Wednesday, April 26, 2017

2017 Series Challenge: Update #1

I realized just now that I was supposed to update my progress for my series challenge in the beginning of April. I obviously did not do that. OOPS.

At the beginning of 2017 I was in the middle of 63 series. In March, I went through my TBR on Goodreads because it was over 3000 books and that is entirely too many. I decided to take some of the series off of my list because I was no longer interested in finishing the series and life is too short for subpar reads!

As of 4/26...
I have finished 0 series.
I have started 1 new series: My Lady Janies
I have read 8 books in series.

I am currently in the middle of 57 series.

You can check out my list of series books here. I will be back in the very beginning July and hopefully that will actually be in the beginning of July!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Book Review: Buzz Books 2017: Young Adult Spring/Summer

I requested another collection of excerpts from Publishers Lunch - this particular edition was for YA Spring and Summer 2017 books. This collection contained 18 books. I already had 6 of the books on my TBR, I added 2 more, and removed 1 after reading the excerpts. I skipped one because it was a sequel to a book I have not read and then two because I couldn't get into them.

I was gifted this ebook via Netgalley.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Book Review: 10 Things I Can See From Here by Carrie Mac

Publish Date: February 28, 2017
320 pages [Hardcover edition]
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers

Perfect for fans of Finding Audrey and Everything, Everything, this is the poignant and uplifting story of Maeve, who is dealing with anxiety while falling in love with a girl who is not afraid of anything.

Think positive.
Don’t worry; be happy.
Keep calm and carry on.

Maeve has heard it all before. She’s been struggling with severe anxiety for a long time, and as much as she wishes it was something she could just talk herself out of, it’s not. She constantly imagines the worst, composes obituaries in her head, and is always ready for things to fall apart. To add to her troubles, her mom—the only one who really gets what Maeve goes through—is leaving for six months, so Maeve will be sent to live with her dad in Vancouver.

Vancouver brings a slew of new worries, but Maeve finds brief moments of calm (as well as even more worries) with Salix, a local girl who doesn’t seem to worry about anything. Between her dad’s wavering sobriety, her very pregnant stepmom insisting on a home birth, and her bumbling courtship with Salix, this summer brings more catastrophes than even Maeve could have foreseen. Will she be able to navigate through all the chaos to be there for the people she loves?

My Thoughts:
I was gifted this book via Netgalley and also won a paperback ARC via a Goodreads Giveaway.
I got 60 pages in, roughly right under 20% into the book. I got to the point where I just didn't want to pick it up to continue it. I was very interested in this story because over the last year, I have developed anxiety that has started to interrupt my day-to-day life. I have had 2 panic attacks. I have read one book with a MC that suffered with anxiety and I really connected with that character because I now understand what it feels like. I really expected to connect with Maeve. In fact, she sounds like me to an extent...where she is constantly thinking about things that could go wrong. However, I don't know if it's the "voice" that it is written in, but it's so hard to read and not feel annoyed, if that makes sense. I, by no means, think Maeve is stupid for feeling the way she does or that her anxieties are silly. I have thought the same things as her. But the voice was difficult for me to connect with.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Books I Read in March

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows - 5 stars (finished 3/4)
I had heard from so many Booktubers that this book was laugh-out-loud funny. I know that usually, for me, this means that I will find it funny, but not actually LOL. I 100% LOL'd multiple times throughout this read. It was so so funny. I also had heard that there were a lot of interjections from the narrators, however, if there were, they weren't very stand-outish to me. I loved this book so much. I loved the "historic" parts and I loved the fantasy parts. The characters were wonderful and rich. The plot moved. I'm not sure how the writing was split up between the three authors, but it was done very well and was not noticeable whatsoever.

My favorite passages were mostly book-related as Lady Jane was a bookworm. I won't share all of them, but I will share this one. It's not my most favorite, but it's close.

""I've read all the books we have." She wrinkled her nose. "Armies aren't very good about carrying libraries with them. I can't imagine why. We'd fight so much less if everyone would just sit down and read."" - Lady Jane, p.427

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin - 4.5 stars (finished 3/14)
While organizing my Kindle books into a new system (by genre), I reread the synopsis of Symptoms and knew I wanted and needed to read it ASAP. I was not disappointed at all. It was very easy to connect with the characters and story. I've seen a few people say it had no point or plot, but I disagree. I think there was definitely a clear story arc.

Symptoms takes on the story of high schooler, Riley, who identifies as gender fluid, but is not out to anyone except for Dr. Ann, Riley's therapist. Riley is also the child of a congressman who is up for reelection in a conservative county. Riley sees coming out as something that would mess up the Congressman's career and put the family in the public eye for scrutiny. Riley is overwhelming so concerned for how everything will affect those around him/her. Riley doesn't want anyone hurt.

The descriptions of how Riley felt really helped me to understand and connect with the character. It makes me want to learn more about gender fluidity. I loved Solo and Bec a ton and I really felt so happy that Riley's mom seemed more than anything to want to understand her child.

I'm 100% fascinated with everything in the LGBTQIA+ community. I don't know how to put it into words without sounding like a dork or causing offense, but I just want to soak up as much knowledge as possible. I grew up in a nondiverse small town in the midwest and even after moving to a big city, I feel like I haven't really been able to meet as many diverse people as I would like. So books, internet, tv, etc. is how I connect with diversity. I want to hear other people's stories!

The Carnivorous Carnival by Lemony Snicket - 4 stars (finished 3/20)
This one isn't one of my favorites in the series. It's okay. I feel like this one dragged on for a great deal of the story and then ends on a very exciting note.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

April TBR List + Upcoming Releases

In March, I was able to read 3 books (my goal is 4). The month started off a little slow because we had family in town and Nick had a long drill weekend, plus soccer has started...I'm still trying to dig my toes in and get settled back into a routine. And catch up on sleep - because Mason got sick for like 2 weeks and slept in bed with us and also woke up before 7 each morning...UGH. Motherhood can really put a damper on reading sometimes haha. I'm ahead by 1 book in my Goodreads goal and I would like to get back on track because up to this point, I was 2-3 books ahead! Here are my April reading goals:
  1. I need to read some of my Owlcrate books. I did read My Lady Jane last month and loved it. That list is now: Of Fire and Stars, Roseblood, Caraval, and Daughter of a Pirate King.
  2. I have other books sitting on my desk now and would like to read those as well: Dead in the Family, This Savage Song, and To All the Boys I've Loved Before.
  3. I would also love to finish at least ONE series this month. I need to start working on finishing some if I'm going to meet my goal of 10 this year.
Goodreads Challenge: 13/52 books
ABC Challenge: 9/26 books
Travel Gnome Challenge: 4/23 books
Series Challenge: 0/10 series
Movie Adaptation Challenge: 0/3 books
Netgalley Challenge: 2/25 books
Throwback Book Club: 10/12 books
Diversity Bingo 2017: 1/36 books
Overused YA Tropes Bingo 2017: 3/25 books

Monday, March 6, 2017

Books I Read in February

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco - 3.5 stars (finished 2/3)
I am not typically a fan of historical fiction and can find it hard to read at times, however, this novel was NOT one of those kinds of books for me. I flew through it and loved the additions of media related to the story. I know with certainty that I am not interested in continuing the series because I feel like even though I did like this book, I didn't love it. It also ended with some resolve where it could easily be a standalone book. I did like the characters and feel they were very well developed, but the plot was a little on the dry side and there was a lot that didn't really contribute to the plot overall. I wasn't really surprised with who was named as Jack the Ripper or the reasoning behind it. I kind of figured that's who it was about midway through. So overall, not a bad read by any means, but definitely not something that blew me away.

The Vile Village by Lemony Snicket - 4 stars (finished 2/3)
I like that in this story, the villainous scheme is a little less obvious and the children are beginning to get more worn down by constantly having to be on their toes. I could not remember what happened in this book, so it was like reading it for the first time. I think I remember what the real V.F.D. stands for, but I'm not 100%. It's been too long.

Heartless by Marissa Meyer - 5 stars (finished 2/13)
I love the idea of a villain origin story and Wonderland is one of those incredibly enchanting worlds where anything can happen. It was such a good choice to pick such a world to do an origin story and there are so many characters that could have been selected, but the Queen of Hearts was definitely a perfect choice. I think this may have been my first origin story read, so it was interesting to "know" what would happen to the character in their future, but not really know how they got there. I have only read Cinder by Marissa Meyer, so I can't really speak on good authority as to if all her books are written so well, but Heartless and Cinder were both magnificent. Meyer is great at world building, character growth, and describing scenes without being boring.

Cath (Queen of Hearts) is a girl after my own heart, no pun intended. Her love of food and eating spoke to me. I adored every part that involved her describing food she had seen or had made or was eating. I loved the bits of Cheshire because I have always loved Cheshire as a character -- it's the crazy cat lady in me, I suppose. I especially loved the bits with Hatter...because as much as it was Cath's story, you got to see some of how Hatter became who most of us are familiar with. I honestly would take a whole story just with the Mad Hatter being the main character. I didn't have strong feelings towards Jest really. I thought he was a good character, but I didn't love him. I didn't hate him either. I did despise Cath's parents, Peter Peter, and the King of Hearts. Those are all characters I would love to give a good shaking.

Overall, I was so glad this book lived up to the hype. It was such a wonderful story. Truly.

The Hostile Hospital by Lemony Snicket - 4 stars (finished 2/28)
This installment of the ASOUE series is much more sinister than the others...even though there have been plenty of horrible things happening. Up until this point, I feel like Count Olaf's troop was toned down and didn't seem as villainous as him. This book really shows how evil they are too. Once again, there is a little more information (literally the smallest of pieces) given to the past that has led to the Baudelaire's unfortunate circumstances.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

March TBR List + Upcoming Releases

So February slowed down for me a lot because we had 2 of 3 kids celebrating birthdays, plus our family just came down and we also celebrated my brother-in-law and sister-in-law's birthdays as well. Because our family has all the February birthdays haha. I didn't really accomplish as much of my overall goals as I wanted, but I'm not too upset because I am still ahead in my yearly Goodreads goal and I'm pretty convinced March will be a great reading month for me. So here are my March goals:
  1. Series of Unfortunate Events: FINISH. I'm typing this up on the last day of Feb and I'm hoping to finish the 8th book today...then I have 9-13. Just five more. I can do this!
  2. I would like to read some of my Owlcrate books. That list is now: Of Fire and Stars, Roseblood, Caraval, and My Lady Jane.
  3. I rarely buy books anymore, but picked up To All the Boys I Loved Before by Jenny Han and This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab at Target because I have heard really great things about both books. So I hope to read one of them in March to justify buying them LOL

Goodreads Challenge: 9/52 books
ABC Challenge: 8/26 books
Travel Gnome Challenge: 3/23 books
Series Challenge: 0/10 series
Movie Adaptation Challenge: 0/3 books
Netgalley Challenge: 2/25 books
Throwback Book Club: 7/12 books
Diversity Bingo 2017: 0/36 books

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Book Review: Fearless Travelers' Guide to Wicked Places by Pete Begler

Publish Date: March 1, 2017
384 pages [Kindle edition]
Capstone Young Readers

Twelve-year-old Nell Perkins knows there is magic at work that she can’t yet understand. Her mother has been taken by witches and turned into a bird. Nell must journey to get her mother back, even if it takes her deep into the Wicked Places — the frightening realm where Nightmares resides. There she must break the spell and stop the witches from turning our world into a living nightmare.

My Thoughts:
I was gifted this book via Netgalley.
The cover of this book is seriously stunning and that's all I have to say about that. I thought the premise sounded very interesting and was really looking forward to reading this because it's classified as a middle grade novel and I am trying to get ahead of the game, so I can recommend books to my veracious little bookworms. This book started off very well and I was impressed with how things were being revealed as the plot progressed. Then it kind of went off the deep end. It was a lot of information and a lot of describing characters and places that I feel did not add to the story, as much as it bogged it down. I got about 40% in before I started speed-reading it. Normally, I would have just set this in my DNF pile...however, as I had said before, the premise was really interesting and it did start off well. I had to know what happened. There were pretty exciting parts that I did slow down to enjoy, but I feel overall that this is too much book. It may have been better off being split into smaller chunks with a little bit better flow. I also really think this would make an excellent mini series.

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Friday, February 17, 2017

Weekly Wrap-Up

I have been bad for not updating. I'm starting to slowly week some things out of my schedule that I'm losing interest in and trying to figure out what I would like to do with my time. I decided to stop filming planner videos (at least for now) because I'm always scrambling to film and scrambling to edit and get very frustrated. I would like to focus more of my time on reading. I've been loving that lately and feel so much more like my old self. My main focus online has been my food blog and I honestly think that will remain. This blog has always been more of a hobby. I may photograph and share hauls of Owlcrate boxes and ipsy glam bags, etc., but the majority of the posts here will be TBR on the 1st, What I Read in {Month} posts, and my weekly wrap-ups.

My baby girl turned 9 on the 11th. I still can't believe it. Very shortly, Mason will turn 2 and Matthew will turn 10. Ugh! They grow up too quickly.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Books I Read in January

The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles - 4 stars (finished 1/5)
Review: here.
I was gifted this book via Netgalley.

The Wide Window by Lemony Snicket - 5 stars (finished 1/12)
I love that even though I am now a 28 year old adult person... I can still enjoy these books as much as I did when I read them in my early teen years. They are just so funny and brilliant...and dark. The best non-happy ending story I've ever read. I think the wittiness is so quick and unexpected at times...or perhaps just the humor itself - not necessarily wit. IDK. Regardless, love this series.

This particular book is not one of my favorites, but I still have to rate it 5 stars because it's still such a good book. The Baudelaire orphans have arrived to live with their Aunt Josephine (who isn't really their aunt), who is a widow and also frightened of literally everything. She also loves grammar. Her love of grammar was probably the most annoying part of the book.

The Miserable Mill by Lemony Snicket - 3.5 stars (finished 1/15)
This is not my most favorite of the series. It seems relatively short compared to the other stories and I think that's only because not much really actually happens. It's a very blah book.

The Austere Academy by Lemony Snicket - 4.5 stars (finished 1/20)
I have always rather liked this book even though it's incredibly depressing..I mean all the books are depressing, but this one is just rather sad because even through all their experiences, the Baudelaires don't seem as down as they do in this book. They even meet another set of orphans and befriend them. So there are good things that DO happen, but the bad stuff is just so bad that it's so hard to not feel so bummed for the Baudelaires. Nero is one of those characters who you just want to slap. Count Olaf, I feel, gets even darker in this book. AND a little more is revealed that starts unraveling the past and I love that.

The Ersatz Elevator by Lemony Snicket - 5 stars (finished 1/22)
It may be because I went into the book "blind", a word here that means I couldn't remember what happened in this book of the series, but I really enjoyed this one. I totally forgot who was assisting Count Olaf and most of the details of what happened in the plot. The guardians in this book, while one did know the Baudelaire's mother, are per usual.

The Fearless Travelers' Guide to Wicked Places by Pete Begler - 2.5 stars (finished 1/26)
My review will be up closer to its release date of Mar 1.
I was gifted this book via Netgalley.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Plan With Me #26

Cami's 9th birthday is on Saturday, so I thought I'd pay tribute to her favorite movie when she was a teeny tiny little thing. Plus with the new live action Beauty & the Beast premiering soon, this spread makes sense LOL. I used a Planner Belle Press kit and all is linked in my description on Youtube!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Weekly Wrap-Up

Another week has come and gone and it is FEBRUARY. Whatttttt?! I have two kiddos with birthdays and a pup with a birthday this month. Plus my brother-in-law and sister-in-law have birthdays too. Mason and Saydee both turn two and Cami turns 9. I can't believe it. This week has been a little hectic. The first part was more relaxed and as it's progressed, my anxiety has reared its ugly head. It's very mild, but is definitely present. It's been stressing me out because I have been pretty good for the last couple of weeks and then it kinda came outta no where.

A few pictures for the post -- my sweet little almost 2 year old. I just love his little face. My other almost 2 year old and her pretty smile. I made white chocolate stuffed snickerdoodles and they were so amazing. I wish they lasted longer than they did LOL. Mason adores his baby cousin, Presley. He's been getting down on the floor with her and talking to her. It's just so sweet.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

January Collective Sticker Haul

I told myself I was going to not buy a million things and then that didn't happen. I think my total purchases for January was 6 or 7. Ouch. I will definitely do better in February, but check out what I did get!!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

February TBR List + Upcoming Releases

I have already done so much more reading than I expected to do in the month of January, so I am so happy with that. I hope to continue the momentum this month! Here are a few books I'm thinking about reading.
  1. Series of Unfortunate Events series...I read 3-6 in January and would like to finish it in February.
  2. I would like to read one of the last few of the Southern Vampire Mystery series. I have 10-13 left.
  3. I have now received four OwlCrate books because I got two of their extra boxes from 2016. All of them were on my TBR and now I'm just dying to read them: Of Fire and Stars, Heartless, My Lady Jane, and Roseblood. I'm fairly certain I know what this month's OwlCrate book will be and I'm so stoked for that too.
  4. I was reorganizing my Kindle folders because I am no longer sorting them by books I want to read in a certain month. Now they are in genres and I'm finding that I want to read all the contemporary books. Symptoms of Being Human is by far the most intriguing read in my contemporary folder.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Plan With Me #25

This spread is giving me life! I love that it's neutral but pink and feminine. So freaking gorgeous. I don't think I explained the bandaid on my finger, but at the time, I was still nursing my nail injury. I've been able to paint over it now, so the bandaid is off -- which makes planning so much easier!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Book Review: The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles

Publish Date: January 31, 2017
368 pages [Kindle edition]
#1 in Untitled Series
Bloombury USA Childrens

It's been a shattering year for seventeen-year-old Zoe, who's still reeling from her father's shockingly sudden death in a caving accident and her neighbors' mysterious disappearance from their own home. Then on a terrifying sub-zero, blizzardy night in Montana, she and her brother are brutally attacked in a cabin in the woods--only to be rescued by a mysterious bounty hunter they call X.

X is no ordinary bounty hunter. He is from a hell called the Lowlands, sent to claim the soul of Zoe's evil attacker and others like him. Forbidden to reveal himself to anyone other than his victims, X casts aside the Lowlands' rules for Zoe. As X and Zoe learn more about their different worlds, they begin to question the past, their fate, and their future. But escaping the Lowlands and the ties that bind X might mean the ultimate sacrifice for both of them.

My Thoughts:
I was gifted this book via Netgalley.
When I saw this book on Netgalley, it caught my eye because of the cover...because I am 100% a shameless cover judger. I read the synopsis and it sounded pretty interesting and I added it to my wishlist - not knowing when or if I would be approved to read it. Then I was. I randomly chose it from my queue because the title made me think it was a contemporary romance. So I was a little surprised when the fantasy/supernatural aspect started.

This story follows 17 year old Zoe who is "watching" her little brother when he disappears from her sight. She eventually finds him in the woods with their two dogs, but he is very cold and she is too, so she decides to go to their neighbors' house because it is closer than theirs. Their neighbors were an elderly couple that went missing in a very suspicious manner, so there is no one home. A hostile man shows up and tries to attack the dogs, Zoe, and her little brother before a mystery younger man shows up. He is a bounty hunter and is going to take the man's soul to the Lowlands (pretty much Hell) until Zoe asks him to spare his life. The nameless younger man, dubbed X by Zoe, has broken many Lowlands' laws by revealing himself and speaking of the Lowlands.

The rest of the novel basically follows the aftermath of X's decision to not bring back his bounty and him falling in love with Zoe. It was a very good read. I really enjoyed all of the story from X's perspective. Zoe was harder to read from because she was making a lot of really poor and selfish decisions - out of grief from losing her father and the various issues in her family that loss has caused for each person. I really really loved Banger and Ripper, X's two nearby cellmates in the Lowlands. They were both very rich characters. I am finding that when I read stories with characters around 8 or 9 that they are being written in a younger voice, in my opinion, and should be closer to 5 or 6. My two oldest kids are currently 8 and 9. Just a little BEC :) 

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