Wednesday, August 23, 2017

#TheReadingQuest [Update #1]

All artwork is designed by CW of Read, Think, Ponder.

Figured I would give my first update for The Reading Quest. I will most likely update after Bout of Books this week :) Here is my TBR post for #TheReadingQuest

ROGUE:
  • A banned book: Drama by Raina Telgemeier (238 pages, graphic novel) +5 EXP, +11 HP
  • A book cover with a partially obscured face: Found by Stacey Wallace Benefiel (159 pages) +10 EXP, +15 HP
  • A book with under 500 ratings on Goodreads:
  • A book published by a small press:
  • A book with a one word title:
SIDE QUESTS:
  • POTIONS:
  • TIME WARP:
  • EXPANSION:
  • MINI-GAME:
  • ANIMAL COMPANION:
  • RESPAWN:
  • GRIND:
  • MULTIPLAYER:
  • OPEN WORLD:
SOCIAL MEDIA:
  • 2 instagram posts so far +2 HP
Level 1 //  25 EXP // 36 HP

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Bout of Books 20 [Days 1-4 Progress]

Bout of Books

I'm going to split up the readathon progress between days 1 through 4 and then 5 through 7 with maybe the "finish line" tacked on. Here we go! Happy reading everyone :) Remember if you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask your local Bout of Books Expert (I am one of I believe 6 or 7). :)

[GOALS]
**Read a little every day
**Finish two books

Monday, August 21, 2017

Plan With Me: Little Dog Paper Co {Brightest Stars}



**NOT SPONSORED OR PAID TO ADVERTISE**
Link to Brightest Stars kit: https://littledogpaperco.com/collections/stickers/products/brightest-stars-kit-planner-stickers

MENTIONED:
Little Dog Paper Co: https://littledogpaperco.com/
Once More With Love : https://www.etsy.com/shop/OnceMoreWithLove
The Coffee Monsterz Co: https://thecoffeemonsterzco.com/
Fox and Cactus: https://www.etsy.com/shop/FoxAndCactus
Rory's Sweet Addictions: https://www.etsy.com/shop/RorysSweetAddictions


COUPON CODES:
SARAH15 for 15% off Little Dog Paper Co {Pumpkin Spice}
STEFANI15 {Time Warp}
MADELYNNE15 {Unicorn}
MELISA15 {Flower}
CYN15 {Starfish}
ASHLEY15 {Ice Cream}


SOCIAL:
IG: http://www.instagram.com/sjanee11
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/sjanee11
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/sjanee11
Snap: sjaneellis
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/sjanee11
Food Blog: http://www.fantasticalsharing.com/
Personal Blog: http://rockytoprealtalk.blogspot.com/


MY PLANNER & ACCESSORIES:
Erin Condren Neutral Vertical 12m - get $10 off your first order with my referral link: https://erincondren.com/referral/invite/sarahellis0916
Pilot G2 0.7

Music: Crystal by Vibe Tracks from the YouTube Audio Library

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Bout of Books 20 [Reading List + Goals]

Bout of Books

Hello, folks! It's time for yet another BOB readathon to begin. The 20th Bout of Books readathon starts next Monday, August 21st. It will be my 17th time participating, which is crazy to me, but I'm so excited to participate once again. I'm going to be in the middle of doing #TheReadingQuest book challenge, so I want to make a dent in those books during the readathon. I'm also going to be an expert once again. So I hope to stop by and encourage lots of the participants :)

I may update occasionally on Twitter and will definitely be updating frequently on my Goodreads.

[GOALS]
**Read a little every day
**Finish two books

[TENTATIVE READING LIST]
**Roseblood by AG Howard
**Caraval by Stephanie Garber
**The Secret of the Sphinx by Samuel Bavli 

Good luck to everyone else joining in! Let me know what you plan on reading next week in the comments :)

Monday, August 14, 2017

Plan With Me: Scribble Prints Co {July Mystery Mini}


MENTIONED:
Scribble Prints Co: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ScribblePrintsCo
Little Dog Paper Co: https://littledogpaperco.com/
Once More With Love : https://www.etsy.com/shop/OnceMoreWithLove
The Coffee Monsterz Co: https://thecoffeemonsterzco.com/
Fox and Cactus: https://www.etsy.com/shop/FoxAndCactus
Bubba Bear Studios: https://www.bubbabearstudios.com


COUPON CODES:
SARAH15 for 15% off Little Dog Paper Co


SOCIAL:
IG: https://www.instagram.com/sjanee11
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/sjanee11
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/sjanee11
Snap: sjaneellis
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/sjanee11
Food Blog: https://www.fantasticalsharing.com/
Personal Blog: https://rockytoprealtalk.blogspot.com/


MY PLANNER & ACCESSORIES:
Erin Condren Neutral Vertical 12m - get $10 off your first order with my referral link: https://erincondren.com/referral/invite/sarahellis0916
Papermate Inkjoy Gel 0.7
Pilot G2 0.7

Music: Cold Funk - Funkorama by Kevin MacLeod from the Youtube Audio Library

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Book Review: A Fabrication of the Truth by Katie Kaleski


Publish Date: September 16, 2016
250 Pages [Kindle edition]

Synopsis:
The last time Lexie Stein saw Dalton Reyes he lay in a pool of blood, hovering somewhere between life and death. Now, five years later, he’s the new guy in her high school. 

What happened between then and now is a mystery Lexie is afraid to explore. Just one lie uncovered from her past can cause the house of cards she’s so carefully constructed to come crashing down around her. And Dalton is the key to that past. 


She doesn’t need her grandmother’s warnings to convince her that Dalton means trouble. But the bond they shared as kids seems to have only gotten stronger, transforming into something wonderful and powerful. 


When Dalton opens up about the intervening years and what they mean for his future, Lexie is determined not to let him get away a second time.


Monday, August 7, 2017

Plan With Me: Scribble Prints Co {Unicorn kit}


MENTIONED:
Scribble Prints Co: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ScribblePrintsCo
Little Dog Paper Co: https://littledogpaperco.com/
Once More With Love : https://www.etsy.com/shop/OnceMoreWithLove
The Coffee Monsterz Co: https://thecoffeemonsterzco.com/
Fox and Cactus: https://www.etsy.com/shop/FoxAndCactus


COUPON CODES:
SARAH15 for 15% off Little Dog Paper Co


SOCIAL:
IG: http://www.instagram.com/sjanee11
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/sjanee11
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/sjanee11
Snap: sjaneellis
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/sjanee11
Food Blog: http://www.fantasticalsharing.com/
Personal Blog: http://rockytoprealtalk.blogspot.com/


MY PLANNER & ACCESSORIES:
Erin Condren Neutral Vertical 12m - get $10 off your first order with my referral link: https://erincondren.com/referral/invite/sarahellis0916
Papermate Inkjoy Gel 0.7
Pilot G2 0.7

Music is Soho by Riot via Youtube Free Audio Library

Friday, August 4, 2017

Books I Read in July


Aftercare Instructions by Bonnie Pipkin - 4 stars (finished 7/1)
I was gifted an ebook via Netgalley.
Review: here.

Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris - 3.5 stars (finished 7/10)
BOOK 10 IN SOUTHERN VAMPIRE MYSTERY SERIES
This is where I start to get annoyed with the books and why I never finished the series. This reread was long overdue and I actually started it in January but put it down. Sookie is insufferable. Honestly, the last chapter is the only good part in the book. I think I've read the following book, but not the other two. So on to another reread and hopefully I can finish out the series ASAP. I'm ready to be done.

Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst - 3.5 stars (finished 7/15)
I don't know how to explain why this book wasn't a 4 or 5 star rating for me. It was easy to read, but I just had no desire to pick it up and read it. I don't think it was boring and I don't think it was necessarily slow. It was just missing something. The story is told from two POV: Dennaleia, betrothed to Thandi, and Amaranthine (Mare), Thandi's sister. I did not care for Denna. I wanted to like her, but she irritated me. Loved Mare. Honestly, my favorite parts of the story were Mare and her pal, Nils, and their excursions outside the castle walls. I could read a book just on that and have done without the romance. The romance was a letdown for me and that may be because it was so drawn out and it took forever for it to finally happen. Funny since instalove is such an annoying trope nowadays. I enjoyed the big part towards the end of the story, but side-eyed the actual ending itself. Overall, I was just disappointed. There are so many great elements in this story but I just didn't like how they were put together.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas - 5 stars (finished 7/19)
I honestly don't know if I can put into words how much I loved this book. I am not black. I have never lived in a place like Garden Heights. I have never feared being pulled over by a police officer. The MC, Starr, is a perspective that I don't have but appreciate. I was given the opportunity to read an own voices novel to gain some insight of a perspective I will never experience firsthand.

This story was gripping from beginning to end. There was humor and heartbreak. And what a tenacious main character. I loved Starr. I would read 10 more books about her and her family and friends. As the reader, you get to see Starr struggle with her "black self" (as she calls it) and then her Williamson self, having to be careful not to use too much slang around her white friends and classmates. You get to see how people react to Starr dating a white boy.

After her childhood friend, Khalil, is shot...Starr is overcome with grief and that was another part of the story I thought was so well done and honest. I was stunned at many-a-thing in the novel, but know these are common occurrences. I think it's important to immerse yourself in stories that you can never know or truly understand to make sure you can help be supportive of people who live this every day. To make sure that you use your voice to help make a difference because this stuff is not okay.

Freefall by Joshua David Bellin - 1 star (finished 7/20)
I was gifted an ebook via Netgalley.
DNF Review will be posted a week before release date. 

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot - 5 stars (finished 7/26)
I don't know if I can put into words how profound of a read this book is. I wish I hadn't waited so many years to pick it up. Years ago, I read a book called "For the Good of Mankind?: The Shameful History of Human Medical Experimentation" and all of those different instances of human experimentation really shocked me. While the doctors didn't really experiment on Henrietta, I feel they still violated her. They stole tissue from her body without her knowing. They never told her or her family.

Rebecca Skoot did the Lacks family a great justice by telling Henrietta's story...past just the HeLa cells.  What an extraordinary and selfless woman Henrietta was. What she endured in the last months of her life...I just cannot even imagine. I'm glad Rebecca wrote her story. I'm glad she wrote about Henrietta's five children. She also wrote on many other stories connected to the injustices of the time period where Henrietta's tissue was collected. It still blows my mind that it hasn't been made into law that pieces of you are no longer yours when they leave your body. Rebecca did an incredible job with an insanely large team to collect insurmountable amounts of information. They fact checked in multiple times. It's an insane amount of work but I think after all the Lackses have been through, it was a much deserved story to tell. It needed to be told.

I highly recommend this book to everyone. I think it raises important questions and touches on very important subjects throughout the novel. I think we are quick to forget our very recent history because it seems like it was so long ago that people weren't treated as people because they were different.

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli - 5 stars (finished 7/26)
I. LOVED. THIS. BOOK.
I was flying on through it. I couldn't get enough of it. I enjoy so thoroughly how Becky Albertalli made her book such a diverse read without coming off as forced. It was so seamlessly done. There is representation for many many diversities (underrepresented body types, anxiety, Judaism, bisexual, lesbian, gay, pansexual, LGBTQIA+ parents, etc. I believe there is also a little biracial relationship represented) and they are all wonderfully positive. There is no negative connotation to it, other than some of the character's run-in's with ignorant people. Plus I love the normalization of breastfeeding. YES, BECKY, YES!

I enjoyed reading from Molly's perspective and really connected with her on a personal level. It felt like such an honest read. I loved how family was at the forefront of the story. I loved the pop culture references. It was just the sweetest story. I read most of it in a day and I haven't done that since Everything, Everything.

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia - 5 stars (finished 7/28)
This book is a story of a senior in high school named Eliza, who has no interest in being involved in her school social scene. She has Monstrous Sea, a webcomic that she anonymously created. She throws herself into this webcomic heart, mind, body, and soul. She rarely reads comments, but know that it has an insane following. At school, she is the "weird" kid that is the target of many a joke. Her friends are two strangers that she talks to online. Until she meets Wallace, a boy she assumes is a football player, but discovers he writes Monstrous Sea fanfiction. Her first encounter with someone in the fandom she created. Neither speak out loud very much, but start to communicate through short notes back and forth and a friendship is kindled.

I thought most of this book was the cutest and most adorable read ever. The rest was so heart wrenching. At some moments, I wish I could shake Eliza and show her that her parents care and just want to be a part of her life. In other moments, I wish I could shake her parents and tell them to pay attention. I love the way this story was written - in a "normal" novel style mixed with instant messages, emails, online forum posts, texts, and snippets of comics. The artwork is phenomenal. I appreciate how Eliza grew throughout the story too. There was a lot you could pick up on while reading from her perspective and I like that she starting working on some of those issues towards the end of the book.

Flame in the Mist by Renee Adhieh - 5 stars (finished 7/30)
While I didn't finish this for the Biannual Bibliothon, I read the last 191 pages this morning, so I can tune into the live show. I was a little nervous starting the book because I peeked at some reviews here on Goodreads and a lot of people said that it was so boring. I can honestly say that I was not bored at all throughout the entire book. I think it was beautifully written and the story was so good. It was similar to Mulan, but not a retelling like it was marketed. I like that it was written in third-person omniscient and jumped around from character to character, so that you get a pretty large scope of what is going on. There are still a few mysteries and I'm looking forward to the second book of the duology to find out more.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

#TheReadingQuest [TBR]

There wasn't a banner, so I cropped the sign up banner. All artwork is designed by CW of Read, Think, Ponder. It's amazing!

I'm joining in on a super fun reading challenge called The Reading Quest. It is hosted by Read at Midnight and begins August 13th. It runs for four weeks and ends September 10th.                     

The premise is a combination of bingo and video games and I cannot wait to start. You choose one of four characters and follow their path on the bingo board. There are also side quests you can take on the bingo board for more experience points! Oh yeah, you earn experience points and health points, and that is what determines the winner of the grand prize :) For more details, check out the sign up post.

I'm starting with the Rogue character quest.
My tasks are as follows:
  1. A banned book: Drama by Raina Telgemeier - this was challenged for having LGBT characters and being sexually explicit. My older kids have read all of Raina's books and love them. I, for one, am glad it seems to have a positive LGBT rep. [238 pages - 11 HP]
  2. A book with a partially obscured face: Roseblood by AG Howard, most likely. [419 pages - 41 HP]
  3. A book with under 500 ratings on Goodreads: I haven't yet decided, but most of my Netgalley books are under 500.
  4. A book published by a small press: Again, I will probably turn to my Netgalleys.
  5. A book with a one word title: Caraval by Stephanie Garber [401 pages - 40 HP]
I haven't yet decided if I will do any side quests, but I think I will be able to read 5 books in 4 weeks.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

August TBR List + Upcoming Releases


In July, I read 8 books and I am 5 books ahead of my Goodreads challenge! The furtherest ahead I have been this year so far and I could not be happier. I'm doing my post in a different set up because it looked overwhelming in bullets with so many books. So I'll talk about the mini challenge I did in July (like the one in June), list my Owlcrate and Books on my Desk, and quickly go over where I stand on my Netgalley books. Then as always, there are the main challenges I'm doing this year.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Summer 2017 Biannual Bibliothon [Finish Line]

The Bibliothon has come to an end already. Tonight, there is a live show to discuss the group book, Flame in the Mist by Renee Adhieh at pm EST. Here is how I fared for the 7 reading challenges during the readathon.
  1. GROUP BOOK: I got to page 204 in Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh on the last day of the readathon, but I did finish it first thing this morning!
  2. READ FROM A HOST'S FAVORITE GENRE: I read The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli for Emma's favorite genre: diversity. There is loads of diverse characters in TUoU.
  3. BANNED BOOK: I read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot which was challenged here in Knoxville, my hometown, for its graphic nature.
  4. THROWBACK CHALLENGE: I read Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia for the throwback challenge of reading a book with more than 300 pages. This one had 385 pages.
  5. BOOK TO MOVIE ADAPTATION: I counted The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks for this challenge as well -- and I watched the tv movie starring Oprah. It was FANTASTIC.
  6. READ A BOOK NOT FOUND FROM BOOKTUBE: I doubled up with Eliza and Her Monsters because I had not heard of this book at all prior to receiving it in an Owlcrate box.
  7. LGBTQIA+: Doubled up with The Upside of Unrequited - again loads of diversity. It featured lesbian, gay, bisexual, and pansexual characters.
I finished 3 books for a total of 1235 pages read. I could not be more happy about it.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Summer Biannual Bibliothon [Day 7]

Today's blogger challenge is to write a letter to a character and is hosted by Dylan of Reading and Other Random Stuff. I decided to write a letter to a character of a nonfiction book I read this week: Henrietta Lacks of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

Dear Mrs. Lacks,
After reading Rebecca Skoot's novel sharing your story and your family's story, I only have two words for you: I'm sorry. I'm sorry for humankind failing you and your family like they have so many others who have been taken advantage of, all in the name of the advancement of medicine. I'm sorry that you grew up in a time of segregation, a time where you didn't feel like you could speak up to doctor's about your own health. I'm sorry for the unbearable pain you had to endure in the last months of your life. Most of all, I'm sorry you were taken away from your kids and they didn't get to know what a wonderful human being you were. All the stories about you paint the picture of a loving, ridiculously selfless woman who cared about everyone, who took care of everyone. I'm sure that if you were asked, you would have given consent to use your cancerous tissue in research. In a perfect world, your family would have seen compensation for all the scientists selling your cells. They changed history and helped so many people. I know you would have been so proud of that, but I know you would have been as disappointed as your family in the manner that everything was handled. I'm so sorry.

READING UPDATE:
I finished another book! :) My 3rd book for the readathon and I started my fourth and got about a quarter of the way through it.

DAY 6 PROGRESS:
Eliza and Her Monsters [Physical] - 298 pages
Flame in the Mist [Physical] - 95 pages

TOTAL: 1157 pages    


Friday, July 28, 2017

Summer Biannual Bibliothon [Day 6]

Mary of Wolf Girl Reads is hosting today's challenge that is simply 25 Facts About Me.
  1. I lived in a town in Minnesota with 350 people for 11 years - until I moved to Knoxville after my 5th grade school year.
  2. Even though I'm rusty, I can play piano, flute, piccolo, oboe, and various percussion instruments. I've dabbled in a few others as well.
  3. My favorite food is spaghetti.
  4. I love to cook and bake and don't see it as a chore.
  5. I originally was sorted into Hufflepuff on Pottermore, but when they updated the sorting hat quiz, I was placed into Ravenclaw. I was surprised both times. I always thought I was a Ravenclaw, but then I came to love being a Hufflepuff and was surprised when I was resorted.
  6. I have never been on an airplane because I'm terrified of flying.
  7. I lived in New York for 7 years and never went to NYC.
  8. Although otters are my favorite animal, I am a crazy cat lady through and through.
  9. I almost had my bachelor's degree in Education, Middle Grade Science, but ended up not being able to complete it after having Mason. Daycare is expensive. All I had left was student teaching.
  10. I have dyed my hair various shades of blonde, brown, and red. Plus black, purple, and most recently tried teal, but it didn't turn out well. After stripping it, it's now green.
  11. I took 3 years of Spanish in high school and I'm trying to brush back up on it so maybe I can become bilingual.
  12. I am learning German.
  13. I was in accounting at a grocery store when I was 17. I loved it and would do it again in a heartbeat.
  14. Speaking of, grocery shopping is my jam. 
  15. I used to stay up until 3 or 4 am to read from a very young age (elementary school).
  16. I have trouble falling asleep because I'm not a huge fan of the dark or super still quietness.
  17. I used to watch too much reality tv shows but then I stopped for a while. Now I'm back to watching too many *shrugs*
  18. I wish someone IRL that I know watched RuPaul's Drag Race because it's my current obsession.
  19. My favorite flowers are daffodils.
  20. I have never broken a bone.
  21. The first thing I do when I get a new book is smell the pages.
  22. I had my first child when I was 18.
  23. There is an age gap of 11 months between my first and second kiddos and then 7 years between second and third.
  24. Twilight got me back into reading while I was pregnant with my second child.
  25. I hate eye contact, but try and make a point to making it because I know it's important.
READING UPDATE:
I didn't do so well reading yesterday. In fact, the most I had read all day was in bed after 10pm. I'm a third of the way through Eliza right now. My goal is to finish it today and then read Flame in the Mist tomorrow. *fingers crossed* I'd be over the moon if I was able to read all 4 books laid out for this readathon, but honestly I'm already so proud I've finished two!

DAY 5 PROGRESS:
Eliza and Her Monsters [Physical] - 87 pages

TOTAL: 764 pages    

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Summer Biannual Bibliothon [Day 5]

Today's blog challenge is hosted by Ashley of Inside My Minds. Ashley is challenging us to talk about Character Connections, a character we connected with on a more personal level. Then pick a situation they were in and discuss what they should have done differently.

Honestly, it's probably an easy choice, but the first character who came to mind was Hermione Granger...frizzy hair, big teeth, insufferable know-it-all, perfectionist, teacher's pet...that's me. I loved Hermione when I was 12 and reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone for the first time. I loved everything about her. I'm trying to think back to a time I think Hermione could have handled a situation better and my thoughts went to her petrifying Neville. I feel like she (really the whole trio) should have explained to Neville what was happening. They were all pretty hysterical and I'm sure it was a lot of that fight-or-flight type of adrenaline response, but I feel like Hermione could have been more respectful to Neville and mediated the situation better.

READING UPDATE:
I finished 2 books yesterday and I'm so proud of doing that! Just in 4 days, I've read almost as much as I do in a month :)

DAY 4 PROGRESS:
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks [Kindle] - done (~127 pages read)
The Upside of Unrequited [Physical] - done (298 pages read)
Eliza and Her Monsters [Physical] - 32 pages

TOTAL: 677 pages   


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Summer Biannual Bibliothon [Day 4]

Today's blogger challenge is hosted by Amy of Bursting with Books and we are talking about a book we've rated 3 stars or less.

The last book I finished that I rated 3 stars or less was Wedding Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke. I rated it at 2.5 stars.


This is the 19th book in the Hannah Swensen series. I have loved this mystery series for a really long time, but the last couple of books have definitely gotten really awful. The story has had a love triangle from like book 1. Suddenly a third guy comes waltzing in and he is a manipulative person. I don't know if it's meant to come off that way in the story or if it's something I'm side-eying, but I hope that the author is setting him up to be the manipulative jerk that eventually goes away. The plot seemed very forced and the recipes took over. In the first book, there were 7 recipes. This installment had 20.

For me, 3 stars is an okay rating. It's not bad and it's not good. It's meh. Once you go to 1 or 2 stars, it's different. 1 star is a book I didn't finish or one that was so awful that it caused me to be annoyed, irritated, or pissed off. 2 stars is a less than okay. It's not ridiculously awful, but it wasn't a meh read. I definitely didn't like the book.

READING UPDATE:
I'm determined to have a really good reading day for day 4. Day 3 wasn't the worst, but I could've done better. I kept getting distracted by the internet.

DAY 3 PROGRESS:
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks [Kindle] - 59% (~96 pages read)
The Upside of Unrequited [Physical] - didn't read

TOTAL: 220 pages  

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Summer Biannual Bibliothon [Day 3]

Day 3 Blogger Challenge is hosted by Dominique of Pirates N Pixie Dust. Today, we are challenged to take a book we love and imagine the story was told from the antagonist's perspective. Then we get to rewrite synopsis in the villain's POV.

I chose to do Lemony Snicket's The Bad Beginning, which has always been one of my favorite books {although I almost chose Matilda}. It's told as a letter to the reader from Lemony Snicket, so I'm going to stick with that format :)


Dear Reader,

I apologize to inform you that the book you are about to read is an awful and horrible story. It is the depressing story about a lonely man. Even though he is an esteemed actor and very handsome man, Count Olaf's life is terrible. Even from the beginning of this story, when he finds he is the custodial guardian of three orphans with a huge but untouchable fortune, reaching until the final page of the book, tragedy befalls him. One might say he can't catch a break.


Solely amongst the pages of this book, he endures a banker with whooping cough, a baby who bites, a know-it-all smart aleck, a girl who breaks everything to invent garbage, puttanesca for dinner, and an unreliable narrator.

It is my misfortune to have to tell his unfortunate story, but you do not have to read about these unpleasant events. In fact, you can read something much better and happier at any time.

With all due respect,
Lemony Snicket


READING UPDATE:
Another poor day of reading...I didn't do any sprints. Mondays are always hard with grocery shopping and all that. Plus we had some friends come in from out of state and it was definitely more important to spend time with them. It honestly was a blast :)

DAY 2 PROGRESS:
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks [Kindle] - 28% (~18 pages read today)
The Upside of Unrequited [Physical] - didn't read today

TOTAL: 124 pages 

Book Review: Mabel Opal Pear and the Rules for Spying by Amanda Hosch


Publish Date: August 1, 2017
272 pages [Hardcover edition]
Capstone Young Readers

Synopsis:  
A young spy gets entangled in an action-filled, whodunit mystery! When Mabel's parents leave town without warning, she isn't worried. They're spies, after all. But when her beloved Aunt Gertie is arrested for leading a smuggling ring, then her obnoxious Uncle Frank and Aunt Stella show up, demanding to be let into the family's private museum things begin to look fishy. Especially since Mabel hasn't heard from her parents in days. Tackling a mystery like this one is what she has been training for her whole, short life. Using her self-authored spy handbook, will Mabel be able to find her parents and unmask the real criminal before it's too late?

My Thoughts:

I was gifted this book via Netgalley.

The title, cover, and synopsis of this book drew me in immediately. A little ten year old named Mabel -- come on! How cute is that! I think my galley was missing a few pages in front and back, but I got most of the rest of the novel and ADORE it. I cannot wait for this to come out and for my 9 year old daughter and 10 year old son to be able to read it. I know they will both love it too. I think the inner child in all of us once wanted to be a spy and this book definitely brought me back to my childhood and how much I loved following clues and figuring out whodunit. Mabel is an absolutely strong character. She's brilliant and likeable. I would want to be friends with Mabel. I would want my kids to be friends with Mabel. I loved all the little spy nuances that her parents left behind to keep Mabel in the loop. The attention to detail that Hosch put into this book was just superb. The characters and plot were just so rich and strong. I cannot say enough good things about this book.

Find on Goodreads

Monday, July 24, 2017

Summer Biannual Bibliothon [Day 2]

Today's blogger challenge is hosted by Kassie of Miss Sassy Kassie. The challenge is to write a book review. I am pretty good about writing my reviews as soon as I finish a book, so here are three of my most recent reviews (linked to Goodreads)

Dreaming of Antigone by Robin Bridges // Synopsis: Every star has its own path…

“I can’t ever be the blazing star that Iris was. I’m still just a cold, dark satellite orbiting a star that went super nova.”

Andria’s twin sister, Iris, had adoring friends, a cool boyfriend, a wicked car, and a shelf full of soccer trophies. She had everything, in fact—including a drug problem. Six months after Iris’s death, Andria is trying to keep her grades, her friends, and her family from falling apart. But stargazing and books aren’t enough to ward off her guilt that she—the freak with the scary illness and all-black wardrobe—is still here when Iris isn’t. And then there’s Alex Hammond. The boy Andria blames for Iris’s death. The boy she’s unwittingly started swapping lines of poetry and secrets with, even as she tries to keep hating him.


Aftercare Instructions by Bonnie Pipkin // Synopsis: “Troubled.” That’s seventeen-year-old Genesis according to her small New Jersey town. She finds refuge and stability in her relationship with her boyfriend, Peter—until he abandons her at a Planned Parenthood clinic during their appointment to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. The betrayal causes Gen to question everything.

As Gen pushes herself forward to find her new identity without Peter, she must also confront her most painful memories. Through the lens of an ongoing four act play within the novel, the fantasy of their undying love unravels line by line, scene by scene. Digging deeper into her past while exploring the underground theater world of New York City, she rediscovers a long-forgotten dream. But it’s when Gen lets go of her history, the one she thinks she knows, that she’s finally able to embrace the complicated, chaotic true story of her life, and take center stage.


Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst // Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile lands. But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a kingdom where magic is forbidden.

Now, Denna must learn the ways of her new home while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine—called Mare—the sister of her betrothed.

When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two become closer, Mare is surprised by Denna’s intelligence and bravery, while Denna is drawn to Mare’s independent streak. And soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more.

But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other.


READING UPDATE:
I planned on reading last night, but ran into a little bit of an issue. As Nick and I were finishing up our episode of Shameless and about to head to bed, the power went out with a nice loud pop. I think the wind gusting caused the transformer in front of our house to go out because down the road, the street lights were on. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks was only on my phone...not my actual Kindle or the tablet. Since the power was out, Nick's alarm clock was out and his phone was at like 20% and mine was at 65%, so I didn't want to kill off my battery in the event that the power didn't come back on for him to have to leave for work. That meant no reading on my phone. So I ended up starting The Upside of Unrequited in physical format.

DAY 1 PROGRESS:
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks [Kindle] - 22% (~68 pages)
The Upside of Unrequited [Physical] - 38 pages

TOTAL: 106 pages 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Summer Biannual Bibliothon [Day 1]

Day 1's blogger challenge is hosted by 4TeenLiars and is a series of questions to answer :) I'm going to try and update on my social media (goodreads, insta, and twitter - linked in my sidebar).
  1. What are you planning to read for the Summer Biannual Bibliothon? The Flame in the Mist by Renee Adhieh, The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli, Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia, and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
  2. What is your favorite genre to read in the summer? I don't have a preferred genre. I am a mood reader!
  3. What is your favorite place to read in the summer? Inside in the A/C LOL
  4. What is your favorite challenge done in the Summer Biannual Bibliothon? This is my first time participating :)
  5. What fictional character would you hang out in the summer with, if you could? Hermione. I feel like she'd be a bookworm and I'd definitely get along with her.
  6. What are your plans for summer? To survive it! We just finished school supply shopping because the kids are back in school in a few weeks.
  7. Do you have a summer reading playlist. If not, what would be on it? Nope. I don't really have playlists for reading.
  8. What is your favorite summer movie? Grease! Most of it is set in school, but it's still like that last part of school and summer is within grasp and then they have the big carnival at the end. It's just like that huge relief that summer is here.
  9. What book do you read every summer? If not, what thing do you do every summer? I start rereading Harry Potter every summer. I most likely will start on the 31st of July once again :)
  10. What other book tags are you planning to do this summer? I am really new to book tags, so if you want to direct me to your favorite, I am all ears!!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Mid-Year Book Freak Out 2017

I had seen this going around Booktube and loved the idea :) I'm a little late to the game but only by like 2 weeks!

Hosted by Earl Grey Books and ReadLikeWildfire
  1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2017. A tie between Heartless by Marissa Meyer and My Lady Jane by Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows, and Cynthia Hand. I loved them both so much.
  2. Best sequel you've read so far in 2017. The rereads of The Wide Window and The Ersatz Elevator - both in the Series of Unfortunate Events.
  3. New release you haven't read yet, but want to. Caraval by Stephanie Garber.
  4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year. Tie between Warcross by Marie Lu (I've read an excerpt and LOVED it) and They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera (love the premise).
  5. Biggest disappointment. Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst
  6. Biggest surprise. My Lady Jane by Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows, and Cynthia Hand. I didn't really expect to like it but had heard it was so so funny. It was. I laughed out loud so many times.
  7. Favorite new author. (Debut or new to you) Amanda Hosch! I read her debut middle grade, Mabel Opal Pear and the Rules for Spying, and it was adorable. It's set to come out in October.
  8. Newest fictional crush. I have none - most of the romantic interests have been annoying. o.O
  9. Newest favorite character. Mabel Opal Pear from Mabel Opal Pear and the Rules for Spying by Amanda Hosch.
  10. Book that made you cry. I don't think I've cried yet this year that I can recall.
  11. Book that made you happy. My Lady Jane!
  12. Favorite book to film adaptation you saw this year. I have watched Miss Peregrine's School for Peculiar Children, but I haven't read the book yet. The movie was amazing.
  13. Favorite review you've written this year. My review for Heartless and My Lady Jane.
  14. Most beautiful book you've bought so far this year (or received). Flame in the Mist by Renee Adhieh is stunning!!
  15. What books do you need to read by the end of the year? All of the books on my desk :S

Monday, July 17, 2017

Summer Biannual Bibliothon [Reading List]


I didn't really get to participate in the last Biannual Bibliothon, even though I followed along. This time I think I am prepared enough to do it and I'm excited. The Summer Biannual Bibliothon runs from Jul 23rd through Jul 29th and the Live Show is on Sunday, Jul 30th. This time there will be video challenges (as per usual) plus Instagram and blog challenges. PLUS the normal reading challenges which I will talk about in this post :)

For the group reading challenges, you are allowed to double up (a book can count for two), but not triple up. So I will be taking advantage of that because with 7 group challenges equaling 7 books, I know I would not be very successful. So let's talk reading challenges and my reading list!

  1. GROUP BOOK: Flame in the Mist by Renee Adieh - I'm really excited about this one. I have read an excerpt and really enjoyed that little bit.
  2. READ FROM A HOST'S FAVORITE GENRE: The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli - this is from Emma's favorite genre: diverse books. I know there is some LGBTQIA+ representation, as well as, underrepresented body type.
  3. BANNED BOOK: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. Funny enough, this book was actually banned/challenged in Knoxville, where I live now, for too much graphic information.
  4. THROWBACK CHALLENGE: Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia. I'm using the "Book over 300 pages" challenge for this one from Winter 2016 Bibib.
  5. BOOK TO MOVIE ADAPTATION: Doubling up with The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.
  6. READ A BOOK NOT FOUND FROM BOOKTUBE: Doubling up with Eliza and Her Monsters - found via Owlcrate sub. I had never heard of it. I typically don't watch unboxings until I unbox my own Owlcrate.
  7. LGBTQIA+: Doubling up with The Upside of Unrequited :)

Even 4 books is quite the stretch for me and I'm hoping that I can attempt to finish all four. I have hardback copies of Eliza and Upside and Immortal Life on my Kindle. I just need to get my hands on Flame in the Mist...otherwise, I'm prepared and ready to read.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Series Challenge - Update #2


At the beginning of 2017 I was in the middle of 63 series. In March, I went through my TBR and removed books I no longer was interested in or series I knew I was never going to finish. In the past 3 months (April, May, June), I didn't read a lot of my series books. I just wasn't feeling it. However, I'm still proud to say...no new series added!

As of 7/1...
I have finished 0 series.
I have started 0 new series
I have read 1 books in series.


I am currently in the middle of 57 series. Still. :S

You can check out my list of series books here. I will be back in the beginning of October for my third update. I do hope to finish 5 series by then. I want to say my goal for the year is 10 and I have NOT done reached the halfway point yet :/ Oops!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Book Review: Aftercare Instructions by Bonnie Pipkin


Publish Date: June 27, 2017
352 pages [Paperback edition]
Flatironc

Synopsis:
In the tradition of Jandy Nelson and Rainbow Rowell, a big-hearted journey of furious friendship, crazy love, and unexpected hope after a teen's decision to end an unwanted pregnancy

“Troubled.” That’s seventeen-year-old Genesis according to her small New Jersey town. She finds refuge and stability in her relationship with her boyfriend, Peter—until he abandons her at a Planned Parenthood clinic during their appointment to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. The betrayal causes Gen to question everything.

As Gen pushes herself forward to find her new identity without Peter, she must also confront her most painful memories. Through the lens of an ongoing four act play within the novel, the fantasy of their undying love unravels line by line, scene by scene. Digging deeper into her past while exploring the underground theater world of New York City, she rediscovers a long-forgotten dream. But it’s when Gen lets go of her history, the one she thinks she knows, that she’s finally able to embrace the complicated, chaotic true story of her life, and take center stage.

This powerfully immersive and format-crushing debut follows Gen from dorm rooms to diners to house parties to auditions—and ultimately, right into readers’ hearts.


My Thoughts:
I was gifted this ebook via Netgalley.
This story follows Genesis, a 17 year old from New Jersey. She is getting an abortion. The story goes through the timeline following the abortion and flashbacks in a play format from the events leading up to the abortion. It was a very character-rich, character-driven story and I really enjoyed it. The writing style was so easy to read and so easy to really connect with Genesis and her life. I wish there was a little more about her parents and family in the book and would ready a second one about it - 100 percent. However, it was still a wonderful read. It really handled touchy subjects well IMO.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Books I Read in June



The Soul Thief by Majanka Verstraete - 3 stars (finished 6/9)
BOOK 1 IN ANGEL OF DEATH SERIES
I was gifted this ebook via Netgalley.
Review: here. 

Kathy Griffin's Celebrity Run-Ins: My A-Z Index by Kathy Griffin - 4 stars (finished 6/10)
Kathy Griffin is one of my favorite comediannes and I live for these tales of her run-ins with different celebrities. A lot of her standup is pop culture related and she is so good at what she does. It's interesting to hear about the celebs that are good sports. I especially loved hearing about the exchanges between Morgan Freeman and Don Rickles. AND her relationship with Kris Jenner, especially after all her digs at the Kardashian/Jenner family. My favorite "chapter" was probably the Weird Al one though :) Perfect light read and absolutely hilarious. 

Wedding Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke - 2.5 stars (finished 6/15)
BOOK 19 IN HANNAH SWENSEN SERIES
I knew I was going to hate this book because I'm not happy who Hannah is with. The plot was okay, but seemed really forced. I feel like the recipes are taking over. I love food. I love recipes. I am a self-proclaimed recipe hoarder who blogs about food. But these books used to have so much more to them. I'm still hoping that her groom drops dead or is the murderer in the next book or someone speaks up and stops the wedding. There are so many instances throughout the book where Hannah was being manipulated by him and so many where she has moments of realization that she doesn't really know him as well as she knows others. 

Recipes in book: Easy Lemon Pie, Chips Galore Whippersnapper Cookies, Chocolate Almond Crisps, Green Tomatillo Stew, Cheesy Chili Corn Muffins, Soft Chewy Milk Chocolate Cookies, Magic White Chocolate Souffle, Vanilla Nutmeg Sauce, Milk Chocolate Sauce, Double Rainbow Swirl Cake, White Chocolate Buttercream Frosting, Breakfast Puffs, Butterscotch Sugar Cookies, White Chocolate Mocha, Chocolate Coffee Cake, Lunchbox Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies, Peanut Butter Potato Chip Cookies, Angel Crunch Cookies, Honey Drop Cookies, and Blue Banana Muffins. In the second book, there were SEVEN recipes. This one has TWENTY. 

Dreaming of Antigone by Robin Bridges - 4.5 stars (finished 6/19)
I was gifted this ebook via Netgalley.
Review: here.

The Form of Unknown Things by Robin Bridges - 3.5 stars (finished 6/28)
I was gifted this ebook via Netgalley.Review: here