Summer 2019 Reading Recap

Since I haven’t been keeping up with my monthly reads I thought I would recap what I have read over the summer.  It is hard to believe that summer is nearly over.  Though as someone who lives in the south the cooler weather of Fall probably won’t make its way here until mid October.

From May to July, I have read 15 books.  This might be my most productive summer, in terms of reading, that I have ever had.  Usually Fall and Winter dominate when it comes to the amount of books I manage to get through the most during the year, but for whatever reason the past few months I’ve found more time to pick up a book or two.  Also managing to squeeze in a few audibooks does help to up my reading count.

So here it is! What I’ve read lately:

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I managed to read more nonfiction than I have in the past.  In fact, 2019 might be the year of nonfiction for me, especially since I read 4 of them in the past 3 months alone.  As for my favorite, I would have to go with Storm Glass by Jeff Wheeler.  It is the first in a series, and I’ve had to pace myself so I don’t go through it too quickly.

I think I managed to do quite well in reading a large variety of books.  Though I think being able to read this many in a such a short amount of time for me probably won’t be how I finish out the year.

Happy Reading,

Meghan

Save the Date Book Review

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Title: Save the Date

Author: Morgan Matson

Publish Date: June 5th, 2018

Reading Format: Hardback

Summary:

Charlie is the youngest of 5 kids. Her mom is a famous comic strip writer and illustrator who is currently about to end her famous comic based off of the family’s life. And her older sister Linnie is getting married at the family home they all grew up in before their parents sell it. Let’s just say the few days leading up the the wedding isn’t as smooth sailing as the Grant family would like it to be, and Charlie is there in the middle of all of it.

Review:

Before I get into my review completely let me start off by saying something a little about myself that will be beneficial to understand my feelings about Save the Date. I am an only child. The only siblings I have are two stepsisters but I by no means do I understand what living in a large family is like. With all that now out of the way, let’s get into it.

Charlie Grant is about to graduate from high school and head to college in the fall. But before her school year wraps up, Linnie, the oldest daughter of the Grant children, is about to get married. She has decided to marry her long time boyfriend in the backyard of the house she grew up in before their parents sell it. This means that all the other siblings, including an estranged brother, and many relatives and friends are all headed to the Grant household for the weekend. As you can imagine all sorts of problems spring up along the way.

One of the biggest hang ups that Charlie has through out the book is that she doesn’t know how to move forward in life. She is stuck in the past and the only thing she is focused on all weekend is that the family will all be together again under one roof. To her it is about recreating how everything use to be and trying to prevent some of the biggest changes coming her way. Such as, her parents choosing to sell the home she has only ever known and her mother ending the comic strip about the families life. She is also internally torn about college. Charlie has technically chosen to stay at home and attend the local college her dad teaches at, even though she has been accepted to may other schools around the country including Northwestern University in Chicago.

While the story line about the wedding is how the book is marketed, the larger story line, or rather the real story line, is about the Grants. Charlie is a little immature for my taste, but she did grow on me by the end of the book. I loved Bill (aka Billiam, not his real name just something one of the characters call him) he seems like the nerdy male lead that has been missing in some of the books I’ve been reading lately. The book very much reminds me of Father of the Bride. So if you like that movie then Save the Date would be a book I would suggest you check out. It would also make a great book to add to your summer reading list.

Rating:

3 out of 5

Happy Reading,

Meghan

TBR Thursday: Side Effects May Vary

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Julie Murphy got my attention with Dumplin’. Like I’m sure she did with many others. So I’m curious now to read her other books.

Side Effects May Vary is the first book of her’s ever published. Sounds like a great place to start if you ask me. I’m hoping it will be just as enjoyable as Dumplin’ was but also be able to stand on its own.

This book is about a 16 year old named Allison, who has been diagnosed with leukemia and gets her best friend, Harvey, to assist her in a strange bucket list righting wrongs. And here’s the part on the back of the book that got me to add it to my TBR in the first place: “But just when Alice’s scores are settled, she goes into remission, and now she must face the consequences of all she’s said and done.”

Nothing I love more in a book then when a character has to face her consequences head on. I imagine this will be both hilarious and sad at the same time, but I’m all ready for it!

Happy Reading,

Meghan

Lady Midnight Book Review

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“You belong where you’re loved.” 
― Cassandra Clare, Lady Midnight

Title: Lady Midnight

Author: Cassandra Clare

Series: The Dark Artifices

Publish Date: March 8th, 2016

Reading Format: Audiobook

Summary:

It’s been five years since the events of City of Heavenly Fire that brought the Shadowhunters to the brink of oblivion. Emma Carstairs is no longer a child in mourning, but a young woman bent on discovering what killed her parents and avenging her losses.

Review:

At this point I’m all in when it comes to the world of the Shadowhunters and everything Cassandra Clare wants to give us. I’ll probably read every book she publishes, but I’m not so sure that The Dark Artifices series is my favorite. It might actually be my least favorite of the three series so far, however, it was still a 4 star read for me. This is obviously because Cassandra’s writing is quite good. She makes a world unlike any other and her characters will make you fall madly in love with them (aka Jim Carstairs). With all of that said Emma and Julian are a too tragic for me personally. Both are orphaned and carry a heavy weight of losing their parents in such violent ways. Julian is forced to live with the guilt of how his parents died (I won’t spoil how if you haven’t read The Immortal Instrument series yet) and become the unofficial father to his four younger siblings.

Lady Midnight is a heavy book. I’ve already read the second book in the series so I know it only gets heavier down the road. Though I would expect no less from the author. Tragedy is her forte.

At the moment I have not completed the series. I think I’m going to need to take a little time before I jump into Queen of Darkness.

Rating:

4 out of 5

Do you read Cassandra Clare’s books? Which was your favorite series?

Happy Reading,

Meghan

June Wrap Up 2018

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I didn’t read as much as I thought I would last month.  I took a week long vacation around my birthday on the 15th, but only managed to read halfway through one book.  I suppose I ended up being busier than I thought I would be at the beach because I was under the impression that I could at least finish three books plus whatever else I might buy while I was there.  However, I did read two books and i started two others.  I’m currently debating adding what I’m reading at the moment into my monthly wrap ups but I’ve decided to include it in this one; so if you like seeing what I’m reading lately please let me know!

And now here are the books I read in June of 2018:

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Sleeping Giants By Sylvain Neuvel was a surprisingly good book.  And I don’t say that because I expected it to be bad, but rather that I almost never read Science Fiction novels.  This is the first in a trilogy series and I can’t wait to get my hands on the second book.  Expect a book review coming soon!

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If you didn’t read my last blog post then you may be wondering why I read a Sweet Valley High novel.  Well for starters I feel like there are classic book series that I missed out on growing up because I wasn’t invested in reading as much as I am today so I’ve been trying to experience them now; and also I had an idea to do a series here on my blog chronicling myself going through the entire series.  From what I have researched there are, I believe, about 140 books in the Sweet Valley High series so it would be almost a three year project if I read one book a week.  I was hoping to have others join me but I didn’t get a large response on my survey, though I did still create a goodreads group if you’d still like to join me.  I’ve only read the first book so far and it isn’t too late to join!


Onto the new section!

I don’t know how many people are like this when it comes to reading, but I typically read at least two or three books at a time.  Usually the books I read at the same time have to be different in genre and/or story line because I’ll tend to get characters mixed up otherwise, and at the moment I’m reading one Young Adult novel and a Urban Fantasy novel:

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Both books I’ve owned for a while now and I’m liking each one so far.  I will admit that I thought I would be done with I’ll Meet You There by now but It is a little darker than I was expecting it to be which is causing me to read it slower than normal.  Other than that I hope to have them both read by the end of this month.

I’d really love to hear what all you have read recently or are reading currently.  Please let me know in the comments!

Happy Reading,

Meghan

Caraval: Book Review

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“Whatever you’ve heard about Caraval, it doesn’t compare to the reality. It’s more than just a game or performance. It’s the closest you’ll ever find yourself magic in this world.”
― Stephanie GarberCaraval

Title:  Caraval

Series: Caraval Series

Author:  Stephanie Garber

Publish Date:  January 31, 2017

Genre: YA/Fantasy

Reading Format:  E-book

Publisher’s Summary:

Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.

Review:

I was almost certain that I might not come across a book this year that I would truly enjoy, but Caraval may have saved the day!

Caraval has been on my want-to-read list ever since it came out last year and I’ve almost bought it a dozen times while in Books-a-Million, but for some reason would decide to go with something else.  However, Amazon came through (or I suppose the publishers of the book did) when it was a Kindle daily deal sometime back in January or February.  I immediately bought it and couldn’t wait to start reading because I knew by reading the description of the story that Caraval was just going to be a book I would love.

And I was right. This was exactly the type of story I like.  It’s fantasy with romance and a magical world to get lost in, which are all prefect elements to books I love to read.  I will admit though that the beginning was a little slow for me, however that isn’t very uncommon in fantasy novels because world building is apart of the genre and that usually takes up some of the plot.  It was easy to get over though because once the main characters were in Caraval the story really began to take off and I couldn’t put it down. T

There is so much mystery surrounding the game of Caraval and it’s creator, Legend, that as the reader you seem to get lost in this magical place as much as Scarlett does.  And I think this makes her as the narrator of the story  a great idea because you see Caraval through all of Scarlett’s first time experiences with the game.

Also the imagery that came to my mind while reading the book showed to myself at least how much I liked Stephanie Garber’s writing.  She brings Caraval’s world to life well by her descriptions of the places and people Scarlett meets while in the game. I didn’t feel overwhelmed at anytime by the magic in the story or the world building either, but I could tell while reading the book that there was so much more to explore in this world in future books.

Which I’m super excited for the next book in the series that I already pre-ordered.  When I finished the book and knew I had to pre-order the next one, that was the best way for me to tell I really liked Caraval.  Plus I don’t have to wait that long, as it comes out the end of this month. Yay!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Happy Reading,

Meghan

Anna and the French Kiss: Book Review

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“Boys turns girls into such idiots.”

-Stephanie Perkins, Anna and the French Kiss

Title: Anna and the French Kiss

Series: Anna and the French Kiss Series

Author: Stephanie Perkins

Genre: YA Romance

Publish Date: December 2nd, 2010

Reading Format:  Paperback

Review:

I’ve seen this book floating around on Booktube for a while now and I finally broke down and bought it.  Anna and the French Kiss is about an American girl who is sent to France by her estranged father to spend her senior year at a boarding school in Paris.  There Anna meets Étienne St. Clair, a boy she becomes best friends with and wants to potentially be something more, except one problem he already has a girlfriend. (Of course)

The book is a fast read.  I read it in one weekend and for me that’s an accomplishment because I am a slooow reader.  It’s a YA contemporary romance that comes with all the drama and angst one would both expect and hope for.  This story was cute and frustrating all at the same time and I was entertained from start to finish.  Typically I don’t often read within this genre because I can find teenage lead female characters to be too whinny.  Anna did not come across that way to myself but others may disagree.  Étienne would have been totally crush worthy to my teenage self had I meet him when I was 17 and he makes a great love interest in the book.

Anna and the French Kiss is the first in a series of three novels.  I was hoping to have already read the second book by now, but I accidentally picked up the third book and haven’t gotten around to buying the second yet.   I’ll get around to it I’m sure but I’ve got so many other books I’ve either started to read or am hoping to get too eventually soon, and this series may have to be saved for next year or next summer.  There is something about YA contemporaries that I feel they should be read during the summer, perhaps it’s because they make great vacation reads.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars

Happy Reading,

Meghan

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants: Book Review

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Title: The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

Series: Sisterhood Series

Author: Ann Brashares

Genre: YA Contemporary Fiction

Publishing Date: September 24th, 2002

Reading Format: Paperback

Review:

I’d like to call the year of 2017 as the year of the reread. At least on a personal level, I can’t really speak for everyone else. But for myself I have reread several books this year, such as the Doon series and The Falconer series. And to give myself deep nostalgia I decided to buy all of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants books and keep the train rolling on my need to read what I have read before.

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants was my favorite book between ages 16 and 20, and I wondered before starting it again if the book would hold up to what my late teen self thought of it. To put it briefly I don’t feel like it did. I’m 28 now and that changes the perspective I have on a lot of things as well as my attitude toward certain ideals I may have had on life at 16 versus how it feels now that I’ve become an adult.

If you have never read Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants then let me explain what it is about. The book follows four friends: Lena, Tibby, Bridget, and Carmen. All four girls have grown up together and are the best of friends, and for the first time in their lives are about to spend the summer away from each other. Lena is going to visit her grandparents in Greece; Bridget is going to a summer long soccer camp in Southern California; Carmen is visiting her Dad in South Carolina; and Tibby is stuck in their hometown working at Walman’s. Before each one embarks on their new adventures Carmen comes across a pair of jeans in a thrift store that miraculously fits all four girls. This brings about the idea that the pants are to be shared by each of them and the journeys they all take over the summer.

When I first read this book in 2005 I deeply related to Carmen and Lena. Bridget seemed a bit too spontaneous and Tibby was too cynical to match my personality, so Carmen and Lena took center stage when it came to my favorite characters in the book. While I still can relate my 16 year old self to Carmen, I’ve come to look at all four main characters differently. For instance, Bridget is spontaneous because she is brave and doesn’t fear the consequences or rejections that may happen with her actions. I myself am a more timid person. I shy away from actions that may cause me notice or could potentially hurt my feelings. While Bridget’s actions in the book do have consequences that leave a lasting impact, her bravado was more intriguing to me while reading this book again. I was also more disappointed with the romance in the book. For whatever reason I remembered Lena and Kostos having a better romantic story line than what I read a couple of months back; and that had initially been one of my favorite things about the first book, but the romance between them is pretty much nonexistent throughout the story. Perhaps my memory isn’t how it use to be, or I read better romances in other novels over time.

While my love for the books hasn’t changed completely, I don’t hold it in as high regard as I once did. I still think that at 16 this is justifiable to being my favorite, but I’m a more active reader then I previously was and somethings just don’t stand the test of time.

Rate: 16 year old me would give it 5 stars, 28 year old me gives it a 3.75 stars

Happy Reading,

Meghan

The Shadow Queen: Book Review

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“Her skin was as white as snow, her lips as red as blood, and her long hair as black as ebony.” — C.J. Redwine, The Shadow Queen

Title: The Shadow Queen

Series: Ravenspire

Author: C.J. Redwine

Genre: Fairy Tale Retelling

Published: February 16th, 2016

Reading Format: Audio book

Summary:

A retelling of Snow White were Snow White is a fugitive with magic named Lorelai. Her seven dwarfs come in the form of her brother, a former royal guard, and a Gyrfalcon named Sasha. And her huntsman/prince is a dragon king that both loves her and wants to kill her. Plus Lorelai is the only one who can stop the evil queen from destroying the kingdom of Ravenspire that rightfully belongs to Lorelai.

Review:

By my summary of the book you may be able to tell that The Shadow Queen isn’t exactly like the fairy tale of Snow White.  Mostly the book takes parts of Snow White but the author, C.J. Redwine, made the story her own with Lorelai. I also listened to this book through Audible and the narrator is what really sold my liking for The Shadow Queen. I truly felt like I was being told an old fairy tale by a great storyteller.

My favorite twist in this retelling is Kol. Kol’s character is both prince charming and the huntsman; he is also the new king of a neighboring land where the people there are both human and dragon.  Kol comes to Ravenspire to get help from the evil queen, Irina, where he makes a deal with her that if he brings Irina Lorelai’s heart, that the queen will then save his kingdom from the Ogres. Of course the predictably of the quest in this part of the story is that Kol does not bring Irina back the heart of Lorelai and thus Irina forces Kol into a pact to kill Lorelai that he cannot remove himself from.  The perfect twist to that plot line is that because Kol is human who can turn into a dragon, he possess both hearts of man and dragon.  Once Irina removes Kol’s human heart we as the reader get to see the internal struggle he has to control his dragon heart.

I thought The Shadow Queen was a great retelling for Snow White.  I usually stay away from retellings, as I can often find them predictable and lack surprise elements in the story line but I was not disappointed with C.J. Redwine’s version.  I just recently got the second book in the series The Wish Granter, a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin, and I’ve been holding off on it to read other books but I’d like to get to it sooner rather than later.

Star Rating: 4.75/5 stars

Happy Reading,

Meghan

The Vanishing Throne: Book Review

*There may be some spoiler’s about the first book in this series, The Falconer.

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“I’m not a creature of vengeance any more. I’m not just the girl whose gift is chaos. I’m the girl who endured.”–Elizabeth May, The Vanishing Throne

Title: The Vanishing Throne (Book 2)

Series: The Falconer Trilogy

Author: Elizabeth May

Date Published: June 21st, 2016

Genre: Fantasy/YA

Book Format: E-book

Summary:

After failing to close the fae portal, Aileana Kameron is now prisoner to the evil fae Lonnrach. She is imprisoned and her memories are stolen by Lonnrach as he tries to find away to save his fairy world. As Aileana begins to weaken she is rescued and returned to her world were she discovers it lays in an apocalyptic state and years have gone in the human world while she was held captive for several weeks in the fae world. Now Aileana must access her falconer powers in order save her world and the fae world.

My Review:

I don’t know what it is about series, but usually the second book will turn out to be my favorite. At least that’s been true for a few including this one. The Vanishing Throne took me two days to read because I couldn’t put this book down.

Book two takes place immediately after book one, The Falconer, and the main character Aileana is captured by the evil fae leader Lonnrach in the fairy world.  The book doesn’t linger with this part of the story for too long, but long enough that as the reader you can see the affects it takes on Aileana while she’s there and how it affects her through the story line.  Then the book is pretty quick paced after the first few chapters.

The sense of humor that is in the first book is still there in The Vanishing Throne and all the characters are back with a few new characters.  However this book is much darker than the first book as Aileana deals with the PTSD associated with her being captured and tortured in the beginning of the book. I felt that this was handled well by the author and it wasn’t magically fixed or suddenly disappeared along the way, but an obstacle she must tackle continuously.

The Vanishing Throne also has more romance in it and I liked a lot since I ship the main character and her fae mentor, so reading their love story unfold a little more was something I was hoping for in the second book. There was also just as much action in this one as there was in The Falconer but with a more clear cut enemy in the second book I was cheering for Aileana and her friends a little more than in the previous book.

I love this series and it topped my list of favorite books last year.  If you love YA fantasy then please read this series. The last book in the series comes out in the summer of this year and it  may very well be my most anticipated read of 2017.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Happy Reading,

Meghan