Sunday, June 30, 2013

Bloglovin!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Since Google Reader is kaput tomorrow, I've signed up with Bloglovin! You can click the lovely button on the right to continue following Read This Instead, and all my wacky reviews/adventures. Maybe I'll even throw up a couple pictures of my kiddos, since it's been a while.

Also, Bloglovin! can automatically import all the blogs you're following from Google Reader, easy peasy. I've been really happy with them so far.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Top 10 Tuesday: Best of 2013 (So Far)

The Broke and The Bookish hosts Top 10 Tuesday each week. Come play along!


This week's topic is: Top Books I've Read So Far in 2013

I've only read 29 books this year, so I'm posting my top 5. And they're all a-ma-zing.


Everbound by Brodi Ashton.
The second book in the Everneath trilogy had fabulous world-building and a killer ending.


Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi.
It's been a great year for sequels. This was another good one!


Scarlet by Marissa Meyer.
This was even more enjoyable than Cinder. Such an interesting retelling of Little Red Riding Hood.


The Elite by Kiera Cass.
The sequel to The Selection had all the drama and cat fights and love-triangle goodness I could've hope for.


The Girl of Fire and Thorns, and (the sequel) The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson.
It's fantasy, and it's Spanish-ish, and it's all the good things.

What were some of your favorites this year?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Read This: The Girl of Fire and Thorns

The Girl of Fire and Thorns
by Rae Carson

The Short Story
Elisa has been pegged to do a great work with her life, and everybody believes it. Except for her. She's shy, and full of self-doubt, and has no idea what it is she's supposed to do. When she gets married off to a king who has his own reasons for wanting her around, she starts to realize that people have been hiding things from her. Also, rebels and some kissing and growing up.
High fantasy that even I liked.
5/5

Come for the....
unexpectedly good high fantasy. I'd heard great things about this book, but look at the cover! Enchanted forest and girl's face trapped in a magic crystal. That is not really my thing. But I found myself checking it out of the library anyway, and good thing I did. Because this book is amazing. I appreciated the Spanish-language influence. Traditional fantasy has names that look like something out of an Ikea catalog, but not this one. It's set in a sort of desert climate, and everyone has Spanish names. That are easy to pronounce. Plus the mythology in the story felt like a sort of mystical twist on Catholicism. It was fascinating! Plus, no map. If you need a map, you're doing something wrong with your writing.

Since the whole fantasy-ness wasn't a holdup, I could focus all my attention on the characters. I loved Elisa. She has no confidence in herself at the beginning of the story and feels like she can't live up to the high expectations she's supposed to fulfill. She eats her way through her feelings and then hides behind her size. And I was so happy to watch her character grow and get past a lot of that. She was just a really enjoyable, relateable character. I also really liked Humberto and the rebels, and Hector. (Did anyone else expect him to be the love interest?)

Don't Think About This Too Hard

  • Really, I've got nothing. On to the sequel!

The Big Three:
Language: not an issue
Sex and Stuff: not an issue
Violence: a lot of fighting with swords/knives/etc, people being burned, blood, some gore

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Top 10 Tuesday: Summer TBR

Top 10 Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Come play along!

Today's topic is: Top 10 Books on Your Summer TBR List

I'm finally going to get to you:

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Because, seriously, it's time to read it.
Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter. Are they finally together?
Audrey, Wait by Robin Benway. Just got this from the library.
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. I've heard all the good things about this.






Summer Releases:
Abandon by Elana Johnson (just came out)
The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson (out August 27. That's still summer, right?)

Re-reads & Book Club:
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. The perfect summer book.
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. To get ready for the sequel that comes out in September

Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster. I know nothing about this one, but it's the July book club pick
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. I've heard lots of good things.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Dream Thieves ARC Art Contest Entry

So, Maggie Stiefvater is giving away a couple of ARCs of The Dream Thieves. And you have to do art to enter. Details.

Good thing my husband, the artist, likes the series enough to want to enter. (with a little helpful persuasion). Here's our entry. It's called Chainsaw.

copyright 2013 Rusty Gregory Art
Don't steal it, and all that.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Did You Know?

I'm still catching up from the move, but here is (not so recent) news that I thought was cool. Maybe you missed some of them, too.

Free Audiobooks, That You Actually Want to Listen to
Have you heard of SYNC? Each Thursday this summer they're offering free YA audiobook downloads, along with a classic. (free for a whole week) This week is The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater.(!!!) Also Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya. (I know nothing about it) Go forth and listen. Or at least check the link out, because they have a lot of cool free books this summer.

This is done in oil paint, which makes it even cooler
Speaking of The Raven Boys...
So, the sequel to Raven Boys, The Dream Thieves, doesn't come out until September. But did you see the excerpt at EW? It is short but wonderful.

Pictures from the Divergent movie
I didn't even love the first book in the Divergent trilogy, but EW (again) had some interesting pictures from the filming. Maybe it's just because I grew up in the Windy City, but I think it's pretty cool to watch someone about to jump off a building (with The Sears Tower in the background). I don't know when it comes out, but I'm sure it will be unavoidable knowledge as it gets closer to release.

What else did I miss in book land while I moved?

Monday, June 10, 2013

Mixed Review: The Lucy Variations

The Lucy Variations
by Sara Zarr

The Short Story
Lucy was a famed piano prodigy, until the day she called it quits. Now her brother is left to carry on the family legacy of piano excellence, and expectation, and all that comes with it. When he gets a new piano teacher, Lucy begins to question the place music should, or could, have in her life.
Some interesting things, but not my favorite of Zarr's books.
3/5

So....
Sara Zarr is sort of the queen of the uncomfortably sympathetic protagonist, but Lucy is probably the most difficult of her characters, yet. I started out liking her enough. (In some ways, she reminded me of Jenna from Sweethearts - girl whose whole life and identity are one way, but aren't anymore. Probably. Maybe? There's even the use of flashback for the big reveal. But that's where the similarities end.) I thought Lucy's reactions to her overbearing family, her piano playing, and even her crushes on older men were understandable. Her family's always placing focus on being perfect/pleasing adults, and putting little value on youth would probably lead anyone to seek out approval and attention from adults. And see her peers as young and silly. So understandable, yes. But acceptable?  No.

And I think that's where one of my biggest problems with the book came in. Lucy's relationship with Will, the piano teacher, never quite goes into anything illegal. But it is far from appropriate. And I didn't feel like there was enough condemnation of it in the book. I also got tired of Lucy and her self-centeredness. The last 20 or so pages set the book on a better path, but it was hard getting there.

There are some nice themes, like how to rediscover your passions, taking ownership for your choices, and even what to do when things you love become drudgery. But I wanted more of that, and less uncomfortable relationship with the older, married teacher. I'm a big fan of Sara Zarr's books, but I wouldn't recommend anyone new to her style start with this one. (I'd go with How to Save a Life)


The Big Three:
Language: some swears throughout
Sex and Stuff: not technically an issue, but plenty of ick
Violence: not an issue

Thursday, June 6, 2013

May Recap

In May we bought a house! And moved in! It's been very exciting.

It's a house!

Between all the supposed-to-be packing and unpacking, I managed to read five books:

Dead Silence by Kimberly Derting
The last book in The Body Finder series was the creepiest yet. A good mix of resolved and open plot points.

The Elite (The Selection #2) by Kiera Cass
Lots of drama! and angst and back and forth and love triangle. It was exactly what I was in the mood for when I read it, so I absolutely loved it.

Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt
It was cute.

The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr
You know I love me some Sara Zarr, but this one was a bit of a struggle for me. Very complicated characters. Review to come.

Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta
I doubt any of her books will be as great as Jellicoe Road, but this one was still really good. It's a great story of friends (and family), although I wasn't a big fan of the love interest.

I also got to see Stephanie Perkins and Margaret Stohl when they came to the Provo Library. And my computer won't load the pictures, but Suey wrote a lovely post about it.

For June, I've already read two books in a series which I will rave about soon. Hopefully I'll unpack some more, too.