Thursday, July 27, 2017

Biannual Bibliothon - Day 5: Update & Character Connection Challenge

So the Biannual Bibliothon is usually a Youtube exclusive Challeng, but they have branched out to include challenges for Instagram and Bloggers as well.  You can find out information on the reading challenges and video challenges on the Biannual Bibliothon channel and the Instagram and Blogger challenges are being posted @BiannualBibliothon.

Each day there are Booktube Challenges, Blog Challenges and Instagram Challenges.  So I will have extra posts all this week (and I will try to participate in the Instagram Challenges as well @Easternsunset9 ).  I thought I would also take a brief moment to update you each day of the readathon.  


Update: I didn't get as much read on Day 4 as I had hoped (I had a lot of work to catch up on since I spent the previous day reading), I did however start listening to Misfits (the book before Totally Joe in the series) on Audio.  I also finally started Flame in the Mist last night and am wondering why I waited so long to start it!

Books Read:
Wonder Woman Vol. 2: Year One - 168 pages - COMPLETE
Geekerella - 320 pages - COMPLETE
Misfits - 5 Hrs Audio - 4.5 left
Flame in the Mist - 393 pages - on page 108


Today's host is Ashley from Inside My Minds and she has challenged us to find a character we connect with and discuss how we would have acted the same or differently in a situation.

Now I am going to go a little off the books with this one, quite literally, because there is one character out there who is me pretty much entirely in cartoon form . . . .


Yup, that is me in pony form.  Twilight Sparkle from the Friendship is Magic cartoon is pretty much me in every aspect. 

She is a total bookworm with her own library and late nights reading

She always has her checklists going, and maybe a little too organized and stressed all the time


The very first episode started off with Twilight Sparkle passing her magical unicorn test, but instead of being assigned a job like she had hoped, she was given a special mission.  She was sent to find out the meaning of friendship.  She is a bit shy and a little antisocial and wasn't really sure how to make friends.  Lucky for her there were other ponies just waiting to make friends with her.  

I would have had a harder time (and have) making friends with the people around me, but thankfully we have both found a great group of friends to surround ourselves with and have gone on many fun adventures, learning a few things about other and ourselves too.


I know this is not a book character, and I have connected with book characters but for some reason whenever anyone asks who I have connected with the most Twilight Sparkle is always the first to come to mind.


Who is a character you have connected with? What aspects of that character did you find the most drawn to?



Pen to Paper: Traveling Postcards



Hello my friends.  I am still way behind on my pen pal letters but I am working hard on them, responding to about 2 a week.  Boy, I didn't not realize how out of shape your hands get after not writing for several months! 

Anyway, in the mean time I wanted to share something fun with you that I started participating in over the past year, Traveling Postcards.  I came across this originally on My Green Cow on Youtube and then later joined the group she set up on Facebook for Travelling Mail.  The point of this is to send a postcard in the mail to someone, they add their name, location, a sticker (whatever you like) and then they forward the postcard to someone else, on and on until it is full and then it gets returned to you.  You get to see all the unique places your postcard traveled to and people it visited.  Kind of a fun little thing to do and pretty inexpensive depending on where you are sending and how many you are sending.  

I have only received a couple (you have to be quick on the group to claim one) and I have yet to receive a postcard back.  Here are the cards I have sent so far:




Daisy From My Green Cow set up this little information sheet to attach to traveling postcards (you can download it on the facebook group):



Doesn't this sound like fun?  Just a tip, if you want to participate make sure that the person you mail to is okay with forwarding it on (please don't just blindly send this to someone like a chain letter).  If you do want to participate and have no one to send it to, please send me a message, I would be happy to be the first stop on your traveling postcard's trip!


Happy Mailing!






Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Biannual Bibliothon Day 4 - Update & Challenge: Book Rated 3 Stars or Less

So the Biannual Bibliothon is usually a Youtube exclusive Challeng, but they have branched out to include challenges for Instagram and Bloggers as well.  You can find out information on the reading challenges and video challenges on the Biannual Bibliothon channel and the Instagram and Blogger challenges are being posted @BiannualBibliothon.

Each day there are Booktube Challenges, Blog Challenges and Instagram Challenges.  So I will have extra posts all this week (and I will try to participate in the Instagram Challenges as well @Easternsunset9 ).  I thought I would also take a brief moment to update you each day of the readathon.  


Update: I think I finally kicked that stubborn reading slump!! Granted I haven't exactly been reading the books on my TBR for the Readathon, go figure but at least I am enjoying books again.  Want to know which book pulled me out of the rut?  Geekerella! I read it start to finish yesterday, I adored it and just couldn't put it down.

Books Read:
Wonder Woman Vol. 2: Year One - 168 pages
Geekerella - 320 pages


Okay on to today's challenge (I am kind of surprised I have been keeping up with these challenge posts since I didn't pre-schedule them).  Our host today is Bursting with Books and she has tasked us with discussing a book we rated 3 stars or less.  Now this isn't much of a challenge for me, I have no problem sharing with all of you the books that I am not too keen on.  So I thought it would be fun to go back and find a book that I rated 3 Stars in the first year I actively participated and reviewed on Goodreads.   So here we go . . .

I decided to talk about my review of the first book in the Song of Fire and Ice Series.  I figured it would be fun to look back at this review, especially since the season just started on TV (no spoilers please, I haven't gotten to watch any of the episodes yet!) and I just picked up a beautiful new set of these books (I will share a picture on Instagram soon).

So here is a link to my original review of Game of Thrones from 2011.  It is a little funny to look at that review since I hadn't really established my reviewing format or style yet.


Why did you rate it so low?
My 3 star rating for this book was a combination of several things.  I think first and foremost, at the time I was reading a lot of romance and YA books and was not used to reading such a dense and long book. It took me over a month to read, which for me at the time (and really still is) a long time for a single book.  I also was not a fan of the way the story is laid out by characters and a lot of jumping around to the different plot lines. I am still not a huge fan of Martin's writing style or the way these books leave some characters hanging for so long.

Is 3 Stars low on your rating system?
Just as a little disclaimer I am using the Goodreads rating system here, I did establish my own paw rating system for here on the blog, but they do equate a little bit.  

3 Stars is average in my interpretation of the star system.  5 Stars is totally blew me away, will read again rating, 4 Stars is fantastic, highly entertaining and/or great quality, will keep on my shelf and may revisit but will continue if it is a series.  3 Stars is a good book, entertaining in some way, had good qualities and some not so good qualities and I may continue the series.  2 Stars is a meh book, it was okay, I read it found little enjoyable, it didn't capture me or keep me engaged, I will not re-read or probably keep on my shelf, not likely to continue a series.  1 Star is ugh, I made it through but good gosh it was torture, will not keep, re-read or continue the series.  No Stars is a DNF. 

So I guess long story short, 3 Stars is a middle of the road rating, something I read has me interested but it doesn't have me jumping for the next book or a re-read.


What could have made your reading experience better?
I am honestly not sure there would be a way to alter the way the chapters are written, it was awful to wait so long to revisit favorite characters but if they were regular chapters it would break up action sequences and also mess with the timeline.  I do plan to re-read this series at some point but I think I may try audio books, hopefully find a large cast one.  I do think I would be a little more tolerant of the length of the book now that I am more used to big epic fantasy books. Also being familiar at least with the characters will help with future re-reads.



Do you often rate books 3 stars or less?  Do you make these less desirable reviews public posts (Goodreads, Amazon, Blogs, Youtube, Instagram, etc)?


Top 5 Wednesday: Series that Improved

Top 5 Wednesday is a group on Goodreads hosted by Sam from Thoughts on Tome on Youtube.


This week's topic is to pick the top 5 series that improved as it continued.  This is by far the hardest topic I have participated in so far.  I often find that short series tend to go down hill and longer series often have ups and downs.  So it was very hard to pick five series that improved as I read more books.  Now most of these started out as really great books and just got better, because if the first book or two is awful I won't continue to read the series.


The Paths to Camelot was one of my favorite series when I was in college.  The fourth book wasn't even released in the US (at the time anyway) but it was so worth tracking it down from across the globe!


   
The Lone Star Sisters series is a contemporary romance with an underlying suspense plot line that just keeps building and improving with each book, it certainly kept me reading!


  

The Winner's Curse Trilogy definitely did not suffer from the second book slump or the epic dive with the third book at all. I think the constant use of intellectual prowess and political intrigue really kept this series improving with each book. The mind games had to keep getting better as all parties kept becoming more aware of the moving parts.


  
I know I am getting really repetitive here but the Grisha Trilogy (Shadow & Bone) really blew me away.  It really kept improving with each new intriguing character that was added to the story. 

 
I tried to keep my selections to completed series that I have read all of the books but I really couldn't go without mentioning the Ember in the Ashes series.  I loved the first book but the second book actually stopped my heart a few times! I love it and I cannot wait for the next book to come out!




So what are some of the series that you felt improved with each book? I love series that manage to just keep building and don't leave you disappointed in the end.




Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Biannual Bibliothon - Day 3: Update & Villain Synopsis Challenge

So the Biannual Bibliothon is usually a Youtube exclusive Challeng, but they have branched out to include challenges for Instagram and Bloggers as well.  You can find out information on the reading challenges and video challenges on the Biannual Bibliothon channel and the Instagram and Blogger challenges are being posted @BiannualBibliothon.

Each day there are Booktube Challenges, Blog Challenges and Instagram Challenges.  So I will have extra posts all this week (and I will try to participate in the Instagram Challenges as well @Easternsunset9 ).  I thought I would also take a brief moment to update you each day of the readathon.  


Update: I finally got to start reading last night! I started and completed my first book - Wonder Woman Vol. 1: Year One and really enjoyed it.  I am looking forward to watching at least part of the movie today.  I did start another book Geekerella, even though it wasn't on my TBR, it was one I could download on the work computer (for some reason all the books I picked are in print and can only be read at night).  


Today's Challenge is hosted by Pirates and Pixie Dust.  The challenge is to take a favorite book and re-write the synopsis from the villain's point of view.

Because it is recent in my memory and I really, really enjoyed it and then characters I decided to use Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo.  Please note that this is the 3rd and final book in the series so if you have not read the previous books this one will spoil them!!

Villain Synopsis of Ruin & Rising

I have been working for centuries towards one goal.  I finally sit on the throne but all is not as I thought it would be.  The seat beside me is empty. The one who was to help me rule, be the balance to my dark and assist me in bringing the Grisha into power, instead of ruling beside me attempted to kill me before running with one who is beneath her. 

But with or without the Sun Summoner, even if I must destroy what I sought to create, I will bring all under one rule, mine!  No longer will the Grisha suffer under those who fear and use us.  I will create a rule of power, even if it means stepping further into the darkness and using every weapon at my fingertips. 


What do you think? It is always interesting to look at a book from a different perspective. What I loved about this series in particular is that each of the characters had good and evil in them, and even thought the Darkling was the villain, he may have just gotten a little lost in his goal to do good.

I would love to see how you would re-write a synopsis!





Series Review of The Grisha Trilogy (Shadow & Bone Series) by Leigh Bardugo


I have been trying to figure out a way to share all these books I read with you but still include other non-review posts on the blog.  One method I have come up with was to share the reviews for an entire series (or pair) of books in one post.  I will do my absolute best to keep spoilers out of these posts in case you plan to read the books, but there is a slight chance that even the synopsis of a book can give away the result of the previous book. So if you don't want to know anything at all about the later books in a series that might giveaway something in the first book STOP READING NOW!


So I have heard a ton of great things about this trilogy but I was rather intimidated by it and kept putting it off.  I don't know exactly why I was intimidated, maybe the idea that it was inspired but Russia (language, culture and traditions), or maybe that I was worried about a trilogy and then a companion duology that seemed like it could drag on.  Either way it kept me from jumping into this series for over a couple of years after hearing about it.  But I found out that Leigh Bardugo would be coming to the Boston Teen Author Fest in September and knew I needed to read at least a few of the books she has written.  Well, here are my thoughts . . . .


Synopsis: "Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

Shadow and Bone is the first installment in Leigh Bardugo's Grisha Trilogy."



My Review: For some reason I was very intimidated by this series and was hesitant to pick it up. I am glad I finally pushed myself to read it because it started off with a bang! This book drew me in right away and wouldn't let me go, the pages just kept turning and I couldn't put it down. The world building is so smooth that you don't even notice it happening and before you know it the word of Ravka is so well developed that it seems real. The characters are also well developed and you really grow to love them. I adore Alina, she is some what shy and a little naive but not overly so, she is also a realist and faces things head on. I am also a sucker for Mal, even though he seems like a pretty boy that uses her as a home base. I also really appreciate the twists that are thrown at you in the story, you think you are headed down a path and then all of the sudden things are turned on their heads and then another 180 is thrown at you, it makes for a fun and wild read. Definitely a series to binge read!

My Rating: What a knock you out of the part series opener.  Some great characters, excellent world building and even some surprise twists!  I give this book a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag!!


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Synopsis: "Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her--or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm."


My Review: I found this book to be a slightly slower read than the first book in the series, maybe not quite as engrossing but still very good. Alina & Mal's relationship got a little annoying and distracting, but luckily there was the introduction of some fantastic new characters. I adore Sturmhond, Taymar, Tullia (can't remember the exact spelling) and of course Nikolai. I did find Alina to still be really wishy washy and easily manipulated, you'd think she would learn. The Darkling's development was interesting and I still find him an intriguing character, I am really trying to decide exactly what his endgame is. There were some really great twists throughout this book, and the ending was also a bit surprising, I wasn't expecting such an escalation in the second book in a trilogy but it does remove it from that classic second book slump.

My Rating: This one had some ups and downs, still a great book but some of the main characters and story lines got a little annoying. Fortunately, there were some really fantastic new characters and some new twists to keep the pages turning and the next book eagerly awaited.  I give this one a rating of Four Paws.

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Synopsis: "The capital has fallen.

The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation's fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova's amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling's secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for."


My Review: Oh this book crushed me and then gave me hope and then crushed me and it kept repeating that cycle over and over. I wasn't really sure where this book was going to lead after the end of book 2 in the series. One thing I did guess correctly was where the search for the firebird would lead, I kept hoping the answer would be different. Some of the twists were nicely foreshadowed and some came out of no where to surprise you. One thing that I really liked about this book is the way that Bardugo played with the good and evil and all that grey area in between, each of the characters had bits of each and it was up to them as to the way they played their hands. With that the characters ended up having such depth to them that you couldn't help but connect with each of them. I also really loved how while the ending was wrapped up nicely, it wasn't a happily ever after for everyone, each suffered in some way and would have to find a way to move forward. If you haven't read this series yet, definitely give it a try! Oh and I suggest listening to it at least partially on audio to hear how to pronounce many of the words and names, it really helps.

My Rating: Such a roller coaster ride with this book and an outstanding conclusion to the series.  While Alina was slightly annoying and some of the twists were foreshadowed enough to really be able to predict, there were still some to come out of no-where.  I give this one a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag!!

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Full Series Review & Rating:  So as you can tell, this series completely consumed every moment of my life for a while.  It was absolutely fantastic (even though I think it was the cause of my current reading slump).  The world that was created was fully developed, unique and done so well you didn't really notice the building of it.  The characters really made this story, I fell in love with so many of them, all of them were so well developed, had personality quirks, backstory and had a balance of good and evil in each of them.  The story itself was again very much so a roller coaster ride with some crazy twists that will have you questioning what you know about the characters, as well as what is right and wrong.  I will mention that the language is influenced by Russian and as a result some of the names and words are difficult to read.  I did listen to these books partially on audio and was able to then read the print versions a little easier.   I can't help but give this series a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag! 



Have you read this series yet? If so, who was your favorite character? Did you read the companion duology, Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom?  Tell me some of the books you have read that leave you wanting to only read them and nothing else will do?

Monday, July 24, 2017

Biannual Bibliothon Day 2- Review of Princess Leia: Royal Rebel by Calliope Glass


So the Biannual Bibliothon is usually a Youtube exclusive Challeng, but they have branched out to include challenges for Instagram and Bloggers as well.  You can find out information on the reading challenges and video challenges on the Biannual Bibliothon channel and the Instagram and Blogger challenges are being posted @BiannualBibliothon.

Each day there are Booktube Challenges, Blog Challenges and Instagram Challenges.  So I will have extra posts all this week (and I will try to participate in the Instagram Challenges as well @Easternsunset9 ).  I thought I would also take a brief moment to update you each day of the readathon.  

Update: Due to having to pack up and then drive the 5:30 hours home from vacation yesterday I didn't get any reading done.  Tonight though I do plan on either starting Flames in the Mist or  Wonder Woman.

Today's Biannual Bibliothon Blog Challenge is hosted by Miss Sassy Kassie and the challenge for today is to write a book review.  




Synopsis: "Who is Princess Leia? How did a princess become a rebel leader? And what happened to her after the Empire was defeated? In this biography--complete with black-and-white illustrations, timelines, and character profiles--young readers will delight in learning the complete history of Star Wars' royal rebel."

My Review: Being a huge Star Wars fan, I am always looking for a little extra of the story in my life. I picked this one up for my library, and potentially Munchkin. It is a pretty easy read for kids who are just starting to get into chapter books with less illustrations. I like how it gave a nice timeline of Princess Leia's life through the whole saga. There were also illustrations and facts about some of the main players and characters connected with Leia throughout the stories/movies as well. It made for a fun read, maybe a little more geared towards young girls but obviously boy fans will also enjoy it.

My Rating: I enjoyed having Leia's story fleshed out a bit, and while you still got all the fun  Star Wars story, there was a little something extra.  I think this will be great for young fans and I hope there are more backstories for the other characters too.  I give it a rating of Four Paws.