2015 Wrap Up

2015 was one of the busiest years for me! I finished my master's degree, planned my sister's wedding shower and bachelorette party, went to my sister's wedding abroad, started a new job, and my mother in law passed away. Unfortunately, all this stuff took away from reading and blogging. I greatly appreciate all the readers and bloggers who continue to read my blog.

Here is an update on the challenges I participated in 2015.

2015 Book Blog BINGO hosted by me 
(I was totally not prepared to host a challenge and not many people participated in this, but to those of you who did, thank you!)

My Goal: A Double Bingo
Status: Met

A book that takes place in a school: The School for Good and Evil
A book purchased in 2014: Shadow and Bone
The second book in a series: Siege and Storm
A book with magic or paranormal characters: Ruin and Rising
A book written by an author that you've never read before: The Donor
A book with romance: A Wizard Rises
A book published in 2015: Bright Fire
A book that made you cry: The Sin Eater's Daughter
A review persuaded you to read it: The Winner's Curse
A book outside your comfort zone: Moneyball
A book that has been on your TBR shelf for two years or longer: Ashes of Foreverland
A book with a dragon: The Girl at Midnight
A book more than 500 pages: Days of Blood & Starlight
A book with a beautiful cover: Daughter of Smoke & Bone
A book with a color in the title: Scarlet
A book you (should have) read in high school: The Book Thief
A book from the New York Times Best Sellers List: Queen of Shadows
A fairy tale retelling: The Wrath and the Dawn
A book that someone recommended to you: Six of Crows

2015 Netgalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge
hosted by Falling for YA

My Goal: 25 books and 80%
Status: half met (9 books, 91%)

1. The Donor by Nikki Rae
2. A Wizard Rises by AJ Nuest
3. Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton
4. A Time of Reckoning by AJ Nuest
5. The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey
6. Hidden Huntress by Danielle Jensen
7. Spelled by Betsy Schow
8. Lion Heart by AC Gaughen
9. Hidden Gates by DT Dyllin

2015 Discussion Challenge
My Goal: 1 - 12 Discussion Dabbler
Status: Met (even though I was really hoping to complete one discussion per month)
  1. Book Event Etiquette
  2. Rereacds and Reviews
  3. Book Previews
  4. Promoting Archived Posts
  5. Adults who read YA
2015 Goodreads Reading Challenge

My Goal: 70 books
Status: Not Met (45 books)

Guest of the Month #2


Have you ever wished you knew more bloggers? Do you want to have the chance to guest post on other people’s blogs? Would you love to have a break and have a post written for you? You are in the right place!

What is Guest of the Month club?Guest of the month club is a monthly opportunity to collaborate with different bloggers! Every month you will be paired with a different blogger. You will each plan a guest post for the other’s blog (topic suggestions will be provided every month!). Then all of the club members will post on the same day of the month to make blog hopping easier. This event is hosted and organized by Emily @ Emily Reads Everything.

This Month's Guest is Heather from Based on a True Story

Beyond the Blog: Favorite Holiday Traditions

Hi! I'm Heather from Based on a True Story. Emily is hosting me today for the Guest of the Month Club. The topic this month is:

Favorite Holiday Traditions

As soon as I read that I knew I was in trouble. My family doesn't have any. We are entirely free-form around the holidays. In fact, we are so flexible that our major holiday tradition is sitting down sometime on Thanksgiving to decide when Christmas is going to be this year. You'd think that would be an easy answer but it turns out that it isn't. I'm lucky in that my husband's family is far away so we only have to visit my family on holidays. Other people in my family have to balance several celebrations. I have a stepdaughter and so if we want her to be involved in my family's Christmas we need to take her mother's family into consideration. To make that easier, we've decided that Christmas can be anytime. This year the get together for my father's family was December 13. That party has been held as late as February in previous years to make it easier for everyone to get there. The celebration for my immediate family is actually happening today (December 26). That's fairly close to actual Christmas day for us and I'm a little disappointed. If you push it back to New Year's you can hit the after Christmas sales for all your Christmas shopping.


What do we do on December 25? Actually, I'm sort of nervous about that day. A few years ago there was a huge ice storm here and all the power was out for several days including Christmas. It highlighted how truly everything is closed on Christmas. You can't buy food except for at gas stations and that was slim pickings. We ended up finding a working movie theater and eating popcorn and nachos for our meals because we couldn't cook anything. Ever since I stock up for Christmas eating like we might starve to death any minute. We also go to movies every Christmas which horrifies my mother because she thinks that everyone should be home with their families on that day but she's going to be going with us this year. Welcome to the dark side, Mom!
  Toyogeki-Movie Toyooka002

 I also like driving around on Christmas morning and looking at all the abandoned parking lots. It is so quiet outside that it feels like a scene from a movie about life after an apocalypse.
  2015-05-10 09 47 11 Snow and slush after a late spring snowstorm at a hotel parking lot in Sidney, Nebraska
 It is very peaceful.

Does Your Family Have Any Holiday Traditions?

Gone Girl


Gone Girl

Author: Gillian Flynn 
Publication Date: May 24, 2012
Source: Purchased
Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
Summary from Goodreads: On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne's fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick's clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn't doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife's head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media--as well as Amy's fiercely doting parents--the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he's definitely bitter--but is he really a killer?
As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn't do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?







This book had a somewhat slow start and the timeline was a bit confusing. There were alternating points of view; Nick in the present and Amy via diary entries starting years ago. Each character has a unique voice, so the characters felt well done.

At about the halfway point, the story got going and there were some major plot twists. The story was intensely suspenseful and kept my brain spinning. The main characters became unreliable, but in an interesting way. The author clearly understands the thinking of a sociopath. I felt sucked into the story, especially as the plot began to move at a more steady pace. However, I was let down by the ending, it felt like an obvious ploy to write a sequel. I'm not sure that I would read a sequel because things just felt too crazy to me.

December Netgalley Reading Challenge Update


This challenge is hosted by Falling for YA. Basically the goal is to tackle your review books and get your feedback percentage up.

My goal is 25 books and to maintain a percentage of 80% or better. 

Here's a fun update: I finally posted my Netgalley badges on my blog!! 

My current percent is 91%.

Unfortunately, my progress is pretty slow... I have been struggling to find titles that I am honestly interested in reading an reviewing. I just can't bring myself to request books, just to request them.

Here is my progress so far:
1. The Donor by Nikki Rae
2. A Wizard Rises by AJ Nuest
3. Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton
4. A Time of Reckoning by AJ Nuest
5. The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey
6. Hidden Huntress by Danielle Jensen
7. Spelled by Betsy Schow
8. Lion Heart by AC Gaughen
9. Hidden Gates by DT Dyllin

December Book Blog BINGO


Welcome to the December Review and Progress Link-Up for the 2015 Book Blog BINGO Challenge. Before linking up, make sure you signed up for the challenge. Don't forget, you can update or change your goal at any time!

I met my goal!!

My Goal
A Double BINGO (2 traditional BINGOs in any direction)




My Progress

A book that takes place in a school: The School for Good and Evil
A book purchased in 2014: Shadow and Bone
The second book in a series: Siege and Storm
A book with magic or paranormal characters: Ruin and Rising
A book written by an author that you've never read before: The Donor
A book with romance: A Wizard Rises
A book published in 2015: Bright Fire
A book that made you cry: The Sin Eater's Daughter
A review persuaded you to read it: The Winner's Curse
A book outside your comfort zone: Moneyball
A book that has been on your TBR shelf for two years or longer: Ashes of Foreverland
A book with a dragon: The Girl at Midnight
A book more than 500 pages: Days of Blood & Starlight
A book with a beautiful cover: Daughter of Smoke & Bone
A book with a color in the title: Scarlet
A book you (should have) read in high school: The Book Thief
A book from the New York Times Best Sellers List: Queen of Shadows
A fairy tale retelling: The Wrath and the Dawn
A book that someone recommended to you: Six of Crows

Guest of the Month #1


Have you ever wished you knew more bloggers? Do you want to have the chance to guest post on other people’s blogs? Would you love to have a break and have a post written for you? You are in the right place!

What is Guest of the Month club?Guest of the month club is a monthly opportunity to collaborate with different bloggers! Every month you will be paired with a different blogger. You will each plan a guest post for the other’s blog (topic suggestions will be provided every month!). Then all of the club members will post on the same day of the month to make blog hopping easier. This event is hosted and organized by Emily @ Emily Reads Everything.

This Month's Guest is Charlotte from Charlotte's Library 

Beyond the Blog: What do you do when you aren't blogging?

I have been blogging for almost eight years now, and have gotten to a point where blogging, qua blogging, doesn't take up too much time. Which is good, because there are little things like work (I'm an archaeologist for my state's preservation agency) and children (although they are older than they used to be, as is the case for so many of us) and home renovations, which never end, to keep me busy. There is also my hobby, which is "picking up books and trying to find places to put them down again."
At the sane end of the scale, such as one could talk about in public, there's checking books out of the library and getting books in the mail or buying them. But even here, my sanity is stretched fairly thin; I have a bad habit of placing library holds to soothe myself at work, and I seem to require lots of soothing, and they all seem to come in at once, and I end up with more books on hand than I can possibly read. I spend considerable time stacking books at home, or moving books from stacks that have gotten too big, or picking them up to actually read them, and then getting distracted, and gently shedding books wherever I go, only of course to scurry around afterwards looking for them all again!

Recently I read, with great interest, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (the Japanese book that tells you, to gather all your material things in huge heaps by category and keep only what gives you joy). Clearly, the book tidying method suggested in this book is neither prudent or feasible; if I were to put every book I own in one room, the floor would collapse (it is an old and tired house). But I was able to successfully dump the contents of my dresser drawers on to the guest room bed. This freed up considerable drawer space, and at last I have a nice place to keep the books I have on offer at Paperback Book Swap! (Although of course I currently have no nice place for houseguests to sleep....)



But the books I have at home don't seem to offer enough scope for moving them around, so I expanded my range. I run the booksales at my local library, and this involves considerable book moving, up from the donation area, where every day I find more bags of donations, into the sorting closet, and then I must squirrel the sorted boxes away as efficiently as possible...


I am trying to cut down on the number of books I move around. I try hard to find them permanent places to live, like the pantry shelves (the Japenese method of tidying up cleared up lots of good book space there too!). But it just doesn't seem to be happening.....

Thank you so much Charlotte for writing this guest post for my blog, it was super fun being your partner. 

Hidden Gates


Hidden Gates (The P.J. Stone Gates Trilogy #1)

Author: D.T. Dyllin
Series: P.J. Stone Gates Trilogy #1
Publication Date: August 31, 2015
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
Summary from Goodreads: P.J. Stone was taught to put duty before her heart. But everything changes with a kiss…
As a Seer, P.J. is expected to choose a suitable mate to continue the bloodline. Wanting someone considered off-limits jeopardizes her future, forcing her to question everything she believes in.
As if navigating her love life isn’t complicated enough, P.J. receives a vision of a threat to her world that only she can perceive. But no one wants to believe a fledgling Seer’s warning. With nowhere else to turn, can P.J. trust a stranger with her life, her world, and maybe even her heart?



I can't finish this book. I was immediately put off by the overwhelmingly, heavy focus on romance. Yes, the summary clearly indicates that romance would be at the forefront of this book, but it was listed as sci-fi and I was hoping the Seer's warning would lead to a bit more thrilling plot line. Part of the reason I had such a problem with the romance was that it was poorly executed and annoying. Forbidden romance with a love triangle - UGH.

The world building was poor. I had to reread a few paragraphs that explained the role of the Seers, Speakers, Guardians, and Gatekeepers and the rules of their society, and I still didn't understand. I felt like there was very little plot movement - and so I called it quits.

Stacking the Shelves #39


Stacking The Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews and is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

For Review
Poison (Wind Dancer, #1)
Poison by Lan Chan

#TheShelfieHop

This one day blog hop features pictures of bloggers' book sheves.
#TheShelfieHop is hosted by Bookiemoji and My Friends Are Fiction

This is what my "bookshelf" looked like for about a year and a half after we moved into our new house. the books lived in the box they moved in and in stacks nearby for quite a while. I purchased the book shelf from Target for about $25 but never got around to putting it together.


Luckily my dad (the ultimate yard sale/ curbside freebie sleuth) found me this solid and sturdy bookshelf at the start of the summer. I was thrilled and quickly set it up.

The top shelf has all my favorites, the second shelf has books that I really like. The third shelf contains more recent additions to my collection that I haven't figured out how to reorganize the top two shelves to make room for. The bottom shelf is a combo of "to be read books" and "to giveaway/donate" books.







Stop by other blogs and check out their #Shelfies!

Stacking the Shelves #38


Stacking The Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews and is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

Purchased
Bound in Blood (The Adams' Witch Series #1)
Bound in Blood by Erin Butler

For Review
Hidden Gates (The P.J. Stone Gates Trilogy #1)
Hidden Gates by DT Dyllin

The Jewel


The Jewel (The Lone City, #1)

Author: Amy Ewing
Series: The Lone City #1
Publication Date: September 2, 2014
Source: ARC provided by Odyssey Bookshop
Summary from Goodreads: The Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring.
Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.
Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence... and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for.




Based on the summary, I thought this book would go in one of two directions: (1) it could lack uniqueness and be terribly executed or (2) it would surprisingly good, unique, and hopefully well written. Thankfully, it was mostly option 2. Yes the premise was somewhat reminiscent of The Handmaid's Tale, Bumped, and The Hunger Games, but overall I felt like the story held its own. 

The world building was OK. I felt like I had a solid understanding of the social/economic structure of the society, but I felt like I needed a better grasp of the geographical characteristics of the world. I enjoyed learning about the powers and felt like they were really well written. I also found some of the information about the treatment of the surrogates and the medical treatments to be a bit disturbing, but really well done. 

The characters were good. Violet is likable, she is decently feisty and has a good heart. True to most teenage girls, she makes some questionable/naive decisions, but I can't fault her for acting her age. The Duchess is a bit unpredictable in a strange way that made her consistent. Unfortunately, the other characters were not as well developed. I am super interested in learning more about Raven and Ash. The "forbidden romance" felt rushed to me; like it didn't quite flow. 

Th pace of the book was well done, I never found myself bored and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the writing. I'm definitely looking forward to the next book in the series.

November Book BINGO


Welcome to the November Review and Progress Link-Up for the 2015 Book Blog BINGO Challenge. Before linking up, make sure you signed up for the challenge. Don't forget, you can update or change your goal at any time!

I met my goal!!

My Goal
A Double BINGO (2 traditional BINGOs in any direction)




My Progress

A book that takes place in a school: The School for Good and Evil
A book purchased in 2014: Shadow and Bone
The second book in a series: Siege and Storm
A book with magic or paranormal characters: Ruin and Rising
A book written by an author that you've never read before: The Donor
A book with romance: A Wizard Rises
A book published in 2015: Bright Fire
A book that made you cry: The Sin Eater's Daughter
A review persuaded you to read it: The Winner's Curse
A book outside your comfort zone: Moneyball
A book that has been on your TBR shelf for two years or longer: Ashes of Foreverland
A book with a dragon: The Girl at Midnight
A book more than 500 pages: Days of Blood & Starlight
A book with a beautiful cover: Daughter of Smoke & Bone
A book with a color in the title: Scarlet
A book you (should have) read in high school: The Book Thief
A book from the New York Times Best Sellers List: Queen of Shadows
A fairy tale retelling: The Wrath and the Dawn
A book that someone recommended to you: Six of Crows

Congratulations to Ashley @ The Quiet Concert, she won 3 surprise YA books!

The Wrath and The Dawn


The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn, #1)

Author: Renee Ahdieh
Series: The Wrath and The Dawn #1
Publication Date: May 12, 2015
Source: Purchased (Boston Teen Author Festival)
Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
Summary from Goodreads: One Life to One Dawn.
In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad's dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph's reign of terror once and for all.
Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she'd imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It's an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid's life as retribution for the many lives he's stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?
Inspired by A Thousand and One Nights, The Wrath and the Dawn is a sumptuous and enthralling read from beginning to end.




The quick and dirty review: loved it, couldn't put it down, left me wanting more.

Retellings are really in right now, and I was immediately drawn to The Wrath and the Dawn because it was totally unique. I was quickly drawn into this story. I liked Shahrzad right away and was rooting for her to exact her vengeance. I loved how brash and unafraid she was to be herself. The characters are well done, I was especially impressed by the supporting characters. The romance was angsty, in a slow burn kind of way. I swooned a bit. The plot moved at a decent pace; occasionally the perspective switch bugged me, but I think that was because I was SO interested in Shahrzad's storyline that I found Traiq's storyline to be distracting. The magic was a bit lackluster, it almost felt tossed in as an after thought or like it was written in after the author decided to write the sequel. The writing was beautiful and I was so wrapped up in it that I couldn't wait to pick it up every night before bed. I totally recommend it!


This Monstrous Thing


This Monstrous Thing

Author: Mackenzi Lee
Publication Date: September 22, 2015
Source: Purchased
Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
Summary from Goodreads: In 1818 Geneva, men built with clockwork parts live hidden away from society, cared for only by illegal mechanics called Shadow Boys. Two years ago, Shadow Boy Alasdair Finch’s life shattered to bits.
His brother, Oliver—dead.
His sweetheart, Mary—gone.
His chance to break free of Geneva—lost.
Heart-broken and desperate, Alasdair does the unthinkable: He brings Oliver back from the dead.
But putting back together a broken life is more difficult than mending bones and adding clockwork pieces. Oliver returns more monster than man, and Alasdair’s horror further damages the already troubled relationship.
Then comes the publication of Frankenstein and the city intensifies its search for Shadow Boys, aiming to discover the real life doctor and his monster. Alasdair finds refuge with his idol, the brilliant Dr. Geisler, who may offer him a way to escape the dangerous present and his guilt-ridden past, but at a horrible price only Oliver can pay…




I picked up this book after hearing Mackenzi Lee talk about it at Boston Teen Author Festival. At the event Mackenzi described the book as a steampunk Frankenstein retelling that was unique because Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein, is a character in the book. Listening to how excited Mackenzi was about her book and the way she described it, I expected to be swept away to 1818 Geneva into a mysterious place where people had clockwork body parts.

Unfortunately, I found the world building to be lacking, I never felt pulled into 1818 Geneva. I also felt like the steampunk aspect could have been given more attention, but it just kind of felt like there was an expectation that the reader was already familiar with steampunk and would fill in the gaps of the descriptions.

The characters were OK. They were consistent and flawed, but not particularly well developed. The plot moved at a somewhat slow pace. There wasn't enough action for me, it felt a little ho-hum at times. There is a great deal of hinting toward a secret and an eventual big reveal, but unfortunately when the big reveal came, it was pretty predictable. There were a few surprises, but nothing spectacular.

All that being said, I ultimately felt like this book had a lot of potential but fell a little short. I enjoyed it, but likely wouldn't pick it up again.

 
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