Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Wrap Up/ Favorite Reads

Hey everyone, first of all, sorry for being AWOL for so long, I guess over a month now. It's just that November was majority busy with NaNo by craft fair and Etsy stuff, Thanksgiving, and just everything else. And then December was busy as usual, plus I had my hand in a cast for most of it, making typing hard. Yeah, fun. But I have come back to do a yearly wrap up and share with you what I hope to accomplish next year. I don't do resolutions, but I do set goals for myself.

2014 wasn't a bad year, I wrote one and a half novels, published another, and while I didn't read as many books this year as I did last year, I read some very good ones. And some bad, but that's the way it is. We got a new season of Sherlock, I got into a couple new fandoms, the last Hobbit movie came out and destroyed my feels, and a bunch of amazing books came out this year, several from debut authors! Overall the year was good, if a little boring in my personal life.

Next year, I hope to finish two more novels as usual, continuing with my Modern Tales of Na Fianna series (no longer a trilogy, I have thought of four books now). A lot of book releases to look forward to, no movies I'm currently waiting for yet, but lots of shows I follow coming back. I'm going to get a pet hedgehog! He's sort of a Christmas present, but I haven't gone to get him yet, but you will all know when I do. I am going to start a formatting business online, I'll have more about that later once I get it set up. I always promise to blog more, but that doesn't always happen, though this year I do plan to find a weekly feature to do, maybe staring with Top Ten Tuesday to give it a go. Most exciting, is that Mara (from the Reading Hedgehog) and I are planning on going to BookCon this year! If you too, are going, let me know! I also hope to start reading several series this year that I have been meaning to for a long time like The Dresden Files after I finish the Cal Leandros series, and yes, everyone, I plan to start watching Doctor Who this year. It's been long enough.

Now, onto my reads for the year!

Overall, I read 86 books this year. Not terrible, and I did meet my Goodreads goal, but not as great as the over 100 I read last year. Several were re-reads too, but oh well. I'm going to give you my Top 10 favorite reads of the year: First five are 2014 publications, and the others are just books I picked up for the first time. There were certainly other books that could have made this list, but I decided that I read so many good books this year, that I would just do ten otherwise this could go on for ever!

(You can click on the title for the link to my review)

Favorite 2014 Reads:

2014 Releases


1. Jackaby by William Ritter Victorian era, mystery, amazing heroine, quirky detective, and faeries, what is not to like, I ask? Probably my favorite 2014 release and possibly my favorite read of the year. I can’t say enough about this one!

2. Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater Continuing to love the Raven Boys Cycle, and this one did not disappoint, in fact, it was better than I expected and less painful too. As always Maggie manages to write something so strange yet so perfectly amazing, and once again leaves us with many questions and a terrible cliffhanger to boot. But I can’t stop loving these books all the same.

3. The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Neilson I have loved this trilogy since the beginning, and the last book was no exception, very much everything I hoped for, and tying of the ending perfectly. The only problem was that it was hard to let go of Sage who has become one of my favorite fictional characters.

4. The Mirk and Midnight Hour by Jane Nickerson This was a lovely book, and one of the best Tam Lin retellings I have ever read, and I've had a hard time finding good ones. I just love the way she writes, it's so visual and her characters are well crafted and enjoyable to read about. Definitely looking forward to what she has next.

5 The Accidental Highwayman by Ben Tripp This was just a fun book, written in the classic adventure style with faeries and magic and daring do. I love to see classic swashbucklers come back, and was so excited to find this one. It had to make the list.



Other Books

1 Vicious by V. E. Schwab I love me a good revenge story, and this one was totally awesome. I read this at the beginning of the year, and I still say it’s one of the best reads of 2014. Villains done right are ones you actually find yourself caring about. This was a dark story, but wonderful as well. I have a feeling I’m going to be talking about this one for a while yet.

2 I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga I read the whole trilogy this year, after a long time of it being of my TBR and loved it. So dark, so intense and addicting. It’s been a long time since I read a book that really got into the psychology of a killer like this one did. Not books for the faint of heart, but my dark side loved them.

3 The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud This is the first in the Lockwood & Co.  series and I love it! A new favorite series. So very fun and British and though it's set in the modern day, it feels very Victorian. This was the first Jonathan Stroud book I have read, but I now hope to read the rest of his books.

4 Nightlife by Rob Thurman I discovered the Cal Leandros series this year and loved it. I love any story about brothers, and while I still have a couple little issues with this series, I can't help but love it. One of my favorite new finds of the year. I've enjoyed it so far.

5 Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby This might have been the most surprising book of the year. I read this back in January or February I think, but it was lovely, and a very nice story, not at all what I expected going into it. I ended up really loving this book and thought I should add it to my favorites.


As a special extra, my least favorite book of the year:

The Friday Society by Adrienne Cress

Let me know what your favorite reads of the year were!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Fingal's Cave Black Friday Sale

I've got new items in my Etsy shop, Fingal's Cave, and I decided to have a Black Friday sale. If you want Steampunk jewelry, or Sherlock and Hobbit geekery, go check it out! The coupon code is running through Monday and is good for 15% off: BLACKFRIDAY14





Friday, November 21, 2014

Character Interview with Ciran Mac Cool

Okay so I said I was going to get some snippets and fun stuff up this month to go along with NaNoWriMo, but I guess I didn't, and I apologize for that. I've just hit the ground running this month and it's not going to change until New Years at least, but I do hope to share some more with you about my book Blood Ties between now the the Release Date that should hopefully be sometime in January or February. As an update on NaNo, I am very close to my 50,000, only about 5,000 more to go, so I should be a winner by the end of the weekend! I was hoping to finish the actual novel by the end of the month like last year, but An Earthly King is much longer than Wolfsblood was and I haven't quite even reached the halfway point yet. Oh well.

Anyway, I decided I should post something, so here is a character interview with Ciran Mac Cool, the hero of the story, so you can get to know him better. Thanks to my friend, Abigail, for writing the interview questions for me!

Ciran Mac Cool

When there isn’t a life-or-death adventure on hand, what do you enjoy doing?

When we’re not on a mission, I’m usually either at home riding, training, or messing around with my siblings, or with my friends out on the town. It’s nice to have some downtime every once in a while.

Were you a pest when you were little?

That depends on who you ask! I don’t think I was too bad, though, comparatively. I had a good big brother to keep me in line!

Does the end justify the means?

That depends on the results the end brings. As a warrior, I know that sometimes one simply had to do what needs to be done, whether it’s just or not. It’s a hard thing to get used to, but it’s part of life.

What makes you angriest?

When something should be done, but no one will step up to do it.

If you had three wishes, what would you wish for?

A peaceful Ireland, good relationships, and many days in the sun.

What is your favorite weapon?

The sword is my preferred weapon. Mine was made by my father who is a master smith.

Are you interested in girls?

Haven’t found the right one yet. Don’t really have time for a relationship at the moment anyway.

Do you lean towards reforming or exterminating villains?

I know enough of the world to realize that not everyone can be reformed. If it’s possible, then it is important we try our best, but it’s also important to realize that some people are just evil and sometimes it’s best to consider the loss that would happen if they continued to strive.

Fate or choice?

I think there’s a bit of both, but I also believe that one can change their fate if they try hard enough.

How do you get along with Miss West?

We get along fine until she tries to emotionally traumatize me or torture me or throw me down a waterfall—yes, that really happened.

How do you take your tea?

I take coffee or chocolate. Tea is no friend to the warrior who must get up early in the morning for tracking!

Who is your hero?

My big brother Aeden will always be my hero.

What kind of vehicle do you like best?

I drive an Aston Martin Vanquish, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Fast, sleek, maneuvers well, and can outrun most enemies.

Are you a night person or a morning person?

I am what I have to be at the moment. I’m not really a morning person, but I have learned to be able to get up early and still be able to function. You do what you have to when you’re out tracking or whatnot.

What would you die for?

I would die for any family member or friend.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Book Signing and Craft Fair

Hey everyone! So this weekend, I'm actually going to be doing my first official book signing! A few of my friends and I are going to have a booth at a local craft fair and I'm going to be selling my books as well as some steampunk jewelry and yarn goods from my etsy shop Fingal's Cave.

It's going to be held this Saturday the 8th, in Montverde, FL. If you're close enough, come stop by and see us! Here's some more information of their website: http://mymontverde.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=29&Itemid=109

Here's some of the stuff I'll be selling:

These are my Hobbit themed scarves. Each one represents a place in Middle Earth



Sorry for the terrible pictures, I missed my window of opportunity and had to take inside without natural light. 


So, yes, if you live anywhere near enough to come, please do! The event's going to be a lot of fun, and I look forward to seeing you there! =)

Saturday, November 1, 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014

So it's that time of year again! National Novel Writing Month! And yes, I'm going to attempt to make the 50,000 once again this year! It happened to fall at just the right time for me to start my new novel so I was very excited about that.

No big reveal for the novel this year, I'm going to be working on An Earthly King the second novel in the Modern Tales of Na Fianna series. It's going to be the sequel to Blood Ties which hopefully will be out this Winter!

Normally, I would be sharing Tuesday snippets with you, and I will share something every Tuesday, but I don't know how many snippets from this novel I can share without spoiling the first one. So Instead, I'll either do a snippet from Blood Ties to stick with the theme, or I'll do something fun like art or character interviews or something like that.

If anyone else is taking part in NaNoWriMo this year, let me know! I'd love to know what you're working on. It's a lot easier to get through if you have people to encourage you through it, making sure you're not just playing around on Pintrest or something :P If you want to look me up and be my Writing Buddy on the Nano website, I'm Artfulscribbler, same as my Twitter account. I hope to see you there! And best of luck with reaching your 50,000!

Slainte, Hazel

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

BPAFF Public Service Announcement: Keep Safe this All Hollows



This is a public service announcement from BPAFF (The Bureau of Protection Against Fair Folk)

All Hallows is only two days away, and that means it's time to think about protection before you go out and have your fun on All Hallows Eve. Let's run down the list of what that is:

All Hallows Eve is one of the most dangerous nights of the year to be out because the Veil is thin between our world (the human world) and that of the Fae (or Fairies). All manner of Fae are going to be out, just looking for people to glamour or steal away to their Realm. This isn't a tithe year, so you won't have to lock up your young men, but keep in mind that abduction by Fairies is still a very real threat.

Here's some simple things you can do to protect yourself:

Carry Iron

All Fae are allergic to iron. Any bit will protect you, whether it is a piece of jewelry, a knife, or anything portable. Depending on where you are planning to go on All Hallows Eve, you can decide whether or not you actually need a weapon or just some piece of iron to carry with you.

Four Leaf Clovers

Four leaf clovers will reveal a Fairies' glamour. Fairies can disguise themselves to walk among humans. You may not know you're to be the victim of a Faery abduction until too late. If you carry a four leaf clover, you will be able to see past their human disguise. (Note, three leaf clovers DO NOT work the same, never substitute)

Rowan

If you don't have iron, rowan is a good substitute, and will do the same thing, though it can't be fashioned into a weapon unless you want a cane or club. Perfect for a night on the town though.

Wear Clothing Inside Out

If you're wandering through a place high in Faery activity, wear your clothes inside out to lighten the risk you will lose your way. Doing this will make you immune to their tricks and spells, but don't rely on this alone. Carry some other form of protection against them.

Note that all of these are good ways to protect yourself from Fairies but it is still highly inadvisable to go anywhere near the Faelands on All Hallows Eve at all. Remember, that if you do not bother the Fairies, they will not bother you.

(This Public Service Announcement was brought to you by Blood Ties: A Modern Tale of Na Fianna)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Books of Note: September Reads

I've decided to continue with the format for my books of note that I did over the summer and list all the books I read as well as bought and then of course, the reviews for my favorite books as usual. I've also decided to link the reviews for the books I don't review directly on the blog to Goodreads. Because I actually do review most books that I read so if you are interested, you can read them on Goodreads.

I read nine books this month, still not as many as I wanted to, but a lot of them were 400+ pages, so I let myself off :P I also managed to read only books I own this month, so no library books at all, and I got through a lot of new releases and series books I have wanted to read for a long time.

Books I Read:

1. Gates of Thread and Gold by Lori M. Lee (Giveaway win) (2/5 stars)
2. Deathwish (Cal and Niko #4) by Rob Thurman (4/5 stars)
3. The Madness Underneath (Shades of London #2) by Maureen Johnson (3/5 stars)
4. Blood of My Blood (Jasper Dent #3) by Barry Lyga (5/5 stars)
5. Cup of Blood (Crispin Guest #0.5--prequel) by Jeri Westerson (4/5 stars)
6. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin (4/5 stars)
7. Found (Mickey Bolitar #3) by Harlan Coben (3.5/5 stars)
8. Slaves of Socorro (Brotherband Chronicles #4) by John Flanagan (3/5 stars)
9. Inkheart (Inkworld #1) by Cornelia Funke (re-read) (5/5 stars)

Books I Bought:

1. Blood of My Blood (Jasper Dent #3) by Barry Lyga
2. Roadkill (Cal and Niko #5) by Rob Thurman
3. Jackaby by William Ritter
4. Found (Mickey Bolitar #3) by Harlan Coben
5. The Maze Runner by James Dashner


Favorite Reads of the Month:


Jazz Dent has been shot and left to die in New York City. His girlfriend Connie is in the clutches of Jazz's serial killer father, Billy. And his best friend Howie is bleeding to death on the floor of Jazz's own home in tiny Lobo's Nod. Somehow, these three must rise above the horrors their lives have become and find a way to come together in pursuit of Billy. But then Jazz crosses a line he's never crossed before, and soon the entire country is wondering: "Like father, like son?" Who is the true monster?
The chase is on, and beyond Billy there lurks something much, much worse. Prepare to meet...the Crow King.


Review


I'm going to have to break my normal review format for this one because I honestly don't even know how to go about reviewing this book, and I'm going to try to do it as well as I can without spoiling it, which means it's going to be short.

This was a ridiculously hard book to rate. There is so much in this that is not okay, but it all works out into the story, so I can't really complain and the end really clinched it for me. I'm going to be honest, horrible stuff happens in this book, and when we find out about Jazz's past it gets even worse, but it's not okay in the book, just as it's not okay with the reader and it's supposed to be like that, so while I don't care to read about stuff like that, because it wasn't there to be gratuitous I can deal with it and just feel bad for what poor Jazz went through.

This was a non-stop action book, I read it in two days and only stopped to sleep. The writing as with the previous books is amazing, the twists and turns are wonderful, and leave you wondering whether or not everything will actually turn out okay in the end, and I love that because it's usually so obvious that everything will end well in a book. The twist about Ugly J and the Crows was great, and though I pretty much had figured it out by that time, I thought it was revealed really well. Billy Dent is whack, there's nothing else to say, he was just so creepy.

As for the outcomes, I loved them, I was reading with bated breath, not knowing where it was going, or where Jazz was going, and all I'm going to say is that I was not disappointed. The conclusion was wonderful, way better and more solid than I expected it to be, and overall I am really happy I read this series. Barry Lyga is an amazing author and one of the best when it comes to writing crazed, delusional serial killers. And I do always appreciate that. I really do.

So, yes I ended up rating it five stars in the end, because what else am I going to do with a book that makes me feel the way this one did?


When a corpse turns up at his favorite tavern, Crispin begins an inquiry, but the dead man turns out to be a Knight Templar, an order thought to be extinct for 75 years, charged with protecting a certain religious relic which is now missing. Before he can investigate, Crispin is abducted by shadowy men who are said to be minions of the French anti-pope. Further complicating matters are two women: one from court with an enticing proposition, and another from Crispin’s past, dredging up long-forgotten emotions he would rather have left behind. And as if all that weren’t enough, a cunning young cutpurse by the name of Jack Tucker has insinuated himself into Crispin’s already difficult life. The deeper Crispin probes into the murder, the more it looks like the handiwork of an old friend turned adversary. With enemies from all sides, Crispin has his hands full in more than murder.


Review





I was hoping that Jeri Westerson would write a prequel for the Crispin series to tell us how he and Jack actually met, and I was not disappointed with this book. It was a very good prequel (and I'm always a fan of those) and it was nice to see Crispin and Jack get to know each other from the beginning. I have always loved their relationship because it's a bit different from what you normally get with mystery novels, Jack being so much younger than the typical side-kick character you find in the genre, but it works really well with the series and with Crispin's character.

The storyline of this one was really cool too, and I loved how all the mysteries seemed to be separate but kind of intertwined throughout the story to where you were left wondering whether it was all just a coincidence or whether everyone might be involved. It wasn't super hard to figure out, but there were still a couple twists that I didn't see coming, and I still enjoyed the book despite that because I read these for the characters more than anything.

As for secondary characters, I loved seeing Wynchcombe again, I actually really enjoyed his character. He is a baddie, but he's interesting too because half the time he's trying to kick Crispin's head in and the other half, he's helping him. He was one of my favorite sheriffs in the series. I did not care at all for Lady Vivienne, in fact, I found her annoying. That didn't bother me though, because she was supposed to be. What really bothered me was that Crispin was such an idiot about her. I mean, seriously, man, you can't think all ladies are so innocent, can you? And even after she duped him several times, he still fell under her spell. Just several head-shaking moments there, but I think it taught him lessons for later in the series. De Marcherne was a pretty cool baddie though. He was so cold and evil, and French. I enjoyed him a lot.

All in all, another really enjoyable Crispin Guest mystery. I really look forward to seeing the next book in the series, and continuing Crispin and Jack's adventure where they left off!






From internationally bestselling author Harlan Coben comes this third action-packed installment of his bestselling young adult series.

It’s been eight months since Mickey Bolitar witnessed the shocking, tragic death of his father. Eight months of lies, dark secrets, and unanswered questions. While he desperately wants answers, Mickey’s sophomore year of high school brings on a whole new set of troubles. Spoon is in the hospital, Rachel won’t tell him where he stands, his basketball teammates hate him . . . and then there’s Ema’s surprise announcement: She has an online boyfriend, and he’s vanished. 
As he’s searching for Ema’s missing boyfriend (who may not even exist!), Mickey also gets roped into helping his nemesis, Troy Taylor, with a big problem. All the while, Mickey and his friends are pulled deeper into the mysteries surrounding the Abeona Shelter, risking their lives to find the answers—until the shocking climax, where Mickey finally comes face-to-face with the truth about his father.





Review



Thoughts on the Overall Book: I've loved the Mickey Bolitar series a lot so far, and while this one might not have been quite as action packed as the previous two, I still did enjoy it and it had a few really good twists that kept me reading it straight through. Anytime I read a novel straight through I have to give marks to the author for that.

Cover--Yea or Nay: No. I really hate these new covers. They are terrible.

Characters: Mickey was always a really enjoyable character. He does what he has to and he doesn't sit around moping about it. I also loved Ema and continue to do so in this one. She never comes across with an attitude and is a genuinely good friend to Mickey. Spoon was less weird in this story and I actually feel like we got to know him a little better. He surprised me. I'm not going to say much more for fear of spoiling the story, but I'll just say that I liked how we got to see some more of the characters and how they played their parts in the plot.

The Romance: Not really any romance though part of the plot is that Ema met a boy online and that's whatever you want to call that. I still think there will be a romance between her and Mickey, and I wouldn't be unhappy with it, but I don't mind them being friends like they are now either.

Writing Style: Same as the others. First person past tense from Mickey's POV. I enjoy his narration, I have no complaints with being in his head. As I said previously, Harlan Coben does so well with suspense, keeping the reader occupied. Granted, it's not a long book anyway, but I read it in a night and a day and it definitely felt like it went super fast unlike some books that drag on forever. It's the kind of thing I look for in a suspense novel (and I have read 'suspense novels' that did not make me sit down and read them cover to cover). The story wasn't quite as awesome or engaging as that of the previous two books, but it was still enough to keep my attention through the whole thing. It was more of a personal story for Mickey and Ema, dealing with things closer to home.

Accuracy/ Believability: No complaints. Obviously, there's not a lot of problem with this in contemporary.

Problems/What bothered me: Nothing really bothered me. I could say I was mildly disappointed that we didn't get to see more of Luther but the way this one ended up (and I won't say anything!) the next book--which I assume we will be getting?--will be more about that plot line.

Conclusion: 3.5 stars. Not quite as action packed as the previous two books, but still very enjoyable.

Recommended Audience: Fans of suspense and thrillers and that kind of stuff would enjoys these. If you liked the Jasper Dent books and want something a little less dark and desperate, this is a good series to read as a recovery. Guy read but can also be a girl read ages 14 and up.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Mid-Year Book Freakout




I got challenged to do this by my friend and fellow blogger Mara at The Reading Hedgehog. And I thought it looked like fun and a good idea so here is my post, kind of a wrap up of the entire year and not just my summer reads.



1- Best book you've read so far in 2014
Okay, this is tough. I've read lots of good books, but only a few really awesome, epic books. As far as books that came out this year, definitely Jackaby by William Ritter. But as follow up books that I just read this year, I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga and Vicious by Victoria Schwab were close seconds.

2- Best sequel you've read so far in 2014
Probably The Shadow Throne (Ascendence Trilogy #3) by Jennifer A. Neilson was the best sequel book I read so far.

3-New release you haven't read yet, but want to
Ooh, soo many! I have heard many good things about The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen and really want to read that. I also really want to read Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne. Looks like a good adventure fantasy novel.

4- Most anticipated release for the second half of the year
Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater (Raven Boys III) I'm both anticipating this one and scared to death by it. I almost wonder if I just want to have it so I can see where it goes.

5- Biggest disappointment
I don't know if I had any books that were a HUGE disappointment. Half Bad by Sally Green wasn't nearly as awesome as it sounded nor was Crusher by Niall Leonard, but it didn't keep me up at night.

6- Biggest surprise
This would probably be Spookygirl by Jill Baguchinsky. This was one of those books that could go either way, but ended up being good. Not one of the best books ever, but very enjoyable.

7- New author (debut or new to you)
I'm going to do both. For a debut, William Ritter, author of Jackaby definitely and for new to me, Rob Thurman, author of the Cal Leandros series.

8- Newest fictional crush
Ummm....wow, that's a hard one. Maybe Niko from the Cal Leandros series. Off the top of my head.

9- Newest favorite character
Jackaby, definitely.

10- Book that made you cry
I think I've spent most of this year so far crying over TV series instead of books, but I did cry reading The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Neilson. It tore me up.

11- Book that made you happy
The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel. Classic adventure novel, and I always adore his books. Makes me feel like a kid :-)

12- Favorite book to film adaption you have seen this year
As crazy as this sounds, I have not seen a book movie this year. I have actually only gone to see three movies this year so far, and none of them were book adaptions. I can probably say with conviction that my favorite will be the third Hobbit movie when it comes out.

13- Favorite review you have written this year
This might sound bad, but my favorite review to write this year was the one I wrote for The Friday Society which I gave one star to because I got to say what I thought about it and use lots of gifs. It's here if you want to read it: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/446704041?book_show_action=false

14- Most beautiful book you have bought this year or received
The Barns & Noble Classics edition of Grimm's Fairy Tales It is sooo pretty :-)

15- What books do you need to read by the end of the year?
Um...all of them? I don't really plan that far ahead and I actually finished up all the books I told myself I needed to read this year that were already out over the summer, so I'm pretty clean right now :-) Maybe you should tell me what books I need to read before the end of the year??? (I'm serious, I love to hear people's suggestions!)

I'm not going to tag anyone for this, but I would like to thank Mara again for tagging me, because I enjoyed it a lot! Hope everyone has a good September! I'll be back before long with...something :P


Sunday, August 31, 2014

Books of Note: August Reads/ Summer Wrap Up

Well, it's the end of August and the end of my summer reading. I didn't get nearly as many books read as I wanted to, I think about ten less than last year, but I did read some good ones and it's still a good number for how busy I was these months. All in all, I read 25

Here's the complete list of books I read this summer and their ratings:

#1-The Curse of the Thirteenth Fey--Jane Yolen (3/5 stars)
#2-Game (Jasper Dent #2)--Barry Lyga (4/5 stars)
#3-This Dark Endeavor--Kenneth Oppel (4/5 stars)
#4-Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1)--Marissa Meyer (3.5/5 stars)
#5-Sense and Sensibility --Jane Austin (4/5 stars)
#6-The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co. #1)--Jonathan Stroud (4/5 stars)
#7-Moonshine (Cal and Niko #2)-- Rob Thurman (4/5 stars)
#8-Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles #2)-- Marissa Meyer (4/5 stars)
#9-Jackaby-- Willian Ritter (5/5 stars)
#10-Strands of Bronze and Gold-- Jane Nickerson (4/5 stars)
#11-The Mirk and Midnight Hour-- Jane Nickerson (5/5 stars)
#12-Half Bad--Sally Green (3/5 stars)
#13-The Strange Maid (United States of Asgard #2)-- Tessa Gratton (4/5 stars)
#14-Beowulf: Dragonslayer--Rosemary Sutcliff (4/5 stars)
#15-Crusher--Niall Leonard (2/5 stars)
#16-Madhosue (Cal and Niko #3)-- Rob Thurman (4/5 stars)
#17-Shadow and Bone (Grisha Trilogy #1)--Leigh Bardugo (5/5 stars)
#18-The Friday Society--Adrienne Kress (1/5 stars)
#19-The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson #5)--Rick Riordan (5/5 stars)
#20-King of Ithaka--Tracy Barrett (2/5 stars)
#21-Reckless (Mirrorworld #1)--Cornelia Funke (4/5 stars)
#22-The Iron Hand of Mars (M. Didius Falco #4)--Lindsey Davis (4/5 stars)
#23-North and South--Elizabeth Gaskell (5/5 stars)
#24-Knight of Shadows (Hunter of Sherwood #1)--Toby Venables (4/5 stars)
#25-The Hero's Guide of Being an Outlaw (League of Princes #3)--Christopher Healy (4/5 stars)


And here's the original list of books I posted for my original summer reading at the beginning of June so you can see how many of those I managed to read:


From the Library

Dragon Slayer: The Story of Beowuf-- Rosemary Sutcliff
Madhouse (Cal Leandros #3)-- Rob Thurman
Deathwish (Cal Leandros #4)-- Rob Thurman
Don't be Afraid of the Dark: Blackwood's Guide to Dangerous Fairies-- Guillermo Del Toro & Christopher Golden 
King of Ithaka-- Tracy Barrett
Game (Jasper Dent #2) Barry Lyga
The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co.)-- Jonathan Stroud
The Pale Assassin-- Patricia Elliott
Nightmare City-- Andrew Klaven
Far Far Away-- Tom McNeal
This Dark Endeavor-- Kenneth Oppel 
Crusher-- Niall Leonard
Simon-- Rosemary Sutcliff (This is one I have never even heard of before!)
The Friday Society-- Adreinne Kress
The Iron Hand of Mars (Falco Mysteries #4)-- Lindsey Davis
Poseidon's Gold (Falco Mysteries #5)-- Lindsey Davis

From My Bookshelf

Moonshine (Cal Leandros #2)-- Rob Thurman
Knight of Shadows (Hunter of Sherwood)-- Toby Venables. 
Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1)-- Marissa Meyer 
Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles #2)-- Marissa Meyer
The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson #5)-- Rick Riordan 
Shadow and Bone-- Leigh Bardugo 
Reckless-- Cornelia Funke 
The Hero's Guide to Being an Outlaw (League of Princes #3)--Christopher Healy 



I planned to read 24 books and I read 25 so at least I got my original goal, even if I didn't read all the exact books I planned to. I did get to all the ones from my own shelf which made me happy because some of those I had had sitting there for a while.

Now onto the books I bought this month! Since it was my birthday this month, I bought some extras and won one in a giveaway for review, so here's a picture to show what I got, there's 17 in all and I have also pre-ordered a couple new releases for next month as well:



From Barns & Noble with by Birthday giftcard I got 

Grimm's Fairy Tales (The complete collection in the B&N classic which is LOVELY and illistrated and everything. I love it.)
Dracula--Bram Stoker (also in the B&N classic but the newer ones they have come out with, but it's really nice quality)
Siege and Storm (Grisha Trilogy #2)--Leigh Bardugo 
Game (Jasper Dent #2)-- Barry Lyga 
Blackout (Cal and Niko #6)--Rob Thurman
Doubletake (Cal and Niko #7)--Rob Thurman

From my Powell's order I got

Montmorency on the Rocks (Montmorency #2)--Elanore Updale (I was supposed to get a hardback but instead I got a galley copy so I'm still looking for a hardback to finish my collection. It was on .95 cents though, so I can't really complain)
The Madness Underneath (Shades of London #2) --Maureen Johnson (I never found this one at the library and I loved the first one, so I am excited to read it finally)
The Near Witch--Victoria Schwab (Liked this one a lot)
Vicious--Victoria Schwab (I loved this one too, and I have finished my collection of Victoria's books)
Inkheart (Inkheart #1)--Cornelia Funke (I had this one previously, but I recently replaced the paperbacks I had of this trilogy with hardbacks so now they are all HBs)
Outlaws of Sherwood--Robin McKinley (This is another one I read a while ago, but really liked and decided to buy finally.)
Deathwish (Cal and Niko #4)--Rob Thurman
Madhouse (Cal and Niko #3)--Rob Thurman
Slashback (Cal and Niko #8)--Rob Thurman (trying to collect all of these, I only have two left now :)

I also bought Cup of Blood (Crispin Guest #7) by Jeri Westerson from Amazon because that's the only place I could get it. It's actually a prequle and I have been looking forward to this one for a while.

And I won a copy of Gates of Thread and Stone by Lori M. Lee in a Goodreads Giveaway, so I'm excited to get to that one too.

And now on to my favorite reads of the month! I was really bad about writing reviews this month so I only have two for books I really enjoyed:



Ever since Jacob Reckless was a child, he has been escaping to a hidden world through a portal in his father's abandoned study. Over the years, he has made a name for himself as a finder of enchanted items and buried secrets. He's also made many enemies and allies--most important, Fox, a beautiful shape-shifting vixen whom Jacob cares for more than he lets on.

But life in this other world is about to change. Tragedy strikes when Jacob's younger brother, Will, follows him through the portal. Brutally attacked, Will is infected with a curse that is quickly transforming him into a Goyl--a ruthless killing machine, with skin made of stone.

Jacob is prepared to fight to save his brother, but in a land built on trickery and lies, Jacob will need all the wit, courage, and reckless spirit he can summon to reverse the dark spell--before it's too late


Review:

Thoughts on the Overall Book: I always love Cornelia Funke's books, and this one was no exception. She's one of my favorite fantasy writers ever, and adding that to this being a brother story only made it better!

Cover--Yea or Nay: Yes, I think it's wonderful and somewhat creepy and yet Fae looking. Definitely an eye-catcher for me.

Characters: Jacob Reckless is a flawed yet likable character. I found myself easily attached to him. He was very human, but in a good way. The reader can relate to him, and though he made some poor decisions at times, he did everything he had to to get his brother back to normal. I approve of him in that aspect and he's joining my list of Awesome Big Bros ;-) I really liked Will as well. He was quiet and sweet and his love and belief in Jacob even after his long absences was very touching. Clara was also a very likable character. I wasn't sure if she was going to be a problem later on in the story, but she's a sensible heroine, and did what she needed to. I liked her a lot, as well as Fox. I also did rather like the dwarf Valiant. Even if he's kind of one of those characters who does what's best for him, he came around in the end. The baddies weren't actually quite as bad as they could have been, but you still knew they meant business. Hentzau and Kami'en were bad but not all that scary. The Dark Fairy however, really was rather frightening and was much in the tradition of the Old World fairy queens.

The Romance: The romance isn't really a huge part of the story, even though Will and Clara's relationship and love for each other does play a part. (view spoiler) Either way, the little romance in this book was not annoying or anything.

Writing Style: As typical to Cornelia Funke's books, the writing was lovely and the world building so wonderful. I loved the illusions to all the old fairy tales, and the creatures that inhabited this world were both frightening, interesting, and sometimes cute. I loved the idea of the Goyl, I thought it was a really cool idea, and have not really read anything like it before. I really would love to say more about it, but I can't really say anything but that it's awesome and I love it! I think I will still always loveInkheart best of all Cornelia's books and her worlds, but the Mirrorworld is definitely a close second.

Accuracy/ Believability: Not applicable.

Problems/What bothered me: No problems, though I might have liked a little more backstory to begin with. The only very minor complaint I could give is that the book starts rather abruptly and jumps a lot of years between chapters one and two. But it's not hard to follow along. I also--and this is just personal preference and I have been spoiled by other stories--but I would have liked to have had more brotherly moments between Jacob and Will. A lot of times it's almost as if we're told of how much they care for each other, and partly, yes, it is their characters, but I would have liked to see more bits between them (view spoiler)But that's only a minor thing and didn't keep me from enjoying the book any less.

Conclusion: 4 stars. Really enjoyed it, though I think I will always love Inkheart best. Can't wait to read the sequel!

Recommended Audience: Cornelia Funke fans who have not read this need to, and just anyone who loves fairy tales and well crafted worlds. Girl or guy read 13 and up.

(Read this review with Spoilers on Goodreads)



England, 1191. Richard Lionheart has left the realm bankrupt and leaderless in his quest for glory. Only Prince John seems willing to fight back the tide of chaos threatening England – embodied by the traitorous ‘Hood.’

But John has a secret weapon: Guy of Gisburne, outcast, mercenary, and now knight. His first mission: to intercept the jewel-encrusted skull of John the Baptist, sent by the Templars to Philip, King of France. Gisburne’s quest takes him from the Tower of London to the hectic crusader port of Marseilles – and into increasingly bloody encounters with ‘The White Devil’: the fanatical Templar de Mercheval.

Relentlessly pursued back to England, and aided by the beautiful and secretive M̩lisande, Gisburne battles his way with sword, lance and bow to a bitter confrontation at the Castel de Mercheval. But beyond it Рif he survives Рlies an even more unpredictable adversary.

Review:

Thoughts on the Overall Book: This is the Robin Hood retelling I have been waiting for. As soon as I heard about it I wanted to read it. It's fresh, it's fun, and it keeps the traditional adventure of Robin Hood stories but without Robin as a protagonist, who I really get tired of.

Cover--Yea or Nay: It's cool, I don't have a problem with it, but it's not the one I would pick either. For the kind of book it is, it works.

Characters: Okay, so since I watched BBC's Robin Hood series, I have had a real soft spot for Guy of Gisburne and since Robin really ended up annoying me in that series, I have kind of gotten tired of him as a character in general. The last really good Robin Hood story I have read was Robin McKinley's Outlaws of Sherwood But this one has Guy as the main character, and he's the good guy. And he was genuinely, a good fellow. He wasn't an anti-hero, he was a black knight with a white heart. I really liked him a lot. Robin Hood on the other hand was a creep and portrayed very well as a villain and a sociopathic con man (the bad, dangerous kind). He's not even portrayed like that just because you're getting Guy's POV, there's hard evidence to that fact. I'm going to warn you now, that if you have a problem with Robin being portrayed as a bad guy, you're not going to like this book. I personally liked this fresh take on his character. I thought it was very well done. Galfrid was one of my favorite characters though. He was a kind of sardonic and cynical person and made a good companion to Guy. I didn't have anything against Melisande, though I was afraid I would at first. She ended up being the good kind of strong female character. She did the job she had to, but didn't try to do Guy's as well. Tancred was actually a scary villain when you got to know him. I wasn't quite sure he wouldn't disappoint at first but I think he did pretty well. I also liked how both Richard and John were portrayed. I personally agree in full on how Richard was portrayed. And John was actually not portrayed as an idiotic milksop either, which I think it more accurate.

The Romance: Not a whole lot of romance. Guy and Melisande do share feelings for one another, which can probably be guessed, but it takes up hardly any of the story at all, and only really comes about at the end.

Writing Style: While not the most spectacular, it was engaging, and fast paced, and good for the kind of novel it was. I actually really liked how this was geared as an adventure novel so it wasn't just a slog through historical details that so many medieval books set in this era are. It wasn't the actual swashbuckling thing you would normally expect from a Robin Hood book either, thankfully (because I'm kind of tired of that, it's overdone and wouldn't have worked here) but more almost like James Bond for want of a better description. Guy was working as a retrieval expert and under cover in this one, and there was the added almost steampunk flair with the cool inventions and things he carried. All in all, I thought it was fun and a definitely different take on the Robin Hood story.

Accuracy/ Believability: Strangely, this book is classed as fantasy actually, but there wasn't really any fantasy elements apart from the cool contraptions Guy carries. It's not alternate history, there's nothing weird, but it's the kind of historical novel "true" students of history would probably would not like but I don't find they like much of any novels. Nothing jumped out at me as being inaccurate. But this is more meant to be a fun read and if it's not quite perfect, that's not the point.

Problems/What bothered me: Nothing really bothered me. There was a bit of language though scattered, and a couple moments of "adult content" but never graphic. Certainly, there was less of both than I have found in a lot of YA novels. I'll mention that there is gore for those of you who don't care for that. Typical medieval level but again, not too graphic, but I'm probably a poor judge of that. Still PG 13

Conclusion: 4 stars. I enjoyed this book a lot. it is now one of my favorite Robin Hood (or rather not Robin Hood) novels. I am excited to see where this series goes. I look forward to seeing more of Guy and Robin dueling it out.

Recommended Audience: Good guy read, but girls who like adventure and this kind of thing would also like it. If you are a fan of BBC's Robin Hood series, mainly because of Guy and are as tired of Robin as I am, this is definitely for you. Ages 18 and up.

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Before I end the post I thought I would show you something else I got for my birthday. Yes, I have finally gotten a bust; his name is Octavius: