Friday’s Book Excerpts

Happy Friday, readers!

Each week I share book excerpts with:

  • Book Beginnings on Fridays hosted by Rose City Reader, where bloggers share the first sentence or more of a current book, as well as any first impressions or initial thoughts they might have. 
  • The Friday 56 hosted by Freda’s Voice, where you grab a book and turn to page 56 (or 56% of an ebook), find one or more interesting sentences, and post them.

I finished reading The Queen of Hearts and have moved on to The Hazel Wood, so that’s where I will be pulling this week’s excerpts from.

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Synopsis from Amazon:

Welcome to Melissa Albert’s The Hazel Woodthe fiercely stunning contemporary fantasy with five starred reviews everyone is raving about:

“Thoroughly, creepily captivating.” —Kristin Cashore, author of Graceling and Jane, Unlimited
“Will be your next obsession.” —Stephanie Garber, author of Caraval
“Destined to be a classic.” —Kami Garcia, author of The Lovely Reckless
“Breathtaking.” —Seanan McGuire, author of Every Heart a Doorway
“Mesmerizing.” —Karen McManus, author of One of Us Is Lying
“One of the best books I’ve read in years.” —Jennifer Niven, author of All the Bright Places

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: Her mother is stolen away—by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began—and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.


Book Beginning:

My mother was raised on fairy tales, but I was raised on highways. My first memory is the smell of hot pavement and the sky through the sunroof, whipping by in a river of blue. My mom tells me that’s impossible – our car doesn’t have a sunroof. But I can still close my eyes and see it, so I’m holding on to it.


The Friday 56:

“Explain what?” I planted my feet on the pavement, gripped his arm. “We’re standing here until you tell me.”

“I made a promise,” he said. “But I don’t want to keep it.”


What are you reading this weekend? Feel free to join in with lines from your current read!

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WWW Wednesday: January 17, 2018

Another week has passed and it’s time for WWW Wednesday again!

WWW Wednesdays

Hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words
(formerly hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading)

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

To join in this meme, just answer these three questions and post the link to your responses on Sam’s blog and in the comments below.


I am currently reading:

The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin

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GoodReads Synopsis:

A debut novel that pulses with humor and empathy and explores the heart’s capacity for forgiveness…

Zadie Anson and Emma Colley have been best friends since their early twenties, when they first began navigating serious romantic relationships amid the intensity of medical school. Now they’re happily married wives and mothers with successful careers–Zadie as a pediatric cardiologist and Emma as a trauma surgeon. Their lives in Charlotte, North Carolina are chaotic but fulfilling, until the return of a former colleague unearths a secret one of them has been harboring for years.

As chief resident, Nick Xenokostas was the center of Zadie’s life–both professionally and personally–throughout a tragic chain of events in her third year of medical school that she has long since put behind her. Nick’s unexpected reappearance during a time of new professional crisis shocks both women into a deeper look at the difficult choices they made at the beginning of their careers. As it becomes evident that Emma must have known more than she revealed about circumstances that nearly derailed both their lives, Zadie starts to question everything she thought she knew about her closest friend.

This is an ARC from NetGalley. I haven’t seen it mentioned anywhere, but the synopsis sounded interesting. Most of all, though, I absolutely LOVE the cover art. Seriously gorgeous! I’m fairly certain I chose this book for the cover alone, but there are no regrets here. I’m only a chapter in, but thoroughly enjoying the book so far.


I just finished reading:

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

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GoodReads Synopsis:

Just listen, Adam says with a voice that sounds like shrapnel.

I open my eyes wide now.
I sit up as much as I can.
And I listen.

Stay, he says.

Choices. Seventeen-year-old Mia is faced with some tough ones: Stay true to her first love—music—even if it means losing her boyfriend and leaving her family and friends behind?

Then one February morning Mia goes for a drive with her family, and in an instant, everything changes. Suddenly, all the choices are gone, except one. And it’s the only one that matters.

If I Stay is a heartachingly beautiful book about the power of love, the true meaning of family, and the choices we all make.

I decided to give audiobooks a try again so I borrowed If I Stay from the library (digitally, of course – I love modern conveniences!). The version I listened to was narrated by Kirsten Potter. Kirsten did a great job narrating it and I really liked the book, but I still don’t think I’m sold on audiobooks. There’s just something about actually seeing the words in front of me that I love and it helps me to stay fully engaged in the story. Plus, I read faster than the narrators, so an audiobook takes even more time out of my already busy schedule. I’m definitely sticking to physical books and ebooks for now, and plan to re-read this book in one of those formats at some point.


What I’m reading next:

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

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GoodReads Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

I’ve heard so many great things about this book! It’s been on my TBR list for a little while and I requested it from NetGalley, but to be honest, I was fully expecting to be declined. Which would have been fine; I was just planning on buying it for myself when it goes on sale. Imagine my surprise when I opened up my email this morning to a message saying I was approved! I’ve got it downloaded and ready to go on my Kindle, but I’m making myself wait until I finish my current read. I’m super excited to get started!


So that’s my WWW Wednesday for this week. What have YOU read this week?

Book Review: All That Was

Title: All That Was
Author: Karen Rivers
Genre: Young Adult-Contemporary-Fiction
Release Date: January 16, 2018
Pages: 384
Buy This Book: Amazon/Audible (affiliate link)

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“There is maybe a fungus that has woven me to Piper. Piper is the fungus, invading my roots. It’s more parasitic than that.”

“I’m either holding my breath or not, I can’t tell, and I’m with her and I’m underwater and we’re drowning, we keep seeing sky and knowing we can’t reach it, is that you Piper, I say or think or dream. It’s us, it’s us. We are. We aren’t.”

This book is written in first person narrative from the main character Sloane’s point of view. Sloane enjoys memorizing random facts (usually about animals) and her inner dialogue is often peppered with random animal trivia, not always related to what she was thinking about beforehand. Her train of thought also tends to wander. In the middle of remembering an event that happened before the book’s timeline started, she’ll suddenly start thinking about some other event that happened or describing her relationship with one of her friends. Worst of all (at least as far as my own personal pet peeves go), the author’s writing style uses a lot of overly descriptive metaphors and run on sentences. Because of the combination of all of these things, I found this book relatively hard to follow and even outright confusing at times.

“But even while Piper was yelling, we were swaying without meaning to, without wanting to; our bodies were touching in a way that felt like we weren’t in control of them, our hands entangled, our bodies reaching for each other, her face collapsing.

Why does it matter so much?

It was only a kiss.

Whales are washing up dead on beaches everywhere, their corpses rotten and bloated. Sometimes they explode. It doesn’t seem like anyone cares.

If the elephants start dropping dead, maybe then the world will notice. Everyone likes elephants, right? Elephant zombies would really be something, their decomposing flesh dropping off in leathery sheets. They wouldn’t be ignored.”

However, despite not liking the author’s writing style, I actually really enjoyed the story itself. I also appreciated the underlying message – No means no, even if it starts as a yes. That’s very relevant in today’s political/social climate and an important lesson to learn as teenagers and young adults (the target demographic for this book). For that reason, I’m giving this book a 3.5/5 score.

Thank you to NetGalley and Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group for the opportunity to read this book for free in exchange for my honest review.

Friday’s Book Excerpts

Happy Friday, readers!

This Friday, I’ve decided to share book excerpts with:

  • Book Beginnings on Fridays hosted by Rose City Reader, where bloggers share the first sentence or more of a current book, as well as any first impressions or initial thoughts they might have. 
  • The Friday 56 hosted by Freda’s Voice, where you grab a book and turn to page 56 (or 56% of an ebook), find one or more interesting sentences, and post them.

I just started reading Ready Player One by Ernest Cline yesterday, so that’s where my book excerpts will be coming from.

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Synopsis from Amazon:

At once wildly original and stuffed with irresistible nostalgia, READY PLAYER ONE is a spectacularly genre-busting, ambitious, and charming debut—part quest novel, part love story, and part virtual space opera set in a universe where spell-slinging mages battle giant Japanese robots, entire planets are inspired by Blade Runner, and flying DeLoreans achieve light speed.

It’s the year 2045, and the real world is an ugly place.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved—that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt—among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life—and love—in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?


Book Beginning:

“Everyone my age remembers where they were and what they were doing when they first heard about the contest. I was sitting in my hideout watching cartoons when the news bulletin broke in on my video feed, announcing that James Halliday had died during the night.”


The Friday 56:

“After I disabled their engines, I boarded the ship and proceeded to kill every avatar there. The captain tried to apologize when he saw who I was, but I wasn’t in a forgiving mood. After I’d dispatched the crew, I parked my X-wing in the cargo hold and then cruised home in my new ship.”


What are you reading this weekend? Feel free to join in with lines from your current read!

WWW Wednesday: January 10, 2018

Another week has passed and it’s time for WWW Wednesday again!

WWW Wednesdays

Hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words
(formerly hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading)

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

To join in this meme, just answer these three questions and post the link to your responses on Sam’s blog and in the comments below.


I am currently reading:

Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

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GoodReads Synopsis:

If you could read my mind, you wouldn’t be smiling.

Samantha McAllister looks just like the rest of the popular girls in her junior class. But hidden beneath the straightened hair and expertly applied makeup is a secret that her friends would never understand: Sam has Purely-Obsessional OCD and is consumed by a stream of dark thoughts and worries that she can’t turn off.

Second-guessing every move, thought, and word makes daily life a struggle, and it doesn’t help that her lifelong friends will turn toxic at the first sign of a wrong outfit, wrong lunch, or wrong crush. Yet Sam knows she’d be truly crazy to leave the protection of the most popular girls in school. So when Sam meets Caroline, she has to keep her new friend with a refreshing sense of humor and no style a secret, right up there with Sam’s weekly visits to her psychiatrist.

Caroline introduces Sam to Poet’s Corner, a hidden room and a tight-knit group of misfits who have been ignored by the school at large. Sam is drawn to them immediately, especially a guitar-playing guy with a talent for verse, and starts to discover a whole new side of herself. Slowly, she begins to feel more “normal” than she ever has as part of the popular crowd . . . until she finds a new reason to question her sanity and all she holds dear.

A YA story where the main character is battling a mental illness and trying to figure out where she belongs? Yes, please! This book is right up my alley. I haven’t even read the first chapter yet (I guess technically it fits better under “reading next” versus “currently reading”?), but I’m looking forward to diving into this one.


I just finished reading:

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

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GoodReads Synopsis:

Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?

Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy’s counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other’s trust, and come to see that what they’ve been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.

With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn’t offer easy answers. Small Great Things is a remarkable achievement from a writer at the top of her game.

I really enjoy Jodi Picoult books and this one was no exception. There were some parts I didn’t like – some of the characters were stereotypical and tropey, for instance, and the ending was just a little too neat and tidy. But the writing was excellent, the story pulled me in, and the message is an important one. I gave it a 4/5 score.


What I’m reading next:

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

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GoodReads Synopsis:

A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?

It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.
Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved—that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt—among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life—and love—in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

My husband read this book a couple months ago and has been nearly obsessed with getting me to read it since. However, with the movie coming out soon, there was a long wait list on it at the library. I finally got my hands on a copy and decided I’m not going to wait any longer.


So that’s my WWW Wednesday for this week. What have YOU read this week?

Book Review: The Chalk Man

Title: The Chalk Man
Author: C.J. Tudor
Genre: Thriller-Suspense-Mystery
Release Date: January 9, 2018
Pages: 280
Buy This Book: Amazon/Audible (affiliate link)

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This book is a must-read for thriller and suspense fans! I actually find it hard to believe it’s a debut novel. C.J. Tutor is a very talented author and I have no doubt that The Chalk Man is going to be hitting some bestseller lists after its release tomorrow.

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While reading this book, I noticed a lot of parallels with some of Stephen King’s books, especially It and The Body (otherwise known by its movie adaptation’s name Stand By Me). There’s even a reference to the infamous “dead lights”. I also picked up on some Stranger Things vibes. Since Stephen King happens to be one of my favorite authors and Stranger Things is one of my favorite shows (and also inspired by Stephen King), I guess it’s a no-brainer that I absolutely loved this book. However, it’s more than just the 80’s nostalgia and similarities with my personal favorites… This book is incredibly well done! The characters are well-written, multilayered, and relatable. The storyline, which goes back and forth between 1986 and present day, is suspenseful and gripping. There are plenty of dark and creepy parts to keep the reader on edge. I really liked how the mystery is slowly unraveled throughout the story – we only get little bits and pieces from each timeline until it all comes together into one big unexpected reveal at the end.

However, I am dropping one star off the score due to too many coincidences towards the end of the book. I understand that the author wanted to wrap things up and tie off all of the loose ends, but I still like it to be believable. So for that reason, I’m giving it a 4/5 score. I’m definitely going to be keeping an eye out for more from this author!

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book through the Blogging For Books program in exchange for my honest review.

WWW Wednesday: January 3, 2018

Another week has passed and it’s time for WWW Wednesday again!

WWW Wednesdays

Hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words
(formerly hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading)

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

To join in this meme, just answer these three questions and post the link to your responses on Sam’s blog and in the comments below.


I am currently reading:

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

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GoodReads Synopsis:

You can’t stop the future.
You can’t rewind the past.
The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.

Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.

I absolutely loved the Netflix original series that was based on this book (although I didn’t realize it was based on a book until after I watched it), so I have been really looking forward to reading this! Of course, the book is always better and this is already proving to be no exception. 😉


I just finished reading:

All That Was by Karen Rivers

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GoodReads Synopsis:

Piper and Sloane were best friends. They grew up together, from childhood to first love, and in spite of how different they were, their friendship was supposed to last forever. That is, until Piper caught Sloane kissing her boyfriend—and just days later, Piper was found dead, washed ashore on a beach. Sloane was torn with grief and guilt. How do you make amends for hurting someone you love, if that person is no longer around? And how can you ever move on and love again?

This is an ARC that I received from NetGalley.  I haven’t really gathered my thoughts on it yet, but I will say I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I’ll post a full review shortly (it’s been added to my never-ending to-do list!!).


What I’m reading next:

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

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GoodReads Synopsis:

Remember, it’s only a game…

Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…beware of getting swept too far away.

I’ve heard SO many great things about this book. I can’t wait to see if it lives up to the hype!


So that’s my WWW Wednesday for this week. What have YOU read this week?