May 31, 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.

You'd think a four day week wouldn't be so stressful, well, unfortunately it was! My manager took vacation days at the end of the week and left me a handful of emails that weren't written very well because my instructions were unclear in at least two of them! One of them even left instructions on what to do with the paperwork he left on my desk...there was no paperwork on my desk. So yeah...I'll find out tomorrow what I was supposed to do and hopefully not get asked why I didn't do it. I've got another interview of sorts on Tuesday, so hoping that provides some happy results. Wish me luck!

This was a pretty good week for book hauling and I guess just hauling in general! Lol! Check out what I bought:

Crave by Tracy Wolff--I bought myself the "standard" edition so I can have both this cover and my Bookish Box one on my shelves!
House of Dragons by Jessica Cluess--Amazon sent me a coupon of sorts after they sent one of my orders haywire and refused to deliver it, so I used the coupon on this one to bring the price down to manageable levels!
Illustrated Girl by Josephine Angelini--I'm not one to do serial novels, so I waited for this one to be completed and put all together! I managed to snag it when it was free too, so yay!
Aurora Blazing by Jessie Mihalik--I went to my favorite little downtown St. Charles yesterday, it was gorgeous weather out! I popped into my favorite indie store, Main Street Books and bought one of the books off my wishlist to help support the store since they hadn't been open in so long! And I learned there's going to be virtual signings in JULY! SO EXCITED!!

Then a few weeks ago I was told I won an eARC from the YALLStayAtHome event in April and I finally received my prize:

They Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman (ARC)--so excited for this one! I think I have another of her books in my TBR pile, but I'm always up for a good YA thriller!

THANK YOU Penguin Teen!

Then I got a few other goodies this week, such as my Caraval scarf from Noverantale:

It ended up being a little shorter than I initially thought. Honestly, I saw the gorgeous design and hit buy so quickly I didn't give dimensions much thought! Lol! I'm actually thinking of looking into getting a picture frame for it because the design is so cool! Might have to custom order it though, the length seems pretty long. I'll keep you updated on this potential project! ;)

Then in Disney Shopping I bought:

I ordered this mug I'd been eyeing on ShopDisney back on a free shipping day. The coloring isn't quite what I thought it would be, the online picture had it as a gorgeous teal, and it's more of a light's still nice I guess. But man...that original teal was gorgeous! I did decide to email them to see if maybe they sent me a defective one by mistake.

On the inside of the cup, you see a golden Ariel at the bottom. I tried several times to take a picture of it, but my flash was uncooperative, so here's the picture from the website:

And if you look really closely on the right, you can see what the green looked like! I mean you can pop over to the website too, if you wanted to! The mug was still there last night. Lol.

And then a surprise from the publisher came:

A set of Iron Fey Chronicles pins with symbols from the newly redesigned covers! And they have that super smooth matte finishing! I love that texture! Lol!

THANK YOU Inkyard Press!
And that was it for me this week! What did you all get?

May 30, 2020

Challenges Monthly Wrap-up--May

CHALLENGE 1: 2020 New Release Challenge

Imagine Me by Tahereh Mafi (3/31/20)

I finally read a new release! Perhaps I shouldn't have set my goal so high for this one! Lol. Still have plenty of time and new releases to get to this year!

I'm at 14/20

CHALLENGE 2: Print ONLY 2020 Reading Challenge

In the End by Demitria Lunetta 
Neverland by Anna Katmore
A Million Worlds With You by Claudia Gray
Dark Heart of Magic by Jennifer Estep
Bright Blaze of Magic by Jennifer Estep
Imagine Me by Tahereh Mafi

I'm at 23/45...still a little worried about making this one this year. Especially if I get a new job. We'll see!

CHALLENGE 3: 2020 Discussion Challenge

Yeah, I don't know what happened this month. I'm at 15/25, so not bad...just not sure yet if I will be able to ascend to the top tier!

CHALLENGE 4: Beat the Backlist 2020 Reading Challenge

In the End by Demitria Lunetta (6/24/14)
Neverland by Anna Katmore (4/10/14)
Pan's Revenge by Anna Katmore (7/3/14)
Ten Thousand Skies Above You by Claudia Gray (11/3/15)
A Million Worlds With You by Claudia Gray (11/1/16)
Dark Heart of Magic by Jennifer Estep (10/27/15)
Bright Blaze of Magic by Jennifer Estep (4/26/16)
Sisters of Salt and Iron by Kady Cross (3/30/16)
I'm at 17/20...feeling good with this one!

CHALLENGE 5: 2020 Series Enders Reading Challenge

In the End by Demitria Lunetta (In the After)
Pan's Revenge by Anna Katmore (Adventures in Neverland)
A Million Worlds With You by Claudia Gray (Firebird)
Bright Blaze of Magic by Jennifer Estep (Black Blade)
Fractures by Alice Reeds (Echoes)
Imagine Me by Tahereh Mafi (Shatter Me)
Sisters of Salt and Iron by Kady Cross (Sisters of Blood and Spirit)

Kicking butt with this one! My original goal of 3 is surpassed, I upped to 5, then 10, now I'm gunning for 15!

12/15 completed!

May 29, 2020

Review--Sisters of Salt and Iron by Kady Cross

Lark Noble is finally happy. She’s trying to move on and put the events of the past behind her: the people who avoided her because she talked to the ghost of her dead twin sister, the parents who couldn’t be around her anymore and even the attempt she made on her own life. She finally has friends—people who know her secrets and still care about her—and she has Ben, the cute guy she never saw coming.

Wren Noble is lonely. Unable to interact with the living, she wants to be happy for her sister’s newfound happiness, but she feels like she’s losing her. It doesn’t help that Kevin, the very not-dead guy she was starting to fall for, seems to be moving on.

Then Wren meets Noah, the spirit of a young man who died a century ago. Noah is cute, he’s charming and he makes Wren feel something she’s never felt before. But Noah has a dark influence on Wren, and Lark’s distrust of him drives the sisters apart for the first time in their lives. As Halloween approaches and the veil between the worlds thins, bringing the dead closer to the world of the living, Lark must find a way to stop whatever deadly act Noah is planning, even if it means going through her sister to do so.

I finally finished Kady Cross’ duology Sister of Blood and Spirit with the final installment, Sisters of Salt and Iron, and what a rush! It’s everything you could hope for in a ghosty story. That I was able to read it so amazingly well with little to no memory of the first book made it even better! It’s still a duology of sorts as it continues the first storylines in some way, but also presents new ones too.
The story begins with a bang as Lark and her friends, Wren included are battling an evil ghost in the locker room at school where a dance is being held in the days before Halloween. This town apparently has a lot of celebrations leading up to Halloween. It’s insane! Lark has finally found her place in this new school, she has friends, a loving boyfriend, and an awesome grandmother. Her dearly departed sister, Wren is very much in her life as well. Things are pretty much perfect, minus all the other ghostly happenings.
Sadly, poor Wren hasn’t had it as easy lately. She’s a ghost and in love with the very much alive Kevin, a friend of Lark’s and a medium too. He was more essential in the first book, that much I can remember. Though in this one, he more makes an appearance here and there, but still a part of the story in the long run. Then Wren meets Noah, another ghost at the house where the big showdown with the homicidal ghost went down in the previous book. Noah is unlike anyone she’s ever met and she is fast to fall head over heels, but it seems Noah feels the same…or does he?
As the description will tell you, the ghost Wren falls for might not be the most genuine ghost around. He harbors dark secrets and agendas of his own. Honestly, even without the dustjacket telling us this, you can see hints of his darker side from the getgo.
With Halloween coming around the corner, the veil between the living and the dead is at its thinnest. And our nefarious villain has very big plans for this special night. Unless two sisters can defeat him in time.
This book was amazingly awesome! I forgotten how much I love Kady’s words! And when you add a ghost story to the mix you get pure gold! There was some digging into Wren and Lark’s family history in this one. Things shall be revealed and they are earth-shattering to say the least! I actually enjoyed this part too, as it put a nice spin to Lark and Wren’s situation.
The ending was incredible too! For a minute I really thought there would be lead up to another book, and while the threads are there, it’s obvious that this is the final book. I mean, I did read it four years later than intended! But I liked that there was still a little more room for more adventures with these guys. Although, one teeny tiny thread that was left unexplored or without more detail left me reeling! I mean even Lark was wondering what would or could happen there…and yet, it was never brought up in those last few paragraphs. Sigh…
If you’re looking for that heart-racing read filled with ghosts of both good and evil nature, then this is the read for you! There were definitely some intense and creepy moments in this one. I was held riveted from start to finish and was only sad that it was over. As far as series finales go, Sisters of Salt and Iron does it just right!
Overall Rating 5/5 stars

Book Blogger Hop

This meme is hosted by Billy at Ramblings of a Coffee Addict!
This week's question is: What social media sites do you visit? Please leave your links so we can follow. (submitted by Elizabeth @ Silver's Reviews
MY ANSWER: I'm on:

Not too many sites and I don't know if we consider Goodreads social media or not, but there it is! Lol!

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