Bout of Books 19…here we go again.

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Welcome back. Next week starts one of the best read-a-thons I have participated in throughout my blogging journey. BY far the one I have participated in the most to date. Bout of Books is a fun, not to be missed read-a-thon that lasts for one week–from Monday, the 8th to Sunday, the 14th.

*The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 8th and runs through Sunday, May 14th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 19 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team*

This time around, as my reading has immensely dipped low to particularly non-existent, I will be challenging myself to read 4-6 books; no less, hopefully. If I read more, that would be amazing!!! I hate to admit I have only read about 3 books this YEAR. Ahhhh. For someone who could have easily read 70 books in a year; this is disastrous. Hopefully, with B.O.B. 19, I will rediscover my love of reading; as well as the time for it.

Let me know in the comments if you are participating! I would love a buddy/buddy accountability partner.

 

Good luck and have a great week!

-Indie

I’m back to reading…a bout of books

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After a long, long absence, I am recommitting myself to reading and you, my dear readers. To kick off this monumental year that will be 2017, I am participating in A Bout of Books read-a-thon again. I have st a goal of 5 books to read throughout this week. To jump start my reading, I will be finishing Red Queen (Alice #2)  by Christina Henry.

If you are unfamiliar with what Bout of Books is…

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 2nd and runs through Sunday, January 8th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 18 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

I hope you join me in the fun! I will be trying to get back here every day or every other day for updates, reviews, and for some fun.

 

Happy New Year everyone! I hope it’s a great year for you. I see lots of good rading in your future.

 

XO,

Indie

 

Down the Rabbit Hole We Go; Alice by Christina Henry

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Alice

By: Christina Henry

Released: August, 2015 published by Ace

Genre: Fantasy/Sci-fi/Horror

Length: 291 pages

Rating: Five Stars

Acquired: purchased

“You’re only a mouse if you let them make you one.”

Christina Henry’s Alice is not your average retelling of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Alice is a patient at an institution in the “old city” of this alternate universe. The old city is full of nothing but mob bosses, felons, and the struggling people. The New City is where the rich live. The people who lived in a peaceful society protected by Ministers. Once a citizen of that part of society, Alice is now trapped. Trapped with a large scar on her cheek and no memory of events that led her to here. As it turns out, the rabbit marked her. Marked her as his own after she took his eye out. But, how did she meet this Rabbit? And, who exactly is he?

With returning favorites like the Rabbit, Caterpillar, Jabberwocky, and Walrus, you are also introduced to Hatcher. A killer with a penchant for axes, he is Alice’s “cellmate” next door. Attached to the Jabberwocky, Hatcher is an interesting character. He has no problem killing. In fact, I think he might get off on it. Alice, on the other hand, is thankfully appalled. Their chemistry is undeniable, though. Even from the start as they communicated through a mouse hole. I really loved them together. They were completely different, but worked in such a powerful way. The last page of the book is fantastic. The way the words form on the page is great.

Henry has a fresh voice not to be missed or overlooked. This is one of those stories that can stand alone from the Alice in Wonderland world. I think that’s what I liked best about it. This wasn’t your average retelling. It didn’t retell the story with just one or two elements changed. Oh, no. It was completely reimagined.  Yes, some of our favorite characters return, but they return in a completely unique way. No longer do they stand for what they once did.

This new world was not Wonderland. Nor, was it mentioned really at all. I think I liked that a lot. It was a refreshing read. After reading a previous retelling I wasn’t too fond of, this made me love the world Carroll created even more. I can’t wait for the sequel, Red Queen. I am hooked on Henry’s writing. It is powerful, shocking, and terrifically horrific. Considered fantasy/ Sci-fi for there are magicians and this alternate universe, it reads more like a light horror book with thrills added in. I can’t recommend this enough for fans of Alice in Wonderland. Even fans of horror, fantasy, and Sci-fi.

I know I am constantly saying read this. Read that. But, really, read this! You won’t regret it in the least. Borrow it or buy it; this is a book not to be missed. I wish I read it sooner. But, then again now I have a shorter wait to reading the sequel.

Happy reading!

-Indie

Hooked on Reading… 2016 Virtual Adult Summer Reading Program

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This summer Octavia from Read. Sleep. Repeat. and Valerie from He Said Books or Me is sponsoring 2016 Virtual Adult Summer Reading Program (#VASRP) for the first time. This reading program/challenge seems as though it would be really fun. The topic for this year’s program is “Get Hooked on Reading” which is a great first tagline for a program like this. The reading levels are varied, and have, of course catchy titles.

Guppy Read 1 to 5 books
Minnow Read 6 to 10 books
Fishing Jig Read 11 to 16 books
Spin Bait Read 17 to 24 books
Book Worm (ha get it!) Read 25 or more books

I’m aiming for Spin Bait Read to (hopefully) Book Worm. I would like to read at least 25 books. My goal this year was 30 books in total; but I want to go over that to at least 52. Always have a reach goal. It makes for a great sense of accomplishment when you reach that bonus mark. It’s truly rewarding.

I also have a hefty list of books I would like to read soon; and for this month alone. I have ten books, at least, I want to read. I am a little behind on my goal, but I think I can catch up. I’m a fast reader.

I am really excited for this program as I miss my old summer reading program. I remember always succeeding, sometimes exceeding. Reading is truly a passion one should not give up on. You get so much out of it–if you really pay attention that is.

I hope you join in this amazing program/challenge. There will be fun prizes and challenges throughout. Keep an eye out for my posts on challenges one and two coming up shortly.

Happy reading!

-Indie

This is No Ordinary Love..Story; Another Day by David Levithan Book Review

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Another Day (Every Day #2)

By: David Levithan

Released:  August 25th 2015 by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers

Length: 327 pages

Rating: Five Stars

Acquired: BEA 2015/ netgalley

 

“Maybe this is what we’ve needed all along. Distance from everything else, and closeness to each other.”

In David Levithan’s companion novel to best seller Every Day, Another Day takes the readers on Rhiannon’s journey of navigating love, both new and old from a fresh perspective. Unlike companion novels, such as Just One Year by Gayle Forman, this work is a somewhat retelling of Every Day instead of a what happened next novel from the opposite perspective. It is  as every bit creative and insightful as Levithan’s previous works, especially Every Day.

The reader really gets the opportunity to be inside Rhiannon’s head and life. Trying to adjust to these budding feelings for A, an extraordinarily unique human being, Rhiannon also has to deal with the complications of her current relationship with her distant, troubled boyfriend, Justin. There is a great scene between Rhiannon and her best friend where the best friend discusses Rhiannon’s relationship with Justin in an honest way. It’s not often people are completely up front about certain feelings regarding other friends’ relationships. It was refreshing to read that. I did shout, “You go girl,”  because while powerful, a little mean, but true, her message translates universally. Something Levithan specializes in.

The good thing about Another Day, and Every Day, is you can start with either one, I think. It is clear what the condition is that A has as much as it can be, in both novels. You are told in two ways–once per novel– who, what A is; so if you do decide to start with Rhiannon’s story, you won’t be totally clueless. You’ll have some idea, just not in the full capacity of how A himself explains it in his narrative.

It’s no secret that I am a huge David Levithan fan; having read a majority of his published works. This may be one of his better novels. The series is, quite frankly. It is inventive, thought provoking, and something we need to see more in YA, or literature in general. I loved how Levithan’s character A has no gender. It’s not that he doesn’t see gender, he really has none because he changes bodies constantly. How this translates into Rhiannon’s views and acceptance of such a condition is flawless. There is an apparent struggle with accepting A as A–a boy or a girl on any given day. It wouldn’t be close to realistic if she didn’t have a problem, or hesitancy regarding A’s various identities.

Part fantasy/ sci-fi, this novel can also be categorized as realistic, teen fiction. The concept of A may be unusual, but everything else is real. The struggles, the successes, and the love. I can’t recommend this book, and series, enough. Both characters tell interesting stories. Stories you don’t won’t to miss out on reading.

I loved this novel. It would make a great standalone. The end. The end! Once again, Levithan pulls us in with a cliff hanger of sorts that leaves readers like myself wanting more. If you haven’t read Every Day, you won’t know how the end leaves off. But, it’s a good one. However, it doesn’t continue over to the second book. I think Levithan is writing a third, from what he told me at a signing. This will, hopefully, tie in the two cliff hanger endings.

This series should not be missed. The  way Levithan tackles topics it explores, such as gender identity, abusive relationships, and first and second loves, is a great start to better understanding these on your own. I can see either, hopefully both though, books being taught in High School. The tackled topics are so important, universal, and important to learn. Especially when it comes to understanding gender, gender norms, and gender constraints. Another Day tackles these topics a little more heavily than in Every Day because it is about someone who has an assigned, accepted gender that may fall for a person who has none, while both at the same time. Things can get messy!

Please, just read this. You won’t regret it, I promise.

There She Goes: After Alice by Gregory Maguire

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After Alice

By: Gregory Maguire

Released: October, 2015 by William Morrow

Length: 273

Rating: Two Stars

Acquired: BEA 2015

 

“The day is wound up and begins even before the last haunted dreams, the last of the fog, those spectral and evanescent residues, have faded away.”

 After Alice takes place in an alternate universe where Alice was followed down the rabbit hole. Ada had hoped to find her only friend to play with. What Ada sees instead as she spots Alice, is her falling through this strange hole. Curious, and maybe even worried for Alice, little Ada jumps in to save her. What Ada soon discovers is a strange place called Wonderland where she meets talking flowers, a Mad Hatter, and the Red Queen as she seeks to find and save Alice. What ensues is a journey unlike Alice’s from the original text.

Ada’s journey, although a bit fanciful, is slightly dull. She mostly just questions everyone. Although not spineless, she doesn’t necessarily have a courageousness to her. While she is inquisitive, she tends to accept things and follow the leader. I wasn’t impressed with this narrative. But, to be fair, it was more exciting than the second narrative of that of her sister trying to find her with a new visitor by her side.

My, how bland! I passed certain parts as they were uninteresting. It was mostly just Ada’s sister bashing her for disappearing again. There wasn’t much to this narrative. There was a present day twist that was interesting, but it was towards the end. If you gave up on this book, the same way as I almost did a few times, you haven’t missed much. If you haven’t read this book yet, but want to, might I suggest the adult fantasy series by Christina Henry instead. Ada is not exactly featured, but the concept is certainly different and unique. I will be writing a review within the next couple of weeks.

Maguire fails to hit the proverbial mark. Although at times entertaining, or more so surprising, it didn’t capture this big fan of the original text. I had hoped for so much more from this book. Maybe because I had created hype for myself, but honestly it’s not worth a read. There are too many spots where one might want to give up. The first forty or so pages were hard to get through! If you make it past that, you are possibly in the clear to continue. But, it will drag. The twist at the end is the only redeeming part; and why I decided to give it two stars.

Where a Miniature House Can Tell So Many Truths: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

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The Miniaturist

By: Jessie Burton

Released: August, 2014 by Ecco

Length: 416 Pages

Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction- 17th Century Amsterdam

Rating: Five Stars

Acquired: via publisher

What would you do, if at eighteen, you just get married to a man you hardly know? To a man who isn’t around? Nella Oortman is faced with those questions and more. When her husband finally returns from sea, he gives her the strangest wedding gift–a miniature replica of their house. Once a miniaturist is sought out to make the furniture, it is then secrets start to tally up. How does the miniaturist know? How does he or she predict these things? 

Taking place within three months in 1686 Amsterdam, The Miniaturist takes a deep look at what it was like for the working to high middle class at the time. Full of secrets, twists, and back-stabbing intrigue, this debut is not to be missed. Nella starts off as a small voiced, scared newlywed who is afraid of her older, much more out spoken sister in law Marin. With brilliant character development, and a more brilliant twist, the reader is taken on a surprise journey with these two women. Not to mention how the marriage goes! This book is full of plot twists that take you aback. You won’t expect a single thing that happens, which makes this book ever more engaging and fun to read.

Burton’s writing is fresh, imaginative,  and daring. With one of her plot twists, she goes there. Really, really goes there where most authors, established or not, would be hesitant or afraid to. But, not Burton. She takes it to the unexpected, especially for that time period. The way she did it was highly successful in my opinion. I was shocked, surprised, and not at all in disagreement with her choice. I was impressed with what she did, actually. That wasn’t the only plot twist where she pushed the envelope, either. She wrote one more thing, where in today’s time would not be too big of a controversy, but in 1686, big big big controversy. And, it worked! It wasn’t put in the story just to push our limits. It made complete sense.

I loved this book. I loved everything about it. The plot twists impressed me. The writing was astonishingly good for a first time author. The characters developed perfectly. The end was nicely open ended for the readers. There wasn’t a thing I could complain about. I was completely invested. It was hard not to be. The first page alone pulls you in by starting with a funeral for someone who apparently has no friends. You have to think who it is for. It’s that good. It pulls you in that fast. I’m going to say it. This book was one of my favorite reads of this year. It was that good. I can’t recommend it enough. It will pull you in; leave you wanting more. If there is one historical fiction novel you read this year, I honestly think this is the one you should read. It isn’t about Kings or Queens. Treason and the like. It is about people like us. Finally, a historical fiction novel we can relate to!

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