Thursday, June 30, 2016

What I've Been Up To - Hobbies, Distractions, and Camping

   Okay, I should probably start off with why my posts maybe lacking a little as of late. To simplify everything, I'm just going to say that I've been quite distracted and when I'm distracted I read less, which intern means I blog less...That makes sense, yes?
   So I know a lot of people talk about their hobbies on their blogs, eg. movies, graphic design, etc. and I usually don't talk about those kind of things so I wanted to share with you one of my biggest hobbies next to reading; drawing. Specifically, mandalas and such.

And not to toot my own horn or anything, but I think I;m pretty decent at it.


One of the main reasons I got into doing this was because I found it incredibly relaxing, like one of those stress relieving coloring books.

Another fun fact, just recently I became a a Pura Vida rep! They're one of those companies that when you buy their stuff it helps give full time jobs to Costa Rican artisans, and some of their bracelets are even teamed up with charities to help give back. They recently even released a LGBT Pride Awareness one where 100% of the proceeds will be donated to the official GoFundMe page for the Orlando shooting. And if you use my rep code RACHGRAZ20 you can get 20% off all of your orders.


So, on a totally different train of thought, I need to stop letting my friends talk me into things. Don't worry, I'm not talking about anything truly bad. I'm talking about going on one hell of a camping trick. We went to St. Sebastian's River Reserve State Park and I wanted to die about 75% of the time we were there.
Let me start off by saying, for the record, I actually really enjoy camping and going for hikes and being outdoors in general. I've gone camping in places like the Redwoods, Washington State, and South Florida beaches. But this trip was something else. First of all the designated driver for the trip woke up 3 hours late so we didn't get to the park until like 1, which meant that we went on our first hike in the middle of the south Florida...during the summer. You can safely assume that it was freaking hot outside. Plus, it had rained a lot the day before so more than half of the trail was flooded. But did that stop us? No. so my friends decided to drag me on this 10 mile hike that was largely trudging through dirty water that went up to my knees. At this point, I'm wet, it's hot, I'm tired because this is the longest hike I've ever gone on, and the bugs have come out in full force.
Another fun fact about me, bugs, for some unknown reason to me, LOVE me. I'm not just saying that to make myself seem special, trust me, this is not a gift you want. I mean, sure, I may not be getting any affection from human boys, but that doesn't mean I need it from bugs. How do I know bugs are infatuated with me so? For one, every time I have ever gone camping, I always end the trip with the most bug bites out of everyone there. Two, out of the four of us who went on this trip, we all used the same bottle of bug spray (I even sprayed myself twice) and together they probably got like 6 bites.. Me? On my own, I got over 150 bites in two days (yes, I counted). In fact, I'm currently resisting the urge to scratch the hell out of my legs while I am typing this. 
Anyways, day one ends with a 10 miles trudging hike, watching the sunset by the lake, and a crap ton of bug bites. Day two rolls around, I'm the first one up (as always) I pack up all of mystuff, including my tent, and make everybody else up. At this point, I'm so ready to have breakfast and go home, but unknown to me, apparently we're going on a hike that day to. Apparently that was to hard to tell me the night before or basically anytime in the two weeks to plan the trip. So once we've packed up camp, we pile back into the car and drive to the other side of the reserve to hike on another trail. After about 20 minutes of pleading and practically begging, I convince them to go on a 7 mile hike instead of another 10. Luckily this trail was a little more dry, so I was happy that it was going to be a little less trudging through water...but I spoke too soon. Yes, it was drier, BUT there was little to no shade and it was like 95% humidity because it rained earlier that morning. No lie, I walked as fast as I could through that trail, it was almost miserable. 
In the end my total despair came out to 1 sore knee, 2 terrible tan lines (mid calf...yay), 3 blisters, 6 patches of sunburn, and over 150 bug bites. All in all...I can safely say I will try to never go there again. 

* Pictures from my Instagram rachaelgraz
** Picture from Pura Vida's Instagram Pura Vida Bracelets

What about you guys? Do you have any big hobbies or terrible camping stories? Let me know!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Mid-Year Freak Out Tag

Everyone is going to say this but, I can't believe it's almost July. I've been in Florida for over a month...where does the time go? Anyways, I saw this tag on thegirlwhoreadtoomuch blog and thought it was a perfect tag for this time of the year! So, without further ado, here are my answers for the Mid-Year Freak Out Tag.

23395680Best book you've read so far in 2016
Illuminae has got to be my favorite so far this year. Don't get me wrong, a few other books came really close, but this book was such an emotional roller coaster and incredibly crazy. I would even reread this book, and I'm not the kind of person who rereads books.

Best sequel you've read so far in 2016
 When I got this book for Christmas, no lie, I was pretty giddy. The Winner's Crime was such an incredible sequel and the end of the book was such a cray cliffhanger I can't wait until I have the time to pick up The Winner's Kiss because I need to know what happened. 

New release you haven't read yet, but want to
The Winner's Kiss has been sitting on my nightstand for over a month now. Part of me is dying to know what happened but the other part of me doesn't want the series to end...I mean, what if it doesn't end the way I want it to? The struggle everyone faces when finishing a series.

Most anticipated release for the second half of the year
...To name a few. It's hard to narrow it down.


24751478Biggest disappointment
I didn't even have to think about this one. Soundless was no doubt my biggest disappointment this year so far. I thought it was going to be so freaking good considering it was themed around Chinese mythology. UGH. Why Richelle Mead? It was such a good idea but you lost me at the end...

Biggest surprise
Crane was one of those book I saw around booktube like once or twice and thought it was a neat idea, but it always stayed at the back of my mind and I never really thought about it. When this book was gifted to me by family I finally sat down to read it and I am so happy I did! The lore and the characters are so great, and Rourke had added some of the best and most natural sarcasm I've seen in a book in a while.

Favorite new author (Debut or to you)
Any Weir has got to take the cake on this one. The Martian really got to me and it was so incredibly funny. A++ to Weir on his dialogue. it was on point.

Newest fictional crush
Mark Watney from The Martian is basically goals for all incoming male lead characters in books I have yet to pick up. Sarcasm, sense of humor...he's pretty damn real.

21911337Newest favorite character
Ireland Crane from Crane is another lead character whose personality is pretty on point. She's sarcastic, funny, and incredibly relate-able. You hear that authors? Sarcasm sells.

Book that made you cry
The last story in Stars Above you know, the one with the *cough* wedding *cough*...yeah, that messed me up. I usually don't cry at sad things, but when something incredibly happy happens I kind of freak out. Tears of joy is a very real thing in my life.

23437156Book that made you happy
I mentioned this in my review of it, but Beastly Bones made me so happy. My inner anthropology lover was giddy the whole time while my inner Holmes enthusiast was putting on its hat and getting ready to smoke a pipe.

Most beautiful book you've bought (or received) so far this year
Admittedly, I haven't bought many books this year, but c'mon, Six of Crows is gorgeous regardless. Black page edges, the seamless between the bird and the city, and best of all...Crooked Kingdom has a matching cover. Score for team cover matching lovers. I mean, that's a thing right?

What books do you need to read by the end of the year?(Excludes books I do not own or that haven't come out)


What about you guys, what would your answers be? I'm really curious what books y'all are excited for to come out.
- Until next time -

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay Book Review

Darkly Dreaming Dexter (Dexter #1) by Jeff Lindsay 



Meet Dexter Morgan, a polite wolf in sheep's clothing. He's handsome and charming, but something in his past has made him abide by a different set of rules. He's a serial killer whose one golden rule makes him immensely likeable: he only kills bad people. And his job as a blood splatter expert for the Miami police department puts him in the perfect position to identify his victims. But when a series of brutal murders bearing a striking similarity to his own style start turning up, Dexter is caught between being flattered and being frightened -- of himself or some other fiend.


Well shit (pardon my french), but, in short, that's about as eloquently as I can put it. Okay, let me backtrack a minute. So, to start things off, let me admit to a blaring fact, I enjoyed the TV show much more than this book. What? How is that possible, you may ask. Well, let me explain. 
For one, this book is far too short. FAR TOO SHORT. 288 pages in this small paperback book is not enough to give this story justice. The first season of the show was full of so many twists and turns, and dare I say, surprises. The book, however, probably had like one surprise in it. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed this book, but I believe that the main reason I did was for the nostalgia of the show I once loved (why I don't love it anymore is such a spoiler). Regardless, my enjoyment of the book was heavily carried by my enjoyment of the show. Like I said, the it just had so much more muchness to it than the book. 
Two, the character are flat...again this goes back to the show. Yes, I believe Lindsay really got into parts of the innate creepiness and dark minded Dexter, however it was not quite enough for me. I mean, c'mon, he's a wolf in sheeps skin, and he's portrayed as a man with a conscious built by another. Don't get me wrong, I get why Harry was such a big deal to him and that he has this "dark passenger" in the back of his brain basically making him kill people, but it makes it seem like Dexter himself isn't all that bad and he just has a different kind of itch to scratch. I mean, I guess in some ways he really isn't all that bad, thanks to Harry. But he's basically a sociopathic serial killer writing the book on how to act normal and not get caught. Still...I wanted him to be darker. Is that wrong? 
Three, I just liked where they went with the show much better. I prefer where they went with the 'Ice Truck Killer' (deemed by the tv show), making him seem much darker, and showing way more into the thought processes of how these people think. Also, Deborah was given way more chances to kind of be a badass, in the books she was to reliant on Dexter to help her be a cop. 
All in the book was good but I think it would have been better if I hadn't watched (most of) the tv series first. I'd have to give this book a 3.5/5 on its own...the show is pretty awesome though...just sayin'.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

T5W: Past Posts

As always Top 5 Wednesday was created by Lainey at gingerreadslainey and is hosted by Sam at thoughtsontomes. All past topics and the rest of this months topics can be found on the Goodreads group page.
Looking back at a lot of my posts I noticed that I really enjoyed writing a lot of them, but the ones I chose for this weeks T5W were probably the ones I put some of the most effort in and ones I was most excited to publish!

  1. Bookish Influences: Peter Pan

    This post made me so happy, to be completely honest. I am such a sucker for songs and movies and such that are influenced by books, especially classic books, it just shows how amazing a story truly is, like bringing childhood magic to life. I have no doubt this was my favorite post I have ever written and I do plan on doing more of these posts. (If you have an story suggestions let me know)

  2. 100 Questions Nobody Asks 

    Let's all be honest with ourselves, sometimes you just enjoy talking about yourself. One of the main reasons I enjoyed writing this post was because, since I don't really have an bookish friends, I liked having a way of sharing things and seeing what other people do too. And c'mon, other people's answers can help you feel a little less weird, yes? Not that weird's a bad thing. *sly-smile*

  3. T5W Bookish Theme Songs 

    Music is such a big passion of mine, actually it was the motivation and reasoning behind creating my above mentioned Bookish Influences post. When I saw that there was going to be a music themed T5W post I was pretty ecstatic to say the least. I mean, some of my favorite things coming together into a blog post was awesome, plus I get to see what music other people related to certain books.

  4. Beastly Bones by William Ritter Book Review

    Fun fact: I love Anthropology, which is kind of the reason that Archaeology will forever have a special place in my heart. Plus, Sherlock Holmes is pretty damn great, on that, I think we can all agree. Since the Jackaby series is basically a supernatural Sherlock Holmes series and the second book Beastly Bones was basically Archaeology meets Sherlock Holmes, I basically dies inside. Jackaby Book Review

  5. T5W Favorite Fairy Tail Retellings

    Fairy tail retellings are some of my favorite books, from the Splinteres series to the Lunar Chronicles, I enjoy so many of the. There is a certain beauty in bringing old tales back to life in a new light that makes them so much fun. 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Summer Tan Book Tag

Because tomorrow (June 20th) is the first day of summer I thought it would be fun to get into he summer mood by doing a tag! Personally, I didn't find any I was super crazy about, so I decided to mix and match and come up with some of my own questions. So...Voila! I give you my Summer Tan Book Tag. Hopefully y'all like it as much as I do. :) Let me know what you think down below, and if you decide to do it to let me know! I'd love to see your answers.

20958632SUNTAN KICK-OFF: Name a book that puts you in a summer lovin' mood.
No doubt, I would have to say the Wings series not because it necessarily has anything to do with summer but because it has faeries and faeries always remind me of fun and
magic and summer nights. 

CASTIN' THE LINE: Name a book that had you hooked from the start.
 I am a complete sucker for books that have to do with dreams and The Darkest Part of the Forest is basically that for me. There's a certain beauty to what is happening in this book and it had me hooked from the start with a mystery. I really enjoyed this book and I feel like I don't talk about it enough. 

ICE CREAM: Name a hot/spicy book that makes you need to
 cool off.
Let me start off by saying that I am not a big contemporary reader, I tend to read fantasy and because of that, very few book I read have any sort of 'spicy scene'. that being said, I picked The Silver Wolf up at a used book store and its probably the raunchiest thing I've ever read. And I've read some of the ASOIF book and those have their moments. Oh, and whaat are y'all's favorite ice cream, I'm a sucker for coffee.

OCEAN BREEZE: Name a book that you want to come out already.
There are a lot of books I want to come out ASAP, but Gemina is currently at the top of my list.

SUMMER FLING: Name a book that wasn't long enough.
18007564The Sleeper and The Spindle to me is such an obvious choice for this one. (***I hope this isn't a spoiler***) I really REALLY feel like this could have been a badass series where Snow White runs around and saves the different princesses. I wanted more! With the plot twist and the adventure, book one could have been longer and a series could have been so great! Oh, well. 

SUNBRUN: Name a book with red on the cover.
Another book I love but don't talk about enough is The Martian. I just can't get over how much of a roller coaster ride this book was. Mark was so witty and a character you couldn't help but root for. But I don't know how I feel about the idea of a second movie...opinions? 

BEACHEN' BONFIRE: Name a book you will always love.
I'm sure a lot of people will agree with me when I say The Book Thief is such a beautiful and memorable book that will always have a place in my heart. This is one of those stories that leaves an impresion on everybody who reads it and I feel like everyone should read it. 

ROAD TRIP: Name a book that makes you want to explore. I know, I know, I've said this before and I'll probably say it again but, The Hobbit always has been and always will be my ultimate adventure book. I  even take it on vacation with me, it's honestly such an amazing story. You go, Tolkien. You go.    

BOARDWALK: Name a book with you're favorite BFF's.
402013 Let's be honest here, every thinks the The Lunar Chronicles' crew is one of the ultimate groups of BFFs. They're realistic and simply, straight funny. Well, that and I am a total sucker for sassy characters, which they all are, especially Cinder and Thorne. 

TOES IN THE SAND: Name your favorite beach read.

Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging is my ultimate teen angst read. Admittedly it has been a hot minute since Iv'e read this book but I will always remember how angsty and ridiculous this book is, which is exactly what I look for in a beach read; light, funny, and ridiculous. 

NEON COLORS: Name a book that brightens you're day.
I'd have to say The Perks of Being a Wallflower always has a way of brightening my day. Charlie and so strong and so sweet and the way he shows that even when you have it bad there is always hope, especially when you are surrounded by beautiful people.

SUNSHINE DAYDREAMS: Name a book on your TBR for this summer.This shot up on my TBR list on the first day I got to FL. The Girl With All the Gifts was on my friends night stand and it was the first thing I noticed when I got there. I'e really been wanting to read this and now I just have to wait for her to finish it. 

So what summer plans do you guys have? I'm currently really enjoying South Florida! Beaches, Sunshine, Palm Trees...It's own paradise. I would love to hear what your answers would be to some of these questions! Let me know what your favorite summer things are down in the comments.
PS. Apologies for the odd bold paragraphs no matter what I did they just refused to co-operate. 

- Until next time. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi Book Review

The Star-Touched Queen (The Star-Touched Queen #1) by Roshani Chokshi 



Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you’re only seventeen?

Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…

But Akaran has its own secrets—thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most…including herself.


Wow, I don't think I book has ever left me so...speechless? I have to admit I have so many conflicting feelings about this book. I love the story and the magic; the way that Chokshi brought the universe alive, making it almost tangible in every way imaginable. However, the story also left me confused as to what I just read. I can't decide how exactly I feel about this book. 
“I wanted a love thick with time, as inscrutable as if a lathe had carved it from night and as familiar as the marrow in my bones. I wanted the impossible, which made it that much easier to push out of my mind.” 
In it's essence this is nothing more than a love story weaved with the impossible and the magical, however, it is also a story about finding oneself, looking deeper and looking closer at everything. Chokshi used Indian mythology to weave all of this together and I feel like that, in-itself, made the story. Indian mythology is so beautiful and so heartbreaking and I believe she really captured that in this story. Maya, who had lost herself and who was sentenced to a life she didn't want, fought and in the end, found the love she always knew was out there. 
“I know your soul. Everything else is just an ornament.” 
I would have to say that the biggest flaw with this story overall, was it cold be incredibly confusing at times. Sometimes I would be reading it and the next thing I knew I had no idea what was going on. The story had a tendency to jump around a lot, and be very dependent on the mythology. Altogether, that's were I thing Chokshi lost a lot of people within the story; the mythology. See, I don't know about you, but I know very little Indian mythology, and much of that mythology wasn't explained, almost like it was expected that you knew it before going into the book, and that really affected the world building. It was as though she was discussing the similarities and differences from the original mythological stories and not making anything its own. I wanted the lands, the kingdoms to be described as though you were talking to a blind person, and not someone who had been there before. 
The ending to this book was not a surprise, but also not what I expected. It's hard to really talk about without giving anything away, so all I will say is that you shouldn't focus all of your energy on all the small details, but also look at everything as a whole. 
All-in-all I still believe that for those who love fantasy and mythology based stories, this is a book you should definitely give a shot, just don't rush into it.

Oh, and can we just talk about the second book that is coming out. Is it going to be a companion? I mean, this was originally written as a standalone and I can't picture it as a series. Opinions?

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Goodreads Book Tag

I wasn't tagged to do this tag, but I saw it over at Book Coma, and thought it would be fun. That, and I forgot to right a post for today...Oops..

What was the last book you marked as 'read'?

Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast. This is actually the only book I've read so far this month...I am so behind. I do really enjoy this story, and can I just mention that I am soooo excited to see Emma Watson as Belle, she's gonna kill it.

What are you currently reading?

The Star-Touched Queen

I've been reading The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi for over a month now. Don't get me wrong, the book is very interesting and I like it so far, but I just have not had any time to really get into the book. Hopefully, the ending will be as good as the rest of it.

What is the last book you marked as 'TBR'?


Not going to lie, I haven't even read The 5th Wave, but I got The Infinite Seas (The 5th Wave #2) by Rick Yancey gifted to me by my mom ( lol because she read it and didn't want it anymore ) so...yeah, not it's on my TBR. Fun stuff.

What book do you plan to read next?


I have been so excited to pick up Darkly Dreaming Dexter (Dexter #1) by Jeff Lindsay and I can not wait to jump into this story. I really enjoyed the first half of the TV series ( spoilers as to why I only watched the first half ) and I want to see how similar the books are to it.

Do you use the star rating system? 

Yes, but I don't have a meaning for each star like some people, I just choose what I feel it deserves in the moment.

Are you doing a 2016 Reading Challenge?

Yes! Last year was the first year that I did this and it was such a great motivator for me. so far this year I'm actually 12 books ahead of schedule!

Do you have a wishlist?

Sort of, but it's mostly for me or for my family whenever the holidays roll around.

What book do you plan to buy next?

The Darkest Magic (Spirits and Thieves, #2)

The Darkest Magic (Spirits and Thieves #2) by Morgan Rhodes comes out at the end of the month and I AM SO PUMPED. I just really want to see where Rhodes is taking this story.

Do you have any favorite quotes? Share a few.

These and basically anything Tolkien or Chbosky, both those authors have such a way with words. That and I love the LOTR series and The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

Who are your favorite authors?

Marissa Meyer, Pierce Brown, Maggie Stiefvater, Tolkien and Chbosky. Just to name a few.

Have you joined any groups?

Teen girls around the world, Top 5 Wednesday, among a few other that I don't really keep up with.

Who do you tag?


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

T5W: Character Names

You gotta love a good character name. I feel like now a days authors are either ussing plain names or names that are ridiculous to pronounce. However, there are some really fun names out there; ones that role off of the tongue or sound liek theyre from some far away land. I mean, there's really not much to say other than that. But anyways, here are some of my favorite character names.

Pretty much every character in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. 

Aragorn, Legolis, Borormir, to name a few, are just some really fun names. They make the characters sound so legit and tough. These are the names of leaders.

Professor Moriarty.

There's something about the name Moriarty that's just so great. There are so many different Sherlock Holmes based books, shows and movies, but for me, they are made when there is a great portrayal of Moriarty, because a crappy bad guy leads to a crappy show. 

Victor Frankenstein.
I'm sure its not just me, but foreign names are my favorite. Plus, it almost sounds menacing. (I'm pretty sure that's a picture of Daniel in Lady in Black and not the new Frankenstein movie, but oh well, he was hotter in that one.)

Ichabod Crane.

Maybe it's because I love the whole premise around the headless horseman, or maybe it's because Crane by Stacey Rourke was a freaking awesome book, but am now obsessed with this guys name. 

Prince Charming: Charming Von Gerechtigkeit Von Freide Von Gnadenbrot

Like I said, foreign names are pretty great and the fact that Charming's name is not only foreign but excessively long just makes me smile. 

Let me know what some of your favorite character names are! I'm super nosy and would love to know what awesome ones I missed.