Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Teaser Tuesday #17: Jasper Dent

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme where you post a quote from a book you are currently reading. It is hosted by A Daily Rhythm.
"What if a puppet could cut its own strings, and in that act of defiance and strength of will become truly alive? Becomes its own puppetmaster? What if indeed?"
                                                            - I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

I was so fascinated by this book and the idea of a teenager helping the police catch a serial killer using on his own experience with his father being a notorious serial killer.

Find the book here: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository

Let me know in the comments what book you are currently reading!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Review: Velvet by Temple West

Title: Velvet
Author: Temple West
Publication Date: May 12th, 2015
Publisher: SwoonReads
Source: From publisher
Where to find: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository
Summary: First rule of dealing with hot vampire bodyguards? Don't fall in love.

After losing both her parents before age seventeen, aspiring designer Caitlin Holte feels like her whole world has been turned upside down, and that was before the terrifying encounter with a supernatural force. Then, she learns that her hot bad-boy neighbor, Adrian—who might have just saved her life—is actually a half-demon vampire.

Suddenly Caitlin is stuck with a vampire bodyguard who feels that the best way to protect her is to become her pretend boyfriend. Trouble is, Caitlin is starting to fall in love for real, while Adrian can never love a human. Caitlin trusts Adrian to keep her safe from his demon father, but will he be able to protect her heart?
“I scoffed. “Why would I fall in love with you? You’re just a hot, closet-nerd vampire with a bazillion dollars and a Harley. There’s absolutely nothing attractive about you."
I want to start this review by saying that this was a highly entertaining, mindless read. I flew through this book without any difficulty. That being said this book is not for everyone. I'm one of those people who every once and awhile needs a mindless read after I've finished one of my fantasy books with an incredibly detailed world and characters. This was just the book for me. I was able to pick this up and read it almost straight through.

Now is this an amazing book? No. It is not even close, however it was entertaining. Let me start off by saying that the vampire myths in this were strange. In this world, vampires are half-human, half-demon. I did not really get why these vampires were created and what purpose they served the demons (it seems as if only certain children are raised by their demon fathers). That being said, in Velvet, Adrian is a vampire who must protect Caitlin from his father.

Talk about cliches, and you have this book. Of course it is illegal for vampires and humans to be together and I'm sure you can guess what happens between Caitlin and Adrian. While this was beyond cliche, it did not cause me to dislike the book. While reading this I also had so many instances where I was comparing this book to both Twilight and the Vampire Academy. There were so many similarities between the three. Along these lines, there were also so many cheesy ridiculous passages that had me rolling my eyes. The quote at the beginning of the review would be one such instance. These passages were shoved in your face and had me cringing at some points.

Velvet is the first in a trilogy and while the plot did progress, this book was definitely about Adrian and Caitlin and had little to do with what they were going to do about Adrian's father or why Caitlin was special. I may or may not pick up the next in the trilogy, but I'm not eager to.

My rating for this book is solely because while it was an entertaining, mindless book, it reminded be too much of other vampire series and it was way too cheesy and cliche. That being said it was an excellent book in terms of mindless reading.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

How do you feel about vampire books post-Twilight craze? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Review: Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houck

Title: Tiger's Curse
Author: Colleen Houck
Publication Date:  January 11th, 2011
Publisher: Sterling
Source: Bought it
Where to find: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository
Summary: Passion. Fate. Loyalty.

Would you risk it all to change your destiny?

The last thing Kelsey Hayes thought she’d be doing this summer was trying to break a 300-year-old Indian curse. With a mysterious white tiger named Ren. Halfway around the world. But that’s exactly what happened. Face-to-face with dark forces, spellbinding magic, and mystical worlds where nothing is what it seems, Kelsey risks everything to piece together an ancient prophecy that could break the curse forever.

Tiger’s Curse is the exciting first volume in an epic fantasy-romance that will leave you breathless and yearning for more.
He seemed very pleased with himself for surviving a near-death experience. I could practically hear him chanting to himself: I overcame. I conquered. I’m a man etc etc.”
This book was utterly fantastic. Between the lore, the myths, the world, and the characters, there were so many different facets to this amazing story. I went into this book not having heard anyone else really comment on the series and I had no expectations whatsoever, but let me just say I was blown away by this book. The detail and the writing were amazing and while there was a lot of information to divulge, it was an easy read.

The book also moved at a very comfortable pace with progress constantly being made in the quest to undo the curse on Ren and Kishan. From the little bit we saw of Kishan, I think he is a fascinating character and I cannot wait to learn more about him. However, I do not like that this book set up what I assume is a love triangle between Kelsey and the two brothers. And that set up is the reason I docked half a star. I'm tired of love triangles and I was really hoping this series did not have one, but it looks like there will be. However, hopefully I'm wrong and it will just be a strong friendship between Kelsey and Kishan.

As the first in the series, this book did an excellent job of introducing the adventure and giving us the back-story on the events surrounding the curse. While we did get a lot of information, we were also kept in the dark a lot too, which I actually appreciated. We know the "villain" who enacted the curse is still alive, however we do not know anything about what his current motivations and actions are. I'm sure the next book is going to have a lot more to do with him as the gang gets closer and closer to breaking the curse.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments if you've read the book!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Review: The Isle of the Lost by Melissa de la Cruz

Title: The Isle of the Lost
Author: Melissa de la Cruz
Publication Date: May 5th, 2015  
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Source: Borrowed from a friend
Where to find: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository
Summary: Twenty years ago, all the evil villains were banished from the kingdom of Auradon and made to live in virtual imprisonment on the Isle of the Lost. The island is surrounded by a magical force field that keeps the villains and their descendants safely locked up and away from the mainland. Life on the island is dark and dreary. It is a dirty, decrepit place that's been left to rot and forgotten by the world.

But hidden in the mysterious Forbidden Fortress is a dragon's eye: the key to true darkness and the villains' only hope of escape. Only the cleverest, evilest, nastiest little villain can find it...who will it be?

Maleficent, Mistress of the Dark: As the self-proclaimed ruler of the isle, Maleficent has no tolerance for anything less than pure evil. She has little time for her subjects, who have still not mastered life without magic. Her only concern is getting off the Isle of the Lost.

Mal: At sixteen, Maleficent's daughter is the most talented student at Dragon Hall, best known for her evil schemes. And when she hears about the dragon's eye, Mal thinks this could be her chance to prove herself as the cruelest of them all.

Evie: Having been castle-schooled for years, Evil Queen's daughter, Evie, doesn't know the ins and outs of Dragon Hall. But she's a quick study, especially after she falls for one too many of Mal's little tricks.

Jay: As the son of Jafar, Jay is a boy of many talents: stealing and lying to name a few. Jay and Mal have been frenemies forever and he's not about to miss out on the hunt for the dragon's eye.

Carlos: Cruella de Vil's son may not be bravest, but he's certainly clever. Carlos's inventions may be the missing piece in locating the dragon's eye and ending the banishment for good.

Mal soon learns from her mother that the dragon's eye is cursed and whoever retrieves it will be knocked into a deep sleep for a thousand years. But Mal has a plan to capture it. She'll just need a little help from her "friends." In their quest for the dragon's eye, these kids begin to realize that just because you come from an evil family tree, being good ain't so bad.
“Evie, with her beauty obsessed mother; Carlos with his screeching harpy of a parent; Jay, the happy-go-lucky thief with a quick wit and dashing smile, who could steal anything in the world except is father's heart.” - pg. 206
I was solely looking forward to reading this book because of the premise and because I wanted to read about what happens after the "happily ever after". With the movie coming soon, I wanted to read this before I watched the movie, since this is a prequel novel of sorts. Since this is a prequel novel, I was expecting an info dump of sorts and lots of back-story with very little plot. Luckily, I was pleasantly surprised to find an actual plot.

This book focuses specifically on Mal (daughter of Maleficent), Jay (son of Jafar), Evie (daughter of Evil Queen), and Carlos (son of Cruella de Vil) and their lives on the Isle of the Lost. I was also presently surprised to see that even more children of Disney characters made an appearance (but I'm not going to say who because spoilers).

For me, this book was great because of all the Disney references. There were so many instances that went back to old school Disney movies including the princess and even more modern day Disney. Just to name a few, there were references to Sleeping Beauty, Tarzan, Rapunzel, Snow White, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, the Princess and the Frog, and 101 Dalmatians. I really enjoyed picking up on all of them. I was also presently surprised that I was able to. I think many people may miss some (and I'm sure I did not catch them all). Melissa de la Cruz's attention to detail was paramount in this book and it made the book for me.

I have not given this book that amazing of a review only because it was a children's book and that was apparent in both the writing and the story. It was too "childish" for me to truly love. I did enjoy the book and look forward to the continuation in the movie, however this book was not up to my typical standards when it comes to books.

For me this book brought me back to my childhood of constantly watching Disney movies and loving every second of them. This book I think is great for a younger audience, especially kids who are a little apprehensive toward reading. I think this is a great book to get them interesting in a story. I borrowed this book from a family friend, whose 9.5 year old absolutely loved this book. I think for me, I enjoyed the references to my childhood, but it was a little too juvenile for me.

Are you looking forward to the movie? What are your thoughts on the book?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Stand-Off by Andrew Smith (Waiting on Wednesday #2)

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

It’s his last year at Pine Mountain, and Ryan Dean should be focused on his future, but instead, he’s haunted by his past. His rugby coach expects him to fill the roles once played by his lost friend, Joey, as the rugby team’s stand-off and new captain. And somehow he’s stuck rooming with twelve-year-old freshman Sam Abernathy, a cooking whiz with extreme claustrophobia and a serious crush on Annie Altman—aka Ryan Dean’s girlfriend, for now, anyway.

Equally distressing, Ryan Dean’s doodles and drawings don’t offer the relief they used to. He’s convinced N.A.T.E. (the Next Accidental Terrible Experience) is lurking around every corner—and then he runs into Joey’s younger brother Nico, who makes Ryan Dean feel paranoid that he’s avoiding him. Will Ryan Dean ever regain his sanity?

From the author of the National Book Award–nominated 100 Sideways Miles, which Kirkus Reviews called “a wickedly witty and offbeat novel,” Stand-Off is filled with hand-drawn infographics and illustrations and delivers the same spot-on teen voice and relatable narrative that legions of readers connected with in Winger.

Stand-Off will be released September 8th, 2015 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers! 

It is no secret that Winger is one of my favorite contemporary books of all time. That being said, I am beyond excited for the sequel. While Winger wrapped up nicely, I still want more of Ryan Dean and Annie and all the antics I'm sure they will get up to. Plus the cover of this book matches Winger perfectly and so do the spines!!!

What are you waiting for this Wednesday?

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Teaser Tuesday #16: Magnoia

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme where you post a quote from a book you are currently reading. It is hosted by A Daily Rhythm.
"Looping. Some days are so dark I can't see anything but a miserable fog of number after number, word after word, clouds of verbs and nouns and none of them the ones that will make time go backward."
                                             - Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

I know that is very little to tease about the story, but when I was reading this passage made me stop and think. That is why I decided to share it this week. I think it is beautifully written and shows you how amazing the writing really is in this book.

Find the book here: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository

Let me know in the comments what book you are currently reading!

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Reading Rainbow Readathon Wrap-Up

So I was semi-successful with completing the Reading Rainbow Readathon last week. And for the most part I enjoyed the books I read. I did end up only reading 5 books rather than the chosen 6. However, the book I read for yellow, I'm going to count as both orange and yellow, so I still completed the rainbow part of the challenge. I went out of town for a short trip for two days and that really hurt my reading and is the big reason I didn't even start In a Handful of Dust.

The five books I read were:
Zom-B by Darren Shan
Court of Fives by Kate Elliott
Lullaby by Amanda Hocking
Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley
Broken Hearts, Fences and Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn

This readathon yet again helped me get another five books off my ever growing TBR. My TBR currently sits at 60, which means it is holding pretty steady because I have a book buying problem. This readathon was fun to read books of all different colors and got me to pick up books I've had sitting on my shelf for awhile. 

Friday, June 19, 2015

Review: The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

Title: The Queen of the Tearling
Author: Erika Johansen
Publication Date:  July 8th, 2014
Publisher: Harper
Source: Bought it
Where to find: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository
An untested young princess must claim her throne, learn to become a queen, and combat a malevolent sorceress in an epic battle between light and darkness in this spectacular debut—the first novel in a trilogy.

Young Kelsea Raleigh was raised in hiding after the death of her mother, Queen Elyssa, far from the intrigues of the royal Keep and in the care of two devoted servants who pledged their lives to protect her. Growing up in a cottage deep in the woods, Kelsea knows little of her kingdom's haunted past . . . or that its fate will soon rest in her hands.

Long ago, Kelsea's forefathers sailed away from a decaying world to establish a new land free of modern technology. Three hundred years later, this feudal society has divided into three fearful nations who pay duties to a fourth: the powerful Mortmesne, ruled by the cunning Red Queen. Now, on Kelsea's nineteenth birthday, the tattered remnants of the Queen's Guard—loyal soldiers who protect the throne—have appeared to escort the princess on a perilous journey to the capital to ascend to her rightful place as the new Queen of the Tearling.

Though born of royal blood and in possession of the Tear sapphire, a jewel of immense power and magic, Kelsea has never felt more uncertain of her ability to rule. But the shocking evil she discovers in the heart of her realm will precipitate an act of immense daring, throwing the entire kingdom into turmoil—and unleashing the Red Queen's vengeance. A cabal of enemies with an array of deadly weapons, from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic, plots to destroy her. But Kelsea is growing in strength and stealth, her steely resolve earning her loyal allies, including the Queen's Guard, led by the enigmatic Lazarus, and the intriguing outlaw known simply as "the Fetch."

Kelsea's quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun. Riddled with mysteries, betrayals, and treacherous battles, Kelsea's journey is a trial by fire that will either forge a legend . . . or destroy her.
"Even a book can be dangerous in the wrong hands, and when that happens, you blame the hands, but you also read the book."
The summary for this book is a huge hunk of a summary, however, I think to an extent it shows what this book is. This book is so complex and intriguing with so many different facets to it. Due to the nature of this book, a long summary is necessary. However, I would give you this shortened summary: In this book you have the Tear people who have been under the brutal rule of the Reagent, and the Queen passed. In comes the rightful heir to the crown, Kelsea. Kelsea is our heroine who has  a long journey ahead of her to take her rightful place as Queen. This journey is riddled with politics, battles, and magic.

I went into this book knowing it was a slow read that had a lot to set up before it got to the quote-on-quote action. In many situations, I'm all for the slow world building, as long as it is done properly. And I have to say, Erika Johansen does an amazing job setting up this world and the characters. Very little happens plot wise in this book but we are introduced to the main villain and know what to an extent what Kelsea has to face to give her kingdom the prosperity and freedom it deserves. 

As for the characters, I have so many different thoughts about each one. They each have so many layers and reasons for their actions and choices and I loved the sheer amount of development that each character recieves. For me the character that has me most intrigued is definitely the Fetch and that is mostly due to just how little we actually know about him. We do not even really know if we can trust him. And there is definitely something special about him in Kelsea's eyes. Other than Kelsea and the Fetch, we have the members of the Queen's guard. I loved how they were slowly introduced to us and how we learned tiny details about them as Kelsea learned more. 

The one issue I had with this book was the timing of it. It is supposedly set in the future after some sort of apocalypse where William Tear left the Americas to travel to where this book takes place. This is clearly in our world since the Harry Potter books are mentioned, but I struggle with grasping the timing and how the almost medieval aspects of the book fit in with this future society. I also question where the rest of humanity is during all of this and why basic things such as medicine, doctors, and even a simple printing press are nonexistent.

As for what is to come, there are so many questions I have after reading this book. There are so many questions about the world, the Red Queen and who she really is (and who she is working with), the sapphires that seem to be magical, and especially who Kelsea's father is. I really hope we learn the answers to at least some of these questions in the Invasion of the Tearling.

Let me know your thoughts on the book if you've read it or if you plan to read it in the comments!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Review: I Was Here by Gayle Forman

Title: I Was Here
Author: Gayle Forman
Publication Date:  January 27th, 2015
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Source: Borrowed from family friend
Where to find: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository
Summary: Cody and Meg were inseparable.
Two peas in a pod.
Until . . . they weren’t anymore.

When her best friend Meg drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cody is understandably shocked and devastated. She and Meg shared everything—so how was there no warning? But when Cody travels to Meg’s college town to pack up the belongings left behind, she discovers that there’s a lot that Meg never told her. About her old roommates, the sort of people Cody never would have met in her dead-end small town in Washington. About Ben McAllister, the boy with a guitar and a sneer, who broke Meg’s heart. And about an encrypted computer file that Cody can’t open—until she does, and suddenly everything Cody thought she knew about her best friend’s death gets thrown into question.

I Was Here is Gayle Forman at her finest, a taut, emotional, and ultimately redemptive story about redefining the meaning of family and finding a way to move forward even in the face of unspeakable loss.
How can you not know that about your best friend? Even if she doesn’t tell you, how can you not know? How can you believe someone to be beautiful and amazing and just about the most magical person you’ve ever known, when it turns out she was in such pain that she had to drink poison that robbed her cells of oxygen until her heart had no choice but to stop beating? So don’t ask me about Meg. Because I don’t know s**t.” 
I find this book to be really important. It is similar to All The Rage in that it tells the story of an issue society tends to shy away from. This is the story of Cody and how Cody moves on and deals with the death of her best friend, Meg. And it isn't simply Meg's death, but Meg's suicide. This is the story of how Cody tries to piece together why Meg did this when there were no clues.

I love Gayle Forman's writing and this book was no exception to that. Gayle Forman has a way of just pulling you into this heart-wrenching story and captivating your attention as you read. While I still prefer If I Stay, this book was still an fantastic read. The characters and the story are so real.

For me, the true issue with this book was the romance, I did not care for it and would have preferred a story without it. Yes, this was Cody dealing with the loss of her best friend and she needed someone to lean on, but I'm not sure I agree with having that then turn romantic. It would have been sufficient to have them be friends rather than turn it into something more. 

After finishing this book, I'm left with this feeling of disappointment that this story is true for so many people. It is highly disappointing to me that there are people who experience what Cody went through every day. I think it is important that stories such as Cody and Meg's continue to be told and that society continues to address these issues. 

Let me know in the comments your thoughts on the book or if you plan to pick it up?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Morning Star by Pierce Brown (Waiting on Wednesday #1)

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

Red Rising thrilled readers and announced the presence of a talented new author. Golden Son totally changed the game and took the story of Darrow to the next level. Now comes the exhilarating conclusion to the Red Rising Trilogy: Morning Star.

Born a lowly Red in the mines of Mars, Darrow lost his beloved wife to the treacherous Gold overlords. Vowing to fight for the future that his wife believed in, Darrow joins a secret revolutionary group and is remade into a Gold so that he can infiltrate the ruling class and bring them down from the inside. Now, after years of hiding amongst the Golds, Darrow is finally ready to declare open revolution and throw off the chains of oppression. Nothing in Darrow’s world has been easily won, and this final fight will be the most harrowing of all.

Morning Star will be released January 12th, 2015 by Del Rey!

In terms of my most anticipated book ever, this one is extremely high on the list (Harry Potter releases and Throne of Glass releases are probably the only thing higher). I have become so invested in Darrow's world and his journey and I need to know what happens next in the conclusion to this trilogy. 

What are you waiting for this Wednesday?

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Teaser Tuesday #15: Zom-B

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme where you post a quote from a book you are currently reading. It is hosted by A Daily Rhythm.
"Fighting was rife, brother struggling with sister, wife with husband, child with parent. It made no sense. It was as if a great madness had swept through the village and struck at random."
                                                                 - Zom-B by Darren Shan

Find the book here: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository

Let me know in the comments what book you are currently reading!

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Reading Rainbow Readathon TBR

This readathon is being hosted by the Carpe Librum girls. The readathon will be taking place starting today, June 15th to June 22nd. And it is a very chill readathon where basically you choose six books where the spines make a rainbow or you choose 6 spines of the same color. I went with a rainbow, or should I say I attempted a rainbow, since my books do not perfectly match.

I tried to use books that were already on my TBR for this month along with shorter books so I can be successful. Without further ado, here are my book picks:

1. Zom-B by Darren Shan
2. In a Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnis
3. Court of Fives by Kate Elliott
4. Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn
5. Lullaby by Amanda Hocking
6. Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

Are you participating? What's your TBR for the readathon?

Friday, June 12, 2015

Review: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Title: Graceling
Author: Kristin Cashore
Publication Date:  September 7th, 2009
Publisher: Graphia
Source: Bought it
Where to find: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository
Summary: Deadly Grace

Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight--she's a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graces as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king's thug.

When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change.

She never expects to become Po's friend.

She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace--or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away...
When a monster stopped behaving like a monster, did it stop being a monster? Did it become something else?” 
Going into this book I had heard many great things about the world and the Graces, so I was really looking forwarding to reading this. Overall, I was not disappointed. The world that Kristin Cashore has built is vivid and beautiful. I loved getting introduced, at least to some extent, to all seven kingdoms in the world. 

The idea of the Graces and children developing these abilities was really intriguing to me. Especially the differing acceptances and beliefs about the Gracelings. There are so many possibilities when it comes to a Grace. I also loved that the Graces did not seem to be just one thing, they could gave them multiple advantages and abilities. 

As for the characters, I really enjoyed Katsa as a main character. While at times her blind faith in following Randa's orders really irked me, she had amazing character growth and development in this book. I loved her strength and her independence. It was refreshing to read yet another book with an extremely strong and independent female character. The cast of side characters in this book were also really great. Especially, Po and Bitterblue who we do spend the most time interacting with. I really loved that Po saw Katsa for who she truly was and worked with her as an equal rather than treating her as others in her life had. Bitterblue was another strong character. What she went through in this book would have crippled most, but she powered through it and helped Katsa in her own way.

My main issues, and I use that word lightly, with this book were related to plot and the writing. For starters, this book took a really long time to gain my interest. I definitely had to push through the first 75 or so pages until my interest was peaked. For me this was both due to my overall "meh" feeling about the writing coupled with a slow start with not much focus as to what the goal of the book was. After the slow start, the book did pick up and I was hooked on reading about Katsa and Po's journey. However, once it was clear what journey Po and Katsa would be following, I was quickly able to predict what was going to unfold for the last half of the book. This was disappointing for me since I'm not a huge fan of predictable fantasy books. Especially one with a world such as this that I really enjoyed. As for the actual writing, it was nothing special or extraordinary to me. I was really disappointed in it and the lacking feeling I was left with.

Giving this book such a high rating is probably being generous, but I did really enjoy the world and the characters. It was an enjoyable read and that is why I have given it such a high rating. However, I did wish the writing was better and the book moved at a better pace. I also do not know if I'm going to continue with the other two novels in the world because I have not heard many good things about the other two.

Let me know if you've read Graceling and if you think I should continue with Fire and Bitterblue.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Review: A Letter to My Mom

Title: A Letter to My Mom
Author: Lisa Erspamer
Publication Date:  April 7th, 2015
Publisher:Crown Archetype
Source: Copy from publisher
Where to find: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository

Summary: Including letters from Melissa Rivers, Shania Twain, will.i.am, Christy Turlington, and Kristin Chenoweth 

Just in time for Mother's Day, the next book in the A Letter to My series (after A Letter to My Dog and A Letter to My Cat) takes on mothers, with celebrities and civilians writing letters of gratitude and admiration to the women who raised them, alongside gorgeous, intimate photos.
I was not sure what to expected with this book when I got it, but I thought it would be a different book than what I typically read. And because of that I chose to read it for the #TBRTakedown readathon last week, this book was used for the challenge: a book outside my comfort zone. And I was completely right. This book is filled with heart-warming stories and memories through the letters. Each one was different but at the same time the same. It was clear regardless of the age of the writer or their gender, just how important their Mom was to their lives.

For me this was the strongest aspect of the book. Lisa Erspamer created this amazing book with such a large cast of characters. I loved how the letters written by everyday people with intermingled with letters written by people I "know" and have heard of. This really showed how everyone is the same when it comes to their Moms and what their Mom has done for them.

This was a really short read, and I'm not sure it is the best book to read cover to cover, but I do think it is a good book to pick up and read a few letters here and there.

*I received a copy of this book through BloggingForBooks in exchange for an honest review*

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Teaser Tuesday #14: Velvet

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme where you post a quote from a book you are currently reading. It is hosted by A Daily Rhythm.
“Oh my gosh, you totally have a Gryffindor scarf, don’t you? And an Elder wand and a Goblet of Fire. Tell me you have a Goblet of Fire.”
He blushed,and it was adorable. “No Goblet of Fire…I might have the wand.”                                                             - Velvet by Temple West

Find the book here: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository

Let me know in the comments what book you are currently reading!

Monday, June 8, 2015

#TBRTakedown Wrap Up

So I was successful with completing all five challenges for the #TBRTakedown Readathon last week. And for the most part I enjoyed the books I read. I did end up changing the book for the challenge: a book from your latest haul. I ended up reading The Queen of the Tearling rather than Outlander. And this was done solely based on being more busy than initially anticipated this weekend so I was not confident that I would have been able to finish Outlander in time.

The five books I read were:
Sekret by Lindsay Smith
Allegiant by Veronica Roth
Through the Zombie Glass by Gena Showalter
The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
A Letter to my Mom by Lisa Erspamer

This readathon helped me get another five books off my ever growing TBR. My TBR currently sits at 61 but I know I have more books coming in the mail because I have a book buying problem. Anyways, this was a really fun readathon to get me to read books that I would not just randomly pick up. I know there is another readathon coming up in a few weeks that focuses on a Rainbow of Books, that I will definitely be participating in. 

Friday, June 5, 2015

Review: Sekret by Lindsay Smith

Title: Sekret
Author: Lindsay Smith
Publication Date:  April 1st, 2014
Publisher: Roaring Book Press
Source: Won in Giveaway
Where to find: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository
Summary: An empty mind is a safe mind.

Yulia knows she must hide her thoughts and control her emotions to survive in Communist Russia. But if she sometimes manipulates the black market traders by reading their thoughts when she touches their skin, so what? Anything to help her survive.

Russia's powerful spy agency, the KGB, is recruiting young people with mind-reading capabilities for their psychic espionage program. Their mission: protect the Soviet space program from American CIA spies. Why shouldn't the KGB use any means necessary to make the young psychic cooperate? Anything to beat the American capitalist scum to the moon.

Yulia is a survivor. She won't be controlled by the KGB, who want to harness her abilities for the State with no regard for her own hopes and dreams. She won't let handsome Sergei plan her life as a member of elite Soviet society, or allow brooding Valentin to consume her with his dangerous mind and even more dangerous ideas. And she certainly won't become the next victim of the powerful American spy who can scrub a brain raw—and seems to be targeting Yulia.
“We are a well-rounded team. Just as in hockey, we cannot all play the same position- we need goalies, defenders, scorers. We must practice as a team and learn to trust one another's movements. If Sergei has the puck to pass, then he has to trust that Mikhail will be there to pick it up.” - pg.47
Book 1 for #TBRTakedown. This was so good! I loved the plots and the characters. Now I need to get my hands on Skandal. This book was historical fiction which I am typically not the biggest fan of, but this book was so well done. The main character Yulia, is psychic and can see people's memories through touch. The KGB (equivalent of the CIA in Russia) is gathering up children such as Yulia for their own secret group of psychic children.

From the start of this book I was pulled into the world of espionage, spies, and kids with psychic abilities. Lindsay Smith has crafted an amazing world in the 1960s with the events of the Cold War. While this is clearly fiction, there were so many elements that seemed so real to me. Smith clearly did her research on Russian and that time period for this series.

The plot of this series is incredibly deep and while I have no clue where things are headed, I'm perfectly okay with that. I loved not knowing where things were going and what to expect. I did figure out the one big reveal early but I was not overly disappointed in that. I think there were clues there to help you come to that prediction on your own.

As for the characters, I absolutely loved the group of misfit, psychic children. While I absolutely hated Misha and Masha, they were still their own unique characters that had a role to play. As for Sergei, on a purely personal note, I loved the hockey knowledge and obsession he had. As an avid hockey fan who knows how important that sport is in Russia, I loved the tribute to the sport through Sergei. Larissa was also an important character for Yulia's development and an ally. I also loved Yulia and Valentin and the course of their friendship. It was definitely not thrown in your face like other books. There were also Ivan but he was not very prominent in the book.

Overall, this was a fascinating read and a great start to what I assume is a fantastic series. I have high hopes that Skandal will live up to this book and I will enjoy it just as must and the story unravels further. There are a lot of loose ends to tie up and I cannot wait to see how that is accomplished.

Let me know your thoughts on the book if you've read it or if you plan to!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Review: Wool by Hugh Howey

Title: Wool
Author: Hugh Howey
Publication Date: January 1st, 2013  
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Source: Bought it.
Where to find: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository
Summary: For suspense-filled, post- apocalyptic thrillers, Wool is more than a self-published eBook phenomenon; it's the new standard in classic science fiction.

In a ruined and toxic future, a community exists in a giant silo underground, hundreds of stories deep. There, men and women live in a society full of regulations they believe are meant to protect them. Sheriff Holston, who has unwaveringly upheld the silo's rules for years, unexpectedly breaks the greatest taboo of all: He asks to go outside.

His fateful decision unleashes a drastic series of events. An unlikely candidate is appointed to replace him: Juliette, a mechanic with no training in law, whose special knack is fixing machines. Now Juliette is about to be entrusted with fixing her silo, and she will soon learn just how badly her world is broken. The silo is about to confront what its history has only hinted about and its inhabitants have never dared to whisper. Uprising.
“It turned out that some crooked things looked even worse when straightened. Some tangled knots only made sense once unraveled.” 
The world, the characters, the writing, it was all so amazing in this book. I had no idea what to expect going into this book. I had heard a lot of good things about it from people, but went in fairly blind especially with respect to the plot and what it was really about. I basically knew it was a science fiction novel.

And I was so blown away by this book. It was fantastically written with such real, human characters. I really felt everything they were going through and really cared what happened to them. There were so many layers to what was going on with them and how they were coping with finding out everything about their world.

This book unfolds in a very unique way. You are basically placed at a certain point in time with no background and see the events unfold with some flashbacks, but mostly simply following along. I would say the main character is Juliette, because we do follow her the most, but we also follow the events though other characters too, which I loved.

The last thing I want to comment on is the world. I was so fascinated by this idea of 150 story Silos housing people. This whole idea of having to walk up and down stairs to get anywhere was so intriguing. It also raised the question of why there were not elevators! But I think control is the answer. Going back to the Silos, I loved the disparity that they created. It was fascinating to see how where you lived in the Silo affected your station in life and also your career. The culture was designed in this really weird way that was highly unique.

Overall, this was a great read and I’m really glad I took the time to read it. It is 5 “stories” in one but I think reading all five together is important. However the first few stories were not as gripping and action heavy as the last two. And I think some aspects of the last two could be cut to make the book shorter because some plot points did seem to drag on. I also was disappointed with the ending. I feel like there are still a lot of questions that need answering. I know their is a sequel of sorts, but I'm not sure how much of a direct sequel it actually is. I would recommend this book to people who enjoy a unique science fiction world and for people who do no mind longer books that can drag in places.

Let me know in the comments your thoughts if you've read Wool or if you are planning to read it!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Review: The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker

Title: The Witch Hunter
Author: Virginia Boecker
Publication Date:  June 2nd, 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Source: eARC via NetGalley
Where to find: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository
Summary: The magic and suspense of Graceling meet the political intrigue and unrest of Game of Thrones in this riveting fantasy debut.

Your greatest enemy isn't what you fight, but what you fear.

Elizabeth Grey is one of the king's best witch hunters, devoted to rooting out witchcraft and doling out justice. But when she's accused of being a witch herself, Elizabeth is arrested and sentenced to burn at the stake.

Salvation comes from a man she thought was her enemy. Nicholas Perevil, the most powerful and dangerous wizard in the kingdom, offers her a deal: he will save her from execution if she can break the deadly curse that's been laid upon him.

But Nicholas and his followers know nothing of Elizabeth's witch hunting past--if they find out, the stake will be the least of her worries. And as she's thrust into the magical world of witches, ghosts, pirates, and one all-too-handsome healer, Elizabeth is forced to redefine her ideas of right and wrong, of friends and enemies, and of love and hate.

Virginia Boecker weaves a riveting tale of magic, betrayal, and sacrifice in this unforgettable fantasy debut.
“It's an alchemical glyph; a series of symbols, each with its own meaning. The sun for illumination: a dawn of new existence. A square representing the physical world. The triangle a simple for fire: a catalyst for change. The snake- an Ouroboros- for unity.”
This was a fascinating debut novel by Virginia Boecker. This book has magic, deception, plots, and political intrigue. I loved the world and the characters. I was fascinated by the story and loved finding out all the aspects of the plot as they unfolded.

This is one of those stories where magic is illegal and those with magic are against the King and his Inquisitor. I found this aspect of the story great, especially the idea of the Witch Hunters. The witch hunters are trained by Blackwell to capture and bring in those practicing magic so they are burned at the stake. On the other side of this you have the Reformers, who are against the laws forbidding magic.

The characters in this book were extremely well-developed, even the minor characters. As for the main character, Elizabeth, I loved how she was this cute, seemingly innocent girl, who was actually extremely brave, strong, and not at all innocent. I loved this characterization where she was always proving everyone wrong and taking care of things herself. I also loved the quirkiness of Nicholas and a lot of the other Reformers.

One of the things I really loved about this book, was the fact that the romance was not a large aspect at all. Yes it was there but not throw in our face like many other books and that was refreshing. This book definitely focused on the adventure for Elizabeth and her journey toward helping the Reformers and eventually deciding which side she stood with. The side that taught her everything she knows or the side that saved her when she needed saving.

I really enjoyed this book and I’m looking forward to the next one. This book felt very complete at the end, but there are still many loose end that need to be tied up in future books. My only complaint with the book was that it is supposedly  an alternate 16th Century England, but to me felt like it could have been present time. There was little world-building to indicate a past time period. There were many mannerisms and saying that felt much more present day then 16th Century. While this irked me, I still really enjoyed the book as a whole. I just would have preferred a more 16th Century feel.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

Let me know in the comments what your thoughts are if you've read the book or if you plan to read it!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

June New Releases

These are the new releases that I'm most looking forward to in June! There are fewer books this month than normal. But I still have 4 to share.

Title: Between the Notes
Author: Sharon Huss Roat
Publication Date: June 16th, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
About: This is probably my most anticipated book of the month. It is also the only one that I currently have preordered. This book is a contemporary which is rare for me to be anticipating, but this book sounds like an incredible coming of age story. This is also a debut novel so I'm looking forward to reading a book from yet another new author.
Where to Find: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository

Title: A Book of Spirit and Thieves
Author: Morgan Rhodes
Publication Date: June 23rd, 2015
Publisher: Razorbill
About: I love the Falling Kingdoms Series and am eagerly anticipating Frozen Tides. This book however is a prequel/spin-off series following a new cast of characters. I'm really looking forward to seeing more of the world and meeting even more amazing characters in this first installment.
Where to Find: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository

Title: The Devil You Know
: Trish Doller
Date: June 2nd, 2015
: Bloomsbury Childrens USA
About: This is another contemporary book, but it is an adventure book that sounds like it is going to be a thrilling read. It sounds like it is all about a mystery that happens on this road trip. While it sounds like it may have a love triangle, which are not really my favorite thing, the mystery and thriller aspect appeal to me.
to Find: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository


Title: Joyride
Author: Anna Banks
Publication Date: June 2nd, 2015
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
About: I do not know much about this book except it is another contemporary. However, this one is by Anna Banks. I loved the Syrena Legacy Trilogy, especially the writing and the characters. So I think I will also enjoy this. I also know this book deals with doing what you want rather than what others expect of you.
Where to Find: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository

Did I forget any books that you are looking forward to? Let me know in the comments!

Monday, June 1, 2015

May 2015 Wrap-Up/June 2015 TBR

This was a weird month reading wise for me since it was end of the semester with finals and also graduation and moving back home for me. And then we went on vacation for over a week, so my reading schedule was wonky, but I did manage to read 16 books. That being said, I also had a fantastic month in terms of enjoyable books. There were really only 3 that were disappointing. As always links to my reviews if I have one!

  1. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (5 Crowns)
  2. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas (5 Crowns)
  3. The Heir by Kiera Cass (3 Crowns)
  4. Hollow City by Ransom Riggs (4 Crowns)
  5. All the Rage by Courtney Summers (5 Crowns)
  6. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir (5 Crowns)
  7. The Clouded Sky by Megan Crewe (3.5 Crowns)
  8. Dispatches from the Edge by Anderson Cooper (4 Crowns)
  9. Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen (4 Crowns)
  10. NOS4A2 by Joe Hill (4 Crowns)
  11. Lady Thief by A. C. Gaughen (4 Crowns)
  12. Unhinged by A. G. Howard (5 Crowns)
  13. Betrayed by P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast (3 Crowns)
  14. The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker (4 Crowns)
  15. Wool by Hugh Howey (4 Crowns)
  16. Graceling by Kristin Cashore (3.5 Crowns)
#0by16 is still going decently. I only read 2 ebooks this month, however I acquired a lot of new books. My total TBR stands at 63 right now, which is only one less than last month...

Other than the 5 books I chose for #TBRTakedown, I have chosen 3 more from my TBR Jar and then some based on needing to review and what I'm feeling like reading. It is going to be a very heavy review books month.
  1. In a Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnis
  2. Zom-B by Darren Shan
  3. I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga
  4. Under the Dome by Stephen King (this is going to be the huge book to read in June, really nervous about getting through this)
  5. Ensnared by A. G. Howard (I just want to finish this trilogy so bad right now)
  6. Court of Fives by Kate Elliot (just got the ARC and need to read)
  7. Naked by Stacey Tombley (got this for review and it comes out in July)
  8. Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George (again comes out in July)
  9. A Whole New World by Liz Braswell
  10. Beastly Bones by William Ritter (I was trying to wait until closer to release- September- but I cannot wait any more)
  11. If You're Lucky by Yvonne Prinz (this is the last eARC I have on my NetGalley shelf).
If you couldn't tell, this month is definitely focused on getting all my review books completed. This is not going to help with #0by16, but it will help me be on top of review copies. I have a few more physical ARCs that I really need to get around too, but for June I'm going to focus on the eARCs.

How did you do in May? What are you planning for June? Let me know in the comments!