Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Can't Wait Wednesday: Dread Nation

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

Dread Nation releases April 3rd, 2018 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Truthwitch Inspired Friend Interviews

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interview #2: Halle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Monday, July 17, 2017

Book Review: The Wise Man's Fear

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

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

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

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

Friday, July 14, 2017

Book Review: Truthwitch

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Candle Reviews: Meraki Candles & The Melting Library

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Can't Wait Wednesday: Tower of Dawn

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

Tower of Dawn releases September 5th, 2017

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 10, 2017

Music Monday: Summer Jams

Music Monday is a meme hosted by my friend Lauren from Always Me and the rules are simple: share a few songs you've been enjoying lately (they don't have to be a specific genre or follow any theme) and they can be new or old songs. If possible share a music video or lyric video. And, of course, link up with Lauren.

I've wanted to participate in this meme for a while but for whatever reason it either kept slipping my mind, I didn't have time to write it, or there wasn't any music that was inspiring me at the moment. I seem to have found some passion for music again, though, and I'm excited to join in. I know I won't be able to participate each week but I'm going to try and be a frequent flier with this one.

First up is Castle on the Hill by Ed Sheeran which is, without a doubt, the song that defines this summer for me.
I'm not a huge fan of Ed Sheeran, meaning that I won't go out of my way to listen to his music, but if it comes on the radio I will absolutely turn the speakers up a bit. When I heard this for the first time on a car ride to an amusement park I fell instantly in love. It's super nostalgic (if that were a genre it'd be my favorite) and reminds me of a song that defined my summer after senior year of high school- Geronimo (the openings sound similar).

Walking the Wire was one of Imagine Dragons singles released in prep for their most recent album (which I absolutely love).
The first time I listened to it I was so overcome in emotion and energy that I had to dance (badly; I'm not a good dancer). It's such a motivating and beautiful song and I want to play it constantly. I couldn't say whether it was the music or the lyrics I loved more.

Like most Coldplay songs Something Just Like This took me a while to warm up to, but once I really started listening to the lyrics I fell in love. Anything that references Greek/Roman mythology tends to attract me, and not only does this song make reference to Achilles and Hercules but Spiderman and Batman as well. A song after my own heart.

When I was younger my dad told me that he'd listen to a song from his childhood and be taken back to that moment or year. For me this is doubly true with music that defines summers. Listening to a "summer song" in the middle of winter, or even when I'm having a bad day, can bring me back to all those good, warm memories and help ground me. Are there any songs like that for you? Let me know in the comments!

Saturday, July 8, 2017

July Wrap Up #1

Good evening! This wrap up is coming a week earlier than I expected it to, but I thought it was time to catch you all up to speed sooner than later. Something I've been considering on and off for a while is switching my blog to wordpress and recently I've made the decision more or less official. There are a bunch of reasons I want to switch to wordpress, and I'm not going into them now, but in the new year that's likely what's going to happen. I'm not completely giving up on Blogger, I'll keep looking around and seeing if there are things I didn't realize I could do with it and maybe that will change my mind, but as of right now I'm going to proceed with the plan to switch. The biggest difference that will be noticeable is that I'm going to be implementing some ads here. Ugh, I know. I hate advertisements, but I like the idea of this blog paying for, at least in part, something going into the new version of it. I'm going to try and keep the ads at a minimum but they will be there and it would be a huge favor if, if the chance arises, you click the ads for things that interest you. If any big decisions are made I'll keep you guys up to date on them. On to the wrap up!

Finished
Truthwitch (review coming Friday)
The Wise Man's Fear (review coming later this month)

Currently Reading
I'm in the midst of Magic Study but I should be done by the end of the night. After that I'll be picking up Assassin's Blade as my reread of the Throne of Glass series is about to begin again.

Reviews

Discussions

Can't Wait Wednesday

Upcoming Posts
Music Monday: Summer Playlist
Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag
CWW: Tower of Dawn
Candle Reviews
Truthwitch Review
The Wise Man's Fear Review
Bookish Interviews (inspired by Truthwitch)
CWW: Dread Nation

Do you prefer Blogger of Wordpress? Let me know in the comments!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Mini Book Review: Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy

SHADOWHUNTERS #11
AUTHOR: CASSANDRA CLARE
SARAH REES BRENNAN
MAUREEN JOHNSON
ROBIN WASSERMAN
RATING: 4 STARS
THE BANE CHRONICLES
This was, by far, the most nostalgic Shadowhunter book to date. Not only does it call back to TMI, which is a series I haven't revisited since the last book came out, but also TID, and some of the character from TDA (whose fates I know now having just finished Lord of Shadows). It was almost liking going home, reading this book, and that was the perfect experience for the place I was in at the time of reading it.

Just like with The Bane Chronicles, it was James Herondale who took the cake with this one. I adored his story, I adored everything about him- his relationship with his parents, his relationship with his friends (particularly Matthew!), and his character in general. I already know he's going to be one of my favorite characters in all of the series and I really, really can't wait for TLH to come out.

I also liked how level headed Simon was, and how he was the voice of reason among the heightened political tension within the Shadowhunter Academy. Pairing this with everything in Lord of Shadows, this is definitely tamer, but it's also important. I'd recommend reading this first because it really sets up the relationships each group has with the other.

My one complaint was that, even after everything that I loved in this book, I walked away feeling a little empty, as if there was something missing at the end. I think that has to do with the fact that it's not a novel, it's an anthology, but I still felt like something key was missing. However, I don't think that should stop anyone from reading this collection, because it really is, overall, wonderful.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Game Review: The Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game

This is a different sort of review, but I've been eagerly awaiting this game for some time now, and it is based off of a book series I adore, so I think it has a place here. The Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game was a kickstarter but I didn't get the chance to back it, much to my disappointment since afterwards I realized how many exclusives I missed out on the chance for. I decided I would buy this at the earliest opportunity and a preorder arose that I jumped on because I could also grab the extra packs and expansions. In fact, I got all but one expansion pack, which was a tie in to another series I had never read.

The way the game is complicated, but easy to learn, though it did take me about half an hour to figure out. It would certainly be easier if there were multiple people learning together, and I know they have a video explanation, but I went purely by the guide book. The best way to learn is to play a round or two. Mostly everything is color coordinated, so it's not hard to match what cards deal with other cards, but there are also several numbers to keep an eye on and manage and that doesn't become easy until the second or third time you play. Regardless of how complicated it is it's fun when the ball starts rolling and it really does play as quickly as it says.

I've never played a cooperative card game before so this was completely new to me. Instead of playing against the other players you play against the game itself and you need to have solved more cases than there are monsters left on the board, which is way harder than it sounds. Of the three games I've played so far I've lost all of them. In order to play you need a character deck (for the players) and a book deck (for the game). There are several character decks so you get quite the range to choose from and more than half of the book decks (though many come in expansion packs) and almost three times as many side job cards so that you can create a game that isn't based off of any book in particular. You can also combine the different book decks however you like for an even more unique playing experience, but you cannot combine character decks for obvious reasons.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that you can play this game alone and it actually isn't that much harder, nor that much easier. It plays a really balanced game, and beyond making the decisions for three instead of one, it's just like playing with multiple people. This was the first round I played and it took me a little longer because I was still learning but I really enjoyed it nonetheless. I played the first book deck and a lot of my memories of that book are hazy, but I did recall some of the details that went into this game and enjoyed how it tried to connect to the book. My only problem with playing alone was that there wasn't anyone to talk to and scheme with to try and defeat the game.

I also managed to play two rounds with my parents. We played the first book deck and the second. Neither of my parents have ever read the books (though my dad watched the TV show way back when it was on; not that he remembers it at all) and they had a hard time learning how to play. Half of that I blame on myself for being bad at explaining but I do think it was harder for them to learn because they don't play games like this very often. Even throughout the game I could tell they thought it was overly complicated and while they still enjoyed it to a degree I think it could have been enhanced for them if it was easier. The best way to play would probably be with others who knew the books well (so they could enjoy the finer points of the cards) and had some experience with more complicated board and card games because this one doesn't work as a good primer.

Over even the game itself I love the cards themselves. Some of them are hilarious (looking at you "I don't wear hats!") and all of them are wonderful callbacks to the books. The art, too, is gorgeous and I love seeing all of my favorite characters come alive in this medium. My goal is to play with each character deck at some point so that I can really enjoy them all. If you're a fan and willing to pay and want to play it's definitely worth it.

It's not the best game I've ever played but once I got the hang of it I had such a good time. It's definitely not for newcomers to gaming like this because of all the complications and different pieces you need to keep track of at once, but if you're looking for something that will make you think hard to win it's probably up your alley. You also don't really need to have read the books to understand the game itself but it's more fun (obviously) if you're already a fan. If I was going to rate this, I'd give it about 3.5 stars out of 5.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Can't Wait Wednesday: An Enchantment of Ravens

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.

Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized among them. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes – a weakness that could cost him his life.
Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love, violating the fair folks’ ruthless Good Law. There's only one way to save both their lives, Isobel must drink from the Green Well, whose water will transform her into a fair one—at the cost of her Craft, for immortality is as stagnant as it is timeless.
Isobel has a choice: she can sacrifice her art for a future, or arm herself with paint and canvas against the ancient power of the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.
Why I'm Waiting
Faeries are in right now- not just in general but for me. I adore that the stories from my childhood are being given dangerous flesh (I grew up on Spiderwick Chronicles and I've waited a long time for Fey to make this comeback). Beyond that, this story sounds really good, and not quite like an epic fantasy and not quite like a faerie story. The cover, though, is what initially caught my attention, and while at first it reminded me of the covers of the Air Awakens series, I soon discovered that it was actually done by the magnificent Charlie Bowater, which completed selling me on this book.

An Enchantment of Ravens releases on September 26th, 2017.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Book Review: East

AUTHOR: EDITH PATTOU
RATING: 3 STARS
Growing up this book was always on the end caps at my library but I never wanted to pick it up because it didn't sound like a proper fantasy novel. Looking back I'm glad I didn't read it when I was younger because I don't think I would have been able to get through it, as it really is more of a historical fairy tale of sorts.

East is a retelling of the story East of the Sun, West of the Moon (which is one of stories that inspired ACOTAR) and that's the reason I picked it up this time around. This version is steeped in a world that once was and, as far as I can tell, is historically accurate (besides the fairy tale elements). It follows Rose, a young girl who agrees to go with a White Bear in order to save her family.

While this is a beautifully told story, and I really liked a lot of the latter parts of the book, it had too many issues for me to really enjoy it all the way. First, there were far too many perspectives and I often didn't care what some of them had to say. Near the end they do all start to have something interesting to say, but it took too long for them to all pay off as many early chapters just feel like padding. And each chapter was very quick, with the momentum stopping before anything really happened, especially within the first arc of the book. Again, this straightens up closer to the end, but it was aggravating and made it hard to connect with the characters. The other big thing that frustrated me was that there was a lot of telling and not very much showing. That was a convention of the book, which was staged to be somewhat of a found manuscript, but I feel like as a reader I missed out a lot of what could have been very beautiful imagery.

What I did like was that by the end Rose had completely grown on me and grown up herself. I also liked the White Bear once he regained a lot of his agency. Their relationship was also a high point. They're meant to be in love, sort of, but I like that it's not depicted as exactly love. In the end they do get their happy ending, and we miss a bit of this build up, but they do seem to reach that rather naturally. I also liked the characters Rose met as she traveled. They were all short appearances but I enjoyed these unique characters who didn't need much to connect with at all.

It is a fairytale, and the writing was accordingly beautiful. I've heard that the author is considering a sequel and I think I would pick it up. I didn't love this book as many people have, but I did enjoy it enough to recommend it if it sounds interesting to you.