quotes Elisquared likes


"Saying 'I notice you're a nerd' is like saying, 'Hey, I notice that you'd rather be intelligent than be stupid, that you'd rather be thoughtful than be vapid, that you believe that there are things that matter more than the arrest record of Lindsay Lohan. Why is that?' In fact, it seems to me that most contemporary insults are pretty lame. Even 'lame' is kind of lame. Saying 'You're lame' is like saying 'You walk with a limp.' Yeah, whatever, so does 50 Cent, and he's done all right for himself."— John Green

2.13.2019

BLOG TOUR --- Courting Darkness by Robin LaFevers [Review + Giveaway]




Title: Courting Darkness
Authors(s): Robin LaFevers
Publication Date: February 5, 2019
Edition: Hardcover, ebook, audiobook; 512 pgs
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Source: Rockstar Book Tours
Buy: Amazon - Audible - 
Barnes & Noble - iBooks - The Book Depository
Disclaimer: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.







Tour Schedule



Week One:
1/21/2018- The Pages In-BetweenReview
1/22/2018- Fiction FareReview
1/23/2018- YA Books CentralExcerpt
1/24/2018- Two Chicks on BooksExcerpt
1/25/2018- Tales of the Ravenous ReaderReview

Week Two:
1/28/2019- ColorimetryReview
1/29/2019- Here's to Happy EndingsReview
1/30/2019- A Gingerly ReviewReview
1/31/2019- Moonlight RendezvousReview
2/1/2019- Novel NoviceExcerpt

Week Three:
2/4/2019- Lisa Loves LiteratureReview
2/5/2019- Flyleaf ChroniclesReview
2/6/2019- Smada's Book SmackReview
2/7/2019- A Backwards StoryReview
2/8/2019- Jena Brown WritesReview

Week Four:
2/11/2019- NerdophilesReview
2/12/2019- Book-KeepingReview
2/13/2019- Eli to the nthReview
2/14/2019- Do You Dog-ear?Review
2/15/2019- 
Book BriefsReview


The Summary

Death wasn’t the end, it was only the beginning…

Sybella has always been the darkest of Death’s daughters, trained at the convent of Saint Mortain to serve as his justice. But she has a new mission now. In a desperate bid to keep her two youngest sisters safe from the family that nearly destroyed them all, she agrees to accompany the duchess to France, where they quickly find themselves surrounded by enemies. Their one ray of hope is Sybella’s fellow novitiates, disguised and hidden deep in the French court years ago by the convent—provided Sybella can find them.

Genevieve has been undercover for so many years, she struggles to remember who she is or what she’s supposed to be fighting for. Her only solace is a hidden prisoner who appears all but forgotten by his guards. When tragedy strikes, she has no choice but to take matters into her own hands—even if it means ignoring the long awaited orders from the convent.

As Sybella and Gen’s paths draw ever closer, the fate of everything they hold sacred rests on a knife’s edge. Will they find each other in time, or will their worlds collide, destroying everything they care about?

See where it all began! Grab the His Fair Assassin Trilogy now! You don’t need to read these to read Courting Darkness, but they’re amazing!

My Review

First in a duology that is set in the world of LaFevers' My Fair Assassin trilogy, Courting Darkness picks up where the last book in that series left off.  But the reader now follows Sybella, one of Death's Daughters trained at the convent of Saint Mortain, as she tries to figure out her place in this new world and still protect the Duchess during the turmoil of making Brittany it's own country permanently.

Disclaimer time: I have never read the My Fair Assassin trilogy.  And while you don't have to have read those books to read Courting Darkness, it will save you some major confusion from the get-go.  Also, I didn't realize this was not a straight-up fantasy book.  This is actually historical fiction with fantastical elements.  So I will say, these two facts put a dampener on my enjoyment of the book overall, but if you loved the My Fair Assassin books, then you'll probably love this one as well.

I will say that even though it wasn't my favorite, it was still a great book.  I think if I had read the other three books prior to this one, it would have given this book more of a punch.  But with that said, I did enjoy reading it (it was a big one too, so keep that in mind!  You get a lot of bang for your buck).

Sybella is a kick-ass protagonist.  She's tough and vulnerable.  She embodies love and hate.  She was a fun perspective to read from, but I did lose something because I don't know all the backstory of her from the previous book she features in, Dark Triumph.  But as the story progressed, there were explanations so I wasn't completely lost.  Also, Sybella is just a really interesting character to follow, due to her capacity to love and to kill.  Of course, LaFevers didn't place her in an easy situation, and even with all her skills some dark stuff takes place.  But through it all, I was constantly hoping Sybella would come out of it, because even though I didn't know everything, what I did know and learned in this book, endeared me to her in a major way.

So while Sybella is one point of view, the reader is also introduced to a new character, Genevieve, who trades chapters with Sybella.  While Gen was also a trained assassin, she is in a completely different situation than Sybella, as she has been working undercover in the French Court (which is a really terrible place, might I add).  But while waiting for guidance from the now defunct convent, Gen is put in a situation where she must make her own decisions.  

What was interesting was the pacing between the two points of view.  In all of Sybella's chapters, the reader gets a sense of urgency and sense of self.  In Gen's chapters the pace is slower and her character less pronounced.  If this was due to LaFevers having already written a book from Sybella's point of view, so she had more of a grasp on her characterization, or because she wanted Gen to reflect the fact Gen couldn't be herself for so long, is unclear.  But it did make me read through Gen's chapters faster to get back to what was happening with Sybella.

Overall, this is just as bloody and intricate as the first series (from what I've researched) and set's Sybella and Gen on a journey to not only unite France and Brittany, but also to determine their futures, safety, and purpose within the world.  As I said, I felt I missed a lot from not reading the first series, but Courting Darkness was still super enjoyable, and I will definitely be picking up the sequel when it comes out next year.  Oh, and I'll be reading the His Fair Assassin books as soon as possible!

Final Rating



About the Author

Robin LaFevers was raised on a steady diet of fairy tales, Bulfinch’s mythology, and 19th century poetry. It is not surprising she grew up to be a hopeless romantic.

Though she has never trained as an assassin or joined a convent, she did attend Catholic school for three years, which instilled in her a deep fascination with sacred rituals and the concept of the Divine. She has been on a search for answers to life’s mysteries ever since.

While many of those answers still elude her, she was lucky enough to find her one true love, and is living happily ever after with him in the foothills of southern California.

In addition to writing about teen assassin nuns in medieval Brittany, she writes books for middle grade readers, including the Theodosia books and the Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist series. You can learn more about those books at www.rllafevers.com.
Giveaway

20 winners will receive His Fair Assassin character card sets, 
US Only.




2.04.2019

2018 in Review - Looking Back on My Year in Books




This year was kind of a weird one; I moved back to Tampa, FL, where I work, so I no longer had a commute more than 15 minutes.  There went all my audiobook listening.  But I also  read my first picture book for review (Are You Scared Darth Vader by Adam Rex), which was really fun!  Overall, it was a pretty solid reading year. So without further ado, let's look at all the books I managed to read in 2018!


Lucky for me, (as I am lazy and bad at making graphics), Goodreads makes a handy "My Year in Books":





So I read a total of 70 books this year with a total of 18,997 pages.  That's one more book from last year, but 1,669 less pages.  I find that interesting, especially if you go by pages read and not amount of books read.

The average length of my books was 271 pages.  I read mostly YA again this year, but with a few Middle Grade books (which are always shorter) and quite a few graphic novel (I mean my shortest book was a graphic novel at only 24 pages), so that number makes sense.

Overall, I didn't read more than my Goodreads goal, and I had to be sneaky with the graphic novels at the end (I am proud that I read two actual books at the end of December though).  But the point is that I made it to 70, which was 10 more than my 2017 goal.

Here are all the actual books:


My average rating was a 4.2, which is fair as most of these were blog tour books, and I don't post those reviews unless they are a 4 or 5 star.  Additionally, I am an easy reader to please; I tend not to read something unless I'm pretty sure I'm going to love it.  But I'm also not super picky.  Even if the book has predictable tropes, ridiculous plot points, and vapid characters, I'll probably still like the book, if just for the hilarity factor.

So out of the 69 books I read this is how it breaks down format wise:

ARCs - 12
Novels - 28
Graphic Novels - 14
Audiobooks - 14
Picture Books - 1
E-Books - 1

Then, the age-range was:

Adult - 10
Young Adult - 52
Middle Grade - 7
Children - 1

Finally, the genre breakdowns:

Non-Fiction - 5
        Memoir/Personal Essay - 3
        Poetry - 1
        Historical - 1
Fiction - 65
        Contemporary - 25
        Fantasy - 16
        Sci-Fi - 15
        Thriller/Mystery - 5
        Romance - 3
        Mixed - 1 (this was an anthology)

Out of the 70 books, this is how the ratings broke down:

2 Stars: 3 books
  • Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson
  • Who is AC? by Hope Larson
  • The Stone Prince by Gena Showalter

3 Stars: 10 books
  • The Pleasure Slave by Gena Showalter
  • Everything Is Awful: And Other Observations by Matt Bellasi
  • Mercury by Hope Larson
  • Graveyard Shakes by Laura Terry
  • Archie, Vol. 1: The New Riverdale by Mark Waid
  • Bitch Planet, Vol. 1: Extraordinary Machine by Kelly Sue DeConnick
  • Chasers of the Light: Poems from the Typewriter Series by Tyler Knott Gregson
  • Fence (Fence, #1) by C.S. Pacat
  • Shatter Me (Shatter Me, #1) by Tahereh Mafi
  • The Color of Lies by C.J. Lyons

4 Stars: 25 Books
  • The Umbrella Academy, Vol. 1: The Apocalypse Suite by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá
  • Witch Eyes by Scott Tracey
  • Better Nate Than Ever (Better Nate Than Ever #1) by Tim Federle
  • The Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi
  • P.S. I Still Love You (To All the Boys I've Loved Before #2) by Jenny Han
  • The Girl from Everywhere (The Girl from Everywhere #1) by Heidi Heilig
  • We Are All Made of Molecules by Susin Nielsen
  • If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
  • Optimists Die First by Susin Nielsen
  • Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
  • Mayfly by Jeff Sweat
  • Space Battle Lunchtime Vol. 2: A Recipe for Disaster by Natalie Riess
  • A Tragic Kind of Wonderful by Eric Lindstrom
  • All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens throughout the Ages edited by Saundra Mitchell
  • Del Toro Moon by Darby Karchut
  • The Tombs by Deborah Schaumberg
  • Bad Princess: True Tales from Behind the Tiara by Kris Waldherr
  • Taproot by Keezy Young
  • Like Never and Always by Ann Aguirre
  • Watch You Burn by Amanda Searcy
  • The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White
  • Fake Blood by Whitney Gardner
  • Deadfall by Stephen Wallenfels
  • Power of Five (Power of Five #1) by Alex Lidell 
  • Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful by Arwen Elys Dayton

5 Stars: 32 Books
  • Ten Miles Past Normal by Frances O'Roark Dowell
  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  • Unravel Me (Shatter Me #2) by Tahereh Mafi
  • Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller
  • Tempests and Slaughter (The Numair Chronicles #1) by Tamora Pierce
  • The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen by Susin Nielsen
  • Ignite Me (Shatter Me #3) by Tahereh Mafi
  • Rat Queens, Vol. 1: Sass & Sorcery by Kurtis J. Wiebe
  • The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson
  • To All the Boys I've Loved Before (To All the Boys I've Loved Before #1) by Jenny Han
  • Rat Queens, Vol. 2: The Far Reaching Tentacles of N'rygoth by Kurtis J. Wiebe 
  • You Deserve a Drink: Boozy Misadventures and Tales of Debauchery by Mamrie Hart
  • Every Heart a Doorway (Wayward Children #1) by Seanan McGuire
  • You're Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner
  • Down Among the Sticks and Bones (Wayward Children #2) by Seanan McGuire
  • Beneath the Sugar Sky (Wayward Children #3) by Seanan McGuire
  • We Are Okay by Nina LaCour 
  • Space Battle Lunchtime Vol. 1: Lights, Camera, Snacktion by Natalie Riess
  • The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
  • Sanity & Tallulah by Molly Brooks
  • The Sand Warrior (5 Worlds #1) by Mark Siegel
  • #notyourprincess: Voices of Native American Women by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale
  • Bruja Born (Brooklyn Brujas #2) by Zoraida Córdova
  • They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
  • Sadie by Courtney Summers
  • Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard
  • Love à la Mode by Stephanie Kate Strohm
  • Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
  • Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne
  • Star Wars: Are You Scared, Darth Vader? by Adam Rex
  • My Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life by Rachel Cohn
  • The Glass Arrow by Kristen Simmons
My favorite books read this year, in no particular order:
  1. Every Heart a Door Way by Seanan McGuire (5 Stars)
  2. The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli (5 Stars)
  3. The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen by Susin Nielsen (5 Stars)
  4. The Glass Arrow by Kristen Simmons (5 Stars)
  5. Turtles All the Way Down by John Green (5 Stars)
  6. We Are Okay by Nina LaCour (5 Stars)
  7. The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson (5 Stars)
  8. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (5 Stars)
  9. Sadie by Courtney Summers (5 Stars)
  10. Sanity & Tallulah by Molly Brooks (5 Stars)

I could get more in depth here (I love BooksandLala's Reading Year in Review videos -- check out 2018), but I think this is a good overview.  Maybe 2019 will be the year I'll try to keep track of more information.

I hope your 2018 reading year was awesome, and that 2019 will be even more so! 

HAPPY READING!

1.25.2019

BLOG TOUR --- Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus [Review + Giveaway]



Title: Two Can Keep a Secret
Authors(s): Karen M. McManus
Publication Date: January 8, 2019
Edition: Hardcover, ebook, audiobook; 336 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Source: Rockstar Book Tours
Buy: Amazon - Audible - Barnes & 
Noble - iBooks - The Book Depository
Disclaimer: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.






Tour Schedule




Week One:
1/1/2019- Lifestyle of MeReview
1/2/2019- Paper ReaderReview
1/3/2019- Adventures Thru WonderlandReview
1/4/2019- Here's to Happy EndingsReview

Week Two:
1/7/2019- Pink Polka Dot BooksReview
1/8/2019- Do You Dog-ear?Review
1/9/2019- Adventures and ReadingReview
1/10/2019- The Phantom ParagrapherReview
1/11/2019- Book Dragon LairReview

Week Three:
1/14/2019- A Gingerly ReviewReview
1/15/2019- Confessions of a YA ReaderReview
1/16/2019- Sweet Southern HomeReview
1/17/2019- Simply Daniel RadcliffeReview
1/18/2019- The Hermit LibrarianReview

Week Four:
1/21/2019- Smada's Book SmackReview
1/22/2019- Owl always Be ReadingReview
1/23/2019- BookHounds YAReview
1/24/2019- Popthebutterfly ReadsReview
1/25/2019- Eli to the nthReview

Week Five:
1/28/2019- The Clever ReaderReview
1/29/2019- All the Ups and DownsReview
1/30/2019- Two Points of InterestReview
1/31/2019- 
EatingbetweenthelinesINCReview

The Summary

Echo Ridge is small-town America. Ellery's never been there, but she's heard all about it. Her aunt went missing there at age seventeen. And only five years ago, a homecoming queen put the town on the map when she was killed. Now Ellery has to move there to live with a grandmother she barely knows.

The town is picture-perfect, but it's hiding secrets. And before school even begins for Ellery, someone's declared open season on homecoming, promising to make it as dangerous as it was five years ago. Then, almost as if to prove it, another girl goes missing.


Ellery knows all about secrets. Her mother has them; her grandmother does too. And the longer she's in Echo Ridge, the clearer it becomes that everyone there is hiding something. The thing is, secrets are dangerous--and most people aren't good at keeping them. Which is why in Echo Ridge, it's safest to keep your secrets to yourself.

My Review

I was beyond excited to get a chance to be on the tour for Karen M. McManus's sophomore book, Two Can Keep a Secret!  I was a part of the tour for her debut novel, One of Us is Lying (check my review here), and I loved it, even though I'm not a huge thriller fan.  So, I had high expectations going into TCKS, and I was not disappointed!

For her sophomore novel, McManus, instead of an assemble of characters, writes the story from the point of view of the two leads: Ellery Corcoran and Malcolm Kelly.  Each, in their own way, are directly involved in the horrible things happening in Echo Ridge; Ellery, as her aunt went missing 23 years earlier, and Malcolm because his older brother, Declan, is the main suspect in the murder of his girlfriend five years prior.  With each main character involved in the opposites side of the situation, victim and (possible) murderer, the reader expects them to be at odds, but it only brings them closer together.

McManus does characters right.  Ellery and Malcolm are wholly believable, as they react to the suspicious and dangerous events haunting their town.  Ellery, while a self-proclaimed "True Crime" buff, isn't able to crack the case wide open without the help of real investigators, which I found super refreshing.  The one thing that annoys me about "thrillers" is when the main characters are the ones who solved the whole mystery when trained professionals weren't able to.  That can't be more far from the truth of what happens.  But this gave us a good mix because obviously you want the heroine to succeed.  

Of course, there is some romance between Ellery and Malcolm, but it is not full blown, because again, realistically, there's murder going down, and who has time for romance!  But it is there, in all it's simmering potential.  And, while the spotlight is mostly on Ellery and Malcolm, there is a great supporting cast.  Ezra, Ellery's twin brother, and Mia, Malcolm's best friend, aren't used to their full potential, but they do add to the roundness of the cast.

With the characters well-crafted comes the plot.  And oh boy, is it an intricate one.  Because this town is involved in crimes that spans two decades, it is a little confusing to keep everything straight at first, but once the reader gets a lock on the different plots then it all comes together.  From there, the plot revs up and the reader is off, sleuthing along with Ellery and Malcolm to get to the bottom of the previous crimes and the threats against Ellery herself.

I can't really go into more detail than that, or I could spoil something!  All I can say is the last words of the book (like for many other reviewers) were intense and creeptastic.  Definitely a worthwhile thriller, and a strong sophomore debut from a new auto-buy author for me.  Readers won't go wrong picking up a copy of Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus!

Final Rating


About the Author

As a kid, Karen used to write books when she was supposed to be playing outside, and not much has changed. Karen's a marketing and communications professional who also writes Young Adult contemporary and fantasy fiction in Cambridge, MA.

When not writing or working, Karen loves to travel, and, along with her nine-year old son, she's ridden horses in Colombia and bicycles through Paris. A member of SCBWI, she holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the College of the Holy Cross and a master’s degree in Journalism from Northeastern University. Which she has never, ever used professionally.
Giveaway

3 Winners will receive a finished copy of Two Can Keep a Secret, US Only.


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