Books from the Backlog [4]

Books from the Backlog is a feature from Carole’s Random Life in Books. It’s a way to feature some books that you’ve long neglected in the hopes that you’ll finally, finally have the inkling to read them.

This week, I’m featuring books that I’ve bought back in 2013. I know that’s when I bought them because that was the date when I took the picture. Ha.

Back in the days when I have money to burn for books, I buy random releases that I see in the blogosphere. And I think this is the case in this instance. I still haven’t read Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein so I’m not even sure why I bought Rose Under Fire. Though, come to think of it, it’s probably because I have FOMO on the sequel.

Bodyguard by Chris Bradford is a series from a UK author. I have no idea how I found it but Goodreads has a pretty good rating on it. I can never turn down a book about boy spies so really have no clue why I haven’t picked this up. I might just try to read it this weekend.

Projection by Risa Green confuses me, to be honest. But with the confusion comes curiosity. Some of the reviews I’ve read on Goodreads speaks of soul swapping through a kiss. Sounds kind of intriguing but there’s a whole, popular girls vs. school reject kind of vibe that I’m not really into. So, we shall see.

Anyway this is my Throwback Thursday post today. I’m linking this to Carole’s blog but check out today’s posts from other bloggers as well!

[757]: Vengeful by VE Schwab

My love affair with Blackout Poetry began with Victor Vale. To date, I think I’ve created over 100 of them. The majority were e-books because I couldn’t find it in me to destroy a physical book. This obsession only rivals that of my obsession with characters of supernatural powers. And the group of villains in this series is one that is worthy of the X-Men universe caliber. Victor Vale, in particular is one of my faves. He’s right up there with Thanos. The best kind of villains are the ones that make you question whether or not their hearts are in the right place. And therein lies the rub. I straddle the fine line between wordless wonder and seething contempt for their predisposition to play gods.

This sequel’s driving force is, simply put, revenge. Victor and Eli’s saga of trying to kill each other continues. Even if Eli has been imprisoned in a lab, being experimented on by an equally deranged scientist, his every waking hour is dedicated to getting out and finding Victor again so he can exact his revenge.

Victor, on the other hand, while living free, is sidled with a crippling illness from which he couldn’t find a cure. Reanimating his body apparently has a side effect. His bouts of blacking out was becoming increasingly frequent. His failure to find a cure means the body count for dead EOs are climbing. But in the periphery of his mind remains Eli, his arch nemesis. He knows he’s still out there, plotting the exact same thing.

Besides the usual suspects, we’ve got an EO with the ability to turn anyone or anything to dust with a single touch. Her evolution from a doting housewife to a mafia godfather to becoming one of the most feared EO started when her own husband tried to burn her alive. Revenge is best served in a bowlful of dust. And that’s exactly what Marcella did to all those who wronged her.

Her path of destruction crosses with two other EOs whose abilities will help her take over the city. One is a shape shifter; the other, a shield. In a short time, Marcella and her little crew of menace became notoriously famous and public enemy number one. But there’s one organization who will exploit an alliance just for the purpose of catching Victor Vale and his cohorts.

As per usual, Ms. Schwab developed a crew of complex and highly interesting characters. They’re the ones that forces a reader to examine their stance on the whole good vs. bad thing and be conflicted on whether their weaknesses are their strengths and vice versa. Eli remain staunched in his belief that the EOs that he helped create are an abomination that the world needs eradication. In the meantime, Victor is ridding them one by one but for mostly selfish reasons. So while I loved, loved Victor in the first book, he was purely suspect in this one.

Marcella was a character that I loved and hated in equal measure. While I applaud the addition of an avenging woman in this novel, I didn’t like how quickly she let power get to her head. But boy, was she fun to watch. I enjoyed seeing her turn her enemies into dust and plot to take over the city of Merit. Though her methods were hella dubious, in my opinion.

I loved this sequel and I hope there’ll be more. I loved the familial dynamics between Victor, Sydney, and Mitch. It’s about belonging and finding a place to exist that one can accept – whether that be with others or on your own.

Hoarders, Books Edition: Episode 217

Vengeful by V.E. Schwab | To Obama by Jeanne Marie Laskas | Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare | Crossing the Line by Simone Elkeles | Your Own Worst Enemy by Gordon Jack | Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor | Shade by Pete Souza | Make Blackout Poetry | One Day in December by Josie Silver

My first Hoarders post of the year! Let’s hope I don’t make a habit of this. This pile includes the books I got for Christmas which, sadly consisted of only two books: Shade by Pete Souza and Make Blackout Poetry. Mind you, there were only three books on my list last year, so 2 out of 3 ain’t bad. (The other is Michelle Obama’s Becoming – sold out. Womp. Womp.).

A friend of mine from the gym lent me two books before the Christmas holidays. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance to read them: One Day in December, and the other, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. There’d been so much talk about how awesome One Day in December is so I borrowed it from her after she raved about it.

READ THIS WEEK:

Ru by Kim Thúy was a memoir of a Vietnamese woman’s journey from being one of the boat people fleeing strife in Vietnam to her life as a migrant in Canada. This was such a short book and I’m sad to say that her story wasn’t was affective as I’d hoped it would be.

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult was your typical fare from this author. It was sublime, sad, completely immersive and if you’re not watching, it would hit you where it would hurt the most.

The Immortalists was a popular book last year but I didn’t pick it up until I saw it on my Libby app. It was a good read but not earth-shattering.

That’s my semi-update for the week. Let me know what you got up to in my comments below!

Check This Out: Handle With Care by Helena Hunting

Hey! Huge fan of Helena Hunting here. I’ve looked forward to her books ever since she became a published author. Today, I get to share the cover and an excerpt for her upcoming summer release, Handle with Care. Check it. This will be out on August 27th, 2019.

NOTE: This is an unedited excerpt and is subject to change.

I’m startled out of my thoughts when my brother jumps up and shouts a bunch of profane nonsense, hands flailing like he’s trying to swim on land, or approximate the chicken dance while on an LSD trip.

“You can’t do this! It’s absolute bullshit!” Armstrong yells.

I look around the table, trying to piece together what I missed.

“I’m sorry, Armstrong. I know this is a shock, but we feel it’s in the company’s best interest to put Lincoln at the helm during this transitional stage,” G-mom says firmly.

At the helm? I look to G-mom who’s busy not looking at me.

Armstrong jabs at finger at himself. “But I’m the one who’s put in all the time here! I deserve to run the company! Lincoln doesn’t know the first thing about Moorehead. All he knows how to do is dig wells and forage for food in the wilderness. How are those valuable assets here?” He turns his attention to our mother. “Did you know about this? How can you let this happen? Look at him. How can that be the face of our company? He looks like he crawled out of a gutter and mugged a twenty-year-old college kid on a bender. How is this better for our bottom line?”

My mother clasps her hands in front of her. “I’m sorry, Armstrong, but this decision wasn’t mine to make. I know this is hard for you, but your grandmother and fath—”

Armstrong stomps his foot, exactly as a toddler would. “The company is mine! Lincoln can’t have it!”

I raise a hand, half to quiet my brother and also to find out what the freaking deal is. “Whoa, let’s back this bus up.  Can someone explain what’s going on?”

“You’ve been appointed as the CEO of Moorehead Media, according to the will,” Christophe—no R, because that would make it far too pedestrian a name—my father’s lawyer says.

I’m working on trying to remain calm as I address my grandmother. “You didn’t say anything about me being CEO. You said you needed my help.”

“Running the company, yes,” she says through a practiced, stiff smile.

It’s her warning face, but seriously, when she said she needed my help for a few months I figured it meant I’d be keeping Armstrong in line while she sorted out who was going to take over the company, which I realize now was a stupid assumption.

“I didn’t think that meant CEO. How am I going to run a company with this dickhead on staff?” I motion to my brother.

“The name calling is unnecessary,” G-mom replies.

“Lincoln’s not even part of this family! He hasn’t attended one event in the past five years except for Dad’s funeral. He didn’t bother coming to my wedding and now he’s going to run the company? How is that fair?”

I snort. “Your wedding was an expensive joke.”

He crosses his arms over his chest. “I was set up. Amalie had cold feet and made me out to look like the bad guy.”

The woman beside him shoots him disgusted look.

Armstrong clears his throat and tugs at his collar. “My wedding is not the real issue. The point is that you’ve never involved yourself in any part of this family and now you think you can come in and take over. I will not stand by and let this happen!” He keeps jabbing his finger at me, as if he’s engaged in a finger sword fight.

I lean back in my chair and lace my fingers behind my neck. Armstrong has always been reactive. And self-absorbed. For a while it seemed like he finally had it together—back when he was engaged. But ever since that fiasco of a wedding he seems to have come completely unglued. Again. But worse this time. “Someone needs a timeout.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Helena Hunting

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of PUCKED, Helena Hunting lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her incredibly tolerant family and two moderately intolerant cats. She’s writes contemporary romance ranging from new adult angst to romantic sports comedy.

Social Media Links:

Repeat After Me

It’s easy for us to get bogged down with things that don’t matter. In all honesty, I know it’s the reason why I had a tough time in 2018. Finding a balance between life, family, and self-care has always been a daunting task. The trick is to not only declutter our own spaces, but also our day to day activities. If you know what your priorities are, it will be easy to have a structure in your schedule. But this post isn’t about that.

This post is about the things that I need to remember so I can avoid having a repeat of 2018. I’ve been blogging since 2011, and every year I worry about the little things that deter me from enjoying my hobbies again. Things like book review deadlines, acquiring the latest hyped-up book, hauling books every week just so I can show everyone my recent acquisitions. And most of all, I got caught up with comparing my reads, my followers, my popularity with everybody else. Last year, it got to a point when I would go for weeks at a time without checking my blog. All because with every day that passed by without a post, the heavier I felt about it all. So I just ignored it all together.

Somehow, I lost sight of what it means to have an outlet for my thoughts, opinions, and emotions. I may know a few people who are just as crazy about books as I am, but they’re far and few in between. My blog, besides being an outlet for my opinions, is also a way for me to reach out to the world and connect. And even if my blog is tiny, somewhere out there, it will find a way to someone beyond the far reaches of my imagination.

  • My blog is a hobby.

It’s a place of creation; a place where my mind gives birth to something spontaneous, and even artistic. Ideas that are not forced. Ideas that come as naturally as breathing. It’s also a place where ideas can die but in a natural progression as in life. And that’s okay and perfectly acceptable. Above all else, it’s a hobby. One that I should enjoy and not treat as an obligation.

  • I cannot/will not apologize.

Sometimes, we get caught up in pleasing others or fitting in with the majority that we lose sight of who we are. It’s the same thing when we review books. Don’t apologize for your opinions. Don’t get into the habit of looking over your shoulders to see what everyone else is doing. YOU DO YOU.

  • R E S P E C T

Respect others as you would respect yourself. And the only way to do that is to be honest with yourself and your audience. Take pride in what you do but never ridicule others for their choices and opinions.

  • You are not in a race/competition.

Envy is a deadly sin. One that prevents us from enjoying what we love: reading. Forget about the bloggers that are getting ARCs and new books left, right and centre. Worry about the books that are left unattended on your shelves. Compete against yourself. Beat your previous goals. Challenge yourself to read books that you wouldn’t otherwise read. But don’t give in to pressure. Don’t let anybody else dictate what you should read.

[756]: Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare

Clocking in at 880 pages, Queen of Air and Darkness was a beast of a book. But then again, Ms. Clare has been putting out books of this size for the last few years. And yet, as daunting as it was, fans who are heavily vested in this series will find it as addictive as her other books; as easily read, and just as fantastic as all her other books in this world have been.

I started reading this during my holiday break as I’d planned. Aided with an audiobook, it still took me two weeks to finish this monster. And yes, it was a fantastic installment. One that was filled with heartbreak, adventure, amazing characters, and worlds beyond our wild imaginings.

the nitty gritty

Here, we witness the desperation the Blackthorn’s felt since losing one of their own. And one sibling in particular, who was willing to do whatever it takes to bring her back. Even indulging in dark magic. In the meantime, warlocks are getting sicker and sicker, Julian and Emma are dealing with the parabatais’-being-in-love curse, Jace and Clary are lost somewhere in fairy land, and the father and daughter menace known as Horace and Zara, respectively (I can’t, for the life of me remember their last name.) are about to get what they were after all this time: control of Shadowhunters, dissolution of the peace accord, and finally, finally getting rid of the downworlders. We are also introduced to a world we’ve never seen before. An alternate world where Sebastian roams free and wreaking death and destruction to the shadowhunters, downworlders, and humans alike.

the kids are alright

It was hard to read this book and not feel like your heart is being ripped into pieces. The Blackthorns had lost so much and suffered too many heartbreaks for such a young bunch. But at the end of the day, they have each other and their love shone through with every choices and sacrifices they make.

in other words

Look, this book is hard to condense in a 3-400 word review – which is my limit when I write a review, but just know that if you’re a fan, you’ll be clamouring for the next installment. There are so many things to look forward to, and without spoiling anything, there’s hopefully going to be an epic wedding in the next book. A certain prophecy not happening, and us fans getting twice the fun with Jace Herondale. I don’t know how many books are coming, but man, it’s going to be a painful wait.

2018 in Review

My Year In Books

So we’ve all come to an understanding that 2018 was not a stellar year for me blogging-wise. I was uninspired to write, and ideas had completely dried out. But I’ve also learn to accept the fact that inspiration is a fickle thing. It’s a fact that you have to nurture it. Or, like a muscle, you need to work on it constantly until it becomes a natural thing that’s a part of your life.

My year in reading, however, is a different story. I read more, borrowed more, and acquired less. I’ve also rid of a bunch books. It turns out, there was a lot of people at my gym who were only too happy to take them off my hands. I still have a long way to go, but I’m getting there.

My predilection to acquire books – via publishers and bookstores have slowed down considerably. Which is great because Lord knows, I have enough.

Non Fiction Year

In 2018, I’ve worked hard in reading more nonfiction books. Mostly memoirs, books about feminism and politics. My favourites being, Salman Rushdie’s memoir, Joseph Anton, Will Schwalbe’s The End of Your Life Book Club, and Cecile Richards’ Make Trouble. I’ve also finally read Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential.

Tally

All in all, my year ended with 191 books – a very good year, if I may so myself. Thanks to audiobooks, I’ve managed to read some books that had long fermented in my shelves. I’ve also discovered the romance package from Audible – which was great for about 2 weeks, then I stopped because one can only listen to so much sex. Lol.

The Libby app from my library was a huge money saver as I was able to cut down on my audible purchases this year. From there, I was able to borrow and re-read the entire Charley Davidson series, the Twilight series, and have found some really great reads that I wouldn’t have otherwise picked up on my own accord.

In 2019

I’m really looking forward to this year. I’m going to not feel guilty for not blogging as regularly as I can, nor am I going to create situations for myself where pressure builds up to ridiculous heights. I am going to limit my spending and requesting books, but will be taking advantage of borrowing as much as I can without it getting out of hand. I want to thank you again for still being around. I know that blogging has slowed down for some that I follow, but let’s all keep in mind that above all else, blogging is still a hobby. One that can take a backseat when life gets crazy.

[755]: Darius the Great is not Okay by Adib Khorram

First time author, Adib Khorram takes his readers to the sights, sounds, and people of Iran. A country, in my own opinion that has had a reputation as a dangerous territory. 

After reading this book however, I was left awestruck by its wild beauty, rich culture, historic and picturesque architecture. 

In this book, we meet Darius, a product of a mixed-race marriage who can’t seem to find his purchase in the world in which he grew up. His dad might be as White as they come, but his features are pure Persian. He’s an awkward, quiet teenager who finds himself a target among his peers. So when his parents announced that his family was headed to Iran for three weeks, he welcomed the opportunity to find refuge from his life in America. 

In Iran, he’d hoped to garner some closeness to his grandparents, especially his grandfather whose illness had taken for the worse. He also wanted to learn about his mom’s Motherland, her people, their relatives, and soak up traditions and culture. In the hopes that he’d learn to understand why he’s never felt comfortable in his own person and why he’ll always feel like the outsider no matter where he is. 

He finds more than he bargained for in Iran. He, too, was taken in by the beauty of the country; the warmth and acceptance of his people, and most of all, a step towards understanding the only thing he seemed to have in common with his father: depression. Both take medications in precise synchronicity. Darius, for the most part, gets along with his dad. They have the same affinity for Star Trek. And yet, they seemed miles apart when it matters. 

Darius has never been able to get along with his peers. So finding friendship in the least likely places confounded him the most. 

The thing is, I never had a friend like Sohrab before. One who understood me without even trying. Who knew what it was like to be stuck on the outside because of one little thing that set you apart.


This book is about belonging. It’s about finding your place in the world no matter where you are. It’s being comfortable in your true self, and understanding that you’ll only be happy once you accept that you can never be what people tell you who you should be. 

Hoarders Books Edition: Episode 216

The Moor’s Last Sight by Salman Rushdie | Shalimar the Clown by Salman Rushdie | Make Trouble by Cecile Richards | The Curse of Tenth Grave by Darynda Jones | Eleventh Grave in Moonlight by Darynda Jones | The Trouble with Twelfth Grave by Darynda Jones | If We Were Villains by M. L. Rio

Hey, All. 

So November has come and gone, Christmas is upon us, and the end of 2018 is almost nigh. 

I wish I can say it had been a productive year – blog wise, but I would be lying. I have accepted the fact that blogging will be a sporadic thing for me now. I will blog when I can but remain a reading dynamo for the rest of my natural born life. 

Black Friday is always a great day to go hunting for book sales so that’s pretty much what this post is about. 

Book Outlet Canada had their 30% off sale and I took advantage. Though, if I may recall, I did not practice any self control in 2017. At the end of the day, I ended up with several boxes of books. This year, however, I managed to control the urge and limited myself to a box of 8 books. I do have another batch in my shopping cart but I’m going to have to postpone checking it out on account of: Christmas. 

I finally gave in and bought whatever books I’m missing for my Salman Rushdie library. As well, I’m only one book away from having all the Charley Davidson books in my possession. The 13th book comes out in 2019 which is not too far away now. If We Were Villains has been on my wish list forever so when I saw it at a discounted price, I snapped it up right away. 

I feel like Make Trouble by Cecile Richards deserves a post all on her own because it was ah-mazing. Once I get my thoughts in order, that is. 

I think this will be it for now. I have a million blog posts to get through. 

Happy reading!

xoxo

[3] Romance Reads Round Up: The VIP Series by Kristen Callihan

 


Idol
by Kristen Callihan
Published: June 7th, 2016
Rating 4 out of 5 Stars

Kristen Callihan’s VIP series is about the Kill John band. Rockstars and sex gods, who has recently suffered the heartbreak of a failed suicide by one of its members.

Second only to the the suicidal member, Killian James is probably more affected by this setback. After all, Jax Blackwood is the other half of what makes Kill John the band. As well, he considers him as his brother. So when he didn’t see the abyss that Jax was slowly falling into, he blames himself. Guilt-ridden and uninspired to face the world, he plunged into a pool of alcoholism and found himself in a wreck on Liberty Bell’s front yard.

Although their meeting got off to a rocky start, Libby and Killian found a kindred spirit in each other. Libby was also on the run from the world having just lost her parents. She hasn’t spoken to anyone in months prior to Killian crashing into her isolation. In the end, they’d both realize that they are exactly with whom they needed. Libby, to inspire the music back into Killian’s life, and Killian to bring Libby back into the world of the living.


Managed
by Kristen Callihan
Published: November 14th, 2016
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Gabriel Scott is perhaps my favourite character in this series. As the title insinuates, he is the manager for the band.

His friendship/brotherhood with Kill John started out when they were kids at a boarding school in England. They took him under their wings and as years go by, their friendship only strenghtened to a brotherhood. He, too was especially affected by Jax’s failed suicide. It was an eye-opener to the fast life that being around Kill John slowly devolved into. Since then, he’s become even more staid, stuffy, and short of being a hermit.

The romance between Gabriel and Sophie is also my favourite so far. I don’t know how many more books are coming but it’s safe to say these two win my vote. Bonus: Sophie’s mom is half Filipino so a girl after my own heart. Anyway, Gabriel is a very regimented, disciplined, and serious man. So meeting a whirlwind like Sophie Darling threw him for a loop. I love the way Sophie took him out of his comfort zone at all times. They were a mixture of mercurial and coquettish fun that really worked as far as character chemistry goes.

Sophie has a dark history relating to the band, however. So working for them might just be a bit more complicated that she anticipated.


Fall
by Kristen Callihan
Published: October 23rd, 2018
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


Ahhh, Jax Blackwood. Laid-back on the outside, a mess of angst on the inside. Is it weird to associate him with Jasper Cullen? I don’t know, but that’s who I saw in my head as I was reading his story.

Anyway, our Jax Blackwood is still recovering from his failed suicide. And while his facade screams “well-adjusted rockstar”, he has scars from his inability to cope with living the celebrity life. In fact, he’s still vulnerable that even Killian James and the rest of the band walk on eggshells around him.

But then he meets Stella. A sunshine in his otherwise gloomy existence. Everybody loves her, everyone’s drawn to her goodness and light. But Stella is hiding a vulnerability that she rarely shows the world. If he’s lucky, he might get a glimpse. Or he might even help her. But darkness has a way of dimming whatever sliver of light the weak have found. Unfortunately, Jax and Stella are not exempt from the shadows that lurk in their own psyches.

I love these two as well. Heck, I love all the couples so far from this series. It just so happens that I love Scottie and Sophie more. Kristen Callihan knows how to pair them well, with stories that will leave you sighing from beginning to the end. I can’t wait to read more about the rest of the crew, and that includes finally seeing Brenna and Rye in the bedroom so they can take their aggression out on each other. If you know what I mean. *wink, wink*