Jul 31, 2020

Challenges Monthly Wrap-up: July

CHALLENGE 1: 2020 New Release Challenge

House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas (3/3/20)
The Damned by Renee Ahdieh (7/7/20)
The Ghost Tree by Christina Henry (9/8/20)--Review to come at a later date
You Were Never Here by Kathleen Peacock (10/20/20)--Review to come at a later date
This is Not a Ghost Story by Andrea Portes (11/17/20)--Review to come at a later date

I'm at 23/25 new releases read! This one shouldn't be a problem to complete at all!

CHALLENGE 2: Print ONLY 2020 Reading Challenge

Heart of Stone by Kelly Keaton
House of Blood and Earth by Sarah J. Maas
The Damned by Renee Ahdieh
29/45...I'm having serious doubts about my completing this challenge. 5 months to go, still possible though.
CHALLENGE 3: 2020 Discussion Challenge

20/25, I'm getting there. Apparently I'm not feeling as chatty this year. It's been a heck of year so far too!
CHALLENGE 4: Beat the Backlist 2020 Reading Challenge
Heart of Stone by Kelly Keaton (2/14/15)
And that makes 20/20! I still plan to read some other backlist titles in the coming months, so I'll officially surpass my goal...eventually. 
CHALLENGE 5: 2020 Series Enders Reading Challenge
Heart of Stone by Kelly Keaton (Gods & Monsters)

I'm at 14/15 of my new goal! I've got a few more series enders lined up in my queue so I'll be passing this goal up in no time!
My challenges are pretty much on track, though I worry about my "real" book challenge, but there's still time left, but I think this might be the first time I fail at one of my challenges in all my blogging years. But the upside is I failed because I got a new job! :)

Book Blogger Hop

This meme is hosted by Billy at Ramblings of a Coffee Addict!
This week's question is: If you haven't read a book in awhile and someone asks about a character or the plot, can you recall the details? (submitted by Elizabeth @ Silver's Reviews
MY ANSWER: Well, I can honestly say it depends. It depends on how much I enjoyed the book. How long ago did I read the book, that kind of thing. And these days, it would honestly have to be limited to the main characters. There are some trilogies that I binge read so I can barely remember them. Sadly, some of those are reallllllly popular. I enjoyed them...but I binged them and have read hundreds of books since then...so yeah...my memory recall kind of sucks!
So short answer...it just really depends! Lol.

Jul 30, 2020

Random Thursday

Today's segment of Weird But True by Leslie Gilbert Elman is a mishmash of facotids. Not much rhyme or reason going on here, but let's see what miscellaneous facts we'll learn today!

(image borrowed from Everyday Health)
Thankfully there are programs to ensure communities in Africa and Asia have clean drinking water that have nearly wiped out the guinea worm. These programs began in 1986 and around that time there were 3.5 million cases of guinea worm disease in 20 countries, by 2009 that number had dropped to 3,500 cases in four countries. The goal is to eliminate the guinea worm infestations entirely.

And eww. Do yourself a favor, NEVER google guinea worm under pictures. 
*shudders forever*

(image borrowed from CNN)
Different forms of writing systems such as Babylonian cuneiform and Egyptian hieroglyphics were wiped out over time as societies developed language. One exception to this occurrence is the use of Chinese characters, which has continued for about 3,000 years.

I remember vaguely studying different units regarding hieroglyphics and cuneiform. I always liked saying the latter as cune-e-form...still read it that way too! Lol.

(image borrowed from Wikipedia)
When archaeologist were studying at the Maya site in Calakmul, Mexico, they unearthed large painted murals with hieroglyphic captions describing the action in the artwork, which was mostly food related.

FUN FACT: The Maya people of Central America had one of the very first writing systems in the New World. There's evidence that indicates that the writing could be as old as 300 BCE. Archaeologists refer tot he writing as hieroglyphs even though the characters were unrelated to the Egyptian hieroglyphics. 

So I wonder if that's where people differentiate what group they're talking about when throwing out hieroglyphics and hieroglyphs?

(image borrowed from UTAS.edu.au)
Archaeologists found shells that had been turned into necklaces in a cave in Spain. There were also traces of pigments that led them to believe that there were used as body paints by Neanderthals 50,000 years ago.

Note, I don't know if this necklace was one of the found necklaces. I simply googled ancient shell necklaces. There was a picture that showed buried skeletons wearing them...but it looked too creepy even for me to share here. Lol. So I thought this one looked nice!

(image borrowed from Harper's Bazaar)
Hair dye is older than you think. Ancient Greeks and Romans made a substance to darken their hair and hiding gray hairs by mixing limestone mixed with water and lead oxide.

FUN FACT: Aristophanes, a Greek playwright, mentions hair dye in the 4 century BCE. Pliny the Elder, a Roman author and the Roman poet Ovid also mention it in texts in the 1st century CE.

I guess this shouldn't surprise me! Lol!

Jul 29, 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

Soaking up a luxurious new chapter alongside her saucy bestie, Cat Cooper plans on emerging as the premier life coach in East Hampton by summertime. All she has to do is survive an offseason replete with desolate beaches, slow business, and murder...

As the Hamptons drags through early spring, Cat's shot at becoming the toast of the town in time for Memorial Day is dwindling--and fast. The only client she can find has been housebound for decades and claims to be the victim of a devasting curse. Then there's the matter of Detective Shepherd's intense jealousy over Maks Grinkov, the handsome bad boy who approaches Cat with an unusual offer she can't stop thinking about. Havoc finally breaks loose when a string of murders rocks the coastal community, landing Maks on the hook as the culprit...

While the body count rises, Cat goes from life coaching to sleuthing for the truth about Maks's less-than-wholesome background. But after digging deeper, she questions if Detective Shepherd had an unwitting hand in a related homicide case after tangling with the wrong people. With a storm approaching shore and no one to trust, Cat and her sharp-tongued best friend, Gilley, must solve a client's curse and a series of violent deaths before a killer sends them all sailing to their doom...

I still need to read the first book of this series...but I also want to read the last (possible) two books of the Psychic Eye series. So I'm not terribly behind, but not entirely ready for this one yet! LOL! Still plan to pick it up though because I adore these series!

PUBLISHER: Kensington Publishing Corporation
GENRE: Mystery
RELEASE DATE: August 25, 2020



Jul 28, 2020

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.

"'I kind of admire it, though. The way writers get to create worlds and people. The way they can manipulate reality. It must be like playing God.'" Kindle loc. 30% (an estimate as I forgot to mark it!)*

"Some things are easier to say in the dark. Sometimes, darkness can make you brave." Kindle loc. 53%*

*Quotes come from the eARC, therefore they and their locations are not final.

TITLE: You Were Never Here
AUTHOR: Kathleen Peacock
GENRE: YA Thriller
RELEASE DATE: October 20, 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 is: FREEBIE: Top Ten Favorite Books Set In NOLA!

*in no particular order
**after reading a few books that were back-to-back set in NOLA, I realized how many of my favorite novels were set in this city! 

 10. BLACK DUST MAMBO by Adrian Phoenix--kicking it old school with this one! It's been 10+ years since I last read it, WOW, so I've fuzzy memories on it but I know it was set in the bayous!
9. DARKNESS BECOMES HER by Kelly Keaton--since I just finished this series not too long ago, I vividly recall all the NOLA settings. Particularly Cafe du Monde!
8. DEFINITELY DEAD by Charlaine Harris--this predates my blog! It was the first time Sookie went to NOLA if I recall. I believe other times had mentioning of it, but this one actually mentions her going and I knew she went at some point!

7. ARISE by Tara Hudson--how I miss Tara's books! This was a fun series and I was happy when this ghostly character took a trip to NOLA!
6. HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN by Kristen Painter--another one I only have vague memories of since it was several hundred books ago! I think it was related to her first House of Comarre series so it was in NOLA for the most part!
5. THE VEIL by Chloe Neill--though this isn't really a NOLA you'd want to visit with the brewing war going on!
4. THIS SIDE OF THE GRAVE by Jeaniene Frost--I had vague recollections of Cat and Bones visiting NOLA! Though they had their hands full with apocalyptic-like happenings so there wasn't time for sightseeing.
3. THE BEAUTIFUL by Renee Ahdieh--I mean duh!
2. WICKED by Jennifer L. Armentrout--I really enjoyed this series being in NOLA!

1. FLIGHT by Alyssa Rose Ivy--one of my all time favorite NA series! And the world series spends a lot of time in NOLA too! So many of the other series at least started here before taking them elsewhere!



Jul 27, 2020

ARC Review--They Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman

Gossip Girl meets One of Us Is Lying with a dash of The Secret History in this slick, taut murder mystery set against the backdrop of an exclusive prep school on Long Island.

In Gold Coast, Long Island, everything from the expensive downtown shops to the manicured beaches, to the pressed uniforms of Jill Newman and her friends, looks perfect. But as Jill found out three years ago, nothing is as it seems.

Freshman year Jill's best friend, the brilliant, dazzling Shaila Arnold, was killed by her boyfriend. After that dark night on the beach, Graham confessed, the case was closed, and Jill tried to move on.

Now, it's Jill's senior year and she's determined to make it her best yet. After all, she's a senior and a Player--a member of Gold Coast Prep's exclusive, not-so-secret secret society. Senior Players have the best parties, highest grades and the admiration of the entire school. This is going to be Jill's year. She's sure of it.

But when Jill starts getting texts proclaiming Graham's innocence, her dreams of the perfect senior year start to crumble. If Graham didn't kill Shaila, who did? Jill is vows to find out, but digging deeper could mean putting her friendships, and her future, in jeopardy.

I won this ARC in a contest provided by the publisher. My review is completely honest and voluntary, I was in no way compensated for this review.

I went into Jessica Goodman's They Wish They Were Us expecting an edge of your seat, creepy thriller set in a preppy high school of the rich and elite. Thinking that the vapid and vain people were hiding dangerous secrets...but sadly, that's not what I got at all. My main issue was that I wanted a good creepy thriller mystery and instead what I got was what I felt like was a straight up contemporary read on the everyday lifestyles of the rich and elite students of Gold Coast prep. 

Jill Newman isn't quite typical student though, she's not of the overtly rich and famous, she's actually at the school on a scholarship. This year though, she's a senior and her and her best friends are finally the leaders of the Players. The super-super elite popular group that basically controls everything about the school and can literally cheat their way into the top colleges of their choice. I mean, seriously! Jill mentions how they all have an app that has all the test answers they'd ever need, what you need to write about in your entrance exams to get into this or that college. It was kind of disgusting. I mean, Jill admits to working hard and trying not to use the easy way outs all the time, but not "all of the time" is still "some of the time."

What continued to bug me was how these Players thought they were all so entitled to everything and I mean everything. Whatever they wanted, they got because they were Players. It was just so disturbing. Plus, when it came to recruiting new Players every year, students were subjected to gross and inhumane tasks in order to achieve the ultimate popularity and privileges.

Now I don't want all this to come off as Goodman being a bad writer, it just wasn't a lifestyle I cared to read about. It was just disturbing and disgusting. The things that Jill and her friends went through their freshman year was just so disgusting, and it was really only the girls who were subjected to the absolute worst. It was just wrong.

This book comes off as a contemporary read to me. Jill gets the first text that would suggest her best friend's murderer isn't really the murderer fairly early, within the first five chapters I'd say, but then all her friends tell her to let it go. So, she does. And then it's back to the literal everyday life of Jill Newman and her friends. Going from day to day, watching freshmen and other underclassmen subject themselves to ultimate humiliation to earn a spot on the Players team for future years to come. It was absolutely and utterly boring coming from a thriller reader's perspective.

It's not until you're past the 65% mark that Jill starts to tire of Player games and trials and thought maybe there was some validity to the claim that her best friend's murderer isn't who they all thought it was. PAST the 65% mark!!! I just read over half a book of watching a person go through their everyday life and it was the most boring thing ever! I was just so aggravated by this, because less than half the book was spent on looking into the mystery element of what I thought was going to be a mystery story!

Another thing that totally bogged me down with reading were the constant flashbacks Jill went through. I mean, I get that some of them might have been necessary, but not all of them. They were just so dull and it took you away from the moment in the present. Perhaps it was just the eARC formatting too, because these flashbacks didn't happen in a way where you could see that they were flashbacks and then you didn't really catch onto returning to the present. I think this was more of an eARC thing, but still, it made it really hard to follow the story-line.

Another gripe I have was Jill herself. In the book she had a very nice boyfriend among her circle of friends, but she didn't love him. Really, it seemed like she was just using him to make her crush--who was away in college and not even at her high school anymore--jealous. Adam was the one who recruited her to be a Player and subjected her to the humiliation trials in order to win her place among them. She fell in love with him from the moment she met him basically and secretly lusted after him her freshmen year and after he went to college she kept in touch with him here and there. Having a boyfriend was just easy, and expected for a Player apparently. What was worse, her boyfriend seemed to really care for her and she just strung him along knowing that one day they'd end things and she could be with her crush Adam. It just seemed cruel and heartless of her, and here we're supposed to be rooting for Jill as she's our heroine of the story. Her romantic decisions didn't sit right with me and made me like her even less.

So once we got up to that 70% mark or so, the mystery really started to thicken and get interesting! I had two suspects myself. One came up fairly early on, the other one around the midway point and and I can definitely say I sooooo knew whodunit! 

In the end, I will say that I was a bit disappointed with this one. I went in expecting a great thriller mystery and instead got a contemporary read that had an underlying mystery that needed solving that our characters eventually got around to solving in the end. Things felt rather resolved in the end-end, so I'm a little uncertain why Goodreads is showing this one as a series. I suspect it could be a possible continuation as if there's more that we don't know, or as the series' title suggest, it could involve a whole new cast of Players and mystery. Only time will tell, but I can honestly say that I likely won't be reading that one.

I still have another of Goodman's book on my TBR pile that I plan to read at some point. I won't say I am turned away from this author, but if this other book turns out to be a contemporary read with just a tiny mystery that needs solving, it might turn me away from her books for good. If you enjoy contemporary reads and are not opposed to mini mysteries, I would recommend They Wish They Were Us. If you love a good straight up mystery, well, don't expect much from this book.

Overall Rating 2/5 stars

They Wish They Were Us releases August 4, 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:

The Ghost Tree by Christina Henry (ARC)--Review to come at a later date

Currently Reading:

You Were Never Here by Kathleen Peacock (ARC)

What I Plan to Read Next:

This is Not a Ghost Story by Andrea Portes (ARC)

Other Posts of Interest:

Jul 26, 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.

Did anyone else feel like this week was extra long? And naturally the weekend just flew by? Lol. Work was realllly slow for me this week. The first time it was really dead since I started over a month ago. Hoping it was just a fluke week and things are back to busy. 

I've been stressingly checking the tracking on one of my UK orders and I am sad to say that in the month since it shipped, it has not moved. At. All. It left the UK around June 26 and while I understand that COVID has things in quarantine and it goes unreported, I'm starting to get freaked out. I received one of my international orders this week that shipped a week before this UK one and I am starting to get a little nervous. I check tracking every day, I even set up notifications to my email which I never do and sadly my email has been empty all week long. I'm already talking with the shipper but it's kind of a wait and see game at this point. And yes, I am in full panic mode over this.

But anyway, here's what I did get:

Caraval by Stephanie Garber--SLOVAKIAN EDITION! I tracked down a website that shipped to the US! Now I just have to wait for the multiple editions of Finale to release!

The Wicked King by Holly Black--Illumicrate edition!
The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black--Illumicrate edition!
My simple camera was most uncooperative with me, that or it was my lighting, so you can expect to see some bookstagram shots in the near future to see their whole beauty! I LOVE THESE!

Then I ordered this from the Hello Lovely Box Shop:
I mean really, HOW COOL IS THIS?!
Then I only ended up ordering one little thing from the Fae Crate sale and that arrived this week too:
It's The Wrath and the Dawn coin!!
And finally, I added one last book sleeve to my collection, though in my defense it's a mass market paperback size! I only had two other of these! LOL!
It's a VAMPIRE book sleeve! I got this one from Ardent Admirations!
And that was it for me this week! Nothing added to the TBR pile. Just a few collector's editions and other fun stuff! What did you all get?