The Last Bookish Recap

AnnasLibrary_BookishRecap

As I stated in the July Bookish Recap, this is my last month book blogging. Thank you so much for your support this two and a half years (a little more than that actually). I’ve had a wonderful time sharing my bookish thoughts with you and hearing your thoughts. I’ve had the opportunity to participate in some fantastic book tours as well. I’ll be moving away from book blogging so that I can concentrate on my own writing and photography (but mostly the writing). For those of you that are interested, my author blog will update once a month starting in September. Every so often I’ll feature the odd book review. I write mostly historical fiction with a dark speculative twist.

While I will no longer be updating Anna’s Library, I am going to keep the blog up for archival purposes. I know that quite a few of you have found books based on my reviews (which makes me super happy!) and I would like to keep this as a resource for people looking for new books. I have taken down the pages that are no longer relevant to reflect this.

Now for the fun stuff!

As this is the last Bookish Recap, I’m doing things a little differently. First there will be the usual bookish recap of August, then I’ll be recapping my favorite posts.

August Recap: August was a great month! I participated in two book tours and re-read an old favorite.

Book Tours/Reviews:
The Thirteenth Gate Book Tour
(Kat Ross)
To Tame a Wild Heart Book Tour (Gwen Mitchell)
Coraline (Neil Gaiman; 4.5 stars)

Bookish Lists:
Nerdy Books


And now here are some of my all time favorite posts. I picked my three favorite book reviews and three favorite bookish posts.

Top Three Favorite Book Reviews:

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The Martian (Andy Weir; 5 stars): For how much I’ve said about this book and for how many previous lists I’ve put the book on, there’s no doubt this book would make it onto the list! It’s still one of my all time favorites and I plan to re-read it this November.

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A Madness of Angels (Kate Griffin; 5 stars): This book blew me away. It’s such an interesting and unique book, yet I’ve come to find that few people have heard of it. It was one of my earlier reviews, but reading and reviewing it was so much fun. Like I say in the review, “read now, thank me later.”

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Insomnia (Stephen King; 4 stars): While not a 5 star review like the others, I feel like Insomnia is one of the overlooked books by King. Also, reviewing this tome of a book was a challenge, especially considering how many details there were. I really did enjoy this book and wish more people would give it a chance. It’s a fantastic example of weird fiction (instead of King’s usual horror) and all around great storytelling.

Honorable Mention: The review for this book, both a 5 star and 3 star rating makes this review the only one of its kind on the blog. Not to mention it’s one of my favorites. So the honorable mention goes to Twilight (Stephanie Meyer).

Top Three Favorite Bookish Posts:

TBR List: Publisher Style: While I really loved making the TBR lists, I think this one was the most fun. It’s not a typical way to decide how to read books and I liked being able to share that.

Book Haul: Birthday Style: This was a long list! But it was a lot of fun to do! I got so many books that I had been excited about for so long. I also got introduced to some new books (such as the The Shiva trilogy) and some old favorites. Not going to lie, I also had a lot of fun making my own little book tower. If you missed that post I really encourage you to check it out. I got a wide variety of books so hopefully you’ll find something that perks your interest!

TBR: Airport Edition: Ok, so I actually got about 1/3rd into one of the books on the list and while I loved it, I got so distracted by exploring everything that I kind of dropped reading. Whoops! I still have all these books safe on my Kindle and am looking forward to reading (and finishing) them. I have fond memories of browsing Amazon to hunt these babies down.

 

Thank you so much for sharing this bookish venture with me. I loved being able to share my thoughts with y’all. It’s been a rewarding and fun adventure. Happy reading!  ~Anna

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Book Tour: To Tame a Wild Heart

Book Tour: To Tame a Wild Heart

Welcome to my stop on the To Tame a Wild Heart book tour organized by Xpresso Book Tours. Here you’ll find an excerpt of the book, as well as a bit about the author. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the tour. During the time of the tour only, you can snag your own copy of To Tame a Wild Heart for free! There’s also a giveaway for a $50 Amazon gift card so be sure to check that out too!

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Goodreads |+| Amazon

Author: Gwen Mitchell

Genre: Urban Fantasy, New Adult, Paranormal, Romance

Synopsis: Audrey Taylor has carved a living out of society’s fringes using her supernatural abilities and street smarts. Freedom—sleeping beneath the open skies and under the radar—is all she’s ever needed. But when an ancient council of witches discovers her powers, Audrey must submit to their training or be stripped of her gifts and her memory. Audrey knows better than to trust anyone, and she’s never worked well with others, so it’s just her luck to be assigned a withdrawn and irritable falconer as her mentor. Even more disturbing is her desire to tear through his brooding façade and bare the man beneath when she should be focused on escape.

Corvin Wright values the solace of his duties and only finds peace among the birds entrusted to his keeping. But the council no longer sees a use for his unique gifts, and his sanctuary is in danger unless he can earn his place by babysitting a fledgling witch. The task becomes daunting when his apprentice turns out to be wilder and more broken than any creature he’s ever cared for. Her fiery spirit and dangerous beauty challenge every ideal of the life he’s built. As Audrey wrestles with her captivity and the bonds of responsibility laid upon her, Corvin must find a way to tame her wild heart before she breaks his.

Excerpt: An hour later, the bait basket was empty, but Honey had caught a fifth wind and was happily chasing butterflies around the meadow while he and Audrey lounged in the thick grass.
“We should have packed a basket of treats for us,” Audrey said when her stomach rumbled loud enough to catch the eagle’s attention.

Corvin smiled to himself. He loved her enthusiasm for food, even if it stemmed from going hungry for too often. The extra weight she’d put on suited her—not just filling out her ample hips, but her face looked healthier and more youthful too. Though it was still easy to forget how young she actually was, since her eyes told a much older story.

“Would you like a peach?” He nodded at the far edge of the tree line, where a large peach tree sat like a squat decoration among the towering cedars.

“There’s no fruit on that tree,” came her logical reply.

He winked and strode past Honey—who barely paused in her chase—to stand at the foot of the giant tree. He held his palm under the lowest branch and pulsed magic into it. The branch shivered, and buds burst forth in a froth of fluffy pink. As his magic flowed into them, the flower petals rained around him, and two large pieces of fruit bulged, causing the branch to drop the heavy fruit right into his palms. He twisted them free and sauntered back to Audrey to hold out the largest and ripest one.

“If you had three, I could juggle for you.”

He settled next to her as she took an exaggerated bite and moaned in pleasure, closing her eyes.

“Oh, god.” She grinned as a bit of juice dribbled down her chin.

He took a bite himself to avoid leaning in to sip the sweetness right from her lips.

“Why is there a peach tree out here in the middle of the woods?”

“I planted it. I found this place when I was a boy. The plants led me here. I was eating a peach at the time—they’re my favorite. So, I decided to plant the pit. I used what little magic I had, and it took root that day. Whenever I wanted to run away, I would come here, and I always had food. Since then, I’ve woven my own magic into this place. The plants and animals know me. They let me pass, while they help keep others away.”

Audrey tilted her head, studying him with a teasing smile.

“I know what you’re thinking—even then I was antisocial.”

She set her half-eaten fruit aside and wiped her hands on her thighs. “I wasn’t going to say that. The first time I ran away, it was to a tree fort. Well, sort of. It was the hood of an old Chevy, an umbrella I found at the dump, and some fallen branches. I hadn’t thought ahead to pack any food though. If I’d had a magic peach tree, I might still be there.”

About the Author:

Gwen

Gwen lives a life of romance and adventure with her very own hero in Seattle. She’s a nature lover, science geek, and kitchen witch, with a nose for well-aged tequila and a pin-up fashion obsession. When not hiking to hidden waterfalls, taking in a burlesque show, or otherwise cavorting through the Emerald City, Gwen can be found in her favorite cozy chair brewing tales of magic, murder, and romance.

You can find her on her Author Website, Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter.

Nerdy Books

Yep, it’s that time of year again for many of us. Break out the pencils, way too expensive (and heavy) text books, and get ready to take some notes, because once again the school year is upon us.

If you’re looking to show off just how much of a nerd you are (and let’s get real, sometimes it’s fun to be a little over the top when it comes to bookish nerdery), these books will help get you off to the right start. All links lead to their book reviews, unless I haven’t reviewed the book on here, then the link will take you to the Goodreads page.

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The Martian (Andy Weir): I know, I know! I can hear you now: “Anna, how many lists can you put this book on?” and the answer is a lot. But honestly, as much as I loved this book, it’s hard to keep up with at times! The spot on science challenges the best of us. You’ll learn a lot reading it (especially about potatoes) and have a great conversation starter to boot.

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Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune (Bill Dedman, Paul Clark Newell Jr.): I never reviewed this for the blog, but this is one of my favorite non-fiction books. I really wish that it was more widely read. It’s about Hugette Clark and her family. How her family got so much money, how they spent it, and how that impacted American society. I learned so much from this book and my country by reading it. It covers an incredible amount of time too. It’s not as long as you’d think, but well worth the read. Again, another way to start off a really interesting conversation, but also a way to learn what many US history classes have overlooked.

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The Lord of the Rings (J. R. R. Tolkien): Now I’m not talking about the first book (which isn’t called LotR anyway). I’m talking about the version that Tolkien originally intended, all three books in one, a plethora of appendixes, and glorious maps all leading up to world building that helped re-define a genre for generations to come. One, it’s a much more cohesive read. The publishers broke the book into three to keep printing costs down making the end of the first two books rather jarring. Reading the book as intended makes a big difference. Two, if you loved the movies, you’ll get a new appreciation after reading. Thirdly, it’s cool to be able to see just how much influence this book has had, not just in the bookish world, but in the world outside of it too. But if all of that’s not cool enough, Tolkien created his own language for the elves from scratch. That alone is enough to solidify its place on my list of nerdy books.

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Fearless Girls, Wise Women & Beloved Sisters: Heroines in Folktales from Around the World (Kathleen Ragan): This is such a cool collection of folktales. While it does lack diversity in stories from certain areas, overall it’s a strong and powerful collection. Each story comes with an introduction and each section is prefaced with a map so that you know the geographical location the stories come from. It’s a fantastic book to add to any personal library but is also a great nerd book thanks to the variety of stories and cultures it covers. After all, why have one story when you can have 100?

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A Madness of Angels (Kate Griffin): Ok so this might not seem like your typical “screams nerd” book. But I really think that’s only because it doesn’t get enough love. The world building is amazing and I know my inner nerd delighted in the complex magic system and how everything so beautifully tied into the real world. It also is a book that makes you think. There’s a plethora of plot twists for one and secondly there’s a layered mystery as well. On top of all that, you also have to figure out just how reliable of a narrator Matthew Swift is. It’s a sophisticated book and I think it deserves a place on any urban fantasy lover’s shelf.

Book Review: Coraline

“Spiders’ webs only have to be large enough to catch flies.” ~The Cat

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Author: Neil Gaiman

Genre: Middle-grade horror, fantasy

Synopsis: When Coraline steps through a door to find another house strangely similar to her own (only better), things seem marvelous.

But there’s another mother there, and another father, and they want her to stay and be their little girl. They want to change her and never let her go.

Coraline will have to fight with all her wit and courage if she is to save herself and return to her ordinary life.

My Opinion: Ah, Coraline. The book of my heart. Clearly I love this book. While there is a bit of ableist language, the creativity, heart, and detail this story holds makes it one of my all time favorite books. The movie is fantastic too, although it’s quite different than the book (in fact, the book wasn’t finished when the movie was made). But I’m not here to talk about the movie, I’m here to focus on Coraline the book. This truly is a winner. Four and a half stars!

As this is a middle-grade/early young adult book, this makes for a quick read. But what makes it so enjoyable for anyone is the wonderful characters. While the cast is small, each character is well developed and purposefully made with their own little mystery. I really did love this, and the limited, unique cast made Coraline’s interactions all the more powerful. My favorite character aside from our heroine was the Cat. The relationship the Cat and Coraline shared is one of my all time favorite book friendships.

Another reason I think this book is so timeless and ageless is because everyone can find something that’s downright creepy in it. Perhaps it’s the old house with odd doors that go nowhere and somewhere, or maybe it’s the fact that adults are to be trusted, yet clearly can’t be. Perhaps it’s the button eyes that the Other Mother and those who inhabit her world have. There’s plenty more examples that I could share, but for the sake of length and to prevent spoilers, I’ll leave it at that. Coraline is completely atmospheric, with just the right amount of creepiness, humor, and suspense.

In a way this book is very straight forward. A girl goes on an adventure and has to save herself. And yet, the story is packed with so much more, yet these lessons never beat the reader over the head. Through Coraline’s growth, we learn lessons in hope, courage, and resilience. This has now become a go-to book when I’m going through a hard time. It’s quick, it’s fun, yet it’s deeply important. I also loved that Coraline reminds us that even when others have our best interests at heart, that’s not always what’s right for us, and those who say they have our best at heart, don’t always. It’s such an important lesson for anyone, especially upcoming generations to learn. Coraline is a journey of self discovery and an honest (although fantastical) depiction of that.

There really is something in here for everyone, whether it’s the humor, the moody atmosphere, or the relationships. The writing is lovely as well and completely absorbing.

TL;DR: I have no idea why you’re still reading this and not hunting down your own copy of Coraline. An important, unique, and fun book, I really do think very people wouldn’t enjoy it. If you’re a fan of Gaiman or are looking for a good introduction to his works, Coraline is a must read.

 

Book Tour: The Thirteenth Gate

Book Tour: The Thirteenth Gate

Welcome to my stop for The Thirteenth Gate book tour! I’ve been pumped for this book for what feels like ages and I’m thrilled to be a part of this tour. Below you’ll find my review, a giveaway (a signed print copy of the first book, The Daemoniac), and a bit about the author. Be sure to check out the giveaway (a signed print copy of the first book, The Daemoniac) and take a look at the rest of the tour here.

|+| Warnings: Death, violence, mild language, mild sexual situations |+|

“[…] monsters are real, Harry. It’s just that some of them are perfectly human.” ~John

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Goodreads |+| Amazon |+| Barnes & Noble |+| iBooks |+| Kobo

 

Author: Kat Ross

Genre: YA Historical, Mystery, Paranormal

Synopsis: Winter 1888. At an asylum in the English countryside, a man suspected of being Jack the Ripper kills an orderly and flees into the rain-soaked night. His distraught keepers summon the Lady Vivienne Cumberland—who’s interviewed their patient and isn’t sure he’s a man at all. An enigmatic woman who guards her own secrets closely, Lady Vivienne knows a creature from the underworld when she sees one. And he’s the most dangerous she’s ever encountered.

As Jack rampages through London, Lady Vivienne begins to suspect what he’s searching for. And if he finds it, the doors to purgatory will be thrown wide open…

Across the Atlantic, an archaeologist is brutally murdered after a Christmas Eve gala at the American Museum of Natural History. Certain peculiar aspects of the crime attract the interest of the Society for Psychical Research and its newest investigator, Harrison Fearing Pell. Is Dr. Sabelline’s death related to his recent dig in Alexandria? Or is the motive something darker?

As Harry uncovers troubling connections to a serial murder case she’d believed was definitively solved, two mysteries converge amid the grit and glamor of Gilded Age New York. Harry and Lady Vivienne must join forces to stop an ancient evil. The key is something called the Thirteenth Gate. But where is it? And more importantly, who will find it first?

My Opinion: If y’all aren’t familiar with my review for the first book in the series, check it out here. I adored it. This sequel somehow managed to match it. With a diverse cast, wonderful representation, and a stunning plot I gave this book four stars.

I’ll start with the two things that frustrated me. The first is that there is a plethora of characters that were sometimes introduced too close together. I had to go back and re-read to make sure that I had gotten all the names right. This book is filled with suspects and interesting people, but keeping up with them all was a bit of a challenge. I also wanted to see more of Harry and John. I fell in love with their friendship and was a bit bummed to find that most of the book focused around Lady Vivienne and her partner Alec.

Onto what I liked. As I already mentioned, we met a lot of new characters. Of the new folks my favorites were Vivienne, Alec and Count Kohary. As with the first book Ross delivers detailed characters, and I loved seeing the connections between everyone. Another big selling point for me with this book was the diversity. Vivienne is not a native to London and I really enjoyed seeing how she carried herself despite the racism thrown her way. This element was treated with accuracy but also with respect.

Most of all I was impressed with how well this book wove into the mystery of its predecessor and expanded on an already well established world. I was in awe realizing how many little details I missed in The Daemoniac and how beautifully they tied into The Thirteenth Gate. Watching the two mysteries the groups were trying to solve come together was really enjoyable and kept me on the edge of my seat.

If you’re looking for historical fiction with fantastical elements, The Thirteenth Gate is the way to go. If you enjoyed the first book in the series, the sequel is a must read.

TL;DR: What I loved about The Daemoniac was back in full force in The Thirteenth Gate. A diverse cast, fantastic world building and an entrancing mystery made this book a delight. If you’re a fan of historical fiction, especially historical fiction with a paranormal element, this series is not to be missed.

About the Author:

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Author Website |+| Facebook |+| Goodreads |+| Twitter

Kat Ross worked as a journalist at the United Nations for ten years before happily falling back into what she likes best: making stuff up. She lives in Westchester with her kid and a few sleepy cats. Kat is also the author of the dystopian thriller Some Fine Day (Skyscape, 2014), about a world where the sea levels have risen sixty meters. She loves magic, monsters and doomsday scenarios. Preferably with mutants.

Bookish Recap: July

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This month has been a pretty good month book wise! I got a plethora of books for my birthday and read and reviewed a couple of books.

But this recap also brings some news. August is the last month I will be doing book blogging. I will keep the blog up for archival purposes, but I will no longer be posting. Not to mention, I worked hard on those reviews and I would hate to just delete them, especially if someone could stumble across them in the future and find a new favorite book.

This has been a long time coming I think. I have had so much fun sharing my bookish thoughts with y’all and thank you so much for your support over the past year or so. While I have loved so much about book blogging, it’s time for me to go down another path. I can’t write and self publish, work, go to school, and keep up my book blog. I also know that in the past health issues have made it a struggle to post. Something had to give. While I very much enjoy blogging, writing is my ultimate passion.

I will still review books, but through my author website, and only when a book really grabs my attention. My author blog will update once a month starting in September for those of you interested.

That’s the big announcement, but let’s get back to the fun stuff! Back to the recap:

This Month’s Posts:

Bookish Posts:
Book Haul: Birthday Style
TBR List: Publisher Style

Book Reviews:
The Daemonaic (4 star review)
Seeds of Eden (3 star review)

Next Month:

As I’ve said, it will be my last month posting. But it will be full of book reviews! I’m participating in two book tours (a NA paranormal romance, and a YA paranormal historical fiction) and I’ll be re-reading and reviewing one of my favorite books as well. It will be a bitter-sweet month, but I’m looking forward to sharing the posts.

Book Review: Seeds of Eden

|+| Warnings: Detailed deceptions of violence, death, sexual content, and public humiliation |+|

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Goodreads |+| Amazon

Author: A.P. Watson

Genre: New Adult Romance, Paranormal

Synopsis: Visions of decapitated corpses, pools of blood, and a masked executioner have haunted Evey for as long as she can remember. Torn between a life in the waking world and dreams of the dead, she realizes her normal existence is nothing more than an illusion. As the veil between reality and her subconscious dissipates, she begins to question her own sanity. Each night as she closes her eyes, she wonders what wrongs she committed to warrant such a curse.

When a handsome stranger suddenly appears in Evey’s life, he is able to provide her with the answers she seeks. However, the only thing more mystifying than Conrad’s appearance in one of her nightmares is the undeniable attraction she feels for him. It is only when he confesses their fates and souls have been intertwined for centuries that an ancient secret is revealed. Now, the two of them must outrun a great darkness or it will claim their lives again.

My Opinion: Thanks to Xpresso Book Tours for providing me with a free copy. The following is my honest review.

Seeds of Eden has a really unique premise combining idea of reincarnation with many stories from Christianity. This story has beautiful writing, interesting characters, and throws a new spin on history. I really liked these elements but I was disappointed by the slut shaming, girl on girl hate, the way that the love interests all treated each other like property, and the fact that abusive relationships were portrayed as somewhat romantic. The book was really a 50/50 for me, so after a lot of deliberation (because there were a lot of things I liked), I decided to give the book three stars.

Evey is mostly normal. She has a part time job, enjoys fashion, hangs out with her best friend, and goes to school. But her nightmares that feel much more real than they’re supposed to. Not to mention the fact the nightmares repeat themselves. Pretty early on we discover why. Evey isn’t Evey at all. She’s the first woman, Eve and she has been reincarnated over and over to help bring out the goodness in humanity. The idea over all is really unique, and really interesting. While I can see how this would be uncomfortable to conservative Christians, as a Christian myself I didn’t see a problem with it. I found this an interesting idea that made for an interesting story.

A big focus of the story is Evey dealing with her memories which come in the form of visions and nightmares. The nightmares and memories were incredibly well done. The descriptions were beautiful and I really appreciated the thought that went into them. As a history nerd, I really liked how different memories focused on different time periods. Although around the 200-page mark I got a little tired of them.

My biggest issue with this book is the lagging middle. This book has such a fantastic start. The pacing, characters, and world building, is absorbing. But towards the middle we get tension in the form of too many love triangles and girl-on-girl hate. I was really disappointed, especially because up until the half way mark, Evey was great. Enter the second love triangle and she stops being supportive of other girls and starts slut-shaming before she even knows someone. It felt out of character and far too petty for the book as a whole. It distracted me from the main plotline and took too much tension away for me.

Another issue I had was how romantic relationships were treated. Evey was someone’s. Couples belonged to each other and while there were multiple arguments about how people aren’t property, the behavior and phrases outside of these arguments said otherwise.

So, what kept me going? The plot and the characters. The idea of reincarnation combined with elements of Christianity really intrigued me. This is one of those books where it is impossible to separate plot and character because both are so integral to each other. The way the characters reacted to the situation seemed so plausible that I could really get behind the majority of them and their actions. I adored the relationship between Evey and her best friend Caroline too. I’m glad I kept reading because honestly that ending came with a twist and cliffhanger I didn’t expect. To top it off, the book was unapologetically dark. My kind of thing for sure!

TL;DR: If you’re into dark soulmate stories, interested in religions, and like a flair of drama in your books Seeds of Eden is probably a safe bet! It has fantastic characters and great world building. It’s a dark and sophisticated drama with romance in it. What more could you want? I can see fans of The Mortal Instruments and the Twilight series enjoying this book as well.