Dear Santa: Top Ten Books to Leave Under the Tree

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Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

This week’s theme is Top Ten Books I  wouldn’t mind if Santa left under the tree.

This week was really hard for me because I actually own most of the books I want to own (and a lot more that I don’t).  So here are 10 books that are on  my Christmas list for Secret Santa.

I only want this cover of Uprooted, because the American one is disgusting in my opinion.  I hate it.

That’s only 7, so I’ll use my last 3 books to get a box set!

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2016 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge

I’m joining the 2016 Netgalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge, hosted by Falling for YA.

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  • The challenge will run from Jan 1, 2015 – Dec 31, 2015.
  • Anyone is welcome to join. You do not need to be a blogger, just post your reviews and come back every month to link them up.
  • Any genre, release date, request date, length, etc. counts so long as it came from Edelweiss or Netgalley.
  • At the beginning of each month there will be a roundup post for you to add your reviews.
  • If you forget to link up one month it’s not a problem just add your reviews next month.
  • If you would like to move up or down levels that is completely fine and at your discretion.
  • If you have any questions tweet me @FallingForYA or e-mail Emisbookblog@aol.com!

Levels:

Bronze – 10 Books

Silver – 25 Books
Gold – 50 Books
Platinum – 75 Books
Diamond – 100 Books

I’m going to go Bronze, which is 10 books.  In reality I want to read at least 1 book/month from Netgalley that are, as of December 2015, archived and still sitting on my kindle waiting to be read.

  1. Wayward by Blake Crouch
  2. I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios
  3. The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
  4. The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre
  5. Second Position by Katherine Locke
  6. Finding Center by Katherine Locke
  7. Jack by Liesl Shurtliff
  8. The Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver
  9. Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarry
  10. Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate
  11. Joyride by Anna Banks
  12. The Devil You Know by Trish Doller

These are, of course, subject to change and some will overlap with the COYER challenge that runs until the beginning of March.

 

Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross

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Belle Epoque

Elizabeth Ross

2013

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Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


When Maude Pichon runs away from provincial Brittany to Paris, her romantic dreams vanish as quickly as her savings. Desperate for work, she answers an unusual ad. The Durandeau Agency provides its clients with a unique service—the beauty foil. Hire a plain friend and become instantly more attractive.

Monsieur Durandeau has made a fortune from wealthy socialites, and when the Countess Dubern needs a companion for her headstrong daughter, Isabelle, Maude is deemed the perfect foil.

But Isabelle has no idea her new “friend” is the hired help, and Maude’s very existence among the aristocracy hinges on her keeping the truth a secret. Yet the more she learns about Isabelle, the more her loyalty is tested. And the longer her deception continues, the more she has to lose.


I understood something I will never forget: how I wished to arrest all the beauty that came before me. Not the classical beauty of symmetry and exact proportions or the fancy of fashion, which is ever-changing with the seasons, but the beauty of a soul, that inner life that reveals itself so seldom, just for an instant, and only if you look closely and learn to see with an open heart.

When she discovers that her father is planning to marry her off to the butcher, a man 20 years her senior, Maude decides to run away. After years of wanting to see the world and all it has to offer, she takes the train to Paris. She envisions herself working in a shop, and being the independent young woman that was becoming popular in the late 19th century. But with no references and her village upbringing, her dreams are soon dashed.

Desperate for work, she finds herself applying for a job with Monsieur Durandeau. Once she discovers that she was hired as a repoussoir, an ugly women rented by high society women in order to make themselves look better, she is rightfully horrified and humiliated. She leaves and tries to find “honest” work but when things get desperate she finds herself on Durandeau’s doorstep once more asking for the job.

She is hired by the Countess Dubern, to be her daughter’s companion through the Season. The Countess hopes that by having Maude next to Isabelle will only work to highlight Isabelle’s beauty and help catch a husband.

This was more of a quiet story than a slow one. Not much really happens plot wise. It is much more just Maude slowly getting caught up in the world of high society and her internal conflict. But that didn’t stop me from reading it really quickly. I love when books remind me that they don’t have to be non-stop action to be enjoyable.

So much emphasis on beauty in society, whether today or in 1888. That has not, and probably will never, change. And most stories are told from the POV of the beautiful. Yeah they might consider themselves plain, but there are always people there to remind them how special they are. But not Maude. She is plain, and has it pointed out to her on a daily basis. (although if you put a picture of a girl on your cover, I automatically assume that that girl is the MC, so Maude is far from plain).

I felt for Maude though. I understood her shame, but was also happy how she never really lost her dreaming spirit. Even when I wanted to shake her to remind her of her situation so she wouldn’t get hurt, I kept rooting for her. I wanted her to have a better life; the life she deserved. I enjoyed seeing how Maude’s opinions changed and shifted over the course of Season.

I was much more interested in Isabelle’s character though. She doesn’t really go through character development so much as we see the already developed layers of her character unfold. Like Maude she doesn’t wish to be married off to the highest bidder and fights her mother’s will for a successful Season. She has her own dreams, and like with Maude, I wanted to see those come true.

The ending wrapped up very neatly, which sometimes I have an issue with, but not this time. It was just so wonderful and I don’t think I could have asked for a better ending for all these women.

The writing was beautiful. It was so descriptive and I felt as if it really brought 19th century Paris to life. As much as I enjoyed reading about the “Season”, I wish there had been more focus on the Bohemian aspect then on high society. The discussions of art and music were an added bonus and it actually made me want to learn more about the culture of the period.

And, another bonus is that this story is very light on the romance. It is always refreshing to find a book in which the plot survives if you remove the romance entirely.

So if you’re looking for a low-key, character driven historical novel that is light on romance, I recommend you give this a shot.

Music to My Ears: 2016 Audiobook Challenge

I love audiobooks.  It is a totally different experience from reading, but you generally end up with the same result: another book added to your read pile.  I use Audble through Amazon, so I pay some amount and I get 1 credit each month (it ends up totally being worth it because audiobooks are REALLY expensive!)

But I have a bunch I haven’t listened to because mostly I just re listen to Percy Jackson.  So that’s why I’m joining the 2016 Audiobook Challenge hosted by  The Book Nympho and Hot Listens.

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Details:

  • Runs January 1, 2016 – December 31, 2016. You can join at anytime.
  • The goal is to find a new love for audios or to outdo yourself by listening to more audios in 2016 than you did in 2015.
  • Books must be in audio format (CD, MP3, etc.)
  • ANY genres count.
  • Re-reads and crossovers from other reading challenges are allowed.
  • You do not have to be a book blogger to participate; you can track your progress on Goodreads, Shelfari, Facebook, LibraryThing, etc.
  • If you’re a blogger grab the button and do a quick post about the challenge to help spread the word. If you’re not a blogger you can help by posting on Facebook or Tweeting about the challenge.

Levels
  • Newbie (I’ll give it a try) 1-5
  • Weekend Warrior (I’m getting the hang of this) 5-10
  • Stenographer (can listen while multi-tasking) 10-15
  • Socially Awkward (Don’t talk to me) 15-20
  • Binge Listener (Why read when someone can do it for you) 20-30
  • My Precious (I had my earbuds surgically implanted) 30+
  • Marathoner (Look Ma No Hands) 50+

I’m going for Binge Listener 20-30 audiobooks, because I want to get through all of the ones that I already own!

Weekly Review

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5 days until Christmas!! I still have a ton of shopping to do, because as usual I’ve left it to the last minute.  This week was pretty uneventful.  My boyfriend is on break from law school and I feel like he is always just…there.  I love him, and I love spending time with him, I’m just used to him not being in the house for 3+ hours everyday and now I have to readjust!

It was a lot more exciting on the blog this week than in my real life.

Reviews:

Posts:

Features:

Just One More (5)

Memes:

 

 

Challenges:

Flights of Fantasy Challenge

 

Once again, I’m linking up with the Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer!Sundaypost

Mini-Review: Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman

My first book for the Clean Out Your E-Reads Challenge (COYER) hosted by Fantasy is More Fun, Because Reading & Books, Movies, Reviews! Oh My! For this challenge I decided I would read 8-10 ARCs that have been sitting on my kindle.

I’ve been having a hard time getting into books recently, so I decided to start with a nice, easy, middle grade novel that has been sitting on my Kindle for over six months (it was published in June, 2015).

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Book Scavenger

Jennifer Chambliss Bertman

Source: Netgalley

3stars

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository

I was provided with this ARC by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.


A hidden book. A found cipher. A game begins . . . .

Twelve-year-old Emily is on the move again. Her family is relocating to San Francisco, home of her literary idol: Garrison Griswold, creator of the online sensation Book Scavenger, a game where books are hidden all over the country and clues to find them are revealed through puzzles. But Emily soon learns that Griswold has been attacked and is in a coma, and no one knows anything about the epic new game he had been poised to launch. Then Emily and her new friend James discover an odd book, which they come to believe is from Griswold and leads to a valuable prize. But there are others on the hunt for this book, and Emily and James must race to solve the puzzles Griswold left behind before Griswold’s attackers make them their next target.


When done right, a middle grade book can be one of the most powerful pieces of literature you will ever read.  I mean, think back and remember when your love of reading was really cemented and the books that really stuck with you.  For me, at least, it was when the ages between 8-12.

Some of the best books I have ever read have been middle grade novels.  And even as an adult, it is wonderful to find a MG novel that is still able to move you, even if you aren’t the intended target.

Book Scavenger, unfortunately, is not exactly one of those books. That is not to say that I didn’t enjoy it,  but it was lacking that certain touch that makes it special for all ages.  It was definitely a middle grade book.  There is nothing wrong with that since that is the intended audiences.  Maybe a 10-12 year old will fall in love with this book and it will be one that they remember and enjoy into adulthood.  For me, as a 26 year old, wasn’t able to do that, but I can see my 10 year old self loving it.

Emily wasn’t my favorite character.  She was a bit too selfish when it came to dealing with figuring out the clues and being a good friend.  I get that she is completely invested in Book Scavenger due to the fact that it has been the only constant in her life, but that doesn’t mean she can ignore helping her one friend, when he has done nothing but help her.  Also, it was the type of book where, the reader finds out the answers before the characters in the book.  That is a major pet peeve of mine.  I like being on the same page as the character.  If I know too much I get annoyed at them for not realizing it, and if I know too little I am resentful that the character is withholding information (rational, I know).  But it was still interesting, and I was invested in finding out what the treasure was!

This is a great book for children interested in puzzles and codes, light mysteries and of course, books!

Dream On by Kerstin Gier American Cover!

Of course, right after I used this book as my Waiting on Wednesday pick, with the German cover, I finally found the American Cover!!! AND I LOVE IT.  Not as much as the first book, but I still think it’s rather pretty!

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And it was finally available for pre-order on Amazon! It’s kind of expensive but I’m hoping the price goes down by the time it is released and I get that pre-order guarantee!

 

But First, Let Me Take a Shelfie

I got new bookshelves! Well, technically they are rolling carts, but I decided to use them to hold some of my books.  As soon as I ordered them I knew I wanted one to be dedicated solely to  Harry Potter.  And that’s just what I did.

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I couldn’t get a picture in front of it because the sun was too bright and you could see my reflection.  And OK, the candle isn’t exactly Harry Potter but there’s a stag on it!

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Original US hardcover and paperback versions. I only actually read from the paperback versions since those are so easy to replace if they fall apart.  And these little guys are too cute! I decided just to go with the Golden Trio.

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The special paperback covers that build Hogwarts and the UK paperbacks. Both of which will never, ever be opened or read from.

And then I had a whole second cart that had to be filled.  I thought about putting all of the classics I own on it, but they didn’t fit.  So then I had the most wonderful idea.

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Percy Jackson (and Magnus Chase) and A Song of Ice and Fire! My two other favorite series of all time.

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This is just a close of the top.  A picture from Arizona, my best friends (I’m the asshole in the pink), and my Nanny’s music box and my Poppy’s glasses.

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Close up of the PJ Shelf. I don’t have the paperback version of The Blood of Olympus yet, and I’ll have to rearrange when more Magnus Chase/the Apollo books come out (might have give Rick his own shelf at that point) but it works for now!

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It was such a bitch trying to find a way to get all 10 books on here without much space left over.  Obviously this shelf is incomplete and probably will be for the next 15 years.  One day…

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Dany’s ready for her close up.  I got this in a subscription box (I think).  It was too cute not to add.  And please ignore the tape on A Clash of Kings. As with HP I only read from the paperbacks and I kind of destroyed that one.  And if it looks bad from here, you should see the inside.

I’m actually really proud of these! It was my first time ever really taking the time to design my shelves

 

Just One More

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Another week where I didn’t add that many books to my virtual TBR list! Go ME!

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Okay, so just know from the start that it wasn’t supposed to go like this. All we wanted was to get near The Ruperts, our favorite boy band.

We didn’t mean to kidnap one of the guys. It kind of, sort of happened that way. But now he’s tied up in our hotel room. And the worst part of all, it’s Rupert P. All four members of The Ruperts might have the same first name, but they couldn’t be more different. And Rupert P. is the biggest flop out of the whole group.

We didn’t mean to hold hostage a member of The Ruperts, I swear. At least, I didn’t. We are fans. Okay, superfans who spend all of our free time tweeting about the boys and updating our fan tumblrs. But so what, that’s what you do when you love a group so much it hurts.

How did it get this far? Who knows. I mean midterms are coming up. I really do not have time to go to hell.

 

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As the daughter of an expert astrologer, Wilamena Carlisle knows that the truth lies within the stars. So when she discovers a rare planetary alignment, she is forced to tackle her worst astrological fear – The Fifth House of Relationships and Love. But Wil must decide whether a cosmically doomed love is worth rejecting her mother’s legacy, when she falls for a sensitive guitar player hailing from the wrong side of the chart.

Debut author Darcy Woods explores love in all its complexities and how to best honor the loved ones who have passed before us, in a novel packed with both humor and heart.

 

Screen Shot 2015-12-17 at 9.33.04 AM.pngBetween the living and the dead is the Order of the Deacons, protectors of the Empire, guardians against possession, sentinels enlisted to ward off the malevolent haunting of the geists…

Among the most powerful of the Order is Sorcha, now thrust into partnership with the novice Deacon, Merrick Chambers. They have been dispatched to the isolated village of Ulrich to aide the Priory with a surge of violent geist activity. With them is Raed Rossin, Pretender to the throne that Sorcha is sworn to protect, and bearer of a terrible curse.

But what greets them in the strange settlement is something far more predatory and more horrifying than any mere haunting. And as she uncovers a tradition of twisted rituals passed down through the dark reaches of history, Sorcha will be forced to reconsider everything she thinks she knows.

And if she makes it out of Ulrich alive, what in Hell is she returning to?

 

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Meet Vivi and Jonah: A girl and a boy whose love has the power save or destroy them.

Vivi and Jonah couldn’t be more different. Vivi craves anything joyful or beautiful that life can offer. Jonah has been burdened by responsibility for his family ever since his father died. As summer begins, Jonah resigns himself to another season of getting by. Then Vivi arrives, and suddenly life seems brighter and better. Jonah is the perfect project for Vivi, and things finally feel right for Jonah. Their love is the answer to everything. But soon Vivi’s zest for life falters, as her adventurousness becomes true danger-seeking. Jonah tries to keep her safe, but there’s something important Vivi hasn’t told him.

Perfect for fans of E. Lockhart and Jandy Nelson, When We Collided is a powerful story of two teens whose love is put to the test by forces beyond their control.

DNF Report: Part Deux*

*if you read that like the announcer on VH1’s “I Love the 90s: Part Deux”** I love you and we are soulmates

**Also, they really need to put the I Love the 90s out on DVD.  Now on to the post

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Here are some more of the books I have marked “DNF” recently.  Some made me extremely angry.  Others bored me to tears.  Others I simply lost interest in.  If available, I will provide my Goodreads “review” for why I DNFed, and if not I will try my best to remember my reasoning.

Now That You’re Here by Amy K Nichols

dnf at 42%. This is probably more my fault than the book, but I put it down for a few weeks and kind of have no desire to go back to it. I didn’t particularly relate to any of the characters and I just don’t really care about what happens.

What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick

I kind of lost all desire to continue reading this book. I wasn’t a huge fan of Fitzpatrick’s My Life Next Door, and I have so many other books I want to read there is no point to continue with this at this point. Maybe I’ll try again.

Sway by Kat Spears

I didn’t write anything for this, but I remember this making me extremely angry.  The guy was an asshole and I think it reminded me why I rarely read books from a male POV.

Splintered by AG Howard

yeah…I think I’m gonna go ahead and mark this DNF. I started reading this book back in December, got about 70% (I think) put it down and never picked it back up. And on top of that, I’ve read a few reviews that say the series just goes down hill and if I wasn’t that into the first one I doubt I will like the rest of them.

70%!  I probably should have just suffered through at that point.

Anatomy of a Misfit by Andrea Portes

Nope.

HAHA I can’t believe all I wrote was “Nope”.  This book really pissed me off as well. The MC was an asshole, and not the kind of lovable asshole.  Plus, I think it might have been really offensive.  Or that was Sway.

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

I read such wonderful reviews about this, and I just couldn’t. I Haven’t picked it up in like a week. It was SO MOTHERFUCKING BORING. I DNF at around 70% and NOTHING had happened.

with such an important mission resting on her shoulders, Nyx didn’t do a lot of anything except whine and wander around a house talking about about her mission. I couldn’t stand Nyx and how wishy washy she was about everything. I mean, i understand not being sure about things, but when you have a different opinion on something practically every single page…I wanted to strangle her. Nyx loved her family. she hated them. she loved them. she hated them. She hated the demon dude ( I don’t even remember his name, and he was the best part about this book), but she loved him. No she loved his SHADOW, no she hated him. I mean my neck hurts from all the back and forth.

There was also the added fact that there was MAJOR insta love and a love triangle. I don’t automatically hate love triangles. In fact, sometimes I can enjoy them. But usually only when the girl (as those are the most frequent love triangles I come across) that the two guys are falling all over at least has some redeeming qualities so I understand why they like her. I mean, even the love triangle in this wasn’t as bad as the fucking instalove. It’s actually one of the worst cases of it I have come across recently.

And that’s about it. 70% through the book and that’s all I got. It was actually just starting to get a bit more interesting, but at this point I don’t even fucking care. Of course, I seem to be in the minority about this book, so it’s probably more of a “it’s not you it’s me”. I will still check out Crimson Bound

Sorry for all the cursing in this one, it must have really bored me.  Also another one where I made it 70% and gave up! I’m disappointed in myself.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

This is one of the first books I remember actively DNFing.  I was reading it while at a family wedding, and I every time I would pick it up I kept complaining about how BORING it was.  And then my BF’s sister asked why I was still reading it if it was so boring, and I didn’t have an answer.  So I stopped.

Vivian Apple at the End of the World by Katie Coyle

I only made it 60 pages in, but I am so bored. The Rapture has come and the world is ending and I just can’t find anything to care about.

Looks like I didn’t give this one that much more than 50 pages.  Oh well.

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

DNF 50%. SO BORING!