Monday, June 26, 2017

5 Star Book Review: Lord of Shadows

SHADOWHUNTERS #13
THE DARK ARTIFICES #2
AUTHOR: CASSANDRA CLARE
RATING: 5 STARS
LADY MIDNIGHT (SPOILERS)
There are so many feelings I have for this book! I'd definitely say it's one of my favorite Shadowhunter books to date because of the complex relationships, both romantic and platonic, and the fact that it seriously parallels a lot of what's going on, socially, in our world today.

This review won't have any spoilers (there will be a spoiler discussion later on this week, so keep a look out for that if you want to hear what I thought about THAT ending) but it's best you don't read this if you haven't read book one.

While I liked the ships in Lady Midnight I wasn't as madly in love with them as I was with this one. First of all, while I liked Julian and Emma before I hadn't really seen the attraction between them, but this one it absolutely came across and my heart was completely torn for them. They're so great together, and while they're still not my favorite couple, I do get it now. However, it was the other ships (okay, this is a spoiler so I'll talk more about it in the other review) were really what made me want to keeping turning the pages. The other two I was majorly invested in were really well set up and the strings tying them all together had me aching. Also, Diana's relationship with a certain someone was both hilarious and adorable.

The nostalgia! There was so much of it and I loved it. Old characters making reappearances (sometimes big ones!) or just small easter eggs (Will H. :) ) left me feeling extremely happy and jittery inside and also made me want to go back and reread every single Shadowhunter book (but goodness that would take a long long time). It's also made me even more excited to read TLH (if that were possible). What struck me the most was seeing such well-loved and well-worn characters like Clary and Magnus from other perspectives. It was like revealing another facet of these characters that I know intimately from the page in a way that Emma or Julian or Mark don't. It was incredibly interesting and really showed the talent of Clare that she was able to maintain the integrity of her characters while still continuing to round them out as they age and grow.

I won't say much about the Cohort (because spoilers) but they made me so angry and I was glad about it. Their "evil" is such a real evil that has to be faced today and I feel the same way about IRL evil like this as I did with the Cohort. It was like ants under my skin- I wanted to beat them up, teach them what's right, but knew that wouldn't do anything (beyond them being fictional, duh) and that even trying to reason with them probably wouldn't work. I read to escape, but at the same time, I loved seeing echoes of real life in this fantasy.

After Lady Midnight ended I wasn't quite sure where the story was going to go because it felt like such a solid ending. It went in a direction I could never have guessed but I was absolutely along for the ride (especially the parts in Faerie!) and can't wait for the next book (two years away *sigh*). After my reread of Lady Midnight didn't go so stellar I was worried that this series had lost its magic for me, but no worries because everything holds strong and I adore every second of these books.

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.

Reviews

Discussions

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

THE KINGKILLER CHRONICLES, #1
AUTHOR: PATRICK ROTHFUSS
RATING: 5 STARS
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

A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES #3
AUTHOR: SARAH J MAAS
RATING: 5 STARS
A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES
A COURT OF MIST AND FURY (SPOILERS)
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

RATING: 5 STARS
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.