Tuesday, May 31, 2016

May Wrap-Up

May was a great reading month for me! I'm excited that I'm coming out of my slump! I'm looking forward to 4 lovely months of reading outside in my gazebo after work.

2016 Popsugar Reading Challenge progress: 21 out of 40 - over halfway home!
Total books read so far this year: 23
Books completed in May: 5 (yay!)

Completed 5/10/16:

Just Kids by Patti Smith

Fulfills 2016 Popsugar Reading Challenge #2: A National Book Award Winner
Rating: 3.75 out of 5

I've had this book on my TBR for years, and I wanted to like this memoir more than I actually did. At times, her language is absolutely beautiful, but there were parts that felt disjointed because she didn't provide transitions. It was also a bit frustrating that she seems to assume her readers will just know a lot of the people she discusses. While obviously Janis Joplin, Andy Warhol, and Jimi Hendrix are household names, most of the people she lists are significantly outside the mainstream, so the overwhelming name dropping just fell flat for me. Every couple pages or so, she just feels the need to throw out a handful of names of people who may have frequented a particular club, etc. I'm glad I read it, but I'm glad I only checked it out of the library as opposed to buying it.

Completed 5/19/16:

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Fulfills 2016 Popsugar Reading Challenge #3: A YA bestseller
Rating: 4 out of 5

I had high expectations for this book since I've heard a ton of good things about it. I loved her writing style, especially in the beginning of the book, since it felt so authentic and and was funny. However, the second half of the book fell apart a bit for me. I was increasingly frustrated with Anna and the relationship melodrama. I don't usually feel this way about YA, but maybe I'm just too old for this book and the petty drama. I think if I read this book when I was in middle or high school, I probably would have really enjoyed it.

Completed 5/21/16:

Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination by J.K. Rowling

Fulfills 2016 Popsugar Reading Challenge #9: A book that's under 150 pages
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

This is a commencement speech given by J.K. Rowling at Harvard put into book form. It was interesting and inspirational without being too sappy. Makes me kind of wish I attended my own college graduation. It also provided some details I didn't know about J.K. Rowling, for instance that her degree is in Classics (I had presumed English) and that she had worked for Amnesty International.

Completed 5/29/16:

The Progeny by Tosca Lee

Received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
Rating: 4.25 out of 5

Loved. See my full review here.

Completed 5/31/16:

Night by Elie Wiesel

Fulfills 2016 Popsugar Reading Challenge #19: A book from Oprah's Book Club
Rating: 5 out of 5

Never would I have picked up this book without the Popsugar Reading Challenge. Nothing was grabbing my interest in the Oprah's Book Club category, and I saw that this book was short. I read it in 2 sittings. It's an absolutely riveting (and beautifully written) memoir of a young man who survived a concentration camp. This is definitely the best book I've read so far this year.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

REVIEW: The Progeny

The Progeny by Tosca Lee (Descendants of the Blood Countess #1)
Completed 5/29/16
Rating: 4.25 out of 5

Holy. Crap. I don't think I've ever read a book quite like this before.

I don't want to go into plot too much, since I think this is a book you are better off reading without many preconceived ideas. Basically, it follows a young woman with no memory who is a descendant of the Hungarian Countess Elizabeth Bathory, who was convicted as the most prolific female serial killer of all time. (And yes, she was a real person. I Googled her.)

From the description, I was slightly nervous that this would be a horror book, but it isn't horror at all. It's a thriller with some mildly paranormal elements. There's the historical fiction aspect because of Bathory. Mystery because the protagonist has had her mind erased. And of course, there's got to be some romance too. It's appropriate for a YA or adult audience - nothing graphic and no bad language.

The writing is really good and fun to read, and the premise is fascinating. I would give this about 4.25 stars. I couldn't give it a full 5 stars because I feel like the last 25% got a bit too convoluted. It ends with a major cliffhanger, and there are a lot of loose ends. I hope the second book does not let me down.  It is planned as a duology. 

I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Stacking the Shelves: May

I had a solid month for books I acquired in May.  I ended the month with 12 new-to-me books.  I can't wait to read these!

Make sure you check out Stacking the Shelves by Tynga's Reviews to see what books others have picked up recently.

From Book Outlet:
  • The Book of Ivy by Amy Engle - YA dystopian about a girl who has to kill the president's son
  • Kalahari by Jessica Khoury - YA survival story/sci fi about a group of teens stranded in the desert
  • Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffeneger - adult modern Gothic about two girls who inherit an apartment from a dead (?) aunt
  • The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro - adult mystery/suspense set in the art world
  • Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan - adult mystery/adventure/fantasy
  • In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware - adult thriller set during a bachelorette weekend
From Amazon (physical books):
From Amazon (Kindle books):
  • Rook by Sharon Cameron - YA dystopian retelling of The Scarlet Pimpernel
  • How to Be Bad by E. Lockhart, Sarah Mylnowski, and Lauren Myracle - YA contemporary road trip novel
  • The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater - YA fantasy that I'm sure you've heard of by now
Won in a giveaway:

Friday, May 20, 2016

Friday Finds

Friday Finds is a weekly meme that showcases the books that you added to your TBR pile (not necessarily bought) over the past week.  It's now hosted by Babs Book Bistro.

So I got a little crazy with the "Want to Read" button this week...

The Graces by Laure Eve
Expected Publication: 9/6/16
YA paranormal (witches!)

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco
Expected Publication: 9/20/16
YA historical thriller

The Devil's Elixir by Raymond Khoury
Adventure (FBI agent & an archaeologist)

The Iron Trial by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare
Middle grade fantasy (first in the Magisterium series)

The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck by Sarah Knight

The Hawkweed Prophecy by Irena Brignull
Expected Publication: 6/16
YA paranormal (more witches!)

One Would Think the Deep by Claire Zorn
Expected Publication: 6/13/16
YA realistic fiction set in 1997 with a male protagonist

The Ballroom by Anna Hope
Historical fiction/romance/mental illness

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
Expected Publication: 7/5/16
YA fantasy/paranormal ("monsters"?)
First in the new Monsters of Verity series

Smoke by Dan Vyleta
Expected Publication: 5/24/16
YA fantasy/alternate history-ish (set in an English boarding school)

The Truth and Other Lies by Sascha Arango
Psychological thriller

Caraval by Stephanie Garber
Expected Publication: 1/10/17
YA fantasy (first in an as-yet-untitled series)

I've already put this on Amazon pre-order!

A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess
Expected Publication: 9/20/16
YA historical fantasy (first in Kingdom on Fire series)

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson
YA contemporary

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Summer TBR Pile

I'm chugging right along with the 2016 Popsugar Reading Challenge, so I wanted to share with you my plans for summer reading.  I'm considering summer May 15-September 15, even though it definitely doesn't feel like summer out there right now!

Rest of May: 
  • Night by Elie Wiesel (#19: A book from Oprah's Book Club)
  • VACATION READING: Winter by Marissa Meyer (#18: A book that's at least 600 pages)
  • How to Be Bad by E. Lockhart, Sarah Mylnowski, and Lauren Myracle (#36: A book about a road trip)

Friday, May 13, 2016

Friday Finds

I feel my slump ending, guys!  Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Friday Finds is hosted at Books and a Beat and showcases the books you've added to your TBR list over the past week.

Here's my discoveries:

Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins
How is is possible that I didn't know that Suzanne Collins has another series besides the Hunger Games?!  The Overlander series is a middle grade fantasy that looks really cute.

Kalahari by Jessica Khoury
A YA survival story with elements of sci-fi by the author of The Forbidden Wish

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffeneger
I picked this one up super-cheap at Book Outlet.  The mixed reviews have me a little worried, but I do love modern Gothic.

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
I've never read anything by Jodi Picoult, but I heard Heather mention this book on her channel (Bookables).  It's about the aftermath of a school shooting.

Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult
This book's description also intrigued me - secrets in a small town.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Friday Finds

Friday Finds is a weekly feature hosted by Jenn at Books and a Beat which showcases the books you've added to your TBR over the past week.

I added several books to my list this week in an attempt to pull myself out of the slump that has been pestering me this past month or so.

Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman
Historical fiction about the niece of Adolf Hitler.  Looks a little more weighty than typical YA.

Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis
I first heard about Mindy McGinnis on Trina's Booktube channel, and now her books seem to be appearing everywhere for me as recommendations.  This book is first in a YA dystopian duology.

Wanderlost by Jen Malone
Summer is coming soon and that means light and breezy vacation reads!  This one is a YA romance set on a bus tour of Europe.

Last Ride to Graceland by Kim Wright
A road trip to Graceland by a woman who may or may not be a love child of Elvis Presley.

The Sparrow Sisters by Ellen Herrick
New England magical realism about three sisters with (mildly) supernatural abilities.  Looks a little like Practical Magic, which I've never read, though I did enjoy the movie.

Stone's Fall by Iain Pears
Historical mystery about the death of a financier.  I've considered adding this to my TBR a few different times, but I finally did!

Dangerous Lies by Becca Fitzpatrick
A YA thriller about a girl in the Witness Protection Program (or something similar).

The Secret Diamond Sisters by Michelle Madow
Utter brain candy!  The Las Vegas adventures of three girls who find out they are the daughters of a millionaire.  First in a series.

The Spiral Staircase by Ethel Lina White
Creepy old Gothic mystery?  Yes, please!