Apologies…Again. Life Update.

Hey everyone!  I feel bad constantly dropping off the map like I have been lately, but I promise I have some really good reasons.

First of all, this time of year is just normally hectic for me.  We’re knee deep in show choir season, which means I’m away from home all the time.  When we have competitions, I’m sometimes not home from 7 in the morning to midnight or later.  If I’m lucky, I can sneak a book in with me to read when there’s downtime, but it’s rare.  Otherwise I’m constantly moving and I spend the next day suffering from the physical effects of a full day and not enough sleep.

Second of all, because I haven’t had time, I’m not reading as much.  I just finished a book this morning that I’ve been working on for about 2 weeks, which is really killing my Goodreads Reading Goal right now.  Show choir season ends in about 2 weeks, so hopefully soon I can get back into a bit of a groove.

But probably the most time consuming thing in my life right now is this: I’ve met someone…

We’ve been dating a little over a month at this point and let me just say, this man is the closest I’ve ever found to a soulmate.  (…Uh…I hope he doesn’t find this or this could get interesting real quick…)  He evens me out in the best ways, being introverted enough to enjoy quiet nights cooking dinner and watching Netflix but extroverted enough to handle the small talk in public that I struggle with.  He’s been patient with me as my brain and my heart try to throw walls up to keep him out.  He makes me feel more like myself than I ever have around anyone.

And the best part?  He loves me for who I am.  Quirks, panic attacks, and all.

He’s great for my life, but he’s not so great for my reading pace.  Funny how that happens.  (What’s actually funny is how he sees me reading only 1 book a week right now and goes, “You read so fast.”  Oh honey.  This is nothing.  You should see me over the summer.)

So that’s what’s new with me.  I’m reading whenever I have the chance.  I’m still here.  I just have a lot more going on right now…and a lot of it going incredibly right.

Bad Girls Don’t Die (Bad Girls Don’t Die, #1)

Image result for bad girls don't dieFirst Lines: I stood perfectly still, looking up at the house and the dark sky beyond it.  A band of mist drifted away from the moon, making way for the next set of clouds–what I hoped would be the picturesque backdrop I’d been waiting for.

Let me start by apologizing for dropping off the map there for a week or two (more about that will come later).  I know I am super late to this party, but this was a book I saw everyone reading for years and if something is that mainstream, I tend to not like it.  So I kept putting it off.

Alexis is a loner and you know what, she doesn’t really care.  Dealing with her dysfunctional family, high school, and a sister obsessed with dolls means Alexis already has a lot on her plate.  Another moment of family drama should have been almost routine for Alexis, but she suddenly realizes how different her sister Kasey is acting.  Her blue eyes sometimes go green, she’s speaking differently, and she’s forgetting large chunks of time.  Even their house is changing: doors open and close on their own, the stove lights itself, and the unplugged AC unit continues to run.  Alexis thinks a lot of this is only happening in her head, but when it changes from tricks to life-threatening situations, Alexis knows she has to do something.  But what if Kasey isn’t Kasey anymore?

It’s been a while since I’ve read a good paranormal/horror novel. Right from the beginning, the suspense and creepy events kept my attention. It wasn’t about being predictable (which it wasn’t anyway) or being about jump scares like most horror movies. Instead, we focused on the unease of the entire situation and the weird things that continued to happen as Alexis put the pieces together. I liked that.

The characters are kind of an eclectic mix, as many books from the 2000s were. Alexis is a Loner. She prefers to be by herself and tends to think of herself as having no friends. If she does have friends, they’re probably from what she refers to as the Doom Squad, otherwise known as the Goths. She then befriends the preppy Class President with a dark past and a Cheerleader. On the surface, they should not all be friends. However, the moral of the story is that we’re more alike than we are different.

I just found the whole book to be exciting and interesting. It was a fast read with events I thought were sometimes pretty intense. It was just a lot of fun and I’m glad I was able to read it all very quickly.

Gravemaidens (Gravemaidens, #1)

Image result for gravemaidensFirst Lines: Today, three girls would be doomed to die an honored, royal death.

I checked this book out from the library when I found it because, hello, fantasy AND death as the crux?  Sign me up.  (Yes…I’m aware of how that last part sounds.)  I was already keeping my eye on this book before it even came out because I was excited for it.

Kammani’s life goal is to be as great a healer as her father is, even if he was cast out of the palace and forced to live in squalor after one mistake.  With the ruler of Alu, her walled kingdom, on death’s doorstep, Kammani’s younger sister Nanaea is chosen to be a Sacred Maiden, a beautiful girl who will join the ruler in the after-world.  Nanaea is proud to honor her family in such a way, but Kammani sees it for what it is–not an honor but a death sentence.  Desperate to save Nanaea, Kammani comes up with a plan to heal the ruler.  But the palace is a dangerous place and there are secrets some will kill to keep secret…

This did not quite live up to my expectations. The beginning was really slow for me. Well, the first three chapters were fine, but after that it felt like nothing happened for a really long time. And when they did happen, I immediately pegged what was happening when the characters couldn’t figure it out. So it was slow and predictable.

I felt in the story like really nothing got resolved. I know it’s part of a series, but it felt like all these big things we were waiting for seemed to be sort of glossed over at the end. They were mentioned and briefly solved, but it was anticlimactic.

The characters were fine, but they weren’t terribly exciting either. Our main character is supposed to be this smart, although young and somewhat inexperienced, healer, but she wasn’t as smart as I was hoping she’d be. I kept rolling my eyes at how she kept missing obvious signs. Or at least they were obvious to me.

I will say that there’s about a chapter or two near the end that was incredibly exciting and suspenseful and well written. I was kind of glad I’d hung on until then, but I was a little disappointed it had taken so long to get good. I had contemplated quitting the book on at least one occasion.

So this wasn’t what I was hoping it would be. It was a slog. There were parts I enjoyed, but there more parts that I just could not get into.

My Blog is NINE. YEARS. OLD.

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HOLY. CRAP. ON A CRACKER.  Can you believe this blog is NINE?!

My baby’s all grown up and changing the world.

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Well, maybe not that last bit, but still.  I’m so proud and impressed that I’ve kept up with this for so long.

Here’s to another year!  Let’s make this a decade of greatness!

Wait For Me

Image result for wait for me caroline leechFirst Lines: Lorna Anderson was ankle deep in muck and milk.  And she was late.  Again.

I read Leech’s second book a few months back and adored it.  It convinced me that I needed to read this book pronto.  I mean, it could have been the phone book and I probably would have read it.

For Lorna, 1945 isn’t any different than the last few years of war.  Rationing, the occasional air raids, knitting scarves for the Red Cross, and helping out on the farm while her brothers are away soldiering.  When Paul Vogel, a German prisoner of war, is assigned to help on their farm, Lorna is appalled.  Her country is fighting men like Paul–how can she be expected to work alongside him?  But as Lorna spends time with Paul, she finds her mind changing.  The more she learns about him, the more she sees the person he is.  And soon, Lorna begins battling herself–loving Paul means leaving behind what she’s been taught, and maybe leaving her home.  What is she willing to sacrifice when they’ve both already sacrificed so much?

The fact that it was about German POWs in Scotland (rather than, say, a phone book) was a bonus. It’s absolutely fascinating to see where German POWs were sent. Some were even working farms in my hometown in the Midwest.  Distant family members of mine used them as farm hands and warned their children away from talking to them or they’d get them in their sleep (like the boogeyman).

The characters, from the main to the minor, are all such a joy. We obviously get to know Lorna the best. She’s a bit aimless, 17 years old and about to graduate from high school with no other goal in mind than helping her father work the farm until her brothers return from service. She’s also stubborn and fiercely independent, which sets her apart from a number of female characters in the story. We also get to know Paul pretty well. He’s 19, a hard worker, quiet, and, of course, a German POW sent to work on Lorna’s family farm.

As for the minor characters, they run the gambit from quirky and silly to pensive and observant. Each character has their own distinct personality. I adored that I felt a connection with each one.

The story is fraught with tension, as you might expect. It’s near the end of World War II and hostilities are strong. Throw some German prisoners into the position where they need to work alongside people who identify as Allies and the trouble begins. On top of that story line, Lorna has some typical coming-of-age problems she’s dealing with. So while it was tense, it was an enjoyable tension.

Leech’s writing style is just so flowing. Before I know it, I’ve read a couple of chapters and been sucked back into the story despite the fact that I only had a few minutes.

This was just lovely. I can’t wait to read whatever she writes next.