Sunday, January 29, 2017

My Lazy Sunday Essentials

Hello readers!  I was contacted by a representative from Leesa, a mattress company, to share with you all my idea of a perfect lazy day indoors (I received nothing in exchange for this). Since I am the epitome of lazy on Sundays, I thought this would be a fun little activity to post today!

Seeing as this is a reading blog, my idea of a perfect lazy day would most definitely include a good book!  During the semester, I definitely should not be as lazy as I am on Sundays.  Part of me always feel a little guilty for "wasting" a day away, but I try to justify it by reminding myself that I deserve it, what with all the hard work I put into college (sure Maria, sure).  Christmas break? It's a whole other story! I am fortunate to be able to work a seasonal job in the summer and live off it for the rest of the year, so basically every day of Christmas break is my idea of a perfect lazy Sunday.  I am a hermit during break, and the perfect lazy day means staying in comfy pj's all day.

Everyone has that favorite reading spot(s), and mine are on the living room couch and my bed, where I can enjoy my comfy mattress.  I like to use one of those cool reading pillows to support my back when I'm reading a physical book.  If I'm reading on my kindle, it's the perfect opportunity to cuddle on my side.  Kindles are great when it's really cold in the house and you want to keep one hand under the blanket.  Speaking of blankets, I love using a blanket my grandma knit for me for my high school graduation a few years ago - it's super soft, and handmade gifts are always extra special.

The perfect lazy Sunday also mean snacks! My go-to snack is usually Tostitos.  If you live in the Northeast and have a Wegmans near you, then you know how addicting their soft chocolate chip cookies are.  If those are in the house when I'm home having a lazy day, you better believe they aren't lasting the whole day.

But nothing makes a perfect reading Sunday like having a warm fur baby be lazy with you.  I think the reading vibes create a super relaxing atmosphere for our pets, and they love to be in the midst of it - my Maximillian certainly enjoys it!

What is your perfect lazy day like? Feel free to comment!
Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

Title: Steelheart (Reckoners #1)
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Released September 24, 2013
Borrowed from Library
Rating: 3.5/5

Summary

Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his wills.

Nobody fights the Epics...nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.

And David wants in. He wants Steelheart — the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David's father. For years, like the Reckoners, David's been studying, and planning — and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.

He's seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge (Summary from Goodreads).

Review

I was originally going to give 3 stars, but the action-packed ending made me move it up to 3.5 stars.

I was instantly hooked by the prologue of Steelheart.  Unfortunately, the majority of what came after that did not appeal to me as much.  My main issue was that I felt annoyed by the characters and the dialogue.  I usually have a hard time connecting emotionally to Sanderson's characters, and these characters were no different.  The characters just seem too stereotypical.  We have the geeky main character that knows everything about the Epics, the female side character for him to oogle at, the person in the group that knows all technology, etc.  When the characters are too cookie-cutter, they start to seem like cardboard.

David often used metaphors that were supposed to be bad, and although I think the intended effect was to be funny, I thought it was cringe-worthy.  I was basically reading the second half of the book to get it over with as quickly as I could.

This was supposed to be a young adult book, but it felt more like a middle-grade book (except for the prologue).  It's hard to explain, but that's the general tone I got from the language, and the fact that David seemed to only see a certain female character as a piece of ass.  I just think that an 18 year-old would be a little more mature, but what do I know?

HOWEVER, the story itself was very original (all the characters with superpowers were villains) and the ending was a typical epic Sanderson ending.  A couple big and exciting twists at the end gave me hope for the sequel, but I probably won't be continuing this series.  I think Sanderson's strength lies in adult fiction, and the Mistborn series remains my favorite of his work.
Sunday, January 15, 2017

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Title: Heartless
Author: Marissa Meyer
Released November 8, 2016
Borrowed from Library
Rating: 5/5

Summary

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland and a favorite of the unmarried King, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, she wants to open a shop and create delectable pastries. But for her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for a woman who could be a queen.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the King’s marriage proposal, she meets handsome and mysterious Jest. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into a secret courtship.

Cath is determined to choose her own destiny. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans (Summary from Goodreads).

Review

Warning: This is going to be a long review because Meyer is my favorite author and the below gif describes perfectly how I feel right now.

OH MY EMOTIONS.  HELP.


My Queen Marissa Meyer has delivered again on a fantastic fairytale retelling - this time it's about how the Queen of Hearts came to be a villain.

And it will destroy your heart.  No pun intended.

First of all, I have been in quite an emotional state since seeing La La Land last Tuesday. While reading Heartless, my emotions were augmented by the fact that both La La Land and Heartless involves characters that have a dream, and want nothing more than to accomplish it.  Every time Catherine wished for her dreams, for not having to marry the king, for being able to openly court Jest, to open her own bakery, was absolutely agonizing.  I could feel ALL the angst, and I realized that the chorus in one of the songs in La La Land fits perfectly.

Here's to the ones who dream
Foolish as they may seem
Here's to the hearts that ache
Here's to the mess we make

"Here's to the hearts that ache" that was basically Catherine and me the whole time.  One part of the song says "Here's to the fools who dream," and that reminds me soo much of Jest (Jester = fool).  Also this bit:

A bit of madness is key
To give us new colors to see
Who knows where it will lead us
And that's why they need us


This is a little unlike me; I don't tend to get quite so emotional over a book, but I think the combining forces between these sources of sadness is getting to me.

Let us think of  more positive things.  One of the things I really, really like about Marissa Meyer's writing is that she makes me feel everything with small descriptions of body language, and of course the dialogue.  Some people think her writing doesn't include enough world building, but her descriptions are just right for me to imagine the setting without getting bored.  For me, I much prefer good dialogue and descriptions of body language.  A simple line such as "his brow creased," or "his gold eyes glinting" (sounds weird out of context) has so much power and shows so much emotion in a scene.  I sound stupid, but a lot of YA doesn't describe nuanced changes in a character's face or body language - those are usually the books I find hard to connect emotionally.

And OH MY GOODNESS, I am such a hopeless romantic when it comes to books like Heartless.  I love a good ship, and this was not a disappointment.  It didn't feel cheesy at all, because the dialogue showed so much chemistry between the two.

Lastly, I have so much respect for how Meyer creates a perfect balance in her fairytale retellings.  I recently read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and even though I didn't care for it that much (a little too 'mad' for my tastes), Meyer's tone aligned fantastically.  There were subtle lines that I recognized from either the original tale or the movies.  In the Author's Note section, you can tell that Meyer really respects and loves the original.  Inspired by the well-known riddle "Why is a raven like a writing-desk?" Meyer included a character, Raven (who is actually a raven throughout most of the novel).  The raven's dialogue is inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven," and Meyer liked to think that Raven is the same bird that tormented the heartbroken narrator in Poe's work. This made me love it even more!! You'll know what I mean if you read the book!

I actually did not expect to enjoy this as much as I did.  I'm not really a fan of Alice in Wonderland, so I started reading this book with mixed emotions.  But mid-way through, I knew I needed this book on my shelf.  So, I ordered the OwlCrate edition from their website (LOOK AT IT.  IT'S BEAUTIFUL)!  If you're lucky, they might still be selling it!  Anyway, I need to go sob in a corner
now.
Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson

Title: Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1)
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Released in 2009
Borrowed from Library
Rating: 4/5

Summary

Sisters Vivenna and Siri are princesses of Idris. Susebron is the God King one must marry. Lightsong is the reluctant minor god of bravery. Vasher is an immortal still trying to undo mistakes of centuries before. Magic from individual breath from everyday objects can perform all manner of miracles and mischief (Summary from Goodreads).








Review

When one reads a Sanderson novel, time must be taken to savor all the details.  Sanderson is known for creating awesome magic systems that actually seem legit.  He has a gift for creating thorough, intricate magic systems that have laws and limitations, just like the laws of science we know and study.

It often takes me a while to read his novels, not only because of the length, but also because they really make you think as you try to understand the magic system and the characters.  His novels tend to be rather slow, then the last 10% or so ramps up the speed, and all epicness occurs.  That is the part when your mind is BLOWN.  Also, just know that no character is safe.  In both this book and the Mistborn series, your heart is crushed as major characters die.  It was not too bad in this one, though.

The rest of this review may contain spoilers, since the summary provided by Goodreads doesn't tell you much about the book. They won't be huge spoilers, though.

I think the best way to review this is to go character by character:

Siri - The youngest daughter of the Idrian King, Siri begins the story enjoying her unimportance as the last in line for the throne.  When her father decides to send her to marry the God King instead of her eldest sister, Vivenna, she is forced to give up her luxury of being unimportant.  I thought Siri was an okay character.  She is only seventeen and rather immature compared to her older siblings.  Although Siri is a good person, her naivete can be somewhat annoying (it is supposed to), but as she learns the secrets of the God King and gets accustomed to her life the God King's court, she becomes more confident and likable as a character.

Vivenna - I also did not care much for Vivenna for about half of the novel.  As the eldest Princess, she was destined to marry the God King, and had prepared her entire life for it.  She follows her austere Idrian values the best she can, and holds prejudices against the Hallandren religion.  But when her sister is sent to marry the God King, Vivenna decides to rescue her.  As she experiences Hallandren life and is but in difficult situations, she begins to question her ability to follow her religion.  Vivenna becomes one of the most exciting character views during the second half of the novel!  And it was interesting seeing her character development.

Susebron - I won't talk about Susebron because I don't want to majorly spoil anything for ya'll.

Lightsong - He is my FAVE!! Lightsong's witty dialogue and self-deprecating humor was so funny!! I looked forward to his POVs the most!! Lightsong is a Returned, revered as one of the gods.  Except he does not believe he really is a god, and tries to stay out of the other gods/goddesses' politics. Seriously, he will become your fave.

Vasher - He is the character that has the greatest mystery surrounding him from chapter one.  With his magical sword that has a mind of its own, Nightblood, Vasher is a badass looking to make amends for his distant past.

Throughout most of the novel, you are wondering how all these characters connect together, and when it finally happens it is glorious!  I find Sanderson is great at completely unexpected plot twists.  It is only after the plot twist that you think back to the small pieces of foreshadowing.  The reason I did not give 5 stars was because I find it hard to connect emotionally with his characters.  This has been my experience with his other books, as well. If you enjoy high fantasy, I highly recommend trying out one of Sanderson's books.  They will leave you mentally tired after such thorough storytelling.

Oh, one more thing.  This is most definitely a spoiler!!

I was dying when we found out Lightsong was a freaking accountant before he was Returned.  No wonder he had such amazing self-deprecating humor!! You have no idea how excited I was XD
Monday, January 2, 2017

Golden Son by Pierce Brown

Title: Golden Son (Red Rising #2)
Author: Pierce Brown
Released January 6, 2015
Borrowed from Library
Rating: 5/5

Summary

Golden Son continues the stunning saga of Darrow, a rebel forged by tragedy, battling to lead his oppressed people to freedom from the overlords of a brutal elitist future built on lies. Now fully embedded among the Gold ruling class, Darrow continues his work to bring down Society from within.

A life-or-death tale of vengeance with an unforgettable hero at its heart, Golden Son guarantees Pierce Brown’s continuing status as one of fiction’s most exciting new voices (Summary from Goodreads).

Review

WHEN ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE DURING THE LAST 5 PAGES:

 

HOLY CRAP THAT ENDING!!!

*hyperventilates*

Okay okay, I am calm. I swear.  Who am I kidding - this review is going to be a lot of capslock so get ready. First off, YAY for improved writing!! Descriptions were much more detailed and I got a MUCH better picture of the characters' personalities from the dialogue.  I FREAKING LOVE SEVRO HE IS A PRECIOUS LITTLE FIERCE GOBLIN.  The banter between the original characters from book one was amazing and usually made me freak out because I SHIP THEIR FRIENDSHIPS SO MUCH.

There was crazy action, political strategy, brutal deaths, and all kinds of painful betrayal.  A wild ride from start to finish.  The book starts an entire year after the events of Red Rising, and Darrow is now under the tutelage of Nero au Augustus, the same man that sentenced Darrow's wife to death in book one. The feud between House Augustus and House Bellona has more tension than ever.  It makes me think of Romeo and Juliet when Mercutio yells "A plague on both your houses!"

I honestly can't think straight because I'm so emotionally compromised by that ending!! If you read book one and are hesitant to start this, READ IT! You will not be disappointed!  This was all kinds of epic.  I can totally imagine a movie being made out of this series.
Sunday, January 1, 2017

January TBR

A new year means a fresh start! Time to get back on track with my TBR posts.  I probably will not be doing Spotlight Fridays anymore, unless I suddenly get motivated to do them again.  Creating them was too time consuming, and I wasn't having fun making them.

Books read in December:

Seraphina (Seraphina #1) by Rachel Hartman
Red Rising (Red Rising #1) by Pierce Brown
A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes #2) by Sabaa Tahir
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Golden Son (Red Rising #2) by Pierce Brown - Review to come

And now for my January TBR:

1. Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1) by Brandon Sanderson - I don't know why I'm reading the first book when I know the second won't be coming out for God knows how long.  I've been interested in reading this massive book for awhile, and I am hoping it's as epic as Sanderson's Mistborn series.









2. Heartless by Marissa Meyer - Of course I need to read this standalone novel by my queen Marissa Meyer.











3. Steelheart (Reckoners #1) by Brandon Sanderson - I must be in a Sanderson mood because I feel a pull toward this series.  I believe the Reckoners series is actually meant for the young adult audience, so I am interested in seeing how his writing might change to fit the audience.









I thought I would add a little section to my usual TBR post for anticipated releases for the month, if applicable:

Wires and Nerve, Volume 1 by Marissa Meyer
Release date: January 31, 2017

My queen will be releasing a graphic novel focusing on Iko from my all time favorite YA series, The Lunar Chronicles! You bet I've already pre-ordered this baby.  I absolutely cannot wait for this!!


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