A Charmed Week 1/25-1/31

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In My Life

Every time I come to write a weekly update, I want to include a little bit of news about my life.  And every week I am reminded that I am pretty boring.  The spending freeze has hit a few hiccups, but the book buying ban is going strong.

One of my good friend’s is going through some crazy relationship drama, so my main group of friends (Who all live in NY while I’m 4 hours away in Baltimore) decided to have a girls weekend Valentines Day Weekend.  And WE’RE GOING TO FLORIDA! Just from 2/11-2/15 (Yay for President’s day long weekends!).

My 86 year old grandfather has a house in Florida that he never goes to (because he is still working!!) so the Aunts and grandkids get to use it a lot for free.  It’s basically a retirement community but it’s Boca Raton and it’s free so you won’t hear me complaining! My BFF also wants to take the 3 hour drive up to Orlando to go to Harry Potter World for the Day.  I tried to convince her that it would be better to try and do all 4 Disney parks in one day, but the other two have never been to HP world.  So I’m sad about not being able to go to Disney, but I guess I am outnumbered.

Have I mentioned my obsession with Disney World?  I plan fake vacations to Disney about every 2 weeks and have seriously researched my next trip, which will take place in May of 2017 after my BF graduates Law school.  He doesn’t want to go.  But he doesn’t really get a choice.

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Last Week on the Blog

Reviews:

Recent Reads Mini Reviews  (Includes, Pride and Prejudice, The Rogue Not Taken and The Iron Daughter)

Starflight by Melissa Landers

Snowed In Read-a-Thon Reviews

Up To This Pointe by Jennifer Longo

Memes:

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books I Recently Removed from my TBR

Waiting on Wednesday: The Steep and Thorny Way by Cat Winters

 

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 5.42.09 PM.pngAll About The Books

ARCs for Review (Netgalley)

Bought/Received

None 🙂

Borrowed:

 

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 5.42.09 PM.pngUpcoming:

I’m not really sure.  I don’t really have anything planned. Ususally I have at least a few posts scheduled, but at this moment I don’t think I do.  I’ve been off my reading game, but hopefully I will figure something out. 

One of my goals for this year was to expand beyond the YA age group, so as you can see by the books I took out of the library, I’m trying.

I have a few ideas about monthly features for different genres, but it probably won’t happen for awhile.

 

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I’m linking up with The Sunday Post, hosted by the Caffeinated Book Reviewer and Stacking the Shelves, hosted by Tynga’s Reviews

 

Review: Up To This Pointe by Jennifer Longo

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uptothispointe

 

Up to This Pointe

Jennifer Longo

Publication: 1/19/2016 

Source: Netgalley, e-ARC

3stars

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


She had a plan. It went south.

Harper is a dancer. She and her best friend, Kate, have one goal: becoming professional ballerinas. And Harper won’t let anything—or anyone—get in the way of The Plan, not even the boy she and Kate are both drawn to.
 
Harper is a Scott. She’s related to Robert Falcon Scott, the explorer who died racing to the South Pole. So when Harper’s life takes an unexpected turn, she finagles (read: lies) her way to the icy dark of McMurdo Station . . . in Antarctica. Extreme, but somehow fitting—apparently she has always been in the dark, dancing on ice this whole time. And no one warned her. Not her family, not her best friend, not even the boy who has somehow found a way into her heart.


This might contain spoilers, but I thought the reason for why Harper wound up in Antarctica was obvious from the synopsis alone, so I’m going to talk about that within my review. 

I’m not the biggest fan of contemporary YA.  I used to be way more into when I was a teenager myself, but now I often find that I feel way too removed from the trials of being a teenager that it doesn’t end up working.  So I was very pleasantly surprised by this novel.

I am secretly obsessed with ballet, even though I only took lessons for 2 years when I was 5.  There aren’t too many books that are about ballet, but I am always looking for more.  Up to This Pointe, isn’t exactly really about ballet, but more about the dancer and what happens when the plan you worked for your entire life is dashed right before your eyes.

Harper and her best friend Kate have had a plan in place since they were young.  They are both going to dance with the San Francisco Ballet after graduating high school.  Except, as Harper soon learns, although she has more love for ballet than possibly anything else in her life, she does not have the skill to make it as a professional dancer.  She feels an obvious sense of loss and confusion and ends up running away to Antarctica to figure out what to do next.

Before I go into anything else, I want to talk about the fact that NO ONE, especially her ballet teacher, tells Harper that she does not have the talent to make it as a ballet dancer until it almost too late.  Her teacher waits until a few weeks before the audition to break it to her that there is no way she would ever be picked up by a company.  Now, that might seem harsh, and it is, but that’s ballet.  And this should have been relayed to Harper years before the story takes place.  She probably would have still auditioned, because that’s just who she is (and she still does) but at least she would have had years, not weeks to come to terms with the fact that she will probably not be selected.  It just made me angry, and doesn’t seem realistic that a ballet teacher wouldn’t have informed her of this.

I liked Harper.  I loved her love for ballet, her students and her city.  This book was a beautiful homage to San Francisco.  I understand her need to go away to find herself after such a devastating loss. But I think the best part of this book was the friendships.  SO MANY FEMALE FRIENDSHIPS.  Kate, Vivian and Charlotte are the main women that Harper interacts with and each relationship was different, and I think wonderfully portrayed.  The friendship with Vivian might have been a bit rushed, but I still really enjoyed it. And there was a moment where I really hated Kate, but for the most part I understand her as well (I, personally, wouldn’t have forgiven her for saying what she did, but that is just me and I’m petty and I can hold a fantastic grudge).  The relationships weren’t always perfect, but they were realistic and that means a lot more.

Another plus was the family relationships portrayed in this book.  A huge hell yeah for present and pretty awesome parents and a positive sibling relationship.

The romance, although not really entirely a love triangle, wasn’t my favorite part, but I’m really happy with how it ended.  It might seem like it, but I don’t think the romance was even really a huge focus of the story.  A lot of it was just Harper trying to figure shit out and what to do now that she can’t be a dancer.  The answer was right in front of her all along and I’m happy with the ending.

There are just some things that weren’t fully addressed and I have some issues with.  As a dancer (and one who wants to be a professional), Harper obviously has to retain the right body weight (I say obviously because ballet is brutal).  She is constantly dieting, and there were some points where it seemed extremely close to anorexia.  If it’s not anorexia, she has some serious issues with food and eating and they were hardly addressed.  Also, what’s with her nails always being blue (not painted blue, just blue).  Does she just have bad circulation?  Is it because of her weight? WHY ARE THEY ALWAYS BLUE?  You tell me this but don’t explain it.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading it.  A win for contemporary YA, which I haven’t had the best of luck with recently!

 

Snowed In Read-A-Thon Reviews

So last Friday, the snow started to fall in Baltimore, and it didn’t stop until Saturday night.  All together we got around 29 inches (a new all time record!)  and I was stuck in my apartment until Tuesday when I finally went back to work.  (There are some sections of the city and out towards the county that still aren’t plowed! The DC-Baltimore area is horrible at handling snow, mainly because we don’t usually get THIS much snow.)

But, I was prepared.  I knew I would be stuck inside so I decided to host my own personal Snowed In Read-a-thon.  I wanted to read 6 books (2/day Friday-Sunday), but by Sunday afternoon and 5 books later, I was pretty burnt out on reading. But still.  5 books in 3 days is still pretty good! So here is another round of mini reviews!

Friday

awickedthing

 

A Wicked Thing

A Wicked Thing #1

Rhiannon Thomas

3stars

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


 

I had a hard time deciding how to rate this one. I finished this book in one sitting, but the pacing was pretty slow and not much actually happened. Usually when in doubt, I go with 3 stars.

I liked Aurora as a character and how Thomas updated this fairy tale. Sleeping Beauty isn’t my favorite (probably because I’ve really only seen the Disney version where she has like 7 lines), but Thomas made it more interesting.

Aurora doesn’t need or want to be saved and when she awakens to find a strange guy in her room kissing her she is appalled and creeped out.  She learns that her entire family is dead, and that the kingdom has fallen into hard times. She discovers that everyone wants to use her to their own ends and that she isn’t really safe anywhere.  There are  3 men, all who can offer her different things, but she doesn’t really like any of the choices so it’s not really technically a love square.

There is a sequel, so the book kind of just ends without that much of a climax. Well, to me anyway.  I’m sure other people would disagree, but I thought the ending was a bit weak.I liked the book, and I plan on continuing the series, but it was just kind of anti-climatic.   Even this mini review is hard to write, so I’m just going to stop.

*This book counts towards the Rock my TBR Challenge and the Fairytale Retelling challenge

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How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True

by Sarah Strohmeyer

1star

Goodreads


This might be the dumbest book I have ever read.  I hated it.

Maybe I could have enjoyed this more if the Fairyland Theme Park hadn’t existed in the same world as Disney. I mean you are seriously  trying to tell me that a British Duke would go to a knock off amusement park in New Jersey over the real thing in California/FLorida?  NEW JERSEY?? (No offense to anyone from Jersey. I’m from NY, so you know, I’m an asshole.) Or try to say that Disney was lame competition for Fairyland? GET OUT OF HERE. You ruined it for me with that.

Also this book was WAY too juvenile. People who send their kids to fairyland camp so that they can become Prince and Princesses at Fairyland? I don’t think so. I shouldn’t have to suspend my disbelief more in a realistic fiction book more than a fantasy.  Nope. sorry.  I’m sure I would have enjoyed this more if I hadn’t been younger or obsessed with Disney World.

*This book counts towards the Rock My TBR Challenge

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Saturday

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Tell me Again how a Crush Should Feel

Sara Farizan

2.5stars

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


I liked this book, but it wasn’t amazing or anything and that makes me sad.  I wanted it to be great. The writing was pretty simple which isn’t always a bad thing, but I just couldn’t connect with it.

I mean this book has a lot going for it.  It’s about a Persian lesbian.  Not only are there not enough F/F YA books, but I don’t think I’ve ever read a book with a Persian MC.  There was so much other diversity as well, and it didn’t come off as tokenized either.  There was even a Jew, and it is so hard for me to find Jewish characters. Yeah, she was a side character, but I still really liked her.

But something just stopped me from loving it.  It was probably the writing style as I had no major problems with Leila.  I wish I could have loved this, but it definitely wasn’t a bad book.  If you are looking for more F/F YA or a Persian MC with actual Persian culture within the book, this is a great book.

**This book counts towards the Rock my TBR challenge

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jack

 

Jack: The True Story of Jack & The Beanstalk

Liesl Shurtliff

3stars

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


This one was very cute.  I had previously read Rump by the same author, and while I enjoyed it, I definitely think I enjoyed this one more.  I don’t really remember much of what happened in Rump,  but some of the characters are present or mentioned within this book, which is always one of my favorite things.  You don’t have to have read Rump first, but it is always nice to start at the beginning.

I think this is perfect for the younger set of Middle Grade readers who are interested in fairy tales. I liked how there were a bunch of allusions to other fairytales/folktales, such as Tom Thumb, Thumbelina, the woman who lived in a shoe and others.    I also really liked how the author tied together the “worlds” of her two books.  I’m glad I finally got around to reading this and I’m looking forward to reading Red soon.

**This book counts towards COYER, the NG & EW  & Fairytale Retelling challenge.

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Sunday

thegirlwhofell1

 

The Girl Who Fell

Shannon M Parker

I have a full review coming for this one since it was one of my most anticipated 2016 releases.  Stay tuned for it.

A Lacking Space Adventure: Review of Starflight

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Starflight

Starflight #1

Melissa Landers

February 2, 2016

Source: Netgalley, e-ARC

2.5stars

Goodreads

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


Life in the outer realm is a lawless, dirty, hard existence, and Solara Brooks is hungry for it. Just out of the orphanage, she needs a fresh start in a place where nobody cares about the engine grease beneath her fingernails or the felony tattoos across her knuckles. She’s so desperate to reach the realm that she’s willing to indenture herself to Doran Spaulding, the rich and popular quarterback who made her life miserable all through high school, in exchange for passage aboard the spaceliner Zenith.

When a twist of fate lands them instead on the Banshee, a vessel of dubious repute, Doran learns he’s been framed on Earth for conspiracy. As he pursues a set of mysterious coordinates rumored to hold the key to clearing his name, he and Solara must get past their enmity to work together and evade those out for their arrest. Life on the Banshee may be tumultuous, but as Solara and Doran are forced to question everything they once believed about their world–and each other–the ship becomes home, and the eccentric crew family. But what Solara and Doran discover on the mysterious Planet X has the power to not only alter their lives, but the existence of everyone in the universe.

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I was wavering on how to rate this book.  Ultimately I settled on a 2.5 because I just couldn’t give it 3 stars.

The Good

Entertaining

It was a pretty fast read. I basically read it in one sitting and I wasn’t really ever bored while reading.  There was plenty of action to keep me engaged and interested.  Terraformed planets, space pirates, runaway princesses, intergalactic hit men.  There was a lot going on, and even though it wasn’t perfectly executed, I didn’t hate it.

Likeable Characters

I enjoyed both the Main and secondary characters.  In fact, the secondary characters were pretty great.  Renny the kleptomaniac was interesting and Kane and Cassia were adorable (I might actually check out the sequel because apparently it will be focused on them).

Solara and Doran, our MCs, were fine characters.  Nothing particularly annoyed me about them (beyond the obvious fact that Doran starts off the book as a complete jackass).  I wasn’t too attached to them, but I didn’t want one of them to be kidnapped by a bunch of space pirates.  Plus, Doran when through some nice character development, even if Solara didn’t.

The Romance

I’m a sucker for a nice slowburn romance, especially one that evolves from hate to love.  And that’s exactly what happened in Starflight.  Even though I was a uncomfortable because Doran was SO horrible to Solara at the beginning,  the romance was one of the better aspects of this novel, in my opinion.

The Bad

World Building  

While I get the overall gist of this world, I’m a bit confused.  I have no idea when in the future this takes place, as the Earth is still around and populated, but there are many different solar systems involved.  I have no idea what this Solar…something…is.  I even forget what they were called, but basically I think they are like the government but I’m not even sure.  I like knowing how shit works, especially in books that take place in the future.  I don’t need the entire history of how things came to be, but it’s nice if at least the basics of how the future is ruled is laid out for me.

The Ending

It kind of just ends.  Nothing is really resolved and we don’t really find out what the hell has been going on.  What about the fact that Doran is a fugitive?  What about the fact that his father is in jail?  And his mother?  I mean, we really are just left hanging and I’m a bit confused as to whether this story is over or not.  And with that little twist at the end it just feels entirely unfinished. The author says that it is a standalone novel and that there will be a companion novel that focuses on other characters but there is still so much more of this story I wanted to know about.     I’m not positive if I will be continuing on to read the companion novel, but If  I do I really hope it resolves all these issues.

 

Also, it was an odd book for trying to pinpoint an age group.  For the most part It was more geared toward the younger YA set, but there was kind of a lot of, not sex exactly, but allusions to sex.  I have no problem with younger YA reading that, but it does seem a bit strange.
All in all, it was entertaining, but nothing really special.

WoW: The Steep and Thorny Way by Cat Winters

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Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

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The Steep and Thorny Way

Cat Winters

3/8/16


A thrilling reimagining of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, The Steep and Thorny Way tells the story of a murder most foul and the mighty power of love and acceptance in a state gone terribly rotten.

1920s Oregon is not a welcoming place for Hanalee Denney, the daughter of a white woman and an African-American man. She has almost no rights by law, and the Ku Klux Klan breeds fear and hatred in even Hanalee’s oldest friendships. Plus, her father, Hank Denney, died a year ago, hit by a drunk-driving teenager. Now her father’s killer is out of jail and back in town, and he claims that Hanalee’s father wasn’t killed by the accident at all but, instead, was poisoned by the doctor who looked after him—who happens to be Hanalee’s new stepfather.

The only way for Hanalee to get the answers she needs is to ask Hank himself, a “haint” wandering the roads at night.


Why I’m Waiting:

Everything about this book sounds amazing.  Plus Cat Winters has this beautiful way of bringing historical settings to life.

Ten Books I Recently Removed From My TBR

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Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

It’s a Freebie week on TTT so I had to come up with my own theme.  And since I am so uncreative I had to cheat.  Last week’s theme was Top Ten Books You’ve Recently Added to Your TBR and I didn’t participate.

But I was going through my virtual TBR on Goodreads and damn! I have 787 books on my TBR and quite a few of those books have been on there for 2+ year. So I decided to go through and weed the list. So this week’s theme is:

Top Ten Books I Recently Removed From My TBR

 

All of these have been on my TBR since either 2013 or 2014. If it has been sitting there for that long and I haven’t even thought about reading it, I think it’s safe to say that I probably won’t ever get around to it.

Also, I went through and reread the blurbs and a lot of them I just have no interest in reading.  A few I don’t even know why were on my TBR because they are about topics that I generally try to avoid.

It was so nice going through and weeding the TBR. I feel so much better even having only ten less books staring at me waiting to be read.  I think I’m going to start doing it every month. Maybe I should try and weed 5 books off the virtual TBR.  (I’ll probably forget about my plan to do this tomorrow.)

Do you guys weed your virtual TBR lists?

What did you recently remove?

Have you read any of these books above?

Recent Reads

I’ve been on a reading spree lately where I finish one book and dive right into another.  This is wonderful of course, but it also means I haven’t been stopping to write reviews after I read each book.  Sometimes this isn’t a bad thing, but for me I need to write the review soon after finishing otherwise I forget what I want to say.  So here are some mini-reviews of recent reads that I never wrote actual reviews for.

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Pride and Prejudice

Jane Austen

*no rating*


Well. I read it.

The End.

JK

I don’t review Classics and I rarely rate them because I don’t really have anything meaningful to add to a book that has been critiqued and evaluated for 100s of years. Also,   how am I supposed to rate this?? Obviously it’s an extremely important work of literature to have such lasting power but honestly?  I was bored. As I usually am when I read classics.  I mostly listened to it because every time I tried to slog through 19th century text I felt my eyes closing. But I did finish it and that is all that matters. I have officially read my first Austen novel and finished the first month of the Classics challenge. So that is all that really matter. Also, I didn’t hate it.  It wasn’t Ethan Frome  bad and I will probably read more Jane Austen, but not for a few months.

*this book goes towards the 2016 Classics Challenge*

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theroguenottaken

The Rogue Not Taken 

Scandal & Scoundrel, #1

Sarah MacLean

2015

4stars

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


The 4 star rating is a bit arbitrary because this is my first ever Adult Historical Romance, so I have nothing to compare it to!  I really enjoyed the book, so I defineitly plan on exploring more of the genre, so who knows, this could end up becoming  a 5 or a 2 star book!

It’s been about a week since I read the book and unfortunately, I did not take any notes while reading. (I find it often distracts me from the novel and lowers my level of enjoyment).  So while I remember the plot and the general demeanor of the characters a lot has already faded.

I do know that I thought Sophie was a wonderful character.  From the first page when she defended her sister I knew I would like her.  She was funny, smart, and ready to take care of herself even if she did often end up being rescued.

For the most part, I did also enjoy King.  However, he might have been a bit too broody for my taste.  Give me sarcasm all day long but you need to stop whining about your dead love.  Plus he became a huge dick towards Sophie at the end.  And he refused to believe she was being honest throughout the entire book.  He did have his moments, which saves him from going on my “WTF Love Interest” shelf.

The romance, when King wasn’t being a brooding little bitch, was wonderful. I’m glad my first foray into historical romance was a success and I will definitely be checking out Sarah MacLean’s other work. If you guys have any suggestions of other authors or favorite novels let me know! I’m ready to get sucked into this genre!

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The Iron Daughter

The Iron Fey #2

Julie Kagawa

2.5stars

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


That 2.5 rating is all due to Meghan and how ridiculously annoying and stupid she was in this book.  This review comes off a bit like a rant, but I really did enjoy the plot of this book.  I just HAVE to complain about Meghan.

I wasn’t the biggest fan of Meghan in the first book BUT OH MY GOD. She was so annoying in this one. So obsessed with Ash and so stupid. He literally tells her that he will not be able to talk to her and treat her the same way because he can not betray his queen (um DOUCHE ALERT).  I also remember them talking in the 1st book and both of them acknowledging that it is HIGHLY illegal for them to be together and they could both be killed or banished because of it.  But what does  Meghan do the first time she sees him? Gets SUPER upset and complains for what felt like 5 hours about how she can’t believe he would betray her and believes that he never cared about her.  I HATE HATE HATE when characters are this stupid.  YOU TALKED ABOUT THIS.   HE LITERALLY TOLD YOU ALL THIS.

And don’t get me started on that weak attempt at a love triangle. “Oh Ash is leaving me. How about I try it with Puck because he’s here and he loves me  and I realize out of no where, with no prior indication, that I love him too”. Nope. Get out of here.  First of all Puck is 500x better than broody Ash and he doesn’t deserve for you to do that to him.

But, as I said,  I do actually really enjoy the plot of this series so I will continue to put up with dumbass Meghan and hope she gets better in the last book (or last 2 books I’m still confused about the Iron Knight).

*this book goes to the 2016 Audiobook challenge

Snowed In for the Weekend–A Charmed Week

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Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 5.42.09 PM.pngLast week it was flurrying, this week we are buried under two feet of snow! It is now the #1 storm on record for Baltimore and I’m HOPING I will have a snow day tomorrow! The DMV doesn’t have the best record when it comes to cleaning up snow.  By now, I’ve been stuck in my apartment since Friday afternoon, although I did venture out for a walk to the liquor store last night, that was THANKFULLY open.

After initially watching 4 hours of The Wire and finishing the 2nd season, I started my own little Snowed In Read-a-Thon.  So far I’ve read 4 books since Friday afternoon and I will be posting one post with a bunch of mini reviews sometime this week! My goal was to read 6, so I only have 2 more to read today, but if I’m stuck here again tomorrow, I might just try and push it to 8!

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 5.42.09 PM.pngLast Week on the Blog

Reviews:

Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan

Bad Girls Don’t Die by Katie Alender

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

*I was supposed to have a review of Up to This Pointe by Jennifer Longo up this week, but in the end I decided I needed more time to gather my thoughts.

Posts:

Why I Try Not to Read Reviews

Memes:

WoW: The Girl Who Fell by SM Parker

Challenges:

None this week, but I am making a lot of headway on the ones I am already signed up for!

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 5.42.09 PM.pngAll About The Books

ARCs for Review:

From Netgalley:

 

Bought/Received

Worldsofinkandshadow

I recieved this through OwlCrate, which I had paid for BEFORE the Book Buying Ban went into affect, so in my eyes, the Ban is still going strong!

Borrowed:

None this week!

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Reviews:

Up to this Pointe by Jennifer Longo

Starflight by Melissa Landers

Snowed-In Read-A-Thon Mini-reviews

Mini reviews of other recent reads

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Hope everyone had a wonderful week and has a great Sunday! We are now one week closer to the end of Football for the season, so nothing could dampen this day for me! If you were affected by the snow I hope you are staying warm and safe!

Thanks for stopping by!

Sundaypost

Linking up with The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer

A Pleasant Surprise: Review of Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

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vampireacademy

Vampire Academy

Vampire Academy #1

Richelle Mead

2007

3.5stars

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


Lissa Dragomir is a Moroi princess: a mortal vampire with a rare gift for harnessing the earth’s magic. She must be protected at all times from Strigoi; the fiercest vampires – the ones who never die. The powerful blend of human and vampire blood that flows through Rose Hathaway, Lissa’s best friend, makes her a dhampir. Rose is dedicated to a dangerous life of protecting Lissa from the Strigoi, who are hell-bent on making Lissa one of them.

After two years of freedom, Rose and Lissa are caught and dragged back to St. Vladimir’s Academy, a school for vampire royalty and their guardians-to-be, hidden in the deep forests of Montana. But inside the iron gates, life is even more fraught with danger . . . and the Strigoi are always close by.

Rose and Lissa must navigate their dangerous world, confront the temptations of forbidden love, and never once let their guard down, lest the evil undead make Lissa one of them forever.


 

I’m not exactly sure why I had Vampire Academy on my “Nope” shelf. Maybe it had something to do with reviews, or the fact that people say the series goes downhill, but I had resolved not to read it. That is, until now. I meant to read one “Nope” selection each month, but as soon as I finished Beautiful Creatures, I knew I had to give another one a chance. I wasn’t a fan of BC, but I’m happy to say that this challenge hasn’t been a complete failure yet. I really did enjoy Vampire Academy.

For the most part, I really did love Rose. Besides her hang up on being labeled a slut and how she treated Mia, she was a pretty awesome character. I guess when it comes down to it I like really sassy characters, but also some pretty rude ones. Maybe it’s just after a sea of Mary Sue’s who are super sweet, it’s refreshing to find female who isn’t afraid to be a bitch some times. And I say that with complete and total respect. Bitches really do get shit done.

Lissa, on the other hand, wasn’t my favorite. For the majority of the book she was pretty boring and way too safe. Towards the end I started to enjoy her more, but then again it just goes to show that I enjoy characters that have a bit of darkness inside of them. Hell, while watching the Vampire Diaries I completely hated Stefan until he went ripper on everyone. Team Damon all the way (also, case where the TV show is about 5000x better than the books). Anyway, back to Vampire Academy.

For the first time in awhile I actually liked both the love interests (for Rose and Lissa; no love triangle in sight…yet). Well, if you could really call Dmitri a love interest. I mean, I was a bit weirded out by the age difference between Dmitri and Rose, but probably more so with myself because I was totally behind it.

This was definitely one of the better vampire books I’ve read. I loved the world Mead created, even if I think the Moroi are a bit lame with their “only use magic for good” and “no compulsion” rules. I definitely think that the rest of the series will be testing that so I’m excited to move on the second book eventually. But I loved the different classes of vampires and the vampire royalty aspect. It reminded me a lot of The Southern Vampire Mysteries (True Blood) that I really enjoyed for the first few books (and seasons).

I totally guessed the ending, but it doesn’t bother me that much. Overall, I was extremely pleased with how this book turned out.

nopechallenge

Why I didn’t want to read it:      I don’t remember. Probably reviews.

Why I changed my mind:    General interest in the series

Do I regret reading it?:    Not at all!

Will I continue the series?:    Definitely

Why I Try Not to Read Reviews

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I don’t like reading book reviews before I read the book.  That might sound totally crazy as someone who created a blog in order to write reviews, but it’s become kind of an issue for me recently.

Why don’t I like to read reviews, you ask?  Well, thank you so much for asking, so I can now try to organize my thoughts into a coherent discussion.

I’ve discovered I’m easily influenced.  If I read a bad review before I read the book I will go into the book with points already against it. I will pick up on the things the reviewer had against it, and it will color my own opinion.  Yeah, I should probably learn not to care what other people think, but if I haven’t learned it in 26 years of life, I don’t think I can start now.

And then if I read one 5 star review after another , I go into the book with high expectations that are usually dashed and I end up bitter and angry at the book for not living up to my expectations and myself for clearly not understanding why so many others love it.

It’s a bit different after if I read reviews after finishing the book, but before writing my own review.  This happened to me most recently with This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp. I already didn’t really enjoy the book, but after reading a few reviews, I just couldn’t ignore something that had barely bothered me while reading. It didn’t necessarily change my outlook on that particular book, but it did affect my review.

So in 2016, I’ve decided that I’m going to try and be a lot more careful about reading the review until AFTER I have read the book and written my own review.

What about you?  Do reviews affect how you read, rate and review books? How do you stop other people’s opinions from coloring your own?