Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 Year-End Wrap-Up

Hi everyone!!

    Have you heard? The end is near! ...The end of 2012 that is. *coughs*  With the Holidays already done with and 2013 on the horizon, I decided that seeing as 2012 was my very first year blogging, I wanted to send it off properly.  Overall the year was a memorable one but a definite highlight was when Lunar Rainbows launched on September 13th.  I have met so many amazing bloggers, had so many thrilling discussions about good books...and most of all - I've discovered and read so many memorable stories! ♥  I am so grateful for all such a fabulous year, that I wanted to take a moment and look back on my favorite reads & moments since I started blogging.

~* Favorite Books of 2012 *~

I think 2012 is one of the best bookish years I've had in awhile now.  It's true that I did start off the year by reading out of my left over 2011 pile...and I read some long overdue classics as well but there were some pretty spectacular releases in 2012, you can't deny! Go ahead...I dare you :)  Here are my absolute favorite reads of 2012, in order of earliest reads to most recent:

 *Fresh off the Hunger Games trilogy, which I'd read late 2011, I find myself craving more dystopian fiction.  Luckily, Divergent was there to start off 2012 with a bang!  Though it shares a similar feel to the Hunger Games trilogy, it still felt completely fresh to me.  Tris grew on me pretty quick and I loved her transformation as the book progressed.  I'm not forgetting Four either that's for sure, what a yummy love-interest and compelling male character!

*My only non-fantasy read to make the list is Water for Elephants.  And while it certainly didn't hurt for me to have Robert Pattinson to picture as I was reading, this would have been an incredible story regardless.  It loved the circus life Jacob lead, I loved the romance especially set in the time period it was set in. I laughed, I cried and I was thoroughly enchanted from start to finish.

* The Fever Series started out only OK for me but I was still hooked from book 1. It's hard to explain; I knew I was going to keep reading but some things bothered me.  By book 3, I was officially a fan but it was book 4, Dreamfever that completely undid me.  I gobbled it up but I eve re-read some parts before moving forwards because they were just so yummy...or kick ass...or both ;)

*Liesl & Po is the only book I've read by Lauren Oliver but it was enough to make me a fan.  A simple, modern-day fairytale about a girl who befriends a ghost.  Words cannot express how ineffably happy this story made me!  It's one of those stories I know I'll be re-reading many times.

Karen Marie Moning second appearance on my list with the follow up to Dreamfever and the conclusion to the Fever SeriesShadowfever.  This book almost gave me whiplash with it's twists and turns and by the end I didn't know what to expect but it still blew me away and left me desperately wanting more!

*While it came out in 2011, I only got around to reading Daughter of Smoke & Bone about halfway into 2012.  It instantly made it's way unto my favorite reads of all time.  Laini Taylor's writing prowess makes me swoon, her words make me dream and her characters make me feel.  It just doesn't get any better than that.

 * Mistborn: The Final Empire was brought to my attention by my cousin - she said she hadn't read an incredible fantasy read like it in years.  I looked it up on Goodreads and if reading the synopsis didn't convince me, the rating and reviews it was getting only compounded my intrigue.  I still can't believe I hadn't even heard about author Brandon Sanderson until then.  What a mind-blowing magical system this man created!  What an incredibly relatable & kick-ass heroine he thought up of!  And what a dark and scary world he imagined!  Wow, I honestly can't say enough, this is definitely among my favorite reads of all time.

* 2012 was also the year I finally popped my Jennifer L. Armentrout cherry (hihi)!  While I'm definitely dying to start on her Lux Series, I felt even more attracted to her Covenant Series so I started with Half-Blood and that was it - I'm in love.  It was exciting, sexy & fun all wrapped into one neat package that was easy to read and left me immediately buying all the rest of the books that are out in the series!!

* Laini Taylor strikes again.  Mind-blown for the second time, this woman can do no wrong in my eyes.  Days of Blood & Starlight made me fall in love with the story even harder. I didn't think it was possible, but not only was there now second-book slump, the story completely took me by surprise and held me breathless. WOW!  For more gushing, click here for my full review.

I guess I didn't have to feature more than one book from the same series but I couldn't help it - there you have it: my top reads of this past year!  

 ~* Memorable Moments of 2012 *~

As far as some of the highlights of the past year for me personally as a blogger, I'd have to say interacting with bloggers & authors...especially getting my first author requests for reviews. My very first one happened right before I launched my blog and the second one came days after I had launched so I wanted to give thanks to both.  Dew Pellucid debut author of The Sound & the Echoes Stephanie Constante debut author of Baptism of FireBIG thanks to you both for taking a chance on me, for allowing me the pleasure of reading your fantastic stories & for being beyond generous and offering up copies of your books so I could offer giveaways!  

 ~* Props for 2012 *~

 I'd also like to take this opportunity to thank all the amazing bloggers that have helped me along the way by offering advice, kind words, book recommendations and of course for following my blog, & commenting on my posts.  Bloggers truly are amazing people and it's honestly an honor to have a chance to blog along with you guys & share in all things bookish!

Honorable mentions go out to:
Xpresso Reads Alluring Reads

Rally the Readers On Starships and Dragonwings Button


And last but certainly not least, I'd like to thank every single one of my (200- eep!) followers and regular visitors.  Chatting with all of you has been a blast, I love the books I've discovered thanks to you all and I couldn't have made it these past 4 months without your continued support ♥

So that's it for my look back at 2012-  Let me know what you think 
& stay tuned for a look ahead at 2013!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Movie Review

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Well guys, I finally went to see The Hobbit  last week...and I say finally because usually when a Lord of the Rings movie comes out, I'm there like, day 1!  Personally I've always been quite pleased with director Peter Jackson's take on the classic Tolkien books.   As far as book-to-film adaptations it's easily one of the ones I find most satisfying.  (By comparison, as much as I do love the Harry Potter films, there are some moments...that just infuriate me sometimes >.<  how they'll say or do something completely the opposite of how J.K.R. wrote it...I'm especially looking at you Half-Blood Prince!)  *ahem*

End Rant.

Anyways, back to the topic at much as I was a fan of the Lord of the Rings films, I still had some reservations about The Hobbit film.  Don't get me wrong, I'd really enjoyed reading the book; it felt more whimsical than the Lord of the Rings books.  By comparison, The Hobbit has more magic, more Gandalf & it has DRAGONS!  But it's more than that: The Hobbit has a much more youthful tone than the LotR.  I wondered how that would translate to the big screen & I grew increasingly worried with all the bad luck the film had as they were starting pre-production way back...& then my unease was compounded when director Peter Jackson announced that he would be releasing not 2 but 3 films!  Anyone who's read the book knows that it is a pretty small book.  especially when compared to the rest of the series  I wondered if the 'extra material' Jackson spoke of, taken from additions Tolkien himself made after finishing The Lord of the Rings would be enough to fill 3- 3 hour movies.  

Even still, these worries didn't stop me from wanting to check out The Hobbit as possible, so me and the boyfriend finally managed to get tickets and check it out this week and I am thrilled we didn't wait any longer!  I already want to see it again :D  The Hobbit was done with the exact same charm and wonder that made me LOVE the Lord of the Ring films.  The story is very much expanded from the original book version but it just helped to clarify and develop what Tolkien had touched upon in the book...while doing a brilliant job of tying into The Lord of the Rings story arc!

As far as the casting goes I absolutely adored Martin Freeman as Bilbo!  In the books, I'd loved his character but as much as I liked his portrayal in the LotR films, The Hobbit brought it to a whole other level.  I though all of the Dwarves were really well cast too and all did brilliant jobs bringing their characters to life; especially the lead Dwarf Thorin portyrayed by Richard Armitage.  Of course Ian McKellenCate Blanchett & Hugo Weaving were their usual epic selves as Gandlaf, Lady Galadriel & Elrond respectively.  

The plot was tight & it never once felt like it was long or too slow - in fact when it ended I wished I could go on and watch the other 2 upcoming films right away!  I loved the extra material that expanded on the book and I appreciated how faithful most key moments were to the original material.  The visual effects were stunning and I really enjoyed how well done the 3-D effects were too.  All things considered, it was an amazing experience worthy of The Lord of the Rings universe.  A must-see for any Tolkien fans or fans of the original trilogy of films!

9/10 rating on my IMDb profile


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Review: Darkest Powers Bonus Pack 1

Darkest Powers Bonus Pack 1 by Kelley Armstrong

My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

I only discovered that Kelley Armstrong had written extra material for the Darkest Powers Trilogy. Naturally, as soon as I made said discovery I hurried over to my Kobo & Kindle to check out the prices. Both bonus packs were initially released on Kelley's website as they were completed and once they were all released they were removed from her site and sold as bonus packs. Each bonus pack contains 2 or 3 short stories, so I'll be first reviewing them individually story by story and then I'll combine them for each bonus pack review.

Dangerous is the first story in the first bonus pack. It is told from Derek's POV and deals with the events leading up to him & Simon arriving at Lyle House. As soon as I saw that Bonus Pack number 1 was entirely Derek's POV I was thrilled - I really liked his character right away even though I felt like I was in the minority and most girls would probably prefer Simon. Derek tends to have a hard time saying the right thing...or even saying it in a way people expect so I knew that being inside his head was going to be fun. The story starts off with a mini-prologue of Derek when he was only 5 years old!! OMG guys, it was so sweet & sad at the same time ♥.

The rest of the story follows Derek & Simon while they were still with their dad and offers the complete tale of how they managed to end up in Lyle House. It's a fairly short read but it holds your interest easily and quickly. It really does of nice job of establishing Derek's character but more than that it really cool to see how his mind works first hand. And the way he describes Simon & their dad...I think it made me like Simon more that I already did too. Derek has a great way of focusing on what the people he love are good at...and what their not - it made them all seem more real to me. Kelley Armstrong is just as gifted with her male characters as I found her with Chloe in the Darkest Powers series.

Speaking of Chloe - I really liked the contrast between Chloe, who only discovers she's a supernatural in her teens as opposed to Derek & Simon who were aware from an early age and who grew up with a dad involved in the supernatural world. Often times, series focus on the discovery of powers or gifts and it felt refreshing to read a story from an MC who already knew what he was and in what kind of world he & his kind live in.

Divided in the 2nd story in this bonus pack and again this one s told from Derek's POV. This one follows Derek & Simon during their escape with Chloe & Rae at the end of The Summoning. Since the 4 separate, we only got to see Chloe's take on things during this scene in The Summoning. Once again, it was fun to see Derek's take on the same events...especially since they reveal some evolution on his part regarding his feelings with Chloe. That was fun to witness :) Not much of the plot was really new in this one but it was still really interesting. Derek's voice manages to keep everything fresh & I love the little hints Kelley Armstrong wove in there for future events.

Disenchanted is the final short story in this bonus pack. It starts off from Simon's POV but quickly switches to Tori. Again, this isn't a particularly long story but it was cool to get a little bit of Simon's voice into the mix, especially after reading so much of Derek's. I was a bit disappointed when it switched to Tori. In the original trilogy, she did manage to grow on me somewhat but I never really liked her. I don't think we were really supposed to in any event & maybe inserting her voice was a way to make her a bit more likable, which it did. The story feels like a chance for readers to hear her side of things so it was definitely worth the read and it was fun to see what Simon & Tori were up to on their end while Derek & Chloe were off.

All in all, this was a quick and fun addition to the Darkest Powers story arc! A must-read for fans of the series and more specifically,of Derek ;)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (13)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where book bloggers get together and spotlight what upcoming release we're most excited about!

Here's what I'm waiting on this week: 

Incendio (Draconi Series #2)

Release Date: December 28th 2012
Author: Stephanie Constante

 Leito has fallen in love, something she never thought would happen. Except the man who holds her heart is not only a dragon, but one imprisoned by his own clan, punished for harboring a human girl and refusing to kill her. The odds are against her, and after a dangerous transformation, she is trying to learn what it means to be a dragon herself.

The change brings many new abilities and sacrifices, which will both help and hinder her. Now Leito must find a way to enter the dragon’s den and find Aidan before it is too late, but what awaits her in the Incendio Mountains is worse than she could have ever imagined.

 As soon as I finished book 1, Baptism of Fire last week, I messaged author Stephanie Constante begging to know when book 2 was coming out - and it so happens it's coming out soon!! :D  I'm hoping it picks up the very instant after book 1 leaves off - that ending is close to painful haha!  I can safely say that if I had had Incendio handy when I finished Baptism of Fire I would have jumped in right away!

Check out my review of book 1 in the Draconi Series - Baptism of Fire & enter for a chance to WIN your very own copy!!

What are you waiting on??
Link me below!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Stacking the Shelves (12)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly feature hosted by Tynga's Reviews showcasing new books we've either received or bought this past week.

It's now week 3 of my self-imposed book ban - but this week I've cheated a bit with some cheap e-books. A pre-order from a while back also came in so I'm pretty psyched about that.  To top it all off I got an Kindle freebie!!  I almost felt like the Holidays were starting early this week ;)

~*Pre-Order Goodness*~

~*E-book Deals*~

So, I few weeks ago when I jumped on board the  Jennifer L. Armentrout and ordered all the Covenant Series Books that are out, it was hard for me to resist pre-ordering Elixir a Covenant novella told from Aiden's POV ♥...not only that, but novella's are cheaper and it was only like $ 3.99...who could resist that? Anyways it finally arrived this week.  I'm thinking my next read will be Pure so I may get to Elixir soon enough!

And I only found out a few days ago that Kelley Armstrong had written some additional scenes in her Darkest Powers Trilogy awhile back and they were being sold as the Darkest Powers Bonus Packs.  It's pretty much a bunch of short stories told either before, during or right after the events of the original trilogy.  Pack 1 is told mostly from Derek's POV (which I am loving so far!) and Pack 2 has an extra scene from Chloe's POV and one from Rachel's!  I'm loving learning more about Derek & Simon already and I've only just finished the first short story.  They are on the short side so they were also quite affordable :D

~*Kindle Freebie*~

I don't read nearly enough Werewolf books - maybe because I run with Vampires. I do love werewolves though (like Lupin!) so I've been wanting to read more wolf books and a freebie is just what the ban ordered!  I've heard some good things about this series so I'm hoping it'll be a fun read.

That's it for me this week guys - What did you get?
Link me :)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Review + Giveaway: Baptism of Fire

Baptism of Fire (Draconi Series # 1) by Stephanie Constante


My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Before I even begin my review, I have to say it:  I loved this book!  Baptism of Fire immediately grabbed my interest with it's first pages and kept building from there!  I loved the concept, the mythology, the characters, the story's progression and that killer ending - when can I get my hands on book 2???  Seriously, I need!

Leito's father is the village dragon-hunter and has dedicated his life to this task after his wife was killed by a dragon when Leito was just a little girl.  When her father & the other dragon hunters in the village are out hunting a huge dragon - Leito simultaneously discovers & saves an injured dragon child & helps him escape the hunters.  Year later, when Leito has become a young women, she is faced with a cruel twist of fate when her village offer her up as a sacrifice as a sort of peace offering for her father's crimes against the dragons.  Leito bravely agrees to go if it will save her village from the wrath of the dragons but this is just the beginning of an adventure that will forever change her...and her destiny.

I can't really reveal anything more about the plot, because early on there is something of an unexpected twist and the whole story's progression sort of starts at that point.  When author Stephanie Constant reached out to me and offered me a chance to read this story in exchange for an honest review I said yes right away!  I have this thing where I LOVE dragons!  The idea of a girl having to face a dragon and prove herself worthy, or use her wits to survive against a dragon were instantly attractive to me.  Speaking of attractive: that cover ♥ !  The way the colours play with the shimmering lights at the bottom of the beautiful girl's feet!?  *dies of pretty*  I'm thrilled to say that Baptism of Fire is just as pretty on the inside.  As I mentioned above, I liked this story right away and the more I read the more delighted I became.  The story really flows and I never once got bored throughout. It is a fairly quick read though but everything really develops and wraps up nicely (almost) ;)

Leito the main protagonist was likeable and easy to relate to. She's feisty, opinionated & brave.  She's curious by nature & though it can get her into a bit of trouble at times, I still found it endearing & believable.  What really made me love Leito though, was the compassion she shows that young dragon even after losing her own mother to a dragon.  She understands her father's motives, she knows how miserable losing his only love has made him and that he seeks to avenge that loss by hunting dragons...but she has not learned to hate as he does.    And Aiden?  Oooh Aiden made me fall in love with him as well, and I wanted to know more,and the more I learned the more I wanted to learn! Everything about this boy was appealing to me: he's a dark, brooding bad boy with a heart. He's sweet and adventurous but he can be aggressive and knows how to fight.  Yum, right?  The build of romantic tension throughout was both adorable & exciting.  Paired with the beautiful descriptions  of dreamy scenery & settings, it's hard not to fall in love with this romance.

The pacing was consistent and I could feel it building as the story progressed.  The plot felt tight & like I said, I never felt bored even when not much was happening...cause you just knew something else exciting was coming up soon! The dialogue felt a bit stiff to me at first, but I quickly got used to it and it seemed to fit the medieval setting...people spoke more formally in the olden days in any event so it gave the story a realistic feel, even in such a fantastical world. The further along a got in the story the more it  captivated me and it held till the very last scene when I was completely spellbound....gah! And then it was over too quickly and I just wanted to keep reading but there was nothing left!  All things considered this was a an exciting and fun romantic fantasy read!

Author Stephanie Constante generously offered up 3 e-copies for a giveaway!  Isn't she awesome?! Remember her name guys, I have a feeling we'll be seeing a lot more of her soon! (I still can't believe that Baptism of Fire is her debut novel!)

About this author: 

I'm a lifelong lover of books. I have always wanted to be a writer but never thought it was a realistic goal to try and achieve until now. I studied psychology at Florida International University which will probably explain why there might be a psychological theme in most of my books. I have been working as a psychosocial rehabilitation counselor in Miami for over four years now and apart from the horrible pay, it is a pretty decent job.

When I’m not writing I read an endless amount of Urban Fantasy novels (my favs), hang out with close friends and family, make playlists on my iTunes, and obsess about anything from the UK, particularly their amazing TV shows: Doctor Who, Sherlock, Misfits, The Fades. If you haven’t seen them, please check them out, they are absolutely amazing.

**GIVEAWAY DETAILS** - ONLY e-book copies are available, 3 winners will be drawn at random to each receive ONE (1) copy each.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (12)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where book bloggers get together and spotlight what upcoming release we're most excited about!

Here's what I'm waiting on this week: 

The Cadet of Tildor

Release Date: January 10th 2013
Author: Alex Lidell

Tamora Pierce meets George R. R. Martin in this smart, political, medieval fantasy-thriller.
There is a new king on the throne of Tildor. Currents of political unrest sweep the country as two warring crime families seek power, angling to exploit the young Crown's inexperience. At the Academy of Tildor, the training ground for elite soldiers, Cadet Renee de Winter struggles to keep up with her male peers. But when her mentor, a notorious commander recalled from active duty to teach at the Academy, is kidnapped to fight in illegal gladiator games, Renee and her best friend Alec find themselves thrust into a world rife with crime, sorting through a maze of political intrigue, and struggling to resolve what they want, what is legal, and what is right.

What can I say? I'm a sucker for medieval fantasies.  Considering that most of the ones I've read have featured male protagonists, I'm doubly excited to read one featuring a female lead.  I'm especially intrigued by how the 'thriller' feel will mesh with medieval fantasy aspect, I'm thinking if it's done well it could be explosive!

What are you waiting on this week?
Don't forget to link me ;) 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Top 10 Tuesday (10)

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!

This week's Top 10 theme is:Top Ten Favorite New-To-Me Authors I Read In 2012.  This was an exciting bookish year all-around, I love looking back and realizing how many great reads from exciting authors :D  Here goes:

1. Laini Taylor - She would have made the top of my list just for Daughter of Smoke & Bone but having *just* finished Days of Blood & Starlight I'm just fangirling all over the place for Miss Laini right now.  Her writing style takes my breath away, her world building is mind-blowing and I have a lot of feels for the characters she created....SO many feels guys!!  To check out my fresh new review of Days of Blood & Starlight - click here !

2. Brandon Sanderson - This man has an amazing affinity for creating purely relatable and just plain awesome female protagonists.  Who knew some men understood women so well? Add that to the unique and mind-blowing magical system he thought up in Mistborn and you have yourself one memorable author.

3. Jennifer L. Armentrout - I've only read the first few books in her Covenant Series this year, but I am hooked!  I own the rest of the series (that are out) and the first book in her Lux Series already.  She has an addictive writing style & very alluring characters!

4, Karen Marie Moning - I'll admit, it took me a few books to get it; but once I was on board with The Fever Series, there was no looking back. I pretty much inhaled all 5 books earlier in 2012, and I've been wanting more ever since!  This woman created BARRONS *drool* yeah, enough said.  Fans of sexy UF who haven't checked this series out yet: What are you waiting for??

 5.Veronica Roth - 2012 was a big year for her: with the release of Insurgent which won best YA Sci-Fi/Fantasy book at the 2012 Goodreads Choice Awards and she herself on Best Goodreads Author!  Personally I read discovered Roth in 2012, reading both Divergent earlier and 2012 and Insurgent when it came out!  I'm already pining for book 3...

6. Kelley Armstrong - As of yet,I've only read her Darkest Powers Trilogy but I'm officially a fan.  Her writing style is easy to read, exciting & fun! She managed to creep me out with the necromancer bits but still left me wanting more.  I can't wait to check out her sequels to that trilogy - Darkness Rising & her adult series Women of the Otherworld series!

7. Lauren Oliver - Though I own Delirium, I still haven't read it yet. My first Lauren Oliver read was Liesl & Po a surprisingly enchanting modern-day fairytale. I was captivated by her whimsical tone & loveable characters.  I plan to re-read that book again and again; if her Delirium series is anywhere near as satisfying, I will be one happy girl.  Hopefully I can get to book one before the year is out!

8.Gene Luen Yang -  This magnificent fellow is responsible for bringing the Avatar:The Last Airbender series to manga form with his recent series The Promise and with the upcoming series The Search which will finally address the mystery of Zuko & Azula's mother!  I freaking love this guy ♥!

9. Rick Riordan -  2012 was also the year I first read the Percy Jackson Series which was just so  much fun! I already own book 1 of his Kane Chronicles Series and I'm just dying to get started on his Heroes of Olympus Series ...especially since the announcement that book 4 would be called: The House of Hades !!!  Is it weird that I'm this psyched about that one?!

10. Ally Condie - I am among those who really enjoyed Miss Condie's Matched Series.  She writes such lyrical prose, it's obvious she is aware of exactly what she means to come across and she does it in the most beautiful way possible.  I *just* started reading Reached & I'm pretty excited to see how she concludes Cassia's journey.

What authors made your Top 10 this week? 
Link me & let me know if you're a new follower :)

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Review: Days of Blood & Starlight

 Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Days of Blood & Starlight is the hotly anticipated sequel to last year's  Daughter of Smoke & Bone . As soon as I cracked open the cover and peered at the first pages, I was reminded of every thing I had loved while reading book one. Very rarely does a sequel ever hold up to it's predecessor - especially as the second book in an expected trilogy but Days of Blood and Starlight did just that. I am delighted, though not all-together surprised, that author Laini Taylor managed to bring her series to a whole other level - all while staying true to what made Daughter of Smoke & Bone soooo epic! Don't let my pretty words fool you though - Days of Blood & Starlight is filled to the brim with gut-wrenching emotion, darkness & violence. Through it all though, it maintains it's wonder and beauty...there is always hope.

I've read my fair share of YA trilogies. Usually the second book out of the three is my least favorite - the hero tends to have changed a lot since book one and can be a little (or a lot) lost. This coupled with the story line often feeling like one big set-up to the impending conclusion expected in book three. (The exception to this being the Hunger Games Trilogy where book 2 is my favorite in the the series.) I definitely did not go in to DoB&S expecting disappointment. No, Laini Taylor had already proven to me that she was capable of such story-telling prowess that I knew readers were in for a treat. But, I didn't know what to expect. Never, in my wildest dreams would I have imagined a story of such grand scope - with emotions threatening to reduce me to shreds...and the brutality and sheer WEIGHT of it all! It was staggering but it also felt fitting and right. This much harsher reality was quite an escalation from what we experienced in Daughter of Smoke & Bone but I can't imagine the story any other way. I was every bit as enraptured by Days of Blood & Starlight as I'd been with Smoke & Bone.

Days of Blood & Starlight is a much broader story than it's predecessor. This is masterfully achieved with the addition of multiple POV's and a vaster scope. The beginning especially, reminded me of a beautifully shot film that lingers on a few breathtaking aerial shots before focusing on the story at hand and setting the scene. It simultaneously slowed the pace & built suspense. I have encountered stories with too many varying POV's where it dilutes the story and render it confusing but this was not one of those instances. The multiple narratives did cause me to miss more primary characters like Karou & Akiva from time to time but I thoroughly enjoyed getting up close an personal with some delightful secondary characters like Zuzana, Liraz & Ziri <3 ! In hindsight, the expansive take on the story only deepened my emotional connection to this world and the characters who inhabit it. All of this is due in no small part to Laini Taylor's remarkable gifts as a writer. She has the unbelievable ability turn a phrase in such a way as to make you want to read it twice... even three times...slowly, to soak in their meaning fully and relish in their every little nuance. This woman has the soul of a poet, there's no doubt about it!

Speaking of characters - which I feel like I should have done more of by now...if only because of how freaking awesome they are. Karou...oh soon as she made her entrance, I remember thinking: ''I f***ing LOVE this girl!'' And then whenever she was being particularly kick-ass, or sweet...when she was being brilliant or when she despaired...and especially when she would hope, I was reminded again: ''I LOVE this girl!!'' Karou is SO one of my favorite characters of. all. time. Honestly, it was pretty much insta-love (it does exist! ) from the very beginning of Daughter of Smoke & Bone! I didn't think I would end up loving her more, but I did. Even at her lowest point, she never made me feel that I didn't get where she was coming from, or in any way hinder my fondness of her. This girl just plain rocks. I can't say my feelings for Akiva didn't grow tenfold either, because they did. Ahhh, Akiva...Akiva is still as dreamy, admirable and so, so brave. But he's also broken & at times tortured. He's deliciously strong & true and despite the horrors his past holds, he was often the biggest source of hope for me. He was most definitely the biggest source of my swooning yet again! He and Karou are admittedly in a rough place, but their connection when they shared a scene or when they remembered what they had shared always managed to be heart stopping as well as bitter-sweet. *sigh* I already ache to know how their story will end.

The plot is full of surprises, and even with it's larger volume and overall feel, it never gets boring or drags. That's probably because it's so action packed. Not in the way you would expect though - it's brutally gory at times, graphic but never gratuitous in it's depiction of violence and cruelty. This is the reality in which the Angels & Chimera live in - a world both species took part in it's current state. The levels of built up hatred and animosity does a really impressive job of displaying the horrors of war and mutual hatred. Throughout the book,you can always feel the sheer weight of it all but once I had finished reading it, I was left feeling moved, enchanted and more than anything...hopeful. And if that in itself doesn't constitute a feat worthy of recognition, I don't know what does. All things considered, Days of Blood & Starlight is an explosive continuation in the Smoke & Bone series. I wish it was 2014 already and I had the whole series at my disposal to read and re-read! 

 View all my reviews

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Stacking the Shelves (11)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly feature hosted by Tynga's Reviews showcasing new books we've either received or bought this past week.

This is officially week 2 of my book ban and you guys were right- I'm doing ok with reading material all the same :D  It's SO hard not to order more new releases when I look at my wishlist though >.<  but I'm hanging in there!  Anyways here's what I managed to get a hold of this week:

Ashen Winter is the follow up to Ashfall which every single of my blogger friends has raved to me about...and scolded me for not reading yet haha.  I am planing on starting Ashfall soon so when I saw Ashen Winter available on Netgalley it was too good to pass up!  There will be no torture between books and that makes me even more pumped to start this series!

The Demon Lover initially got my attention with that gorgeous cover - don't you just love how her blue dress accents the bird-filled sky? The synopsis revealed that this is a story about Incubus  -  something I've never read about, so that got me even more curious.  Since it's been released for awhile now, I felt no guilt whatsoever in requesting it!  I'm eager to see what's in store for this one.

The Wolf of Tebron is a book I discovered because I was initially drawn to the cover of the third and final book in this trilogy  After discovering that book 1 was also available for request  I was excited. I was drawn to the wolf on the cover and the idea of a fantasy read featuring a mythical kinship with animals. When I got my hands on the copy, it struck me that it felt a bit similar to The Chronicles of Narnia...and then I noticed the author's name: C.S. Lakin which is oddly close to Narnia author C.S. Lewis... As much as I did enjoy some elements of the Narnia series, the rhetoric and allegory was problematic for me at times, especially by the end of the series.  So I'm a little hesitant now but also  quite we'll see.

That's all for me this week.  What goodies did you get this week?
Link me :)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Review: Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Promise Part 3

Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Promise Part 3
Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Promise Part 3 by Gene Luen Yang

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The Promise Part 3 is the final installment in The Promise series and it is also my favorite out of the three. The tension built up by the previous two was almost unbearable and it was evident throughout Part 3. It is also significantly thicker than the previous two, but I ended up reading it much faster - pretty much in one sitting! As usual, stories from the Avatar: The Last Airbender conclude satisfyingly, tying up most loose ends while establishing future plot-lines.

For anyone unfamiliar with the AtLA universe; the series, to me has always been surprisingly deep and symbolic - especially for an animated show. I felt taken aback at times during my initial viewing of the series as to the stirring moral undertones the writers tackle and the positive lessons you can draw from these characters' actions. Part 3 of The Promise series really brought out all of those aspects for me while staying exciting and fun! This was by far the most intense of the entire trilogy. It was filled with a sense of urgency and even a touch of destiny about what needs to be done to really restore peace to the world...WHILE staying true to oneself in the process.

Aang really kicked butt in this one, like he usually does when he gets down to business and makes stuff happen. You can tell the Avatar has been changed for the best by the trials he suffered in the past...but there is also still much confusion about his ties to the Avatar legacy. Zuko, who remains one of my favorite characters ever (and easily THE BEST transformation ever seen) was also really changed by everything he's lived through and the family he's had. It was nerve-wrecking to watch his struggle but also so addicting :) As usual, whenever I'm in the Avatar world, I am amazed at how strong ALL the female characters are and how they are great role-models for younger fans! I wish I had had this story growing up that's for sure but even as an adult I'm glad to have the pleasure of 'knowing' these great characters & sharing their adventures. A perfect and thrilling end to an amazing series - highly recommend for all Avatar fans!

Oh and the series ends perfectly foreshadowing The Legend of Korra series AND setting up for the Search, another Manga series that will finally shed some light on the mystery of Zuko's mother...The first book of The Search series will be coming out in March (my birthday month!!) -can't wait! :D

View all my reviews

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (11)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where book bloggers get together and spotlight what upcoming release we're most excited about!

Here's what I'm waiting on this week: 

Prophecy (The Dragon King Chronicles #1)

Release Date: January 2nd 2013
Author: Ellen Oh 

The greatest warrior in all of the Seven Kingdoms... is a girl with yellow eyes.

Kira’s the only female in the king’s army, and the prince’s bodyguard. She’s a demon slayer and an outcast, hated by nearly everyone in her home city of Hansong. And, she’s their only hope...

Murdered kings and discovered traitors point to a demon invasion, sending Kira on the run with the young prince. He may be the savior predicted in the Dragon King Prophecy, but the missing treasure of myth may be the true key. With only the guidance of the cryptic prophecy, Kira must battle demon soldiers, evil shaman, and the Demon Lord himself to find what was once lost and raise a prince into a king.

Intrigue and mystery, ancient lore and action-packed fantasy come together in this heart-stopping first book in a trilogy.

Ever since first laid eyes on this cover I was drawn to it.  And then the synopsis starts out with mentioning that the most epic warrior of a girl.  Then there was something about yellow eyes...and I blacked out.  When I came too, I immediately added it to my wishlist, as well as the side bar on my blog - I can not wait to get my hands on this one guys!  I just oozes all the attributes I tend to love: epic fantasy adventure, kick-ass female protagonist and even dragons!!   Gimme, gimme, gimme!

What are you waiting on this week?
Link me up in your comments below :) 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Top 10 Tuesday (9)

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!

This week's Top 10 theme is: Top Ten Books I Wouldn't Mind Santa Bringing Me.  I'm really loving this theme, especially since I have my very own wishlist for just such an occasion - the only problem was narrowing it down to instead of any upcoming releases, I'm going to go with books I really wanted to get my hands on this year, but didn't manage to!

1. Iced by Karen Marie Moning - This is on top of my list, since I'm kinda shocked (and majorly bummed) that I still don't own my own copy.  Overall, I'd say I've been pretty good this year, so I hoping Santa will bring me a copy ;)  Doesn't "Iced" totally sound festive anyways?!

2. First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones - Ever since I first read reviews of this hilarious paranormal, UF, romance book, I've been wanting to check it out.  It also seems like there is worthy crush-material hidden within and since I've seen talk of Reyes all over the blogosphere, I simply HAVE to get into this series...STAT!

3. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo - It's a rare thing for a new release in the Fantasy genre to win over both fans of the fantasy genre and reluctant fantasy readers alike. Considering that fantasy reads are my absolute favorite, I'm really hoping I'll be unwrapping this one...or a book store gift card during the holidays!

4. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness - This seems to have regained some popularity lately, especially with book 2 coming out earlier this year.  I think I've had it on my wishlist since it first came out -  how could I not?  Witches!!! ♥  Enough said.

5. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas - I've always been a fan a a female kicking ass in a man's world. So a female assassin amongst kings, warriors & assassins sounds SO good to me!  Especially a potential romance between the main protagonist and her battle trainer...why is that scenario so appealing to me?  I'm not sure, all I know is I love it and I want to own this book - like yesterday!

6. Legend by Marie Lu - So, it seems like I'm the only one left that hasn't read Legend yet...and with Prodigy coming out early in 2013?  Well, I'm feeling the pressure to get with it!   Also,  I haven't read a good dystopian in what seems like for ever and this feels like the perfect way to go.  I think I've entered like a hundred Legend giveaways without luck so here's hoping Santa takes the hint. *nudges the old fat guy for good measure.*

7.  The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen - Yup, this is another YA fantasy pick, I guess the holidays just bring out the whimsical side of me :)  Though this kind of seems similar in premise to the Septimus Heap Series at first glance, there's something about the premise & the cover that really appeal to me.  The reviews have been nothing short of raving so I hope I get to see for myself soon :D

8. The Lost Hero (Heroes of Olympus #1) by Rick Riordan - I've been hearing that this series is even better than the Percy Jackson Series which I thoroughly enjoyed.  Initially, I planned to only read the series once all 5 expected books were released...but waiting has never been my strong suit.  I certainly wouldn't object to finding this one under the tree.

9. The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling - This is another one I can't believe I don't already own - considering I pretty much worship Queen Rowling.  I know some Harry Potter fans were let down by this one, but I'm not going in expecting an adventure in Hogwarts...not that I'd have a problem if that was the case (please, please please, SOON!), but there's something about J.K's writing style that I just can't get enough of, so I know I'm going to enjoy whatever she writes!  And this tale seems compelling in it's own right.

10. Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder - Not only has this book been on my wishlist for awhile, but the author is one who's work I've been wanting to get acquainted with for almost just as long. SO MANY friends have loved this one that I can't stand to wait any longer.  Santa baby, hurry this one over!!

So, what books are you hoping Santa brings you?
Link me up below!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Stacking the Shelves (10)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly feature hosted by Tynga's Reviews showcasing new books we've either received or bought this past week.

Alright, so I have officially placed myself on a book buying ban until the Holidays - (if it were up to my boyfriend I would have been banned long ago! ha!) so unless there are some super cheap e-books in my future I'll be praying to the Netgalley gods and hoping for author requests. That being said, here are the goodies I got a hold of this week:

I'm beyond excited to have received via Netgalley:

Author: Jordan Dane
Official Release Date: December 18th 2012

After featuring this on my WoW this week, I was thrilled to receive an approval email the same day!   A huge thanks to Harlequin Teen -  I am one happy girl :D  Indigo Awakening is a paranormal/fantasy about gifted 'Indigo' teens who must hide their powers from a fanatical church group that hunts them.  How awesome does all that sound?  I'm loving the colour scheme of the cover as well - very fitting.  I'm hoping to start this a.s.a.p. because I am beyond curious about the whole storyline...I've also really been wanting to read a good paranormal- it feels like it's been awhile!

And here are the review requests I got this week:

Prophecy Girl is about a girl named Sam who's dreams tend to be psychic predictions of the future. Her sister Violet can make things happen by wishing/praying for them.  And while both these things leave them with many unanswered questions about events that may unfold - they both also have to deal with the fact that they suspect that their mother is trying to kill them.  To me things sounds like an intense and emotional paranormal type read so when the author asked me to read it in exchange for an honest review I instantly said yes.  Souls in Peril is a YA paranormal that deals with bullying.  When a popular kid dies he gets a chance to be sent back, to 'share a body' with another boy who's being bullied in an attempt to help him out.  This isn't really my usual kind of read but when I read the synopsis it really picked my interest  so I hurried to fire off an email accepting the offer!  The reviews that are out on this one are positively glowing so I can't wait to see what all the fuss is about for myself!

So what did you get a hold of this week?
Link me!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Review: Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Promise Part 2

Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Promise Part 2
Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Promise Part 2 by Gene Luen Yang

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

The Promise - Part 2 was a very enjoyable, highly entertaining and surprisingly hilarious addition to The Promise Trilogy. Now that the introductions are out of the way, the writers really got into what made the television series so great! If often found that the middle book in a trilogy can lag a bit, while the author prepares for the big finale guaranteed in the third volume, but I'm happy to say it most definitely was not the case with The Promise. The story continued to progress steadily and naturally, going further into the groundwork laid by part 1, while building on what is sure to be a thrilling finale.

I felt we went even more in depth with a host of characters I've grown to love so much on the television series. From Aang & Katara to Toph, Sokka & Zuko; everyone showed some evolution and you can literally see them lining themselves up to the characters they will become in The Legend of Korra. The Aang and Katara bits were heartwarming & naive in a sweet and innocent way. Toph & Sokka, true to form were the root of all hilarity and comic relief. The Zuko bits...sigh, well they were intense, frustrating, compelling and sad all at the same time. I'm really amazed at how the true essence of the TV series translated so effortlessly onto the pages. It felt no different to me than watching the show!

The plot revisited past themes without ever feeling redundant or over done. I found this this book especially, was just really entertaining and funny! I may be on the giggly and silly side by nature, but often times what most people consider funny in books, TV or film just doesn't cut it for me. Both the Avatar: The Last Airbender Series & The Legend of Korra consistently crack me up though, so I was kinda gleeful to find myself giggling out loud throughout this read. I enjoyed this one even better than The Promise - Part 1. Overall, this was great fun - another exciting adventure with some of my most beloved characters of all time. Fair warning though : it ends in a super mega cliffhanger so be sure to have the final installment handy.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (10)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where book bloggers get together and spotlight what upcoming release we're most excited about!

Here's what I'm waiting on this week: 

Indigo Awakening

Release Date: December 18th 2012
Author: Jordan Dane

Because of what you are, the Believers will hunt you down.

Voices told Lucas Darby to run. Voices no one else can hear. He’s warned his sister not to look for him, but Rayne refuses to let her troubled brother vanish on the streets of LA. In her desperate search, she meets Gabriel Stewart, a runaway with mysterious powers and far too many secrets. Rayne can’t explain her crazy need to trust the strange yet compelling boy—to touch him—to protect him even though he scares her.

A fanatical church secretly hunts psychic kids—gifted “Indigo” teens feared to be the next evolution of mankind—for reasons only “the Believers” know. Now Rayne’s only hope is Gabe, who is haunted by an awakening power—a force darker than either of them imagine—that could doom them all.

I feel like I'm overdue for a good YA Paranormal/Science-Fiction read and Indigo Awakening might be just what the doctor ordered.  In our world, ''Indigo Children'' are considered gifted for being intuitive, sensitive & non-conformist.  I'm anxious to see the author's take on Indigo's in a dystopian/ fantasy setting.  The premise suggests psychic powers and when you add the fact that these kids are hunted by a fanatical church group sounds like a perfect mix of excitement & intrigue to me!

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?
Link me up :)