Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Never Ending TBR

Hello Lovelies!! Today's Top Ten Tuesday (as per usual, brought to you by The Broke and The Bookish) features an easy topic for me.

This week's topic is Ten Most Recent Books Added to Your TBR. So without further ado...

AND The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski (which does not yet have a cover)

If anyone is interested, I pulled these titles from my Goodreads Wish List, although I skipped a few which I've technically read, but still want to own copies of. 

So there are the ten most recently added books to my TBR. What are yours lovelies? Leave me a note in the comments! I love to know what other people are reading!!

Monday, March 30, 2015

I'm Mostly Just Confused

The Wrenchies by Farel Dalrymple mostly just left me feeling confused.

I'm honestly so ambiguous about this book because I feel like I have no idea what happened. I needed to read a graphic novel for the Popsugar challenge, and I'm always up to reading new and interesting graphic novels. I had seen The Wrenchies on Amazon and thought it sounded really cool, so when I saw it at my library, I picked it up. Instead of a super cool, superhero-eque storyline, I found a mish-mash time-travel pseudo-plot with largely one-dimensional characters and no explanations. 

It seems like Dalrymple spent so much time on the idea of the world and the creatures which embody the antagonist that he left no room for who or why. I didn't necessarily hate it. I just feel nothing for it at all. The art style is pretty cool, occasionally more graphic than I would prefer, but that's just me. I also really like certain spreads, like this one: 

I just wanted something more from it. I usually love First Second publications, so I was bummed that this one didn't become a new favorite. Maybe others would really enjoy it, but it wasn't for me.

Recommended for people who enjoy ambiguity in explanations, dark futures, and somewhat stock characters.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Countrymen without a Home

Finnikin of the Rock is Melina Marchetta's brilliant fantasy epic about a people who have lost their kin and their country. 

Finnikin pledged his life to protect his friends, heirs to the kingdom, and his country, Lumatere. When the Royal family is murdered, and his country is thrown into chaos, 8-year-old Finnikin is sent out of the country with  the King's First Man. Finnikin has spent the last decade and change learning the languages of the land and trying to account for the exiled people of Lumatere. Now there's a rumor that Finnkin's lost best friend is alive and ready to bring the exiles back to their magically hidden kingdom.

This book starts so light, but it immediately turns rather dark. I kept waiting for the book to return to its lighthearted beginning, but it really doesn't which makes sense. Once you have experienced the horrors of war which the Lumaterans experience, there really is no return to lightness. It's only about finding new joy alongside living with the reminders of a nightmare. I didn't expect some of the twists and turns to the plot. I'm not sure if I missed some of the clues left behind, or if Marchetta actually does just pop some of the surprises out of nowhere. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this. I would recommend it to fans of fantasy novels with solidly built settings.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Two Lives Entwined

Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor is a fantastic finish to the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy. 

Lovelies, I loved every single thing about this series. It had me anxiously on the edge of my seat. It made me laugh. It made me cry. It made me rage against the antagonists. Taylor did a phenomenal job writing this series. Every character, while not always likable, is absolutely realistic. They all have their strengths and flaws. Even characters that were not introduced until the book ratcheted to the top of my faves list.

This book follows Akiva and Karou as they try to stop the evil machinations of Jael, current emperor of the Seraphim. Of course, there are barriers around every turn, and new problems pop up as soon as they conquer old ones.

I really cannot say enough about this series. I'm livid that I waited so incredibly long to read it. If you haven't read it yet, lovelies, get to it. I also need to track down Laini Taylor's other books now.

I would recommend this to people who can endure high anxiety books and those who love reading about love. Highly recommended to fans of fantasy and sizable novels (these are THICK books).

Thursday, March 26, 2015

TBT: Lords of the Underworld

I started this series in early college, and I loved it. 

Gena Showalter's Lords of the Underworld series are fun, quick, sexy paranormal romances. I think I've read every single one of them in one sitting. 

Each book follows a different Lord of the Underworld. These men are each cursed with one of the escaped demons from Pandora's Box. They're living with the demons while attempting to find Pandora's Box and return the demons to it. 

The series is still ongoing, and I'm a few books behind. But my favorite so far is third: The Darkest Pleasure. It's not necessary to read these books in order for each main plot, however there is an overarching plot that will be hard to follow if you read them out of order.

I would recommend these books to people looking for a little bit of racy romance. The relationships so far are entirely heterosexual, just as a heads up. 

My ratings vary by book, but for the series as a whole, I'd give it...

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

WCW: Lenore Look

This author won me over with her transitional reader when I did Middle Grade March last year. I'm still not over it.

Lenore Look has created several novels for young readers: the Alvin Ho series (which is my absolute favorite!), the Ruby Lu series, and several picture books. 

Look makes school appearances regularly. She encourages young readers to pursue dream of writing and follow her process at her "glob" (or blog). She even answers questions posed to her on the Q & A page! Look also maintains contact with schools on her Twitter

Look grew up in Seattle, and now resides in New Jersey. She credits Alvin Ho with making her a Red Sox fan and gatherer of trivia about Fenway Park. Look's first book was published in 1999. Her books tend to reflect her own experience of growing up as a Chinese-American in America and draw on her experience as an American visiting China. Her characters struggle with their own identity and connecting to family. All of her characters are well-developed possessing hobbies and interests outside of the most immediate narrative. 

Check out Lenore Look's books for amusing and touching stories. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Reread Me Please!

Today's Top Ten Thursday (by The Broke and The Bookish) is all about reminiscing. These are books that I read years and years ago, and--for whatever reason--haven't reread since. Many of these may also appear on my TBT feature because they're awesome.

Here's my Top Ten Books from My Childhood that I'd Love to Revisit

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls: I loved this book. I think I read it three times during sixth grade. It made me cry every time. If you haven't read it, no matter your age, you should definitely give it a try.

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare: I read this in 7th or 8th grade and fell absolutely in love with it. Nat was probably my first book crush that I recognized as a crush. 

Feed by M.T. Anderson: I read this during the summer between 9th and 10th grade, I think? I was old enough (and the internet was old enough) that I recognized the parallels to nascent social media sites and was creeped out and awed by the experience.

The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer: I read this in 8th grade, and while I struggled with the writing a little bit, I loved the plot. I want to reread it desperately. Also, a refresher would be necessary before attempting the sequel.

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin: We read this in my 7th grade English class, and I adored it. I suggest it to everybody. It's a great mystery. 

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle: I can't remember how old I was when I read this, but I loved it. And I read the second and third, but never the fourth and fifth. It was so good and interesting. I'd love to revisit it and see if I'm still amazed by it.

The Giver by Lois Lowry: When I read this in 4th grade, I was blown away by the concept. It's the first semi-official dystopian I'd read, and now it's one of my favorite genres. I would love to reread it.

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine: Oh gosh, I read this book probably four or five times. I loved it. Everything about it was wonderful and amazing and heartbreaking. I was so disappointed when they made the movie into a kids' comedy. It's not a comedic book. It's meaningful and so good. It might have funny moments, but it's not a funny book. 

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery: I identified with Anne so much, and I have no idea why. Maybe it was because she was really the first heroine of a book who was also a reader? Anyway, I loved this book. I think I read it twice in early elementary school. And I read the sequel, but try as I might, I never could read the rest of the series.

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett: While I only read this once or twice, I was so in love with the story that for a stretch of time, I was collecting editions of this book. I wish I could approach it again without knowing the story. 

What books would you revisit, lovelies? Anything you're shocked isn't on my list? Let me know in the comments!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Guilty Ballerinas

The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma is a paranormal mystery that focuses on the qualities of friendship and the loss of every bit of normal life in prison.

I requested this for review because of the beautiful cover. (I'm a terrible cover judging person, I know.) And I thought the synopsis sounded interesting. But when I received my copy (in exchange for an honest review as always), I couldn't stop reading it. I cannot describe the first chapter of this book as anything other than compelling. The writing is stunning, and I was driven to find out what happened next. 

The dual narrative switches between Amber, a sixteen year old sent to a juvenile correction facility three years earlier, and Violet, a ballerina headed to Julliard whose best friend committed an unspeakable crime. The two voices are generally distinct from one another--at least, I never had a problem telling them apart. I preferred Amber's voice so that helped me to distinguish them too. 

It's hard to speak about this book without revealing spoilers. I just have to say that it's beautifully written and a fascinating story. I would recommend it to people who love mysteries with a touch of fantasy to them.

Favorite Quotes (from eARC and subject to change): People can't move on until the finger is pointed, and the gavel's come down. This is called closure, and it's also called justice, and they are not always the same thing.

We were not terrible people. We were not fools.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

TBT: The Young Wizards Series

This Throw-Back Thursday goes out to the series that satisfied me between Harry Potter releases. 

Graphic found through Google and attributed to abottomlessbookbag

The Young Wizards series by Diane Duane was what kept me from pulling myself apart during the spaces between Harry Potter booms (or at least from rereading HP more than I already did). It's not really a fair comparison. The books are nothing alike. Their common similarities is simply that they both deal with magic, and that's about it.

So You Want to be a Wizard is the first in the series. It finds young Nita -- hounded by bullies from school--discovering a book in the library. Set up like the typical series book "so you want to be a", this one, Nita is astonished to discover, finishes the sentence with wizard. And Nita is willing to try anything at this point. After taking the Wizard's Oath, she meets up with fellow young wizard Kit and together they must make it through their Ordeal--a battle against the Lone Power. 

While I loved the first book in this series, I also thought it got a lot better as it continued. I loved the characters, and I wanted to find out what happened to them. I actually caught up to A Wizard's Holiday and then didn't read the last two books. 

I recommend this series constantly. Everyone who enjoys magical fantasy should give this one a try.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

WCW: Maggie Stiefvater

I thought I would love Shiver, but it fell a little short for me. However, I'm so glad I gave this author a second chance with The Scorpio Races. Now I can't wait to try The Raven Boys. 

Maggie Stiefvater (pronounced Steve-Otter, as she will sing to you) has published seven novels and featured in four short stories anthology. Three of her books have been optioned for films, although one option (Shiver) has lapsed. 

Stiefvater grew up in Virgina, and she lives there now with her family. She has been a wedding musician, a technical editor, a portrait artist (primarily for horses!) and a waitress. She still makes art and music along with writing. She also creates the trailers for each of her books. Basically, she can do everything. Well, maybe not everything, but she's still got a pretty cool list of accomplishments. 

I find Stiefvater's writing to be emotional and vibrant. The Scorpio Races drew me in quickly, and I felt so connected to both the world and the characters. I would love to see more of that world, whether through text or an excellent movie adaptation. In the meantime, I'm eager to try The Raven Boys which is loved by most of the book blogging world. 

Stiefvater has a middle grade book coming out co-written by Jackson Pearce called Pip Bartlett's Guide to Magical Creatures (coming out April 28th) and the fourth Raven Boys book, The Raven King is set to be released at the end of September.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Spring Means Reading These Outside

Hello Lovelies!! In preparation for the Spring that will hopefully be here soon, this week's Top Ten Tuesday (as always by the Broke and the Bookish) features the top ten books I'm trying to read this Spring. So without further ado, I hope to get these read over the next few months. Hopefully while I'm outside enjoying the sunshine.

Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo: This is the only MG of DiCamillo's which I haven't read yet. I'm actually going to use it for a school paper, so I'll definitely be reading this one within a few weeks.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore: This might be cheating a smidge because I'm technically already reading this one, but I need to finish it! I've been letting it languish for a week or so.

The Distance Between Lost and Found by Kathryn Holmes: I snagged a copy of this for free, and I was wanting to read it, so I'm going to make sure I finally get to it!

Death, Dickinson, and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia by Jenny Torres Sanchez: This has been on my TBR for forever, and my wonderful friend Melissa brought me a copy when she moved into my house!!

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz: I started this a little bit ago, but I put it on hold because my book club is reading it in a few months. I'm excited to finally read it. 

How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True by Sarah Strohmeyer: This has been on my TBR for awhile, and I'm determined to finally read it.

Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor: I just read the first two in this series, and I can't wait to see how it ends! Also I have a library copy, so this is definitely at the top of my pile.

Playlist for the Dead by Michelle Falkoff: I just snagged a free copy of this which was one of my top 2015 debuts to read, so I'm psyched to rea it.

Guy in Real Life by Steve Brezenoff: This is my book club's next book, and while I'm not like jumping out of my seat to read it, I think it looks pretty good. 

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline: This has been on my TBR for a while, and I'm sick of other people telling me how good it is!! I need to read it for myself!!

Are any of these in your Spring TBR pile? What do you have that you think I should read too? Let me know in the comments!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Not Made of Glass

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas is a stellar fantasy novel and an exciting series starter. 

Celaena was the country's top assassin. But she made a mistake, and now she's wishing for death in the brutal salt mines at Endovier. Until she's dragged out to meet the Crown Prince. Turns out the King is hosting a competition to find his next champion. Out of spite, the Prince wants to submit Celaena as his own contestant. If Celaena agrees, Prince Dorian agrees to release her after four years of being the King's Champion. Celaena can't refuse the temptation of freedom. But now she has to endure fighting thirteen other champions and the presence of Prince Dorian and the Captain of the Guard Chaol. Then something starts killing champions. 

I really enjoyed this book! I started reading it at the same time as Graceling, and I was struck by the similarities between the two (although they're really quite different). Throne of Glass (unlike Graceling) captured my attention right away. I was reading it on my Kindle during my commute, otherwise I probably would have finished it in one sitting. 

Maas does an excellent job at building character relationships. Even though the competition should have been the driving force behind the book, I was way less worried about finding out what each new task was and more interested in the characters. Maas also seems to realize her strength in that sense as she doesn't spend more time than necessary talking about the tasks but focuses on the relationships building between different characters. She's also fantastic at building up mystery in the background. I was never entirely sure who was at fault and who was simply a pawn. 

I can't wait to continue reading the series. I would recommend it to all fantasy lovers (but especially those who love strong female characters).