Friday, November 27, 2015

Review: Forever

Forever by Maggie Stiefvater
The Wolves of Mercy Falls #3
Published July 12th 2011 by Scholastic


When Sam met Grace, he was a wolf and she was a girl. Eventually he found a way to become a boy, and their love transformed from curious distance to the intense closeness of shared lives.


That should have been the end of their story. But Grace was not meant to stay human. Now she is the wolf. And the wolves of Mercy Falls are about to be hunted in one final, spectacular kill.


Sam would do anything for Grace. But can one boy and one love really change a hostile, predatory world? The past, the present, and the future will all collide in one pure moment - a moment of death or life, farewell or forever.
Buddy read with Lee @ Rally the Readers

Forever is the conclusion of The Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy and OMG I don't want it to be over! Despite my hesitancy to get into another YA Paranormal Romance series, these books have managed to completely win me over and surpass any expectations I might have had.  Leave it to the brilliant goddess that is Miss Maggie Stiefvater to completely turn the genre around for me. I laughed. I cried. I feared. I drowned in feels.

So Forever picks up right after the events of Linger and I was glad for it. I knew that this was the last book of the trilogy proper and definitely the last one set within Mercy Falls, so I didn't want to miss a single moment going in. The tables have completely turned for our star couple Sam and Grace, but they still managed to adapt, to grow, and to make me swoon in the process.  There were a few moments between them that literally made me ache, they were so beautiful. The romance is a testament to what YA romances can be, and what they should all strive to be. These two are officially one of my all-time favorite literary couples...and Sam for his part, is now one of my top book boyfriends ever. Yup, this is serious stuff my friends.

As individuals, both Sam and Grace have come an incredibly long way from when we first met them in Shiver.  Sam finally seems to have laid at least some of his past traumas to rest, and seeing him make efforts to face his demons made me want to hug him through the pages and never.ever.let.go. Grace for her part, still has issues with her parental units, but she's become a young adult now and despite how she feels about them, she refuses to back down and her maturity in dealing with them made me proud. Her parents will never win ''Parents of the Year'' but it's clear that they love their daughter and it was refreshing to see their relationship evolve, especially since YA parents are so often absent, for whatever reason.

Our other two protagonist, Isabel and Cole did a lot of growing up here too.  I feel like Isabel was put on the backburner a bit this time around, so it's a good thing that we have Sinner to fall back on now because I need to know more!  Cole, on the other hand, turned into the star he always could have been.  His progress from when we meet him in Linger is astonishing and hell, just thinking about his heroics in Forever make me want to stand up and applaud the handsome devil. I remember wishing right from the start that he and Sam would end up with an epic bromance so needless to say, their solidified friendship here made my heart smile ♥  I should also mention the Wolf Pack, which still and always will hold a special place in my soul.  I absolutely revelled in reading the Wolf bits their scenes made me feel as though I was one of the pack myself!

Now we all know that a Stiefvater book is a solidly character-driven affair, but the plot is worth mentioning too. I won't go into specifics to avoid spoilers, but needless to say that the stakes are much higher than they've ever been in Forever. The threat is ever present and it looms all around Mercy Falls, waiting to strike. Despite that fact, Stiefvater manages to infuse the final installment with sweeter, lighter moments that linger on long after they've passed by.  The climax is a harrowing affair, that seemed like it was over a bit too quickly for my liking, but that's probably largely due to my NOT WANTING THE STORY TO END.  The ending itself is quite open ended, and even though I don't always get along with their kind, I found that it worked here. All things considered, I am so happy to have finally given this series a chance! My heart is bruised but when it heals, I'll be heading straight for Sinner. Fans of YA paranormal romances and Maggie Stiefvater: you should seriously check out this series - if you haven't done so already!

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Harry Potter Moment #118

Harry Potter Moment of the Week 

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a  meme hosted by Leah @ Uncorked Thoughts  and Me @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews. The idea is to share a favorite moment, magical item, character, spell, quote, object from the books, films or J.K.Rowling herself!  How to join up &  upcoming topics here.

Rename the books from  Hermione's point of view

Hermione Granger and the Horrible Mountain Troll

Hermione Granger and the Polyjuice Potion

Hermione Granger and the Time Turner

Hermione Granger and the House Elves Liberation Front

Hermione Granger and Dumbledore's Army

Hermione Granger and the Potion Master (a.k.a. Harry this year)

Hermione Granger and the Tales of Beedle the Bard

Have I mentioned how much I love renaming the books for other characters?! Because it's the best :D

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday *120*

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we spotlight an upcoming book release we're especially looking forward to!

Here's the pretty I'm waiting on this week:

The Rose & The Dagger by Renée Ahdieh
The Wrath & The Dawn #2
Expected Publication: May 3rd 2016 by Putnam

I am surrounded on all sides by a desert. A guest, in a prison of sand and sun. My family is here. And I do not know whom I can trust.

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad has been torn from the love of her husband Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once believed him a monster, but his secrets revealed a man tormented by guilt and a powerful curse—one that might keep them apart forever. Reunited with her family, who have taken refuge with enemies of Khalid, and Tariq, her childhood sweetheart, she should be happy. But Tariq now commands forces set on destroying Khalid's empire. Shahrzad is almost a prisoner caught between loyalties to people she loves. But she refuses to be a pawn and devises a plan.

While her father, Jahandar, continues to play with magical forces he doesn't yet understand, Shahrzad tries to uncover powers that may lie dormant within her. With the help of a tattered old carpet and a tempestuous but sage young man, Shahrzad will attempt to break the curse and reunite with her one true love.
LOOK AT IT^^ I can not wait to set this gem right next to her sibling and bask in their radiance ♥.♥  Of course, that will only come AFTER I dive into it and return to the gorgeous and enchanted world that Renée Ahdieh has created here! Can't it be May already?! The wait for this one has been long my friends.

Thoughts on my pick?
What are you all waiting on?

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Fandom Mashup #28

Fandom Mashups
Fandom Mashups is an original feature here at Lunar Rainbows Reviews.  The idea is that every week, I propose a unique fictional scenario and then build my personal dream team of five fictional characters from five different fandoms to complete the task!  Anyone is welcome to join in on the fandom fun - all I ask is that you link back to me somewhere in your post :)

Hi everyone! How has the weekend been treating you all? I had a rough week last week, what with being incredibly busy with work, but this week was back to business as usually and I was thankful for the extra downtime :)  Here's our topic this week:

You've stumbled onto a portal that leads into a parallel world, but you have no clue what dangers lurk on the other side. Who do you bring 'through the rabbit hole' with you?

Lyra Belacqua (His Dark Materials)

Lyra is someone that I automatically think of when I think about portal worlds.  For someone who learned it all on the fly, she was incredibly smart about it all. Any mistakes she made were corrected in the end, and bottom line: she did the right thing. She'd certainly be an asset here^^

Lucy Pevensie (Narnia)

Dear sweet Lucy. She really understood Narnia and it's magical creatures.  She was kind hearted, brave and she had just the right sort of adventurous spirit!  I like to think that she and Lyra would be the best of friends too :)

The Doctor

Now I'll admit, Eleven isn't usually my go-to Doctor, but he did have more of a Fairytale feel to him, which I think works with my current ensemble here.  I think that Eleven would get along swimmingly with Lyra and Lucy especially...and he'd be good at showing us the ropes when it comes to Parallel world-hopping.

September (Fairyland)

Here's yet another clever and spirited girl who travels to a parallel world and becomes its heroine.  September is as sweet as can be but she can also fight for what's right when push comes to shove. She also has this really cute Wyvern friend whom I'm hoping might just tag along ♥

 Rumplestiltskin (OUaT)

Ahh Rumple.  Sure he'd be all kinds of trouble, but the man knows a thing or two about Parallel worlds! Plus, he'd be SO.MUCH.FUN.  He's tricksy, but he's brilliant too and I think he'd be more of an asset than a hindrance.  And hey, if I'm wrong, The Doctor will reign him right in ;)

Friday, November 20, 2015

Review: Lirael

Lirael by Garth Nix
Abhorsen #2
Published April 5th 2004 by HarperCollins Children

When the future is hidden, who holds the key to destiny?

Lirael has never felt like a true daughter of the Clayr. She doesn't even have the Sight - the ability to See into the present and possible futures - that is the very birthright of the Clayr. Nonetheless it is Lirael in whose hands the fate of the Old Kingdom lies, while Abhorsen Sabriel is engaged in conflict elsewhere.

As an ancient evil casts its shadow - one that opposes the Royal Family, blocks the Sight of the Clayr, and threatens to break the very boundary between the Life and Death - Lirael undertakes a desperate mission.

With only her faithful companion, the Disreputable Dog, to help her, Lirael sets out upon a perilous journey and comes face to face with her own fate...
Lirael is the sequel to Sabriel, which I read for the very first time this year and it instantly became one of my all-time favorite books.  I was a bit hesitant to start with Lirael though, after I found out that there would be a different main character. I adore Sabriel fiercely, so I wanted to spend more time with her on new adventures. I was worried that Lirael couldn't possibly live up to Sabriel as well; I'm always weary when a series switches up the protagonist this way. It turns out though that I needn't have worried at all. As with Sabriel, Garth Nix weaves an impressive high fantasy adventure that is richly atmospheric, overflowing with darkness, intensity and fantastic new characters to boot!

Lirael starts off by introducing us to our titular character, aged 14 residing with The Clayr, a collection of people from one of the five magical bloodlines, who possess The Sight.  Lirael grew up with The Clayr, but she never really fit in. Where the Daughters of the Clayr are blond, tan and possess the gift of foresight, Lirael is pale with black hair and Sightless.  The mystery of why The Sight alludes her takes up the better part of the book, but fans of Sabriel should see some subtle hints early on as to her true calling.  To distract her from obsessing about her lack of apparent magical abilities, the head of The Clayr suggest she take up a job. Lirael suggests working in The Great Library, largely because of the privacy it offers - as a loner and an outsider, she feels at home amongst the impressive collection of books.  I like this girl already!  The Great Library doesn't simply house books though: there are forbidden magical objects,  dangerous artifacts, enchanted weapons...and a fair share of terrible free-magic creatures to be found. It's basically equal parts library and adventure. I loved every second that Lirael spent there and, as you can imagine, it isn't long until our girl gets into all sorts of trouble ;)

Lirael is divided up into three parts, and the second part flashes forward about four years and reintroduces us to Lirael, now 18 and, still Sightless.  It isn't long though until she finds a secret passageway, seemingly meant just for her. Once she follows the path, her true calling becomes a bit clearer. Soon after, she gets sent on a special quest. Eeep!  Part two is also where we meet our other protagonist, Sameth, who happens to have some rather famous parents, which ties him into the previous book nicely.  Finally, part three largely consists of our two protagonists finally meeting and joining forces.

Character-wise, Lirael has a lot going for it. It's a relatively small cast, but they all shine in their own way. Lirael was quite different from Sabriel, but she struck me as having certain compatible traits with my favorite heroine.  I quickly grew to love Lirael almost as much as I did Sabriel. Lirael for her part, is the definition of an introvert.  She prefers to be by herself, even though she's terribly lonely at times but she soon makes a friend for herself in the form of a magical, talking dog, appropriately named: The Disreputable Dog. I adored their back and forth and how loyal and helpful that the dog was for Lirael. Considering that my beloved Mogget is largely absent for the better half of the book, the Dog filled the void nicely because she's just as mysterious and powerful as Mogget. Of course, I was thrilled when Mogget finally showed up, meeting with Sameth almost as soon as the boy sets off. Speaking of Sam, for his part, he caught my interest straight away. When we meet him, he displays impressive heroics, that end up costing him dearly throughout the rest of the book.  I felt for him.  He was quite compelling in his own right, but I admit that I still preferred Lirael's chapters to his...possibly because her character felt more relatable to me.

Where Garth Nix's writing especially shines though, is in his world-building and his skill at setting a dark and delicious tone.  As with Sabriel, we're dealing with Necromancy as well as Magic, both Charter Magic and Free Magic. There are magical items, and the magic itself can be conjured by sound (like bells, pipes or whistling) and by marks, called Charter-marks.  The Abhorsen is charged with sending the dead back into Death, but there are evil Necromancers, hell-bent on bring back the dead and forcing them to serve, to hunt, to spy and to kill for their cause. The usage of Necromancy and 'living-dead' is already eerie enough, but Nix's way with words makes you feel like the danger is ever present, constantly lurking around every corner.  Once again, I was blown away by how the story is so completely immersive, I felt totally submerged in this world, no matter what else might have been on my mind when I started reading. I have nothing but praise for this series!

On a final note, I listened to Lirael on audio and just like Sabriel it was narrated by the incomparable Tim Curry.  I don't know if it's because he's an actor but his narration is a performance through and through and it works incredibly well with the material at hand.  Audiobook and fantasy fans should listen to this series based on his performance alone! Honestly, I feel like there is not enough words in the world to express the love I have for this series. Highly recommended for fans of dark and detailed high-fantasy!

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Harry Potter Moment #117

Harry Potter Moment of the Week 

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a  meme hosted by Leah @ Uncorked Thoughts  and Me @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews. The idea is to share a favorite moment, magical item, character, spell, quote, object from the books, films or J.K.Rowling herself!  How to join up &  upcoming topics here.

Favorite JKR Moment

Wow.  There is no way that I'll be able to narrow this down to just one moment when it comes to Miss Rowling.  I mean...the fact that she answers tweets about the series, after becoming this huge dishing about which House James Sirius was sorted in... or asking us to have a moment of silence when the anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts rolls around... or more recently, telling us Sirius Black's birth date. I won't pretend that I'm a fan of every new detail she's divulged, but I appreciate that she's still so immersed in that world; right along with us!

Then there's that time when she set the fandom straight when some were complaining that they'd never gotten their Hogwarts Letter

 'Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?' ♥

And then there's the massive donations that she's generously given out all over the years, losing her billionaire status because she has a heart the size of Hogwarts!

That right there^^ is easily one of my favorite things that any famous person has ever done.  But if we're talking about a favorite moment, I'd have to say it'd be THE MOMENT. The moment when J.K. Rowling thought up The Boy Who Lived.  THE moment that changed EVERYTHING...for her, for books, for us, for the entire world. Long live our queen!

So tell me, what are some of your favorite J.K. Rowling moments?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday #39

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish which features a variety of bookish top ten lists!

Top Ten Quotes I Loved From Books I Read In The Past Year Or So

“Some things exist in our lives for but a brief moment. And we must let them go on to light another sky.”  The Wrath and the Dawn

“Don't feel bad for one moment about doing what brings you joy.” A Court of Thorns and Roses

''...What she didn't realize about Blue and her boys was that they were all in love with one another. She was no less obsessed with them than they were with her, or one another, analyzing every conversation and gesture, drawing out every joke into a longer and longer running gag, spending each moment either with one another or thinking about when next they would be with one another. Blue was perfectly aware that it was possible to have a friendship that wasn't all-encompassing, that wasn't blinding, deafening, maddening, quickening. It was just that now that she'd had this kind, she didn't want the other.”  Blue Lily, Lily Blue

“You do not write your life with words...You write it with actions. What you think is not important. It is only important what you do.”  A Monster Calls

“Does the walker choose the path, or the path the walker?”  Sabriel ♥

“It takes at least three assassination attempts to scare me off. And even then, if there are baked goods involved, I might come back.”  The Archived

“Fire-breathing bitch-queen.”  Queen of Shadows

“She was fire, and light, and ash, and embers. She was Aelin Fireheart, and she bowed for no one and nothing...'' Queen of Shadows

“You're beautiful and sad," I said finally, not looking at him when I did. "Just like your eyes. You're like a song that I heard when I was a little kid but forgot I knew until I heard it again." For a long moment there was only the whirring sound of the tires on the road, and then Sam said softly, "Thank you.” Shiver

“...she made her home in between the pages of books.”  Linger

BONUS for my shippers: “Adam was beginning to realize that he hadn't known Ronan at all. Or rather, he had known part of him and assumed it was all of him.”  Blue Lily, Lily Blue