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Wee Reads [2]

Welcome back to my feature in which Lucy & I review one of her board books!

by Sandray Boynton
Workman Publishing Company
Source: Purchased

The cadence of this book when being read is so perfect! There are parts of it that you do sing, but pretty much the entire book lends itself well to a silly tune. Lucy is a pretty big fan of that. 

Because we have other Boynton books, the pictures are familiar to her. The illustrations are clear (when I ask for a dog, she can point to the dog) but whimsical and sweet at the same time. 

The front of this book is a cutout heart, which she loves to thread her arm through. 

It is SO FUN to have a book we can sing to her! Babies love music. We love reading to her. This is a perfect blend of the two! I'm pretty sure all Boynton books are that way (confirmation on that, internet?) and we are big fans. 

The message of the book is highlighting how special your child is and that you love everything about them. It's also gender neutral (no mom + baby or daddy + son) which I've found I appreciate a whole lot with children's books. That definitely wasn't something I could have predicted before having a kid of my own, but the gender neutrality, or at least a variety of relationships being highlighted, is important to me as we build her library.

Boyton is a household name in the baby books community for a very good reason. She writes sweet books that have depth while still being whimsical and fun. DEFINITELY buy this one! 

Book Review: Sparkers by Eleanor Glewwe

Title: Sparkers
Author: Eleanor Glewwe
Series/Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Pub Deets: 2014, Viking
Source: Amazon Vine
Genre: Fantasy 

A mysterious illness is turning people's eyes black. Marah, a lower class musician, and Azariah, a wealthy magician, partner up to try and pursue a cure that leads to many revelations regarding their society and way of life they did not expect. 

I should note that I know Eleanor. Like, personally. Which is SUPER COOL and I am crazy proud of her and this book and so of course that clouded my judgment. However, I'm still able to know what is good and what isn't, and SPARKERS is very good. 

SPARKERS has a social heiarchy of which our main character Marah is at the bottom. She's intelligent, gifted, and kind - but she lacks magic. Azariah is part of a magician family that's a bit more open and bucks the caste system a bit. They balance each other out. 

You can see the author's intelligence shine through this Middle Grade fantasy. Marah's heart is in the studying of languages and music. She's brainy, but not introverted. She's clever, but not snarky. Marah is truly a beautifully balanced character and I fell in love with her immediately.

I recommend this to those looking for a Middle Grade fantasy that's slower with it's world building and heavier with the social commentary and academic elements. It was a total win for me! 

Marah is a violinist, so classical music really set the mood! 

Book Review: Lady Thief by A. C. Gaughen

Title: Lady Thief (Scarlet #2)
Author: A.C. Gaughen
Pub Deets: 2014, Bloomsbury
Series/Stand Alone: Series
Source: ARC
Genre: Historical Fiction 

Scarlet attempts to negotiate an annulment from Gisbourne by going along with courtly duties. Meanwhile, the tournament for the new Sheriff is going down under the twisted orchestration of Prince John. 

Scarlet continues to be faced with impossible decisions, only this time around they come with a LOT OF VIOLENCE. Seriously, there were several times I was reading this when I was physically cringing because of the violence. You've been warned.

The supporting cast is still incredible and really what takes LADY THIEF to the next level. We know them from SCARLET so we expect them to grow and change in LADY THIEF, and they totally do.  People have all sorts of motives, and none of them are simple. 

While the relationship with Rob & Scarlet was the focus of a lot of this book, there's still serious set up happening for the next book in the series as well. Loads of castle intrigue. Crazy twists and turns. PEOPLE DIE YOU GUYS AND IT IS NOT OKAY. 

Be prepared for the awesomeness that is Eleanor of Aquitaine, btw. She is badass to the nth degree.

Ultimately, LADY THIEF builds on an already great series and reimagining of a classic story by focusing on the strength of those who are trying to protect the people and place they love.

"A noble?" I asked. He nodded. "I'm not, I don't think. I don't talk right. I for certain don't look right. They all think I'm off and mad and contrary."
His grin sloped sideways in a silly way. "You are all of that." (pg 123 ARC)

A strong stomach and some kleenex.

Lion Heart (Scarlet, #3)

Top Ten Books on my Fall TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the fly honeys over at The Broke & The Bookish

This week, they ask us to go all Sophie's Choice and name the Top Ten Books on our Fall TBR. 
Okay fine.

Nest by Esther Ehrlich
The Walled City by Ryan Graudin
No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale
Vortex by S. J. Kincaid
Stitching Snow by R. C. Lewis
I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson
For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

As always, I'd love help prioritizing these reads! 
Have you read any? Are there any that are also on your list?
Lemme know! 

In which I make a very compelling case for Lord of the Rings

I realize that not everyone has seen Lord of the Rings (hereby referred to as LOTR). I mean, I get it. I just assume everyone in MY life has seen it. Maybe not the extended editions, but the original theatrical release at least. It has come to my attention that this is not the case. You can imagine my heartbreak.

In one recent case, I convinced her to try it out. Just watch the first one, I said, and see what you think. She blew through the trilogy in less than a week and adored it. As I knew she would.

In another case, Estelle, whom I hold in the highest esteem as an educated, funny, clever, thoughtful and all around amazing person, told me she had never seen the movies. Well, she didn't so much tell me as much as I was eavesdropping on Twitter but you get what I mean...

So I decided to make my case for all of you out there who haven't watched LOTR. Know that I love these movies more than any other movies. The Two Towers (#2 in the trilogy) is my favorite movie of all time. ALL. TIME. Obviously I will be biased. It's also worth noting that I haven't read the books - yet - but I have read The Hobbit. But that's a nerd post for another time.

Without further ado, here are my 5 reasons why you need to watch LOTR if you haven't already.

Quite simply, you could watch LOTR for the same reason you read good books, watch good TV shows and watch great movies. The journey is one that you want to witness.
At its core, LOTR is about destroying an evil ring. That obviously requires a journey. How that journey is shaped, however, is what makes this an epic experience. They all go about battling evil in their own way because Things Happen, but they battle to save their world drives them on. 

Their journeys allow us to explore Middle Earth. We see to the heart of the evil force behind everything. We see the remote places that refuse to help because they don't want to get involved. We see alliances shift and people fail and people rally together because they believe in the cause and in one another. 

This is for those of you who look down on fantasy or say it just isn't for you. I don't understand you, and I never will, but hear me out at least, okay? Okay.

Cool shit happens. Like CRAZY COOL. Like explosions and massive beasties and incredibly intense battle scenes.
There's also such an emotional depth and richness in Middle Earth and all the inhabitants that your heart can't help but be so completely invested in these characters that you believe in them with all of your heart. The lore and world building is beyond compare.

Because this is a fantasy world, pretty much ANYTHING can happen. This keeps you guessing. This keeps you hoping. This keeps you on the edge of your seat.

I'm sure you've seen some of this cast before. I mean, you're on the internet after all. The full cast provides lots of different perspectives and personalities and stories that deepen and enhance this series. 

Also, Hobbits are effing awesome. Like they are SERIOUSLY the best. They are basically kind little introverts who want to eat and read and be left alone. HELLO THEY ARE OUR PEOPLE.

 Okay so this kinda goes with the last one, but it definitely bears mentioning that the acting in this series is ACE, Y'ALL. I mean yes, it has the fantasy vibe so the phrasing and delivery isn't in common 21st century vernacular.
There is some really well done and HILARIOUS banter between the characters to help balance the super heavy THE WORLD IS GETTING SWALLOWED BY DARKNESS situation.
The whole series so so freaking quoteworthy, it's absurd. I'm at that point in my obsession where I kinda just talk along with it while I watch. This is obviously in part to the great scripting and original book series, but the actors deliver every line in such a way that you are captivated by every single word. 

Not gonna front. These movies will break your heart. They will make you cry tears of sadness, but also tears of happy. Characters will do things that make you so, so proud!
And they will do things that make you want to shake them by their shoulders and pound sense into their head (LOOKING AT YOU, FRODO). 
Also your ovaries can and will burst on multiple occasions. There are many, many sexy dudes (and ladies!) to feast your eyes upon. My personal favorite is Eomer.

Okay, I've made my case. If for some reason you're still on the fence, let me know. Let me convince you. Please. PLEASE. PLEEEEASE. I will never take no for an answer. 
If you say no, this is what will happen. 

OH, and if you read this whole post and you already love LOTR, this one is for you.

If you'd like to add to my case for LOTR, please do so in the comments! 

Review: The Bitter Kingdom

Title: The Bitter Kingdom (Girl of Fire & Thorns #3)
Author: Rae Carson
Pub Deets: 2013 Greenwillow Books (division of Harper Collins)
Series/Stand Alone: Series Conclusion
Source: Purchased
Genre: Fantasy


Queen Elisa is off to rescue captured Hector and prevent a full fledged civil war between the magical Inviernos and the rest of the kingdom. 

It is SO HARD to review the last book in a series when the last book is SO. DANG. GOOD.  

Rae Carson really wraps up all of the pieces that are still hanging out there in THE BITTER KINGDOM while still bringing it with a kickass plot, character development, WHAT THE EFF moments and massive swoons. 

I don't want to spoil anything for the 6 people left on the planet that haven't read this series, but know that you will be completely captivated and in love with this series, the characters, the imaginative plot and the swoons! 

My favorite thing throughout the entire series was definitely Elisa's character growth. She becomes more and more confident and badass, but never perfect. She still messes up. She still needs help. She just becomes more self aware and strong and courageous and it's just THE BEST.

If you're looking for your next fantasy series binge read, look no further. 

"I don't deserve such friends. I blink against the sting of threatening tears and say, "All you Joyans are filthy liars." (pg 151)

spoiler! (highlight to read)
"I love you too," he whispers in my ear. "Wholly. Madly." (pg 154)

Binge reading. Clear your schedule. 

Summer TBR: Update and a little bit of shaming

So, how have I been doing? 
Well...mediocre might be the nicest way of putting it.

The books I've read from that list!

Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller
Read it. Loved it. 

Kiss of Deception by Mary Pearson
Well, technically this is a DNF but I really did try, y'all. 

Lady Thief by A.C. Gaughen
YAS review coming soooon.

Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson
Reading it right now! And I'm over halfway and feeling pretty good about life. 

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson
This book left me as an empty husk of a person, y'all. 

Aaaaannnnd the books I still have to read by the end of September for them to count:

Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
I love Morgan to pieces, but I dunno if another massive contemporary will happen for me by the end of the month!

Ruin & Rising by Leigh Bardugo
It's the conclusion to a series so obviously I need to get in on this action. 

Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae
Does stalking calmly browsing her new baby photos count for anything?

Whatever Gaby tells me
There's a reason we've failed at Epic Recs lately. I promise. 

So, half ain't too bad, right? 

Top Ten Authors I need to take on a second date

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the fly honeys over at The Broke & The Bookish

This week they ask the top ten author's we've read only one book from but definitely want to read more. AKA - what on earth am I doing with my life that I haven't taken these authors on a second date with their books yet?!

Fangirl (which I didn't review on the blog, I guess)
I've heard AMAZING things about Eleanor & Park and The Attachments - which would you recommend next? 

Lucky for me, I have an ARC of I'll Give You the Sun!

It was definitely one of those books that grew on me after I read it (don't let the review fool you - I did like it) but my interest in Jones writing was through the ROOF after that! She's such a prolific writer...I don't know where to start! HALP.

(like everyone else on the planet)
Which of her other books do you recommend? I've heard mixed reviews...

I was JUST lamenting to Judith the other day how much I want to read another one of Lish's books for the snarky humor and well written characters! 

This is one of those quiet, thoughtful, incredibly well written books that is just not on enough radars around the blogosphere. I can't imagine how great her other books are! 

I've heard rave reviews for Farenheit 451, so I suppose I'll have to give that a whirl. 

You guys. I've only read Sabriel. I KNOW. I KNOWWWWWWWWW OKAY.

 I love love loooovvved this book and really do need to continue on with the series. And maybe check out her other stuff, yeah?

Okay this one is kind of cheating since I've read two books by Jennifer  - Forget You & Endless Summer - but there are SO MANY Jennifer Echols books out there that I thought this counted. 
Plus it's my blog and I do what I want. 

I'd really love it if you helped a girl out by suggesting what books to follow up with for these authors! 
Are any of these cool cats on your TTT list? DO SHARE.