Monday, November 11, 2019

Heart of the Moors by Holly Black
[Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway]

Hello! Welcome to the next stop on the blog tour for Heart of Moors hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. I am thrilled 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: HEART OF THE MOORS
Author: Holly Black
Pub. Date: October 8, 2019
Publisher: Disney Press
Pages: 320
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, Kindle, B&N, iBooks, Kobo, TBD

From New York Times bestselling author Holly Black comes a captivating original novel set between Disney's Maleficent and Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, in which newly-queened Aurora struggles to be the best leader to both the humans and Fair Folk under her reign; her beau, Prince Phillip, longs to get to know Aurora and her kingdom better; and Maleficent has trouble letting go of the past.

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I received an ARC 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 Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.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 had such a fun time reading this one with my monsters! We're actually re-reading it right now, and I've already ordered a physical copy for our shelves. I grew up with Sleeping Beauty, but it was never one of my favorites. I enjoyed the beginning of the book, but even as a child thought Aurora was a weak character. I would always ask my parents why she wasn't the one fighting the dragon at the end. 

The Maleficent movie and Heart of Moors have changed my perception of both Aurora and Maleficent. Aurora is the queen of both the Moors and Perceforest, so she has a lot of responsibilities and expectations. She can't count on other people to swoop in and save her (although there's still quite a bit of that), and I liked seeing her character take charge and make decisions to better the existence of both humans and faeries alike. Maleficent is still beautifully wicked, but we have a better understanding of why she hates humans so much. She's also fiercely protective of Aurora, and she loves her to the best of her ability. (I thought the "dagger" flowers were brilliant!)

I liked learning about the various creatures living in the Moors, because I think they're fascinating and offer additional layers to the overall story. The tree sentinels were awesome! They made me think of the Ents from Lord of the Rings. We see human hatred for the unknown and unconquerable, and how Aurora deals with those prejudices while maintaining her authority as queen. It was all very complex for a middle grade book! Loved it! 

I thought Heart of Moors had a very enriching setting, and I liked that we got to see more of the characters that have recently made their mark on screen. Maleficent's wings are mentioned a few times (from when they weren't attached to her body), and I always cringe remembering what happened to her when she was young and in love. If you're a fan of Sleeping Beauty, Maleficent, or the new movies -- this book should definitely be on your radar! Also, it's written by Holly Black, so it's worth mentioning that I needed Queen of Nothing in my life months ago. 

Sunday, November 10, 2019

When the Stars Lead to You by Ronni Davis

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Eighteen-year-old Devon longs for two things.

The stars.
And the boy she fell in love with last summer.

When Ashton breaks Devon’s heart at the end of the most romantic and magical summer ever, she thinks her heart will never heal again. But over the course of the following year, Devon finds herself slowly putting the broken pieces back together.

Now it’s senior year, and she’s determined to enjoy every moment of it as she prepares for a future studying the galaxies. That is, until Ashton shows up on the first day of school. Can she forgive him and open her heart again? Or are they doomed to repeat history?

From debut author, Ronni Davis, comes a stunning novel about passion, loss, and the power of first love.


DNF at 45%

I received an ARC 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 really liked the concept for When the Stars Lead to You, but felt like the story was poorly executed. Devon is an eighteen-year-old that wants to be an astrophysicist, but her voice was very juvenile (unless she was talking about space and the stars). I sometimes forgot she was in her senior year of high school, and mentally pictured her as a fourteen-year-old obsessively in love.

When I say obsessively, I'm not exaggerating. Devon and Ashton's relationship was instantaneous and heavy. They fell in love literally at first sight, and their relationship only got more intense the longer it continued. I just cannot imagine Devon sitting on a porch for an entire day and night just because he ghosted her on their last day at the beach together. Their relationship was suffocating and unhealthy. Yes, teenagers fall in love hard and fast, but this felt different. 

I also dislike it when a character throws everything away for their love interest. College and astrophysics have been Devon's dream for years, but she starts slipping as things heat up with Ashton for a second time. He's dealing with depression and family issues, so his presence is very time-consuming and emotionally draining for Devon. She doesn't know how to help him, but tries to be understanding and available. It just felt like she was too easily derailed from her lifelong plans and aspirations.

We go from insta-love, to second-chance-insta-love, to heavy and very intense, to all-consuming love. Questions like, "Do you love me?" started popping up pretty early on, and even discussions about marriage. Marriage. "I told my cousin I was going to marry you someday." (Ashton said this the first time he saw her on the beach.) "I still think about marrying you someday." (Asthon said this shortly after they reconnected over a year later, even though he'd previously been dating someone else.) "I feel like if anyone could take you away from me, it's her." (Devon's feelings on love and marriage with Ashton.) I hate that Deveon felt so insecure after giving her heart to him and having him leave her without a word. I undersatnd her feelings, but her willingness to fall back down the rabbit hole with him was disconcerting. 

It really did feel like an obsessive relationship -- on both sides -- that I had trouble rallying behind. I wish there had been more secondary characters to offer their perspectives and opinions, but Blair only warns Devon vaguely about her happiness. She also threatens Ashton, but there wasn't much fire behind it. It felt like Devon and Ashton were in their own little bubble, which felt unrealistic and didn't offer much variety to the story. I also dislike it when a book does more telling than showing, which I think added a lot of unnecessary dialogue. 

Their accidental run-in a year later didn't feel realistic either. They spent an entire summer together on the beach and never discussed their hometowns or schools? Yes, they talked about college, but never about where they went to high school? They mentioned maintaining a relationship once the summer was over, but didn't talk about how that would work? Where they would each be living? Ashton was very cagey during some of their conversations, which might be why that didn't come up, but it still felt off. 

I did like the biracial representation, and how the author showed Devon dealing with other people's microaggressions throughout her life. Offhanded comments that are said one way and perceived another -- very well done. The discussions about depression and suicidal ideations was well-represented as well. The author's note at the end is definitely worth reading, and lets the reader know this was an #ownvoices story. 

Overall, I enjoyed certain aspects of When the Stars Lead to You, but after skimming through to the end, I know that quitting when I did was the right call for me. A lot of other people really resonated with this story, so check out other reviews before making a final decision! 

Friday, November 8, 2019

Girls Like Us by Randi Pink
[Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway]

Hello! Welcome to the next stop on the blog tour for Girls Like Us hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. I am thrilled 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: GIRLS LIKE US
Author: Randi Pink
Pub. Date: October 29, 2019
Publisher: Feiwel Friends
Pages: 320
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, Kindle, B&N, iBooks, Kobo, TBD

Set in the summer of 1972, this moving YA historical novel is narrated by teen girls from different backgrounds with one thing in common: Each girl is dealing with pregnancy.

Four teenage girls. Four different stories. What they all have in common is that they’re dealing with unplanned pregnancies.

In rural Georgia, Izella is wise beyond her years, but burdened with the responsibility of her older sister, Ola, who has found out she’s pregnant. Their young neighbor, Missippi, is also pregnant, but doesn’t fully understand the extent of her predicament. When her father sends her to Chicago to give birth, she meets the final narrator, Susan, who is white and the daughter of an anti-choice senator.

Randi Pink masterfully weaves four lives into a larger story – as timely as ever – about a woman’s right to choose her future.
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Can you get choked up while typing? Girls Like Us was such an emotional read. The characters are so young, and they're all going through something that will heavily impact the rest of their lives. Getting pregnant as a teenager is frowned upon now, but the 70's setting really put in perspective how many steps we've made in the last few decades. It's not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but there has been improvement.

Girls Like Us is a story that will stay with me for the rest of my life. These characters have left an impression on my mind and will forever live in my heart. I felt a connection to them and their struggles, despite not experiencing something similar. At the end we get to see where they are "now" and it was such a fantastic way to conclude this book. The journey is an emotional one, and you'll definitely need a box of tissues nearby. Maybe a baseball bat when you hear some of their stories...

I thought this book was remarkably well-written, and like that the author chose to tell the story from four perspectives instead of one. Unplanned pregnancies can happen for a myriad of reasons, and it's something that everyone needs to take seriously -- teenagers and parents. If a teenager gets pregnant, they shouldn't feel terrified to tell someone, because it's definitely something they need an adult's help with.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Songs from the Deep by Kelly Powell

Synopsis (via Goodreads): A girl searches for a killer on an island where deadly sirens lurk just beneath the waves in this gripping, atmospheric debut novel.

The sea holds many secrets.

Moira Alexander has always been fascinated by the deadly sirens who lurk along the shores of her island town. Even though their haunting songs can lure anyone to a swift and watery grave, she gets as close to them as she can, playing her violin on the edge of the enchanted sea. When a young boy is found dead on the beach, the islanders assume that he's one of the sirens’ victims. Moira isn’t so sure.

Certain that someone has framed the boy’s death as a siren attack, Moira convinces her childhood friend, the lighthouse keeper Jude Osric, to help her find the real killer, rekindling their friendship in the process. With townspeople itching to hunt the sirens down, and their own secrets threatening to unravel their fragile new alliance, Moira and Jude must race against time to stop the killer before it’s too late—for humans and sirens alike.

"He showed me an island smeared in blood, and I fell in love with it."
I received an ARC 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.

Songs from the Deep had me mesmerized from the start! One look at the cover, and then๐‘‹BAM!๐‘‹I was hooked. It's both elegant and haunting, and subtly captures the heart of the story. Moira has always felt a connection with the sirens, although she doesn't understand exactly what it is that captivates and draws her to them. Her father's work, maybe. She knows they are predators despite her fascination, and acknowledges that when they kill it isn't malicious. They're just doing what comes naturally to them. Her descriptions of their deadly beauty only increased my curiosity as the story progressed. I particularly enjoyed her stolen moments in the cliff crevices to observe them unseen.

Despite the book being about sirens, they don't play a prominent role in the story. They're mostly in the background, and there's very little interaction between them and our main character. At first I was disappointed because I really wanted to see the story from the siren's perspective, but after awhile I started to appreciate the mystery surrounding their existence. No one knows where they come from, or why they made this particular island their home. Do they exist elsewhere? What do they do beneath the water? How do they communicate? I thought it was a very unique way to tell the story, and thought their silent presence spoke volumes.

The atmospheric setting was incredibly well-written. I could see the moors, the heather bending to the whims of the wind, and an island that was beautifully dangerous. The islanders know the tricks and safety measures to keep the sirens away, but death has still found it's way into the hearts and homes of most of the island's residents.

The mystery was an integral part of the story, since that's what Moira and Jude are focused on throughout the book, but it was the little things that really kept my interest. Moira playing the violin, Jude tending to the lighthouse, the sirens lounging in the sand. The mystery wasn't very mysterious, and didn't take a lot of guesswork to solve. Jude's locked room and hidden noises were somewhat obvious, and the suspects weren't too difficult to suss out. I wish the twists and reveals had been a little more unexpected and unpredictable, but it didn't detract from my enjoyment.

I wasn't sure what to expect when I started this book, but I assumed there would be a lot of input from the sirens themselves. I was pleasantly surprised to learn otherwise, and thought the author did a remarkable job of creating a haunting tale that circumvented what little expectations I had. They mystery itself wasn't surprising, but the story's ability to feel like it's own character -- amazing. I also really liked the dialogue, and how characters would "doff" their hats. Everything was proper and respectable, even with an unsolved murder and siren attacks.

"Perhaps it explains why the sea takes secrets for a wish. They are the truest part of us."

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

My Weekly Pull [95] & Can't Wait Wednesday [65]

My Weekly Pull is something I do every Wednesday (when the stars align in my favor) 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!

Transformers #14 by Brian Ruckley, Anna Malkova, Bethany McGuire-Smith, Kei Zama
Shades of Magic The Steel Prince The Rebel Army #1 by V.E. Schwab, Andrea Olimpieri, Enrica Eren Angiolini, Claudia Ianniciello
The Addams Family The Bodies Issue by Zoe Quinn, Philip Murphy 

Spider-Man Venom Double Trouble #1 by Mariko Tamaki, Gurihiru
Daredevil #13 by Chip Zdarsky, Marco Checchetto, Declan Shalvey
Miles Morales Spider-Man #12 by Saladin Ahmed, Javi Garron, Ken Lashley 

Undiscovered Country #1 by Charles Soule, Scott Snyder, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Daniele Orlandini
X-Force #1 by Benjamin Percy, Joshua Cassara, Dustin Weaver
Rivers of London The Fey and the Furious #1 by Ben Aaronovitch, Andrew Cartmel, Lee Sullivan, Anna Dittman

Jacob's comics for the week!
Spawn #302 by Todd McFarlane, Jason Shawn Alexander, Greg Capullo
Absolute Carnage Weapon Plus #1 by Jed MacKay, Stefano Raffaele, Skan
Amazing Spider-Man #33 by Nick Spencer, Patrick Gleason
Doctor Doom #2 by Christopher Cantwell, Salvador Larroca, Aco
Savage Avengers #7 by Gerry Duggan, Patrick Zircher
Yondu #1 by Lonnie Nadler, Zac Thompson, John McCrea, Cully Hamner

We are getting so many comics this week! It's insane! A lot of them are new, so we might not continue them after this, but there's always a chance they become regular pulls. I'm really curious about Rivers of London The Fey and the Furious. It's supposed to be about the fey and cars, which should be interesting. I grabbed The Addams Family The Bodies Issue, because I think my son will enjoy it! More from V.E. Schwab, some Spider-Man, a little of this and that... should be fun! 

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.

Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibanez
Expected publication: January 7th 2020
Synopsis (via Goodreads): A lush tapestry of magic, romance, and revoluciรณn, drawing inspiration from Bolivian politics and history.

Ximena is the decoy Condesa, a stand-in for the last remaining Illustrian royal. Her people lost everything when the usurper, Atoc, used an ancient relic to summon ghosts and drive the Illustrians from La Ciudad. Now Ximena’s motivated by her insatiable thirst for revenge, and her rare ability to spin thread from moonlight.

When Atoc demands the real Condesa’s hand in marriage, it’s Ximena’s duty to go in her stead. She relishes the chance, as Illustrian spies have reported that Atoc’s no longer carrying his deadly relic. If Ximena can find it, she can return the true aristรณcrata to their rightful place.

She hunts for the relic, using her weaving ability to hide messages in tapestries for the resistance. But when a masked vigilante, a warm-hearted princess, and a thoughtful healer challenge Ximena, her mission becomes more complicated. There could be a way to overthrow the usurper without starting another war, but only if Ximena turns her back on revenge—and her Condesa.

*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! 

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts by Kate Racculia
[Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway]

Hello! Welcome to the next stop on the blog tour for Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. I am thrilled 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: TUESDAY MOONEY TALKS TO GHOSTS
Author: Kate Racculia
Pub. Date: October 8, 2019
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
Pages: 368
Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, Kindle, Audible, B&N, iBooks, Kobo, TBD

A dying billionaire sends one woman and a cast of dreamers and rivals on a citywide treasure hunt in this irresistible novel by the author of Bellweather Rhapsody.

Tuesday Mooney is a loner. She keeps to herself, begrudgingly socializes, and spends much of her time watching old
Twin Peaks and X-Files DVDs. But when Vincent Pryce, Boston’s most eccentric billionaire, dies—leaving behind an epic treasure hunt through the city, with clues inspired by his hero, Edgar Allan Poe—Tuesday’s adventure finally begins.

Puzzle-loving Tuesday searches for clue after clue, joined by a ragtag crew: a wisecracking friend, an adoring teen neighbor, and a handsome, cagey young heir. The hunt tests their mettle, and with other teams from around the city also vying for the promised prize—a share of Pryce’s immense wealth—they must move quickly. Pryce’s clues can't be cracked with sharp wit alone; the searchers must summon the courage to face painful ghosts from their pasts (some more vivid than others) and discover their most guarded desires and dreams.


A deliciously funny ode to imagination, overflowing with love letters to art, from The Westing Game to Madonna to the Knights of the Round Table, Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts is the perfect read for thrill seekers, wanderers, word lovers, and anyone looking for an escape to the extraordinary. 

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Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts was a phenomenal read, and one that I cannot wait to read again! I didn't read it with the monsters, because I wasn't sure how age-appropriate it would be, but I think they'll love it! I know I can't wait to read it again! This book has so many of my favorite of things wrapped up in one story. The Poe references, treasure-hunting, puzzles, and just everything. I really loved this one!

The characters in this book were well-written and fleshed out, and they've found a permanent place in my heart. They had me laughing with their heart-warming banter, and I was emotionally invested in all of their lives. It's been awhile since I've cared so deeply about fictional people, but Tuesday and her crew are easy to love and root for.

The setting was atmospheric and wonderfully crafted. I don't want to say too much and ruin the experience for others, but trust me when I say it's worth reading about for yourselves. My eyes were glued to the pages, my heart beat for the characters, and the ending was incredibly satisfying. I could definitely read more about these characters, but I'm very happy with where the author left things. I cannot recommend this book enough!

Sunday, November 3, 2019

The Sunday Post [29]

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:

It's been a few weeks since I've participated in The Sunday Post! Time keeps slipping through my fingers, and unfortunately that means blogging takes the biggest hit. I should have more time this month since soccer is ending and my plate is being scraped clean. I've really enjoyed the experience, but it's exhausting and very time-consuming. 

We get an extra hour today, which I'm thrilled about! I stick to the same schedule, so it means the monsters have an earlier nap time and go to bed sooner. It's losing an hour that I hate. Thankfully, it finally feels like fall here, and we've had cooler weather with a few icy mornings. I actually had to find the windshield scraper the other day! Although, I did contemplate hanging my head out of the window like a dog, haha.

My son was sick earlier this week, so it's no surprise I have it now. It seems to be a basic cold, but that doesn't make it any easier to deal with (fingers crossed the girls don't get it). I coached a soccer game yesterday morning, and played in a volleyball tournament the rest of the day. I wish I could've skipped it, but we didn't have any extra people. We came in second, so not too bad. The ball kept hitting my new tattoos, so they're smarting today. If you want to see what they look like, check out my Instagram! I always post pictures when I get a new one.

Previous week on the blog: 

Sunday: Nothing
Wednesday: Nada
Thursday: DNF&Y [22]
Friday: Zilch

What I'm currently reading: 

Pure (Pure, #1) by Julianna Baggott
Songs from the Deep by Kelly Powell
Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts by Kate Racculia

I've owned a physical copy of Pure for years, but never picked it up. Funny how that happens! I recently decided to try the audio when it popped up on Libby, but I'm not sure I like it. The world is disturbing and interesting, but I don't feel connected to the characters or feel invested in the outcome. I'm going to give it another hour or so before making a decision. 

Songs of the Deep has been eerily mysterious so far, and I'm hoping Moira interacts with the sirens soon. I'll be disappointed if they're just something seen from a distance throughout the story, because I think they're fascinating and lovely creatures.

Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts has been raved about all over the blogosphere, so I cannot wait to pick it up later today!

What I plan on reading next: 

Girls Like Us by Randi Pink
Coral by Sara Ella

What I'm watching:

Dancing with the Stars isn't something I watch every week, but I do like to watch the Disney and Halloween episodes! They're always so extravagant and fun. However, I'm really disappointed by the most recent elimination, because Sean Spicer should not still be a contender on this show. Yes, he goes out there and tries, but he's easily the worst dancer at this point. It doesn't make sense that he's saved week after week, when it's supposed to be about their skills and improvements as dancers.

I recently watching the season finale for The Great British Bake Off, and it was phenomenal! It's easily one of my favorite shows, and I enjoy how nice everyone is! They're always willing to lend a hand, or offer words of encouragement. They're competing, but there's a sense of comraderie and friendship that I adore. I love seeing the clips and pictures of them hanging out together once the show is over. They've clearly made lasting relationships with each other!

The Masked Singer is a show that I love to watch while I'm cleaning the house! It hasn't been on in awhile, since the World Series has taken over television, so I've been bummed about that. I'm always surprised when they take off their masks! It's fun to make guesses, but their performances are always a blast to watch. Extravagant and entertaining! I really liked The Skeleton, but he's already been eliminated. If I had to root for someone now, it would be The Fox or The Leopard. However, I do like Thingamajig and The Purple Flower (that costume is amazing). 

I'm slowly working my way through Friends. I dislike all of the fat-shaming and womanizing, and doubt they would get away with those comments today. It's crazy when you think about movies and television shows from different time periods, and what they could and could not get away with. For instance, take the language in The Goonies. If kids said shit or damn today, they'd get into trouble.

Challenge updates: 

Audiobook Challenge: 38 / 30+ 
Discussion Challenge: 5 / 11-20
Goodreads Challenge: 370 / 500

Don't forget to check the list of giveaways in the sidebar! Most of them are ending soon!

Saturday, November 2, 2019

State of the ARC [16]

State of the ARC is a monthly meme hosted by Avalinah at Avalinah's Books! It's an opportunity for readers to catch up on their long overdue ARCs, but right now I'm using it to keep up with my upcoming ARCs instead. It helps me stay organized!

Songs from the Deep by Kelly Powell (11/5)
When the Stars Lead to You by Ronni Davis (11/12)
Coral by Sara Ella (11/12)

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord (1/21)
What I Carry by Jennifer Longo (1/21)

When We Were Vikings by Andrew David MacDonald (1/28)
Don't Read the Comments by Eric Smith (1/28)
Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin (2/4)

Things in Jars by Jess Kidd (2/4)
Please See Us by Caitlin Mullen (3/3)
Jack Kerouac Is Dead to Me by Gae Polisner (4/7)

My November books seem to share a theme -- water! Also, there are only three November books! That's totally doable. I don't currently have anything scheduled for December, so I plan on getting a head start on the new year and playing a little catch-up. 

My #otspsecretsister is THE BEST! She sent A Heart So Fierce and Broken in my October box, and I am jumping with joy over here! It's one of my most anticipated reads and I cannot wait to start it! Thank you, White Rabbit. You are a lovely, magnificent person! If you want to see what else I received in my October box, check out my Instagram post! 

What books are you looking forward to reading this November? Let me know!