June Wrap-Up & July TBR

 

white-rabbit-late

Eeek! Almost a week into July and no June wrap-up? Or July TBR? Where have I been*?

*I’ve been working, reading, and bookstagramming. I’ve also found a new obsession: booktube. But we’ll discuss that on a later day.

Anyway, here I am! Here’s what I read in June:

courtesy: my Instagram

The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman: 5/5

And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard: 3/5

Girls Like Us by Gail Giles: 3/5

Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia: 3/5

Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley: 4/5

Lock In by John Scalzi: 4/5

Everything I Never Told You by Celest Ng: 2/5

This On Summer by Mariko Tamaki: 2/5

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion: 5/5

So my favorites were Maus & The Rosie Project. Maus was just a unique way of telling the horrific story of the Holocaust and one man’s survival and it’s aftermath on his son. Really good and I’m surprised I hadn’t read it before now. I can see why it’s kind of a classic. The Rosie Project I’m not going to go into too much detail about because I want to write a proper review for it and it’s sequel The Rosie Effect (which I’ve just finished, see pic below), but I will say that I loved it because Don Tillman is someone that you just can’t help but root for. In his words, he’s “wired differently than other humans” but I kinda wish more humans were wired like him.

And here’s my July TBR (to-be read):

July TBR

First Frost (Waverley Family #2) by Sarah Addison Allen, Golden Son (Red Rising #2) by Pierce Brown, A Million Suns (Across the Universe #2) by Beth Revis, The Testing (The Testing #1) by Joelle Charbonneau, Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden’s Syndrome (Lock In #0.5) by John Scalzi, The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein, Doomed Queens: Royal Women Who Met Bad Ends, From Cleopatra to Princess Di by Kris Waldherr, The Heir by Kiera Cass, and One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B.J. Novak. The last five books are for a reading challenge I am doing with a bookstagram friend, which I will write about in my next post. The others are library books I need to read before their due date! (Unless I can renew them!)

Anyway, that’s all that’s going on with me bookwise! Have you read any of the books featured in my June wrap-up or July TBR? What did you think of them? Sound off in the comments below 🙂

Until next time, happy reading!

 

 

 

My Top 5 of 2015 (So Far)

As promised, here are my top 5 favorite books of 2015 so far.

sidenote: 1) these are in no particular order. 2) post inspired by gingerreadslainey’s Top 5 Wednesdays. 3) These are books that I’ve given 5 stars (loved it) on Goodreads.

I-just-finished-the-most-wonderful-story

 

 

 

 

 

 

thegolemandthejinni1) The Golem & the Jinni by Helene Wecker

I liked this book so much that I actually WANT it to be turned into a movie because I don’t think my imagination does it justice; I want this book to come to life. “The Golem & the Jinni” centers around Chava (a golem) and Ahmad (a jinni), two magical entitities trying to make it as humans in 1890’s New York City. They cross paths and become friends, but after a tragic night they sever ties. When an ancient evil threatens their existence, they must come together again and decide whether living as their true selves is worth the sacrifice. This book has all of my favorite story elements: historical fiction, magic, culture, a strong female character. If any of these appeal to you too, you must read this book!

light between oceans2) The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

I know a book is good if it makes me cry. And DAMN did this book make me cry! The story is of Tom & Isabel, a lighthouse keeper on an island off of Australia, and his young wife. Alone on the island, Isabel suffers two miscarriages and a stillbirth.  One day, Isabel hears a baby’s cry and discovers a boat having washed up on shore carrying a baby and a dead man. Tom wants to report this discovery (as lighthouse keepers are to report everything that happens) but Isabel convinces him not to and they keep the baby for their own. When they return to mainland Australia after 2 years, they discover that they are not the only ones who must suffer the consequences of their actions.

This is a story of heartbreak, grief, loss, war, prejudice, second chances, and what one man would (and wouldn’t do) for love. All the feels? I had them after reading this book.

 

theweightofblood3) The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh

Alright, so I might be a little bias about this one because the writer is from Missouri, and the book is set in Missouri, but I don’t care! This book was soooo good! You want a page turner? You’ve got one.

16 year old Lucy has lived in the Ozark Mountain town of Henbane her whole life, but on account of her mother is still considered an outsider. 18(ish) years ago, Lucy’s mother Lila arrived in Henbane, married one of its most eligble bachelors, and then subsequently disappeared. No one has seen her since. When Lucy’s friend Cheri disappears and is later found to be murdered, Lucy is devestated; but it’s when Lucy discovers Cheri’s necklace on one of her family’s property that Lucy starts to wonder if Cheri’s disappearance and her mother’s are linked somehow. As she starts to investigate both cases, Lucy must decide if it’s worth risking everything.

One thing I really liked about this book is that it was told from multiple point of views. The two main pov’s are Lucy & Lila; but you also get point of views from some of the supporting characters, which I like because you get an outsider’s perspective. This was one of those books where you think you have it figured out and then the author’s like “nope!”. It was just. so. good. (Also, the author is really nice!)

 

grishatrilogy4) The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

If you like YA, magic, Russian-ish settings, a relatable heroine, and a hot bad guy, then this series is for you.

I liked these books because they were fast paced, the mythology was interesting, and the author did a great job of world building. Also, the heroine wasn’t super annoying and the love triangle was fairly plausible (although, still could have done without it, but whatever). Anyway, great trilogy! Pick them up, especially if you plan on reading Six of Crows!

pioneer girl5) Pioneer Girl: the Annotated Biography by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Laura Ingalls Wilder=my childhood. Can’t have a “Best of” list without her! This book was amazing, even though it took me a month to read it, which is the longest it has taken me to read a book, ever! It was way bigger than I thought it was going to be (it’s coffee table book size), so I pretty much could only read it at home since I didn’t want to lug it with me everywhere. Anyway, if you’re a Laura fan, you will love this book. It gives you the back story into how the whole “Little House” series got started, how Laura and her daughter Rose worked together to get them published, and why it took so long for Pioneer Girl to get published. Reading this book made me want to reread my Little House books and visit all of her homesteads (I’ve only been to the house in Mansfield, MO). The annotations are great because it gives you more details into how Laura and her family lived and the people they knew than just what you get from the Little House books. Definitely a great addition to your Laura collection!

Anyway, these are my faves so far! What are some of your faves of 2015?

My Top 5 Least Favorites of 2015 (So Far)

Note: This post inspired by gingerreadslainey from YouTube and her Top 5 Wednesdays.

ALERT: I’m halfway through my goal of 100 books in 2015! That’s right, I’ve read 50 books already! So I thought I would tell you my least favorites first (bad news first, right?) and then next week I’ll talk about what my favorites of the year are so far!

Alright, so I gave all of these 2 stars on Goodreads, which means “the book was ok”. Which these books WERE ok. They were not a DNF (Did Not Finish). But there was nothing special (that I could tell) about them. In other words, I wasn’t impressed.

not impressed

1) Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff

picturemegone

If I could describe this book in word, it would be pretentious. It’s about a 16 year old girl who accompanies her father in his search for his missing friend. And honestly that’s all I really remember about this book. The only thing that stuck out to me is that the main character talked like NO teenage I’ve ever heard, even the ones who are wiser than their years (hence the pretentious description). I just remember being annoyed by that and not finding her relatable at all.

 

2) Juvie by Steve Watkins

juvie

A girl goes to juvie so that her sister doesn’t go to jail after they were caught in a wrong place, wrong time scenario. I’m just going to state here what I said on Goodreads: This was like a watered down version of “Orange Is the New Black”, but for teens and less interesting (and no hooking up). The characters are forgettable and it wrapped up a little too nicely at the end. I didn’t dislike this book, but I didn’t like it either. I will say that the writing is decent; it’s just that the characters didn’t have much depth to them.

 

3) We Were Liars by E. Lockhart 

wewereliars

You can read my full review here, but I’ll just reiterate that while the ending is pretty good (very WTF moment), everything up to it was just kind of blah. Again, the characters were forgetable and gave me no reason to care about them. If this is one of your faves, sorrynotsorry, it’s not one of mine. I will say that I did like the writing style. I like anything that differs from your standard novel writing.

 

 

 

4) Noggin by John Corey Whaley 

noggin

Cool concept: 16 year old Travis undergoes a head transplant in the not so distant future–his body is ravaged by luekemia, so his head gets chopped off and cryogenically frozen for 5 years until they find a suitable body (a boy who died from a brain tumor) and the doctors can reattach his head. So it’s like Travis is waking up from a 5 year coma. He’s still 16; all of his friends and family are 5 years older. He has to now adjust to the world around him. What I didn’t like about this book (and why I gave it 2 stars) is that all Travis does is try to get his old girlfriend back–who is now 21!! And engaged! He just goes on and on about how he’s going to get her back (and makes futile attempts). I will say that I appreciate the Kansas City shoutout. It’s not every day your home city is the main location in a novel.

5) Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng 

everything I never told youThe favored child dies and the family are both trying to cope and figure out how it happened. Was it murder? Was it suicide? My friend called this book a slow burn, but it wasn’t one that I enjoyed. The parents were huge dicks, both to their kids and to each other, and there were just no redeeming qualities about any of the characters…except maybe the youngest child. But then again, she doesn’t really say much–her parents are pretty much oblivious to her existance because of their smothering love for their favorite. Which, there’s nothing hugely special about the favorite child–which is maybe the point? I don’t know, but either way, I didn’t like it.

So these are the ones I’ve liked the least so far. I will say for the most part all of these had pretty good writing, it’s just that the characters were blah. And if you don’t care about at least one of the characters, then why even read the book? (I did because I’m doing a reading challenge! Haha).

Come back next week to see what my Top 5 faves of the year (so far) are!

Happy reading!

 

The Madman’s Daughter Trilogy: Review

madmansdaughterherdarkcuriosityacoldlegacy

*WARNING: THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS*

The Madman’s Daughter Trilogy is a YA trilogy by debut author Megan Shepherd. Each book in the series is inspired by a specific classic gothic novel: The Madman’s Daughter is inspired by The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells; Her Dark Curiosity is inspired by Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson; and A Cold Legacy is inspired by Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley.

The Madman’s Daughter summary (via Goodreads):  Sixteen-year-old Juliet Moreau has built a life for herself in London—working as a maid, attending church on Sundays, and trying not to think about the scandal that ruined her life. After all, no one ever proved the rumors about her father’s gruesome experiments. But when she learns he is alive and continuing his work on a remote tropical island, she is determined to find out if the accusations are true. Accompanied by her father’s handsome young assistant, Montgomery, and an enigmatic castaway, Edward—both of whom she is deeply drawn to—Juliet travels to the island, only to discover the depths of her father’s madness: He has experimented on animals so that they resemble, speak, and behave as humans. And worse, one of the creatures has turned violent and is killing the island’s inhabitants. Torn between horror and scientific curiosity, Juliet knows she must end her father’s dangerous experiments and escape her jungle prison before it’s too late. Yet as the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father’s genius—and madness—in her own blood.

Her Dark Curiosity summary (via Goodreads): Months have passed since Juliet Moreau returned to civilization after escaping her father’s island—and the secrets she left behind. Now, back in London once more, she is rebuilding the life she once knew and trying to forget Dr. Moreau’s horrific legacy—though someone, or something, hasn’t forgotten her.  As people close to Juliet fall victim one by one to a murderer who leaves a macabre calling card of three clawlike slashes, Juliet fears one of her father’s creations may have also escaped the island. She is determined to find the killer before Scotland Yard does, though it means awakening sides of herself she had thought long banished, and facing loves from her past she never expected to see again.  As Juliet strives to stop a killer while searching for a serum to cure her own worsening illness, she finds herself once more in the midst of a world of scandal and danger. Her heart torn in two, past bubbling to the surface, life threatened by an obsessive killer—Juliet will be lucky to escape alive.

A Cold Legacy summary (via Goodreads): After killing the men who tried to steal her father’s research, Juliet—along with Montgomery, Lucy, Balthazar, and a deathly ill Edward—has escaped to a remote estate on the Scottish moors. Owned by the enigmatic Elizabeth von Stein, the mansion is full of mysteries and unexplained oddities: dead bodies in the basement, secret passages, and fortune-tellers who seem to know Juliet’s secrets. Though it appears to be a safe haven, Juliet fears new dangers may be present within the manor’s own walls.  Then Juliet uncovers the truth about the manor’s long history of scientific experimentation—and her own intended role in it—forcing her to determine where the line falls between right and wrong, life and death, magic and science, and promises and secrets. And she must decide if she’ll follow her father’s dark footsteps or her mother’s tragic ones, or whether she’ll make her own.


I am always intrigued when an author attempts a retelling of a classic story or fairy tale because I love seeing how the author not only interprets the original story but what they add and take away from it as well. To me, Megan Shepherd did not disappoint with her Madman’s Daughter Trilogy.

First off, I loved that it was set in Victorian Era London–1) because I love historical fiction, and 2) being that the inspiration for this series were classic novels, it seems only appropriate that story would be told in the same time/setting that either the originals and/or their authors lived.

Secondly, I loved that Juliet wasn’t a clear cut good girl or bad girl. She is both: a good girl who makes bad choices and a bad girl who means well. I liked that Juliet was just trying to figure stuff out for herself. When she realized that her father was kind of a dick and a psycho, she took it into her own hands to make sure his madness didn’t go out into the world.

Thirdly, I liked (and was surprised) that Her Dark Curiosity mentions Juliet having sex. Of course it doesn’t mention the act in those terms but the fact that it’s mentioned at all is impressive. I’m not advocating that teens have sex, but the fact is is that they are (and will continue to do so), and yet I haven’t seen it reflected in any YA books I’ve read, unless in a negative light. Granted, Juliet’s experience isn’t entirely positive, but she doesn’t regret the act itself, which I think is a good thing.

And lastly, A Cold Legacy is one of very few series-endings books (that I’ve read) that is actually consistent with the rest of the series (I’m looking at you Allegiant & Mockingjay).  Juliet’s not always sure of herself but she finds her way eventually, without doing anything that is uncharacteristic of her.

I only have one complaint with this series and that is the inevitable YA love triangle.  While each love interest (Montgomery & Edward) represent a different path Juliet can take, the story is really about Juliet making her own path; the love interests aren’t really necessary.

Overall, though, I really liked this series and would recommend it to any YA fan.

Goodreads rating: 4 stars (really liked it)

Source: my public library

 

Not Your Normal History Book

So one thing about me is that I love history. It just fascinates me how much we have evolved physically, mentally & socially since the beginning of time. History was one of my favorite subjects in school, and fortunately I had some pretty good teachers who made it fun to learn. But now that I’m out of school, I don’t have those same teachers making me read the textbook (or learn), so I have to find authors who make history fun so that I will read their book (and hopefully learn something!).

Michael Farquhar is one of those authors.

I’ve read four out of his seven published books, so yea, I’m nerd crushing pretty hard here.

The four I’ve read, in the order that I’ve read them, are:

Behind the Palace Doors: Five Centuries of Sex, Adventure, Vice, Treachery, and Folly from Royal Britain

behind the palace doorsGoodreads Summary: Beleaguered by scandal, betrayed by faithless spouses, bedeviled by ambitious children, the kings and queens of Great Britain have been many things, but they have never been dull. Some sacrificed everything for love, while others met a cruel fate at the edge of an axman’s blade. From the truth behind the supposed madness of King George to Queen Victoria’s surprisingly daring taste in sculpture, Behind the Palace Doors ventures beyond the rumors to tell the unvarnished history of Britain’s monarchs, highlighting the unique mix of tragedy, comedy, romance, heroism, and incompetence that has made the British throne a seat of such unparalleled fascination.

Secret Lives of the Tsars: Three Centuries of Autocracy, Debauchery, Betrayal, Murder, and Madness from Romanov Russia

secret lives of the tsarsGoodreads Summary:  Scandal! Intrigue! Cossacks! Here the world’s most engaging royal historian chronicles the world’s most fascinating imperial dynasty: the Romanovs, whose three-hundred-year reign was remarkable for its shocking violence, spectacular excess, and unimaginable venality. In this incredibly entertaining history, Michael Farquhar collects the best, most captivating true tales of Romanov iniquity. We meet Catherine the Great, with her endless parade of virile young lovers (none of them of the equine variety); her unhinged son, Paul I, who ordered the bones of one of his mother’s paramours dug out of its grave and tossed into a gorge; and Grigori Rasputin, the “Mad Monk,” whose mesmeric domination of the last of the Romanov tsars helped lead to the monarchy’s undoing. From Peter the Great’s penchant for personally beheading his recalcitrant subjects (he kept the severed head of one of his mistresses pickled in alcohol) to Nicholas and Alexandra’s brutal demise at the hands of the Bolsheviks, Secret Lives of the Tsars captures all the splendor and infamy that was Imperial Russia.

A Treasury of Foolishly Forgotten Americans: Pirates, Skinflints, Patriots, and Other Colorful Characters Stuck in the Footnotes of History

treasury of foolishly forgotten americansGoodreads Summary: “History,” wrote Thomas Carlyle, “is the essence of innumerable biographies.” Yet countless fascinating characters are relegated to a historical limbo. In A Treasury of Foolishly Forgotten Americans, Michael Farquhar has scoured the annals and rescued thirty of the most intriguing, unusual, and yes, memorable Americans from obscurity. From the mother of Mother’s Day to Paul Revere’s rival rider, the Mayflower murderer to “America’s Sherlock Holmes,” these figures are more than historical runners-up-they’re the spies, explorers, patriots, and martyrs without whom history as we know it would be very different indeed.

A Treasury of Deception: Liars, Misleaders, Hoodwinkers, and the Extraordinary True Stories of History’s Greatest Hoaxes, Fakes, and Frauds

treasury of deceptionGoodreads Summary: We may say that honesty is the best policy, but history—to say nothing of business, politics, and the media—suggests otherwise. In this infinitely citable book, the author of two bestselling treasuries of scandal recounts some of the greatest deceptions of all time. With what forged document did the Vatican lay claim to much of Europe? Who wrote Hitler’s diaries? Why do millions still believe the vague doggerel that Nostradamus passed off as prophecy? Organizing his material by theme (con artists, the press, military trickery, scientific fraud, imposters, great escapes, and more), Michael Farquhar takes in everything from the hoodwinking of Hitler to Vincent “the Chin” Gigante’s thirty-year crazy act.A Treasury of Deception is a zestful, gossipy exposé—and celebration—of mendacity.

I of course don’t have any of Farquhar’s books in front me (they were library books) to prove to you how funny and witty he is with cool quotes and quips, so you’ll just have to take my word for it (or other reviewers) and read for yourself! I just wanted to share with you one of my favorite non-fiction authors.

Happy reading!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Attachments: Review

attachments

 

Attachments is Rainbow Rowell‘s first published novel. Rowell is the acclaimed author of YA favorites Eleanor & Park (which I have read) and Fangirl. Attachments, however, is geared towards adults. And by adults I mean mid-to-late 20-somethings…if you want to call us adults.

hannahgrownup
Just kidding. I don’t cook.

Summary (via Goodreads): “Hi, I’m the guy who reads your e-mail, and also, I love you . . . ”

Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder know that somebody is monitoring their work e-mail. (Everybody in the newsroom knows. It’s company policy.) But they can’t quite bring themselves to take it seriously. They go on sending each other endless and endlessly hilarious e-mails, discussing every aspect of their personal lives.

Meanwhile, Lincoln O’Neill can’t believe this is his job now- reading other people’s e-mail. When he applied to be “internet security officer,” he pictured himself building firewalls and crushing hackers- not writing up a report every time a sports reporter forwards a dirty joke.

When Lincoln comes across Beth’s and Jennifer’s messages, he knows he should turn them in. But he can’t help being entertained-and captivated-by their stories.

By the time Lincoln realizes he’s falling for Beth, it’s way too late to introduce himself.

What would he say . . . ?


I normally don’t read books with a male protagonist, mainly because, as a female, it’s hard for me to relate to them. But I really liked Lincoln. He is a 28 year old guy just trying to figure out what he wants to do with his life and maybe find some love along the way. And yes, he may have been hung up on his high school girlfriend for a little to long (10 years?!). And yes the premise is kinda sketch in a “hey, I just met you, and this is a crazy, but I read your work emails and I think I love you, date me maybe?” way.  But here was a nice guy just trying to get with a *supposedly* nice girl! The hopeless romantic in me rooted for Lincoln all the way.

More like, "Hello Jennifer..."
More like, “Hello Jennifer…”

I really liked this book mainly because I could actually relate to Lincoln. He had a feeling of being stuck in his life and I have definitely been there. I also liked the idea the book presented in that, while looks are important, it’s your personality that really wins people over. Lincoln had never officially met Beth but he knew he liked her. Isn’t that essentially what online dating is now–liking someone based on how they present themselves online? The only reason I didn’t give this book a 5 star rating is because the whole “I fell in love with you by reading your email conversations” is just a little too sketch for me. But, to each their own.

Goodreads rating: 4 stars (really liked it)

Source: checked out from my local library

 

 

 

We Were Liars: Review

wewereliars

We Were Liars is a YA (young adult for those who don’t know biblio lingo) novel by E. Lockhart, the author of other YA novels such as The Boyfriend List and The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, among others.

 Summary (via Goodreads):  A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.


I read this book as part of the YALSA Hub  Reading Challenge. It’s about a girl named Cadence (Cady for short), her cousins Johnny and Mirren, and a boy named Gat; they spend summers at Martha’s Vineyard and call themselves The Liars.

The novel begins the summer Cady is 17. She has terrible headaches (think migraines on steroids) as a result of an accident that happened the summer she was 15. Cady has no recollection of this accident; she just remembers waking up on the beach alone and half dressed. And NOBODY will tell her what happened. So the big question of the novel is, WHAT HAPPENED TO CADY??

I pretty much read this book just to figure out what, indeed, did happen to Cady. And while I think the ending was worth the read (really, I did NOT see that ending coming), the rest of the book is a big yawn. Why? Because the characters themselves are a big yawn.

Cady is the oldest of the Sinclair grandchildren. Her grandfather owns the island at Martha’s Vineyard that her and the Liars visit every summer. Cady’s mother is one of three Sinclair daughters. The Sinclairs are a wealthy, distinguished family. And by distinguished I mean a little fucked up. All the sisters do is fight about the money they hope their father will leave them when he dies. It’s kind of pathetic. This does not go unnoticed by Cady.

However, I really just couldn’t get behind the character of Cady. She just emits a “poor little rich girl” vibe to me. Which don’t get me wrong, I feel bad for the girl. But there’s nothing about her personality that makes me want to care about her or invest any sort of feelings.

Overall, this book was ok. Not the worst book I’ve read, but not the best either. I will say that I am intrigued to read some more of E. Lockhart’s books because she’s a National Book Award finalist and a Printz Award nominee, which is kind of a big deal. But I won’t be putting them at the top of my to-read list.

Goodreads rating: 2 stars (it was ok)

Source: checked out from my public library