Wednesday, January 31, 2018

We Love Lists: Top 5 Bookstagram Pet Peeves

We're probably all annoyed with Instagram right now. It really shouldn't be that hard to show you the posts from all the accounts you follow in the order they were posted. And I read last week that they changed the algorithm again and it will kill your posts if you use too many hashtags or don't reply to comments fast enough. But today I want to talk about things that users do that drive me crazy.

Here are my Top 5 Bookstagram Pet Peeves

5. Blind follow backs
1k followers and 0 posts? This has to be from people auto following back. Also random accounts that follow me assuming I will follow back. I don’t. I only follow back if I like your feed. I do try to follow back book bloggers but maybe leave a comment and introduce yourself?

4. Follows based on one photo
This is only slightly better than blind follows. I get new followers every time a post a pic of my dogs. A few days later a bunch of them unfollow when I post a book pic. It only takes a second to click on a name and look at their feed or don’t even look at the pics, just read the bio. This one's hard on my self-esteem, guys.

3. Inappropriate hashtags 
When I search #coverlove all the photos should have covers in them. Why is this a hard concept?

2. Ignoring challenge prompts
This is probably a big part of why the above happens. People want to post a certain number of times a day or week so they post any photo they want with the photo challenge prompt and tell you what their photo should have been about. It’s called a photo challenge, not a caption challenge! I’m all for combining prompts but combine them in the photo too.

1. Ignoring the captions
Which brings me to my #1 problem. No one seems to read the captions. What’s the point of doing the last two things if people are only looking at the pictures? Just tag them with what they are so I can find what I’m looking for. Because we all know Instagram won’t show me everyone I follow!

The reason I know no one’s reading the captions? Mostly because the comments don’t address them. It’s nice to hear people like your photo, but it would also be nice if they answered your questions. My fave is when the post starts out with what do think about x? And someone comments with Awesome! What exactly is awesome? The picture, the feed, the thing in the caption? Aaah!

What are your Bookstagram pet peeves?

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Release Day Review: Zero Hour by Megan Erickson


Zero Hour
(Wired & Dangerous #1)
Megan Erickson
Release: January 30, 2018
Goodreads Amazon
ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley
Hacker extraordinaire Roarke Brennan lives each hour - each breath - to avenge his brother's murder. His first move: put together a team of the best coders he knows. They're all brilliant, specialized, and every one an epic pain in his ass. Only now Wren Lee wants in too, threatening to upset their delicate balance. The girl Roarke never allowed himself to want is all grown up with sexy confidence and a dark past ... and she's the wild card he can't control.

Roarke might still think she's a kid, but Wren's been to hell and back. Nothing and nobody can stop her - especially the tatted-up, cocky-as-all-hell hacker. But when years of longing and chemistry collide, Wren and Roarke discover that revenge may be a dish best served blazing hot.

Zero Hour has all of the action and excitement I love in a romantic suspense series. But it's also a little bit different than most of the ones I've read since the hackers are kind of an ad hoc group, rather than a full time team. They all have some shared history, though much of it's just allusion at this point. I wondered at times if this is a spin off from a previous series that introduced some of the characters.

Is "reunited high school crushes" a real romance trope? Even if it's not, I loved Wren and Roarke together. I love that she's just as smart and capable as the guys in the group, even if it took Roarke a little while to realize it. And I loved the fact that the first time he touched her he said, "Is this OK?" (I've been having issues with consent in my PNRs lately. More on that in a future post.)

The one thing that bugged me about Wren, which I admit is minor, is her hair. I love lavender hair  (I mean, have you seen Amanda Bonilla's Instagram pics?) but there was a lot of buzz last summer about what's wrong with the "hair streaks indicate a rebellious Asian girl" thing (Wren's Korean-American) and I couldn't help thinking about that even though it was her whole head, not actually streaks. Her full sleeve tattoos alone would have conveyed the same thing without a racially-specific cliche. And then there's the fact that she kept wearing red dresses which, while great for her skin tone, would clash with her hair.

So TL;DR I love Wren but hate her hair. There's also a big reveal that I saw coming pretty early on, even though the characters were surprised.

I loved the ensemble cast, though not much is revealed about most of them yet. I would have liked a little more explanation about how some of these computer nerds learned spy craft, but I hope that some of that will come later. Erickson is definitely setting up a series. She's introduced enough characters to carry three or four books so far, as well as an enemy that will carry over at least in to the next book. And I'm good with all that because I'm so interested in their world. I'll definitely be watching for book two!

Recommended for fans of: Black Knights Inc.

 4 stars

My reviews of other books by Megan Erickson:
Blood Guard

Monday, January 29, 2018

Review: The Emerald Lily by Juliette Cross

The Emerald Lily
(Vampire Blood #4)
Juliette Cross
Release: January 29, 2018
Goodreads Amazon
When Princess Vilhelmina Dragomir is awakened from her hellish sleep with a blood kiss from a handsome stranger, she learns that much has changed while she’s been away. The armies of the Black Lily and the vampire Crown have amassed and are on the brink of war.

No romantic entanglements, no family. Mikhail Romanov, Captain of the Bloodguard, took a vow when he joined the Bloodguard. But he never planned for the gut-punching attraction he would feel for the untouchable princess. He must keep his focus, though. In order to avenge his family, it’s essential he help Mina claim her crown and keep his damn hands off of her.

But Mina sets her heart on the elusive captain, and keeping his focus on the great battle ahead becomes harder and harder. While they're making plans, the evil King Dominik has been making some of his own. This time, he will show no mercy to the Princess…

I'm always a bit sad when I pick up the last book in a series. I'm always torn between wanting to know how things wrap up and not wanting it to be over. That's how I felt when I finally picked up my ARC of The Emerald Lily. I've loved this series and it's unique paranormal take on some of my favorite fairy tales.

I won't lie. I was super excited for this book after the last one revealed that it was going to be a Sleeping Beauty retelling. While it was not my favorite book in the series, I loved this one! I've wanted to know more about Princess Vilhelmina since we first were introduced to her in book one but I will admit that finding out more about Mikhail and his enigmatic Blood Guard eclipsed her storyline for me. 

While the romance was a bit predictable with the whole "awaken the princess from a deep sleep with a kiss" thing, but I enjoyed the hell out of Mina and Mikhail's chemistry. They're perfect together and have that kind of angsty push and pull dynamic that's like crack to read. I loved learning these two's backstories and watching them fall for each other. I really enjoyed seeing characters from previous books make an appearance as the climax and final battle approached.

I don't want to say to much about the plot or the fairy tale elements in this story because it would be a bit spoilery if I did. But I will say that there were a few twists that I didn't see coming that made me gasp out loud while reading. In my opinion, this book was a pretty satisfying conclusion to the series. Although, I did think that the final battle was over a bit too quickly but it didn't take away from my enjoyment of the story. That epilogue though was great! :)

I'm sad to see this series end but it was one hell of a ride. I will be recommending it to all of my friends who love paranormal romance and fairy tale retellings. If you haven't picked the series up, now is a good time to grab them all and binge read the whole thing.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.

  4 / 5 Stars

  My reviews of other books in this series:
The Black Lily by Juliette Cross
The Red Lily by Juliette Cross
The White Lily by Juliette Cross

Friday, January 26, 2018

Kindle Books I Forgot I Bought, Vol. 1

I was catching up on reading blog posts this week when I came across this post by Kristen over at See You in Porridge about how she has so many unread ebooks on her Kindle that she has forgotten about. I have never related to something so much in my recent memory.

I recently had to redownload all of my Kindle books because my four year old godson somehow deleted the app off of my iPad. I have so many unread books on there that it kind of makes me a bit sick. I don't even want to say the number out loud. Just suffice it to say that my unread ebook TBR makes my unread physical book pile look like a hill. I swear ebooks are like tribbles and they multiply when I'm not looking.

As annoying as it is that the Kindle app doesn't have a download all button (Seriously, Amazon! That needs to be fixed!), it was fun and enlightening to discover all of the ebooks I forgot I had bought or been given. I will probably make this into a feature on the blog just so I can remind myself about some of the ebooks I own. So let's talk about some of the hidden treasures I found.

If you want more information on each book, just click the cover and it will take you to Goodreads.

The Foxhole Court by Nora Sakavic
(All for the Game #1)

During my post-Raven Cycle book slump, I searched out anything that was remotely compared to the series. One of the biggest recommendations Tumblr had for me was the All for the Game series by Nora Sakavic. I honestly don't know much about it other than the Raven Cycle comparision. One of these days I'll read it. It helps that this book was free on Kindle.

Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell
(Mechanica #1)

I picked this book up when it was a Kindle deal. It was kind of a cover buy for me. Although, I was immediately sold once I read the synopsis. A steampunk Cinderella retelling where Cinderella is an inventor with a clockwork menagerie is something that is totally up my alley. Sadly, that's all I know about the book. I'm kind of sad it has been gathering dust on my Kindle. I was really excited to read it when I bought it.

A Hidden Fire by Elizabeth Hunter
(Elemental Mysteries #1)

This is one of those free Kindle deals I've picked up over the years. All I know about it is that it has vampires and librarians and a slow burn romance. I'm a sucker for a good paranormal romance and this one has really good reviews. Also, it's the first in a series of four books and a couple spin-off series so it will be totally bingeable when I finally get around to reading it.

Ironskin by Tina Connolly
(Ironskin #1)

This book is toted to be a paranormal retelling of Jane Eyre full of Fey, curses, and romance. I am still intrigued by the premise of a cursed governess trying to help a cursed child and her father. I feel bad that I completely forgot about this one while I was waiting for the series to be completed. I'm going to have to binge read the whole series soon.

Dark Horse by Michelle Diener
(Class 5 #1)

I'm totally one of those people who buy books solely on the recommendation of a favorite author. So when my paranormal romance queen, Nalini Singh, raved and recommended this sci-fi romance on Twitter, I immediately bought it. The only things I know about it are: the romance is heartwarming, the worldbuilding is amazing, and that there is an AI involved. I really should read it soon. I'm always looking for a good sci-fi romance and I own the next two books in the series as well as this one. I'm perfectly set up to binge read it.

What books have you found on your Kindle that you had forgotten about?


Thursday, January 25, 2018

Blog Tour: Excerpt and Giveaway Baby, I'm Howling For You by Christine Warren

Baby, I'm Howling For You
(Alphaville #1)
Christine Warren
Release: January 30, 2018
WELCOME TO ALPHAVILLE, where the she-wolves and alpha-males play. . .for keeps.
Renny Landry is a wolf on the run. Pursued by a shapeshifting stalker and his slobbering pack of killer coyotes, she is forced to flee her job as a librarian to find sanctuary in the wooded hills of Alpha, Washington. A well-secluded safe space for troubled shifters, Alpha is Renny’s last hope. But the first person she meets there is a gorgeous alpha male with fiery eyes, fierce tattoos, and one ferocious appetite—for her…
Mick Fischer thought he left his past behind when he moved to Alpha. But fate has a way of biting him in the tail when a female wolf shows up on his property. Wounded, desperate—and disarmingly hot—Renny brings out the snarling, protective alpha beast in Mick like no other woman he’s known. Can these two haunted, hunted wolves manage to mate for life…even as the deadliest past demons howl at their heels?


We've got the entire first chapter of Baby, I'm Howling For You. Enjoy!

Check out my reviews of Baby, I'm Howling For You 
and the prequel novella Something to Howl About.

Enter to win a mass market copy of BABY I’M HOWLING FOR YOU
 (U.S. only)

About the Author

CHRISTINE WARREN is the bestselling author of The Others series, including Wolf at the Door, Big Bad Wolf, Born to Be Wild, Prince Charming Doesn’t Live Here, and Black Magic Woman. Born and raised in coastal New England, she now lives as a transplant in the Pacific Northwest. (She completely bypassed those states in the middle due to her phobia of being landlocked). When not writing, she enjoys horseback riding, playing with her pets, identifying dogs from photos of their underbellies, and most of all reading things someone else had to agonize over.
Twitter - @ChristineWarren Facebook- @ChristineWarren

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Rose Red's Beginner's Guide to Anime, Part Three

Woo! Welcome to the last and final part of my Beginner's Guide to Anime! Today, I'm talking about all of the anime movies I'd recommend for those who want to get into anime but don't know where to start. If you missed out on Parts One and Two of this Guide, you can find them here and here. I promise that I didn't just make a list of Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli films. Well, mostly. Let's talk about some anime movies, shall we?

your name. (2016)
Director: Makoto Shinkai
Studio: CoMix Wave Films

In my opinion, you can't go wrong with any Makoto Shinkai film but I can say that your name. was my favorite movie I saw in the theaters in 2017, hands down. It's the story about two high school students who swap bodies. It's a story about the differences of living in different places with one of the characters living in Tokyo and the other in rural Japan. Not only is the story engrossing and heartwretching, but the animation is absolutely gorgeous! It's seriously beautiful. According to The Hollywood Reported, it beat out Miyazaki's Spirited Away to become the highest-grossing Japanese film of all time. So if you need another reason to go see it besides my opinion, you can't get better than that.

How to Watch:
 This one will be available to rent from Amazon (and I'm sure iTunes) after January 30th. It's not streamed anywhere yet since it's such a new one. You'll have to wait unless you can buy it or borrow it.

Howl's Moving Castle (2004)
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Studio: Studio Ghibli 

I seriously could list every Miyazaki film on this list and it wouldn't be wrong. His films are amazing! I highly recommend all of them! But I'm only going to discuss one of them and that would be my favorite, Howl’s Moving Castle. It's an adaptation of Diana Wynne Jones’ 1986 novel and is a whimsical adventure of the timid Sophie who has beem cursed with the body of an old crone by a jealous witch. She is rescued by a charismatic wizard who lives in a gigantic walking castle and Howl is my favorite. The whole cast of characters are awesome, to be honest. This is the film that I always recommend people start with who have never watched a Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli film before.

 How to Watch:
Unfortunately, Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli films aren't streamed so you're going to have to borrow it or buy it.

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006)
Director: Mamoru Hosoda
Studio: Kadokawa Herald Pictures

If you discovered you could travel backwards in time, would you us your ability to help others or use it to help yourself? I would like to think I'd help others but I'd probably help myself like Makoto Konno in this movie. And that is essentially the premise of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time with Makoto discovering that there are consequences from her escapades through time. It’s a beautiful film with terrific animation. I'm kicking myself for waiting so long to watch it. It's sci-fi speculative wish fulfillment at it's best.

How to Watch:
You can watch this one on Funimation if you have a premium subscription. You can buy/rent it through iTunes or you can borrow it.

The Secret World of Arrietty (2010)
Director: Hiromasa Yonebayashi
Studio: Studio Ghibli

I'm going to be honest. I was kind of obsessed with Mary Norton’s The Borrowers as a kid and I've seen all of its many adaptations. My favorite version is definitely Studio Ghibli's version. Not surprising, right? We're all familiar with the plot of The Borrowers so what more can I say than go watch it?

How to Watch:
Again, Studio Ghibli films aren't streamed so you're going to have to borrow it or buy it.

5 Centimeters Per Second (2007)
Director: Makoto Shinkai
Studio: CoMix Wave Films

 Before this last year, 5 Centimeters Per Second was Makoto Shinkai's most well-known film. As much as I love your name., this movie is probably the best one to be introduced to Shinkai's work. It's a slice-of-life movie that focuses on two childhood friends who pine for one another while the other circumstances in their lives are trying to pull them apart. It's a movie that touches on topics such as distance, relationships, and missed opportunities. The story is actually told as three short stories that follows the main character, Takaki Tono, through his childhood, teen years, and eventual adulthood. It's unique format complements the gorgeous animation beautifully. I love this move so much!

How to Watch:
Yay! One you can actually stream online! You can watch this on Crunchyroll with most of Shinkai's other films.

Whisper of the Heart (1995)
Director: Yoshifumi Kondo
Studio: Studio Ghibli

I didn't mean to make this list 50% Studio Ghibli films but it happened anyway. Whisper of the Heart is one of Ghibli's underappreciated treasures. It is a heartwarming coming-of-age story with an adorably endearing a romance. It's the story of Shizuku, a precocious bookworm who falls for the violin-maker, Seiji Amasawa, after discovering he shares her love of literature. Instead of professing her feelings for him, she is inspired to pursue her own passion for writing as a way to deal with them. It sounds sad but it's really an amazing movie. We wouldn't expect anything less than that from a Studio Ghibli film, would we?

How to Watch:
Sorry! I hate that Studio Ghibli films aren't offered digitally or streamed! Unfortunately, if you want to watch it you're going to have to borrow or buy it. 

That wraps up the my Beginner's Guide to anime. Is there any anime movies that I missed that you'd recommend for a newbie?

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Manga Reviews: Astra Lost in Space, Vols. 1 and 2

Astra Lost in Space, Vol. 1
(Astra Lost in Space #1)
Kenata Shinohara
Release: December 5, 2017
Goodreads Amazon
What starts as a pleasant class trip to a planet five light-years away becomes a nightmare survival trip to get back home.

In the year 2063, interstellar space travel has become the norm. What sort of adventure awaits on the new frontier?

It's the first day of Planet Camp, and Aries Spring couldn't be more excited! She, along with eight other strangers, leave for Planet McPa for a week long excursion. Soon after they arrive, however, a mysterious orb appears and transports them into the depths of space, where they find an empty floating spaceship…

I picked up this series because I was looking for a good sci-fi manga and this one was getting quite a bit of hype a few months ago when the English translation came out. I'm so glad I picked it up! It's a solid start to a new manga series. The first part of this volume was slow and a bit weird. It was mainly setup to introduce the characters.

The second half was a total shift in the narrative and I am all here for it! It's basically a YA Lost in Space meets Swiss Family Robinson with a bit of Titan AE and Up thrown in for some flavor. I love a good misfit crew story and it was fun watching the characters start to learn to work together and to depend on each other. Although, some of the characters are still a mystery. Plus, there's a bigger conspiracy behind our poor "shipwrecked" cast and how they exactly ended up on their abandoned ship far from where they started. I can't wait to see where this story goes.

  4 / 5 Stars

Astra Lost in Space, Vol. 2
(Astra Lost in Space #2)
Kenata Shinohara
Release: January 23, 2018
What starts as a pleasant class trip to a planet five light-years away from Earth becomes a nightmare survival trip back home from 5,000 light-years away.

In the year 2063, interstellar space travel has become the norm. What sort of adventure awaits on the new frontier?

The situation aboard the Astra intensifies as Zack reveals to Kanata that the ship’s communication system has recently been sabotaged and that it’s likely one of their new friends who tried to murder them! The mystery deepens as the crew members are overtaken by confusion and anger and start to question each other’s motives. Just as the argument comes to a head, the side of the ship explodes, shutting down the controls and gravity system and setting the Astra on a collision course with the second planet on their trip, Shummoor.

I'm really enjoying this series so far! It's very much a YA space opera and I'm digging it. The interactions between the characters are amazing and their explorations are intriguing. Volume 2 picks up a few weeks after Volume 1 left off and things are getting interesting as they arrive at the second planet for resupplying their trip home. The main mystery is still unsolved and there looks to be a saboteur on board but that's all put aside so everyone can concentrate on surviving.

One of my favorite things about this manga so far are the planet visits. The animals and flora are interesting and the adventures the crew have when they go planet-side are fun and thrilling. I'm also loving seeing everyone uses their unique knowledge and talents to solve problems. We got to learn more about Yun-hua's backstory and I will say that I did not see that coming. I'm really looking forward to getting my hands on volume 3 and seeing what trouble these teens get into next. I hope we learn more about Ulgar next too! I also hope that we get to see some answers as to why this group has ended up together and where they are in the next volume too.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley

  4 / 5 Stars

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