Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Wild Magic

Wild Magic
By: Tamora Pierce
Wild Magic (Immortals, #1)
Young Daine's knack with horses gets her a job helping the royal horsemistress drive a herd of ponies to Tortall. Soon it becomes clear that Daine's talent, as much as she struggles to hide it, is downright magical Horses and other animals not only obey, but listen to her words. Daine, though, will have to learn to trust humans before she can come to terms with her powers, her past, and herself.
I am so happy for the chance to go back to Tortall. I read The Song of the Lioness quartet late last year and fell in love. I inhaled those books in the space of five days. Finishing that series crushed. But I decided to spread out all of the Tortall books so as not to run out of them too quickly. Finally I picked up Wild Magic from the library, it was just as addictive and fantastic as The Song of the Lioness.
I loved this book. It was great seeing even further expansion of the Tortallan world, with experiencing wild magic and more immortals. I also was a bit worried that the new heroine wouldn't match Alanna in terms of awesome-ness or would come out a sort of copy of her (I know, that's dumb. But worry I did..). But I absolutely love Daine. She's spunky and compassionate, but in a quieter way than Alanna. She's not doesn't have a warrior's heart, but she's not sitting back and taking anything either.
It was beyond great to see old friends again, but this time through someone else's perspective. She was an newcomer to the group, so it was a great way to show just how much these characters have changed (or not changed, respectively) in the years since we've seen them. And there are new characters to meet, like Onua, Numair, and the children.
We got to see future Jonathan, Thayet, Alanna, and George. And they're happy, and they have families, and they've found their places in the world. That was beautiful to see. Then we got to see them helping Daine find her place. IT MADE MY HEART SO HAPPY.
I could not have asked any more from this book, it had heart and adventure. It was all that I've come to expect and love from Tamora Pierce. You can bet that I'll be devouring the rest of this series very soon.


"Never?...Never means not meeting sea lions and griffins. Never means not hearing whales sing. Never means not learning to heal."

"Evil people say evil things to make good people cry and doubt."

"We have no choice in being hunted--not animals, not humans. That's how the world is. The choice we do have is to take it--or fight."

Friday, January 24, 2014

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
By: Robin Sloane
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
Global conspiracy, complex code-breaking, young love, and the secret to eternal life — mostly set in a hole-in-the-wall San Francisco bookstore. The Great Recession shuffles Clay Jannon from his web-design drone job to night shift at Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. Curiously, few customers come in repeatedly and never buy. Analysis reveals astonishing secrets ...
How to describe this book, that is the question. Basically, it's a giant heap of pure, unadulterated awesome. This book is  smart and interesting and utterly unique. It finds a way to discuss so many different concepts and ideas having to do with creativity, human progress, the space between new ideas and old ideas. You come out of this book knowing so much more than you did going in, and you feel different after reading it.
Clay: I loved, loved, loved being inside of his head. He's the perfect combination of nerdy, funny, and insightful to make this book soar to his highest potential. I particularly love how he's smart, but not a prodigy in any way. He's almost normal, but he knows a lot of extraordinary people, does a lot of extraordinary things, goes on extraordinary adventures. It's easy to identify with him and with his outlook on life (or, at least, it was for me). He made me laugh so many times throughout the book, too.
"Hadoop! I love the sound of it. Kat Potente, you and I will have a son, and we will name him Hadoop, and he will be a great warrior, a king."
"That's almost cute: Don't forget your ruler on your first day of cult."
Kat: Such an interesting character. I loved that her determination sometimes bordered on a manic sort of behavior. She loved her work so much and so deeply. She changed the way Clay looked at things often, introduced him to new ideas (like the singularity) whether or not he adopted them. She added so much to the overall arc of the story.
Neel and Mat: I personally thought it was brilliant how even Clay's best friends split down the middle between the old and the new. Mat insisting on doing all of his creation work by hand and Neel owning an innovative programming company. This was an excellent tool to once again showcase how the old and the new in our world can relate to each other, interact with each other, learn from one another.
All the Members of The Unbroken Spine: I really like how they displayed a varied and interesting collection of all different kinds of people. They were weird and wonderful in turn and slowly getting to know them was one of the best parts of the book.
This book scores major points in the originality category. This book takes its ideas, its themes and hits them so hard. One of my favorite concepts in this book was about the places where old things and new technology meet. The juxtaposition between old and new  was evident in nearly every aspect of this book, it was there between The Unbroken Spine and Google, between Corvina and Penumbra, even between Mat and Neel. It was in a lead character who is interested in old typography and ancient tomes as well as in designing websites and computer programming. This is the first book I've ever heard of to tackle this issue in the context of fiction, but I can't imagine any book doing a better job.
The writing style is also perfect for the story's meaning and purpose. It's a bit quirky, full of depth, and engrossing. There was so much symbolism, and it was done masterfully. I love when even the language of a book is helping to make its statements for it. This book does just that.
And the epilogue is one of the most gorgeous epilogues I've ever read. This book leaves you both satisfied and edified.
The mystery was so intriguing. Instantly you want to know and understand what exactly is going on inside that odd little book store, but Sloane makes you wait for, makes you want it even more. When the realization finally strikes it meets the standard set by all the anticipation the beginning builds up. There is no disappointment in the plot either. It's a relatively short book, but it takes you on a journey that seems much longer (in the best way).
"...nothing lasts long. We all come to life and gather allies and build empires and die, all in a single movement--maybe a single pulse of some giant processor somewhere."
"I realize that the books I love most are like open cities, with all sorts of ways to wander in. This thing is a fortress with no front gate. You're meant to scale the walls, stone by stone."
"When you read a book, the story definitely happens inside your head. When you listen, it seems to happen in a little cloud all around it, like a fuzzy knit cap pulled down over your eyes."
"You will hold this book in your hands, and learn all the things I learned, right along with me: There is no immortality that is not built on friendship and work done with care. All secrets in the world worth knowing are hiding in plain sight. It takes forty-one seconds to climb a ladder three stories tall. It's not easy to imagine the year 3012, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try. We have new capabilities now--strange powers we're still getting used to. The mountains are a message from Aldrag the Wyrm-Father. Your life must be an open city, will all sorts of ways to wander in. After that, the book will fade, the way all books fade in your mind. But I hope you remember this: A man walking fast down a dark lonely street. Quick steps and hard breathing, all wonder and need. A bell above a door and the tinkle it makes. A clerk and a ladder and warm golden light, and then: the right book exactly, at exactly the right time."

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Unravel Me

Unravel Me
By: Taherah Mafi
Unravel Me (Shatter Me, #2)

Juliette has escaped to Omega Point. It is a place for people like her—people with gifts—and it is also the headquarters of the rebel resistance. She's finally free from The Reestablishment, free from their plan to use her as a weapon, and free to love Adam. But Juliette will never be free from her lethal touch. Or from Warner, who wants Juliette more than she ever thought possible.

I've had this book sitting on my shelf for nearly a year now, and I know what you're thinking. I really liked Shatter Me and I had a copy of this in my home and I heard nothing but good things about it. WHY THE HECK DIDN'T I READ IT! Well, that is a complicated question with an even more complicated answer, but suffice it to say that occasionally I put up weird mental blocks toward certain books. This can happen for many different reasons, but when it does it takes me a while to get over them.
But you're not interested in the strange workings of my mind. I've read it now, so on to the review.
I really liked this book. I knew I would. Taherah Mafi has such a gorgeous, unique writing style. The plot of this series is interesting and engaging. When you pick up a book from this series, it's nearly impossible to put back down again. All this adds up to a really enjoyable reading experience. As with Shatter Me, I do have some issues with the book, but overall it was pretty great.
Juliette: I have an interesting relationship with Juliette. I love her, but she frustrates me. When she pulls it all together she is brave, kind, and smart. But it felt like she was breaking apart so often that it lost a lot of its meaning, each time started to feel like just another breakdown. Sometimes she lost control so frequently that it lost some of its depth. Though that did show her moments of bravery in sharper contrast. One of my favorite things about Juliette is how not okay she is, she's been through so much crap in her life. She can't help but be truly anxious and depressed and not in complete control of her emotions. I think it's so great to be put in her head, you feel what she's feel so deeply in a way that helps you understand yourself more.
Warner: Okay. Let's get this out right now, I do not approve of Warner as a love interest (I mean in the way that I want Juliette and him to be together. I do think it's an interesting take on a very twisted character. It very clearly would not be a healthy relationship in the slightest). He is seriously screwed up, more so even than Juliette. He is such a complex, twisted character. I think Taherah is a genius for creating him in all of his despicable, sympathy-inducing glory.
Adam: I'm still not sure how I feel about him. I think he has anger issues (understandably) and he doesn't challenge Juliette enough in their relationship. She said it in this book, but she feels too protected with him to put up the armor she needs during this war. After reading Fracture Me (the e-novella from his point of view) I know that I am not a fan of how he thinks about Juliette, as someone in need of his protection, as some naïve little girl who doesn't understand what she's gotten herself into. But I love his relationship with James, it's very sweet. I'm excited for Ignite Me, maybe I'll sort out what I feel about Adam's character.
Kenji: OKAY! I LOVE HIM. If you read my Shatter Me review, you'll see that Kenji annoyed me quite a bit. But now that I understand him and have seen his softer side, I could not love him more. He is great to most everyone around him, is so sweet to James and Juliette, truly cares about Adam even though they've had their issues. He's hilarious and sweet, everything I managed to accidentally miss from him in Shatter Me.
Additionally, When Kenji got on Juliette about snapping out of her own little problems and getting stuff done, I was actually cheering him on out loud. I was so happy that someone finally said it!
Additionally to the former additionally, Kenji gets the best lines in the books. He's so full of sass and sarcasm. I love it.

"Because if I lower my voice, I won't be able to hear myself speak. And that," he says, "is my favorite part."

Good. Gooooood. There was action and intensity (too much angst for my taste, but at least it was palatable angst). I have to say that a lot happened in this book, I wasn't expecting quite so much to get done (especially this being the second book and, therefore, very vulnerable to Second Book Syndrome). But, yeah, it was pretty great. I really liked seeing all of the characters interact (and with less making out this time, which was a plus as I didn't get quite so frustrated that we weren't seeing any plot progression).

As expected, Taherah Mafi's writing leaves me in awe quite often. The metaphors she comes up with are truly brilliant and the way she works them into the prose is gorgeous. Her style of writing flies by you, pulling you in further and further because it so easily evokes so many feelings.


"...and I wish I could put his words in my pocket just to touch them once in a while and remind myself that they exist."

"I don't know how to be a verb, an adverb, any kind of modifier. I'm a noun through and through. Stuffed so full of people places things and ideas that I don't know how to break out of my own brain. How to start a conversation."

"We are synonyms but not the same. Synonyms know each other like old collegues, like a set of friends who've seen the world together. They swap stories, reminisce about their origins and forget that though they are similar, they are entirely different, and though they share a certain set of attributes, one can never be the other. Because a quiet night is not the same as a silent one, a firm man is not the same as a steady one, and a bright light is not the same as a brilliant one because the way they wedge themselves into a sentence changes everything.

"Because there are times when the anger bleeds away until it's nothing but a raw ache in the pit of my stomach and I see the world and wonder about its people and what it's become and I think about hope and maybe and possibly and possibility and potential. I think about glasses half full and glasses to see the world clearly. I think about sacrifice. And compromise. I think about what will happen if no one fights back. I think about a world where no one stands up to injustice."

"I have a heart, says science, but I am a monster, says society."

Public Service Announcement: If you are not following Taherah Mafi on Twitter, you are seriously missing out.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Hollow City

Hollow City
By: Ransom Riggs
Hollow City (Miss Peregrine, #2)

The extraordinary journey that began in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children continues as Jacob Portman and his newfound friends journey to London the peculiar capital of the world. But in this war-torn city, hideous surprises lurk around every corner. Like its predecessor, this second novel in the Peculiar Children series blends thrilling fantasy with never-before-published vintage photography to create a one-of-a-kind reacting experience.
I waited a couple days to write this review because I wanted to fully process all my thoughts concerning this fantastic book. I really liked Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. I thought it was innovative and inventive. It was a whole new way of storytelling unlike anything I'd ever seen before. That being said, the pace toward the beginning of that one was a bit slow for me, but there was a lot to build up in the world. This book blew me away, it grabbed me from the first page and refused to let go. The action didn't stop, the writing was beautiful, and the method of storytelling was just as brilliant as in the first book.
Thomas: You can see his development so clearly from the first book to this one. He's getting braver, even though he doesn't see it himself. He's learning more about his peculiarity, his power, himself. It's really great to watch. I love his relationship with Emma, she makes him a better version of himself. I loved his interaction with the other kids, too.
The Other Peculiar Kids: It took me a bit into the book to get all of the boys' names straight (particularly Horace, Millard, and Hugh), but I loved all of them. They were funny, smart, and brave. They each had distinct personalities that showed in the larger group setting.
I have to say that I think my personal favorite is Horace (or at least he's tied with Bronwyn and Hugh and Millard. I just like them all, okay?). He's always so funny.
"She's in the drawer," said Horace.
Mr. White's unibrow knit together. "The drawer. What drawer?"
"Same one she's always been in." said Horace.
He shood Horace by the jaw and shouted, "What drawer?!"
...Then his eyes came open and he look hard into Mr. White's and said, "Your mother's knickers drawer," and he spat right in Mr. White's face."
^^^ This was possibly my favorite moment in the entire book. I laughed out loud, thankfully not in public.
Caul: Crud, he's scary! I am not looking forward to getting to know him any more than we have, but I will say that he's a extremely intriguing villain.
The plot of the series really took a running start in this book. Miss Peregrine's worked to set up the world, but this book really began exploring it. We saw other loops, other children, other ymbrynes. We saw more wights and hollowgasts. We saw other times, more of 1940, even the present briefly. This world is thoroughly developed now and expanding. I personally am so excited to experience the expansion.
Ransom Riggs writes a mean sentence. How he described the scenery and even the most commonplace things were gorgeous. His language almost feels old-fashioned at times, which really plays into the themes and settings of the book. His writing feels peculiar, so the world feels peculiar (as opposed to the world feeling all modern or all historical, it's ends up a mix of both).
"Just because they knew it was lost didn't mean they knew how to let it go."
"What felt like an obligation now had been a promise back then..."
"Some truths are best expressed in the form of a myth."
"In that moment I was deeply grateful...for the simplemindedness of the animal part of my brain; that a hot meal and a song and a smile from someone I cared about could be enough to distract me from all that darkness, if only for a little while."
"Strange, I thought, how you can be living your dreams and your nightmares at the very same time."
"I liked this idea: that peculiarness wasn't a deficiency, but an abundance; that it wasn't we who lacked something normals had, but they who lacked peculiarness. That we were more, not less."
"But you can't feel bad every second, I wanted to tell her. Laughing doesn't make bad things worse any more than crying makes them better. It doesn't mean you don't care, or that you've forgotten. It just means you're human."

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Harry Potter: Page to Screen

Harry Potter: Page to Screen
By: Bob McCabe
Harry Potter Page to Screen: The Complete Filmmaking Journey

Harry Freaking Potter. That's all that really needs to be said, but I suppose I should probably elaborate. This is basically a 500-page book discussing the ins and outs of the process of making the Harry Potter movies. First it goes through each by movie. It talks about how the actors got cast, how the directors chosen, the sets, and digital effects.

I loved sucking in each and every detail about the movies from this book. It really conveyed how much attention to detail the people involved gave the movies. I was struck by how marvelous the making of these movies were, that everyone was extremely passionate about the project. They wanted to make a faithful adaption, first and foremost. They wanted to keep the atmosphere and the characters as beautiful as they were in the books. They paid special attention to details, even in things that would only be on screen for a few seconds in one film. I fell in love with all these wonderful people who appreciated the story they were working on.

There were also bits where the actors talked about their characters, which was really cool. I loved their insight. It was interesting to see which side of the character they tapped into for different scenes and hearing about different acting decisions they made throughout the series. Who had input on which outfit or which line. It felt like truly being let into the process of the story, something that every potter fan could appreciate.

I loved the bits on the special effects and props. Finding out what is CGI and what's not, how they did certain shots, and seeing all the thought behind the sets and props. All of this just made me love the movies even more (as if that's possible).

One particular type of information that I thought was fascinating was learning about the different directors and their different takes on the films. You can see their different styles for each director, but now you know why they're so different, which themes each of them chose to focus on, the type of feel they wanted to portray.

This book is perfect for every fan of Harry Potter who loves the books and the movies. I highly recommend it, but be warned. It WILL make you all nostalgic and the segment on the last days of filming might make you cry (shhhhhh... it totally didn't make me cry. At all. Nope. I was tearless.) [Who am I kidding, I was very, very teary.]

Saturday, January 11, 2014


By: Lena Coakley
High in their mountain covens, red witches pray to the Goddess, protecting the Witchlands by throwing the bones and foretelling the future. It’s all a fake. At least, that’s what Ryder thinks. He doubts the witches really deserve their tithes—one quarter of all the crops his village can produce. And even if they can predict the future, what danger is there to foretell, now that his people’s old enemy, the Baen, has been defeated? But when a terrifying new magic threatens both his village and the coven, Ryder must confront the beautiful and silent witch who holds all the secrets. Everything he’s ever believed about witches, the Baen, magic and about himself will change, when he discovers that the prophecies he’s always scorned—Are about him.

This book was not at all what I thought it would be from the synopsis. I thought it would be more of a journey story with a definite end. I had no idea there was going to be a second narrator. Not all of these were things I didn't, but I did have a few things I didn't like about the book. However, of course there was a ton of great story in there, too.
Things I didn't like:
-The bizarre lack of time spans given. By this I mean that I don't think it's mentioned how old any of the characters are (main characters included). I'm still not sure how long ago the war was from the events happening inside the arc of the book. This lack of details made the story seem less grounded. It was hard to think about time in the world because it simply wasn't mentioned (or it wasn't mentioned in reference to actual events.) It made me feel like details were sort of floating around, but I couldn't grasp any of them because I wasn't sure about the history of the kingdoms.
-Speaking of which, the political aspect was a bit muddled as well. I know that it had to be to focus on the religious aspect of their cultures, but I would have appreciated a little more detail. I wanted to see more authority shown from somewhere, anywhere.
-There was a general lack of description. There are bits and pieces of detail, but only in odd places. I couldn't picture anything, so I didn't feel as connected as I could have to the story.
-When Falpian and Ryder were together the narrative got a bit muddled. It was easy enough to follow when they were separate. But with the third-person perspective, it was all too blurry when they were together. It would switch focus between paragraphs and throw me for a second.
Things I did like:
- I liked the story. It spoke to some deeper themes and made you think about them. It talked about prejudice and biases past down through cultures until you can't quite remember where the hate all came from. It did it in an intricate way that led you to a moment of discovery toward the end (while making it clear through the beginning of the story as well).
-I liked the world, even if I think it could use a bit more building in the imagery and political departments. What we saw of the world was interesting and complex. 
Overall, this was a pretty great story. It got you thinking about some pretty deep themes. The characters were interesting, as was the world.
"Any star tries to tell me my destiny, I will wrench it from the sky."
"Why did people shrink away from winter, he wondered, safe in their blankets, hiding by their fires? If they knew how beautiful winter really was, they would walk out naked into the snow, walk and walk, until their frozen hearts split open with joy."
"I am the youth...It is unbelievable that you can't imagine that we might be inspired by this knowledge. You are robbing us. You are turning our history to rubble."
"The present catches up to the future with alarming speed..."
"He wondered how the world could be both sides of a coin at the same time: silence and song."

Thursday, January 9, 2014


By: Jane Austen
Beautiful, clever, rich - and single - Emma Woodhouse is perfectly content with her life and sees no need for either love or marriage. Nothing, however, delights her more than interfering in the romantic lives of others. But when she ignores the warnings of her good friend Mr Knightley and attempts to arrange a suitable match for her protegee Harriet Smith, her carefully laid plans soon unravel and have consequences that she never expected. With its imperfect but charming heroine and its witty and subtle exploration of relationships, Emma is often seen as Jane Austen's most flawless work.

Goodness gracious, the cuteness. I'm swimming in 'awwww's'. Jane Austen is a master, but then the world already knew that (and I already knew it, too).
I'm convinced that winter is the perfect time to read Austen. It makes you feel all cuddly and warm inside.

Emma Woodhouse: Before reading this I was prepared to dislike Emma. That's what I've heard from a lot of people, that she is one of Austen's least likeable lead characters. I am happy to say that I did not find that to be the case at all. I love Emma! She's kinder than people give her credit for. She really tried to do what was best for the people in her life. She differs from Elizabeth Bennett in many ways, but I think they both stand on their own as worthy heroines. Emma is witty and smart in the ways of society. I also love how she was always quite willing to apologize when she was in the wrong (as she is quite a few times in this book). Overall I think she is a lovely, well-developed character.
Mr. Knightley: LOVE. Rivaling my love for Mr. Darcy, is my newfound love for Mr. Knightley (possibly exceeding it). He's steadfast and caring. He's open to both giving and receiving advice with Emma. Their relationship works because it's grounded in true friendship. He's considerate as well as smart.

Both Mr. Knightley and Emma have their fair share of faults, but they accept and love one another because of them. They each see the other as one of the best people in existence. Their relationship is charming and warm.

The common misconception about Austen's work is that they're about romance alone. But this is a story about a small community and the inner workings of their relationships. It's about society and relationships, with people you like, people you hate, people you are close with.

I think Jane Austen is a master of characters, both relatable and ridiculous. She knows society and relationships and is an expert at showing them in their truest light. Even now, when the forms of socializing common back then are outdated, she still brings essential truth to the relationships between her characters. We all know our own Mr. and Mrs. Elton, our own Jane Fairfax, or Miss Bates, or Harriet. These are characters that are known to us, just in a slightly different way. Because of that, these books strike the perfect balance between feeling like you are in another time and place altogether and feeling like you're somewhere that is, at root, familiar.
That is why her books have managed to transcend age and progress. That's why they are classics, and rightfully so.

This wasn't my first Austen and it certainly won't be my last. An expert storyteller like her cannot be anything but loved.


"Vanity working on a weak head, produces every sort of mischief."

"It will be a small party, but where small parties are select, they are perhaps the most agreeable of any."

“If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more.”

“There are people, who the more you do for them, the less they will do for themselves.”  

‘Seldom, very seldom, does complete truth belong to any human disclosure; seldom can it happen that something is not a little disguised or a little mistaken.’

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Rebel Spring

Rebel Spring
By: Morgan Rhodes
Rebel Spring (Falling Kingdoms, #2)
Auranos has fallen and the three kingdoms—Auranos, Limeros, and Paelsia—are now united as one country called Mytica. But still, magic beckons, and with it the chance to rule not just Mytica, but the world...When the evil King Gaius announces that a road is to be built into the Forbidden Mountains, formally linking all of Mytica together, he sets off a chain of events that will forever change the face of this land, forcing Cleo the dethroned princess, Magnus the reluctant heir, Lucia the haunted sorceress, and Jonas the desperate rebel to take steps they never could have imagined.

Okay. So I had some problems with the first book in this series, but I thought it was pretty good. While some of those problems didn't completely go away, it showed noticeable improvement and the plot was so interesting that I soon forgot about most of them.

Cleo: Even more development from her character. I still didn't agree with a good portion of the things she did, I still appreciated that she was actively making decisions to try and protect her kingdom. She suffered even further losses in this book, but she is managing to hold herself together. That's impressive in her situation. I'm thoroughly interested to see how her and Lucia's friendship develops in the next books.
Magnus: Dang it. This little jerk is the most confusing of the bunch. He's uncomfortable with most things that his father does even when he won't stand against it. This makes him nearly as bad as his father, but puts him in a particularly great place for some character development. His relationship with Cleo is not something I anticipated at all, but the dynamic is so interesting. And I'm so glad to see that the whole situation between Magnus and Lucia is rocky now, it was too gross when it was... let's say "friendlier" between them. The thing is, I want him to see him change and be a force for good instead of going along with his father's actions.
Lucia: Another direction that I did not see the story taking. I can honestly say that now I don't know where any of this is heading, especially Lucia's storyline. But as I said, I am excited at the connection between the two girls and what they can do to help each other.
Jonas: Poor Jonas. His story is still ramping up, but everything seems to be going wrong for him. This brings me to an interesting point. I think this book is great because it shows what a rebel movement would more likely go, unintentional deaths and failed attempts.
King Gaius: I think another thing setting this series apart is the convincing villain.I think often in books the villain stays hidden in shadows until the final battle, but King Gaius is ever-present throughout the series. You can see his cruelty and blood-lust. It's horrifying as well as convincing. And every series is improved by a convincing villain.
Lysandra: She took some warming up to, but I quite enjoy her presence. I think she's more what Jonas needs to keep him on track in the rebellion and keep his plans from getting too risky.

CRAZINESS. Utter insanity, in a great way. The plot of the first book was interesting, but this flouted it in terms of action and plot twists. Everything is coming together in the strangest and best ways. The characters are all meeting and interacting and I love it. I want to know what the deal with The Watchers is. They're intriguing. I want to know exactly what their plan is for the world.

Now to the problems. In my review of Falling Kingdoms I said that my problems were the frequency of errors and the dialogue. These were noticeably better in this book. The dialogue was still stinted and redundant in places, it seemed to be trying too hard to sound like high language rather than just being it. There were fewer errors, but quite a few to be seen.
I didn't think I was all that invested in this series. After this book I can say that I am thoroughly invested now. I cannot wait to get my hands the next book.


“Evil is a choice one makes, not a natural state of being."

Darkness will always try to extinguish the light. The light will always try to repress the darkness.”  

 “I believe we make our own destinies, every last one of us.”

Thursday, January 2, 2014

My Top 13 Books of 2013

My Top 13 Books of 2013 

First let me set the rules.
Rule 1: Series count as one book. We will be here all day if I haveo list every book individually (plus I would never fit it into 13).
Rule 2: These are not ranked in any order. I simply couldn't choose between any of them and since this is my blog, and I say I don't have this is what you get.
And I think that's all the rules I have. So let's get started:

1. The Lord of the Rings
The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings, #1)  The Two Towers (The Lord of the Rings, #2)  The Return of the King (The Lord of the Rings, #3)
What can I say? This series is the ultimate standard against which all high-fantasy is measured. Of course I was going to love it. I have no idea why it took me this long to finally read them, but I think I read them at just the right time in my life. The story of these tiny hobbits setting out to save the world is touching and epic and everything I love in high-fantasy on full display.

2. Unsouled
UnSouled (Unwind, #3)
This is a series that, for whatever reason, I always underestimate. Either that or they are getting better and better as the series progresses (which is almost unbelievable in itself). This series covers a myriad of topical issues in a way that isn't shoving that fact down your throat. Neal Shusterman is a master of plot and character development. I love Connor, Lev, and Risa and how much they've changed since the beginning of this rollercoaster. I cannot wait to see this brilliant series wrap up in 2014.

3. Champion
Champion (Legend, #3)

This was a fantastic ending to a fantastic series. June and Day's story had a full arc that was really beautiful. I think their problems were resolved in the perfect way. This series is completely un-put-down-able (shhh... that's totally a word). It's action-packed and the plot is always full of twists and turns.

4. The Fairyland Series
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Fairyland, #1)  The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There (Fairyland, #2)  The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two (Fairyland, #3)

Gorgeous characters in a gorgeous world with some of the most gorgeous writing I have ever encountered. This series is whimsical and unique. There is always something new in Fairyland to be discovered. The metaphors are brilliantly incorporated into the prose and the imagery is spectacular.

5. Fangirl

I love all things Rainbow Rowell, but this book spoke to me deeper than her others because I identify with Cath on a level that few other characters have accomplished. She's a bit socially awkward and sort of a dork, but also incredibly smart and caring. This book chronicles her first year of college with all of its ups and downs. It focuses on her relationship with her dad and sister, which was touching and very genuine. Also, LEVI. He's like no other male character I've read. He's charming and happy and considerate. I want one.

6. Allegiant
Allegiant (Divergent, #3)
CONTROVERSIAL BUT SPOILER-FREE EXPLANATION: I  love how Veronica Roth finished off her wildly popular series. She took risks that not many authors would dare to take, thrusting her characters into a new political situation so far into the series and so far removed from the world of the past. But she managed it beautifully and I think that it was exactly what the series needed. Tris shone in this book, her bravery was inspiring.

7. Percy Jackson and the Olympians/Heroes of Olympus
The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1)  The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #2)  The Titan's Curse (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #3)  The Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #4)The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #5)  The Lost Hero (The Heroes of Olympus, #1)  The Son of Neptune (The Heroes of Olympus, #2)  The Mark of Athena (The Heroes of Olympus, #3)The House of Hades (The Heroes of Olympus, #4)

SHUT UP. THIS DEFINITELY COUNTS AS ONE. (I know it shouldn't, but it's the only way I could make 13 work without having to make an impossible decision between these nine books). I am kicking myself for not reading these when I was younger, but I think I enjoyed them just as much(if not more than) I would have reading them as a kid. They're hilarious. The characters leap off the page and pull you into their world with them. The adventure is perfectly plotted and paced.
Then in the Heroes of Olympus series, the world expands. You're introduced to Piper, Leo, Jason, Frank, and Hazel (all of whom I love deeply).
There are not enough good things that I could say about this world that Rick Riordan has created. I will read anything Riordan writes for the rest of his career. He's absolutely brilliant.

8. The Song of the Lioness Quartet
Alanna: The First Adventure (Song of the Lioness, #1)  In the Hand of the Goddess  The Woman Who Rides Like a Man  Lioness Rampant (Song of the Lioness, #4)

Another series I should have read long, long ago. How did I not even hear of these until now? It's about Alanna, a girl who wants be a knight. She wants to go on quests and learn swordplay. She's so kick-butt and sassy and smart. Her problems feel natural to a girl in her position and so do her relationships. Her story arc in the series combined is fantastic because it takes place over a period of around six years, so you see her grow and mature. She has earned her place in my all-time favorite heroines list. (Plus, her and George are the cutest thing in the history of ever, end of discussion).

9. The Book Thief
The Book Thief

One of the most beautiful stories I have ever encountered. Hope and love in one of the darkest times in history. It is a story of life among much too much death. A girl who loves stories and a family who offers protection to those who need it. This book will stay with me forever. I earnestly believe that everyone should read this book, because it changes you when you read it. You start to see the world differently.

10. Crown of Midnight
Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass, #2)
I loved Throne of Glass (I mean, it made my Top 12 of 2012 list last year and everything). But this book. THIS BOOK. Completely fantastic. Utterly brilliant. It had me crying and cheering. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. I cannot wait for the next four books in this SPECTACULAR series. All of the characters are so well-written.

11. The Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy
The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns, #1)  The Crown of Embers (Fire and Thorns, #2)  The Bitter Kingdom (Fire and Thorns, #3)

YA High fantasy at its finest. The world is so broad and interesting. The characters are brave and unique and genuine. Rae Carson is a very thoughtful writer. By that I mean that you can tell she puts a lot of thought into both her world-building and the implications of her characters' decisions. She put a lot of effort into making Elisa a great role model for girls as well as relatable. Elisa has a mind of her own and is a ruler to be reckoned with.

12. The Lumatere Chronicles
Finnikin of the Rock (Lumatere Chronicles, #1)  Froi of the Exiles (Lumatere Chronicles, #2)  Quintana of Charyn (Lumatere Chronicles, #3)

This series broke my heart while simultaneously filling it. I fell in love with Lumatere and Charyn and all of the people living inside them. The writing is masterful. The imagery and use of language is breathtaking. The stories are heart-breaking with a sliver of hope mixed in. The tone is mystical and foreign, yet you feel right at home inside the story. It felt like I knew the characters. I cried for them and I rooted for them. No amount of explanation could ever describe the beauty of this story.

13. The Grisha Trilogy
Shadow and Bone (The Grisha, #1)  Siege and Storm (The Grisha, #2)

This series is very high concept with an extraordinary level of execution. A high fantasy combined with clearly defined, almost scientific, magic, elements of Russian culture and folklore, and a sort of steampunk twist thrown into the mix. YES! And while that sounds like it shouldn't work, by golly, IT DOES. The uniqueness of this story, along with the themes concerning freedom and choice, make it an unbelievably incredible read.

Honorable Mentions: The Kane Chronicles (I figured I already had enough Riordan on the list. Even though I am a firm believer that you can never have too many Riordan books), Sweetly (that is one fantastic retelling), Eleanor and Park, Attachments (what can I say? Rainbow Rowell just wins), The Infernal Devices (*cough*WillHerondale*cough*), Dark Triumph, The House of the Scorpion, The Diviners.

Here's to 2014. May it be filled with as many great reads as 2013 was.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014 Most Anticipated Releases

2014 Releases that I'm Freaking Excited For:
So, last year I did a post very similar to this. In that post I went through and listed the reasons why I'm excited for these certain books, but they ended up looking and sounding too alike. So this is just a list and all you need to know is that I am FREAKING EXCITED for this year's releases.

Hollow City (Miss Peregrine #2)---January 14th

Hollow City (Miss Peregrine, #2)
Update: Read. Reviewed. 5/5 stars.
This Star Won't Go Out---January 28th

Update: Read. 5/5 stars.

Ignite Me---February 4th

Ignite Me (Shatter Me, #3)
Update: Read. Reviewed. 4.5/5

The Guard---February 4th

The Guard (The Selection, #2.5)
Update: Read. 2/5 stars.
The Winner's Curse---March 4th

The Winner's Curse
Update: Read. Reviewed. 5/5 stars.
The Assassin's Blade---March 4th

The Assassin's Blade (Throne of Glass, #0.1-0.5)
 Update: Read. Reviewed. 5/5 Stars.

Divergent Movie---March 21st

Update: Watched. Reviewed. 4/5 stars.
The One---May 6th

The One (The Selection, #3)
Update: Read. Reviewed. 1/5 stars.

The Fault in our Stars Movie---June 6th
Update: Seen. Reviewed. 5/5 stars.

Ruin and Rising---June 17th
Ruin and Rising (The Grisha, #3)
Update: Read. Reviewed. 5/5 stars.

Four: A Divergent Story Collection---July 8th
Four: A Divergent Story Collection (Divergent, #0.1 - 0.4)
Update: Read. To Be Reviewed. 3/5 stars.

Landline---July 8th
Update: Reviewed. 5/5 stars.

Isla and the Happily Ever After---August 12th
Isla and the Happily Ever After (Anna and the French Kiss, #3)
Update: Read. 5/5 Stars.

Percy Jackson's Greek Gods---August 19th
Percy Jackson's Greek Gods

The Girl of Fire and Thorns Stories
Girl of Fire and Thorns Stories (Fire and Thorns, #0.5-0.7)

Heir of Fire---September 2nd
Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3)
Read. 5/5 Stars.

The Infinite Sea---September 16th
The Infinite Sea (The Fifth Wave #2)

The Young Elites---October 7th
The Young Elites (The Young Elites, #1)

Blood of Olympus---October 14th

The Blood of Olympus (The Heroes of Olympus, #5)
Read. 5/5 Stars.
Undivided---October 14th
Undivided (Unwind, #4)

Mortal Heart---November 4th
Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin, #3)

Gathering Darkness---December 9th 2014
Gathering Darkness (Falling Kingdoms, #3)

This Shattered World - December 23rd
This Shattered World (Starbound, #2)

Unannounced Dates:

Firefight---December 2014?
Some places say it's coming out December and some say January. I'm going to leave it here anyway.
(Study #4)---2014