Tuesday, January 30, 2018

*Top Ten Tuesday* Books I Can't Believe I Read (Jan 30)

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Joood - Hooligan of Platypire reviews bossed me into doing this, so I guess this is a thing I do now. 

This weeks theme is books I can't believe I read. I could see this topic going one of two ways. Either these are going to be books that I'm kind of ashamed to admit reading or books that are super impressive to have read. Now I have absolutely zero shame about the books I choose to read, but I also don't feel super accomplished by having read massive involved books either, but I think it'll be easier to list books that one would be inclined to brag about reading rather than trying to drum up a measure of shame about books, so that's the route I'm taking.

So here are ten(ish) books that I'd brag about reading.

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Dreams from my Father by Barack Obama

So what are some books that you would brag about reading? - Katie

*If you're stopping by from the linkup, please be sure to drop a link to your post below so I can see your response to this prompt.*

Sunday, January 28, 2018

*Review* Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Genre: Mystery
Published: July 29, 2014
Pages: 460

Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:

Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.

New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.

Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.

This was the book selected for one of my last book club meetings in Germany, and I almost had it finished in time for the meeting, which has been impressive lately. I didn't finish it in time, but I was close. We were supposed to watch a few episodes of the TV show that's based on the book, but never managed to get around to that. 

So this story hooked me pretty much from the start. It had a major reality tv feeling to it from the beginning, and because it focuses on mother's of young children, it was very relatable for me because I have young children. But I think the story hooked me because it starts at the ending, sort of. We were almost immediately treated to the information that someone died, but you had to read the book to find out who, and just who killed them. It wasn't Colonel Mustard in the library with the wrench. 

Now like I mentioned, I had not finished the book in time for the meeting, and I managed to get one of my fellow bookclub members to spoil the ending for me and tell me who died. This may have helped me figure out whodunit when I did (and I did figure it out before it happened, although not long before). While there are lots of little clues sprinkled throughout the book to try to help you piece the mystery together, they are subtle, and since you don't even know who died, it's kind of harder to figure out who the guilty party is I think. I had a lot of fun jumping to conclusions before I even knew who had died though, even if most of them were wrong. 

While the book is classified as mystery because of the whole death thing, it felt way more women's fiction to me, so if you're not a big mystery fan, don't let that turn you off (I'm not a big mystery fan myself). 

Overall I give Big Little Lies 5.07645637 stars. 

Liane Moriarty is the Australian author of six internationally best-selling novels, Three Wishes, The Last Anniversary, What Alice Forgot, The Hypnotist’s Love Story and the number 1 New York Times bestsellers: The Husband's Secret and Big Little Lies.

The Husband's Secret has sold over three million copies worldwide, was a no. 1 UK bestseller, an Amazon Best Book of 2013 and will be translated into over 40 languages. CBS Films has acquired the film rights. 

With the launch of her novel, Big Little Lies, which has sold over one million copies in the US alone, Liane became the first Australian author to have a novel debut at number one on the New York Times bestseller list. An HBO series based on the book is currently in production with Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon and Shailene Woodley playing the three lead roles.

Liane’s newest novel, Truly Madly Guilty, will be released in July 2016. 

Liane lives in Sydney with her husband, son and daughter. You can find more at www.lianemoriarty.com and www.facebook.com/LianeMoriartyAuthor

*Review* You Can's Spell America Without Me by Alec Baldwin and Kurt Anderson

Genre: Political Humor
Published: November 7, 2017
Pages: 288

Political satire as deeper truth: Donald Trump's presidential memoir, as recorded by two world-renowned Trump scholars, and experts on greatness generally

"I have the best words, beautiful words, as everybody has been talking and talking about for a long time. Also? The best sentences and, what do you call them, paragraphs. My previous books were great and sold extremely, unbelievably well--even the ones by dishonest, disgusting so-called journalists. But those writers didn't understand Trump, because quite frankly they were major losers. People say if you want it done right you have to do it yourself, even when 'it' is a 'memoir.' So every word of this book was written by me, using a special advanced word processing system during the many, many nights I've been forced to stay alone in the White House--only me, just me, trust me, nobody helped. And it's all 100% true, so true--people are already saying it may be the truest book ever published. Enjoy."

Until Donald Trump publishes his account of his entire four or eight or one-and-a-half years in the White House, the definitive chronicle will be You Can't Spell America Without Me: The Really Tremendous Inside Story of My Fantastic First Year As President.

He was elected because he was the most frank presidential candidate in history, a man always eager to tell the unvarnished truth about others' flaws as well as his own excellence. Now that refreshingly compulsive un-PC candor is applied to his time as leader of the free world. The mind-boggling private encounters with world leaders. The genius backroom strategy sessions with White House advisers. His triumphs over the dishonest news media. The historic, world-changing decisions -- many of them secret until now. What he really thinks of Melania and Ivanka and Jared, Donald Jr. and Eric and the other one. And many spectacular, historic, exclusive photographs of him in private and public, making America great again.

Presented by two of America's foremost Trump scholars, Alec Baldwin and Kurt Andersen.

I listened to the audiobook version of this book, because I figured if I was going to "read" a book by Alec Baldwin where he's impersonating Donald Trump, I should do it in audio so I get the voice feature too. Sadly, this was a disappointing audiobook. Baldwin only does the Trump voice for a few chapters (although I can't blame him for not wanting to do the voice for the whole six hours), and he doesn't even narrate the whole book himself (only about 1/3 of the book is Baldwin's narration). Basically I didn't feel like I got what I was paying for in the audio department of the story. 

The story itself was great satire. It seemed like there were a lot of facets from Trump's life laid bare and exaggerated, although it's possible none of them were accurate (I'm not assuming any of them were although I'm also not assuming they weren't). The tone of the story was very much in line with the way Trump talks (or at least the way Baldwin impersonates him) with the clipped and repetitive sentences. I think my favorite part of the satire was that Baldwin's Trump gets a lot of tips and tricks from Barron who is described as something of a genius (or at least that was my main takeaway from how he's mentioned). 

Overall I give this book 3.0464673 out of 5 stars. The satire was on point, but the narration really let me down. - Katie 

Alec Baldwin is a multiple Emmy, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild Award-winning actor, producer, comedian, and philanthropist. He has also been nominated for an Oscar and a Tony Award and the author of the New York Times bestseller A Promise to Ourselves. 

Kurt Andersen is an author/novelist and host of the public radio show Studio 360. He is also co-founder of Spy and author of Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History, which Random House is publishing in July 2017.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

*Stacking the Shelves* 27 January 2018

(Titles link to Amazon via Amazon Affiliate links)

Stacking The Shelves is a feature/weekly meme created by Tynga’s Reviews in which you share the books you are adding to your shelves, both physical and virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical stores or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

Now, I already have a monthly post I do featuring the books I get in the mail (and it's a lot because I have a serious Goodreads First Reads giveaway addiction), and I'm posting my monthly Read-A-Thon posts again too, which covers the books I receive through Netgalley. And since I am currently technically a displaced person (all my things are packed up on a boat and I don't have a home to call my own at the moment), I'm not currently buying any physical books. So my STS post will feature all the books I've been one-clicking on Amazon. 

On that note, here are the books I picked up this week.

Jackpot by Anita Renaghan - I won a copy of this ebook through the Goodreads First Reads giveaway program. 
The Tragedy of Woman by Ray Dacolias - I won a copy of this ebook through the Goodreads First Reads giveaway program. 
The Birdwoman's Palate by Lakshmi Pamuntjak - I got this book for free as part of the Amazon First Reads program (used to be Kindle First). It's one of 6 books available for January and I finally made my choice this past week. 
Bayou Myth by Mary Ann Loesch - I won a copy of this ebook through the Goodreads First Reads giveaway program. 
Undeniable by Serena Grey - I won a copy of this ebook through the Goodreads First Reads giveaway program. 
Escape from Prague by Colin Knight - I won a copy of this ebook through the Goodreads First Reads giveaway program. 
The Light of Supremazia by Alana Mag - I won a copy of this ebook through the Goodreads First Reads giveaway program. 
What We All Have by Ray Dacolias - I won a copy of this ebook through the Goodreads First Reads giveaway program. 
Penstock Canyon by Christopher Church - I won a copy of this ebook through the Goodreads First Reads giveaway program. 
5-Minute Book Marketing for Authors by Penny C. Sansevieri - I won a copy of this ebook through the Goodreads First Reads giveaway program. 
The Fun Knowledge Encyclopedia Volume 2 by Bill O'Neill - I snagged a copy of this book as a freebie (still free). I'm pretty sure I got a review request for it stating that it was currently free on Amazon, so while I can't guarantee that I'll get it read in the near future, I liked the sound of it enough to download it for free. 
No Win With a Twin by Daniel Shneor and April Peter - I snagged a copy of this for free (no longer free) because I got an email review request (I think to my personal account not my blog account) stating it was free yesterday. I like free kids books and this one looks cute. 

So that's all the new ebooks I picked up last week, and almost every single one came from Goodreads. So far I've gotta' say that Goodreads policy changes (ie: charging to host giveaways but allowing anyone to host Kindle giveaways) has resulted in me winning even more books than normal, but they're almost ALL Kindle copies. Not going to trust those results fully until after the introductory discount on hosting giveaways expires though as I'm sure more people are taking advantage of the current discount. 

So what new books did you pick up this past week? - Katie 

*If you're stopping by from the linkup, please be sure to drop a link to your post below so I can stop by and see all your new pretties too.*

Friday, January 26, 2018

*Book Blogger Hop* 26 January 2018

We are on to a new week for the Book Blogger Hop hosted by the lovely folks over at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. This weeks questions is:
Do you ever go back to older posts and change things? (submitted by Elizabeth @ Silver's Reviews)
Nope, not evening spelling mistakes when I find them (which is a little odd because they make me cringe every time I see them). I have been considering going back to my oldest blog posts, especially the reviews, and updating them to match with my current post style for reviews, but that's like effort and I'm just not sure there is much point in expending that effort.

What do you think? Should I go back and update my oldest review posts to look like my current posts or leave them as they stand? And do you ever change things in your posts? - Katie

*If you're stopping by from the linkup, please be sure to leave a link to your post so I can see your answer.*

Monday, January 22, 2018

*Top Ten Tuesday* Books I Really Likes But Can't Remember

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Joood - Hooligan of Platypire reviews bossed me into doing this, so I guess this is a thing I do now. 

This weeks theme is books I really liked but can't remember much about. Boy is this going to be a difficult post for me because I have a pretty good memory for the written word, so I'm going to tweak it just a little bit and list some books that I've kind of forgotten loving so much. You know what I'm talking about. Those books that you read a few years ago and at the time you thought you'd be recommending them to people forever because they were so good, but then time passed and you found other books that you're going to forever recommend to people because they're so good, and the original books kind of got forgotten. But then you decide to scroll through your Read Shelf on Goodreads and come across that book and think to yourself "Oh my gosh, how could I have forgotten this the other day when so-and-so was looking for book recommendations. This would have been perfect for them." Or maybe I'm the only person that happens to and you'll find this entire post a little bit weird, and that's okay too.

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon - Any time I see this book mentioned on another blog or Facebook, or pretty much anywhere honestly, I immediately think "Oh my god, yes. That book is so good," but I often forget about it's existence when I'm put on the spot trying to offer suggestions to people. My book club in Wiesbaden read this about 5 years ago and I don't think any of us disliked it.

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen - I actually have mixed feelings about this book at this point after the drama involving the author and a whole bunch of Hatchimals a couple Christmases ago, but I have to be honest and say that I really did enjoy this book, and yet I often forget to recommend it to people (even before the Hatchimal drama happened.) And part of my fond memories for this story may include the book, movie, meal bookclub meeting my Wiesbaden book club had to discuss the book because food is life and the way to my heart is absolutely through my stomach. And the carnival food we prepared for the meal was just so yummy.

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton - I don't read a whole lot of mysteries, so when people are asking me for recommendations in the mystery genre, I usually come up blank. That is partially because I always forget about this historical fiction mystery that I absolutely loved when my Wiesbaden book club read it years ago. Although part of that could be that I tend to try and think of contemporary books when people ask for mystery recommendations.

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh - This is one book that I actually feel like I need to reread because more of the details are fuzzy than normal for me. And maybe I was just in more of a rush when I was trying to get it read in time for the meeting, so those little things didn't sink in as well, or maybe it's because so many of the details involve knowing the language of flowers, which I don't, that trying to remember this story is like trying to remember dates of specific events for world history, which in the whole scheme of things are not that important for an understanding of history as a whole.

Intractable Souls by Tricia Daniels - I forgot this book so hard, that I even forgot to include it on my list of series that I need to finish for the Finishing the Series Challenge I'm taking part in this year. And I absolutely still remember what happened in the story, but after I finished reading it, I was waiting so long for the next book that it fell way by the wayside and completely slips my mind any time I'm giving people book recommendations. And that saddens me.

The Venetian Bargain by Marina Fiorato - This was one of my early Goodreads First Reads wins, and I absolutely fell in love with the story. I don't often have occasion for recommending historical fiction though because most people seem to be more interested in contemporary, and I read quite a bit of historical fiction myself, so it just kind of fell off my recommendation radar. And if you're wondering about the discrepancy in the title, it got a slight wording change for American publication, but I had a copy from the not American publication run.

And at this point we're starting to get into the books that I've blogged reviews for, most of which I remember loving and that pop up occasionally when I'm recommending books to random strangers so we're going to go ahead and pretend that 6 is the new 10 and I'm going to end this post here.

So what about you? What are some books you've loved but just can't really remember, or that you remember but kind of tend to forget having loved the book in the first place? - Katie

*If you're stopping by from the linkup, please be sure to leave a link to your post so I can stop by and see your lists.*

Sunday, January 21, 2018

*Review* Living Ghost by Ginna Moran

Genre: YA Paranormal
Published: January 2, 2018
Pages: 339

When a mortifying breakup in the school cafeteria triggers seventeen-year-old Callie White to project her soul from her body, the last thing she expects is to die from embarrassment. As it turns out, Callie isn’t dead but is gifted with the special ability to leave her body and turn into a living ghost. With the discovery of her newfound ability, she learns her world is inhabited by creatures from her wildest dreams—and worst nightmares.

As a genetically altered human, Mason Sullivan spends his life fighting creatures to keep humanity safe. With unmatched speed and strength, Mason is the perfect soldier for the Creature Council, the secret organization that polices the supernatural world. For Mason, one thing is certain, he’ll do whatever it takes, even kill, to guarantee the bad guys never win.

Callie and Mason’s lives collide when she saves him from a man-eating goblin while in her ghostly form. A chance meeting at a hospital brings the two together, but Callie isn’t safe in Mason’s life. Her special ability makes her a desirable asset to the monsters Mason fights against. To protect her, Mason breaks the creature laws he fights to uphold, but even with him by her side, Callie falls prey to the supernatural world’s worst enemy. She’s forced into an unthinkable fate by creatures who treat humans like food and property. No longer under Mason’s protection, Callie must fight for her freedom or risk losing herself to a world so full of horrors against humanity that she’d rather remain ghostly than survive.

I was hired to proofread this book. The only aspects of the story that I influenced were the spelling and grammar. If you feel that my connection to the story makes my review untrustworthy, so be it, but this is my honest review.

It's becoming clear to me that I really should have written this review when I finished reading the book. I say this because I have since proofread two other books for Ms. Moran since working on this one, and while they are in different series and I have the basic storylines straight in my mind, some of the details are a little fuzzy. So bear with me while I fumble through this and I will strive to do better in the future.

What I liked most about this story was that even though it's a new series, it's a spin-off from a previous series, so I was already familiar with the world, and really enjoyed some of the cameos. Although some of those cameos had me yelling at Callie and Mason for what I felt was their stupidity in how they handled certain things that happened to them. Like if they would have just talked to these people, the problems probably would've been solved super fast. But teenagers are kind of known for making bad decisions (I know I made bad decisions when I was a teenager).

Ultimately I really enjoyed diving back into the world first created in Lost in Dreams, and look forward to seeing what happens next in Callie's life. 4.9874756737 stars. - Katie 

Ginna Moran is the author of an array of both paranormal and contemporary young adult novels including the Demon Within, Falling into Fame, and Spark of Life series. 

She started writing poetry as a teenager in a spiral notebook that she still has tucked away on her desk today. Her love of writing grew after she graduated high school and she completed her first unpublished manuscript at age eighteen.

When she realized her love of writing was her life’s passion, she studied literature at Mira Costa College in Northern San Diego. Besides writing young adult novels, she was senior editor, content manager, and image coordinator for Crescent House Publishing Inc. for four years.

Aside from Ginna’s professional life, she enjoys binge watching television shows, playing pretend with her daughter, and cuddling with her dogs. Some of her favorite things include chocolate, anything that glitters, cheesy jokes, and organizing her bookshelf.

Ginna is currently hard at work on her next novel.

*Review* Artemis by Andy Weir

Genre: Science Fiction
Published: November 14, 2017
Pages: 384

Jazz Bashara is a criminal.

Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you're not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you've got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent.

Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down. But pulling off the impossible is just the start of her problems, as she learns that she's stepped square into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself—and that now, her only chance at survival lies in a gambit even riskier than the first.

"You don't expect J. Worthalot Richbastard III to clean his own toilet do you?"

"The city shined in the sunlight like a bunch of metallic boobs."

"I'd have to blow the remaining two at the same time. Please don't quote that last sentence out of context." (I kind of had to, you know.)

"'Goddammit!' I yelled to him. 'Will you stop whining about your problems during my murder?!'"

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

I've got to start by telling y'all that I was super excited to get approved for this book because I absolutely loved Weir's The Martian. I didn't enjoy this story quite as much as his previous work, but it was definitely an enjoyable story.

As you can hopefully tell from my favorite quotes, I found Artemis to be rather humorous. The larger cast of characters (as compared to The Martian) allowed more opportunities for witty quips, although it also reduced their frequency as it would be unreasonable for every character to be as funny as Mark Watney. Jazz Bashara had a similar wit about her though, and the story did focus on her, so I spent a fair amount of time laughing while reading.

I think the part of the story that let me down was the action sequences. There was nothing wrong with them, I just didn't want them while reading apparently. So basically I wanted a story with no conflict and that's absurd. I honestly get how weird this complaint is, but at the time I was reading Artemis, the action sequences just didn't do it for me. If I were to re-read it another time in a different mindset I would very likely react differently to them. That doesn't change my current reading experience though.

Overall I give Artemis 4.032674673 because it was funny and while the action scenes didn't do it for me, there was nothing technically wrong with them. - Katie 

ANDY WEIR was first hired as a programmer for a national laboratory at age fifteen and has been working as a software engineer ever since. He is also a lifelong space nerd and a devoted hobbyist of subjects like relativistic physics, orbital mechanics, and the history of manned spaceflight. The Martian is his first novel.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

*Deja Revu* 15 January 2018

Déjà Revu is a weekly review round-up that is open to all book review blogs.
Guest Post
General Fiction
Science Fiction
Graphic Novel
Science Fiction
Science Fiction