Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Review: The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West

Published: May 5th 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository

Goodreads Summary: When Gia Montgomery's boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she'd been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend—two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley.

The problem is that days after prom, it's not the real Bradley she's thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn't even know. But tracking him down doesn't mean they're done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend's graduation party—three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.

Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship.

Contemporaries are an odd genre for me. Yes they can be adorable and sweet but for the most part they make a casual blip on the radar and are all too easily forgotten. There are rare exceptions of course but this book isn't quite up to that standard. Unless they make me cry buckets of tears or break my heart in a profound way I'm hard pressed to rate something any more than three stars.

For the most part, this book was cute and sweet, a bit like the chocolate chip cookies you buy, the ones that you know won't be a disappointment but not anything that will make you feel life-changed. But surprisingly, underneath the layers of fluff and romance there was depth, like discovering the cookie actually has walnuts, which I love. It's not quite the surface romance you would think, with some hidden depth that I appreciated.

We meet Gia, a seventeen year old girl, in the prom parking lot where her boyfriend breaks up with her before they walk in. Cue the warning signs of drama, yet that isn't quite all that's at stake here. I was almost tempted to stop reading this book altogether but decided not to, I had heard such notable praise for this book after all, it seemed a shame to waste it.

There's the romance of course. What contemporary is one without its romance? Not any that I can remember, since at times it feels like the soul of contemporary lies in its romantic tendencies, ones that I personally find endearing although some may disagree. Nevertheless, we meet Gia and her soon to be charming date who will become the titular subject, the "fill-in boyfriend." While usually it takes a lot for a boy to win me over, (this is a blatant lie when it comes to spies and thieves but I digress), the fill-in was just the right kind of gentleman. I adored his presence. And by association brought my favorite character of this book onto the scene.

Okay moving off of the main topic here, let's talk about my real love of this book. Bec, the sister of said fill-in, who won me over with her unapologetic personality. She plays quite the role and I loved everything about her. She's opinionated and loving, unafraid to tell Gia the truth even if it's unflattering and is a true kind of friend. I can't say exactly what she does to ensure my love but she is my favorite thing about this book. Ironic, considering the cuteness and fluff that should have won me over but *shrugs* with this particular brand of contemporary, I'm rarely felled by the romance itself.

Also lets talk high school. It can be a real bitch and we know, more than anything else, how much people go through pseudo-friendships for appearances' sakes, or maybe just because they grew up together. Or maybe that was just my personal experience, since I'm still fresh out of high school and feel particularly bitter. But I've seen first and secondhand, the exact kind of friendship Gia had with her friends. They may be perfect on paper but in real life, well it's quite the story. I admired how West handled this, and I appreciated the turn it took towards the end, since it was a mature and realistic way to resolve the scenario.

The book also goes into her family. Some issues lurk behind the surface of her "perfect" family, and they become all too apparent, especially as she gets to know her "fill-in" boyfriend's family. As is often the case, what seems ideal is not always the greatness it should be, and seeing behind the facade and the familial relationships made me appreciate how they contributed to Gia's development. There were times when I wished we'd gotten to know more about them because while there were key moments, a lot of them seemed too brief for me to really connect with the situation, excepting one involving her brother.

To close this, The Fill-In Boyfriend is one of those books I'll look fondly on, but beyond that I can't say. It was a pleasant read, and I appreciated the honest outlook it offered on life beyond the lighthearted romance and ensuing struggles, but it just didn't have the strength to make me care deeply enough about the characters to rate this 4 stars or higher.

My Rating:★★★ (3.5 stars)

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Suspended In November: Where Thanksgiving Is Synonymous With Sleep

I haven't led much of an exciting life recently, in fact notably I saw snow falling for maybe the first time in my arguably short existence, the complications of growing up in an area where snow is nonexistent unless you are one of those people who go up in the winter to go skiing, which I am not, if you count my one disastrous trip many winters ago. On the other end, Christmas decorations have been hung up in my dorm, where my suitemates and I have hung up ornaments in the hall. It's quite pretty, and the photo on the side does not do it any justice.

School is a nightmare, as you can see from my title, I have been plagued with poor sleep especially since Daylight Savings Time ended here. I spent an absolute deplorable two weeks waking myself up at 7am instead of the much more comfortable 8am, no matter how late I went to sleep at, without an alarm. Horrid experience, to say the least, until my body finally understood that Daylight Savings Time is over, and I went back to my not-so-excellent sleeping habits, that is until Thanksgiving break last week, where I almost slept the entire week away. I am now in crisis mode, since I had planned on it being the week of accomplishment and hyperproductivity, but alas, that did not happen.

As for literary updates, I seem to have developed a terrible habit of buying books almost impulsively, as the sorry state of my bank account testifies to. I entirely blame this on the fact that I have been more aware of the book community, both by being a blogger and by the fact that I follow the community quite diligently on twitter. Add that to the cherished friends I have made in the past year, and I am an easy target for the hype and allure of newly published books.

Some recent acquisitions this month include Illuminae, The Young Elites, Winter, and Soundless (courtesy of Owlcrate, which I ordered for the first time this month). Add to this the monster haul that I ordered from the annual Black Friday sale on BookOutlet, and I have quite a lot of reading to catch up on. I also read a few books, though not enough to be quite proud of, and not nearly enough enjoyment to satisfy my tastes. These include Tell the Wind and Fire, which was not quite as phenomenonal as I wanted it to be considering Sarah Rees Brennan is one of my favorite authors though my tastes may change by the time I write my review since it's teetering between stars; For the Record, which lasted an appalling chapter before I realized my inner bitterness was pooling over and was thus swiftly abandoned; Steal Me, which was as witty and fun as Layne's books usually are; With Every Breath, which did not suit my tastes and I realized the utter depth of my callousness because I couldn't muster up the polite amount of empathy for these two characters; and my favorite of the month: Long Way Down, the penultimate book in the Addicted Series, extended edition, which I adored and cried over a ton, this is one of those emotional ones that mercilessly destroy your heart and build it back up. As part of one of my most cherished series, this book will forever hold a special place in my heart. (Side note: this is a not-so-subtle reminder that you, my friend, should also embrace this venue into the tremendous sway of profound character development and life-investing worth romantic relationships, among other qualities.)

In terms of other media, I have the unfortunate terrible habit of watching one too many tv shows, or at least, starting them. I'm in the habit of going back to watch older shows, and such the shows I watch vary quite in age and genre. As of now, I just started the very well-received Jessica Jones, which is as exceptional as I expected, with a dark and gritty undertone often overlooked in the beloved Marvel cinematic features onscreen; The O.C., which was a purely impulsive choice, seeing as I was tempted by watching videos of cute TV show couples on Youtube, a truly deplorable habit, but it's quite amusing and I am breezing through it, a welcome change from the gritty realities of other shows; Criminal Minds, one of the aforementioned "gritty realities," a show that makes me question the safety of well, pretty much any location to live in; and Sherlock, which I'm ashamed to say I've never seen until my roommate finally talked me into starting it last month.

A well-deserved adieu to November with its relentless exams and sleep deprivation, and hello to December, where the daunting finals await me. I hope you have all been well, and let me know, have you seen any of these shows or read these books? I wish you all a very lovely December, the season of holidays and snow.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Long Way Down Blog Tour + Giveaway: Character Interview with Willow and Garrison

So today is the official release date for Long Way Down, the final book in the Calloway Sisters series and penultimate Addicted series book! *throws confetti across the room* And if you know anything about me, I have quite the strong fondness for two sweethearts in the series, and so for my tour stop I had the lovely and phenomenonal opportunity to interview the newest members to the books, Willow Moore and Garrison Abbey. And prepare yourself for a bucketload of feels because these two cutie pies are honestly giving me cavities from adorableness. Also be sure to check out the giveaway at the bottom of this post!

Hello Willow! And Garrison, welcome to my blog! I'm Eri, and I'd just like to say I’m honestly so excited to meet you both and so happy you had the chance to stop by! *resists urge to hug them both*

Willow: *sits on couch next to Garrison, close but not too close* I still can’t believe someone wants to interview us…we’re not cool—or at least I’m not that cool *pales a little*

Garrison: You’re definitely cool enough for an interview. I’d even want to interview you, Willow. *angles more towards her* Warm-up interview: what’s your favorite breakfast cereal?

Willow: Uhhh…*thinks for a second and pushes up her glasses* Fruity pebbles.

Garrison: See, you’re a natural at this. *watches her closely while she straightens up and smiles a little more*

So both of you are relatively new to the world of the Addicted gang, despite knowing them well from their reality show. What is the thing that surprised you the most about getting to see them as real people, and not celebrities? This is for both of you, feel free to share all thoughts.

Willow: …how much the paparazzi really challenges their daily lives. There are so many times where it’s really dangerous for them to even go to the mall or clothes shopping.

Garrison: yeah, that’s shit. I think Lily and Lo love fandoms too much to let the paparazzi bring them down though.

Willow, we saw from Whatever It Takes that you’ve become friends with Daisy and you’ve hung out with she and Ryke. I also know that you were a Raisy fan even before you met them. What is your favorite thing about Raisy?

Willow: well before I met them, I really loved how much they just seemed to fit together. *tugs at the strap of her overall in thought* Um, so she’s really spontaneous and carefree, and Ryke lets her be her. It’s different though, meeting them…knowing them. They’re a lot more than just adventurous. They’re kind and thoughtful too.

Garrison, you’ve faced Lo, Ryke, and Connor in hostile situations. Who do you find the most intimidating of the three and why?

Garrison: *slouches a little and pulls his hoodie off his head* At first, probably Ryke—he just has that whole I’m not afraid to get in your face if you fuck with me thing going on up here. *waves at his face* But it takes a serious amount of shit to actually fuck with Ryke. He’s nice. I don’t know Connor as well as Ryke and Lo, and it’s hard to get a read on him, ever. So I’d say Connor.

From the way you two seemed to get along in Fuel the Fire, it seems like you spend a lot of time together. Do you guys like to hang out outside of working at Superheroes & Scones, and where?

Willow: *pales a little* uh yeah, we hang out?

Garrison: *lips rise* why’d you say that like a question? We just hung out last night at her house—which is Lo’s house.

Willow: Just as friends.

Garrison: They know that. At least, they should.

Willow: *cleans the lenses to her glasses with her overalls* we also sometimes hang out at the movie theater, just to watch movies.

Garrison: *nods*

And now a fun question. What are your favorite pizza toppings?

Garrison: pepperoni. Just keeping it classic.

Willow: Black olives.

Garrison: *makes a face* you can have all of my black olives.

Willow: You can have my pepperoni.

Garrison: pizza friendship, best kind there is.

Both of you have played interesting roles in the Addicted universe…what can we expect from your appearances in Long Way Down?

Willow: *nervously checks over her shoulder* I think the Calloway’s publicist said we can’t answer.

Garrison: yeah, that guy has told me to keep my mouth shut about five times already.

As you’ve become good friends, I’m sure you’ve gotten to know each other well. Willow what do you think is Garrison’s best quality and vice versa for Garrison?

Willow: *eyes flicker to him, but he’s staring at his shoes mostly* he can be really considerate in his own way…and he loves pizza.

Garrison: *slowly begins to smile at her comment* Willow is one of the bravest people I’ve ever met.

You both have had your lives changed, for the better I'd like to say, by Loren Hale. Seeing where you are now, what would you say to him if you were to both go back to the moment you met him for the first time?

Garrison: I’m sorry that I’m about to make your life shit *looks away*

Willow: *scoots a little closer to Garrison* I think I’d say…thanks for accepting me when you could’ve pushed me away. I’m happy you let me be a part of your life.

For fun, what are your favorite snacks?

Garrison: She likes Wheat Thins, and when she was back living in an apartment, that’s literally all she had in her cupboards.

Willow: not true, you brought over Gold Fish. *looks to Eri* that’s his favorite snack.

Now, for our last question, have either of you ever thought of moving past friendship, and maybe dating? You've both insisted you're friends in Fuel the Fire, but I'm sure I'm not the only person who's thought that there could be something more in your relationship in each other. You don't have to answer this of course, but just something I have been very anxious to know.

Willow: *sits stiffly with wide-eyes* uh…

Garrison: Just friends. Right? *looks at Willow*

Willow: *nods* Just friends.

Thank you so much! I hope you two have a lovely day!

Willow: thanks for having us. I really hope my answers made sense.

Garrison: they definitely did. *whispers in her ear*

Willow: *nods and they rise together; his hand falls into hers and he leads her out of the interview room*

*sighs wistfully watching the two leave the room* Was that not the most adorable thing ever? I'm biased but I still love this pair so much <3 Count me in for future appearances of these two!

Title: Long Way Down
Authors: Krista & Becca Ritchie
Series: Calloway Sisters #4
Pub Date: November 20th, 2015
With a seven-year age difference, Ryke & Daisy have faced an uphill battle in the eyes of the world andtheir families. Known as the most adventurous, fast-paced couple — their next step has always been elusive to the rabid media.

Behind the scenes, heartbreaking troubles continue to test Ryke & Daisy’s resilience and shape their future together.

They promise:
To never slow down.
To never compromise who they are.
To never abandon their love for each other.

But preserving their happiness also means adding more risks. Ones that Connor Cobalt wouldn’t even take. As a professional free-solo climber, Ryke is no stranger to risk, but his next step with Daisy wagers more than just his health.

With their lives on the line, Ryke & Daisy head towards the vast, wild unknown in this epic final conclusion to the Addicted series. - Goodreads

Krista & Becca Ritchie are New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors and identical twins—one a science nerd, the other a comic book geek—but with their shared passion for writing, they combined their mental powers as kids and have never stopped telling stories. Now in their early twenties, they write about other twenty-somethings navigating through life, college, and romance. They love superheroes, flawed characters, and soul mate love.

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Tumblr / Pinterest / Instagram

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Monday, November 16, 2015

Every Word Blog Tour + Giveaway: Five Zany Questions with Ellie Marney

Hello, welcome to Airy Reads, and this stop on the Every Word blog tour! I'm so thrilled to have Ellie here, especially since I am a die-hard fan of Wattscroft and the Every series. For those of you who have the misfortune of not having read these books yet, here's a little snippet of my thoughts about these books, mostly about Rachel and Mycroft hah.Also, at the end of this post I've included instructions on how to enter to win a copy of your own, so keep your eyes open for that.
Between the banter and the chemistry, the high stakes and menacing villains, and my beloved Rachel and Mycroft, this book has everything you could want in a YA thriller and hands it to you on a silver platter. - taken from my review of Every Word 

James Mycroft and Rachel Watts, our Holmes-Watson pair, are fabulous characters. They are teenagers, with just the right amount of snark and banter in them (i.e. a tad too much to be healthy), and were a delight to read about. - taken from my review of Every Breath 

1. ‘Rachel Watts and James Mycroft have the lurve of all lurves and OTP and Wattscroft foreva’ – discuss:

I am so not the person to answer this question! Because seriously, I’m a bit in love with Mycroft myself – I mean, I have to be, right? I made him up, after all… Would I fight Rachel for him? Uh – no. That girl has some seriously kick-arse moves, and I think that after all they’ve gone through together, she deserves to get her guy.

But honestly, I do think Rachel and James have something that’s more solid than just a high school crush. Their relationship is based first and foremost on friendship – which, to my understanding, is always the best basis for long-term togetherness.

Points against: they are both still teenagers. That is actually one of the things I sometimes struggle with in YA, that there’s this fixed idea that romance between teenagers in high school will be The One Love For All Time, when rationally we know that this is kind of rare in real life – I mean, most people get together in their 20s or 30s. But it’s nice to believe it could happen. I don’t know many couples that got together in high school and stayed for the long haul, but I know a few, and I believe it will happen for Rachel and James (well, I definitely like to think so).

Points for: in terms of potential ‘OTP forever’, they have a couple of things going for them. For one, James is a very passionate guy (ahem), and he’s the kind of person who would carry a flame for a long time. So, yeah, enduring passion ftw! And for her part, Rachel is loyal – in fact, that’s one of her most defining character traits. They’ve been through a lot together, they’ve kind of got bonds that have been forged in fire – actually literally, in Every Word – so I’m optimistic.

So sure, they’re teenagers, and the odds might not be stacked in their favor…but I happen to think this one’s a keeper.

2. Every Word gets a 5-star Kirkus review and breaks records on the NYT Bestseller List, and a famous bartender at the Ritz-Carlton makes a cocktail in its honour. What’s in the cocktail and what is it called:

The cocktail is called Anarchist’s Cookbook, and it contains one part Irish Whiskey, one part Malibu (which is a rather disgusting coconut-rum liqueur popular here in Australia, which always reminds me of summer and being a teenager – make of that what you will), one part Passion Pop (another delightful cask wine which was the cheapest plonk on the market when I was eighteen and tasted vaguely of passion fruit), two parts Guinness (a form of stout), and one part rocket fuel.

The bartender presents it in a delicate crystal glass, then sets it on fire and sprays it around the room at all the other patrons.

3. Writing Must-Haves – snacks, drinks, music…whatever:

CHOCOLATE, THERE MUST BE CHOCOLATE. Preferably of the dark 70% cocoa type, and preferably Lindt. You could throw in some nuts, too – cashew nuts or walnuts are okay, but no almonds, cos those things get stuck in your teeth.

There must be gallons of strong tea, boiled in a saucepan and dolloped with condensed milk (a vice that Mycroft and I share). Late at night, there must be coffee – instant, and also with condensed milk.  There must be no music whatsoever, except the soundtrack playing in my head.

4. What is Sherlock Holmes’ bedroom really like? (If you read the book, you'll know that besides getting caught up in mysteries of her own, Rachel also gets a chance to go sightseeing in London, and what better way to have fun than to visit the illustrious detective himself?)

Quite odd, and not as private as you’d think. See this pic?

This is the photo I took when I went to visit the Sherlock Holmes Museum in London – yes, it’s really real, it’s not something I just made up for the book, and it’s really at 221B Baker Street. Apparently the people who run the museum bought the title for the address some time ago – it used to be a bank, and the legend goes that the bank-folk used to get so many letters addressed to Holmes sent to them that they were quite happy to sell off the property when the opportunity arose!

As a bonus, how does Mycroft compare to Sherlock Holmes, in terms of their bedrooms?

I guess the primary difference between the 'real' Sherlock's bedroom and Mycroft's would be...well, Mycroft has no lace doilies, for one, and for two, Mycroft's chemistry set is right in his bedroom, whereas Sherlock's is in his living room. Also, I think Mycroft's room has significantly more dirty clothes thrown around in it, and the computer... Yep, things have certainly changed since 1880's London :)

5. Something important about my writing process I’d like to share:

When I start a new book, I generally begin the writing in little exercise books – like the notebooks you use in primary school. I write snippets of dialogue, and scene ideas, and notes on characters, and pretty words, and it’s all very messy and not at all organised. Then when I feel like the ideas are actually starting to take shape, I type up what I’ve got in a doc on my laptop, and then I work on the laptop almost exclusively.

I generally use most of the snippets I wrote out by hand. For some reason, writing by hand gets my mind working in a different way to typing on the ‘puter.

And I’m not a ‘linear narrative’ person, especially not at the start. All the snippets and scenes and dialogue outtakes get pieced together like a patchwork quilt first. That’s how I know if something is really working – when the snippets start to reproduce and multiply, and then I HAVE to get it down on the laptop, and then I can start the process of crafting a story that’s strung together like (to use a Hannibal Lecter metaphor) add-a-beads. Once I have a skeleton structure, then I can add flesh to the bones of the story.

Writing Every Word, the first scene I wrote was actually the warehouse make-out scene. And then I wrote the scene where Rachel tells off Detective Pickup at the police station. And then I wrote the scene with the explosion. See? I’m really not an organised person at all!

Title: Every Word
Authors: Ellie Marney
Series: Every #2
Pub Date: September 8th, 2015
James Mycroft has just left for London to investigate a car accident similar to the one that killed his parents seven years ago...without saying goodbye to Rachel Watts, his 'partner in crime'.

Rachel is furious and worried about his strange behaviour - not that Mycroft's ever exactly normal, but London is the scene of so many of his nightmares. So Rachel jumps on a plane to follow him...and lands straight in a whole storm of trouble.

The theft of a copy of Shakespeare's First Folio, the possible murder of a rare books conservator, and the deaths of Mycroft's parents...Can Watts help Mycroft make sense of the three events - or will she lose him forever?

Sparks fly when Watts and Mycroft reunite in this second sophisticated thriller about the teen sleuthing duo. - Goodreads

Ellie Marney was born in Brisbane, and has lived in Indonesia,Singapore and India. Now she writes, teaches, talks about kid’s literature at libraries and schools, and gardens when she can, while living in a country idyll (actually a very messy wooden house on ten acres with a dog and lots of chickens) near Castlemaine, in north-central Victoria. Her partner and four sons still love her, even though she often forgets things and lets the housework go.

Ellie’s short stories for adults have won awards and been published in various anthologies. Every Breath is her first novel for young adults.

Thank you so much to Ellie Marney and Tundra Books for this wonderful opportunity and I hope everyone gets a chance to pick up this marvelous series, it's a decision you will surely not regret! To win a copy of this book (US and Canada only), enter the Rafflecopter below. And be sure to follow the rest of the blog tour here.

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Monday, November 9, 2015

Halsey Book Tag

I was tagged by the ever lovely Lisa on tumblr which you can find here.

Castle: Your Favorite Queen

Quintana of Charyn my love and heart goes to you.

Hold Me Down: A Series You Can't Seem to Quit, No Matter How Hard You Try

I thought I quit the Shadowhunters franchise but nope, I'm currently trying to finish The Mortal Instruments because there's a new Shadowhunters series set in Los Angeles and I'm dying to know about this Emma Carstairs and Julian Blackthorn. I fall quite easily for best friends who may or may not fall in love. 

New Americana: The Fictional Friend Group You'd Want to Be Your Fight the Apocalypse Squad

The Rephaim series characters are definitely who I'd need as my Fight the Apocalypse squad. They're fierce, strong, and the best fighters who look better than you ever could killing and slaughtering monsters.

Drive: A Couple that Needs to Communicate Better

I don't know any pairings that have severe problems with communicating except maybe Kami Glass and Jared Lynburn, especially on Jared's part.

Hurricane: Favorite Standalone

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. My favorite authors tend to write series, which I am grateful for, but this book eclipses most books, and transcends everything, and will reduce to mere rubble and tears.

Roman Holiday: Cutest Contemporary Couple

ZACHARY GOODE AND CAMMIE MORGAN? Relationships that start with M&Ms stay together forever these two are the most precious adorable piece of the universe to exist I love them with all my heart and I would die if they don't have a wedding featuring my favorite characters.

Ghost: Most Tragic Break-up

Does it count if they get back together? Because Lucien and Phaedra from a certain beautiful series, break my heart almost every time I reread their scenes.

Colors: One of Your Faves Who Hurts You A Lot Because They Make Terrible Decisions

Garrison makes a lot of questionable choices before he became my fave and Magnus Damora just needs to get his shit together. And also Lisa mentioned Mycroft, and this is true he needs a girl like Rachel around to keep sane.

Strange Love: Character A Lot of People Don't Get But You Absolutely Love

Garrison Abbey from the Addicted Series, which many people don't get because he's a juvenile delinquent but man this kid has so much potential and he's got heart that no one can see and I JUST HAVE SO MANY FEELINGS ABOUT HIM.

Coming Down: Best Sexy Times Scene

Everyone says Coballoway (a pairing from my all-time favorite New Adult series) but honestly sometimes their scenes make me very anxious and nervous because of their very explicit nature, so I'd say certain scenes in Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas or A Rogue by Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean.

Haunting: A Book or Character That You're Still Thinking About

I constantly worry over Willow Moore from the Addicted Series I spend hours agonizing over her and my love Garrison Abbey because I am highly concerned over their well-being and if they're enjoying school and not getting bullied for highly classified reasons. I also think about Grace from the Embassy Row series a lot and I'm scared for her mental and emotional state often.

Gasoline: Favorite (Self-)Destructive Character

Jared Lynburn from the Lynburn Legacy series is hands-down quite the most self-destructive character I have met, and also one of my favorite characters ever.

Control: Best Villain

Rob Lynburn is one of the best villains that I have read about, and so is Scott Van Wright.

Young God: Characters That Secretly Worship Each Other

Princess Cleo and Magnus Damora most definitely have feelings for each other, and are also quite confused about them and being locked in a room together would infinitely improve their current relationship.

Walk the Line: Best Retelling/Reworking

I've always had a very fond spot for the Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor which featured magic and romance and adventure a delightful twist on the original classic. And of course, the Percy Jackson series is always close to my heart, with the beloved demigod characters and its fun and whimsical take on the idea of Greek mythology living and breathing in the modern world.

Is There Somewhere: OTP With Obstacles

So I haven't read everyone's go to struggling in the romance department The Winners Curse but I think I'd go with Luca and Sophie in Vendetta because that pair just has a lot of potential yet are somewhat starcrossed plus there is the awkward matter of Luca's brother who reminds me in a very annoying manner, of Romeo.

Empty Gold: An OTP That Became a NOTP

So when I first starting reading the wonderful Lumatere Chronicles...I so thought that Lucien and Celie would be a thing...and yeah that ended in an interesting manner. Needless to say, my friends were laughing at me when I told them about this, as they kindly informed me later on.

Trouble: Toxic Relationship You Ship Even Though You Know Better

Maven and Mare from Red Queen. I adored this book when I read it earlier this year, and while realistically I should not see these two characters romantically together, I can't help it. I have very strong feelings towards Maven, and this leads me to this ship.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Uppercase Unboxing + Review

This isn't quite a book review, but it does involve books, so I thought it would be fun blog post to write up. And besides, I was just so excited about this that I couldn't help myself. (Spoiler: this involves pretty things and oohing and aahing)

Over the past weekend, I received a lovely package from Uppercase. It's my first book subscription  box that I've ordered, and I must say I'm very pleased at the result. Here's a snap shot of everything I received, which came in the lovely Uppercase cloth bag pictured on the side.

Note: I was very impressed by how quickly my items arrived since they shipped via Priority Mail and for me, it arrived two days after I was sent an email from Lisa that the Uppercase packages had been shipped.

And a closer look at everything I received:

First up, I received a very charming tin of mints that were Alice In Wonderland themed.

They are very cute and I may just keep the tin after I finish the mints because the packaging is too cute to throw away.

Next up, keeping in with the theme of Alice in Wonderland, there was a coin purse with the Mad Hatter, who is one of my favorite characters in the book.

 And on the back, there is a quote from the Mad Hatter himself, and I love it so much.

It's yellow and roomy enough that I could easily stash receipts and other things that I undoubtedly end up with when I go shopping, being a lazy being like myself.

Then there was a pleasant surprise in the form of book swag from Fierce Reads.

The Lunar Chronicles is a series that I adore, and these tattoos are so glitz and glam, and the shades of gold and silver are simply lovely. 

This also came with a bookplate signed by the author, which I promptly stuck in my book because it looks so nice doesn't it?

The actual book itself for this month's Uppercase was First & Then, which has the most charming cover I've ever seen. The rainbow raindrops are gorgeous, and the bonus is that when you take the dustjacket off, you get an even more lovely surprise. 

The book is embossed! With the same raindrop pattern forming hearts, and it's blue. Coincidentally, blue is my favorite color, so this book is perfectly packaged, with a cute premise to match.

Also pictured is a note written from Lisa, the founder of Uppercase, and the one who selects the books to send out every month. The handwritten note personally addressed to me was a very sweet touch and the premise that the book First & Then is Pride and Prejudice meets Friday Night Lights has my interest piqued.

In conclusion, I am a very happy girl and this was a very pleasant bright spot in the otherwise gloomy week, especially because midterms, which are quite intimidating and stressful. I'll get back to you all with updates when I read this book, but with a premise like this, I'm sure it won't disappoint! Sorry this is such a brief post, but how is everyone else's week going? I hope it's been well for you all, and I'll get back to you with an update on all of the wonderful books that I've been reading.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Flashback Friday #1: Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy (Gallagher Girls #2) by Ally Carter

Having taken up reading as a young child, I am in the dilemma where I have read far more books than I have ever taken the time to appreciate and write reviews for. Thus this corner is going to be where I take a moment to pick a book I've read when I was younger, reread it, and share my love and thoughts on it in an attempt to revisit some old gems.

Published: December 23rd 2008
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes&Noble / Book Depository
After staking out, obtaining, and then being forced to give up her first boyfriend, Josh, all Cammie Morgan wants is a peaceful semester. But that's easier said than done when you're a CIA legacy and go to the premier school in the world . . . for spies. Cammie may have a genius I.Q., but there are still a lot of things she doesn't know. Like, will her ex-boyfriend even remember she exists? And how much trouble is she really in after what happened last semester? And most of all, why is her mother acting so strangely? Despite Cammie's best intentions to be a normal student, danger seems to follow her. She and her friends learn that their school is going to play host to some mysterious guests--code name: Blackthorne. Then she's blamed for a security breach that leaves the school's top secret status at risk. Soon, Cammie and her friends are crawling through walls and surveilling the school to learn the truth about Blackthorne and clear Cammie's name. Even though they have confidence in their spy skills, this time the targets are tougher (and hotter), and the stakes for Cammie's heart--and her beloved school--are higher than ever. - Goodreads

Reading this brought back all of the memories of why I love this series so much. Why despite having read this for the first time five years ago, I still push it up to the top of my favorite books list all the time.

This book is my comfort food, and without fail, it always make me smile and swoon and laugh and a tad sad at times.

Cammie is one of my favorite girls ever, perhaps because of her endearing awkwardness, something I relate to quite well, and her honestly entertaining commentary and thoughts. She's natural, despite her impressive skills as a spy-in-training, and a normal teenage girl suffering from the lingering effects of The Subject (to prevent spoilers).

She has her own loyal crew of her friends: the charmer Bex, genius Liz, and versed in real-world Macey (who is one of my favorites surprisingly. Plus introduce us to Preston soon please.)

Friendships are a strong part of Ally Carter's books and I love that about her books. From Bex with her kick-butt attitude and fierce loyalty, to Liz with her sweet and optimistic outlook that never fails to make me smile, to Macey and her much-needed boy translations and her grounded cool, they're the best friends a girl could ask for.
I started to protest, to hang back and buy a few more seconds, but Macey grasped my shoulders and spun me around to see Bex. And Liz. Both of them were smiling.
And we can never forget the romance aka the first meeting between Cammie and my true love Zach, the kind of boy that makes you lose your cool and looks good doing it. I'm infinitely biased in saying this, but despite his smirky-ness I ABSOLUTELY love this guy. (But then again, I may have been slightly irritated and frustrated by him at first when I read it before.) He's charming, handsome, and for Cammie, the girl who is still figuring out the mystery of boys, confusing. He's not without his moments though, and I loved seeing the different faces he seems to have.
"You're the Gallagher Girl. You figure it out."
One of the shining points in this series for me is the touch of serious, heartfelt moments that dot the pages of the books. While they can be a bit fluffy at times, and charming and more cutesy than you'd expect from a spy book, the moments when a character drops their guard(which rarely happens when you're a spy-in-training), and you see them.
Or maybe crying is like everything else we do—it's best if you don't get caught.
If you've never read this series, I highly recommend it, for the wonderful experience that is sure to follow and you'll be wishing you were a Gallagher Girl along with the rest of us. :)

My Rating: ★★★

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Every Word (Every #2) by Ellie Marney

Published: September 8th 2015
Publisher: Tundra Books
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes&Noble / Book Depository
Goodreads: What if Sherlock Holmes was the boy next door? A smart, sexy, fast-paced thriller from new YA sensation Ellie Marney. The second book in the Every series.

James Mycroft has just left for London to investigate a car accident similar to the one that killed his parents ... without saying goodbye to Rachel Watts, his 'partner in crime'.

Rachel is furious and worried about his strange behavior - not that Mycroft's ever exactly normal, but London is the scene of so many of his nightmares. So Rachel jumps on a plane to follow him ... and lands straight in a whole storm of trouble.

The theft of a copy of Shakespeare's First Folio, the possible murder of a rare books conservator, and the deaths of Mycroft's parents.... Can Watts help Mycroft make sense of the three events - or will she lose him forever?

I loved the predecessor to this book, Every Breath, so I expected great things from this one as well. And this did not disappoint.

Rachel Watts and James Mycroft are back in Every Word, where the stakes are higher and the case isn't just bigger, it's out of their country. Or to be more precise, in London. The story is darker than the first book, and carries over nicely from the rather morbid turn that the first book took us to. It's something I don't see often in YA mystery books but Ellie Marney does quite well; which is having repercussions and consequences for the somewhat reckless moves that sleuthing teens take in order to get to the heart of things. This book gave me chills in all the right places and the adrenaline rush that rushes as I followed Watts and Mycroft through their antics in this book.

Also, many times, when I read a sequel to a book where a pair have gotten together, the chemistry seems to dull down, leaving me wanting. That was not the case with Every Word. There was, dare I say, even more physical and sexual tension between the two teens, and the scenes between them fairly sparked. It was exactly the kind of material that I wanted from a pair with such great chemistry between them and I definitely swooned once or twice because of it.
I turn his head to get back to his mouth, and these kisses are so deep that he is a part of me, he is mine and I am his. (taken from ARC~5%)
Even with the physical chemistry that they shared, they still have that award-winning banter and camaderie in this book that I loved so much even before they became a couple. They're an ideal pair, and definitely going on my top YA couples list.

And of course, before I get too carried away, about the mystery man himself. Mycroft's dangerous fixation on his parents' death is seen much more clearly in this book, as he jets off to London in order to investigate, leaving Rachel behind. We get a chance to see the broken boy behind the bluster and arrogance of the kid with Sherlock-Holmes-worthy skills and intuition.
"Mycroft's good at acting like a grown uphe's always good at acting. . ." (taken from ARC~16%)
It broke my heart to see just how deeply he was hurt by his past and Rachel's attempts to get past and break down those barriers was a heartache in itself. But at the same time, I liked that she faced the issue head-on, because as I said earlier, it's harder to see books where pairings work out their issues after they've started dating and don't gloss over the difficulties of being in a relationship where one is closed off or dealing with unresolved problems. I was reeled in by the parts of the book where Mycroft lets his barriers down a bit as we learn a little more about his past and seeing the bond between these two characters, how there's more than just the palpable tension connecting them.

Rachel herself is a character that I admire and love. She's not just the foil to Mycroft's brilliance, but she's smart and witty, with revelations and sleuthing skills of her own. She can keep up with Mycroft's difficult train of thought, and her determination and caring for him is what he needs despite his efforts to push her away at times.

There is also a lot more going on in this book than in its predecessor and I was impressed and a little spellbound as I sped through this book and its sharp twists and turns. There are certain moments that I thought the book wouldn't go past a certain point, but then kept going, and I had to remember to take deep breaths as the two main characters shot off into the depths of danger. The mystery they're involved in isn't fun and cute, but very real and intense, which is something that I personally loved.

Between the banter and the chemistry, the high stakes and menacing villains, and my beloved Rachel and Mycroft, this book has everything you could want in a YA thriller and hands it to you on a silver platter. I wholeheartedly recommend both the first and second book, and most likely the third one, whenever I get my hands on it.

Thank you to Tundra Books and Netgalley for the advance copy of this book.

My Rating: ★★★★★

Friday, August 7, 2015

Series Wrap-Up: The Drake Chronicles by Alyxandra Harvey (Part 2)

Bleeding Hearts

Title: Bleeding Hearts (The Drake Chronicles #4)
Author: Alyxandra Harvey
Published: December 20th 2011
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes&Noble / Book Depository

Violet Hill is under attack by the ruthless Hel-Blar vampires, who are determined to take their rightful place alongside the other vampire clans at the Blood Moon. The Royal Drakes might be powerful, but their love for a mere human—Lucy—makes them vulnerable. The Hel-Blar don’t count on targeting Lucy’s innocent cousin Christabel by mistake.  And Christabel didn’t count on finding such drama in a sleepy town like Violet Hill—or being rescued by a vampire as tempting as Connor Drake. - Goodreads Summary

We're back to Lucy's POV, although there's the introduction of Christabel, who gets her own POV and is Lucy's cousin. She and Connor share sparks, which was cute to read about since they were so sweet together. What I do like about this series is that it's not just romance, but there's a pretty well-developed plot and structured vampire society that exists and we get to learn about the different types in addition to the political struggle that exists due to Solange's prophecy. And it's balanced nicely with the snarky humor and the cute and swoony romance which makes this series a gem to read. Also, Nicholas and Lucy are pretty much the perfect couple and I love them together so damn much.

My Rating: ★★★★

Blood Moon

Title: Blood Moon (The Drake Chronicles #5)
Author: Alyxandra Harvey
Published: June 19th 2012
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes&Noble / Book Depository

When the vampire tribes convene for the rare Blood Moon ceremonies, Solange Drake is plunged into a battle with her feral nature. The Drake brothers have been raised knowing that they had to protect their younger sister at all cost. But forbidden magic and a mysterious stranger have put them all in terrible danger.

Nicholas is going to have to make a difficult choice: between his girlfriend, Lucy, and his little sister, Solange- blood, or love? - Goodreads Summary

In this book, besides Lucy and Solange, we had Nicholas's POV, which was one of my favorite parts of this book. The tables have shifted far from the first book when we had Solange's POV, and the build-up in the last few books doesn't disappoint, as Solange finds herself in a very dangerous place, emotionally and physically. On the other hand, Lucy is fiercer than ever, and I loved her loyalty and especially her courage. And lastly, Nicholas, who I love so much, made this book an absolute joy, especially since the plot took a surprising turn on his part, which gave me some heart-wrenching moments that made my toes curl.

My Rating: ★★★★

Blood Prophecy
Title: Blood Prophecy (The Drake Chronicles #6)
Author: Alyxandra Harvey
Published: December 24th 2012
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes&Noble / Book Depository
Solange Drake has been officially crowned Queen of the Vampires, fulfilling the centuries old prophecy that foretold the rise to power of a daughter born to an ancient vampire line. Except Solange's thoughts and actions are no longer her own-she's been slowly being possessed by the spirit of Viola, the first daughter born into the Drake line, since her bloodchange. And instead of uniting the vampire tribes under the rule of an ancient daughter as the prophecy predicted, Viola would rather destroy them all and enslave humans in a personal vendetta for the devastation both wrought to her life centuries ago. Can Solange break her hold in time to save everyone she loves from a vampire civil war, hunter attack, and each other? Not everyone will survive the prophecy . . . perhaps not even her. - Goodreads Summary

The conclusion of this series was, as a whole, quite satisfying. There was kick-butt action and drizzle of romance, snarky remarks and a few plot twists that were a pleasant jolt of surprise. I feel like the series started off strong before it dipped as we approached the end, but I am still very fond of the cast of the characters and I will miss them especially Lucy and Nicholas, a lot. The constant changing of POVs deterred my proper enjoyment, but this is still worth a read if you love the inhabitants of Violet Hill as much as I do.

My Rating: ★★★(3.5 stars)

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Fairytale Retellings I've Read/Want To Read

*Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Fairytale retellings are one of my favorite kinds of books and I am always eager to read the twists and turns that authors come up with to breathe new life into these age-old tales. Here are a few of my favorites, and a few that I have been dying to read.
If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairytales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairytales. - Albert Einstein

1. The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor
This particular retelling of Alice in Wonderland was whimsical and fun. The idea of imagination being magic, one that could be used for good or evil, and the various twists on the familiar features in the original was absolutely charming.

2. Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross
I loved this one, because of the town that it is set in: Beau Rivage, a magical and cursed place. I also loved the twist on the characters in the story, who are doomed to whatever fairytale destiny they have been born with. Some of the scenes, especially the ones with my favorite character Blue, hurt my heart and it was hard not to enjoy this magical read.

3.Cinder by Marissa Meyer
No list of fairytale retellings would be complete without this book, which is the first in the popular Lunar Chronicles. Although I enjoy this series, Cinder, based on the ever classic Cinderella, is by far my favorite. There is something endearing about Cinder, the main character, and her heart and courage in the face of the swirling obstacles that face her in these books; and how Marissa has taken the fairytale and transformed it by setting it in a futuristic world that is vivid and fascinating.

4. Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Cruel Beauty is a retelling I enjoyed, because of the different shades of morality each of the characters had and the complex emotions that twist our actions as a result. And Rosamund Hodge's writing is gorgeous, which made this book a pleasure to read.

5. Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge
I have been looking forward to this book due to two reasons: it was based on not only one, but two fairytales, and I enjoyed her other book Cruel Beauty. Little Red Riding Hood and The Girl with No Hands. I have never read a book based off of the latter tale, and so I am keen on finding out how the themes of it will be incorporated with Little Red Riding Hood, specifically the idea of cannibalism that the author explored.

6. Tell the Wind and the Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan
This is one of my most highly anticipated reads for 2016 because Sarah Rees Brennan wrote the Lynburn Legacy series, which I adore and I have been excited for this book for quite a while. I've read A Tale of Two Cities, and I'm curious as to how the book will incorporate the themes of such a classic, and doppelgangers always add a rather nice twist to things.

7. The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore
While Romeo and Juliet has never really resounded with me, I am always interested in retellings of it, a rather ironic statement. This one features two acrobat performing families, and I'm very interested in finding out more about the main characters who will doom themselves to love, as all Romeo and Juliet-inspired characters will end up doing.

8. Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson
I have had this book on my tbr list for quite a while now, but I have been hesitant on buying it, because I have heard how devastating it can be from some of my friends. Peter Pan is always a joy, but knowing what we all know about Peter and Wendy, you can already see how this will inevitably end tragically, as the synopsis seems to hint, and I hope to have my heart crushed soon with this.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Series Wrap-Up : The Drake Chronicles by Alyxandra Harvey (Part 1)

*warning* - my reviews are spoiler-free, but reading the synopsises of the following books will reveal spoilers from the book before so please be wary if you haven't read these books before

Hearts at Stake
Title: Hearts at Stake (The Drake Chronicles #1)
Author: Alyxandra Harvey
Published: December 22nd 2009
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes&Noble / Book Depository
On Solange’s sixteenth birthday, she is going to wake up dead. As if that’s not bad enough, she also has to outwit her seven overprotective older brothers, avoid the politics involved with being the only daughter born to an ancient vampire dynasty, and elude Kieran Black—agent of an anti-vampire league who is searching for his father’s killer and is intent on staking Solange and her entire family.

Luckily she has her own secret weapon—her human best friend Lucy—who is willing to defend Solange’s right to a normal life, whether she’s being smothered by her well-intentioned brothers or abducted by a power-hungry queen. Two unlikely alliances are formed in a race to save Solange’s eternal life—Lucy and Solange’s brother Nicholas, and Solange and Kieran Black—in a dual romance that is guaranteed to jump start any romance-lover’s heart. Goodreads Summary

I forgot how much fun this book was. Lucy is such a great character, witty and sharp, plus her inner monologue is hilarious. She's one of my favorite heroines to read about. She's sassy, quick-witted and hilarious. And she is a hell of a best friend to Solange, the other main character in this book. Of course, her banter and chemistry with Nicholas is wonderful as well and I loved those two together. It's always cute to see the bickering pairings who end up together.

Solange is a great girl, although I still prefer Lucy's POV. I like how despite her "princess" status, she's still a regular teenage girl, and the way she and Lucy have each others' backs is sweet. And I wholly empathized with her for the way she's swarmed by "suitors" who want her for her prophetic existence. Being a teen is work enough without throwing in a creepy vampire lord trying to court you and getting attacked at every turn. And I loved her bond with her brothers, overprotective as they may have been, and how grounded she is throughout the whole book.

Overall, entertaining and quick read. This book has action, romance, fun, sibling relationships (cute and hilarious), with an impressive world to fall into. The vampire community/hierarchy is fascinating and it's definitely a book to read to put yourself in a good mood.

My Rating: ★★★★ (4.5 stars)

Blood Feud
Title: Blood Feud (The Drake Chronicles #2)
Author: Alyxandra Harvey
Published: June 22nd 2010
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes&Noble / Book Depository
It's been centuries since Isabeau St. Croix barely survived the French Revolution. Now she's made her way back to the living and she must face the ultimate test by confronting the evil British lord who left her for dead the day she turned into a vampire. That's if she can control her affection for Logan Drake, a vampire whose bite is as sweet as the revenge she seeks.

The clans are gathering for Helena's royal coronation as the next vampire queen, and new alliances are beginning to form now that the old rifts of Lady Natasha's reign have started to heal. But with a new common enemy, Leander Montmarte—a vicious leader who hopes to force Solange to marry him and usurp the power of the throne for himself—the clans must stand together to preserve the peace he threatens to destroy.

While I still hold Lucy and Nicholas to be my favorite pair in this series, I did really enjoy this one. It was interesting to see another aspect of the vampiric culture, the mysterious Hounds. I loved Isabeau and Logan (especially how he knew his eighteenth century etiquette which is pretty impressive), their chemistry and the plot  that was pretty fast-paced and kept things interesting.

I liked that we got a glimpse at both Lucy and Nicholas, in addition to Solange and Kieran, and while this series has a more impressive cast than most, everyone has little quirks and personality that add to the overall fun tone of this series.

My Rating: ★★★★ 

Out for Blood

Title: Out for Blood (The Drake Chronicles #3)
Author: Alyxandra Harvey
Published: December 21st 2010
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes&Noble / Book Depository
Hunter Wild is the youngest in a long line of elite vampire hunters, a legacy that is both a blessing and a curse at the secret Helios-Ra Academy, where she excels at just about everything. Thanks to her friendship with Kieran Black, Hunter receives a special invitation to attend the coronation of Helena Drake, and for the first time, she sees the difference between vampires that must be hunted and vampires that can become friends-or even more. When students at the academy fall victim to a mysterious illness, Hunter suspects they are under attack from within. She will need someone she can trust to help her save the future of Helios-Ra . . . help that shockingly comes in the form of Quinn Drake, a drop-dead gorgeous vampire. Who said senior year would be easy?

Besides Nicholas, Quinn has been my favorite Drake boy. He's a flirt yes, but he's fun, and you have to admit, someone who can grin while he's fighting is impressive. And Hunter is kick-ass, well deserving of her family's reputation. I loved the banter between these two characters and I had so much fun when these two had scenes together, especially when they were fighting, either each other or other people. I liked seeing the Helios-Ra Academy and the mysterious illness plaguing the students was interesting. In addition, it revealed interesting layers among the vampire hunter community, which we didn't get to see in the previous books.

Of course, we see the other couples pop in and out as well, and what I love about this series is how connected the characters are to each other, how supportive and loving they are underneath the parrying of quips and remarks.

My Rating: ★★★★

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday #2: The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #1) by Rick Riordan

*Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme that is hosted Breaking the Spine.

The Sword of Summer
Published:October 6th 2015
Publisher:Disney Hyperion Books

Magnus Chase has always been a troubled kid. Since his mother’s mysterious death, he’s lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits, keeping one step ahead of the police and the truant officers.

One day, he’s tracked down by a man he’s never met—a man his mother claimed was dangerous. The man tells him an impossible secret: Magnus is the son of a Norse god.

The Viking myths are true. The gods of Asgard are preparing for war. Trolls, giants and worse monsters are stirring for doomsday. To prevent Ragnarok, Magnus must search the Nine Worlds for a weapon that has been lost for thousands of years.

When an attack by fire giants forces him to choose between his own safety and the lives of hundreds of innocents, Magnus makes a fatal decision.

Sometimes, the only way to start a new life is to die . . . - Goodreads Summary

I was a massive fan of Riordan's Percy Jackson series and so I was very excited when I heard about this series, which he had hinted about a year or two ago. I don't know too much about Norse mythology, but I'm sure this will be a fun and entertaining start to a brand new series.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson

Second Chance Summer
Published: May 6th 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes&Noble / Book Depository
It was Sloane who yanked Emily out of her shell and made life 100% interesting. But right before what should have been the most epic summer, Sloane just…disappears. All she leaves behind is a to-do list.

On it, thirteen Sloane-inspired tasks that Emily would normally never try. But what if they could bring her best friend back?

Apple picking at night? Okay, easy enough.

Dance until dawn? Sure. Why not?

Kiss a stranger? Um...

Emily now has this unexpected summer, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected), to check things off Sloane's list. Who knows what she’ll find?

Go skinny-dipping? Wait...what?

For some reason I never realized that Morgan wrote both Second Chance Summer and Amy and Roger's Epic Detour, both which I really enjoyed reading, but it was a pleasant surprise to find that out before I got started.

This book was sweet and charming, with cute playlists within the story that only added to the overall summer read feeling it gave me. There was romance and friendship, both of which were well-developed and adorable.

Emily was a great protagonist, and I easily fell into her narrative since I saw parts of myself in her, especially how she acted when she felt uncomfortable. Falling back into someone else's shadow was something I knew all too well, from experience, and I felt her loss of Sloane keenly.

The introduction of her summer friends, from the ever-present Frank to endearing Collins and sweet Dawn, I loved them all, and the mysterious list that Sloane wrote that binded them all together. They were fun to read about and I can only hope that despite the spontaneous manner in which they fell into pals, they'll somehow be friends pages after this book ended. [highlight for spoiler] I know life isn't that perfect, but I am being the ever optimistic girl in saying that Dawn and Emily somehow make up and they go on double dates along with Frank and Collins. A girl can wish right? 

The romance was cute and I adored the events that tied it together, from the playlists to the running and everything. It's one of those things you can't help but want to happen even if you know it's not quite as simple as you two are cute together please kiss now. Or maybe it is hah.

Beckett, Emily's younger brother was alternatively lovable and immature, the way younger brothers will be and it gave me a nostalgic feel of my own brother when he was younger.

And of course the elusive Sloane, the reason this even began. At times I wanted to be mad at her and I was worried that the mystery behind her wouldn't be solved and we wouldn't get any closure, but I'm glad we did, and the ending was more than satisfying regarding her.

But in the end, this story is about Emily and her summer. The summer that was unexpected and all kinds of bittersweet with a sprinkle of whimsical. I throughly enjoyed it and its poignant touch.
I looked like someone who'd had a night, and had a story to tell about it. Which was, I realized as I collected my dress and heels in my arms and made my way, yawning, to the front door in the cool early light, exactly what happened.
My Rating: ★★★★

Friday, July 17, 2015

Gathering Darkness (Falling Kingdoms #3) by Morgan Rhodes

Published: December 9th 2014
Publisher: Razorbill
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes&Noble / Book Depository
Goodreads: Prince Magnus has just witnessed torture, death, and miracles during the bloody confrontation that decimated the rebel forces. Now he must choose between family and justice as his father, the cruel King Gaius, sets out to conquer all of Mytica. All Gaius needs now are the Kindred—the four elemental crystals that give godlike powers to their owner. But the King of Blood is not the only one hunting for this ancient, storied magic. . .

The Kraeshians join the hunt. Ashur and Amara, the royal siblings from the wealthy kingdom across the Silver Sea, charm and manipulate their way to the Kindred, proving to be more ruthless than perhaps even the King of Blood himself.

The rebels forge ahead. Princess Cleo and vengeful Jonas lead them, slaying with sweetness, skill, and a secret that can control Lucia’s overpowering magic—all so they can use the Kindred to win back their fallen kingdoms.

The Watchers follow Melenia out of the Sanctuary. They ally in the flesh with King Gaius, who vows to use Lucia’s powers to unveil the Kindred.

*Spoilers from Falling Kingdoms and Rebel Spring may follow, so proceed with caution.

I was admittedly a bit worried with this book going in. I loved the first book but was let down  a bit by the second book in this series, Rebel Spring, due to the fact that I did not really enjoy certain chapters because of the shifting povs. I loved the story itself, this was just a minor point.

Thankfully,the multi-pov aspect of this one was a vast improvement over the second, namely since I felt like it milked a lot more from the main cast of four characters, especially my favorites Magnus, Cleo, and Jonas. Like the second book, I disliked Lucia, but I do like the way her character plays the important role of creating conflict and moving the plot along, it's a shame that she's not very likable for me.

Back to my favorite characters; Cleo, the princess who lost her rightful throne and family, only to be engaged to the last person she wanted. Cleo is a great character, who has grown on me much from the first time I read about her as the spoiled princess in the first book. She is headstrong, clever, determined, and as I read about her, I could not help but cheer her on as she keeps her head high in the world of high stakes and danger. She is fearless and loyal, a pretty head with much more than a pretty brain and heart to suit.

Then there's Magnus Damora, the heir apparent to the cruel king with a seemingly ice-cold heart. He's complex, and has been my utter favorite character since the first book because despite the climate he's grown up in with his father being a ruthless king, he still has forged out his own destiny, or at least, he's in the process of doing so. Ambitious and fierce, driven by his own desires, he is a deadly guy if crossed, but underneath this armor is a young man who cannot stop his heart from feeling things all too well despite his best efforts.

Unsurprisingly, there is a lot of fiery emotion  between Magnus and Cleo, since they are married, which made up my favorite part of this book. It was a lot of fun reading the semi-antagonistic relationship that they have with each other.

And of course there is Jonas, the rebel with a lion's heart and a formidable sense of courage and determination. He is another who has lost his land to Gaius, the ruthless king and Magnus's father. He is a loyal and dedicated young man and the way he has matured since Falling Kingdoms makes me immensely proud of him and the crew he has collected.

Lucia is a different matter. Unlike the other three main characters, she isn't quite likable, but her immense gift of magic is the lifeblood of the events that connect these four characters. She's powerful yet a bit naive, and her powers are tied to a awe-inspiring destiny far bigger than any could imagine. So powerful, that it's quite possible even she cannot control them. Her character is interesting, and while I am invested in how she develops, she doesn't quite pull at my heartstrings as the others do.

Besides the main cast, there are other secondary characters who play important roles in the unfolding of events in this book, contributing to the gut-wrenching twists that Morgan writes and executes so well. In addition, she manages to capture my heart with these characters, making the emotional blows that much stronger if/when a character dies, which is quite unpredictable.

The plot itself is a tale of shifting politics, the power struggles between some key characters, and the ensuing consequences. It's engrossing and I was propelled to keep reading long after I'd told myself I would stop. There was bloodshed, violence, betrayal, romance (in quite unexpected places as well as the expected ones), good old political intrigue, and fantastic quotable material.
Believe in magic. Believe in the impossible.
This series is not one to miss: it's fabulously well-crafted and if the characters aren't all likable, they are certainly fascinating, and you will not regret reading it. I adored it and I can't quite believe there are still three more books to go because that is going to be a lot of waiting time sadly.

My Rating: ★★★★