Sunday, January 31, 2016

January Wrap Up

I got a ton of reading done this month I can barely believe it!  Part of the reason I got so much done is kinda sad (my depression reared it's ugly head again, ugh) but there is the upside of the amount of pages I poured through this month- and loved!  I mean, I did have a pretty high goal for myself this month and I (pretty much) managed to reach it.  If you remember my January TBR I planned to read eight books, and I finished six of those and then one I didn't plan to get to.  The only ones I didn't manage to finish were Bentwhistle the Dragon in a Chilling Revelation, though I'm currently a few chapters in, and Sword and Verse, which I just didn't feel like reading when the preorder finally came in.

I loved this book so much!  I couldn't have imagined that I would adore it so, and I'm desperately waiting for Glass Sword at this point.  I actually find myself thinking about this book pretty regularly, which really surprises me.  It was a great way to start off the month, even though it took me two weeks to read it.

2. Illuminae
I buddy read this book with Maryam Dinzly and it was so fun to do that!  On top of that, this book was amazingly fantastic and if you haven't read it you really, really should.  It took me about a day and a half to get through completely and I both savored every second and couldn't stop racing through it.

This was such a surprisingly good read!  It's a cute little middle grade steeped in Japanese mythology, and I really, really recommend it.  Particularly, if you know a young reader; it's the perfect story to share among many generations.

4. A Thousand Pieces of You
I have some really conflicted feelings about this book.  On one hand it was super addicting, and on the other, it wasn't that deep and the romance was weak.  I do plan to continue this series, though, and I'm excited to do so.

This one took me no time at all to read and I rather enjoyed it!  It's not super important to reading the rest of the series, but I think if you're a fan you'll enjoy it.  I do recommend reading it between Cress and Winter, if you're curious.

6. Beyond the Shadows
Oh goodness this book swept me away and gave me massive book hangover!  It's the final book in the Night Angel trilogy and things only got better.  I heard that Brent Weeks said he'd be writing another trilogy set in this world, and I really, really can't wait.

7. You Were Here
I'm actually writing this post before I've finished this book, but I'm not worried about finishing it.  So far it's been a really quick read and, while it's not as angsty as I think it's trying to be, I'm really enjoying it. The art really adds a level to the story that I'm enjoying.

I also managed to read several volumes of manga, and a couple graphic novels, too.  TV-wise I haven't watched very much, and hopefully next month I'll fix that problem.  I just haven't been motivated to do much more than read, and, honestly, I'm okay with that.

What books did you read last month?  Any you absolutely loved?  Let me know!

Sunday TV

Sunday TV is a monthly wrap up post where I talk about all the shows I've been watching.  Sometimes I watch a lot of TV, other times not very much at all.

Once Upon a Time Season Four
I love this show, I really do.  I watched the first two and a half seasons live and enjoyed them, but it got away from me thanks to school so I've been slowly catching up.  Over winter break I decided it was time to finally get back on this horse and watch the entirety of season four.  I loved it so very much.  In fact, I think this was my favorite season!  I must confess, I knew how it was going to end thanks to spoilers on the internet, but that didn't ruin the story at all.  Most notable this season were the new villains: Cruella, Ursula, and the Author (if you could call him a villain).  Each was super dynamic and had my attention from the second they were introduced.  As always, Hook and Emma continue to be adorable, too, which is often a high light for me.

Noragami: Aragoto
A perfect follow up to the previous season.  I was basically living off of this show for a bit, eagerly anticipating the new episode at the end of each week.  It was so good and each episode managed to end on a cliffhanger that would have me just staring at the screen in a silent scream of feelz.  I'm so incredibly sad that this show is over now.  Content-wise, the plot is very different from season one, and, I would argue, much darker.  It spends more time with Yato and has a split in the middle between two major arcs.  One thing I particularly loved was how characters that are originally introduced one way get a full fleshing out and become someone else entirely by the end of the show.  I don't want to say who, but there were a couple characters I went into either liking/hating and ended up feeling very different by the end.

Shadowhunters Episodes 101 & 102
I think this was a super anticipated show for a lot of book bloggers.  I didn't have super high expectations, but I am glad it's finally become a real tangible thing I can watch now.  Seeing this world come to life again has been really fantastic, since this is practically the series that got me into YA.  I think my biggest complaint comes in the way of acting, which was sub-par, to say the least.  I do think everyone will be able to grow into their characters nicely, so I'm not too upset, though.  I was pleasantly surprised by the pacing of the show so far, too.  I was worried they would run through plot points without explaining anything, like many shows often do.  Also, Hodge is hot :)

The Shannara Chronicles Episodes 101 & 102
This was, perhaps, my most anticipate show of the new year, and it's petty much lived up to my hopes and dreams.  I love it so much.  The casting is fantastic, the story is being told in such a way that it feels cinematic, and the cinematography itself is gorgeous.  The special effects, while not the best, are better than I thought they would be.  Basically, this show is worth watching, even if you haven't read the books.  I'm only halfway through the first one (I've taken a break) and I must say, I like the show better (Shannara fans out there, don't kill me, please...)

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Weekly Wrap Up & Book Haul

So, last night was fun! (read: heavy sarcasm)  One of my friends twisted his ankle (it was bent at a strange angle *shudders*) so we sent to him to the hospital and two of my other friends went with.  I haven't had any updates- which is good, it means he's fine.  And honestly, I knew he would be, we all did, because he bounces back from these things.  Still, it had me a little stressed out.

On a more positive note, my parents are visiting today!  I think my grandmother might be coming with, too.  It'll be nice to see them since it's been about five weeks since I saw them last.

Currently Reading
You Were Here is taking up the brunt of my time, and it's nice to be reading contemporary coming off of epic fantasy.  I'm also reading the second book in the Bentwhistle series.  After I finish You Were Here I'll be starting Passenger.

Finished this Week
I finished Beyond the Shadows and I just don't have words for this one right now.  A review will be coming.

Currently Listening To
Finally added an iTunes gift card that's just been sitting on my desk and decided to download a butt-ton of MatchboxTwenty and Rob Thomas, because they were literally my childhood.

Last Week
Sunday-- Sunday Comics

This Week
Sunday-- Sunday TV, January Wrap Up
Monday-- February TBR, Blogging Tips
Tuesday-- Review of A Thousand Pieces of You
Wednesday-- Waiting on Wednesday
Thursday-- February Pre-Orders
Saturday-- Wrap Up & Haul

This one is huge, let me just warn you in advance.  I've managed to stick to my 100 days book buying ban so far (91 days left!) but several packages of books have finished rolling in.  A couple of these are pre-orders, but most of them are the reason I needed a ban in the first place.

Devil and the Bluebird This one caught my eye as soon as I saw it and I look forward to reading it soon.  It's the kind of book I'm in the mood for right now, honestly.

The Dark Days Club The description for this one reminds me of Infernal Devices, one of my favorite series of all time, so I'm rather interested in this one.
Night Study I have every book in this series that has been published so far but haven't read a single one.  I really hope to change that by binge-reading them all.  Maybe over the summer??

Showdown on Smuggler's Moon I'm a big fan of these new Star Wars comics, so of course I had to preorder this volume.  I can't wait to dig in!
Horimiya Vol. 2 I'm currently reading this right now and loving it, of course.
Noragami Vol. 10 Volume ten already?!  Wow, this series sure flies by!  I know this volume is going to break my heart... but that's ok.

Warriors Box Set So, this series (and the series' after it) were my childhood, and I was feeling super nostalgic, so I bought the new box set of the first six.  I actually plan to re-read these and do mini-reviews to see how I like them now.
The Siren This book is so pretty!  I love the shimmery cover so much!  The biggest drawback- I managed to leave finger prints all over it without realizing. Still super excited to read this one.
Ruin and Rising And now I own all the books in the Grisha trilogy.  Time to binge the last two!
The Kiss of Deception and The Heart of Betrayal I've had my eye on these for a while and now I have them!  I don't know when I'll get to them exactly, but it probably won't be long.
The Novice Another one that has had my attention for some time.  I plan to read this shortly.
The Jewel Have you noticed the trend yet?  I've had my eye on this for a while and I'm eager to give it a try.  It strikes me as a cross between Wither and the Selection, two books I love.
Six of Crows The most exciting book I received this week, hands down.  I'm absolutely looking forward to this one and cannot wait to start it.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Mini-Book Review: Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles, #3.5)

Author: Marissa Meyer
Website, Facebook, Twitter
Edition: Hardcover
Related Reviews: Cress 
Buy Links: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Book Depository
Goodreads Link
Rating: 4 Stars
Fairest is a must read for fans of the Lunar Chronicles.  It's not very important plot-wise, but it's so intriguing to jump into Levana's head!  I mean, she's very creepy, and getting into her head was like getting into the head of a stalker.  I couldn't put this book down because it had me captivated from the first page.

This actually surprised me since I've seen some mixed things about this book.  I think because it's unnecessary to read in the series people dismiss it, and it does take away from the momentum, but I'm in no rush to finish this series, honestly.  Seeing all the cameo's of the younger character's was such a treat as well.

Basically, if you're a fan, read this book.  It'll take you perhaps a day to get through and it's worth it.  As for when in the series to read it, don't read it at the beginning because you won't appreciate it.  Either read it after Cress or after Winter, because it fits in nicely to either of the niche's.

Friday 56: Shadow's Edge

Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice.  Click here to join in on the fun.
Rules: Grab a book, any book.
Turn to page 56, or 56% in your eReader.
Find a sentence, or a few, and post it.

This week I'm spotlighting the sequel to The Way of Shadows:
Kylar Stern has rejected the assassin's life. The Godking's successful coup has left Kylar's master, Durzo, and his best friend, Logan, dead. He is starting over: new city, new friends, and new profession.

But when he learns that Logan might actually be alive and in hiding, Kylar is faced with an agonizing choice: will he give up the way of shadows forever and live in peace with his new family, or will he risk everything by taking on the ultimate hit?
From page 56 of Shadows Edge:
It was a merchant captain's chain, a merchant captain of humble birth.  Military captains and the bolder pirate captains wore chains looped from earlobe to earlobe behind their heads so there was less chance they'd get ripped off in battle.  "A pirate captain," she said, "but never caught.  If you're caught, you're either hanged or they rip out your rings and exile you.  There's some disagreement about which is worse."

While you're here I implore you to check out my current giveaways!  I'm giving away any book from Book Depository that $20 or under.  Best of luck! 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Dec-Jan Manga Roundup

Welcome to a new feature here on the blog.  Since I noticed how much manga I was reading, and how  they were becoming increasingly hard to review, I thought I would change how I did these reviews.  You'll either be seeing them monthly or bi-monthly, depending on how much I read, and they will consist of several short reviews for the books I finish in that time.  I will be reviewing these books as I read them, so they will be more of reactions than proper reviews.

Noragami Volumes 7 & 8
written by Adachitoka
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
As always, this series continues to entertain.  I will say, these two volumes aren't the most serious that I've read.  Seven is a fall-out, I guess you would say, to the events of the previous few volumes.  It has a bit more comic relief, since the first two chapters have a certain god possessing a certain school girl.  Volume eight is a set-up to something serious right around the corner.  And, for the first time, we're really taken into Yato's head and we get to see why he is the way he is.  Slowly, I believe, his history will be peeled away for us, and I am unbelievable excited.  Also, Ebisu, not as much of an ass-hole as I once assumed he would be.  Actually kind of decent, just really boring and lucky.

Blue Exorcist Volumes 1 & 2
written by Kazue Kato
Rating: 3.5 & 5 Stars
Like with Noragami, when I first started reading it, I had already seen the anime and fallen in love.  So the first volume just couldn't live up to how amazing the show was.  Also, like with Noragami, by the time I got to volume two, I had found my groove and fallen in love with it again.  This series lives up to the show, so far, and has me giddy to read it.  Nothing new from these volumes, since I already knew what happened, but I loved reliving them at a different pace.  It seems to go quicker in the manga, so I'll soon be surpassing where the show left it, something I'm very excited for.

Noragami Volume 9
written by Adachitoka
Rating: 5 Stars
This one was just absolute heartbreak.  Does that surprise anyone?  Mostly, the heartbreak comes from Ebisu, who is a beautiful character and I didn't see it sooner but if I ever reread this series I will not take advantage of him like I once did.  The story is really Yato heavy, which is a shift since it's normally narrated more by Hiyori, and while I didn't dislike Yato telling the story, it was a jarring shift for sure.  A few surprises in this one, though nothing mind-blowing, just a sort of "something big is coming" feeling.

Noragami: Stray Stories
written by Adachitoka
Rating: 5 Stars
Okay, so the stories aren't super important to anything, since they're little bonus', but they're a bunch of fun and I haven't actually laughed this hard in ages.  It was particularly pleasing since I was reading it when I was feeling down on life.  If you read Noragami you will want to pick this one up, I promise.

QQ Sweeper Vol. 1
written by Kyousuke Motomi
Rating: 3.5 Stars
I picked this one up on a whim and found that I rather enjoyed it!  The pacing was strange- really, really quick when I wanted development- and the characterizations were a little off.  Honestly, I think it was just a case of lost in translation most of the time, which is a shame.  The general idea of the series is really cute, even though I absolutely hate cleaning and could never do their job.

Pandora Hearts Vol. 1
written by Jun Mochiuki
Rating: 5 Stars
Guy, guys, guys, GUYS, GUYS, GUUUUUUYYYYYSSSSS!!!!  This book was so good!!!!
Okay, so that was me spazzing out because, indeed, this manga is fantastic.  I love the art, I love the story, and I love the characters.  I'm fairly certain this series will end up breaking my heart at some point soon, but I'm ready for it.  Bring on the pain!  (But also, please don't kill everyone like I'm afraid, please...)

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: The Neverland Wars

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine.  Click here to join in on the fun.
This week I'm waiting on The Neverland Wars by Audrey Greathouse
Here's the description taken from Goodreads:
Magic can do a lot—give you flight, show you mermaids, help you taste the stars, and… solve the budget crisis? That's what the grown-ups will do with it if they ever make it to Neverland to steal its magic and bring their children home.
However, Gwen doesn't know this. She's just a sixteen-year-old girl with a place on the debate team and a powerful crush on Jay, the soon-to-be homecoming king. She doesn't know her little sister could actually run away with Peter Pan, or that she might have to chase after her to bring her home safe. Gwen will find out though—and when she does, she'll discover she's in the middle of a looming war between Neverland and reality.
She'll be out of place as a teenager in Neverland, but she won't be the only one. Peter Pan's constant treks back to the mainland have slowly aged him into adolescence as well. Soon, Gwen will have to decide whether she's going to join impish, playful Peter in his fight for eternal youth… or if she's going to scramble back to reality in time for the homecoming dance.
Why I'm Waiting
Peter Pan.  That's it.  Two words and I was sold on this book.  And honestly, it sounds like a book I would have picked up a few years ago, and I'm in the mood for something almost nostalgic like this.

This book releases May 9th, 2016

While you're here I implore you to check out my current giveaways!  I'm giving away any book from Book Depository that $20 or under.  Best of luck! 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Top Ten Books Without Covers (Yet)

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

I haven't done one of these since... September.  Wow!  I stopped doing these for a while because they took up so much time and I didn't always like the prompts.  So I'll be doing these sporadically when I like the prompts and since this week is a freebie I thought I'd go for it.

Like any good book nerd I get excited for books before they have covers, and sometimes before they even have titles.  So today, in no particular order, I'm doing books that I'm excited for that don't have covers (yet).  I'm sure I'll have missed some, since there are so many books yet-to-be.

1. The Song Rising
I have this one pre-ordered and it's a drop everything and read book for me.

2. Strange the Dreamer
Laini Taylor is writing a new series and I'm so excited!  I have this one pre-ordered, too.

Okay, so I have a weakness for star-crossed lover stories and a weakness for necromancer stories and this is a blend of both.

4. Throne of Glass #5
This one doesn't even have a title yet but I'm obviously excited!

5. Gemina
This is the sequel to Illuminae, which I loved, so I'm stoked for this release.

Holly Black writing about fairies?  Count me in, even if this doesn't come out until 2018.

Another Shadowhunter's series?  Well, yes, please, and the sooner the better.

Another one without a proper title, but I'm ready.  I'm not a huge Jodi Meadows fan (in which I mean I just haven't devoured all of her works yet so I don't feel comfortable calling myself a true fan) but this one sounds so good!

I'm halfway through Words of Radiance and I love it to death, so yes, I'm very excited for this one.

10. Age of Myth
For this one I know you're thinking, Sam, that has a cover.  Well, technically, yes, it does have a cover, and a cover that won't be changing to much (read: the art will stay the same).  But, and there's a but, the font will possibly change, so I'm not counting this as a final cover!  Basically, I just needed an excuse to pin this one up here since it's one of my most anticipated reads of my lifetime (I kid you not, I am that excited for this book!).

P.S. Click on the pictures/title to be taken to the Goodreads page.

Monday, January 25, 2016

ARC Review: The Night Parade

Author: Kathryn Tanquary
Edition: eGalley courtesy of Netgalley
Rating: 4 Stars

I received The Night Parade from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This is a quick reading middle grade novel that follows Saki who, on a trip to her grandmother's house to celebrate an important Japanese holiday, ends up getting herself caught up in a death curse.  In order to break the curse she must spend three nights at the Night Parade, each night with a different guide trying to get her to meet the Midlight Prince.

I actually really, really enjoyed this story!  I actually picked it up before learning what it was about (the cover was just so pretty!) and was pleasantly surprised by the concepts.  I don't know a bunch of Japanese mythology, but from the small amount I did know this all seemed really legit, and it also helped expand my horizons on what's out there.  From the very first page I was captivated by the story, honestly, and found myself eager to read this book between classes.

The writing was very good, as well!  It's simple, but not condescending, and she is able to deftly weave a description without taking a paragraph to dissect everything.  I think my only major problem came from the fact that, besides Saki, the other characters aren't too defined.

Speaking of Saki, she starts off a bratty and shallow city girl who's part of the popular/mean crowd.  Over the course of the novel she undergoes pretty significant (and believable) character growth thanks to her time in the spirit world, and I really enjoyed watching her change and grow.  Also, I was a bit of a bratty kid (though not as bad as her, but one might describe my younger self as spoiled... those were dark times...) and I was able to easily connect with her.

This is definitely a book worth picking up, and if you have a younger reader, this is one to give them! Not only does it feature a diverse main character, but the story is top-notch, and it's a quick and pleasant read that leaves you with a smile on your face.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sunday Comics

Welcome to another edition of Sunday Comics!  In case you were wondering why these don't seem to be occurring as often, it's because they're now a monthly post instead of a bi-weekly post.  I haven't been as reading as many comics lately, so it's more productive to do it at the end of each month.

Hawkeye Vol. 5: All-New Hawkeye
Writer: Jeff Lamire
Artist: Ramon Perez
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Now, I don't normally do graphic novel reviews in my Sunday Comics posts, but with the amount I read, unless I have something particularly special to say about it, I'm just going to include them here. I'm a big fan of Hawkeye, as you may know from reading my other reviews of this series, but this one fell flat for me.  That's not particularly surprising since it's coming off one of my favorite comic arc's of all time (seriously, go read Fraction and Aja's take on the characters immediately!).  There was no way it could be better, or even as good.  And as a comic, it was very good, something I would probably recommend to people.  My big problem with it is the fact that the story that was set up in the end of Fraction and Aja's run, one I was eagerly awaiting, is not the one this looks like it will be covering.  This installment certainly did a lot of work to set up a whole new plot, one that doesn't seemed tied in at all.  I shall wait patiently to see if I'm wrong.  The art, while it can't stand up to Aja's, is gorgeous.  I loved the difference between flashback scenes and real time.  I'm eager to continue this series.

Teen Titans Vol. 1: It's Our Right to Fight
Writer: Scott Lobdell
Artist: Brett Booth
Rating: 3 Stars
This just doesn't seem to be my month, huh?  Another book I was pretty excited for was this one.  I love Teen Titans (the classic Cartoon Network show and some of the older comics) so I was looking forward to this rendition.  Like many other New 52 relaunches, I just wasn't happy with it.  The art was great, but overwhelming since they seemed to want to cram something into every single corner and it often didn't meld with the story, leaving me feeling lost.  The story was decent, but certainly over-the-top ridiculous.  I didn't like the new origin stories and personalities assigned to characters I was used to seeing one way and I didn't like that, when trying to connect them all, it seemed like they were just being thrown together at the expense of the story.  Also, it reminded my of Inhumans a hell of a lot.  I don't know which came out first or whatnot, but I'm more familiar with Inhumans, so this felt like a rip-off.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Weekly Wrap-Up and Book Haul

Hey everyone!  This is one of those weeks that just goes on forever, I think.  As you may remember, my roommate has rather recently transferred out of the school, and that hit me kinda hard.  Well, that led to me actually stress buying quite a bit of books, so expect to see some big book hauls for the next few weeks as they roll in.  And, well, after buying so many books, I decided to impose a book buying ban on myself.  I do this every once in a while, but haven't done such an extreme one since around this time last year, and even then, it wasn't this intense.  I'm going on a book buying ban for....

100 days!  Which is crazy.  I won't let myself by any books, any comics, any graphic novels or manga, and I won't even let myself preorder anything (my true kryptonite).  For 100 days.  I have tons of preorders ordered from before (like, a book a week almost, I'm such a sad creature *hangs head in shame*) so I'll have books coming, but I can't spend anymore money.  This self-imposed ban will end on April 30th, so when that happens I'll honestly celebrate in some way (maybe by buying tickets to book con which is in Chicago this year...)

On another note, I actually got a new roommate!  One of my friends moved into my room with me the other day and it's nice to have company again. 

Currently Reading
Beyond the Shadows by Brent Weeks.  This is the final book in the Night Angel trilogy and I'm not really sure how I feel about this right now.  I'm also in the middle of the second book in the Bentwhistle the Dragon series by Paul Cude, though I'm moving slowly through it (school has been tough this week).  Once I finish these I'm fairly certain I'll be picking up Passenger, though I might also pick up You Were Here.  We'll see what I feel like.

Finished this Week
Like I said, it's been a slow week.  I got through Fairest quickly (it was really good!) and also the first volume of Pandora Hearts.  Reviews for both of these things will be coming shortly.

Currently Writing
I found my groove again and have surpassed my goal for this month.  I'm being slightly optimistic, but I might actually get to the halfway point in my novel by the end of the month!

Currently Listening To
Still enthralled by Death of a Bachelor, and I've actually been listening to Panic! at the Disco's old stuff quite a bit, too.  Also stuck in my head on a regular basis, Demi Lovato's Confident and Haley Reinhart's version of Can't Help Falling in Love.

Giveaways' Status'
My Black Widow Print giveaway finished up the other day, and I've emailed the winner.  Congrats to Lauren!
My other current giveaway ends in a week, so enter while you still can!  As always, you can find links to my current giveaways under the tab above.

Last Week

This Week
Sunday-- Sunday Comics
Monday-- Review of The Night Parade
Tuesday-- Top Ten Tuesday
Wednesday-- Waiting on Wednesday
Thursday-- Monthly Manga Reviews
Friday-- Friday 56, Review of Fairest
Saturday-- Wrap Up and Haul

Are you ready for another big haul?  Well, I did warn you that I've been stress buying.  Here we go...

Tell the Wind and Fire I was actually a little surprised I was accepted to read this one from Netgalley!  Well, it was a fantastic surprise to wake up to (I did a happy dance and everything!) since this is one of my most anticipate releases for the year.  I can't wait to dive into it and won't be letting it sit for very long at all.

Sword and Verse This was actually a pre-order that I was intending to read this month, but I'm just not feeling it lately.  I do plan to read it, though it just doesn't feel like the mood to read it right now.

The Darkest Part of the Forest I have wanted to read this book for a while so I'm glad I picked it up.  It also spurred me to pick up the next three books in this haul...
White Cat, Red Glove, and Black Heart This is a series I gave a chance when I was younger and I think I read them at the wrong time because I just didn't enjoy them.  I think I'll love them now, though.
An Ember in the Ashes This is another book I've been looking to read for some time, so I just picked it up.  I'll definitely be getting to it soon!
Siege and Storm I read Shadow and Bone late last year and am dying to continue on with the series!

So that's it for me this week.  Did you guys get anything interesting?  Let me know in the comments!

Friday, January 22, 2016

5 Star Book Review: Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1)

Authors: Amie Kaufman
Website, Facebook, Twitter
Jay Kristoff
Website, Facebook, Twitter
Edition: Hardcover
Buy Links: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Book Depository
Goodreads Link
Rating: 5 Stars

THIS BOOK GUYS THIS BOOK!  This review won't have spoilers, but I'm more than willing to do a spoilery review because I have so many things to say about it!  I actually buddy read this book with the lovely Maryam Dinzly and you should definitely go follow her and check out her blog!  This was my first buddy read and I think it went really well!

Illuminae is about Ezra and Kady, who start the novel having broken up only a few hours earlier.  Well, as Ezra put it "You picked one hell of a day to dump me, Kades" since the novel begins with their home planet being invaded by a nefarious corporation and follows their journey/struggle to get to safety over the course of about one year.  As you may have heard/noticed, this isn't any regular sort of novel.  In fact, it's rather unconventional in a beautiful way.  The best way I can describe it is like reading a "found footage" film.

Because of this strange format I was worried I wouldn't connect to well with either the story or the characters.  But, I had absolutely no problem with this!  In fact, I would argue that this book actually made it easier to connect with both the characters and story since it felt so much more real than a regular novel.  Even getting only a small peek into Kady's mind, it didn't feel like an un-personal novel.  And, yes, there are a bunch of characters, but they're not all swimming around in your head.  They're easy to remember, perhaps because of all the unique situations they're in and the roles that they play.

Setting is a really big factor in this book, and while it wasn't cut and dry, I did almost feel like I was living aboard either the Alexander or the Hypatia.  It's not exactly vivid, but it's not a far reach from the sort of world we live in now.  Which, perhaps, makes the story even more unsettling.  I do think one could draw parallels between this book and the refugees from Syria if one was so inclined.

The biggest thing about this book was the sheer amount of twists I was unprepared for.  You go into the book expecting one page, then the next page has the world turning upside down, and the page after that suddenly everything's inverted.  It's such a pleasant ride!  And while there's a huge amount of heartbreak, there's also a huge amount of hope in this book.  

My recommendation: enjoy the ride and savor every moment, because an experience like this book comes around maybe once every few years.

Friday 56: Bentwhistle the Dragon in a Threat from the Past

Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice.  Click here to join in on the fun.
Rules: Grab a book, any book.
Turn to page 56, or 56% in your eReader.
Find a sentence, or a few, and post it.

This week I'm spotlighting a book I received from the author in exchange for an honest review:
Bentwhistle the Dragon in A Threat from the Part is an adventure story children and adults alike will love, about the present day world in which dragons disguised as humans have infiltrated the human race at almost every level, to guide and protect them. Three young dragons in their human guises become caught up in an evil plot to steal a precious commodity, vital to the dragon community. How will the reluctant hero and his friends fare against an enemy of his race from far in the past? Fascinating insights into the dragon world are interspersed throughout the book. Ever wondered how dragons travel below ground at almost the speed of sound? Or how they use magical mantras to transform their giant bodies into convincing human shapes? In an action packed adventure that features both human and dragon sports, you'll get a dragon-like perspective on human social issues and insight into what to do if you meet a giant spider grinning at you when you're wearing nothing but your smile! You'd be flamin' mad to miss it.
From page 56 of Bentwhistle the Dragon in a Threat from the Past:
"Before you take another step, child, you can take that thing off," the dragon boomed, pointing at Peter's body. "We do not tolerate those in this shop, EVER!"
Peter stood fixed to the spot, lost for words.  The dragon just continued what he was doing below the counter.  It might have been reading or writing; he was too far away to tell.  Peter quickly considered his options.  After a few seconds he realized that the only real choice he had was to take off his clothes.

While you're here I implore you to check out my current giveaways!  I'm giving away any book from Book Depository that $20 or under.  Best of luck!  

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Interview with Paul Cude

Hello everyone!  Today I've got a special treat: an interview with Paul Cude, author of the Bentwhistle the Dragon books.  I've read and reviewed book one, and you can click here to check out what I thought.  I'm currently reading book two right now, and I'm enjoying it so far!  This is a really fun series about dragons living in London and is good if you're looking for some Urban Fantasy to dig into.

So, without further ado, let's get into the Interview!

Q. When did you know you wanted to be an author?
A. I'm not sure I knew, and sometimes still don't feel like I am one, despite working many hours at it every single day. It kind of crept up on me all of a sudden. You go from having a dream about a story, to ignoring it for months, to suddenly trying to bring it to life, to completion. For me, the first book took ages, with life, two small children and everything in between, constantly trying to get in the way. But eventually I got there and the feeling was well worth the wait. Stupidly though, I spent far too much time (weeks, if not months) sitting back, patting myself on the back, waiting for the knock at the door from all the major book companies. I stupid? How would they even know that I'd completed my work of art? I've learned a lot since then.

Q. What influences your writing?
A. My dreams and life experiences more than anything. Oddly it started with a dream. Sounds a bit crazy really, but one night, when my elder daughter was just a baby (she's not far off 11 now) I had the single most realistic dream I've ever had. I didn't remember it until the following day, but when I did, I swear it was just like watching a movie in my graphic, so intense, so.....mesmerising. Anyhow, I told my wife, who was gobsmacked to say the least. And so was what she said to me, "You have to write it, you just have to." At the time I just laughed off her idea, bearing in mind that at the time I could only type with two fingers. But over a period of I suppose months, I kept getting more dreams, flashbacks into the story.......sometimes little details, sometimes insights into the characters, sometimes twists and turns to do with the plot. In the end I suppose it was inevitable that I would write it. First I taught myself to type properly.....3 months, and then, well...........I began. At first I needed complete silence to be able to write, something there wasn't a lot of bearing in mind I was taking care of one young child, with another on the way. But over time I've learned to filter it all out and can now write with the kids playing around me if I need to, but I still think I do work more efficiently in total silence. It has taken a long time, and I was surprised how hard and crucial the editing process was. But in the end it was most definitely worth it. The life experiences part is more about the human sport mentioned in the book. I've played field hockey for well over three decades now, and it's changed my life beyond recognition. I have a great affection and admiration for the other sports mentioned as well, hence the reason they're included. 

Q. What was the most exciting thing about publishing your book?
A. The best thing without a doubt is when someone you don't know, and have never met, gets in touch with you to tell you just how much they like your book/books. On those occasions, nothing feels better. Not only can it turn a bad day good, but it brightens your whole week, no matter what's going on.

Q. What have you learned as you continue to write?
A. That it's really a process of evolution. It and you are never standing still, never stuck in one place. The process of putting the story into words from your head gets easier at times, but the actual writing, the words on the page, never stay still, not even for a moment, currents in the wind or sea, rearranging everything on a day to day basis. I don't doubt what, or how, I write changes every day. My mood, concentration, if I'm feeling unwell, worried, how busy I am, all change the way in which the words come out. Sometimes it's even possible to look back after the event and see a quite dramatic change.

Q. Where's your favorite place to write?
A. Normally at my computer at home. But once a week I play squash with a friend who, despite never actually being busy, always insists on making me wait about fifty minutes for him. In that time, I sit in the entrance to the local sports centre and, with a pen and notebook, lose myself in the world of Bentwhistle the Dragon without any other worries. It's about the only time I ever find to do this.

Q. Did anyone in particular inspire the character of Peter or his friends?
A. The main character, Peter Bentwhistle, is loosely based around me. The lacrosse playing dragon called Richie Rump is based on one of my best friends who was captain of the England lacrosse team and is also a fantastic hockey player. A dragon shopkeeper who sells the best mantras in the world shares the same name with one of my best friends. An important human businessman who is duped, is also named for one of my best friends. Other more minor references feature other friends and acquaintances. When looking for some of the character names I used references from everything around me at the time, while sitting working at my desk. There's a dragon called Axus....his name was gained from my Canon camera at the time, with just a tiny amendment. Also one of the bad characters is a combination of one of my favourite author's first names and surnames combined. I now have a long list of dragon names tucked away in my computer somewhere, that I can use whenever I need.

Q. In the book you spend a lot of time building up dragon culture.  How much time did this take you and what helped inspire it?  Also, what's your favorite part of this dragon world?
A. I suppose it's a coming together of everything in my mind. The books I read, the films I watch, the fact that I like playing RPG's on my computer...just everything. I go to bed at night and, as previously mentioned, my dreams seem to take over. Not all the time, but I would say one out of three nights, I dream about dragons. Sometimes I won't remember until much later on the next day, sometimes I wake up and remember instantly. The dreams can be about anything.....the overall plot of the books and the way forward, or just some tiny little detail that I've missed and that matters so much. And if I ever find myself stuck with something in the plot, all I have to do is think really hard about it just before nodding off, and more often than not, I'll have the answer the next day. Strange, but true. 
As for the favourite part, I would love to go and watch a Laminium Ball match and be part of the atmosphere at the game. Just thinking about it sends shivers down my back.

Q. If you have to sum up your book in six words, what would it be?
A. Twists Turns Hockey Lacrosse Rugby DRAGONS

Q. What's your favorite snack food?
Crisps. I find it very hard not to crave them. Especially during the evenings.

Q. If you could see any artist perform live (living or dead) who would it be?
A. I'd be very keen to take in my favourite band.....Genesis. But on reflection, to have such a chance and just do that, given that I've seen them a few times, would be wasteful. It would have to be a choice between the Beatles and Elvis. The Beatles probably win. It would be amazing to see them at the Cavern club in Liverpool during their heyday.

Q. You have to live in one fictional place, where is it?
A. Ankh-Morpork from Terry Pratchett's Disc World. I think I'd fit in just right and would probably just wander around gawping at all the amazing characters, when not working for Sybil at the dragon sanctuary. If not there, then probably anywhere in the Star Wars universe.

Paul Cude is a husband, father, field hockey player and aspiring photographer. Lost without his hockey stick, he can often be found in between writing and chauffeuring children, reading anything from comics to sci-fi, fantasy to thrillers. Too often found chained to his computer, it would be little surprise to find him, in his free time, somewhere on the Dorset coastline, chasing over rocks and sand in an effort to capture his wonderful wife and lovely kids with his camera. Paul Cude is also the author of the Bentwhistle the Dragon series of books.

description and picture taken from Paul Cude's website

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: How to Hang a Witch

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine.  Click here to join in on the fun.
This week I'm waiting on How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather

Here's the description taken from Goodreads:
For fans of Conversion and Mean Girls, comes a debut novel where the trials of high school start to feel like a modern day witch hunt for a teen with all the wrong connections to Salem’s past.

Salem, Massachusetts is the site of the infamous witch trials and the new home of Samantha Mather. Recently transplanted from New York City, Sam and her stepmother are not exactly welcomed with open arms. Sam is the descendant of Cotton Mather, one of the men responsible for thosetrials and immediately, she becomes the enemy of a group of girls who call themselves The Descendants. And guess who their ancestors were?
If dealing with that weren't enough, Sam also comes face to face with a real live (well technically dead) ghost. A handsome, angry ghost who wants Sam to stop touching his stuff. But soon Sam discovers she is at the center of a centuries old curse affecting anyone with ties to the trials.

Sam must come to terms with the ghost and find a way to work with the Descendants to stop a deadly cycle that has been going on since the first accused witch was hanged. If any town should have learned its lesson, it's Salem. But history is about to repeat itself.
Why I'm Waiting
It sounds equal parts chilling and compelling.  I love the cover, too!  Witches are, in my opinion, and underused paranormal creature at the moment.

This book releases on July 26th, 2016

While you're here I implore you to check out my current giveaways!  I'm giving away two signed Black Widow art prints and any book from Book Depository that $20 or under.  Best of luck!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

5 Star Book Review: Red Queen (Red Queen, #1)

Author: Victoria Aveyard
Edition: Hardcover
Rating: 5 Stars

Red Queen is one book I've recently seen the bookish-community really split about, with most either hating it or loving it.  I was worried going in that I would hate it, but I ended up being strongly on the latter side.  Even though I had been spoiled about the major twist at the ending, I didn't mind and it was still a fantastic read.

This book follows Mare Barrow, a Red (the lower, human class) who finds out she has the powers of a Silver (a higher, super-powered class) after a series of events literally have her in a life or death situation.  She's then under the public eye and must be hid in plain sight, masquerading as the long lost daughter of a silver.  Through this disguise, she becomes engaged to the second prince, Maven, and falls in love with the crown prince, Cal.

Basically, this book was perfect.  At least, for me.  Let me step back and explain why: it's the sort of story I someday want to tell.  Maybe not in the details, but in the way the twists play out and the events pull at your heart.  Every once in a while I will find a book that makes me motivated to write because it so mirrors what I'm going for without becoming too similar to the stories I've actually created, and this is one of those books.

The plot was fantastic!  From the first page it had me interested, the very first line catching my attention perfectly.  It only continued, never stalling out or getting caught in one place like I feared it might.  In fact, parts of it really reminded me of Shadow and Bone, another book I've really enjoyed lately.

The characters were also amazing.  I loved Mare, I loved Cal, I loved Maven, I loved Lucas, I loved Evangeline, I loved, loved, and loved some more every character pulled onto the page.  Similar to Red Rising (which this book is only slightly like, regardless of the similar names) I found the characters all morally complex and interesting, regardless of whether they were the "good guys" or "bad guys".

One thing I did notice as I was reading were small plot holes that I thought were only messy in the world-building aspect.  Until, suddenly, they weren't plot-holes anymore, but actually little clues left around for the reader to pick up.  They won't point you to exactly what's going on, but they aren't plot-holes, that's for sure.  I loved that everything served a purpose, and that this book wasn't afraid to steer from death and destruction that would happen in a natural way.

Overall, I really recommend you pick this book up!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Bookish Siblings Tag

I'm doing a tag!  This tag was created by Caroline from Another Bookish Blog, who I was also tagged by!  If you don't know who she is, I recommend you going to check out her blog!

1. Answer all the questions.  Repetitions are fine!
2. You can put yourself in any of the categories.
3. Tag others!
4. Fill in the categories with bookish characters!  These characters don't have to feel sibling-esque.  If you don't know, you can say, for example, "A character that... I can't stand is___"

The Questions
1. Your Older Brother
Spook from Mistborn.  I don't know if I have an exact reason for this, except that he was one of the first to pop into my head for this question.
2. Your Younger Brother
Eugenides from The Queen's Thief series.  My reason?  He hates to be called Gen, but the only name I can ever give him in my head is Gen.  So, yes, I have an annoying nickname for my "younger brother".
3. Your Sister
Elisa from Girl of Fire and Thorns.  I connected with her so well when I was reading, probably more than any other character ever, and I think we would get along well as sisters.
4. The Popular One
I'm going to have to agree with Caroline when she says Izzy from the Mortal Instruments.  I don't even think I need to explain this one, honestly.
5. Parent's Favorite
Cara from Alienated.  She's practically the perfect student.
6. The Little Rebel
This is also Gen *cough cough* Excuse me, Eugenides.  He's a rascal, really.
7. Your Twin
I guess my sister is my twin, because I'm picking
8. The One You Can't Stand
Cara from Alienated.  She's just... well, she's hard to live with.  Let's leave it at that.
9. The One You Could Prank the World With
Probably Gen and maybe Izzy, if she's in a mood.
10. The Shy Introvert
Why, that's me!  And also, probably Elisa, too.
11. Your Ultimate Book Sibling
Haha probably Elisa and Gen and Spook.  I think they would all enjoy reading with me and we could share books and have our own little library.
12. Your Blogging Sibling
Does this mean one of these "siblings" that would blog with me?  Well, I think any of them would blog with me, though they might blog about different things, haha.

Tag Your It
And, actually, anyone who wants to do this tag can do it, because it's awesome!

Thanks again to Caroline for tagging me!  

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Weekly Wrap-Up & Book Haul

This is my first wrap up since my blog has gotten a new look!  Which, if you don't mind me asking, do you like it?  I actually bought the theme, for a very reasonable price, from Designer Blogs and if you're looking to buy one, I do recommend them for their prices and service.  I've been thinking about buying a theme for a while now, but it really depended on how much I was willing to dedicate myself to the blog.  Well, you may have been able to tell, but since I've been blogging regularly for a year now with no plans of stopping, I think it's safe to say I'll stick around for a while.

With the new design I've decided to do a few other things.  I'm going to try and include more of my own photographs rather than stick to what the internet has to offer.  Right now they're not the best, but practice makes perfect, and I hope you'll bear with me.  I've talked about doing this for a while now, but I'm finally implementing it.  (You may notice I've included one at the bottom of this post, actually...)

I've done a lot of reading this week, and I'm in a bit of a book high at the moment (which is awesome since this is a rare and elusive mood I often strive for but rarely reach).  Normally I do a "Currently Reading" and "Finished this Week" section to my wrap-ups, but I don't have my little notebook where I keep track of what I've finished, so you'll have to excuse that absence this week.

Currently Writing
Well, it's been slow, but I should hit my goal for the month tonight- YAY!

Currently Listening To
Panic! at the Disco's Death of a Bachelor.  Is this any surprise?  It should't be since not only am I a fan, but this album is fantastic and king among albums (at the moment).

Last Week

This Week
Monday-- Tag
Tuesday-- Red Queen Review
Wednesday-- WoW
Thursday-- Interview with Paul Cude
Friday-- F56, Illuminae Review
Saturday-- Wrap-Up and Book Haul

Guys, I may have gone a little crazy this week (I was stress buying... long story that doesn't matter) but I've come to terms with it.  Plus, now I have all these pretty books!  (please don't judge my bad habits)

You Were Here I picked this up from Netgalley because it's told in an interesting format, if I remember correctly, and coming off of Illuminae that sounds like a brilliant idea!

Passenger Time travel guys... time travel.  And also, I've heard some really good things about this one.
Cruel Beauty and Crimson Bound Because fairy tell retellings and her new series starting later this year sounds like my cup of tea.
The Heir So I can finally catch up before the final book comes out.
Blue Lily, Lily Blue See above reason.
Library of Souls So I can catch up and finish this series.
Me Before You This isn't my typical genre, but after hearing so many good things, and seeing the cast for the movie.
Seraph of the End Vol. 4 I want to continue this series because I enjoyed it!

So, how was your guys' weeks?  Get anything good?  Read anything good?  Let me know in the comments!