Saturday, February 28, 2015

Things I've Loved in February




Movies:
1. In Your Eyes: So good! So cute! Thanks to Jamie at Perpetual Page Turner for posting it on her own monthly review.

2. Baawat-e-Ishq: I don't watch a lot of Bollywood movies, so I don't know how good this is quality-wise, but I loved it! A girl who is tired of having guys ask her father for exorbitant dowrys (which are illegal anyway but still frequently required for marriages), decides to fool a suitor into believing her father and her are very rich and to give them a dowry. The plan is to blackmail them into giving them the dowry in order to drop the lawsuit, and then Gullu and her father can go to America. Of course, nothing goes according to plan.

It was really interesting watching this movie because a lot of it is in, I'm guessing, Hindi, but a lot of words are also stolen from the English language and Gullu loves speaking English too. So you definitely have to read the subtitles, but there are also parts that are understandable to English speakers.

3. A Christmas Kiss: Yes, I watched a Christmas themed movie in February. But it was so cute! It was the perfect amount of cheesy and heart-warming.  It just made me keep smiling,  and it's a little ridiculous and insta-matchy but I still really enjoyed it.

**And yes, I accidentally posted this without finishing writing it, oops! Here's the rest...**

TV Shows:
1. How to Get Away with Murder: It came back and it's already done for the season! I can't believe it. I'm so obsessed with this show.

2. Friends: My roommate and I have been watching this since Netflix released the seasons January 1, but I feel like this month we watched even more.

3. X-Files: Another one my roommate and I have been working through, this has been big for us this month.

4. Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries: We've been watching this via screenshare with another friend, and it's so good! But we have to match up our schedules, so that's been rough. Can't wait to finish season 2 soon!

Books:
1. Obsessed with a few illustrators that I recently found through class: Shane Evans, Cybele Young and Oliver Jeffers.

2. Finished the Hunt Records with Mastiff, which let me down hard.

3. Right in the middle of the Daughter of Smoke & Bone series by finished Days of Blood & Starlight

Other Things:

1. Grey matte nail polish! I have no idea why, but I love it.

2. Nature box: got my trial two days ago, and I've almost eaten everything in the box. So yummy!!

3. Taylor Swift and Elle King: basically been listening to these two on repeat.

I can't believe this month has already finished! My beautiful friend Melissa and her delightful boyfriend (also my friend) Steve are moving out here this week, and I could not be more excited!! I also have spring break, so maybe I'll have a chance to explore the Boston area--although it still definitely does not feel like spring yet. It seems like the weather is finally getting warmer though yay!

How was your February lovelies? Let me know in the comments!


Thursday, February 26, 2015

TBT: The Witch of Blackbird Pond


In middle school, I was a member of this reading club where we had a set of books to read as a team, and then we did like little quizzes on them against other teams. (SUPER NERD!). And now, I'm not entirely certain, but I feel pretty sure that club was where I read this book for the first time.


The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare is a Newbery award winning historical fiction novel. Orphan Kit Tyler has been moved from her home in the Caribbean to her puritan relative's home in Connecticut. 

She feels like she has nothing in common with these relatives, but she does form an attachment with an old Quaker woman and a young sailor, Nat. Of course breaking out of the mold is not without its price, and Kit learns this for herself when she is accused of witchcraft.

This is one of those books that I think about constantly. I haven't reread it in several years, but I always want to. I recommend it frequently to other.

This is a book for readers who enjoy historical fiction and strong female characters and dashing male characters.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

WCW: Leslye Walton


Another new crush. Unfortunately, this author doesn't have a backlog of books for me to read my way through.


Leslye Walton's debut novel The Strange & Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender came out in 2014. It's a Morris Award nominee, and oh boy does it deserve it. 

Walton has an MA in writing, and she also teaches middle school (brave soul!). She lives in Seattle, and I think that fondness for the Pacific Northwest definitely comes through in Ava Lavender

Walton's prose is extraordinary beautiful and lyrical. I wanted more constantly. I cannot wait for her next book to be published. 


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Where're My Leading Ladies at?


Hello Lovelies!!

Today's Top Ten Tuesday is right up my alley, but also really really hard to choose. This week is all the best heroines. And because I love the fan art options, I've linked the name to where I retrieved the image from. (Hopefully that's the creator!!)

Deryn

Liesel



Karou












Monday, February 23, 2015

Change of Pace


A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall is a delightful love story from an outside perspective.

Everyone can see that Lea and Gabe are meant for each other. In 14 different viewpoints, the reader gets to see what other people see. Why do these two keep orbiting around each other? Will they ever get together?

The concept of this book is really inventive. Seeing how two people interact through all the other people they cross paths with was interesting. As a people watcher myself, I love to wonder about other people's lives. And this book sort of fed that. At the same time, I think a lot of my favorite, heart-clenching love moments come from the personal thoughts or private interactions between two people. So while I enjoyed this a lot, I also felt like it was missing something. 

Some of the viewpoints were also a bit cheesy. Baristas, professors, classmates, and friends are all pretty normal viewpoints. But the squirrel and the bench were odd. And I love using inanimate objects as characters and seeing animal thoughts, but Hall didn't quite manage to pull them off for me every time. Squirrel was really good the first time, but the others were a little less great. 

Ultimately I really liked it. And I would definitely recommend it to people who enjoy romance. I'm excited to see what else Hall comes out with, and I would love to see this style have a few other contributors. 



Fly Away With Me


I received an advance e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Nightbird by Alice Hoffman is a delightful bit of magical realism for middle grade readers. 

Twig lives in Sidwell, MA--a town known for its pink apples and its monster. But Twig knows more about the monster than anyone else. And when someone starts framing the monster for grafitti, Twig finds herself hanging out with the new girl next door to help solve the problem.

While I know Hoffman works usually in adult fiction, I would have never guessed that this was her first foray into middle grade. She pulls it off perfectly. I was enchanted by Twig's story. There's a touch of nostalgia too it. It doesn't seem to be set in contemporary times--there're no cell phones, and basically no computers. It's not a historical novel: there are cars and sewing machines and regular phones. But Twig and the other young people don't have the electronic addiction which most kids today have. (Not that I think that's a bad thing--just stating a fact, here). 

At one point, Hoffman describes a character as "dark, like me, only not as tall". Although the cover portrays a white female, and other parts of the text indicated that Twig and her family were white, I was so much more entranced by the idea of them being black, that I just decided they were. It brings up a lot more interesting questions and concerns with the aspect of race added in. However, that's just my prerogative.

Overall, I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy realism with a touch of fantasy. It's a great summer-experience novel.

Favorite Quote: A single word can feel like a rock being thrown at you. 

Clues were funny things. Some of them were useful and some of them weren't and some came when you least expected them. 

There was so much light in the world we knew we would never be able to count it all.

  

Terrified and Paranoid


I received an advance e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Bleeding Earth by Kaitlin Ward scared me more than possibly any other book I've ever read.

Lea's just your average teenager, with a secret girlfriend and a best friend and a pretty tight-knit group of friends, when the world starts to bleed. The blood comes out of the ground, and it doesn't stop. Then hair starts to appear and then bones. And no one knows when it will stop.

I don't read many books that can be classified as horror novels. I love horror movies, but books tend not to impress me. Also there aren't many books in YA that I would consider horror books. Usually they are ghost stories or mysteries or fantasy books with a horror element. But this one, even though some people might consider a fantasy novel is more of a horror novel than I've read. 

While I was really freaked out, and I had a couple hard times waiting in the very crowded train station or reading on the very crowded trains where I thought I was going to freak out, I actually enjoyed reading this a lot. Lea's a lesbian, but the book doesn't necessarily focus on her sexuality. She has a girlfriend who she wants to see a lot, but her girlfriend isn't out yet, so they have to keep it a secret. Also the apocalypse starts and then she basically becomes a prisoner in her own house. And most people seem to find her actions whiny at this point, but she's a teenager and the world is ending. Some of her actions might seem bizarre, but most of them are understandable. 

I didn't find the ending satisfying. I think it leaves a lot open to personal interpretation and with the rest of the story, I didn't appreciate that in the way others might. 

Overall, I would recommend it to fans of horror books and those intrigued by apocalyptic scenarios.

Favorite quotes: You adapt or you don't survive.

Or maybe this is just us. This is human beings, stripped of our pretenses. This is what we are at our cores.





Gargoyles Alive


I received an advance e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Of Shadow & Stone by Michelle Muto is an interesting mix of Gargoyles and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Kate Mercer has just finished filming the last installment of an action series. She's a major star. She might have just broken up with her cheating boyfriend, but everything's fine. Except she's been having weirdly vivid dreams about a castle, and about gargoyles coming to life. Now, she's been told that its her destiny to control the gargoyles and stop them from killing. 

There were a lot of things I liked about this book. I loved that it used gargoyles. It reminded me of being seven and watching Gargoyles repeatedly on video cassette. That of course, also had the unfortunate side effect of me picturing the Gargoyles cast instead of real gargoyles.


There's also a layer to the story where Kate is chosen because its her inheritance. One person to rule the gargoyles. Which was very reminiscent of Buffy to me, even though it is actually a little bit different: blood heritage instead of magical, and the sentinel (the gargoyle guardian) can be male. I enjoyed reading this book, but there were a few parts that made it so I couldn't quite love it. 

First of all, there are a lot of subplots to the story which complicated the text unnecessarily. Muto uses the subplots to manipulate her characters, but I just found them unnecessary. She could have chosen a simpler path which would have focused on the gargoyles themselves. Also, I was disappointed by how little we saw of the gargoyles considering they are a main plot point. There were also a few moments where I actually had to note how awkward or cheesy the text was. The writing is decent, but I kind of expected this to be a first novel, not one from an established author. I also had a hard time getting a read on the level. I'd thought it was YA when I grabbed it, but it definitely verges more on the adult end. I also can't quite decide if this is intended to be a multi-book series or a standalone.

Over all, I'd recommend it to people new to fantasies or who want to check out a different type of fantastic creature. While some of the old standbys make appearances, there aren't many books which focus on gargoyles. 

Favorite Quote: Indecision may or may not be her problem, she thought.



Thursday, February 19, 2015

TBT: Leviathan


This is another one where I read it relatively recently, but just long enough ago that I didn't have my blog yet. 


Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld is a steampunk novel set during WWII. I loved it. Here's my review from Goodreads.

Scott Westerfeld manages to create an alternate history which makes sense. He fabricates a reality where gene splicing has become very common by the beginning of the 20th Century. Because of this, half of the world calls themselves Darwinists, people who live their lives surrounded by creatures made by combining gene traits. On the other half of the world are those who prefer machinery. Complex machinery has also become common place (although not to the extent of computers, more along the lines of giant, oil-based monsters in a steam punk way.)

Leviathan follows two young adults who have managed to find themselves at the center of what will become the War to End all Wars. World War 1 wasn't averted by the changes in history, but it was altered slightly. The Archduke now has a son who was left alive by simply not going with his mother and father. Aleksander is one of the main characters. The other is Dylan or Derryn as is her real name, but she pretends to be a boy to get into the Aeronautical Navy of Britain. 

I look forward to reading the rest of the series.

And I did read the sequel (Behemoth), although I apparently never wrote a Goodreads review of it. But I never finished the series. So here's another one where I'll have to reread the first couple to finish off the series.

I rated it...



Wednesday, February 18, 2015

WCW: Elizabeth Wein


This week's wcw features a baby crush. A blooming crush. A I need to read the rest of your books immediately crush.



Elizabeth Wein is the semi-recently newly published author of several YA historical fiction books, as well as many short stories. 

Her first series is the Arthurian Sequence which is a retelling of the Arthur legends. Her newest books while not a series, have a main connecting theme. 

Code Name Verity was the first historical fiction novel I'd read in a while and it was fantastic. It's been awarded several major honors. There's a sequel of sorts out: Rose Under Fire. And a third Black Dove, White Raven coming out in March. 

Wein currently lives in Scotland, although she lived in numerous places when she was younger. 

I would recommend her books to fans of historical fiction or people who enjoy strong female characters in any genre.  

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

#bookloverproblems



Hello Lovelies!

Today's Top Ten Tuesday (as always brought to you by The Broke and the Bookish) looks at the problems of loving books.  So here are my top ten book related problems.

1. Space!! I have four tubs of books at my parents house, just chillin. And I have eight boxes of books which my mom is supposed to be shipping to me, but six months later, it still hasn't happened. But I only have one small book shelf anyway, so I don't know where I would put them!

2. Physical copies vs. E-books. I love phsyical books. Like more than anything else in the entire world, I love books. But ebooks have the benefit of being immediately accessible and not taking up any space. So I love renting them from the library, but I kind of hate paying for them myself. Like if I'm going to spend money on something, I kind of want to be able to hold it in my own two hands. But if you get a book and then decide later you don't need or want a copy, they can be really hard to get rid of. Sometimes you can sell them to used books stores for a quarter (or less!) of what you payed for them, or you have to donate them somewhere. Libraries might not want them, schools might not want them, goodwill stores might not want them. Sometimes it gets tricky.

3. Falling completely in love with a fictional character. Like yes, I know they aren't real, but my heart sure feels like they are.

4. Reaching the end of a series. You fall so far into the world and love it so much, and then you finish the stories available. And yes, you can go back and reread, but there's no new material. It's hard to reach that point.

5. Getting ARCs. Don't get me wrong! I love love love being given the opportunity to read a book early. And I only request books that I have a sincere interest in reading. But sometimes when I get them, I'm in the middle of another book, so I have to finish that. And then I need to read for school. And then I just have to read another book for my book club. Or whatever. And then suddenly it's been forever, and I still haven't read the ARC! Personal guilt trip zone. I hate reaching that point. Although alternatively...

6. Not getting ARCs. You see a book that you've been waiting for ages and ages to be released. The next book by your favorite author. Or the next book in an amazing series. Or a debut that just sounds so much like a "you" book, and you request it, and you're *gasp* denied! It's so hard to be like, it's not about me, they only have so many copies, you can read it eventually. I usually want to accuse all the people who got it of being unworthy and not being capable of reading it on time, and all sorts of other stupid stuff in my head. I just have to remind myself that they love books too, and just because I don't get to read it early, doesn't mean I won't get to read it.

7. Money. No one wants to have to say this, but funds get tricky when you love books and also have to live (especially when you're in college of any level or working a minimum wage job). There are so many authors I want to support, but also so many new authors I want to try, and I definitely cannot afford all the books I would like to buy. So it's a constant question of do I buy this book or that book? Do I use my library or do I invest? I try to make it all work out, but sometimes it hurts my heart to have to say, I can't buy this book right now.

8. What to read next??? I always have like a dozen series in progress, and a stack of TBRs waiting to BR, but it's always a little tricky to decide on what I should read next. Sometimes I'll start a book, and be like, I know I'm going to like this, but I'm not liking it right now. And I'll have to set it down and come back to it.

9. Who to talk to?? I basically started this blog because I didn't have enough people to talk to about books I loved. Sometimes, you read a book, and you tell everyone you know in real life about it, but nobody has read it or will read it. So you just have to find another outlet for book loving.

10. Papercuts! This seems totally silly, but I can't count how many times I've accidentally given myself a papercut when I'm reading. I get too into the story and start reading too fast and blam! Papercut. #bookloverproblems

What about you lovelies? What problems do you encounter with books? Let me know in the comments!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Fairest of them all



Marissa Meyer's Fairest shows the back story to Queen Levana (otherwise known as the equivalent of Snow White's Evil Queen). Maybe that's why it failed to thrill me.

Levana is fifteen when the book opens. Her parents have been assassinated and her ruthless sister is about to be crowned Queen. Levana knows that her sister will make a terrible ruler. Levana wants to rule her people, she wants to marry a member of the guard with whom she's infatuated, and she wants to be beautiful. 

In some ways Levana sounds like the epitome of the teenage girl. She wants to be in love, she wants to be beautiful, and she wants to be in charge. But I just couldn't get behind the story line because in order to do these things, she becomes progressively more evil. To some extent, I'm hoping that was Meyer's intentions. I don't think she wrote this back story to make Levana an endearing character, but I am a little worried that readers might take it that way. 

Part of my discontent with the story line actually comes from the people's powers. I usually love magic based anything, but this takes it a little too far. Levana constantly holds herself under glamour. She's very good at it. However, she uses other people's faces as a blueprint for her glamours. Which means she can take on the appearance of anyone. And she uses this to her advantage in so-called "wooing" the guard. She also uses mind-control. To me, this equates to nothing less than rape and emotional abuse. To my mind, this just cements Levana as a villain. It makes me desperately hope for her demise in Winter. I'm a little worried that in giving us Levana's back story, Meyer is preparing us for a different outcome in Winter--a hero saving the villain story line. Which I firmly, do not want. 

Meyer's writing is wonderful as usual. I found myself completely entranced, even when I was disgusted by what was happening on the page, the writing kept me glued to it. If this was the first thing I'd read by her, I might not have kept going. But knowing the rest of the story, knowing about Cinder and Winter and Kai and Scarlet, I was able to think of the future as Levana's demise. 

I don't think this is necessary to read to enjoy the rest of The Lunar Chronicles, but for those who have loved the other books and want to know more about the universe, I would recommend this book to them.