Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books I Really Love But Feel Like I Haven’t Talked About in Awhile

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. I’m going to think about this as a list of books I really want to reread when I can make myself scratch out some time for reread. How do people balance old favorites with awesome new books???


The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J. R. R. Tolkien – I rewatched the first two extended edition movies this weekend. Maybe that will tide me over for a little while.


Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly


For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund


The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski – Third book is coming out this month! I’ll probably get to reread this sooner rather than later!


The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater – I loved the first book, enjoyed the second, and have fallen behind. But I can do a straight read through all four books very soon!


Palace of Spies by Sarah Zettel – Another series where I loved the first
and have fallen sadly behind on.


Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman


Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols


At Home by Bill Bryson


Minders of Make-Believe by Leonard S. Marcus – You want to learn about the history of children’s literature? READ THIS BOOK.

What book haven’t you raved about in awhile? Get me to add it to my reading list 🙂

Review: Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

RebeloftheSandsRebel of the Sands
Alwyn Hamilton
Viking Books for Young Readers
Released March 8, 2016
320 pages

5 stars

She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there’s nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can’t wait to escape from. 

Destined to wind up “wed or dead,” Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she’d gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan’s army, with a fugitive who’s wanted for treason. And she’d never have predicted she’d fall in love with him…or that he’d help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.

Wow, I loved this book! I think part of what did it for me was that I wasn’t really expecting it. Other than reading A Gathering of Shadows, some of my book choices lately have been only ok (Into the Dim, The Chapel Wars, and The Shadow Queen). I knew I had two days before some of my preorders arrived, so I looked to see which was shorter – this book or The Forbidden Orchid. This book won.

Almost as soon as I started though, I was hooked. I’ve read other “Westerns” lately, but this one was different. Yes, there were endless treks across the desert, train robbers, campfires and storytelling, but there is also magic and monsters and show-off gun shooting and lots of action. You are rooting for Amani from the beginning, as soon as she steps into the pistol pit, dressed as a boy, and forced to shoot two bottles with one bullet to  stay in the competition. There she meets a mystery boy, the “Eastern Snake,” and though a relationship develops later on, I never felt this was a case of instal-love. Amani and the boy have their own goals and they are willing to pursue those goals alone if they have to. But lucky for us, their paths align, at least for now.

It may be a happy coincidence that I read this on International Women’s Day. Amani was GREAT. She was really struggling with her home life in Dustwalk. Her mother was gone and her aunt and female cousins weren’t always nice to her. In spite of this, she doesn’t really temper who she is. She’s got a sharp tongue and snide comments and though she knows they get her in trouble, she doesn’t really hold back. She says what she thinks and questions things. She’s suspicious and determined and resourceful and ready to find a better situation for herself. She does not want to be trapped in her small town and wind up “wed or dead” or both, like in her mother’s case.

I don’t really want to ruin this for anyone, so I don’t know how much else to say. Amani grows. She finds people that do have her back and she wants to help them in return. She gains allies and powers and does it in a very Amani-way.

As for the side characters, I can’t wait to see more from this series. A lot of them came in and the end and so we the readers don’t get to know them as well. Jin (the Eastern Snake) is a good counterpart to Amani. He’s ready to fight and get in trouble and put himself in death’s path. But he also appreciates his family and Amani (which she needs). There is one point in the novel that Amani looks in a mirror and her description of herself is very intriguing/strange (go read it for yourself). But Jin also points out things to Amani about herself, things that she doesn’t really know or acknowledge until she is faced with his truths (and it’s not just the thing that sometimes so standard in YA, the oh-you’re-so-beautiful-and-you-don’t-even-know-it garbage).

Then there’s Shazad and Ahmed and Bahi and the twins and Noorsham… I’m going to stop talking and let you all go find and read this book.


Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Characters Everyone Loves but I Just Don’t Get

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. The options for today are: Ten Characters Everyone Loves but I Just Don’t Get OR Ten Characters I LOVE but Others Seem to Dislike. I really, really struggled with this one. So, I’m going to put my own tweak on this. This is a list of characters or books everyone seems to love, but I just haven’t gotten around to yet/seen the appeal. Let’s see how this goes!

  1. Simon and Baz – Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. Before you all slay me, I do want to read this book! Really, I do. But I was more interested in Cath and Levi’s story in Fangirl, so I’ll probably reread that one and then dive into Carry On. I’m sure it’s great and I’ll get there soon.
  2. June and Day – Legend series by Marie Lu. I bought this box set with a good Amazon deal around Christmas 2014, but I haven’t read them yet.
  3. Cassie and everyone – The 5th Wave series by Rick Yancey. I went and saw the movie and it was fun enough, but have never picked up the book. Not really my genre and the cover doesn’t grab me. at. all.
  4. America Singer – The Selection series by Kiera Cass. I read the first book and was pretty indifferent to it. I hate leaving series unfinished though and thought this might be one that got better as the series continued. I am seriously in love with her covers though and have been wondering if I should give her newest book, The Siren, a try.
  5. Eureka – Teardrop series by Lauren Kate. Another series where I read the first book and was <meh> about it.
  6. Morpheus and friends – Splintered series by A. G. Howard. I have the first book and love retellings, especially of classics, but haven’t gotten to this series yet. Really no excuses.
  7. Grace and Sam – Shiver (The Wolves of Mercy Falls series) by Maggie Stiefvater. I LOVE her Raven Boys series, but have never been extremely interested in picking up this earlier series.
  8. Magnus Bane – books by Cassandra Clare. I actually really enjoy Magnus in all the Clare books I’ve read. But I certainly haven’t *prioritized* him. I’ve had The Bane Chronicles sitting around since release day and have just never picked it up. (Nor did I read the ebooks as they were released – not even one.) Seriously, with this one, I don’t know what’s wrong with me.

That’s all I can come up with right now. Well, one more thing. I’m sure this will be a very unpopular opinion, so stop reading here if you don’t want to know….



I recently read Shadow and Bone and the other two books in the Grisha series, and…




















And with that terrible confession out of the way…what do you think? Is there a series I’ve mentioned here that I should move up in my reading list right away? Or something I should give another chance to? Let me know! Though I’m currently really enjoying Rebel of the Sands, and my copies of Lady Midnight and A Tyranny of Petticoats arrive tomorrow!


Fifteen March Titles I’m Excited For

Here’s just a few of the new releases I’m excited to check out this month! Of course, there are lots of books coming out in paperback this month as well that I missed the first time around.

I haven’t read any of these below yet. I’ve been reading A Gathering of Shadows by Victoria Schwab right now (and did a reread of A Darker Shade of Magic right before it) and savoring it. I’m anticipated a book hangover, but I think Into the Dim is going to be one of the first I pick up from this bunch. And I’m so, so, so excited for The Winner’s Kiss – this is SUCH a great series. I’ll probably try to reread Crime and Curse if I squeeze them in!

Burning Glass by Kathryn Purdie – coming March 1
A Daring Sacrifice by Jodi Hedlund – coming March 1
Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor – coming March 1
Seven Black Diamonds by Melissa Marr – coming March 1
A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro – coming March 1
The Forbidden Orchid by Sharon Biggs Waller – coming March 8
The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins – coming March 8
Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare- coming March 8
Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton – coming March 8
A Steep & Thorny Way by Cat Winters – coming March 8
Tyranny of Petticoats edited by Jessica Spotswood – coming March 8
The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle by Janet Fox – coming March 15
The Skylighter by Becky Wallace – coming March 22
Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke – coming March 22
The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski – coming March 29

AND we’re getting three more Harry Potter coloring books this month!!!

Harry Potter Poster Coloring Book – coming March 29
Harry Potter Magical Places & Characters Coloring Book
– coming March 29
Harry Potter Postcard Coloring Book – coming March 29

What else are you excited for? What should be on my radar?


Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Historical Settings

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. This week we’re talking about historical settings, so I’m going to list five historical settings I love and five that I’d like to see more of! And I decided to surf Pinterest to find some pretty pictures 🙂 Clicking on the picture should take you to the pin.

Top Five Historical Settings I Love

  1. WWII anything – this is my FAVORITE!


  2. Victorian England or New York or well, maybe other places too

    Victorian Pin

  3. Medieval times/the age of Robin Hood


  4. The Downton Abbey era – turn of the century, WWI, etc.


  5. French Revolution – mostly because of Jennifer Donnelly’s Revolution.


Top Five Historical Settings I’d Love to See More Of

  1. Western Expansion – I grew up loving all things Little House on the Prairie. There’s been some good westerns lately, so I’m interested in seeing what else comes out!

    The sky and clouds being lit up by the morning sunrise

  2. I can’t remember the last time I read something set in the 1960s, but now that I’m thinking about it – I kind of want to!


  3. Era of Egyptian pharoahs – I’ve had Cleopatra on my shelf forever and need to pick it up. But I’ll always welcome more YA stories in this vein! Mara: Daughter of the Nile was one of the first books I remember checking out of the middle school library.


  4. The 1910/20s on the wrong side of the tracks – I just started watching Peaky Blinders, so that’s probably where this is coming from.


  5. I’ll always take more WWII stories!


Whew. This topic was actually really hard for me – I totally kept putting off writing this post, because I just didn’t know what to pick. It’s odd because I feel like I’m someone who loves reading historical fiction. But then I look at this list, and I feel like everything is kind of homogenous. So help a girl out. What historical fiction books are on your MUST list? What should I find and read immediately? I need to branch out!


Review: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

SalttotheSeaSalt to the Sea
Ruta Sepetys
Philomel Books
Releasing on February 2, 2016
400 pages

Rating: 5 stars

The author of Between Shades of Gray returns to WWII in this epic novel that shines a light on one of the war’s most devastating—yet unknown—tragedies.

In 1945, World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia, and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, almost all of them with something to hide. Among them are  Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in each other tested with each step closer toward safety.

Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Not country, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people aboard must fight for the same thing: survival.

Thank you to Philomel for the ARC and to Edelweiss for the eARC. All opinions are my own.


Sad Leo is me on the treadmill finishing this book earlier today. Yes, not the best book to read at the gym, but I just had to finish. Even though I knew the book description just screams TRAGEDY!!!!

But I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m a sucker for WWII stories. It’s like how Samantha was my first American Girl doll because she and all her stuff was so pretty, but Molly’s story was the most intriguing to me. And this story (the first Sepetys book I’ve read, which I will need to remedy soon) brought in some new dimensions that I haven’t read about before. I did not really know anything about the Operation Hannibal, the sea evacuation that moved soldiers and civilians out of East Prussia to escape the oncoming Russians. As a kid, I fell in love with Wish Me Luck by James Heneghan, about the ship City of Benares. That book is out of print now, but if you were ever lucky enough to read a copy, you’ll see the connection. 

The characters are what make this story. The four main characters are all different nationalities. Joana – Lithuanian. Florian – Prussian. Emilia – Polish. Alfred – German. They are all young, and they all have secrets. Sepetys did an amazing job of bringing the characters together and weaving their stories into each other. Instead of chapters, the book is written in short (sometimes very short) sections that rotate through the POVs. I fell in love with the characters – ok, not *all* of them, but most. Emilia, especially, was very observant, but also very dreamy. You got the impression that her culture and heritage made a huge impression on her childhood, but unfortunately, you only learn about that in small glimpses. She is a character I would have loved to spend more time with. I loved the language in her sections:

Who was this German boy, old enough to be in the Wehrmacht, yet dressed in civilian
clothes? For me he was a conqueror, a sleeping knight, like in the stories Mama
used to tell. Polish legend told of a king and his brave knights who lay asleep
within mountain caverns. If Poland was in distress, the knights would
awaken and come to the rescue.

(Raven Boys vibes, anyone?) Emilia observes and internalizes. Florian plots and plans. Joana follows her heart. Alfred fantasizes. And the side characters – the wandering boy, the Shoe Poet, Ingrid! They wormed their way into my heart.

I love that there are so many different characters to give you a breadth of experience for what was happening at the time. It gives you an idea of what different nationalities and classes were facing. At the same time, I feel like there’s still a lot I would still like to know about each of these people. Like we just didn’t have enough time together (btw, this is a stand-alone book). But then, maybe that’s the point. It is a wartime book. Time is precious and people are fleeting. You just have to take what you can get. Sometimes you get a life story. Sometimes you share a brief, humanizing moment. Sometimes you just run out of time. This book takes those moments and just breaks your heart over and over again.


Really though – give this book a chance. Let yourself fall in love with these characters. I promise you’ll get through it ok. If you need someone to cry with, you know where to find me.

If you liked the idea behind the movie The Monuments Men (if not the execution), read this. If you read the MG book Under the Egg, and enjoyed it, then read Salt to the Sea. Or if you like Salt to the Sea, go back and read Under the Egg. Both involve stolen Nazi treasure – always a juicy topic.



Fifteen February Titles I’m Excited For

I have super obsessive Amazon wish lists. One of my favorite lists (yes, I have several lists) is my “Coming Soon” list. I put all sorts of stuff that crosses my radar in this one and then every Tuesday I can go see which items I can move from my “Coming Soon” list to my regular wish list. Sometimes it’s the small things in life, right?

So, here’s what I’m looking forward to in February:

Assassin’s Heart by Sarah Ahiers – Releasing February 2
Burning Midnight by Will McIntosh – Releasing February 2
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys – Releasing February 2
Stars Above by Marissa Meyer – Releasing February 2
Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell – Releasing February 2
Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman – Releasing February 9 (I’ll be reviewing this one soon!)
Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard – Releasing February 9
Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay – Releasing February 9 (This book is so much fun! If you haven’t read it – here’s your chance to get it in paperback!)
Ravenous by MarcyKate Connolly – Releasing February 9 (Check out my review here.)
Reign of Shadows by Sophie Jordan – Releasing February 9
Riders by Veronica Rossi – Releasing February 16
The Shadow Queen by C. J. Redwine – Releasing February 16
Beastkeeper by Cat Hellison – Releasing February 23
The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury – Releasing February 23
A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab – Releasing February 23


In addition, here are some other books coming out this month. My boyfriend says I like to crowdsource my decision, so here I go. Have you read part of these series (most of these are second or third books)? If so, which ones should I definitely move up in my list?

Banished by Kimberley Griffiths Little – Releasing February 2
Dearest by Alethea Kontis – Releasing February 2 in paperback
Jane and the Waterloo Map by Stephanie Barron – Releasing February 2
The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson – Releasing February 2 in paperback
The Silver Witch by Paula Brackston – Releasing February 2 in paperback
Fridays with the Wizards by Jessica Day George – Releasing February 9
Thursdays with the Crown by Jessica Day George – Releasing February 9 in paperback
Let the Storm Break by Shannon Messenger – Releasing February 9 in paperback
Morning Star by Pierce Brown – Releasing February 9
The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O’Brien – Releasing February 16 in paperback
Deliverance by C. J. Redwine – Releasing February 23 in paperback
Half Wild by Sally Green – Releasing February 23 in paperback
Kingdom of Ashes by Rhiannon Thomas – Releasing February 23

Hmm…what do you think? What’s your most anticipated book for February?

Review: Ravenous by MarcyKate Connolly

MarcyKate Connolly
Releasing February 9, 2016
416 pages

Rating: 4 stars

A witch has come to the city of Bryre. She travels in a hut that has chicken feet, and is ravenous for children. And once she gets what she desires, she never lets it go.

But when the witch captures Hans, Greta’s little brother, Greta refuses to let her have him. The two strike up a bargain. Greta will retrieve something the witch desires in exchange for her brother’s freedom.

To get the prize Greta must travel to Belladoma—a city where she was once held captive—which brings back terrible memories. With the help of a new friend, Dalen, a magical half-boy and half-horse, Greta embarks on the journey and tries to overcome both foes and her own weaknesses.

For fans of Monstrous and new readers alike comes the story of an epic quest and a heroine who will stop at nothing to save the one she loves most.

Thank you to HarperCollins and Edelweiss for the advanced eARC of this book! All opinions are my own.

Five Reasons Why You Should Read Ravenous!

  1. Scottie Young did the cover illustration and his work is AMAZING! He also did the amazing Fortunately, the Milk with Neil Gaiman and these awesome Oz graphics novels. So you know this book is going to look great on your shelf!
  2. Connolly’s book Monstrous, which is set in the same world before the events of Ravenous, is only $1.99 as an ebook right now!! Technically these books are companions and you can read Ravenous without reading Monstrous first, but I totally recommend checking out Monstrous if you can! You can find out a little bit about Greta before her adventures with the witch in the chicken cottage and quite a few characters will pop up in both stories.
  3. There is a creature called a “raccowl” and it just sounds adorable – can’t wait to see some fan art of this!
  4. Connelly takes familiar elements of famous stories and casts them in a whole new light, bring different parts together – kind of like creating a raccowl. Monstrous had some Frankenstein elements, and Ravenous is a retold Hansel and Gretl. Greta makes for a strong heroine, who is willing to do what it takes to save her brother from the witch who wants to fatten him up and eat him. (Bonus allusion: Russian folklore and Baba Yaga’s cottage that moves around on chicken legs!)
  5. You should read this book because it’s good! It’s a fast read and fast-paced. Greta is sent on a quest in order to save her brother and along the way she makes new friends and must renegotiate relationships with old friends. She must decipher a secret treasure map and face terrifying adversaries. She learns that MAGIC doesn’t always equal MONSTROUS. So, seriously, check this one out!


Have you read Ravenous or Monstrous? If so, what did you think? And who (or what) was your favorite character?


Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten UK Editions on My Wishlist

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic was a freebie. I don’t know about you, but I have no problem with owning multiple copies of books, as long as they’re pretty. Many times I’ll buy another copy if it gets reissued and I love looking at (and hoping for) foreign editions, usually from the UK. I’ve been able to pick up several from a trip to Canada,, and, most recently, The Book Depository. Here’s the ones I haven’t been able to get yet!

  1. Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas – I have all but this one and The Assassin’s Blade. Gotta get ’em all!Pokemon
  2. My True Love Gave to Me edited by Stephanie Perkins
  3. The Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld
  4. Graceling and the companion books by Kristin Cashore
  5. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
  6. Again! Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor – How could I choose???HeadShake
  7. The Falconer by Elizabeth May
  8. A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab
  9. Harry Potter collection with covers by Jonny Duddle – I already have two other UK HP sets, but I need more!LittleMermaid
  10. Harry Potter collection with covers by Andrew Davidson


Are you a book hoarder like me? What foreign edition(s) do you have your heart set on?

Review: Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan

Sword and VerseSword and Verse
Kathy MacMillan
Published January 19, 2016
384 pages

Raisa was just a child when she was sold to work as a slave in the kingdom of Qilara. Despite her young age, her father was teaching her to read and write, grooming her to take his place as a Learned One. In Qilara, the Arnathim, like Raisa, are the lowest class, and literacy is a capital offense. What’s more, only the king, prince, tutor, and tutor-in-training are allowed to learn the very highest order language, the language of the gods. So when the tutor-in-training is executed for teaching slaves this sacred language, and Raisa is selected to replace her, Raisa knows any slipup on her part could mean death.
Keeping her secret is hard enough, but the romance that’s been growing between her and Prince Mati isn’t helping matters. Then Raisa is approached by the Resistance—an underground army of slave rebels—to help liberate Arnath slaves. She wants to free her people, but that would mean aiding a war against Mati. As Raisa struggles with what to do, she discovers a secret that the Qilarites have been hiding for centuries—one that, if uncovered, could bring the kingdom to its knees.

Thanks to HarperTeen and Edelweiss for the eArc of Sword and Verse! All opinions are my own. I love fantasy and I knew this one would have a literary element, so I thought I would check it out.

This book has been getting really mixed reviews, and I think my reading of it fell right in the middle.

Things I Liked:

  • The language element: Reading and writing is only done by the Qilarites – there is a general language and then a higher, more private one for the royalty (specifically the king and prince) and the gods. They also select and train one tutor per generation in both the languages (alphabets) to educate the future prince. These tutors are selected from the Arnath slave class and is just another way to keep them down. While I’ve seen this idea of language separating classes in other books, I appreciated that Raisa had to work and study and practice for her knowledge – it wasn’t just magically bestowed upon her.
  • The mythology: Each chapter starts with a snippet of a Greek god-like family of deities and their many, many problems. It’s similar to Zeus and co. to be a tad familiar, but to have its own quirks (and ties into the rest of the book, which leads me to…)
  • The fantasy: I’ve seen some people saying this book isn’t fantasy at all. Well, not in terms of there being magic or anything crazy like that. It’s positioned more like historical fiction set in a Mediterranean-like country. But those gods do come into play.

Things I Didn’t Love:

  • The whole slave/slave owner romance: This can work if it’s well done (like in The Winner’s Curse series), but by the time this book address the issues that can arise in that kind of relationship, it seemed too little, too late (at least it was touched on though!!). The book is very romance-heavy as well, so if that’s not your thing, watch out. Raisa and Prince Mati get together very early on. Then the true problems start.
  • Slow pacing: At a few points, I just felt like I was slogging through just to get through. I think part of it was the idea of literacy as power (I don’t think that’s a spoiler – it’s implied in the title of the book, right?). And while reading and writing *are* powerful, it also sometimes doesn’t make for a riveting read.
  • Characters: There was someone I thought was going to flip sides. They didn’t and I don’t know if I’m happy or disappointed – it might have been more interesting if they had. And then Raisa. I thought she was a little naive and didn’t always act. For example, she was worried about one of the girls she worked with before becoming Tutor, but other than occasionally leaving food for her, hardly ever asked after her or tried to do much of anything to help the situation. Obviously, you can’t always have a STRONG SHE-WOMAN, but Raisa definitely reacted more than acted.

All in all, I think this book fell in the 3-3.5 star category for me. I’d be interested in seeing where the series goes and reading other things from this author. But not a hardcover buy for me, maybe a paperback. And really, that’s how I determine how much I like something – what format I want to own it in (if I even want to own it).

This seems like a pretty divisive book – hopefully you see something that helps you decide whether this book is for you or not. Or have you already read it? What did you think? Let me know below!