Monday, October 12, 2015

Stone Cold Touch (The Dark Elemets #2) : Review

Stone Cold Touch by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Rating: ★★

Layla Shaw is trying to pick up the pieces of her shattered life—no easy task for a seventeen-year-old who’s pretty sure things can’t get worse. Her impossibly gorgeous best friend, Zayne, is forever off-limits thanks to the mysterious powers of her soul-stealing kiss. The Warden clan that has always protected her is suddenly keeping dangerous secrets. And she can barely think about Roth, the wickedly hot demon prince who understood her in ways no one else could.
But sometimes rock bottom is only the beginning. Because suddenly Layla’s powers begin to evolve, and she’s offered a tantalizing taste of what has always been forbidden. Then, when she least expects it, Roth returns, bringing news that could change her world forever. She’s finally getting what she always wanted, but with hell literally breaking loose and the body count adding up, the price may be higher than Layla is willing to pay…

Let's talk a little about White Hot Kiss first (since I never did a review on it). I read WHK on a whim, hoping it would be a light fluffy read that would help me get over my reading slump post Queen of Shadows. It did the job and managed to surprise me as well. I wasn't expecting to like the story as much as I did. Maybe it's because I'm a sucker for the good girl, bad boy trope. Or the opposites attract trope. Or everyone is not what they seem on the surface trope. WHK had all of that and then some. The story was interesting and enjoyable, despite being a bit predictable.

Maybe I read Stone Cold Touch a little too soon after finishing White Hot Kiss but it just didn't live up to the expectations set by the first book. The story was even more predictable this time around and there were so many moments that felt really cheesy. I don't mind cheese, if done right, but at times it's just too much. This time, it was too much, at least for me. The plot itself felt pretty stagnant throughout most of the book. It didn't seem like we were getting anywhere and certain parts just felt very repetitive. The characterizations also were somehow worse. Particularly with Layla and her friends. There seemed to be a lot of forced teenager-ness (i.e. teenagers behaving the way people think teenagers are instead of the way teenagers actually are). It just felt very disconnected.

The ending, on the other hand, might have saved this book a little. The ending is probably what convinced me into giving a three star rating as opposed to maybe two stars. There is a point in the story (within the last 100 pages or so) where things really get going. There are some developments and plot twists and it seems like all the energy that was missing in the earlier parts of the book can be found in the climax and conclusion. Yes, it was still pretty predictable, but there are also things that happen that I didn't see coming.

I'm invested enough in this series and in one relationship in particular *ahem*Layla&Roth*ahem* that I will most probably get around to reading the finale at some point, but I'm hoping that Every Last Breath is more action packed than its prequel.

Friday, October 9, 2015

The Wrath and the Dawn (TWATD #1) : Review

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

Rating: ★★

In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad's dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph's reign of terror once and for all.
Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she'd imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It's an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid's life as retribution for the many lives he's stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?

The Wrath and the Dawn is inspired by A Thousand and One Nights AKA Arabian Nights from which many famous tales, such as Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves and Aladin's Magical Lamp originate. I'm all for fairy tale retellings nowadays so, of course, I was excited about this book.

First, I want to talk about the setting and culture because it's the most unique thing about this story. TWATD is a fantasy, but, unlike most fantasies which are set in medieval-esque landscapes, this one takes place in world heavy influenced by Arab culture with elements of Indian culture blended in. Everything from the clothes to the food to the castle itself. The official titles of the different people in the castle, the weapons used by the fighter, and, obviously, the names of the characters. The culture of the world is weaved into every aspect of this story. Being a Muslim Indian who is regularly exposed to both Indian and Arab cultures, this was really exciting for me. It was exciting to be able to say "I've had the food that this character is having" or "I know what this non-english word means!" or "I know someone in real life with the same name as this character." I can't think of any other book (in YA) that had the same effect. (Well, the names part aside) It was nice and refreshing to see diversity and to see in portrayed in such a profound way. This is not a book that is mostly western/white with a smattering of diversity. This is a book in which practically everything counts as diverse. I loved the cultural representation and the new elements introduced to the world of YA fantasy through this book and I hope to see more such diversity in future releases in this genre.

The story in this book was also great. I didn't find it to be particularly predictable and I, though I haven't read Arabian Nights, I don't think readers of the original story would find the book to be too predictable either. Most of the known of plot lines of the original story are covered pretty early on in the novel and there are added elements to the story that didn't exist in the original. For me, this was definitely one of those books where you get really invested in the stories and the characters.

Speaking of characters, I was being really serious when I said that you will get invested. You will get invested, so be prepared. And it's not just Shaharzad and Khalid, the main characters, but the supporting cast as well. You will get invested! Shaharzad and Khalid not only start out interesting but develop into even more fascinating characters. You get to know them as they're getting to know each other and you get to understand their characters why they are the way they are. I love when that happens!

And if the story, characters and setting wasn't enough to sell you on this book, there are also beautiful quotes to look forward to. Like,

She was a dangerous, dangerous girl. A plague. A Mountain of Adamant who tore the iron from ships, sinking them to their watery graves without a second thought. With a mere smile and a wrinkle of her nose.

Or this,

Love is a force unto itself, sayyidi. For love, people consider the unthinkable...and often achieve the impossible. I would not sneer at its power.

And that's just a little taste. There are a lot of beautiful romantic lines too! You know, the ones that sound really cheesy and lame when you say them but in context sound so beautiful and perfect. Yup, lots of that here. Oh and did I mention the food! There is a lot of food present in this book and it's described so wonderfully that it's guaranteed to at least make you hungry, if not have your stomach growling and your mouth drooling.

I'm eagerly anticipating the sequel and will most likely not be leaving The Rose and the Dagger to gather dust on my TBR shelf.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Top Five Favorite Things About Blogging

You would think that this list would be easier to make after being a blogger for over a year but somehow when I actually have to put it into words my mind decides to forget everything.

  1. Sharing my thoughts. After you read a book that really makes you feel things, you just really want to let all those feels out. Good and bad. And blogging is where I do this. Fangirling, venting, and everything in between all happens on my blog. And it feels so good!
  2. Talking to other book lovers. It's more fun to discuss those books with other people! There's something about being able to share your love for something with someone else that makes it that much more exciting.
  3. Discovering new things. Through blogging, particularly through booklr, I've discovered so many new books and series that I might not have otherwise. I've also read certain books because everyone else seemed to be loving it on booklr and this sort of peer pressure has only ended badly once or twice. I'd say that's a decent track record.
  4. Edits. I'm not too creative myself but that's okay because there are plenty of other bloggers who are and they make amazing edits for different books and characters. The edits also contribute towards me adding books to my TBR or pushing them further up on my TBR. And they make books that much more enjoyable by adding visual elements to the whole experience. Yay for edits!
  5. Looking back at my own posts. Is this a little self-centered? Maybe? But I really do like looking back at my own posts and reading my thoughts on different books. Especially if it's a book that's become a blur in my mind. Reading my old reviews kind of feels like reading old entries in my diary. "Oh! So this is what I thought about that!" and "Apparently I felt really strongly about this book that I don't even remember reading..."

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Release Day Spotlight: Magical Picture Books, Magical Inspirations and Norse Mythology

Today is a big day in book releases for YA and Middle Grade fans! Normally, just one big book release is enough to get us all excited but today we get three highly anticipated releases! It's kind of overwhelming actually.

First, we have Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone: Illustrated Edition (or Philosopher's Stone depending on where you are in the world). I've been meaning to re-read the Harry Potter books all year long and almost bought the new UK paperbacks. This illustrated edition was on the very edge of my radar because, for reasons unknown to me, I was thinking that this was basically a Harry Potter graphic novel which I wasn't too interested in. But then I discovered that it was not a graphic novel but Harry Potter with pictures!! Lots and lots of beautiful pictures! (Check out some of examples here.) Basically, we're getting Harry Potter picture book edition but with all the original words and I'm so excited about it.

Coincidentally or intentionally, today is also the release day for Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. If you haven't read Fangirl and don't know what Carry On is about, you might be a little confused as what is so coincidental about this book also being released today. To sum it up, Carry On is essentially the original story (or an installment in the series) that Cath, from Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, writes fanfiction for. And this series heavily resembles/is modeled after/ is inspired by Harry Potter. Of course, this book is not going to be a retelling of Harry Potter but an original story in and of itself that borrows certain elements from HP.

Finally, our third big release of the day is The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan. This is the first book in his brand new series, Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, which will be centered around Norse mythology. I may be really behind when it comes to Riordan's other series but I have no plans to fall behind with this one. I already read the first chapter excerpt which got me even more excited about this book and I'm sure we all want to see Rick Riordan's version of Thor, right?

Monday, October 5, 2015

Tumblr, Reading Slumps and Epic Feels

I've been a bit absent on this blog over the last few months. There are a couple of reasons for this.

One, I've been more active on Tumblr (which I'm a big fan of and you can follow me here) and thought that maybe I could start posting my reviews there instead so I can have all of bookish things in one place. This didn't work out for multiple reasons:

a) The Tumblr blogging format (at least the kind that I prefer) doesn't really lend itself to longer text posts.
b) The Tumblr blogging platform itself favors images more than it does text
c) Tumblr also doesn't lend itself to commenting as well as something like blogger does
d) I was lazy being lazy about the reviewing and maybe only managed to post one review on my booklr (bookish corner of Tumblr)

So now I'm back to blogger and ready to share my thoughts on all these books that I'm reading.

The second cause of my inactiveness was my reading slump. This has been the year of reading slumps for me and I don't even know why. I suffered through my biggest reading slump of all time last year but at least then I could say it was because I got really busy with school and studying that I didn't have much time to read. This year, I have no such excuse. I have much more free time than I did last year. Maybe, I just haven't been reading as many good books this year? I don't really know. What I do know, though, is that I'm back in reading mode (knocking on virtual wood right now because I don't want to jinx this) so I actually have books I can review now! Woohoo!

Some of you might be wondering where my review for Queen of Shadows is, especially after I gushed over Heir of Fire and A Court of Thorns and Roses. Haha, who am I kidding. No one is wondering that. I don't have avid followers, just sometime readers. But for the sake of my own ego I'm going to pretend there are people out there in the world actually wondering this and for those people I will address this concern. I have read Queen of Shadows (would you expect any less from me?). I have a lot of thoughts on Queen of Shadows. But I haven't written any post (except this one) compiling these thoughts because those thoughts are still brewing in my head and I need my feels to calm down a little more before I can put it all into words. Trust me, I have a lot of thoughts about a lot of different things regarding this book. The review/discussion (more probably discussion and potentially one that comes in multiple parts) is coming. It just needs a little more time because the feels were EPIC and I'm still trying to process them, even a month after reading the book.

Well, that's all for this update and I'll catch you guys on the next page.

(How is that sign off? Too cheesy? I'm trying it out for the first time.)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Most Anticipated Releases : Summer 2015 (July-September)

I can't believe summer's already here. This is crazy! How does time go by so fast? Anyway, here are my most anticipated summer releases for the year. It's a very short list because apparently summer isn't a very popular release season? At least, not for the kinds of books I tend to read. But, some of my absolutely-can't-wait-for-it books come out in these next three months, including my most anticipated book of 2015.

The Obvious

The Not-So-Obvious

There might not be that many books but at least they all have great covers! And maybe all the publishing companies are giving us a breather over the summer so we can at least try to dwindle down our TBR pile. No excuses. We'll see how that goes.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Everything, Everything : Review

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Rating: ★★★★

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.
But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.
Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

I was able to get an ARC of Everything, Everything via Netgalley (I know, shocking isn't it?) and thought I would wait until closer to the release date to read it. For whatever reason I changed my mind and read it two month early and boy am I glad that I did!

Going into it, I was expecting this book to be either terribly boring or really interesting and I'm happy to report that it was most definitely the latter. There was not a single dull moment in this book. Because this is, obviously, a really early review, I won't go into detail about the story. All you really need to know is that Everything, Everything is a story about a girl, named Madeline, who is allergic to... everything. Meaning, she can't leave her house because it may very well kill her. A new family moves in next door and there is a romance between Madeline and Olly (her new neighbor). I know what you're thinking. How in the world can there be a romance between these two when one of them can't leave the house or even really interact with other people? Well, it happens. And there are many steps in the development of this romance which starts as an interest and builds from there. It's not insta-love (woohoo!).

I'm going to move on from that topic at risk of spoiling anything.

Everything, Everything is a pretty highly anticipated book and I think it's totally worth the excitement and the hype. It comes out on September 1st and, to be perfectly honest, I'm glad I read it now because I definitely wouldn't have read it as soon as it came out. This is not a fault of the book, it just so happens to share its release date with my THE most anticipated book of 2015, Queen of Shadows. I'm sure that come September (after reading Queen of Shadows) everyone will be reading this book. It really is great and unique. And props to Nicola Yoon for writing a diverse main character (Madeline is half Japanese, half black) and just writing a flawless story. Also, the IMs and journal entries and etc. in this book were a nice throwback to my middle school days when I was totally into books that were told entirely through emails and IMs (TTYL, anyone?). Also, also, how gorgeous is that cover!? I mean seriously! I can't wait to see it in person. This is cover lust at it's finest.

I am super thankful to NetGalley, Random House Children's, Delacorte Press and Nicola Yoon for providing me with this ARC. It was such a great read and I'm sure many, many, many more people are going to enjoy it come September.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Snow Like Ashes : Review

Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch


A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.
Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.
Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.
So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

First of all, I was not expecting this book to be as action packed as it was. It was really fast paced and so many different things happened, which was really surprising considering that Snow Like Ashes is the first book in a series. Usually, first books, especially in fantasy series, spend a lot of time world-building which is so crucial in a book with a fictional world. As a result, the first book tends to not be so packed with plot. This one wasn't like that. There was tons of story and a whole lot of story progression and development, which, ultimately, ended up being a negative.

As a consequence of being story heavy, the book sacrifices a lot of valuable page time which could have been used in world building and character development. Both these things are seriously lacking and both those things, at least for me, are really important factors in determining how good a book is. The small amount of world building that happens in the beginning left me confused. I didn't have a clear idea of what the world looked like or how it was set up other than the four season kingdoms and four rhythm kingdoms. But that was a pretty basic concept and I really wanted more. The characters were also lacking in substance. They felt very one dimensional. Each character ultimately had one purpose and their entire characterization was built around that purpose. There was no depth to them, which made story feel quite dull.

Meira, the main character, comes off as very melodramatic or over dramatic at times. There was a huge thing throughout the entire book where Meira was struggling with wanting to be a warrior but was told that she would serve a better purpose by marrying Theron for the sake of an alliance. I understood the whole not wanting to be held back by the idealistic stereotype of what a woman is and should be and wanting to fight for her country. I get that! But I felt like the book seemed to really push this feminist idea to the point where it seemed to marginalize the rest of the story. I prefer the kinds of feminist stories where the girl is just doing her thing and she's strong and smart and powerful and her own person and it's not strange that she's fighting and it's not extraordinary that she wants to do or be something different from the stereotype. In this book, there are multiple times where Meira will be training and she'll note the Winterian women are only fighting now because there are so few Winterians left anyway or she'll walk on the training field and notice the stares and think "they must've never seen a woman training before."  And maybe Meira is a victim of my (unfortunate) comparison to Celaena Sardothien because Celaena is now my standard and ideal for a female kick-ass character. The thing with Celaena is that having women fighting is not super common and yes people are shocked to find out that Adarlan's Assassin is a woman, but she's Adarlan's Assassin because she's damn good at what she does and being female is not what makes her extraordinary. For Meira, a lot of the time it is her female identity that makes her remarkable and unique.

The other characters, like I said, are also pretty one dimensional. Mather is "eh" until he becomes bad for the decisions he's made regarding Meira and from then on he just stays bad. There is nothing else in his character other than not-a-great-guy. Theron is the exact opposite of Mather. He is artsy and the good guy. Just plain old good. He struggles with being Prince and what is expected of him as a future king buy this is more just stated than felt. The bad guys were bad mostly because Meira said so, their characterizations, again, were very one dimensional.

I ended up skimming through most of the second half because I was more interested in the plot points than the development, since there really was no development anyway. Also, the big secret that comes out in the end? The secret itself was pretty big but the aftermath of it felt really anti-climactic. I don't know if I'll be reading the sequel. I'm not in any kind of rush. Maybe one day if I feel bored and have nothing better to read, I might pick it up, but if I happen to be spoiled on the second book, I probably won't mind.

Monday, May 18, 2015

A Court of Thorns and Roses (ACOTAR #1) : Discussion

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Rating: ★★★★½

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.
As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

In case it isn't obvious, I am a huge Sarah J Maas fan. She is one of my insta-buy authors and I absolutely love her writing and story-telling and pretty much everything that has anything to do with her. She is seriously amazing and if you haven't yet started the Throne of Glass series, you need to ASAP. Trust me.

So, when I found out that SJM was writing another series while Throne of Glass was still going on, I was like, 

More SJM books? Yes, please. Two SJM books a year? I will never say no to that. Then, I found out that it was a fairy-tale retelling and I got even more excited (which I didn't think was really possible). I've been waiting for A Court of Thorns and Roses for what seems like forever and it is finally here! I am glad to say that the book was just as exciting as I was hoping and that Sarah's writing, as usual, did not disappoint.

ACOTAR is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast with faeries and Fae. As a fan of fairy tales and fantasy, this book is a dream. It's been a few days since I completed it and usually I like to write my reviews within a day or two of finishing the book but, this one took me a little longer to process. I had to get past that crazy, stunning, action-packed, lovely-yet-torturous SJM ending first. First off, let's talk about Feyre (Fey-ruh), the female protagonist/narrator. Feyre is a strong female character (as one would expect from SJM) who has basically taken on the role of caretaker for her family. She does what she can and they barely get by. Feyre transition from the role she plays in her family to the relatively stress free life she has in the Fae kingdom was great. It wasn't quick and it wasn't exactly fluid. The worst thing that could have happened in this book would be that Feyre comes to live with Tamlin and immediately embraces the rich life and doesn't give a second thought to her family. Thankfully, this doesn't happen. Not even close. SJM does an amazing job giving her characters personality and values. She makes her characters complete and Feyre is a great example of that. 

Tamlin. I don't really know what to say about Tamlin. He was interesting, I guess. But mostly, I felt like he was the ideal male romantic interest, once you get past the broodyness. Okay, there was a lot of brooding but I didn't mind it that much. He had some great scenes and I would really like to get to know more about him in later books.  

Lucien was a little more interesting than Tamlin, believe it or not. He starts off hating Feyre for killing the wolf (who was a Fae) but slowly starts to like her. His backstory is fascinating and if SJM ever writes a novella for this series, I would love to see one about Lucien and his backstory. 

Rhysand. I've been hearing about Rhysand for a while now. First, it was from all those lucky folks who got ARCs and then from everyone else who read the book before me. People seemed to really love Rhysand which got me really excited to meet him too. And, for whatever reason, I imagined him to be the Rowan Whitehorn of this series. I have no idea why but that is what I pictured when I thought about Rhysand. So, imagine my surprise when we actually meet Rhysand for the first time. (consider this your official spoiler alert) Initially, he is presented as the bad guy. He's working for Amarantha and Tamlin and Lucien don't seem to like him and he just seems to be evil. Actually, he very first scene where we see him but don't find out that it was him until his next scene, Feyre is afraid of him. And his powers of controlling people's mind and the way he read's people's mind and how it feels like his hands are stroking the person's brain was scary and creepy and nothing about him seems to be good. And then the last 25%-30% of the book happens. And that last bit of the book is so fast-paced and unexpected and FREAKING AMAZING! And of all the surprises, Rhysand was the best one. His alliance with Feyre, the game he's playing with Amarantha, and his relationship with Feyre in general. Can we talk about that very last scene with Rhys!? I mean, what happened in that moment? Why did he look at Feyre with surprise all of a sudden? Am I the only one who thinks that he may have formed a mating bond with Feyre!!?!?!? Rhysand was by far the best character in this book and we barely know anything about him. He was the most interesting and the one I'm most excited to reunite with in ACOTAR #2. Knowing that we'll be seeing more of Rhys in the next book thanks to that deal he makes with Feyre makes the year long wait a little bit easier. 

World building. Sarah does world building really well. Heir of Fire is a prime example. The world building in ACOTAR is different than the TOG world, mostly because it's smaller and a bit simpler. This is a high fantasy book but it's not that hard to get into. I think it would be a great starter high fantasy for people who are a little weary of the genre because of the complex world-building. One of the best things SJM does in terms of world building is culture. She does a great job of establishing and incorporating culture into the world and for the different groups of people present in the world. She also adds religion into it as well which is really cool and something you don't see too often. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. ACOTAR contains all the elements you would expect from a SJM book as well as all the things you love about SJM stories. SJM clearly proves that she is a greater writer, period. Her success and abilities are not limited to the Throne of Glass series and she is obviously capable of telling other stories just as well. I am excited to see what the rest of this series has in store for us and what other stories Sarah has to tell. 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Most Anticipated Releases: Spring 2015 (April-June)

I have a feeling that this a going to be a pretty good time for YA releases! I feel like there is usually a surge of great new releases in Spring and Fall, or is that just me?

The Obvious

The Not-So-Obvious

Monday, March 16, 2015

Let's Talk : Cover Reveals (Winter 2015)

Is it just me or have there been quite a few book cover reveals in the past few weeks? Maybe it just seems that way to me because two of my most anticipated books had cover reveals just a few days apart and my excitement is at a high. 
Anyway, I thought I'd round up some of the big cover reveals that happened recently and share my thoughts. Let's start with the one and only cover that I did not like.

The Rose Society by Marie Lu - This cover was 100% disappointing. I was excited about seeing the cover because I enjoyed The Young Elites, the first book and the series, and was looking forward to the next installment but the cover was a major letdown. I mean, the book is called "The ROSE Society" so you would expect a rose on the cover or at least something red, right? The Young Elites is more vague so you can get away with a just putting dark clouds on the cover but putting waves and a wolf, with no flower in sight, on the cover of a book called The Rose Society... I was so so so disappointed with this. I'll still be reading the book but I'm not eager to buy it.

The good news is that all the other covers are actually pretty great. So let's move on to the good stuff, starting from least exciting to most exciting.

Frozen Tides by Morgan Rhodes - This is actually a really gorgeously awesome cover. The only reason it's the least exciting is because it's the fourth book in a series in which I'm still on the second book. The Falling Kingdoms series my Morgan Rhodes seems very exciting, and I say "seems" because I've only read the first book which is usually not enough to get a good grasp on a fantasy series, especially not a big, six book fantasy series like this one. I love the colors and the fire and the whole thing is just pretty.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo - The best thing about Leigh Bardugo's covers are the details and she did not disappoint with the cover of the first book in her new series, The Dregs. There's the wing that sort of, somehow, forms towers and it's mysterious yet also fantastical and it makes me wonder what the book is about. Which is kind of the point, right? The only downside is that the cover is black and grey and I feel like half the books in my shelf are black and grey. But a good book is a good book regardless of what the cover looks like and I will most definitely be reading this one come October.

Winter by Marissa Meyer - I guess I was lucky that I started reading the Lunar Chronicles late because I won't have to wait two years between Cress and Winter, but we finally got a cover for Winter which means the release date is in sight! I really like the cover! I love how the red of the apple really pops against the purple background. I was anticipating that the apple is what would be featured since it is the story of Snow White. Snow White doesn't really have an iconic clothing item or beauty feature like the other fairy tale characters in the story... well, I guess her rose red lips but they aren't nearly as iconic as the apple. Plus, the other covers have made  a point of not showing the character's face so why start now? I feel like there needs to be some sort of preparation that needs to happen before reading this 800 page mammoth of a book. 

And last, but most definitely not least, the most exciting book cover reveal of the year....(drum roll)...

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas - First of all, wow! Wow. Wow. Wow. Can I please have this book yesterday!?! This is hands down, no doubt about it, my most anticipated book of the year. If you haven't started the Throne of Glass series, what in the world are you waiting for!?!?! This series is amazing and epic and heart breaking and wonderful and kick ass and perfect and magical and beautiful and story telling greatness and... really, I could go on and on. But, to sum it up, I will say that Sarah J. Maas is genius and Celaena Sardothien is my everything. Back to the cover. Isn't it pretty! Everytime I look it I start feeling like Gollum

Is that weird? Yes? Well, I don't care. I am obsessed with this series and I have no shame whatsoever in admitting it. Anyway... back to the cover, again. Does anyone else feel like the cover and Celaena in general has a different vibe on QoS than on the other books. I think so. And I love it! I love that she's about to wield that sword and she has this super calm face while doing it. On all the covers she looks ready to jump into a fight any second but this one she's so calm! Not in a not ready kind of way but in a "I'm so ready I don't even need to get into fighting stance" kind of way. Does that make sense? And I love that the background kind of resembles clouds because it seems more calm than the other covers where there was energy or fire exuding from her. The whole cover sort of screams "the calm before the storm" which is so perfect because... well, if you're caught up you'll know why. 

Before I end this post I would like to declare Sarah J Maas the Queen of Beautiful Covers! This is an official title and cannot be disputed. That is that.

What did you think about these cover reveals? Which cover reveal is your favorite? What cover reveals are you looking forward to?

Monday, March 9, 2015

Reading Slump Woes, Apologies and Catch Ups

If you've ever suffered through a reading slump, you know how horrible it can be. As an avid reader, I've been through a few slumps myself. My most recent one spanned throughout the end of January and most of February and, to be honest, this was the worst one yet. I have never had such a long slump before. Generally, they last about a week or maybe two and then I'm back in the game but this time it was an entire month! I started so many books that eventually put down after just a few pages in because I just wasn't feeling it. I actually listened to my first audiobook ever because I picked up Eon which started out strong and then just sort of plateaued and I was being stubborn and I thought "there is no way I'm giving up on yet another book!" so I borrowed the audiobook from the library and listened to the second half (or maybe it was the last two thirds). I played it on double speed for most of it thought because it turns out that I didn't particularly like the book that much anyway.

I don't know why reading slumps happen. Maybe it's because you read too many bad or "meh" books in a row that you can't motivate yourself into picking up another one because you risk it being another "meh" book, which is never ever fun. Or maybe it's because you read a book that is so so so very good that you can't get yourself to read something else right away because you know it won't be able to compare. Maybe you need a little grace period to get over the amazing-ness of the previous book before you can start a new book.

Anyway, this is why my blog hasn't really been active in the last few weeks. I was having a major reading slump crisis. It was bad. It was real bad! At least, that's my official excuse for not having any new posts recently. Though, if you look at my Goodreads, you'll find that I did read a few books in the last couple weeks that I did apparently enjoy but never talked about on this blog... I don't have an excuse for that. My bad, I guess?

I'm going to play catch up to try and make up for my lackings. Here goes:

I Was Here by Gayle Forman
The entirety of my love for Gayle Forman is based on If I Stay and Where She Went. Those are two of my favorites and I will love them forever but I haven't been able to find the same level of emotion and connection in her other books. Just One Day is one of those books that I've picked up a couple times now and had to put down both times because I couldn't get into it. I was excited about I Was Here because I felt it had more potential to do what If I Stay and Where She Went were able to do but, sadly, this book didn't live up to those expectations. It was okay. It was a decent read but, I don't know, I guess I just wanted more out of it and I wasn't able to get that.

Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater

First of all, Maggie Stiefvater is now officially one of my favorite authors. Her writing is just AMAZING! I am in love. About Sinner. Whenever an author releases a book in a series that wasn't originally part of the plan but decides to add it in years later after the series is complete, I approach the book with caution. I'd rather get a good story that is full and complete than a hasty one written to please the fans. I approached Sinner the same way and I am more than happy to tell you that my worry was completely unfounded. Cole and Isabelle were my favorite characters from the Wolves of Mercy Falls series and I am so happy that they got a book all to themselves and I'm happy that we got to see more of them and get to know what ultimately happens with their relationship. As a fan, I am 100% satisfied. 

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

I read this because of how much I'd heard others talking about it and because of the really high rating this book has gotten and the numerous awards and honors (there's give just listed on the cover of my copy) and the beautiful cover definitely helped and, mostly, because it has one of the greatest book titles ever! Right!?!? Despite so much hype, the book lived up to its expectations. I loved the story and I loved the writing and I loved the themes that were explored and they way they were explored. I did have a bone to pick with the very ending but the other 98% of the book was amazing! I love Dante! (Ari's cool too, but... Dante!) This is the kind of book that might end up as assigned reading in school but its one of the few, rare assigned reading that you actually enjoy. 

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

I'd been putting off this book for so long because it's a YA Contemporary Romance and I'd had a bit of an overdose of that genre (plus I was way more interested in reading YA Fantasy). For whatever reason I decided to read it, finally, and I liked it! When you pick up a contemporary romance novel, you know exactly how it's going to end before you even open the book. Actually, even before you read the blurb on he inside cover or on the back. You just know. But, for whatever reason, you read it anyway. This was just like that. You know the general structure of the book but you read it for the details and it's the details that make you love it or hate it (there is no in between in this genre). Well, I loved it. What can I say? I'm a sucker for a nice contemporary romance every now and then. After all, YA Contemporary was my first love.

The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski
Second books in series are make or break moments for me. If the second book isn't particularly good, I might give up on the series entirely. There is also a bit of a precedent for second books for me because both my favorites series had phenomenal second books that completely blew me away and claimed a spot on my favorites list (see: Days of Blood and Starlight and Crown of Midnight). While The Winner's Crime, didn't quite secure a spot on that list, it still very much lived up to (high) expectations. There were no disappointments. I'm pretty sure I liked this installment better that the previous one and I am so excited about The Winner's Kiss and so bummed that I have to wait another year. Seriously, there were so many feels in this book and if you're an Arin-Kestrel shipper, be warned that you are basically walking into a field scattered with land mines. Yup.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3) : Review

Cress by Marissa Meyer

Rating: ★★★★½
In this third book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.
Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who's only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.
When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.
I read Scarlet, the second book in The Lunar Chronicles, some time last year and was in no rush to continue the series. I liked Scarlet but I wasn't as impressed with it as I was with Cinder which itself wasn't exactly a blow-my-mind kind of book. The main appeal of this series, for me at least, is the fact that each story is a retelling of a classic fairy tale that most of us are probably familiar with. I loved the idea of reading a retelling of Cinderella which takes place in the future and in which Cinderella is a cyborg. It just seemed so cool and unique and Cinder did not disappoint. Maybe by lack of excitement for Scarlet has something to do with the fact that Little Red Riding Hood is one of the more boring fairy tales compared to others or maybe it had something to do with there not being as much Cinder and Kai in the second installment. Either way, I waited to read Cress which I finally picked up earlier this month and I'm so glad that I did. Adding Rapunzel into the mix meant even less page time for Cinder and Kai (they are definitely my favorite couple in the series) but that didn't real become an issue because the story and the characters were so much better.

Let me back up a little. The new addition in this installment is Cress (the Lunar Chronicles version of Rapunzel) who is a Lunar and has been essentially imprisoned in a satellite that orbits Earth where she spends her time watching Earthen videos, listening to opera and completely the many tasks Mistress Sybil assigns to her. Cress, by the way, is a hacker and she's been a secret weapon for the Lunars. Cinder plans to rescue Cress which is when everything gets turned upside down, literally and figuratively. The team that was coming together to start this inevitable rebellion against Queen Levana is now scattered and Cress ends up in a desert with Captain Thorne.

At this point the story splits up into four different settings and through each of these four perspectives we get to see what is happening with all the different characters in their own separate situations. I liked this split perspective much more than the one in Scarlet because none of them were boring. There were points in Scarlet where I didn't want to read the Scarlet perspectives because I was much more interested in Cinder but in Cress, there was never a dull moment.

Toward the end of the book we are introduced to Princess Winter of Luna I won't go into detail about her but let's just say that I am now every more excited about reading Winter than I would have been without that introduction... and I think I would've been pretty excited anyway.

On a bit of a side note, reading this made me realize that maybe I don't know the Rapunzel fairy tale as well as I thought I did. I knew that Cress' "prince" was going to be Thorne and I assumed that Marissa Meyer was doing her take on the Disney version of Rapunzel because Thorne resembles Flynn Rider in many ways (and I always thought the original story involved an actual prince). The beginning of Cress is also more reminiscent of Tangled than the Rapunzel story I remembered. Then we get to the desert part of the story at which point I really started questioning my knowledge of this fairy tale because the quote from the fairy tale that was included just before that part started referenced a desert. So am I just completely confused about the Rapunzel fairy tale or is it really the retelling of the Disney addition?

The story overall was a roller coaster ride full of action and unexpected twists and turns. The Lunar Chronicles is proving to be one of those series that actually gets better as it goes and aren't those the best kind? I can't wait to read Winter when it comes out later this year and am looking forward to seeing how Marissa Meyer brings everything to a close. There has got to be a happily ever after, right? It can't really be a fairy tale without the happily ever after. Here's hoping.

Also, shout-out and kudos to lostie815 on deviantart for making this beauty:

Top: Cinder, Scarlet, Cress
Bottom: Kai, Wolf, Thorne

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Let's Talk : The Duff (Movie)

I did something that I don't normally do. I watched a movie before reading the book. Yeah, I know. How could I? Right? This is probably one of the most scandalous things you could do as an avid reader but I did it anyway. I don't always read the book but if it's a YA book then I either read it or at least try  to read it (The Maze Runner) before watching the movie. I haven't watched The Book Thief yet because I still have to read the book, I haven't even seen the trailer. I averted my eyes and covered my ears every time The Fault in Our Stars trailer came on before I read the book. But I had an opportunity to go to an advanced screening and I took it and that is how I ended up watching The Duff movie before reading a single word from the book.

All I knew about this movie was what I saw from the trailer. I was expecting a regular old high school movie that was super predictable but a good way to waste time when you don't have anything better to do. It was predictable but I didn't mind that because the movie had so much more to offer. First of all, it was fun. I was laughing and aww-ing and feeling lots of feels. Secondly, Mae Whitman, who plays Bianca, was such a refreshing actress to see on screen. This is the first thing I've seen with her but I want to see so much more. I love her acting! Third, The Duff managed to entertain while also spreading an important message about bullying and cyber-bullying. I really liked the movie. There were a lot of Mean Girls sort of vibes and I feel like this could become one of those movies that people will watch over and over again. I definitely wanted to watch it again as soon as it was done.

The only thing I would pick on is the portrayal of high school teenagers. I understand that it's meant to be comedic and for that cause a lot of stereotypes are emphasized but I felt like they focused way too much on certain things that just seemed so unrealistic and fake. For example, there's a scene where Bianca gets in a fight with her friends and they proceed to unfriend and unfollow each other from pretty much every single social media platform known to man. It was just too much and I might have internally groaned during that scene. Aside from very specific moments though, I felt the movie, overall, was a great watch.

Also, I took my brother along and of course he acted like he had better things to do but I think he actually enjoyed the movie too. He hasn't said so in so many words but he has made several references to the movie since so I think that means he liked it. And the fact that Mae Whitman was on Arrested Development also helps.

My review of this movie comes from the perspective of someone who hasn't read the book and has nothing to compare it to (I am planning on reading the book before the movie is released and maybe I'll add an update to this post) but, as a non-reader of this book, I enjoyed the movie. It's a simple story, one we've heard a million times before but for whatever reason we like hearing it over and over again with whatever new combination of characteristics.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Let's Talk : Mockingjay (Part 1)

When I found out that they were going to split Mockingjay into two movies, I was a bit disappointed. It seems like every finale in a book-turned-movie franchise gets turned into two movies and I don't like the idea of having to go the movie theater twice to see a story that I got out of one book. Having said that, I do really enjoy watching the movies for the books I read and so the upside to having a book split into two films is that we get more visuals.

I was a bit skeptical going into Mockingjay Part 1  but also super excited because, let's be honest, the Hunger Games is a prime example of when a book turning into a movie goes well. The movies are really good and they don't disappoint the fans of the book while simultaneously drawing a crowd of new fans who've never read the books but love the story. This installment was no exception. The movie was great and true to the book, for the most part, and any variations were completely excusable because the story overall flowed really well. I liked that we got to see the raid in the capital because we don't get that in the book. I loved Jennifer Lawrence's acting (no surprise there) as well as Josh Hutcherson's, who did an amazing job depicting the slow deterioration of Peeta (I know the physical change was CGI but the emotional change was all acting on Josh's part). The scene at the very end when Peeta sees Katniss for the first time after (spoiler alert) being saved from the capital was 100% perfect! It was just how I imagined it to be and it was almost terrifying and heart-breaking to watch. I also really appreciated the way the story treated the ending or coming to an end of any possibility of a 'Kayle' romance and how the series never emphasized the love triangle too much (there was some of that happening when the first movie came out but this book isn't about a love triangle, there isn't really much of a love triangle there and I like that they didn't emphasize that). Plus, we got to see so much Gayle in this movie and people who haven't read the books can finally gain more of an appreciation for him.

Overall, I was happy with this movie. I don't mind that there are two parts to Mockingjay. Well, actually, I do mind that I have to wait another year before seeing the next half (I saw it in November and I'm just writing this late) but I can be okay with that because I know that the movie is going to be good and completely worth it. The Hunger Games movies haven't disappointed so far and I don't expect them to start now. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Favorite Books of 2014!

I know, we're more than a week into 2015 and I'm only now doing my favorites of 2014. Where have I been? What have I been up to? More importantly, why have I been so lazy with this blog? Well, I've got an answer for that and I think it's a good one. The truth is, I've been reading. A lot. I can't believe how many really great books I've managed to read recently, it's amazing.

Before I get into my favorite books, though, I want to talk a little about my reading year overall. The first half of the year started out pretty good (I'm going to pretend that Requiem never happened). I marathoned the first 3 books in the Lux series which is so unusual for me because I don't normally read books in the same series back to back like that. Aside than a few stand-outs (Dreams of Gods and Monsters, Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, and Eleanor and Park),  the first half of the year was a pretty average reading year for me. The second half was an entirely different story (no pun intended?). In August, I read Throne of Glass and just happened across Crown of Midnight a few weeks later and absolutely, head-over-heels fell in love with it. I, of course, desperately needed to get my hands on the Heir of Fire, which, thankfully, had already come out by this point. As soon as I got my hands on it, I started reading and pulled my first official all-nighter. It was a truly momentous occasion for me. Not only because it was a first or because HoF turned out to be such an amazing book but because Sarah J. Maas herself tweeted me back!!!!!!

Yup. That actually happened!

While 2013 will forever be remembered as a year of bad series finales, 2014 was a year of fantastic endings, exciting new beginnings and fantasy, lots and lots of fantasy. I let go of some series that I adored and yet it wasn't too bad because they got the ending/conclusion they deserved (Evertrue, Ruin and Rising, Falling Kingdoms) and I also discovered new series (The Winner's Curse, The Young Elites, The Raven Boys) that are equally good, if not better, to fill the holes left behind by my ex-ongoing series.

Here it is. My list of my favorite books read in 2014.

10. The Young Elites by Marie Lu
Am I surprised that this book turned out to be good despite the super hyped up expectations I had for it? Yes. Because when you say "Assassin's Creed 2 meets X-Men" my expectation level goes from 0 to 1000 in a nanosecond.

9. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
Feels and feels and cuteness. Also, they bond over comic books!

8. Evertrue by Brodi Ashton
The kickoff to  my year of great and satisfying sequels. Even if things didn't turn out how I wanted them to...

7. The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
Look! I actually started reading a series before everyone else did! 

6. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
Mara's story kept me on edge the entire read but in the best way possible. There were a million question marks floating around my head when I read this. They might still be there because I have yet to figure what is going on with Mara Dyer.

5. The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
Belly is one of the most relatable characters I've ever read. The feels!

4. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
I love love love love love Maggie's writing style. Love.

3. Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
I've heard people talk about what a great conclusion this was and now I know why.

2. Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor
Another great conclusion to a series. Karou and Akiva forever!

1. Crown of Midnight and Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas
I can't choose. Please don't make me choose.

For clarification, the top 4 are in definite order and after that it all sort of gets hazy.