Saturday, November 25, 2017

Review: The Crown: The Official Companion, Volume 1 by Robert Lacey

Title: The Crown: The Official Companion, Volume 1

Author: Robert Lacey
Publication Date:  October 17th, 2017
Publisher: Crown Archetype
Source: from BloggingForBooks
The official companion to the critically acclaimed Netflix drama about the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, The Crown by Peter Morgan, featuring additional historical background and exclusive images.

Starring Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II and John Lithgow as Winston Churchill, Netflix's original series The Crown, created by Peter Morgan and growing out of his Oscar-winning movie The Queen starring Helen Mirren, paints a unique and intimate portrait of Britain's longest-reigning monarch. This official companion to the show's first season is an in-depth exploration of the early years of Elizabeth II's time as Queen, complete with extensive research, additional material, and exclusive, beautifully reproduced images.

One of the show's most powerful themes is that royals do not choose their duty; it is thrust upon them. Princess Elizabeth never expected her father to die so suddenly, so young, leaving her not only a throne to fill but a global institution to govern. Crowned at twenty-five, already a wife and mother, follow the journey of a woman learning to become a queen while facing her own challenges within her own family. This is the story of how Elizabeth II drew on every ounce of strength and British reserve to deal with crises not only on the continent but at home as well.

Written by bestselling historical biographer Robert Lacey, who also serves as the show's historical consultant, this official companion provides an in-depth exploration from behind the palace gates. Relive the majesty of the first season of the hit show, with behind-the-scenes photos, meticulously researched images from the time, and more.

Let me be clear that this book is really only for fans of the Netflix show. This book is the background into the show and making of this portrayal of the iconic life of Queen Elizabeth. I've always had an interest in the lives of the royal family and the Netflix show is just another way to appease my interest. I loved getting the background information in this story and seeing the story unfold in yet another medium. I look forward to reading future companions as the show progresses to other seasons and years in her majesty's reign. 

Friday, April 21, 2017

Review: As Red as Blood

Title: As Red as Blood
Publication Date:  January 17th, 2017
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Source: from BloggingForBooks

Lumikki Andersson has made it a rule to stay out of things that do not involve her. She knows all too well that trouble comes to those who stick their nose where it doesn’t belong. But Lumikki’s rule is put to the test when she uncovers thousands of washed Euro notes hung to dry in her school’s darkroom and three of her classmates with blood on their hands. Literally.

A web of lies and deception now has Lumikki on the run from those determined to get the money back—no matter the cost. At the center of the chaos: Polar Bear, the mythical drug lord who has managed to remain anonymous despite hosting lavish parties and having a notorious reputation. If Lumikki hopes to make it out alive, she’ll have to uncover the entire operation.

Even the cold Finnish winter can’t hide a culprit determined to stain the streets red.
This was an incredibly disappointing read. I do not have much to say about it since I ended up skimming the last third or so of the book.

Going into this book, I was expecting a thrilling edge of my seat mystery. I have read quite a few adult mystery books and was expecting something similar with this book. However, that is not what I got. This book was anything but thrilling. This is an incredibly short book and it still took me way too long to get through. I ended up skimming the last bit of this book just because I did not find it interesting at all. I never really connected with the characters and cared about what happened to them.
*Copy provided by BloggingForBooks for review*

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Review: A Shadow Bright and Burning

Title: A Shadow Bright and Burning
Author: Jessica Cluess
Publication Date:  September 20th, 2016
Publisher: Random House
Source: from BloggingForBooks
Where to find: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository

Henrietta can burst into flames.

Forced to reveal her power to save a friend, she’s shocked when instead of being executed, she’s named the first female sorcerer in hundreds of years and invited to train as one of Her Majesty’s royal sorcerers.

Thrust into the glamour of Victorian London, Henrietta is declared the prophesied one, the girl who will defeat the Ancients, bloodthirsty demons terrorizing humanity. She also meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, handsome young men eager to test her power and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her.

But Henrietta is not the chosen one.

As she plays a dangerous game of deception, she discovers that the sorcerers have their own secrets to protect. With battle looming, how much will she risk to save the city—and the one she loves?
This book took me a bit to get into. When I first started I really struggled to immerse myself in the world and really start to care about the story and the characters. I do not know if this was due to poor writing at first or just a general lack of interest on my part. But once the story started to unfold and I got further into the book, I really started to love this book and start to theorize about what was coming next.

This book has a very unique magic system that I really enjoyed learning about as Henrietta does. I personally tend to enjoy books more when I get to learn about magic at the same time as the protagonist rather than it being already established for them. The whole idea of controlling the elements with your stave (wooden wand-like object) and working to master those abilities to get approval by the queen was fascinating to me.

This book left me with many questions about Henrietta, the ancients, the Magicians versus the Sorcerers, and what is to come next. I have many theories about Henrietta's origin and what her connection to magic really is and I cannot wait for the series to continue to see what the truth is.

This book was definitely female empowerment even in a Victorian time period. Henrietta always stood up for herself and protected those under her even if she was told not to. I really enjoyed the banter she had with countless secondary characters who were trying to tell her what to do or how to behave. The many love interests kind of irked me especially given the time period and Henrietta's upbringing. Jessica Cluess definitely set it up that it could be one of at least three characters. But she did not make romance a huge part of this book, it was there but not a focus. This story was more about Henrietta's journey finding out about her abilities and planning her fight against the ancients.

I really enjoyed Jessica Cluess's take on the chosen one's story and am really intrigued by what is to come in future books!

*Copy provided by BloggingForBooks for review*

Monday, November 7, 2016

Review: The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson

Title: The Snow Queen
Author: Hans Christian Anderson 
Publication Date:  October 4th, 2016
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Source: from BloggingForBooks
Where to find: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository

Gorgeously packaged with intricate illustrations from Finnish illustrator, Sanna Annukka, this new edition of Hans Christian Andersen's well-loved fairy tale, The Snow Queen, is the perfect holiday gift for adults and children alike.

Hans Christian Andersen's magical tale of friendship and adventure is retold through the beautiful and intricate illustrations of Finnish illustrator Sanna Annukka. Cloth-bound in deep blue, with silver foil embellishments, The Snow Queen is elevated from a children's book to a unique work of art. It is an ideal gift for people of all ages.
This is a super short review, since the book itself is short, but even though it is short, it was still enjoyable.

The Snow Queen is a classic tale and Sanna Annukka's illustrations added vibrant colors and pictures to the story. I am very familiar with the story but it has been a long time since I sat down and read it. But I loved the pairing of the illustrations with the story. I really enjoyed Annukka's illustrations. They are very abstract and vibrant and really added a different feel to the story. It was not the illustrations I was expecting, but they fit in perfectly. This was a super quick read that I really enjoyed and really enjoyed the illustrations to go along with it.

*Thanks to BloggingForBooks for providing a copy of the book for review*

Monday, August 15, 2016

Review: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Title: Siege and Storm
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publication Date:  June 4th, 2013
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Source: Bought it
Where to find: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository

Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her--or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.
“Why won’t you leave me alone?” I whispered one night as he hovered behind me while I tried to work at my desk.

Long minutes passed. I didn’t think he would answer. I even had time to hope he might have gone, until I felt his hand on my shoulder. 

“Then I’d be alone, too," he said, and he stayed the whole night through, till the lamps burned down to nothing.” 
I don't know how to write a review that will do this book justice. So I'm going to do something I haven't done yet and do a gif review! Siege and Storm was just like Shadow and Bone where I flew through it. 


This one took more than one sitting sadly because of work and life, but hey it gave me more time to savor it. So this book starts off quite a bit after Shadow and Bone. Which is good because the characters have settled into their new roles and we get right to the action and plot. Alina is very different in this book. She is more determined and has a semblance of a plan to save Ravka. For me, this trilogy is all about the Darkling and how much I love his characterization. Yeah he may be the "villain" but I also think his character is too complex to be categorized as such. After the huge role he played in Shadow and Bone there was not nearly enough of him in this story for my taste. Every time we did get him, I was all like:

I know everyone obsesses over the Darkling and I'm definitely one of them. Another aspect that made this second book so great was all the new characters we got to meet and get to know. Nikolai being one of them. I love how he is first revealed to be the Prince and how much mischief he can get up to. While I'm definitely pro Alina/Darkling, I had a few Nikolai/Alina moments where I was all: 

I definitely cannot wait to start Ruin and Rising and see how Leigh Bardugo finishes up the trilogy, but at the same time I'm super worried about the emotional toil it will take. I have fallen so in love with this world and these characters that I'm scared to see what she has done with them in the final book.

I also have that small voice in the back of my head warning me about disappointment with final books in series (but it is just a super small voice because I know almost everyone loves this trilogy in its entirety).

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Review: A Book of Spirits and Thieves by Morgan Rhodes

Title: A Book of Spirits and Thieves
Author: Morgan Rhodes
Publication Date:  June 23rd, 2015
Publisher: Razorbill
Source: Bought it
Where to find: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository
Modern-day sisters discover deadly ancient magic in book 1 of this Falling Kingdoms spin-off series!

Worlds collide in this suspenseful, page-turning Falling Kingdoms spin-off series, which explores a whole new side of Mytica—and an even darker version of its magic.

Crystal Hatcher, Modern-day Toronto: It’s a normal afternoon in her mother’s antique bookshop when Crys witnesses the unthinkable: her little sister Becca collapses into a coma after becoming mesmerized by a mysterious book written in an unrecognizable language.

Maddox Corso, Ancient Mytica: Maddox Corso doesn’t think much of it when he spots an unfamiliar girl in his small village. Until, that is, he realizes that she is a spirit, and he is the only one who can see or hear her. Her name is Becca Hatcher, and she needs Maddox to help get her home.

Farrell Grayson, Modern-day Toronto: Rich and aimless Farrell Grayson is thrilled when the mysterious leader of the ultra-secret Hawkspear Society invites him into the fold. But when he learns exactly what he has to do to prove himself, Farrell starts to question everything he thought he knew about family, loyalty, and himself….

Fate has brought these young people together, but ancient magic threatens to rip them apart.
“Tears aren't just for babies. They're proof that you feel something and aren't afraid to show it. It's those that won't ever allow themselves to cry that are the weak ones.”
I rushed to finish this book before The Darkest Magic came out thinking I would pick The Darkest Magic up right away but I should have know. The book has been out for a week and a half and I have not even started it.

This book was very interesting. We have two coinciding stories being told that are both interconnected in a way that is still mostly unknown. These two stories are told from four different characters point of views. You have Maddox, Farrell, Becca, and Crystal. One story is in modern day Toronto and the other is ancient Mytica. It was fascinating to read this book and see how Morgan Rhodes was connecting the two very different worlds.

This book gave a lot of great backstory on Mytica and how they go to where they are in the Falling Kingdoms Series and I really loved the extra information. As for the Toronto story, I have been to Toronto only once in my life but I knew exactly where a lot of the landmarks Morgan Rhodes uses were. And I loved that she was descriptive enough and used names that I recognized, it just added to my investment in this story.

I definitely have a favorite character after this book but based on what happened I do not want to say who it is. I will just keep that to myself and see what said character does in the next book. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Flame Never Dies by Rachel Vincent (Waiting on Wednesday #21)

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that everyone’s eagerly anticipating!

ONE SPARK WILL RISE. Nina Kane was born to be an exorcist. And since uncovering the horrifying truth—that the war against demons is far from over—seventeen-year-old Nina and her pregnant younger sister, Mellie, have been on the run, incinerating the remains of the demon horde as they go.

In the badlands, Nina, Mellie, and Finn, the fugitive and rogue exorcist who saved her life, find allies in a group of freedom fighters. They also face a new threat: Pandemonia, a city full of demons. But this fresh new hell is the least of Nina’s worries. The well of souls ran dry more than a century ago, drained by the demons secretly living among humans, and without a donor soul, Mellie’s child will die within hours of its birth.

Nina isn’t about to let that happen . . . even if it means she has to make the ultimate sacrifice.
The Flame Never Dies will be released August 16th, 2016 by Delacorte Press!

The first book in this duology was a huge surprise for me. I won it in a giveaway and new nothing about it but had heart great things about Rachel Vincent's Shifters Series so I dove right into it. And I loved it. It was this great paranormal/fantasy story about a girl fighting to keep her family and her city safe. I'm really looking forward to seeing how this all ties up and where Nina and Finn go on their adventures.
What are you waiting for this Wednesday?