my thoughts in a few sentences: While at very few times in the novel I struggled wit...moreRating: Perfect Bed Partner Source: Strange Chemistry via NetGalley
my thoughts in a few sentences: While at very few times in the novel I struggled with the sporadic too-slow pacing—I’m a fast-paced plot kind of gal—I was deeply immersed in the enchanting and more-than-merely-the-pages fantasy that very much has a life of its own. Throw in two fabulous main characters—one of whom is the amusing, honest, and realistic narrator of the story—and I was hooked. Daring and dire adventures, wicked, frightening foes, and characters I became viciously protective of by the end, The Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke rapidly found its way to the top half of my favorites of the year pile!
my thoughts in a few sentences: I haven’t been this utterly taken with a novel in a ridiculously long time! I feel...moreRating: Special Shelf Source: Bought
my thoughts in a few sentences: I haven’t been this utterly taken with a novel in a ridiculously long time! I feel flushed and excited and SO READY for more. An encore is as necessary as air at this point. The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy has everything from a wholesome, action-packed plot in which these Princes Charming fight off evil witches, dragons, and sly, cunning, feared bandits, and contains characters flawed, huggable, and—this has to be said—charming that it’s impossible to be bored and miserable reading their story. I was dazzled by the fun omniscient narrator, the unique concepts in the plot, the villains and the good guys, and especially the illustrations—I’d never thought pictures so vital before now. I absolutely recommend The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy for peeps of all ages, and that you not just pick it up for younger relatives and friends but for yourself as well!
Review: Ah, The Lost Prince *sigh*. I had such high hopes for this book. Because it’s Julie Kagawa, The Lost Prince was still a good read. However, I...moreReview: Ah, The Lost Prince *sigh*. I had such high hopes for this book. Because it’s Julie Kagawa, The Lost Prince was still a good read. However, I am feeling notably disappointed with it at the moment. A fan of The Iron Fey series from the beginning—even when peeps weren’t really digging my home girl Meghan—I loved each of the books, for slightly different reasons as the series went on, but it’s just utter love and affection I feel for the whole series. That being said, it hits me hard to think that I don’t love this one, when that’s the feeling I’d grown accustomed to. And not just with The Iron Fey series. Julie Kagawa Wrote This Book and love are practically synonymous. Generally speaking. Yet, the new characters aren’t refreshing, exciting ones, and the plot overall is only mildly engaging. But that and some other negatives aside, The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa raises enough questions to bug your curiosity and brings back enough of that Iron Fey charm to make this a fairly decent read.
One of the most amazing aspects of The Iron Fey series, for me, is Meghan, but not just as a character but as the narrator as well. There was just something so down-to-earth, real and relatable, and easy to love about Meghan’s POV. And in The Iron Knight, though I wasn’t in love with Ash’s turn, I still enjoyed reading from Ash’s perspective. With Ethan in The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa I found myself struggling a bit more to lose myself in his go of things. It was a hot-and-cold relationship, as in some instances I saw the swooniness I’d been anticipating, while in others I wanted to smack some tape onto his mouth so that he would stop whining and talking down the fey every five minutes. It’s not so much that I couldn’t understand his wariness and hatred, but more I wish he would’ve contributed something new to his story. His constant irritation and loathing of them never STOPPED, like an ongoing lecture by someone with enough spark to make it interesting at first though eventually slowing things down into boredom—something like this can only go on for so long before it gets tiresome. His love interest, Mackenzie, fell flat for me as well. She is clearly designed to be a cool, spunky, Take No Crap From The Jerk kind of female character, but most of the time I found myself doing some heavy *eye-rolling* every time she interjected her two cents on Ethan or a situation. It’s nothing she does or is necessarily, but she’s just one of those random characters that annoys me for no reason other than her falling flat as a character. That flatness persists in the rest of the newcomers, though I did enjoy a few similar dynamics.
In terms of the plot, I’m a bit more enthused. Although the story line somewhat mimics the climb and antics of The Iron King, it’s thrilling, as a fan, to piece what I’ve already learned from the previous four books and try to make it fit into a completed cohesive puzzle. I’m even feeling a little blue that I didn’t read The Iron Prophecy before The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa because I wonder just how much is revealed and relates to the goings-on in this book. Even more fantastic is the return of old friends, shall we say, from the original series. The book picked up considerably, and pulled in some of the spark I love, after the arrival of Glitch and Grimalkin and Puck. I couldn’t help but grin at familiar dialogue, as well as their roles in Ethan/Kierran’s story. And I’m still waiting to see a lot more of Meghan and Ash, though I realize this isn’t their story anymore. Or not entirely.
So was I disappointed in The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa? In some ways, totes. But, sitting back and thinking on it, I’m still happy I read this book, happy to have been back with the old gang and, at points, the new one, though I missed Kagawa’s unexplainable flair this time around. I only hope that the next book will not only be better, but have me doing a dance with pom-poms for young Ethan Chase.
Most Likely to Be Enjoyed By: You’re likely to enjoy The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa on principle. Because it’s not only a Kagawa novel, but it’s also a part of The Iron Fey. I would say to refrain from letting your hopes soar, especially as far as characterization goes, because this book isn’t one of my favorites at all, but I seem to be among the minority.
Content Warning: There is a lot of fighting, with sharp objects involved, which, of course, lead to a lot of blood being spilt. A MG audience can take comfort in that it’s black. There is also some light kissing. I don’t recall any profanity, though my memory is a little dim there for some reason. I do think that this book could be appropriate for older MG, teen, YA, and so on.
Review: I’d heard of Juliet Marillier of course. Luckily for me, I began reading Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier with a fresh p...more***4.5 out of 5 stars***
Review: I’d heard of Juliet Marillier of course. Luckily for me, I began reading Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier with a fresh perspective and virtually no expectations, making it quite simple for me to love this book, though I didn’t do all the work. If you’re going to read a questing fantasy novel, read one by Juliet Marillier. Because unlike some of the more verbosely written novels out there, with excessively lush depictions that can get very tedious very quickly, Marillier’s Alban is described with just the right amount of rich prose to make the world vibrant and easy to imagine without courting tedium. And in spite of the plot being primarily focused on Neryn’s journeying on foot, I was never bored. Sharp winds and treacherous passes coupled with the creeping tension and fear of capture, as well as many rocky encounters with mischievous beings, propels the fantastic structure of the plot. So, I ask you, would you give a frak that the girl is merely walking the whole time?
Two things I’ve seen mentioned as qualms for Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier are Neryn and her relationship with Flint, her mysterious on-and-off companion along her journey. Neryn shouldn’t be written off so easily as just an eyerollably sympathetic, angelic, do-gooder. For me, Shadowfell and Neryn’s goodness are about the struggle and difficulty behind ever attempting to do the right, honest, generous thing. And, though Neryn does her best, she still has a lot to learn about people, forgiveness, trust, sacrifice, and duty, and she is gradually taught the hard way. She is more than just the mistrustful, intelligent, naïve young girl from the beginning, and slowly, continually evolves into someone who can learn to be the hero the people will need. As for the mysterious, suspicious, stoic companion Neryn finds herself reluctantly attached to, the connection she shares with Flint builds following an agonizing pace. They’re both highly distrustful, yet they find themselves timidly slipping out of their armors while not quite aware of their doing it. Flint needs salvation; Neryn needs reliability and loyalty, and with this first book alone, it’s quite evident that the two will be able to give what the other is missing with time. Their romance is the kind of quiet, steady-building tension that bursts in a subtle explosion to carry us through the wait of their next encounter, the kind of relationship that rejuvenates.
Then, there’s the atmospheric and thorough writing involved in the story. Descriptions aside, even though the harsh, possibly evil king is never physically introduced, the reach of his cruelty and terrible power permeates Neryn’s journey with tension that is almost palpable. I will say that I am slightly disappointed that this king is only an elusively fearful presence, but the power and skill Marillier wields makes itself known in the mood alone. I also appreciated the depth of her research, her inclusion of fantastical elements such as magic, sorcerory, and the Good Folk which each possess a vivid, dimensional quality that makes them seem ancient, timeless. In Shadowfell, Juliet Marillier takes simplistic, common concepts and gives them an edge, writes them in a way that makes it almost unique without reaching a groundbreaking level. This is what makes it great, as it’s comfortably familiar whilst maintaining a memorable uniqueness. It’s that that makes Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier more than just a book, but an immersive, imaginative story alive with magical vibrancy that can be seen and felt so clearly, it’s quite incredible.
Most Likely to Be Enjoyed By: This is Scottish medieval high fantasy, guys and Gaga. It’s bound for awesomeness by default. My research says, however, that if you’re a long-time Marillier fan you won’t be as likely to fall in love with Neryn as she’s not the strong-willed heroine you might be accustomed to. That being said, impressionable non-fans might have an easier time meshing with this book, and enjoying it for what is as opposed to drowning in unfulfilled expectations. If you’re into perilous quests, an evolving heroine, a slow-paced romance, and beautiful world-building, then I can’t find fault with recommending this book to all lovers of fantasy.
Content Warning: There is a brief moment of sexual harassment, but nothing overwhelming. There is some violence that eventually progresses to the visibly bloody and painful stage, as well as death.
Rating: Sud-Kissed Source: Harlequin Teen via Netgalley
my thoughts in a few sentences: I wouldn't go into The Goddess Legacy by Aime...more**More like a 3.5**
Rating: Sud-Kissed Source: Harlequin Teen via Netgalley
my thoughts in a few sentences: I wouldn't go into The Goddess Legacy by Aimee Carter expecting to come out loving the series and wanting to continue. The Goddess Legacy by Aimee Carter isn't strictly for fans, but it will be harder to appreciate and enjoy if you don't like the previous books, as it's very much character-driven. There does have to be an appreciation for the characters in order to like this installment. Because I am fond of the series, I was often fascinated by the insight into the characters through their histories. Carter did a lovely job of recreating the original myths to suit what we already know about the characters. Her imagination is memorable, and though everyone might not enjoy The Goddess Legacy by Aimee Carter for the reasons I did, I found it to be a telling and insightful installment in the series that works to satisfy anxious fans waiting for the final book.
my thoughts in a few sentences: Unbelievably, I was happily surprised by the unique fantasy presented in Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. It’s not all about magical quests and slaying beasts and saving people, necessarily, but there’s so much going on without being overwhelming. The plot is centered around an engrossing murder mystery that left me scrambling to try and fit the pieces together. And I wouldn’t have guessed the biggest twist of all as to who the villain is! The prose is beautiful, subtly woven, and Seraphina herself makes this novel well-worth the read. I’m already so invested in the romance and the war to come that I’m antsy for the sequel!
my thoughts in a few sentences:Torn may have been a lovely improvement in the series, but...moreRating: Perfect Bed Partner Source: Requested from Publicist
my thoughts in a few sentences:Torn may have been a lovely improvement in the series, but it's got nothing on Ascend. With this final installment came the realization that I was in love with this series and all it has to offer, from characters who range from cocky and vulnerable, sweet and insolent, and have grown so much, to a fascinatingly thought-out world to intense plot ties that span the entire series and hardly cease to entertain and excite. However, Ascend's biggest appeal is the all-sweetness-and-heat romance with a blinding flash of the forbidden intensifying the blushing hues of true love. Ascend is definitely my favorite in the series, an unforgettable finale—the brilliant story I was waiting for Hocking to deliver me.
Rating: Sud-Kissed Source: Requested from Publicist
my thoughts in a few sentences: Although I wasn't reduced to fangirl gushiness over Switched, Torn r...moreRating: Sud-Kissed Source: Requested from Publicist
my thoughts in a few sentences: Although I wasn't reduced to fangirl gushiness over Switched, Torn rapidly makes up for any lack I felt from its predecessor. The stakes are cranked up to a nearly unbearable volume, all but suffocating our relatable, mistake-making heroine who is doing her best to learn on her feet, hoping to pick up all the right cues and etiquette, not to mention the unyielding mentality of a princess while trying to balance her innate compassion into the equation. Wendy has the power to change things, to make a difference in this world she's only just been introduced to yet has quickly fallen for. It's her world now, and she has people to fight for. Fans of The Princess Diaries and The Iron Fey series combined will enjoy Wendy's tremulous journey into a character and ruler we can all adore.
In less words: Defiance by CJ Redwine isn’t your average dystopian fantasy story, but neither is it an extraordinarily remarkable one. Even so, that d...moreIn less words: Defiance by CJ Redwine isn’t your average dystopian fantasy story, but neither is it an extraordinarily remarkable one. Even so, that doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy yourself or find yourself entertained. In fact, quite the opposite! There’s plenty of action for explosions-and-battles-hungry readers, and there’s enough yummy chemistry between the two main characters, Logan and Rachel, for the die-hard romantic. Dystopian lovers won’t be extremely impressed but won’t scorn the heartless dictator of Baalboden and the dystopian-esque society within the walls of the city. Same with lovers of high fantasy, who won’t get more than some forest questing, odd tree people, and a disturbing fire-breathing Cursed One. However, I do believe Defiance by CJ Redwine is a nice, subtle combo of all those elements, and will fit a variety of readers’ preferences—the story just won’t be a perfectly balanced or told one to everyone who wraps themselves up in it.
In full: Rachel Adams lives in a world in which enduring fear of a dragon-like creature lurking beneath the city isn’t the only disadvantage a young woman like her has in Baalboden—a walled city ruled by a hard, heartless, cruel dictator who demands that no one woman be left unaccompanied, left without a Protector. Rachel is due for her own upon the dawning of her upcoming birthday. The problem is her father isn’t with her to make this easier—he’s been recently pronounced dead on assignment. Where does that leave her? Forced into the Protection of Logan McEntire, the last person she’d want to spend day-in an day-out with if she had any say about it. The Commander has ensured that she doesn’t—and he’s watching, her and Logan, closely, waiting for a sign of defiance, watching for an act of treachery that’s sure to happen as long as Rachel needs answers and Logan has a method of getting them.
You’ve met characters like Rachel, maybe even Logan. Rachel is the impulsive, daring, hardened “bad ass” everyone is so impressed by and admires—she’s different from other girls her age, a tom boy who has no business wielding swords and mouthing off authority, one who draws eyes with her beauty and simultaneously rebuffs interest with her standoffish manner. In a single day, she loses an essential part of her family, her childhood home, and is sent packing to live with the boy who rejected her heart’s advances a few years back. To say I can sympathize is a bold understatement. That doesn’t, however, necessarily mean I like Rachel as a person and enjoy her characterization. She’s not a perfect heroine by any means—and who wants perfect anyway? My real problem with Rachel is that she has a tendency to irritate nearly every time she opens her mouth. She doesn’t consider her brashness and think-later attitude make her irrational and prone to bouts of illogical thinking, and clearly has no conception for the major consequences of her actions. I can separate myself from that in the beginning, so long as there’s growth to look forward to. For me, Rachel’s character never changes, never learns anything vital—if anything she only burrows further in her ideals and attitude, which, to me, isn’t growth but a setback. I could appreciate her badassery in a fight, whether on her own or side-by-side with a partner, and her deep-rooted affection, concern, for those who center her. However, I wouldn’t say I felt an attachment to her.
On that note, I kind of wish that Logan’s perspective had been the only narrative throughout the novel. I found it easier, and certainly more fun and interesting, to be inside his head. I’ve seen in a lot of reviews that people don’t so much like the repetitive ‘worst case/best case scenario’ thoughts he sometimes has, but I adored him more for it. Logan, for some reason, reminded me of a young Sherlock Holmes—not as swoony as Robert Downey Jr. but just as fascinatingly brilliant as his interpretation of the character. He’s this hunky epic nerd, quick on his feet and with his mouth, and I found Rachel actually likeable through his eyes, than simply reading about her from her own. He sees her better than she, even we, sees herself, and I loved him more for it. Their romance isn’t really a hate-turn-love kind of relationship. The love was always there, it merely became muted with Rachel’s hurt and anger and the lack of respect they showed each other. Reading as that changed was a delight, and, although that aspect may be a little too swift for some, it tied in nicely with what we know of their entwined history.
If you’re strictly a character girl/boy, then you won’t have your mind blown by these two characters—they aren’t very original, but they are certainly exciting to read about. If you’re more interested in plot, I think you’ll fare a little better. Redwine gave me the pieces she’d intentionally left to my attention, yet no matter how obvious the big picture, I couldn’t quite fit them to make perfect sense. Meaning, I kind of anticipated the direction of the story, but I couldn’t hammer out the finer details so that it all became sparkling clear. Maybe you’re the type to figure out the mystery faster than most, in which case you might have a more difficult time enjoying the surprises Redwine works in. And while Redwine’s mix of medieval high fantasy questing and futuristic dystopian world-building was a pleasure to read through, I wasn’t overly impressed by the journey or the destination. It didn’t strike me as very imaginative or unique, yet, in spite realizing that, I found myself continuously engrossed. There are deaths, prison beatings, and exploding cells, assassins, fire-breathing creatures, and betrayal and treachery in the midst of it all! Not every aspect is memorable or striking, but I did find nearly every bit to be interesting, and the darkness, despair, and tragedy made it intriguing as well.
Although definitely not a favorite, I enjoyed myself immensely. And isn’t that the whole point of reading? I can honestly say I was never bored, never stopped questioning and wondering. I was entertained, but not in a 'har-har that was funny' kind of way, more of a Wow! Look at all the exploding things! way. Points for Redwine for giving us a solid ending as opposed to a Shake Your Fists cliffhanger, which would’ve been unacceptable. While I wouldn’t say Defiance by CJ Redwine ends on a happy or cheerful note—there’s a giant mess to take care of—it was satisfying and absolutely provoked my curiosity for a sequel.
Recommendations for this book had been finding me everywhere, and, since I'm a huge fantasy buff, I thought I'd take a crack at it. It quickly became...moreRecommendations for this book had been finding me everywhere, and, since I'm a huge fantasy buff, I thought I'd take a crack at it. It quickly became abundantly clear why Brightly Woven is so well-loved. I haven't been overly impressed by the fantasy books I've recently stumbled across, but Bracken spins a gorgeous tale that is magical, intense, and gripping, saturated with wizarding duels and epic rivalries, a terrorizing war, and an endearing love/hate romance that swallowed my attention from the beginning. An irresistible read, Bracken delicately, elegantly delivered me a priceless story of forgiveness, acceptance, and the importance of standing up for the right when things are disturbingly wrong, as well as wove characters that were swiftly imprinted into my heart.
A fascinating young woman, Sydelle Mirabil makes a squealing fangirl out of us by simply being herself. She is unlike what we expect--a fierce, solemn girl who loves her family deeply and will do what's necessary to protect those who matter. Her spirit and courage separates her from the flock of weak-willed/TStL leading ladies inserted in some of the more disappointing novels we've read lately and are mere shadows in comparison. And when Wayland North crops up in her small desert town under suspicious circumstances, Sydelle isn't blinded by him and willing to fall at his feet. After all, he does yank her away from her home to embark on a mysterious journey and is much too secretive for her liking. While unexplained and brand new feelings for North begin to surface, STILL she is cautious and unwilling to crumble under his demands. As for trust, that's far from an option, at least until North is inclined to be more forthcoming. Their developing relationship, strengthened by care and subtle romance, has us wanting to clear up any misunderstandings, then roll up our sleeves and knock the two together until they see what we do. Yet, the pacing of their evolving relationship is beautifully written. And their blazing sweet and hot interactions toward the final chapters are well worth the wait.
The enthralling fantasy element combined with awesome side characters (OWAIN!) added to the already swoonworthy main characters/couple snowballs Brightly Woven into something smashing and devastating and FUN. Traversing through neighboring cities, described vividly by this talented author, and experiencing the unrelenting 'race against time' feel of the plot makes us simultaneously tense and excited, with little to no time left to wonder what thrilling thing Bracken will toss in next.
I'm ecstatic to have found such a brilliant fantasy tale written by a very gifted author and will be reading whatever Alexandra Bracken decides to put together in the (hopefully near) future.
IN LESS WORDS: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas will not be a book for everyone to enjoy, though it has been devoured by the masses it seems. Not ever...moreIN LESS WORDS: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas will not be a book for everyone to enjoy, though it has been devoured by the masses it seems. Not everyone will understand and/or appreciate Celaena Sardothien’s characterization, fall in love with the wonderfully written love triangle, or feel invigorated while reading such an engrossing plot. Some will scorn this high fantasy world. However, if you’re anything like me, you will love this book for it’s slow burn, murder mystery plot, characters with sore hearts, as well as magic, unearthing old secrets, and a competition among the dirtiest, most formidable criminals out there in the land. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas is a favorite debut of the year, packed with weapon-wielding action at the hands of a hot-headed, arrogant teenage assassin, both steamy and subtle romance with two love interests (Team Chaol!), and mysterious magical interference. If you’re a lover of fantasy, I suggest you give this a whirl.
Full Review: Prisoners at Endovier, mines that are a high-security hellhole of a death camp, don’t last a handful of weeks—Celaena Sardothien lasted an entire year, and she’s still capable of laughter. Celaena is well-aware that, even as Adarlan’s most notorious assassin, malnutrition and severe punishment by the corrupt hands of the overseers—whose whips and salt-pouring over fresh wounds have left horrifying scars down her back and in more vulnerable places—would have been the death of her very soon, and this is what leads her to consider, and ultimately agree, to Prince Dorian Havillard’s bargain: should she win a cutthroat competition against the lowest of criminals to be the King’s personal champion, to do with what he wishes, she will serve him for a few years before earning her freedom. As grubby, undernourished, and wounded as she is, she has no trouble crooning her own praises, unwittingly reassuring the Prince and Rifthold’s Captain of the Royal Guard, Chaol Westfall, that she’s neither insane nor is she the most infamous of criminals for nothing.
The moans of agony amongst the clank of chains made a chorus as familiar as the dreary work songs they sang all day. The occasional solo of the whip added to the symphony of brutality Adalarn had created for its greatest criminals, poorest citizens, and latest conquests.
You’ve undoubedtly heard by now that the majority of readers of Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas are of two minds—they either enjoy Celaena’s characterization or they dislike it immensely. I’ve read it all—that she’s vain, spoiled, inconsistent, etc. For me, Celaena’s worst qualities are what make her one of the best of female main characters. She is a very complex and layered character; she’s loyal even while being concerned with self-preservation, arrogant on the surface, enjoys and utilizes her beauty, and is truly one of the loneliest and saddest characters I’ve encountered in a novel. Her family is lost to her, and all the time following their deaths, she trained as an elite assassin, made friends, trusted the wrong people, and eventually got caught in the middle of her illustrious career. She lost a precious friend along the way. And, her cruel sentencing aside, she has absolutely no love for the evil king she’s bound to serve. All for a ticket to anonymity in the countryside, a place in the world belonging to her and the sky and the treasures they hold above her. She’s unabashedly bold, mocking, tough as steel nails, and anything but humble, and, as Small Review made me realize early on*, she is like every arrogant, masked, scarred male character I’ve read—apart from her girly appreciation of glittery, silky dresses, beautiful hair, and flawless makeup—and loved. And although I don’t think they’d get along very well, she reminds me of Scarlet in A. C. Gaughen’s debut this year—another favorite, and a terribly awesome sign.
“After a year, you seem to be more or less alive. I wonder how that’s possible when the average life expectancy in these mines is a month.” “Quite a mystery, I’m sure.” She batted her eyelashes and readjusted her shackles as if they were lace gloves.
I simply adore the way Celaena goads the new men in her life—the captain and the prince. She shows them many sides, she teases and mocks them, and she falls a little bit in love with both, one more than the other, I’m desperately willing to believe. The love triangle is unlike those we loathe. You know the ones that are written for some ulterior motive or for the sake of writing one and creating angsty, predictable struggles throughout. The one in which Celaena is taken in by the dashing good looks and kindness of the Prince and unknowingly goes down the hate-to-love road with the stoic, honorable Captain happens naturally—at no point does it feel forced or contrived, and is just one aspect of Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas as it’s one aspect of Celaena’s complicated life. They neither define her nor do they consume her focus. And, as most seem to be saying, I fell unreservedly, unquestionably in love with Chaol as Celaena’s ultimate love interest. As much as I’d love him for myself, and though she has great banter and friendship with both young men, they complement each other so well. It’s like Hector vs. Paris in Troy the film—Hector has a deep sense of honor, courage, wisdom, and a kind of selflessness that Paris doesn’t, and that’s how I perceive Chaol vs. Dorian. That aside, Dorian is too young in his thinking, pampered, and knows nothing about the sort of scars both Celaena and Chaol share and understand. Chaol sees the heart of her and accepts it without needing to know all of her ghosts and torments, including what she will always be unwilling to speak of, while I find that Dorian is softened by what he’s seen and knows and is intrigued by not only her uniqueness but the shadows that weigh on her soul. As he grows, Dorian may become a more attractive love interest, but not a compatible one, not so that he’ll ever match Celaena the way I see Chaol does.
“You marry the person you love—and none other,” he said, and she laughed. “You’re mocking me! You’re laughing in my face!” “You deserve to be laughed at for such foolish thoughts! I spoke from my soul, you speak only from selfishness.”
Immersive love triangle aside, the story line is immensely well-written and hard enough to maneuver for those who quickly solve mysteries, with enough red herrings to make it fun, and not so difficult for those who might find it a bit more challenging to follow. I’ve seen this book pitched as a teen version of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice, aka Game of Thrones, series, and while I haven’t read those books yet, I have heard that the plot is incredibly intricate. I wouldn’t say, from what I’ve heard from friends and other recommenders, that it’s as crazy layered and overlapping as the plot in that series, but it’s brimming with a bunch of different fascinating problems woven together. It’s a paranormal murder mystery set in a high fantasy world, filled with talk of faeries and their descendants, evil beyond what lies in humanity, ghosts, castles made of glass, ancient, magical forests, and more that’s entirely riveting! And yet they’re all somehow linked. The plot itself ties in very nicely with what is gleaned from the small glimpses into Celaena’s past—both of the time during her assassin career and the time before that at the age of eight and younger. You have that high-stakes competition, the murder of some of the contestants, and the suspicious motives in politics for involving Celaena’s newfound friend who is a princess of neighboring country—a blunt and kick-ass secondary character. As Small perfectly describes this element of the story, “…she sleuths, and I love her for it. She utilizes both the library AND secret passageways, two things that are near and dear to my heart. And, in this case, both lead her to buried secrets from the past, which pretty much makes the whole scenario explode with win.”* Although Small and I both agree the final reveal of the villain is a bit “deflating,” I found reading it to be as much fun as she.
He nodded. “And how old are you?” “Eighteen.” But he said nothing. “I know,” she continued. “It is impressive that I accomplished so much at such an early age.”
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas is a fulfilling novel for someone who enjoys what Maas has to write about, her particular brand of storytelling, and characters that reeled me in with their woes and wounds, kindness and witty banter, and the interconnecting relationships. Maas’s characters are not necessarily ones you would relate to—except Celaena’s delirium over pretty anything, if you’re into that kind of thing like I am—and not ones you sympathize with, as they don’t ask for any sympathy or pity. More, you love them for who they are, all their highs and lows, despite all they had to endure and overcome to survive and still maintain some semblance of the person they are. Again, I’m referencing Small here*, but Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas is by no means a flawlessly written or perfect read, but, for those anything like me, it’ll be an unerringly wonderful match.
* - To read Small Review's review of Throne of Glass, click here.
my thoughts in a few sentences:Shadow and Bone is the book I couldn’t get out of my head...moreRating: Special Shelf Source: NetGalley/Requested Physical ARC
my thoughts in a few sentences:Shadow and Bone is the book I couldn’t get out of my head once it arrived on my doorstep, the one I badly wanted to read, and all others I had tried to start suffered because of this hunger for a story that was not them. Finally, I gave up reluctance and waiting and picked it up on a late evening, and my eyes were dry, sore, and brutally red, but firmly aware, by the time I looked up from the final page only to note that dawn was coming. My internal clock didn’t feel the blows until long after because the story, even after the pages relented and Bardugo’s own siren song buried in her beautiful story, which had called me back, faded, my mind was still trapped in the memory of absorbing the events on each page. I haven’t been so thoroughly captured in a long time.
In less words: Frankly, more people should be interested and begin reading this book. It’s about acceptance, forgiveness, true love, and the importanc...moreIn less words: Frankly, more people should be interested and begin reading this book. It’s about acceptance, forgiveness, true love, and the importance of doing the right thing even when fear is escalating. The Sweetest Spell by Suzanne Selfors is both lighthearted and heavy, a quest for acceptance and truth, and full of situations gone awry—both comically so and otherwise. If you’re into fairy tales and can enjoy the charming ridiculousness they entail, and have a healthy interest in happily ever afters, as well as a fairly mild curiosity about cows—pertaining to their milk-giving prowess and magical effects—then you’re sure to dig The Sweetest Spell by Suzanne Selfors.
In full: The day Emmeline Thistle was born, and was left to die, she was saved thanks to a ring of cows that were drawn into the forest and stayed to guard the infant as the predators awoke. The next day, the milkman wandered in search of his cows and walked back with baby Emmeline in his arms, returning her to the care of her parents. Her father hasn’t been able to look at her since. The townspeople haven’t treated her with a kind word or offered a helping hand since. And, ever after, Emmeline has lived with the knowledge she was born unwanted, and the reason for her abandonment is obvious to everyone when they witness her lopsided gait.
For me, the classic fairy tales—those which I’ve read or the retellings I’ve watched—contain an emotional pattern: it begins with sorrow as a result of loss or a deprivation of some kind or both, then it flip flops between happy and serious before ending with a big joyous splash that never fails to conjure smiles on the faces of the stories’ recipients. The Sweetest Spell by Suzanne Selfors follows that well-charted routed, which lends the story a comfortable familiarity as Suzanne simultaneously whips up a fairly unique story. Now, I’ve never read or heard much about The Ugly Duckling fairy tale and don’t know much except the obvious, so I’m afraid I missed out on any nods to the original story. However, that didn’t take away my enjoyment of the book. In fact, I want to say that it added a kind of freshness to my reading palette and helped me enjoy the The Sweetest Spell by Suzanne Selfors even more.
Dual narratives generally make me leery, because I find that most times one voice, when both are well-written and distinct, can overpower the other, so that you’re more inclined to be actively interested in one more than the second, which then causes you to want to half-dismiss some of the story because you’re so eager to get back to the more preferred narrator’s side of things. I didn’t find that to be a problem with Emmeline Thistle and Owen Oak, the two main characters. At times, it even felt like they almost blended into one voice, which sometimes made it difficult to discern who exactly was telling the story until some jarring detail helped me identify the current narrator. This didn’t shake me out of my focus in the story—it was fairly easy to go with a flow, kind of like when you find a ditch in the road, and instead of stumbling you simply walk around it without a hitch in your stride. Though, some, I imagine, will stumble despite the warning.
Because I had such a smooth time with the pace and the switch in perspectives, I had no trouble at all avoiding logical reasoning as the story unfolded. The world Suzanne’s built for her fairy tale reimagining has a ton of quirks and a few holes that will make the more disbelieving, skeptical sort work harder to suspend disbelief. I’m someone who’s really easily convinced, and has no trouble at all immersing myself in the most unbelievable story lines—though, that doesn’t always mean I’ll enjoy them anyway. This one I did like. I found the weirdness of the story to be very fairytale-esque and quite charming. Emmeline’s odd and mysterious connection with cows saves her life not just the one time, but twice, and her bond with them persists during the tale, cropping up in useful, even lucrative ways. And I loved how it goes on to have an important link-up with the enforced segregation between Emmeline’s people and the outside world in Anglund.
The Sweetest Spell by Suzanne Selfors reminded me a little of The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy. The story neither debunks any faulty elements in fairy tales nor does it live up to the caliber of humor in his story portrayed by the omniscient narrator and other characters. But, the quirky, fun feel and the way in which Owen’s rescue attempts to retrieve the damsel go awry vaguely reminded me of one of my favorite books of the year! An added bonus, of course. Not to mention the way in which the overall plot kind of veers off in many engrossing directions, not only due to the dual perspectives but also all that’s happening within the story and how it’s intertwined. You’ve got the politics in Anglund, the suspicious exportation of Emmeline’s fellow “dirt-scratchers” to the dreaded mineral fields, the legend of chocolate and, inadvertently, that of the two peoples residing in Auglund, and Emmeline’s mysterious involvement in all of it.
Emmeline as a character is a deeply vulnerable one which she wards off with her strength, steadiness, smarts, and light sarcasm. The loneliness and the shame and embarrassment that go hand in hand with her deformity are almost unbearably sad, and I was brought uncomfortably near to full-on crying because I was so genuinely affected by the unfortunateness of her life. And as I grew to like her, and appreciate her more for her admirable qualities, that sadness just deepened. Her loyalty, hard work, and gentleness finally pay off when it paves her a way into the Oak family’s hearts—the mother still bearing unused love as a result of the loss of her daughter and eldest child, the solemn father who is a good, honorable, understanding man, and the son reluctant to fall in love for fear of losing his independence, of having his nature tamed, who enjoys a good barefist fight and sampling milkmaids too much.
None of the characters are one-dimensional—including the many villain-ish ones—and I appreciated that. However, the main highlight of The Sweetest Spell by Suzanne Selfors is definitely the romance. Although it happens somewhat quickly, it still retains a sense of believability, and any doubt you might have is quickly shooed away by the sweetness you don’t want to question. Because it’s so happy, and Emmeline is in desperate need of happiness and the chance to experience love and to be loved by someone else. It’s soft and subtle, and though he refuses to admit he’s falling quickly, you’re rooting for Owen the whole way. I was their own personal cheering gallery within the confines of my cave bedroom, and couldn’t quite contain my shout of joy when all the doubts and missteps are shoved aside for a happy, satisfying ending.
I don’t know what it is about this week, and my reading about sad and even sadder characters, but I’m too pleased to express in mere words my general sense of bliss after finishing this book. Which is what I think fairy tales should ultimately accomplish—it should gift you with a pleasant feeling to retain and fortify your belief in happily ever after. The Sweetest Spell by Suzanne Selfors is a questing fantasy, a half-lighthearted half-sober story, that, while it won’t be perfect for everyone, quenched my thirst for cheer and turned out to be more enjoyable than Selfors's MAD LOVE from last year.
I think it's important to begin by saying that I'm deeply in love with Richelle Mead. She is the woman who created one of m...more"Sunshine" by Richelle Mead
I think it's important to begin by saying that I'm deeply in love with Richelle Mead. She is the woman who created one of my utmost favorite vampire series (Vampire Academy). So, of course, when I realized what her short story was going to be about, I *squeed* with unprecedented excitement and total fangirlish delight! "Sunshine" is the love story of Eric Dragomir and Rhea Daniels, Vasilissa or Lissa's parents. And even though they are a presence in the VA series, they aren't major characters. Reading their love story was like crack-candy to a crazed Under The Age of Twelve-year-old. It made Lissa's loss that much more pungent and poignant to remember. Still, the story is sweet and heartwarming, full of sexy thrills and a touch of danger. "Sunshine" is just another reason to love Richelle Mead!
"Bring Me to Life" by Alyson Noel
I'm not entirely positive, but I may be destined to dislike anything written by Alyson Noel. While "Bring Me to Life" is a well-written story, I couldn't mesh with it. The story just felt so familiar, wasn't something new to add to the table, which made it a let-down following Mead's glorious work. There are no striking characteristics about the MC or the romantic lead (well, other than the fact that's he hot). It seemed as if she tried too hard to put a unique twist on a classic vampire story. "Bring Me to Life" is a decent take, but I wasn't moved by it.
"Above" by Kristin Cast
I would love to hate Kristin Cast for writing this story. But despite the bittersweet closing, I just can't drum up hatred toward her. The truth is, the writing style was so new to me and I was purely amazed by her words and the way she strung them together. I'd honestly never read anything like it! The story itself, I learned, is breathtakingly beautiful and so heartwarming, even as it sets the reader up for a wrenching curtain-close. Out of all the stories in this book, "Above" is the one I remember with the most clarity. Even if all the other stories sucked, I'd buy this book just for this particular mini tale. Probably my favorite in the whole thing.
"Hunting Kat" by Kelley Armstrong
So I just very recently discovered the awesomesauceness that is Kelley Armstrong. I'd been hearing up and down the blogosphere about how incredible her Darkest Powers trilogy is for some time now. I'm happy to report, that I'm now among those bloggers who can't stop squealing or sighing dreamily whenever contact is made with anyone of the books or mentions of the characters. DEREK. So, of course, I was eager to read more of the same variety from this magnificent author. And I would love to know, is Kat part of her new series? If someone could answer me this, you'd make me a very happy book blogger. As always, Armstrong has superb storytelling skills and impressed me the whole way, as she shot me in the face with the action and lurking danger. "Hunting Kat" is fast-paced, sweet in the romantic glimpses, and entertaining as hell (hehe).
"Lilith" by Francesca Lia Block
I admit, I was interested in "Lilith" even as it confused the sugar honey out of me. The strangeness of it piqued my curiosity, but once I was done I didn't know what to take away from the story. It starts out with a concept I could get into, but ultimately left me utterly bewildered. I enjoyed it for it's different-ness but it didn't strike me as a favorite.
I was exquisitely surprised by this book! Cinder is billed as a revitalization of the Cinderella fairy tale, and while it has undertones of a fairy ta...moreI was exquisitely surprised by this book! Cinder is billed as a revitalization of the Cinderella fairy tale, and while it has undertones of a fairy tale retelling, the overarching plot is so much more than that! I don't even know what to dub this one: sci-fi? dystopian? paranormal? It really is a striking, albeit crazy mash-up of things, as if Meyer plucked elements from different genres and rearranged them meticulously into her own unique tale. Cinder, the MC, may be portrayed as the renowned mechanic, with a penchant for breathing new life into the dull, the irreparable. But when I think of Cinder, I envision Meyer with a toolbelt and a mask to resist flames, rebuilding something that has been done before, a retelling of Cinderella like no other, plugging and twisting and tightening the nuts and bolts of a fascinating new thing.
Cinder makes an extraordinary Cinderella! At a glance, there are subtle and concrete allusions to the Cinderella tale we all know and love throughout the book, and it's the same with the heroine, but there's so much more to it than meets the eye. On the surface, Cinder has got the Cinderella life, working and submitting to brutal "chores" for a stepmother who doesn't love, want, or appreciate her, a girl who doesn't classify herself as beautiful and lacks inward confidence that we recognize when she attempts to hide her... eccentricities. But, she's also loyal, hardworking, with the makings of true spunkiness, and, despite her life being in terrible jeopardy in multiple instances, emanates a disarming bravery and strength that endears her to us all the more. In the depths of her thoughts and feelings, there is a girl with hopes for acceptance, but on the outside she gathers to her a formidable illusion of cool confidence.
One evil Lunar queen who governs a vicious race, one mad scientist who owns the keys to Cinder's mysterious past, one dashing prince with a desire to do right by his people and growing feelings for Cinder, one death which cuts deep, later and Cinder gives us a riveting story about loneliness, loss, and the will to do what is right despite the life-altering consequences. My only true disappointment with the book is the romance with the prince. I found the slow development to be sweet and full of promise, but I'm holding out for much more in the ensuing sequels. I mean, IT'S THE PRINCE. There has to be a breathstealing romance!
With simple, yet elegant writing, entrancing, detailed world-building that draws in even the skeptical reader who repels sci-fi and the like, and a main character that tugs at the heartstrings, Cinder is a one-of-a-kind, gripping debut that is everything it says and infinitely more! A debut novel that has made my favorites list from a debut author I can't wait to see more from! Really, what will she come up with next?
my thoughts in a few sentences: While in many ways For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund is as fabulous as...moreRating: Sud-Kissed Source: Bought
my thoughts in a few sentences: While in many ways For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund is as fabulous as people have made it out to be, my mind wasn’t shattered and my heart wasn’t blown to smithereens as a result of indulging in this intriguing world full of interesting characters. There’s nothing particularly flawed or unpleasant about the story; For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund, for some reason, was incapable of reaching beneath skin and bone to get to my vulnerable emotional places. There’s nothing overly striking about the story as a whole and that in itself left me underwhelmed. Overall, however, I do think fans of retellings will enjoy what they find in For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund so long as they’re willing to be sympathetic toward the characters and patient with the story.
my thoughts in a few sentences: Welcome to 15th century Brittany, a country holding down a tremulous peace...moreRating: Perfect Bed Partner Source: NetGalley
my thoughts in a few sentences: Welcome to 15th century Brittany, a country holding down a tremulous peace with France and it's protectors are searching for a means to keep their homes and their sovereign safe. With this comes a game of deceit brewing at court and among the lords and ladies filling it betrayal and treason sit heavily in the air. Who is friend to the Duchess, to Brittany, and who is not? The intrigue and slow unraveling of lies and spies along the subtly spun web of deception and duplicity fascinates the mind and lures it into yet another game of puzzle-solving. Frauds are abundant, and Ismae, an eerily well-trained assassin working in the name of St. Mortain (or Death), with her heart vulnerable to a certain brisk, protective, and warm Breton working fiercely to secure his sister's crown and her competent, death-dealing hands quick to whip out a crossbow or a dagger and aim true, meticulously untangles shocking truths about those she has blindly served and the "allies" with whom the Duchess seeks advice. LaFevers' writing is thin with overbearing prose and ripe with authenticity and vibrancy, as scrupulously depicted as Ismae's methods for scrounging facts and separating it from illusions of loyalty and done so with beauty in its simplicity.
Touch of Power was my first taste of Snyder's work and it was a rich and delightful one. Avry's tug-of-war between the need to help and the knowing th...moreTouch of Power was my first taste of Snyder's work and it was a rich and delightful one. Avry's tug-of-war between the need to help and the knowing that if she does, she'll be executed for doing so, instantly pulls us in and leaps onto us, one part of us begging her to save the little girl screaming for relief warring with the part that urges her to stay hidden for fear of the horrors that are sure to follow. An overcast of the dark and the bleak blankets the opening chapter, giving us the keen sense that Avry's world isn't a joyful one. Avry's kind, the healer kind, are proclaimed war criminals, treated like abominations to be killed or handed over for money for reasons fortified by indistinct proof, in a world ravaged by disease and plagued by war and dreadful politics. It's deeply evident that Avry is tired of running, so when the inevitable happens, along with the fear moves a swift feeling of relief at no longer having to hide in abiding anxiety.
Rapidly and suddenly Avry finds herself in the company of five men eager for her to heal their close friend, a prince of a relatively distant land who has caught the horrible plague that has swept all the Fifteen Realms. He is meant for great things and only Avry can save him, but at a price so final Avry must decide what and who is worth actually saving. And the five men who desire her help are five characters that stole into my heart and warmed it, melted it, and, at points, cut scars into it, who not only move Avry into admirable action but moved me in ways I always hope for when I pick up the next novel. I found Avry and Belen's deep and swift friendship a sweet reprieve from their rough travels, her attachment to the other men in the group warming me while reading as events unfolded in the cold of their world. And her syrupy slow romance with a certain resistant, stone-faced character ignited feelings that overlapped from wishful to happiness that could barely be contained!
A few people have asked me how closely Touch of Power resembles Maria's Poison Study series, if at all, and whether or not it's better or worse. Keep in mind that I read Touch of Power first, but I instantly went in search of this highly acclaimed series and fell just as deeply in love. The two stories are matching in similar threads found in the plot, the characters, and even the romance, yet Touch of Power is completely, freshly it's own. I think fans of Poison Study will be pleased with the tenacious, lovable heroine, charmed by the amazing brood of men who traverse with Avry, defending her to the best of their abilities, persevering alongside her, and the enthralling, magical fantasy that paints the book's pages. Touch of Power is presented with a vividness that can't be ignored, a story that has thoroughly earned a place on my hard-to-reach Special Shelf.
Alyxandra Harvey's books are like pockets of gleaming treasure; they typically have everything I want - great romance, a fast-paced, blood-pounding st...moreAlyxandra Harvey's books are like pockets of gleaming treasure; they typically have everything I want - great romance, a fast-paced, blood-pounding story, and characters and prose that are full of charm and humor. Personally, I think Harvey is a writing genius, so after hitting up vampires and ghosts, I was ecstatic for her take on faeries! Which are creatures Eloise Hart never imagined encountering in her relatively ordinary life. After being sought out in an open crowd by a guy clothed in an outrageously old-fashioned get-up, spouting out obvious nonsense about mysterious kidnappers on the hunt for her, Eloise hasn't a clue about the hidden supernatural world that's about to clash with hers. And it'll be up to the teamwork of she and her friends, along with unlikely relatives, to untangle the muddled mess born from this complicated, unbidden merging.
An inseparable, witty, hysterical trio, Devin, Eloise, and Jo are such enjoyable characters to read about, with their entertaining interactions being some of the highlights of this read, however they weren't as fleshed out as I typically come to expect from Harvey or as I'd've liked. Unlike with her other novels, I felt as if we absorb the surface of these characters and don't acquire a deeper look inside. Still, although I wouldn't say the three became my best buds by the end of the book, I loved how each of them balanced out their friendship and truly came through for each other, even when that meant trying to save their best friend from the capture of one power-hungry faery king or enduring the company of an irritated, bitter ancient faery with a penchant for insulting their intelligence. Despite their pitiable lack of knowledge for faery lore, they each brashly bust in guns blazing for those they care about, though the situation could be termed dire. It's damn near impossible to refrain from liking and admiring them.
With rapidly flourishing romances, the two couples that emerge in the story could be chalked up to 'instaluv.' But here's the thing: even when writing an instaluv-esque romance, Harvey still knows how put the swoon in swoon-worthy when it comes to the chemistry, and, oh, THE KISSING. Harvey should definitely be written down as one of the Kiss Scene Mastahs. I like how the romance was woven into the story, although I do wish there was more of it. And I enjoyed watching the sweet, tension-filled build-up in each relationship, leading to that first kiss, that first admission of feelings for one another. It was sweet and happy at times, sexy at others, and even wrenching. I'm no fan of a romance without substance, but I thought Harvey did a wonderful job considering the circumstances within the novel.
What's shouting in my brain is, I wish there had been more! I wish there was going to be more! Stolen Away did feel a bit rushed and not as thorough as I've know Harvey's novels to be; it should've been either lengthier or stretched out into, at minimum, a two-story arcing plot. While I won't say Stolen Away outshined the faery books that have dazzled the market, it was a fun, fast-paced adventurous tale that colors faeries in a sinister and exciting shade, and gave me another reason to love Alyxandra Harvey!
Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. They were the last people...moreMr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. They were the last people you'd expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious...
I can never fully express to you how deeply I regret not embarking on this series sooner. I'm so late! Now the movies are over and its less likely I can parade my enthusiasm and the sheer joy I got from reading this. From the first chapter alone, it became increasingly obvious as to how J.K. Rowling ended up a millionaire (or is bigillionaire...?). I'd always been a BIG fan of the movies, but I didn't read the books based on my pre-Reading Obsession years when I didn't very much enjoy them. I realized, though, that at the time, I didn't have it in me to appreciate this series. Now, I do. Boy, do I! This book incites the fan girl (or boy) in you!
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is full of magic and adventure, sparkling story-telling, and is the embodiment of nearly every child's dream to run off to some foreign, magical place where excitement and danger is around every corner to chase off the boredom. What is so purely great about this first book (and I'm sure the others as well) is the effortless world-building that mirrors our own world in past and present spaces in our history. Nothing is over-done and it's plain how deep Rowling's knowledge of the world runs. From wands and cauldrons to magical beasts to wizarding sports, The Sorcerer's Stone will fascinate you at every plot turn and through every character. It ensnares your attention and leaves you craving the next book!
I loved Harry. His book portrayal made me much more sensitive to his circumstances and feelings. Gosh, I can't tell you how many times this boy succeeded in making me cry! The cruelty of his care-givers had me fuming and crying all at the same time. And the feeling of loss for his parents strikes you throughout the course of the movie series, but it hits much harder after reading the books. Growing up with the movies, the movie adapted characters stuck with me while I was reading. I saw Emma Watson when I read Hermione, and Radcliffe and Grint and so on. It honestly made me love the book that much more!
I appreciated the Big Mystery, and it was nice to go through the motions of unraveling it, because I had forgotten almost everything from the first movie. It was like starting fresh, and as I read the book I slowly began to recall what was going to happen. Strangely, that made it all the more exciting.
Perhaps it is because Harry Potter has been dear to my heart all this time, being apart of the Harry Potter generation, that the entire book captivated me from start to finish, but I can truly say, without bias, that The Sorcerer's Stone is an enthralling, unique, and astoundingly overwhelming read! I can promise that I was as bewitched as Harry when, together, we stumbled upon the wizarding world, and absolutely guarantee that my friends will be finding the Harry Potter books in my bag until I'm done with the series!
Thought up by the lovely Small Review, Special Shelf books are unforgettable books that hold beautiful stories inside and characters you will forever be in love with... (My Rating System In-Depth)
"FRED, YOU NEXT," THE PLUMP WOMAN SAID. "I'M NOT FRED, I'M GEORGE," SAID THE BY. "HONESTLY, WOMAN, YOU CALL YOURSELF OUR MOTHER? CAN'T YOU TELL I'M GEORGE?" "SORRY, GEORGE, DEAR." "ONLY JOKING, I AM FRED," SAID THE BOY. (92)
"HAS ANYONE SEEN A TOAD? NEVILLE'S LOST ONE," SHE SAID. SHE HAD A BOSSY SORT OF VOICE, LOTS OF BUSHY BROWN HAIR, AND RATHER LARGE FRONT TEETH... "OH, ARE YOU DOING MAGIC? LET'S SEE IT, THEN." SHE SAT DOWN. RON LOOKED TAKEN ABACK... "SUNSHINE, DAISIES, BUTTER MELLOW, TURN THIS STUPID, FAT RAT YELLOW." HE WAVED HIS WAND, BUT NOTHING HAPPENED. SCABBERS STAYED GRAY AND FAST ASLEEP. "ARE YOU SURE THAT'S A REAL SPELL?" SAID THE GIRL. "WELL, IT'S NOT VERY GOOD, IS IT?" (105)
HARRY GRIPPED THE EDGES OF THE STOOL AND THOUGHT, NOT SLYTHERIN, NOT SLYTHERIN. "NOT SLYTHERIN, EH?" SAID THE SMALL VOICE. "ARE YOU SURE? YOU COULD BE GREAT, YOU KNOW, IT'S ALL HERE IN YOUR HEAD, AND SLYTHERIN WILL HELP YOU ON THE WAY TO GREATNESS, NO DOUBT ABOUT THAT--NO? WELL, IF YOU'RE SURE--BETTER BE GRYFFINDOR!" HARRY HEARD THE HAT SHOUT THE LAST WORD TO THE WHOLE HALL. HE TOOK OFF THE HAT AND WALKED SHAKILY TOWARD THE GRYFFINDOR TABLE. HE WAS SO RELIEVED TO HAVE BEEN CHOSEN AND NOT PUT IN SLYTHERIN, HE HARDLY NOTICED THAT HE WAS GEETTING THE LOUDEST CHEER YET. PERCY THE PREFECT GOT UP AND SHOOK HIS HAND VIGOROUSLY, WHILE THE WEASLEY TWINS YELLED, "WE GOT POTTER! WE GOT POTTER!" (121-122)(less)
my thoughts in a few sentences: So I'm a bit of a book racist. I generally refrain from reading...moreRating: Guilty Pleasure Source: Received from Publicist
my thoughts in a few sentences: So I'm a bit of a book racist. I generally refrain from reading angel books—there's just something about them that annoys me. Could it be the twist on religious figures? The typical cliche love triangle (Tucker and Christian aside) that is just about mandatory? I don't know, but that's my rule, and very rarely do I ever break it. With all the buzz making the rounds for Embrace, I was secretly ecstatic, because the premise just sounded amazing, though I refused to admit it. Despite not being WOWED by Embrace—Violet Eden may have had something to do with that—I enjoyed the hell out of the angel lore and the sizzling two-for-one-girl package of smokin' hot boys that liven up the pages. Authentic dialogue, fun characters, and some pretty decent action, Embrace is an intriguing addition to the bunches of angel books already out in YA fiction.
Review: Do you like deserts? I don’t—they’re everything hot, dry, and stickily wrong with the world. And they breed little nasties like scorpions (a t...moreReview: Do you like deserts? I don’t—they’re everything hot, dry, and stickily wrong with the world. And they breed little nasties like scorpions (a total ewww factor!). Yet, Rae Carson’s Fire and Thorn books make the desert strangely and fascinatingly appealing. THE MIND BOGGLES. This series of books incorporates evocative fantasy, compelling intrigue, and character growth that is wholly phenomenal in portraying common internal struggles with identity and self-confidence. The Fire and Thorn books demonstrate the power of faith in a wholly non-preachy, non-zealously religious manner and the good ol’ fashion theme of what it means and takes to become a hero. Elisa may just be my personal hero for all time.
Prophecy is a tricky thing, I have learned, full of edges and secret meanings and mischief. Prophecy can feel like the betrayal of a dear friend, the disappointment of a lifetime, the hope of a nation. (198)
Last year, war brewed and overflowed, drenching all the land with death, violence, and despair, and was ended at the hands of a once lost, hopeless girl whom the desert brutally fashioned into a proud, confident, shrewd warrior queen. But, the effects of war haven’t diminished, and Elisa must suffer the games played by the plotting noblemen at court while surviving the decisions she makes to reinforce her power. In Girl of Fire and Thorns, her transformation from shy, malleable, studious princess into a woman slowly realizing her own strength is one of the most fist-pump-worthy moments I’ve read. Carson takes it a step further in Crown of Embers by Rae Carson—Elisa has grown even more, though she is split between that of a clever woman and a timid ruler, fiercely trying to rectify the latter in order to ultimately be recognized as an improvement from the ruler before her. Being surrounded by the palace and overruled by the generals and counts with favor in her meetings, her confidence is shaken. She doesn’t slip into the role of an obedient, submissive queen—she has been reformed with steel, pride, and dignity, but she no longer believes her own power to be enough, a lacking in herself she believes can only be fixed by some outside force to back her. Crown of Embers by Rae Carson is, essentially, her discovery of the confidence to be a true queen and shouldering all that the effort entails.
“This could be it, Elisa,” Ximena says, and her black eyes spark with something fierce. “What you need to rule. To finally grasp the destiny I know God has prepared for you.” (198)
That is the thread woven beneath it all, but as she quests to realize this—literally and metaphorically—there’s so much else happening. Traitors are forged into newly forgiven allies, old withstanding, comforting presences are removed for proper growth, and love is realized anew in a friend, confidant, and loyal guardian who is every bit what I hoped he would be for Elisa. And evil dark-magic-bearing sorcerers plus cunning ploys for revenge spin together to tie in the rest of the plot, filtering a sense of urgency that surpasses the dire circumstances of the previous book.
While Elisa’s growth never fails to stun me blind and conjure admiration in my heart, I’m trembling with unhindered excitement for the rematch sure to go down between the two enemy nations whose feud runs too deep to be permanently squashed because of the events of the first book. I’ll be thrilled to witness Elisa’s next move, for the character left on the final page is no longer just a girl struggling to balance the crown teetering on her head but a woman ready and willing to wage destruction on her oppositions with ferocity and aggressive determination all wrapped underneath an outwardly formidable construction. Elisa won’t be messing around in the next book, and the next steps she takes are sure to be friggin' glorious.
Most Likely to Be Enjoyed By: As a huge fan of The Girl of Fire and Thorns, I can safely write to fans of this series that it is absolutely impossible to be disappointed in Crown of Embers by Rae Carson. If you fell in love with Elisa’s profound character growth, the vividly presented fantasy world, and Carson’s amazing plot structuring abilities, then you will love Crown of Embers by Rae Carson with an intensity that provokes an anticipation for the third book that completely exceeds what you felt in wait for this second book. Lovers of traditional high fantasy, which is essentially a story of epic scope riddled with your age-old themes of self-growth and good vs. evil as well as some fantastical elements, you will revel in Carson’s innovative world, manipulation of themes that give a layered texture to a well-structured plot, and Elisa’s becoming of a hero.
Content Warning: There is some detailed violence, in which the main character witnesses several vicious variations of death that can be explored thoroughly enough to warn away a middle grade audience. Implications of having and preludes to sex are included, however they are written with weight and romance rather than handled tastelessly and/or superficially.
A dark, mystifying read that features a quirky, strange heroine of darker origins, Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone hypnotizes its captives w...moreA dark, mystifying read that features a quirky, strange heroine of darker origins, Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone hypnotizes its captives with sumptuous prose and intriguing mystery. Magic, angels, and much more that tests the boundaries of your imagination, the Daughter of Smoke and Bone is the embodiment of talent, vision, and pure artistry. It is these aspects which make the story so attractive, but, for me, wasn't enough to hold me throughout the book. The first half of the novel evoked boundless awe, but the latter half dampened what I was starting to love about the story. The unfolding of events kept me riveted to the words on the pages--it's nearly impossible to be bored when Taylor is doing the storytelling--and the details, paranormal elements, and settings are dazzling, but I was dissatisfied with the romance, supporting characters, and the familiarly written ending.
There's a world of uniqueness and imagination in which I daresay most authors couldn't tap into, even if they tried. The workings of Laini's mind are splashed onto the pages of this story with such vibrancy and elegance it's hard to tear your eyes away. It's so easy to get engrossed in what's happening when Laini is painting such an exciting scene. The confusion induced by the mystery is more than welcome and adds this addictiveness to the book. I'd never read such beautifully different writing before now. Her writing style is that man/woman dressed in the most extraordinary hues and tasteful style, and you and everyone else on the street continue to stare until he/she is out of sight. So what's the problem?
I wanted to tattoo 'FASCINATING' across Karou's forehead, she is so cool. Her hair is 'peacock blue,' she's beautiful, and tough. And then there are all these minor details, like the fact that she can speak a million different languages and she works for a wishmonger who collects teeth and her family are made of an unlikely combination of... things we recognize in our world. She lives in Prague--FYI the most amazing place on this great big planet, it seems--and is an incredible artist. Who wouldn't want to be her? She is the kind of heroine I live for in paranormal romance stories. So when Akiva comes along and bungles that up--my connection with her and adoration of her--I couldn't help but resent their instaluv (though reasonable and explained) romance. I just couldn't get into it. He wasn't enough for me, I didn't fall for his personality (I couldn't find one though). For someone as awesome as Karou, the romantic lead should be equally awesome in some way.
And while I connected with Karou despite the absurdities scripted in her life, I couldn't do the same with the supporting characters. They are like beautiful pieces of art--you admire them, they are beautiful, but you're as close to understanding them as you are to unraveling the mystery of the banana. Impossible. They were too perfect sometimes, too. Too inhumanlike in nature (which some may have an excuse, but still).
The second half of the novel is consumed in what felt like an info-dump, even though it sorta isn't. It basically delves into Karou's past, which has been elusive to her all her life, and while Laini weaved the telling of it in the same tone she uses throughout, I just couldn't get into it. Unique? Definitely. But I started losing interest; I was more concerned with the Now instead. And with this crazy plot an unpredictable ending should follow, but I found that I guessed what the conclusion would be even before the set-up. It was disappointing! I expected to be left craving more, but that stopped being the case. I can wait for the next book.
Undermining qualities aside, I'm capable of sitting down with this book and enjoying it a second time around. However, though the story is just beginning, I can't name excitement as one of my feelings toward future books. Just a moderate interest and curiosity. My hopes are that Taylor fleshes out the romance and Co. and implements a more original ending so that I can fall just as madly in love as everyone else.
my thoughts in a few sentences: No one was more surprised than me when I turned out liking Goddess Interrupted so m...moreRating: Sud-Kissed Source: NetGalley
my thoughts in a few sentences: No one was more surprised than me when I turned out liking Goddess Interrupted so much. If ya'll remember, I wasn't very fond of The Goddess Test, and that was mostly because of the lack of action and had nothing whatsoever to do with Kate and Henry. Carter was dancing around the good stuff in Goddess Interrupted's predecessor, but dancing no more she does with this sequel. Within the first few chapters the impact of all those fateful final decisions in book one materializes with the force of a several thousand ton sledgehammer, and the urgency crackles swiftly and powerfully. The threat is very real this time and very straightforward, as opposed to the mystery horrors hidden behind the doors of Eden Manor, which actually had far less appeal. This time there's traipsing through the Underworld, sneak peeks at a restless all-powerful titan, a goddess gone totally loca, and so much more, but the pacing kept me actively turning the pages and avidly seeking the next thrill.
I didn't grow up with Robin Hood. I'd heard of him, sure, but the only interpretation I could recall was the pompous ass they made out of the legendar...moreI didn't grow up with Robin Hood. I'd heard of him, sure, but the only interpretation I could recall was the pompous ass they made out of the legendary character in Shrek. I roughly knew the story, the basic details of the legend, but I didn't know much about it in-depth. I'm ecstatic that this Rob is the very first one I encountered, because every one of the past—had I read earlier versions—would've been nothing more than a pale comparison. Where do I even begin? I'm almost scared to attempt to describe Scarlet's absolute and unquantifiable exquisiteness.
How long has it been since a rag-tag group of phenomenal characters came to your attention? Well, meet Scarlet. And Rob, John, and Much. If you're not familiar with the general tale of Robin Hood, the whole concept behind the legend is a mysterious man, who is worshiped by the people, steals from the rich to give to the poor. But, I'd find that an unbelievably difficult, near-impossible task for one man alone. And so we have Rob and his band of thieves. Scarlet is the latest addition to the team, coming to them an impeccable thief able to teach the perfect maneuvers and to pick out the best targets. She has a rough commoner accent that leaks into her narrative—which is a bit jarring initially but grows on you, another detail to a fabulous heroine—and is wicked with knives. A girl packed with so much emotion and secrets, one who carries a deeply scored heart but has so much compassion and bravery that she never ceases to amaze us with her unyielding generosity. Better yet, she has excellent taste in men—oh, ROB—but is endearingly naive to the workings of the male mind, which tends to be the cause of delicious frustration. She knows her own mind, is completely headstrong, and she serves as a wonderful heroine to look up to, especially when we consider the time period. This heroine is far from overshadowed by her leading man, no matter how INSANELY fascinating, gorgeous, and lovable he is.
The emotion laced into the pages is so powerful, brimming over in scenes which we choke back horror and exude sympathy for starving people, broken families, and piercing sacrifices that make us hurt all the more. And each turn of the pages leads to a new striking plot development that breaks our tremulous control on our own emotions, as they overwhelm their drawers and leak into reality (igniting the stares of our fellow classmates and that cute guy friend who decides to ask us what we're reading), causing us to grip our e-readers with white knuckles. Yet there is that brilliant spark of hope as well. The battling—as in knife throwing, flying arrows, severe punches, and hacking swords—is equally darkly thrilling and tension-inducing, as we care to a ridiculous degree for these characters, and we gather a fierce urge to break out our GO TEAM! sweatshirts.
But the slippery, syrupy romance takes the cake. Weirdly enough we DON'T whip out the rifles when an inkling of a love triangle catches our notice, because, deep down, we know who Scarlet really belongs with, a conclusion that strikes her down in the most brutally stunning and exciting way, as we've been waiting for her to make that realization FOREVER. It isn't even worthy of spoilers; it has to be experienced.
I have no idea if Scarlet will develop into a series—goodreads and the author's website are being annoyingly close-mouthed about it—but I fervently hope so, because I don't know how much longer I can last without this gang and their ballsy plots to end wrongs and manipulate situations so that the right win out. I'm totally book bullying you people: buy it. NOW!!
EDIT: After discussing it with my mom, who IS familiar with Robin Hood, much more than I, if you're a fan, you will definitely pick up on the references and delight in the twists the author has created. It made the book that much cooler for me when I learned more about him.
my thoughts in a few sentences: ... I'm still attempting to sort out my very complex feelings toward this nove...moreRating: Guilty Pleasure Source: NetGalley
my thoughts in a few sentences: ... I'm still attempting to sort out my very complex feelings toward this novel. While I did feel that the sequel served as a better, more solid novel than the first, there are so many conflicting emotions at war within me, as a result of the strangely paced plot, disappointment, surprising grief, and my equally troubling feelings toward the series' heroine. Yet I find myself still in anticipation of the final chapter to these set of books.