Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday #16

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 Books Recently Added To My TBR Shelf

*Click on the image for Goodreads*

In the Hand of the Goddess (Song of the Lioness #2) - After reading and loving the first book in the series recently, I added all the rest of the books to my shelf!

Half Bad - A bunch of my blogger friends had high praise for this one and the fact that it's about Witches sealed the deal for me :)

The Last Ever After (School for Good & Evil #3) - The final installment of this trilogy, and one that I'm very eagerly awaiting! I'm hoping - nay, begging for a 'happy ever after' for Agatha and Sophie.

The Walls Around Us - I've read a lot of praise for this one so I'm hoping it delivers for me as well.

Becoming Jinn - A story about Genies!!  Enough said. This book, I need it.

City of Fae - If that stunning cover isn't enough to attract your attention, check out the blurb and you'll be sold.

The Storyspinner - Another one that's been getting a ton of positive buzz, I couldn't resist adding it to my shelf!

And now the ones without covers:

A Court of Thorns and Roses #2, Twilight of the Gods by Sarah J Maas, The Rose & The Dagger (The Wrath & The Dawn #2)

After finishing ACOTAR a while back, I didn't hesitate to add the sequels on my shelf, I NEED more Tamlin and Feyre in my life ♥  And basically, Sarah J. Maas is out to ruin our feels with yet another release in the works. I don't know if Twilight of the Gods will be the first in a series, or a standalone...I just know that I'll be reading it and loving it.  And after also loving The Wrath and The Dawn by Renée Ahdieh, I hastily added the follow up to my wishlist. SO.MANY.GOOD.BOOKS. Gah!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Review: A Monster Calls

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Inspired by Siobhan Dowd
Illustrated by Jim Kay
Published January 1st 2011 by Candlewick Press

The monster showed up after midnight. As they do.

But it isn't the monster Conor's been expecting. He's been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he's had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming...

This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.

It wants the truth.
A Monster Calls is a book I've heard nothing but positive things about since it's release in 2011, and I was lucky enough to be gifted a copy so I was very eager to read it...but, I knew I had to be in just the right mood to dive in considering the content. So, when the mood presented itself recently, I didn't hesitate for one second.  Although I feel sure my heart won't soon recover from being broken into a million tiny pieces...

As many of you are no doubt aware, A Monster Calls is a book that deals with loss, death, letting go and saying goodbye.  We meet our main character Conor, a young thirteen year old, whose mother is battling an aggressive form of cancer. On an evening just like any other, Conor is visited by a monster. A wild and terrifying monster who wants something from Conor: the truth. A truth that Conor does not want to face. In fact, Conor would rather face the monster's wrath than face up to this truth.  So, the monster makes a deal with Conor - it will visit Conor again and tell him three stories. Once the stories are done, the monster will require the truth from Conor. Or else.

The emotional punch that this book packs is actually staggering. Within a short 215 pages, it takes us on a whirlwind of feelings: curiosity, amazement, wonder, fear, dread...and inevitably, sadness and pain.  I felt myself tense at the unavoidable outcome at about 50 pages in, and the tension only continued to build, amidst my growing sadness and the tears splattering it's pages at various intervals. Conor doesn't want to face the possibility of losing his mother, but despite his denial, he still goes through the many stages of grief in loss in a poignant and thoroughly relatable way.  I found myself hoping blindly along with him, despite the fact that I knew how the story had to end.

A Monster Calls is achingly beautiful in the way it's written, with stirring prose that hits you right in the feels.  It's filled with gorgeous and haunting illustrations throughout that really set the tone perfectly.  This was my first read by Patrick Ness, but it certainly won't be the last.  The fact that he wrote this based on an idea by the late Siobhan Dowd - who tragically succumbed to cancer herself before completing this book - says a lot about Ness' ability as a writer in my mind.

I am beyond grateful to have finally read this little gem of a book that will surely stay with me for years to come.  Though the characters are dealing with cancer specifically, A Monster Calls deals with loss in a universal sense, and the underlying themes of love and acceptance make this a book I feel that everyone should read.  My heart may never recover - and I'm ok with that.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Harry Potter MotW #83

Harry Potter Moment of the Week 

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme hosted by Leah @ Uncorked Thoughts  & 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 &  upcoming topics here.

Hi everyone :) You may have noticed a little change in the description above^^ but I just wanted to let everyone know officially:  I'm going to be co-hosting HP Moment of the Week along with Leah! Yay ♥  We're going to alternate hosting duties starting this week with me hosting. You'll find the linky below for those who want to link up!  Ok, so without further ado, this week's topic asks:  

What Would Your Patronus Be?

As much as I wish that the Patronus Quiz was live on Pottermore right now, I feel like this one is a bit of a no-brainer for me.  Anyone who knows me could very easily guess what form my Patronus would take:

A Cat

I adore cats and have a huge affinity for the species in general.  Sure stupid Umbridge did damage the cat-lover's reputation, but I take comfort in knowing that a total BAMF like McGonagall, had a cat-Patronus herself.  AND she also chose to Transfigure herself as a cat.  I like to think that I would follow her lead in both cases ;)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday #15

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!

Hi everyone :)  This week's topic was more of a challenge for me, my reading tastes were quite different in my youth, I went from Shakespeare and other classics to horribly clichéd teen reads that have not aged well...but there were some good ones in the mix.  That being said, it was a fun trip down memory lane so I hope you guys will enjoy what I came up with too:

Top Ten Books From My Youth That I'd Love To Revisit

Anne of Green Gables - I adored this series to bits as a child and it remains one of my all-time favorite reads.  Especially the first book.  The sequels kept my attention less and less as a kid so I'd love to re-read the entire series as an adult and see if I'd have better luck.  I've reread the first book a number of times but a full series revisit seems in order.

The Secret Garden - Admittedly, I've already reread this one as an adult - and I loved it just as much as the first time around - but I'd love to revisit this story again. I have nothing but love for these characters so I can certainly see myself returning to them again and again.♥

A Little Princess - This is another book, by the same author as The Secret Garden, that I also reread a few years back, and to be honest I feel the same way about this one as I did with #2 ^^, It's such a sweet, heartwarming story, I could read it again and again and never, ever get sick of it.

Les Filles de Caleb - This is a classic French historical that I read after seeing the t.v. mini-series based on it, which was HUGELY popular in the 1990's.  It's equal parts romance and tragedy and the books are beasts (Book #1 is 500+ pages and the sequel is 700+pages!) but my young self couldn't get enough.

Romeo & Juliet - I went through a pretty big Shakespeare phase in my teens and with the trendy film that came out in the late 90's featuring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes (Romeo + Juliet), I got into this classic even more.  I know it's not a favorite among Shakespeare fans, but I've always had a soft spot for the story.

The Raven - Similarly, I went through an Edgar Allen Poe phase in my later teens but the Raven was always a standout to me. It's so dark and atmospheric, I'd never read anything like it - and still haven't. I also love The Simpsons take on the poem in their very first Treehouse of Horror Halloween Special hehe!

Frankenstein - I read this my first year in Uni and to be honest, it was a struggle.  I remember not liking it all that much. So why did it make the list? Well, I also remember the story staying with me for ages after I'd finished reading.  I couldn't get the haunting, twisted story out of my head  I'd love to re-read it now, of my own free will (LOL) and see if I'd feel any different about it.

The Little Prince This was the only high-school reading requirement that I actually loved. I read it first in the original French, and then re-read it soon after in English.  It's simple and charming, not to mention filled to the brim with valuable life-lessons. I can not wait to see the upcoming animated film by the same name, I hope it's just as good as the book was!

Hamlet - I read this one my last year a high school and I remember thinking it was simultaneously engaging and seriously messed up lol.  But then recently, I watched the BBC's rendition of Hamlet, starring Patrick Stewart and David Tennant (♥) which - naturally - gave me a whole new perspective on the story...and got me in the mood for a reread. Fans of the book should definitely check out the BBC's take on this classic, by the way.

Sweet Valley High - *cringe*  These trashy stories of high-school twins living a Melrose Place-styled life were all the rage back when I was in middle-school. Man, just looking at that cover makes me feel old!  A far cry from the actual YA-literature we have at our disposal today, I got hooked into them all the same.  I'd love a sort of ironic reread into Elizabeth and Jessica's adventures, just for kicks LOL.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Review: Fairest

Fairest by Marissa Meyer
The Lunar Chronicles #3.5
Published January 27th 2015 by Feiwel & Friends

In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now. 

Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.
Fairest is supposed to be the bridge book between Cress and the upcoming Winter, but it also doubles as a prequel book to the series at the same time, since the events for this one take place before the start of the series proper.  It's also a novella, since it's not quite the size of a full-fledged book, but the page count is higher than some of those little tiny novellas, coming in at 222 pages. Despite not quite wowing me quite as much as I would have liked, I'd still consider this one an absolute must-read for fans of The Lunar Chronicles.

I should clarify: I read Fairest in one sitting within one afternoon, so I definitely enjoyed it.  I'd been extremely curious to learn more about the evil Queen Levana and her motivations for being the way she is in the series.  The setting for this one is entirely on Luna, which was fantastic to me because I've longed to explore the colonized Moon since the very start of the series.  The writing style was as engaging as it always is with a Marissa Meyer book -she sets the tone perfection to tell Levana's story and there was a delicious air of mystery throughout the book, as she slowly gives out details to Levana's past, rife with childhood trauma and neglect.

When we're introduced to Levana, she's already in her teens and barring a few, too short lived (in my opinion) flashbacks to her youth, we see her go through her teens and into young-adulthood.  I think my minor issues with the outcome of the plot stems from what I had inadvertently come to expect, going in.  I thought the story would begin it's focus on Levana's traumatic childhood and slowly we'd get her metamorphosis into the wicked creature we know from The Lunar Chronicles. I don't know if it was the way we're introduced to her, but something threw me off.  I just kept thinking: sure she's messed up, but she could so easily be brought back to her sense if someone just talked some sense into her...or gave her a good shake -which I longed to do throughout the book.  So much of the trials she suffers are of her own making - barring that one awful thing when she and her sister were kids - that was horrible *shudders*

Of course, Levana never does get that talking to she so desperately needed in Fairest, and her entire teen years, into young adulthood are marred with one terrible decision after another.  She does clearly seek power and has a natural talent for politics and...dictatorship, so while her personal life decisions are plagued by delusions and cruelty, her quest for power is nothing short of ingenious and filled with  equally cruel actions to get what she wants more than anything: to rule over Luna...and eventually, Earth.  It was extremely cool to see how Lunars and Levana in particular use their gifts of glamour with such ease.  No one has any issues with others walking around as complete lies, with altered appearances or identities, this is the norm on Luna.  It was also great to get glimpses into Princess Selene's birth and early childhood - as well as young Winter from the upcoming fourth and final book in The Lunar Chronicles.

What's the final verdict on Fairest? I liked it a lot, but it felt like it was missing a little something too.  It was an insightful and fascinating read, but it might have benefited from being a full-length book to be honest.  It didn't blow me away like some of my favorite novellas of late, but it easily kept my attention. A quick, if dark glimpse into the mind, and the past of one of the most famous villains in YA literature today.

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Harry Potter MotW #82

Harry Potter Moment of the Week 

Harry Potter Moment of the week is a weekly meme hosted over at Uncorked Thoughts. The idea is to share one favorite moment, magical item, character, spell, quote, object from the books, films or J.K.Rowling herself!    For information on how to join up & for upcoming topics, click here.

What Would Your Amortentia Smell Like?

The Ocean - The salty tang soothes my soul.
Fresh Raspberries - My favorite fruit.
Wintergreen - Similar to Mint/Spearmint but much more appealing to me.

I'm not sure what those combined aromas would get me, but here's hoping they'd be as enticing put together as they are separately ;P There's something about the idea of Amortentia that's so cool, isn't there?  I mean, I would never use the thing, but I love how it smells differently for everyone, according to what attracts a person.  JKR really is a genius!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday *112*

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 what I'm eagerly awaiting this week:

Winter by Marissa Meyer
The Lunar Chronicles #4
Expected Publication: November 10th 2015 by Feiwel & Friends

When Princess Winter was thirteen, the rumor around the Lunar court was that her glamour would soon be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana. In a fit of jealousy, Levana disfigured Winter. Four years later, Winter has sworn off the use of her glamour altogether. Despite her scars, Winter’s natural beauty, her grace, and her gentleness are winning admiration from the Lunar people that no amount of mind-control could achieve.

Winter despises her stepmother, but has never dreamed of standing up to her. That is, until she realizes that she may be the only one with the power to confront the queen.

Can Cinder, Prince Kai, Scarlet, Wolf, Cress, Thorne, Princess Winter, and the palace guard Jacin find their happily ever afters?
Another unsurprising pick for me this week - with the cover being released last Friday, there was absolutely no doubt in my mind that Winter would make the cut.  And that cover is easily my favorite in a string of stunning covers for the series,  I LOVE how the apple glows and seems to be made of glass or magic or something ♥  I am dying to meet Winter and see how she'll mesh with Cinder, Scarlet, Cress and the rest of the crew!  And I'm pretty much on my knees, begging that everyone gets their happy ever after. Please.Please.Please.Please.PLEASE.

Are you pining away for Winter too?
Let me know below when you link me up :)
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