summer book tag

Thanks so much to Carrie from Salty Good Reads and Haley from Fangirl Fury for tagging me in the Summer Book Tag! This tag was originally created by BookTuber MissKaelyn.

We are getting well into August, the last month of summer. I figured I should complete this tag before it’s too late. *tears* Here we go!

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What book cover makes you think of summer?

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han. I’m not even entirely sure why?! Maybe the colors. Maybe the fact that it has summer in the title. I DON’T KNOW. It’s the first thing that came to mind.

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borrowed this from a friend a few years ago, and never returned it. so…technically i’ve now inherited it, right? 😉

What book has brightened your day?

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee. It was just so sweet and cute, and I was squealing the whole way through.

Find a book cover with yellow on it

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

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What is your favorite summer beach read?

I don’t know if I have a favorite, but this year I chose to take Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty along on my lake trip! It was great boat reading–light but interesting.

What action book had you running for the ice cream man?

Running for the ice cream man because I had to cool off? Ha, not sure I completely understand this. But the battles and action scenes in the first two books of the Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson were intense to read. I’m so invested in that series and those characters, and Sanderson isn’t afraid to kill his darlings! Makes me a very anxious reader.

(Sunburn) What book has left you with a bad and/or painful ending?

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas. I’ve talked about this one a lot, but basically it was just a big disappointment for me.

(Sunset) What book gave you the happiest feelings when it ended? 

A lot of Brandon Sanderson’s books do, because he manages to write such satisfying endings. In particular, his two (current) standalones, Warbreaker and Elantris made me feel so happy and fulfilled when they ended. Especially when I read his sweet novella for Elantris afterward.

What book cover reminds you of a sunset?

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. This book is quite creepy, but I have always ADORED this cover. Possibly the only movie cover EVER that isn’t cringe-worthy and is actually very beautiful! It doesn’t even look too much like a sunset, but it’s the first one that came to my mind.

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What is one book or series you hope to read this summer?

Right now I’m in the midst of Robin Hobb’s series The Realm of the Elderlings. I’m hoping to knock out a few more before August is finished!

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And to wrap up, I tag: Lenna @ Sugar Dusted Pages and Isatta @ The Abominable Book Girl. 🙂

Until next time,
Brianne

book review | the long way to a small, angry planet by becky chambers

the long way to a small, angry planet by becky chambers

My Rating: ★★★★☆

Captain Ashby Santoso leads a misfit crew on his spaceship, the Wayfarer, in this heartwarming sci-fi novel. The crew journeys to a far off land to create a new wormhole, and in the process learn more about each other, create connections, explore new planets, and face challenging trials. They come out of it for the better, and readers will too.

Recommended if you like:

  • diverse space characters
  • character-driven books
  • heartwarming sci-fi reads

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My Spoiler-Free Review

I had seen a lot of hype for this book before I read it, which is why I gave in and bought it. (It is now the most gorgeous book on my shelf so even if I hated it, I still wouldn’t regret the purchase.) And it lived up to the hype!

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just sooooo pretty *heart eyes*

You need to understand what kind of book it is before you go into it, though. It’s slow, not high-action, and definitely character-driven. It’s not boring by any means, but I know that I, perhaps like many others, have to be in the right mood for slower books. If you go into this expecting a really exciting, high-paced space story, that’s not what you’re going to get. You are, however, going to get a heartwarming, funny, touching, sweet, thought-provoking read.

My likes

I’m not one to get worked up over lack of diversity in books (most of the time), but the diversity among characters was the biggest highlight of this book. We not only have diversity in terms of age, gender, sexuality, and identity, but also species. I mean, this is a science fiction book. Weirdly enough, in sci-fi novels we don’t always see diversity in terms of species within the main characters. In this novel, we have three main characters out of seven who aren’t human.

And if you’re like me and a little unsure about those characters of different species, just give them a chance. Becky Chambers writes these characters so excellently. It’s impossible not to connect and empathize with every one of them. They all have unique quirks, backgrounds, motivations, and struggles. And they are a joy to get to know.

That’s what this book really boils down to for me–it is just a joyful, fun, warm and fuzzy read. I dare you to pick this up and not feel warm inside by the end.

My not so likes

As mentioned before, this book is slow-paced. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it did take me some time to get into it. I do much better with fast-paced novels, so working up the motivation to stick with something slower can be hard for me. I set the book down a few times before coming back to it and finishing it within a day or two, once I finally got into it.

On a related note, I wished the climax had been a bit more…climactic, if you will. And I wish the plot had built toward it a little more. It was all a bit sudden, which was weird given the slow pace.

Overall

Everyone could get something out of this book. Even if you don’t usually read sci-fi, give this one a chance! My guess is you won’t regret it.

Wayfarer crew by SebasP
art by SebasP

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Have you read The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet? What did you think of it? Leave your thoughts below!

Until next time,
Brianne

why you need to join LITSY

Hello all,

Today I write to you about a very important topic. I’d like to give you some advice. This is crucial to your health and well-being if you consider yourself bookish in any way.

Here it is: You need to join Litsy.

Litsy is AWESOME, it’s amazing, not many people know about it but it’s so fun and wonderful and the greatest and JUST JOIN NOW.

But wait–what IS Litsy, you ask?

Litsy is basically Instagram+Goodreads put together in one app.

But wait–isn’t “bookstagram” already in existence? And Goodreads? Why do we need yet another bookish social media?

The answer to all those questions: Litsy is better.

Read on to learn why Litsy is the greatest, and why you should join today.

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Litsy is all about books.

That’s it! In your feed on Litsy, you won’t see any sort of personal posts from friends or celebrities, no ads, no pics of food or travel–NOTHING but books and bookish posts. I don’t know about you, but oftentimes bookish instagram posts get lost in the feed and they can be hard to enjoy when I’m distracted by other posts about other things. It’s nice to dwell with just the books and readers for a little while.

You can post as many beautiful (or not so beautiful) bookish pictures as your heart desires.

Yes, you can do this on Instagram too. But on Litsy, you won’t find just pictures of books. You’ll find pictures from the life of a reader too, or the life of a reading teacher or librarian. All pictures are bookish, but I find Litsy a little more real, more organic if you will. Oftentimes, “bookstagram” seems so polished and perfect. Litsy is for those of us who don’t have fancy cameras and props but still genuinely love reading and want to share that love with others.

some of my attempts at beautiful photos

But you don’t have to post pictures if you don’t want to.

Although most users do post pictures, you can create posts on Litsy without pictures as much as you want! You can rate books, write blurbs about them, or share quotes–with OR without a picture. I know my photo skills are subpar, and it can be easy to get self-conscious about it. It’s so nice to have the option of skipping a pic if I feel like it.

You can tag books in your pictures.

In fact, you have to tag a book in all your posts. Unfortunately, you can only tag one book with a picture, but you can always tag more in the comments. This is so friendly for users! You can scour the tags to read readers’ opinions or admire the pretty pictures. Or, if you see an interesting picture in your feed but don’t know the book, you can click on the tag to find out more. PLUS! Each book tag page includes a synopsis of the book, the page number, and the overall rating from Litsy members. How handy and informative, eh?

Yes, you can rate the books you’ve read.

Whether you post a picture of a book you just finished, or you go search for any book on your “read” list, you can put a rating to the book that sticks with it and gets calculated into its overall rating on Litsy. You can “pick,” “so-so,” “pan,” or “bail” a book. This rating system is so simple, and any time you encounter a book you’ve rated before, your rating shows up. Another handy reference tool!

You never have to worry about spoiling someone or being spoiled yourself.

Yet ANOTHER super handy feature of Litsy is the spoiler warning! You can tag your photos with spoilers and you can even tag comments for spoilers. This hides the entire photo or comment, so only those who want to take the risk–or have already read the book–can click on it and read.

Photo challenges, discussions, and read-alongs galore!

There are so many fun ways to be involved on Litsy. There are always at least three monthly photo challenges popping up in my feed, discussions left and right, and read-alongs open to any interested participants. Most recently, I’ve seen a read-along for lengthy tomes, a Lord of the Rings read-along, and more. You can pick and choose favorite ways to be involved with other readers, if you so desire!

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my photo for a 4th of July challenge

Track your reading stats.

If you log all your reading through Litsy, it generates your stats and also gives you  
“Litfluence” points. You can see how many books you’ve read, your pages read, your likes, your comments, and your book adds. All these stats are used (somehow–I’m honestly not exactly sure how) to create your Litfluence. Your Litfluence goes higher and higher the more you use Litsy, which basically just makes you feel awesome each time your reach a new milestone.

Participate in book exchanges.

Book exchanges happen ALL THE TIME on Litsy! There have been secret exchanges and not secret exchanges, holiday exchanges and exchanges just for the fun of it! I personally haven’t participated in any yet, but I need to remedy that. Every time others post their pictures from exchanges, I get so jealous. They look like a TON of fun.

Make some friends!

Everyone on Litsy is SO friendly. I can’t say I’m super active or outgoing on Litsy, but I have always felt so welcomed when I commented on others’ photos, joined in on discussions, or received comments on my own posts. Everyone on Litsy really just wants to connect with others who love books as much as they do, and it’s so nice to be part of a genuine community like that.

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So–what are you waiting for?! Haven’t I convinced you yet? Go download Litsy now! It’s available for iOS and Android, so no excuses are valid here. 😉

And, if you do decide to join up, take a look for me! My username is briski.

Until next time,
Brianne

july wrap-up

It’s that time of the month…

July was a busy summer month for me! I did lots of hanging out with friends and family, a trip to Chicago, working, and of course, reading and crafting and blogging! I didn’t do quite as much reading as I hoped–I think I was slightly in a weird slump for a little while. I read a lot, but didn’t finish many books. However, I’m off on vacation tomorrow so I’m sure I will make up for that in the days to come!

Read on for my monthly wrap-up!

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bookish things

stats

  • Total books: 5 books
  • Total pages: 2,278 pages
  • Longest book: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
  • Shortest book: Poison Study by Maria V Snyder
  • Favorite book: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
  • Least favorite book: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

(most beautiful covers, July edition)

mini reviews

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir: ★★★☆☆

I found this slow-paced, with a love square that was really unnecessary. Some characters were intriguing, but the overall story was nothing special to me. Read my full review here.

Poison Study by Maria V Snyder: ★★★★☆

This book has such an interesting concept. I really liked reading Yelena’s journey as she became a food taster and discovered more about her magic. Plus, the slow burn romance was delicious. Read my full review here.

Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab★★★★☆

This book was a great follow-up to This Savage Song, but I still had some qualms with it. August was lovely, Ilsa was awesome, and Kate was a little confusing. Also, the monsters were monstrous. Read my full review here.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee★★★★★

This book is SO LOVELY and you must go read it now. It’s exactly what you’d expect from reading the synopsis–a wacky, adventurey, romantical historical fiction book. Read my full review here.

Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb: ★★★★☆

This is an intriguing start to this enormous series from Robin Hobb. There is so much going on, and poor young Fitz is caught up in the middle of it all. This is a must read if you love little orphan boys who bond with puppies as they try to find their place in the world.

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crafty things

I finished my first official commissioned project this month! My sister’s friend is soon to have a baby girl, and I made a minty green and pink chevron blanket for her. My sister seems pleased with how it turned out, and I am too! Plus, I was able to use some of the leftover yarn to experiment with some baby hats and create an original pattern. Success!

completed

  • two baby hats — and I created the pattern myself!
  • mint green and pink chevron baby blanket

in progress

  • hexagon blanket-turned pillow cover
  • body pillow cover
  • round yellow cushion cover

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bloggish things

Man, I was a busy blogger this July! In case you haven’t realized, I created a blog posting schedule, FINALLY. It shall be:

Mondays = book reviews
Wednesdays = bookish posts
Fridays = crafty, personal, writing, or random posts

ANYWAY. Here are some of my blog highlights from this month:

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How was your month of July? What were some of your highlights?

Until next time,
Brianne

book review | poison study by maria v snyder

poison study by maria v snyder

My Rating: ★★★★☆

Imprisoned for murder (of the self-defense variety), Yelena knows she’s soon to die. However, she receives an offer to become the Commander’s food taster rather than face execution. Though the job is deadly and certainly not easy, she accepts. This alters her path in ways she couldn’t expect, and she finds herself confronted by poisons, politics, magic, and her dark past.

Recommended if you like:

  • Hardworking, realistic heroines
  • Lowish fantasy with magical intrigue
  • Slow-burn romance

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My Spoiler-Free Review

I really really enjoyed this while reading it. It was one I didn’t want to put down, and didn’t get bored of quickly! I find the entire concept of this book interesting–I mean, a murderer getting a second chance at life by becoming a food taster? Sounds super intriguing right off the bat!

However, after finishing the book, I had the “that was it?” kind of feeling. Which is unfortunate. And looking ahead at reviews of the rest of the series, I’m a little bummed that they don’t seem to go quite in the direction I was hoping.

Nonetheless, this book on its own was a solid and enjoyable read.

My likes

As already mentioned: the concept. Very cool.

Yelena. Our main character is not the automatically perfect badass heroine. She trains hard to build up her strength. She does research to learn how to become better at tracking and hiding in the wilderness. She has a natural intelligence and wit, but she doesn’t get everything right. She doesn’t know immediately who is ratting her out to a spy or who’s behind the mystery. This type of protagonist and heroine will make me instantly love a book 1000 times more than others without such realistic, relatable protagonists.

And the romance! It wasn’t quite perfect, but pretty near. I really loved the progression of it; it was a slow burn for sure. And it wasn’t the focal point of the storyline. Plus, they were a wonderful balance for each other.

The pacing. This book wasn’t high action all the time, but the slow moments came at welcome times and balanced out the plot. Even the “slower” moments I found interesting–anything about Yelena learning about poisons or unraveling the mysteries of the political situation one step at a time were still super intriguing.

My not so likes

I guess the general lack of not quite taking it there? I expected the book to go in a different direction than it did, and while I do like how it went, I don’t think it got quite as epic as I thought it would. And like I said, when I finished, I felt a bit ~hm. And that feeling was emphasized when I read synopses/reviews of the rest of the series and didn’t find them too appealing.

Also, the reveal of Yelena’s magic. When other characters finally find out that she has magic–and a certain someone has been proven to hate magicians–their reactions did not make sense to me. (view spoiler) I found that pretty annoying, because it was built up to be a big thing…but then again, I guess not.

Overall

Read it! This is not hard/high fantasy, so most readers would enjoy Poison Study. Besides, it functions all right as a standalone, so if you’re not interested in continuing the series (like me) you can enjoy this one and call it good.

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Have you read Poison Study? What did you think of it? Leave your thoughts below!

Until next time,
Brianne

the curse of crochet

If you’ve read any of my monthly wrap-up posts, you know that I include a little section about my “crafty” things because I’ve been crocheting like crazy since the start of the year. Obviously, I am still obsessed with crochet, but also…it feels like a curse sometimes. Here are some reasons why.

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1. It has ruined television watching for me.

Why? Because I can no longer sit still and watch a TV show for an hour straight–heck, even half an hour straight–unless it’s a series I’m super into (Game of Thrones, anyone?). I NEED to keep my hands busy and my mind slightly occupied. What better way to do that than work on a crochet project?! My fingers start twitching if I go too long watching something without crocheting.

2. It has eaten my bank account.

This one is pretty self explanatory. Suddenly I have no money for fun things because oops, I spent $30 on yarn. For the second time this week.

*shrugs*

3. It steals time away from reading.

How rude is it that I started to love crochet right as I rekindled my love for reading? Now I feel like a kid, forced to split up her time between her divorced parents: one night I get to read, the next night I have to crochet. I’m bitter that my eyeballs can’t work independently, so I can have one to read, one to work on crochet. (How awesome would that be?!)

4. I’m pale as heck and it’s crochet’s fault.

Because, see, crochet is an indoor activity. At least, it is for me. When you have endless supplies, balls of yarn, and are working on a huge afghan, going outside in 75 degree weather to crochet doesn’t sound nice. Crochet is a perfect activity for winter, when you can curl up inside, by the fire, with a mug of cocoa. NOT for summer, when you need to get outside and soak up the Vitamin D.

5. It’s addicting.

Or maybe it’s just me. But with crochet, there is so much to learn, so many possibilities, so many challenging projects to take on. My ideas are endless! As soon as I finish one project, I immediately want to start another. I WILL NEVER ESCAPE. (Not that I want to.)

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So there it is. Crochet is a curse, an addiction, a money- and time-sucking hobby. But, I still love it with all my heart.

Stay tuned as I finish up some projects and attempt to take some decent pictures to share on the blog soon.

Until next time,
Brianne

 

top 5 wednesday | july 26

I’m back again for another Top 5 Wednesday!

Top 5 Wednesday is run by Sam at thoughtsontomes. Check out the Goodreads group if you’re interested in learning more or joining in on the fun.

Today’s prompt: Series that got better

Technically, I suppose I can’t really call this post a Top 5 Wednesday post. Why, you ask? Because my list down below only includes 4 series I’ve read that got better.

I know, I’m a poser! But I can’t think of another series that really should be included, and at the same time, I do want to gush about the ones I can think of.

So, this week we’re doing Top 4 Wednesday.

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The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

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I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who wasn’t quite feeling the vibe of this series when I started off with book one. The Raven Boys is really just a huge set up for the rest of the series; not necessarily how you want to start things off.

However, I knew this series had a big group of followers, and I figured I should persevere for at least one book more. So, I read The Dream Thieves, and LET ME TELL YOU. My perseverance was worth it. That book alone is legitimately SO cool, and it totally sold me on Maggie Stiefvater’s writing and this series. The rest of the series was really enjoyable–by which I mean Stiefvater tore my heart out and stomped on it–and I would highly recommend The Raven Cycle for any and all readers.

Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson

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This series is so great, it almost feels like it shouldn’t be on this list. Book one–The Final Empire–was such a strong start to the series; however, each book somehow surpassed the one before it. My mind was constantly blown as I read this series, and just when I thought Sanderson couldn’t make things any more epic, he did.

Some readers thought book two–The Well of Ascension–wasn’t the greatest, but I firmly do NOT hold that opinion. I loved it, and I especially loved Hero of Ages, the final book in the trilogy. Sanderson’s writing is so strong, his characters so dynamic, and this series really was an astounding first trilogy from him.

Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo

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Call me crazy, but when I first started Six of Crows, I didn’t understand the hype. I enjoyed the book, I did–(please don’t hurt me!)–but I personally don’t love flashback-heavy stories and didn’t quite connect to all the characters.

HOWEVER. I continued the duology, and Crooked Kingdom blew me away. Such a strong book, amazing characters, and nonstop action. I loved it. I also possibly sobbed my heart out when ONE CERTAIN THING happened toward the end. Nonetheless, I finally understood the hype and would certainly revisit the series again.

Red Rising series by Pierce Brown

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This series actually has a unique place on this list, because the reason it got better is a little different. This series seemed to evolve as it went on, and as I read, I almost wondered if Pierce Brown did it intentionally or if it just sort of happened as he developed the story. Either way, IT WORKS.

This series starts with Darrow joining a rebellion without truly believing in it himself. This made Red Rising, book one, hard to engage in. I didn’t really understand Darrow’s motives for all he was doing and putting himself through, and it felt like that wouldn’t change as the series went on.

But, of course, it did. He went on an amazing personal growth journey, one that really made me believe in him, root for him, and totally invest in his story. Plus, the plot in each book also became more and more epic, with new characters, new worlds, and new hurdles to overcome. This is definitely a new favorite series, and one I’d highly recommend to any sci-fi lover.

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There you have it! My top 5 4 series that got better. What are YOUR favorite series that got better? Do you have any recommendations that could become the fifth on my list? Comment down below!

Until next time,
Brianne