Saturday, June 24, 2017

June Wrap Up #2

I've been blogging again! It took me quite a bit to get back on my feet this time, but I have put aside time each day, and it's helped me remember why I love doing this so much. I know this month was kinda slow, but next month I should have a regular stream of posts, and I'm rather excited about it.

In my personal life there have been some bad days, mostly brought on by loneliness, but they've always come with a warning, like I could feel the depression trying to set in, so I've been able to take precautions. I've also been working a lot, and at first I was kinda put down by it, but now I'm rather pleased because I've 1) gotten better at my job by being there every day, or nearly every day (I work retail) and 2) it gives me something to do with my time.

Not much has happened lately that's been exciting, unfortunately. I also still haven't heard anything from the school I want to study abroad at... so that's nerve-wracking but I'm going to get in contact with my advisor next month if I still haven't heard anything. Something pretty positive is I haven't bought many books this summer! I've been doing a good job saving my money, and I feel really happy about it.

Okay, enough about me, what's been up with the blog:

Finished This Month
The Name of the Wind (review)
Lord of Shadows (review coming Monday)
East (review coming next month)
Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy (review coming next month)

Currently Reading
I'm nearly done with Truthwitch, so technically I'll have finished this by the end of the month, which brings my total read up to 5, which is more than I thought I'd get done this month! I'm really liking it so far. After I finish I plan to pick up The Wise Man's Fear, and while I like to think I could finish it this month, I doubt that will actually happen.



Can't Wait Wednesday

Upcoming Posts
Lord of Shadows Review
CWW: Unearthed
Lord of Shadows Spoiler Discussion
East Review
CWW: An Enchantment of Ravens
Tales From the Shadowhunter Academy Review
Music Monday: Summer Playlist

What was your favorite read this month? Let me know in the comments!

Friday, June 23, 2017

5 Star Book Review: The Name of the Wind

I have been hearing about this book for a very long time. It has gotten countless praise, not just from critics and other people online, but from people I know IRL who aren't even big readers yet still managed to pick this one up. It's one of the most name-dropped books of recent epic fantasy and has been toted as a game changer for the genre. It was because of all of this praise that I waited so long to pick it up because I couldn't imagine it living up to the hype.

The Name of the Wind is one of those books that just can't be easily summarized. There's a lot that happens, and while there's definitely a plot, it's not meant to be wrapped up in this volume at all, and a lot is left open for the next two volumes. Basically: it is the story of Kvothe, now a bartender in a small town, as he tells it to the scribe, Chronicler. Once, Kvothe was a man out of legends, and still people talk about him and the rumors that surround him. This is the first, and the last, time he will tell his whole life's story, and it will take three full days. This is the first of those three.

Kvothe is easily one of the most interesting character's in modern literature. His life was stuffed full (and it hasn't even been a very long life, yet) with the happy, the sad, the miserable, the euphoric, and everything in between. I can't recall the last time I had so much pleasure reading about a character, especially one as unique as Kvothe. Besides being incredibly interesting, he was relatable, which wasn't something I was expecting. His particular skill sets put him far above the regular crowd, yet I found myself pointing (in my mind) at him and saying "Me too, bro". He also goes through some incredible character growth (and I can only imagine there's so much more of that to come in the next installments) and left me feeling like I was actually reading about a real person. A quick word on all the other characters- I adored them all (or hated them, depending on whether they're despicable or not) but they all paled in comparison to Kvothe.

One of the reasons I picked this up was because for the upcoming Television Show/Movies/Video Games/etc. that is lined up for this series, Lin-Manuel Miranda has been tapped to be a producer. If you don't know of the man (or of Hamilton) go change your lives and figure it out because he's literally one of the most amazing people on the planet and anything he touches is something I'd be interested in. And now I can absolutely see why he's involved- there was music EVERYWHERE in this book. As much as I could enjoy it while reading it, music can't translate through writing, not really, and I was dying to actually hear Kvothe play. I can't wait to see what magic is worked to make it possible for the live action productions of this.

The story itself, which is Kvothe's life from young childhood, had me gripped from the very start. I don't want to give anything away because it's something best experienced as it unfolds, without knowing anything about what's going to happen next, but it really is a wonderful adventure to go on. Outside of the story proper, there's the "current" timeline, where Kvothe is a bartender, and even though we really only get a few snippets of that time frame, I'm completely interested and invested with what's going on there, as well. Also, just Bast as a character was utterly amazing and I'm dying to see more of him because I think I'm in love (wouldn't be the first time... XD).

Most of all what gets me about this highly, highly acclaimed masterpiece is how humble it is. It doesn't set out to be game changing, and while the writing is beautiful, it doesn't feel forced, or extra special, or like high brow prose. It feels normal and easy to read, especially for something this dense. It doesn't frustrate or try to be pretty because the story speaks for itself and I absolutely loved that when I found the occasional typo I didn't get mad, or feel like I was one-upping the author/publisher, but I smiled to myself and thought "yes, this is writing at it's most human. I love this".

If you only read one book this year, make it this one.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

CWW: The Becoming of Noah Shaw

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.

In the first book of the Shaw Confessions, the companion series to the New York Times bestselling Mara Dyer novels, old skeletons are laid bare and new promises prove deadly. This is what happens after happily ever after.
Everyone thinks seventeen-year-old Noah Shaw has the world on a string.
They’re wrong.
Mara Dyer is the only one he trusts with his secrets and his future.
He shouldn’t.
And both are scared that uncovering the truth about themselves will force them apart.
They’re right.
Why I'm Waiting
I've only read the first two in the Mara Dyer trilogy (but I need to reread them and finally move onto book three soon) yet I was totally in love with them when I first read them. And Noah was definitely one of my first #bookboyfriends so I can't resist picking this one up when it comes out. Also, the cover for this series matches the cover for the Mara Dyer series and I love that so much!

The Becoming of Noah Shaw releases November 7th, 2017.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Spoiler Discussion: A Court of Wings and Ruin

This is my spoiler-filled discussion/review of this book. If you're interested in the non-spoiler version you can find it here. I'm serious about the spoilers- I'm going to be going into a lot of things that happen after the first 200 pages. You've been warned.

Friday, June 16, 2017

5 Star Book Review: A Court of Wings and Ruin

Author: Sarah J Maas
Edition: US Hardcover
Related Reviews: ACOTAR - ACOMAF - ACOMAF Spoiler Discussion
I'm super late in writing this review but I'm just as passionate about this book now as I was last month when I read it. By now the whole community has probably devoured this one, and I've seen a lot of people who were disappointed by it, which surprised me because it honestly surpassed my expectations. Just in case- I'm not going to go too far into the book because I don't want to spoil anyone who hasn't had the chance to finish it up yet. There will be a spoiler discussion up next week, so keep an eye out for that if you want to here my thoughts on the ending and such.

I fell in love with the Inner Circle in ACOMAF and loved every single second of these characters in this book. While I wouldn't say it was a huge character growth for any of them, barring Feyre and her sisters, and Lucien (who I loved already and now love even more), but I do feel like even more was peeled away at who they are and what really motivates them. Particularly Azriel, who I felt fondly of in ACOMAF but seriously fell in love with with this one (TBH completely honest I actually had a couple dreams with him in it). The relationships between them all was the most interesting thing to watch grow and change, and I don't just mean the romantic ones. I wasn't too sure how I was going to feel about Feyre, Nesta, and Elain, and it certainly started off rocky for the first 200 pages or so, but once I got acclimated I started to really appreciate all three sisters and how they worked off of each other. I also appreciated how realistic the relationship between Mor and Feyre was. They had their ups and downs, but actually talked things out, and weren't always perfect with or around each other, and that just echoes a lot of friendship relationships I have.

What really stole the show with this book, though, was the world building, and finally, FINALLY, meeting all the High Lords. I didn't know what to expect but MY GOSH do I love the dynamics that went on! And I adored seeing more of all the courts. This is one of those worlds that I wish I could actually visit in real life just to look at everything. Without spoiling much, the courts and the High Lords not only had everything I love about a good fantasy, but also created a world that feels completely fleshed out while still leaving so many options for things to happen and be explained.

While a lot of people seem to have been disappointed with the war and battle scenes I thought they were incredibly well done. I could picture everything and I thought things moved smoothly and nothing felt easy. I will admit that at times the plot did seem directionless, but it all pulled together in the end, tying things into a nice bow but also leaving room for more to happen. I really appreciate that Feyre's time with Tamlin in the Spring Court didn't last nearly as long as I thought it would (I thought it would be a good chunk of the book) because so many more interesting things were happening outside of the Spring Court.

The future of the series makes me so excited. While I adore reading about Feysand I can't wait to see what other stories there are. I have SO many theories (don't we all?) as to what the next books might be about and I'm dying to hear an announcement from the Queen herself (come on Sarah, you're going to tell us soon, right? And where's that Tower of Dawn cover...) but I can be patient for a little longer.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

June Wrap Up #1 (Mental Health)

This is going to be a different sort of wrap up because I need to lay out what has been happening to me for a few reasons. 1) I think all of you wonderful people out there reading this- friends and strangers- deserve to know why this year, especially these last few months, I've more or less disappeared, 2) Sharing online is cathartic for me and helps me put my thoughts into words and deal with those thoughts, 3) If anyone reading this feels similar to how I do they know they're not alone, which is something I've needed in the past and found on blogs, and has helped me get through parts of my life I wouldn't have been able to get through otherwise.

I think I mentioned that I'm trying to talk less about my mental illness on the blog because I want this to be a place that helps me remember that there are times when I don't feel as low as I sometimes feel, but I need to bring it up again here. I had an anxiety attack- I talked about this on my other blog a bit, I call it a "quiet" attack because it was crippling in a way that a stranger wouldn't even notice- that stretched across about four days. Not the first four days of summer, but I got home late Sunday and then was hit early Wednesday with this anxiety. It knocked me out and I didn't leave the house until Friday afternoon when I was obligated to, to spend some time with my mom and grandmother. It was a nice little trip and an opportunity for me to escape the anxiety and that worked for most of Friday, until that evening when I was winding down and taking a bath, and it hit me so hard I was crying and completely lost inside myself. In those moments I knew I needed to calm down and go to bed because I knew it would help but I just couldn't. 

Another note: I've been having, and I hate to call it a crisis but it kinda is?, a crisis of faith lately where I just don't know what to believe in and what's true and those thoughts have been cumulating for about a year and a half now, and having come from a part of my life where I thought I had set beliefs this has been hard to really deal with. When these beliefs, which anchored my world and gave me an outlet, came up short against many questions I had about life and many things I was realizing, having now experienced more of life, I lost a major cornerstone of both who I was and how I dealt with many of my mental health problems. I do believe losing my faith- not that it ever completely has gone away, but I've questioned it so much I can't use it as the anchor it was- has led to many of the more recent bouts with depression and anxiety getting as bad as they do sometimes.

Friday night, in that bathtub in the Best Western, this crisis of faith came to a head. I wanted to pray or call out to someone or something and beg them to make everything okay on Saturday but I didn't think I deserved to ask for help from a faith that I'm not sure I believe in. 

I'm in the middle of reading The Name of the Wind, which besides being a good book, deals with the idea that if you believe something will happen it can happen and that having this steadfast belief, such as a rock floating upwards instead of falling, has power. I've also been watching American Gods, which is, beyond being an amazing series so far, my favorite novel of all time and has had a profound effect on me. This also deals with the idea that a steadfast belief can give something life.

Somewhat unconsciously, but also somewhat consciously, these ideas came together with my crisis of faith and my anxiety attack and I realized- I can just believe. If I believe- and I mean actually believe, not pretend, not hope, not think, but believe completely and utterly convincingly believe- that things will work out, then things will work out. I sat in that tub and I believed it. I let not one doubt creep in and I just sat there and believed it. I reached out and touched the water and felt that and believed it was wet and also believed that things would work out.

My anxiety didn't vanish like a magic trick but it wasn't there anymore. It couldn't be if I believed it was real. I know I'll have more anxiety attacks, because they happen, but if I believe that things will work out, things will work out. It may sound crazy, but this morning I got a call and that call worked every single thing I was anxious about out. Every caveat I was worried about made an appearance and straightened out and it was okay. I think I almost cried again, not out of disbelief- because I had believed- but out of sheer happiness. I wouldn't say I've found my faith or spirituality or anything, but I've found something to believe in.

That's a long story and not what I intended to pore out when I started this wrap up, but I'm glad I shared. Now, that's the most recent line of things happening. Prior to that I've had other mental health struggles that have kept me battling for the last two months or so. It's not quite depression, at least not in the refined sense that I've often had, but some offshoot of it that makes everything, even the little things, overwhelming. It's prevented me from logging on and blogging about anything and that breaks my heart.

But now expect to see me every day. Either here on the blog or on social media. I WANT to be a part of this and if I make it my routine I will be. It will help me get back on track and returning to this really does help with my mental health because it gives me both structure and something to be proud of, to look at and say "Look what I did today. I did something today." and that's such a great thing to be able to say when getting out of bed can be difficult.

Now, I must be getting to sleep because I have to work early tomorrow. Good night everyone, and thanks for reading. There will be blog posts, book reviews, regularly very soon, and I look forward to returning, full (well, not full, but you get the idea) force to this community.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Another Apology

This is gonna be quick. I'm trying not to talk about my mental illness that much on my blog lately (I'd rather just focus on the positive here) but I need to offer everyone an apology if you've recently commented on my blog. I need to get better at responding right away, but I've been dragged down a bit lately, and I just logged on now to finally respond to all of you wonderful, fantastic people, and my brain shut down. I looked at them and tried to respond but I just... can't. I can't explain it beyond that, but I think there will be more harm in me responding now to all of you and I'm trying to get back to blogging regularly and sometimes that means making a little bit of a sacrifice. So I am truly and deeply sorry for not responding to everyone who has commented within the last couple of weeks. I adore you- all of you- and I hope to be able to respond soon, and hopefully to visit all your wonderful blogs as well. Thank you for sticking with me through all this.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

May Wrap Up & Apology

Apology? Yes, apology. I haven't really been around. In fact, I just kinda noped out of social media and blogging since the month began. The only posts that have gone up were prewritten ones and I didn't even bother promoting those anywhere. Part of this lapse has to do with this really important presentation I had for my film class (my part went well!) that took up three whole days of my life. I'm not kidding when I say that- I didn't do any other homework, skipped a class, and worked on the presentation from the time I woke up to the time I went to bed each day. Another reason is ACOWAR (which I loved!) which took up another three days of my life. I read it with every scrap of time I had and was so emotionally wrecked when I finished I went to bed early so I could lay back and think about it. But in the end, the reason I haven't been blogging or on social media, is because I've been stagnant in my life outside of these things. It's not quite mental illness or stress, but that has definitely been a part of it. I think a large part has to do with lack of motivation because I'm waiting for summer.

Hopefully I'll be back to posting by the end of NEXT week. I'm spending the rest of this week and early next week typing out all the posts I want to have up by the end of the month, and most of those are reviews. Within the next two days or so I will definitely be responding to all the comments I have (so sorry it's taken so long!) and visiting as many blogs as I can because I haven't been much a part of the community and I am sorry.

You may not see another wrap up this month, but I'm hoping I won't be as silent on social media as I have been. Thanks again to everyone who has stuck with me so far! With summer two weeks away I'll be able to be reading and blogging regularly again (and hopefully I'll have some super exciting news to share with you all by the next wrap up...).

Finished Since Last Time
My reread of ACOTAR and ACOMAF.
I also devoured ACOWAR and haven't quite recovered.

Currently Reading
I dipped my toe into Magic Study but wasn't quite in the mood and picked up Lady Midnight to reread before Lord of Shadows comes out. It's slow reading, perhaps because I'm in a small slump, but I'm glad to be back in the world of Shadowhunters. Plus, Mark Blackthorn :)

Posts Since Last Time
Like I said, they're all prewritten but, hey, at least something got out.

(Hopefully) Coming Soon
May 25-- (A semi-new type of post? You'll see.)
May 26-- Frogkisser Review
May 29-- ACOTAR & ACOMAF Reread Reactions
June 2-- ACOWAR Spoiler Free Review
June 5-- ACOWAR Spoiler Filled Review

Also, since I didn't mention it earlier, I've been watching American Gods and it's so amazing! Please tell me someone else has been watching it and loving it as much as I have! Let me know if you've seen it in the comments below and feel free to hit me up on twitter if you want to discuss in more depth. Have a great rest of the month.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Can't Wait Wednesday: The Cruel Prince

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.

Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.
And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.
Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.
To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.
In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.
Why I'm Waiting
I've been a fan of Holly Black since my dad read the Spiderwick Chronicles to me as a kid. Recently I've rediscovered my love for her and have been working my way through her Modern Faerie Tales, which are delightful! (TBH: If you're a fan of Maggie Stiefvater you'll love Holly Black's work). When I first head of this one (last year) I put it on my goodreads to-read list and now that there's a cover (which is gorgeous!) and a description I'm even more excited. Plus, that title just sends shivers down my back!

The Cruel Prince releases January 2nd, 2018. 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Can't Wait Wednesday: Jane, Unlimited

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.

Jane has lived an ordinary life, raised by her aunt Magnolia—an adjunct professor and deep sea photographer. Jane counted on Magnolia to make the world feel expansive and to turn life into an adventure. But Aunt Magnolia was lost a few months ago in Antarctica on one of her expeditions.
Now, with no direction, a year out of high school, and obsessed with making umbrellas that look like her own dreams (but mostly just mourning her aunt), she is easily swept away by Kiran Thrash—a glamorous, capricious acquaintance who shows up and asks Jane to accompany her to a gala at her family's island mansion called Tu Reviens.
Jane remembers her aunt telling her: "If anyone ever invites to you to Tu Reviens, promise me that you'll go." With nothing but a trunkful of umbrella parts to her name, Jane ventures out to the Thrash estate. Then her story takes a turn, or rather, five turns. What Jane doesn't know is that Tu Reviens will offer her choices that can ultimately determine the course of her untethered life. But at Tu Reviens, every choice comes with a reward, or a price.
Why I'm Waiting
It's been YEARS since I've read a Kristin Cashore book and as soon as this was announced I jumped in excitement because Heck Yeah I need another of her works. Graceling is one of my favorite books, and that whole series is a definitive part of my fantasy collection. Also, this book sounds so interesting, and so not like what I've been reading lately, that it's grabbed my interest completely.

Jane, Unlimited releases September 19th, 2017

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Can't Wait Wednesday: Obsidio

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.

Kady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik narrowly escaped with their lives from the attacks on Heimdall station and now find themselves crammed with 2,000 refugees on the container ship, Mao. With the jump station destroyed and their resources scarce, the only option is to return to Kerenza—but who knows what they'll find seven months after the invasion? Meanwhile, Kady's cousin, Asha, survived the initial BeiTech assault and has joined Kerenza's ragtag underground resistance. When Rhys—an old flame from Asha's past—reappears on Kerenza, the two find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict. With time running out, a final battle will be waged on land and in space, heros will fall, and hearts will be broken.
Why I'm Waiting
I may not have finished the second book in this series yet, but the first book blew me completely away, and the format of these are just so cool, that I absolutely can't wait for this one. Also, not quite sure if this is the final cover or not, but I'd be cool with it if it were.

Obsidio releases March 13th, 2018.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

April Wrap Up #2

Hello, hello, hello! I feel like it's been ages since my last wrap up, but it really hasn't. The school year has been moving really quickly but life has been moving really slowly. Not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing right now. Really, things aren't too exciting as I've been a bit of a homebody recently and staying inside to read. I suppose that is exciting, though. In related news: I'm finally out of my book slump! What did it? I think the promise of ACOWAR right around the cover has gotten me so excited that I had to pick up and reread the first two books, which I'm in the middle of now.

Also, I know I've been really sporadic with posting and just existing online as a presence lately, but I want to thank you all for sticking with me. I've been staying away from checking the stats of the blog lately, if only because I knew it would be sad to see that no one was really visiting since I've been taking so many breaks, but I finally looked yesterday, and HOLY COW guys! This month has had the biggest turnout of visitors ever! Seriously, thank you so much for just reaffirming that I'm not screaming into the void and for sticking with me even if I'm not always around.

Finished Since Last Time

Currently Reading
I'm in the midst of rereading ACOTAR (and telling everyone I know to read it) and will bounce immediately into ACOMAF when that's done. At this speed, I may even have time between finishing ACOMAF and ACOWAR to pick up Magic Study!

Post Since Last Time

Coming Soon
April 26 -- Can't Wait Wednesday
April 28 -- Review of Frogkisser
May 3 -- Can't Wait Wednesday
May 6 -- Wrap Up
*If I finish ACOTAR and ACOMAF sooner than later I may also squeeze in some reread reactions to share with you guys.

Thanks so much for reading this and following the blog- you guys really are the best! Now, have a great rest of the month!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Can't Wait Wednesday: The Language of Thorns

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.

Love speaks in flowers. Truth requires thorns.
Travel to a world of dark bargains struck by moonlight, of haunted towns and hungry woods, of talking beasts and gingerbread golems, where a young mermaid's voice can summon deadly storms and where a river might do a lovestruck boy's bidding but only for a terrible price.
Inspired by myth, fairy tale, and folklore, #1 New York Times–bestselling author Leigh Bardugo has crafted a deliciously atmospheric collection of short stories filled with betrayals, revenge, sacrifice, and love.
Perfect for new readers and dedicated fans, these tales will transport you to lands both familiar and strange—to a fully realized world of dangerous magic that millions have visited through the novels of the Grishaverse.
This collection of six stories includes three brand-new tales, all of them lavishly illustrated with art that changes with each turn of the page, culminating in six stunning full-spread illustrations as rich in detail as the stories themselves.
Why I'm Waiting
I haven't finished Crooked Kingdom yet, but I loved Six of Crows and the Grisha Trilogy. Basically, I love anything Leigh Bardugo touches! And this one is going to just look absolutely stunning on my shelf, on top of being an amazing read.

The Language of Thorns releases September 27th, 2017. 

Friday, April 14, 2017

Book Review: Poison Study (Study, #1)

Author: Maria V Snyder
Edition: UK Paperback
Rating: 4 Stars
I remember seeing Poison Study on the shelf of Borders and wanting to read it then, but picking up a different book instead. That's how long this book has been haunting me. As any good book snob knows, though, the COVERS NEED TO MATCH and finding matching covers for these in America has been a headache so I settled on the UK covers, which I didn't like at first but are fast growing on me. It's sad it took me so long to read this book, though, because it's the first book in a while to catch my interest and suck me completely in.

Poison Study is about Yelena, who is in prison for murdering the son of a general, and given another chance to live when she is chosen to be the Commander's poison tester. That means she tries all the food he eats and drinks in order to make sure he doesn't get killed off. Besides working in a job that pretty much assures her untimely death, Yelena must deal with her own ghosts, which include literal ones, many people that want to kill her, and something else- something dangerous stirring inside her that may connect to her family she never knew.

While this was definitely a perfect book for the moment- right up my alley and attention grabbing fantasy- there were some weak spots. Moments here and there that I wish had been done differently, or lasted longer, or just existed in a different way. Some of the decisions that characters made, too, seemed immature, and occasionally their motives, particularly Valek's, would feel a little blurry to me. I'm guessing this is a combination of my editor instinct (which is in hyper mode at the moment) and the fact that a lot of the things done in this book I've already seen done, better, in other books. In the end, though, everything worked itself out and I was rather happy with where it all went- any qualms I had about motive or immaturity flew out the door when the really important stuff started happening.

By far the strongest part of the read, for me, was the relationship between Yelena and Valek. I liked that it strayed away from insta-love and actually took time to develop. I also liked that the characters didn't spend a bunch of chapters messing around and denying the clear affection, which is a trope that's been getting on my nerves a bit lately. When they realized they were developing feelings for each other they were wary, but when the feelings came to a peak they let them happen and enjoyed the pleasure their relationship brought them. Beyond just their relationship, the characters themselves were pretty stellar, and even the side characters were rather interesting. Not everyone had to save the world- some characters were just there because it was their job to be there- but they still got characterization and I enjoyed reading about them all.

The plot was pretty standard for fantasy, but that's not to say I didn't enjoy it immensely. Sometimes going back to the basics is the best thing you can do. However, I am looking forward to the next two books, which I'm hoping will explore much more of the world and get a deeper look into who the villains of this series really are.

A rather good, if traditional, fantasy, featuring a great romance and characters to hold dear.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Review: Alanna The First Adventure (Song of the Lioness, #1)

Author: Tamora Pierce
Edition: Paperback
Rating: 4 Stars
This is one of those books I missed out on as a kid but still get recommended quite a bit. I caved and bought the whole quartet so that I don't have to wait long between books and I'm rather pleased with my decision.

Alanna The First Adventure follows our titular character as she swaps places with her twin brother and pretends to be a boy in order to retrieve training to be a Knight. She keeps her secret close and through her extra hard work and friendships she starts her journey into being one of the best Knight's at the castle.

Alanna herself was a great character. She's young and bold, yet she also learns fast and is good at pretending to be a boy. She can take what's thrown at her- not because she's strong enough, necessarily, but because she has a net of people who will help catch her and because she's willing to change to meet a challenge. In fact, her elasticity and work ethic are two of her strongest characterization points, which were a fresh change from a lot of what I've been reading. As for the other characters, I hate to lump them all into one place, but they were all lacking that third dimension that she has. They're all still growing, as she is, but since they have less page time (it is a very short book) they don't get to be as fully developed. It's not frustrating, though, because with three other books to get through I'm pretty sure everyone will be fleshed out by the end. The plot itself was interesting, but not my main interest, as Alanna herself was so captivating. It's a very basic "set-up" story, where we get an idea of what's to come and who the villain might be. While it mostly follows Alanna in her lessons, the ending was a nice surprise and something I really enjoyed.

More importantly than all that, however, may be how feminist this book is. It deals with a girl living in a man's world and succeeding. It deals with issues for a young audience that other books at this age don't tackle- like getting your period for the first time. And it's dealt with well! Her reaction is honest- she's frightened for a number of reasons- and the way she reaches out to friends is also honest. This is a book that teaches innumerable lessons to young girls and I heartily recommend everyone give it a try, especially children.

While it's a book for younger readers, the main character and feminist themes made it an incredibly good read for me and I would recommend it to everyone, especially since it only takes a day or so to get through.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

April Wrap Up #1

So sorry it's been so long since the last wrap up! I didn't plan for this much time to pass, but school and life have been keeping me very busy. In fact, I haven't had much time (or, to be honest, much of a drive) to read lately. I'm hoping that changes soon because I do miss going to books every time I'm stressed out about life.

Finished Since Last Time
Just Poison Study, which wasn't even something I planned to read right away. It just kinda popped onto my radar and I really enjoyed it!

Currently Reading
Well, this is jumping around a lot because nothing has kept and held my attention recently, but I think I'm going to stick with Frogkisser by Garth Nix. I'm a fan of his and this book, so far at least, does a good job of playing with fairy tale tropes.

Posts Since Last Time
March 21 -- ARC Review: Bull

Coming Soon
So, a lot of these were originally scheduled to be published last month, but things got a little out of hand. I can't promise anything this month, but I do have a feeling that I can get these out on time.
April 3 -- Review of Alanna The First Adventure
April 7 -- Review of Poison Study

Here's to hoping I get more reading done and can have more reviews to post!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Book Review: But Then I Came Back

Author: Estelle Laure
Edition: eGalley courtesy of Netgalley
Release Date: April 4th, 2017
Rating: 5 Stars

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

When I requested this book I had no idea it was actually the sequel/companion to the author's previous book, This Raging Light, which came out two years ago. I skimmed through the reviews of that one after I figured it out and found that it didn't sound like my kind of book. Good thing this one doesn't require you to know about the previous one, and I'd argue that it's a stronger book if you read it as a standalone without a previous book.

For one, the characters come off as strong immediately. As a reader I was swept up into an already fully formed world with a character full of complex relationships with other characters. I was surprised, but in a good way, and even though I didn't get to see all the history that these characters had between each other I still felt like it was all important and that the character's themselves had had this history in the first place.

As for the plot itself, I requested it on a whim. It sounded good, even though it wasn't my traditional genre, since I like reading about near-death experiences in fiction. I had no idea what sort of emotional ride I was in for, though. The story itself is good, but the underlying emotion is amazing. I was brought to tears multiple times and felt as if I was actually there experiencing things within the pages. I've never known anyone in a coma in real life but now I feel as if I actually do. I also want to point out that the author handled the details very well. It wasn't an over the top dramatizing of the coma as a plot device, like a soap opera might do, nor did it ignore all the unfortunate side effects. It handled them gracefully and painted a bittersweet journey of a person recovering from such an event in a respectful manner.

All of this was made the better by the beautiful and heady writing of the author. Estelle Laure has a talent for words that I am jealous of on a personal level. From the first page I knew I was in for a treat and I was never let down. As the last page closed I was mourning the end of her words as much as I was crying for the events in the story. It's a beautiful prose that I'd love to have printed on my wall.

A last note, I like this story quite a bit because I felt myself connecting with the main character, Eden, a good chunk of the time. Part of it does have to do with the mental health aspect, but part of it transcends that I think. It was something about the way she thought and the way I think that made it quite the connection. This rarely happens for me, and I don't often see so much of myself in a character, but it's a pleasant surprise.

TL;DR? A beautiful book, both for the plot and the prose, that I personally connected with on a number of levels.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

ARC Review: Bull

Author: David Elliott
Edition: eARC courtesy of Netgalley
Release Date: March 28th, 2017
Rating: 4 Stars
I received an eARC of this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

Bull is a retelling of the classic myth Theseus vs the Minotaur done completely in verse and written for a modern audience. I've even seen it compared to Hamilton in this regard, which I disagree with. This novel does serve to get the reader to sympathize with the Minotaur and also fills in some gaps that the original myth just stepped over quickly.

The beginning of this novel is incredibly strong, and I was swept in quickly to the action. The voice of Poseidon was early on one of my favorites, but about two thirds of the way through I got bored of him. He narrated everything and I wish more had been left for the other characters to tell since their perspectives might have been more interesting in that way. I also think about two thirds of the way through is when the plot sort of bottomed out. The characters were interesting but didn't get any deeper, the story moved too quickly for me to really grasp everything that was happening, and the ending came as a disappointing rush where some of the action is erased too quickly.

The verse, however, is fantastic the whole way through. It's done incredibly well and every character has a unique way of "speaking" through the verse. The author also includes a little guide to how he picked how each character spoke and what those forms of poetry are, which is interesting in its own right.

Some people will really enjoy this retelling, though I found the last third to be weak in everything but the verse, which stayed strong throughout.


Saturday, March 11, 2017

March Wrap Up #1

I am in the mist of finals which is why I've been silent lately. I'm not too worried or stressed about any of them, but they do take time to study for, so I haven't been reading or blogging much. I have been spending a lot of time with friends, which has been relaxing and a nice return to normal, and I've also been watching a lot of TV. I'm knee deep into season two of the Magicians and I still love it so much! I also managed to watch Logan twice, loved it so much both times!, and finished The OA, which was also amazing.

Finished This Month
Alanna: The First Adventure
It's a nice short read that one of my friends has been telling me to get to forever and I honestly enjoyed it more than I thought.

Currently Reading
The Book Thief
It's the book I picked for the book club I'm in and I'm rather enjoying it! It's slow and heavy, and probably not the best reading material for finals, but it's rather good.

This Month So Far
It's been a slow month for posting, because it's been a slow month for reading. Once finals are over I'll have the week for spring break and my course load for next term is rather light so things should be turning up around here pretty soon.

Coming Soon
As always, this is somewhat tentative and don't be surprised if more things are posted.
March 17 -- Review of Alanna
March 21 -- Review of Bull
March 23 -- College Journey

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: The Curses

Waiting on Wednesday was created by Breaking the Spine
Picking up the pieces after the chilling events of the previous year isn’t easy, but the Graces are determined to do it. Wolf is back after a mysterious disappearance, and everyone’s eager to return to normal. Except for Summer, the youngest Grace. Summer has a knack for discovering the truth—and something is troubling her. After a trail of clues leads her to what could be the key to both her family’s mysterious past and the secret of Wolf, she’s determined to vanquish yet another curse. But exposing secrets is a dangerous game, and it’s not one Summer can win alone.
At Summer’s behest, the coven comes back together, reluctantly drawing their erstwhile friend River back into the fold. But Wolf’s behavior becomes unpredictable even as Fenrin’s strength fades, and Summer must ask herself whether the friend she so loves is also planning her family’s ultimate, cursed demise.
This riveting sequel to The Graces is saturated with magic, the destructive cost of power, the
complications of family, and the nature of forgiveness.
Why I'm Waiting
I adored the first book in this series, The Graces, and was extremely excited to see this pop up on my Facebook feed. If you haven't picked up the first book yet I rather recommend it.

The Curses is released October 10th, 2017

Sunday, March 5, 2017

I'm Back & Where I've Been & What Will Happen Next

Yes, well, that was an abrupt posting wasn't it? Suddenly I was here and then I was taking an unscheduled break. I'll be honest, I didn't know if I'd be coming back.

Why? Emotional reasons. Things got pretty bad and I was severely overwhelmed. Even though blogging wasn't really the reason, I didn't have the time or energy to spare for it and I didn't want it to get stressful so I stopped while I was ahead. Honestly, I've taken a step back from nearly everything and slowly been adding it back to my life. Next up on the list is to try and start writing regularly again.

Right now things aren't as hard as they were but I know they won't be easy like they once where and I wish they would return to. Once upon a time I didn't have emotional and mental barriers keeping me from living a regularly scheduled life, and I've thought for a while I could return to that life, but I know now I can't and I have to use what I have now to carve a life I can enjoy and handle. And that's not bad at all, because now that I'm embracing what's wrong, learning about it, talking about it, dealing with it in new ways, I'm getting back parts of that previous life. And I'm starting to learn how to be actively happy again and it's really nice. 

But I also know this means I can't count on myself to be as reliable with everything. I will continue blogging- I love it and the community- but I don't want another unscheduled disappearance, so I have to take things a little differently.

So, what's next? I had a lot of grand ideas at the beginning of the year and I intend to follow through with some of them still. It's going to be slow going though.

I'll be back to regularly posting book reviews, but perhaps not every week. If I don't feel strongly about the book I'm not going to write a review. I'll also continue with College Journey post's, and I want to get back to that DC Comics series I was writing, but that one may have to wait for a while. There will still be two wrap-ups a month instead of one each week. As for movie/tv reviews, I think I will still do a few here and there if I feel super strongly about them but no promises.

Otherwise, consider me back to business!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

To Interrupt the Regularly Scheduled Program

So I'm taking an unplanned hiatus. I talk about the reasons why here so please if you're curious check it out.

I may not be back until March. Until then I'll be around on twitter but that's about it.


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Book Review: Caraval

Author: Stephanie Garber
Facebook - Twitter - Website
Edition: ARC courtesy of Publisher
Buy Links: Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Book Depository
Release Date: January 31st, 2017
Rating: 5 Stars

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

I am among the majority when I say this was one of my most anticipated books of the new year. It sounded splendid- a carnival event that only takes place rarely and is a magical adventure and the quest of one sister to save the other. Paired with the positive early reviews and huge amount of buzz I thought, and found correct, that nothing could go wrong with this book.

Scarlett and Tella's father is abusive and Scarlett thinks the only way to get away from him and off the island he keeps them on is by marrying a complete, but seemingly kind, stranger. Every year, however, she wrote to Legend, the master of Caraval, in an attempt to see a performance. Only a few days before her marriage, she finally receives a reply, and three tickets that will get her into the performance which is on a neighboring island. It is her sister and the strange boy she found her sister hooking up with, though, that get her to that performance by kidnapping her and stealing her away in the night. It's not long before Scarlett realizes that Caraval is even more dangerous than it seems and that her sister is the game- whoever finds her wins.

It has been such a long time since I was so thoroughly sucked into a book that I didn't want to put it down. This book was like a drug. Every word propelled it into something grander and greater than I could have imagined going in. Not only was the world a whimsical, yet dark, and stunning dreamscape that leapt off the page and stole me away, but the characters were well thought out, three dimensional beings that made me laugh and cry and feel everything in between. The plot was incredible as well and while I was guessing the entire time I read, rarely did my guesses land their mark as things turned out to be better than I could conjure.

I already know that this is going to be in the top ten books of this year, and the year has only just started! I'm eagerly awaiting the next book and I don't think I could recommend this one any harder. Should I mention the slow to develop but heart swooning romance? Should I mention the endless magic at Caraval that will leave you looking for your own ticket? Should I mention the relationship between the sisters that was stronger than even the romance and showed another, more beautiful side, to the love normally common in YA novels? Or should I leave you here and beg you to pick this up and devour it?

I'll leave you here.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Mini Movie Reviews: Florence Foster Jenkins & Cafe Society

This was... not what I was expecting at all. Actually, I never really expected to watch this movie in the first place. The trailers didn't look super appealing and then it kinda floated off my radar anyways so I wasn't sure I cared. But then the awards buzz brought it back to the forefront and I took the opportunity to rent it.

Certainly, I wasn't disappointed. It was a pretty good movie, all in all, but it also wasn't the best it could be. It felt like, the whole time, it was missing something, though I could not say what that was. The actors were all pretty good in their roles, even though it was a pretty limited cast. The plot was funny, heartfelt, and sad, which makes a pretty good combination, too. It just felt lacking the entire time.

My favorite thing about this is that it's a true story. What a cool story! What a cool lady! Like, why don't we learn about her in the history books, if only it's just a line here or there. I know it's pretty trivial, but people like her should be celebrated. But now I'm going on a rant, so let me cool off.

This is a good movie to rent. It's a sold film that hits all the right notes, even if it does seem to be missing some spark. I'm glad I didn't see it in the theater but it was better than I thought it would be.

This was like watching a bad remake of a good Woody Allen movie. The acting was poor, the cinematography was standard, and the plot was dragging and pointless. I know I'm being harsh- and I know I'm not generally a huge fan of Woody Allen films, but I can tell a good movie from a bad movie. I have little to say beyond the fact that I really didn't like it and would recommend staying away from it for its mediocrity. 

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Movie Review: Eddie the Eagle

When I was flipping through google's selection of movie posters for this one there were a few that struggled to make this movie look "cool" which struck me as ridiculous. It's not a "cool" movie, even if it does star Eggsy Unwin and Wolverine... er Taron Egerton and Hugh Jackman, I mean. The poster I ended up settling with for this post pretty much sums up the mood of the film, absurdity and all.

The first thing you need to know is that this is based on a true story. I'm a sucker for sports movies like this, where the underdog rises up and faces his demons by showing off his talents. The second thing you need to know is that, while this is that sort of movie, it's not about the best of the best. It's about the worst of the best with the biggest heart.

Eddie Edwards has all his life wanted to be an Olympic Athlete. He just isn't much of an athlete until he discovers he's not so bad on the slopes. Push comes to shove, and when they won't let him in for the downhill ski he road trips to the mountains where he's determined to qualify and be the one and only member of the British ski jumping team. There he meets ex-American Olympian Bronson Peary, who agrees to help him if only to prevent Eddie from hurting himself.

I was taken in immediately with the movie. The cinematography was clear and the director didn't waste any time drawing you into the setting for the film which is clear within the first five minutes. The characters, too, aren't left open ended for two long and all the relationships are clearly defined, and though they may be a little to black and white rather than dynamic gray, they fit the casting well.

Speaking of the cast- it was interesting to see Egerton in this since the only other films I've seen him in are Sing (where he's only a voice) and Kingsmen, where his character is basically the opposite of what you get here. I thought he did a great job and oftentimes forgot I was seeing the same actor who had portrayed a secret agent. Personally, I think he'll go far in his career since every movie of his I've seen I've liked. The other main player is Hugh Jackman and, let's be honest, can you really go wrong with him? I mean, sure, you probably can, but I've never really seen a bad movie (we're ignoring the first two Wolverine movies because those were just for studio cash and he wasn't the problem with either of them) he's been in. It did take a while for his character to appear on screen and I was impatiently waiting for that moment, but otherwise I thought he was pretty fantastic.

Overall, this is a must watch movie, if you ask me.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Graphic Novel Review: The Killing Joke

Batman: The Killing Joke is part of my DC Read-through, an ongoing series of posts inspired by a free eGalley I received. The eGalley was a magazine of the books DC claimed were the best places to start with their comics and I took this as a challenge. I handpicked about two dozen, and I try to read one or two a month. If you're interested in the rest of this series check out the tab above. My last post was a review of the first volume of Sandman and my next one is going to be V for Vendetta. Because this isn't a typical review I don't focus on the typical things, I stick mostly to looking at whether this is a good place to start with DC comics or not in lieu of plot details and my personal enjoyment.

This one is up there with Watchmen as one of the darkest comics I've ever read. Seeing as they're both written by Alan Moore I really shouldn't be surprised. I would argue, however, that this is darker, and perhaps, because it is shorter, it packs a very different, but still powerful, kind of punch to the gut than Watchmen did. Which is why I'm going to say that this is a poor place to start for any comic reader.

If you're looking to get into Batman comics this isn't the place. Sure, you're probably well versed in who the characters are, but if you want the full impact of the emotions that this is meant to convey I think you need to spend more time getting to know exactly who it is within these pages. I've read Batman comics before, but I still didn't get all the emotion that I think this is meant to convey. It's also not meant to be a set up for anyone really, but the Joker, as it does reveal a "version" of his backstory. While he may be one of the best character's ever written I don't think his is the head you want to enter into this series with.

If you're looking to get into superhero comics this also isn't the best place. The only hero to really appear is Batman and it's in a limited capacity. He's there, and his morals are certainly fleshed out nicely and quickly, but he himself isn't the most interesting part nor is he meant to be. It's not a comic about a hero as about the human condition, which it portrays beautifully.

Finally, if you're looking to get into comics in general I would say it's so-so. For a one-shot it's a really solid story, and if you're a connoisseur of fine things, particularly fine art, this is definitely a piece you need to add to your collection. However, if you're just generally looking to get into comics this will either be a turn on or a turn off. There's not really a middle ground with this one, so I would recommend starting somewhere else. If you're pretty sure this is the kind of things you want to read regularly, than by all means go for it, but if you're just kinda curious and not sure, try something else first to get a taste for the medium.

I do want to add a word on whether I liked it or not: I did but not really because of the plot (which I find a tad too disturbing for even my tastes) or the art (though it is very nice art that matches the story well) but because of how much of a statement piece it is as art and what it contributes to the genre. I like being able to see it on my shelf and I think it will be a nice piece for my collection for many years to come.

TL;DR? Perhaps not the best place to start with comics or graphic novels but definitely a must read if you think you can stomach it.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

College Journey: Find Your Own Music

College Journey is a twice-monthly posting series (the last two Thursdays of every month) where I talk about both my experience and advice I've collected along the way. I go to a small liberal arts college in the middle of Nowhere, IL, and while I enjoy the campus and the company the wider community is much different than what I'm use to. If you ever have a question, check out my college journey tab, where I've collected all past posts, or shoot me an email (tsundokublog(at)gmail(dot).com) and I'll respond as soon as I can.

This post is two pronged. I mean a lot with the title. I mean it, first, in a literal manner, and, more importantly, in a figurative way. Music is a super big help in my life- it keeps me going, motivates me, connects with me, inspires me, and picks me up when I'm down and nothing else can do it. It takes no energy to listen to music and I'll often fall asleep and wake up to it stuck in my head. It's a soundtrack for your soul, and it's important you find some you like to keep you going through life, if it does have that sort of effect on you.

More importantly: you need to find your own internal rhythm. You can't base your days off of what everyone around you is doing because you can't sacrifice your goals and your time to someone else's, at least not all the time. There are always exceptions, but it's a bad idea to try and spend every waking minute following someone else's schedule when it doesn't work for you. Maybe you don't know what I'm talking about, but I'm guessing you do. In it's essence, what I'm saying is don't bend over backwards for someone or something when you can't straighten up afterwards.

Recently I've had stress issues and I think those stem, at least in some part, from trying to fit the things I need to do into other people's schedules and them trying to fit what they need to do into mine, making everything stressful in the end and tempers and emotions run high. So I took a step back and recollected my thoughts and what I needed to do to help calm things down and here's what I've come back with:

Classes come first. That's it. That's the reason you're in college isn't? It's so you can learn and use that knowledge in your life in some way, whether it's career-wise or not, you have an end goal in mind and classes are probably what gets you there. Don't let someone else get in the way of them and make sure to take time before and after each class so that you're not rushing around from one to another.

Do homework alone, or at least part of it. I like doing homework in an environment conductive to getting stuff done, and sometimes that means with a bunch of my friends in the library as we all work diligently and sometimes that means secluding myself in my room. Even when they're all out in the common room having fun and doing things. This tags onto the mantra that classes come first- because homework and studying are the key to your classes.

Eat on your time. Meals are one of the few social times I always have assured but they've also been problematic lately. I try to make sure I have my homework done at specific times so I can eat with specific people but that's been getting in the way of, you guessed it, homework. And homework is the key to classes. And classes come first! See where this is going?

Actually know when you're going to hang out with people. By this I mean, you know you're going to want to have fun Friday nights through Sunday evening, and while that won't really work out, you do know the times of the day and the week when you're going to be willing and more wanting to hang out with friends. You're going to want to go on adventures and play board games and just exist in the same space in a non-toxic way. Which means you have to be able to schedule your homework and other priorities around this time so that you don't feel like you're missing out on something important.

Take the time for yourself and don't feel guilty. Pretty self-explanatory.

That's my best advice, and I'm going to try my own darnedest to keep up on it as well. Good luck to us all!