Thursday, December 29, 2016

End of the Year Post (2016)

Well, 2016 is just a few days from being over, and it’s time to share some of my general thoughts about my year in blogging. To make it easier on myself, I’m going to divide this post down into sections, and talk about those subjects individually.
  • Books…
This year, I went back and read a lot of older releases that I’ve been meaning to get to. I have to admit, it was a lot of fun, and I realized just how many great books I’ve missed.

One of the big things I’ve come to accept this year is that I don’t need the new releases as soon as they come out. I’ve realized that I’m okay with waiting a little longer—sometimes months—to read the books I’m really looking forward to. My reasoning is that I’m still going to eventually read the book, so I just don’t worry about it anymore and feel more relaxed.

I’m still okay with DNFing books I’m just not enjoying. I used to be one of those people who tried to finish every book I started. So, I’ve tried that before, it takes forever to get to the end of the book, and I end up losing my enthusiasm for reading and blogging. In 2016, I’ve pretty much stuck to the first 100 page thing—sometimes I’ll read a little more than that if there’s something I find promising about the story. However, for the most part, I’ve set aside books that I just couldn’t get into, in favor of ones I really wanted to read, and ended up enjoying.

The biggest thing I’ve focused on is reading what makes me happy, rather than spending too much time on things that I don’t like.
  • Memes…
I actually really like the memes I’m currently participating in. They’re pretty easy to do, and it’s really up to me what I do and don’t want to post. Nothing has really changed since 2015 in that regard, except for the fact that I tried out some non-book related memes. Music seemed like a good fit for Our Thoughts Precisely. So, I tried out two—one on Thursday and the other on Monday. The Thursday meme didn’t work out since it added another day to my regular posting schedule. I wanted to keep Monday, Wednesday, and Friday as the days I primarily post on. So, Music Monday stuck around. It worked out for the better since I could use the two Monday memes interchangeably, or participate in both.

For the past several weeks, Adri has been blogging regularly on Music Monday. It has been so much fun writing out the post, and sharing our music recommendations.  

  • Some thoughts about the blog...
I don’t think my method of blogging has changed much since last year. A lot of the things I started doing in 2015 occurred regularly in 2016 since they worked so well for me. Could things change in 2017? I don’t really think so. I’m pretty happy with how things currently work. However, a big part of blogging is learning as I go. So, it would be kind of premature to say “never!” to any potential changes.  


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Books of 2016

Instead of doing a quarterly recap to close out the year, I’ve essentially broken the post down into various parts, one of which is The Books of 2016. I’m going post links to all the books I or a co-blogger read and reviewed on Our Thoughts Precisely in 2016, list some of the best new to me authors, and series that I want and have continued. A lot of this post is going to be in a list-like format since this is technically a recap.
2016 Books

Wintersmith / Love Charms and Other Catastrophes / The Torn Wing / Riverkeep 
Thieving Weasels / Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World
The Traitor in the Tunnel / Mortal Gods / The Reader / Visual reference Guide: Architecture
Fangirl / A Corner of White / The Witches / Cloudwish / Burning Emerald / Grand Forks
Hourglass / The Illustrated Compendium of Animal Facts / Flora Segunda 
Best new to me authors, and series that I want and have continued…

This year, I returned to a handful of old favorites as part of my New Year blogging resolutions. I also read a lot of backlist books that I previously missed. And, I read a handful of the new releases this year, and they were fantastic. Of course, by doing all of that, I also came across authors that were otherwise unknown to me. This list is in no particular order. It’s not based on how much I liked the book or any other factor. It’s at random.

Fiction...

Traci Chee / Roshani Chokshi / Jason Segel & Kisten Miller / Jaclyn Moriarty 

Sasha Stephenson / Tone Almhjell / Kiki Hamilton / Lisa Schroeder / E.D. Baker
Janet Edwards / Martin Steward / Billy Taylor / Kat Kruger


Nonfiction...

Ray Raphael / Cynthia Barnette / Marilyn Hagerty / Rachel Ignotofsky

To close out this post, I’m going to discuss some of the series that I continued reading this year and ones that have new releases coming out in 2017. This list doesn’t include series that started in 2016.
  • Tuesday McGillycuddy series by Angelica Banks—I took part in the blog tour for the second book in this series, A Week without Tuesday. It was really nice to see a lot of the cast from book one back for another adventure. Plus, the land where stories come from is still one of my favorite parts of the series. The third book, Blueberry Pancakes Forever, comes out on February 7th 2017
  • The Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff—Gemina was one of my highly anticipated 2016 releases. The wait for it seemed so long, and while the book wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, it was still fun and I will definitely continue on with this series.
  • The Cambion Chronicles by Jaime Reed—This is one series I’ve been meaning to finish, and for the longest time, I just didn’t have book two. Book two, Burning Emerald, answered a lot of the questions I still had about the series. 
  • Grimbaude series by Kimberly Karalius—Love Charms and Other Catastrophes was another one of my highly anticipated 2016 releases, and suffice it to say, I wasn’t disappointed.
  • Splintered series by A.G. Howard—I read Untamed because I wanted to see what happened to Alyssa after the end of Ensnared. Like with most short story collections I’ve read, I had my favorites and there were others that were just alright for me.
I’m going to end this post here. Sometime soon, I’m going to continue my 2016 blogging recap. So, keep an eye out for that. Happy reading!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Eve Book Tag

Since I’m getting into the holiday spirit—and getting ready to take a break from blogging—I figured that I might as well participate in the Christmas Eve Book Tag some time before, you know, it’s actually Christmas and the year ends. Plus, I kind of enjoy these holiday themed tags. The questions are always fun.

This tag was created by Sam’s Nonsense over on Youtube. You can check out the original video HERE.
Christmas Eve morning: what is a book you wake up excited to read? One you anticipate reading or one you read in the past that you want to get back into?

One book that I want to get back into is This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith. I read it a couple of years ago, and would like to eventually reread it.

Christmas Eve breakfast: what are your favorite treats during the holiday season?

Oh man, this is an easy one. I really enjoy pumpkin and sweet potato pie, homemade French rolls and macaroni and cheese (not the box stuff). 

Family Time: What is a book that fills you with happiness and love? the warm fuzzies in general?

Love Fortunes and Other Disasters and Love Charms and Other Catastrophes—two of my favorite books. I adore this series for a number of reasons. Between Love being an actual character in the story to fortunes gone awry, what’s not to like? The characters had chemistry, and there were some incredibly cute moments that brought on all the fuzzy, heartwarming feels.

Christmas Carols: What are your favorite Christmas Carols or holiday songs?

I have too many favorite holiday songs to count on one hand—and I essentially did this for Music Monday, The Christmas Edition. So, to make it easier on myself, I’m going to just list a few of them at random: Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas, Nat King Cole’s The Christmas Song, Michael Buble’s It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas, and The First Noel and Joy To The World by Pentatonix.

Anticipation: What is a book release you are very much anticipating?

I’m really looking forward to Blueberry Pancakes Forever by Angelica Banks. Thankfully, the wait is almost over.

You hear sleigh bells on the roof and are so excited you can't sleep!: What is a book that kept you up all night?

Normally, after a certain time at night, I will put a book down even if I’m really enjoying it. However, The Reader by Traci Chee is one book that I stayed up late to finish. The book was engrossing, and I had a hard time stepping away from it. Before I knew it, it was around midnight, and I was done with the book.

It's Christmas morning, and Santa has come!: What is a book on your wishlist that you hope to unwrap?

Actually, all the books I’m currently looking forward to don’t come out until next year. So, I’m not expecting to find any books under the Christmas tree this year.
And that’s about it for today. If this seems like something you want to do then I tag you. Check out the original video to find the questions. Happy Reading!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Quick Announcement: Break Time

Well, it’s that time of year again. Christmas is literally right around the corner, and I’m ready for a break. So, I won’t be online much until 2017. Any posts that appear on the blog after this, were already written and ready to go. This is also the beginning of my meme hiatus. Posting will return to normal in the New Year. I will be around to answer comments, and occasionally on Twitter, Tumblr, Goodreads, and Pinterest. Thanks for stopping by the blog. Happy reading!
**Andrea: I look forward to getting back to blogging on Our Thoughts Precisely in 2017. See you soon!**

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Review: A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess

A Shadow Bright and Burning (Kingdom on Fire, #1)Title: A Shadow Bright and Burning
Author: Jessica Cluess
Source/Format: Blogging for Books; Hardcover
More Details: Young Adult; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Random House BFYR; September 20, 2016

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads...

I am Henrietta Howel. The first female sorcerer. The prophesied one. Or am I?

Henrietta Howel can burst into flames. When she is brought to London to train with Her Majesty's sorcerers, she meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, young men eager to test her powers and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her. As Henrietta discovers the secrets hiding behind the glamour of sorcerer life, she begins to doubt that she's the true prophesied one. With battle looming, how much will she risk to save the city--and the one she loves?
It took me around a week to finally sit down and write this review. That’s a long time in my book, but I needed the extra time to really think about what I read and what I wanted to say about it. A Shadow Bright and Burning wasn’t that bad of a book. However, it was just an average read for me.

There was nothing particularly bad about this story. It was fantasy set in a time period where women were expected to remain in certain roles. There was magic, a prophecy, and a main character who wasn’t the chosen one. The synopsis basically told me a lot about the plot. So when I actually got to that part of the book, I just kind of shrugged at Henrietta’s reaction because I was already expecting it.

Now, I did like that Henrietta wasn’t the prophesied one—as indicated in the synopsis. I feel like I haven’t seen enough of that, so it was a nice touch. Another thing I liked was the magic. For the most part, the magic was pretty cool. Henrietta was a pretty good character, but like the rest of the cast, she was just alright for me. I didn’t mind reading from her perspective, and there were parts of her personality and actions that were interesting.

The last couple of chapters of A Shadow Bright and Burning were the best, and my favorite part of the book. The story moved a lot quicker, there was action, and sufficiently surprising twists that were A+ in my opinion.

While A Shadow Bright and Burning had some great elements to it, there were some parts that weren’t as good. Still, the end left the characters in an interesting place, and I could kind of see hints of where this series could be headed. As such, I might consider picking up the next book.
This copy of the book was provided by Blogging for Books (Publisher) for this review, thank you!
About the author...

Jessica Cluess is a writer, a graduate of Northwestern University, and an unapologetic nerd. After college, she moved to Los Angeles, where she served coffee to the rich and famous while working on her first novel. When she's not writing books, she's an instructor at Writopia Lab, helping kids and teens tell their own stories...

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Monday, December 19, 2016

Music Monday (10) The Christmas Edition

   Rules:
  • Music Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren Stoolfire at Always Me that asks you to share one or two songs that you've recently enjoyed. For the rules, visit the page HERE 

It’s the 19th, which means that its time for the Christmas Edition of Music Monday. Yes! I have been waiting all month to do this post. So today, Adri and I are going to share some of our favorite holiday music.
Breana: My first pick this week is O Holy Night performed by Mariah Carey. I actually really like the entire Merry Christmas album, but O Holy Night is just so fantastic. Mariah Carey’s version is still one of my favorites. I grew up listening to this version of O Holy Night, so it's no wonder why I still enjoy listening to it every December.


My second pick this week is Carol of Bells sung by Pentatonix. It’s just so good! I also recommend checking out more of Pentatonix's holiday music.


Adri: Okay, so I like a lot of the Christmas songs, but for me this is the season of "I really don't want to get out of bed, its too cold!" As such, I like to listen to smoother songs. So here are two of the songs I'm listening to, but trust me, there is a lot more. I'm just not naming them.

My first selection is O Holy Night sung by Yolanda Adams. I never actually "found" this song, rather I've just been listen to it since the ipod shuffle 2nd gen (thanks mom).



For my final song, I'm going with Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas performed by Kenny G. For me, this song is more of a recent find; however, I have listened to his other songs too. I find myself listening to this version when I want to get into a festive mood and relax.



What is some of the go-to music off your holiday playlist?


Musing Monday (65) Wintry Reads

I'm a little late to this since I haven't participated in this meme in a couple of weeks. Musing Mondays has undergone some changes. Jenn at Books and a Beat no longer hosts the weekly meme. Instead, Musing Mondays has moved to The Purple Booker. Other than that, Musing Mondays is still the same.

Revised rules: 

  • Musing Mondays is a weekly meme hosted by Ambrosia at The Purple Booker that asks you to muse about something book related each week. 
My musings for the week...

I figured that I might as do one last Musing Mondays post before 2016 is over. To start out, I'm going to get caught up on some of the random weekly questions before moving on to my other musings.

Random weekly question from December 12th: Does reading help you to release stress during stressful times? If it does do you have a favorite book that you return to for calm?

For the most part I read for entertainment, but sometimes I do read to relieve stress. Normally, if on those rare occasions that I do, I would probably pick up one of the nonfiction books I keep on my shelf, or one of the manga series that I have.

Random weekly questions from November 28th: If you were a character, which author would you trust with your life (to write your story)?

Oh man, this is kind of a hard question. I mean, a lot of the books I've read I just wouldn't want to be those characters in those situations. But if I was a character and had to pick an author to trust to write my story, it would probably be myself. I wouldn't be able to trust anyone else to tell my story.

Random weekly question from December 5th: Do you visit your local library regularly? If so, what’s your earliest memory of visiting a library?

I don't visit my local library regularly. It's kind of far from where I currently live, as such, it's only recently that I've started going more often. And, I've been going to the library with my mom since I could remember.

Other Musings...

Today, I wanted to talk about some of my favorite books that have themes, settings, or characters who are wintry in some way or another. I know I’ve probably missed a few great read, but these books are ones that immediately came to mind for this post. Hence, this list is going to be kind of short. Anyway, let’s get started…
  • My first pick is Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett—This book has a lot of wintry things and even begins with a scene where the setting was submerged in snow. The title, themes, and select characters are the main reason why Wintersmith is on this list.
  • Next is The Snow Queen by Hans Christain Andersen—This is an obvious one. The Snow Queen has a lot of wintery aspects about it, even the titular character, the Snow Queen.
  • The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis—It has been so long since I read this book that I actually want to go back and reread it again. I always remember really liking this story and the movie adaptation is just one of my favorites. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is on this list for obvious reasons—Narnia, which is trapped in winter, and the White Witch.
  • And last but certainly not least, The Twistrose Key by Tone Almhjell—This is a book I recently enjoyed. I loved all the details, the descriptive prose, and the characters. Another cool part of the book was the setting, which was cold and snowy.
Have you read any books that have wintry themes, settings, or characters? If so, tell me in the comments below.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Weekend Tidbits {#9} Whats New In TVland

Today, I’m going to talk about something a little different. For Weekend Tidbits, I normally talk about a movie trailer I recently saw, or something that I’ve cooked or baked recently, even books I’m really looking forward to. But I never actually talk about what I watch during the week. So, for today, I’m going to talk about a couple of recent TV related things that I’m really excited about.

Do you like Mythbusters? Are you as sad as I am that the show and the old cast signed off for the last time earlier this year? Well, you’re in luck. The science channel is having a Mythbusters mega marathon starting on December 23rd. I have seen the majority of the Mythbusters episodes, but I’m still excited for this marathon. Also in Mythbusters news, apparently, the show is coming back…eventually. If you watch the Science Channel you’ve probably already seen it and know what I’m about to talk about. Oh yes, apparently Mythbusters: The Search is going to be a thing. While I am—and already do—miss the old cast, I can’t help but be a little excited that the show is coming back. I will, however, remain cautiously optimist about this. You can find out more about the show and watch a first look HERE. Mythbusters: The Search premieres on January 7th.

Another show I’m looking forward to is NBCs Emerald City. I’ve been waiting for a premiere date to be announced since I first heard about the show and saw the initial images. I mean, it’s basically a retelling of The Wizard of Oz. I’m really excited to see how it turns out. I hope its good **my fingers are crossed**. Emerald City premieres on January 6th and you can check out the preview, watch a sneak peek, and learn more about the show HERE.
I could go with the easier way and pick mint tea as my choice of preferred drink. However, I'm not going to do that. Instead, today's choice of tea is simple green tea with a peppermint candy cane dissolved into it (basically, my new favorite way to have green tea). 

Friday, December 16, 2016

ARC Review: Iceling by Sasha Stephenson

Iceling (Icelings #1)Title: Iceling
Author: Sasha Stephenson 
Source/Format: First to Read; eARC
More Details: Young Adult; Science Fiction
Publisher/Publication Date: Razorbill; December 13, 2016

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads...

Lorna’s adopted sister, Callie, is part of a mysterious group of non-lingual teens, Icelings, born on a remote Arctic island, who may not be entirely human. Now Callie wants to go home...

Seventeen-year-old Lorna loves her adoptive sister, Callie. But Callie can’t say “I love you” back. In fact, Callie can’t say anything at all. Because Callie is an Iceling—one of hundreds of teens who were discovered sixteen years ago on a remote Arctic island, all of them lacking the ability to speak or understand any known human language. Mysterious and panicked events lead to the two sisters embarking on a journey to the north, and now Lorna starts to see that there’s a lot more to Callie’s origin story than she’d been led to believe. Little does she know what’s in store, and that she’s about to uncover the terrifying secret about who—and what—Callie really is.
Two words: road trip. Buckle up dear readers, because I need to talk about this book.

Originally, Iceling by Sasha Stephenson wasn’t one of my most anticipated books of 2016. If anyone would have asked me about the book back in February, I wouldn’t have had much of an answer. Simply put, I hadn’t heard much about this book. However, I eventually saw the synopsis and I liked all the ideas that it introduced and was immediately excited about Iceling.

Just like with every book I’ve ever read, there were things that I really loved about Iceling, and others that I felt sort of mixed about. By no means was this a bad book. In fact, the twists were really surprising and kept me on my toes, and once the plot hit all those pivotal moments the story turned out to be fantastic.

I’m going to talk about what I didn’t like just to get it out of the way. What I disliked about Iceling was the parts that seemed like they were a little extraneous. There were semi-long stretches where facts that had already been stated seemed to be repeated back in several, differently worded ways. I’ve got nothing against repetition since I think it can be used as emphasis to make a point. In Iceling, it was a little much for me, but not something that made me rage-quit the book.

Now, what I did like outweighed what I didn’t like about the book. The synopsis left me with a lot of questions. However, the biggest draw for me was really the Icelings. The Icelings were interesting and probably my favorite part of the book. I really liked them and the role they played in the story. I also liked how the relationships between the Icelings and their adopted siblings were set up. The plot was, overall, really good. Once the story picked up, I could see what Stephenson was setting up during the initial chapters of the book. And man, the end result was something wholly memorable.

Iceling was a solid start to something that could turn out to be a great series. Suffice it to say, I want to see where this goes, and so I have to sit here and wait until book two comes out.
This copy of the book was provided by First to Read (Publisher) for this review, thank you!
 
About the author...

Thursday, December 15, 2016

2016 Holiday Gift Guide

One of the things I wanted to do this year was put together a short gift guide to give you—the blog readers—some ideas for small gifts and stocking stuffers. I wanted to stay away from the more costly items. Hence, most of the stuff I’m going to mention down below is $20 or less. Quick note: The availability of some of the items are subject to change, but they’re in the photo as a sort of general example for the things I want to mention. I will add the links for the items I can find available online (look for the bold and italicized sections). Let’s get started…

  • Books & Gift Cards...
Pictured above: None.
Comments: I think this is an obvious one. Books just make great gifts, and gift cards are always nice to give and receive.
  • Headphones... 
Pictured above: VIVITAR Stereo Headphones.
Comments: I firmly believe that you can never have too many sets of headphones. They break so easily or one ear goes out—and the other is soon to follow. With that said, a set of headphones could make a nice gift.
  • Funko...
Pictured above: Alice in Wonderland Alice Funko Pop.
Comments: Funko is probably one of my favorite items from this list. There is such a wide range of them available—from TV shows to movies—that there’s almost something for everyone. They also look very nice on a shelf.
  • Music...
Pictured above: Badlands by Halsey, Starboy by The Weeknd.
Comments: This is another great one. Having an extensive playlist is always nice, adding even more music to it is even better.
  • Art supplies... 
Pictured above: Sketchbook from Walmart (I use this one regularly, and it’s good for dry mediums), Prismacolor Premier Dual Tip Marker, Sakura Gelly Role White Gel Pen, and Sakura Micron Pen.
Comments: Art supplies can be costly no matter which medium you use, whether that’s digital, dry, or ink. Individually, some of the supplies are under $20, like prismacolor markers.
  • Bookmarks... 
Pictured above: Initial It! Bookmark from Barnes & Noble.
Comments: Perfect for readers who don’t habitually dog-ear their pages like I do. I rarely use a bookmark, but I absolutely adore the ones from Barnes & Noble.
  • Hotwheels...
Pictured above: The Beatles Yellow Submarine, The Mystery Machine, and The Jetsons Capsule Car; (availability is not guaranteed but its always fun to hunt for the ones you want).
Comments:
This is actually an inexpensive gift, and if you know what you’re looking for, you can find some pretty neat cars like The Beatles Yellow Submarine and the Ghostbusters Ecto-1.
  • Accessories...
Pictured above: Pink Silicone Watch from Michaels, comes in a lot of colors and a few different styles (A lot of the colors are out of stock online except for hot pink. However, they might still be available in-store).
Comments: It‘s kind of simple to find all sorts of nice things and keep the cost down. One of my favorite items is the silicon watch I got from Michaels a while ago.
  • Coffee mugs...
Pictured above: Owl Coffee Mug.
Comments: The only reason coffee mugs made it onto this list is because most of them are under $20, finding them is ridiculously easy, and they come in anything from the basic solid colored cup to ones with owls on them.
So that’s it for today. I hope you find this guide helpful in some way. Happy reading!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Music Monday (9) Kimbra, Samantha James & Haywyre

   Rules:
  • Music Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren Stoolfire at Always Me that asks you to share one or two songs that you've recently enjoyed. For the rules, visit the page HERE 
Man, I can’t believe how close the end of the year is, and with Christmas and other holiday’s right around the corner, it’s almost time to do a holiday music edition of Music Monday—just not today, but expect that soon. In other good news, this week, Adri is back with more recommendations.
My first pick is Cameo Lover by Kimbra. This is probably one of my favorite songs by Kimbra, mainly because it introduced me to her music back in 2012. The style of the Cameo Lover music video is simple but really colorful and fun.



My second pick is also from Kimbra. Good Intent is another one of my favorite songs. And, I really love the tap dance sequence from the music video. It loosely of reminds me of Swing Time, the second major tap dance scene with Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire.


For my first selection today, I'm going with an artist I recently discovered about a month or two ago. That artist is Samantha James. While I love a lot of her songs, Find A Way stood out the most to me. 



For my second pick, I was searching "doppelganger" on Soundcloud when I came across Haywyre (I'm obsessed with Two Fold part 1 and 2). Now, of course I like Doppelganger, and no one song is my favorite, but when Insight was released I couldn't help but to have it on repeat. As if I couldn't love it anymore, I listened to the live performance, and was wowed. 


Music Monday conversation corner (since we had too much to talk about this week, and couldn't fit it in above).

Breana: I totally agree with Adri. I'm really impressed with the live performance of Insight. It's the kind of song that I want to listen to on repeat. 

Adri: I know right. I told you so.

Adri: Also, now that you got me started on tap dancing, the Nicholas Brothers in Stormy Weather...OMG.  **pulls up clips for reference**

Breana: Yeah, OMG. They are good at dancing. I'm actually really impressed. By the way, thanks for showing me the clips.  
Are there songs you listen to on repeat? If so, tell us in the comments below. 


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