Sunday, March 24, 2019

The Sunday Post [14]

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly at the Caffeinated Reviewer! It's an opportunity to share news, post a recap for the previous week, showcase books, and highlight what's planned for the week ahead.

News:

This week has been one thing after another, and I need a day off! The girls both had appointments on Wednesday, we went to the zoo on Thursday, and Friday I had an appointment that was two hours away (having a tattoo removed). That was on top of everything else we had going on (soccer practice, piano, jiu-jitsu). I'm exhausted! The two hour drive (four hours total) wasn't too bad. I finished the audio for Dance of Thieves by Mary E. Pearson and loved it! The ending has me jonesing for the next book! If the NetGalley gods are listening, I need Vow of Thieves in my life as soon as possible. 

The zoo was probably my favorite thing we did this week. The girls are old enough now to really enjoy it, and my son is always happy to see the animals! One daughter was obsessed with feeding the birds. She would have stayed in there all day! She and her brother were holding them on their hands and feeding them, while the other daughter was eager to leave the room. She had no desire to see the birds, and their constant flying made her uncomfortable. She stuck close to me while the other two enjoyed themselves. Petting the goats was more her style! Our local zoo takes in a lot of injured wildlife, and animals that likely wouldn't make it on their own anymore. 

Previous week on the blog:

Sunday: Nothing!
Thursday: Nothing!
Friday: Nothing!

What I'm currently reading:

 All These Things I've Done (Birthright, #1) by Gabrielle Zevin
Wicked Saints (Something Dark and Holy, #1) by Emily A. Duncan
The Feel Good Factor by Lauren Blakely

I used to have a copy of All These Things I've Done, but I think I gave it away at some point. The audio popped up as a suggestion from my library, so I thought I would give it a try. I'm still on a reading high after Dance of Thieves, so I'm not sure if my lack of interest is timing, mood, or story. I'm only a few chapters into it, so I'm not giving up yet.

Wicked Saints isn't what I was expecting, but in the best way! The Feel Good Factor is my first Lauren Blakely book, but I'm enjoying it so far!

What I plan on reading next:

To Best the Boys by Mary Weber
I Dream of Spiders by Elle Keating

I'm super bummed I didn't read To Best the Boys before its release date, but life! It's one I was really looking forward to, so I plan on reading it as soon as possible.

What I'm watching:

I finally started The Umbrella Academy. I'm only a few episodes into it, but I'm enjoying it so far. Klaus is a riot! He recently mentioned waxing his ass with chocolate pudding (something like that). It was so random, and I couldn't help but laugh when he said it. I'm surprised the other two people in the van with him could keep a straight face. I don't think Klaus makes the best decisions, but he's hilarious!

I've also started watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer after reading Slayer by Kiersten White. It's interesting, and reminds me of television shows I watched growing up. I'm not sure how I missed this one... Also, Giles seems way too familiar with the teenagers on this show. He'll put his head really close to theirs, or talk to them with only inches separating their faces. 

Challenge updates:

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Mini Reviews [26]

Magic Breaks (Kate Daniels, #7)
by Ilona Andrews
Narrated by Renee Raudman
Synopsis (via Goodreads): No matter how much the paranormal politics of Atlanta change, one thing always remains the same: if there’s trouble, Kate Daniels will be in the middle of it…

As the mate of the Beast Lord, Curran, former mercenary Kate Daniels has more responsibilities than it seems possible to juggle. Not only is she still struggling to keep her investigative business afloat, she must now deal with the affairs of the pack, including preparing her people for attack from Roland, a cruel ancient being with god-like powers. Since Kate’s connection to Roland has come out into the open, no one is safe—especially those closest to Kate.

As Roland’s long shadow looms ever nearer, Kate is called to attend the Conclave, a gathering of the leaders from the various supernatural factions in Atlanta. When one of the Masters of the Dead is found murdered there, apparently at the hands of a shapeshifter, Kate is given only twenty-four hours to hunt down the killer. And this time, if she fails, she’ll find herself embroiled in a war which could destroy everything she holds dear...


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Have I mentioned how much I love this series? I love it even more when I take a break between books, because then the repeated information (reminders and relevant facts for new readers) doesn't feel as unnecessary. I understand why they do recaps and re-explain how the world works, but it makes binge-reading the series more difficult. I wish the repeated information was condensed at the beginning of the book (for new readers and people that need to refresh their memories), so it doesn't impact the reading experience of people who are already intimately familiar with the world and characters. 

Warning: possible spoilers if you haven't read the other books in the series.

As for this book specifically, I was thrilled when Kate finally confronted her father. Confronted might not be the right world, but he's no longer an enigma. We get to see him, some of his powers, and we also learn a little more about his history. He definitely knows more about Kate than she thought he did, and I'm curious if everything we've learned about him previously is the truth. There's a lot of mystery surrounding Kate's escape as a baby, and this is the first time she's really getting to ask questions. Roland is also super powerful. I thought Kate and Curran could take on anything, but Roland might be more than the two of them can handle. I think it'll take a collective effort from the world (or at least everyone in Atlanta) to stop him, if he decides to do something dangerous.

I really liked the ending for this book! It gave us some closure, but we also know it's not the end. There is still more to Kate and Curran's story, and I cannot wait to see what happens next!



Diamond Fire (Hidden Legacy, #3.5)
by Ilona Andrews
Narrated by Renee Raudman
and Emily Rankin
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Nevada Frida Baylor and Connor Ander Rogan cordially invite you to join their wedding celebration. Summoning, weather manipulation, and other magical activities strictly forbidden.

Catalina Baylor is looking forward to wearing her maid of honor dress and watching her older sister walk down the aisle. Then the wedding planner gets escorted off the premises, the bride’s priceless tiara disappears, and Rogan's extensive family overruns his mother’s home. Someone is cheating, someone is lying, and someone is plotting murder.

To make this wedding happen, Catalina will have to do the thing she fears most: use her magic. But she’s a Baylor and there’s nothing she wouldn't do for her sister's happiness. Nevada will have her fairy tale wedding, even if Catalina has to tear the mansion apart brick by brick to get it done.

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It was so easy to fall back into this series! The characters were familiar, and I really enjoyed Catalina's perspective. Renee Raudman (narrator) starts the book off with Nevada, but we quickly switch to Emily Rankin (also a narrator) and Catalina. I thought the transition was done really well, and I think Emily Rankin is going to be an amazing narrator for the next three books in this series. I'm also anxious to see what adventures Catalina will go on! Her sister, Nevada, finally found love and happiness with Conner, and their journey has been one of my favorite stories! Ilona Andrews is a dynamite duo, and I hope they write books forever.

Diamond Fire was a quick read, but it told a big story. Catalina has always felt uncomfortable using her powers, because it makes it hard for her to trust the intentions of others. It means her love life is nonexistent, even though we see a potential for something (cannot wait to see how that develops). Catalina starts using her powers more frequently in this book, because she wants to keep people safe, and we see how beneficial her abilities are to investigations (which is the family business, so that's nice). I'm happy her confidence grew as the story progressed, and now she has someone willing to show her the ropes. I'm sure we'll see her develop more control over the course of the next few books, and I really loved her personality in this one.




Find the synopsis for Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane (Underland Chronicles, #2) here.
Find the synopsis for Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods (Underland Chronicles, #3) here.
Find the synopsis for Gregor and the Marks of Secret (Underland Chronicles, #4) here.

I've really enjoyed reading this series to my kiddos! We're on the last book now (Gregor and the Code of Claw) and had stop due to uncontrollable crying (mine). I don't think I'll be able to keep reading this one to them before bed, because my tears make them think something is wrong with me. It's hard to explain that nothing is physically wrong, just Suzanne Collins shredding my heart. She has a knack for making you love characters, and then destroying you with them later on.

This series does have some darker aspects, so I've had to be selective about what I read out loud. They're still a little young to hear about mass murder and excessive violence. It's meant for middle grade readers, and I think it's perfect for that age, but there is a lot of death and sadness (feelings a five-year-old might not be ready to address). 

I love everything about this series. The characters, the world, the individual prophesies -- all amazing, detailed, and expertly executed. I try to figure the prophesies out as I read, but nothing is clear until the very end (not for me or the characters). The giant bats, rats, and cockroaches are all very unique and interesting. Boots, Gregor, Luxa, Henry, Ares, Temp, Ripred, Twitchtip -- I really do love them all! Everyone brings something to the story, and this series wouldn't be the same without every single one of them. Collins has created a story that I will remember for the rest of my life, and one that I look forward to revisiting in the future.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

My Weekly Pull [62] & Can't Wait Wednesday [32]

My Weekly Pull is something I do every Wednesday to show which comics I had pulled for me that week! If you're into comics, or you're looking to start, please join me! If you decide to do your own post, there's a link-up at the bottom. I would love to stop by and check it out!

 Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #4 by Tom Taylor, Juan Cabal, Andrew Robinson
Miles Morales Spider-Man #4 by Saladin Ahmed, Javi Garron, Marco D'Alfonso
West Coast Avengers #9 by Kelly Thompson, Gang Hyuk Lim, Gang Hyuk

Firefly Bad Company #1 by Josh Lee Gordon, Francesco Mortarino, Diego Galindo

Firefly Bad Company is supposed to be about Saffron (Mal's wife or ex-wife), but I'm not familiar with her character. I'm assuming she's in other comics, but I don't remember her from the television series, which is the only Firefly knowledge I have. It's also written by someone else (Greg Pak has been writing the ongoing series), so I'm curious how their writing will compare to what I'm used to. I'm not a huge fan of the cover for this one, and wish there had been other options (that weren't super expensive). 

Jacob's comics for the week!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #92 by Tom Waltz, Michael Dialynas, Kevin Eastman
Guardians of the Galaxy #3 by Donny Cates, Geoff Shaw, David Marquez
Spider-Man Life Story by Chip Zdarsky, Mark Bagley, Skottie Young
Venom #12 by Donny Cates, Ryan Stegman

Can't Wait Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings, that highlights upcoming releases that we're anticipating and excited to read. It's a spinoff of the feature Waiting on Wednesday that was hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
Expected publication: May 7th 2019

Synopsis (via Goodreads): From the New York Times bestselling author of the National Book Award longlist title The Poet X comes a dazzling novel in prose about a girl with talent, pride, and a drive to feed the soul that keeps her fire burning bright.

Ever since she got pregnant freshman year, Emoni Santiago’s life has been about making the tough decisions—doing what has to be done for her daughter and her abuela. The one place she can let all that go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness.

Even though she dreams of working as a chef after she graduates, Emoni knows that it’s not worth her time to pursue the impossible. Yet despite the rules she thinks she has to play by, once Emoni starts cooking, her only choice is to let her talent break free.

The Poet X was one of my favorite reads last year! I listened to the audiobook, which Acevedo narrates herself. It was amazing! Acevedo was able to convey a lot of emotion with very few words, and I really enjoyed the poetry aspect of the story. It was unique, amazing, and something I'll always remember. Hopefully, With the Fire on High is equally phenomenal!

*Share your My Weekly Pull post! Please leave the direct link to your My Weekly Pull post and not just your blog's URL. Thank you for participating and happy reading! If you want to link up, please leave your URL in the comments below. The site I've been using recently did an update, and they no longer offer the old format. I'm in the process of looking for an alternative method, and would love to hear your suggestions!

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

In Another Life by C.C. Hunter
[Blog Tour: Review]

Hello! Welcome to the next stop on the In Another Life blog tour hosted by Wednesday Books. I'm thrilled I get to share my thoughts on this book with you! I've really enjoyed C.C. Hunter's books in the past, and this one was no different!

Title: IN ANOTHER LIFE
Author: C.C. Hunter
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Pub. Date: March 26th 2019
Buy Link: Click here 
Goodreads: Click here

What would you do if your whole life was a lie and learning the truth could cost you your life? 

From New York Times bestselling author of the Shadow Falls series comes C. C. Hunter’s new YA thriller about a girl who learns that she may have been kidnapped as a child, and must race to uncover the truth about her past before she winds up a victim.

Chloe was three years old when she became Chloe Holden, but her adoption didn’t scar her, and she’s had a great life. Now, fourteen years later, her loving parents’ marriage has fallen apart and her mom has moved them to Joyful, Texas. Starting twelfth grade as the new kid at school, everything Chloe loved about her life is gone. And feelings of déjà vu from her early childhood start haunting her.

When Chloe meets Cash Colton she feels drawn to him, as though they're kindred spirits. Until Cash tells her the real reason he sought her out: Chloe looks exactly like the daughter his foster parents lost years ago, and he’s determined to figure out the truth.

As Chloe and Cash delve deeper into her adoption, the more things don’t add up, and the more strange things start happening. Why is Chloe’s adoption a secret that people would kill for?

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I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

I cannot remember the last time I read a book in a single day, but In Another Life was a page-turner! I wanted to know how Chloe's story would end, and if Cash would finally forgive himself. They were both really interesting characters, even if they did tackle something that was way over their heads. 

I think my age is showing, or I've hit a reading growth spurt, because teenage angst is becoming more and more intolerable these days. Chloe and Cash made decisions based on their age and experience, but an adult's perspective would have been a welcome addition the story, and likely saved them a lot of trouble. They could have offered insight and assistance that would have kept the two teens out of danger (or at least made it less dangerous). However, Chloe doesn't want to tell her parents, and Cash respects her wishes, so they try to solve their problems without anyone's help.

Lindsay was the closest thing to a secondary character we see, but her appearances were infrequent, and her dialogue was very simple. I wish she had been developed more, and played a larger role in the overall story. Mostly, we see Chloe and Cash, her parents and his. It made the story feel somewhat flat. Cash doesn't have any friends at school, just a guy that he works with (we see him briefly for quick conversation), and Chloe only talks about the friends she used to have. They both seemed very alone, and only had each other to talk to.

The mystery aspect of the story was actually really sad. I have a hard time with books that involve child abuse, abduction, death, etc., and it was hard to think about all of the nameless faces in this story. The villain(s) were twisted and disturbing, and profited off the hope and misfortune of others. One of them leers at Chloe through a window, and his comments made my stomach turn. He makes similar comments afterwards that made feel terrified on her behalf. What makes it so scary, is that there are people like that in the world.

Despite all of this, I really enjoyed the story. I was glued to the pages waiting for Chloe and Cash to hit an obstacle they couldn't overcome on their own. I knew that meant their parents would get involved, and then everything would be out in the open. Chloe and Cash have a secret that not only impacts their lives, but the lives of everyone they care about, so I thought it was only right that they all knew about it. Besides, the two were in way over their heads from the start.

C.C. Hunter knows how to play with heartstrings and frustrations, and she does just that with In Another Life. Chloe was torn between what she's always known, and what she fears might be true. Cash had a troubled childhood, full of abuse and abandonment, which left him feeling like he didn't deserve anyone's love. They were beautiful and broken, and I enjoyed both of their perspectives.

In the end, I would definitely recommend this one. The mystery was subtle, but it impacted the characters in a big way. It was mostly about Chloe and Cash, their traumatic childhoods, and how those formative years (even if unremembered) shaped their lives.



About the author:

C.C. HUNTER is a pseudonym for award-winning romance author Christie Craig. She is lives in Tomball, Texas, where she’s at work on her next novel. Christie's books include The Mortician's Daughter series, Shadow Fall Novels and This Heart of Mine.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Small Town Hearts by Lillie Vale
[Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway]

Hello! Welcome to the next stop on the Small Town Hearts blog tour hosted by Xpresso Book Tours. I'm thrilled I get to share my thoughts on this book with you! Thank you for stopping by, and don't forget to enter the giveaway at the bottom!

Title: SMALL TOWN HEARTS
Author: Lillie Vale
Pub. Date: March 19, 2019
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, YA
Find it om: Goodreads, Amazon, B&N, iBooks, Kobo

Rule #1 – Never fall for a summer boy. 

Fresh out of high school, Babe Vogel should be thrilled to have the whole summer at her fingertips. She loves living in her lighthouse home in the sleepy Maine beach town of Oar’s Rest and being a barista at the Busy Bean, but she’s totally freaking out about how her life will change when her two best friends go to college in the fall. And when a reckless kiss causes all three of them to break up, she may lose them a lot sooner. On top of that, her ex-girlfriend is back in town, bringing with her a slew of memories, both good and bad.

And then there’s Levi Keller, the cute artist who’s spending all his free time at the coffee shop where she works. Levi’s from out of town, and even though Babe knows better than to fall for a tourist who will leave when summer ends, she can’t stop herself from wanting to know him. Can Babe keep her distance, or will she break the one rule she’s always had – to never fall for a summer boy?


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I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

Small Town Hearts had me swooning for the summer boy, and was deliciously adorable! I really enjoyed the small town vibes, the food (this book made me super hungry, and often), and even Babe's life as a barista. It was such a heartwarming story! A true summer read that made me forget we were in the middle of spring -- loved it!

The characters were amazing, and I really liked both Babe and Levi. They were well-developed and easy to relate to. Babe has no desire to go to college, and is happy exactly where she is. Levi is more confused about what he wants, and it was fun watching everything click into place for him.

I wouldn't say their romance was forbidden, but it did feel that way. Babe has sworn off summer boys, because they always leave (as you've probably guessed by now) at the end of the summer. She doesn't want to have her heart broken, and her reservations are totally understandable. I really enjoyed the dynamics between the two, and wish the book had ended a little differently.

As for the secondary characters, they were a great addition the story. There were a few that I loved to hate, and others that were a joy to read about. It was a nice balance! Overall, Small Town Hearts was a wonderful read that had me craving coffee and sunshine!

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Remind Me (Magnolia Sound, #1) by Samantha Chase
[Blog Tour: Review]

Hello! Welcome to the next stop on the Remind Me blog tour hosted by InkSlinger PR. I'm really happy to share my thoughts on this book with you! 

Title: REMIND ME
Author: Samantha Chase
Series: Magnolia Sound, #1
Release Date: March 12, 2019

It’s been years since Mallory Westbrook set foot in Magnolia Sound, but the death of her great-grandfather forces her back. Two weeks to get his affairs in order then she would return to her life in New York. The perfect plan, if not for Jake Summerford—her first love who broke her heart.

Jake always regretted the way things ended with Mallory and now that she’s back in town, he’s hoping they can put the past behind them. As they reconnect, old feelings resurface and Jake realizes that friendship is only the beginning of what he wants from Mallory.

With one foot out of the door, Mallory is looking for any excuse to leave Magnolia Sound behind. Forever. Will Jake’s plan to replace the old, painful memories help him finally show her their love deserves another chance? 
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I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

I read the prequel, Sunkissed Days, a few weeks ago and enjoyed everything except the ending! I dislike it when characters have problems because of a lack of communication, which was the source of most of Mallory and Jake's problems. They both leave things unsaid, and it causes a rift between the two. However, I do understand that they were both younger and this problem needed to be there to set up the first book in the series, Remind Me.

Mallory and Jake have both been through college (yay for Jake making it work after six years!), and have been living separate lives. Jake is back in Magnolia Sound, which I love, because I feel like it's a place they're all meant to be. It was important to Pops that his family stayed around the area, and he considered Jake to be family, too. Mallory has been avoiding Magnolia Sound, and cancelling her plans to visit, because she's worried about bumping into Jake. It was sad that it took a hurricane to bring everyone together, and only when it resulted in more than just property damage.

I will admit to being wary about this one at the start, because it's clear that Jake lied about something in order to push Mallory away after the last book, but we don't know what the lie entails (I thought it was going to be something cruel or shocking, but it wasn't). If I dislike a lack of communication in books, a single lie that the story revolves around is worse. However, the story doesn't depend on the lie, but it does impact Jake's relationship with Mallory. She doesn't fee like she can trust him with her feelings, although she has no such reservations about her body (seriously, they were like rabbits).

I still really like Sam and wish he'd played a more prominent role in the book. Maybe he'll get his own story one day? He's constantly moving from place to place, and it almost feels like he's running from something. He's relationship with Mallory is solid, and I love that she thinks they have some sort of twin telepathy.

I did have a few small issues with the story, but they were easy to overlook and didn't really impact by overall feelings about the book. At the beginning, when Mallory first bumps into Jake, she tries to leave and Jake grabs her and forces her to stay. He tightens his hold when she tries to get away, and that bothered me. She never asked him to let her go, or told him to stop, but it was clear she was trying to leave and he was preventing her from doing so. It rubbed me the wrong way. Also, some of the language felt weird. The characters were more thoughtful and well-spoken than most people, and it made some of the conversations feel unrealistic. Lastly, everyone was always making a sandwich! ;)

Occasionally it felt like the story was going in circles, and it lacked real confrontation and conflict. It was like reading a play-by-play of people living their lives in a small town, complete with unnecessary details. Basically, Mallory needs to decide what she wants to do with her life (stay or go), and she repeats the same internal debate throughout the book. All of the characters were a little too dramatic for me, and sometimes they felt interchangeable. When the characters "fight" with each other, it's just them talking loudly about the things we already know they've been thinking about, and it's over within minutes. We turn the page, and it's like it never happened.

In the end, Remind Me filled me with fluffy feelings (totally not a bad thing you naysayers), and also really made me miss my grandfather. Pops was a huge part of the last book, and his absence was significant throughout this one. He's clearly impacted the town, townspeople, and his own family in a very profound way. I love that Jake and Mallory are committed to honoring his memory and his legacy.

If you're looking for a quick romantic read, I would suggest giving this one a shot. I'm curious where the series will go from here, but I'm not sure I will revisit Magnolia Sound in the future.