Summer TBR

IT’S SUMMER!!!!

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 OK, I think we are excited for it to be summer here (Emily more than Arika because the summers up in the Midwest are a little bit nicer then the summers down in the South, Arika will be melting!). But also here at Midwestern Book Nerd, we are excited to knock down some more books off our TBR. With the longer days, that means more time to read outside! We also wanted to do a little update on how we are doing with our Rock My TBR challenge this year (PSST, we both need to work a bit harder at that!).

Arika:

Rock My TBR: So this last couple months I have done a really bad job on the Rock My TBR challenge….I have only read 1 book. I know, horrible right. The one book I did read, The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi, was awesome! I highly recommend reading it and I can’t wait to read the second book in the series. Well this summer I plan on getting better and reading at least three books from my list. I’ve already started on one book, Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff and the audio-book for this is AMAZING! So my guess is this will be done by the end of this week… but that still leaves a few other books I need to cross off my list.

My goal: I’m going to try and read at least 3 books from my list these next few months. I know I’ll get distracted by other books but I think I should be able to manage 3 books (though I said that earlier this year and the last few months didn’t go as planned). So here are the 3 books that I plan on reading:

Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller | Hunted by Meagan Spooner | Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

I’ve heard nothing but good things this year about all 3 of these books (all of them were released earlier this year). I also am jealous because I few fellow bloggers have gotten to be at a few of the release parties for them (I hope in the future I can get to some of these sweet gatherings and meet some amazing authors…but for now I wait). Good luck to me and I’m hoping it will be a successful summer of reading!

Emily:

Rock My TBR: Yea I suck at this. I have literally read nothing from the list. My mood reading ways have been kicking in full force and I just can’t seem to settle on anything these days. I had HOPED to be finished with one by the time this post was written, but honestly…not gunna happen. I am definitely thankful for a summer job that is much more relaxed (kind of…it’s more like I can relax a bit). I am hoping that I will be leaving my summer job each day with the energy to pick up a book, because during the school year that was definitely not happening.

My goal: To read at least 3 books from my Rock My TBR list this summer. Obviously I will be thrilled if I get more read, but I think 3 is doable. Here are the 3 I hope to read (obviously subject to change. I am a mood reader after all…):

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken* | I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith | Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers

* currently reading

I am loving Passenger so far, and am really trying to not let life and it’s ups and downs distract me from taking even just a little bit of time to read. I think I can totally get these three read, and can easily knock out some more. I got this! YAY Summer Reading!

Check back here if you want to see mine and Arika’s lists, because we would LOVE suggestions for what else from the lists we NEED to get read ASAP.

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Dads in Literature

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Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Hey everyone, Arika here for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday hosted by the wonderful ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish. This weeks theme is a pretty obvious one with Father’s day coming up this Sunday….a list to do with Dads. So I decided to do a list on my favorite literature dads. This could be dads who made a big influence on the character or even characters who were like dads for the main hero. There are many ways a character can provide support or a lending hand when that main character has no clue what to do. These characters might not be the best all around guys or do everything right but in the end they are there to help and get those main characters through difficult times in their lives. I don’t think they could have made it through their troubles with out them.  There are tons of good choices out there, so I thought I would list a few of my favorites! I hope you enjoy 🙂

Arthur Weasley – Harry Potter Series | Sirius Black – Harry Potter Series | Atticus Finch – To Kill a Mockingbird | Gabril – The Shadow Queen | Mr. Bennet – Pride and Prejudice | Lord Eddard Stark – A Game of Thrones | Shalom Singer – The Selection | Haymitch Abernathy – The Hunger Games Series | Aragorn – Lord of the Rings Series | Aslan – The Chronicles of Narnia

Question: What are some of your favorite Dads or Dad like characters?

Catching Up with Arika …

Hey guys! Sorry I haven’t been writing much about what I’ve read. It’s been a crazy month and I wasn’t really in the mood to write as much but more just read! And I also have discovered the awesomeness that is audio books….they are amazing.

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These audio books have allowed me to listen to some books that I wouldn’t have picked up because I have books already at home to read. Anyway, back to what I have been reading/listening too….I’ve kind have been all over the board this past month, a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Some good books and some books that need a little more help. But overall I think most of these books I would definitely suggest you give them a try. I’ll give you a little bit of what I liked and disliked about the books and then you should go check them out!

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What I Read:

spelledSpelled by Betsy Schow: I gave this book 4/5 stars. It was a nice easy read and I enjoyed the main characters mostly (Dorthea got on my nerves at first). I like the play off of fairytales but wished at times that some of the side characters mentioned would play bigger roles. There was a bit of humor in it and the romance was not overwhelming, which helped the book since sometimes it seems romance is way overplayed in YA lit. Overall it was a cute, funny book that I see many teens would enjoy.

23308084The Rose & The Dagger by Renee Ahdieh: The end of this duology definitely deserved the 5/5 stars! I kick myself for not getting this book sooner since its been out for awhile and I did enjoy the first book. One of the main things I loved about this duology was the main character Shazi. She is a fierce, not gonna back down, take matters into her own hands, kind of girl. Those are my favorite main characters and Ahdieh does a great job of giving life to Shazi and making you as a reader root for her in every way. This book packed a lot of action, romance and a little bit of magic in between it’s covers. I highly recommend the series and can’t wait for more of Ahdieh’s work in the future!

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The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine: A solid 4/5 stars for this retelling of Snow White. It was a good book overall and had some definite pluses to it. One of my favorite things about the book was the banter (which in most cases makes or breaks a book for me). I was laughing out loud a couple times during the book with some of the commentary from multiple characters. There was also some cool magic and, thank goodness, no insta-love. And the best part….Dragons! Though it could have used more dragons. There were only a couple things I wish there were more of: 1. More background on the magic and 2. More about the lead male character. Otherwise a fantastic book and i will definitely be checking out more from this author!

What I Listened To:

falling kingdomsFalling Kingdoms Series by Morgan Rhodes: The first four books that I’ve read have all been 4/5 stars. Lots and lots going on in this series but I think that’s what I love about it. I, along with a lot of others, describe it as a more toned down Game of Thrones. There is many POV’s, war between countries/families, and of course a little bit of romance. And of course my favorite character is Magnus! Ugh I almost wish the whole book was from his POV…but I can only hope. The narrator, Fred Berman, is fantastic! I love the way he narrates the book and is very captivating when he tells the story. I can’t wait till the next couple are released on audiobook.

hawkinsThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins: Not one of my favorite audiobooks that I have listened too, with a 3/5 stars rating from me. I enjoyed a little bit of a switch up since I had been reading a lot of fantasy but at times this book dragged on. It did have a few twists and turns that I didn’t see coming. Overall an interesting mystery novel and the narrators were ok to listen too, nothing to gush about though. (I couldn’t really watch the movie, turned it off about a 1/2 hour into it, I would stick with the book if you are interested.)

prisoner of night and fogPrisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blackman: The Prisoner of Night and Fog felt to me more like a murder mystery with the added fact that Adolf Hitler was a character in the book. It was interesting how Blankman put Gretchen in the middle of Hilter’s life before he became Furer of Germany and how we saw what someone who was taught from the beginning who to hate and who to like.
While I did enjoy the story, it wasn’t something that jumped out at me until the very end when Gretchen started getting answers for questions that didn’t seem quite so right at first. The audiobook was ok, I didn’t enjoy that aspect of it as much as other audiobooks I have listened to lately.
Overall I would gave it 3.5/5 stars

dorothy must dieDorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige: I have to say that Dorothy Must Die was an interesting twist to the Wizard of Oz world but it wasn’t a major hit for me. I enjoyed how Danielle Paige added to the world that we already know and love but I felt that there could have been more added to it. I felt as if the world building fell short of what I am used to in a retelling of stories. I think the reason I liked it was more for the side characters, like the Order of the Wicked and how the good characters from the original story are now evil in this one. I enjoyed how the roles of the scarecrow, lion and tin man changed compared to the original story. Especially how the scarecrow was like a mad scientist and the tin man was like a hitman. The main character of Amy kind of fell flat for me though….she didn’t seem all that confident in herself throughout the book and always second guessing herself, I was hoping to see a little more growth from her. The audiobook narrator was so-so for me, she did an ok job but I had a hard time listening to her for the whole book. Overall 3/5 stars, I didn’t absolutely love it but would recommend for people who enjoy more modern day chick books.

Question: Has anyone else read/listened to any of these books? If so, what did you think?

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Things on Our Reading Wishlist

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Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

Hey everyone, we are back for another Top Ten Tuesday and this week we are going to talk about Ten Things on Our Reading Wishlist. What does that exactly mean, well we are going to talk about what stuff we wish to see more of in books. Whether that means specific types of characters, time periods, problems that characters face, tropes….tons of different things. Really it describes what we want to read about and would love to see more of!

  • Great Banter: Whether it’s between friends or two characters you know will end up together, a book with great banter is always one I like to recommend to others. A little humor goes a long way and when I look forward to some good banter, I read the book that much faster.
  • A Quest: We would really like to see more books out there with a good quest. Like a Lord of the Rings type quest! While a lot of books out there have the characters going after something, or have some type of conflict, we want to see a book that they are journeying across countries to solve a problem. The adventure is always so much fun!
  • Medieval Time Period: While we know there are quite a few out there but this time period is always so much fun. The castles, the knights, the swordplay….there is are so many cool stories that come out of this time period. And some of our favorite retellings (ehem…Robin Hood) are set during this time period.
  • Best Friends: Having the main characters be best friends and not lovers/in a relationship. We do like a good romance but it’s nice to read about friends who are on an adventure together!
  • Humor: Books that actually make you laugh out loud! We love a good witty book that is like Princess Bride/Monty Python in book form.
  • Fairy-tales: We grew up in the Disney era of Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and Little Mermaid. So we love to read those stories that have to do with fairy-tales. If an author can pull of a new imagining of one of these stories…we will read it.
  • Historical Settings: We both love reading about history but we want something more than just a romance in a historical setting. Whether its set during one of the great world wars or even further back during kings and queens in the 13th and 14th century. It would be fun to read about people during that time and adventures they went on.
  • Kick-Ass Women: We love to see a women who shows everyone who is boss. Whether that be a women who can literally kick someones butt with sweet ninja skills or fighting moves or it could be a women who uses her brains to defeat an evil force.
  • Magic School: We know, we know….nothing will beat Harry Potter but there is always hope another good series will come forth. Harry Potter was just so good we just want something like it to curb our cravings for more HP.
  • Greek Gods/Goddess: We both really enjoyed Percy Jackson and all of the series that had to do with both Greek and Roman Mythology. What we want to see is another series and maybe more adult themed then the Percy Jackson series. It’s interesting to read stories and how the god’s interacted with mortals.

Question: What are some features on your reading wishlist that you want to see more of?

Top Ten Tuesday: The Most Unique Books We’ve Read

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Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

This Top Ten Tuesday is talking about unique books that we have read. Talking about unique books is tricky. Obviously we may select some books that we find to be unique and you may be reading this and shaking your head because you think the opposite. So, before we dive into it we should probably talk about WHY these books are unique.

We selected these unique books for one or more of the following reasons: it’s fresh take on a historical topic done in a way we hardly ever see, the collaboration of the authors, it’s the first book of a particular genre we have read, it has a super unique writing style, the book is literally a bunch of documents that make up a crazy file that you get super invested it, or the book tackles a tough subject that just really hit you. These are just SOME of the unique books we have read, but the ones that came to mind first. So…here are 10 unique books that we at Midwestern Book Nerd have read.

Book Thief by Markus Zusak | My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows | Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein | The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins | The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank | Illuminae series by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff | Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi | In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Survivor by Irene Gut Opdyke | The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley | Wonder by R.J. Palacio

QUESTION: What are some unique books you have read (because we want to read them too!)? What of these books have you read?

Feature Friday: Spring Releases

Hey everyone we are back for the month of April with our Feature Friday. This month we decided we would do Spring releases that we are looking forward to in the months of April and May. Some weeks we will each share a book we are anticipating, other weeks we will combine. To start off, we are combining for one AMAZING book that is definitely at the top of our lists (Emily is at the moment scheming how she can get to the bookstore on it’s release day so she can have it to read on her flight to California the day after release day). What book is it?

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A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas

Release Date: May 2nd, 2017

It’s safe to say that Sarah J Maas is one of our favorite authors. We have both devoured the Throne of Glass series (and are excited and terrified to see it end soon!) and were both stunned by the world she created in the Court of Thorns and Roses series. While we both enjoyed book 1, A Court of Thorns and Roses, it was the second book that really sealed the deal on this series for us. This series is filled with a magical world that you can see is based off of fairy tales, it has crazy characters that we both love and hate, it has a romance that makes you weak at the knees, twists and turns that constantly keep you guessing, and a heroine you can really support. This book series has flown to the top of the list as far as our favorites go, and we are both super excited for it’s release!

QUESTION: What spring releases are you excited for?

Let’s Talk About…Last Stand by Rachel E. Carter

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He’s the Black Mage and she’s the traitor to the Crown.

Ryiah’s world was shattered the night she discovered King Blayne’s nefarious plans. Now, she has to betray the one she loves most in order to save the realm from war. Torn between love and duty, Ry finds herself on a perilous mission to help the rebels and convince the kingdom of Pythus not to honor its pact with the corrupt king of Jerar—all the while deceiving the most powerful mage in the realm, the very man sworn to protect the Crown and hunt the rebels at all costs: her husband.

She’s one step ahead, but sooner or later the curtain will fall.

Sooner or later, she’ll have to fight.

Witness the epic conclusion of The Black Mage series, and see just how far one girl will go to save her kingdom and the boy she loves—even when that boy has become the enemy.

Add to Goodreads | About the Author | Buy the Book

Guys….I finished my first series of the year and I am so sad to see it go! I started out on this journey a few years back when the author herself approached me to read her book…I was immediately drawn in and I haven’t looked back since. The characters in this series have so much to offer and the action and adventure is amazing.

My feelings on finishing the series:

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It took me forever to write this post after finishing Last Stand. I really didn’t know how I could put into words how much I adored this series. (And if you haven’t heard of this series or read the first book called First Year, I suggest you go get it now because you won’t regret it! ) This last book was literally a roller coaster of emotions for me. So many twists and turns that I wasn’t sure which character was on which side and who to trust to not break my heart.

First and foremost the character development throughout the series just got better and better. I felt that each book there were new angles that you saw each character in and Carter couldn’t have done a better job. Since Ryiah is the main character, you see the most growth out of her. She still makes mistakes throughout the book but her heart is pure and you know she is trying to do whats best for her country. She sacrifices so much and you see how she struggles with decisions she makes. Ahhh I would tell you more but you have to read the book. The other character I love and so glad she shows up in this last book a little bit is Ella. She has been one of my favorite side characters in a series since day one. There is just something about her that always makes me happy when she comes into the scene, she is smart, genuine, and always tries to steer Ryiah in the right direction. Darren also changed quite a bit in this series and you see the softer side of him. But I hurt so much for all the decisions he had to make and they weren’t the easiest ones either. In the end there are so many characters that show their true colors in this final book and you don’t realize what’s about to happen until it hits you square in the face.

The type of magic in this series is also different and I like how we learn more about it as you progress in the series. Not everyone in the book has magic and there are the different types too. And also as the series moves on, you find out how important mages are too the kingdom of Jerar. That magic doesn’t go very far outside of the kingdom of Jerar. And not to give away anymore but there is even more ways to use magic that you find out in this last book.

And lastly…the ship that I loved…Ryiah and Darren. I swear by the end of the book that I was going to have my heart break in two with those two but I couldn’t have scripted it any better than Carter did. There were parts that I was cheering and knew they were meant for eachother. Then there were other times that I was about to cry my eyes out cause I couldn’t believe what was happening. In the end I believe Carter wrote a perfect ending and my heart and head were happy.

I just want to thank Rachel Carter for giving us a great adventure these last few years and I will be recommending this series to every YA reader out there. Can’t wait to see what else she has in store for the future. Till then I will be patiently waiting. 🙂

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Top Ten Tuesday: Authors We’re Dying to Meet.

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Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Hey Everyone! We are back for another Top Ten Tuesday this last week of March and this weeks theme is authors we are dying to meet. I don’t know about most of you but I haven’t been lucky enough to meet some of my favorite authors. Neither of us is super near a big city so it would be a little drive to get to some of these book signings but…. these authors here would be totally worth it! We decided to do a combined list this week since we would probably have most of the same authors. So without further ado…. Ten Authors We are Dying to Meet:

J.K. Rowling

Sarah J. Maas

A. C. Gaughen

Marie Lu

Marissa Meyer

Leigh Bardugo

Usher S. Evans

Suzanne Collins

Jodi Meadows

Rachel E. Carter

QUESTION: What authors are you dying to meet? Have you met any on our list?

Feature Friday: Books that are Green!

Hey everybody! It’s a new month and for us here at Midwestern Book Nerd that means a new feature Friday. Yipee!! So, we were throwing ideas back and forth and the one we decided on went with the major holiday in March. (No we are not talking about PI day, which is delicious and educational) We are talking about St. Patrick’s Day! And whenever you think of St. Patrick’s Day, you think of the color green, right?! We decided it would be a cool month to talk about books that are green. We will bounce back and forth between green books that we have read and enjoyed and green books that we have got to read.

So…what green books do we have for you this week? (hint, these are both some that we have read!)

Arika:

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The green book I chose was Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire. I have always loved a book that is based off of favorite stories from when I was younger. I loved the movie Wizard of Oz and the whole other world of Oz. When I found out about Wicked, I knew I would have to read it. I have never seen the play before, so my basis of opinion is solely on the book itself. It was a really cool way to think of how the Wicked Witch became the way she did. How there were different aspects in her life that shaped and formed her. I loved all the characters and the different places she went in her story. It was a long read but the overall story was very intriguing and totally worth the read.
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Emily:

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This week I have selected The Glass Arrow by Kristen Simmons. This book has a little bit of everything that I love…action, adventure, drama, and swoons. Plus, did you know it’s a standalone!? That’s right! You wouldn’t be committing to a whole series. Do I think she could write more books in this world? Most definitely. Would I read them? Absolutely. Am I going to live if this doesn’t happen? I suppose. This book has a seriously strong female who shows just what she is willing to do to save the ones she loves. It’s a book that is known for some female empowerment, but I think it is done in a good way. Not in a way that brings others around them down, but that makes women look fairly awesome. It shows their strength in trying times, and honestly…it doesn’t say that men are garbage even though it probably could have if it wanted to. Not all men are garbage, but this is a topic for another time. This book has a male character that just works so well with the female. He doesn’t force anything and there is a trust that is built between them. This book is full of twists, turns, and heartaches and is 1000% worth your time (yes, 1000%).

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Question: What is your favorite green book?

The Last Celebration of Love….with Arika!

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Here we are, the last Friday in February and the last post here at Midwestern Book Nerd for our Celebration of Love! Over the past month we have talked about some of our favorite book couples. For Emily’s two posts, she has talked about Rob and Scarlet from the Scarlet series by A.C. Gaughen and Theo and Gailan from the Madion War Trilogy by S. Usher Evans. Both are great couples and I agree with Emily that everyone should pick up these two series if you haven’t read them! My first post talked about a couple that has stolen my heart…Feyre and Rhys from A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas. (Talk about getting hit in the feels for that second book, I still keep coming back to parts in that book that get me every time!). All three are great couples to talk about for our celebration of love. But with that being said, we have one more Friday and one more couple to talk about!

For me, it was a tough choice for my second and final couple to reminisce about in our Celebration of Love. I kept flip-flopping between multiple ones because there are so many couples that really tug on my heart-strings. But in the end, I decided to go with a certain couple that I just kept coming back to in my mind. Not only is this couple totally meant for eachother but when you add in a school of magic and a prince, it’s a love worth talking about!

My final couple is Ryiah and Darren from the Black Mage series by Rachel E. Carter. (And PSSSST….the final book came out earlier this month, it is a must read guys, A MUST READ!)

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While I have yet to finish the series because my tbr list is crazy, the last book and novella are next on my pile of books!! I can not wait to finish this series and see the ending unfold. Though I must say I have followed this series since the beginning, I have fallen in love with this couple each time a new book in the series came out. Here are just some reasons why I love this couple and you should too:

  1. They Grow Together – If you have read the books you know that this definitely wasn’t an insta-love. Ryiah thinks that Darren gets whatever he wants because he is the son of the king or as she calls him “non-heir” (my favorite nickname :)), while Darren doesn’t seem to be a fan of her at first either. But they end up growing closer together over the series. Helping each other get through different obstacles while in school learning about their magic. And also helping each other after the Academy was over and they were competing for being the top mage. But overall it was a slow growth of love and affection and it was great. I love when a relationship is developed over a series and isn’t just instantly there.
  2. They Compete with Each Other – What I love about this couple is that they don’t back down from each other even though they like the other person. Ryiah, no matter how head over heals for Darren she is, still wants to be better than him. And the fact that Darren competes right back I think makes them more perfect for each other. It makes them work hard and be better than if one person let the other win.
  3. They Chose Each Other –  Both of them had different people they could have gone too (and frustrating as a reader you know those weren’t the people they should be with!). And at one point you don’t know if they will be together…it definitely played with your heartstrings! But it always came down to one thing, they kept choosing to be with the other person. It was almost like they had a unnatural pull for the other. I really can’t imagine Ryiah or Darren choosing anyone else in this series. It would just be really weird.

If you have the chance to pick up this series, I HIGHLY recommend it!!! You can find the first book on Amazon for $0.99 right now!!!

I hope everyone enjoyed our Celebration of Love this month and can’t wait to come up with our next Feature Friday theme!

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QUESTION: Have you read this series? What is your all time favorite couple?