Monday, February 29, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

*Yawn* Happy Monday everyone.

I confess, I'm watching the news and I can't keep my eyes open, or stop yawning!  I blame my cat.  She decided 6 a.m. was a good time to get up, and kept pushing at my head until I sat up.  Ugh.

Another ugh, too.  I didn't complete my reading goal for last week.  I only finished one book.

What I Read Last Week:

I swear there was a good reason not to read.  This past week I achieved an important goal: I closed 2 credit cards!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Fire (Graceling Realm #2), by Kristin Cashore

Genre: YA Fantasy
Date Published: October 2009
Length: 461 pages
Source: Owned copy

Goodreads | Barnes&Noble | Amazon

Synopsis: It is not a peaceful time in the Dells. The young King Nash clings to his throne while rebel lords in the north and south build armies to unseat him. The mountains and forests are filled with spies and thieves and lawless men.
This is where Fire lives. With a wild, irresistible appearance and hair the color of flame, Fire is the last remaining human monster. Equally hated and adored, she had the unique ability to control minds, but she guards her power, unwilling to steal the secrets of innocent people. Especially when she has so many of her own.
Then Prince Brigan comes to bring her to King City, The royal family needs her help to uncover the plot against the king. Far away from home, Fire begins to realize there's more to her power than she ever dreamed. Her power could save the kingdom. If only she weren't afraid of becoming the monster her father was.

My Rating:
★★★★★ and a ♥ (again!)
...for being a strong and empowering novel.

It's Back! Feature&Follow Friday

Yay! It's back!  It's baaack!  And it looks pretty cool!

Okay, so this blog hop has a couple new changes, but the major points are the same: Write a post for the hop that answers the weekly question (or post prompt as they now call it), enter your blog into the linky thing on the host post, and then follow as many people as you can!  Following the hosts is a must (Alison Can Read and Parajunkee), as well as following the weekly feature (which, by the way, you now get to vote for next week's feature!).  Have fun!

This week's prompt:
Ten Reasons You Read Your Favorite Genre

Monday, February 22, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This weekly meme is hosted by The Book Date.

Well, it's Monday.  Again.

*Sigh* I feel like this week has passed on by all too quickly.  I didn't exercise like I intended, and I didn't read as much as I intended.  Bummer.

I've been trying to sleep better as well, and that seems to working....I think?  It's a win-loss really.  On the one hand, I'm getting up by 7 a.m. every morning, and I'm able to watch the news while I work on my computer, and then I have the whole morning to get other stuff done (like reading).  On the other hand....I'm getting up before 7 a.m., irregardless of how late I went to bed.  This morning, I kid you not, I woke up at 5:50 a.m..  I don't mind the waking up early bit, I just wish I felt fully rested when I wake up.

In the meantime, I did manage to finish two books this past week.  No wait....three.  Oh hey, I read three books this past week!  Yay, I fulfilled my reading goal! *(Doing a happy dance)*

Here are the books I finished.  Clicking the covers will take you to the review.

Books I Read:

Okay, so since reading three books a week seems really achievable (especially now that I get up early), I'm going to try and finish another three books.  Here's my upcoming reading list, although I probably won't get to all of them just yet.  Click on the covers to find out more about each one.

My Planned Reads:

Looking back at this list, I can see that I seem to be on a bit of a re-read kick lately.  I think I'm still recovering from Sanderson's Stormlight Archive, so I'm reverting to re-reads to take a little break.  I'm re-reading Fire so that I can comfortably re-read Bitterblue and determine if it's a favorite.  I'm re-reading Wizard's First Rule because it's been on my mind lately and I never finished the series.  Black Butler Vol. 6 is the new guy; a friend of mine loaned me the mangas after I told her how much I liked season one of the TV series (don't watch season two....just don't).  I finished the first five last year, and now I'm the mood to continue it some more!

Anywhoo, I'm going to continue watching the news and then maybe do a little yoga and walking.  I seriously need to take control of my exercise.

Have a great week, everyone!
-Lisa The Dancing Bookworm

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Book Review: Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline

Genre: Science Fiction
Number Of Pages/Listening Time: 374 pages, or 15h 45m on audiobook

Goodreads | Audible

Synopsis: At once wildly original and stuffed with irresistible nostalgia, Ready Player One is a spectacularly genre-busting, ambitious, and charming debut-part quest novel, part love story, and part virtual space opera.
It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.
Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS—a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.
And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them.
For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved—that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughe’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.
And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.
Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt—among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life—and love—in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

My Rating:
★★★★ and 1/2
....For being extremely entertaining.

My Thoughts:

Well, this story didn't do all that well on the re-read. I still really enjoyed it, but I'm debating whether or not to call this a favorite. It could be that I listened to the audiobook rather than reading it, but the experience wasn't quite as amazing as the last time.

Despite that, it was still a fun read. It really is all about the 80's in this story: there are numerous references to 80's pop culture, technology, and games, and while I didn't really know a lot of them, it was still rather fun to recognize the stuff that I did know. Even the plot had a bit of an 80's vibe to it!
The characters weren't all that fleshed out, but they were still fun to read about, and the plot kept things going without slowing down. It is definitely a story that is both fun and fast, although you might to pause a little to look up the movie/game/80's technology that one of the characters is referring to, just for kicks.

As for listening to it on audio.....well, I dunno. I think that might have been the reason why I didn't enjoy it quite so much this time around. Wil Wheaton did a good job narrating (fun fact here: did you he's the actor who plays Wesley in Star Trek: The Next Generation, which by the way first came out in 1987?); he certainly played the part of the nerdy kid quite well, but it still felt like it dragged a little bit. I guess the narration wasn't entirely what I had pictured it to be, but that could be because I read it in print previously so I had certain expectations.

Anyway, this is definitely a story that is worth checking out. Like I said, it's fun and it's fast. You'll never look at gaming the same way again!

Book Review: Graceling (Graceling Realm #1), by Kristin Cashore

Genre: YA Fantasy
Number Of Pages: 471 pages


Synopsis: Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight - she's a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king's thug.
When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change.
She never expects to become Po's friend.
She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace - or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away...

My Rating:
★★★★★ and a ♥
....For continuing to be an empowering novel for girls

My Thoughts:
I love this book. It isn't the best written story ever, and there are parts of it where you feel like it could go just a little bit faster, but the female protagonist completely makes up for anything that's lacking.
We see this everywhere nowadays: movies/books with strong female lead. Sometimes, it makes sense to say that the female character is a strong character. Other times, we're left wondering "what strong female character?" For me, any female protagonist who doesn't need a guy in any way is a strong character. Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy has Lisbeth Salander. Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games trilogy has Katniss Everdeen.
And now Graceling has Katsa of the Middluns.
Katsa doesn't need a guy to help her. At all. No one can beat her in a fight, and there is nothing out there that she can't do. She does have one weakness, of course, but she is able to overcome that weakness on her own, without a guy's help. The male character, Po, isn't really there because she absolutely needs him; he's there more as an emotional element to the story than anything else.
I really appreciate stories where one can truly say there's a strong female protagonist, and that's why this book will continue to be a favorite of mine for a good long time. The writing is simple, the plot tends to drag in places, but Katsa turns out to be worth every minute of it! Highly recommended for anyone who likes to read stories with "a strong female lead".

Friday, February 19, 2016

It's Friday! Time For A Blog Hop!

Happy Friday everyone!  It's sunny and gorgeous out here in Connecticut, and I'm looking forward to going out for a walk later.

But before I do that, it's time for a blog hop!

Book Blogger Hop

This weekly meme is hosted by Ramblings Of A Coffee Addicted Writer.  The rules of this hop are simple: write a blog post answering the weekly question, enter your post link into the linky thing on host's post, and then check out the other participating blogs and follow people!

This Week's Question:
Do You Have A Favorite Place To Read?

I always seek out the big comfy couches and armchairs when I want to read for a good long time.  

A good portion of the time, I'll just curl up while I read, like a normal person.  But I'm a bit of a strange reader.  I have this trademark reading position that apparently I've done since I was little kid:

Ten-year-old me
Twenty-six-year-old me

Irregardless of the available furniture, however, I will read anywhere.....


How about you?  Where do you like to read?
Enjoy your weekend!
-Lisa The Dancing Bookworm

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Book Review: The Shining Girls, by Lauren Beukes

Genre: Thriller
Number Of Pages/Listening Time: 374 pages/ 10 hours and 33 minutes

Goodreads | Audible

Synopsis: "The future is not as loud as war, but it is relentless.  It has a terrible fury all its own."
Harper Curtis is a killer who stepped out of the past.  Kirby Mazrachi is the girl who was never meant to have a future.
Kirby is the last shining girl, one of the bright young women burning with potential whose lives Harper is destined to snuff out after he stumbles on a House in Depression-era Chicago that opens onto other times.
At the urging of the House, Harper inserts himself into the lives of the shining girls, waiting for the perfect moment to strike.  He's the ultimate hunter, vanishing into another time after each murder, untraceable--until one of his victims survives.
Determined to bring her would-be killer to justice, Kirby joins the Chicago Sun-Times to work with the ex-homicide reporter Dan Velasquez, who covered her case.  Soon Kirby finds herself closing in on the impossible truth...
The Shining Girls is a masterful twist on the serial killer tale: a violent quantum leap featuring a memorable and appealing heroine in pursuit of a deadly criminal.

My Rating:
★★★ and a 1/2
....For being interesting and different.

My Thoughts:

Monday, February 15, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Happy Monday everyone!

Yet another week has gone by, and I'm wondering where it went.  At least I got a snow day!  I got my winter fix and now am ready for spring!

It seems that lately the most I'm able to do is one book a week.  This past week I finished a BOTM for a local library book club:

What I Read Last Week:
This is the third time I've read this story and I still love it.  I'm really looking forward to the discussion tomorrow.  Better still, my grandmother and my mother are both joining me for this read, so it'll be a fun family day!
For my review, click on the cover.

I think I need to try and finish more books this week.  Goodreads says I'm 6 books behind schedule.  So, I'm hoping to read 3 books this week and at least another 3 next week in order to catch up a little.  I need to stop binge-watching Netflix and listen to more audiobooks.

So here's the plan for this week.  I'm going to try to read at least three of the following books:

My TBR For This Week:

Feel free to click on the covers to find out more about each book!

Well, that's it for the time being.  I'm going to go listen to my audiobook (The Shining Girls) while I go do a monstrous clean-up of my apartment.

Happy reading!
-Lisa The Dancing Bookworm

Friday, February 12, 2016

Hello Friday! Time For A Blog Hop!

It's a lovely, frigid Friday morning here in Connecticut.  A perfect day for reading, I should think!

Anyway it's time for a blog hop!

Book Blogger Hop

This blog hop is simple: answer the weekly question on your own post, enter your web link in the Linky thing on the host site, and then hop around and check out the other participating blogs.  Easy!

Here's this week's question:

Are You Able To Read In The Car?
I'm able to read in the car for a short while, maybe an hour or so, but then I start to get a bit queasy and need a break.  I find audiobooks are the way to go, regardless of whether I'm driving or just along for the ride.

Have a nice day folks!  Feel free to take a look around.  Happy reading!
-Lisa The Dancing Bookworm

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Book Review: Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan (Review #2)

Genre: Fiction
Number Of Pages/Listening Time: 288 pages, or 7 hours and 41 minutes on audiobook

Goodreads | Audible

Synopsis: The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon out of his life as a San Francisco web-design drone--and serendipity, sheer curiosity, and the ability to climb a ladder like a monkey have landed him a new gig working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore.  But after a few days on the job, Clay begins to realize that this store is even more curious than the name suggests.  There are only a few customers, but they come in repeatedly and never seem to actually buy anything.  Instead, they "check out" impossibly obscure volumes from strange corners of the store, all according to some elaborate, long-standing arrangement with the gnomic Mr. Penumbra.  The store must be a front for something larger.  Soon Clay has embarked on a complex analysis of the customers' behavior and roped his friends into helping him figure out just what is going on.  And when they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, it turns out the secrets extend far outside the walls of the bookstore.
With irresistible brio and dazzling intelligence, Robin Sloan has crafted a literary adventure story for the twenty-first century, evoking both the fairy-tale charm of Haruki Murakami and the enthusiastic novel-of-ideas wizardry of Neal Stephenson or the young Umberto Eco, but with a unique and feisty sensibility that is rare to the world of literary fiction.  Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore is exactly what it sounds like: an establishment you have to enter and will never want to leave, a modern-day cabinet of wonders ready to give a jolt of energy to every curious reader, no matter the time of day.

My Rating:
★★★★★ and a ♥!
...for being an enchanting read for the third time reading it

My Thoughts:
This re-read wasn't planned, but since this came up as a BOTM for my library book club, I was forced to read it again. :)
This was the third time reading it, and I still loved it. This time was even more fun because both my mother and my grandmother read it along with me. My mom really liked the quirky one-liners that make you chuckle aloud, and my grandmother thought Robin Sloan used the thesaurus a little too much, but she still really liked it.
This is a quirky, fun, and optimistic read. It looks at the current advancement of technology with awe, and yet the old technology of books and printing is still viewed as wondrous. The writing is nice, in a modern, quippy sort of way. It has it's own fluidity, with subtle humor laced into the pages. The jokes aren't loud or sarcastic, but quiet and witty. Here's an example:
"So of course people try to pirate fonts. I am not one of those me, I know how much sweat goes into those shapes. Typographers are designers; designers are my people; I am committed to supporting them. But now tells me that Gerritszoon Display, distributed by FLC Type Foundry of New York City, costs $3,989. So of course I will try to pirate that font." 
Overall, this is a magical read, just without the magic. I know some people have shelved this as fantasy, but it's not. It's enchanting and questlike, a modern adventure, but it's not magical in any way. After reading this three times, I still want to read it again. Completely worth a look if you haven't already.

Monday, February 8, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Happy Monday readers, and happy snow day!

Well, maybe not a snow day.  I'm not sure yet.  It's snowing now, so I might have to cancel all my dance lessons for today.  We will have to see.  I'm not sure if I like the idea of having a snow day today.  On the one hand, I could finish a book today, get some apartment cleaning done, just chill out and relax.  On the other hand, I lose about $200+ in earnings.  Hmmmm.

Well, on the plus side, I finished a really long book this past week.  And I mean long.  It was totally worth it, though.

Book I Finished Last Week:
(Click on the cover for the review)

This book took me all week to read, and then I ended up finishing at 2 a.m. Saturday morning.  It's 1,000 pages long but extremely engaging.  I loved every minute of it!  Very hardcore fantasy.

I need to take a break from fantasy, I think.  For about a book or two maybe.  I've got a couple of BOTMs lined up so I believe I'll read those first before I move on to the next fantasy series, just until I've absorbed everything from the Stormlight Archive.

My Planned Reads This Week:
(Click on the covers to find out more!)

That's about it for now.  Two books.  That's probably all I have time for, although maybe this snow day will speed things up a little.

Happy reading!
-Lisa The Dancing Bookworm

Book Review: Words Of Radiance (Stormlight Archive #2), by Brandon Sanderson

Genre: Epic Fantasy
Number Of Pages/Listening Time: 1087 pages, or 48 hours and 15 minutes on audio

Goodreads | Audible

Synopsis: Brandon Sanderson's The Stormlight Archive sequence began in 2010 with the New York Times bestseller The Way of Kings. Now, the eagerly anticipated Words of Radiance continues the epic story and answers many of your questions.
Six years ago, the Assassin in White, a hireling of the inscrutable Parshendi, assassinated the Alethi king on the very night a treaty between men and Parshendi was being celebrated. So began the Vengeance Pact among the highprinces of Alethkar and the War of Reckoning against the Parshendi. Now the Assassin is active again, murdering rulers all over the world of Roshar, using his baffling powers to thwart every bodyguard and elude all pursuers. Among his prime targets is Highprince Dalinar, widely considered the power behind the Alethi throne. His leading role in the war would seem reason enough, but the Assassin's master has much deeper motives.
Expected by his enemies to die the miserable death of a military slave, Kaladin survived to be given command of the royal bodyguards, a controversial first for a low-status "darkeyes." Now he must protect the king and Dalinar from every common peril as well as the distinctly uncommon threat of the Assassin, all while secretly struggling to master remarkable new powers that are somehow linked to his honorspren, Syl. Brilliant but troubled Shallan strives along a parallel path. Despite being broken in ways she refuses to acknowledge, she bears a terrible burden: to somehow prevent the return of the legendary Voidbringers and the civilization-ending Desolation that will follow. The secrets she needs can be found at the Shattered Plains, but just arriving there proves more difficult than she could have imagined.
Meanwhile, at the heart of the Shattered Plains, the Parshendi are making an epochal decision. Hard pressed by years of Alethi attacks, their numbers ever shrinking, they are convinced by their war leader, Eshonai, to risk everything on a desperate gamble with the very supernatural forces they once fled. The possible consequences for Parshendi and humans alike, indeed, for Roshar itself, are as dangerous as they are incalculable.

My Rating:
★★★★ 1/2 
....For Being An Awesome Sequel.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Good-Bye January, Hello February! My Monthly Plans

Where did January go?!  One week it was New Year's Day, and the next it's February!

.....Or is it February?  Because when I went outside this morning, it felt like April.  Did we skip a few months or something?

It's been such a busy month.  I was constantly searching for some spare time to read, but it was so hard to find it.  I kept sneaking it in between my private lessons.  In the evenings I would be so tired that I would fall asleep with the book open.  I frequently looked like this:

Because January went by so quickly, that I only managed to finish 4 books.  Granted, one book was about 1,000 pages long, but still!