W…W…W…Wednesday 39

www_wednesdays42W…W…W…Wednesdays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. To play along, just answer the following three questions: What are you currently reading? What did you recently finish reading? What do you think you’ll read next?

I finished reading Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote and Sekret by Lindsay Smith.

I’m currently reading Abarat by Clive Barker, which is actually a re-read but it’s been a while since I’ve read it and I’ve never finished reading the other two books that are out in the series so far (there are supposed to be two more books coming out but there’s no release date for them yet *sob*). I’m really excited about it though because Abarat is one of my favorite books. I’m also reading Oz: The Complete Collection Volume 1 by L. Frank Baum. I recently got this gorgeous box set of the complete Oz books (pictures below!). I’ve never read any of them before. Shocking, I know. I’m also finally tackling A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin. I’ve been rewatching the series with my mom and it’s inspired me to finally dig into the fifth book. It’ll probably take me a month to get through it though–this book is ENORMOUS.

As for what I’ll read next…I’m not sure but I’ll definitely be reading Abarat: Days of Magic, Nights of War which is the sequel to Abarat.

My pretty new Oz books:

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Book Review: Sekret

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sekretTitle: Sekret
Author: Lindsay Smith
Pages: 337
Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Summary: “Yulia’s father always taught her to hide her thoughts and control her emotions to survive the harsh realities of Soviet Russia. But when she’s captured by the KGB and forced to work as a psychic spy with a mission to undermine the U.S. space program, she’s thrust into a world of suspicion, deceit, and horrifying power. Yulia quickly realizes she can trust no one–not her KGB superiors or the other operatives vying for her attention–and must rely on her own wits and skills to survive in this world where no SEKRET can stay hidden for long.” ~from Goodreads.com

I was initially drawn to this book because it had to do with psychic spies and that basically screamed my name. I’m really glad I went ahead and pre-ordered the book because I really enjoyed it.

I really liked the writing style because it moved really quickly and kept you hooked from the very beginning of the book. Yulia was a really great character and I connected with her immediately. I also really liked the historical aspect of the book, primarily because it took place in Russia during the 60s so I got to see more of what life was like then through the events that take place in the book. I thought it was portrayed really well and there were good integrations of historical events and the political atmosphere at the time without it becoming boring or overbearing.

My rules for the black market are simple. (3)

There was a nice twist near the end that I totally didn’t see coming and I think it was really well done. I really liked the political manuevers and the espionage that took place throughout the book. It was hard to tell who to trust and I think that was good because I found myself in the same boat as Yulia where I wasn’t sure who was telling the truth and who was lying. I really liked Larissa and Valentin. They were my favorite characters outside of Yulia. Rostov was an excellent villain and he was really sinister.

The book kept me guessing and kept me hooked from the very beginning. I really wanted to find out what was going to happen and there were a lot of really action-packed scenes. It dragged a teensy bit in the middle, but not so much that I got bored. Overall, I really liked the book and I think it’s really well written with flushed out characters and a great plot. I think there’s a second book coming out next year and I’m definitely going to get it because the book ends with some questions still left unanswered.

My rating: ★★★★★

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Book Review: Breakfast at Tiffany’s

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breakfast at tiffany'sTitle: Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Author: Truman Capote
Pages: 100
Genre: Short story; classic
Summary: “Meet Holly Golightly – a free spirited, lop-sided romantic girl about town. With her tousled blond hair and upturned nose, dark glasses and chick black dresses, Holly is a style sensation wherever she goes. Her apartment rocks to Martini-soaked parties and she plays hostess to millionaires and gangsters alike. Yet Holly never loses sight of her ultimate dream – to find a real life place like Tiffany’s that makes her feel at home.” ~from Goodreads.com

I’ve seen the movie a million times. It’s probably my all-time favorite movie. I had never actually read the story though, so I bought myself a copy (although I didn’t read the other 3 stories in the book–they’re for another day) and devoured it. As so often happens, the movie and the book are very different, but they’re each charming in their own way.

There’s less of the romantic storyline in the book actually, but I thought that the book was really good. It’s more of a character study of Holly herself, and I thought it was really well done. This is the first thing I’ve ever read by Truman Capote, and I think it was a really great introduction for me because I definitely want to read more. I loved his style, and he created really vivid characters. Holly herself is the most interesting of them all (obviously, as she’s the central focus). It was actually a rather heartbreaking story. There’s a very bittersweet ending, and you wonder just how Holly turned out.

If I could find a real-life place that made me feel like Tiffany’s, then I’d buy furniture and give the cat a name. (36)

What I think I found the most interesting about the story was how kind of dysfunctional Holly really was. You’re left feeling that she’s never really going to stay in one place, and she’ll never be “fixed.” She’s not capable of attaching herself to people or places, so she’ll forever flit from one place to another. I thought that was a really unusual way to end it, in that it’s quasi-realistic. The movie of course has a happier ending, but I think that the ending of the story fits with who Holly is and it makes sense with how the story went.

Overall, I really enjoyed the story and now I feel like watching the movie again.

My rating: ★★★★

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Top Ten Tuesday 12

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at The Broke and The Bookish. Each week a new top ten list is posted, and to participate all you have to do is fill in YOUR top ten for the list. This week’s list is:

Top Ten Bookish Things (That Aren’t Books) That I’d Like To Own (new bookshelves, bookends, cool bookmarks, a bookish shirt, etc. You can add things you DO own if you want.)

1. The Great Gatsby sweatshirt

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I have seen this so many times and my desire to own it grows each time I see it. I love Out of Print Clothing to begin with, but this is definitely one that I would LOVE to have in my closet.

2. Pride and Prejudice shirt/sweatshirt

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I love this design so much. Out of Print Clothing even has the shirt in purple!

3. Nancy Drew shirt

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I’m a huge Nancy Drew fan, so obviously this is something I’d love to own.

4. My Shelves Runneth Over sleepshirt

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It’s accurate and the art is cute.

5. Portal bookends

portal bookends

I totally love Portal, and I think these bookends are just really cool.

6. Alice in Wonderland artwork

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These are really cool and some of my favorite illustrations and I’d love to have them as prints to hang on my wall.

7. Mini Book Necklaces

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These are so cute, I’d love to have a lot of different ones.

8. Direwolf bookends

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Obviously I am a huge Game of Thrones fan, and these bookends would be FABULOUS.

9. Game of Thrones Night’s Watch Oath Poster

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I think it would be cool to have this.

10. Game of Thrones Westeros & Essos Map

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I really like maps.

W…W…W…Wednesday 38

www_wednesdays42W…W…W…Wednesdays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should be Reading. To play along, just answer the following three questions: What are you currently reading? What did you recently finish reading? What do you think you’ll read next?

I’ve finished reading Hollow City by Ransom Riggs, File Under: 13 Suspicious Incidents by Lemony Snicket, and The Elite by Kiera Cass.

I’m currently reading Sekret by Lindsay Smith. I’ve actually been neglecting it the last couple of days because we just got puppies so I’ve been very distracted.

Up next I’m planning on reading Dear Killer by Katherine Ewell and Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige.

Book Review: The Elite

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eliteTitle: The Elite
Series: The Selection (Book 2)
Author: Kiera Cass
Pages: 336
Genre: Dystopia, Young Adult, Romance
Summary: “Thirty-five girls came to the palace to compete in the Selection. All but six have been sent home. And only one will get to marry Prince Maxon and be crowned princess of Illea.

America still isn’t sure where her heart lies. When she’s with Maxon, she’s swept up in their new and breathless romance, and can’t dream of being with anyone else. But whenever she sees Aspen standing guard around the palace, and is overcome with memories of the life they planned to share. With the group narrowed down to the Elite, the other girls are even more determined to win Maxon over—and time is running out for America to decide.

Just when America is sure she’s made her choice, a devastating loss makes her question everything again. And while she’s struggling to imagine her future, the violent rebels that are determined to overthrow the monarchy are growing stronger and their plans could destroy her chance at any kind of happy ending.” ~from Goodreads.com

*Minor spoilers are in this review*

You ever have one of those books that you think is going to be great because the first book was so good? But then you read it and you’re like WTF because everything kind of changes and you’re conflicted because the first book was so good but this one isn’t as good? This is one of those books for me.

The Selection totally blew me away and I loved every second of it. I was rooting for America and Maxon to get together, I was kind of over Aspen, I loved Marlee and I completely connected with America and thought she was great. The Elite left me feeling incredibly conflicted. Don’t get me wrong, the book is great, but it’s not as good as the first book and I felt like so many characters changed so drastically that I wound up being really angry at a lot of them.

Let’s start at the top: America was awesome in the first book. She was tough without being over-the-top, relatable, and individual without being cheesy or annoying. This book, she cried. A lot. I get that Cass was trying to show that the whole situation was stressful, and that America was struggling with the whole Maxon vs. Aspen debate, but honestly I felt like the spark that was there in the first book was completely gone with this second book. I got irritated by the “do I choose Maxon or Aspen” thing whereas in the first book I really sympathized (even though I wanted her to choose Maxon). And she cried. A lot. Did I mention that? We didn’t get to see much of Marlee, which is explained, but I feel like that’s a crime because Marlee is such a fabulous character and she’s so integral to America’s personality and growth that I really feel she should have been more prevalent throughout the book. Oh, and Maxon and Aspen became utter assholes. Sorry if that’s harsh but my god. Aspen practically shoves himself down America’s throat with his whole “I love you choose me please please please.” And Maxon basically tells America that she has to change her entire personality to stay and also that he loves her but then he hooks up with Kriss and Celeste??? WHAT?! By the end of the book I just wanted America to take Marlee and run off to join the Italian princess to come up with a kick-ass all-female monarchy because HOLY CRAP I was so angry at everyone. Honestly, I don’t want America to choose Maxon OR Aspen at this point. The two of them can be fed to the wolves for all I care.

Love is beautiful fear. (62)

Despite my rant, here’s something I loved and wished I’d seen more of: the rebels. I LOVED the furthering of that plot, and I really wish there was more to it, because I’d have loved to have seen more of that political aspect than reading about America having yet another breakdown. I also liked that we get to see how much of an asshole the king is. Because at least he’s supposed to be an asshole, unlike some other characters (lookin’ at you Maxon). I also liked that America finds out more about the truth behind Illea’s development. I think it’s such a great plot line and it’s developing incredibly well and I can’t wait to see the resolution to it in the third book (which, yes, I will be reading). I think Cass is doing a great job with the whole political aspect of the book. I just wish we could see more of it. I’m really hoping that the third book has more of that to it. There were some also really shocking moments in the book that were well done. There’s a certain scene involving Marlee that had me practically in tears. Those were well done scenes.

Despite my anger over some of the character’s development, I’m really excited to see how this all ends (although like I said above, I’m kind of hoping America just runs off to Italy with Marlee). I’m hoping that the characters don’t make me want to punch them in the face though. Though I suppose it’s a good book that can get such an emotional response out of me.

My rating: ★★★★

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Book Review: File Under: 13 Suspicious Incidents

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file underTitle: File Under: 13 Suspicious Incidents
Series: All The Wrong Questions #2.5
Author: Lemony Snicket
Pages: 259
Genre: Mystery, Young Adult
Summary: “Match wits with Lemony Snicket to solve thirteen mini-mysteries.
Paintings have been falling off of walls, a loud and loyal dog has gone missing, a specter has been seen walking the pier at midnight — strange things are happening all over the town of Stain’d-By-The-Sea. Called upon to investigate thirteen suspicious incidents, young Lemony Snicket collects clues, questions witnesses, and cracks every case. Join the investigation and tackle the mysteries alongside Snicket, then turn to the back of the book to see the solution revealed.

A delicious read that welcomes readers into Lemony Snicket’s world of deep mystery, mysterious depth, deductive reasoning, and reasonable deductions.” ~from Goodreads.com

This isn’t actually the next installment in the All The Wrong Questions series, but it does take place in the same town and with the same characters. This consists of 13 short stories that allow you to guess the answer. I pretty much buy anything that has Lemony Snicket’s name attached to it, because I love everything he writes. I wasn’t totally sure what exactly I was in for with this book, but I was pleasantly surprised by it.

I enjoyed the book. It was fun to try and solve the mysteries and I enjoyed seeing the characters that are in All The Wrong Questions and get a little more insight into them. It was the usual brand of Snicket wittiness and humor and I really liked reading it. I enjoyed each of the mysteries and I thought they were all clever and well done. Some of the mysteries were more obvious than others, but I thought they were all fun. It was nice to see some of the old characters (Moxie, Jake Hix, Pip and Squeak, even Stew and his parents), and there were some characters that were new.

This is definitely a good book to read while you wait for the next installment of ATWQ, and it’s made me want the third book even more.

My Rating: ★★★★

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Book Review: Hollow City

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hollow citryTitle: Hollow City
Series: Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children (Book 2)
Author: Ransom Riggs
Pages: 396
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult
Summary: “The extraordinary journey that began in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children continues as Jacob Portman and his newfound friends journey to London the peculiar capital of the world. But in this war-torn city, hideous surprises lurk around every corner. Like its predecessor, this second novel in the Peculiar Children series blends thrilling fantasy with never-before-published vintage photography to create a one-of-a-kind reacting experience.” ~from Goodreads.com

I really enjoyed Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and I was really excited to get my hands on the second book. It took me a few months to finally get around to reading it, but I enjoyed Hollow City immensely. Probably actually a smidgen more than the first book.

I really liked the progression of all the characters in this book, and I was really happy that we got to see more of them in action this time around. I liked the way the relationships were explored, and I actually really got into the Jacob/Emma romance, which I’d been hesitant about in the first book.

‘Did you ever find yourself climbing into an open grave during a bombing raid,’ I said, ‘and just wish you’d stayed in bed?’ (239)

I also think Riggs did a really good job of incorporating more of the war into the story, and I liked the new characters that we met along the way. It was really cool to see some new peculiar children and their abilities, even if a few of them didn’t stick around for very long. I loved Addison and I was sorry that he didn’t play more of a role in this book, but it seems like he’ll be there in the third book (which I can’t wait to read!!).

The ending though. Oh my goodness that ending. I basically gaped at my book in disbelief throughout that ending because it was such a shocking twist and there were so many things that happened. I couldn’t put the book down. It was just AMAZING, and I have to get my hands on the third book like NOW. I can’t wait to find out what happens–no. I NEED to find out what happens.

I definitely loved this book, and I think it’s even better than the first one, and I can’t wait to find out what happens in book three.

My rating: ★★★★★

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W…W…W…Wednesdays 37

www_wednesdays42W…W…W…Wednesdays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should be Reading. To play along, just answer the following three questions: What are you currently reading? What did you recently finish reading? What do you think you’ll read next?

I only finished two books since last Wednesday: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland by Catherynne M. Valente and The Thoughts and Happenings of Wilfred Price by Wendy Jones.

I’m currently reading Hollow City by Ransom Riggs (finally) and I’m hoping to finish that up today.

I got a bunch of new books recently so I’m going to be working my way through those, but I’m definitely going to be reading The Elite (book 2 of the Selection series) by Kiera Cass with Scatty this weekend. If I manage to finish Hollow City today, I’ll probably try and squeeze in File Under: 13 Suspicious Incidents by Lemony Snicket before starting on The Elite. After that, Sekret by Lindsay Smith is up next. I’m trying to read every day because I’m 17 books behind schedule on my reading challenge according to Goodreads and that’s just shameful.

April Reads

So, this month I’ve decided to not do a specific thing (so no Random Reads or anything) because that’s basically crashed and burned every time I’ve attempted to do it.

I am currently reading Hollow City by Ransom Riggs (finally! I only bought this like 3 months ago…) so I’m hoping to finish that up within the next couple of days.

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I’d also like to get through these books this month:

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  • Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen
  • Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
  • A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan
  • The Rich and the Dead by Liv Spector
  • William Shakespeare’s Star Wars by Ian Doescher
  • Wool by Hugh Howey

I would like to read more if I can, but at minimum these are the books I plan on reading this month.

I didn’t do the genre challenge for last month, but I would like to attempt to do this month because it’s Fantasy. Obviously some of the books I’m reading are fantasy so they’d count, but I would really like to read A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin. I want to read this book soon anyway just so I don’t forget everything that happened in the previous book(s). So, hopefully I’ll tackle this beast sometime this month.

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So that’s all the books I plan on reading this month. What are you guys hoping to read?

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