Monday, April 30, 2018

April 2018 Wrap Up & Book Haul!

Happy Monday, Bookworms!! And happy Last Day of April as well!!

Can you seriously believe it's the last day of April??
I think this month flew by even faster than last month!

April was a really great reading month for me, and while I love all the books I read,
I am SO ready to get started on my May TBR!!

So without further ado, here's my April Wrap Up!

Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli
The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory
Dumplin' by Julie Murphy
Paper Princess by Erin Watt
Once Upon a Prince by Rachel Hauck
Fawkes by Nadine Brandes
Defy the Worlds by Claudia Gray
The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan
Stay Sweet by Siobhan Vivian
Ash Princess by Lauren Sebastian
Inferno by Julie Kagawa
Love & War by Melissa De La Cruz
Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

(Did you notice all the Princess/Wedding books in this haul??
Those are part of my Royal Reads TBR for May!)

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling *
Dumplin' by Julie Murphy *
Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett
Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli
The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan
Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh
Caraval by Stephanie Garber *
King's Cage by Victoria Aveyard
Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab
A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab

* = Re-reads

Still Me by Jojo Moyes
The Smoke Thieves by Sally Green
The Husband Hour by Jamie Brenner
99 Days by Katie Cutogno *
The Room on Rue Amélie by Kristin Harmel
Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren
9 Days and 9 Nights by Katie Cutogno

Like I said, April was a really great month for books,
and I'm thrilled to have been able to read all the books I read.

I think my most favorite book of the month would have to be
Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli!
I loved Leah's story, and you can see my thoughts for it here.

And now it's officially time to say GOODBYE to April,

I hope you read a lot of great books this month as well,
and are looking forward to even more awesome books in May!

My Thoughts: The Smoke Thieves by Sally Green

The Smoke Thieves
(The Smoke Thieves #1)
by Sally Green
Website | Twitter

Publication Date: May 1st 2018
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Pages: 532
ISBN: 9780425290217
Genre: Young Adult | Fantasy
Source: First To Read

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A princess, a traitor, a hunter and a thief. Four teenagers with the fate of the world in their hands. Four nations destined for conflict.

In Brigant, Princess Catherine prepares for a loveless political marriage arranged by her brutal and ambitious father. In Calidor, downtrodden servant March seeks revenge on the prince who betrayed his people. In Pitoria, feckless Edyon steals cheap baubles for cheaper thrills as he drifts from town to town. And in the barren northern territories, thirteen-year-old Tash is running for her life as she plays bait for the gruff demon hunter Gravell.

As alliances shift and shatter, and old certainties are overturned, our four heroes find their past lives transformed and their futures inextricably linked by the unpredictable tides of magic and war. Who will rise and who will fall? And who will claim the ultimate prize? (Goodreads)

The first thing that drew to The Smoke Thieves was the interesting book cover. If you don't already know, I kind of can't resist a good looking cover, and the cover for this book was definitely interesting. The next thing that had me interested was the author. I have quite a few books by Sally Green on my TBR, but I have yet to read any of them, and I was really excited to finally read something by her.

Let me get started by say The Smoke Thieves was not at all what I expected. This was totally my fault, as in my excitement to start the book, I didn't pay enough attention to the summary, and I really wasn't prepared at all for the story. Not that the story was bad in any way, but it was BRUTAL in so many ways. (I'm a BIG chicken about brutal stuff.) I had to stop at one point a few chapters in to look up what exactly I was reading, and, of course, it has similarities to Game of Thrones. (I have avoided that book and TV series JUST because of its brutality, but I imagine what I read in this book was really close to what's in it.) So, fans of GOT, you're most likely going to LOVE this story. That being said, the book was interesting, and I did make it through to the end, even though I did have to walk away from it a few times to let my stomach settle again. Haha!

The book was full of intriguing characters, and I like that the story is told from each characters different viewpoints. Each of the characters are completely different and unique in their own way, and it was interesting to see how each of them narrated the same events in different ways. (I'm not sure I'm explaining that very well, but I hope you get the point.)  There is a bit of romance included in the story which was nice, though one relationship felt a little rushed, and I had a hard time buying it. (I'm not going to say who, so if you want to know, read the story for yourself.) And while there are a lot of interesting characters in the story to like, there are EVEN MORE that you're going to dislike. I mean seriously dislike. (Boris. Ugh.)

Overall; The Smoke Thieves was an interesting read, and I'm really glad I can finally mark a book by Sally Green of my list to read! I'm not sure if I have the stomach to continue this series with the next book, though I am kind of curious to see what will happen next. (We shall see, I suppose.) I'm also still really curious to check out Sally's Half Bad trilogy as well, and having read this book, I may have to work the that series onto my TBR soon. Game of Thrones and other fantasy book fans, do check out The Smoke Thieves! I think you will really like it.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

My Week in Review • Week 17

Happy Sunday, Bookworms!!

Welcome to my weekly Week in Review post!

Here I share all the things I've been up to during the past week.
Check back every Sunday for new updates!

Now, here's what I've been up to this week!

This week I managed to read 6 books, so it was definitely a good reading week! The first two books I read where Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh, which is a Mulan retelling, and also The Smoke Thieves by Sally Green, which had a very Game of Thrones vibe to it.

I also finished my re-read of Dumplin' by Julie Murphy, which I wanted to re-read before starting Puddin' next month. I've been meaning to read Still Me by Jojo Moyes since it was released back in January, and I'm thrilled to have finally read it this week as well!

And my last two reads of the week were A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab, which was awesome, and Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli, which I DEVOURED in no time.

My thoughts for Leah of the Offbeat and Flame in the Mist are up on the blog already, and I'm hoping to have posts up for the rest of these books this week!

This week I got a little farther in my Marvel Movie Watch, but I still have a few more to go before I can see Infinity War, but I'm hoping to work on those this week!

I also watched Adam Sandler's newest movie, The Week Of, on Netflix. I didn't enjoy this movie as much as I had hoped to, but it was ok. Just Go With It with Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston is one of my most favorite rom-coms, and I had hoped this movie would be as good as that one, but it wasn't. Shrug.

Happy Sunday, Bookworms!!

I'm a little late getting this post up today, but better late than never, right?? It's a beautiful day outside today, and I really just want to go outside and enjoy it, but I wanted to get this done first. :)

This week was a pretty great week all-around! I read a lot of books, and watched a lot of movies, and it feels like a good way to end the month. I'm really looking forward to next month, not only because it's the last month of school for the kiddos, but also because I have SO many awesome books on my May TBR. I can't wait to dive into them all.

That's all for me this week! How was your week?

Saturday, April 28, 2018

My Thoughts: Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh
Flame in the Mist
(Flame in the Mist #1)
by  Renee Ahdieh
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Publication Date: May 16th 2017
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Pages: 392
ISBN: 9780399171635
Genre: Young Adult | Retelling | Fantasy
Source: Own

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The only daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has always known she’d been raised for one purpose and one purpose only: to marry. Never mind her cunning, which rivals that of her twin brother, Kenshin, or her skills as an accomplished alchemist. Since Mariko was not born a boy, her fate was sealed the moment she drew her first breath.

So, at just seventeen years old, Mariko is sent to the imperial palace to meet her betrothed, a man she did not choose, for the very first time. But the journey is cut short when Mariko’s convoy is viciously attacked by the Black Clan, a dangerous group of bandits who’ve been hired to kill Mariko before she reaches the palace.

The lone survivor, Mariko narrowly escapes to the woods, where she plots her revenge. Dressed as a peasant boy, she sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and hunt down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires. (Goodreads)

I've had a copy of Flame in the Mist sitting on my shelf for the longest, but I unfortunately hadn't had the chance to pick it up until recently. I've read a few books by Renee Ahdieh in the past, and really enjoyed them, and I was super curious to finally read this one as well. Retellings are some of my favorite books, and I just knew I would enjoy Flame in the Mist. With the second book in the series coming out next month, I figured it was time to finally read the book, and I'm really glad I decided to do so!

The storyline for Flame in the Mist was really interesting, and I love that it was a Mulan retelling. I love Mulan, and I couldn't wait to finally read her story. The story starts off with a bang, then gets a little slow in the middle, but picks back up as the story goes along. I was definitely entertained throughout, and didn't see many of the twists throughout the story coming. The book ends with quite a cliffhanger ending, and I'm actually glad that I waited until to read this, as now I don't have to wait so long before starting the next book. I really want to know what happens next!

There were a lot of characters to like in Flame in the Mist. I love the main character, Mariko's, strength and determination. She proves time and time again throughout the story that though she's a girl, she's quite fierce, and she was definitely able to take care of herself. I really like Mariko's brother, Kenshin, as well, and I definitely appreciated the strong bond between these two twins. There are a lot of other secondary characters in the story to like as well, but I don't want to give anything away about them, so read the book and meet them for yourself!

Overall; Flame in the Mist was not at all what I expected, but I really enjoyed the story! This is the third book that I've read by Renee Ahdieh, and I find myself enjoying her stories more and more. I am super excited to get my hands on Smoke in the Sun as soon as it is released, as I'm super curious to know what's going to happen next, especially after that cliffhanger ending in Flame in the Mist! If you're a fan of retellings, especially Mulan retellings, do check out this book!

Friday, April 27, 2018

My Thoughts: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Ruin and Rising
(The Grishaverse #3)
by Leigh Bardugo
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Publication Date: June 17th 2014
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Pages: 422
ISBN: 9780805094619
Genre: Young Adult | Fantasy
Source: Own

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The capital has fallen.

The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation's fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova's amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling's secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for. (Goodreads)

One of my main goals for 2018 was to *finally* finish all the books in the GrishaVerse trilogy by Leigh Bardugo, and now that I've finally done so, I don't know what to do with my life now! Seriously though, Ruin and Rising was a great conclusion to this fascinating series, and even though I didn't want the series to end at all, I'm pretty happy with the way things came together in the end.

Like the previous books, Ruin and Rising had a great storyline, and was filled with a lot of action, as well as twists and turns that will keep you completely captivated as you turn the pages. I really didn't know what to expect from this ending, but the adventure the characters set upon in this story was absolutely addictive, and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough to see what was going to happen next. I was so bummed when I turned the last page of the story, as I wasn't ready to let these characters go, but all good things must come to an end, they say. Sigh.

One thing that I have loved the most about this series has been the characters. There are really so many characters in this book to love, including the main character, Alina, who grew SO much over the course of the series. It was quite an inspirational thing to watch. I also loved Mal for always being Alina's rock when she needed him, (even though he did make me a bit mad at him in book two). Nikolai quickly became my most favorite character in the book, and I really wish we had been introduced to him sooner, so we could get more of his story. (If Leigh were to write a series around Nikolai, I'd totally read it.) I even had a few feelings for The Darkling by the time the story came to an end, and I was really hoping for better things for him by the end. Alas, that was not to be. Seriously, so many well written characters in this series, and I loved them all.

(Edited to add: I just discovered that Nikolai IS getting his own story! King of Scars)

Overall; Ruin and Rising was a great conclusion to this wonderful, fascinating series, and though I hated to see it come to an end, I couldn't have asked for a better ending. I don't get too attached to series very often, but when I do, it's super hard to let go, and I'm definitely having a hard time saying goodbye to this one. Lucky for me, I still have Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom to read, and even though they aren't part of this series, I do believe they are set in the same world, so maybe that will ease the pain of letting go. *grin*. If you're looking for a great series to read, do check out the GrishaVerse trilogy by Leigh Bardugo, and I hope you love it just as much as I do!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

My Thoughts: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
Siege and Storm
(The Grishaverse #2)
by Leigh Bardugo
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Publication Date: June 4th 2013
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Pages: 435
ISBN: 9780805094602
Genre: Young Adult | Fantasy
Source: Own

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Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her--or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm. (Goodreads)

I have been trying to actually finish The GrishaVerse trilogy for the LONGEST, and for some reason, I just haven’t been able to read these books as quickly as I had hoped! I originally read the first book, Shadow and Bone, a few years ago, and then I re-read it last year in anticipation of finally reading the rest of the books. Unfortunately that didn’t happen the way that I wanted to it. Part of my reading goal for this year is to read, or finish reading, all of the series that I hadn’t yet read, or finished. The Grishaverse trilogy was near the top of my list, and I’m thrilled to finally be reading it!

Siege and Storm picks up not long after where Shadow and Bone leaves off. I’ll admit that I was a little confused when I first started reading the book, because even though I just re-read the first book late last year, I’ve read a LOT of fantasy books since then, and I admittedly got my stories a little confused. BUT, the more I read of the book, the more the story started coming back in my mind, and it only took a few pages for it all to come flooding back. I didn’t know which direction the story would take in this sequel, but I was definitely ready for the ride, and that is absolutely what I got with Siege and Storm.

One of the things that I have enjoyed most so far in this series has been the character growth, and not only for Alina, but for Mal and all the other characters in the story as well! I also LOVE all the new character additions to the story as well, including Nikolai Lantsov, and Tamar and Toyla, who are all new favorites of mine. They are all seriously so great. Though I have to admit that I’m really worried about Alina and Mal, and I’m super curious to read the next book to see what’s in store for them. Also, more Nikolai in the next book would be fantastic, please and thank you.

Overall; I really, really enjoyed reading Siege and Storm! Having finally read this sequel, I can definitely see why people love this series so much. I’m also pretty thrilled that I can start Ruin and Rising right away, though I know I’m going to be SO sad when this series comes to an end. If you’ve not yet checked out these books, I definitely recommend them, and I hope you enjoy them as much as I have so far.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

My Thoughts: Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli (Audiobook)
Leah on the Offbeat
(Creekwood #2)
by Becky Albertalli
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Publication Date: April 24th 2018
Publisher: HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray
Pages: 352
ISBN: 9780062643803
Genre: Young Adult | Contemporary
Source: Own

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Leah Burke—girl-band drummer, master of deadpan, and Simon Spier’s best friend from the award-winning Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda—takes center stage in this novel of first love and senior-year angst.

When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.

So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended. (Goodreads)

Leah on the Offbeat was one of my MOST anticipated reads for 2018, and I'm so beyond thrilled to have finally read this book! I am a huge fan of Becky Albertalli's books, and I absolutely couldn't wait to read Leah's story. I loved this book. It was so much more than what I expected, and I can't wait to read it again, and again, and again!

A few weeks ago I decided to re-read Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, not only to refresh my brain before the movie was released, but also to refresh before starting Leah's story. I am SO glad I made the decision to do this, because not only did it give me the refresher that I needed, but it also made me completely fall in love the story again! (It also made me want to re-read The Upside of Unrequited again, which I did, and which was another great decision!) So when I started reading Leah on the Offbeat, it felt like falling right back into the story, and I loved that so much.

I'm going to try to write my thoughts for this book without giving anything away, but if you absolutely want no spoilers, then you should probably come back and read this AFTER you read the book. Just in case!

Leah on the Offbeat picks up about a year after where Simon VS leaves off. All of our favorite characters that we love from Simon are back in this story, enjoying their last year of high school, and getting ready to move on to college. I LOVED seeing all of these characters again, and discovering what they had been up to over the past year. It felt a John Hughes movie in book format, and I freaking love their stories so much. The storyline felt familiar, yet completely different, and I love that it kept me guessing. Seriously, I flew through this book in just a few hours time, and by the last chapter, I didn't want it to end. But, all good things come to an end, and this book had the perfect ending.

As I mentioned above, all of the characters we know and love from Simon's story are back once again in this book, but it is Leah who really stands out this time. (Of course she does, it's her story.) I liked Leah from the beginning, but getting to know more about her and her story was awesome. I found myself relating to her in SO many ways, and I just totally *get* her. Being able to connect to a character like that doesn't happen often, but when it does, it's the best.

Though I ordered a finished copy of this book, I was super impatient for it to actually arrive on release date, and I opted to start the audiobook the moment I woke up the morning of the release day. Lucky for me, Playster had me covered, and had the audiobook available the same day as well. If you have the opportunity to check out this book on audio, I highly recommend it! It's narrated by the lovely Shannon Purser, who does an AMAZING job with Leah's voice, and story, and I don't think there could be a better narrator for this book. ALL of Becky's books on audio are great, so if you ever want a good book to listen to, do check them out!

Overall; If you didn't notice by this super gushy review, I *really* loved Leah on the Offbeat! This was a great addition to an already wonderful set of books, and I'm beyond thrilled that I had the opportunity to read it. These are books that you will definitely want to read again and again, and I promise you'll never get tired of them. I know I can't wait to read them again. If you haven't yet check out any of Becky's books, I highly recommend you do so! And I hope you love them all just as much as I do.

Waiting on Wednesday #315 - My Plain Jane & The Emerald Sea
My Plain Jane
(The Lady Janies #2)
by Cynthia Hand
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Jodi Meadows
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Brodi Ashton
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Publication Date: June 26th 2018
Publisher: HarperTeen
ISBN: 9780062652775

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You may think you know the story. After a miserable childhood, penniless orphan Jane Eyre embarks on a new life as a governess at Thornfield Hall. There, she meets one dark, brooding Mr. Rochester. Despite their significant age gap (!) and his uneven temper (!!), they fall in love—and, Reader, she marries him. (!!!)

Or does she?

Prepare for an adventure of Gothic proportions, in which all is not as it seems, a certain gentleman is hiding more than skeletons in his closets, and one orphan Jane Eyre, aspiring author Charlotte Brontë, and supernatural investigator Alexander Blackwood are about to be drawn together on the most epic ghost hunt this side of Wuthering Heights. (Goodreads)

Is anyone else super excited for My Plain Jane to release??
I've had an e-arc of it for a little bit now, and I'm dying to start it.
Of course, I really want to read My Lady Jane first,
and I have it on my TBR for next month.
I can't wait to read both of these!
The Emerald Sea
(The Glittering Court #3)
by Richelle Mead
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Publication Date: June 26th 2018
Publisher: Razorbill
ISBN: 9780698406018

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The dazzling conclusion to #1 New York Times bestselling author Richelle Mead's The Glittering Court series.

Meet Tamsin, the Glittering Court's hard-angled emerald. Her outsized aspirations make her a fierce competitor, rising to the top of the ranks. But when the ship she boards for the New World is tragically lost at sea, she is quite literally thrown off-course. (Goodreads)

Ah, The Emerald Sea! Another book I can't wait to read!
This book is Tamsin's story, and I have been SO curious to read it!
I can't wait to finally do so soon!

Those are my WOW picks for this week,
What books made your pick today??
**"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine,
that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.**