May 22, 2017

"I know that you know."

I first read Disruption by Jessica Shirvington at the end of 2016 and loved it. I got a little burnt out on dystopian fiction a few years ago, but something about this premise made me want to pick it up. In this world, smartphone technology evolves into something called M-Bands, bracelets that promised to make like easier but have instead begun to control it. Some of its functions will sound familiar - it can monitor your heart rate, allow you to pay for purchases, track your location, and so on. But it can also rate your relationships with other people, and everyone fears negative ratings because getting too many has dangerous consequences. 

Two years ago, Maggie Stevens watched her family fall apart. Now, she's determined to make things right... and Quentin Mercer, heir to the M-Corp empire, is crucial to her plan. I really loved the fast pace, the relatable world highlighting the scary potential impact of technology, and the romance that used one of my favorite tropes. I went it with low expectations and finished anxious to find out what would happen next. Since the sequel came out this year, I re-read the first book and loved it just as much as I did the first time around. That's one of the best moments with a book!

Maggie is a totally kickass heroine, and she won't let anything (or anyone) stand in her way. That means she isn't afraid to make decisions that hurt people, but I liked her single-minded focus on her goal. However, I loved the way Quentin disrupted it. He's the symbol of everything she hates - heir to the company that ruined her life and destroyed her family. So, she initially feels very little guilt about using him for her own purposes. But the more time she spends with him, the more she realizes she may have misjudged him. It's an eye-opening journey for both characters: Maggie as she gets to know the boy behind the name and Quentin as he discovers the reality behind the fa├žade. This was definitely one of my favorite aspects of the book.

I was a huge fan of the plot, too. It took me a few chapters to get into at first, but I was hooked before long. Following Maggie on every step of her journey was an adrenaline rush, especially when I got to the end! There were some twists and turns I never expected. The first time I read it, I was so mad that I couldn't immediately start the next book. But thankfully, you won't have that experience since Corruption came out earlier this year!

I started it as soon as I finished my re-read of Disruption, and I was so pleased with the way everything happened. These books are a duology, which is actually perfect for this story. While I would have loved more time with these characters, I think the pace and plot benefited from the fact that it was just two books. I hadn't seen certain things coming in the first book, and it's always exciting when a book really surprises me. I won't say a word about the plot of this one - but I'm happy to report that it was intense, thrilling and still surprising! The romance was even better (SWOON), the stakes were higher and the ending was really satisfying.

If I wasn't afraid to spoil anything, I'd tell you more about Corruption. But I'd hate to ruin the experience, so you'll just have to trust me when I tell you it's a worthy follow-up to a fantastic beginning and an excellent conclusion in its own right! I love that these books surprised me - both with the content and with the way I felt about them. It's a joy to discover a favorite in an unexpected place! I'd definitely recommend this duology.

So Quotable
“But people should have the right to become whatever they’re going to be before they are judged and sentenced.”
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review.
Released: October 2016; March 2017 (US) | Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 416 pages; 448 pages | Source & Format: Publisher; Paperback

May 11, 2017

A Moment. A Choice. A Revolution.

Can you think of one book that you just had to buy as soon as it came and yet still haven't read? And I'm not talking about a few months passing... more like years. If you're a blogger, there's a good chance you can think of a lot of books that fall into that category. For me, The Bone Season series by Samantha Shannon would be one of the first that came to mind if someone asked me that question.

I bought it around the time it was released - in hardcover, on Kindle when it was $1.99 and then added the audio edition for a couple extra dollars. Y'all, I basically owned three copies of a book I hadn't even read yet. And yes, I know how that makes me sound. I never said self-control was my strong suit! There was so much hype when it was released with news of Shannon's seven-book deal drawing comparisons to J.K. Rowling,  and I didn't want a repeat of my "I didn't read them until they were all published" experience with the Harry Potter books. I wanted to be in the know!

But every time I started it, I set it aside for later. I'd read a few pages, decide it wasn't what I was in the mood for and promise myself that I'd come back to it soon. The next thing I knew, the third book was being released. Kelly and Alexa had been begging me to finally read it, and I figured there was a good chance I'd enjoy it since they both did. But I kept putting it off until I got an email from Little Shop of Stories saying that Samantha Shannon would be in town for a book signing. At that point, I realized I had to finally start this series. Shannon is from England, which meant this event would probably be my only chance to meet her. If I ended up loving the series, I didn't want to kick myself for having missed her! Within a week, I'd finished The Bone Season, The Mime Order and The Song Rising and was desperate to learn what would happen next.

For the first 55% of The Bone Season, I was liking it but slightly mystified by all the love it had received. It was creative and interesting, sure, but it was also overwhelming and confusing. The terminology alone made me feel like I was reading a book written in another language. I just kept moving forward, turning the pages and wondering if any of it would ever make sense to me. And then, there was a shift. The pace picked up, the plot became more engaging and the characters took center stage. Suddenly, I was hooked.

Then, I immediately picked up The Mime Order. Paige returns with a vengeance in the second book. The world and terminology were still a little confusing for me at times, but I found myself so much more immersed in the story. I couldn't wait to find out if - and how - Paige would accomplish her goal. Plus, of course, WHO might help her (and I think we all know who I was hoping to see...). This series seemed to just keep getting better and better! The pace is sometimes uneven, but I didn't have a problem with it. There's a lot of character development in this installment - for Paige and for several secondary characters - and even more world building. I loved it, but the plot does occasionally slow down because of it.

And finally, I raced through The Song Rising. There are things I love about each book in the series, but I think this one is my favorite so far! At her signing, Shannon talked about how she'd always wondered about the larger world in most dystopian fiction. For example, how did the rest of the world react to the Hunger Games in Panem? And this is the book where you see that question explored. I wasn't sure how I'd feel about going beyond London before I started reading, but now I'm sold. The idea of a global dystopia is so fascinating, and I have no doubt Shannon will continue to surprise me! I love the scope of this world, the higher stakes, the fast pace, the complex characters and the dilemmas they face.

Shannon also talked about how books 1-4 in the series have their own arc vs. books 5-7, which makes me both nervous and excited (nervocited?). It reminds me a lot of the shift in tone in the Harry Potter series after the fourth book. But oh goodness, I don't know if my heart can take the "jawdropping ending" she's got planned. Regardless, I look forward to finding out where she takes Paige next. I was a little late to the series, but I definitely consider myself a fan now! If you like the idea of a dystopian fantasy with a global perspective, this is definitely a series you should consider. It's confusing at first, but it's worth it in the end!

So Quotable
“Knowledge is dangerous. Once you know something, you can't get rid of it. You have to carry it. Always.” — The Bone Season

“Words are everything. Words give wings even to those who have been stamped upon, broken beyond all hope of repair.” — The Mime Order

“Never allow yourself to believe you should be silent.” — The Song Rising
Released: August 2013; January 2015; March 2017 | Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Pages: 466 pages; 510 pages; 363 pages | Source & Format: Bought; Hardcover

May 9, 2017

April 2017: Recap + On My Shelves

April was a really lovely month in Georgia, especially because a special visitor came to stay with me! I love the return of spring weather - the sunshine, the new blooms, the compulsion to just go outside and soak it all in.

1. Gorgeous New Bible - I've known about She Reads Truth for a while now, but I hadn't kept up with them in recent years. So it was a total surprise to learn they'd come out with the She Reads Truth Bible in April. Their tagline is Inherently Beautiful, Intentionally Designed,” which is very fitting. The details in this Bible are just stunning: artwork for key verses, reading plans, and new maps, charts and timelines. 

2. Happy Easter - Easter is one of my favorite holidays because of what it symbolizes and means to me personally, but there was an added joy to it this year! I loved putting together a little Easter basket for my boy, dressing him up in a sweet smocked Jon Jon for church and walking him around to find eggs afterward. It's crazy how much a child can make you look at things with new eyes!

3. Planner Heaven - This is old news to anyone who knows me or regularly reads my blog, but I'm a huge planner nerd! I've written about Lilly Pulitzer agendas and discovering the world of traveler's notebooks - two things I still love. But I purchased a Happy Planner in April (partly because of Lindsey from Bring My Books) and now I'm OBSESSED. I have one for planning and one for memories, and they're amazing!

4. Kelly Comes to Visit - This was the highlight of April! Kelly from Belle of the Literati is one of the best friends I've made through blogging, but we'd never gotten the chance to meet in person. When the timing and details worked out, Kelly finally booked a trip to Atlanta! I loved having her here for a few days because I got to show her a bit of Georgia, spend all day chatting and bring her into the planner obsession. PLEASE COME BACK.

Read 8 Books | Favorites:
The Mothers by Brit Bennett
Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett
A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas (re-read)
 “Like most girls, she'd already learned that pretty exposes you and pretty hides you
and like most girls, she hadn't yet learned how to navigate the difference.”
The Mothers by Brit Bennett

 “We would’ve told her that all together, we got centuries on her.
If we laid all our lives toes to heel, we were born before the Depression, the Civil War,
even America itself. In all that living, we have known men. Oh girl, we have known littlebit love.
That littlebit of honey left in an empty jar that traps the sweetness in your mouth
long enough to mask your hunger. We have run tongues over teeth to savor that last littlebit
as long as we could, and in all our living, nothing has starved us more.”
The Mothers by Brit Bennett

 “A daughter grows older and draws nearer to her mother, until she gradually overlaps her
like a sewing pattern. But a son becomes some irreparably separate thing.”
The Mothers by Brit Bennett

 “Could you be nostalgic for a friendship that wasn't over yet
or did the fact that you were nostalgic mean that it already was?”
The Mothers by Brit Bennett
In April, I shared my March 2017 recap, which is always fun. Alexa from Alexa Loves Books and I got caught up on sharing The Picky Pledge Reading Challenge reviews. For me, that included Rules for Stealing Stars by Corey Ann Haydu and She Reads Truth by Raechel Myers and Amanda Bible Williams. I talked a bit about how I found Alanna by Tamora Pierce a little disappointing but found a new favorite in Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. And finally, I recapped what I read in March with my Quick Lit: March 2017 post. 
1. Mug Life {1} by Kelly from Belle of the Literati - I'm so excited about Kelly's new feature... and not just because I helped her come up with a few categories! I think this is such a fun way to share a peek at what she's up to currently + feature a cute photo. And bonus: I had a great time contributing to her most recent Mug Life!

2. The Other Side of Anne of Green Gables by Willa Paskin - Anne of Green Gables is one of my favorite books and a huge reason I'm the reader that I am today. I loved the 1980s mini-series for TV, too, so I'm both eager and nervous about the upcoming adaptation (on Netflix May 12!). This article gave me so much insight into it!

Favorite Song: "Now or Never" by Halsey
I became so obsessed with a few of Halsey's songs a few years ago, 
and I've been looking forward to new music from her since. This song didn't disappoint.

Favorite Album: Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them by James Newton Howard
I used to love movie scores, but I haven't spent as much time listening to them in recent years.
But I had this one on repeat in April, and it provided the perfect background for blogging and crafting. 

Prison Break: Resurrection (2017) starring Dominic Purcell and Wentworth Miller - The summer after my freshman year of college, I became completely obsessed with Prison Break. You can ask my family about it - I have no doubt they'll remember. I was super annoying about it! So, I was more than a little excited when I heard about the nine-episode revival. It started in April, and I've been enjoying it so far!

Book Depository: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

For Review: Cocoa Beach by Beatriz Williams and Sleepless Nights and Kisses for Breakfast by Matteo Bussola

Kindle Deals: The Course of Love by Alain de Botton, Red Rising by Pierce Brown, The Best Man by Kristin Higgins and Roots and Sky by Christie Purifoy

Audible Credit + Sale: My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella and The End of the Affair by Graham Greene
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