Monday, January 21, 2019

Music Monday (69): Two Steps From Hell, Spiritual Machines, and Patti LaBelle

  • 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 
Breana: At first, I was going to skip the epic music edition of Music Monday, but then Two Steps From Hell dropped some new music a couple days ago. And, well, it’s epic. I don’t know what else I’m supposed to say about it....

Adri: My pick for our first Music Monday back is Brave New World by Spiritual Machines. It was only six day into the New Year when they announced on Twitter there was a new song. Ever since then I've been listening to it nonstop!

Andrea: I recently saw Patti LaBelle on a lot of talk shows. It brought up memories of all her songs that I've enjoyed over the years. If Only You Knew is one of my all-time favorites. Enjoy the video below! Also, check out when Patti LaBelle surprised her fan who sang If Only You Knew on The Steve Harvey Show...

What are you listening to this week?

Friday, January 18, 2019

The Friday 56 (145) & Book Beginnings: Small Spaces by Katherine Arden

The Friday 56 is a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice where every Friday you pick a book and turn to page 56 or 56%, and select a sentence or a few, as long as it's not a spoiler. For the full rules, visit the the page HERE

Book Beginnings is a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader that asks you to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you're reading.

36959639Synopsis from Goodreads...

Bestselling adult author of The Bear and the Nightingale makes her middle grade debut with a creepy, spellbinding ghost story destined to become a classic...

After suffering a tragic loss, eleven-year-old Ollie only finds solace in books. So when she happens upon a crazed woman at the river threatening to throw a book into the water, Ollie doesn't think--she just acts, stealing the book and running away. As she begins to read the slender volume, Ollie discovers a chilling story about a girl named Beth, the two brothers who both loved her, and a peculiar deal made with "the smiling man," a sinister specter who grants your most tightly held wish, but only for the ultimate price. Ollie is captivated by the tale until her school trip the next day to Smoke Hollow, a local farm with a haunting history all its own. There she stumbles upon the graves of the very people she's been reading about. Could it be the story about the smiling man is true? Ollie doesn't have too long to think about the answer to that. On the way home, the school bus breaks down, sending their teacher back to the farm for help. But the strange bus driver has some advice for the kids left behind in his care: "Best get moving. At nightfall they'll come for the rest of you." Nightfall is, indeed, fast descending when Ollie's previously broken digital wristwatch, a keepsake reminder of better times, begins a startling countdown and delivers a terrifying message: RUN. Only Ollie and two of her classmates heed the bus driver's warning. As the trio head out into the woods--bordered by a field of scarecrows that seem to be watching them--the bus driver has just one final piece of advice for Ollie and her friends: "Avoid large places. Keep to small."

And with that, a deliciously creepy and hair-raising adventure begins....

Beginning: "October in East Evansburg, and the last warm sun of the year slanted red through the sugar maples."

56: "Eyeing the silent room, he added, "You guys good on the ghost stories?"

Comments: The first book I read in 2019 was Small Spaces by Katherine Arden. I've read Arden's Winternight Trilogy and decided to give this one a try. I liked it a lot. It had a number of genuinely creepy moments, and I liked the story. What are you reading?

Monday, January 14, 2019

We're Back!: New Resolutions for the New Year + Most Anticipated Books of 2019

Hello. I’m back. Over my break, I didn’t read as much as I thought I would and for once, I had no eARC’s or library books to read before a certain date. I had to ask myself “Who am I?” and “What am I becoming?” But, on the other hand, I realized fairly quickly I needed the distance from the blog and books, no matter how temporary it was. Now that I’m back, I wanted to share a couple of my resolutions for the New Year and talk about some books—my most anticipated book releases of 2019, the ones I’ve already read, and the backlist titles I want to get to before the year is over.


Find something to do with Weekend Tidbits: I want to try and find another use for Weekend Tidbits. I have a couple ideas that I’m currently playing around with right now. I just don’t know when they’ll appear on the blog, if ever. We’ll see.

Paint more often using acrylics: I received a bunch of acrylic paint for Christmas, so it’s time to work on some art.

Upcoming books I’m looking forward to… 

The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie (February 26, 2019; Orbit): I’m a huge fan of Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch trilogy, which follows Breq, an ancillary soldier and the former Justice of Toren, essentially on a quest for revenge. It also involved politics, tea, and some of the best space battles I’ve read about. So, I’m looking forward to her fantasy novel, The Raven Tower, the synopsis for which promises meddlesome Gods and a battle for a throne. Needless to say, February 26th can’t get here soon enough.

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (August 6, 2019; Del Rey): I haven’t read a single novel by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, but I hope to change that this year—and hopefully before Gods of Jade and Shadow releases on August 6th. I’m excited for this one because the synopsis talks about mythology, adventure, a roaring twenties setting, and a MC who accidently frees a “Mayan God of Death.” There’s a lot to get excited about.

Finder by Suzanne Palmer (April 2, 2019; DAW): I don’t have too many expectations for Finder, but I am excited about it. I mean it involves an ex-nobleman, a repo man, aliens, and what sounds like a simple job that turns into a far more complicated situation.

Escaping Exodus by Nicky Drayden (August 20, 2019; Harper Voyager): Escaping Exodus is probably one of my most highly anticipated book releases of 2019. I have high hopes that the story turns out to be as intriguing as the synopsis makes it seem.

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon (February 26, 2019; Bloomsbury Publishing): I wasn’t the biggest fan of the Bone Season, but there were still some aspects I liked about it. Despite that, The Priory of the Orange Tree has dragons, so I’m looking forward to it.

The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders (February 12, 2019; Tor Books): The synopsis for The City in the Middle of the Night is kind of mysterious but also very intriguing. I’m looking forward to this one.

Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan (April 2, 2019; Wednesday Books): The MC can speak to Gods and in return they give her access to power. Is this becoming a theme? If it is, I’m here for it. As such, I will be over here waiting for Wicked Saints, just like Ann Leckie’s, The Raven Tower.

Dead Voices by Katherine Arden (August 27, 2019; G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young ): At the beginning of January, I read Small Spaces (which I enjoyed), and I was delighted to learn that the book was getting a sequel.

Upcoming books I’ve already read… 
  • The Beast’s Heart by Leif Shallcross (February 12, 2019; Berkley) 
  • A Dangerous Collaboration by Deanna Raybourn (March 12, 2019; Berkley) 

Backlist titles I want to read in 2019… 

The Burning Page and The Lost Plot by Genevieve Cogman: I just have to read these last two books and then I’ll be caught up with The Invisible Library Series.

A Winter’s Promise by Christelle Dabos: I’ve wanted to read A Winter’s Promise for a while. It has many elements that I find interesting such as the “Rupture,” “floating celestial islands,” and the abilities the main character, Ophelia, possesses.

Everything’s Trash, But It’s Okay by Phoebe Robinson: I read Robinson’s first essay collection: You Can’t Touch My Hair, And Other Things I Still Have To Explain. And I loved it. So, Everything’s Trash is on my TBR list. 

So, that’s about it for today. I can’t wait to get this New Year started. What are some of the books you’re looking forward to in 2019?

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

ARC Review: The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden

36621586Title: The Winter of the Witch
Series: Winternight Trilogy #3
Author: Katherine Arden
Source/Format: NetGalley; eARC
More Details: Historical fiction; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Del Rey; January 8, 2019

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads...

In the stunning conclusion to the bestselling Winternight Trilogy, following The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower, Vasya returns to save Russia and the spirit realm, battling enemies both mortal and magic...
The Winter of the Witch was one of my most highly anticipated releases of January 2019, and it was everything I was hoping it would be and more. Told in the same descriptive and highly atmospheric prose as its predecessors—The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower—The Winter of the Witch was a satisfying and epic conclusion to not only the trilogy but Vasya’s story as well. Plainly speaking, this book was excellent. 
Picking up right after the end of The Girl in the Tower, Vasya quickly found herself in new and dangerous situations that stemmed from the consequences of previous actions—many of which had no easy solutions. As such, the beginning got the story off to a fast-paced start and I was easily drawn back into the world of the Winternight trilogy. And from the opening chapter, the story quickly devolved into more as the plans of foes—both new and old—came to fruition. Choices had to be made. Lessons had to be learned. It was no easy road for any character—not Vasya, or anyone else—and the end result was a relatively fast-paced story with action and magic as wondrous as it was a little dark and mysterious.

Speaking of—magic, dark, and mysterious—it also accurately describes the setting. There were some familiar places toward the beginning of the story—like Moscow and the woods surrounding it—but as the story progressed, Vasya's character arch took her to parts of the spirit realm. I thought those scenes were pretty cool. And with Arden’s prose, those places were described in gorgeous detail, fitting in almost seamlessly with the more ordinary settings. 
And, of course, I can’t forget the characters. One of the best aspects of the Winternight Trilogy has always been the characters—mortal or otherwise. And characters all across the board went through a hefty dose of development in The Winter of the Witch, and no one was exactly the same by the end. Vasya’s story in particular was my favorite. Gone is the girl from the beginning of The Bear and the Nightingale, and in her place is a character that came into her own. And after everything she’s been through, I loved the way her story ended.

While I’m sad the trilogy is over—and I wish there was more—I can’t help but be satisfied with the conclusion. And if you’re a fan of this series, then The Winter of the Witch is a must read….

About the author...
Born in Texas, Katherine attended Middlebury College, where she studied French and Russian literature. She has lived abroad in France and in Moscow, and is fluent in both French and Russian. She has also lived in Hawaii, where she spent time guiding horse trips while writing The Bear and the Nightingale. She currently lives in Vermont...
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Disclaimer: this copy of the book was provided by the publisher (Del Rey) via NetGalley for this review, thank you!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! 2018 is officially over. 2019 is here. We’re not back to blogging just yet, but we’re working on some posts for the New Year. See you soon!

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