27 October 2016

#Bookblogvember: November Blogging Challenge

If you guys didn't know there is an AWESOME blog challenge going on during the month of November that encourages participants to write 30 blog posts during the month. This doesn't mean you have to post every day, but the ultimate goal is to write every single day. This challenge is being hosted by Jade over at Bedtime Bookworm.

Here are the GUIDELINES for the blog challenge:

  • 1. Post on your blog every day in November
    • maybe you write every day
    • or maybe you just write on the weekends!
  • 2. Write a blog post every day
    • but don’t necessarily post one every day
  • 3. If you’re really behind on book reviews (like me), try to write one book review a day
    • if you don’t have a blog, this could work on any reviewing platform
These are just a few options, but hopefully you get the idea! Book Blogvember is meant to be very flexibleThis way you can use it as motivation to get done what YOU need (or want) to get done in the month of November. Ideally, what you write is generally related to book blogging or reviewing, but other types of posts are welcome as well! Do what you want 🙂 - As Stated by Jade : ) 

What do I plan on doing??
  • Like many bloggers I am extremely behind on reviews. My goal for this challenge is to write 30 reviews for books that I have read this year so I can catch up. Unfortunately, even after writing these 30 reviews I'll still be behind on my list that I wanted to complete. But I think something is definitely better than nothing. 
  • Post at least 3 times a week. I definitely want to start posting more and engaging with the people I follow that already host blogs. I've done really bad with this this year and I at least want to get into better habits before the year is over with. 
  • Create a post schedule. During the month of November I actually want to sit down and schedule my posts that way I can see what I want to discuss and what I don't. 

In addition to this, Jade is also hosting a Twitter Chat on December 2nd at 6 PM PST (9 PM EST) so participants can discuss their blogvember journey. If you haven't already signed up for this fantastic challenge be sure to do so soon. 

25 October 2016

Top 10 Tuesday: Horror Novels

It's Tuesday so you know that means another Top 10 Tuesday hosted by the girls over at the Broke and the Bookish. This weeks theme is Halloween related so you can choose any topic that fits into that category including scary books, movies, book covers, etc. I chose to go with my top favorite horror novels, comics, & manga!! I hope you guys enjoy. : )

Locke & Key Series: Okay if you haven't read the Locke & Key series by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez you definitely need to check them out. They are the epitome of horror! The artwork is great and the story line is even better.

The Diviners: Only book I've ever read in my lifetime that has giving me legitimate nightmares and made my skin crawl. If you are looking for a beautifully written historical horror book then I would recommend this one for you.

Monster: I just recently read this manga and I can genuinely say that it is AMAZING! I devoured it and finished it in less than a day. If you are looking for a manga that includes horror, suspense, and some thriller elements then I recommend this manga.

Carrie: This is a classic. The book and the movie are amazing and if you haven't read Stephen King yet this is a great place to start.

The Walking Dead: No words are needed to even attempt to describe this article. Whether you are in to TV shows or comic books. This is definitely a must around Halloween time. 

Revival: This is a rather unheard of comic, but it's definitely worth the read. If you like zombies I would suggest picking this one up.

Goosebumps: I mean this is genuinely a classic children's series and really creep considering the age group it's written for. If you haven't read a goosebumps book you definitely should check them out. They are short and quick, yet entertaining reads. 

Wytches: I don't have much to say about this one except that it was the creepiest comic I have read all year. If you haven't read it then you are definitely missing out. 

Dracula: It's a classic and I know a lot of people don't like classics, but trust me when I say that this one is AMAZING. 

The Woods: I binged this whole comic series in a matter of months and now I'm all caught up. If you like mystery, suspense, aliens, and creepy things in general The Woods is the perfect comic to check out. 

What are some creepy books you read during Halloween?! Let me know in the comment box below! : ) 

24 October 2016

Six Days in Leningrad by Paullina Simons

Hey guys!! I'm back with another blog tour! Today, as a part of the TLC Book Tours, I will be giving a review of the memoir Six Days in Leningrad by Paullina Simons. Keep reading for the review and information about where to purchase the book and information about the author.

Add to Goodreads badge

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Publication: September 20. 2016 by HarperCollins
# of Pages: 432
Source: Publisher for Honest Review 

From the author of the celebrated, internationally bestselling The Bronze Horseman saga comes a glimpse into the private life of its much loved creator, and the real story behind the epic novels. Paullina Simons gives us a work of non-fiction as captivating and heart-wrenching as the lives of Tatiana and Alexander. 

Only a few chapters into writing her first story set in Russia, her mother country, Paullina Simons travelled to Leningrad (now St Petersburg) with her beloved Papa. What began as a research trip turned into six days that forever changed her life, the course of her family, and the novel that became The Bronze Horseman. After a quarter-century away from her native land, Paullina and her father found a world trapped in yesteryear, with crumbling stucco buildings, entire families living in seven-square-metre communal apartments, and barren fields bombed so badly that nothing would grow there even fifty years later. And yet there were the spectacular white nights, the warm hospitality of family friends and, of course, the pelmeni and caviar.

At times poignant, at times inspiring and funny, this is both a fascinating glimpse into the inspiration behind the epic saga, and a touching story of a family's history, a father and a daughter, and the fate of a nation.

I want to start this review by saying that I have not yet read The Bronze Horseman, but after reading the journey of Paullina Simons and her father through Leningrad I'm anxious to dive right into that book. If you are looking for a memoir that includes not only past and modern history, but also a story of cultural identity, passion, understanding, and more then this is definitely a memoir that should be placed high on your to be read list. 

Ms. Simons is best known for her work on The Bronze Horseman. It is quite frequently mentioned across several social media networks including Twitter, Youtube, and Instagram. With such a poignant novel, this memoir definitely gives the reader insight to her inspiration between the world created in that book. What was most rewarding about this novel was watching Simons journey back to a country that hasn't changed much since twenty years prior when she left. It is stricken with poverty exhibiting the inability of the country to keep up with modern times. Although this aspect of the book was heartbreaking I was able to relate to her experience. Coming from a family that has roots in Jamaica, I, too, have seen what extreme poverty can do to both a country and its people. I have nothing but good memories of being in Jamaica; however, some of my family members like Paullina's father have tried very hard to forget their own experiences. It is fortunate that Simons was able to take her experiences both negative and positive and create such an amazing work of art in the form of a novel. I really appreciated being able to watch her come to terms with her American experience opposed to her Russian experience. A lot of times seeing the difficulties of one nation can make an individual appreciate all the things that their nation is able to provide. For example, there were a few days in Jamaica that we went without running water and I was forced to take a shower out of a bucket. It did not dawn on me then, but having the opportunity to shower with running water everyday is something I no longer take for granted. 

What I can say about this novel is that it provides beautiful insight not only to Simons life, but also her travel experiences and the early stages of writing her novel. It's not often that a reader is provided with the opportunity to see the inspiration behind an authors work of art. The last thing I believe that really made appreciate this memoir was the development of the relationship between Simons and her father. It changed and evolved throughout the novel and in my opinion I truly believe that they learned a lot from each other. It's not common that you get to see that included in a book that already contains so many different elements. If you are a history buff, a fan of Simons, or just curious about how an author develops the plot line for their novel I would definitely recommend picking this up. It contains a little of bit of everything and really makes the reader appreciate the journey one must take to confront the past to assist in the building of a future. 

Paullina Simons is an internationally bestselling
author whose novels include Bellagrand and The Bronze Horseman was born in Leningrad in 1963. As a child she immigrated to Queens, New York, and attended colleges in Long Island. Then she moved to England and attended Essex University, before returning to America. She lives in New York with her husband and children.

Find out more about Paullina at her website, follow her on Twitter, and connect with her on Facebook.

20 October 2016

Crown of Embers by Rae Carson

Published: 2012
# of Pages: 410
Source: Purchased Copy 

Elisa is a hero.

She led her people to victory over a terrifying, sorcerous army. Her place as the country's ruler should be secure. But it isn't.

Her enemies come at her like ghosts in a dream, from foreign realms and even from within her own court. And her destiny as the chosen one has not yet been fulfilled.

To conquer the power she bears, once and for all, Elisa must follow a trial of long-forgotten—and forbidden—clues, from the deep, hidden catacombs of her own city to the treacherous seas. With her go a one-eyed spy, a traitor, and the man whom—despite everything—she is falling in love with.

If she's lucky, she will return from this journey. But there will be a cost.

Please be aware that this is the second book in the series; therefore, there may be spoilers. 

Okay let's just say that this book is full of nothing but badassness (I don't even know if that's a legitimate word)! I usually write my book reviews in a style where I talk about what I like and what I dislike; however, this book is too freaking fantastic and there definitely was nothing that I disliked about it. So let's go ahead and get into the gushing.

First thing, Elisa is my sole hero. I don't think I've ever found a female character that is the epitome of character development. It's like Rae Carson wrote her in a way that she just keeps getting better and better. In this novel she really takes ownership of her life and destiny. She just has this strong personality that is determined to not only protect herself, but also her people and kingdom. A character that appreciated as much as I appreciated Elisa was definitely Hector. I love a man that is strong enough to acknowledge how great of a ruler a woman can be and how strong she can be. He definitely serves as a strong support system for Elisa and I can't help to mention that they are my ship of choice without a doubt. A character that lost me in this novel was Ximena. I really did grow to love and admire her in the first book, but in this one, especially with her decision at the end, I just could not find it in my spirit to forgive her for the betrayal, but I guess I'll have to see where Carson takes me in the third book. 

The plot of the is book was definitely engaging and fast-paced. There were no boring moments or moments where the book seemed to drag on. Carson kept the drama rolling in with plenty of plot twists and surprises to satisfy everyone. She was brilliantly able to incorporate the new characters in with the old as if they were always there. And her writing style was fluid and beautiful. It left me wanting more of the story and the characters. 

Overall, I think that Rae Carson did a wonderful job with this book. The character development was exceptional and the writing style paired with the fast moving plot made for a wonderful story. I'm truly looking forward to reading the conclusion to this wonderful trilogy. 

13 October 2016

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Published: 1877
# of Pages: 838
Source: Purchased Copy 

Described by William Faulkner as the best novel ever written and by Fyodor Dostoevsky as “flawless,” Anna Karenina tells of the doomed love affair between the sensuous and rebellious Anna and the dashing officer, Count Vronsky. Tragedy unfolds as Anna rejects her passionless marriage and must endure the hypocrisies of society. 

Set against a vast and richly textured canvas of nineteenth-century Russia, the novel's seven major characters create a dynamic imbalance, playing out the contrasts of city and country life and all the variations on love and family happiness.

While previous versions have softened the robust, and sometimes shocking, quality of Tolstoy's writing, Pevear and Volokhonsky  have produced a translation true to his powerful voice. This authoritative edition, which received the PEN Translation Prize and was an Oprah Book Club™ selection, also includes an illuminating introduction and explanatory notes. Beautiful, vigorous, and eminently readable, this Anna Karenina will be the definitive text for fans of the film and generations to come.

I must start this review by saying that Anna Karenina was and still remains the only exposure that I have had to Russian literature in my short life of twenty-five years. And it definitely was a brilliant, marvelous introduction to the beautiful writing and an intricate story-line. Because there is so much to cover in terms of this massive novel I have broken it down into several different categories I want to address.

Plot: This novel has one of the most complex plot lines I have read in a while. It deals with seven different major characters all who have their own perspective of day to day life as a Russian. I must say that I definitely enjoyed every aspect of the plot from the slow points to the areas where Tolstoy's writing seemed to be moving his plot with a sense of urgency. If I could give any advice to an individual reading Russian literature and Tolstoy for the first time I would definitely remind them to have a sense of patience. Tolstoy crafts his novel in a way that allows the reader to see every single detail and scenario that leads up to the final developments associated with the plot line. As result sometimes the plot seems to move a slow rate and can seem to drag on and on; however, I will give him credit and say that every piece of detail is worth it. Even more amazing about the plot is the fact that the tone of the novel changes with each major character. You, as a reader, really get the opportunity to feel how each character perceives their personal lives as well as the lives of others in 19th century Russia. 

Writing: Tolstoy's writing...there is so much to be said about the writing of this man. In my personal opinion I think it's brilliant. He writes with such fluidity and detail that you feel as though you're living in 19th century Russia with the main characters. You feel a part of the cultural, political, and economic scene. There was a scene in particular during a section that focused on the character of Levin and his journey with cutting grass. Naturally to anyone, reading about cutting grass sounds painfully boring; however, for some reason Tolstoy made it the most interesting task and it turned out to be a relatively calming passage. After reading that section I knew that Tolstoy was a lyrical writer and genius and I must eventually check out some of his other books (War & Peace : D ).

Characters: Tolstoy was able to create a unique world/setting with the invention of his characters. There are many that play a role in this massive novel; however, there are seven in particular that hold the most unique or interesting roles. 
  • Anna Karenina: She was probably one of my least favorite characters hands down. Sometimes I liked her and other times she drove me crazy. I think it had a lot to do with wanting to "eat her cake and have it too." I know she was unhappy and wanted to leave her relationship; however, it seemed to me that she didn't take her son into consideration. And the ending made me feel that way even more. 
  • Levin: He definitely was my favorite character out of every one. He was interesting on all accounts and made everything more fun to read. Not only was he interesting, but he also introduced me as a reader to Russian politics, agriculture, finance, cultural lifestyle, business, etc. And each time a passage appeared with him it I looked forward to learning something new. 
  • Alexei Karenin: I don't really know how to express my feelings about Alexei. I felt sorry for him, but at the same time I didn't. I think he was hurting at the fact that he lost his wife; however, I think in some instances he treated her too harshly. 
  • Vronsky: I think he is right in the same category as Anna. I did not like the idea that he led Kitty on and then decided that he instead wanted to be with a married woman who he couldn't really fully support emotionally, mentally, or financially. It just caused my drama and uneasiness then was necessary. In my mind I think Vronsky was simply looking for a good time and ended up in a situation he did not expect. 
  • Stiva Oblonsky: Okay let's just admit it. Stiva was hilarious! He definitely was unfaithful to his wife Dolly and hurt her in more ways than one, but he was also the reason why Vronsky and Anna met in the first place. Had he not had an affair with the nanny I don't think any of the misfortunes of this novel would have occurred. 
  • Kitty: I loved watching her grow as a character and into a woman. She had her heart broken by another character, but it was great to know she found solace within another. 
  • Dolly: I did not like or dislike Dolly. I think most of the time I just felt extremely sorry for her. Oblonsky treated her awfully and I commend Dolly for being so strong about it, but at the same time I wouldn't have stayed with him.  
Overall: This novel was mesmerizing, captivating and everything I could have asked for in an  introduction to Russian literature. Tolstoy writes in such a captivating manner it's hard to put his work down and I look forward to reading more works by him. If you are looking for a great introduction to Russian literature I definitely recommend this book. Remember to be patient and take your time and really take in everything that Tolstoy is trying to introduce to the reader.

10 October 2016

Blog Tour: Marrow by Elizabeth Lesser

Hey guys!! It's been a while, but I'm back with another blog tour! Today, as a part of the TLC Book Tours, I will be giving a review of the memoir Marrow by Elizabeth Lesser. Keep reading for the review and information about where to purchase the book and information about the author.

Add to Goodreads badge

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Publication: September 20, 2016
# of Pages: 320
Source: Publisher for Honest Review 

The author of the New York Times bestseller Broken Open returns with a visceral and profound memoir of two sisters who, in the face of a bone marrow transplant—one the donor and one the recipient—begin a quest for acceptance, authenticity, and most of all, love.

A mesmerizing and courageous memoir: the story of two sisters uncovering the depth of their love through the life-and-death experience of a bone marrow transplant. Throughout her life, Elizabeth Lesser has sought understanding about what it means to be true to oneself and, at the same time, truly connected to the ones we love. But when her sister Maggie needs a bone marrow transplant to save her life, and Lesser learns that she is the perfect match, she faces a far more immediate and complex question about what it really means to love—honestly, generously, and authentically.

Hoping to give Maggie the best chance possible for a successful transplant, the sisters dig deep into the marrow of their relationship to clear a path to unconditional acceptance. They leave the bone marrow transplant up to the doctors, but take on what Lesser calls a "soul marrow transplant," examining their family history, having difficult conversations, examining old assumptions, and offering forgiveness until all that is left is love for each other’s true selves. Their process—before, during, and after the transplant—encourages them to take risks of authenticity in other aspects their lives.

But life does not follow the storylines we plan for it. Maggie’s body is ultimately too weak to fight the relentless illness. As she and Lesser prepare for the inevitable, they grow ever closer as their shared blood cells become a symbol of the enduring bond they share. Told with suspense and humor, Marrow is joyous and heartbreaking, incandescent and profound. The story reveals how even our most difficult experiences can offer unexpected spiritual growth. Reflecting on the multifaceted nature of love—love of other, love of self, love of the world

Marrow is an unflinching and beautiful memoir about getting to the very center of ourselves.The author of the New York Times bestseller Broken Open returns with a visceral and profound memoir of two sisters who, in the face of a bone marrow transplant—one the donor and one the recipient—begin a quest for acceptance, authenticity, and most of all, love.

Marrow is unlike any other memoir I have read before as it chronicles a love story between two sisters and not one that solely focuses on partnership. Lesser beautifully weaves together the story of how she becomes a sole donor to her sister Maggie after she is diagnosed with cancer. The craft with which this novel was written was simply amazing and I loved how she was able to take the reader along with her on this emotional journey. 

One of the greatest and one of my favorite themes of this novel is the concept of forgiveness. Although, it is not easy it is freeing and can assist the soul in being freed of burden. The main characters, Lesser and Maggie, must come to terms with a lot of things that occurred in their past in order to be able move on in the present. What is relatively unique about this journey is that these two women are polar opposites. Maggie is the woman who supposedly "has it all" and Lesser is the woman who questions things and doesn't necessarily have her life in order at all times. By engaging in this healing process I felt like the women learned more about themselves, but even more about each other. 

I can't praise this memoir enough. There were so many concepts that intrigued me and made me so aware of how your mind set can overall affect your well being. It was beautiful that these women wanted to emotionally and mentally prepare themselves for the marrow transplant by engaging in therapy hoping that in the long wrong it would better prepare Maggie for the transplant. What was even more beautiful about the memoir is that although it is written and told from the perspective of Lesser, we have access to journal entries and notes written by Maggie during this entire process. Overall, this gave the reader better insight to the entire situation/circumstance surrounding the sisters. 

If you are looking for a novel that gives beautiful, in-depth, and intriguing perspectives and outlooks on life, I would highly recommend this novel. It truly is a work of art and a pure and honest love story that I have yet to see in any other book. 

ELIZABETH LESSER is the author of The Seeker’s Guide and the New York Times bestseller Broken Open. She is the cofounder of Omega Institute, recognized internationally for its workshops and conferences that focus on holistic health, psychology, spirituality, creativity, and social change. Prior to her work at Omega, she was a midwife and childbirth educator. She lives in the Hudson Valley with her family.
Find out more about Elizabeth at her website, and connect with her on Facebook.

21 September 2016

Waiting on Wednesday #4 : Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Illustrated)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine. This is my first time participating in this meme, but I've seen it across so may different blogs I just had to participate. To participate all you have to do is spotlight upcoming publications you're eagerly anticipating. Keep reading to see what I have chosen for this week.

Of course I'm a big fan of Harry Potter so I definitely was going to get excited about the new illustrated version of the book coming out. I can't wait to see and purchase a copy to add to my collection. It's almost like I collect Harry Potter books because I have so many different editions. So this definitely will be one to add soon. : ) 

Expected Publication: October 4, 2016
# of Pages: 272
PublisherArthur A. Levine Books

The Dursleys were so mean and hideous that summer that all Harry Potter wanted was to get back to the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. But just as he's packing his bags, Harry receives a warning from a strange, impish creature named Dobby who says that if Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts, disaster will strike.

And strike it does. For in Harry's second year at Hogwarts, fresh torments and horrors arise, including an outrageously stuck-up new professor, Gilderoy Lockhart, a spirit named Moaning Myrtle who haunts the girls' bathroom, and the unwanted attentions of Ron Weasley's younger sister, Ginny.

But each of these seem minor annoyances when the real trouble begins, and someone -- or something -- starts turning Hogwarts students to stone. Could it be Draco Malfoy, a more poisonous rival than ever? Could it possibly be Hagrid, whose mysterious past is finally told? Or could it be the one everyone at Hogwarts most suspects... Harry Potter himself?