September 2016 Wrap Up

THIS IS HALLOWEEN! THIS IS HALLO– wait. No. Not yet.

How. Guys. How is it October already? I don’t get it! This year is going by in such a blur. And as for this month, it was a little better than August, though it’s been stressful and stuff, so here’s the things that happened:

What I Read

  • Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas – I loved it. So much. I hate that we have to wait another year for the last book (also sad that there’s only one book left *sob*), but the story is definitely getting more intense and I’m really enjoying it. 4.75/5 stars Check out my review!
  • The Goal by Elle Kennedy – I love this series a lot and this companion novel was really good! Lots of sexy times, lots of drama, but the characters were still awesome. 4/5 stars Check out my review!

Even though I didn’t “read” this book this month, I’m including it under this category because I did do a review of it. This was my first DNF review:

Books I Started But Didn’t Finish

Books I Got This Month

  • Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas
  • A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir
  • The Goal by Elle Kennedy

Discussions I Held

Top Ten Tuesdays & Top 5 Wednesdays

Writing Related

Fun Things

  • Hobby Corner: September ANIME Edition – Anime’s been a part of my life since I was a kid, but I talk about my more recent favorites this month.
  • I Am The Reader Tag – Inspired by a recent release, I loved the questions for this tag and just had to participate in it.
  • Rayna Recommends: Diversity – Since diversity has been such a huge topic this month, I decided to recommend some of my recent favorites.

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I read one book that is fantasy this month, so that makes 29 out of 30 fantasy books read for the year! Woo!

Life Updates

  • My husband and I moved into my parents’ house at the beginning of the month for personal family reasons, so that’s been stressful. Luckily we’re all moved in and all of that, it was just a pain to pack and move as fast as possible before he had to start school this semester.
  • I’m stressed out like crazy lately, but I’m still trying to keep calm through a lot of what’s been going on. Lots of scary things that happened with my mom and stuff, but she’s doing better now.
  • I stopped my subscription for Uppercase this month because of the move and stuff, but I also want to resubscribe, now that I’ll be able to save more money… Hmm.

Let’s Chat! ≧◡≦

How was your September? Did you have to go back to school? How are you juggling stress and reading?

The Goal Book Review

thegoalTitle: The Goal
Series: Off Campus #4
Author: Elle Kennedy
Publisher: CreateSpace
Publication Date: September 26, 2016
Genre: New Adult – Romance
Pages: 350
Format: Purchased eBook

She’s good at achieving her goals…

College senior Sabrina James has her whole future planned out: graduate from college, kick butt in law school, and land a high-paying job at a cutthroat firm. Her path to escaping her shameful past certainly doesn’t include a gorgeous hockey player who believes in love at first sight. One night of sizzling heat and surprising tenderness is all she’s willing to give John Tucker, but sometimes, one night is all it takes for your entire life to change.

But the game just got a whole lot more complicated

Tucker believes being a team player is as important as being the star. On the ice, he’s fine staying out of the spotlight, but when it comes to becoming a daddy at the age of twenty-two, he refuses to be a bench warmer. It doesn’t hurt that the soon-to-be mother of his child is beautiful, whip-smart, and keeps him on his toes. The problem is, Sabrina’s heart is locked up tight, and the fiery brunette is too stubborn to accept his help. If he wants a life with the woman of his dreams, he’ll have to convince her that some goals can only be made with an assist.

This review is for a companion novel, but there could be some spoilers ahead.

I love this series so much. As my first foray into New Adult, I am not disappointed.

This last book in the Off Campus companion series followed Tucker and Sabrina, a hockey player and a very serious law student. When the two make eye contact from across the room one day, they are instantly attracted to each other in a very serious way, and boy did the heat turn up.

When this story first started I knew what was going to happen eventually because it was mentioned at the end of The Score, so I knew what to expect in one sense, but I didn’t expect to be so interested in both of the characters and their lives separately and together.

Sabrina James is very serious and driven in anything she does. Her stubbornness often causes her to wipe herself out, but she wants to succeed so much and to get into the school of her dreams: Harvard. She’s working two jobs, going to school full time, and studying her butt off to achieve these dreams. I found that her resilience was very refreshing and I liked seeing someone so committed, but even I was like, “You’ve gotta relax a little, bro.” I found that sometimes she was very high strung, but I think a lot of that had to do with anxiety and how she dealt with it in her own terms.

Of course, then when John Tucker showed up, a lot of that changed.

Tuck is a very charming, smart, caring Southern gentleman and I loved him. I thought he was very mature compared to the last three guys in this series, but he was also just as horny as the others. I loved that he tried very hard to pursue Sabrina – and that he even realized he was going into “stranger danger” territory at one point and backed down a bit. But after that his pursuit wasn’t pushy, but it was something that I could definitely see happening in real life. I thought that the way he strived to be a businessman and achieve his dream was also just as awesome as Sabrina’s wish.

And then The Thing happened, and oh man, I needed to know what the two were going to do in the situation.

And this is where I’m going to drop some spoilers because I need to air a few things that bugged me and also excited me:

  • When Sabrina found out she was pregnant, she was scared, and I don’t blame her at all in her given situation. She had a craptastic home life, she was under a lot of stress, and she didn’t know what to do in the situation, but when she told her friends and her friends suggested abortion and almost tried to push it on her, I felt myself getting very annoyed because it’s not their body, therefore not their decision. I was just ruffled that it was mentioned so casually, like it was the one and only option, until a few paragraphs later they were going to totally support her. It just felt off and weird.
  • I’m glad she went through with it and everything, but I wished that we could have seen a bit more? I mean there were a lot of big instances like finding out the gender and the birth (which was hilarious), but I just wished for a little more.
  • I was like, “Sabrina, stop being so damn stubborn and worrying and just tell the guy you love him!” I wished it had happened sooner than the last 3% of the book. But I’m still glad it happened.
  • That girl is so resilient! Taking care of a baby through Harvard? That’s amazing.
  • I love her and Tuck together, I really do. They balance each other out and I think that they meshed well together.
  • I was creeped out by Ray the whole time, and I wasn’t super fond of Sabrina’s Nana, and then Tuck’s mom, though coming from a place of love, was just cruel the way she approached Sabrina about everything. But hey, it happens, and I know that.

There are plenty of sexytimes that happen in this book just like the rest of them, but I think there’s a lot more dirty talk during the act than in the previous books, but I could be wrong. Either way, it was very good.

Overall I felt that this book wasn’t the best in the series, but I’m glad Sabrina’s and Tuck’s relationship was still explored because there was just a lot there and so much developed and came from it.

I rate this book 4/5 stars and highly recommend it if you’ve read the rest of the Off Campus series.

Passenger Book Review

passengerTitle: Passenger
Series: Passenger #1
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: January 5, 2016
Genre: Young Adult – Sci Fi/Fantasy, Time Travel, Romance
Pages: 486
Format: Purchased Hardcover

Passage, n.
i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes.
ii. A journey by water; a voyage.
iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time.

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them—whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are playing, treacherous forces threaten to separate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home… forever.

DNFed at 54%

This is actually the first book I’ve ever done a DNF for. I try my best to finish reading books, but I just couldn’t with this one, so let me explain why.

I was instantly hooked with the premise of this book. I thought, “Wow! Time traveling pirates? Cool!” And it started out much like I expected, but as I kept reading I continually found myself distracted because the writing was very long winded and I couldn’t remember what happened from one scene to the next. Bits and pieces I found interesting, but for a lot of it I couldn’t keep my attention on it. I tried to read it for over a month and made it only just past the half way mark before I put it down and haven’t picked it up since.

I found that the plot wasn’t very interesting. I was pretty bored through a lot of it because there were too many details thrown in in each chapter and I couldn’t keep a lot of it straight. I enjoyed the initial scenes of Etta on the ship, but once her and Nicholas start to get a bit further into the story, I wasn’t interested. I mean, bits and pieces intrigued me, but for the most part? Not so much.

The relationship between Etta and Nicholas was also very insta-lovey, which isn’t something I’m fond of. I mean, there are times when it can be done right, but from the moment they both saw each other it was as if they just wanted to kiss the other badly and I wasn’t feeling it. They each thought the other was attractive and they were both really into the other even if they didn’t want to admit it, and though I really like romance, I just couldn’t get into this one.

Etta seemed like she took the whole time travel thing well. I mean, she was very shocked at first, but her main priority was to go home and try to turn back time and stop her friend from dying – and to find her mom. But all of that shock seemed to wear off very fast and she just started to really take a lot of it in stride. I mean, I’m all for a strong heroine, so that’s not a huge deal, but I would’ve liked more exploration, more questioning on her part.

Nicholas was very driven to prove a lot of people wrong, which was great to see, and it was also interesting to see how the issue of race would affect the story because he is, in fact, an African American young man living in a time where they were more often than not slaves. I thought that he was an interesting character, and his reactions to certain situations were great, but I also felt he held himself back a lot. Maybe it had to do with his situation and everything, but I wished he’d have pushed a little more.

I did like the sense of mystery as to who Etta’s mother was, how she was a traveler, and what her role played in everything, and I did like it when they were back in the 1900s and Nicholas was reacting as though he was going to have a heart attack seeing all of the technology, which was funny. And I liked that Etta really strives to be the best violinist out there because I haven’t read a lot of books where that’s been a main interest to a main character.

As I stated, the story fell flat for me, as did the characters at times. I really wanted to like this one because it had such a cool premise, but I just couldn’t get into it. It wasn’t for me, but I’m sure it appeals to a lot of people, so definitely give it a chance if you’re looking for time traveling pirates and violin players.

0 star rating as this was a DNF. For me, this is the equivalent of a No Rating.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books On My Fall TBR List

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Welcome to another Top Ten Tuesday as hosted by the lovely people over at The Broke and the Bookish. Today’s topic is all about the books that we want to read this fall. Now, let’s be real: I probably won’t read all of these books this fall. If my pattern of not reading continues, I might be lucky if I finish one or two of these, BUT I’m going to try my best and read what I can. So here are the books I’m looking forward to reading this fall:

1 . The Goal by Elle Kennedy – Book #4 in the Off Campus series is out NOW and if I haven’t already started this by the time this post is up, then I need to slap myself because DAMN I AM HOOKED ON THIS SERIES. I’m also pretty sure this is the last book in the series, which makes me sad, but as my first foray into New Adult: I approve.

2. Water’s Wrath by Elise Kova – I have been reading this since it pretty much came out and I just keep PUTTING IT DOWN because new books come out and my interests change and then I’ve been in a rut AND I NEED TO FINISH IT. I love this series so much, and I need to know what happens next. Speaking of which….

3. Crystal Crowned by Elise Kova – This is the last book in the series and I obviously can’t read this one until I read the one before it (see above). I’ve heard good things about the ending and so I really just want to see what happens and how everything comes together.

4. P.S. I Like You by Kasie West – I started reading this before my husband and I moved and I just put it down and haven’t picked it back up, but it’s SO cute so far and I’m really enjoying it, so I just need to finish it. I’m pretty sure I’d finish quick, too, because it reads really fast.

5. Style by Chelsea M. Cameron – This F/F story also reads fast and I like that the two voices of the two main characters are both different! I don’t think I’ve ever read a lesbian love story in novel form before (manga, yes), and I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read so far, just, again, I pick things up and put them down.

6. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling – Honestly, this TBR is just the books I’m ASHAMED of having started and NOT having finished. Like, seriously, what is wrong with me? I’m pretty sure I started this book two years ago, so I just need to finish already. And it’s not like I’m not enjoying it, because I am! I think the size is just intimidating me.

7. The Beauty of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson – The third and final installment of another favorite trilogy of mine and I still haven’t finished it!? Ugh. I actually barely got through it because, like last year, I just wasn’t feeling it at the time I was reading it. It’s not that I don’t want to read it and see how everything comes to a close, I just wasn’t in the mood to read it at the time.

8. A Torch Agains the Night by Sabaa Tahir – I’m very excited and happy to read this sequel because they told us we weren’t getting one last year, but the reader hype was so real and now? WE HAVE THAT SEQUEL. I am very excited to see what happens next as I haven’t been spoiled by anything anywhere yet (yay!), so I hope to start this sooner rather than later.

9. Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews – I really enjoy this adult urban fantasy series a lot, and this is the fifth book, but I haven’t gotten super far in it. I do want to read it, though, because this series is ongoing and on it’s eighth book, so I need to catch up. (Plus one spin off book that I’ll be reading after this one…)

10. Moon Called by Patricia Briggs – Another adult urban fantasy book that I’m interested in but I just need to finish reading. I started it but didn’t get far because, again, I just wasn’t in the mood to read it at the time. But so far it’s interesting, just a little info dumpy, but I think that kind of happens with the first books in adult urban fantasies, as far as I’ve noticed.

So there you have it, my list of SHAME. Honestly, I just want to finish these books so I stop feeling guilty that I haven’t yet. And also because I HAVE BEEN enjoying them, I just… you know.. stopped reading them.

Let’s Chat! ≧◡≦

What top three books are on your TBR for fall? Do you have a long list of SHAME books like me, or are you more hopeful for recent releases? Tell me all the things!

Empire of Storms Book Review

empireofstormsTitle: Empire of Storms
Series: Book #5 in Throne of Glass
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: September 6, 2016
Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 689
Format: Purchased Hardcover

The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those who don’t.

As the kingdoms of Erilea fracture around her, enemies must become allies if Aelin is to keep those she loves from falling to the dark forces poised to claim her world. With war looming on all horizons, the only chance for salvation lies in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.

Aelin’s journey from assassin to queen has entranced millions across the globe, and this fifth installment will leave fans breathless. Will Aelin succeed in keeping her world from splintering, or will it all come crashing down?

As this is the fifth book, there will most likely be spoilers in this review.

When I first started this book, I knew it was going to be intense. I just wasn’t expecting it to be as intense as it was.

There was so much going on, so much that happened, and my mind was reeling after reading it, trying to comprehend everything that happened, everything that is to come, and so much more. And to be quite frank: I absolutely enjoyed it.

I found that the plot followed a steady stream from where it left off in Queen of Shadows and took a lot more darker turns, a lot more sexual turns, and showed a lot more teamwork, friendship, and hardship. It was one that I found to be full of action – and a lot more devastating action than before. There were heartbreaks and upsets, but there was also hidden joys and bits of happiness that could also be found.

So let’s take a look into the characters, shall we?

Aelin continues to grow stronger in her magic in this book, which I highly appreciate given I wanted more after the last two books from when she really started to hone her skills into the Fire Wielder she is now. Holy crap, she’s powerful, and at times I felt like she was too powerful, but I was also glad to see that even her magic has limits, that even she is susceptible to burnouts, and that she needs to replenish her magic just like all of the others who have magic have to, too. I found Aelin to be more arrogant in this book, even if it was a front sometimes, but I also found her to be more unwilling to share any sort of plans with her comrades. I felt that that was where her downfall was, because then maybe some certain events could have been prevented more, but at the same time, probably not.

Despite having so much arrogance, it’s not that Aelin doesn’t trust her friends with things (she does tell Lysandra some things), but it’s that she feels that if her plans fail that her friends will hate her for it – again, another character flaw, but one that was well done, in my opinion, because her friends got that and understood it (even if they did get a bit mad afterward). She was such a strong, kickass version of herself in this installment, and I need to know what happens to her next because she just got into a lot of shit at the end there. Oh man.

Rowan was ever the protective Fae male warrior who definitely lusted after Aelin a lot, but as those scenes between then grew and grew until they practically burst, I found that I was growing to like it more and more. Even if it was a bit much sometimes. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy what went on between them, but I feel like we lost a bit of the warrior Rowan we saw in Heir of Fire in these last two books. I mean, he still kicks ass and he’s still fierce, and willing to take down a whole arming of ilking if the need arose, but I wanted more of that stern, snarky warrior we once had before.

Manon. Oh, my ever loving heart, Manon. She was phenomenal. She was still cool and calculating, ready to rip peoples’ throats out, but I saw that humanity in her, the one she thought didn’t exist, especially when it came to a brutal decision that was forced upon her and her Thirteen. When she stood up to her grandmother, you bet I was cheering for her. She’s powerful and strong, and cunning, and I love that even though she says she doesn’t need anyone, she really does. I don’t know if she’s truly realized that yet, but she’s definitely a powerful force to be reckoned with and I’m really interested to see how she goes about accepting her bloodline, what will happen next, and if there will be any resolve as a result of it.

ELIDE. FREAKING. LOCHAN. Where the hell were you hiding, girl!? Elide definitely grew on me in the last book, but in this one? Oh, she has my whole heart now, because she just showed so much growth and strength and heart, and I thought that she was just incredible in this book. Not only did she set out on her journey to find Aelin, to do what she could for her queen, but she also showed that she’s not this frail little thing, but she has a fighting spirit. I loved her time spent with Lorcan, strained though it was, and I thought that the two were two sides of the same coin in ways. We got to learn more about her, how she uses her cunning to get through many situations, and that she’s willing to risk a lot for those she cares about. I need more of her in my life. Now.

Speaking of Lorcan, I love him. And yes, I’m totally 100% shipping him and Elide together. Even though he was kind of a jerk at the end and all of that, I want them to be together. He was very hard to crack at the beginning, very serious and hellbent on completing whatever mission he had set out to complete, but as time progressed alongside Elide, I thought that he softened a bit and slowly came to realize that there is more to life than fighting and death and destruction. I think he’ll really try to atone for his mistakes in the next book for sure.

Dorian was so cool in this book (no pun intended). He really got a hold over his magic and I thought that he did really well in learning just what that magic held. He was still kind of a lost puppy at the beginning, but he still proved that he was worth something as the book progressed, and that he was still hurting when a certain scene happened that I feel didn’t really need to happen, but there it was because ohmygodthatsexualtension. Anyway, I thought that Dorian was strong in ways even he didn’t realize, and I really appreciated that.

Aedion and Lysandra just need to get together already. Both of them proved how strong they are in different ways and how far they’re both willing to go for their companions. I found that Aedion was just as protective and hot headed as ever, and that Lysandra was really a cool calm before the storm. They really mixed well and balance each other out nicely, that’s for sure. I love how much potential each of them holds and am anxious to see more of what they’ll have to show in the next book.

As for the rest that happened? Oh, where do I even begin? There was so much more added to the story, and bits and pieces of the story from before we even knew certain characters that was shown and unfurled as the plot progressed. I loved seeing a lot of it and felt that it wasn’t too much or overbearing, but just what the characters needed in that time.

Also, can we talk about Erawan and Maeve? I seriously feel like they’re conspiring together, but both of them are so good at hiding things from everyone around them, I can’t be sure that that’s actually true. And I really don’t like Maeve. At all.

ALSO, all of those characters that came back from the novellas!? I loved that! Seeing Rolfe, Ansel, and the others was just so, so awesome and I hope that they play a bigger role in the next book.

There were just a few things that nagged me and bugged me that happened in the book that is causing this to not be a full five star read for me, and that is the amount of sex scenes in the book. I mean, I’m all for a good sex scene and it being a positive experience for the characters and all that, but I felt like there was just too much of it going on amidst the chaos of the rest of the book. Maybe it was to break up the tension, but maybe it could have been done in different ways. Like, every other character pairing wanted to get into each other’s pants. Chill your hormones.

I’m very interested to see what happens in the last book *insert sobbing here* because there is going to be a LOT of action, a LOT of heartbreak, and I can already feel my heart sobbing in many different ways.

I rate this book 4.75/5 stars and highly recommend it if you’ve read the rest of the series.