Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Can't Wait Wednesday: Dread Nation

I'm switching over from Waiting on Wednesday's to Can't Wait Wednesday, a meme hosted by Wishful Endings. The idea is basically the same, but it looks like the official hosts of Breaking the Spine have shut down the meme so it's time to move on. Description and cover image taken from Goodreads.
A story of the undead like you’ve never read before, Justina Ireland’s Dread Nation is a fresh, stunning, and powerful meditation on race in America wrapped in an alternate-history adventure where Confederate and Union soldiers rise from the dead at the end of the Civil War.
Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville—derailing the War Between the States and changing America forever. In this new nation, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Reeducation Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead. But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.
But that’s not a life Jane wants. Almost finished with her education at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home and doesn’t pay much mind to the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to the glory of its days before the dead rose. But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies. And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems.
At once provocative, terrifying, and darkly subversive, Dread Nation is Justina Ireland’s stunning vision of an America both foreign and familiar—a country on the brink, at the explosive crossroads where race, humanity, and survival meet.
Why I'm Waiting
I'll be honest I wouldn't have cared about this book at all if I hadn't seen the cover on twitter a few weeks ago. It features a WOC and actually does sound a lot more badass than I would have first thought so I will definitely be picking this one up.

Dread Nation releases April 3rd, 2018 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Truthwitch Inspired Friend Interviews

I read Truthwitch and fell in love, not just with the story, but with Iseult and Safi's friendship (which deserves ALL the hype it gets). I reached out to some of my friends and they were super awesome and agreed to do these little interviews about reading, books, and bookish friendships. So, in no particular order, here they are:

Interview #1: Josh
He wanted me to put links to Quiver, so if you're interested in the Genre Magazine he and I work for, click here and here (it's an awesome magazine, tbh).

What is your favorite genre to read, and why?
My favorite genre to read is fantasy, largely because I like reading from the perspective or about the adventures of non-human characters. I also enjoy seeing what kind of worlds the authors have built, and it's fun to see what cultures and social norms writers can come up with.

What are your favorite books and authors? Any interesting stories about your favorite books?
I'm currently reading The Stormlight Archives by Brandon Sanderson, which has been a favorite of mine since highschool. However, my favorite completed series is the Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathon Stroud, which is a young-adult historical fantasy featuring rituals and djinn. A year after reading the series at the local library, I found out that my mother actually owned all the books but hadn't known I was reading them.

How do you organize your books?
I separate them into piles of 'big' and 'small.' Very complicated, I know. A lot of the comic books I would read when I was younger look odd when paired with paperbacks, though, so 'big' and 'small' it is.

What are your favorite bookish friendships? If a character became real who would you want as your best friend?
My favorite friendship, or perhaps 'working relationship,' within a book is that between Bartimaeus and his summoner Nathaniel. I like it because the relation is nearly always strained -- they don't actually become very close till the final moment of the final book, and even then Bartimaeus can't help but to think back to his original friendship with Ptolemy as a marker. If Bartimaeus existed in our universe, and I had the magical capacity to summon him, I imagine that we would hit it off very well. He's a sarcastic know-it-all who boxes above his weight class, and we share a similar narcissism. We would banter tirelessly.

Interview #2: Halle

What is your favorite genre to read, and why?
My favorite genre is historical fiction. A couple of years ago, I read a historical fiction book (I can't remember what it was called now) but I remember it being really good and interesting, and making me want to learn more about history. Honestly, creative renditions or writings about history is the only way that history is interesting to me.

What are your favorite books and authors? Any interesting stories about your favorite books?
I read a lot of books from a lot of different authors and different genres, so it's kind of hard to choose. If I had to choose, I would probably say that, as of recently (past few years), my favorite book I've read is All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I actually bought the book in a Jewish neighborhood bookstore in Rome when my family visited just because it looked interesting, without even realizing how many people were already talking about the book. I remember loving the writing, and thinking that it was just a beautifully written book.

How do you organize your books?
I'm a bit of a mess, so my bookshelf is honestly not organized in the slightest. After I read books, I tend to kind of just put them somewhere in the house or give them away to someone else to read, so I don't really have a lot of books on my bookshelf right now. I also tend to read a lot of books on my kindle, so most of the books I've read are on my kindle.

What are your favorite bookish friendships? If a character became real who would you want as your best friend?
In the book I mentioned earlier, All the Light We Cannot See (without giving too much away), the main character is moves in with her great uncle during WWII, and they bond and become close over the course of the story. I would probably be friends with the main character of that book, because I remember thinking that she is one of my favorite characters to read about in a book.

Interview #3: Saltyscribe aka Salty
Shy, bi, and ready to fucking cry
Check out Salty's tumblr here.

What is your favorite genre to read and why?
Fiction, specifically fantasy and sci-fi, I've loved books like that since I was a kid and they really influenced how I viewed the world. How there's the potential for good and evil in every person, you're stronger than you may think, sometimes just believing is magic enough... blah blah blah. All that corny stuff. Also, who doesn't love a story where a character has the potential to set shit on fire with a wave of their hand, fight in epic space battles, or just have a  talking dog. It's fun!

What are your favorite books and authors? Any interesting stories about your favorite books?
The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer definitely has a special place in my heart. Marissa is an absolute gem of a person, she's funny, witty, and we both have a great appreciation of fairytales. My goal is to become an author someday and honestly I'd want to be one like her. Also, anything written by Neil Gaiman. His writing style mixed with the kind of fantasy he writes is absolutely phenomenal.

How do you organize your books?
I try to keep books from similar series together. New Adult fiction or fantasy is like 95% of my bookshelf, so at this point I just shove them where I can fit them. Otherwise, the school books go at the tip top of the shelf. I've got white builtins in my room at home and God it's so comforting to have a wall just... dedicated to books.
(I can confirm that her bookshelves are absolutely beautiful wonderful things.)

What are your favorite bookish friendships? If a character became real who would you want to be your best friend?
I'm just gonna be basic and say the golden trio from Harry Potter. You're thinking it, I'm thinking it, that friendship profoundly influenced a generation of readers. Like I can't top that. Plus I may read a bit too many books that are heavy on romance as opposed to friendship. I should change that. And as for a book character as a friend: Sophie Hatter from Howl's Moving Castle; I want her to be my best friend. If you don't understand why then I'm plugging this book right now. Go buy it. Go read it. It's some nice easy fantasy that you could finish in a day. 10/10 great summer read. SERIOUSLY.

Interview #4: Vee
Hi Hello Hola my name is Vee, I'm a spunky California native who just wants to sin. I enjoy shiny things, the colors pink and hot pink, Her Majesty the Ocean, and strong female characters in fiction. Tumblr: http://broken-hearted-qpid.tumblr.com

What is your favorite genre to read and why?
My favorite genre to read would definitely be fantasy because magic and mythology are two of my favorite things especially when they are implemented into our world.

What are your favorite books and authors? Any interesting stories for your favorite books?
The Percy Jackson series will always be my favorite series, although the Kingdom Keepers series trails right behind it. In all honesty, even though it's middle grade, I also really enjoy the Monster High series because it discusses a lot of important topics that aren't even in a lot of more mature books (such as racism and body dysphoria). My favorite stand-alone book is The Siren. A somewhat interesting fact is that Kingdom Keepers was the first series I had actually read fully and it is what made me really enjoy reading (at the age of 14; before that I didn't enjoy reading at all).

How do you organize your books?
I don't really have "bookshelves" per se, my books at home are kind of all over the place. However, I know where everything is and why they are there. Those that are actually stacked on my desk are there because I've finished them, won't be reading them, or they are textbooks. The books under my desk are the ones that I've had for a while and want to read again or they are like guide books. The ones next to my bed are ones I own and am reading currently. The ones in my backpack are ones that I am also reading currently but are ones I checked put from the library.

What are your favorite bookish friendships? If a character became real who would you want to be your best friend?
My favorite friendship, more like a sisterhood really, is the one in The Siren by Kiera Cass. They are a group of girls who have been saved and given the chance to become sirens by the anthropomorphic ocean. None of them are related by blood but are all very close. They have varying personalities but bond over their hardships of being sirens, such as not being able to talk to humans or being away from their family, as they can't have any form of contact with them.


Thank you guys so much for doing these interviews!
(P.S. All book covers are linked to Goodreads)

Monday, July 17, 2017

Book Review: The Wise Man's Fear

THE KINGKILLER CHRONICLES, #2
AUTHOR: PATRICK ROTHFUSS
RATING: 4.5 STARS
THE NAME OF THE WIND
It's with a heavy heart that I cannot give this book five full stars. I'll cut to the chase and say why before I dive into all the things I loved (which will contain spoilers for book one, so read at your own risk). Basically, there were a few points where I felt the story dragged. It wasn't that there weren't things happening, and that those things didn't have relevance to the plot, it was that those things happened so slowly I found myself starting to drift off and lose focus. I'm guessing on a reread these will be easier to swallow, as these sorts of parts tend to be, but first time through it really took a toll on me as a reader.

Okay, now onto the good stuff: basically all the rest. This book, like the first, is far different than any other fantasy I've ever read. I put it down to the humbleness of the writing (it doesn't try to be something it's not) and also the cleverness of the story telling. While I was reading I began picking up on a lot of small details and freaking out over the things that are starting to connect the greater story of the Chandrian, the Amyr, and the other stories (like the moon) that are so important to this book. Even after reading hours of fan theories I still think there's a lot left in the book to discover.

Book one spends a lot of the story at the University, and while I enjoyed it and the characters that populated it, I was thrilled to see Kvothe leave the (somewhat) safety that the University offered and explore more the world. His adventures were a bunch of fun (though, again, they did drag) and I really liked that they offered the opportunity to meet more female characters. It's not that they're lacking (hell, I love Denna, Devi, Auri, Fela) it was just that I wanted more of them. And Rothfuss does not disappoint. I don't want to give them all away, but they're a pleasure to meet and spend time with on the page. Of all of his adventures, I adore Kvothe's time with Felurian. Sometimes in a good book there are therapeutic moments where things seem at peace and when I'm not feeling at peace I go back and read those parts (for example, in American Gods when Shadow stays in Lakeside) and this is definitely one of those sequences. Also, I just really loved Felurian.

This is such a short review because there's too much to say and not enough words to use. It's an amazing book, go read it (after you finish book one, of course). Thank me later.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Book Review: Truthwitch

THE WITCHLANDS #1
AUTHOR: SUSAN DENNARD
RATING: 4 STARS
I've had people tell me on and off to pick this one up for a while but I've been hesitant because there have been several mixed reviews and after reading Something Strange and Deadly I wasn't sure how Dennard's writing style would translate to epic fantasy. Well, thanks to a twitter poll (and special thanks to Brittany Jackson for being the tie breaker) I finally picked it up and I don't regret it at all.

Truthwitch follows several characters, most notably thread-sisters Safi and Iseult, as they become enmeshed in the center of a political mission that will lead to either war or peace.

First off, what I didn't like: the beginning. I thought it felt rushed, it took me a little to get my footing, and the motivations for the characters made little to no sense. I almost DNFd it because I really didn't like anyone, nor did I think the world was anything special, and it in fact felt messy. It was probably somewhere near the 100 page mark where I realized that I hadn't been able to put it down in sometime and no longer had any of the problems I'd had early on. I will say that even towards the end I had some questions about motivations and what exactly got certain balls rolling, and I'm not too sure if the logic worked out all the time, but it didn't end up being a big deal and I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of things are answered later in the series.

Because I had a hard time with the motivations early on I had a hard time with the characters early on. I also never really wrapped my head around all the anger Safi and Merik held onto; I couldn't see exactly where their tempers were coming from all the time, but in the end it didn't bother me too much because their characters grew throughout the story. Overall I liked all of the characters, and most of the ones who didn't get narration chapters have left me incredibly curious as to what's next. I particularly liked the relationship between Safi and Iseult, because they were seriously best friends and the way their friendship was depicted was not something I have seen between two female characters in a fantasy book before. Normally two men will have that relationship, or a man and a woman, and this was so refreshing and well done. I also adored how badass they were and the fact that they could easily take on other men and women and their gender was never brought up as a problem.

At first both the magic system and the world building was hard to grasp, but as soon as I started getting a grip I really enjoyed them both. The magic is interesting and fun, but I agree with many of the reviews I've seen which have said they wished there was some sort of chart to keep track. There are so many facets of witcheries that I often got lost when it came to non-important characters or passing references. I also want to know a lot more about the Origin Wells, because I'm not too sure how those work (but it also wasn't a distracting problem and I'm something I'm sure will come up later). As for the world, it was complicated but not unduly so. I liked the politics of it and I liked that it was easy to follow the relationships between most of the kingdoms and that those relationships felt real and mature, as if they had been around for a while. The map is a godsend, though, because without it I would have no idea where and how people were traveling across this world.

Overall, it's definitely a fantasy to pick up. It's got badass characters (particularly badass women) and a fighting style that's super cinematic. The fantasy elements are well done, even if it does lead on the wrong foot with some info dumping. If you've been debating this one like I was it's time you pick it up.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Candle Reviews: Meraki Candles & The Melting Library

I love, love, love candles, something I discovered last summer. And with that discovery also came the discovery that there are people making and selling book-themed candles. It was an amazing discovery and for a while instead of buying books I was buying the candles they inspired. At school I don't get as much chance to burn them as I would like but now that I'm home I've been going through about one a week or so. I have many thoughts about these candles so I've decided to do a review post for some of them. Expect to see another set of candle reviews in the future, when I've bought and burned even more.

First up is Meraki Candles. Overview: I really like the company. I haven't had any problems with customer service, they're priced reasonably (when compared to other bookish candles), and there's a large variety to choose from. Their also really pretty in general and the presentation is done well, and they arrive safely and undamaged, which is a huge plus. My biggest problems lie in how long it takes to get the candles and how quickly they burn. The former isn't much of a problem if you live in the UK where they're based, but it takes much longer than I anticipated for one of these candles to arrive and a Christmas scented candle I ordered I didn't get until it was well past the season. I don't really hold this against them, but it's definitely something to remember when you order from them and live in the United States. The other big problem is how quickly these candles burn. In 15 hours or so I had gone through all but the smallest bit at the bottom. That's not a bad thing, necessarily, but I was surprised to find myself eating through these so quickly. Something else I've notice, but isn't a problem for me but might be for you, is that they do leave wax on the sides as they melt down, which just kinda clouds up the inside and leaves them less-pretty. Fairy Loot Exclusive Candles: When I was subscribed to Fairy Loot I got a Divergent themed candle (it came smaller than the regular sizes) which was a good candle but in general isn't my type, and a Caraval themed candle (pictured above) called Come Back Yesterday. I'm so upset that it's an exclusive because it is one of my absolute favorite candles of all time! I burn it sparsely because I adore it so much. Full Sized-Candles: The two that I have burned nearly all the way down (as I type this I'm currently working on finishing one of them) are the Night Court candle and the Cabeswater candle. I like them both because, while they don't exactly smell how I picture either of these places, they smell clean and the scent travels well in my room. If you're into mixing candles and burning more than one at a time these are also good for pairing with other scents. I have yet to burn my Dorian candle but just sniffing it dry I predict good things (it smells like a clean boy, if that makes sense?). The last one is the Christmas themed candle I mentioned earlier, Wizards Chess. I did burn this a little but I'm mostly holding off for the Christmas season and I couldn't be more excited. It took me right back to all those Christmas and Harry Potter feelings as soon as I sniffed it. Of them all, this is the one to buy next time it shows up on their shop, if you're looking to buy from them.

The first candle company I discovered was The Melting Library and for a while I bought from them exclusively. That has since changed for a couple reasons. Number one is that I just wanted to try more companies. Number two is that I have run into some problems with them. Overview: I love, love, love the candles Melting Library puts out. They're all brilliant and they smell divine. The quality is also really great, they ship safely, and the packaging is nice. Also, compared to other bookish candle companies they're pretty reasonable. But the problems have knocked them down from my number one spot for candle buying. Now, before I tell you what my problems were I don't want anyone to have the impression that I dislike this company or that I don't plan to buy from them anymore. I still plan to buy from them, and I still like them, but I just can't do it as frequently anymore. The biggest problem I have is their customer service. I've had questions and I've had issues with delivery (nothing crazy but I needed to change an address a couple of times; don't ask) and I've contacted them several times. None of those times did I get a response back. It left me confused and burned because even if it wasn't possible to change the address or answer my question at the time I do expect some sort of response. Being left hanging as a customer is really annoying and also kind of problematic. My other problems I can understand why they're happening, they're just not something I want to deal with from a company as frequently as I felt like I was. Lately it seems impossible to get candles in the scents I want because, even though I have alerts set up on their twitter where they announce when the store will be opening, and even though I log onto their store when it opens, I find that most of their candles are already sold out. I get why it's happening but it's been getting more and more frustrating when all I want is the Night Court candle (more on that in a minute) and within ten minutes they're all gone. I don't even check that frequently anymore because it hasn't been worth it for a while. All of this has also led to a really long wait for candles to arrive and that's frustrating because when I first started ordering the wait time was reasonable. Now it can take upwards of a month or more to get what I've ordered and by then I've either forgotten or I'm just not excited to receive it anymore. *shrug* Still I do like their product and if you're a bookish candle fan and haven't tried them they're a definite must at some point. Samplers & Sets: I've ordered three samplers, the Beauty and the Beast set, the Villains set, and the ACOTAR set. I'm not going to go through every single thing in these sets but in general I really like them all. I have yet to actually try to ACOTAR set because it shipped to my school address and I couldn't change the address (even though I did contact them...). I'll be able to burn these in September and honestly I'm super excited. The size of their samples is much larger than I thought it would be and I was rather pleasantly surprised by it. They last for a while and, even though I don't burn these as frequently, they smell really good. They also come with extra goodies which I love (especially the soap that came with the Villains set; I wish they sold it so I could buy more). Full Sized-Candles: Here's another Christmas candle I didn't get until after the Holiday (again, because I couldn't change the address....), the Christmas at the Little Palace (pictured above) is absolutely stunning scent and I'm DYING to burn it this Winter. It's gonna be wonderful. My favorite candle from them, and the first one I ever bought, is The Night Court and it's the only candle of theirs that I've completely gone through (though I still have the jar because I can't bear to part with it). I've been trying to get another to fill the place in my heart but have yet to actually find them in stock. I also really like their Legend and Warden candles (both of which are really great if you, like me, love the Night Court candle). The two I like less, but still really like, are Dirtyhands which was a tad underwhelming and Liesl which isn't my type of scent at all, which is my fault for buying it, though it does pair well with other candles.

Lately I've been in love with Muggle Library Candles and In the Wick of Time and I've been spending time burning not just bookish themed candles as well. What's your favorite candle bookish or otherwise? Is there a candle store I should check out? Let me know, please!!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Can't Wait Wednesday: Tower of Dawn

I'm switching over from Waiting on Wednesday's to Can't Wait Wednesday, a meme hosted by Wishful Endings. The idea is basically the same, but it looks like the official hosts of Breaking the Spine have shut down the meme so it's time to move on. Description and cover image taken from Goodreads.
In the next installment of the New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series, follow Chaol on his sweeping journey to a distant empire.
Chaol Westfall has always defined himself by his unwavering loyalty, his strength, and his position as the Captain of the Guard. But all of that has changed since the glass castle shattered, since his men were slaughtered, since the King of Adarlan spared him from a killing blow, but left his body broken.
His only shot at recovery lies with the legendary healers of the Torre Cesme in Antica—the stronghold of the southern continent's mighty empire. And with war looming over Dorian and Aelin back home, their survival might lie with Chaol and Nesryn convincing its rulers to ally with them.
But what they discover in Antica will change them both—and be more vital to saving Erilea than they could have imagined.
Why I'm Waiting
I'll be honest, I don't love the cover. I don't hate it but I was so underwhelmed with this reveal. I dislike that it doesn't really match with the rest of the series. Of course I'll buy it (truth is I'll probably buy multiple copies) and I'm hoping that the cover really does hide a bunch of secret goodies.

Tower of Dawn releases September 5th, 2017

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag 2017

I know we're passed the halfway point of the year but I've been seeing this around and have finally had some spare time to write one up. No one tagged me in this and I'm not going to tag anyone, but if you still want to do it, or have one up already, please let me know in the comments because I'd love to read them!

1. Best Books You've Read So Far This Year
Caraval, The Magicians, A Court of Wings and Ruin, Lord of Shadows, The Name of the Wind, and The Wise Man's Fear. If I had to narrow it down to most influential it'd be Name of the Wind and Wise Man's Fear, which have had such an impact on me, more than pretty much any other book ever has, that I've changed how I think about certain things. So, yeah, there's that.

2. Best Sequel of the Year So Far
A Court of Wings and Ruin really takes the cake as the best finale to a series I've read in a long time so I'll go with that.

3. New Releases You Haven't Read Yet, But You Want To
I just picked up The Traitor's Kiss and The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue and I'd say of the two I'm even more excited for the latter.

4. Most Anticipated Release of the Second Half of the Year
Wicked Like Wildfire, All The Crooked Saints, and Iron Gold are probably at the top of my list.

5. Biggest Disappointment
My reread of Lady Midnight didn't go nearly as well as I expected it to. I adored the book last year when it came out but it didn't hold up as well this time around. Thank goodness Lord of Shadows was such a stunner of a book.

6. Biggest Surprise
I liked the Handmaid's Tale far more than I thought I would. It's definitely a book I'll be revisiting frequently.

7. Favorite New Author (Debut or New to You)
Patrick Rothfuss takes the cake. Like I mentioned, the Kingkiller Chronicles (at least the two full books that are out) have literally changed the way I think about certain things and I won't be surprised if this ends up changing me as a person (for the better, of course). Will be reading his works forever as far as I'm concerned.

8. Newest Fictional Crush
Maybe Azriel from ACOTAR series? Like, I really liked him when I read ACOMAF when it first came out, but in ACOWAR he stole my heart along the way. Quite the pleasant surprise.

9. Newest Favorite Character
Just a bunch of them from Kingkiller Chronicles. Namely, Kvothe, Bast, Chronicler, Denna, Devi, Auri, Tempi, Vashet, Elodin, Felurian... okay it's a long list that can go on for a while but I think you're starting to get it. I also really liked all the main characters from Truthwitch.

10. Book That Made You Cry
Lord of Shadows. Even after a few weeks distance from the book, if I think about it for too long I get weepy.

11. A Book That Made You Happy
Frogkisser had me laughing quite frequently.

12. Favorite Book To Movie/TV Adaption You've Seen This Year
AMERICAN GODS

13. Favorite Review You've Written This Year
I haven't written many reviews this year because I just haven't been around, so I'm just pretty proud of all the ones that I've managed to get out there.

14. Most Beautiful Book You've Bought or Received This Year
Caraval- I have the US Arc, US Hardcover, and a UK Hardcover and they're all gorgeous.

15. What Books Do You Need to Read By the End of the Year
I've promised some people that I'd get to Night Circus this year (and I really, really want to) and I'm also hoping to get to Strange the Dreamer and The Song Rising because I was waiting for so long for those to come out.