Saturday, January 27, 2018

New Favorite Authors from 2017

I have been wanting to post this for a couple of weeks now but as we all know, time is short.  Anyway, I am getting around to it now anyway.  I read a lot of new releases and a lot of new to me authors last year and some have jumped to the top of my favorites lists, and of course I wanted to share them with you.   I have broken down my favorites into a few categories, because even my favorites have levels.

Favorite New (and new to me) Authors
So this list consists of the new to me favorite authors that really intrigued me and I am looking forward to reading more of their books.

I absolutely loved Marie Rutkoski's Winner's Curse trilogy and I am looking forward to reading more of her books in the future.

Fredrik Backman has kind of been all over the book world lately, but definitely not without reason! I loved this book and am really looking forward to more of his in the future!

I really enjoyed Amy E. Reichert's Simplicity of Cider and while I do forget about her from time to time, I do really want to read more of her books.

I know I am really late to the game but Leigh Bardugo's Grisha Trilogy blew me away this last year.  I did try her Wonder Woman: Warbringer and it didn't work for me but I will still be consuming any other books in the GrishaVerse and will try anything else she puts out.

I regret waiting so long to read The Queen of the Blood, and while some of Sara Beth Durst's back list books don't really appeal to me, I will auto buy any books in this series in the future and will also try others of hers in the future.

New Auto-Buy Favorite Authors
These are my new favorite authors that if I see a book of theirs I don't have on my shelf yet or haven't read yet, I will purchase it on the spot no questions asked!

I consumed Katie Ruggle's Search and Rescue Series and have been devouring her Rocky Mountain K9 Unit series like they are the last books in the world. I cannot wait for more and will purchase any book that Katie puts out there!

New Pre-Order Favorite Authors
These are my new favorite authors that made such an impression on me that I will pre-order with much anticipation every new book they put out into the world!

Traci Chee completely captured me with her Sea of Ink and Gold series when I picked up The Reader and The Speaker this year.  As if I haven't raved about these books enough this last year, do yourself a favor and go read them!

Ashley Poston's Geekerella pulled me out of my first reading slump in years! I also had the opportunity to meet her at a book convention this last year and she is the kind of person I would love to have for a friend. Her next book Heart of Iron comes out next month and it has long since been on pre-order!

I have been obsessed with Mask of Shadows since I read the ARC of it and have purchased several copies for myself (and maybe some for you guys too - as soon as can get a post and giveaway together for you), needless to say anything Linsey Miller puts out in the book world will be pre-ordered!

So who were some of your new favorite author discoveries last year? Have you read any of my favorites, and are they on your favorites list? Who are your auto-buy authors?

Friday, January 26, 2018

Bedtime Story: Pancho Bandito and the Avocado Desperadoes by Mike Sundy

Read for: Children's Book Challenge & I loved the first book

Synopsis: "Pancho Bandito and the Avocado Desperadoes is an epic tall tale with crop-robbing bandits, mythical South American mysteries, and big secrets about Pancho's past. Ride along with heroic Pancho and the Amarillo Armadillo as they seek an ancient weapon to defend a helpless town against the menacing El Pico and his gang of greedy desperadoes.

Pancho Bandito and the Avocado Desperadoes is a tall tale children's picture book. This Western kid's book is full of exciting action & adventure related to Olmec mythology. The playful language and gorgeous landscapes make it a right rollickin' read for grown-ups and young'uns alike, but it's especially beloved by kids ages 6-8. Click the order button to share the fun with your own whippersnappers!"

My Review: I absolutely loved the first Pancho Bandito story and have waited far too long to read this one. For some reason this one didn't capture me quite the way the first one did with it's Tall Tale feel. While that was a little disappointing, this was still a great story. I enjoyed the characters and the unique way the Pancho develops as a character. The Avocado Desperadoes brought a dark element to the story but it was done in a way not to scare young kids. It also sets up perfectly for the next book in the story. Definitely a fun and unique read children and adults will enjoy.

My Rating: While this one didn't capture me quite the way the first book did, I still really enjoyed it.  I give it a rating of Four Paws!

Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Review of The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

Read for: Netgalley/Requested Review (& there is a horse on the cover)

Synopsis: "The magical adventure begun in The Bear and the Nightingale continues as brave Vasya, now a young woman, is forced to choose between marriage or life in a convent and instead flees her home—but soon finds herself called upon to help defend the city of Moscow when it comes under siege.

Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya’s options are few: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both doom her to life in a tower, cut off from the vast world she longs to explore. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good graces—even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop."

My Review:  I finally finished this book, it didn't take me nearly as long as The Bear and the Nightingale but it still took longer than I expected. This is definitely a book that is meant to be read at a slower pace with all your focus on it. I was too easily distracted by other books that I was reading during the slower parts of the story. Some of the issue for me was the pacing, it would be really slow and things described in detail when there was not a whole lot happening and then when the action would pick up the description was gone and it went too fast. I did however enjoy Vasya's character development throughout this story and my favorite parts were when her and Solovey were together. I loved the bond that they had and the adventures they went on were exciting and dangerous yet honorable. While I did enjoy this story, I really feel like it could use some trimming down, I feel like not all the tangents throughout the book were not truly necessary even though they were tied in nicely. I am intrigued by the third story, hoping it will focus on Masha but by the time it has been released I may have lost interest.

My Rating: Like with the first book I really struggle to rate this book, the writing is beautiful but I was so easily distracted, I enjoyed parts of it but as a whole it isn't high on my list.  I have to go with a middle of the road rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.  I really think that some readers will really appreciate the slow pacing of this book and it will definitely work better for readers who focus on one book at a time.

I received this book via Netgalley, the above is my honest review.

To find out more about Katherine Arden and her work visit her Goodreads Page.

The Girl in the Tower is the second book in the Winternight Trilogy and was released in early December.  You can obtain your own copy in print or digital formats from Amazon or Barnes and Noble or check with your favorite book supplier.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Top 5 Wednesday: Books I Didn't Enjoy but Love to Discuss

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

So this week's Top 5 topic is books that we may have disliked or just didn't enjoy that we love to discuss.  Generally if I didn't enjoy a book there is a very clear reason for that and this is the reason I have a blog, is to discuss the reasons I did or didn't enjoy a book.  So here are some of my favorites to talk about.

So this book looks fun and cute enough right?! Turns out it pushes religion hard.  Now I don't really mind religion being a part of a book unless it starts to become an agenda pusher.  I couldn't even make it through this book and I ended up DNFing it only about half of the way through when The Book of Mormon was mentioned 6 times in a two page spread. It is a great example of what not to do with religion in a fictional book.

So I have been a loyal reader of Laurell K. Hamilton's for several years, but about 5 years ago when this book came out I stopped reading any of her books.  This was a great example of how an author needs to be aware that a series needs to be brought to a close.  This was book 22 in this series (which is now up to 25 and book 26 expected this year).  The story has started to repeat itself and while the characters did develop it has gotten to the point where they are so far from what I originally enjoyed that I don't want to be around them anymore. There are too many characters, too much internal drama and the conflicts are all starting to sound the same.  (It was the same for her other series, which I honestly enjoyed more but she seemed to have stopped caring about it and the characters and the last book I read was just intolerable). 

*** SPOILERS ****
I put up with this series for nearly a year, even though I disliked so much of it and was mostly bored (I know, it is not a popular opinion).  My biggest complaint with this book in particular is the lack of consequences. Yes there was loss, and the loss of a few of the characters I actually enjoyed but it was not high enough impact for the culmination of the series (and the level of evil power that was faced). 

**** SPOILERS ****
Along the same lines as Deathly Hallows, the lack of consequences in an epic battle against a staggering amount of evil is just unacceptable.  I did actually enjoy this book, definitely not nearly as much as the previous two books in the series, but maybe that made the issues in this book seem so much more glaring.  The complete turnaround of a couple of character's views also fed into big discussion points.

This is a book I wish I had read in high school (actually preferably college since my high school class lacked any ability to actually discuss or analyze a book), I so wish that I could have read it and discussed it with a group of people.  I really struggled to read this one, partly because I tried audio first and the format didn't work well, and I think that being able to discuss points and meanings would have added so much to my level of enjoyment.  I do think that a re-read will greatly increase my love for the book, but for now it is an appreciation for what was done with this story and subject.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Review of Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell

Read for: Recently Added to Shelves/ TBR

Synopsis: "'Everybody likes everything these days. The whole world is a nerd.'
'Are you mad because other people like Star Wars? Are you mad because people like me like Star Wars?'

If you broke Elena's heart, Star Wars would spill out. So when she decides to queue outside her local cinema to see the new movie, she's expecting a celebration with crowds of people who love Han, Luke and Leia just as much as she does. What she's not expecting is to be last in a line of only three people; to have to pee into a collectible Star Wars soda cup behind a dumpster or to meet that unlikely someone who just might truly understand the way she feels. Kindred Spirits is an engaging short story by Rainbow Rowell, author of the bestselling Eleanor & Park, Fangirl and Carry On, and is part of a handful of selected short reads specially produced for World Book Day."

My Review: Even though I wasn't a huge fan of Fan Girl, and wasn't planning on reading anymore of Rowell's book, I did have to get my hands on this one when I heard about it. I am so glad I did find it, this is more of what I was hoping out of Fan Girl. The ultimate fan mentality, a familiar fandom and fellow fans to bond with. Even though it was a short read, I ended up finding a connection with the characters and I am very glad with where the story ended up. I was also very happy with the fact that it wasn't taken to the romance extreme but left off where it could have developed in the future. I also like how it was focused on the experience of a fan movie line and how it has changed over the years. It does kind of make me wish I had been able to experience a line at some point, especially for Star Wars. All in all a fun, yet short, book to experience while reading.

My Rating: I am glad I hunted this one down, it ended up being totally worth it.  I also really like how there is an underlying message about 'true fans' and 'fake fans', it is something that really needs to be brought to attention from time to time, especially with new releases in old fandoms.  I give this one a rating of Four Paws!

Monday, January 22, 2018

Monday Reading List

Its Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Shelia at Book Journey. Share what books you have finished in the last week, are currently reading and what might be coming up next!

Reviews Posted Last Week:
Links will take you to my review

The Secret Horses of Briar Hill by Megan Shepherd
DinoTrux: The Snow Blazers by Justus Lee (Bedtime Story/Early Reader)
The Owner's Manuel to Terrible Parenting by Guy Delisle (Graphic Novel)

 Books Finished Last Week:
Reviews will be posted at a later date

Cold Forged Flame
The Owner's Manuel for Terrible Parenting
5 Minute Star Wars Villain Stories
Silver Thread

Currently Reading:

The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden - Kindle - on Page 84 of 363
The Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan - Audio - 84%

Pages Read/ Time Listened
35:33 Hours Listened (None listened this week)
1,940 Pages Read (760 this week)

Books Added to Shelves Recently: TBR
Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne
Moonsilver by Kathleen Duey
Silver Thread by Kathleen Duey
The Silver Bracelet by Kathleen Duey
Mountains of the Moon by Kathleen Duey
Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
I Love My Love by Reyna Biddy
The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
Gods of the North by Lucy Coats
We Have Always Lived in a Castle by Shirley Jackson
Life Changing Manga of Cleaning Up by Marie Kondo


It was another pretty good reading week this last week, I have been so fortunate to have read absolutely fantastic books so far this year!  I am still struggling through The Girl in the Tower though, I must finish it this week, I have so many other requested review books that I want to start.  Also, I went book shopping again, and I am absolutely not allowed to buy anymore books until I read at least half of those new ones!  Oh well now that football season is nearly over I will be focusing on card making, audio books, cleaning and family game time! 

I also wanted to know if any of you were interested in seeing my bullet journal? I have been using a bullet journal for about 7 or 8 months now and finally have my 2018 brand new one set up. Did you want to see how it looks or learn any tips I have found along the way?

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Crafty Times: Valentine's Cards

Crafty Times is a new thing I am trying on the blog where I can share some of the art and crafts I have created (you can too of course). I really dabble in a wide variety of crafts and hope you can find something that sparks your interest or inspires you!

Exciting news since my last Crafty Times Post back in November, I now have started receiving orders for my handmade cards!! Back in December a florist shop back in my hometown saw my cards and has requested exclusive selling rights to them in that area and then ordered 15 Valentine's with promise of further orders of Birthday, Sympathy & Mother's Day cards.  I have also received an epic order of 80 Save the Date cards!  As excited as I am for these developments and working towards an actual business, it does at time seem daunting and overwhelming, but I do love the time spent at the desk creating.  I have just finished and sent all my Valentine's out and thought I would share those with you.  There are a lot of them to post so I am just going to put up the pictures, if you want details on the supplies used I have been posting them on my creative instagram - @EasternSunsetCreates

I really enjoyed making these cards and I have so many more ideas of cards I want to make that I just might have to make a few more!  I think my favorites to make were the ones with the animals hugging or with the balloons but I really do love the Coffee cards too (even though I don't drink coffee). 

Thanks for looking!