Saturday, December 31, 2016

Library Savings 2016

Back in May, I decided to get a library card to save money.  Previously, I had bought almost all of my books from my Kindle, and I had preconceived notions about libraries based on zero evidence that kept me from going to libraries.  I either thought the library wouldn't have the books I wanted, or I thought I would have to spend a lot of time looking through all the books to find the one I was looking for.  But the costs were adding up, and I thought it was wasteful to buy a book only to read it once.

When I finally got a library card, however, I discovered that the libraries in my region (Western New York) were part of an interconnected system.  I could sign in online, look up a book in their database, and see which libraries had it (this was a very exciting discovery for me).  I can put a book on hold, or even ask for a book to be sent to my closest library.  I typically do not do the latter, because there are literally 5 libraries within a 20 minute drive from my house!

It was beautiful.  I could finally utilize my growing collection of magnetic bookmarks on hardcover books more than ever before.  Perhaps the best part of getting a library card is that I get to read said hardcover books for FREE! This is obvious, I know, but an exciting revelation for me, nonetheless. Whenever I'm dying to read a specific book, at least one of the libraries has what I need, even newly released books. I would say the ONLY downside is that sometimes the book I want is checked out by someone else, but that's not that big of a deal because I usually just read a different book instead.

So, this may be the accounting student in me, but I kept track of the amounts I would have spent had I not checked each book out of the library since I got my library card in May.  See below for my glorious savings:
Book TitleSourceAmount Saved
Anna and the French KissKindle$9.99
Six of Crows*Amazon - Hardcover12.31
Ready Player OneKindle9.99
Shadow and BoneKindle7.80
The Night CircusKindle9.99
Crooked KingdomKindle9.99
An Ember in the AshesKindle9.99
Lola and the Boy Next DoorKindle9.99
Red RisingKindle5.99
A Torch Against the NightKindle10.99
Golden SonKindle9.99
Total Saved$107.02
* Note that the hardcover version was the only one available on Amazon for Six of Crows at the time

I think I will make it a new tradition: At the end of each year I will calculate how much I saved by borrowing books rather than buying.  I hope this will compel some of you to check out your nearby library and see what resources they offer and save money (unless you're a bibliophile - then there's no hope for you 😉).  Happy New Year, readers!
Thursday, December 29, 2016

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Title: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Author: Lewis Carroll
Released in 1865
Bought from Amazon
Rating: 3/5

Summary

*This summary is from the particular edition I read*

It's been 150 years since Lewis Carroll penned Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, the story which has become a favorite of children and adults the world over. Now, in a deluxe hardcover edition from Puffin, Alice's story comes to life for a whole new generation of readers through the colorful, whimsical artwork of Anna Bond, best known as the creative director and artistic inspiration behind the worldwide stationery and gift brand Rifle Paper Co. Lose yourself in Alice's story as she tumbles down the rabbit hole, swims through her own pool of tears, and finds herself in a rather curious place called Wonderland. There, she'll encounter the frantic White Rabbit, have a frustrating conversation with an eccentric caterpillar, and play croquette with the hot-headed Queen of Hearts. Follow Alice on her wild adventure through the eyes of the artist in this definitive gift edition (Summary from Goodreads).

Review

It's always weird to review a "classic," because we all know classics are, well, "classic" for a reason. I bought this fancy illustrated version last year on impulse - I've never been one of those die-hard Alice in Wonderland fans, but I did enjoy the Disney movie enough as a kid.  I figured I would get this pretty version and read it eventually.  The illustrations were perfectly strange and fit the story nicely.

As I was reading Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, I noticed a lot of scenes were never included in the old Disney movie, nor in Tim Burton's version.  I think it was a good choice to leave those scenes out, because they were the only scenes that really annoyed me.  I understand that the point is to be nonsensical, but the scenes with the Duchess and Gryphon were a little over-the-top for me.  I'm not sure my child self would have read this all the way through.

When I think of this book from the perspective that it's really a children's book written in the 19th century, it's sort of fascinating to me.  I like reading classics once in a while simply because it's interesting to read the language used at the time.  Although I didn't enjoy this as much as I expected to, I think it is worth reading for the purpose of gaining perspective if you are interested in that sort of thing,

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

Title: A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes #2)
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Released August 30, 2016
Borrowed from Library
Rating: 3/5

Summary

**This may contain spoilers for the first book**

Elias and Laia are running for their lives. After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.

Laia is determined to break into Kauf—the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison—to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars’ survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom.

But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene—Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike.

Bound to Marcus’s will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own—one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape…and kill them both (Summary from Goodreads).

Review

***This review contains spoilers***

Let me start off by saying I never expect sequels to be as good as the first book.  This, unfortunately, was no exception.  In fact, it was a lot more disappointing than I expected.

The biggest disappointment was Laia.  In my review for An Ember in the Ashes, I actually didn't mind Laia being a little meek and whatnot.  It made her realistic.  But in this book, she was downright annoying and, frankly, stupid.  She is literally in love with whatever guy is in front of her at the time.  It's not even an exaggeration.  As soon as Elias is separated from Laia and Keenan, she suddenly LOVES Keenan again and even sleeps with him!! And gives him her armlet that her mother literally told her to never give to anyone!! Ever!! WTF.  I understand that Keenan was trying to manipulate her, but c'mon. How stupid can you be?

I also felt Laia was rather manipulative.  I think that the author was trying to make her a "stronger" character by having her give people orders, but when she yelled like a banshee at the tribe leader to take in those Scholar slaves, I'm like ??? What gives you the right to tell the tribe leader what to do??  Her character is enough to make me not want to read the next book.

As for Elias I've always liked his character.  He is probably one of the more consistent characters in the series.  His character development actually makes sense.  From An Ember in the Ashes (AEitA), we knew he was a selfless character because he feels immense guilt at anyone that is hurt by his hand or his evil mother's hand.  He continues to be selfless and suffers to save Laia's brother, but I still can't understand his love for Laia.  Their dialogue has no chemistry whatsoever.  His relationship with Helene, on the other hand, was my favorite in An Ember in the Ashes.  I like the friends-to-lovers type of relationships.  I really thought they would be endgame, but I doubt it now.  I would rather have no romance at all than have Elias and Laia end up together.  Relationship drama is annoying as hell when we have characters like Laia.  The only love triangle I actually liked was Tessa/Will/Jem from The Infernal Devices.  Nothing comes close.

Also, I wish The Waiting Place plotline didn't exist.  It was boring, and I cared little for Shaeva.  It reminded me too much of the character from The Raven Boys (Alan, I think?).  And ya'll know how much I hated that series.  I think I get annoyed with stories related to spirits in general.  The fact that Elias is now in charge (I forgot the title) of The Waiting Place deters me from the next book.

We are also introduced to Helene's POV, which I surprisingly enjoyed.  I like that Helene is a more pragmatic character who occasionally gets conflicted by her feels for Elias.  Akiva Harper is a new character who obviously takes a liking to Helene as the novel progresses.  I thought he was cool and mysterious.  I wouldn't have minded Helene x Akiva, except that this new character is Elias's half-brother.  Now it's weird.

I know the majority of this review is basically a rant, but I did manage to read this in about four days, which tells me that I was still interested enough in the story itself.  Perhaps it dragged at times, but I found it exciting enough during the second half of the book.  Hence, three stars.  I'm probably not going to continue this series.  All the signs are pointing to continued disappointment.
Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Title: Red Rising (Red Rising #1)
Author: Pierce Brown
Released January 28, 2014
Borrowed from Library
Rating: 4/5

Summary

Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations.

Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children.

But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity already reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet. Darrow—and Reds like him—are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.

Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity's overlords struggle for power. He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society's ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies... even if it means he has to become one of them to do so (Summary from Goodreads).

Review

I don't see a ton of YA books written from a male's POV like Red Rising.  I mean, there are definitely a lot out there (i,e, Harry Potter, An Ember in the Ashes), but the majority of popular YA books are from a female's perspective.  I find it kind of refreshing.

I was hesitant to start this book because, despite the good reviews, I wasn't convinced by the summary that I would be into it.  I'm not usually interested in stories set in space.  I still had this attitude when I first started reading it.  At first, I had trouble getting into the story, but the more I got used to the terminology and learned more about Darrow, the more hooked I became.

A lot of people compare this book to The Hunger Games and Rick Riordan's books, and I could definitely see why in terms of teenagers fighting each other and Roman influences.  However, I think this book really holds its own in originality.  Darrow is a Red, a low class citizen in an empire ruled by Golds.  He grew up thinking his role in mining on Mars was paving the way for life off Earth.  When he discovers that it is all a lie, he is recruited by a group of rebels and transformed into a Gold.  But, in order for him to infiltrate the empire, he has to gain power.  The only way for him to do that is to go through the Academy.  The Academy is where Golds fight each other (not necessarily to the death) to become Primus of their house.  If they are successful in the Academy, they can get apprenticeships from affable Golds.

While the story was really interesting and kept me reading even during exam week, two points kept me from giving this 5 starts: (1) I found it hard to connect emotionally to Darrow and (2) the writing felt a little too lazy sometimes.  What I mean by that is the author told us what happened, but didn't show us what happened.  I think the concept is called "show, don't tell." I actually see this often in YA books.  Basically, it lacked the descriptions needed to make me feel like I'm experiencing the story for myself.

Despite those issues, I was still rooting for Darrow and his comrades all the way to the end.  If any of ya'll read this, Roque and Sevro were my faves!  I recommend Red Rising if you like books with politics, strategy, and a little sci-fi.

Get ready for lots of reviews everyone! I'm on Christmas break and plan to get a LOT of reading done before the spring semester!!
Monday, December 5, 2016

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Title: Seraphina (Seraphina #1)
Author: Rachel Hartman
Released July 1, 2012
Bought from Book Outlet
Rating 5/5

Summary

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty's anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen's Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life (Summary from Goodreads).

Review

GOOD BOOK IS GOOD.

Seraphina had been sitting in my closet, collecting dust, for over a year.  I was hesitant to start it since it had less than 4 stars on Goodreads, but I am SO GLAD I was too lazy to go to the library the other day!! I was instantly hooked on this book (could be because anxiety is over 9000 because presentations and finals this month).  This was one of those books that I had to stay up super late to read because it was so hard to put down!

So, let's discuss!  I find there are certain elements to a book that really draw me in, and this book had those:

1, MC has to keep a secret.  Our main character, Seraphina, is half dragon/half human (which is cool btw) in a world where humans are fearful and disgusted by dragons.  I'm a sucker for dramatic irony, as you can tell by my love for Cinder, Six of Crows, and The Winner's Crime.

2.  MC has a cool ability.  Actually, she has two, but the ability I admire more is her talent for music. It was not made clear in the book whether her musicality came from her being half dragon, or if it was "in her genes" since her mother was very musical.  Either way, I don't see a lot of YA books with musical main characters, which made this book more unique.  Seraphina's other ability has to do with her mind, but I won't spoil anything for ya'll.

3.  Great ship! I am on the Seraphina x Kiggs train!!  I need a ship name...Phinakiggs?? Kiggsaphina? Kiggs is the Captain of the Guard, and what I like about him is that he's very intuitive, conscientious, and honorable.  He can tell Seraphina is hiding something, but he still knows she's good.  This book has a mysterious vibe to it, since Kiggs kinda acts like a detective.  Perfect dude, amiright?? Well, there's a catch: he's engaged to the Princess.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by this read,  My inability to provide a good review is really not doing this book justice! Really, it was a great book, and I actually learned a few new words due to all the ten-dollar words scattered throughout the novel.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Title: Lola and the Boy Next Door (Anna and the French Kiss #2)
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Released September 29, 2011
Borrowed from Library
Rating: 4/5

Summary

Lola Nolan is a budding costume designer, and for her, the more outrageous, sparkly, and fun the outfit, the better. And everything is pretty perfect in her life (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood. When Cricket, a gifted inventor, steps out from his twin sister's shadow and back into Lola's life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door (Summary from Goodreads).




Review

Another cute contemporary novel by Stephanie Perkins!

Any of you who have read Anna and the French Kiss will certainly enjoy this, as well! Although this book is not necessarily a direct sequel to Anna and the French Kiss, some characters from the first book make appearances in this one (Anna and Etienne).  Although I typically do not read contemporary, I really enjoyed the warm and fuzzy feelings from Perkins' books!

There are some similarities between Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door.  The characters have very unique interests and personalities.  Lola's passion is fashion - not just any fashion, but costumes!  Her mother is a deadbeat, and she is adopted by her uncle and his partner.  Both assume the role of strict parenting.  Lola actually has a boyfriend in the beginning of the book - a rocker band dude that's about 5 years older than her (she's 17, he's 22).  She absolutely adores him to the dismay of her parents, but when her childhood friend and crush Cricket Bell moves back next door, everything changes.

Not only is Cricket's name unique, but also his interests.  Cricket had always had a passion for inventing things.  When he returns next door to Lola, however, we find that Cricket seems skittish whenever Lola brings up his former passion.  He also has this habit of writing little notes on the back of his hand, which Lola always notices.  He is literally the most adorable fictional character gahhhh these books give me unrealistic expectations of men.

Even if this sounds kind of cheesy (and it kind of is), the warm and fuzzy feelings are sooooo worth it!
Thursday, November 3, 2016

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Title: An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes #1)
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Released April 28, 2015
Borrowed from Library
Rating: 5/5

Summary

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself (Summary from Goodreads).

My Review

This book was SO GOOD.  And it's even in first person POV! Which I normally can't stand!

An Ember in the Ashes is a true page-tuner.  Seriously, every chapter ends on a little cliffhanger and makes it really difficult to put down this book.  Last Saturday, I was planning on spending the day doing homework, but instead I knew I just had to finish this book (it would have distracted me from homework, anyway).

Because it was such a page-turner, I gave this 5 stars.  I would say the only things that kinda bothered me was how useless Laia is and getting used to first person POV in the beginning.  However, I would say Laia is realistic for being the way she is, and I obviously stopped caring about it being in first person since it was so good.

While there weren't any plot twists per-se, there was definitely a lot of action and anxiety-inducing moments.  It was especially anxiety-inducing during scenes in which Laia spied for the Resistance and the fighting scenes with Elias (I won't reveal specifics because spoilers).  Another thing that really added to the drama was switching every other chapter between Laia and Elias.  It was smart to only switch between these two characters, because I tend to get annoyed when books go into a side character's POV.  I like not knowing what the side characters are thinking, just like the main characters.

Overall, definitely recommend.









Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Title: Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2)
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Released September 27, 2016
Borrowed from Library
Rating: 5/5

Summary

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn't think they'd survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they're right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz's cunning and test the team's fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city's dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of magic in the Grisha world (Summary from Goodreads).

Review

OMG GUYS THIS BOOK IS GOING TO GIVE ME SUCH A BOOK HANGOVER!! I bet it was Six of Crows that REALLY put me in a reading slump all summer!!

Wow where to start, such characters, many feels.

So this book is a little different from the first (obviously).  In the first, we were being introduced to the characters and had a lot of flashbacks to build up their characterization.  This book is a lot more action, because we already know and love our babies.  And, if anything, this book just makes you love them MORE.

Crooked Kingdom takes you through several mini heists leading up the grand finale.  Kaz brings on his awesome, cunning planning skillz once again to save his bae Inej reclaim his power...but with so many groups against the crew, things don't always go as planned.  One of the things I love about Bardugo's writing is that she will take you through the crew's plans.  You think you know everything that will happen, but NO.  Just when the situation is looking grim, BAM! Some brilliant part of Kaz's plans unknown to the reader come to fruition, and it's glorious. Everything is tied together in the end, and I'm left smiling at how wonderful it is.

And let's talk about ships, shall we?? Gosh I ship Kaz x Inej so hard!! They are precious babies who have gone through sooo much.  Bardugo is amazing in that she brings together a wonderful group of independent characters with their own issues and subplots: Kaz is handicapped and basically has PTSD from his brother's death, Inej is still coping from being sold into the Menagerie, Jesper has a gambling problem, Wylan is illiterate, Nina became addicted to parem, and both Nina and Matthias were raised to hate each other and ended up loving each other.  It's just beautiful *sobs* I love them all.

Kaz is my favorite character.  I have a thing for characters that act ruthless, but actually have a heart that they conceal to protect themselves and the people they love.

I mean, this book will make your heart drop, soar, and everything in between.  The storytelling is fantastic, and I cannot wait to read everything else Bardugo publishes, even though it will probably not have the same magic that this duology possessed.  I will certainly have to reread these books in the future!!!

Thanks for reading through this mess of a review...basically all my reviews are incoherent messes...I'm releasing the feels, guys.


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

3 Tips for Getting Out of a Reading Slump!

Hello readers!! I can't believe it's been THREE months since I last posted anything on this blog.  I have only one thing to blame...the dreadful, evil, reading slump!  How do these reading slumps occur? I can't speak for everyone, but I tend to get in a slump because of one or more of the following reasons:

  • I'm too tired after work - This was definitely the big reason during the summer. I was working two jobs, and all I wanted to do after work is sit down, do nothing, and straight chill.
  • Bad books - Although I felt my slump coming on before reading one particularly bad book, this definitely contributed to my slump lasting as long as it did.
  • Reading burnout - What is a 'reading burnout,' you ask? Well, it means I read so many good books in such a short period of time that I simply "burned out." May was an awesome month for me, having read 6 books in 2.5 weeks!  However, reading so many books can be tiring, especially when you are attached to the characters and don't want the book to end!
  • Other hobbies are calling - This is another big reason why I fall into reading slumps.  Sometimes I just get that itch to get addicted to a video game, learn a new song on the piano, or simply binge-watch a TV series.  I'm a person that does what I want, and when I get that itch to pursue another hobby I follow it.
While the terrible reading slump has haunted me for the last three months, I feel a change on the horizon! I went to the library to drop off a book (two weeks late, I might add) that I couldn't finish, and picked up a new one.  I have a feeling this book will pull me through the slump and back into the beautiful world of books.

Below are my tips for getting out of the dreaded reading slump!

1. Have a ton of work to do.

This definitely does not make sense at first, but hear me out.  For me, the more work I have to do, the more I want to procrastinate! It thus follows that I get that itch for reading and escaping all the stress.  That is exactly what is happening now as I enter into the mid-point of the school semester.

2. Read a book that you're excited about.

The book that is getting me out of said slump is Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo.  This book is a sequel to my beloved Six of Crows.  Since I absolutely loved that book and its characters, I have been looking forward to reading Crooked Kingdom.  Getting back into the interesting world and laughing at the banter between the characters is a recipe for the cure to the reading slump.

3. Read because you want to, not because you feel you have to.

One of the struggles of owning a book blog is that you tend to feel like you have to be posting reviews every week or so.  Even though I own this blog for fun, it still gives me a guilty tug when I haven't posted a review in a while. A lot of people, myself included, challenge themselves to read a certain number of books in a year. I knew that it would take time to get out of the slump, but forcing myself to read (especially a book that I am not enjoying) just makes the slump last longer.


Well, these tips are helping me get out of my reading slump.  I hope they help you, too! Feel free to comment what factors put you in a reading slump, and how you get out of it!
Tuesday, July 12, 2016

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

Title: A Court of Mist and Fury (ACOTAR #2)
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Released May 3, 2016
Borrowed from Friend
Rating: 4.5/5.0

Summary

Feyre survived Amarantha's clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can't forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin's people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas's masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights (Summary from Goodreads).

Review

Sorry I've been MIA lately...After coming back home from my two weeks in Texas, it took a bit of adjusting to working two jobs and still read.  I was getting into some other hobbies, so my limited time was being spent elsewhere. 

Also, I want to mention my grandmother - one of the people in my life that greatly inspired me to read. She passed away a couple weeks ago.  Every time I pick up a book I think about her.

I finished this book about there weeks ago, but due to all of the above I haven't been posting much. Tomorrow I will post my TBR for July.

Onto my review!  If you guys remember, I practically LOATHED A Court of Thorns and Roses and I thought, "There is no way in hell I am going to read the next book." Well, my friend made a little deal with me. I read A Court of Mist and Fury (ACOMAF) and she will read a book of my choice. Since I thought I would be suffering, I made her read a book she could suffer through, too.  While I love The Lunar Chronicles, my friend did not particularly care for Cinder. Hence, I'm making her read Scarlet.

Most of the things that bothered me in ACOTAR (I made a list in my review) did not occur nearly as often in ACOMAF. In fact, SMJ's writing greatly improved from ACOTAR and ACOMAF. One characteristic of her books is the female main character not staying with a guy for long. In SMJ's other series Throne of Glass, it was ridiculous. I felt that the most stupid shit would break up my ship. In ACOMAF, however, it actually made sense for why Tamlin became an ass and for Feyre to end up with Rhys.

My friend told me she has read online that Rhysand is endgame, which means I can freely ship the ship without fear. YAY

I gave this 4.5 stars because the main plot of evil king raising an army did not take my interest 100%.  It felt a little too similar to Throne of Glass. But that is really the only thing that bothered me...a HUGE improvement from ACOTAR.  With nice little twists throughout, this book was as good as SMJ's first two Throne of Glass books (the only ones of that series that I liked).

One more thing, I suggest this book for more mature YA readers...some sex scenes are too graphic for younger teens.
Monday, June 20, 2016

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Title: Ready Player One
Author: Ernest Cline
Released August 16, 2011
Borrowed from Library
Rating: 5/5

Summary

In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the  OASIS. Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world's digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade's going to survive, he'll have to win—and confront the real world he's always been so desperate to escape (Summary from Goodreads).

Review

Sorry I've been behind on my reviews...I actually finished this book at least a couple weeks ago. This book was SO MUCH FUN!! It was honestly the best video-game type book I've read...not that I've read a lot of those, but still. 

Seriously, I loved this book. Our main character, Wade Watts (cool name btw), A.K.A. Parzival, is the first to find a clue left by James Halliday, the creator of the game OASIS, leading to Halliday's fortune. I found Wade to be such a relatable character. Probably the male version of myself, except I don't have the kind of dedication that he does. Wade is basically the stereotypical gamer that closes himself off from the rest of the world to seek solace in OASIS. He's funny at times, yet practical.

In addition to a likable main character, the side characters are the type of people you would want to be friends with.  I won't go into detail since they are not mentioned in the summary, and I would rather you guys discover them as you read the book like I did.

If you are a fan of 80's video games, movies, and music, then you will especially enjoy this book. References galore!! I was especially happy that there was references to Blade Runner, because I just saw that movie for the first time in a Film & Culture class last fall semester.  Isn't it weird how you learn/experience something for the first time and then you start hearing about it everywhere? I get super excited when that happens.


You don't have to know everything about the 80's to enjoy the book, though (heck, I didn't even know most of the video games). Just sit back and enjoy this awesome book. The *only* thing is that the ending may have been a little too perfect, and I would have loved a reference to Zelda...not that big of a deal, though, since I still gave this baby 5 stars.

Also, as I was reading I couldn't help but think how awesome of a movie this would be. Turns out Steven Spielberg is supposed to direct the film coming out in 2018!! That means you guys need to read this so we can get excited for the movie together!! Woooooooo

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

June TBR

Since I finally got a library card last month, I was a reading machine! May was filled with mostly awesome books. These are the books I managed to complete in May:

1. The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski
2. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
3. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
4. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
5. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
6. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Currently reading:


Ready Player One by Ernest Cline - I should be posting a review for this within the next week. It's sooo good!











On the TBR for June:

1. A Court of Mist and Fury (ACOTAR #2) by Sarah J. Maas - So those who have read my rather scathing review of ACOTAR are probably wondering why I am bothering to pick up this book. Well, my good friend who loves this book made a little deal with me: if I read this book, then she will read a book of my choice. Well, since she didn't like Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1), I'm making her read the second book of that series, Scarlet. If I have to read something I don't want to read, then she is too! :)







2. Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo - Since I so thoroughly enjoyed Bardugo's Six of Crows, I have a thirst to learn more about the Grisha universe. Plus I need this to get through the hiatus until Crooked Kingdom is released in September.










3. The Star-Touched Queen (The Star-Touched Queen #1) by Roshani Chokshi - This is the book of the month for the Goodreads group YA Bookworms.












4. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern - I've been wanting to read this for a long time (mostly because of that amazing cover). I like the intriguing synopsis and the fact that it's a standalone.











5. An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes #1) by Sabaa Tahir - This has also been on my radar for a long time. If I don't get to it this month, it will definitely be read next month.


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Title: A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1)
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Released May 5, 2015
Borrowed from Library
Rating: 2.5/5

Summary

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 (Summary from Goodreads).

Review

So I went into this book thinking it would be a 4-star read...turned to 3 stars after the first 30% and then I was flipping back and forth between 2 stars and 3 stars during the second half. I did like it in the beginning, but I just couldn't help but get really annoyed with the MC Feyre and Maas' writing in general. Apologies, this is going to come off more as a rant than a review.

First off, Feyre was basically Katniss and Bella combined. She is a huntress that is good with a bow and arrows supporting her family on her own (just like Katniss). Also, later in the novel there are faeries that kiss their hands and hold them out to her as a farewell. Tell me that isn't a direct copy of the three-finger salute from The Hunger Games. She is basically like Bella from Twilight since she, a human that can easily die, does the dumbest sh*t all for her IMMORTAL man, Tamlin, who she fell in insta-love with. Tamlin even nipped her neck at one point. Their romance scenes were major cringe worthy, as well (and you all know how I like a good ship so that says something right there).

I maybe could have stomached all of that if the writing didn't piss me off.  I already didn't care for her writing in the ToG series which was third person POV, but she should stay faaaaar away from first person after this series. Some examples of annoying phrases used multiple times throughout the novel:
-"my bowels turned watery" lmao like what??? 
-"he cracked a lazy grin" This was fine, except I think you can come up with a different way to describe Tamlin's grin after the 5th time of using this.
-"utterly [insert word]" use a thesaurus if you're looking for powerful adjectives!!!
-"my knees buckled" I swear Feyre's knees buckled like 10 times in the first half of the book. 
-lines that are said "softly" that I just could not imagine being said softly at all. This is me just being picky.

I mean, I should have known going in since I hated Heir of Fire and Queen of Shadows from ToG series...for some reason I expected more. The story and characters had potential (I was even starting to jump on the Rhys train), but I just could not get over Maas' writing and I felt like Feyre was a mad whiney copy of Katniss. I've heard that the sequel is better written, but honestly I just think that her writing style isn't a good fit for me no matter what people say. I would try it out, but I don't think I could handle 600 pages of her writing without going into a reading slump. After reading this, I no longer feel like I'm "missing out" on this popular series.

I know that many readers LOVE her books, so please respect my disagreement.
Monday, May 30, 2016

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

Title: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Author: Jesse Andrews
Released March 1, 2012
Borrowed
Rating: 4.5/5

Summary

Greg Gaines is the last master of high school espionage, able to disappear at will into any social environment. He has only one friend, Earl, and together they spend their time making movies, their own incomprehensible versions of Coppola and Herzog cult classics.

Until Greg’s mother forces him to rekindle his childhood friendship with Rachel.

Rachel has been diagnosed with leukemia—-cue extreme adolescent awkwardness—-but a parental mandate has been issued and must be obeyed. When Rachel stops treatment, Greg and Earl decide the thing to do is to make a film for her, which turns into the Worst Film Ever Made and becomes a turning point in each of their lives.

And all at once Greg must abandon invisibility and stand in the spotlight (Summary from Goodreads).

Review

After seeing the film at a friend's house last year, I just knew I had to read the book. I loved everything about the film: the humor, the characters, and the honesty. I've had the book in my possession for quite a few months, and now I've finally read it - this must be contemporary books month for me or something.

Right from the first page, I had already started laughing. Greg has an interesting mind. He's a bit of a socially awkward character that survives high school by briefly mingling with every group, but not being affiliated with any particular group. He simply wants no friends or enemies. He is such a relatable character for me - especially when he says something stupid or insensitive and internally beats himself up for it (something I do a lot). 

However, he does have one "friend" - Earl. Earl is also a hilarious character, and has an interesting friendship with Greg. Greg calls Earl his coworker because they make terrible indie films together. 

Although this book is hilarious and seems somewhat pointless at the end, it does have some themes to take away from it. Like I mentioned above, I found Greg to be a very relatable character that represents all of us that have felt awkward in school and in social situations in general. Rachel's cancer affects Greg and Earl at the turning point of their lives. Greg, who had been avoiding thinking about college, was convinced by Rachel to apply to film schools. Earl decided he wanted to work and get himself out of his rough neighborhood, accepting that his family members can only help themselves.

While I preferred the ending of the film to the ending of the book, I still thoroughly enjoyed getting into Greg Gaines' mind.
Friday, May 27, 2016

Spotlight Friday (37) and Giveaway: Under My Skin by Laura Diamond



I am hosting this blitz on behalf of YA Bound Book Tours

Title: Under My Skin
Author: Laura Diamond
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Released April 12, 2016

Summary

Bookish Brit Adam Gibson is one wonky heartbeat away from a fatal arrhythmia. But staying alive requires Adam to become keenly focused on both his pulse and the many different daily medications he must take in exactly the right dosages. Adam's torn between wanting to live and knowing that someone else must die in order for him to do so. He needs a new heart. 

The pressure is getting to him. Adam stops talking to his friends back home, refuses to meet kids at his new school, and shuts his parents out entirely. His days are spent wondering if can cope with having a dead man's heart beating inside his chest, or if he should surrender to the thoughts of suicide swirling around in his head. 

And then a donor is found…

Outspoken artist Darby Fox rarely lets anything stand in her way of achieving her goals . Whether it’s painting, ignoring her homework (dyslexia makes a mess out of words anyway), kissing a hot boy she doesn't even know, or taking the head cheerleader down a peg , no one has ever accused Darby of being a shy. She also happens to be the twin sister to a perfect brother with good looks, good grades, manners, and the approval of their parents - something Darby has never had. 

Darby's always had bad timing . She picks the worst time to argue with her brother Daniel. In a car with bald tires, on an icy road in the freezing cold, the unthinkable happens. In a split-second, everything changes forever (Summary from Goodreads).


Buy Links:


Excerpt

ADAM:
I clutch my well-worn paperback of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein close to my heart. The doctor robbed graves, stealing body parts to create his monster. I suppress a shiver. In a way, the transplant surgeon does the same thing by harvesting a donor’s organs when they’re on the brink of death. If I get prioritized on the list, I’ll be waiting for that poor victim to arrive. Then I’ll steal his or her heart and with it, their life.
Then I’ll be the monster.


DARBY:
Images blur on a merry-go-round from Hell that spins faster with each turn. Sleet pounding the windshield. Daniel fighting with the clutch and brake. The truck’s headlights impaling us. Crunching steel. Daniel’s bloody face.
Pain stretches from my head, dragging its dirty talons down my neck and across my shoulders, ending in cold numbness at my chest. Something presses my body down. I can’t move. I can’t escape it. 

Giveaway

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About the Author

Laura Diamond is a board certified psychiatrist currently specializing in emergency psychiatry. She is also an author of all things young adult—both contemporary and paranormal. An avid fan of sci-fi, fantasy, and anything magical, she thrives on quirk, her lucid dreams, and coffee. When she’s not working or writing, she can be found sniffing books and drinking a latte at the bookstore or at home pondering renovations on her 225 year old fixer upper, all while obeying her feline overlords, of course.

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon | Blog | Pinterest | Instagram 
Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Title: Me Before You (Me Before You #1)
Author: Jojo Moyes
Released January 5, 2012
Borrowed from Friend
Rating: 4.5/5

Summary

Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn't know is she's about to lose her job or that knowing what's coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he's going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn't know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they're going to change the other for all time (Summary from Goodreads).

Review

In an attempt to read books other than YA Fantasy, I have been getting into contemporary reads lately. I saw the trailer for Me Before You a few weeks ago, and when I saw that (1) My baes from Game of Thrones and The Hunger Games were cast as the main characters and (2) the film is based on a book, I knew I had to read this.

Just a warning: this book deals with  a few tough subjects, mainly suicide, but also rape was implied, though not expressly stated. Although these tough subjects are present, this book will also make you laugh, question the meaning of life, and make you wonder if you are living life to your fullest.

I thought Louise Clark was  relateable character; she is an ordinary girl with an eclectic fashion taste thrown into a caregiving position for Will Traynor, whose sarcastic, rude remarks (at first) make it difficult for her. Lou, desperate for a job, sticks through it. When she finds out his intention to end his life, her reluctance to work for him turns into newfound determination to make him see that his life is worth living. Will, on the other hand, is determined to make Lou see that she has the potential to get out of their boring hometown, see the world, and get a college education for herself.

Overall, this was a bittersweet book that will make you laugh and depressed at the same time. I'm looking forward to seeing the film adaptation next month!!
Friday, May 20, 2016

Spotlight Friday (36) and Giveaway: The Fairest Poison by Lauren Skidmore


I am hosting this blitz on behalf of YA Bound Book Tours


Title: The Fairest Poison
Author: Lauren Skidmore
Genre: Fantasy

Summary

Princess Bianca returns to her court to find it poisoned from the inside out. Faced with mysterious sicknesses, power disputes, and whispers of impending death, Bianca turns to an unlikely ally—a former assassin—to find the antidote that will save her kingdom. But Bianca quickly realizes that she might not even be able to save her own life in this Snow White story (Summary from Goodreads).

Buy Links: AmazonBarnes & NobleBook DepositorySigned copy @ The King's English





Video Trailer



Giveaway

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About the Author


Laure Skidmore grew up in Kansas, with stints in Ohio and New York, and currently lives in Utah. She attended Brigham Young University where she earned a BA in English Teaching with an emphasis in Teaching English as a Second Language and Japanese. She then spent a year in Japan teaching and travelling. She hasn’t made it to Europe yet, but it’s on the list and has been to 30 states in the U.S. so far. When she’s not exploring new places, you can probably find her on the internet with fifteen windows open and looking at just one more thing before actually getting something done.

Author Links:

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