Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Really Short Reviews: The Alphaville Series by Christine Warren

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Something to Howl About
(Alphaville #.5)
Christine Warren
Release: January 2, 2018
Goodreads Amazon
ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley
WELCOME TO ALPHAVILLE, where the she-wolves and alpha-males play. . .for keeps, in a brand-new paranormal romance series from New York Times bestselling author Christine Warren.

Dr. Annie Cryer has been called many things: Genius. Child prodigy. Scientific wonder.

Wolf Shifter.

Banished from her pack years ago, Annie’s lone wolf wandering has brought her to Alpha, Washington, home to all shifters who don't quite fit in in the "normal" shifter word. Now Annie has the chance to go back home...if only she can make good on a favor her alpha owes the mayor of “Alphaville.” But it's not much of a favor when you're helping the hottest shifter in town...

Grizzly shifter Jonas Browning has a clan in trouble. They haven't had a child born in over a hundred years...and their clan faces going completely extinct. Genetic scientist Anne Cryer has been sent to help save them. But what Jonas doesn't count on is being irresistibly drawn to the small wolf shifter, and his bear isn't about to let her go...
Review:

This is a pretty short prequel story so there's not a lot of development. Not as much is needed because of the shifters' fated mates, but I feel like the plot could have supported a longer story. It would have been interesting to go into Annie's research a little. While the story does introduce the town of Alphaville, I would also have liked to learn more about the residents and the packs/clans. I'm hoping that I'll get that in the first full book of the series.

I also felt like consent was questionable at the early (kissing) stages of Jonas and Annie's relationship. With so much attention on sexual harassment and assault lately, that over the top alpha behavior, even though it's pretty standard in shifter romances, feels especially squicky.

This story is set about a year before Baby, I'm Howling For You. Jonas does appear in that book but it's not absolutely necessary to read this one first.

    
 stars


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Baby, I'm Howling For You
(Alphaville #1)
Christine Warren
Release: January 30, 2018
Goodreads Amazon
ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley
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?
Review:

Alphaville is set in the same world as Warren's Others series, which I haven't read. I might have a better idea what it means to be an alpha in this world if I had, but in general I don't feel like I'm missing any important details. I have read some of her Gargoyles series and like with Alphaville so far, I love the ideas behind it, but the execution is just okay.

Mick and Renny are a book nerd's dream couple, a graphic novelist and a librarian. Some of my favorite moments are when she talks about his work. But he also has a throw the woman over his shoulder and drag her back to his cave moment that I could do without. It's very similar to that same moment in the prequel novella and in general, I feel like there are too many similarities between the romances in the two stories.

I did like getting to meet more of Alpha's residents this time. I love the variety of shifter types, which includes badgers and wolverines in addition to the usual wolves, bears and cats, as well as the variety of personalities. I'm always a fan of small towns with big personalities. What I like most about this particular story are the police procedural elements, even though it's not actually told from a police POV. It is setting up Deputy Zeke for his own book so I have high hopes for the next one in the series.


    
 stars




Friday, January 12, 2018

Weres Wanna Know: How do you organize your TBR?


Even though we Weres like many of the same books, we are very different in some ways. Here's a big one: how we organize our TBRs and track our reading goals. Rose Red uses spreadsheets, but I'm not a fan of them and I'm pretty sure the feeling is mutual. I've been writing down the books I read and the reviews on my to do list in my planner for at least the last five years. This year I'm trying out a reading journal in addition to my daily planner.

In this post, we'll show you both of our methods and then we want to hear about yours.

Gretl aka The Planner Extraordinaire

I've been using a planner to keep track of release dates, to do lists and what books I read for a few years now. I put release dates and review books on the monthly page. My new journal even has a column for a monthly TBR. For the first time this year I also made a list of my unread books in the notes section at the back of the planner. It was mostly to plan for the Beat the Backlist Challenge but I thought it was interesting to see how long the list was. I didn't do the math, but the ebooks took up five pages.
Then I make a to do list each week and check off tasks as they're completed. This year I added a line down the middle of the weekly page to separate blog tasks from things like doctor's appointments. In the past I've recorded books read on the day I finished them, but the reading journal has a separate page so I'm trying to get used to using that.

I'm still trying to decide which planner to put blog tasks in. Are they regular to do's or reading related? Right now they're in both. The weekly pages repeat a lot of the same information so I still have some kinks to work out. Plus I also have a notebook for review notes and I feel like having three places to write in might be too much.



And I keep my Currently Reading, Want to Read and Recently Read books updated on Goodreads. It doesn't have every book I own or every book I've ever read, but it has the ones I've read since I joined in 2012. Now that I write it all out, that's a lot of tracking to keep track of!

Rose Red aka The Spreadsheet Enthusiast

2018 TBR

I love spreadsheets! Outside of the blogosphere, I'm a scientist so, as you can imagine, I use spreadsheets a lot. Originally, I started tracking my reading via Excel when I was frustrated with Goodreads for not having a function to count rereads at the time. It then blossomed into me tracking my reading stats, my pre-orders, book releases, my physical TBR list, my reading log, and my physical book inventory all in spreadsheets. Man, I'm starting to doubt my sanity listing all of those down. O.o

2018 Book Releases

I don't want to go into formulas and a lot of details because I could write a whole post on just one of my sheets. For the most part, I set up my spreadsheets for the next year over Christmas break and just enter data as I read during the year. So I think it's not as time intensive over the year as Gretl's planner but my tracking is spread out in more places though. Most of my spreadsheets are kind of similar to each other and track a lot of the same things like Title, Author, POV, Author Gender, Series, etc. I've done this on purpose so I can copy and paste things between spreadsheets more easily. I do like to track special stats like my projected TBR finish date in my Physical TBR sheet.

The Stats Page in My Book Stats Spreadsheet

My favorite/most used spreadsheet has to be my Book Stats sheet. If you're looking for a great pre-made spreadsheet where you just plug values in, check out Crini's 2018 Book Spreadsheet. You can save a copy to your Google Drive and have it for your own. And she has even a manual for those who need one. You can track your audiobook listening, longest/shortest books, what you buy, library reads, how many books by each author, and so much more! This year I'm actually using Crini's sheet as my base sheet. I track a few more things than she does so I just added those sections in. Her sheet is truly impressive and a great place to start. I highly recommend checking it out if you want to try using a spreadsheet.


The Stat Tracker in my TBR Spreadsheet. Look at those projected finish dates.

Like Gretl, I also track a lot things on Goodreads like my Currently Reading, Want to Read, Owned Books, Physical TBR books, and Beat the Backlist books. It's a bit redundant but I like when my spreadsheets match my Goodreads shelves.

How do you organize your TBR and reading goals?


and



We're participating in the 2018 Discussion Challenge.

Check out all the January discussions!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

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


This past year I've gotten back into watching anime thanks to a certain really popular figure skating anime and it feels like I've found myself again. I've loved anime since my Best Friend first introduced me to Sailor Moon and Death Note in high school but it was hard and expensive to get a hold of. We were limited by what we could get our hands on physically which was usually only the popular shows that would make it in the American markets, Studio Ghibli films, and fansubs that were uploaded to the internet not so legally.

Now, there is just so much anime we can stream across multiple platforms that it can be hard to choose what to watch first. Today, I want to put my two cents in and recommend the series I think work best for those who want to get into anime but don't know where to start. I'm going do this post in three installments because it would be super long otherwise. This post and the next one will each feature four of my favorite TV animes that are great for newbies and veterans alike. The last one will be all about anime movies. After Part Three comes out, I'm planning on doing periodic anime rec and review posts throughout the rest of the year as I find new stuff and rewatch old favorites. So be on the lookout for that. Let's get started, shall we?

A Note On Anime Streaming: You don't need a subscription to watch most of these animes. As long as you don't mind watching ads, you can stream this whole list on Crunchyroll or Funimation for FREE.


Yuri!!! on Ice
Episodes: 12
Synopsis
It wouldn't be a post-2016 anime post without mentioning the brilliance of Yuri on Ice, would it? It is one of the most awesome animes I've seen in a long time and it's THE show that got several of my friends in anime. I can't even tell you how many times I rewatched it in 2017. It's easily my favorite anime of all time. It's a sports anime that doesn't shy away from heavier topics like anxiety and depression. The fact that it also has great music, a large and diverse cast of characters, gorgeous animation, and a wonderful queer romance is just icing on the cake. This anime is great on so many levels that I could devote a whole post to it. It currently has only twelve episodes so it's easy to binge watch in a day or over the weekend. 

Can Be Watched On: 


My Hero Academia
Episodes: 38 + 2 OVAs
Synopsis

My Hero Academia is the anime that I never knew I needed in my life until I watched it this last year. It's about a superhero high school and the main character Izuku Midoriya's struggle to gain control of his quirk aka superpower. Midoriya is the type of underdog you can't help but fall in love with and root for. Actually, I fell in love with most of the characters. It quickly turned into one of my favorite animes of all time. Depending on the day you ask me, it could beat out Yuri!!! on Ice as my favorite. It has a large diverse cast and is full of action and humor. I can't begin to tell you how much I loved this one. It's the perfect blend of Western superheroes and Eastern culture plus it has a lot of superhero-type action scenes. It's just so much fun! We're getting Season 3 this spring and I'm so excited for it!

Can Be Watched On: 
Hulu



Snow White with the Red Hair
Episodes: 24 + an OVA
Synopsis
I've watched a lot of romance anime during my tenure as an anime enthusiast so I can say without a doubt that Snow White with the Red Hair is one of the best romance animes I've ever seen! Contrary to what its name implies, this anime really has nothing to do with the Snow White story. If you are in search of a sweet and heart-warming romantic tale, then look no more. The romance between Shirayuki and Zen is absolutely adorable and perfect! There is no unnecessary bickering or drama, plus the flow of the story and their relationship is smooth and relaxing. This is an anime that can teach other animes how to handle romance and relationship development. The entire cast is absolutely fantastic! Each character had the perfect amount of depth to their development that only adds to the narrrative. The romance between Shirayuki and Zen is just so freaking perfect! I ship them so hard! The whole anime (and manga!) is all about them falling in love and supporting each other and growing into themselves. I can't recommend this one enough. I have my fingers crossed that we'll get at least one more season.

Can Be Watched On: 


Yona of the Dawn
Episodes: 24 + 3 OVAs
Synopsis

Okay. I'm going to admit now that I have a soft spot for reverse harem animes and Yona of the Dawn is hands down my all-time favorite out of the ones I've watched. It's the story of a spoiled princess who flees after witnessing her father's murder and after traveling through her country is determined to get her throne back so she can help the people. It's an amazing fantasy adventure anime with a bit of romance thrown in! It starts out a bit slow but by episode four I was in for the long haul. It’s just SO good. The story is intriguing but the characters are what makes this anime so great. I adore all seven of them! And I ship the romance so hard! It's not the main focus of the anime but it's so good despite that. The character development in Yona alone from the beginning to end makes it worth the watch but the other characters have just as great arcs. *hugs Shin-Ah hard* I still have my fingers crossed that we'll get another season or two but I'm not sure if that's ever going to happen. Thank God! We have the manga and it's 26 volumes of gloriousness.

Can Be Watched On:

That's Part One of my Beginner's Guide to Anime. Part Two will be out next week! In the meantime, what anime would you recommend to a newbie?

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

December Subscription Box Review: Owlcrate and Whimsify


I'm trying something new this month and cross-posting the entire review on Instagram. Look for two posts, one for each box, during the day today. Or, you know, just read it all now. Let me know which format you prefer for unboxings.


The December Owlcrate theme was Seize the Day.
The items in the box, which are all Owlcrate exclusives, are supposed to inspire you to take on the new year.

The box contained a Harry Potter-inspired tote bag designed by @bookwormboutique. I'm so excited about this color because I've only ever gotten black totes in boxes before. It's also a bit bigger than my other totes and the fabric is a nice weight. Plus you can never have too much Harry Potter.


Probably my favorite item in the box is the custom weekly planner designed in collaboration between OwlCrate and @bluestarpress. There are a few pics of it on my Instagram already and you'll see more in an upcoming blog post.

I'm also loving the Dreaming Tree candle from @novellyyours. It has a crisp apple scent and such great color.

And I love the way the double-sided bookmark ties in to the color story. It has quotes from The Serpent King (green side) and The Perks of Being a Wallflower (blue side) and was designed by @littleinklingsdesign.


I love the colors on the Percy Jackson magnet designed by @inkandwonder.designs. Mine has a little nick on the bottom which kind of sucks though.

The wooden ornament inspired by Everything Everything isn't getting packed up with the Christmas decorations so you'll probably see it again on Bookstagram soon. It was created by @juniperandivydesigns.


The book is Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills. It has an exclusive cover, which also matches the color theme, and if you take the jacket off the design is repeated on the book itself. It came with a letter, a signed bookplate and a patch. I don't always get into YA Contemps, but this one sounds really good. It's about a girl in her high school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.


The December Whimsify theme was Ruthless.
It includes items inspired by favorite villains and anti-heroes.


This month's candle is Lady of Casterly Rock inspired by Cersei from Game of Thrones and created by @flickeringfandoms.

I love the idea of The Darkling bubble bar by @geekandwonder. It's kind of a cross between a bath fizzy and a bubble bath. This one smells really good too. It's Woods and Amber, Vanilla, Apricot and Berries.

 

I love the ‘Monster Melter’ hot cocoa mix from @faithfullycharmed23. Such a cute way to package hot chocolate. I haven't tasted it though because I need it for the photo challenge.

You've already seen the exclusive quote bookmark by @littlepapermama inspired by Ronan from The Raven Cycle on Instagram. This is one of the series I hope to read this year because all my bookish friends love it.

I'm not totally sold on the Shatter Me-inspired Warner print by @dasstark . Does anyone else think he looks like Robert Patinson?

I do love the Delores Umbridge ‘I Must Not Tell Lies’ button by @ohsogeeky. It looks like a pink doily which is pretty perfect for her.

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The book is Renegades by Marissa Meyer. I'm a little bit disappointed that there are no extras included with the book, like bookmarks or postcards or buttons. But this is a much bigger book (by a best-selling author) than has been in the previous boxes. And I am really excited to read it.


Did you see our Follower Feedback Survey? 
Check out yesterday's post to answer a few questions to help us improve the blog and enter to win a gift card.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Follower Feedback Survey and Giveaway

Thanks so much for stopping by our blog! 
We Weres want to know about our followers so we can provide the content and design elements you want. 


Please take a minute to complete our (short) Follower Feedback Survey.
To thank you for taking the time to answer our questions, we’re also doing a giveaway. 


To enter, share your response to question 9 in the comments. (If you had multiple answers, it’s okay to post just one.) We’ll pick one commenter to win a $10 gift card to the online bookstore of your choice - Amazon, B&N, Book Depository. 
International entries welcome. 
Contest closes January 15.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Year in Review: 2017


I think it’s safe to say that everyone sits back at the end of the year and reflects over what they have achieved over the previous twelve months. Of course, being book people like we are, we can't help but think about 2017 in terms of books read and not read. So we borrowed questions from Goodreads's Year in Books and from other year-end book surveys and came up with our own way to recap our 2017 reading year.

2017 Reading Stats
Gretl
Number Of Books You Read: 106 (33,366 pages)
Number of Re-Reads: 3
Genre You Read The Most From: Paranormal Romance

Rose Red
Number Of Books You Read: 255 (59,271 pages)
Number of Re-Reads: 58
Genre You Read The Most From: Paranormal Romance

Most Read Author of 2017
Gretl
Ilona Andrews

Rose Red
Counting Re-Reads: Nalini Singh
Without Re-Reads: Jordan L. Hawke

Favorite New Author to You Discovered in 2017
Gretl
The Black Lily by Juliette Cross
Juliette Cross

Rose Red
Jordan L. Hawke

Longest and Shortest Books You Read
Gretl
Myths & Magic by Kerry Adrienne
Longest: 4236 pages
(This one's cheating a bit because I didn't actually read every book in the anthology.)

Shortest: 30 pages

Rose Red
Longest: 1087 pages
Shortest: 26 pages

First Book You Read in 2017
Gretl
Magic's Song by Sela Carsen

Rose Red

Last Book You Read in 2017
Gretl
Heart on Fire by Amanda Bouchet

Rose Red

Highest Rated on Goodreads
Gretl
Wildfire by Ilona Andrews
Rating: 4.6 Stars

Rose Red
Rating: 4.77 Stars

Favorite YA Book of 2017
Gretl
Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller

Rose Red

Favorite Adult Book of 2017
Gretl
Wildfire by Ilona Andrews

Rose Red

Least Favorite Book of 2017
Gretl
The Wishing Heart by J.C. Welker

Rose Red

2017 Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read And They Did
Gretl
The Demon Prince by Ann Aguirre

Rose Red
 Nobody is surprised by this at all, right?

Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2017 to finally read?
Gretl
Hard Mated by Jennifer Ashley
I read 3 books in the Shifters Unbound series this year (out of order) and I think the series has such an interesting premise. I'll have to come back to it and actually start at the beginning.

Rose Red
 I have no excuse for why it took me so long to read this but it was AMAZING!

One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2017 But Will Be Your #1 Priority in 2018?
Gretl
2603886934019231
Yes, I know that's two books but I'm going to read them together.

Rose Red


Series Ender/Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2018? 
Gretl
34499216

Rose Red
 
I'm not ready to say goodbye to Kate Daniels. I can't believe it's almost over.

That was our 2017 in books! If you want to know more about our reading year, you can check out our Best of 2017 posts. How was your reading year?

and
 
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