Tuesday, December 31, 2013

I Solemnly Swear...2014 Bookish Resolutions

This is the 2nd part in my '13-'14 post-blitzIf you missed it, check out my 2013 wrap-up
featuring my absolute favorite books of the past year

Happy New Year Everyone!! And you all know what that means: time for bookish resolutions for 2014! While I'm not always great at actually keeping these goals, I think it's fun to make up these kinds of lists and read what other people are planning for the new year :D

Here are the books I feel like I NEED to read next year - these are not limited to just upcoming new releases (that will be another post altogether) but just a collection of books I'm pretty much dying to read a.s.a.p:

*Click covers for links to Goodreads*

Some of these are kind of embarrassing to have on here cause I think I might be the only blogger left that hasn't read them *blushes* but hopefully that will all change in '14 and I can proudly tell you all about it in 2015 :D

You can also add Throne of Glass # 3 by the incredible Sarah J. Maas to the top of this list - though it doesn't have a cover yet...or a title.  What's up with that?! Wanh, I need some tiny morsel to appease me. *pouts*

Anyway, I also thought I'd share some of the existing series I plan on catching up on in the new year - I'm only showing the covers for the books I still need to read in the series. Click the series title link to see each series in it's entirety:
The Covenant Series

The Charley Davidson Series 

The Mistborn Series

2013 was the year I vowed not to buy as many books so I could finally read those I already own.  And then BEA happened and I added tons more to my shelf. So, while I successful in not buying too many books this year, I still added to my collection. For 2014, I'm actually hoping to BUY ALL THE BOOKS  o.O  *ahem* but yeah what's the point of working 6 days a week if I can't have some rewards right?!   I also plan on making a dent in a lot of the books collecting dust on my shelves.  I realize I'm being ridiculously optimistic here...so we'll how it goes haha >.<

As far as Blogging Resolutions, I want to relaunch some of my discussion/fangirling features...I really let things slide at the end of the year there because real life kept getting in the way, in terms of work and some pet related sadness - we said goodbye to our beloved cat Suzy who had been a part of the family for almost 16 years ♥  Needless to say, my blogging and socializing (via Twitter,  Goodreads and the like) took a hit...

Oh and I also plan on having more giveaways!!  Now that I'm working so much, the funding shouldn't be an issue much longer so I can finally give back to my amazing friends and supporters XOXOX

Thoughts? Do you have any bookish goals for the new year?
*Stay tuned for my final post for this '13-'14 extravaganza 
featuring books coming out in 2014 I'm especially looking forward to

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Stacking the Shelves *30*

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly feature hosted by Tynga's Reviews showcasing new books we've gotten a hold of (bought/given/gifted/trade/for review).

I hope everyone had a wonderful Holiday - and lots of bookish goodies!  As usual, my actual holiday book haul consisted mostly of gift cards & cash. So that means, I'll be doing my Holiday StS posts later... as the books arrive in the mail :D This week is mostly dedicated to review copies,  with one very exciting wishlist item:

First of all I'd like to thank the lovely Lee @ Rally the Readers for the copy of Raven Boys! She remembered that I'd gotten a copy of book #2 at BEA this year but I still hadn't gotten my hands on the first one so she very generously sent it out to me!!   After the End sounds like a unique post-apocalyptic adventure.  Into the Dark is a magical fantasy...and you know how much I love those ;) The Falconer has an assassin, the Fay and is a historical set in Scotland (♥!!)  Finally, The Seers is the follow up to last year's The Holders.  While I'd had some issues with the first book, I still thought the series had some potential.  Now that I know what to expect, I'm curious to see how I'll like this one.

What do you think about the goodies I got this week?
 I promise I'll have some more Holiday bookish goodness in the coming weeks ;)
Don't forget to link me up to YOUR haul!

Friday, December 27, 2013

2013 Year End Wrap-Up

This is the 1st part in my '13-'14 post blitz.  Stay tuned for parts 2 & 3.

It's that time again: time to recap all the wonderful bookish things that went down in 2013!  This year was my first full-year blogging and it was quite an amazing one at that.  Lots of bookish memories, amazing books read, blogging goals and new friends made along the way:

~* Memorable Moments *~

This year had two HUGE stand-outs for me.  The first one is, predictably, being able to go to New York City (for the first time) and attend Book Expo America '13.  Authors are like rock stars for most of us so getting the opportunity to meet so many of them, not to mention so many amazing bloggers & bookish people along the way... ♥  - I have no words, but it truly meant the world to me.  Easily one of the highlights of my entire life!

The second stand out this year passed by without my realizing it, mostly because I was insanely busy with real life (D'oh!) : my blogoversary was September 13th!  I'd wanted to do a giveaway and have some sort of a celebration on here but I never got the chance.  Anyways, it was pretty cool to clue in that I'd been blogging for over a year already.  It's become such a staple in my life that I can hardly remember what I did before this!

~* Favorite Books Read in 2013 *~

This year had more flops for me as far as books read.  I had fewer than usual stand-out books and a lot more average to bad ones... but 2013 also had some pretty spectacular wins as well:

*Click cover for Goodreads*

~* Goals Accomplished *~

These are the books and/or authors I'd set out to read this year - they were actually part of my 2013 bookish resolutions and featured here on the blog as ones I felt I *needed* to read for the year:

*Click cover for Goodreads*

I actually thought I'd only read 1-2 off the list since I focused on review books for most of the year so I'm quite pleased that I get to cross some off my list! 

~* Props for 2013 *~

I also made some new bloggy friends in 2013 too that I feel deserve a shout out.  I loved visiting these blogs throughout the year & chatting books : Leah @ Uncorked Thoughts, Ula @ Blog of Erised, Mel @ The Daily Prophecy, Ransom Reads, Kelsey's Cluttered Bookshelf & Picture Me Reading are but a few of all the lovely blogs I discovered this year - if I forgot to mention you, it's either because I was already loving you in 2012...or because my memory sucks >.<

Thoughts?  I'd love to know what some of your favorite reads were this year!
Stay tuned for Bookish Resolutions for 2014 & 
what books I'm most excited for in the New Year!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Review: The Assassin and the Desert

The Assassin and the Desert by Sarah J. Maas
Throne of Glass #0.2
Published March 30th 2012 by Bloomsbury 

A Throne of Glass novella.

The Silent Assassins of the Red Desert aren’t much for conversation, and Celaena Sardothien wouldn’t have it any other way. She’s not there to chatter, she’s there to hone her craft as the world’s most feared killer for hire. When the quiet is shattered by forces who want to destroy the Silent Assassins, Celaena must find a way to stop them, or she’ll be lucky to leave the desert alive.
The Assassin and the Desert is the second of the Throne of Glass prequel novellas and it will come as no surprise to anyone that I loved this one too.  In fact, I think I enjoyed it even more than the first novella! This story adds even further depth to Celaena's already impressive back story by exploring a time where she was she was shown a better way of living - as an assassin that is.  I adored the setting and the new characters introduced in The Assassin and the Desert and I'm already eager to move on to the next novella!

In this adventure, Celeana travels to the distant Red Desert to train with a group of Silent Assassins who live in commune there.  Her reasons for traveling there are a direct result of the events that unfolded in the first novella and I loved the continuity at play here: it makes the novellas read more like four smaller adventures taking place within the same larger story arc.  Once Celaena is taken in by these assassins, she is given one month to impress the Master - the leader of the Silent Assassins, and convince him to train her personally.  As she begins to know the ways of these desert-dwelling assassins, she is soon forced to choose between friends and defending the assassins from a menacing threat.

Have I mentioned how much I LOVE desert settings for stories?!  There's just something about the exoticness of it, coupled with the drastic climates that makes the whole idea of having an adventure there both wildly dangerous and mysteriously alluring.  Anyways, coming off the heels of Celaena's previous run in with pirates just felt all kinds of right.  In fact, it was pretty perfect.

The Silent Assassins were an awesome addition as well, especially in this setting; it seemed to give them an added mystique! I enjoyed how they all lived together and seemed like a genuine family - despite their line of work.  The Master was a favorite of mine though, I wish he and Celaena would have had even more time together.  He was wise and serene in a way that's hard to put into words...but I loved him!   The Master taught Celaena was brilliant as well;  I loved how all his lessons clicked into place at the end there.  It's clear that his techniques stay with Celaena from that point on.

The Assassin and the Desert was another winning offering by Sarah J. Maas, who at this point, never ceases to amaze me.  The combination of the setting and the way the story delved further into Celaena as the main character was superb - there was a lot of foreshadowing of things to come further in the ToG series so I definitely recommend this one to fans of the series!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Harry Potter MotW #23

Harry Potter Moment of the Week 

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme hosted over at Uncorked Thoughts. The idea is to share a favorite moment, magical item, character, spell, quote, object from the books, films or J.K.Rowling herself! Upcoming topics & how to join here.

  Who would you most like to share a wand core with?

Well, for those of you who know my complete and utter love and devotion to Harry Potter himself; not to mention my fascination with the phoenix, this will come as no surprise:

Harry Potter's Wand
Holly with Phoenix Feather Core

I think that Harry's wand core coming from Fawkes the Phoenix is just plain awesome.  That bit probably makes me want to share a wand core with him even more; you know, for when we all head out to Olivander's...once our letters come in!  *ahem* Anyways, I thought it was so brilliant how JKR made Harry's and Tom Riddle's wands brothers - it explains why Harry's specific wand chose him, like it knew Harry would step up and challenge Voldemort.  That little detail also saved Harry's skin more than once!

It just so happens that that is the very core I got on Pottermore: Hawthorn with a Phoenix feather core (10 and 3/4 inches, surprisingly swishy haha)

-More on the Phoenix wand core:
This is one of the rarest core types. Phoenix feathers are capable of the greatest range of magic, though they may take longer than either unicorn hair or dragon heartstring cores to reveal this. They show the most initiative, sometimes acting of their own accord, a quality that many witches and wizards dislike. 
Phoenix feather wands are always the pickiest when it comes to potential owners, for the creature from which they are taken is one of the most independent and detached in the world. These wands are the hardest to tame and to personalize, and their allegiance is usually hard won. -Harry Potter Wikia

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday *62*

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by  Breaking the Spine which spotlights upcoming book releases that we're especially looking forward to!

Here's my pick this week:

A Breath of Frost by Alyxandra Harvey
The Lovegrove Legacy #1
Expected Publication: January 7th 2014

In 1814, three cousins-Gretchen, Emma, and Penelope-discover their unknown family lineage of witchcraft. Beyond the familiar manicured gardens and ballrooms of Regency London, a dangerous, alluring new underworld visible only to those with power is now open to the cousins.
But unbeknownst to them, by claiming their power, the three cousins have inadvertently opened the gates to the Underworld.
Now the dead, ghouls, hellhounds-and the most terrifying of all: the spirits of dark witches known as the Greymalkin Sisters-are hunting and killing young debutante witches for their powers.
And, somehow, Emma is connected to the murders...because she keeps finding the bodies.
Can the cousins unravel the clues and mystery behind their heritage and power before their gifts are stripped away ...or even worse, another witch is killed?
Witches in Victorian London.  Need I say more?  Ok ok, I also really dig how the mere fact that the cousins claim their power actually opens the freaking gates of hell!!  Eeep O.O  I can't wait to sink my teeth into this story - AND discover that secret magical underworld.

What do you think about A Breath of Frost?
Link me up to you WoW posts lovelies ♥

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Review: Magic Marks the Spot

Magic Marks the Spot by Caroline Carlson
The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates
Published September 10th, 2013 by Harper Collins

Hilary Westfield has always dreamed of being a pirate. She can tread water for thirty-seven minutes. She can tie a knot faster than a fleet of sailors, and she already owns a rather pointy sword.

There's only one problem: The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates refuses to let any girl join their ranks of scourges and scallywags.

But Hilary is not the kind of girl to take no for answer. To escape a life of petticoats and politeness at her stuffy finishing school, Hilary sets out in search of her own seaworthy adventure, where she gets swept up in a madcap quest involving a map without an X, a magical treasure that likely doesn't exist, a talking gargoyle, a crew of misfit scallywags, and the most treacherous—and unexpected—villain on the High Seas.
**An ARC was provided by Harper Collins in exchange for an honest review.**
 Magic Marks the Spot is the first book in The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates series by author Caroline Carlson.  Being a huge lover of both middle-grade fiction and pirates, I jumped at the chance to get my hands on a review copy.  Magic Marks the Spot is a promising debut, offering up a host of lovable characters and adorable humor.  I did find the plot to be a little on the light side but I think Miss Carlson made up for it by featuring a positive take on gender roles, which I applaud whole-heartedly. 

The story starts off with our wonderful main character Hilary, as she write a letter to a famous Pirate organization in hopes of joining their ranks.  She promptly receives a letter welcoming her aboard.  Further correspondences between the two parties end up bringing to light that Hilary is, in fact, a girl and it so happens that 'The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates' has a strict 'no girls policy'.  Girls have no place on pirate ships after all!  The League end up forwarding Hilary's letter to Miss Pimm's Finishing School (for Delicate Ladies)  instead - where all proper young ladies belong, of course.  Hilary's parents couldn't be happier that their daughter is off to the best finishing school around, but Hilary will stop at nothing to escape 'proper society'...for a life of piracy.

As an MC, Hilary was impossible not to root for.  Her love of adventure (and pirates!), her kind heart and her determination made her stand out in a truly unique way. She was never stubborn or frustrating either, she came off in an entirely positive light for me.  My favorite thing about her was how she refused to give upon her dream of being a pirate. She never once thought to let that ''no-girls'' rule stop her either.  She was determined to prove that being a girl had nothing to do with one's ability to be a good pirate!

As a whole though, I think all of the characters in Magic Marks the Spot were perfectly quirky and endearing. The Gargoyle, Hilary's main companion was an obvious favorite! His humor and snarky remarks kept a smile on my face throughout.  The band of pirates, led by Jasper were always good fun, with their crazy schemes and silly banter. Hilary's Governess and the character development she went through from the beginning of the book until the end was a nice twist as well. 

Despite it's promising start, loveable characters and humor, the plot unfortunately left a little something to be desired.  Simply put, there just wasn't enough meat to it to hold my interest as much as I would have liked.  When I think about all my favorite stories that involve pirates or swashbuckling of any kind, there tends to be a fair share of danger involved - even when those stories are written for a younger audience.  It just wasn't the case with Magic Marks the Spot; I never felt any true sense of a deeper sub-plot or that exhilaration that comes with those truly suspenseful scenes.  As much as I consider myself a huge character reader, I am also a huge high-fantasy reader so plot development is a biggie too so I was a bit let down in that respect.

Bottom line though, Magic Marks the Spot was still  an entertaining and worthwhile read.  I'd certainly be on board to reading any sequels that might be in store because I think the story has potential to grow into something truly wonderful.  The characters and the humor were major selling points for me and combined with a little girl-power made it all the more enjoyable!  I'd recommend it to middle-grade readers with a taste for piracy ;)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Harry Potter MotW #22

Harry Potter Moment of the Week 

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme hosted over at Uncorked Thoughts. The idea is to share a favorite moment, magical item, character, spell, quote, object from the books, films or J.K.Rowling herself! Upcoming topics & how to join here.

  Which of the magical schools would you attend?

I remember when Goblet of Fire came around, and we learned that there were other magical schools out there besides Hogwarts.  Like everyone I'm sure, I was thrilled and exceedingly curious to learn more about Beauxbatons and Durmstrang.  I wondered how they were different from Hogwarts and in what ways they might have been the same.  To be honest though, as curious as I was about those other schools, that's all it ever was: curiosity.  My heart will always belong to:


 How could any other magical school out there compare to this one?!  We discovered all of it for the first time right along with Harry!  We were overwhelmed by it's size and scope but at the same time it felt oddly welcoming and familiar.  We spent 7 years exploring it's multiple secret rooms and hidden passages just knowing we could spend a lifetime there and still not have unraveled all of it's mysteries ♥  

About Hogwarts:
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is a British wizarding boarding school teaching the magical arts, located in Scotland[1] inside Hogwarts Castle. The castle is in the mountains near a loch. The precise location of the school can never be uncovered because it has been rendered Unplottable.
Established around the 9th or 10th century, Hogwarts is considered to be one of the finest magical institutions in the wizarding world, though other notable schools include Beauxbatons Academy of Magic and the Durmstrang Institute. Children with magical abilities may be enrolled at birth, and acceptance is confirmed by owl post at age eleven.

The school's motto is Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus and is in Latin, which translates to "Never tickle a sleeping dragon".
-Harry Potter Wikia

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday *61*

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by  Breaking the Spine which spotlights upcoming book releases that we're especially looking forward to!

Here's my pick this week:

Cress by Marissa Meyer
Lunar Chronicles # 3
Expected Publication: February 4th, 2014

Rapunzel’s tower is a satellite. She can’t let down her hair—or her guard.

In this third book in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, who has been trapped on a satellite since childhood with only her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker—unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing stop her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only ones who can.
Predictably, I'm going with the next installment in Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles this week, having just finished Scarlet, which I wholeheartedly enjoyed!  I can't wait to see where this story will go next, how Cress will fit into the mix with Cinder and Scarlet...and how Rapunzel's tale will weave in with Little Red Riding Hood's and Cinderella's!

Have you read Cress yet? If so, how much did you love it?
If not, are you like me: itching to get your hands on it? :)
Oh and don't forget to link me up to your WoW posts!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Review: Scarlet

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
Lunar Chronicles #2
Published February 5th 2013 by Feiwel and Friends

Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She's trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she'll be the Commonwealth's most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit's grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn't know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother's whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.
Scarlet is the much raved-about second installment in the Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer.  After waiting far too long to continue on with the sequel, I finally took the plunge and I couldn't be happier that I did!  Scarlet is every bit as good as Cinder was but I found myself even more impressed with the addition of another classic fairytale was weaved into an already richly imagined world.

With Scarlet, we are once again taken to a futuristic Earth with cyborgs and Lunars.  Since Cinder's story as our cyborg Cinderella isn't finished, she makes a return to the scene here as well.  Only this time, her story gets combined with Little Red Riding Hood's.  Enter Scarlet herself as a fiery protagonist living in France with her grand-mère.  At least, she was...until her grandmother went missing weeks ago.  Determined to find her at all costs, Scarlet finds herself joining up with Wolf -  a furtive street-fighter. As they begin to unravel the mystery of her missing grandmother, they begin to realize that this goes way beyond anything they'd ever imagined.  When Cinder & Scarlet's worlds finally collide, both will be rocked to the core.

I have to say:I am truly amazed, not only at Marissa Meyer's ability to imagine these fairytales in a completely different setting and tone BUT especially at the way she tied Cinderella & Little Red Riding Hood together in the same world! The way it all ends up fitting together is truly stunning to behold.  It makes me all the more eager to get my hands on Cress and the rest of the upcoming books in the series to see how they'll all mesh together...and how all these updated and kick-ass heroines will team up :D

Scarlet herself is an amazing MC.  She's fearless, stubborn and fiercely protective.  Her affection for her grand-mère was especially relatable to me and it just made me love her even more.  I found that she complemented Cinder beautifully.  They're both strong females but in pretty different ways - Cinder is more level-headed and reserved, where Scarlet was all fire and impulses.  I also really enjoyed Wolf, even though he frustrated me immensely for a while there...I won't say any more but yeah, I wanted to punch him a few times. The romance that develops was bordering on insta-lovey but it was more of an attraction brought about by circumstance, so it didn't really bother me.  Plus it never took over the plot; there was enough other stuff going on to just sit down and enjoy the ride.

Plot-wise, Scarlet was not only well-crafted, but a truly engaging read.  I was just as interested in Scarlet's side of the story as I was in Cinder's.  I liked that we usually got more than one chapter for each POV, so you don't feel like the story switches just when things are getting good. Every bit of the story was suspenseful and captivating - I needed to keep turning the pages no matter how long I'd been reading and I finished the book feeling more invested in this story than ever!  I can not wait to get my hands on Cress.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Harry Potter MotW #21

Harry Potter Moment of the Week 

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme hosted over at Uncorked Thoughts. The idea is to share a favorite moment, magical item, character, spell, quote, object from the books, films or J.K.Rowling herself! Upcoming topics & how to join here.

  Favorite quote

Whaaa?!?!  Just one quote?  Out of this entire series?!  Can I just cheat and say my favorite quote is the entire book 7 and leave it at that?  Nah, just kidding...I do have quite a few favorite quotes (as you can imagine) but I think my favorite one of all is:
''I am not worried, Harry'' said Dumbledore, his voice a little stronger despite the freezing water. ''I am with you''.

*cries all the tears*

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday *60*

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by  Breaking the Spine which spotlights upcoming book releases that we're especially looking forward to!

Here's my pick this week:

Promise of Shadows by Justine Ireland
Expected Publication: March 11th 2014

Zephyr Mourning has never been very good at being a Harpy. She’d rather watch reality TV than learn forty-seven ways to kill a man, and she pretty much sucks at wielding magic. Zephyr was ready for a future pretending to be a normal human instead of a half-god assassin. But all that changes when her sister is murdered—and she uses a forbidden dark power to save herself from the same fate.

Zephyr is on the run from a punishment worse than death when an unexpected reunion with a childhood friend (a surprisingly HOT friend) changes everything. Because it seems like Zephyr might just be the Nyx, a dark goddess made flesh that is prophesied to change the power balance. For hundreds of years the half-gods have lived in fear, and Zephyr is supposed to change that.

But how is she supposed to save everyone when she can’t even save herself?
I'm sorry, but did I just read 'dark goddess'?!  And you all know how much I adore mythology of any kind but when you combine the gods with assassins, harpies and magic - I couldn't possibly resist.  Nope, sorry it's just not going to happen!  I am hoping that the romantic element hinted at in the blurb won't be of the insta-love variety or take over the plot though...I'd like my myths and 'dark goddess goodness' front and center please! ;-)

Thoughts?  Let me know + link me up to your WoW posts lovelies ♥