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!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Mini Movie Reviews: The Jungle Book & Sing

This movie has gotten only praises as far as I can tell, and I can see why. The animation was stunning, and paired with the voice acting, I would say they nailed all the characters. Bill Murray in particular was fantastic and his version of Baloo really blew me out of the water. He was easily my favorite character in this film (which I'll touch back on in a moment). Neel Sethi, who played Mowgli, was also very good. I'm always worried about children actors, because you either have a  hit or a miss regarding their abilities, but I'd say Sethi definitely falls into the hit category and I hope he has a bright future in acting ahead of him.

The plot was slow for a long part of the film and it felt indeed like several chapters taken from a book. I must admit, I've never read the original story, I'm only familiar with Disney's previous animated version, so I don't know if the book is meant to feel like this on purpose. However, once Baloo showed up I was thoroughly involved and thought the stakes were appropriately high and the tension appropriately dangerous. His part in the plot also moved things forward and he served as a good connection between Mowgli's past and present without being the omniscient force that Bagheera was.

Overall this is definitely a film worth watching, though I am glad I didn't see it in theaters. For me, this is a sit-at-home covered in blankets film. While it would look absolutely stunning on the large screen I preferred the intimacy of watching it on my computer. Which, yes, it is on Netflix right now so there's little excuse not to see it (unless, of course, you don't have Netflix).

Since the first trailer jumped into my lap I have been anticipating this movie. It just looked adorable! And the cast is fantastic! And the music is fantastic! Really there's not much bad I can say about this film, so I won't.

I will say it a fun movie, but it's definitely a kids film. Don't take this to mean anything bad about it though! I certainly enjoyed it and I would see it again, but if this isn't your genre you already know that and you plan to stay away. 

I don't think it's destined to become a classic (not up there with How to Train Your Dragon or Shrek, is what I mean), though I am glad it was a good watch and I'm glad the general public agrees.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

January Wrap Up (Weeks One & Two)

So this is the first of my new style of Wrap Up's! And, unfortunately, it's late. I've been having some mental health and stress related problems that have kept me from both reading and blogging as a whole. I wish I could say things are looking up, but I'd have to say they just don't look like they're going to be getting any worse, which is in itself a positive. As of writing this, I'm feeling a lot better than I did yesterday and the day before, so we'll see how long this bout of trouble lasts me.

Otherwise, not much has been going on. School has, overall, been pretty good, and classes are interesting in the very least. Before the mental health troubles I was reading a lot more than I expected I would be, so that's always a good sign! I hope everyone else has been having a great start to the new year and I'm sorry if my absence has been felt, I'm going to try and get back to regular posting and visiting blogs this week and hopefully I won't be knocked off that plan any time soon.

Books Finished
Star Wars: Showdown on Smuggler's Moon
But Then I Came Back
The Killing Joke
I adored But Then I Came Back and Caraval (both ARCs) and Caraval for sure will be making it into my favorite books of the year, even though it's only January. Really, when this one comes out you will need to pick it up immediately. Shiver was a fun reread, though it doesn't hold up quite as much as I would have wished. I did end up crying at the end of it, because it's just so beautiful on the final pages and it brought me back to a simpler time and place.

Currently Reading
I'm in the midst of Gilded Cage (an ARC) and while I'm enjoying it I don't think it's what I had a taste for at the moment. I'm only about a fourth of the way through, though, so we'll see if my mood changes as the week progresses.




Coming Soon
Tuesday-- Mini Reviews of The Jungle Book & Sing
Thursday-- College Journey
Friday-- Review of The Killing Joke
Saturday-- Review of Eddie the Eagle
Next Sunday-- Mini Reviews of Florence Foster Jenkins & Cafe Society
Next Tuesday-- Caraval Review
Next Thursday-- College Journey
Next Saturday-- Wrap Up #2

So, yep, that's all for me this week! Here's to a better next to week and me trying to get myself (and my blog) back together! Have a wonderful week, everyone.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

TV Review: Westworld, Season 1

This is one of those hard stories to talk about, because if I say too much I could ruin the whole thing, so I will tread carefully. Also, a warning for those interested in the show: there's a lot of nudity. Not sexual nudity, per se, but nudity. Like, you get the chance to see nearly every character nearly full-frontal, and several of them full-frontal. If you're uncomfortable with that don't watch it because it will make you uncomfortable.

First of all, I see why so many people enjoyed it. It's a solid story backed with an amazing cast, shot beautifully, and full of fan theory potential. Plus, with the final episode it answers all the big questions you had all along, and then asks new ones we have to wait TWO YEARS to see answered since it won't be back until at least 2018.

I can't say much about the plot, though I wish I could discuss it in depth here. I don't even know where I would start with that, though. There are several interesting and important threads laid out in the very first episode and while many of them do end up intersecting, they don't all necessarily. I will say if you're not taken in the first episode by the plot, because it seems repetitive and like it's not going anywhere, stick around until at least episode three. Things really pick up there and stuff stops sticking to a formula.

The first thing that I loved when I watched the first episode was the cast. They are amazing! Every single member blew me out of the water, I was in such awe of them. Like, seriously, even if the show was bad they would have made it good. Since it was already a great show it became amazing because of the talent collected here. Everyone was perfectly cast and I loved everyone, even the ones I hated. Each member was able to make you feel something for them- whether that was disgust, horror, love, sympathy, awe, or something in between all of that- and I can easily say that I will never forget a single one of them they're imprinted that strongly, emotionally, on my mind.

As for the beautiful cinematography- all you can do is watch and see for yourself how beautiful everything is. From the harsh metals and dark lights of the industrial half of the park, to the open spaces and historical(ish) details of the "westworld" every single shot was gorgeous. If you get a chance to watch on a big screen I strongly recommend because you won't be disappointed in the least.

TL;DR? If you have the chance to watch this, jump on that opportunity because you won't regret it. The story, cast, and cinematography were all out of this world, and this is certainly not a show to be underestimated.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Mini Review: Showdown on Smuggler's Moon (Star Wars, Vol. 2)

After seeing Rogue One I wanted to keep the Star Wars bug biting so I picked up the second volume of the comic series. I read volume one several months ago and thought it fit the characters perfectly and did a nice job to fill in the space between the first two films. This one also does a very nice job of that, though I think it veered a bit further away from a plot I wanted than the first did. The characters are still spot on and I swear I can hear the actors voices when I turn the pages, and things jump off the page thanks to the great quality art.

For plot in general, it moved a little too fast for certain things to happen they way they did. In part of it Luke receives training, and I had a feeling, based off of what the characters said, that this lasted for at least a few days, or a week at most, but on the page that only amounted to one or two brief training scenes. Because of this I did get a bit confused over the timeline, which also makes it seem that everything that happens to Han and Leia takes place in about a day, while Luke's story clearly doesn't.

Everything paid off in the end, though, and I loved how it all finished out. Spoiler alert: seeing the original squad all holding Lightsabers was a dream come true.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Mini Manga Reviews: The Case Study of Vanitas (Vol. 1) & Reindeer Boy

The Case Study of Vanitas is Jun Mochizuki's most recent series. I first discovered her manga last year when I picked up the first volume of Pandora Hearts and from page one was absorbed into the story. I'm still making my way through that series but took advantage of the opportunity to jump into this series as it began. The art in Vanitas is just as stunning as that in Pandora, but so far the storyline is slower. Little beyond character introductions has happened so far into the story, but I'm not really complaining because all the characters are pretty interesting.

Vanitas is a human pretending he's a legendary vampire- oh, and he's curing "sick" vampires that have gone crazy using the book that may have cursed them in the first place. Noe is a vampire with a secret agenda who "befriends" Vanitas in an attempt to get closer to his book and promises the reader at the end of the first chapter that he will kill Vanitas. And then there are an array of side characters who we've only seen pieces of and who I'm very curious about, not least of all Jeanne, who reminds me of Brienne from GOT if I'm being honest.

So far I would say this has a bunch of potential and I'll be happily reading it for a while. If you're looking for a new manga without a lot to catch up I'd strongly recommend this one.

I don't know if this qualifies more as a graphic novel or American manga, but it's short enough to be somewhere in between if nothing else. I've been a fan of Cassandra Jean's since I discovered her TMI fan art and I'm so happy to see her doing so well! I believe this is her first professionally published original work and if it's anything to go off of, I think her future works will be just as good.

Of course I loved the art, she's one of my favorite artists, and the story was really cute. My only problem- it ended too soon! And sometimes that can come off as not a bad thing but in this case it was a bit disappointing. I was looking forward to more of a story and it had a lot of momentum that ended rather abruptly in the end. I think this is because it's meant to be part of a series, but since that hasn't actually been confirmed it doesn't really make me feel better about that ending. Sure it was cute but so much was left unanswered!

My favorite part was just the relationships between all the characters. I don't have a word to describe this bond, but when I see it on the page it takes me to some of my favorite stories where the bond is similar (mostly stuff I read when I was younger so there's this HUGE nostalgia factor).

If anything, this is a pretty good holiday read, seeing as it's about Santa and his reindeer.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Book Review: The Bear and the Nightingale

Author: Katherine Arden
Edition: eGalley courtesy of Netgalley
Release Date: January 10th, 2017
Rating: 3 Stars
I received an early copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you.

I stumbled across this one a little on accident, but as soon as I read the description I was enchanted. It sounded beautiful, and whimsical, and haunting, and was absolutely what I was in the mood for during the winter months. Unfortunately, it let me down quite a bit, not unlike how the Crown's Game did last year, and for several of the same reasons.

The Bear and the Nightingale is about Vasilisa and her family. Since she was a young girl Vasya has been able to see the spirits of the forest and her house, which was never a problem until she got older and a powerful and dark god in the forest begins to try and take his power back.

I'm going to start with the positives, because the book wasn't all bad. The writing was gorgeous, for one, and the descriptions were so life like I could see everything clearly. I also loved the setting, which was historical Russia, which came alive as did everything else. Adding the touch of linguistics to the story as it was told brought me back to fond memories of reading Grisha for the first time, and I'll never complain about that. The beginning, too, was an incredibly strong start, and for the first 100 pages I was in love with the story. The near-ending (the fifty or so pages leading up to the climax) was also amazing and pulled from East of the Sun, West of the Moon. I wish more time had been spent with that part of the story since I could have bathed in that plot for ages.

It was the middle that dragged. One of the biggest problems was the number of characters the story tackled, and the limited number of pages. Had the story been stretched out to cover longer than it did, and more pages than it did, I don't think I would have minded the wide cast so much, but it all felt packed in with boring details that didn't really matter. It all ties up in the end, but with the amount of time spent following non-main characters around I was hoping they would all have a bigger impact than they did. Like I said, the near-ending was my favorite part, and when I got to that part it felt like everything before had been a very extended prologue, making me dislike it even more for keeping me from the interesting bits.

Since there were so many characters none of them felt as fully developed as they could have been. Too many of them depended on their plot line to be people, even our protagonist. I wanted characters that changed more because of themselves and not because the plot said they needed to.

TL;DR? The problems with slow plot and poor character development can't be overcome by the beautiful prose and few interesting parts, but some people will surely fall in love with it, and I just wish I could have been one of them.

Waiting on Wednesday: Age of Swords

Waiting on Wednesday was created by Breaking the Spine
The gods have been proven mortal and new heroes will arise as the battle continues in the sequel to Age of Myth.
In Age of Myth, fantasy master Michael J. Sullivan launched readers on an epic journey of magic and adventure, heroism and betrayal, love and loss. Now the thrilling saga continues as the human uprising is threatened by powerful enemies from without—and bitter rivalries within.
Raithe, the God Killer, may have started the rebellion by killing a Fhrey, but long-standing enmities dividing the Rhune make it all but impossible to unite against a common foe. And even if the clans can join forces, how will they defeat an enemy whose magical prowess makes the Fhrey indistinguishable from gods?
The answer lies across the sea in a faraway land populated by a reclusive and dour race who feels nothing but disdain for both Fhrey and mankind. With time running out, Persephone leads the gifted young seer Suri, the Fhrey sorceress Arion, and a small band of misfits in a desperate search for aid—a quest that will take them into the darkest depths of Elan. There, an ancient adversary waits—an enemy as surprising as it is deadly.
Why I'm Waiting
I wasn't as taken with the first book in this series as I was with Sullivan's previous work, but now that a lot of the groundwork for this world has been laid and all the characters are set up I think I will be more than happy with this one. Also, this cover is so much more than I expected! I love it!

Age of Swords is released June 28th, 2017, and you can preorder it here