Blogger Recognition Award

Hey all, Dani here.

I love being recognized and/or tagged to do awards and other posts by other bloggers. It is so great to make connections in the book community, and I am so thankful for all the people I have been meeting and interacting with, especially these past several months. Anyway, I was nominated for the Blogger Recognition Award by the delightful Kathy over at Books & Munches. Seriously, go check out her blog because it is fantastic. I love how she recommends food to go along with each book, though I will say that reading her posts generally make me hungry.

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Rules

∞ Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog
∞ Write a post to show your award
∞ Give a brief story of how your blog started
∞ Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers
∞ Select a few other bloggers you want to give this award to

How Mousai Books Started

Back in 2009, I started working with my friend Signy Cullen to try and form a new sorority at our university. We went by the name Mu Psi, because the word “mousai” means muse, and we wanted to be a group that promoted the arts. It took a lot of work to figure out our colors and our mottos and beliefs and build up a membership, but we thought we had everything situated nicely. So we asked for a vote with the Greek Council, but they kept pushing it off later and later, and then some of our members graduated so we didn’t have enough to meet the criteria. Nevertheless Signy and I never stopped feeling the bonds of sisterhood. I decided to honor what we created by naming this blog Mousai Books.

I had a book blog back when I was in university, and it was problematic. Sometimes I got lazy and missed several weeks with no blog post. I didn’t try and connect with any other blogs. My book reviews were sporadic and not nearly as well formulated as they are now.

So I took this blog to be a fresh start, and I feel like I’ve mostly lived up to the ideas I had in mind when I first started. The muses stood for creativity and inspiration. I feel like sharing my love for books and for other geeky hobbies is my way of honoring the muses of old and of all those who have inspired me to be my creative and geeky self along the way.

Blogger Advice

I feel like so many of us give similar advice: be yourself, enjoy what you’re doing, be active in the community. Don’t get me wrong, that is all great advice, and you should absolutely follow it, but I’d like to try and give other helpful advice.

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to adhere to a strict posting schedule. For most of us we can manage a full schedule for a short time, but then we may fall into a reading slump or a writing slump, and then we feel guilty for missing posts or not putting up as high quality posts. This can actually lead to a downward spiral and doesn’t actually end up helping anyone. So, if it becomes necessary, reduce the number of posts you release each week, take a step back, and allow yourself to breathe and relax. Then try again. Your mental health is more important than a rigorous posting schedule. Your reader friends will understand if you have to slow down a bit.

I guess the second piece of advice I’ll give is to spice things up and have a little variety. Post some book reviews, do some book tags, go to author signings or book festivals and document the experience. If you go to the movies and see a book adaptation on screen, go ahead and post a review or a compare/contrast post. If you take a day and go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, take pictures and share the experience with us. We spend a lot of time reading each other’s posts and chatting in the comment sections. It builds friendships and we like getting to know each other. You don’t have to limit yourself to one topic or one type of post.

Nominations

Jenna at J.K. I’m Exploring!

Kristin at Kristin Kraves Books

Katie at Never Not Reading

Holly at Nut Free Nerd

Maygin at Diversifying Perspective, One Book at a Time

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LGBTQ+ Recommendations

Hey all, Dani here.

Okay, so I’m back with more book recommendations. Today I’m talking about books that feature characters who identify as LGBTQIAP+. Now, I know there are a large number of books that will be missing from my list, and please feel free to mention them in the comments. I’m pretty much sticking to books I’ve read in the past couple of years that really stood out to me. Obviously I will include links to reviews where I can.

Autoboyography by Christina Lauren. This was a recent read and I just really enjoyed it because it was cute, but I think the issues of sexuality and religion are nicely touched upon within the novel.

Dreadnought and Sovereign by April Daniels. Would you like to read about a transgender superhero? Just say yes and go pick up these books. I just enjoyed Danny’s story and seeing how everyone responded when superpowers caused her body to become the female body she had always wanted.

Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee. Firstly, for all of my awesome classic literature nerds out there, main character Tash is creating a web series based on Anna Karenina, so that’s cool. But Tash is also asexual, and I don’t think I’ve read many ace books, if any, before this.

Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson and Shannon Waters. Even if this didn’t have any LGBTQ+ representation in it, I would recommend this graphic novel series. Plus it also has a focus on female friendship and is such a fun adventure.

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde. So yet another fun geeky story, this one takes place at a convention, which is awesome. Also, one of the main characters was dating a guy, but has a crush on a girl, and starts a relationship with her in the book. This was a cute read that I flew through as soon as I got my hands on it.

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. The diversity in this book is fantastic. Okay, yeah, so it is a science fiction novel so there are a number of alien races, but there are characters with a wide variety of sexual preferences, religious ideals, and more. I just highly recommend this book.

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson. I read this book last year and it is another book that revolves around characters who are transgender. It was an interesting story and I became so invested in the lives of the characters.

More Happy Than NotHistory is All You Left Me, and They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera. Any book by Adam Silvera is going to probably make you cry, but aside from that, Adam does typically have some characters who identify as bisexual or gay. I have devoured these books since I first discovered them last year.

Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo. Another set of books that have awesome diversity. I absolutely adore these books. Plus, Jesper and Wylan are just the cutest couple.

Shades of Magic trilogy by V.E. Schwab. Okay, so it’s been a little while since I read the first book in this trilogy, but I know for sure that the second book has some LGBTQ+ representation in it. And I would recommend these books anyway because they are outstanding.

Heroes of OlympusMagnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, and The Trials of Apollo series by Rick Riordan. Man, there is so much to say about basically any Rick Riordan book. There are trans characters, gay characters, bisexual characters…the list goes on and on. And it is all handled so well, and the stories are great. If you haven’t jumped into the worlds of Rick Riordan, then where have you been?

And these two books are technically on my TBR list, but I’m going to go ahead and add them to the list as well:

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller

Oh, and for you “Riverdale” fans out there, you can also check out the new series of Jughead comics, as Jughead is an aromantic asexual character.

As I said, I’m sure I am missing a lot of great books, so please, feel free to rattle them off down in the comments.

Finally, next week my genre for this series of recommendation posts will be Fantasy. But I still have plenty of other options, so let me know down below what you’d like to see next:

  • Contemporary
  • Science Fiction
  • Paranormal
  • Romance
  • Historical
  • Poetry
  • Memoir
  • Classics
  • Graphic Novel
  • Diverse Reads
  • …or suggest another genre or theme that you’d like to see me include.

TBR Purge Time – #8

Hey all, Dani here.

I’m back with another purge post. Several other people were starting to do Down the Rabbit Hole and TBR purge posts and it sounded like a good idea to me. But, whereas their posts have you go through 5 (or 10) books at one time, I knew that pace would take me an eternity to completely weed out my TBR. So I altered mine so I look at 30 books each post.

And as I started this post I still had 700 books left on my Goodreads to read list. I’m hoping that by the time all these purge posts are over, I will have my list down around 400. It was at like 820 when I started. We’ll see if I can pull that off.

Iced by Karen Marie Moning. When I added this to the list I thought it was the first book in a new series. If I had paid attention I would have realized that it isn’t. I do want to read this book, but I want to read it in the correct order, so I will remove it from my list now, and then eventually I will read the previous books.

Graveminder by Melissa Marr. This book does still sound interesting, but I’m not really in the mood for it right now, so I’m going to take it off my list. I do own the ebook so I can always change my mind later.

The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress. Again, this one sounds interesting (and I also own this one in e-book) but there are so many other books I want to focus on right now that I would keep skipping over this one anyway, so I’ll take it off the list too.

Spookygirl by Jill Baguchinsky. This book won an Amazon publishing contest several years ago, so I added it to my to-read list because I thought of entering the contest in the future and wanted to see what kind of books they picked as finalists and winners. Well, the contest no longer exists and I just don’t see myself picking this book up anytime soon so I’ll say goodbye to it.

Moonshifted by Cassie Alexander. I picked this up back when I was just reading a whole lot of paranormal romance books because it sounded kinda interesting, and I still might pick it up at some point but probably not anytime soon.

The Tears of Elios by Crista McHugh. This is supposed to be part of a series, but the next book keeps getting pushed back and back, and I just don’t want to invest myself in a series that may never progress.

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest. I have heard a lot of great things about this book (and series), but right now I just don’t know when I would get around to it.

Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet by Darynda Jones. I devoured the first three of this series, and I’m sure at some point I will just binge read my way through the rest. I do enjoy Charlie and the rest of the characters. I mean, I own through book six or so on my NOOK so reading them is something I plan to do…but I’ll have to wait until I’m more in the mood for it, so so long for now.

Ice Forged by Gail Z. Martin. I added this several years ago because I had heard a lot about it and it sounded interesting. Now, I don’t really remember anything about it.

Spy Glass, Scent of Magic, Ice Study, Power Study, and Assassin Study by Maria V. Snyder. While I love the Study series, I felt a bit meh about the first Glass book, but knowing they all take place in the same world means I want to finish the Glass trilogy so I can read the new Study books. Also, I want to read the Study stories. Then there’s Snyder’s other trilogy, of which I’ve only read the first book but also really enjoyed, so I’d like to finish those off as well.

Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal. I loved the first of the Glamourist Histories books, and have continued to buy each subsequent novel since then…and yet I never continued to read them. So I’m keeping this one because I want to keep going at some point.

Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops and More Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops by Jen Campbell. I have wanted these books since I first heard about them. They sound awesome and hilarious, and I know they will be super quick reads.

Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregellis. This is a book/author I have heard quite a bit about, and I honestly debated about keeping this one. I do own it in paperback. So, despite taking it off the list, if the mood strikes, I’ll still pick it up.

A Brush of Darkness by Allison Pang. I think this was one that was recommended from the Vaginal Fantasy Book Club, so I added it, but I haven’t been reading a lot of this kind of book lately. So I can get rid of this for now, and who knows, maybe I’ll pick it up in the future.

Shadowhunters and Downworlders by Cassandra Clare. I have several Shadowhunters books I still need to read, and I may still read this one, but I don’t think it is actually necessary right now.

Rise by Andrea Cremer. I already got rid of the rest of this series, so I can easily say goodbye to this one as well.

Steel’s Edge by Ilona Andrews. I own this whole series, and I’ve left the first one on my list, but I’m removing the rest for now, so I can say so long to this one until I finally start reading the On the Edge series.

For the Love of a Goblin Warrior by Shona Husk. I do believe this was another book I added back when because I was on a PNR kick, but I’m just not feeling it right now.

Black Wings, Black Night, Black Howl, Black Lament, Black City, and Black Heart by Christina Henry. I had read the first five or so chapters of the first book, and it was just all right. It could get better as I get farther into the book and/or series, but for now it isn’t something I plan to pick up again anytime soon.

Succubus Revealed by Richelle Mead. I really need to finish off the Georgina Kincaid books. I’ve read half of them and have enjoyed them, so I know it won’t take much to finish them off. Amazingly, what held me back from finishing them is that they started releasing them with new covers and I liked the cover changes so I was waiting for each book…and then they stopped the new covers after the third book, and started using the original covers for the mass market paperbacks. Why must publishers do this to us? Cover changes can be problematic.

Anyway, that’s it for today’s purge post. All in all I only kept 9 reads this time around, which is pretty darn impressive.

Oh, and I’ve finally started putting together my bookcases in what will be the library/study of my apartment. I still have six more bookcases to put together, and many more books to pack up and move over from my mom’s house. Plus I still have to organize them. But in order to have boxes available to pack more up, I had to toss the books I’d already moved up on the shelves…so here is an in-progress photo update. I do plan to have a full library tour post up once I’ve finished.

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Review: The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

Hey all, Dani here.

Okay fans of the Grishaverse…did you hear the latest news? I mean the news that Leigh’s next Grishaverse books will focus on one of my absolute favorite characters, Nikolai? Yeah, I’m super excited about that. What I’m not excited about…having to wait until 2019 to get my hands on the first book.

I guess at least for now I will talk about this lovely collection of fairy tales from the world, and then reread the Six of Crows duology because I need to find a way to stay occupied until I get more Nikolai in my life.

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Summary

Love speaks in flowers. Truth requires thorns.

Travel to a world of dark bargains struck by moonlight, of haunted towns and hungry woods, of talking beasts and gingerbread golems, where a young mermaid’s voice can summon deadly storms and where a river might do a lovestruck boy’s bidding but only for a terrible price.

Inspired by myth, fairy tale, and folklore, #1 New York Times–bestselling author Leigh Bardugo has crafted a deliciously atmospheric collection of short stories filled with betrayals, revenge, sacrifice, and love.

Perfect for new readers and dedicated fans, these tales will transport you to lands both familiar and strange—to a fully realized world of dangerous magic that millions have visited through the novels of the Grishaverse.

This collection of six stories includes three brand-new tales, all of them lavishly illustrated with art that changes with each turn of the page, culminating in six stunning full-spread illustrations as rich in detail as the stories themselves.

My Thoughts

Rating: Can I give this anything but a 5 star rating? The answer is no. 5 stars!

Okay, so this book of fairy tales from the Grishaverse contains a story from the Zemeni, three Ravkan stories, a Kerch story, and a Fjerdan story. The three tales from Ravka were the ones included in the sampler I read a couple months ago.

The artwork around the edges of the pages and then the full page art at the end of each story was just lovely to stare at. They also captured the essence of the story they accompanied as well.

Some of the stories were familiar, basically the author’s take on tales such as Hansel & Gretel.

I was mesmerized by the tales for the brief time they gave me to escape reality. Returning to this complex world that Bardugo has created was a wonderful experience, and I can just imagine some of the Dregs or any other characters growing up listening to tales such as these.

Honestly, the couple hundred pages of this collection flew by so quickly, and I would love to have future installments with more fairy tales, because they just build on a world that we have gotten to know.

And yes, these can be read even if you have not read the Grisha trilogy or the Six of Crows duology. However, I feel as if you’ll appreciate them more if you have a basic understanding of the world in which these stories take place.

I’d definitely recommend this book. I’m glad I have a lovely finished product in my hands now, and I’m rather happy that I picked my copy up from Barnes & Noble because I can add it to my signed books collection.

Where to Buy

You can pick up this wonderful addition to the Grishaverse from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository, or your local indie bookstore. Oh, and in case anyone would like to know, the Barnes & Noble book is a signed copy.

Review: Life is Like a Musical: How to Live, Love, and Lead Like a Star by Tim Federle

Hey all, Dani here.

Today I am pleased to present a slightly early review. This book is not one I had even heard of until I saw it while walking the show floor at BookExpo, and all I had to do was see the title and the author’s name to know that I had to get myself a copy.

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Summary

From the author of the hit cocktail books Tequila Mockingbird and Gone with the Gin comes a guide to getting ahead in life, love, and leadership-Broadway style! Before Tim Federle became a beloved author (his award-winning novels include Better Nate Than Ever, which Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda declared as “highly recommended” in the New York Times), Tim worked in the showbiz trenches as a Christina Aguilera back-up dancer, Radio City Polar bear, and card-carrying chorus boy on Broadway. Along the way, he discovered that the hard-earned lessons he was learning onstage could be applied to his life, too. Life is Like a Musical features 50 tips and anecdotes, with chapters such as “Let Someone Else Take a Bow,” “Dance Like Everyone\\’s Watching,” and “Save the Drama for the Stage.” This charming and clever guide will appeal to all ages and inspire readers to remember that they\\’re the stars of their own life story.

My Thoughts

Rating: 4 stars

This was a lovely little sort-of self-help book. The only other book I’ve read from Tim Federle is Tequila Mockingbird, which is primarily a recipe book for literary cocktails (Recently I learned that he has another literary cocktail book called Gone with the Gin). Basically that was all I needed to know before I got in line for this book at BookExpo. And I have a signed copy, which is awesome.

Most of this book is advice I would expect. I was not a theater kid, but I spent a very large portion of my life in band, and I had/have several friends who are theater people, so I’m familiar with a number of shows and show tunes, etc.

What I didn’t expect, but enjoyed nevertheless, is that this book is really part guide book and part memoir. Federle fills the pages with little anecdotes from his life, from some of the theater productions of his youth, to his time on Broadway, and even after he left that career to start being a writer. These were the parts that inspired me, made me smile, or made me nod my head in agreement. It shows that the advice he gives is stuff he has learned from his life and career.

Each chapter is nice and short as well, only two or three pages, so this is perfect if you want something in small doses. Also, I feel like you can jump around this book as needed. I read it straight through though, and it was a quick read (only 146 pages long).

It is also pretty clear from the title and the summary that there are numerous references to theater productions, from “Oliver!” to “Gypsy” to “Cats” and even “Hamilton.” So theater geeks are going to enjoy this book–Oh, and Federle likes to name drop several actors and actresses and producers he has worked with over his career, but he does not do this in any sort of obnoxious way.

There is a lightness and a sort of humor to how everything in the book is presented. It doesn’t really get too in depth on the topics, which can sometimes make for an enjoyable read.

I liked this book, and I think the advice can be helpful, whether you are on an artistic career path or not.

Where to Buy

You can pick up a copy of this book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository, or your local indie bookstore. This book will be on shelves tomorrow, October 3rd.

September Wrap-Up and October TBR

Hey all, Dani here.

How are we already at the start of October? I think this is the fastest a year has gone by for me. It’s crazy to think that in just a couple months it will be time to start putting 2018 in the date instead of 2017.

This month was not as productive as other recent months when it comes to reading, but I still think I did all right. This is also a month where I was occupied with cleaning, packing, and moving from one apartment to another, so understandably I was a bit distracted. I hope to be able to read more in October. I’m sorry I didn’t have that many review posts and instead had to resort to numerous posts regarding my ongoing TBR purge.

Warcross by Marie Lu (4.5 stars)

Love and Other Things: Poetry and Prose by Michael Tavon (3.5 stars)

Autoboyography by Christina Lauren (5 stars)

Invictus by Ryan Graudin (4 stars)

P.S. I Like You by Kasie West (5 stars)

Critical Role- Vox Machina: Origins, Issue #1 by Matthew Colville (5 stars)

One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake (4.5 stars)

Bitch Planet, Vol 1 by Kelly Sue Deconnick (4 stars)

A Poison Dark and Drowning by Jessica Cluess (5 stars)

Life is Like a Musical by Tim Federle (4 stars)

Next up is my September book haul. Now, September was a pretty good month for book releases, but I only allowed myself to get ones that I didn’t already have an ARC or e-galley of…well, mostly. I made an exception for All Rights Reserved. I’m trying to be picky about my book buying until I’m confident with the new budget. Living with my boyfriend means a higher rent than when I was still living with my mom. I have to make sure that I have all of my bills covered before I can splurge on books.

 

So all in all it was a pretty good month for books, and I think I might be able to mostly be on a book buying ban in October. I can only think of a few books that I might buy. The only absolute buy in October is A Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne. So expect a shorter haul section next month (I hope). Let’s see if I can actually stick to a ban for once.

I’ll also toss my September OwlCrate unboxing photo up here as well. The theme was Mythical Creatures and I rather enjoyed the box, especially that bookmark. It’s just beautiful.

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Finally, I guess it is time to announce my October TBR. I’m going to go a bit conservative here with my reading plans, mostly because I plan to try and do two 24 Hour Readathons this month. The first is being hosted by Zoe Herdt (readbyzoe on YouTube and Twitter) and that will be October 14th, and then there is the next session of Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon, and that will be on October 21st. So, I will try and have tentative TBRs up for both of those events as we get a little closer to them.

 

 

 

Comic Mini Reviews: Vox Machina Origins and Bitch Planet

Hey all, Dani here.

So, I don’t do a lot of mini reviews on here, but I’m making a bit of an exception today. Though I could probably rave and ramble on about both of these intriguing stories, if I did so who knows when I would be able to squeeze them onto this blog. I’m supposed to only be posting 5 days each week, giving myself basically weekends off, but I’ve had a lot of things I’ve wanted to talk about lately, so bonus posts are happening. Anyway, let’s just jump into these reviews.

Summary (Vox Machina Origins)

Roguish twins Vax’ildan and Vex’ahlia investigate a curse afflicting the impoverished citizens of the port city of Stilben. Things are not what they seem for the adventurous siblings…between fighting shark-riding fish men and black-clad assassins, they meet an antlered half-elven druid with her own theory about the curse.

Summary (Bitch Planet)

Eisner Award-nominated writer Kelly Sue DeConnick (Pretty Deadly, Captain Marvel) and Valentine De Landro (X-Factor) team up to bring you the premiere volume of Bitch Planet, a deliciously vicious riff on women-in-prison sci-fi exploitation.

In a future just a few years down the road in the wrong direction, a woman’s failure to comply with her patriarchal overlords will result in exile to the meanest penal planet in the galaxy. When the newest crop of fresh femmes arrive, can they work together to stay alive or will hidden agendas, crooked guards, and the deadliest sport on (or off!) Earth take them to their maker?

Collects BITCH PLANET #1-5.

My Thoughts

Rating: Vox Machina Origins (5 stars) Bitch Planet, Vol 1 (4 stars)

Here’s a fun fact…there is actually a connection between both of these comics, and it happens to be actress Ashley Johnson. She plays gnome cleric Pike Trickfoot in the web series Critical Role, which I have gushed about on this blog a couple times already, and then when she did an episode of Signal Boost on Geek & Sundry, Ashley recommended Bitch Planet as something to read.

As a huge fan of Critical Role because of the epic storyline (seriously I have watched all 113 episodes of the show and they are typically 3-5 hours long each–so basically I’ve invested a lot of time for this), the announcement of a prequel comic greatly excited me. This was a fantastic story detailing part of an early adventure before Vox Machina truly formed. This particular issue focuses on Vex and Vax, though there is a decent amount of Keyleth in it as well. Go Team Half-Elf. The artwork was great, and it was actually done by a Critter (what we fans of the show call ourselves), so that’s even cooler. Matt Colville manages to capture the personalities and attitudes of the characters so well, and this 27 page comic issue was over too quickly. There will be 6 issues in this original run, with one issue being released each month, so I am eagerly awaiting the next installment.

Moving on to Bitch Planet. First off, please note that this graphic novel is tagged as for mature (age 16+ readers). There is violence and nudity and more within the pages. This one takes place on a prison planet where women who are considered non-compliant are sent. If a woman is too fat, too outspoken, too ugly, etc. etc. she gets sent out to this prison to live and work, and they are not treated well here. But man, the diversity within this graphic novel is outstanding. The variety of sizes and shapes and colors and everything displayed by the group of women we follow is absolutely wonderful. In some ways this feels like a sci-fi version of “Orange is the New Black”…kind of. Add in the politics of something like The Handmaid’s Tale and you’re probably pretty close to what is portrayed within the pages. I am greatly intrigued by this series, and I’m hoping to learn more about the core group of women, because so many of them were introduced in the first few issues that I actually had to reread some parts to make sure I knew who was who. Thankfully I already purchased Vol 2, so I’ll be reading that very soon.

Where to Buy

Vox Machina Origins: Amazon, Dark Horse, Comixology

Bitch Planet, Vol 1: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository

Review: One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake

Hey all, Dani here.

Last year the hype around Three Dark Crowns was massive…with so many people gushing about how utterly amazing and dark the story was. And yes, while I enjoyed the book and read it fairly quickly, I was not quite as excited. The concept was interesting and the final chapter was outstanding, but most of the book just felt a bit flat and uneventful to me. I talk about it a little in this post. Thankfully, I was still intrigued enough to continue with the series–and I’m so glad that I did.

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Summary

The battle for the Crown has begun, but which of the three sisters will prevail?

With the unforgettable events of the Quickening behind them and the Ascension Year underway, all bets are off. Katharine, once the weak and feeble sister, is stronger than ever before. Arsinoe, after discovering the truth about her powers, must figure out how to make her secret talent work in her favor without anyone finding out. And Mirabella, once thought to be the strongest sister of all and the certain Queen Crowned, faces attacks like never before—ones that put those around her in danger she can’t seem to prevent.

In this enthralling sequel to Kendare Blake’s New York Times bestselling Three Dark Crowns, Fennbirn’s deadliest queens must face the one thing standing in their way of the crown: each other.

My Thoughts

Rating: 4.5 stars

With the first book I thought that the first 85% of it was rather uneventful and I didn’t connect with the characters. I am so pleased to say that with this one I was just pulled into the story and I didn’t want to stop until I reached the final page. There was more plotting and planning yes, but also actual moves were made.

The triplet Queens seemed a little darker and more prepared to do what they needed to do. I liked Mira a little more in this book, and Katharine got intriguingly dark, but I still think Arsinoe is my favorite of the three.

Speaking of favorites, Billy totally won me over in this book. I believed the connection he had with Arsinoe, and I even appreciated the time he spent with Mirabella.

Arsinoe figuring out more about her poisoner gift was interesting, and I liked that it brought up complications, like when she forgot about poison coating objects or that she just ingested something. And since only a couple others knew her secret, they worried about a potential poison attack from Katharine.

Oh, and I’m also excited about what is happening with Jules, and I am so looking forward to seeing how this particular plot line develops through the next book.

So basically this was a huge improvement over the last book, at least for me. I devoured it so quickly and am now sad that I have to wait a whole year for the next installment. I can safely say that if you loved the first book, then this one will also be a great read. And if you were like me and thought the first book was just okay, I am telling you, give this one a chance, because it’ll probably impress you.

Where to Buy

You can pick up your own copy of One Dark Throne from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository, or your local indie bookstore.

Banned Books Recommendations

Hey all, Dani here.

It is still Banned Books Week, and today I want to talk about some banned books that I think people need to read. Also, because there are some books that have been very prominent and influential in recent months, I’ll have a few of those listed at the end. I’m pretty certain that some of them will end up being on the list of 2017 Banned Books when it is released next year.

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Okay, honestly, I think that books should be read period. When it comes to books that are challenged or banned though, I feel like people are trying to lock up some idea and keep it from the public eye. This puts it on my radar even more, practically labeling the book as a must read. What concept in the book has made people so afraid that they want to prevent people from reading it?

Any of the books I mentioned in my last post are definitely worth a read, as are any and all of the other books on the lists of challenged books from the past couple decades.

  • Saga, by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples (anti-Family, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group)
    • This is a graphic novel series, and yes there is nudity, offensive language, and sexual content within most issues. This is not a series targeted at youth. In fact, when I saw Saga being talked about and sold at BookExpo, the guy at the booth was sure to inform readers/consumers that it is targeted at an adult audience. The series follows a couple who just happen to be part of opposing races, and they fall in love, which causes all sorts of issues. They are hunted down by both of their people, and even by their families. But they form a new family of sorts. I think it is worth the read. I think it is about people from different places finding common ground despite the prejudices they grew up believing.
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky (drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “date rape and masturbation”)
    • One of the things I like to say about this book is that the movie adaptation has to be one of the best adaptations I have seen. Yes, that is because the author wrote the screenplay and directed the movie. It does not get adapted any better than having the author in such prevalent roles in the process. But I think this book is one that everyone should read. It is actually a shorter read too, so it doesn’t take that much time, and it is written in letters/journal entries. But seriously, everyone should read Charlie’s story.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee (offensive language, racism)
    • Isn’t this one just a classic that basically everyone reads anyway? I remember reading it and watching the movie in school. It is one of those classics that shows us the reality of a time in the past of the USA, that actually does not feel all that different from the current reality, with the exception of a vast advancement in technology.
  • His Dark Materials trilogy, by Philip Pullman (political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, violence)
    • I devoured these books as a kid, and am hoping to complete a reread of them soon, but when I was a kid I didn’t pay attention to any political or religious undertones or overtones in the books. I was so wrapped up in Lyra’s adventures. I’m curious to see what I pick up now reading these as an adult.
  • The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood (Profanity; lurid passages about sex; statements defamatory to minorities, god, women and the disabled; violence; hopelessness; age-inappropriate; graphic sex; vulgar; offensive to Christians; violently graphic and morally corrupt.)
    • Okay, so technically I have yet to read this one, but I’m still including it on this recommendations list. With the way the world is going nowadays, this seems like a scary possibility for the future, so I think more people need to read it (myself included–I promise, I have it on my TBR)
  • Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank (sexual content)
    • Seriously, this book has been challenged and banned because at one point Anne details the fact that she is maturing and so is her body. That is the reason why people think that this book should be taken out of schools and libraries. Not because of all the historical violence by the Nazis or the treatment of Jews and others. No, because a young woman talks about puberty, this book shouldn’t be read. Wow, just wow. I have this one on my TBR again, because I feel that I need a reread.
  • 1984, by George Orwell (pro-communist, explicit sexual matter)
    • Here’s another classic book that eerily predicted how society would be in the future. But instead of focusing on the government watching and monitoring every move, no let’s challenge this book because it could be promoting the communist agenda. Both George Orwell books on this list have been challenged because people suspected the author of being a communist.
  • Animal Farm, by George Orwell (political theories, pro-communist)
    • This book was also challenged because of having anthropomorphized animals in the book. I think the segregation of the animals based on what kind of animal they are is very similar to how nowadays we try and separate people by gender, or race, or religion, or sexuality. We need to have more conversation on the topic of division within the world today, and I think books like this can help get the conversation really moving

Okay, so now I’m going to include a few recommendations for books released this year, in 2017. They have not hit any challenged or banned lists (yet) but I imagine we’ll see them there when the 2017 list is released next year.

  • The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas
  • All Rights Reserved by Gregory Scott Katsoulis
  • Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
  • The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed
  • Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Both The Hate You Give and Dear Martin deal with the Black Lives Matter movement and police brutality, which are issues that definitely need more discussion and time in the spotlight. Again, yes, I need to read both of these, though to be fair the novel by Nic Stone will be released on October 17th.

Moxie and The Nowhere Girls are more focused on the issues of sexism and how girls are treated even within our schools during their formative years. Whether it is the dress code, or allegations of rape, or anything of that nature, we need to be bringing these issues into the spotlight. Oh, and The Nowhere Girls will be released on October 10th.

Finally there is All Rights Reserved, which is one of my top reads of 2017. It focuses a lot on issues surrounding freedom of speech, and I cannot recommend this book enough. I have my review up here, and just order yourself a copy or borrow it from the library. Please, just read these books, and then make your voice heard.

Well, that’s all for now. But, this is sort of a start for a series I’ll be running for the next few months wherein I recommend different books based on a theme or genre. Next Thursday I will be back with a LGBTQ+ Recommendations post. But I wanted to ask all of you what list you would like to see after that. Here are the options I have right now (but if you have others suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments):

  • Contemporary
  • Fantasy
  • Sci-Fi
  • Paranormal
  • Romance
  • Historical
  • Poetry
  • Memoir
  • Classics
  • Diverse
  • Graphic Novel

TBR Purge #7

Hey all, Dani here.

So I’m starting to get more posts up, whether they are tags, reviews, or recommendations, so I’ll be reducing the number of purge posts. They will be posted only on Wednesdays now, instead of sometimes happening twice a week.

But I saw several people doing Down the TBR Rabbit Hole posts over the past couple months and I was inspired to do something similar myself. Instead of looking at 5-10 books within each post, I decided that the best way to get all the way through my Goodreads TBR list was to do 30 books with each post.

As I start with my 7th purge post, my TBR list stands at 715 books. And I’ve been telling myself that I can’t add any books to this list until I’ve finished my purge, so that is sort of motivating me to work ahead on these posts as much as I can.

Anyway, let’s just jump into this.

Death Masks, Dead Beat, Small Favor, Blood Rites, Proven Guilty, White Night, Turn Coat, Changes, Ghost Story, and Cold Days by Jim Butcher. Yes, I know with most of the series I have on the list, I’ve been trying to only keep the next book that I need to read on the list and getting rid of the others. However, I also know without a doubt that I’ll end up reading the entire Harry Dresden series of novels so I’m just going to save myself the time and keep them all here on the list.

The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett. I don’t even remember why I added this book. I’m sure it was recommended by a fantasy or sci-fi author or blogger or something, and I’m sure it could still be an interesting read, but for now I need to stick with books that I can remember without needing to look them up.

Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier. A couple years ago I think I tried to read the first couple chapters of this one, but I never progressed past that point. And I don’t actually remember much of anything from what I read. So I can probably remove this one from the list for now.

Ironskin by Tina Connolly. This one does sound interesting, and I did buy it off BookOutlet, so at some point I may pick it up and read it, but for now I think I can take it off the list.

Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone. I’ve head a lot about this one and people seem to really like it. If I remember correctly then this is also a book I bought cheap off BookOutlet, but for now I’m crossing it off the list.

Geist by Philippa Ballantine. Again, this is another one that I vaguely remember hearing about on some article recommending books or something of that nature, but I can’t really remember anything about it. Sorry book, but goodbye.

Codex Born and The Snow Queen by Jim C. Hines. I can’t believe after how much I loved Libriomancer that I didn’t read the rest of the series. Also, I read the first three books in the Princess series, so I really need to read the last one. And I adore Jim C. Hines’ books, so I am absolutely keeping this books on the list.

Caliban’s War, The Butcher of Anderson Station, Gods of Risk, and Abaddon’s Gate by James S.A. Corey. It took me such a long time to get through Leviathan’s Wake, and I did like it, but I now know I have to really be in the mood to read the next book, because they are quite sizable. I’m going to keep Caliban’s War on my list, because it is the next book in the series, but the two stories and the third book in the series will all be taken off the list (for now).

Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter. I added this to my to-read list because I like Gena Showalter and I was considering giving this one a try. But let’s be honest, I’m not much of a fan of zombie related books/TV shows/movies so I’m going to pass on this one.

Troubadour by Mary Hoffman. I have loved every Mary Hoffman book I’ve read, and I’m sure I would love this one too. And this may be a weird reason to say farewell to this book, but I own all of her books in paperback, and this one only seems to be in hardcover.

Mind Games by Kiersten White. I’m not really interested in this one right now. Perhaps someday if the mood strikes I’ll give it a try but right now it’s a no.

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. I want to read this book soon. Obviously it is staying on the list–though technically soon it will be moving over to my Currently Reading list.

Elegy by Amanda Hocking. So, I read the rest of the series, and while I read it quickly and wanted to know what would happen next, I also wasn’t quite as invested as with her other series. So here I am not reading the last book in the series. At least for now.

Frey by Melissa Wright. Why did I have this one on my list? I’m sure it sounded like something I would want to read, and if the urge struck, I would probably enjoy reading it, but I have to be a bit more selective with my choices right now, so farewell.

A Soul for Chaos by Crista McHugh. I have read a large majority of books by Crista McHugh, and I read the first book in this series and it was pretty good, but I just never got around to reading this one, and I just don’t know that I’m in the mood to continue this series.

Year Zero by Rob Reid. The concept for this book is intriguing, and I do want to try and read a bit more sci-fi. Also, I already have this book on my shelves. So I’m going to keep it for a while.

The Dirty Streets of Heaven by Tad Williams. Okay, I added this one to my list because of the Sword & Laser Book Club. And I do own it in e-book, so someday I may get around to it, but for now I’m just not really feeling like picking it up.

Well, eliminating 15 out of the 30 isn’t too bad. I still have 700 books left on my Goodreads “Want to Read” list, but I still have another 500 I need to look through and make decisions on. Sometimes it feels like this list is neverending. But I am determined to finish this purge.

Who else is participating in a TBR purge? If you are, how is it going? Are you making progress? Let me know in the comments.