February 2014 Recap


Nicole Read



Ashley Read


Favorite Read

Nicole's Fav

Ashley's Fav


February Reviews


February Highlights

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How many books do you read at once?

Welcome to Thoughts for Thursday! This feature is our outlet to talk with you about whatever we currently have on our minds. It might be bookish, it might not! Now for this week's thought:

How many books do you read at once?

I discuss books with co-workers and friends all the time.  Just the other day I was asked how many books I read at once and how do I keep them straight; I then proceed to give my 5 minute explanation of my reading habits.  Explaining how many books I am actually reading.  I then asked the fiance his exact thoughts on it and he proceed to tell me usually only one book at a time.  So it got me thinking/wondering how many books you guys read at one time!  I thought to myself, I almost never read just one book at a time.  Below are my 4 types of books I read.

Book Type #1: I almost always have an audio book I am attempting to listen to.  I used to have a much longer commute so I would get through audio books much faster but with less driving it takes me a bit longer to finish the audio book than it used to.

Book  Type #2:  The reading-with-someone-else book.  The fiance and I drive all over the place going to mini-vacations/long weekends so we pick a book that we are both interested in and listen to the audio version every time we have to drive anywhere longer than 20 minutes. (So yes, sometimes I am juggling two audio books!)

Book Type #3: Physical book.  This is usually the ARC or the library book I am enjoying.

Book Type #4: E-Book.  My kindle books!

So I almost always am reading/listening to book type #1 and #2.  I try not to read both a physical book and an e-book at the same time since most of the time when I can read a physical book I could also read a e-book.  (Unlike audio books... I cannot read and drive!).  So on average I am at least always reading two books at once, usually 3 books once.

I will say in order for me to read multiple books at the same time I try my best to read very different books.  For example, I won't read two sci-fi books at the same time or two fairy tale re-tellings at the same time.  This is a personal preference.  It is easier for me to keep the stories and my opinions on the multiple books separate if the books are very different genres.

Do you read multiple books at once?  Do you read the same genre at the same time?  Do you ever get the story lines or your thoughts mixed up if you read similar books at the same time?

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The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy #1) by Marie Rutkoski

Title: The Winner's Curse
Series: The Winner's Trilogy #1
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Release Date: March 4, 2014
Pages: 368
Source: ALA Midwinter

Summary from Goodreads:
Winning what you want may cost you everything you love

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.


"'The Winner's Curse is when you come out on top of the bid, but only by paying a steep price'"

What I Liked

Kestrel

"'A kestrel is a hunting hawk.'
'Yes. The perfect name for a warrior girl.'"
Kestrel was awe-inspiring. She was strong-willed, passionate, keen. She was a survivor. The perfect protagonist.

Arin

"'You are the god of lies'"
Arin was trouble. He was unforgiving, unsympathetic, deceptive. He was out for revenge. The perfect antagonist.

Kestrel and Arin

"'You might not think of me as your friend,' Kestrel told Arin,
'but I think of you as mine.'"
What an interesting and intense dynamic. They used one another, betrayed one another, protected one another, loved one another. I loved the slow build of their affection for each other. How they resisted it and failed. How it simmered between them. How it was forbidden. How it tore them apart. They were the perfect pair.

The story

"'Do you think I care how you won?'
'You won. Your methods don't matter.'"
What a beautiful, tragic, engrossing story. This one is filled with emotion of all sorts and had everything I could ask for. I loved the fight for freedom. The strategizing. The undermining. I loved the stories of those who were playing the game, and those who were caught in the middle. I loved how I sympathized with both sides. It was unputdownable and nerve-wracking. It was defiant, unexpected and hopeful. I've never read anything like it. I loved it to pieces.

The writing

He knew the law of such things:
people in brightly lit places cannot see into the dark"
This book was magnificently crafted. The words and sentences just flowed together and pulled you under. Everything was that much more impactful. It was so easy to fall in love with this story.

The pace

"'Plot away, Kestrel.'"
"'Survive.'"
This is not a book that makes you wait until the end for the good stuff. The good stuff is constant throughout. The plot is solid and unwavering. I was apprehensive from the beginning, but straight anxious from page 64 onward. And shit hits the fan on page 210.  This book had my undivided attention every step of the way.

Bottom Line

Trust me (and so many others), you need to read this book. Treat yourself. It lives up to its hype in every way and it is the start of something wonderful. I loved every second of it and I am confident other readers will too.
"Happiness depends on being free, 
and freedom depends on being courageous"
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Top Ten Favorite Places to Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's Top Ten list is
"Top Ten Favorite Places to Read."

Nicole's Top Five

  1. By the pool
    My very favorite place to read is by my pool. In fact, reading by the pool is one of my favorite summer activities and where you will find me most of the time if it is nice out. I love it so much I often disappear during the summer because I will avoid making plans if they interfere with pool time. :)

  2. On the beach
    Living near the beach has its perks. On summer weekends, if I am not by my pool I am probably at the beach. And of course I will be reading!

  3. By the fireplace
    So I have this cozy little room with a fireplace, a daybed and pillows, and all my books. It's  a perfect hideaway for reading during cold or nasty weather.

  4. In transit
    I get so much reading done in airports and on planes. I travel fairly regularly and the wait time/flight time are usually long enough to have a solid period of uninterrupted reading time.It makes traveling so much more manageable.

  5. In bed.
    No matter how busy I am I always try to do at least a little reading before bed and the ideal spot is IN bed (go figure). And my bed so happens to be super comfy! :)

Ashley's Top Five

  1. On my couch
    Where you can catch me reading most of the time, especially in the winter is under some blankets on my living room couch.  My dog is usually on top of my legs and I have a hot drink to my side.  

  2. In bed
    I love reading in bed but I fall asleep easily so I have to make sure I am not too tired or else my books fall off the bed. When I am not tired, it is a great way for me to relax before bed. 

  3. At the gym
    Yes, I am one of those people :)  I have not figured out how to run and read though.  My apartment gym only has 4 pieces of cardio equipment so when I have to use the bike  I love to read.  I can easily get an hour in while reading a good book.  

  4. Outside in general
    Whether it be a picnic blanket at the park, a lounge chair by the water or just my balcony in the summer; when the weather is perfect I love to enjoy two of my favorite things!

  5. The unexpected place. 
    I love having my kindle or a book when I am waiting for the dentist or at the doctor.  The best times are when I have to unexpectedly wait like at a car shop, before a concert or nail salon and I remember I have a book with me to pass the time! 

What are your top ten?

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Boy Nobody (Boy Nobody #1) by Allen Zadoff

Title: Boy Nobody
Series: Boy Nobody #1

Author: Allen Zadoff
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Release Date: June 11, 2013
Pages: 337
Source: Audiobook, Library

Summary from Goodreads:
They needed the perfect assassin.

Boy Nobody is the perennial new kid in school, the one few notice and nobody thinks much about. He shows up in a new high school in a new town under a new name, makes a few friends, and doesn't stay long. Just long enough for someone in his new friend's family to die-of "natural causes." Mission accomplished, Boy Nobody disappears, moving on to the next target.

But when he's assigned to the mayor of New York City, things change. The daughter is unlike anyone he has encountered before; the mayor reminds him of his father. And when memories and questions surface, his handlers at The Program are watching. Because somewhere deep inside, Boy Nobody is somebody: the kid he once was; the teen who wants normal things, like a real home and parents; a young man who wants out. And who just might want those things badly enough to sabotage The Program's mission.

In this action-packed series debut, author Allen Zadoff pens a page-turning thriller that is as thought-provoking as it is gripping, introducing an utterly original and unforgettable antihero.


Review

Boy Nobody has a somewhat predictable plotline – boy assassin gets too close to his new assignment and starts to question the motives of his higher-ups/deviate from the plan. But Boy Nobody still has its merits. I love assassin stories and so I found this one to be fun. And it excelled to me in the way Ben was so calculating. Ben is very intelligent and controlled, and in almost every situation, before he acted, he analyzed his options and each potential outcome for the best possible course of action. This was very assassin-like and is the kind of stuff I love so I was totally into it.

And the predictability did not extend to the ending. The ending was very surprising and very strong. I didn’t anticipate the plot twists (any of them) and I was blindsided by some of Ben’s actions (in a good way). Boy Nobody definitely ends on a good note which motivates me to read the next book.

The predictability isn't really even what bothered me, it was the dialogue throughout. I am not sure if I noticed it more easily because of the audiobook, but it was very juvenile and fed into popular high school stereotypes – geek, aggressive jock, dumb hot girl. And I couldn't help but feel a little insulted - like like the girls were done a disservice since they were made to seem dumb, easily influenced, clingy, etc. The author did not write a very convincible female character. 

Moving on, I did like this book, but some small things kept me from really loving it. Yet, since I was so impressed by the ending and was entertained while listening, I have every intent to read/listen to the next book. I do recommend this one for readers looking for an assassin story with a strong male lead. 

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Stacking the Shelves (60) - Feb 22nd



Stacking the Shelves - hosted by Tynga at Tynga's Reviews features books that you bought, borrowed, rented from the library, received for review, etc.

Upcoming Reads


Sanctum (Guards of the Shadowlands #1) by Sarah Fine
Avalon (Avalon #1) by Mindee Arnett

I got Sanctum from the library because Nicole absolutely loves it and I promised to read her recommendations this year :) In case you want to see why Nicole thinks it is so awesome, here is her raving review!

What books are stacking your shelves?


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Horde (Razorland #3) by Ann Aguirre

Title: Horde
Series: Razorland #3
Author: Ann Aguirre
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release Date: October 29, 2013
Pages: 432
Source: Audiobook

Summary from Goodreads:
The horde is coming.

Salvation is surrounded, monsters at the gates, and this time, they're not going away. When Deuce, Fade, Stalker and Tegan set out, the odds are against them. But the odds have been stacked against Deuce from the moment she was born. She might not be a Huntress anymore, but she doesn't run. With her knives in hand and her companions at her side, she will not falter, whether fighting for her life or Fade's love.

Ahead, the battle of a lifetime awaits. Freaks are everywhere, attacking settlements, setting up scouts, perimeters, and patrols. There hasn't been a war like this in centuries, and humans have forgotten how to stand and fight. Unless Deuce can lead them.

This time, however, more than the fate of a single enclave or outpost hangs in the balance. This time, Deuce carries the banner for the survival of all humanity.


Review

I am very very impressed by this series ender. I admit that I did not have high expectations, despite all the strong reviews. I really enjoyed Enclave but felt that Outpost was missing much of what I had originally loved in the story. But my fears were unnecessary because I saw in Horde what I loved in Enclave, even more so really. In fact, it was arguably one of the strongest series endings I have read to date.

I thought Deuce was the strongest she’s ever been. She’s grown up so much since coming to the surface and she behaves admirably. She is much more aware, both of herself and of her surroundings. She knows her strengths and weaknesses. She welcomes advice. She leads by example. She is confident, but not cocky. She was badass and powerful and motivating. She was everything I hoped she'd be. 

I thought the progression of the freaks was so well done. Often times you see side plots like this not fully fleshed out and left open but this became a focal point of the story, was given the appropriate level of detail, and came to a nice finish. I loved the direction Aguirre took with their story. The freaks were a constant source of action, fear, and intrigue. 

I loved the plot development over this last book. I think Deuce's army was such a wonderful touch and I loved the trials she went through and the success that was had. I think it sent an important message. And everything just concluded so nicely, which I can not often say for a series. I was invested in the stories of each and every main character and I think each of their stories ended as well as can be expected. 

Again, I am so impressed by this last installment in the Razorland series and I highly recommend this series to fellow readers looking for a strong dystopian. I was so moved by this story and felt a lot of different emotions while reading, but ultimately finished feeling satisfaction. I loved this story. 

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My Trip to Dubai - Recap with Photos!

Welcome to Thoughts for Thursday! This feature is our outlet to talk with you about whatever we currently have on our minds. It might be bookish, it might not! Now for this week's thought:

My Trip to Dubai - Recap with Photos!

For those who missed it, a little over a month ago I spent 17 days in the United Arab Emirates for an international immersion with my graduate school. Since I went as part of a program, in addition to all the fun cultural excursions, I attended lectures and visited businesses around the city to learn about Dubai, the UAE, and the Middle East. It was eye-opening and I learned more than I imagined possible. It is remarkable what can be done with a large influx of money, good governance, and the example of other countries to follow. Dubai is truly is a model of opportunity and a one-of-a-kind place. 

This experience was unforgettable as it was filled with firsts for me. Dubai is home to the world's tallest building - the Burj Khalifa, the world's richest hotel - the Burj Al-Arab, and the world's first man-made islands - the Palm Jumeirah, and I had the opportunity to see it all and more. I went snowboarding in a mall in the middle of the desert, bargained for one-too-many pashminas, rode a camel, saw a world-record-breaking firework display, had high tea at the Burj Al-Arab, got a henna tattoo, visited the Grand Mosque, rode the world's fastest roller coaster, watched a cricket game, went to the top of the world's tallest building, went dune bashing, visited the US Consulate, met some pretty important people and had an overall amazing time! I highly recommend visiting this area to fellow travel enthusiasts. It was wonderful and the hospitality was great. And without further ado, here are some photos of my trip: 



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