[Audiobook Review] The Night Country by Melissa Albert, Narrated by Rebecca Soler

Return to a world where dark fairy tales are more than ink and paper. Where, now free of the confines of their tales, they walk the streets of New York, unconfined but retaining the spirit of the stories.

Welcome back to the Hinterland.

 

about the book - Copy

 

43565385._sx318_

Amazon | Audible | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Goodreads | Indiebound | Libro.fm

Published: 7 January 2020

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Genre(s): Young Adult/Fantasy

The highly anticipated sequel to Melissa Albert’s beloved, New York Times bestselling debut The Hazel Wood!

In The Night Country, Alice Proserpine dives back into a menacing, mesmerizing world of dark fairy tales and hidden doors. Follow her and Ellery Finch as they learn The Hazel Wood was just the beginning, and that worlds die not with a whimper, but a bang.

With Finch’s help, Alice escaped the Hinterland and her reclusive grandmother’s dark legacy. Now she and the rest of the dregs of the fairy tale world have washed up in New York City, where Alice is trying to make a new, unmagical life. But something is stalking the Hinterland’s survivors―and she suspects their deaths may have a darker purpose. Meanwhile, in the winking out world of the Hinterland, Finch seeks his own adventure, and―if he can find it―a way back home…

 

content warnings - Copy

 

 

Blood, violence, stalking, dismemberment

 

 

3 star

 

 

 

 

what i enjoyed

 

  • The various Hinterland characters. As much as Alice tried to stay away, there were still many aspects of the Hinterland that reached out and came into play throughout the story, whether her friend Sophia or remaining Ex-Stories. As terrifying and sometimes horrifying as they were, they were deliciously at home in their creepiness.

 

  • Rebecca Soler, the narrator, played up the bone deep eeriness of the Hinterland, making certain passages even more chilling. She really nailed the various moments where Alice encountered particularly chilling Hinterland aspects, other times when Alice’s emotions were rising and the reader could just feel them along with her. Rebecca’s overall performance was very good.

 

  • The dual point of view perspective which allowed Ellery to showcase his time in non-Earth activities. While not extensive, it was interesting getting to see what he thought, what he felt, what he experienced in the scenes we did get from his travels. The Hazel Wood was very much an Alice book; The Night Country was still mostly Alice, but Ellery got some time which was a good breather.

 

  • Alice and Ella’s relationship: trying to figure out where they stand, now that the truth from The Hazel Wood has been revealed, Alice is graduating high school, her dark past. Where do they stand now? Even with the Hinterland past sneaking in, it’s still an achingly familiar human story, figuring out where you stand when you’re suddenly an adult but maybe not quite but still technically? Such a weird time for some. The navigation of this was probably looser than strictly human parental exchanges might have been, but I think the callbacks will still be familiar.

 

 

what i didn't enjoy - Copy

 

  • The biggest problem I had was the similarity of a major plotline to Jill Wolcott’s from Every Heart a Doorway. I didn’t realize quite how similar the plots were until about 70% of the way through because for the most part, they could have gone in different directions, but when the reasoning was revealed? Whoo boy, way too similar for my taste. I couldn’t shake it and it brought my enjoyment down severely.

 

  • The relationship between Alice and Ellery felt awkward. They’re not in the same world for most of the book which, fine. With that in mind, I thought there was an imbalance of feeling between the two. I could believe that one party did have remaining feelings, but the other? Not so much, so the finale of the book rang a bit hollow.

 

 

to sum it up - Copy

 

I think it would be better to read this as close to finishing The Hazel Wood as possible, because for me it has been awhile and I felt like I’d lost some of the connection between Alice’s somewhat traumatic journey in the first book and her trying to find her way in The Night Country. The being said, it was still a good book to read as Alice figures out what it means to be an Ex-Story in the human world when the Stories are still there and possibly trying to pull you back in.

The Hinterland is a deeply intriguing, creepy, interesting place and I would love to read more of its stories someday. I look forward to more of Melissa Albert’s tales.

 

 

 

 

 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher and Libro.fm’s ALC program in exchange for an honest review. Quotes included are from an advanced reader copy and may not reflect the finalized copy.

All media belongs to the respective owners and is used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

[Waiting on Wednesday] I’ll Be the One by Lyla Lee

Waiting on Wednesday

 

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event created by Breaking the Spine in which an anticipated title is highlighted. You can find their website here.

K-Pop music is very energetic and very relaxing to me at the same time. A book that embraces it sounds very interesting, not to mention one that challenges the standards of the industry with a main character (Skye) who is determined not to let anything stop her.

And let’s talk about that cover! So many bold colors and featuring a plus size model. Loving it!

 

about the book - Copy

 

48552008

Amazon | Audible | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Goodreads | Indiebound | Libro.fm

Published: 16 June 2020

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Genre(s): Contemporary/Young Adult/Romance/LGBT

The world of K-Pop has never met a star like this. Debut author Lyla Lee delivers a deliciously fun, thoughtful rom-com celebrating confidence and body positivity—perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Julie Murphy.

Skye Shin has heard it all. Fat girls shouldn’t dance. Wear bright colors. Shouldn’t call attention to themselves. But Skye dreams of joining the glittering world of K-Pop, and to do that, she’s about to break all the rules that society, the media, and even her own mother, have set for girls like her.

She’ll challenge thousands of other performers in an internationally televised competition looking for the next K-pop star, and she’ll do it better than anyone else.

When Skye nails her audition, she’s immediately swept into a whirlwind of countless practices, shocking performances, and the drama that comes with reality TV. What she doesn’t count on are the highly fat-phobic beauty standards of the Korean pop entertainment industry, her sudden media fame and scrutiny, or the sparks that soon fly with her fellow competitor, Henry Cho.

But Skye has her sights on becoming the world’s first plus-sized K-pop star, and that means winning the competition—without losing herself.

 

 

 

 

 

All media (pictures, quotes, etc.) belong to the respective owners and are used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

[Review] The Princess and the Fangirl by Ashley Poston

As a big fan of the convention circuit, I was instantly attracted to Ashley Poston’s The Princess and the Fangirl. It’s the second book in the Once Upon a Con series (whoops for reading out of order lol) after Geekerella, but I don’t think that takes away from enjoying the fandom references, the energy, and the pure love that Ashley displays for her characters and setting.

 

about the book - Copy

 

39725622
Enter a caption

Amazon | Audible | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Goodreads | Indiebound | Libro.fm

Published: 2 April 2019

Publisher: Quirk Books

Genre(s): Contemporary/Young Adult/Retelling/LGBT+

The Prince and the Pauper gets a modern makeover in this adorable, witty, and heartwarming young adult novel set in the Geekerella universe by national bestselling author Ashley Poston.

Imogen Lovelace is an ordinary fangirl on an impossible mission: save her favorite character, Princess Amara, from being killed off from her favorite franchise, Starfield. The problem is, Jessica Stone—the actress who plays Princess Amara—wants nothing more than to leave the intense scrutiny of the fandom behind. If this year’s ExcelsiCon isn’t her last, she’ll consider her career derailed.

When a case of mistaken identity throws look-a-likes Imogen and Jess together, they quickly become enemies. But when the script for the Starfield sequel leaks, and all signs point to Jess, she and Imogen must trade places to find the person responsible. That’s easier said than done when the girls step into each other’s shoes and discover new romantic possibilities, as well as the other side of intense fandom. As these “princesses” race to find the script-leaker, they must rescue themselves from their own expectations, and redefine what it means to live happily ever after.

 

4 star

 

Rep: F/F romance (side characters)

 

what i enjoyed

 

  • Jess does not want to be Princess Amara anymore because she fears being tied to the Starfield series forever, unable to progress in her career through what she views as worthier films. A legit concern because typecasting happens and it can be something hard to breakthrough, especially for women in Hollywood. Her worries and fears were realistic aspects that gave insight into her position.

 

  • Imogen holds the Starfield series, show and film, dear to her heart, especially Princess Amara. She wants to save the character from a presumed demise at the conclusion of the blockbuster hit film that is becoming bigger than the Avengers films. Her perspective really enabled fans (pick your fandom) to feel themselves within the book. Who among us hasn’t worried about their favorite character being killed off? Would we go as far as Imogen to save them?

 

  • There are quips and barbs traded, whether toward each other or with side characters, that add to the annoyance factor of Jess and Imogen. After the incident that prompts their trading places act, however, the reader is able to see some slow development of their respective characters. Their motivations in respect to why they’ve said and done some rude things, why they fear the future (whether it be the Starfield franchise or an unknown life), unfold and make them more layered people.

 

  • This clarity moment for Jess. There’s a specific scene where Jess is trying to follow a clue to the leaked script and she is viewing the 25th anniversary setup for Starfield. The collection of costumes, particularly that of the original Amara Natalia Ford, gives her pause. She wonders about the expectations that were heaped upon her by outside forces (fans and so forth) as well as herself, but also her preconception about what makes an indie film like her Oscar nominated Huntress Rising role “better” than anything being enjoyed at ExcelsiCon (The Last Jedi, Black Panther, Starfield).

 

  • Even though I read this book first and have yet to read Geekerella, there were some throwbacks to the first book that were cute and funny that I could appreciate. I’m sure I’ll love them even more once I’ve read the first book so I can know the full history behind the cameos and whatnot.

 

 

what i didn't enjoy - Copy

 

  • There an annoying quality that both girls have at first that stems from their points of view. It was a bit more abrasive than I would have liked, even if they did grow from it.

 

  • Not enjoying might be a bit strong for this entry, but: Jess cannot see what the attendees of ExcelsiCon value in the shows, the art, the costumes that are on display. Imogen can’t understand why Jess would want to give up on Amara, an iconic female character she could save from fridging if she just fought for her. I was frustrated with these two because they were being so stubborn. Then again, they did just meet, so it’s also hard to be too upset about it.

 

 

to sum it up - Copy

 

A definite TBR addition for fans of conventions, especially those who have read Poston’s GeekerellaThe Princess and the Fangirl is ultimately a fan letter to the world of costumes, of film festivals, of long nights debating the finer points of our fandoms, and what we would or wouldn’t do to save them. It’s also about being true to ourselves and taking no shit from those that would try to shove us into precut holes because they think they can.

Once Upon a Con is a series I can’t wait to kick back and visit again.

 

 

 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Quotes included are from an advanced reader copy and may not reflect the finalized copy.

All media belongs to the respective owners and is used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

 

[Release Week Blitz] Scavenge the Stars by Tara Sim

scavenge

 

I am so excited that SCAVENGE THE STARS by Tara Sim is available now and that I get to share the news! Thank you to Rockstar Book Tours for putting together this Release Week Blitz.

If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful book by Author Tara Sim, be sure to check out all the details below.

This blitz also includes a giveaway for 3 finished copies of the book, courtesy of Disney Hyperion and Rockstar Book Tours. So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.

 

about the book - Copy

 

cove.jpg

Title: SCAVENGE THE STARS (Scavenge the Stars #1)
Author: Tara Sim
Pub. Date: January 7, 2020
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
Find it: Goodreads, Libro.fm, Amazon, Kindle, Audible, B&N, iBooks, Kobo , TBD

When Amaya rescues a mysterious stranger from drowning, she fears her rash actions have earned her a longer sentence on the debtor ship where she’s been held captive for years. Instead, the man she saved offers her unimaginable riches and a new identity, setting Amaya on a perilous course through the coastal city-state of Moray, where old-world opulence and desperate gamblers collide.

Amaya wants one thing: revenge against the man who ruined her family and stole the life she once had. But the more entangled she becomes in this game of deception—and as her path intertwines with the son of the man she’s plotting to bring down—the more she uncovers about the truth of her past. And the more she realizes she must trust no one…

Packed with high-stakes adventure, romance, and dueling identities, this gender-swapped retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo is the first novel in an epic YA fantasy duology, perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas, Sabaa Tahir, and Leigh Bardugo.

 

about the author - Copy

 

tara

Tara Sim is the author of SCAVENGE THE STARS (Disney-Hyperion) and the TIMEKEEPER trilogy (Sky Pony Press) and writer of all things magic. She can often be found in the wilds of the Bay Area, California.

When she’s not writing about mischievous boys in clock towers, Tara spends her time drinking tea, wrangling cats, and occasionally singing opera. Despite her bio-luminescent skin, she is half-Indian and eats way too many samosas.

Tara is represented by Victoria Marini at Irene Goodman Literary Agency.

 

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Tumblr | Goodreads

 

Excerpt from Scavenge the Stars

 

Revenge. It was a simple word when spoken out loud, but it was so much bigger, like the hidden city under the atoll. It was a word of fire and blood, of a knife’s whisper and the priming of a pistol.

It was a word that consumed her, filled her entire being until she knew that she could no longer be Silverfish. Silverfish’s will was to survive, to simply make it to the next day, and hopefully the day after that. But that was no longer her will.

Now it was revenge.

Captain Zharo. Kamon Mercado. Moray.

They would all pay.

 

Rafflecopter Giveaway

 

3 winners will receive a finished copy of SCAVENGE THE STARS, US only.
Giveaway ends February 14th at midnight EST.

A Rafflecopter Giveaway

 

 

 

 

 

All media belongs to the respective owners and is used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

[Waiting on Wednesday] Spellhacker by M.K. England

Waiting on Wednesday

 

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event created by Breaking the Spine in which an anticipated title is highlighted. You can find their website here.

I am a BIG fan of heist novels, so when the synopsis for Spellhacker crossed my notice I thought it sounded super interested. Magic has become a tightly controlled commodity (not cool), so the main characters on a lucrative job that siphons magic. Very illegal, but one more job is supposed to the it.

Famous last words, right?

I can’t wait to see how M.K. England writes the characters in and out of the twists that are sure to pop up in this new book. It’s gonna be a doozy. 👀

 

about the book - Copy

 

36501255._sy475_

Amazon | Audible | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Goodreads | Indiebound | Libro.fm

Published: 21 January 2020

Publisher: HarperCollins Children’s Books

Genre(s): Fantasy/Young Adult/LGBT

From the author of The Disasters, this genre-bending YA fantasy heist story is perfect for fans of Marie Lu and Amie Kaufman.

In Kyrkarta, magic—known as maz—was once a freely available natural resource. Then an earthquake released a magical plague, killing thousands and opening the door for a greedy corporation to make maz a commodity that’s tightly controlled—and, of course, outrageously expensive.

Which is why Diz and her three best friends run a highly lucrative, highly illegal maz siphoning gig on the side. Their next job is supposed to be their last heist ever.

But when their plan turns up a powerful new strain of maz that (literally) blows up in their faces, they’re driven to unravel a conspiracy at the very center of the spellplague—and possibly save the world.

No pressure.

 

 

 

 

 

All media (pictures, quotes, etc.) belong to the respective owners and are used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

[Audiobook Review] Dance Upon the Air by Nora Roberts, Narrated by Sandra Burr

Dance Upon the Air, the first book in Nora Roberts’ Three Sisters Island trilogy, is something of a comfort read for me. I’ve read it a couple of times over the years and it is my favorite of the series. I had not, until this recent reading however, taken in the audiobook.

To take in Nell and the other Sisters narrative in this manner was interesting. It didn’t turn out to be the peak of my audiobook listening experience, but it did add a facet to a story that I return to from time to time.

 

about the book - Copy

 

22368086._sx318_

Amazon | Audible | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Goodreads | Indiebound | Libro.fm

Published: 10 June 2008 (originally published June 2001)

Publisher: Brilliance Audio

Genre(s): Romance/Paranormal

When Nell Channing arrives on charming Three Sisters Island, she believes that she’s finally found refuge from her abusive husband–and from the terrifying life she fled so desperately eight months ago…

But even in this quiet, peaceful place, Nell never feels entirely at ease. Careful to conceal her true identity, she takes a job as a cook at the local bookstore cafe–and begins to explore her feelings for the island sheriff, Zack Todd. But there is a part of herself she can never reveal to him–for she must continue to guard her secrets if she wants to keep the past at bay. One careless word, one misplaced confidence, and the new life she’s created so carefully could shatter completely.

Just as Nell starts to wonder if she’ll ever be able to break free of her fear, she realizes that the island suffers under a terrible curse–one that can only be broken by the descendants of the Three Sisters, the witches who settled the island back in 1692. And now, with the help of two other strong, gifted women–and with the nightmares of the past haunting her every step–she must find the power to save her home, her love…and herself…

 

content warnings - Copy

 

Domestic abuse (including physical & emotional), blood

 

3

 

Audiobook Thoughts

 

Sandra Burr had a good, clear voice when narrating the parts of Dance Upon the Air between dialogue. The views of the island, descriptions of food, tender moments between lovers, all good. Her choices for vocalizations, however, left a bit to be desired.

Some of the voices didn’t sound good for the characters. Mia, for instance, one of the main characters, was pinched & nasally, making her sound much older than she actually was. Nell, the proper main character, was too breathy and soft compared to the narrator’s stronger moments. Since she was the focus of much of the action, it made her lose depth.

Another part of the production that was odd was in a flashback/dream sequence. When Nell is recollecting/dreaming about an encounter with her abusive ex, Evan, the narration takes on an echo-y quality that doesn’t sound good. When you hear it, it’s almost like the narrator is reading her lines underwater. The effect is unnecessary because the writing makes it clear this is a dream sequence, so the bad echo sound effect merely makes it an unpleasant listening experience.

 

what i enjoyed

 

  • The setting of Three Sisters Island. It was very picturesque and comforting. I’ve always enjoyed the ocean and reading books set near the shore or an island are especially pleasing.

 

  • Mia’s shop, Cafe Book. What is not to like about a cafe/bookstore? However, as Mia is also the island witch, her store is also something of a pagan supply shop as well so there’s also a magical quality to the various nooks and crannies of the place.

 

  • The support/friendship that Mia offers Nell even before the mystical/historical connection comes up.

 

  • Zach & Ripley’s sibling connection is another that’s strong. Even as they butt heads (siblings, what can you do?), they’re good together as the island cops and as support for one another against the adversaries that pop up in the story.

 

  • Nell’s strength in the kitchen that allows her to find her strength in other areas. Not in a “get in the kitchen” sort of way, far from it. This strength ties into the magical elements, into her past life with her mother, and more that helps repair her foundation so she can build again after Evan’s abuse.

 

  • Lulu’s grumpiness that belies that softy underneath.

 

  • The mentor relationship between Mia and Nell.

 

  • The various manifestations of physical magic, whether the more ritual or the slightly more comical. It was still held in respect by those using it, but not to the point of rigidness.

 

  • The setup for future books and yet how this story didn’t wholly hinge on those other stories. The ending didn’t feel like a monstrous cliffhanger. It was complete in and of itself.

 

 

what i didn't enjoy - Copy

 

  • Zach was something of a hypocrite at various points throughout the book when it came to Nell and her past. Because he wanted to be with her, he had to reconcile that she showed up on the island under mysterious circumstances (assumed identity [for good reason!], abuse history, etc), but at many points he pushed too damn hard and made it clear that his wants, his needs, “for” Nell should take precedence over her healing, over her figuring things out. It was so frustrating.

 

  • Some of the language that was used in the sex scenes felt a little heavy handed on the “need to mate” scale.

 

 

to sum it up - Copy

 

The audiobook performance was not particularly enjoyable when it came to the voices the narrator, Sandra Burr, used. I’d be up for trying a book she narrated that didn’t contain dialogue because I thought those portions of Dance Upon the Air were adequate, but aside from that, I don’t think I’d pick up another audiobook if she were narrating it.

Narratively speaking, this is one of Nora Roberts’ older titles. I think I need to try some of her newer books to see if her characterizations, interactions, etc., have improved because the storylines are certainly interesting, but I think there are some bits that don’t sit right and keep the book itself from being more highly rated/enjoyable.

 

 

 

 

 

All media belongs to the respective owners and is used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

 

[Review] Bilal Cooks Daal by Aisha Saeed, Illustrated by Anoosha Syed

From the author of Written in the Stars and Amal Unbound, Aisha Saeed debuts her picture book about Bilal, a young boy who wants to share a dish meaningful not only to him, but to his Pakistani culture. With friends from around the neighborhood popping up and curious about the titular dish, Bilal wonders if they’ll like it as much as he does.

 

41392610._sx318_

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Goodreads | Indiebound

Published: 4 June 2019

Publisher: Salaam Reads / Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers

Genre(s): Picture Book/Cultural/South Asian (Pakistan)/Food & Drink

Six-year-old Bilal introduces his friends to his favorite dish—daal!—in this charming picture book that showcases the value of patience, teamwork, community, and sharing.

Six-year-old Bilal is excited to help his dad make his favorite food of all-time: daal! The slow-cooked lentil dish from South Asia requires lots of ingredients and a whole lot of waiting. Bilal wants to introduce his friends to daal. They’ve never tried it! As the day goes on, the daal continues to simmer, and more kids join Bilal and his family, waiting to try the tasty dish. And as time passes, Bilal begins to wonder: Will his friends like it as much as he does?

This debut picture book by Aisha Saeed, with charming illustrations by Anoosha Syed, uses food as a means of bringing a community together to share in each other’s family traditions.

 

4 star

 

 

Representation: Pakistani MC, diverse cast of side characters

 

 

what i enjoyed

 

 

Aisha skillfully conveyed how much emotion there was for Bilal throughout the story: there was joy at cooking a beloved dish with his father, nervousness at sharing it with his friends (especially when they commented on how different it was from their typical food), the fun he had with his friends while waiting for the daal to cook, the anticipation. There was a lot of buildup that spread from Bilal to his friends and that antsy feeling of excitement also became something that the reader will be able to feel, I think, watching as more and more children gather and wonder: when will the daal be ready?

Anoosha’s artwork blended a brightness (without tipping the scale too much) with a softness of the illustrations themselves. This, combined with Aisha’s story itself, made each page a new discovery, a wonder to explore as I read.

 

 

what i didn't enjoy - Copy

 

 

The writing seemed a little clunky at time and didn’t flow as well as I might have liked, especially for a picture book. I read this to myself, but if I were reading this aloud to my son, then I think the awkwardness would have been even more apparent.

 

 

to sum it up - Copy

 

The bright, colorful pictures are a pleasing accompaniment to the story of Bilal, his father, and the neighborhood children who are his friends. While I found the writing slightly off, I still thought the story overall was really interesting and I definitely want to make my own chana daal now. 😊😋

 

 

 

 

 

All media belongs to the respective owners and is used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

The Hermit Librarian: 2020 Goals

One of my favorite things about the New Year is setting a new reading goal. Granted this is also kind of stressful, but what can you do? 😂

Do I set an extreme goal? Do I go low and meet it earlier? I usually can’t go with the latter because it feels a little like cheating to me, so I try to find a compromise.

My 2019 goal started at 150 but got lowered to 100. I ended up being able to read 139, so this year’s goal is now at 145.

2020 goal

Now, aside from that, what kind of reading do I want to do? 145 books leaves a lot of room to work with, right? Well, one of the big projects/readathons I’m taking part in this year is CW’s #StartOnYourShelfAThon.

Castor

It technically started on December 15th, 2019 but I didn’t get very far as I was in a rush to meet my 2019 reading goal with newer books. The goal is to read the books you have on your shelf (physical/digital/etc) that have been waiting for you for ages. To say that I have a fair few of these would be an understatement. I couldn’t possibly finish all of them, so my tweak to CW’s readathon is that for every backlist book I read off my shelf, I get to read a newer book.

You can read all the details & how to sign up here: Castor’s Start On Your Shelfathon!

CW is also one of the hosts for the Year of the Asian 2020 Reading Challenge, so of course I have to do that too. 🥰😂 The other hosts are:

The post with those details is here.

I also want to take part in the South-Asian Reading Challenge, another year long goal that challenges you to read more South-Asian books (you can read up on all the details here and sign up yourself). Some of the titles I want to read for this challenge are Scavenge the Stars by Tara Sim and My So-Called Bollywood Life by Nisha Sharma. Do you have any recommendations for other titles?

sarc-2020-square-logo

As for blogging goals? I want to try and set up an audiobook feature that I’ve been toying with because I love them a whole lot and I think they’re super important for accessibility and enjoyment.

I want to visit fellow bloggers more often and comment as often as possible. There are amazing posts out there, lots of hard work going on, and it deserves appreciation. 😊

My personal life goals aren’t too much besides listening to my body, including my mental health, learning when I need to take breaks, that sort of thing. If that includes taking naps, a break from reading? So be it. It’s okay to do that, even in the face of a Goodreads goal that might seem intimidating. Whew, how hard was that to write? It’s been hard to come to that, but hey, 2020!

What kind of goals are y’all setting for yourselves, if any? Are there any books you’re looking forward in the New Year? Let me know in the comment section below.

All media belongs to the respective owners and is used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’m Hoping to Receive 🎁

Whether you’re looking forward to Christmas Day tomorrow, celebrating the Book Flood tonight, the Solstice a couple days ago or another holiday, I hope you’re having a wonderful time. 😊

This week’s TTT topic is about what books you’re hoping to find under your tree, receive as a gift sans tree, w/e. The titles on my list are some sequels, some novella standalones, and others that look fascinating. 👀

 

TTT

 

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl. Upcoming topics and past TTT topics can be found here.

 

42201995._sy475_The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali

Amazon | Audible | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Goodreads | Indiebound | Libro.fm

Published: 18 June 2019

Publisher: Gallery Books

Genre(s): Historical Fiction/Cultural (Iran)

A novel set in 1953 Tehran against the backdrop of the Iranian Coup about a young couple in love who are separated on the eve of their marriage, and who are reunited sixty years later, after having moved on to live independent lives in America, to discover the truth about what happened on that fateful day in the town square.

 

 

41155087

The Girl Who Could Move Sh*t With Her Mind by Jackson Ford

Amazon | Audible | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Goodreads | Indiebound | Libro.fm

Published: 18 June 2019

Publisher: Orbit

Genre(s): Science Fiction/Mystery

For Teagan Frost, sh*t just got real.

Teagan Frost is having a hard time keeping it together. Sure, she’s got telekinetic powers—a skill that the government is all too happy to make use of, sending her on secret break-in missions that no ordinary human could carry out. But all she really wants to do is kick back, have a beer, and pretend she’s normal for once.

But then a body turns up at the site of her last job—murdered in a way that only someone like Teagan could have pulled off. She’s got 24 hours to clear her name—and it’s not just her life at stake. If she can’t unravel the conspiracy in time, her hometown of Los Angeles will be in the crosshairs of an underground battle that’s on the brink of exploding…

Full of imagination, wit and random sh*t flying through the air, this insane adventure from an irreverent new voice will blow your tiny mind.

 

 

41734205

Her Royal Highness by Rachel Hawkins

Amazon | Audible | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Goodreads | Indiebound | Libro.fm

Published: 7 May 2019

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Genre(s): Contemporary/Young Adult/LGBT+

Millie Quint is devastated when she discovers that her sort-of-best friend/sort-of-girlfriend has been kissing someone else. And because Millie cannot stand the thought of confronting her ex every day, she decides to apply for scholarships to boarding schools . . . the farther from Houston the better.

Millie can’t believe her luck when she’s accepted into one of the world’s most exclusive schools, located in the rolling highlands of Scotland. Everything about Scotland is different: the country is misty and green; the school is gorgeous, and the students think Americans are cute.

The only problem: Mille’s roommate Flora is a total princess.

She’s also an actual princess. Of Scotland.

At first, the girls can barely stand each other–Flora is both high-class and high-key–but before Millie knows it, she has another sort-of-best-friend/sort-of-girlfriend. Even though Princess Flora could be a new chapter in her love life, Millie knows the chances of happily ever afters are slim . . . after all, real life isn’t a fairy tale . . . or is it?

 

 

38118138._sy475_

The Black God’s Drums by P. Djeli Clark

Amazon | Audible | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Goodreads | Indiebound | Libro.fm

Published: 21 August 2018

Publisher: Tor.com

Genre(s): SFF/Novella/Alternate Historical Fiction

Creeper, a scrappy young teen, is done living on the streets of New Orleans. Instead, she wants to soar, and her sights are set on securing passage aboard the smuggler airship Midnight Robber. Her ticket: earning Captain Ann-Marie’s trust using a secret about a kidnapped Haitian scientist and a mysterious weapon he calls The Black God’s Drums.

But Creeper keeps another secret close to heart–Oya, the African orisha of the wind and storms, who speaks inside her head and grants her divine powers. And Oya has her own priorities concerning Creeper and Ann-Marie…

 

 

26042767._sy475_

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

Amazon | Audible | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Goodreads | Indiebound | Libro.fm

Published: 18 August 2015 (originally published 29 July 2014)

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Genre(s): Science Fiction/LGBT+/Space Opera

Follow a motley crew on an exciting journey through space—and one adventurous young explorer who discovers the meaning of family in the far reaches of the universe—in this light-hearted debut space opera from a rising sci-fi star.

Rosemary Harper doesn’t expect much when she joins the crew of the aging Wayfarer. While the patched-up ship has seen better days, it offers her a bed, a chance to explore the far-off corners of the galaxy, and most importantly, some distance from her past. An introspective young woman who learned early to keep to herself, she’s never met anyone remotely like the ship’s diverse crew, including Sissix, the exotic reptilian pilot, chatty engineers Kizzy and Jenks who keep the ship running, and Ashby, their noble captain.

Life aboard the Wayfarer is chaotic and crazy—exactly what Rosemary wants. It’s also about to get extremely dangerous when the crew is offered the job of a lifetime. Tunneling wormholes through space to a distant planet is definitely lucrative and will keep them comfortable for years. But risking her life wasn’t part of the plan. In the far reaches of deep space, the tiny Wayfarer crew will confront a host of unexpected mishaps and thrilling adventures that force them to depend on each other. To survive, Rosemary’s got to learn how to rely on this assortment of oddballs—an experience that teaches her about love and trust, and that having a family isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the universe.

 

 

36223860._sy475_

Artificial Condition by Martha Wells

Amazon | Audible | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Goodreads | Indiebound | Libro.fm

Published: 18 May 2018

Publisher: Tor.com

Genre(s): Science Fiction/Novella

It has a dark past – one in which a number of humans were killed. A past that caused it to christen itself “Murderbot”. But it has only vague memories of the massacre that spawned that title, and it wants to know more.

Teaming up with a Research Transport vessel named ART (you don’t want to know what the “A” stands for), Murderbot heads to the mining facility where it went rogue.

What it discovers will forever change the way it thinks…

 

 

33080122

The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal

Amazon | Audible | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Goodreads | Indiebound

Published: 3 July 2018

Publisher: Tor Books

Genre(s): Science Fiction/Alternate Historical Fiction

On a cold spring night in 1952, a huge meteorite fell to earth and obliterated much of the east coast of the United States, including Washington D.C. The ensuing climate cataclysm will soon render the earth inhospitable for humanity, as the last such meteorite did for the dinosaurs. This looming threat calls for a radically accelerated effort to colonize space, and requires a much larger share of humanity to take part in the process.

Elma York’s experience as a WASP pilot and mathematician earns her a place in the International Aerospace Coalition’s attempts to put man on the moon, as a calculator. But with so many skilled and experienced women pilots and scientists involved with the program, it doesn’t take long before Elma begins to wonder why they can’t go into space, too.

Elma’s drive to become the first Lady Astronaut is so strong that even the most dearly held conventions of society may not stand a chance against her.

 

 

32768516

Dear Fahrenheit 451 by Annie Spence

Amazon | Audible | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Goodreads | Indiebound | Libro.fm

Published: 26 September 2017

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Genre(s): Nonfiction/Humor/Memoir

A Gen-X librarian’s snarky, laugh-out-loud funny, deeply moving collection of love letters and break-up notes to the books in her life.

Librarians spend their lives weeding–not weeds but books! Books that have reached the end of their shelf life, both literally and figuratively. They remove the books that patrons no longer check out. And they put back the books they treasure. Annie Spence, who has a decade of experience as a Midwestern librarian, does this not only at her Michigan library but also at home, for her neighbors, at cocktail parties—everywhere. In Dear Fahrenheit 451, she addresses those books directly. We read her love letters to The Goldfinch and Matilda, as well as her snarky break-ups with Fifty Shades of Grey and Dear John. Her notes to The Virgin Suicides and The Time Traveler’s Wife feel like classics, sure to strike a powerful chord with readers. Through the lens of the books in her life, Annie comments on everything from women’s psychology to gay culture to health to poverty to childhood aspirations. Hilarious, compassionate, and wise, Dear Fahrenheit 451 is the consummate book-lover’s birthday present, stocking stuffer, holiday gift, and all-purpose humor book.

 

 

40046030

Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer

Amazon | Audible | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Goodreads | Indiebound | Libro.fm

Published: 15 January 2019

Publisher: Page Street Publishing Co.

Genre(s): Fantasy/Young Adult/Retellings

Echo Alkaev’s safe and carefully structured world falls apart when her father leaves for the city and mysteriously disappears. Believing he is lost forever, Echo is shocked to find him half-frozen in the winter forest six months later, guarded by a strange talking wolf—the same creature who attacked her as a child. The wolf presents Echo with an ultimatum: If she lives with him for one year, he will ensure her father makes it home safely. But there is more to the wolf than Echo realizes.

In his enchanted house beneath a mountain, each room must be sewn together to keep the home from unraveling, and something new and dark and strange lies behind every door. When centuries-old secrets unfold, Echo discovers a magical library full of books-turned-mirrors, and a young man named Hal who is trapped inside of them. As the year ticks by, the rooms begin to disappear, and Echo must solve the mystery of the wolf’s enchantment before her time is up, otherwise Echo, the wolf, and Hal will be lost forever.

 

 

34449411._sy475_

Suggested Reading by David Connis

Amazon | Audible | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Goodreads | Indiebound | Libro.fm

Published: 17 September 2019

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Genre(s): Young Adult/Contemporary

In this standalone, a bookworm finds a way to fight back when her school bans dozens of classic and meaningful books.

Clara Evans is horrified when she discovers her principal’s “prohibited media” hit list. The iconic books on the list have been pulled from the library and aren’t allowed anywhere on the school’s premises. Students caught with the contraband will be sternly punished.

Many of these stories have changed Clara’s life, so she’s not going to sit back and watch while her draconian principal abuses his power. She’s going to strike back.

So Clara starts an underground library in her locker, doing a shady trade in titles like Speak and The Chocolate War. But when one of the books she loves most is connected to a tragedy she never saw coming, Clara’s forced to face her role in it.

Will she be able to make peace with her conflicting feelings, or is fighting for this noble cause too tough for her to bear?

 

 

Have you read any of these? Will I be in for a treat, do you think? 🤞🤞

 

 

 

 

 

All media (pictures, quotes, etc.) belong to the respective owners and are used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

The Hermit Librarian Begins the #StartOnYourShelfAThon

What is #StartOnYourShelfathon?

#StartOnYourShelfathon is a 2020 star-themed readathon hosted and run by CW from The Quiet Pond. The aim of #StartOnYourShelfathon is to read as many unread books on your bookshelf as you can between December 13th 2019 and December 31st 2020.

#StartOnYourShelfathon isn’t an ordinary readathon too! The mascot of #StartOnYourShelfathon is Castor the Star Collector who is also a sloth friend of The Quiet Pond, who has lost all the stars he has collected over the years and needs your help to find them again.

For every book that you read as part of #StartOnYourShelfathon, you collect a star that you can add the star to your ‘star map’. Read books, collect stars, give yourself an amateur star-collector name, and create constellations! You can read Castor’s story and find information about and resources for the readathon here.

 

Information about Joining #StartOnYourShelfathon

 

  1. Join the StartOnYourShelfathon anytime between Dec 13th 2019 to Dec 31st 2020!
  2. To join #StartOnYourShelfathon, create a blog post, bookstagram post, booktube video, Twitter thread, or whatever medium you wish, with ‘#StartOnYourShelfathon’ in the title or your tweet.
  3. In your post/video/thread, announce that you will be participating in the readathon. List your readathon goals and the books you plan to read! (Post templates and readathon banners can be found in the readathon resources below!)
  4. Link back to this post so that others can find this readathon and join in.

 

Share your updates on your blog/bookstagram/booktube and social media. You are more than welcome to tag @thequietpond on Twitter in all your updates! We would love to see your progress and your star maps – in-progress and completed!

 

My #StartOnYourShelfathon Goals

 

  1. For every book backlist book on my shelf, whether physical or digital, that I read, I can read one newer book/new release.
  2. If I DNF a book, donate it or otherwise giveaway so that someone else can enjoy it.

 

#StartOnYourShelfAThon

 

This is my first star map entitled The Great Wide Sea. I’m using Polaris as my star collector name because I’ve long had an affinity for that particular star related name, so it felt fitting. 🙂

 

My #StartOnYourShelfathon TBR

 

21414439

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

In a continent on the edge of war, two witches hold its fate in their hands.

Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home.

Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she’s a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden – lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult’s true powers are hidden even from herself.

In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls’ heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

 

I’ve had Truthwitch on my shelf for a few years now. I think I even read a sampler of it back when it first came out and picked up the sequel to support the author. Why didn’t I actually finish the book? *shrug* Who knows? That’s what this readathon is all about, though, trying these dormant books out and seeing if I like them or if they need to find new homes. 🙂 It certainly sounds like my jam, with the magic system and all, so hopefully the experience will go well.

 

36381037

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

A forbidden romance.
A deadly plague.
Earth’s fate hinges on one girl . . .

CINDER, a gifted mechanic in New Beijing, is also a cyborg. She’s reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s sudden illness. But when her life becomes entwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she finds herself at the centre of a violent struggle between the desires of an evil queen – and a dangerous temptation.

Cinder is caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal. Now she must uncover secrets about her mysterious past in order to protect Earth’s future.

This is not the fairytale you remember. But it’s one you won’t forget.

 

The cyborg aspect sounds intriguing, plus Iko. 😭💛

 

15819028

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic, created to be the wife of a man who dies at sea on the voyage from Poland. Chava is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York harbor in 1899.

Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire born in the ancient Syrian desert, trapped in an old copper flask, and released in New York City, though still not entirely free.

Ahmad and Chava become unlikely friends and soul mates with a mystical connection. Marvelous and compulsively readable, Helene Wecker’s debut novel The Golem and the Jinni weaves strands of Yiddish and Middle Eastern literature, historical fiction and magical fable, into a wondrously inventive and unforgettable tale.

 

I don’t rightly recall when I picked this up (e-book), but I vaguely remember hearing about it when it came out. Not much in the way of reviews, that sort of thing, but it sounded intriguing enough so I know I meant to read it. 😅

 

18813642

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

Pink is my favorite color. I used to say my favorite color was black to be cool, but it is pink—all shades of pink. If I have an accessory, it is probably pink. I read Vogue, and I’m not doing it ironically, though it might seem that way. I once live-tweeted the September issue.

In these funny and insightful essays, Roxane Gay takes us through the journey of her evolution as a woman of color while also taking readers on a ride through culture of the last few years and commenting on the state of feminism today. The portrait that emerges is not only one of an incredibly insightful woman continually growing to understand herself and our society, but also one of our culture.

Bad Feminist is a sharp, funny, and spot-on look at the ways in which the culture we consume becomes who we are, and an inspiring call-to-arms of all the ways we still need to do better.

 

This got a lot of hype, which is probably why I bought it. You’ll notice a pattern, unfortunately. I can’t explain why I didn’t read these at the time I bought them. 🤷‍♂️😂

 

41882197._sy475_

The Vampire Knitting Club by Nancy Warren

Vampires who knit
A troublemaking witch
Who killed Granny — and is she really dead?

At a crossroads between a cringe-worthy past (Todd the Toad) and an uncertain future (she’s not exactly homeless, but it’s close), Lucy Swift travels to Oxford to visit her grandmother. With Gran’s undying love to count on and Cardinal Woolsey’s, Gran’s knitting shop, to keep her busy, Lucy can catch her breath and figure out what she’s going to do.

Except it turns out that Gran is the undying. Or at least, the undead. But there’s a death certificate. And a will, leaving the knitting shop to Lucy. And a lot of people going in and out who never use the door—including Gran, who is just as loving as ever, and prone to knitting sweaters at warp speed, late at night. What exactly is going on?

When Lucy discovers that Gran did not die peacefully in her sleep, but was murdered, she has to bring the killer to justice without tipping off the law that there’s no body in the grave. Between a hot 600-year-old vampire and a dishy detective inspector, both of whom always seem to be there for her, Lucy finds her life getting more complicated than a triple cable cardigan.

The only one who seems to know what’s going on is her cat … or is it … her familiar?

 

This is probably one of the weirder titles that popped up when I was perusing my Kindle collection and making my tbr. I like vampires, I like knitting. Do I remember this book existing AT ALL? No. 🤣

 

35397049._sy475_

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Under the streets of London there’s a place most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. This is the city of the people who have fallen between the cracks.

Richard Mayhew, a young businessman, is going to find out more than enough about this other London. A single act of kindness catapults him out of his workday existence and into a world that is at once eerily familiar and utterly bizarre. And a strange destiny awaits him down here, beneath his native city: Neverwhere.

 

I’ve been trying to read this book for years now and just can’t manage to sit through it for some reason, despite liking other Gaiman book. This year is the year, though! I hope.

 

25489134._sx318_

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

 

This sounds like the perfect series to read in the midst of winter when it is frigid outside my own door.

 

26067633._sy475_-1

Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger

A sharp and funny urban fantasy for “new adults” about a secret society of bartenders who fight monsters with alcohol fueled magic.

College grad Bailey Chen has a few demons: no job, no parental support, and a rocky relationship with Zane, the only friend who’s around when she moves back home. But when Zane introduces Bailey to his cadre of monster-fighting bartenders, her demons get a lot more literal. Like, soul-sucking hell-beast literal. Soon, it’s up to Bailey and the ragtag band of magical mixologists to take on whatever—or whoever—is behind the mysterious rash of gruesome deaths in Chicago, and complete the lost recipes of an ancient tome of cocktail lore.

 

Magical mixologists. Just…wow. 😍 That sounds interesting as heck.

 

35181314

Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston

Seventeen-year-old Ana is a scoundrel by nurture and an outlaw by nature. Found as a child drifting through space with a sentient android called D09, Ana was saved by a fearsome space captain and the grizzled crew she now calls family. But D09—one of the last remaining illegal Metals—has been glitching, and Ana will stop at nothing to find a way to fix him.

Ana’s desperate effort to save D09 leads her on a quest to steal the coordinates to a lost ship that could offer all the answers. But at the last moment, a spoiled Ironblood boy beats Ana to her prize. He has his own reasons for taking the coordinates, and he doesn’t care what he’ll sacrifice to keep them.

When everything goes wrong, she and the Ironblood end up as fugitives on the run. Now their entire kingdom is after them—and the coordinates—and not everyone wants them captured alive.

What they find in a lost corner of the universe will change all their lives—and unearth dangerous secrets. But when a darkness from Ana’s past returns, she must face an impossible choice: does she protect a kingdom that wants her dead or save the Metal boy she loves?

 

D09. 😮😥 I just have a baaaad feeling about this but also I still really want to read this? 😅 I love space books and especially books with A.I. components, so even if this ends up being emotionally wrecking, I still have to try.

 

543343

The Onion Girl by Charles de Lint

In novel after novel, and story after story, Charles de Lint has brought an entire imaginary North American city to vivid life. Newford: where magic lights dark streets; where myths walk clothed in modern shapes; where a broad cast of extraordinary and affecting people work to keep the whole world turning.

At the center of all the entwined lives in Newford stands a young artist named Jilly Coppercorn, with her tangled hair, her paint-splattered jeans, a smile perpetually on her lips–Jilly, whose paintings capture the hidden beings that dwell in the city’s shadows. Now, at last, de Lint tells Jilly’s own story…for behind the painter’s fey charm lies a dark secret and a past she’s labored to forget. And that past is coming to claim her now.

“I’m the onion girl,” Jilly Coppercorn says. “Pull back the layers of my life, and you won’t find anything at the core. Just a broken child. A hollow girl.” She’s very, very good at running. But life has just forced Jilly to stop.

 

Charles de Lint books have long been on my shelf, but this one I missed? 🤔 Oops. Time to fix the missing books and fill them in.

 

22449299

The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson isn’t expecting freshman orientation to be any fun. But when a mysterious mortal acquaintance appears at his potential new school, followed by demon cheerleaders, things quickly move from bad to worse.

In this fourth installment of the blockbuster series, time is running out as war between the Olympians and the evil Titan lord Kronos draws near. Even the safe haven of Camp Half-Blood grows more vulnerable by the minute as Kronos’s army prepares to invade its once impenetrable borders. To stop the invasion, Percy and his demigod friends must set out on a quest through the Labyrinth – a sprawling underground world with stunning surprises at every turn.

 

So, so far behind on this series and the subsequent ones. 😫 Everyone is having fun with Percy references, so I want to finally get with it so I can understand more than just the first three books.

 

 

Join #StartOnYourShelfathon!

 

If you want to join #StartOnYourShelfathon, you can read more information in the readathon information post at The Quiet Pond.

 

 

 

 

 

All media belongs to the respective owners and is used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.