Review: Ana of California by Andi Teran

15th Jul 2015 Morgan @ Gone with the Words 2015, Reviews, Reviews by Morgan

Review: Ana of California by Andi TeranAna of California by Andi Teran
Published by Penguin Books
Pub Date: June 30th 2015
Pages: 368
Format: eARC | Source: NetGalley
Genres: Adult Fiction
Buy the book! | Goodreads

In the grand tradition of Anne of Green GablesBridget Jones’s Diary, and The Three Weissmanns of Westport, Andi Teran’s captivating debut novel offers a contemporary twist on a beloved classic. Fifteen-year-old orphan Ana Cortez has just blown her last chance with a foster family. It’s a group home next—unless she agrees to leave East Los Angeles for a farm trainee program in Northern California.

When she first arrives, Ana can’t tell a tomato plant from a blackberry bush, and Emmett Garber is skeptical that this slight city girl can be any help on his farm. His sister Abbie, however, thinks Ana might be just what they need. Ana comes to love Garber Farm, and even Emmett has to admit that her hard work is an asset. But when she inadvertently stirs up trouble in town, Ana is afraid she might have ruined her last chance at finding a place to belong.

Thank you to Penguin Books and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this title.

Confession: I’ve never read Anne of Green Gables although my mom tried to get me to watch Avonlea as a child. But I always meant to and I like to read retellings and modern twists on stories. I was drawn to Ana of California by the premise, as well as the lush summer feel of the cover. Unfortunately this book wasn’t for me and I wasn’t able to finish, but I can definitely see it working for the right reader!

The writing was lovely; I really loved the descriptions of Garber Farm and Hadley. Living in Northern California, I’ve seen similar small communities and can picture the quaintess of the town. And the delightful description of Abbie’s kitchen reminded me of a rustic Pinterest wedding or an HGTV kitchen! Well-built, farm chic, and cozy. Abbie was my favorite character; she had an interesting backstory and lots of warmth, while I didn’t feel like we got to know Emmett as well.

I had mixed feelings about Ana. I appreciated her story and learning about her difficult life and her attempt to make Garber Farms a good situation. But the way she talked confused me; she sounded naive and too adult all at once. It was the way she spoke and her choice of words, but maybe that came from all her time spent in the library. And the extreme politeness seems like a product of her experience in the foster home system. But something about her speech didn’t ring true to me, sounding weirdly poetic. I liked her as a character though! And I liked her willingness to work hard and open up to new people.

This is a slower-paced, read-it-on-the-beach-or-back-porch kind of novel, which is perfect for summer. I had some trouble connecting emotionally with the characters but I think readers looking for diversity mixed with nostalgia for an old favorite wrapped in picturesque writing will enjoy Ana of California. I hope the book will work for you if you decide to give it a try!

 

 

Morgan @ Gone with the Words

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Review: Rook by Sharon Cameron

15th Jun 2015 Morgan @ Gone with the Words 2015, Reviews, Reviews by Morgan

Review: Rook by Sharon CameronRook by Sharon Cameron
Published by Scholastic
Pub Date: April 28th 2015
Pages: 456
Format: ARC | Source: Publisher
Genres: Dystopian, Fantasy, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
4 Stars

History has a way of repeating itself. In the Sunken City that was once Paris, all who oppose the new revolution are being put to the blade. Except for those who disappear from their prison cells, a red-tipped rook feather left in their place. Is the mysterious Red Rook a savior of the innocent or a criminal?

Meanwhile, across the sea in the Commonwealth, Sophia Bellamy’s arranged marriage to the wealthy René Hasard is the last chance to save her family from ruin. But when the search for the Red Rook comes straight to her doorstep, Sophia discovers that her fiancé is not all he seems. Which is only fair, because neither is she.

As the Red Rook grows bolder and the stakes grow higher, Sophia and René find themselves locked in a tantalizing game of cat and mouse.

I loved Sharon Cameron’s debut The Dark Unwinding and its sequel, A Spark Unseen, so I was sure I would love Rook too! It’s a Scarlet Pimpernel retelling set in an alternate Parisian dystopian future that reads more like historical fiction- it feels like the French Revolution. In other words, it’s very unique and very wonderful.

The pacing plods a bit in the middle but for the most part the adventure is thrilling, the stakes are impossibly high, and the romance is swoonworthy. Sophia is an exemplary heroine who is at once easy to relate to and braver than I could ever be. The cat-and-mouse game throughout the book led so much tension to the story as well! You never knew who you could trust and that made it exciting.

The world building also made a lot of sense and I like how we slowly learned more about the world of Rook as the story progressed. It takes place about 1,000 years after the modern day; polar shifts caused massive solar radiation and the elimination of all things digital and electronic, including satellites crashing to Earth. They refer to this period as the Time Before, and to “us” as the Ancients. Parts of the story take place in the Commonwealth and the rest in the Sunken City (aka Paris).

I wanted to highlight some of my favorite quotes that illustrate this unique otherness of a future historical.

Tom’s sanctuary, as he called it, deep beneath Bellamy House, a room that was nothing but Ancient. Light moved over walls tiled with white and artificial red- the red seen only in artifacts from the Time Before- arched doorways block with gray stone…” p. 70, finished copy


In this same chapter King’s Cross is mentioned (p.74) and the fact that Bellamy House was built on top of a town or city before the cliffs existed, which leads me to believe this is in fact London! And that his hideout is a former Underground station!

He thought the cross and brightly colored pieces were meant to be pushed, though for what purpose neither of them could imagine and he’d had no success looking for the word ‘Nintendo’ in the university archives. It was beautifully worked, though. Like a piece of art.” p. 71, finished copy


This made me giggle and I read it aloud to my husband- it’s a video game controller! From the more detailed description, I think it’s an N64 controller.

It was really fun to pick out all of these allusions to very common place things in our society- including magic disks with thousands of pictures hidden inside. It helped remind me that this was in fact, a future setting because the 18th century French historical aspects were so convincingly well-done.

And just for funsies, I had to cast Sophia Bellamy, her brother Tom, and the striking Rene Hasard!

Minka Kelly as Sophia Bellamy: Sophia is described as an 18 year old with caramel skin, deep brown eyes, and soft brown curls, not to mention a hell of a lot of gumption.

Sam Claflin as Tom Bellamy: Tom looks just like his sister, so much so that they could be twins.

Gabriel Aubrey (with a little color correction) as Rene Hasard: Rene is a bit older than Sophia with dark russet hair and very blue eyes.

A second excellent choice would be Sam Heughan but he’s busy being everyone’s favorite Scot Jamie Fraser. This picture of Sam and Catriona Balfe does remind me of Sophie and Rene, however! Mainly the chemistry and expressions; they capture their spirit so well.

If you love great storytelling, strong and secretive characters, romantic sizzle, historical France, or spy adventures, you have to read Rook!

Have any of you read Rook? Do you plan to? Let me know!

 

Morgan @ Gone with the Words

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Morgan’s May Challenge Updates!

12th Jun 2015 Morgan @ Gone with the Words 2015, FairytaleRC2015, FlightsofFantasy2015, ReRead2015

Morgan’s May Challenge Updates!

My reading month for May was insane! I read 12 books and I couldn’t be happier about it. It’s double what I’ve read any other month this year. I basically decided to stop feeling guilty and let myself read what I want. That included some non challenge books (you can find my ratings on Goodreads):

Run Away by Laura Salters– an NA psychological thriller out of my comfort zone. Check out my review here!

Past Perfect by Leila Sales– got this from my #OTSPSecretSister and it was really cute! I loved the historical reenactment setting

Ms. Marvel: Volume One by G. Willow Wilson– I’m slowly branching out into comic books (mostly Marvel, mostly lady-centric) and I loved reading the start of Kamala Khan’s adventures.

Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty– a lovely surprise of a historical MG book, out this July. I’ll post a review closer to the release date but will leave you with this: Marvelous, different, scary, descriptive, old-fashioned, and wonderful.

The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord– LOVED THIS SO MUCH. It spoke to me in a variety of ways and I just really love Max Watson, ok.

This is what Max looks like in my head. How you doin’?

 

As for my challenges…

2015 Flights of Fantasy Reading Challenge

Flights of Fantasy (1 book) #flightsoffantasy

Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce– 4 stars. I just finished this last night and really enjoyed it! It was my first Tamora Pierce book and I can’t wait to dive into the sequel. The writing was a bit dry but I loved the characters and the snappy dialogue.

 

The 2015 Re-Read Challenge

The Re-Read Challenge (2 books) #ReRead2015

Something I did all month! You know nothing, Ygritte.

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine– 5 stars (also counts for #fairytaleRC)- my favorite book before Harry Potter and it was even better than I remembered!  I was swept away again on this magic journey and I loved every second. Gail Carson Levine’s writing is wonderful and whimsical and never feels too young. And oh my god I love Prince Char and Ella!!! They are so wonderful.

The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes– 5 stars (also counts for #365DaysofYA)-  I marked a bazillion of my favorite Micah/Lainey moments, including my always favorite soccer scene. Such a great book with relatable characters and sizzling chemistry!

 

2015 Fairytale Retelling Reading Challenge

Fairytale Retelling Reading Challenge (3 books) #fairytaleRC

Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis– 4.5 stars (also counts for #365DaysofYA)- Such a pleasant surprise! I’m glad I gave it a chance.  I obviously see the Cinder/Lunar Chronicles comparisons but it stood on its own for me. Essie was a really awesome character and I loved the politics and worldbuilding. I also loved Dane and Dimwit! I wanted more of the characters but it’s also nice to have a standalone for once.

Grounded: The Adventures of Rapunzel by Megan Morrison– 5 stars. I’m planning a review of this book soon because I loved it so much. If you love fairy tales, adventure, whimsy, emotionally complex characters, and imaginative worldbuilding, you have to read Grounded!

 

 

365 Days of YA Reading Challenge (3 books) #365DaysofYA

Rook by Sharon Cameron– 4 stars. This is actually a Scarlet Pimpernel retelling set in an alternate Parisian dystopian future that reads more like historical fiction! In other words, it’s very unique and very wonderful. The pacing plods a bit in the middle but for the most part the adventure is thrilling, the stakes are impossibly high, and the romance is scintillating and swoonworthy. I’m planning a review of this one as well!

The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West– 3.5 stars. Very cute! I really loved Bec and I liked Gia’s character arc a lot. And I’m a little in love with Hayden. A lot. The rest of the characters felt superficial and the stakes weren’t too high but it was fun to read!

 

Did we read any of the same books? What was your favorite book in May?

 

 

Morgan @ Gone with the Words

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Review: The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker

8th Jun 2015 Morgan @ Gone with the Words 2015, Reviews, Reviews by Morgan

Review: The Witch Hunter by Virginia BoeckerThe Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker
Series: The Witch Hunter #1
Published by Little, Brown BfYR
Pub Date: June 2nd 2015
Pages: 368
Format: ARC | Source: Author
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
4.5 Stars

The magic and suspense of Graceling meet the political intrigue and unrest of Game of Thrones in this riveting fantasy debut.

Your greatest enemy isn't what you fight, but what you fear.

Elizabeth Grey is one of the king's best witch hunters, devoted to rooting out witchcraft and doling out justice. But when she's accused of being a witch herself, Elizabeth is arrested and sentenced to burn at the stake.

Salvation comes from a man she thought was her enemy. Nicholas Perevil, the most powerful and dangerous wizard in the kingdom, offers her a deal: he will save her from execution if she can break the deadly curse that's been laid upon him.

But Nicholas and his followers know nothing of Elizabeth's witch hunting past--if they find out, the stake will be the least of her worries. And as she's thrust into the magical world of witches, ghosts, pirates, and one all-too-handsome healer, Elizabeth is forced to redefine her ideas of right and wrong, of friends and enemies, and of love and hate.

Virginia Boecker weaves a riveting tale of magic, betrayal, and sacrifice in this unforgettable fantasy debut.

Thank you so much to Virginia Boecker and Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for the ARC! Receiving it/knowing the author in no way influenced my opinions or review.

You guys, I LOVED this book! The Witch Hunter was lots of fun to read. It’s fantastic historical fantasy for fans of both genres with a surprising amount of humor mixed in with the darkness and magic, and of course a bit of romance! The book was exciting and a little predictable, but not necessarily in a bad way. More in that “”I love books like this”” kind of way. It’s a fast paced, atmospheric story with awesome characters that I was easily sucked into. There isn’t a ton of romance but it looks like there will be more in book 2 (it’s a duology).

A lot of the dialogue was much more sassy and humorous that I expected, but it never took away from the fantastic tension or spooky setting. I loved the curses and magic, as well as watching Elizabeth realize that her absolute views on wizards and witch hunting might not be so absolute after all. The characters all have this fascinating dynamic; I particularly loved John, George, and Elizabeth herself. I also loved the mysterious tomb! I need to know more!!!!

It also has a great historical feel to it, with names and concepts familiar to fans of English and European history twisted to fit this alternate version of 16th century England. For example, a magical reformation instead of the Protestant Reformation, Anglia and Gaul instead of England and France. And there are hidden history jokes too! Whenever I spotted one I giggled to myself like the history nerd that I am.

The Witch Hunter is not an epic fantasy so the Game of Thrones comparison seems like yet another marketing ploy. BUT it is a fantastic historical fantasy for fans of both genres, and for reluctant fantasy readers as well. It has just the right amount of magic and fantasy mixed with the alternate historical setting. I could see the Graceling and Throne of Glass comparions, as well as comparisons to Chantress. It might be for fans of Grave Mercy too but I haven’t read that yet (I know, I know!). I read The Witch Hunter way back in January and I’m anxiously awaiting my pre-ordered finished copy so I can read it again!

Bottom line: with strong world building and an exciting set-up, fans of historical fantasy will be clamoring for more of Elizabeth’s adventures in this darkly magical alternate England.



 

Morgan @ Gone with the Words

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Review: Run Away by Laura Salters + Giveaway!

15th May 2015 Morgan @ Gone with the Words 2015, Giveaways, Reviews, Reviews by Morgan

Review: Run Away by Laura Salters + Giveaway!Run Away by Laura Salters
Published by Witness Impulse
Pub Date: May 19th 2015
Pages: 320
Format: eARC | Source: Publisher
Genres: New Adult, Suspense
Buy the book! | Goodreads

"Ignorance is bliss…until there's blood involved."

Drenched in blood and sitting in the sweltering interview room of a Thai police station, Kayla Finch knows that Sam, the love of her life, is dead. It doesn't matter that there's no body. All that blood can mean only one thing.

It isn't the first time Kayla's had blood on her hands. After finding her brother dead by his own hand, she tried to outrun her grief by escaping to Thailand. Heartbroken, the last thing she expected was to find love on the smoggy streets of Bangkok. But everyone Kayla loves seems to wind up dead.

Returning home to England, Kayla is left with a barely-functioning family, a string of gruesome nightmares, and the niggling feeling that nothing is as it seems. And as she confronts her brother's suicide, she starts to suspect that something is very wrong.

Three months. Two tragedies. One connection: there's more to both cases than anyone is willing to admit. And Kayla's determined to uncover the truth…no matter what the cost.

First of all, if you love twisty, intense psychological thrillers, you must read Run Away! It was definitely out of my reading comfort zone and while I had a few personal issues with it, I’m glad I read it.

The opening is straight up fantastic- it’s descriptive, intense, and filled with suspense. I could feel Kayla’s distress, see the blood drenched carpet, feel her anxiety at being questions by Thai police. It definitely grabbed my attention.

I loved the structure of the book with alternating past and present chapters. They go from Kayla currently in England to her experiences three months earlier in Thailand. It kept me turning the pages, always on a cliffhanger. I’m not sure I would say that I connected with any of the characters, but Kayla and her friends had a good dynamic and I liked the diversity of the group.

One surprise is that the language was not Americanized at all, it’s very British (the author is from England). I liked the added authenticity but didn’t expect it for some reason! I was also surprised at how crass the language was at parts, in a rather descriptive way. There was also heavy mention of suicide, drugs, sex, attempted rape, and debilitating illnesses- it was very NA and not my usual cup of tea. However, Laura Salters is such a brilliant writer that it made me want to figure out how the mystery was going to unfold because let me tell you, I had NO idea how it all fit together. And I always love that. I absolutely raced through the last 25% of the book.

In a nutshell: If you are a fan of mysteries, psychological thrillers, world travel (Thailand in particular), twists, and heavy themes/elements, you will really enjoy Run Away! And just throwing it out there: people named Oliver are the worst (see also: The OC).

 

Giveaway

eBook copy of RUN AWAY by Laura Salters

 

 

 

Morgan @ Gone with the Words

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Review: Lion Heart by A.C. Gaughen

11th May 2015 Morgan @ Gone with the Words 2015, FairytaleRC2015, Reviews, Reviews by Morgan

Review: Lion Heart by A.C. GaughenLion Heart by A.C. Gaughen
Series: Scarlet #3
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Pub Date: May 19th 2015
Pages: 348
Format: ARC | Source: Publisher
Genres: Historical, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
5 Stars

The eagerly-awaited conclusion to the Scarlet trilogy delivers another action-packed and romance-filled adventure.

Scarlet has captured the hearts of readers as well as the heart of Robin Hood, and after ceaseless obstacles and countless threats, readers will finally find out the fate of the Lady Thief.

Imprisoned by Prince John for months, Scarlet finds herself a long way from Nottinghamshire. After a daring escape from the Prince's clutches, she learns that King Richard’s life is in jeopardy, and Eleanor of Aquitaine demands a service Scarlet can’t refuse: spy for her and help bring Richard home safe. But fate—and her heart—won’t allow her to stay away from Nottinghamshire for long, and together, Scarlet and Rob must stop Prince John from going through with his dark plans for England. They can not rest until he’s stopped, but will their love be enough to save them once and for all?

First off, this is such a hard review to write without spoilers because I want to talk about EVERYTHING!!! *Ahem*

Lion Heart was everything the last book in a trilogy should be. It was epic in scope and emotion, it was fast paced but let you savor the special moments, and it brought a sense of closure. I love these characters fiercely and they go through hell AND high water to get to where they are but it makes their journey that much more amazing to read. Plus I loved the addition of new secondary characters, especially the banter between Allan and David.

I really love that this trilogy is a historical fiction retelling of a very popular legend. I love English history and Robin Hood is always fascinating. I love how AC Gaughen twisted it to make Scarlet such a powerful, important female figure in the myth. I’ll admit to have trouble not picturing Prince John as a lion though. Too many viewings of the Disney movie I guess!

I don’t want to spoil anything but if you haven’t read this series, you need to. The language takes some getting used to but it adds such an authentic flavor to the story. And the characters are simply amazing. Scarlet is one of a kind.

(Totally Scarlet, except she needs more knives.)

There is a lot of heartbreak but there’s also healing, hope, strength, dresses with space for hidden knives, and KISSING. Lots of kissing!

(If you only knew how badly I wanted that firefly ring when I was younger…)

I do wish that there was one more chapter or epilogue to tie up a few threads but I was satisfied for the most part with where Scarlet’s story is left. If you enjoy lots of deep emotion and shippy goodness, vile antagonists, and historical fiction, you must read the Scarlet trilogy. Lion Heart might be my favorite of them all.

 

Morgan @ Gone with the Words

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Morgan’s April Challenge Updates!

3rd May 2015 Morgan @ Gone with the Words 2015, FairytaleRC2015, FlightsofFantasy2015, ReRead2015

Morgan’s April Challenge Updates!

 

I’m continuing to kick butt with my my fantasy challenge, which is mildly surprising to me! I also managed to read more this month, even if a couple of the books were short.

 

 

2015 Flights of Fantasy Reading Challenge

The Ice Dragon by George R.R. Martin – 3 stars. Lovely, melancholy, slightly distant from the reader. Beautiful illustrations. And more than anything I’m convinced ice dragons (or an ice dragon) will have a role to play in The Winds of Winter.

A World of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin – 5 stars. See my review on Goodreads here. If you love A Song of Ice and Fire even a little bit, you need this book. It’s absolutely fascinating and overwhelming in the best way. Lots of details though we don’t get to learn everything because it’s written by a “maester” i.e. bias and gaps in knowledge. But we do get to learn a lot and it’s incredible! I’m convinced I could write term papers on the history written here. And the illustrations are sooooo beautiful. I will happily reread chunks of WOIAF to hold me over until Book 6.

The Shattered Court – 3 stars. See my review on Goodreads here. The cover lust was strong with this one! And the story sounded fabulous. Unfortunately, I feel like it only took off during the last 25% of the book. There was a lot of roooomance and sex and thinking about sex- not a lot of magic. While I wouldn’t say there was much real fantasy here, the historical tone and romance made for a mostly enjoyable read.

 

 

The 2015 Re-Read Challenge

#ReRead2015

 

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl – 5 stars. See my review on Goodreads here. The first time I remember reading this was in 4th grade when my teacher read it to the class. It’s always been a favorite of mine. I absolutely love Roald Dahl’s language and word usage. The puns, the silly writing style, the made up words are all so vibrant and descriptive and delightful! Oh how I love the candy names, I wanted to eat everything!!! I’m sure JK Rowling must have gotten some inspiration from him because Wonka’s candies would have fit right in at Honeydukes.

 

2015 Fairytale Retelling Reading Challenge

#fairytaleRC

 

Lion Heart by A.C. Gaughen – 5 stars. My review will be going live on the blog in a couple weeks! Stay tuned! Preview: Lion Heart was everything the last book in a trilogy should be. If you enjoy lots of deep emotion and shippy goodness, vile antagonists, historical fiction, and legend retellings, you must read the Scarlet trilogy. Lion Heart might be my favorite of them all.

 

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas – 5 stars. (Also for the #flightsoffantasy and #365DaysofYA challenge) See my review on Goodreads here. Only Sarah J Maas could make me care about fairies in not one, but TWO different series! The thing I found most striking about A Court of Thorns and Roses is that it is clearly a Sarah book while being independent from Throne of Glass. I don’t want to delve too much into the plot or consequences but suffice to say it is heart pounding, exhausting, wickedly romantic, viciously brutal, and a pleasure to read all the way around.  I also really loved spotting the Beauty and the Beast influences, of which I found many. They were woven into the story in the most delightful way. Also…. Tamlin is miiiine! I can’t see where the trilogy is headed- I have an inkling for book 2- but I’m excited to be along for the ride.

 

Morgan @ Gone with the Words

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Morgan’s March Challenge Updates!

28th Mar 2015 Morgan @ Gone with the Words 2015, FairytaleRC2015, FlightsofFantasy2015, ReRead2015

Morgan’s March Challenge Updates!

I did very well with my fantasy challenge- in fact, all three books I read this month were fantasies! They were also all 4.5-5 stars. It might have been a slow month but it was certainly excellent.

2015 Flights of Fantasy Reading Challenge

#flightsoffantasy

The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows – 4.5 stars. Also counts for #365DaysOfYA. OKAY WHERE TO START. I thought the first 150 pages were good. I was intrigued, wanted to keep reading, liked the characters but it felt ordinary. It was looking like a 3 star book for me. And then it became AMAZING. I loved Black Knife. Loved loved loved. I loved learning about the wraith and I loved Wil. I was worried she’d be Celaena 2.0 but she’s really and truly her own character. The similarities I felt to Throne of Glass became pluses very quickly instead of minuses. I liked all the intrigue and the political history. Also I WAS SOOOOO RIGHT ABOUT ONE THING. Took me awhile but I was right :D And now I understand why everyone freaks out at the end oh my goddddddd. Ahhhhhhh. I really liked this book a lot. So glad I read it. P.S. If you’ve read this AND A Dance with Dragons PLEASE TALK TO ME ON TWITTER. I have things to say!!!

In the Time of Dragon Moon by Janet Lee Carey – 5 stars. I wrote a in-depth review as part of the blog tour I participated in but here’s the short version: layered, interesting characters. Strong female lead. Lyrical writing. Magic. Brutal medieval fantasy setting. DRAGONS. Tragedy. Cultural differences. Fairies. Slow burn romance. If you love fantasy, you really should read this book and its predecessor Dragonswood!

 

The 2015 Re-Read Challenge

#ReRead2015

Check back next month, wah wahhhh. I still want to reread Throne of Glass. Or The Treachery of Beautiful Things. Or maybe I’ll start my Georgia Nicolson reread, ooer.

Georgia and Dave the Laugh by Budotty on Deviant Art.

 

2015 Fairytale Retelling Reading Challenge

#fairytaleRC

Dearest by Alethea Kontis – 5 stars. Such a fun mish mash of a series! I love all the different fairy tales Kontis pulls from for each book. There is always an overarching fairy tale- in this case, the Six Swans- but then she mixes in other influences as well. I spotted Peter Pan and Rapunzel references this time around. Check out my Bitsy Words post for more on Dearest! I love the Woodcutter family, can’t wait for Thursday’s story next.

 

Morgan @ Gone with the Words

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In the Time of Dragon Moon by Janet Lee Carey Blog Tour | Review ~ Giveaway

23rd Mar 2015 Morgan @ Gone with the Words 2015, Blog Tours, FlightsofFantasy2015, Giveaways, Reviews, Reviews by Morgan

In the Time of Dragon Moon by Janet Lee Carey Blog Tour | Review ~ Giveaway

In the Time of Dragon Moon by Janet Lee Carey Blog Tour | Review ~ GiveawayIn the Time of Dragon Moon by Janet Lee Carey
Series: Wilde Island Chronicles #3
Published by Kathy Dawson Books
Pub Date: March 24th 2015
Pages: 480
Format: ARC | Source: Blog Tour
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
5 Stars

Kathy Dawson Books is pleased to announce a rich medieval fantasy novel from an author whose work has been called “TRULY ORIGINAL . . . FANTASY AT ITS BEST.”

In the Time of Dragon Moon

A perfectly crafted combination of medieval history, mythology, and fantasy, set on Wilde Island, featuring  Uma Quarteney - a half Euit and half English girl, who has never been fully accepted by her Euit tribe - and Jackrun Pendragon - a fiery dragonrider with dragon, fairy, and human blood.

Beware the dark moon time when love and murder intertwine

All Uma wants is to become a healer like her father and be accepted by her tribe. But when the mad queen abducts her and takes her north, Uma’s told she must use her healing skills to cure the aging infertile queen by Dragon Moon, or be burned at the stake. Uma soon learns the queen isn’t the only danger she’s up against. A hidden killer out for royal blood slays the royal heir. The murder is made to look like an accident, but Uma, and the king’s nephew Jackrun, sense the darker truth. Together, they must use their combined powers to outwit a secret plot to overthrow the Pendragon throne. But are they strong enough to overcome a murderer aided by prophecy and cloaked in magic?

In the Time of Dragon Moon -- a tale of Love Magic and Murder

Praise for Janet Lee Carey’s new Fantasy

"The author’s world-building is detailed and fascinating, and Uma is a strong, admirable heroine. This is a must-purchase for libraries owning the earlier installments and a great choice for where teen fantasy is popular." –School Library Journal

"Humans, dragons and fey coexist on Wilde Island, but this uneasy peace masks a simmering, mutual distrust that surfaces after the English army abducts an Euit healer and his daughter to cure the aging queen's infertility—failure is not an option." –Kirkus Review

"In the Time of Dragon Moon is a story of courage and romance that readers will not soon forget. While Uma’s struggle to help the queen and save her people is intriguing, the depth of her character reaches much further, exploring issues of race, gender, and identity. The politics of Pendragon Castle and Wilde Island offer gripping mystery and adventure, while Uma’s relationship with Jackrun—and even her interactions with her father’s dragon, Vazan—create a rich and insightful protagonist. The text will be a sure favorite of fans of high fantasy." —Meghann Meeusen. VOYA review

Praise for first two books of the Wilde Island trilogy; Dragon’s Keep and Dragonswood

~ALA Best Book for Young Adults

“A remarkable achievement.”  –Lloyd Alexander, author of the Newbery Medal winner The High King

“Nonstop action may keep readers glued to this page-turner, but strong writing and character development are what will make it linger.” –School Library Journal, starred review

“Stunning, lyrical prose.” –Booklist, starred review

“Painful, cathartic and cautiously hopeful; a fairy tale for those who have given up on believing in them, but still yearn for happily ever after.” –Kirkus starred review

“The political intrigue, mythology of Merlin, and romances. . . will have readers racing toward the end and then going back to savor the events more slowly.” – SLJ, starred review

Find it: AmazonBarnes & NobleGoodreads

Thank you so much to Rockstar Book Tours, Kathy Dawson Books, and Janet Lee Carey for providing me with an arc to review!

In The Time of Dragon Moon was everything a fantasy book should be. It had magic, romance, action, and betrayal all wrapped in an engrossing fairy tale. It was also powerfully and beautifully written. I only wish the arc had a map for me to consult (but the finished copy will have one!). In the Time of Dragon Moon is actually sequel to Dragonswood, a gem that I found in the library one afternoon not knowing much about it. You can certainly read Dragon Moon separately and nothing about the story is diminished. However reading Dragonswood first adds so much nuance and history to the world and characters.

It’s set in this really interesting alternate medieval England ruled by the Pendragon family, who I believe are supposed to be descended from King Arthur. There are three islands that make up the country, along with fairies, dragons, and a native population, all of whom coexist uneasily with the English. It creates this environment rife with political and cultural tension, as well as lots of exhilarating action and sneaky character motives.

I loved Uma. She was such a strong, interesting character caught between two worlds in more ways than one. The pull between her English and Euit sides, and the pull between her womanhood and being a healer in her culture gave her this fascinating character arc. I liked watching her reconcile her fears and dreams and finding a path to follow that made her happy. I liked learning about the Euit culture, especially the animal moons and how they affected life. And her relationship with Queen Adela was chilling. It was filled with hated and mistrust along with sympathy and pity, her healer’s oath warring with her real feelings about the queen. But most of all I loved her relationship with Jackrun. They were both outcasts in a sense for different reasons and watching them learn to trust each other, to build a friendship, and the way Jackrun continually stood up for Uma while also respecting and nurturing her was wonderful. I looooved Jackrun!

My favorite part of the story was how Janet Lee Carey wove her unique dragon mythology into her alternate medieval setting. There are different types of dragons with their own dragon culture, some of whom treat with humans, some who won’t. And in the Pendragon bloodline, humans can be born with dragon scales and dragon traits. The fairies are less unique but no less interesting. They are magnanimous and beautiful and frightening. I loved the intermixing of species and cultures in the story; they each had their own part to play.

This book was just a wonderful concoction of history, magic, passion, brutality, forgiveness, love, and fantasy creatures. And even a murder mystery, I always love seeing how those are pieced together. If you enjoy lyrical prose, a fascinating cast of characters, rich worldbuilding, slow burn romance, and dragons, you have to read In The Time of Dragon Moon!

 

Book Trailer

 

Giveaway

2 winners! One will win a Signed copy of In The Time of Dragon Moon and Dragon Moon mug and one will win a Signed copy of In The Time of Dragon Moon and Dragon Moon mouse pad. US and Canada Only.

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Tour Schedule

Week One:

3/16/2015- Moonlight Gleam Reviews– Interview

3/17/2015- Seeing Double In Neverland– Review

3/18/2015- YA Bibliophile– Guest Post

3/19/2015- Owl Always Be Reading– Review

3/20/2015- Library of a Book Witch– Interview

Week Two:

3/23/2015- Gone with the Words– Review

3/24/2015- Bookhounds ya– Guest Post

3/25/2015- YA Series Insiders– Interview

3/26/2015- Please Feed The Bookworm– Review

3/27/2015- Two Chicks on Books– Guest Post

 

About Janet Lee Carey

Janet Lee Carey grew up in the bay area under towering redwoods that whispered secrets in the wind. When she was a child she dreamed of becoming a mermaid (this never happened).She also dreamed of becoming a published writer (this did happen after many years of rejection). She is now an award-winning author of nine novels for children and teens. Her Wilde Island Chronicles are ALA Best Books for Young Adults. She won the 2005 Mark Twain Award and was finalist for the Washington State Book Award. Janet links each new book with a charitable organization empowering youth to read and reach out. She tours the U.S. and abroad presenting at schools, book festivals and conferences for writers, teachers, and librarians. Janet and her family live near Seattle by a lake where rising morning mist forms into the shape of dragons. She writes daily with her imperious cat, Uke, seated on her lap. Uke is jealous of the keyboard. If Janet truly understood her place in the world, she would reserve her fingers for the sole purpose of scratching behind Uke’s ear, but humans are very hard to train. Author photo credit Heidi Pettit.

Morgan @ Gone with the Words

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Bitsy Words: Dearest by Alethea Kontis

20th Mar 2015 Morgan @ Gone with the Words 2015, Bitsy Words, FairytaleRC2015, Reviews, Reviews by Morgan

Bitsy Words: Dearest by Alethea Kontis

Bitsy Words: Dearest by Alethea KontisDearest by Alethea Kontis
Series: Woodcutter Sisters #3
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt BfYR
Pub Date: February 3rd 2015
Pages: 320
Format: eARC | Source: Publisher
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
5 Stars

In her third book about the delightful Woodcutter sisters, Alethea Kontis masterfully weaves "The Wild Swans," "The Goose Girl," and a few other fine-feathered fairy tales into a magical, romantic companion novel to Enchanted and Hero.

Readers met the Woodcutter sisters (named after the days of the week) in Enchanted and Hero. In this delightful third book, Alethea Kontis weaves together some fine-feathered fairy tales to focus on Friday Woodcutter, the kind and loving seamstress. When Friday stumbles upon seven sleeping brothers in her sister Sunday's palace, she takes one look at Tristan and knows he's her future. But the brothers are cursed to be swans by day. Can Friday's unique magic somehow break the spell?

Dearest by Alethea Kontis is the 3rd book in the Woodcutter Sisters series and my favorite so far! I loved Friday Woodcutter and picking out the fairy tale influences in the story, from Peter Pan (her darlings!) to Rapunzel to the six swans.

I also liked how closely it related to the other two books though I had trouble recalling some of the incidents. I can’t wait to get the rest of the sister’ stories- Thursday the Pirate Queen is next! If you like sweetness, irreverent humor, fairy tale mashups, and romance you’ll enjoy the series. It requires suspension of disbelief in that fairy tale way but that’s part of the charm.


Even though Cornelius is a fairy, this reminded me of Friday and Tristan while I read :)

 

Morgan @ Gone with the Words

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books On Our Spring TBR Lists

16th Mar 2015 Morgan @ Gone with the Words 2015, Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Books On Our Spring TBR Lists

Today Morgan and I are talking about our top Spring TBR books and we’re excited about these!!

 

gwtw-heading-jess

Ok, so my history with these TBR posts is that I maybe will end up reading on or two from it, if any at times! Shameful, I know.  But these titles WILL get read, FOR SURE! How am I sure? I’m on a blog tour for each, haha. Also, I wanted to only put books I already have on my shelves, so not to be confused with my Spring wishlist.

This tour is shaping up to be SUPER fun! It’s going to consist of campaign stops and I will be the TEXAS stop on the tour! EEEP! I can’t wait!!

 

This sounds right up my alley! And it takes place in Austin, one of my favorite cities!

 

Romance! Yes! Bring it! And it has several fans already.

 

Romance and Fantasy! Two of my favorite things in one book!!

 

I’m not on a blog tour for this one but it’s OBVS a top book this Spring, amirite??

BONUS!

These two are March books that I borrowed from two dear friends. They WILL be read SOON! Then returned promptly. 

 

gwtw-heading-morgan

My TBR at any given point is, shall we say, overwhelming! And I have a lot I plan to read between my owned books, library books, and arcs. But I’m DETERMINED to definitely read these 5 titles this Spring!

I’m so looking forward to this book, I’ve heard nothing but amazing things and I’m a huge Throne of Glass fan. I’ll read anything Sarah writes!

 

One of those books I’m excited AND scared to read! The third book in a trilogy is so hard to get right but I know this will be fantastic. I’m preparing for lots of FEEEEELS. #Roblet

 

I adore retellings, alternate history, spies, intrigue, romance, and Sharon Cameron’s other books so this is sure to be up my alley! It sounds very intriguing and action packed.

 

Here lies Morgan, Queen of the Failed Buddy Read. Alyssa @ Swept Away By Books and I “read” this back in… November? She read it in 3 days and I’m on page 200 LOL. But I want to finish in time for Outlander Part 2! It’s sooo amazing to be back with Jamie, Claire, et. al. I don’t want to give spoilers so just know how much I’m dying to finish this heart pounding behemoth of a book.

 

I’m determined to read this before I use up all my library renewals! It was on my radar for awhile and everyone has positively exploded with good reviews of The Storyspinner so now I really have to read it. 

 

Jess @ Gone with the Words

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Review: The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury

6th Mar 2015 Morgan @ Gone with the Words 2015, FlightsofFantasy2015, Reviews, Reviews by Morgan

Review: The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda SalisburyThe Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury
Series: The Sin Eater’s Daughter #1
Published by Scholastic
Pub Date: February 5th 2015
Pages: 336
Format: ARC | Source: Publisher
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
4 Stars

Seventeen-year-old Twylla lives in the castle. But although she’s engaged to the prince, Twylla isn’t exactly a member of the court.

She’s the executioner.

As the Goddess embodied, Twylla instantly kills anyone she touches. Each month she’s taken to the prison and forced to lay her hands on those accused of treason. No one will ever love a girl with murder in her veins. Even the prince, whose royal blood supposedly makes him immune to Twylla’s fatal touch, avoids her company.

But then a new guard arrives, a boy whose easy smile belies his deadly swordsmanship. And unlike the others, he’s able to look past Twylla’s executioner robes and see the girl, not the Goddess. Yet Twylla’s been promised to the prince, and knows what happens to people who cross the queen.

However, a treasonous secret is the least of Twylla’s problems. The queen has a plan to destroy her enemies, a plan that requires a stomach-churning, unthinkable sacrifice. Will Twylla do what it takes to protect her kingdom? Or will she abandon her duty in favor of a doomed love?

As with most fantasy books I read, The Sin Eater’s Daughter was a bit hard to follow in the first chapter but very intriguing. I loved the world building and the descriptions- lots of vivid and dark sensory details. I also became quickly attached to Twylla and loved the unique concept of her role as the court executioner.

The Sin Eater’s Daughter is original, lush, twisty, tense and dangerous with a hint of the best fantasy tropes that we all love. I am not one to throw around comparisons lightly because it’s so easy to get burned, but I really feel like fans of Throne of Glass and Girl of Fire and Thorns would enjoy this new series.

I also appreciated that the marketing department didn’t compare it to Game of Thrones at all; it’s tired and often misleading. Ironically I did see shades of GoT in the story, including one horrifying scene that fans of the show will be able to spot. There are a few disturbing incidences in fact. And the Queen reminded me so much of Cersei Lannister while still being her own brand of twisted evil, which is frightening. She’s like a coiled snake waiting to strike, full of venom and self-righteousness.

I loved the beginning and end of the novel, but the middle lost me for a couple chapters. I was not a big fan of how the romance developed despite liking and caring for the characters. It was building with delicious tension and then moved way too fast from an emotional perspective. I won’t say more for spoiler reasons but this is the main reason I knocked off a star.

Odds and ends: there’s a lost kingdom!!! I really enjoyed the history of the land and the description of Loremere reminds me of Helms Deep. I LOVE legends in fantasy novels and need to know more about The Sleeping Prince! I loved the king. I loved the magic and tension and feeling of danger. And just when you think you’ve figured something out, HOLY PLOT TWIST(S) BATMAN! I can’t wait to see where Book 2 goes.

 

Morgan @ Gone with the Words

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From Our Shelves To Yours Giveaway – March 2015

2nd Mar 2015 Morgan @ Gone with the Words 2015, Giveaways

From Our Shelves To Yours Giveaway – March 2015

Time to give away a big box of books! I want to spread the bookish love and also make space for future favorites. This is a mixture of books I really enjoyed and a few that didn’t totally work for me but I know others would love! There’s historical fantasy, historical fiction, contemporary romance, dystopian, paranormal… in other words, a little bit of everything. May the odds be ever in your favor ;)

 

 

The Boyfriend App by Katie Sise
Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg
Glimpse by Kendra Leighton
Deception (ARC) by C.J. Redwine
Black City by Elizabeth Richards
Allegiant by Veronica Roth
The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett
Chantress by Amy Butler Greenfield
Witchstruck by Victoria Lamb
Manor of Secrets by Katherine Longshore
Landry Park by Bethany Hagen

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Morgan @ Gone with the Words

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Morgan’s February Challenge Updates!

28th Feb 2015 Morgan @ Gone with the Words 2015, FairytaleRC2015, FlightsofFantasy2015, ReRead2015

Morgan’s February Challenge Updates!

I ended up reading 5 books this month, just like January. I thought I’d be able to kick it up a notch but February said nope! Still, they were a good 5 books.

 

2015 Flights of Fantasy Reading Challenge

Flights of Fantasy
#flightsoffantasy

I read 2 and a half books (I’ll explain!), one of which was a reread.

The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury- 4 stars. This also counts for the #365DaysofYA Challenge. The Sin Eater’s Daughter is original and dark with a hint of the best fantasy tropes that we all love. It’s lush, twisty, romantic, and dangerous. The Queen could easily be sisters with Cersei Lannister, which is frightening. My full review will be going up next week but I really liked this new fantasy novel and can’t wait for the sequel! I had a slight problem with some of the romance but overall I would recommend it without reservation to a variety of fantasy fans, including Throne of Glass, A Girl of Fire and Thorns, and Game of Thrones (yes, really).

Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier– Disclaimer: I officially suck at readalongs. Sorry guys. I wanted to read Daughter of the Forest for so long and when it was time to start… my brain didn’t want to read. The writing is slow but beautiful, and even though the stories are not similar at all, something about the style of the story and the characters reminds me of A Game of Thrones. I think it’s the medieval feel, the lushness and somber tone of the writing, and the feeling of impending doom and gloom hanging over everyone from the start. I’m enjoying the book though and plan to finish at some point!

 

The 2015 Re-Read Challenge

The Re-Read Challenge
#ReRead2015

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling- 5 stars. This was my absolute favorite Harry Potter book until Half-Blood Prince and they are still neck in neck with each other! I think I would have to say that Prisoner of Azkaban has a slight edge. I loved Harry’s time in Diagon Alley (I want free ice cream from Florean Fortescue!). We get to meet Professor Lupin and travel to Hogsmeade. We learn about the Marauder’s Map and the horrors of dementors. We see glimpses of Cedric Diggory and Cho Chang. And most importantly, we learn all about Sirius Black. I love Sirius <3 This book has one of the most amazing dramatic climaxes in the Shrieking Shack- I LOVE reveals and revelations! And the craziness with the time turner in the last fourth of the book is just wow. To go back and see how it all fits together is brilliant. Definitely a favorite book of mine. Plus movie Harry has the best hair in Prisoner of Azkaban.

Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill- 5 stars. I first read MTB in April 2013 (during a day of jury duty actually!) and it was really the book that started my love of YA contemporary romance. I’m glad to say that it was better than I remembered! I worried that I wouldn’t like it as much when I first started again but once Julia and Jason’s adventure began I knew that wouldn’t be the case. It was even cuter! I had forgotten Jason singing at the graffiti area, and the record store and bookstore were soooo funny! And you know I love a good drunk scene. Their chemistry was amazing, and I loved watching their non-relationship morph into friendship and beyond. Plus knowing how it ends made it fun to follow the clues as I read. There were also a lot of You’ve Got Mail parallels that I hadn’t noticed before! And I adore the London setting of course. It was swoony and fun and a perfect reread for Valentine’s Day :) Wish it was a movie!!

 

2015 Fairytale Retelling Reading Challenge

Fairytale Retelling Reading Challenge
#fairytaleRC

Fairest by Marissa Meyer- 3.5 stars. I liked this book but I wanted more out of it. I think Marissa Meyer does an AMAZING job of connecting all her characters and each book, all the clues and foreshadowing she puts in. So I did really enjoy learning more about Levana and life on Luna. I don’t want to spoil anything; I just… wished it had ended in a different place. I would have liked more! But maybe that’s coming in Winter. I also thought Channary was absolutely horrible and almost worse than Levana! That was surprising. I always enjoy the Lunar Chronicles world and it was fun to get a bonus book basically! It was sad and tragic, but also very interesting and I loved the descriptions of Luna.

 

 

Morgan @ Gone with the Words

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Top Ten Tuesday: Book Related Problems I Have

16th Feb 2015 Morgan @ Gone with the Words 2015, Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Related Problems I Have

1. Well the first problem I have is obvious and universal: MY TBR IS TOOOO GINORMOUS. There are just so many books to read and not enough time! It’s only gotten worse once I discovered blogging and twitter. There are shinies everywhere! I even have a shelf for 2016 already. Problem, thy name is Morgan.
 

2. I feel guilty about various things all the time. It’s in my nature unfortunately. And this translates to my TBR pile. Every time I stare at my books I’m elated and also filled with immense guilt that I have so many I haven’t read yet. (Does it stop me from buying more? Nope.)

3. Even though my shelves are covered in books and more arrive all the time, I can’t resist the siren call of the library. Sometimes the books there are just as shiny! I’ve also found some real gems perusing the shelves.

4. I also have a burning desire to hoard books like a dragon. I love my collection. I love looking at it on my shelves and just knowing the pretties are mine! I’m not as neurotic about it as I used to be; I even have *GASP* unfinished series missing book 1! I try to be more discerning about whether I’ll ACTUALLY read it again someday or if I want it just to have it.

5. I’m a snob when it comes to the condition of my books. I like the corners to be crisp, the covers and pages unbent. Used books, not really my thing. I don’t like blatant creases or rips (omg I would cry). BUT the paradoxical thing is even though I won’t buy them that way, I don’t mind if I crack the paperback spines, or dog ear the pages of my own books.

6. Rereading and I have a funny history. As a kid, I’d read my favorite books over and over again. I can’t even count the amount of times I’ve read Harry Potter; it’s basically all I read in college. Nowadays I feel too guilty to indulge most of the time because of, you guessed it, my TBR. The #ReRead2015 challenge has been amazing in letting me enjoy some rereads lately! It’s very relaxing. I watch the same movies over and over, why not do that with books?

7. A couple years ago I started preordering books like a madwoman. I liked supporting the authors, I liked the thrill of “buying” a book and not paying for it immediately, I love getting the best price for a book, and I love lists! It’s definitely a “problem”. I’m constantly browsing Amazon for upcoming titles so I can preorder them. I’m always checking on my orders. Something about it is so exciting to me!

But half the time I haven’t read the book even 6 months later. It sits on my shelf looking pretty and waiting patiently for its turn. That’s one reason I’m trying to focus on less preorders and more library use/birthday lists. Haha.

8. I have a tendency to read based on my mood. I want to think I can go with the flow but it doesn’t always work. Sometimes I can’t concentrate on elaborate worldbuilding so my fantasy pile grows even though it’s my favorite genre. Same with adult historical fiction- once I start I’m usually hooked but sometimes I just want a good fluffy read!

9. One of the problems I feel the worst about is how bad I am at reading books recommended to me! I love talking books and trading recs but I feel like most of my friends are quick to read what I suggest and I just add theirs to my list. It’s not a conscious decision! It’s mainly the fact that I have a huge pile of books I’ve been dying to read and need to work on.

10. Poor backlist, always pushed aside for the shiny and the new. I’m trying to be better at searching out older titles, both at the library and to purchase, because I’ve found a lot of amazing books that way! It’s always fun to champion the smaller, forgotten book too :)

 

Do we share any of the same book problems?
Any tips for me?
Let me know in the comments!

 

 

Morgan @ Gone with the Words

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