Saturday, August 29, 2015

Review: The Witches of BlackBrook

Title: The Witches of BlackBrook (The Witches of Blackbrook, #1)
Author: Tish Thawer
Publisher: Amber Leaf Publishing
Release Date: June 23rd, 2015!

From Goodreads...
Through space and time, sisters entwined. Lost then found, souls remain bound. 

Three sisters escape the Salem witch trials when the eldest casts a spell that hurdles their souls forward through time. After centuries separated, fate has finally reunited them in the present day. 

One the healer, one the teacher, and one the deceiver. 

Will their reunion return their full powers, or end their souls journey forever? 

A Witches of BlackBrook novel.


My Review!
Any time there is a story about witches, I NEED to read it! Add a pretty cover on top of that, and I’m basically sold. While I did enjoy this book, there was something about it that was just...lacking. It was told in 3rd person and switched a few POVs throughout so it was a little hard to connect to the characters, but I liked them! I just didn’t feel as if I knew them enough to come to care for them.

The main character is Trin, massage therapist and witch. I don’t really know much about her aside from that. She’s polite to the point I rolled my eyes. She’s the most powerful witch ever, apparently, and yet I didn’t actually see her doing much of that craft throughout the book. She’s been searching for her long-lost sister, and she thinks she’s finally found her. But nothing is as it seems for Trin, and she’ll have to deal with a lot of confusion in this book. I liked her character a lot, though again, with the 3rd person POV and the short book, I didn’t really feel like I got to know her enough.

There were quite a few other characters who didn’t feel well-rounded at all, even the “villain” and his little portions of POV during the course of the book. The romance left much to be desired, and I didn’t quite believe it even with a certain reveal. They didn’t make me FEEL like they loved each other. I liked the other characters well enough, but they were kind of bland. And everyone was just so POLITE to each other, and I was like: this isn’t real life. There wasn’t any emotional depth. Again, much of that could just be because it was in 3rd person, which always makes it harder to step into a character’s shoes, so to speak. But I could have used so much more development with them.

The plot was actually kind of the saving grace, as I was intrigued the whole way through! I even totally missed the Big Twist (which makes me feel like an idiot after rereading the synopsis). I didn’t guess that so it took me by surprise. I did really like the flashbacks, though I think less is more sometimes in that regard. They did give me great background on the characters and the past, but quite a few seemed either irrelevant or randomly thrown out there for a break in dialogue/story-line. That ending also felt completely wrapped up (even if it a bit open-ended), and I didn’t actually know it was a series. So I’m kinda interested to see where the sequel takes us.

The Witches of BlackBrook, while not the greatest book I’ve ever read, was really entertaining and intriguing. It grabbed my attention in the beginning, and that never wavered. It was a quick read, so it left the characters feeling underdeveloped, but I’m sure the sequel will change things in that regard and we’ll see more of certain ones. :)

RATING:
  

Friday, August 28, 2015

Because Everyone's Awesome Giveaway!

Hello my lovelies! I'll be doing another post later on about my feelings on book blogging, but I just wanted to share a little bit of what's going on. I'll be taking a break for the semester. Yes, I know that's very long, but I'll still be posting here and there. I just don't wanna feel guilty about not getting posts up often, and quite honestly there is a bit more with this break than just not feeling guilty, but I'll talk about that in-depth on the 31st.

But I'm here today with a giveaway for y'all! To say thank you for sticking with me through everything, and to say thank you for continuing to read my posts. It makes me feel so good that my words are not just being shouted into the void, that people actually care about what I have to say. I know I haven't posted much, and I hate that I've kind of just let this go in the last few weeks. It's been a pretty terrible month, but blogging had always been a positive force for me, and yet I couldn't find the energy or desire to write up posts. And because of that, The Fox's Hideaway has been left pretty...bare.

And I'm working on all of that, but it's been hard, I'm not gonna lie. So I think the break will be good in that regard, and I hope to come back refreshed and with a full creative well again. I want to get back to that place when I first started, and I want to branch out from books and turn this into something that makes me feel happy to work on, and where I WANT to spend my time writing posts. So, yeah. Anyway! I didn't want to end this on a negative note, so I decided to host a really fun giveaway for you guys!

And let's be real, you were here for that anyway and not to listen to me complain/rant about blogging and breaks. I don't blame you. If I do say so myself, I think I have some pretty awesome prizes for y'all. :D In case you didn't know, I went to BEA in May, and I have a ton of books I have either read already and don't want to keep, or I don't have any interest in. (Hence the whole Because Everyone's Awesome post title). And I want to give them away to people who would enjoy and treasure them, and help promote them too.

*****

There will be 3 separate Rafflecopters so you can pick and choose which prize packages you want to enter for. And that means there will be 3 winners! I want to keep this one short because a few of these books are coming out in September and I want you to be able to have them as close to their release dates as possible.

Edit: I also want to mention that you can totally enter all 3 giveaways! But you can only win one of them. :)

The Fine Print:
  • You must be 15 years or older to enter.
  • This is US only!
  • NO CHEATING! If you cheat, all of your entries will be deleted! 
  • All winners are chosen randomly through Rafflecopter.
  • Any information you provide me for prizes, be it email or home address, WILL NEVER be shared with anyone (it will be deleted after I am ensured you received the prize). I will protect your privacy!
  • If you don't respond to my email within 48 hours, a new winner will be chosen.
  • I am not responsible for lost and/or damaged packages in the mail.

******

Now that we got that out of the way, here is what you can win!

1. the "Dystopian" prize pack!
Okay, so Patrick Ness' book isn't exactly dystopian according to Goodreads, BUT I feel as though it goes with TSR because they're both basically alternate realities. (Also I needed a nickname, so voila).

Enter below!

2. the "Historical Fantasy" prize pack!
Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson
Newt's Emerald by Garth Nix

Enter below!

3. the "Middle Grade" prize pack!
Simon Thorn and the Wolf's Den by Aimee Carter
The Copper Gauntlet by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare

Enter below!
*****

Good luck and just thank you for being so awesome! :)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Bookish Bingo: Summer Edition Wrap-Up

I HAVE FINALLY DONE IT. AFTER THREE TRIES, I HAVE COVERED THE WHOLE BOARD. I AM THE MASTER OF THE SUMMER BOOKISH BINGO. 

I am so proud of myself. The best part is that I didn't even need to TRY to find books that would fit the topics. Most of the ones I read could be used for a square. In fact, I had to decide between many for quite a few of these subjects. So I wanted to showcase both good and bad, both favorites and ones I wish I had DNFed. I read such a variety, and I have to thank Bekka for the variety in the board too. I loved these topics and had so much fun finding books to fit into the squares.
Created and hosted by Bekka over on Pretty Deadly Reviews!

*Cover Has Been Changed: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
This was actually a reread, because I wanted to have it all fresh in my mind before continuing the series. And oh my gosh, I loved it just as much the 2nd time, maybe even more so. :)

*POC Writer: Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon
This book is truly something special, and it's well-deserving of the love it's receiving. Such a cute, and oftentimes deeper story than I had been expecting. The ending could have been just a *bit* more, but I didn't mind so much.

*Title Is More Than Three Words: The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
I'm still not sure what to think of this one or even how to review it. On the one hand, I liked it. On the other, I don't get the point of it. It was just so WEIRD, but Mikey's voice was so relatable and genuine, and I loved that. He was a guy that you could totally root for.

*Magic: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
This was definitely worth that long wait for it. It did take me quite awhile to actually get INTO the story, but once I did, it had me hooked. It was full of magic and had an amazing friendship between two badass women. I loved it!

*Fire In Title or On Cover: The Copper Gauntlet by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare
Ugh, as much as I liked this, I'm just not a fan of MG. I can't really take this, or Call, seriously. But it's definitely strayed from those initial Harry Potter comparisons, and I still think it can hold its own.

*Multi POV: Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes
I was SUPER disappointed with this one! It was not at all what I was expecting. I didn't like the multi POVs because it was hard to care about the characters when I felt I didn't have enough time with them. And it was so laughably predictable. No twists, though it WAS gruesome, I'll give it that.

*Face on Cover: A History of Glitter and Blood by Hannah Moskowitz
This book is something else entirely. It's weird and depressing and confusing and weird and unreliable and different. Did I mention weird? I quite enjoyed it though. But I was sure it was gonna go in a different direction than it did, but I suppose this one was better. It's not one I would reread, but I'm glad I tried it! It's not typically my kind of read.

*Purple Cover: Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman
I liked this, though the more time goes by, the more I don't remember what happened. I can't even tell you any of the characters' names except for Alexander (before he was Great). I was never truly bored since the magical elements made me curious, but seriously, what actually happened in it?

*Tearjerker: The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord
This one didn't make me sob or ugly cry, but it still tugged at my heartstrings and emotions. It was so wonderful. Such a joy to read about Paige's journey and how she wanted to kick-start her life back into motion. I could relate to her character SO well, and I envied the friendships she had with her three besties. Also the love interest, Max? ADORABLE.

*Travel: Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson
Travel book, indeed. It was about 95% Oregon Trail and 5% fantasy, which I wasn't expecting (even when someone told me it was like that). I wish there'd been more in the fantastical area, and I did get bored quite a few times (so much so I started this in June and only just finished it a few days ago). But I did end up enjoying it!

*June, July, August Release: Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu
I LOVED this! After loving Jennifer's debut, I had to have this. And I was so not disappointed with it. I love the questions it asked, and I loved that the main character went after the life she wanted even though she was basically shunned for it. Rachel's journey was so beautiful!

*Time Travel: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken
One of my favorite books of the year! I loved the slow pace, the slow burn with the romance, the displacement of a 21st century girl into a time where women were seen as not good for much except being a wife and having babies. Important questions on feminism and slavery were asked and debated, and Etta held her own in a world so unlike her own. And oh, the history in this, and the romance, just made my heart soar.

*2015 Debut: Naked by Stacey Trombley
This was such a fantastic debut! One that I think is very needed as it deals with a topic shied away from in YA. But it was in a tasteful way, not too gruesome but not all sunshine and butterflies either. It was about one girl's journey in realizing that she did deserved so much more out of life, and that she was more than just a body to be used and discarded.

*Award Winner: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
I'm pretty sure this is an award winner. At least, I hope so. I actually thought this was a horror book, and I think that's partly why I kept pushing it off. But it's definitely NOT scary. Creepy yes, but it went in a completely surprising direction. And I really liked Jacob's voice, though his decision at the end felt unbelievable.

*Young Adult: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
I originally had a different book in this spot, but I really wanted to include this one. It is now one of my all-time favorites, and I just never wanted it to end. I could have read another 400 pages of it. I loved both of the main characters SO MUCH and wanted them to be happy and at peace. I rooted for them throughout, and their slow-burn romance made my heart sing. ASDFJKL;

*Short Story: Destroy Me by Tahereh Mafi
I just needed more Warner in my life.

*Finish a Series: Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi
After this finale, I just had so much love for these characters. Juliette and Warner, especially, and I will defend those two and their relationship. Their arcs were incredible, and they ended up being two of my faves of any book, especially Juliette. I have to say, though, I was a *little* disappointed with the ending. 

*MC With Physical Disability: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
I feel like this would be a spoiler, so I won't say who has the disability. But I will say that I loved how Leigh wrote this character. And how, even with the disability, they were still able to do anything they put their mind to. It wasn't a hindrance. It was just part of this person's life, not the whole of it.

*White Cover: The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow
I really, really enjoyed this book! It was a lot deeper than I thought it would be, and I loved many of the characters, especially the main one. And it just made me wonder: could I start a war, knowing my child would be killed over it? My answer? I couldn't!

*Blue Cover: The Season of Lightning by Kate Avery Ellison
I love historical fantasies, and while this one was good, I definitely wanted MORE. I liked the MC and how she just wanted to do better, and be better than she grew up. She's forced to face some awful truths in this, but she doesn't back down from what she believes is right. I loved that. But the world-building was lacking, and I was never sure where the story was going.

*"Beach Read": Upside Down by Lia Riley
A light, sometimes fun contemporary that would be perfect to read in the sunshine by the water's edge. I just didn't love it, or like the characters all that much. And I hated how the queer woman was only there as a friend because she wasn't a threat to the couple's relationship (and she disappeared after awhile so we just barely got to know her). She had so much more personality than the two MCs combined.

*Out Of Your Comfort Zone: Asking For It by Lilah Pace
I love how this took a different approach to rape, fantasies, and blurred lines. It pushed me out of my comfort zone, but I'm glad I read it. I think it showed a side that is not often explored with this subject. It was intense, at times, very uncomfortable. But I loved it and I can't wait for the sequel.

*Published Over a Year Ago: Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi
This was my FAVE book in this series! It was so much more intense and thrilling, and my love and obsession with this series just became so much BIGGER. There were moments that it became a bit too much on the romance front, and of course, it's more introspection than dialogue. But I didn't care! LOVED.


*Retelling: A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston
While this isn't Wrath, I really enjoyed it! It was basically pure fantasy though, with no hints of romance and with a main character on a mission she won't deviate from no matter the consequences (which I loved). But the writing was definitely over-the-top and I have a feeling this won't be a favorite among most people.

*****

Have you read any of these? If so, what did you think of them?!

Friday, August 21, 2015

For You, Dad

Five years ago today, I lost my dad. I've always wanted to talk about it on here, to open up, but I didn't know how. Words failed me over and over again until I was staring at a blank screen not knowing where to start. So I decided to write a poem instead. One that I hope does justice to his memory, and one that has been a long time coming.


I don’t remember our last words.
I don’t remember if I said goodnight.
If I said I’d see you again tomorrow.
If I told you I love you
But I remember a few days before,
When we went bowling.
The lane kept breaking down,
And I was frustrated.
And trying to perfect my technique for the team that year.
I remember we weren’t having a good time,
But I remember you tried so hard to make it fun,
And I took it for granted.
I took a lot of things for granted.
The stupid jokes you made,
The ones I laughed at but also rolled my eyes at.
The ones that I can’t remember, but wish I could.
Just to hear someone say them again, because you can’t.
Just to laugh again,
Even though you aren’t the one making it happen.
You could always make me laugh,
Even when I was in a mood,
Even when I was having a bad day,
Even when I was so angry with you,
You could make me laugh.
I took it for granted,
That you loved the same things I did.
That you would watch Dancing with the Stars with me,
Even though you pretended not to enjoy it.
I can’t remember if we watched it that Monday night,
I wish I could.
I wish I could remember if we were snuggled up together,
Something I was probably too old for,
But you let me do it anyway.
You were my personal heater,
The warmth when I was cold,
The bright light when it was dark,
The hero who could do no wrong.
The hero I thought would never die,
Because he was invincible,
And I’d always need my daddy around.
But you did.
You died.
You left in such a hurry I didn’t have time to prepare,
For never seeing your face again,
For never seeing your smile,
For never hearing your laugh,
A thing I think about every so often,
So I don’t forget the sound of your voice.
The voice that put my fears to rest,
The voice that sang me songs in the car,
When I was angry,
And a stupid, stupid petty teenager.
But you took it,
You always took it.
The hellion who said she hated you when she was angry.
The daughter who wanted you to stop seeing her as a tomboy.
The little girl who needed her father even when she couldn’t say it.
The little girl who lost a piece of her soul the day you left the world.
In some ways, I am still that little girl,
The one trying desperately to fit in,
To make you proud,
The one who just stopped living.
Because it was too hard without you.
Because little reminders of you were everywhere.
In the house, in her memories,
In her heart.
They are still there,
In the silence,
In the dark corners,
In the spaces that never seem to get any light.
Sometimes it hurts too much,
To remember.
But you deserve that.
You deserve so much more than the silence,
Because you were a hero,
And the best damn father anyone could have had.
But I  had you.
And I was blessed beyond a doubt.
They can’t know, they don’t know,
What you meant to me.
But I can try to tell them.
I can tell your stories,
Maybe even remember one of your stupid jokes,
Say how I proud I was to call you Dad,
How happy you made me,
How you sang me songs,
And held my hand just because,
And watched one of my favorite TV shows with me,
Because you knew how much I loved it.
You made me a better person,
You gave me courage,
And unconditional love even when I sure as hell didn’t deserve it.
But I’m not so sure you’d recognize your little girl now,
The one who hasn’t spoken your name in five years,
The one who hasn’t visited your grave since the funeral,
The one who has used your death as an excuse not to live.
You would be unhappy,
You would tell me to let go,
You would tell me to live.
And I want to.
For you.
For Mom.
For the brothers who miss you beyond words.
For the girl I was,
For the girl I want to be,
And for the girl that you would be proud to call yours.
So here is my promise to you.
I’ll honor your memory,
And the person you were,
The one I looked up to,
The one who shaped so much of who I am,
The greatest man I've ever known,
And the one I miss from the deepest depths of my soul.
♥♥♥

Monday, August 17, 2015

Initial Impressions Tag

So, a few months back, Amber, Val, Shannon, and I were discussing our first impressions of each other. And some genius decided it should be a tag (I really do not know which of us suggested that, but we're basically a packaged deal anyway so I guess it doesn't even matter. haha). But none of us are geniuses because it took us a LONG time to actually put this together, and we have Val to thank for motivating us into doing it. And also to thank for that wonderful graphic.

Here are the "official rules" Val made up:
1. Choose a couple of bloggers that you remember your first impression of from when you first started following them or discovered their blog!
2. Talk about your first impression of them! And whether your impression of them has changed!
3. Tag tag tag! You can also tag the bloggers you wrote about as well. 
4. Don't forget to thank the person who tagged you! 

*****

My first impression of Amber was not from her blog, but Twitter! We had both joined the #IslaIsComing readalong, and we ended up having a long discussion about how much we disliked Anna and the problems we had with this book. Here's where it started:
I am not going to embed anymore tweets because it was A REALLY LONG conversation! I'm talking 30+ tweets back and forth that somehow started our friendship. At this point, my impression of Amber was this: hey this is someone I can talk to about books even if we disagree. And after that, we didn't stop talking. Her sarcasm and willingness to engage in long conversations with me (which wasn't happening much with others because I was shy) really made me WANT to talk with her!

And that hasn't changed one bit! If anything, our friendship has become stronger and she's someone I regularly talk to (at least once everyday even if it's just a simple comment). She just gets me. And I love how she dishes back sarcasm and doesn't make me worry about my Twitter tones because she knows how to read them so well. Sometimes I swear it's like we're the same person.

SHANNON. SHANNON. SHANNON. Oh, man. Okay, I'm going to try to do this but it's so hard because I don't remember how we started talking! I do know that my first impression of her was good! I LOVED her blogging voice. I thought she was hilarious. And cool. And sweet. Her comments on my blog always made my day because she was thoughtful and incredibly nice and helpful. I don't know how we became friends from there, honestly, but I'm glad it happened. SO glad.

I still think she's hilarious. Her posts always send me into a fit of laughter, even if they're serious (because you know she has to throw in a joke to lighten everything up). And I still love her voice! It's one of my favorites and so very distinctly hers. Of course she's still sweet and everything (unless you piss her off, which you don't want to do, TRUST ME). :D And I love her newest blog design and really hope she sticks with it since I think it fits her so well. I've always liked her name, too.

Oh, my Vals. The most innocent little centaur that ever was (ha. ha. innocent. that's a joke). Again, like with Shannon, I don't exactly remember when we became friends. But my first impression of her was that she was a sweetheart because she was said she would be my bloggy friend after a post I wrote saying I wish I was closer with people and had more friends in the community (it was my Top Ten Blogging Confessions). And then I went to her blog, and I thought: it looks so cheerful and bright and I'll bet she's the same way.

I was right! She is. It takes something REALLY special to make Val lose her cool and piss her off (it's actually quite funny when it happens). But she really is one of the most positive and bright people I know in my life. She's so darn cheerful, and her blog reflects that. It reflects her personality so well, and I think her voice is so very much just hers. And so funny!

So Kaitlin is someone I've known since basically the beginning. I started my blog in 2012, but I didn't really turn it into a book blog until May 2013, which is when Kaitlin actually made hers. I think we found each other through Goodreads, and I KNOW she commented first. My impression of her blog was that she was very organized. And she was always coming up with new things and ideas! I was like: where is she finding all of these? Haha.

I'm really sad that we didn't really become friends, or even just chat with each other, until last summer. She's still very much an organized person, and I looooove how far she's come with her blog. I've always been impressed with what she's done and how much she does. And I'm so glad we've become good friends through here. I used to think Val was my reading twin, but I'm pretty sure Kaitlin is. We have nearly the same tastes in books, it's insane!

Veronika @ The Regal Critiques
This is actually Veronika's second name, but I still remember her old one quite well. Reading is Dreaming with Open Eyes. Fun fact: I spent a good portion of the time I've known her thinking it was actually Reading is Dreaming with Eyes Open. Whoops. Haha. I messed it up so much! Wait. Now I'm not even sure if I'm right. Oh dear. THIS NAME JUST CONFUSED ME A LOT.

Anyway! My impression of Veronika, aside from the confusion, was that she is such a nice person! I loved reading her comments on my blog, and I loved visiting hers in turn (though I have been sorely slacking on that at the moment). I remember thinking that her pinkish/purple (am I just forgetting everything here?) blog was super cute and that it was nice finally finding another blogger who also read and talked about NA books frequently (there weren't many that *I* followed who did, or even do now). Veronika is, as I thought originally, a really nice person! And I adore her new name and design and think it's great she's co-blogging.

Hannah @ So Obsessed With
I remember finding Hannah through a fantasy event she was co-hosting with Alexa. I mean, I think I knew who she was beforehand, but I'd never actually checked out her blog. And so I decided to scroll through because I adored her blog design (it's changed now though, and I also love the new one). I remember thinking that her posts were so thoughtful and creative. And I was so impressed by how much she put into each and every single one of them.

I still think her posts are some of the best in the blogosphere! I admire her originality and all of the thought and love she puts into everything she does. I've also gotten to know her a *little* after that fantasy event, and she's definitely one of the sweetest and kindest people I've "met" in this community. And I think her blog is one of the most creative and fun to read.

Edit: Cait @ Paper Fury
Shhh, let's just pretend my initial impression of her was already in this post when I first published it, kay? So I do not know how I found Cait! I mean, I'm fairly certain it was through the Top Ten Tuesday meme but I don't know for sure (I do know it was still The Notebook Sisters then though!). Anyway, when I first read one of her posts, I remember thinking: holy shit, she's HILARIOUS! I thought she was super cool, and I was so intimidated by her. I figured there was no way she'd visit or comment on my blog, especially with how big her own blog was and how many people commented daily.

But she did! She commented! And I stopped being intimidated by her after I got to know her better. I still think she's one of the most hilarious people I've ever "met" and her posts always make me laugh. And I never have to be completely worried about my comments, because she makes it so easy to just be yourself (even if be yourself means stupid jokes and trying to be as cool and funny as Cait's post). She's also very approachable, and I'm SO glad I stumbled upon her blog somehow. I need my daily dose of Paper Fury.

*****

I'm of course inviting the people above to join in with this tag, but I'm also tagging a few more as well because they wanted me to (and spared me from the awkwardness of having to decide who would be okay with it or not). I think I missed a few people, and if I did, I'M SORRY. :p

Kayla @ The Thousand Lives (who didn't actually say she wanted to be tagged, so I hope she's okay with it anyway. Haha).
Sheridan @ I Turn the Pages

So, do you still remember your first impressions of people? I encourage you to do this tag or even just think about how you found some of your favorite bloggers and if your initial impressions of them have changed over time. :)