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Sunday, May 20, 2018

Stefanie's Thoughts: Ready Player One

In the year 2045, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world's digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade's going to survive, he'll have to win—and confront the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.

Hey everyone,

So I did something I normally don't: I watched the movie version before I read the book. This is a very rare occurrence for me (I even have a bag from Chapters that says the book was better..). But seeing the movie just worked out better for this one: plus my hold for the book at the library wasn't ready for pickup yet. 

This book took for me 18 days to read, which also never happens. With everything going on in my life right now, reading took a back seat (but I did end up reading the last section in a day so there's that at least) but that pesky reminder from the library about needing to return this in three days really got me to speed read the last portion of it.

I really enjoyed Ready Player One from the start. I found the prologue a bit wordy, but chapter one got the adventure going. I loved the crazy and random 80s pop culture references, personally, my two favorite references were the ones that referred to Quidditch and the other about Ewoks. A side note: I'm obsessed with Ewoks, even have one from Disneyland that I made sure I bought when I last went to Disneyland. The 80s music references were also great and honestly had me singing those songs in my head after they were mentioned. I've read some reviews that say they hated all the constant references and found it took away from the story, but I found them to be rather pleasant!

After around the search for the second clue is where my interest faded. I found the chapters to go from amazing and holding my attention, to me skipping through them hoping it would get better. I don't know why this sudden change happened; it almost felt like two different authors wrote this book from this point. The writing was inflated and this was when the constant references felt they brought the story down and slowed the pace.

I found our main character Wade grew super annoying as the book went on. he at first seemed like the guy next door you can side with and want to be friends with; he then slowly turned into this, I don't even know how to describe it, almost like that guy at school you want to avoid at all costs because he's some massive annoying jerk.

Artemis was my favorite character, both in the movie and book. She had this whole level I could relate to going for her. Being the only female character in a male driven story has that going for her. She wasn't some weak character, but was kick ass at everything.

What I did discover was the massive differences between the movie and the book. I actually had to check with my sister at times if what had happened in the book was portrayed in the movie (most times being nope. My sister has only seen the movie, keep in mind). I eventually got to the point of telling her all of the differences between the two, just to show her how different they are.

I felt that the movie was better; unpopular opinion I'm sure, but don't hate.The movie's first scene was epic in 3D and the plot had me completely engrossed, especially for a 2 hour and 20 minute movie. Even my sister liked it and she hates long movies (with the exception of Harry Potter).

So if I had to choose between the book or movie, this is the rare time the book wasn't better. A couple of the people I've spoken to since finishing both are pretty shocked at by opinion, but hey, can't impress everyone.

I'll find myself probably re-watching the movie and I was curious about reading Cline's second book, also sci-fi, but I'm not sure. I don't want it to start off so amazingly to end with disappointment.

I'll be off trying to figure out book to read next. I still can't believe that this took me so long to get through...

Until my next review,



Thursday, May 17, 2018

Sara's Recent Reads

Hello Friends,

A Mini Update: It has been another hot minute since I posted anything. I think the last time you've seen anything from me was back in March for my February/March wrap up. To be honest, I just didn't feel like blogging. I didn't want to sit down and write a review - no one seems to read them anyways, and I didn't have any other clever content ideas. I just didn't have anything, which was really discouraging. So, I took a break. Which was good. I kind of removed myself from all things bookish and blogging and just read! I haven't even been tracking my "stats" in my bookish bullet journal. I just read what I wanted, when I wanted. I didn't focus on my lists or goals or any of that stuff. It was glorifying and freeing. This made me SO excited to read, and boy did I: I read/listened to 25 books in the last six weeks. For me, that's a lot of books.

So here I am, all fired up again, and ready to slowly start blogging again. I wasn't sure what I would come back with, so I thought that instead of doing my monthly recap, I  would just share what I have been reading, and what's stood out to me. This is a start. I still have thoughts about blogging, and how much I have to give, but I am not gone yet.

Then She was Gone by Lisa Jewell

This one I have 4.5 stars on Goodreads. I had read Jewell's previous book some time last year and really enjoyed it. I had heard really good things about this one from a friend who read it in the UK. She adored it. I was pretty eager to get my hands on this newest thriller. So, I was pretty stoked to have won this one from Goodreads. I read it pretty quickly after receiving it, and boy did it live up to the hype. It's not a complicated story, and in all honesty, it's pretty predictable. But somehow, Jewell sucks you in and keeps you there. She writes characters that you care about it.

Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin

Last year, Zevin's book, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry was one my top five books of the year. It absolutely blew me away. I was pretty excited to get my little hands on this.  While I enjoyed it. I was kind of surprised with how little actually happens in this story. Don't let that keep you from checking this one out though. The characters are delightful and the writing is sweet and easy to read. I flew through this, and was completely charmed by it. I gave it four stars.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

This was our most recent book club read. It was a random choice for us, I absolutely loved it. This book says so much, and I really appreciated it. It sort of reminded me of The Little Prince- it gave me the same feels. I am sure a good number of you have already read this book, and are very familiar with it, so I don't need to go on and on about it. But I would recommend this to every one- particularly those who are in the process of making any kind of  decision. It really puts things into perspective.

 A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas

This- I had been waiting for this. And I have to say, I was royally disappointed. I know this wasn't supposed to be an epic tale. I knew it was supposed to be a fun story that kind of filled space. What I did expect though, was a story. And that didn't really exist. ACOFAS was just kind of boring. However, I did enjoy spending time with characters I loved, and experiencing the light banter. But that was about it. To be honest, this certainly felt a little like a cash grab. But I am trash for this series and I'll probably read it forever.

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

This is my most recent read. and another one I rated highly: 4.5 Stars. The writing in this one was beautiful. The story itself was heavy and heart breaking. Leigh's mother has taken her life, and she now finds herself revisiting her mother's life. This story addresses grief, and it's painful and it was an incredible novel. 

I wasn't expecting to list five books, but it just happened that way. But those are the five books that have stuck out to me in the last number of weeks. I have some pretty exciting (to me) reading plans. But, I am not putting any pressure on myself. I don't want reading to feel like a chore (otherwise I won't do it).

I hope you enjoyed, share with me what you've been reading and enjoying. I would love to know.

~Happy Reading Everyone

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Stefanie's March Recap

Hey everyone,

It's April! Annie's got me good with April Fools, sending out an email about them changing their mascot and making it more Millennial friendly, choosing a llama as their new mascot. I almost flipped out, until they emailed the next day saying it was April Fool's...shows you how I haven't been paying attention to the months or days so far. 

March was a slower month for reading, even with Spring Break. I hit another reading slump and nothing I started was working out for me (this even happened with movies and a couple TV shows I tried to watch), but the one thing I did end up reading was Annihilation. After watching the movie I thought maybe reading the book would make me less confused about the universe. I think after reading the book I'm even more confused. I thought about trying to read book 2, but I've accepted defeat. Science and me really were never friends. 

What I Read in March:

Reaper by Kyra Leigh
Adultolescence by Gabbi Hanna
Love, Life and the List by Kasie West
Swearing Is Good For You by Emma Bryne
Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meghan Spooner
Staying Stylish by Candace Cameron Bure
Milk and Homey by Ravi Kaur
Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky
New York by Megan Hess
Nothing But the Truth by Vicky Pattison
Simple Tips to Live Beautifully by Pippa O'Connor
Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

Total: 12

Books of the Month:


Favorite Movies of March:


without meaning to, these all seem to have pink covers. I watched one, The Loved Ones, that I think might have been the most bizarre movie I have ever seen...if you are a horror fan I would recommend you check it out. I saw Sherlock Gnomes in theatre, which was interesting to say the least. 

According to my day planner I seemed to have done a lot. We had Spring Spirit Week the week before Spring Break. My personal favorite day is Throwback Day, where I went all out glitter and side ponytail, with a pineapple t-shirt dress. 

I went to an Escape Room with a group of friends and we were able to make it out with just a minute to spare (talk about it being like a movie, leaving it to the last minute..!). It was super fun and it ended with birthday cupcakes. 

Then Spring Break ended and it was back to work I went. I hope everyone had a great March. I know for me April will be filled with Peter Pan rehearsals and then we go to performance in May. 

Until my next review, 


Saturday, March 31, 2018

Sara's February/March 2018 Wrap Up

Hello Friends,

I will probably say this every month, but I am amazed at how quickly the months are flying by! Before we know it, summer will be here. We've been hit with a wicked cold snap here in the Peg, and I am SO over it. I hate the cold. I am ready to stop wearing my winter coat and a scarf, I am ready for short pants and my Birks. Oh well, maybe in another month, I will sitting here telling you how amazing the weather has been (fingers crossed).

I missed February's wrap up as things got away from me at the end of the month.  My sister had a beautiful baby girl named Milah on the 20th of February, and I am OBSESSED with her. She's a lovely little thing. Around the same time I was having a few minor health concerns (nothing crazy and I am fine), so a wrap up kind wasn't a huge priority. 

SO, what happened in February/March: 

Oh, well, for Lent (Which went from Feb 14-Mar 31), I gave up watching TV. I did this last year for Lent, however I allowed myself to watch TV on the weekends, which didn't exactly give me the discipline I was looking for.  This year, I could watch it socially- as in if I was invited by someone to watch. This meant, I didn't watch a huge amount of TV during the week (well any really). It was kind of fun, however, really difficult at times (particularly after a hard day at work). Lent is now over, and I would like to continue restricting my TV watching, I maybe keeping it only to weekends. We'll see.

However, even with all that extra time, I still don't feel like I got a lot of reading done these last two months.  But let's get to it.

The Books:

Total Books
8/Feb & 7/Mar

4/Feb & 4/Mar

4/Feb & 3/Mar

Physical Books

Here We Are Now by Jasmine Warga (3 1/2 Stars)
The Cruel Prince by Holly Black (4 Stars)
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (5 Stars)
Finding Winnie by Lindsay Mattick Illustrated by Sophie Blackall (5 Stars) 

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel (1 1/2 Stars)
Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur (1 Star)
The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner (4 Stars)
Dearest Ivie by JR Ward (4 Stars) 


How did I not read this book before now? Completely worth the hype- 100% worth the hype. 


Audio Books

Falling into Bed with a Duke by Lorraine Heath (3 1/2 Stars)
Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan (4 Stars)
Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari (4 1/2 Stars)
The Lucky Ones by Tiffany Reisz

Death and the Girl Next Door by Darynda Jones (4 Stars)
Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet (Reread)
I've Got This Round by Mamrie Hart (4 Stars)

**So my audio book count for this month is a lie- I really should add on four more books. I listen to books 4-8 of the Charley Davidson series by Darynda Jones (one of which I counted above). This was completely by accident. I wanted to listen to Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet because it's my favourite in the series and I wanted to relive it, and I kind of fell down a hole after that.**


This one is SUPER surprising! A friend and I went down to Fargo (the second closest American city, about four hours away), specifically to listen to this book. And we did it.  This books is hilarious! And so insightful. I loved that it was narrated by Ansari himself. 

2018 Goal check in: To see a full list of my 2018 goals, go here

Both February and March were great. I was successful with all of them. I read two 2018 releases each month (barely), I've read at least one adult novel per month, as for non-fiction, I am at 3 for the year (I made up for January's miss by consuming two in February). I have also knocked off  TWO books from my list of seven: The Hate U Give and The Queen of Attolia.  I think sometime in April I'll do a quarterly check in or something, and share my thoughts on some of the books. I am still failing on my audio book/physical book goal. Audio books are still a thing for me. My goals is to work on that for April. 

Anywho, that was a long winded wrap up. If you're still here- Thank you! 

Until next time, 

~Happy Reading Everyone.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Stefanie's Thoughts: Love, Life and the List by Kasie West

Seventeen-year-old Abby Turner’s summer isn’t going the way she’d planned. She has a not-so-secret but definitely unrequited crush on her best friend, Cooper. She hasn’t been able to manage her mother’s growing issues with anxiety. And now she’s been rejected from an art show because her work “has no heart.” So when she gets another opportunity to show her paintings, Abby isn’t going to take any chances.

Which is where the list comes in.

Abby gives herself one month to do ten things, ranging from face a fear (#3) to learn a stranger’s story (#5) to fall in love (#8). She knows that if she can complete the list, she’ll become the kind of artist she’s always dreamed of being.

But as the deadline approaches, Abby realizes that getting through the list isn’t as straightforward as it seems... and that maybe—just maybe—she can’t change her art if she isn’t first willing to change herself.

Hey everyone,

Today I'm reviewing one of my favorite author's new book, Love, Life and the List by Kasie West. She has become an auto-buy author, and to me, she can honestly write nothing I don't like. If you are ever just looking for a fun, light-hearted book with substance then you pick up one of West's books. 

First, can we take a moment to admire that cover??

The story: this one hit right at home, because back in my teenage years (soo long ago ha) I had numerous unrequited crushes on friends (I mean, than again who didn't really during those awkward teenage years!) and it was tough. I mean I survived and all, but seriously, when are crushes ever easy...guess that's why they are called crushes.

Abby was a main character that I could totally relate too. She was full on sarcastic and I loved it; she felt so real and fleshed out. Her problems weren't just fluffy ones created to have drama in a plot, but actual issues I could see happening in real life. I think that's one of West's strengths; she always creates fleshed out, really vivid characters with actual problems you feel for, plus it's not even just the main character that is but all of them! (As I typed that, I'm not sure if I should have ended that with an exclamation point..)

I could also relate to Abby's mom with the anxiety piece. I don't have it as bad as her mom does, but I could totally see where at times her mom was coming from. I liked the inclusion of Abby's grandfather as a main character; typically I find when a grandparent is present they are either only there as a filler character, but Abby's grandfather was full of heart.

Love, Life and the List is filled with West's signature ability to write stories that end with a smile on your face, yet are filled with serious issues. Abby's father is away most of the time (I read somewhere that he was deployed, I must have missed that because I didn't pick up on that..) and they email as much as they can, but his absence is effecting (affecting, I seriously never know the answer to this...and I'm an ENGLISH MAJOR...after researching it, I'm pretty sure it's effect) Abby's home life.

Friendships are a big thing in West's books as well; Abby has her core group of Cooper, Justin and Rachel. Rachel and Justin go away for the summer and that's where the real fun with Abby and Cooper start, as the two are left alone with each other. Cooper becomes a major part of Abby's list and the two's friendship evolves, with a new friendship, and new relationships to come into play.

The concept of the list was my favorite part: I myself have a 30 to do before 30 list, which I'm going to basically fail at as I only have (shockingly) two years left to get it done. I have accomplished some of it, but Abby's list was perfect to push her out of her comfort zone and have an epic summer vacation. I think reading this when it was still snowy here made me enjoy the summer atmosphere much more.

Overall I just loved this book. I started off reading it a bit slower than I normally do, but by page 50 I was completely addicted and devoured it within a couple days. It didn't even feel like a 300+ page book to me either, and I loved that.

Solid 5 out of 5 stars!!

I can't wait for her next book, which I think comes out next month..or May, but soon!!

Until my next review,


Monday, March 19, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Sara's Spring TBR

Hello Friends,

I like to go in and out with my Top Ten Tuesday Participation, and it's been a good while since I've sat down to create this list, but I have been missing it. I am also a sucker for creating TBR lists, which is what's happening for this weeks prompt.

TTT is hosted by Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl

Books On My Spring TBR

This is especially great, because I love SPRING. I love READING in spring and I feel like I just have so many reading plans. SO, let's do this.

1) The Thief  by JR Ward - This is book Sixteen of The Black Dagger Brotherhood series and I am complete trash for it. It releases April 10th, and I buy it on release day, and I read it that first week. The series isn't as good, but I'm invested. 

2) The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondi - It's spring, and it's time to start getting rid of the junk- and I have a lot. I got this book a couple years ago for my birthday, but I haven't read it yet. I would like to and see if it prompts me to let go of some stuff. 

3) The Kind of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner - This is the third installment in The Queen's Thief series, which I am hoping to finish this year. 

4) A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas - Are you surprised? I am pretty stoked for this one. It's gonna happen. May 1st, can't wait. 

5) Twelve Steps to Normal by Farrah Penn- I am SO excited for this lady. Farrah is an old school blogger (she was like an original I feel). I am so excited for her book and I can't wait to get my hands on it. 


6) Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell - I have heard many great things about it. I really enjoyed the one other book by her that I read last year (I Found You), so should be good. 

7) The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend - You may or may not know this, but I work part time at Chapters (the bookstore), and at around Christmas time, everyone was reading Morrigan Crow and raving about it. I want it in my life. 

8) Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel - This is the ONLY book on this list that I am not sure I will get to.  Emily is a Canadian author, and I know of one Can-Lit read-at-thon taking place in July, that I was thinking of saving this for, but I don't know that I will. We'll see. 

9) Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner - I have this book. I am committed to reading it ASAP. 

10) Wire and Nerve Vol. 1 by Marissa Meyer - I flipped through this book at work a couple weeks ago and I actually really want it, and I want to read about Iko's adventures.  So it's gonna happen. 

That's my SPRING TBR for you, I hope you enjoy. Have you read any of the books on my list? Anything I absolutely need to read? which one should I start with first?

~Happy Reading Everyone

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Stefanie's Thoughts: Reaper by Kyra Leigh

Sixteen-year-old Rosie Wolf is sure when you die, you go straight to Paradise, until she wakes to discover she has died in an accident and that Paradise isn’t what she thought it would be.

Rosie Wolf was sure that when her dad died, he went to Paradise. After all, isn’t that where everyone went? But when Rosie wakes up in a strange hospital bed and finds out that she’s died in an accident, she learns things aren’t always what you think they will be.

Now her father feels further away than ever, and Rosie is left to deal with the Grim Reaper, who isn’t a man in a black cloak, but a beautiful woman with a bad attitude. The Grim Reaper tells Rosie that before she can move on to Paradise, she has to go back down to Earth and collect three souls. But Rosie quickly realizes it’s not so simple.

To complicate matters, Rosie meets Kyle, a boy who is different than anyone she’s ever known. He’s cute, smart, and funny. Rosie’s been warned to stay away from the living, but she doesn’t want to. What will happen if she doesn’t?

Hi everyone, 

Today I'm going to be reviewing a book I discovered while browsing the shelves at my local library: Reaper by Kyra Leigh. I love everything about the Grim Reaper mythology, and this book will add to the non-overly saturated market. I think there has been only one other Reaper themed YA book I've read, which was years ago. 

The concept reminded me a bit of the TV show Dead Like Me, but a toned down version. If you haven't watched it, please do! I highly recommend it and I love it! It's very dry, dark humor. Going into Reaper, I wasn't sure I would be able to connect with the main character because she's only sixteen, but I was able to. I'm finding that as I get older certain young adult books just annoy me as I just find the MC complains too much or the pages are filled with teen angst, which to be honest, I thought this book would have. But, it didn't.

The first couple chapters introducing the After Life were my favorite part. Meeting the Grim Reaper, herself (yes, she's a woman!) was excellent. She's portrayed as pretty much a bad-ass and I loved that. Her fellow staff were fun to read about as well, Brandy was my favorite of them. 

This is where Rosie is told she'll have to collect three souls to move on, or be stuck in the After World forever. Rosie chooses to reap the three souls and hopefully move on. Each newly deceased gets a personal makeover to change their appearance, I really enjoyed this part of the world, as I saw it as completely starting fresh.  

The chapters altered between present time and then flashbacks into Rosie's past. I generally don't like this and find it confusing to follow, but I found this added a layer into Rosie's characterization. Reading about her friendship with her friend Carrie added depth to Rosie. One thing I noticed was Rosie tended to drink a lot of apple cider or had that made for her and I enjoyed knowing those little details about her past. 

I loved the ending. I actually starting tearing up when I reached the final page. I'm also finding I'm getting emotional faster than I used to in regards to fictional characters. 

My only negatives are that I felt this didn't add anything new to the Reaper mythology. This is a not- regularly used trope in young adult and I was really excited to be entering into a world that made me see it differently. A couple questions were left unanswered as well, and that never sits well with me.

Overall this is a quick paced, short novel I read in two evenings. I'll keep an eye out for any future novels by this author. I think I enjoyed this one more too because I have been reading a ton of chick-lit back to back and picking up something paranormal was a good switch. I'll probably go back to a chick-lit, as I went on a huge library spree and checked out fifteen books at once. 

I'm giving this a 3.5 stars out of 5.

Until my next review,


"So, please, oh please, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away, and in its place you can install, a lovely bookcase on the wall."
— Roald Dahl