remembered Cade hearing voices calling him “master” so the change in location threw me a bit, as it seemed to throw Cade and Mari, so I was pretty much in the same boat with them! Lol.
Cade and Mari are fighting to escape the strange place they find themselves in and return home to their friends and family, but their bizarre trip wasn’t all for naught. Not only do we meet some of these demons that had been calling to Cade, we get hints of what might have happened to Mari’s missing uncle. Though there is still plenty of mystery to be had as it seems we’re only just touching the surface of this twisted tale. The mystery will only continue to grow and the plot thickens as we near towards the end of this novel.
The end, really and totally threw me! Not only do we meet yet another character—villainous in nature—who might be behind the bizarre happenings lately. Yet things get really twisted in those last few moments that my head was completely spinning with theories as to what just happened, what’s happening, and what’s going to happen in the next go around!
This was without a doubt one heart-racing read and quite the mind spinner too! I don’t want that to come off as a bad thing, yes, I might have been struggling to keep up with all the twists and turns, but I was loving the excitement of it all. Though I was still a bit puzzled over the place Mari and Cade were in for the majority of the novel. I don’t think it ever really gets a name.
I was quite happy to see yet another familiar face in this one! I’m really starting to enjoy this guy’s character…though he may not exactly be on Team Good. Lol.
The romance between Cade and Mari continues to battle between sweet and steamy! There are moments when things get really steamy between them as they try to distract one another from their surroundings and circumstances and then in the next moment, Cade is awkwardly trying to call themselves a couple and other “title” names. It was kind of cute and endearing as he wanted there to be more than just physical lust between them. And it would seem that Mari thinks the same.
But since their predicament is pretty dire, romance kind of takes a backseat in this one. This book is all about trying to get themselves back home before the next you-know-what storm hits. There’s still the matter of finding out what happened to Mari’s uncle as well. Then there’s dealing with the big bad enemy who made their appearance in the finale of this one! There’s still a lot that must be done before Cade and Mari can try for their happy ending…and I am excited for every heart-racing moment that is bound to come in the grand finale!
I gush all the time about how much I adore Alyssa Rose Ivy’s Paranormal New Adut series! It’s truly the perfect read for any paranormal fan! The amount of “beings” she creates too is something to be admired; we’ve had men who can fly with wings, dragons, and werewolves just to name some of the more known types. There are others for sure and I love being able to explore this supernatural world with every book she writes! If you’ve been looking for that paranormal read that isn’t YA but not quite adult yet, then I strongly recommend checking out one of Alyssa’s many series! You won’t be disappointed!
And as a side note, you can pick up any Chronicles trilogy and read it without needing to read everything that came before, just know that there will be minor spoilers involved of basically who ended up with who…and sometimes the trouble they had to go through to get to their happy ending.
Overall Rating 4/5 stars
Wait is out NOW!