Review - Skinwalker by Faith Hunter

Friday, May 27, 2016

By Faith Hunter
Release Date: July 7th, 2009
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Source: Audible

First in a brand new series from the author of the rogue mage novels.

Jane Yellowrock is the last of her kind-a skinwalker of Cherokee descent who can turn into any creature she desires and hunts vampires for a living. But now she's been hired by Katherine Fontaneau, one of the oldest vampires in New Orleans and the madam of Katie's Ladies, to hunt a powerful rogue vampire who's killing other vamps...

I’ve been on something of an urban fantasy binge lately, especially after finishing all the books in the Dresden Files and Iron Druid Chronicles that are currently out. Literally, when I finished Staked, I kinda slowly closed the book and was like, “Well, shit. What am I going to read now to get my UF fix?” Luckily, Goodreads was to the rescue with related suggestions and that was how I stumbled across Faith Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock series, the first book of which is Skinwalker. The title alone managed to snag my interest simply because, in all the other urban fantasy books I’ve read, skinwalkers are seen as baddies. They originate from Native American folklore, known as beings who take the skins of other animals – even humans – so that they can transform into those animals. Needless to say, I couldn’t resist reading a novel based on the perspective of a supernatural being that the rest of the urban fantasy genre has labeled as evil. Luckily for me, this was another home run of a book.
First and foremost, I really loved Jane as a character. All too often in books, we see female leads who claim to be self-assured and independent, only to fall in love the male counterpart a few chapters into the book, then lean on the male to help them realize their full potential and yadda yadda yadda. I’m rather sick of the trope, honestly. Jane, though, is a breath of fresh air in this aspect. She drives a motorcycle she helped to piece together herself. She works solo hunting and staking vampires. She doesn’t need a man to complete her and, most of all, she isn’t afraid to get down and dirty when the need arises. She can put a man to the ground within seconds and doesn’t take any shit from them either. To put it simply, Jane is my hero and who I WISH I could be, even after a year of taking kickboxing lessons. She’s all of these things and more, and that doesn’t even begin to touch on her supernatural heritage.
Another unique aspect of this novel was the heavy emphasis on Native American lore and culture, particularly when it relates to the Cherokee nation. As a proud descent of a Cherokee, I was tickled to learn that Jane came from the same people. Too, we got to see quite a bit of Cherokee language. I was especially grateful for having downloaded the book on Audible, so that I could hear the words as they were supposed to be spoken, rather than take a guess at it and butchering it myself. (The audiobook is awesome, by the way. Not Luke Daniels awesome, but still pretty good.) Throughout the book – and I’m assuming a great many subsequent books – Jane’s history remains a mystery. She doesn’t remember much from before she was twelve, but as you progress through the story, you learn tidbits here and there, especially when it relates to whom she shares her body with – Beast. Beast happens to be a mountain lion, as well as the usual form Jane takes when she shifts, but as we learn she shares as special bond with Jane. Beast is both humorous and downright terrifying and their relationship is based on mutual trust and respect. It was interesting to see how an animal and human can so flawlessly interact with one another and, quite frankly, was an aspect of the novel I didn’t anticipate. I thought the “skins” that Jane would take would be nonexistent character-wise.
The mystery aspect of the novel revolves around a rogue vampire killing in Louisiana. Jane is hired to track and kill the rogue by – ironically – another vampire, Katherine, who owns a whorehouse that caters to vampires’ specific needs. Jane is, naturally, hesitant to trust vampires, even if they are “sophisticated,” so it was amusing to see her try and navigate the uncertain waters of vampire customs and court. The politics concerning the vampire clans in the Louisiana is surprisingly complex, too. Plot-wise, Hunter certainly outdid herself. She created a rich, mystical world and a compelling mystery that had me guessing who the rogue was until the very end.
Finally, while there was a resolution to the mystery in this book, there are still plenty of questions that need to be answered, many of which correlating to Jane herself and her past. This will, undoubtedly, keep readers coming back for more each time a new book is released. Luckily for me, I came into the series fairly late, meaning there are already ten books out, with another to be released in the future. That means I have nine more books to devour and get busy reading!
If you love urban fantasy, particularly something with a different twist, you should certainly think about looking into this one. You won’t be disappointed!

Throwback Thursday - I Spy Riddle Books

Thursday, May 26, 2016


Set in a haunted house, readers are invited to search for mice, spiders, candles, bats, jack-o-lanterns, and bones among other creepy things found in the hallway, library, fireplace, and laboratory of the house, as well as in the graveyard and a garden of ghouls outside.

Puzzle books come in all shapes and sizes and while I wasn’t so very fond of picture books or those types of books in general, I did love the I Spy puzzle books. There were a ton of those “Seek and Find” type books back in the day, from Where’s Waldo to ones based off of famous Disney movies (I totally had the Little Mermaid one, too) and everything in between. I remember liking the I Spy genre, though, because the pictures and setting for each book were so creative and artsy. My brothers and I had a ton of fun going through new books together and competing to see who could find the objects the quickest or who could find the most objects in a certain page. We’d go through the books so often that we’d remember which things to “spy” and could find them right off the bat. In short, this was something for me and my younger brothers to bond over, particularly when I could read, but they were still too young to recognize all the words. So many hours spent in fond companionship!
If you read my review of the horror anthology, Slasher Girls & Monster Boys, you probably noted that I’ve always been something of a horror fanatic. So, naturally, my favorite book from this series was I Spy Spooky Night, which was set in a derelict and perhaps even haunted house. It was spooky and had a macabre feel to it, but not overly so that it would frighten small children. The pictures and puzzles really brought the spooky theme to life and, of course, my favorite puzzle was the one of the library with dusty, cob-web ridden spines. More often than not, you’d be challenged to “spy” creepy crawlies, like spiders, snakes and bugs to even nastier things like eyeballs and other dismembered body parts. As a little girl, this was right up my alley!
 Luckily for me, when I was younger, computers were really starting to become the norm in households. We didn’t have reliable internet, so I’d content myself with playing games – and I Spy just happened to make several computer game versions of their books, one of which was called Spooky Mansion. You bet your ass I got that game and I spent HOURS playing through the different puzzles. In the game, you’d get a map piece for every puzzle you solve and, after your collect all the map pieces, you’d find your way out of the mansion. To make things even more interesting, there were three different ways to escape the mansion. What I enjoyed about the games, though, was the different types of puzzles. Rather than just a straightforward “I Spy” like in the books, they had puzzles that could be played in the dark, using a flashlight to spy things, as well as a puzzle in which you use a magnifying glass to find objects hidden in butterfly wings. It was a ton of fun and, even now, I have fond memories of playing it with family and friends.

I loved it so much even, that when a Wii version of I Spy Spooky Mansion was released, I immediately bought it, wanting to relive fun times. Unfortunately, the difficulty level of the puzzles was significantly reduced and it wasn’t just because I was older. My little cousins in kindergarten were breezing through the puzzles with hardly any problem. Moreover, the controls for the game were super wonky. I’ve never been a big fan of the Wii, but that game was a big flop, even for Wii standards.
Overall, though, this is a series of books I look back on with fond memories. I hope that they continue to stay kid’s favorites and that my own children might be able to enjoy them one day.

Waiting on Wednesday - Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn't think they'd survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they're right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz's cunning and test the team's fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city's dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of magic in the Grisha world.

September is going to be epic for so many reasons, only one of them being the release of Crooked Kingdoms, but you can bet I’m super excited to get my hands on this. As I’ve noted before – and you can see in my sidebar – Bardugo is one of my favorite writers, and the fact that she chose to continue a companion series set in Ravka makes me ridiculously happy. I loved the world she created, the grisha system in general, and all the characters from the first series. I devoured Six of Crows in, like, two days and that was pretty damn fast, considering I was working and going to grad school. XD
Also – I know you guys agree with me – I need some more Kaz x Inej in my life. Like, right now. Like, yesterday.
September 27th, you can’t get here quick enough!

Top Five - Books I Feel Differently About Over Time

Tuesday, May 24, 2016


Top Ten is the weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, in which we showcase our top ten books in a certain category. This week's theme was "Top Ten Books You Feel Differently About." Like last week, this was a hard category for me to pick books for, so I chose to only list five and, even so, some of the books were just ones that my friends and I had differing opinions on.
Number Five: The Help by Kathryn Stockett 
This remains one of my favorite books and movie to this day. The reason it made this list, though, is that the main critique for this book, one that focuses so heavily on the matter of race, is that it's just another book about "whites helping the blacks," with many readers claiming that it read as if Aibileen wouldn't have been able to make such a difference without the help of Skeeter. While I certainly see the argument, I counter with the fact that I see this book as one that - while it might have a heavy emphasis on race - was mostly about personal growth of all three main characters. Yes, it certainly has issues that could be critiqued, but I still love it, regardless.
Number Four: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
I read this book a few years back and thoroughly enjoyed it. At first, I rated it as four stars, my main qualms being - of course - with the ending and that Death hinted too heavily about what would've happened. As time passed, though, I've realized that I was a little too harsh with my judgements. Considering a book that was set in WWII, I suppose it was only natural that SOMETHING like that would happen, right? I suppose I was just too sour about the hurt when I finished reading at first. Since then, though, I've edited my rating to five stars and it's a book I look back on fondly.

Number Three: My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
This is another book in which I loved, right up until the ending. I actually hadn't been spoiled about what would happen and, when it did, I felt like it was just a means to shock the reader. I was super annoyed at first, but my irritation has waned over the years and I still recognize that it is, indeed, a good book - one that actually got me started on Picoult. I even watched the movie adaptation.
Number Two: Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
Every reader has a dirty little secret and this one is mine. I admit it. I got swept up in the hype that was Twilight back when it was super big and everyone was reading it. I know, I know! In hindsight, it was really stupid. And even I realized that by the time Breaking Dawn came out. But give a girl credit - I had to read it to see what all the fuss was about! At least now me and my friends can laugh about how dumb we were back in the day. 
Number One: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
I had to read this book in college as part of my Crime Fiction lit class. This was actually my first time delving into Christie and this was another book with a twist ending - one I didn't see until right up at the end. And, in fact, I really liked it! There were a TON of people in my lit class that hated it, though, and felt used after finishing the book. I still like the story and give Christie credit for taking a risk, but I can definitely see how others might have been rubbed the wrong way.

That's all I have for this week's Top Ten Five. Have you read any of these and have differing opinions? What were on your lists? Feel free to link me to your own TTTs in the comments below~

2016 Review Train - Dates & Stops

Monday, May 23, 2016

Well, it's nearly that time, folks! Summer is quickly approaching, with Memorial Day acting as the unofficial start of the sunny and hot season. And with Memorial Day comes the start of our Review Train. We have a lot of awesome bloggers and reviews lined up and we hope that you will take the time to follow the Train as it makes it rounds. Be sure to like, comment, and tweet because the more active you are as followers, the more chances you will have to enter the giveaway on the final day of the Train.
Below is the official list and dates of the Review Train.
Participants, PLEASE double check to see which days you will post. I tried to stick as closely to the dates you wanted as possible, but I did have to tweak a couple days here and there to make everything work. Also, listed on my sidebar is the button/banner for the Train. You aren't obligated to put the button anywhere on your sites, but please put the banner at the top of your review posts, so that followers/readers will be able to distinguish which post is the official "stop" for the Train.

Edited: Also, in addition to the banner, please put a link to the next person in line on the Train at the end of your review post, to make it easier for readers to follow along.
I just want to give an extra special thank you to the participants who agreed to partake in the fun. I can't wait to see what you gals come up with!
May 30th - Genni at Ready, Set, Read is reviewing The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson
May 31st - Lauren at Always Me is reviewing Future Shock by Elizabeth Briggs
June 1st - Laura at Blue Eye Books is reviewing The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
June 2nd - Sam at Tsundoku Books is reviewing Even if the Sky Falls by Mia Garcia
June 3rd - Czai at The Blacksheep Project is reviewing Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver
June 4th - Alicia at A Kernel of Nonsense is reviewing The Distance Between Us by Kasie West
June 5th - Ashley at [Insert Title Here] is reviewing Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
June 6th - Sinead at Less Reality, More Books is reviewing The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood
June 7th - Ashley at What's She Reading? is reviewing Open Road Summer by Emery Lord
June 8th - Brittany at Space Between the Spines is reviewing Summer Days and Summer Nights by Stephanie Perkins et al + GIVEAWAY! =D
I encourage you all to follow or subscribe to these lovely ladies. They're blogs are awesome and I'm sure the reviews for the Train will be epic as well. Can't wait to get started!!!

Review - Slasher Girls & Monster Boys

Friday, May 20, 2016

Slasher Girls & Monster Boys
By April Genevieve Tucholke et al
Release Date: August 18th, 2015
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Purchased

For fans of Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Lois Duncan, and Daphne Du Maurier comes a powerhouse anthology featuring some of the best writers of YA thrillers and horror

A host of the smartest young adult authors come together in this collection of scary stories and psychological thrillers curated by Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea’s April Genevieve Tucholke.

Each story draws from a classic tale or two—sometimes of the horror genre, sometimes not—to inspire something new and fresh and terrifying. There are no superficial scares here; these are stories that will make you think even as they keep you on the edge of your seat. From bloody horror to supernatural creatures to unsettling, all-too-possible realism, this collection has something for any reader looking for a thrill.

Fans of TV’s The Walking Dead, True Blood, and American Horror Story will tear through these tales!

I’ve been a horror movie/scary story junkie since I was a little kid. For those of you who might not know, I was actually adopted by my father, and – well, to put it simply – he didn’t really know how to act or treat little girls. Luckily for me, that meant that I got away with murder and with a lot that my mother wouldn’t tolerate. And it just so happened that Dad was the one who initiated my love for horror. He, like me, lives off the stuff. If there’s a scary movie out, he’s the first to watch it. If Stephen King has a new book out, he’s preordered it. That meant that, even though I was a little six year old girl, I’d watch murder, gore, and monsters with him, a grin plastered all over my face. And, subsequently, would crawl into bed between him and Mom when I grew scared at night.
Needless to say, the horror genre has really helped my father and me to bond over the years and we still watch movies – even go to midnight premiers of horror flicks – together. Sure, letting a first grader watch IT probably wasn’t the best of ideas and it resulted in me being absolutely afraid to shower for a long time, but I was a happy girl nonetheless.
So, naturally, when I saw this horror anthology, I was on board. For the scary story aspect, yes, but mostly because it had Leigh Bardugo’s name attached and anything by her is a must read for me. Moreover, there were a ton of authors I’ve never heard of or read and getting the chance to “taste test” their work is a nice way to gauge whether or not I’d pursue their other works. It’s one of the reasons I like anthologies so much. Like the last anthology I read and reviewed (My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories), I’ll be covering those short stories I liked the most and those I felt were more lackluster. If some short stories aren’t mentioned, that meant that I enjoyed them, but there was nothing about it that really stuck out to me as awesome or problematic.
The Best:
1.) Hide-And-Seek by Megan Shepherd – This was one of the highlights of the stories for me, simply because the premise deals with old folk legends, this one focusing on the Appalachian legend of Crow Cullum – death’s harbinger. The main character of the story, Annie, is the victim of murder and when Crow Cullum shows up to collect her soul, she challenges “death” to a game. In the legend, if the person wins the game against death, they get to keep their soul and live. As the title indicates, Annie chooses Hide and Seek and if she can successfully hide from death for twenty-four hours, she wins. I also LOVED the ending of this short story. In a lot of the stories in this compilation, the MCs weren’t really memorable, but Annie proves that she’s smart and resourceful, even – literally – in the face of death.
2.) Stitches by A.G. Howard – I’ve never read Howard’s Splinter series, but I’ve heard very good things about it, so I was interested to dive into this short story and see if her writing was for me. This story is a reimagining of Frankenstein, with the protagonist being a rural tom-boy named Sage. She has a twin sister, younger brother, and a drunkard father. Their mother, however, mysteriously disappeared one stormy night. In an attempt to change his ways and to pay bills, her Pa gives up his body parts to a person named The Collector, in return for cadaver body parts, whom an eclectic doctor claims are from a “good person” and would help to make him a better person, too. It’s Sage’s job to saw off his body parts one by one and stitch on his new ones. The procedure seems to work, as her father once more returns to the kindly, caring person the kids knew, but things come to a head when Sage discovers The Collector isn’t who she thinks and – more importantly – when she discovers who the cadaver body parts came from. This is one of the few stories in the books that actually had a pretty “nice” ending, in that it wasn’t particularly spooky or sinister. More thought provoking, really, and this story really captures the essence and message that the original Frankenstein story was trying to get across.
3.) Sleepless by Jay Kristoff – This story was based off the hit movie Psycho, so you can probably guess about how it played out: young man who’s a loner has an overbearing mother that just won’t give him any peace. But the clicker for this story, though, it that the guy, Justin, is chatting with a girl he likes over the internet, named Cassie. They’ve really seemed to make a connection and, when the young woman runs away from home, she calls her buddy up to see if she could stay with him, just like they had talked about in all their past chats. But things don’t play out like Justin would expect… What was so memorable about this story is simply the epic twist at the end. I actually didn’t see it coming until it was revealed to the MC, which is pretty awesome. It takes talent to build up such suspense in a short story! Too, the IM aspect of the story was fun, seeing as we got to know the characters through their dialogue rather than through prose. Creepy, surprising, and compelling this story was an excellent modern day interpretation of a horror classic. Definitely my favorite out of the whole book!
The Weakest:
1.) Verse Chorus Verse by Leigh Bardugo – I know, I know. I was surprised, too. The MAIN reason I picked up this book was for Bardugo’s story, but it actually turned out to be the one that frustrated me most, not because it was badly written or anything, but because I felt like I was set up for a creepy, awesome story, only to  be rewarded with little payout. Bardugo’s story is about a young pop singer named Jaycee who, after a DUI incident, ends up at a rehab center that – incidentally – used to be an insane asylum. And, naturally, it isn’t long before Jaycee starts to hear rumors of how it’s haunted. I agree, not the most unique of premises, but who the hell doesn’t love haunted insane asylums? I was soooo down for a good ghost story, but the story ended SO abruptly and right at the climax. I felt like I was sat down at an exquisite dinner then told I couldn’t eat it! I wanted hauntings. I wanted gore. I wanted grisly details, but ended up with a very lousy payoff. Loved the writing, but I definitely felt cheated when I finished it.
2.) Emmeline by Cat Winters – Overall, this story was nicely written, with great imagery and suitable tone for a story set in the past. (It was actually one of only two that were set in the past.) It was pretty interesting getting to see the history, as it was set during World War I, particularly from a French point of view. The pacing was good and I found the main character, Emmeline, sympathetic. But the biggest drawback from this story was how predictable the “twist” at the end of the story was. Perhaps I’m just easily able to detect them from watching horror all my life, but the ending was definitely underwhelming.
And that’s just about it! Many of the other stories were good, too, but I only touched on those I thought really needed to be spoken about. Overall, this is certainly an anthology that would tickle any horror junkie’s fancy. If you’re needing something spine tingling to curl up with at night, this is it!

Revisiting Old Favorites - Throwback Thursday Marathon

Thursday, May 19, 2016

I really came into the book blogging fever late in the game. A couple of years ago, it seemed like every book lover I knew was talking about how they’d have to go home and post a review or update to their blog. I remember being super jealous of them, of their technical prowess and how easily they managed their sites. I’ve never been much of a technologically savvy person (despite the fact that I use computer programs to make digital maps on a daily basis), so the idea of making and controlling my own website was very daunting. However, with the help of some of the right people, I created and made my own book blogging site. There are a few books that I’ve ranted about, but for the most part, almost all of the reviews I posted have been positive to some degree or another. After all, we get more excited to share the books that we loved and truly enjoyed, rather than those that bored us to tears.
That said, I’ve been a reader my whole life and there have been a great many books that I’ve discovered and loved since before Space Between the Spines even became a possibility. For a while now, I’ve wanted to go back and reread some of my old favorites and review them, to share why I thought they were so special and entertaining. The problem, though, is with my massive selection to choose from. That and I don’t know that the books I’d like to review are ones that my audience would really care to hear about, as many aren’t super popular or were geared toward younger audiences.
So, I’m going to put the vote up to you, my followers. Listed below is a poll of the books I’d like to revisit and the top four with the most votes will be the books that I review.
The reviews will be a part of my Throwback Thursday series – a little post I do some Thursday to highlight the books I loved as a child – and will be live every Thursday in July: 7th, 14th, 21st, 28th.
If you’ve wanted to do something similar, I challenge you to try this, too. I’d love to see some of the books you loved in the past or when you were little!
Pick some good ones for me, guys! I can wait to wipe the dust away from the old covers and crack into them!

Which book should I read for the Throwback Thursday Marathon?

Waiting on Wednesday - Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown.

If only it was that simple. Katharine is unable to tolerate the weakest poison, and Arsinoe, no matter how hard she tries, can’t make even a weed grow. The two queens have been shamefully faking their powers, taking care to keep each other, the island, and their powerful sister Mirabella none the wiser. But with alliances being formed, betrayals taking shape, and ruthless revenge haunting the queens’ every move, one thing is certain: the last queen standing might not be the strongest…but she may be the darkest.

I was a really big fan of Blake’s Anna Dressed in Blood series and her newest series looks very promising, as well. I’ve always been a fan of darker YA stories and if there’s a set of sisters trying to kill each other for rights to a crown? Even more, they each have unique magical abilities? (Well, at least one does.) Yup. I’m sold. I hope it’ll be just as dark and gritty as I’m expecting!
Of course, if two sisters are faking their powers and are teaming up to overthrow the third sister, what will happen once she’s been taken care of? I doubt there can be two queens, so I’m almost certain there will be plenty of bloodshed and treachery afoot. Niiiiice.
Have you heard and/or excited about this title? What are you waiting on this week? Feel free to tell me I the comments and link me to your own WoWs!

Top Ten Tuesday - Books I Picked Up on a Whim

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Top Ten is the weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, in which we showcase our top ten books in a certain category. This week's theme was "Top Ten Books You Picked Up on a Whim" and this was actually a list that was kinda hard for me to compile, seeing as I'm one of those snobs that really don't give books a chance unless they are recommended to me. Well, to be more accurate, I have a bunch of book buddies and I get A LOT of recommendations, so it was hard to pick out books that I had chosen on a "whim." And even then, I hardly just pick things up on a whim. So, this is really a list of books I either picked up while perusing the library or ones that I discovered first and now recommend (or don't) to my bookish buddies.

Number Ten: Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

I'm going to start with the one book I have on this list that I absolutely DO NOT recommend to those I know. Not many of my bookish friends are really into romance, but there was a period a couple of years ago where I couldn't get enough of the stuff and I picked up this one after seeing it around on Goodreads. I certainly didn't like it and just barely managed to not DNF it. I just found the main male lead to be far too manipulative and abusive, which was a super big turn off for me. Luckily, the rest of the books I picked up on a whim ended better for me.

Number Nine: The Chronicles of Chrestomanci by Diana Wynne Jones
This isn't the first time this series has made it onto a Top Ten of mine and that simply goes to show you how charming this series is for younger readers. I was maybe twelve years old when I was walking up and down the aisles of the book store looking for something new to read. I saw this, read the synopsis, and that was all she wrote. It was actually the book that got me started on Jones, even though her most famous work is Howl's Moving Castle. If you love fantasy, it's one not to be missed!


Number Eight: Green Rider by Kristen Britain

I can't remember what exactly was happened at school the day I found this, but I had just finished a test super quick, with close to thirty minutes to spare in class, so I asked to go to the library and find something new to read. I came out with this fantasy novel, which seemed pretty interesting and I certainly wasn't disappointed when I cracked it open. I'm not usually one for high fantasy, but I read the first two books in this series and hope to one day get back to it. It has a strong female lead and memorable characters to boot.

Number Seven: Murder on a Girls' Night Out by Anne George
I actually picked up this book as part of a book report project I had to do for my freshman year of high school. Our challenge was to pick a book from a genre we typically don't read from and at the time, I was much more interested in fantasy or contemporary reads than mysteries. I was certainly in luck, as this little series of cozy mysteries has plenty of humor and fun.

Number Six: Stalking Susan by Julie Kramer
Speaking of mysteries, this was one that I actually saw through the Goodreads giveaway program. I've always preferred mysteries with either a "cozy" aspect or one that involves either a novice investigator, so I threw my name into the ring and - lo and behold - I won a copy! This series stars investigative reporter Riley Spartz and was a lot of fun to read through, too. 
Number Five: Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce
This was one of the few books that I picked up immediately JUST because of how awesome the cover art is. It's so artistic! Unfortunately,  only the first two books in the series have covers of this style, but luckily the stories were superb in their own right and kept me hooked until the very last book. This was actually the series that sparked my fascination with fairy tale retellings. 
Number Four: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
This was a book that I picked up with quite a bit reluctance. I'd been hearing a lot about Stiefvater, but not much about this series in general, and when I read the synopsis, I was like, "Eh. This sounds... kinda stupid." But I gave it a chance and I'm very glad I did. Her take on werewolves is certainly different and who DOESN'T love Cole, am I right? 
Number Three: Immortal City by Scott Speer
I picked up this book when I was on an angel book binge a few years ago and was pleasantly surprised. I found the super star angel aspect of the novel very engaging and added an extra flair that many of the angel genre books were lacking at the time. While the series didn't end on the highest of notes, it was still quite enjoyable.
Number Two: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
This was one of the few books that I legit picked up on my own and now totally recommend to just about any supernatural YA lover out there. The premise, mystery, and romance of this series is absolutely fascinating and it'll keep you on your toes as you breeze through the pages. Not to mention, the male lead is epically swoon-worthy. Love me some Noah Shaw!
Number One: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
I was the Guinea pig for this book out of my group of friends. We had all seen it and thought it looked interesting, but hadn't really gotten around to actually reading it. I wasn't really into historicals that were set so far back in history (in the 1400s), but... Assassin nuns. Who couldn't be sold on that, right? It is actually very fascinating and engaging series. Every character has their own distinct personality and all the males MCs are great, too. There's lots of heart, action, and drama in it and it's a series that I proudly display - SIGNED - on my shelf. Definitely read it if you haven't gotten the chance yet!
And that's it for my Top Ten Tuesday! Were there any books on my list that you recognized? Feel free to leave a link to your own TTTs in the comments below, too. 

June Comments Challenge

Monday, May 16, 2016

Hey guys! So, I just wanted to make a quick post on here to let you all know that I'll be participating in June's Comment Challenge, hosted by Alicia at A Kernel of Nonsense and Lonna at FLYLeF. The Comments Challenge has a pretty straightforward concept, being that if you sign up, you'll be partnered with a buddy and you commit yourself to either (1) leaving 1-10 comments on their blog or (2) leaving 11-20 comments on their blog. This little challenge is meant to grow your network of blogger friends and discover new, awesome blogs. And, of course, you benefit from added traffic on your site!
This challenge will also take place in July and August and those participating will also have the chance to enter for a giveaway! If you want to participate, there's still time to sign up, just click here!
I'm going to aim to comment 11-20 times for my partner and I prefer to use Twitter to meet all sorts of different bloggers, not just the one I will be paired up with. Make sure to use #commentchallenge2016!

Movie Review: Song of the Sea

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Title: Song of the Sea
Director: Tomm Moore
Writers: Tomm Moore and Will Collins
Rating: PG
Release Date: December 10, 2014
Running Time: 93 Minutes
Actors: David Rawle, Brendan Gleeson, Lucy O’Connell, Fionnula Flanagan

Ben, a young Irish boy, and his little sister Saoirse, a girl who can turn into a seal, go on an adventure to free the faeries and save the spirit world.

While I don’t make a habit of reviewing movies on this blog, I’ve been known to do it in the past, such as the movie adaptation of Gone Girl. Any movie review I do would be movies based on books, with the exception of this one. After writing my review of The Iron Druid Chronicles a few days ago, I felt compelled to share a movie that has grown close to my heart and what has quickly become one of my favorite movies to date – Song of the Sea.

In many ways, Song of the Sea reminds me quite of bit of The Iron Druid Chronicles, in that it is set in Ireland with a heavy emphasis on Irish lore and mythology, particularly concerning the daoine sidhe. The legend of this movie, though, is about the selkie, a mythical being said to live as seals in the sea but shed their skin to become human on land. The two main characters of the movie are Ben and his younger sister, Saoirse. They live on an island alone with their father after losing their mother six years prior, the night Saoirse was born. From the very beginning of the movie, the audience learns that their mother, Bronach, is a selkie and – eventually – that Saoirse is one, too. After being forced from their home to live with their grandmother, though, Saoirse starts to become sick and it’s up to her brother, Ben, to help her find her selkie coat and get back to the sea.

The Story: While the basic storyline of the movie seems rather straightforward – one character going on a quest to help another character get well again – the plot itself and the progression of the movie are engaging. The movie is geared toward children, naturally, but adults will be just as fascinated with the mythology and lore. I was one of those people who knew next to nothing about the daoine sidhe or any sort of Irish mythology, at least until I started reading Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles. From there, I was able to learn the basics of the Irish gods and goddesses, as well as some of the more common mythological creatures – yes, a selkie DOES show up in the series! So it was definitely fun to see some of the correlations from a series that I loved to a movie that I adore. That said, since Irish mythology is so vast and somewhat obscure, I was able to learn quite a bit that I hadn’t from Hearne’s series, too. For example, we see an owl goddess called Macha in the movie, who in Irish mythology happens to be a sister to my favorite character from the series, Morrigan. Who knew! In addition, we learn quite a lot more about the selkie myth in general, such as the fact that if they return to the water and don’t stay there, they get sick. Even little references to myths that you wouldn’t catch at first, such as their dog being named CĂș – a reference to doglike fey creatures – are snuck in. Very clever!

The animation: By far, this is one of the most beautifully animated movies I’ve ever seen. It’s stylized similar to Hayao Miyazaki’s work, in that it’s very colorful and detailed. It has a mystic, whimsical quality that accents the mythologically heavy story perfectly. The characters and animals are beyond cute and the attention to detail is superb. I mean, just look at Saoirse. She’s freaking adorable, in both her human and seal forms! Even stills of the movie
(some of which I may or may not have pinned on my wall >.>) are breathtaking.


The Soundtrack: In addition to beautiful imagery, the movie comes with a diverse and charming soundtrack, many songs of which are Gaelic. The language is beautiful and magical in its own right, soothing and easy to listen to. It’s a perfect playlist for relaxation, writing or reading. Here's an example of one of the more popular songs from the movie.

The Message: It’s no secret that many stories involving selkies are often tragedies and this movie is no exception. Throughout the movie, Ben has gotten over the initial grief of losing his mother, but he still mourns her absence, as does his father. As a whole, the movie addresses the topic of grief in a surprisingly gentle and touching manner, in a way that is easy for younger audiences to comprehend and for older audiences to respect. It teaches that grief is temporary, no matter how hard it might be, and that those who pass on or are gone from us are never truly gone. It’s a beautiful message and it had me in tears the first time I watched it.

My final verdict is that this movie is not to be missed! If you love animated movies or are fond of magic and mythology, this is certainly a movie that you must track down and watch as soon as possible!

Waiting on Wednesday - Cream of the Crop by Alice Clayton

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Alice Clayton brings her trademark blend of funny and sexy to this second contemporary romance in the brand-new Hudson Valley series!

Manhattan’s It Girl, Natalie Grayson, has it all: she’s a hot exec at a leading advertising firm, known industry-wide for her challenging and edgy campaigns. She’s got a large circle of friends, a family that loves her dearly, and her dance card is always full with handsome eligible bachelors. What else could a modern gal-about-town wish for? The answer, of course, is...cheese.

Natalie’s favorite part of each week is spending Saturday morning at the Union Square Farmer’s Market, where she indulges her love of all things triple cream. Her favorite booth also indulges her love of all things handsome. Oscar Mendoza, owner of the Bailey Falls Creamery and purveyor of the finest artisanal cheeses the Hudson Valley has to offer, is tall, dark, mysterious, and a bit oblivious. Or so she thinks. But that doesn’t stop Natalie from fantasizing about the size of his, ahem, milk can.

Romance is churning, passion is burning, and something incredible is rising to the top. Could it

*Squee* Ya’ll don’t know how excited I am for the continuation of this series. Alice Clayton has become one of my favorite romance authors. All her books have just the right amount of funny and sexy and I’m always begging for more just as soon as I finish the book. Luckily, she’s pretty awesome about getting out one novel a year, so at least I don’t have to wait too terribly long, but the anticipation is still killer.
The Hudson Valley series is just as fun as the Wallbanger series, two books of which I reviewed, being Screwdrivered and Mai Tai’d Up. I’ve been meaning to review the first book in this series, Nuts. I read it while my site was down, but I just haven’t had the time to write it up yet. With the publishing date looming ever so closer for this one, though, be sure to keep an eye out for it.
As for me, July can’t get here quickly enough. Mmm…

The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Iron Druid Chronicles
By Kevin Hearne
First Released May 3rd, 2011
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Source: Audible


When I was first recommended to read The Iron Druid Chronicles by a fellow reader buddy of mine (shoutout to Lauren from Always Me!), I have to admit that I was a little hesitant to pick it up. The urban fantasy genre is new to me in general, the first real series I read of which was Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series. And I. Worship. It. I’ve set Butcher’s work on a pedestal and it will forever be the book I compare all urban fantasy writers to from here on out. So when I read the blurb about Iron Druid Chronicles, I was like, “Eh, this is just going to be a Harry Dresden rip off, isn’t it?” It even says in the Goodreads page that fans of Harry Dresden would love it! So, I picked up the book with cautious optimism. (Well, technically, I listened to it, but still.) It was about Irish lore and had a hot guy on the cover – what’s a girl not to like, right?

Luckily, my worries were unfounded. I was blown away by the world Hearne created. Atticus – a two thousand year old Druid - is snarky and sarcastic, quick-witted and resourceful – overall a hero worth rooting for. He has an adorable Irish Wolfhound companion, Oberon, who I’ve really come to love and adore throughout the course of the series and there are an assortment of friends and allies he’s come across, from vampires to werewolves, to gods and goddesses of many different pantheons.

The characterization in the novels is what really snagged me and kept me engaged through the eight books I devoured in a few weeks’ time. What makes Hearne’s work so special, in my opinion, is the magical world that he’s built. In most urban fantasies, there is usually only one pantheon depicted or a select few mythical beings. In Hearne’s world, though, there are infinite pantheons, from the Olympians to the Norse to the Christian. Just about any magical creature you’d want to read or meet shows up at least once in the stories. Of course, given that the series focuses on Irish mythology, the main focus is on the daoine sidhe (Irish fey). In this tradition, the Sidhe are considered to be ancient Celtic gods, also known as the Tuatha de Danann. Since Irish mythology is largely obscure, Hearne was left with a lot of creative freedom to build the gods and goddess as he saw fit, though they still stick true to their lore, my favorite of which were Morrigan and Flidais.

Morrigan was actually the character that I found most compelling in the series, even above Atticus and the other female lead, Granuaile. Despite being a Goddess of the Fallen and – to put it bluntly – exorbitantly cruel at times, it was profoundly interesting to see someone like a goddess become a dynamic character, one that strives to change and better herself – even if only for Atticus’ sake. It was almost heartbreaking to see her struggling with her true nature and trying to branch out to befriend others. Seriously, I think I shipped MorriganxAtticus more than I did AtticusxGranuaile. And while it was amusing to see Atticus realize what a dumbass he’d been concerning Morrigan’s feelings for him, it was depressing to never see the relationship come full circle. At least I’ve access to to feed my fantasies…

That brings us to the storyline in general. Over the course of all eight books, there are smaller plots that need to be addressed for each book, though a big, overarching storyline concerning the Norse God of Mischief, Loki, progresses throughout the whole series. In the latest book, Staked, Atticus is confronted with the repercussions of angering an ancient vampire and – as a result – brings their wrath down upon himself and his allies. What was interesting about this book in particular was that it was about so much more than just Atticus’ battle with the vampires. We get to see Owen try to assemble his own apprentices as well as Granuaile’s attempt to finally get even with her step-father. They weren’t just foils to be used when Atticus needed them. They were there to help him when he needed them most, yes, but they were their own active characters, building and living their own lives. They’re dynamic. And much of the love I’ve garnered for this series is surrounded by the characters.

It’s hard to write a broad review of a series, rather than just a single book, but I wanted to share what I thought was a fantastic and imaginative series with my fellow bloggers. If you love urban fantasy, this isn’t one to be missed. With epic battles, loveable characters, and plenty of imagination, you’ll be plenty entertained.

And on a final note, I listened to all the books via Audible. I HIGHLY SUGGEST you listen to at least one. Luke Daniel’s voice is like honey. Definitely one of my favorite narrators I've come across thus far!

Waiting on Wednesday - Summer Days & Summer Nights

Wednesday, May 4, 2016


Maybe it's the long, lazy days, or maybe it's the heat making everyone a little bit crazy. Whatever the reason, summer is the perfect time for love to bloom. Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, written by twelve bestselling young adult writers and edited by the international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins, will have you dreaming of sunset strolls by the lake. So set out your beach chair and grab your sunglasses. You have twelve reasons this summer to soak up the sun and fall in love.

Featuring stories by Leigh Bardugo, Francesca Lia Block, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Brandy Colbert, Tim Federle, Lev Grossman, Nina LaCour, Stephanie Perkins, Veronica Roth, Jon Skovron, and Jennifer E. Smith.

I'm SUPER excited about this romance anthology!!! I read My True Love Gave to Me the Christmas before last and thoroughly enjoyed myself. After all, if it has Stephanie Perkins name on it, you can almost guarantee that it will be adorable and fluffy. The fact that we get to see stories by Bardugo, Clare, Roth, and Smith too are just the toppings on my summer ice cream cone! I'm so ready to break it open and - if we wish hard enough - maybe we'll get to have a fall and spring edition of these little stories, too. It'd be lovely to have all four seasons sitting on the shelf together. =)
Are you looking forward to this release, too? What books are you waiting for this Wednesday? Be sure to let me know in the comments and feel free to link me to your own WoWs.

Review - Walk the Edge by Katie McGarry

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Walk the Edge
By Katie McGarry
Release Date: March 29th, 2016
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Purchased

One moment of recklessness will change their worlds.

Smart. Responsible. That's seventeen-year-old Breanna's role in her large family, and heaven forbid she put a toe out of line. Until one night of shockingly un-Breanna-like behavior puts her into a vicious cyber-bully's line of fire—and brings fellow senior Thomas "Razor" Turner into her life.

Razor lives for the Reign of Terror motorcycle club, and good girls like Breanna just don't belong. But when he learns she's being blackmailed over a compromising picture of the two of them—a picture that turns one unexpected and beautiful moment into ugliness—he knows it's time to step outside the rules.

And so they make a pact: he'll help her track down her blackmailer, and in return she'll help him seek answers to the mystery that's haunted him—one that not even his club brothers have been willing to discuss. But the more time they spend together, the more their feelings grow. And suddenly they're both walking the edge of discovering who they really are, what they want, and where they're going from here.

Katie McGarry is one of those authors that I auto-buy from, no matter what she writes. I’m not going to lie, after finishing Breaking the Rules (which I reviewed before) and Chasing Impossible, I was rather disappointed to see the Pushing the Limits series come to an end. Luckily for us loyal readers, though, she already had another series lined up and the first book of the series, Nowhere But Here was released last May. I read the book in less than two days and immediately fell into a post-book depression, knowing I’d have to wait at least another year before I’d get the chance to read more about the Reign of Terror world.

As if to add more salt to the wound, we had a YA Festival in my hometown, which Katie McGarry attended and her newest book, Walk the Edge, was available TWO WEEKS before the release date and I had already preordered. D= On the plus side, though, I got to get a couple books signed. And well, I decided to be patient. I’d waited over a year, so two more weeks weren’t going to kill me. (Though they nearly did.)

Luckily, Walk the Edge was certainly worth the wait. It was everything I expected and more. Since I have read her previous novels, I’ve come to expect a great amount from McGarry in terms of character development, emotion, and plot. And, book after book, this woman delivers.

While I loved Oz and Emily from Nowhere But Here, I found myself more drawn to both Razor and Breanna, not only due to their character, but the circumstances they found themselves in throughout the course of the novel. Razor is something of an outcast among both his friends and his family. He’s expected to love and trust the members of his motorcycle club, and while he certainly loves them, Razor’s left with a ton of trust issues, due to the death of his mother and the mysterious circumstances behind it. It’s these very issues, and the questions he has concerning his mother, that cause waves in the club and cause him to feel as if he has no one to depend on but himself. The pain he feels from losing his mother, of him still feeling like a lost child, is particularly heartbreaking and McGarry does a fabulous job of guiding her readers through those emotions. She does a great job of taking a character that might not be easily relatable and making them seem utterly human. Seriously, when I found out exactly what happened to Razor’s mother, it took an effort of will to hold back the tears.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of McGarry’s Pushing the Limits series was the strong female characters, particularly Beth and Abby. I loved the fact that they didn’t take any crap from anybody, that they weren’t afraid to tell others what they thought or go after what they wanted. When reading through Nowhere But Here, it was almost an adjustment to go from the ballsy girls to the more timid and shy type. In fact, I juggled with whether I liked the change or not. But, as usual, they grew on me and – in fact – I found them more relatable. I suffer from anxiety myself, so I could definitely relate to Emily. And with Breanna in this story, I could certainly understand her desire to be someone else, someone other than the smart, quiet girl. I fit that stereotype to a tee in high school and was often alienated because of it, too, so I found her struggles particularly engaging and the aspect of cyber bullying and social media was especially poignant in today’s time, when it is so easy for someone to anonymously attack and destroy another person’s credibility and life. Moreover, the fact that these female leads were so timid made their character growth all the more rewarding. It was nice to see how they changed and grew into themselves over the course of the story.

McGarry’s tone throughout the story is right on point. I’ll never understand how she is able to write both male and female perspectives so flawlessly. She’s able to blend humor, drama, and anguish together seamlessly and it was interesting to see the problems that arose from Razor and Breanna being in a relationship, instead of the novel simply focusing on the romance coming to fruition. What I found most interesting personally was the issues Breanna faced by dating someone within the club, that she would come across instances in which she wouldn’t be privy to secrets or club dilemmas and, instead, would have to trust Razor and the other members. Further, there was the issue of her reputation by dating a “bad” boy, someone who rode a motorcycle. Romances in McGarry’s books aren’t all flowers and sunshine and it is definitely one of the things that draws me the most.

Really, I can’t praise Katie’s work enough and I’m eagerly awaiting the next book, which will deal with Violet. If you’re a fan on YA/NA contemporary romance, then this is definitely a series you should look into. It’ll give you ALL the feels and more!

Summer 2016 Review Train

Monday, May 2, 2016

 photo Review Train 5.jpg

Announcing the
Summer 2016 Review Train!!!

So, ever since the relaunch of my blog, I've been trying to think of a fun way that I could attract more traffic and followers, as well as a way to get reacquainted  with old blogger buddies as well as meet new ones. And seeing as summer is quickly approaching, my first thought was to have something like a review marathon, in which I post a review every day for a week or so. But how was that different from what I was already doing? And how was I to reach out to others, other than the usual tedious blog hopping?
But then the idea hit me. Why limit this to just me? A great way to network and make friends is for us to work together, to create something big and awesome that could benefit all of us.  
So, I'd like to introduce an idea that I'm calling the Summer 2016 Review Train.
A Review Train is a pretty simple concept. Say ten people pledge to participate. After a date and theme are decided, these ten participants will read the book they volunteered to read and review. Afterward, a schedule will be decided among the participants as to who will post their review on which day. For example, Person One will post their review of their book on Day One, being sure to reference the Review Train. They will post their review as usual, then at the bottom of their post, they'll leave a link to Person Two's blog, saying that they will be reviewing the following day - But don't mention what they will review! Keep it a secret, as that's half the fun! Then Person Two posts their review, followed by Person Three the next day and so on until the final day.
This is a good way to network among other bloggers and to grow your reader base. Heavier traffic means more page views and comments, which means more chances to receive ARCs and the like from publishers or to grow your subscribers and followers. Moreover, it's a great way to learn about fun reads and to see new blogs and make new blogger friends. Everyone wins!
So far, I've never really seen something like this be done independently on blogs before, so I'm very excited to try it out. I invite everyone who is interested to participate but PLEASE don't commit to the Review Train if you don't believe you can actually read and review your book, as it could potentially throw off the whole thing.
With that said, here are the guidelines for participation:
1.) Since the summer season is quickly approaching, the theme for this Review Train is "Summer Reads." Ideally, this would be a nice summery set book, a nice beachy read, or a book that is - while not summery - highly popular and to be published during or very close to the time the Review Train is running.
2.) I would like to have - at the very least - six more participants including myself so that the Train can run for a full week. But the more, the merrier!
3.) Ideally, no book would be reviewed twice during the Train, as I want to keep it first come, first serve. But if it really becomes an issue, we could look into it further.
4.) I hope to start the Review Train on Memorial Day, May 30th. That leaves little less than a month to read your book and write up your review. PLEASE do not sign up if you don't think you'll be able to finish it in time.
5.) If you decide to participate, please add me on either Twitter or Goodreads so that I can contact you fairly easily concerning any matters that might arise with the Train.
6.) While this isn't really a guideline, I've come up with a little giveaway that I'll post on my blog on the final day of the Review Train. Readers and commenters who have followed the Train every day can enter to win the giveaway and for an entry, we can have them follow and/or comment on your blog. More traffic and fun for you, just by participating!
Well, that's my idea! What do you guys think? I'm excited to get started planning it and I look forward to working and meeting new friends in this endeavor. If you have any questions, feel free to ask me here or via email, Twitter, or Goodreads and I will do my best to answer them as quickly as possible. I will also keep a list at the bottom of this post as to who has chosen which book to read!

Review Train Button

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Deadline for Sign-Ups: May 6th, 2016 
2016 Summer Review Train Participants:
Brittany @ Space Between the Spines = Reviewing Summer Days & Summer Nights by Stephanie Perkins.

Lauren @ Always Me = Reviewing Future Shock by Elizabeth Briggs
Sam @ Tsundoku Books = Reviewing Even if the Sky Falls by Mia Garcia

Ashley @ [Insert Title Here] = Reviewing Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

Alicia @ A Kernel of Nonsense = Reviewing The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

Gennifer @ Ready, Set, Read! = Reviewing The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

Laura @ Blue Eye Books = Reviewing The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

Czai @ The Blacksheep Project = Reviewing Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

Ashley @ What's She Reading? = Reviewing Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

Sinead @ Less Reality, More Books = Reviewing The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood