Just a Little Hiatus

Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Hi everyone!

So you may have noticed that I haven't posted anything on here for a few weeks, and I just wanted to let you know why.

I'm reaching the end of my pregnancy and my baby could come any day, and I've been on semi-bed rest now for about a month.  I was really trying to stay on top of my reading and my blog posts so that even after I have my baby, the blog would still be updated regularly.  Well, that didn't really happen.

I'm still reading and I have a few reviews that need to be written and posted, but I just haven't been feeling up to blogging in the past few weeks. Today, in fact, is the first day in a while that I've even felt like doing ANY kind of blogging and I figured I should maybe write this post before I let my hiatus go on any longer without an explanation.

So basically I hope to keep up with my blog as much as possible, even after my son is born, but I'm just not sure if I'll be able to do that right away.  I still hope to keep up my reading somewhat, and I'm trying to stay kind of present on social media (especially Twitter and Instagram - I'm @OverstuffedBook on both of those), and I plan on posting some pictures and info about my baby once he's here.  But I'm not exactly sure when I'll be back to a regular schedule.  But I'll most likely be posting those reviews as soon as I can, because they have a high priority to me.

So anyway, I apologize for being AWOL for the past few weeks and while I don't know when I'll get back to a regular schedule, I do hope to have some posts up here and there.  Right now I'm going to aim for being back on a regular schedule in April.  And in the meantime, I should have a few reviews up as well as a post about my baby once he arrives.

Thanks so much to all of my followers for sticking with me, even while I'm not on a regular schedule!  I wouldn't be able to do this blogging thing without you!

Sundays in Bed With...Rebellion

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Sundays in Bed With... is a meme/feature started by my friend Kate at Midnight Book Girl, where we can highlight the book that we're spending the day in bed reading (or the one we wish we could be reading all day in bed!).

I'm hoping to spend the day in bed with...

Rebellion (Extraction #2) by Stephanie Diaz

I'm still pregnant and still on semi-bed rest, so theoretically I should have read like 10 books by now.  But I'm still a slow reader and I've actually spent a lot of time catching up on TV shows and spending time with my husband and our 5-year-old, so I'm not spending all day reading like I thought I would.  But I do hope to spend some time reading today, and hopefully get Rebellion finished soon!

What are you spending this Sunday in bed with?  Let me know in the comments, or leave a link to your post if you're participating in this meme and I'll try to stop by your blog!

Review: Extraction (Extraction #1) by Stephanie Diaz

Friday, February 6, 2015
Title:  Extraction
Author:  Stephanie Diaz
Series:  Extraction #1
Publisher:  St. Martin's Griffin, an imprint of Macmillan
Publication Date:  July 22, 2014
Pages:  403
Format/Source:  Hardback/From Publisher  
Age Group/Genre:  Young Adult/Science Fiction, Dystopian
"Welcome to Extraction testing."

Clementine has spent her whole life preparing for her sixteenth birthday, when she’ll be tested for Extraction in the hopes of being sent from the planet Kiel’s toxic Surface to the much safer Core, where people live without fear or starvation. When she proves promising enough to be “Extracted,” she must leave without Logan, the boy she loves. Torn apart from her only sense of family, Clem promises to come back and save him from brutal Surface life.

What she finds initially in the Core is a utopia compared to the Surface—it’s free of hard labor, gun-wielding officials, and the moon's lethal acid. But life is anything but safe, and Clementine learns that the planet's leaders are planning to exterminate Surface dwellers—and that means Logan, too.

Trapped by the steel walls of the underground and the lies that keep her safe, Clementine must find a way to escape and rescue Logan and the rest of the planet. But the planet leaders don't want her running—they want her subdued.

With intense action scenes and a cast of unforgettable characters, Extraction is a page-turning, gripping read, sure to entertain lovers of Hunger Games and Ender's Game and leave them breathless for more. (Cover and synopsis from Goodreads.)

A YA Melting Pot...

Throughout my time reading Extraction, I found myself comparing it to a lot of different YA books.  Many elements of this story reminded me a lot of The Hunger Games and Divergent series, and, to a lesser extent, Across the Universe and Inside Out series as well.  At times it seemed as though Extraction was simply checking off all the YA dystopian tropes.  Some kind of test at age 16?  Check.  The main character realizes, through the test, that they are somehow different or advanced or special?  Check.  The main character is sent somewhere different because of said differentness or specialness?  Check.  The main character has some sort of makeover at their new place of living?  Check. The main character undergoes a training process at their new place of living?  Check.

Now, let me just say that I enjoy dystopians.  And while I do think that there is an abundance of them right now, and many of them don't live up to the quality of the others, that doesn't mean that I will just disregard a dystopian because it's similar to others.  Yes, it kind of bothered me that this book had so many similarities to other dystopians.  BUT I felt that Extraction also had its differences.  There was no love triangle, for example. Clementine has a fleeting crush on someone quite a few years older than her, but then it turns out he's married and she immediately goes back to only having feelings for her almost-boyfriend.  So I guess you could say that it looked like it might have had a love triangle, but it didn't happen.  

And one of the characters that at first reminded me of Four from Divergent, kind of turned out more realistically than Four.  Now this is where some people are going to get angry with me, but it just has to be said:  Four was an ASS to Tris at the beginning, and he did some horrible things in Insurgent, and he NEVER made up for those things.  I feel like he just wasn't as great of a character as everyone thinks he is.  And in Extraction, there's a character who starts out treating Clementine just the same way Four treats Tris at first, yet this guy stays a complete ass.  He's not a good guy.  He is, in fact, one of the villains of the story and I feel like he just didn't flip-flop like Four and while I don't like him, I feel like he's a more complex and realistic character than Four. 

So although I can see where others would have issues with all the similarities with other YA books, I feel like Extraction had enough of its own compelling stories and characters to become more than just that YA trope checklist that it seemed to start off as.  Once the pace picked up a bit before the 1/4 mark, I really started enjoying it.  

My rating for Extraction by Stephanie Diaz:

Actually more like 3.75 stars, just under 4.  It ended up being full of action and suspense, with an emotional ending that set readers up for the next book in the series.  I'm very interested in seeing where the rest of this series will take us!
Find it:  Goodreads │ Amazon │ Macmillan

You may also enjoy:  Inside OutAcross the Universe

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. I was not compensated in any other way for this review.

Waiting on Wednesday (47): A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

My pick this week:
by V.E. Schwab
Release Date:  February 24, 2015
Published by Tor Books
Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.

Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London - but no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her 'proper adventure'.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — trickier than they hoped. (Cover and synopsis from Goodreads.)

The only book I've read so far by Victoria Schwab is Vicious, and I LOVED that book.  I own The Archived (thanks again, Jessie!) but have yet to read it.  But A Darker Shade of Magic has that same kind of Vicious vibe to it that I just CAN NOT WAIT for it.  I've pre-ordered it, and now I wish I had spent a bit more so that I could get it on the actual release date.  As it is, I probably won't get it until early March.  But I think I may have to read it as soon as I get it in the mail!

What book are you waiting on?  Let me know, or leave a link to your WoW post in the comments, and I'll try to stop by your blog! 

Mini Review: MaddAddam (MaddAddam Trilogy #3) by Margaret Atwood

Monday, February 2, 2015
Title:  MaddAddam
Author:  Margaret Atwood
Series:  MaddAddam Trilogy #3
Publisher:  Doubleday, a division of Random House
Publication Date:  September 3, 2013
Pages:  390
Format/Source:  Hardback/Purchased
Age Group/Genre:  Adult/Science Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic, Dystopian
A man-made plague has swept the earth, but a small group survives, along with the green-eyed Crakers – a gentle species bio-engineered to replace humans. Toby, onetime member of the Gods Gardeners and expert in mushrooms and bees, is still in love with street-smart Zeb, who has an interesting past. The Crakers’ reluctant prophet, Snowman-the-Jimmy, is hallucinating; Amanda is in shock from a Painballer attack; and Ivory Bill yearns for the provocative Swift Fox, who is flirting with Zeb. Meanwhile, giant Pigoons and malevolent Painballers threaten to attack.

Told with wit, dizzying imagination, and dark humour, Booker Prize-winning Margaret Atwood’s unpredictable, chilling and hilarious MaddAddam takes us further into a challenging dystopian world and holds up a skewed mirror to our own possible future. (Cover and synopsis from Goodreads.)

*Warning:  This is the third book in a series.  While I really don't like spoilers, you might find some slight Book 1  and Book 2 spoilers in this review.*

*Actually, I really need to share one part of this story that would constitute as a spoiler, so it has been marked accordingly.*

As usual with sequels, I'm going to write a mini review where I share some of my notes:

  • I love how in my copy of the book, the first two books are recapped in the front, so you can refresh your memory if it has been a while since you read them.
  • It's interesting to see some of the past events from other people's points of view, which is what these books do so well.  And even though this book is not actually told from the POV of the MaddAddamites, it's interesting to get their perspective in this book: they felt held captive by Crake in the Paradice Project, while Crake and Jimmy made it seem a lot more innocent in the earlier books.
  • I do not like Swift Fox or Ivory Bill.  She (Swift Fox) is pretty bitchy and he (Ivory Bill) is a pompous ass.
  • The setup of this book is very different from the others.  This one is only from Toby's POV (Oryx and Crake was from Snowman/Jimmy's POV and The Year of the Flood was split between Toby's and Ren's POVs), and although it switches between the present and the past, just like the other two books, it does it in a unique way.  The chapters about the present are pretty straightforward, but the chapters about the past are set up where Toby or someone tells a story to the Crakers, and then in the rest of the chapter we get the full story.  Sometimes this totally worked for me, and sometimes it didn't.  Sometimes it really dragged.
  • This book tells mostly the story of Zeb's childhood and past, which at times is compelling and interesting, but at other times, I was so bored and ready to move on.  I kind of feel like maybe if the book was from his POV, maybe we'd get more of an insight into his mind and who he is, rather than just being told who he is by hearing these stories of his past, and maybe I'd care about him more.
  • I also didn't care about some of the revelations in this book.  One of the MaddAddamites turned out to be someone from the previous books, but it wasn't a big deal, and nothing came out of it.  It just seemed kind of thrown in there.  And there was also this part that I thought was kind of a mystery, but then there was absolutely no reveal, like I should have known the answer all along, but the book didn't come out and tell me the answer until page 300.  So I was thinking maybe there was a twist, but really there wasn't.  So I was pretty disappointed with that.
  • I did like the nice twist with the pigoons.  That seemed to make the story come full circle, since the pigoons are one of the first details of this world that we read about in the first book.
  • SPOILER: I really wish that this one part had been addressed--how come such a large proportion of the God's Gardeners and MaddAddamites survived the "Waterless Flood"?  I know that Jimmy had immunity, and Ren was in quarantine and had never taken the BlyssPluss pills, but many of these people were out in the world when the apocalypse happened, and it spread through the air, so shouldn't a lot more of them have died, just by contact?  I know there are other people in the world who survived, but it just seems strange to me that such a large proportion of the God's Gardeners and MaddAddamites survived.  And I figured that would be addressed, but it wasn't, unless I completely missed it.  END SPOILER.

My rating for MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood:

3.5 stars.  I really love this series, and MaddAddam wasn't bad, but I had such high expectations for this book, especially with it being the end of the trilogy, and it just didn't deliver.  The Year of the Flood remains my favorite of this trilogy, with Oryx and Crake being my 2nd favorite.  I'm still very much looking forward to watching the TV series once it finally airs!

Disclaimer:  I purchased this book myself.  I was not compensated in any way for this review.
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