Let’s talk about…The City of Veils by S. Usher Evans

This year has been an excellent reading year for me. While I’m only averaging about 2-4 books per month, I am finding that I am loving a majority of what I’m reading and getting more out of it. It’s been hard for me to find the balance, but it’s also been really fun.

Today I’m talking about an upcoming release from an author who has become one of my favorites. I’ve read one of her series and ADORED it and really need to get my hands on more. She has a new book coming out, and guys…it’s a good one. Here’s a little more about The City of Veils by S. Usher Evans

40597067For the past three years, Brynna has been patrolling the streets of Forcadel as a masked vigilante, protecting the innocent and beating up bad guys. Her current target is Lord Beswick, a slumlord businessman who keeps the townsfolk in a vicious poverty cycle. But one fateful evening, she’s captured by Felix, the captain of the king’s guard, and told a shocking truth: her father and brother are dead, and she needs to hang up her mask and become queen. 

Before long, she negotiates a deal with Felix: attend to her royal duties during the day and continue her vigilante mission to take out Lord Beswick at night – at least until her coronation. But the politics of Forcadel are as volatile as the streets, and Brynna isn’t sure whom she can trust in the castle. With two royals dead in less than a month, she must use all her wits to make sure she isn’t the third.

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I received an eARC of this book in exchange for a review from the author. This does not sway my thoughts or opinions of this book.

Initial reaction upon finishing:

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If there was ever a book that screamed “that’s an Emily book,” then this is it. It has everything that I love in my fantasy books. A vigilante who is actually a royal in disguise, murder mystery, plot twists, an awesome female character that grows on you the more you read, development of the characters…it had everything. I loved running around on the streets of Forcadel with Brynna while also trying to figure out who murdered the royals. I was hooked from the start.

Here are some reasons I definitely think you should read it:

  • MASKED VIGILANTE. Ok, let’s be real…there are a lot of masked vigilante tales in the world right? That do-gooder who has a double life, ruler by day and good guy (or bad guy I guess) by night. Sometimes you wonder if it’s something that the author can pull off with a unique twist. Thank goodness S. Usher Evans did just that! She made this world and this tale come real in front of my eyes, and while I can find some similarities to other stories that are like this one I also found that she made it her own. I love the idea of the Veil being the vigilante, and I really love the origin of why she became The Veil. It just all came together to form an unforgettable and unique story.
  • STRONG FEMALE CHARACTER. Ok, I’m going to get real here…I didn’t initially love Brynna. I started to feel like she was a bit entitled and just trying to be rebellious for the sake of being rebellious. Her resentment for having to take over kind of turned me off and I wasn’t sure how this was going to change. Brynna grew before my eyes. She didn’t always think things through, but then she learned from the consequences. By the end I found her to be incredibly strong and someone that I wouldn’t mine becoming. She became relatabe by learning through her mistakes and growing from it. She started to develop relationships with others instead of being a loner. She became someone that I really liked and I definitely need to see what she has up her sleeve next.
  • PLOT TWISTS AND TURNS. This comes down to S Usher Evans taking a unique spin to a storyline that could become very basic. She created a believable environment and then kind of drove me crazy by making things not happen the way I wanted them to (I mean…I had really hoped after all we have been through things would go my way..). The characters I thought I could trust did crazy things and I ended the book in shock. There are few authors that cause me to abandon my better judgment on characters, but Evans is one of them. And then I fall for it and shake my fist at her. I fell for the trap again! This book is filled with subtle and not so subtle twists and turns, and when you think you know better you find that you really don’t.

I absolutely loved this book. I think it set up the series really well and gave me those elements of fantasy that I have been craving lately. When looking through other reviews on Goodreads I saw someone call this Throne of Glass meets Robin Hood, which I can totally see! The reasons for Brynna’s vigilante ways are very much in the realm of Robin Hood, but her methods definitely fall more into the way of Caelena in Throne of Glass. My love for both Throne of Glass and Robin Hood are quite large, so the fact that I fell in love with Forcadel and what Brynna is doing is no shock.

I always worry that I don’t do books I love justice. I worry I flail too much and that by the end you are just rolling your eyes at me because I’m just shouting random things in excitement. But note, if you love fantasy…if you like a good vigilante story…then you DEFINITELY need to check this book out.

The City of Veils comes out on April 16th. Please join me in flailing about this book and supporting this author!

emily

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Let’s talk about…You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn

What’s the last book you’ve read in a day? The last book that made you want to forget all of your to-do lists and just read? I imagine this has happened once in your life, at least. I imagine that you have started a book and struggled to put it down.

The last book that caused this reaction in me? You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn.

36146624Annie Mathers is America’s sweetheart and heir to a country music legacy full of all the things her Gran warned her about. Superstar Clay Coolidge is most definitely going to end up one of those things. 

But unfortunately for Clay, if he can’t convince Annie to join his summer tour, his music label is going to drop him. That’s what happens when your bad boy image turns into bad boy reality. Annie has been avoiding the spotlight after her parents’ tragic death, except on her skyrocketing YouTube channel. Clay’s label wants to land Annie, and Clay has to make it happen. 

Swayed by Clay’s undeniable charm and good looks, Annie and her band agree to join the tour. From the start fans want them to be more than just tour mates, and Annie and Clay can’t help but wonder if the fans are right. But if there’s one part of fame Annie wants nothing to do with, it’s a high-profile relationship. She had a front row seat to her parents’ volatile marriage and isn’t interested in repeating history. If only she could convince her heart that Clay, with his painful past and head over heels inducing tenor, isn’t worth the risk. 

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I received an advanced copy of this book in a giveaway. This in no way sways my thoughts or opinions.

If I could describe the book in a few gifs: giphygiphy-1msy

This book had it all…charm, swoons, drama, and a plot that was pretty believable considering the lives that these two characters were leading. It had songs that I would love to have in existence, and references to country artists that I need to learn more about. It was honestly a country music education for myself (which I’m sure Annie would be so proud of). I fell in love with this book more and more with each page turn. I loved each and every character, I loved their journey in life, and I love how real it got. This isn’t something that’s just, for lack of a better word, fluffy. This has those elements of a contemporary romance that we love with the real hardships people go through in life. It brushed on grief, addiction, and just the idea that we all want to find a place that we fit in. I couldn’t get enough of it.

So, my top 3 reasons that you should read this book:

  1. STRONG CHARACTERS. My goodness, even at her weakest Annie was strong. In a way, I could relate to her grief. Well, mostly I can relate that I have worked through some form of grief since the loss of my dad. I cannot imagine living in her situation, and the fact that she still pursued music is so strong. To me, these characters were realistic because they struggled. The way they faced their issues, one way or another, made them strong to me.
  2. MUSIC. I loved that this entire book revolved around music, and not at all in a cheesy way. You saw how life experiences created a song, you felt the emotion in the lyrics. This book, and those lyrics just hit me in a way not all books can. It made the emotions of the book even more real to me as a reader, and it made the book that much more important to me.
  3. PLOT. This sounds super broad I know, but hear me out…this book had a little bit of everything I wanted. There were plot twists, there were budding relationships, there were friendships, there was drama. I laughed, I cried, I cheered for them in their darkest moments, and I yelled at them as they were making stupid decisions. I felt like I was totally and completely in the story from the beginning, and I didn’t want it to end. It was the perfect story for me to fall head over heels in love with, and I am already planning on when I can read it again.

If you are looking for a book that makes you feel all the feels, that has you cheering for the characters to find themselves and succeed, that has you craving some good music, and that gives you all the swoons…then this is the book for you. I loved this book so much, and I just hope that my words can help you understand just how much I love it.

This book comes out on April 2nd. You should DEFINITELY get your hands on it!

emily

If We Were Having Tea (6)

20638302_10210095186557818_268576923072112750_nI have seen this post many times over at Jamie’s page (The Perpetual Page Turner) and have always wanted to give it a shot. I think it’s fun, personable, and a great way to kind of get to know one another. So, I thought why not give it a shot? But there will be a bit of a difference…we won’t be having coffee. Instead, I will be having tea.

If We Were Having Tea…

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  • I would tell you that I’m between books. WEIRD RIGHT!? I just haven’t really had the time or motivation to pick up anything. I’ve read less than normal this month, and I think I have finally made peace with that. However, TOTALLY ready to get back into something. What are you reading right now?
  • I would tell you that part of my reading woes is that I’m struggling to pick something to read because I just can’t settle. I just finished The City of Veils by S Usher Evans and LOVED it. I am thinking I need some more fantasy in my life. What are some of your go-to fantasy recommendations?
  • I would tell you that after having some rough months due to winter and my seasonal depression I am finally having good days. I can’t even accurately describe what is happening, but something has clicked in me and I am happy. I am motivated. I am not sitting here drowning in my lack of self-confidence. It’s a beautiful thing and I am doing all that I can to keep it up. How are you doing now that winter is finally nearing the end?
  • I would tell you that husband has gotten me into a lot of new shows. We have gotten back into watching shows together, and have successfully finished Venture Bros, The Passage, and have just started The Runaways. Maybe that’s why I haven’t been getting much reading done… Have you gotten into any good shows lately?
  • I would tell you that I think I have given up running. Ok, not entirely given up on it, but I’m taking a pause. I have found that if I don’t enjoy a workout then I do it less, lose motivation, and end up frustrated. I don’t enjoy running. I enjoy a 5k every now and then, but running just feels like work. I want working out to be fun, and I have found the love for lifting. So it’s time to switch gears and work out how I want to. Do you have any particular workouts that you enjoy doing?
  • I would tell you that I am super excited about my weekend away to Chicago! I leave tomorrow evening and will be spending my birthday weekend with my husband. I have needed a weekend away for SO LONG. I definitely have felt stuck up here, so to even just get out of this area is a blessing. I mean, I would have loved a tropical vacation, but this will have to do. Do you have any fun weekend plans?
  • I would tell you that I turn 30 this weekend! The big 3-0. I know that people freak out about this age. They are either terrified of it or excited for it. Honestly, I feel pretty meh about it. I mean, I’m getting older. It is what it is. I have experienced so many ups and downs throughout my life that make turning 30 to be a bit bittersweet. But it’s my golden birthday and I want to celebrate. I remember as a kid I would complain that I wouldn’t hit my golden birthday until 30 because it just seemed like forever away. I see you 12 year old me. We made it. Did you or do you have any extreme feelings about turning 30?
  • I would tell you that I’ve been experiencing drama, and it has weighed heavily on me. I don’t even know if it’s drama, but it’s definitely some changes in life that I wasn’t totally ready for that kind of hit me in the face. And, despite that, I think I’m actually doing ok. It’s weird. I strongly believe that people are put into our lives for reasons, good or bad. I think that all the relationships that I have had a purpose in my life and have built me to be who I am. People change, people grow, things happen. I think lately I have really come to terms of past relationships that have ended while also dealing with changes in my life currently. Some of it has hurt, but it has all caused me to really evaluate where I am in life and where I want to go. I’m honestly feeling so good, and so happy. I feel confident in so much and maybe that’s why? I’m not too sure. Do you think that all relationships have some sort of purpose in your life, whether they are good or bad?
  • I would tell you that I AM SO EXCITED FOR BASEBALL SEASON! Baseball is huge in my life. I watched it with my dad, I played softball for a long time, and it holds such a special place in my heart. I am so excited for it to start up again. I’ve missed it so much. Are you into any sports?

I hope you are all having a wonderful last week of March. Anything exciting happening in your life? I miss talking to you all and I am so ready to fully dive back into blogging. Expect to see more from me soon.

emily

Emily here, with a confession…

How many of you have heard of the tabletop game Warhammer 40,000?

Ok, so it’s a little more popular than that question implies, but I guess I don’t know how many of you reading my blog know what it is. This game has become a big deal in my life, meaning my husband plays it and I hear talk of it all the time. It involves making models, painting them, creating an army to play other people, yadda yadda yadda.

[Leo (the husband) Edit: Warhammer 40,000 is a table top miniatures game set in the 41st millennium.  Known for being exceptionally “Grim Dark”, it has it’s roots in being a over -the-top satire of the worst characteristics of humanity.  The video below will give some context.]

Basically, it’s really not my thing.

But then I heard there were books…

There are so many books by so many authors. Good books, and not so good books. My husband has gotten really into reading them because the plot to each story is crazy and they help him build some background to the game he is playing. He obviously knows that I enjoy reading, so he has started to recommend certain authors and storylines to follow. At first, I rolled my eyes. I mean, do I really want to get into Warhammer in the slightest? Nope. Keeping my distance sounded pretty nice. But he kept pushing it. He started making deals with me, like “you read this Warhammer book and I’ll read another one of your favorite books.” Finally…I caved. I can only listen to him bother me about it for so long. This was obviously for the benefit of our marriage. Who knows what would happen if I kept ignoring him for so long.

So I read his first choice book for me, and then I read another…

Yep, you guessed it…I like reading Warhammer books.  [Leo Edit: It’s almost like I know you…]

Those who know me well are probably rolling their eyes, and those who don’t know me well are probably confused. As a game, Warhammer is interesting, but not something I want to be involved in. I love that it challenges people to be creative and gets people to physically leave their house to game with other people, but I don’t like that it’s an incredibly expensive hobby [Leo Edit: Cost is relative. I could be into fishing, motorcycles, vintage airplane collecting…] that many tend to obsess over. I tend to get a negative taste in my mouth for any hobby turned obsession, but I have seen it happen a lot with Warhammer.

So, why read the books if you aren’t super into the game? I’ll tell you why:

  • SPACE OPERA: Sci-fi is tricky for me. I feel like sci-fi gets too bogged down by details or overly cheesy. Space operas have been the only way for me to get into sci-fi. They are easier for me to follow, and the cheesiness bothers me less. The Warhammer books that I have read fit right in there. Sure, sometimes they get cheesy or bogged down by details, but the few that I have read have been simple for me to navigate through. They have fit into my ideal space opera so far, and I love it.
  • CHARACTERS: There are so many characters from different backgrounds. I love that there is some element of diversity within the universe, and I think the wide range of characters gives the story a level of interest that not a lot of space operas pull off. Also, can we talk about how gender is like a non-issue for the most part? Men and women can both be badass and it doesn’t matter if they are a man or a woman. I absolutely love that.
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Commissar Severina Raine, from the book Honourbound
  • ACTION: The books that I have read have been filled to the brim with action. The action is exciting and keeps me invested in the story. We aren’t talking the random fights that sometimes feel like they come because the author needed more, they are important fights. They are multiple, big, plot enhancing fights throughout the entire story. These fights have kept me actively engaged in the world, and have made it so easy to get totally lost in the story and dying to know what comes next.
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[Leo Edit: This is from the trailer for Death of Hope, a fan film made by ONE GUY.]
  • A STORY YOU CAN PUT DOWN AND COME BACK TO LATER. I love that I can put the series down for a little bit and come back weeks or even months later. It’s not always an overly complicated story, and it’s something that I have felt is not difficult to pick right back up. It helps that with any questions I have I can ask my husband, but the internet is also an excellent source when it comes to these books. The Warhammer community is rather large, which is cool but also kind of scary.

The book series is written by a variety of authors, which is great because then you get a wide range of perspectives. However, this doesn’t mean that each book is the same. Some authors, as my husband has found out, are more difficult to read through than others. Not to say that all the stories are terrible, but we all know sometimes certain works are more difficult for us to read through than others. My husband knows me well and has been good about recommending what to read. Thankfully he was around to add some of his own thoughts to help anyone wanting to get into this world…

Thoughts from Leo

Since I got my wife into it she asked if I would also add my thoughts.  If you’re looking at where to start it may be a little overwhelming…

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Horus Heresy Tree

… but I recommend starting (roughly) at the beginning, 10,000 years before the setting of the game.  Horus Rising by Dan Abnett (Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Who, and so much more), False Gods by Graham McNeill (one of the best authors for Black Library, if he wrote it it’s good), and Galaxy in Flames by Ben Counter (can’t say much of him; this book is good, but I hated the next book he writes) are the introductory trilogy to the Horus Heresy.  Read these and you will know if you will enjoy yourself.  Following the trilogy the series splinters. Flight of the Eisenstein directly continues the story, Fulgrim takes place during the first three books but is from other characters’ perspective, and the following books begin to introduce new characters and settings.  There are a few good recommended reading orders online, and I will add my recommendations, but for the most part don’t stress it.  Like the Marvel Cinematic Universe the books are related, but you don’t necessarily need to read every one to understand what is happening.

So anyway, what do I like?

Descent of Angels introduces the Dark Angels and Lion El’Johnson. Young boys join a knightly order to rid their haunted world of terrible beasts, falling into a web of secrets along the way.

A Thousand Sons begins the tragic tale of Magnus the Red and his legion.  Maybe magic isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, maybe the pursuit of knowledge and doing what you think is right is all that matters.  Should be followed up with Prospero Burns.

Aaron Dembski-Bowden, my favorite Black Library author, writes the prologue book The First Heretic I’ve never read an author that does a better job of writing from the antagonist’s perspective than he does.

My portion is getting long, but there are a couple more things I want to add.  While I’ve recommended starting with the three books that begin the Horus Heresy, there’s no reason to limit yourself to that period.  In the 40k setting you can read about the dying race known as Aeldari in the Path of the Eldar, get your Firefly fix with the Rogue Trader Omnibus, or find out what these badasses are all about in Sisters of Battle Omnibus-d6pa2y1-3e475b58-4db3-4b90-9f17-27c675e1c8d6

Two more things and I am done, I swear.  Despite what my wife says the hobby itself is amazing.  Building and painting has been a great stress relief for me, and though 40k may be a little “much” for you (or maybe not, if you’re an awesome person like me!) if you enjoy table top stuff Games Workshop does have games like Necromunda, Kill Team, or Blackstone Fortress.  Lastly (I hate that I feel like have to, but people can be assholes) a disclaimer.  Warhammer 40k is the pinnacle of nerdom, and because of that socially malformed neck beards do come with the territory.  If you come across rude content or behavior online understand it is not representative of the community.  Overall we are very inclusive (and admittedly at times socially awkward) group of people.

A few more words from Emily:

This has been kind of fun to get into. It has given me a way to get interested in his hobby without having to be fully into the gaming aspect. I am not one to sit and paint models, plan out how I want things to go, etc. I like that we have this connection. I also like that I am able to enjoy these books. I will say, I highly recommend getting the audiobooks if you are able. The narration is great and has helped me get even more invested in the story.

JUST A HEADS UP: This series does get a graphic and dark. There is some violence against others, there are incredibly dark and evil acts, and there is gore. If you are at all sensitive to any of that I would recommend you not read the series.

So, I gotta ask…who else has read these books or gotten into the Warhammer 40,000 world somehow?

emily [and Leo, the husband]

Emily’s February 2019 recap

Leave it to February to prove to me that January is not the longest winter month ever.

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February was the snowiest on record. I spent at least 2 days a week shoveling, once it took me nearly 4-5 hours because it was so heavy and I had to take breaks. And if it’s not snow, then it’s ice. The days have been cold, miserable, and I am so happy to see the end of the February.

While I spent much of my time shoveling snow, I did happen to get some reading in. It was honestly another good month of reading, an I really hope that I can continue my streak.

What did I read in February?:

You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn36146624

I’m not going to say a ton about this book since I will have an actual review coming up closer to release date, but I will say that I loved this book. I read it in 24 hours, which is not a normal thing for me. I fell in love with Annie, Clay, and the world that they were navigating through. I laughed, I cried, and I was moved by this book and the way that it tackles some heavy stuff. It comes out on April 2nd, so you best get that pre-order in! You do not want to miss this (full review to come later this month).

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory 33815781

I have heard so many good things about this book. I heard that it was a fun, swoon worthy romance that cannot be missed. I, unfortunately, am not super into the romance genre. I have tried many books and tried to be sure that they were highly rated and loved, and they typically just fall short. This was yet another one of those for me. I can see what it is that people love about this book. I think the writing was great, and the characters were awesome, but it was not something that fully clicked with me. Definitely just a me issue.

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah34912895

I don’t know if there are words that can accurately describe my feelings for this book. This book ripped my heart out. It took me deep into the Alaskan bush and just slayed me. I was thrown into this family’s world. I was deep in their happiest moments as well as their darkest moments. I hit all of the emotions in this one, and it had be ugly crying (which is a sign to me that it’s an incredible book). This is the 2nd book by Kristin Hannah that I have read, and I am definitely going to be reading more from her.

My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, and Brodi Ashton36301023

I absolutely ADORED My Lady Jane, so I was pretty excited to read the next Jane book from the Janies. I love their writing style, love how their writing compliments one another, and love the humor they add into their books. While I enjoyed this book and found it to be a fun take on Jane Eyre, I think I preferred My Lady Jane over this one. I totally see what it is about this book that people love, but it just didn’t hit those notes with me. I struggled with Jane Eyre though, so that could be part of my issue. Oh well. I still enjoyed it, just wasn’t my favorite book of the month.

In February I didn’t really binge watch anything. My husband and I are still watching a few of the shows from last month (Venture Bros, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Passage) and I’ve really just taken to re watching shows because I have wanted that comfort in these darker moments of winter.

Music has been pretty big for me though. Some of my most popular February songs:

If you want to see the 2019 list I have going, check it out here

Besides those few things, my February was pretty low key. Mentally, it’s been a tough month. February is hard to begin with so adding the additional record breaking elements of winter, it make it difficult for sure. But I powered through and now I’m facing March.

In March I have a few things planned. It’s birthday month (whooo!). I don’t normally get too hyped about my birthday, but it’s my 30th (and golden) so I am trying to do some fun things this month. I have two races coming up (yea, how can those be fun right?), one of which involves ending at a beer festival. I have a weekend to Chicago planned, and I have plans to keep killing it at the gym and working through some books. My goal is to finish the Throne of Glass books before I turn 30. I have one giant book left, so I hope that I can do it. March looks like it will be filled with all kinds of things, and I am sure I will slay it.

How was your February? Any big March plans?

emily

New to my Goodreads

I know I’m not the only one who LOVES to know what other people are reading or excited about. I think there’s something about that fresh excitement of adding something to those TBR lists that’s almost contagious. I have seen bloggers around do something like this, and I thought I might want to join in.

So…here are the last 10 books that I added to my Goodreads that I am seriously looking forward to:

40367270Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

A thief and an upstanding citizen reluctantly join forces to find out who killed the queens? I mean…this has Emily written all over it. I love a good murder mystery and this one seems like it will fit the bill. And it’s currently a standalone!? Nice! This one releases February 26th!

40597067The City of Veils by S Usher Evans

Ok, first off I LOVE S. Usher Evans and all that she does! The fact that I haven’t read more of her books is an embarrassment on my part because seriously, she is so good. A royal vigilante!? Yes please! This book releases April 16th!

25526296Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

A friend of my mine recommended this book to me and I greatly trust her judgment. Parallel worlds, home for wayward children, kinda dark? I am all in for this one. Also, can we talk about how pretty that cover is? This one has been out since 2016 and apparently I’ve been sleeping on it.

26032887The Wicked King by Holly Black

I read The Cruel Prince last month and very much enjoyed it. I got sucked into this world of fae and I have to know what happens next. The drama, the twists and turns…I need more! I don’t even know how to describe my need for this book without spoilers, but trust me…I need it.

37561550The Au Pair by Emma Rous

I have been getting more into mysteries over the last couple of years. I think I try to read a couple every year. I’m always curious to see just how the author will throw me for a loop. This book, about a family that has definitely gone through some stuff, seems like it will be just perfect. I honestly can’t wait to get lost in this one.

39863269Only a Breath Apart by Katie McGarry

I have never read anything by this author, but I have heard good things. This book seems like it mixes a contemporary book with some magical realism, which I am all for. This book just recently came out, and I am hoping I can get my hands on it soon!

38101643The Ravens Tale by Cat Winters

A book about young Edgar Allen Poe!? Yes please! I read quite a bit of him back in the day, and I think the premise of this book sounds fantastic. I can’t wait to dive into this world and see the authors take on this man. I have never read anything by Cat Winters, so I guess I better start somewhere right? This book comes out April 16th.

WHTF_JKT_2p.inddWe Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

A story inspired by ancient Arabia? I am totally on board with this one. It sounds like it has some fantasy elements that I love, and it’s sent in a world that I need more of in my life. I am definitely excited to get my hands on this one! This book comes out May 14th!

36430989Descendant of the Crane by Joan He

This book is described as a Chinese inspired Game of Thrones. Count me in! While I struggled with the Game of Thrones books (so many) I definitely enjoyed the show and general outline of the story. I think that this book and this author could really pull it off and I am so excited for it! This book comes out April 2nd.

32949202Dark of the West by Joanna Hathaway

This book is described as Code Name Verity meets The Winner’s Curse. I may still need to finish The Winner’s Curse series, but I LOVE Code Name Verity and I really enjoyed the beginning of the series for The Winner’s Curse. So basically, I feel like if those two things are smacked together I will really like the outcome. I am pretty excited to read this one. This is released February 5th!

Anyone have any 2019 releases that they are really looking forward to? Or, better yet, has anyone read any of these books? I would love to hear your thoughts!

emily

Emily’s January 2019 recap

Am I alone in thinking that January has lasted roughly 66526584 days?

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But for real…I don’t know if it’s the cold that the month has ended with, the length of days, or just the general seasonal depression setting in but man…January just will not end.

To be totally honest, it’s been a rough month for me. Mentally I have been struggling and really having a hard time getting out of that rut. And then, of course, have to end the month with a snowstorm that then leads to the coldest temperatures we have seen in a very long time. Yea, I’m over winter and my mood is just not improving.

Even with that, I did find time to read. I read 4 books in January, which is pretty normal (though I probably could have read more had I not been distracted by Hulu and Netflix). Here’s what I read:

18304322Dumplin’ by Julie Muphy

Confession, I watched the movie before the book. I was a little hesitant just because some contemporary doesn’t always work for me. I wanted to see just how the story was told before I dove in. And honestly…I liked the movie better. I feel like a bad book nerd. I think that this book had a lot of good qualities but I also was a little upset by how certain situations were handled. I liked that you could see Willowdean growing and becoming a better person, but I also found her to be pretty mean and not a great friend. I think I saw more of a change in her in the movie. And I think maybe not solely being in her head helped me. I don’t know. I just know that while I think it’s awesome that it resonated with so many people it just did not do the same for me. It was good, but it just wasn’t at the level I was expecting.

26032825The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Yes…I finally jumped on the hype for this one. I actually read it with an awesome group of book nerds (Arika included) and we were able to fangirl, complain, and express our feelings together. I really enjoyed this book. I can’t say I like any of the characters, and I don’t think I even ship the ship, but the drama and the world that surrounded it…LOVED IT! I couldn’t wrap my brain around all of the twists and turns and I really can’t wait to get my hands on the next book. I don’t think I can accurately describe my feelings for this book. It’s dark, so if you aren’t into dark books I would shy away from it. But if you are into fantasy and want to get lost in the drama of a world…highly recommend.

38720939A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

This book was so good. I think it’s a story that needs to be told. During and after 9/11, I lived in a small community. We weren’t exactly the most diverse, but I never really thought of it either because that’s just how my life was. I knew that life post 9/11 was hard for the Muslim community. I know that they struggled and I empathized, but since it wasn’t a part of my day to day world I didn’t do more than that. This book opened my eyes to the goings on during the days that I was the most naive. It bothers me so much that we treat those with different beliefs, cultures, and looks in the worst way possible, but it’s on a whole other level when you read it and when you realize that those getting treated poorly aren’t that much older or younger than you were at that point. I think this book is important and would open up a lot of great conversations. Definitely recommend reading it.

34810320Sadie by Courtney Summers

Oh my gosh, this book. I feel so weird saying that I loved it, but I loved it. I’ve gotten into listening to true crime podcasts over the past couple of years so this book really worked for me. I loved the format and I loved the writing so much. But, it’s a gruesome story. I mean it’s about Sadie’s disappearance after her younger sister is murdered. It’s about what she does and what is happening. There are so sad and unfortunate situations in there that are the reality for many young girls and women in the world. This book broke my heart. This story will sit with me for a long time. And I think that right there is what makes it so good. It’s realistic and makes me want to try to do all I can to help anyone in that situation. Anything.

I also got incredibly distracted by Hulu and Netflix. I mean, there’s something about curling up on the couch in a bunch of blankets and just watching something that really speaks to me. I have been trying to limit my screen time, but sometimes it’s just not possible. Here’s what I’ve been watching

22189Younger

Basically, I just want to know how a 25-30 minute show can pack in SO much drama and get me so addicted. LOVE IT.

the-passageThe Passage

I have to say I never read the book, and I don’t know if this would be a book I would be into. But…this show is pretty good. I love the pacing and everything and I sure hope Fox doesn’t cancel it. Anyone else watching this one?

brooklyn-nine-nine-23916-1366x768Brooklyn Nine-Nine

I finally am caught up and that both makes me happy and sad. I love this show so much! How is it possible that it is ALWAYS so funny?

new-girl-season-6New Girl

I finally finished New Girl! And I gotta say, I’m cool with it being over. And now…my unpopular opinion: I strong dislike Jess. I just can’t stand her and am so thankful that I love everyone else on this show. They all save it for me.

3955409Venture Bros (thanks husband…)

I can’t say I picked this show for myself. It happens to be a favorite of my husband’s and it’s growing on me and taking up some of my time so I definitely thought it was worth sharing. It’s…well it’s something.

And of course, with the new year comes a new Spotify playlist. I tend to make a playlist every year of songs I have discovered, so naturally, I started over with that in January. Here are some of my favorites thus far:

Other than that I haven’t had a very exciting January. It has been filled with work, stress, reading, and kind of laying low as we are working through some finances and such as everyone seems to do after the holidays. See, nothing too exciting. Maybe that’s why January has not been my favorite?

Looking ahead at February is kind of nice. I have a few plans and some hopes to accomplish some personal and professional goals, or at least lay the groundwork to start towards them. So here’s to a new month, new goals, and hopefully some warmer temperatures!

How was your January? Let me know in the comments below!

emily

Looking ahead at 2019!

Happy 2019!

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I hope you all had a safe, fun, and relaxing start to the year. Whether you went out or stayed in, I hope that you brought in the new year in the best way for you.

I am honestly kind of excited for this year and I really can’t put my finger on the why. 2018 was a tough year for me. While I had a lot to celebrate (and I have made sure to celebrate those accomplishments) I also had some lows. Those lows have definitely helped me see some things I need to change, but it also showed me how resilient I truly am. I am really proud of how far I’ve come. I know I’m not where I could be yet, but I took a massive leap from the beginning of 2018 to the end, and I think it’s only going to go up from here.

I know you are seeing a ton of New Year Resolutions. The phrase “New year, New me” is everywhere, and honestly…not a fan. If you can say that and stick to it, awesome. Unfortunately, I don’t see many people stick to that. I haven’t stuck to it when I’ve used it. Because of this, I feel like I approach the new year a little differently.

Each year I make goals for myself. I find that goals are things I can get to, and once I reach them I reevaluate to challenge myself more. I have found that these evolve more than a resolution would, and making the goals have helped me have even better years (and grow even more).

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So, here are a few of my goals for 2019:

  • Read 50 books. This is down a bit from last year, but my reading slowed a bit towards the end of 2018, so I figured just roll with it and I can always adjust and add more.
  • Buddy read at least 2 times this year. Obviously I’ll go for more, but I do miss buddy reading and did it way less than I had wanted to last year. I started a Buddy Reading group on twitter (let me know if you want to join!) so I’m hoping that it’s a group I can come back to in search of people to read a book with me.
  • Blog 2 times a month. I obviously won’t stop at 2 times a month, but I think trying to establish at least 2 a month will help me get back to it. I miss blogging a lot, but I have found myself not always making the time.
  • Read more diversely. I think I did a fairly good job of this last year, but I can always do better. I want to read from a wide range of authors and in a wide range of stories.
  • Less screen time. I find myself scrolling through my phone all too much. I would love to be able to not look at my phone for at least a half hour before I go to bed, and to try to set more time limits.
  • Budget! We have had some financial bumps, as people do, and instead of just hiding and hoping it goes away I am ready to take it on. My husband and I are cutting some things, limiting other things, and trying to buckle down to pay some stuff down. I am hoping that instead of buying books I will utilize my library more. I am hoping to cook more, do more homemade things, and find more fun date nights in. My husband and I are both fed up and so ready for a change. I think we are finally in the mindset to make it.
  • Do a pullup. I have gotten back into working out over the past few year but my upper body strength is severely lacking. I want to do an unassisted pull-up. Once I do that I want to continue to add more.
  • Take another trip. I haven’t decided where to, but I want to go somewhere new, or explore somewhere known just a little more, with my husband. Vacations are so good for you, and I think taking a trip this past year was so good for me!
  • Focus on eating what makes me feel good. I am a sucker for sweets, a sucker for grease, and a sucker for gluten. None of these things make me feel good unless I watch my portions, and even then they don’t always make me feel good. I want to remind myself that I do like vegetables and food that is a little bit healthier. I want to keep my portions in mind and I want to feel better about myself. Food is such a huge step in that.
  • Journal. I think I need to get back on the journaling train. I want to set aside a certain amount of time each day to write. I don’t care what it’s about, I just need to write. 2018 was a year of some high emotions and a year of some drama. I think I would have handled things better if I could have written things out instead of letting them bottle up in my head.

I have more goals, but I think some are less firm goals and more ideas. I want less drama, I want more connections, I want to do more and collect less, I want to make running fun and try a few more races…I have many personal goals that I want to keep to myself too. I am just really feeling the whole mindset of the new year lately, and I am trying my best to embrace it.

What are some of your goals for 2019?

emily

Saying Goodbye to 2018

Can you believe we are finally saying goodbye to 2018?

I’m stuck between “Where did 2018 go?” and “OH MY GOSH HOW IS THIS YEAR STILL GOING ON!?”

A lot has happened this year. A lot of good, some not so good, and a lot of in between. My blogging has been minimal, but I think that has been pretty necessary for me and for my life at that time. I like that I can pop in and out and hope that in 2019 I can do even more popping in.

But I’m not talking 2019 yet. It’s still 2018! I want to give you some of the highlights from the past year, both with books and with myself.

So…here’s a bit of 2018 that I’m looking back on:

BOOKS:

**I read 59 books in 2018 (my goal was 52). I read a lot a good books, but my top ten would have to be:

Kids of Appetite by David Arnold | Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz | Beartown by Fredrik Backman | Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi | Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly | Turtles All the Way Down by John Green | Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel | The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe | Saga series by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples | To All the Boys I Loved Before series by Jenny Han

**Some interesting facts about my reading:

A few fave songs from 2018:

Montana by Justin Timberlake | Paper Rain by Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness | Last Hope by Paramore |  Wolf by Miguel | Best Part by Daniel Cesar and H.E.R. | Freeee by Kids See Ghosts | Forever by Sa-Roc | Pressure by Muse | Everything by Ella Mai and John Legend | Tender Offerings by First Aid Kit

Movies and TV in 2018:

BASICALLY JUST EVERYONE NEEDS TO WATCH SCHITT’S CREEK! Other than that let’s see…I rewatched a lot of Friends, as one does. I become OBSESSED with Queer Eye and really could use the new season. I went to a lot of good movies, such as The Greatest Showman, Crazy Rich Asians, Crimes of Grindewald and so many others. I could probably make a whole post just on this alone, but I won’t. Feel free to discuss movies and TV with me any time!

My personal Life in 2018:

I did a lot this year. Like, a lot a lot. I quit my job as summer began and felt free. I knew the job was dragging me down, but I didn’t really know how much. I didn’t have much of a backup plan besides substitute teaching, but a month and a half after I quit I had a new job in a place that challenges me. I feel comfortable at my new job, I feel capable, and I feel like I can rise to whatever may come my way. My new job was a HUGE thing for me.

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I ran a few races in 2018, including my first ever half marathon. My ultimate goal was to finish in under 3 hours, and I did it in 2:57. Go me! I also started weight lifting and joined a tap fitness class.

What else did I do? I saw some baseball, saw some hockey, survived a blizzard, attended a few weddings, saw Les Miserables, didn’t die at a trampoline park, ran a beer can race, and caught up with friends I hadn’t seen in ages.

I went on a road trip! I honestly don’t remember the last time I took a legitimate vacation. Maybe California like 3 years ago? Maybe…For this road trip we drove out to Spokane, WA and back, stopping in places like the Black Hills, Bighorn National Forest, and Yellowstone along the way. It was a wonderful trip that I so needed and I honestly don’t know if I have the words to describe it.

I saw Justin Timberlake! Words cannot describe this experience. We were able to get upgraded to the floor and I was definitely within shouting distance of him (like he probably could have heard me and he potentially could have spotted me but I’m not going to think about that). It was the concert of a lifetime and I am so happy that I was able to go.

Oh, and I JUST RECENTLY SAW ARIKA! She and I live quite a distance apart but it actually worked for us to meet up for lunch with a few other friends while we were home for Christmas. Of course, like idiots, we forgot to take pictures. We were just so busy living in the moment, enjoying the football game, and getting really excited about some awesome things coming up in the new year! The last time I saw Arika was 2 years ago at her wedding, so this was long overdue.

On a personal note, this year has been crazy. I have been so upset with myself, so angry, so frustrated, so stuck. And for once…FOR ONCE….I used that to my advantage and finally pushed myself to better myself. I still have a long way to go, but I am so happy with the progress I have made and I cannot wait to see what is up next for me.

Thanks for everything 2018. The ups and the downs. I learned from everything that you threw at me and I can’t wait to own 2019.

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emily

Let’s Talk About…Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus

If you have been following me at all on social media you know that I’ve had a pretty solid reading year. I’ve read a lot of good books, but I think I’ve been missing that feeling of OH MY GOSH I CAN’T PUT THIS DOWN. I had books I felt very hooked in, but not a lot that I was constantly turning the pages because I just had to know what happened next. I was a little frustrated with this, which seems odd because why complain about the lack of a book hangover? I tried to not let that frustration get to me because I was reading a lot of good books, why complain because something really good isn’t at that next level?

Well I found it…I found that book that I could not put down and gave me that temporary book hangover that had me wondering just what I should do next.

That book is Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus

Echo Ridge is small-town America. Ellery’s never been there, but she’s heard all about it. Her aunt went missing there at age seventeen. And only five years ago, a homecoming queen put the town on the map when she was killed. Now Ellery has to move there to live with a grandmother she barely knows. The town is picture-perfect, but it’s hiding secrets. And before school even begins for Ellery, someone’s declared open season on homecoming, promising to make it as dangerous as it was five years ago. Then, almost as if to prove it, another girl goes missing. Ellery knows all about secrets. Her mother has them; her grandmother does too. And the longer she’s in Echo Ridge, the clearer it becomes that everyone there is hiding something. The thing is, secrets are dangerous–and most people aren’t good at keeping them. Which is why in Echo Ridge, it’s safest to keep your secrets to yourself.

I’m trying to think of how best to describe my thoughts and feelings on this book without massive amounts of gibberish, fangirling, and spoilers. Because it would not be hard to spoil this book. So instead…I think I’m going to tell you about the things that hooked me.

  • Ellery. I liked both her and Ezra, but Ellery really struck me. She had a bit of a fascination with true crime, which made sense, but it wasn’t something that took over her entire life. Yes, she was more cautious about things and had theories constantly, but she was able to admit that she was wrong when she was and to move on. I think this made her so much more human to me. She could admit her wrongs, she would feel bad about them, she would have more theories (obviously), but she didn’t let them get too in the way of friendships, etc.
  • Twists and turns that were both subtle and shocking. Ok, there were so many times that I told myself that I knew who did it, because ALL the signs were there. But instead McManus uses this small details and subtle changes to basically say “HA EMILY YOU ARE SO WRONG!” I loved that it wasn’t like huge, over the top reveals. Every twist and turn was subtle, flowed well within the story, and had me really upset because I was so sure so many times I had it figured out. Dear Karen, you are a master.
  • I felt that this was just well drawn up. Everything seemed believable. YOu know how sometimes when you’re reading a book or watching a movie about disappearances and cold cases and you just feel like it’s far fetched? Or there’s like the person who has never been there suddenly there and it just fixes everything magically and all is solved and they ride off into the sunset? That did not happen in this book. Not only was it believable but you also got some legitimate small town vibes. It felt like it could actually happen, and that kind of freaked me out a bit.

At this point this is really all I can say without giving spoilers. Because at this point I want to get into the nitty gritty. I want to tell you what happens and then scream “CAN YOU BELIEVE IT!?” But I can’t do that. I want to…but I can’t.

This book was a page turner. I was hooked in the beginning with always a little bit of sadness to put it down, but them by about page 150 I was fully immersed and any moment I had to put it down KILLED me. I just had to know why things weren’t going as I had assumed they would and I had to know who did it. If you are looking for a book that will fully suck you in until the end, and still leave you wanting just a little bit more…this is the book.

This book is released on January 8th, 2019. You best get your hands on it when it gets here, because you will not regret it.

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