Book Review, Books!, Calendar Girls, Signal Boost

Calendar Girls: December 2018

Hey all, Dani here.

Welcome back to another month of Calendar Girls! I have been having such a great time with all the lovely guys and gals participating in this monthly post. The themes have been fantastic and have introduced me to a few books, while also allowing me to gush over other books that I have already read and enjoyed. It’s great to have even more of an excuse to digitally meet up with other book lovers and talk about books.

As always I’ll start this post by saying that Calendar Girls is a monthly blog event that was started by Flavia and Melanie, but is now being hosted by Katie and Adrienne. They are all wonderful ladies, and you should check out their lovely blogs. Oh, and if you go to either Katie or Adrienne‘s Calendar Girls post each month, they will have links to all the other wonderful book bloggers participating in this event.

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First, more about the Calendar Girls. It is designed to ignite bookish discussions among readers, and was inspired by the 1961 Neil Sedaka song, Calendar Girl.

Just like the song, each month has a different theme. Each blogger picks their favorite book from the theme, and on the first Monday of the month reveals their pick in a Calendar Girls post. Make sure to post back to the hostess’s post, and both Katie and Adrienne will make a master list for the month. The master lists allow everyone to see the other Calendar Girls’ picks and to pop on over to their blogs. Thus, we all get to chat about books and even make some new friends!

Okay, and now it is time for the December theme, which is…

Let It Snow

Best Book Set in Winter

So, most months I have a section where I go over my honorable mentions. Typically I do this because from the time the theme is announced, so many different books pop up as options and I have difficulty choosing which one is my top pick. With the theme I wanted, and this theme that actually won, I only had one book pop up in my mind as my top choice.

I’m not typically a seasonal reader. In the winter months I tend to be more of a fan of longer reads, particularly fantasy ones. Though I also like a good cutesy contemporary read. And because of the timeline length of most of the books I read, sometimes a book can span years. So I don’t pay as much attention to the seasons in a story.

I mean, I suppose I could mention the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, considering the oncoming winter is certainly a major part of the book.

And Harry Potter is almost always an option, because Christmastime at Hogwarts is sort of a big deal.

Oh, and I guess that The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis also spends most of its time in a winter setting.

In the same vein, The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman also has a focus on a wintery setting, what with all those glorious armored bears.

And there are classics like A Christmas Carol, or The Polar Express, or The Snowy Day.

But none of those immediately came to mind and then stuck there. No, my pick for this month is technically a whole trilogy, and the second book was mentioned numerous times as part of last month’s Calendar Girls choices and discussion.

Another book I could mention, that I definitely couldn’t choose for this month is Wicked Saints by Emily A Duncan, a book that will be released in April 2019. I’ve only read the first 15% of the book but so far it is cold and wintery in weather, though there is so much other amazingness happening in the story. I will definitely be gushing about this book for at least the months leading up to its release.

So I suppose that now I should just announce my choice. Here we go.

 

My choice for this month’s theme is…The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden, though the whole trilogy applies.

From the moment I started reading these books, It was as if I could just feel the cold seeping into my bones. These books are just so darn atmospheric. You can find my review for the first book at the link above, and my review for The Girl in the Tower is up as well. I’m happy to say that I was approved on NetGalley for the third book, so I will be reading it very soon with a review to follow.

With one of the major characters being pretty much the Russian folklore/myth version of Jack Frost, cold and winter is just super important to the story. Both of the books start with storytime on a cold winter’s night around a fire, and frankly, that is the perfect way to enjoy these books. Pick them up on a cold wintery day or night, fix up your favorite hot beverage (tea, cocoa, coffee), and curl up in a chair, on the couch, or in bed with a blanket and just read. I’ve actually done that with these books and it is perfect.

Just talking about these makes me debate about doing a re-read of both books out already before I pick up the third one. But considering all of the other books I’d like to read before year’s end, I don’t think it will happen. A re-read will happen for this trilogy, probably sometime in the next few months. I definitely recommend them.

All right, that is it from me today, and I’ll be back soon with more bookish content.

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Books!, Calendar Girls, Signal Boost

Calendar Girls: November 2018

Hey all, Dani here.

Welcome back to another month of Calendar Girls. As always I’ll start this post by saying that Calendar Girls is a monthly blog event that was started by Flavia and Melanie, but is now being hosted by Katie and Adrienne. They are all wonderful ladies, and you should check out their lovely blogs. Oh, and if you go to either Katie or Adrienne‘s Calendar Girls post each month, they will have links to all the other wonderful book bloggers participating in this event. It’s a great way to find new bookish friends, and also possibly add some more books to your TBR.

katie-and-adrienne1

First, more about the Calendar Girls. It is designed to ignite bookish discussions among readers, and was inspired by the 1961 Neil Sedaka song, Calendar Girl.

Just like the song, each month has a different theme. Each blogger picks their favorite book from the theme, and on the first Monday of the month reveals their pick in a Calendar Girls post. Make sure to post back to the hostess’s post, and both Katie and Adrienne will make a master list for the month. The master lists allow everyone to see the other Calendar Girls’ picks and to pop on over to their blogs. Thus, we all get to chat about books and even make some new friends!

Now it is time for the November theme…

Not Quite the End

Favorite Middle Book in a Series

Once again, this was a difficult choice for me. There are so many wonderful options. So, as per usual, I will be listing off a few honorable mentions before I get into my actual pick for this month. Oh, and there is a series that I could easily have picked for this month, but I’m really hoping the category I voted for as December’s theme wins, because then I don’t have to worry about what book to pick, because it is a book I recommend all the time.

Anyway, let’s jump into the honorable mentions.

First up: The Iron Traitor by Julie Kagawa. Now this one is the middle book of the spin-off trilogy for the Iron Fey series, so I’m still counting it as the middle book of a series, event though as part of the larger series it is next to the final book. But man, oh man. This book delivered the adventure and then the cliffhanger at the ending. I remember reading this book right after it was released, and I realized I had to wait a whole year just wondering how that ending was going to be resolved. It was fantastic. Also, torture. But mostly fantastic.

Then, I feel like I have to mention A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas, because that is the best book in the Feyre/Rhysand trilogy portion of the series. It did so well with character dynamics and development, and I so very much enjoyed exploring the Night Court.

Next, I absolutely have to talk about A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab. Now, I’ll be honest, this series was my introduction into Victoria Schwab, and I was blown away. Discovering all about the parallel Londons, and following Kell and Lila was just a fantastic adventure. And this second book introduces us to more of the world of Red London, and brings in a magic tournament that was just really darn cool. Plus, even more character development. Oh, and don’t forget the fallout from the events of the first book. Actually, talking about this right now is making me want to go re-read the books. If only I weren’t occupied with NaNoWriMo.

The Fiery Heart by Richelle Mead also has to make my list of honorable mentions. This fourth book in the Bloodlines series was where things really got ramped up. Yes, the first three books were great, and I loved spending more time with Sydney and Adrian, but this book was absolutely amazing. It got me going not just with the romance, but also with the complications around them because of their relationship. It made the wait for the last two books even more intense for me. I love both the Vampire Academy series and the Bloodlines series.

Finally, my last honorable mention goes to The House of Hades by Rick Riordan. Now, don’t get me wrong. Uncle Rick’s books are all pretty much amazing. But there’s just something about this middle-ish book of The Heroes of Olympus series–yes, I know that The Mark of Athena is technically the middle book of this series–that was just completely outstanding. The last time I read through all of Rick Riordan, I was literally reading one book each day, and it led to a month where I read 31 books, which was ridiculous. But I am obsessed with all things Rick Riordan. Does it matter that I am a 30 year old woman and therefore not the target audience? Nope, not at all. I first discovered Rick Riordan’s books in my library in the summer of 2007, and I have been hooked ever since. Yes, I first read The Lightning Thief when I was turning 19 years old. It was shelved in the YA section (though it is Middle Grade), and it was based on mythology, which I will always be interested in reading.

Okay, now with all that gushing about a few other middle books in the series, I’m sure you’re wondering what book I have as my pick this month. Trust me, there will be a lot of gushing for this one as well.

All right, you’ve waited long enough.

My choice for Favorite Middle Book in a Series is….

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The Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco

Yes, this is the middle book of a trilogy, and the third book will be out March 5, 2019. The first book is The Bone Witch, and I absolutely raved about it after I read it, and the same is definitely true for The Heart Forger.

I was able to read an early copy of the first book thanks to NetGalley, and then for the second book, I was sent a very lovely print ARC a couple months early. It was a complete surprise when it showed up on my doorstep one day.

The world created for this trilogy is a fascinating one. I enjoy the culture of it all, and the descriptions are absolutely wonderful. Then there is the magic system. Now look, generally I am not much of a fan of either zombie stories or necromancy, and this story pretty much has both. The main character is a Bone Witch, and at the beginning of the trilogy, her brother dies and she brings him back to life. But just the way the story is written, with the main character telling her story to a bard and how it jumps between the current story, and then the past where she is still learning and growing, I was just enraptured by it all. Oh, and the way it jumps back and forth really helps to add to the suspense of figuring out what exactly happened to make Tea this way, and also figure out which guy is her true love.

The second book brings in journeys or dealings with several other countries, which means even more hua designs, more lush descriptions of zivars, and learning even more about how different ashas wield their abilities. Plus there is even more interaction with the powerful daeva creatures, and so much more intrigue and action. And the character development as you get pulled even farther into the story. Seriously, both of these books have landed on my favorite reads lists, and I’m pretty sure the third book will as well. There’s just a few more months to wait. Thank goodness.

Whew, that was a lot of gushing about books for one post. Please check out the links to both Katie’s and Adrienne’s blogs, and they will have the links for the other Calendar Girls posts for this month. I’m really looking forward to seeing what everyone else chose.

That is all for today, and I’ll be back soon with more bookish content.

Books!, Calendar Girls, Signal Boost

Calendar Girls: October 2018

Hey all, Dani here.

Welcome back to another month of Calendar Girls. As always I’ll start this post by saying that Calendar Girls is a monthly blog event that was started by Flavia and Melanie, but is now being hosted by Katie and Adrienne. They are all wonderful ladies, and you should check out their lovely blogs. Oh, and if you go to either Katie or Adrienne‘s Calendar Girls post each month, they will have links to all the other wonderful book bloggers participating in this event. It’s a great way to find new bookish friends, and also possibly add some more books to your TBR.

katie-and-adrienne1

First, more about the Calendar Girls. It is designed to ignite bookish discussions among readers, and was inspired by the 1961 Neil Sedaka song, Calendar Girl.

Just like the song, each month has a different theme. Each blogger picks their favorite book from the theme, and on the first Monday of the month reveals their pick in a Calendar Girls post. Make sure to post back to the hostess’s post, and both Katie and Adrienne will make a master list for the month. The master lists allow everyone to see the other Calendar Girls’ picks and to pop on over to their blogs. Thus, we all get to chat about books and even make some new friends!

Now it is time for the October theme…

Hocus Pocus

Favorite Book with Witches

Oh man…these themes continue to be so wonderful and yet at the same time, that makes it so difficult to choose a top pick.

Again, it is so obvious to think of Harry Potter, but I don’t think it is actually my favorite book with witches, and I have totally read so very many books with magic users in my life. That is another reason why this became such a difficult choice.

So I thought about The Magicians by Lev Grossman, and I thought about Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman. For a brief moment I thought about The Secret Circle by L.J. Smith and Sweep by Cate Tiernan, but they aren’t my favorite book with magic users.

Eventually I had to land on one of my favorite atmospheric reads, a book that is perfect for this time of year. The book I am talking about is one that I own in hardcover, e-book, and audiobook. I have read it a few times, and there is just something about it.

Yes, I know the book I’m about to name is one where some people don’t like it that much. It really seems to be an either love or hate sort of reaction. But this book was simply magical and enchanting to me. The descriptions whisked me away into the tale and I was utterly entranced.

What book am I talking about? Well, here we go. It is time for me to announce my choice for this month’s theme.

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I just love The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Actually, just writing up this post makes me want to go pick up the book and read it again.

Okay, yes, I know that technically the magic users in this book aren’t called by the term witches, but I’m still going to say that it counts. In many fantasy novels and such, the terms of witch, wizard, mage, sorcerer, magus, magician, etc, seem to be used interchangeably.

The format of this story is pretty interesting to me, as it follows both the creation of Le Cirque des Reves, as well as a time many years later, after the circus has been grown and developed quite a bit. I loved exploring the various tents that were created as part of this magicians challenge. Every time I got to open the pages and walk through the Night Circus, I just wanted to keep reading, because I wanted to stay in the world.

Even listening to the audiobook, I was sad when I reached my destination and needed to pause in my listening. Jim Dale does an excellent job narrating the story. For those who don’t know, Jim Dale also narrates the Harry Potter audiobooks. He even does a good job with both British and American accents. It is fantastic.

If you want more of my rambling gushing about this book, feel free to visit the link to my review from my re-read of this book last year.

Anyway, I do think that is all from me for today. Please check out the rest of the Calendar Girls posts to see what they chose, and feel free to join us. This group is not just for ladies; we welcome all kinds of book lovers. I am looking forward to seeing what the theme is for November, and that should be announced in the next week or so.

Thanks for reading everyone. I will be back soon with more bookish content.

Book Releases, Book Review, Books!, Calendar Girls, Graphic Novel, Manga, Readathon, Signal Boost

August Wrap-Up and September TBR

Hey all, Dani here.

August is over already, and I have been 30 years old for a whole month now. Wow, time just keeps passing by so quickly. Where is my ability to pause time for a bit so I can catch up on all of this reading I need to do? Anyway, August was a pretty productive month, so that was nice.

Of course, when it comes to looking back over the past month, it also shows me just how lazy I have been when it comes to reviews. Over the last few months I have read quite a few books, and yet have only written a handful of reviews. So I need to try and get some more of those prepped up for all of you.

Let’s start with everything I read in the month of August.

Game of Secrets by Kim Foster – 4 stars

Beyond a Darkened Shore by Jessica Leake – 5 stars

My Hero Academia, Vol 14 by Kohei Horikoshi – 5 stars

Dawn of the Arcana, Vol 1 by Rei Toma – 4 stars

Blue Exorcist, Vol 1 by Kazue Kato – 5 stars

Avatar: the Last Airbender: North and South Part One by Gene Luen Yang – 5 stars

Avatar: the Last Airbender: North and South Part Two by Gene Luen Yang – 5 stars

Avatar: the Last Airbender: North and South Part Three by Gene Luen Yang – 5 stars

Blue Exorcist, Vol 2 by Kazue Kato – 5 stars

Blue Exorcist, Vol 3 by Kazue Kato – 5 stars

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows – 5 stars

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken – 3.5 stars

Black Clover, Vol 1 by Yuki Tabata – 4.5 stars

I’m in the middle of reading a book right now. I was hoping to finish it before August ended but that didn’t happen. Still, I’m pretty happy with the number of books I read.

Next up is what I watched in the month of August. I started my month watching Legally Blond while finishing up a costume for Gen Con. It is still a cute and fun movie, and I give it 4 stars. Then we all sat in our hotel room and watched Monsters University, which obviously still gets 5 stars. My fiance and I finished watching Legend of Korra, which I give 5 stars to as well. Then we watched Ready Player One again, and I still have to give the movie 5 stars. I’ll do a multi-format review for the book, audiobook, and movie soon. After that I got to see the Disney movie Bolt for the first time, and I give it 4 stars. Next up was Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which gets 4 stars. Then it was time to watch the cuteness that was To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, which definitely gets 5 stars from me. After that I finally got to see the new-ish Goosebumps movie, which I liked and gave 4 stars to. At the very end of the month I managed to watch The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (4 stars), so I will try to have my review of both book and film up fairly soon.

We are still keeping up with Critical Role Campaign 2, and as always, I am finding the storylines and character development to be really interesting. We are also keeping up with the current season of My Hero Academia, because we are both obsessed with it. Finally we are continuing to try and get me all caught up on Fairy Tail, which is going to take a lot more hours. We’re only on the second season right now, but I am really enjoying it. Oh, and my fiance decided to start watching Black Clover as well. It is an interesting premise, but we are both annoyed by the gratingly loud voice of main character Asta. He really doesn’t have to yell everything, but he pretty much does.

Okay, that’s all for what I watched over the month, so now let’s jump into the book haul and OwlCrate unboxing portions of this post.

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Fun fact…my September book haul is already looking a bit crazy, because my fiance and I went to both Barnes & Noble and Half-Price Books on September 2nd. The deals were just too good, you guys. I regret nothing…but I may need to try and do another book unhaul sometime soon, or at least a reorganization of my bookshelves.

The last portion of this post is the TBR, and as per usual, I should really spend a little time staring at my bookshelves before I try to write these. I need to go figure out what books I’m going to try and read this month. Hmm… Okay, so I think I’ve found a pretty decent list.

And that is all I have for you guys today. Did you have a nice reading month in August? What books are you hoping to read in September? Let’s talk books in the comments. As always, I’ll be back soon with more bookish content.

Books!, Calendar Girls, Signal Boost

Calendar Girls: August 2018

Hey all, Dani here.

So, at the end of last year I told myself that in 2018 I was going to join the Calendar Girls, because I loved the posts, and had found some great new blogs because of the monthly meme. But then Calendar Girls went on hiatus, so it changed up a few of my planned posts for the year. Now though, Calendar Girls has found a new home, and today is the first month  of the meme. This was originally created by Flavia and Melanie, and is now being hosted by Katie at Never Not Reading and Adrienne at Darque Dreams Reader. So, feel free to go check out all of their blogs, because they are all wonderful ladies.

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First, more about the Calendar Girls. It is designed to ignite bookish discussions among readers, and was inspired by the 1961 Neil Sedaka song, Calendar Girl.

Just like the song, each month has a different theme. Each blogger picks their favorite book from the theme, and on the first Monday of the month reveals their pick in a Calendar Girls post. Make sure to post back to the hostess’s post, and I will make a master list for the month. The master lists allow everyone to see the other Calendar Girls’ picks and to pop on over to their blogs. Thus, we all get to chat about books and even make some new friends!

Dog Days of Summer
Best Novel Set in Summer

The theme for August is Dog Days of Summer, and we are supposed to select our best/favorite novel set in summer.

Before I get into my choice for this month, I first want to include a couple honorable mentions, and both are actually series. First is The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series. These books came around while I was in high school, so I related to them quite a bit, and they were nice quick summer reads. And then the fifth book was released years later while I was in grad school, so once again, I really felt like I understood all of the characters. I still own these books, and talking about them now makes me want to reread the whole series.

My second honorable mention is the Percy Jackson series. With the exception of I believe one book, these all start at the end of the school year and then lead Percy to his summer at Camp Half-Blood. I discovered these books in the summer after my first year of college, but I couldn’t help but be sucked into the story thanks to all of the wonderful mythology and adventure within the pages. The fact that I am still a huge Rick Riordan fan (at the age of 30) is a testament to how great his books are, regardless of your age.

All right, I guess now it is time to reveal my actual choice for Best Novel Set in Summer. This one took a little bit of thought and debate, but in the end, I couldn’t help but pick this fun contemporary read that I flew through, even though it was over 500 pages long.

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My choice is The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson, and I talked about this book as one of my favorite reads in 2016, as well as in my Contemporary Recommendations post. But I guess I never actually wrote a review post for this one. Hmm…I may have to reread it so I can refresh my memory on the book before I write up a nice review.

But anyway, this story follows Andie, who has everything all planned out for her summer, including a nice internship that will help her with preparing for her future. But then a political scandal around her dad changes everything and she has to scramble to figure out a new plan for the summer. This ends up including a job as a dog walker, and meeting the adorable geek Clark.

I flew through this book, and I enjoyed the way the relationship developed between Andie and Clark, as well as watching the growing and changing relationship dynamic between Andie and her dad. Plus, in true Morgan Matson fashion, there are little cameos from her previous books in this one, because all of the books take place in the same area. (Andie and Clark end up making an appearance in Matson’s newest book release, Save the Date).

But when it comes to books set in summer/released in summer/read in summer, I tend to go for ones that are quick reads. Sometimes they are cutesy contemporary reads like this one, and sometimes they are filled with magic and adventure.


I do believe that is all for today. The announcement of the September Calendar Girls theme should be up on Katie’s and Adrienne’s blogs next week. Thanks for reading and I’ll see you soon with more bookish content.