Friday, August 29, 2014

Review: Scorched

Scorched by Mari Mancusi
Scorched #1
Published September 3rd 2013 by SourceBooks

Don’t leave me here... It starts with a whisper. At first Trinity thinks she’s going crazy. It wouldn't be a big surprise—her grandpa firmly believes there’s a genuine dragon egg in their dusty little West Texas town. But this voice is real, and it’s begging for her protection. Even if no one else can hear it...

He’s come from a future scorched by dragonfire. His mission: Find the girl. Destroy the egg. Save the world.

He’s everything his twin brother Connor hates: cocky, undisciplined, and obsessed with saving dragons.

Trinity has no idea which brother to believe. All she has to go by is the voice in her head—a dragon that won’t be tamed.
An ARC was provided by SourceBooks in exchange for an honest review.*

Scorched is about dragons.  That's more or less all I needed to know for me to want to read it.  Well, not really but the blurb promised a dragon, a mix of sci-fi and time-travel and THAT was all it took for me to add it to my wishlist.  Though Scorched is set in the present day, thanks to a few select time-travelers from the future, we get some futuristic technology thrown into the mix, not to mention a few select glimpses of a harsh dystopian world-to-come... burnt by dragon fire. While it wasn't an absolutely perfect read, it was an exciting and quick one, that left me curious about what comes next.

Scorched is told in alternating point-of-vue, mainly featuring Trinity or Trin from the present day who unwittingly ends up with a real dragon egg in her possession.  Her story is quickly woven in with two twin boys from the future, Connor and Caleb who've travelled back in time, each with diverging missions.  Connor was sent back by a team determined to destroy this first dragon egg before dragon fire brings on the 'scorch' that devastated the future. Caleb on the other hand, was sent back by the Dracken, a group hell bent on saving the dragons. Of course being all for animal rights, magical or otherwise, you'd assume that Caleb would be the automatic favorite. But he's kind of a cocky jerk at first. And Connor who wants to kill the dragon instantly comes off more caring and layered. Eventually though, it becomes clear that neither boy is exactly as they seem.

I enjoyed all three of the main characters, and all the more as the story progressed.  Trinity was snarky, stubborn and had a good head on her shoulders.  She wasn't going to let some random boy (or twin boys) rule her heart at the drop of a hat.  Not surprisingly though, given the shared perspectives, there are hints of an impending love-triangle blooming.  I guess the name 'Trinity' could have been a hint there too ;)  As much as I usually cringe at the prospect, this one kind of has me wondering how everything will evolve.  I mean it's twins. And one girl.  Oh the drama...

Since most of the plot in Scorched takes place in the present day, the world building is minimal. The flashes to the future that we get are purposeful and well explained. They certainly paint a chilling landscape of things to come.  Since I do read and watch quite a bit of sci-fi, I felt like the actual timelines or time-continuum were a bit iffy in some places.  Like some things we were told about the future didn't add up to the reality of the present day.  I am willing to chalk it up to 'wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey, but unfortunately it wasn't only the time lines that I felt needed further explanation. There was also this thing called The Nether: a shared dragon consciousness where all dragons can visit and continue to live on in after death.  Really it was like a whole other world that people can travel too via gemstones.  The MC herself asked one of the boys to explain how it was possible and was dismissed.  I guess that like her, we had to suspend our disbelief and just go with it.  As much as I was fascinated with the entire thing, I was craving more information.  I would have needed at least some rules and world-building to satisfy my curiosity.  Similarly, telepathic abilities were readily used, with no real explanation as to when this happened.

Putting aside my compulsive need for all the details and world-building, I was fascinated by the dragons and their lore.  The tentative relationship between humans and dragons is fraught with conflict, but the similarities that are drawn between the two species and their possible coexistence was beautifully done.   It was also beyond fresh for me to have dragons in a modern day setting.  When I think of dragons, my mind seems to always go towards a medieval setting but the idea of dragons being discovered in modern times was a truly fascinating take on the classic creatures.

Despite my few minor issues, I really enjoyed Scorched.  The good guys and the bad guys weren't always easy to pinpoint and I like being kept guessing when it comes to people's true motives.  The trio of main characters were appealing, the dragons and their history was thrilling and I thought it worked nicely with the sci-fi/time-travel elements.   It did kind of bum me out that since both Caleb & Connor were from the future, they (obviously) ended up knowing a lot more about the situation than Trinity did.  It always seems to be the way in YA, the girl MC is forced into a dependant relationship with the guy(s) just because they conviniently have all the answers.  But other than that, I'm already looking forward to what will become of our heroes and the dragons!

Note: I know some that this is a pet-peeve for some readers, but instead of swearing with the usual four letter word we all enjoy, these guys used 'fleck'.  It was used quite sparingly, but I thought I ought to mention it nonetheless.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Harry Potter MotW #57

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.

  Scariest Place in the Books

Four places immediately came to mind when I started thinking about the scariest places we encounter throughout the Harry Potter series.  The Gaunts old house for one, because of  it's history and the people who lived there.  That place had a truly horrible feel to it when Harry and Dumbledore visit there through the Pensieve which has always stayed with me.  And let's be honest:  it was a big turning point for the creation of Tom Riddle Jr. himself and what he becomes - when he goes back as a young adult.

Then I thought about The Cave.  Riddle had his own brand of sick fun there in his youth and then considering what he actually stored there for awhile...o_O  And how he protected it with *shudders* the Inferi!  It was just as scary when Harry and Dumbledore got there...even though the Horcrux was already long gone. Sigh.

And of course there's The Chamber of Secrets. One word: Basilisk. Not convinced? Add Slytherin himself and his heir being able to summon/control said Basilisk into the equation.  Yup. Terrifying! O.O

But when all is said and done, I think the scariest place in the books has to be:


"They don't need walls and water to keep the prisoners in, not when they're trapped inside their own heads, incapable of a single cheerful thought. Most go mad within weeks." - Remus Lupin on Azkaban

Dementors.  All the time. All day. Every day.  Need I say more?  This place gives me chills just thinking about it!  Hagrid was terrified of the place, Sirius barely survived his stint there and if he hadn't been an animagus, he probably would not have been so 'lucky'.  Bellatrix was driven (even more) mad during her stay and while she may have deserved it, poor Hagrid and Sirius certainly did not. I don't think there's anywhere I can think off that gives me the creeps as much as Azkaban Prison!

More on Azkaban:
Azkaban, also known as Azkaban Prison, is a prison on an island in the middle of the North Sea. It serves the magical community of Great Britain. Using certain Charms, the prison is hidden from the muggle world, and is unplottable. It is thought to have undetectable extension charms placed on it (or similar types of magic) to make it bigger on the inside, as the prison seems to serve the whole of wizarding Britain. Although other wizarding prisons exist, such as Nurmengard (which was used exclusively to hold its creator Gellert Grindelwald), Azkaban is the only known fortress to be the "official" holding ground for wizarding criminals.
Azkaban gained a reputation as a horrible place, mostly due to the prison's guards: Dementors, foul creatures that suck the happiness out of the victim and cause great suffering to those near them. Because of this, most of the prisoners eventually went insane and slowly died under the Dementors' influence. Since 1717, using any of the three Unforgivable Curses on another human being has carried a punishment of a life sentence in Azkaban (unless there is sufficient evidence that the caster did so under the influence of the Imperius Curse, or legal exceptions made by the Ministry of Magic as in the case of Aurors in the First Wizarding War). Source: Harry Potter Wikia

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday *88*

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:

The Fires of Calderon by Lindsay Cummings
The Balance Keepers #1
Expected Pub Date: September 23 '14 by Katherine Tegen

The first book in an epic middle grade fantasy adventure series that takes place in an underground society at the center of the earth. Packed with action, humor, magic, and mystery.

After following a mysterious map into the woods and then under the woods, eleven-year-old Albert Flynn learns he’s a Balance Keeper—someone with special magical skills for fixing problems in three underground Realms at the Core of the earth. His new job is important; if the realms fall out of balance, the world above could be in great danger.

Albert and his Balance Keeper teammates Birdie and Leroy arrive in the Core not a moment too soon. There’s an Imbalance in the Calderon Realm and it’s threatening to bury Albert’s hometown of New York City in a mountain of ash.

The three must train hard completing mental and physical challenges, but above all, they must harness the power of their Tiles—unique superpowers given to each Balance Keeper. So far, Albert’s mastered the art of not mastering his Tile....

With the situation in Calderon growing worse every day, can Albert, Leroy, and Birdie restore balance before New York is destroyed forever? Will Albert master his Tile before it’s too late?
Oh Fires of Caldron, you had me at epic middle-grade fantasy!  Seriously though, magical powers, mysterious maps, children charged with keeping the world in balance...all of these things call out to me and make this one impossible to resist. I haven't even read it but I'm already dying to know how the series will grow and evolve from here!

What do you guys think about this one?
Let me know when you link me up to your posts.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Stacking the Shelves *39*

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).

Hi everyone! I have some nice new pretties to share with you today, so let's get to it:

Crown of Ice by Vicki L. Weavil, Storm Siren (Storm Siren #1) by Mary Weber, Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

All of these three were recent WoW picks for me - Crown of Ice is a fairytale retelling of 'The Snow Queen' featuring an less-than-pure hearted protagonist. Storm Siren boasts elemental magic and a lethally trained heroine. Red Queen features supernatural abilities, court-intrigue and rebellion. I'm actually done with Storm Siren (read my review here) and I'm excited to start in on other two in the near future.

I was also lucky enough to score this sweet looking middle-grade arc and a wishlist item as well:

Monstrous sounds perfectly spooky, with it's dark wizards, magic and scary things happening to girls after dark! I'm already dying to get started but since it only comes out in 2015, it'll have to wait a bit...As for Stolen Songbird, well I'd had it on my wishlist since before it came out, so when the author tweeted that it was on sale of $1.99, I couldn't resist!

AND.  I was very, very lucky recently because I won not one but two giveaways through some of my favorite bloggers!  First, I won a giveaway through the lovely Faith over at Student Spyglass for Harry Potter Month that went down in July. And the always awesome Aylee over at Recovering Potter Addict had a giveaway for her birthday, cause she's a sweetheart, and I was the lucky winner :D  Here are the prizes I picked for those:

Both of these are books I really should have read by now, but hey, I'm now one step closer to doing so now that I own copies, right? So many of my friends have loved Fire and Thorns and to be honest I've been wanting to read it since it first came out.  I'm very excited have it in my hands, especially with this^^ fierce cover!  And I've read nothing but rave reviews for The Lies of Locke Lamora so I definitely feel like I'm missing out on an awesome fantasy adventure. And that cover^^ is all kinds of gorgeous. Also? I think Nikki will be very happy about this and she might even start forgiving me for not reading it sooner now xD

HUGE thanks to Month9Books, Thomas Nelson Fiction, Orion & Harpercollins Children!

And once again, a million thanks to Faith & Aylee for being so generous ♥ You ladies rock! xx

Don't forget to link me up to your haul :)

Friday, August 22, 2014

Review: Storm Siren

Storm Siren by Mary Weber
Storm Siren #1
Published: August 19th 2014 by Thomas Nelson/HarperCollins
“I raise my chin as the buyers stare. Yes. Look. You don’t want me. Because, eventually, accidentally, I will destroy you.”
In a world at war, a slave girl’s lethal curse could become one kingdom’s weapon of salvation. If the curse—and the girl—can be controlled.
As a slave in the war-weary kingdom of Faelen, seventeen-year-old Nym isn’t merely devoid of rights, her Elemental kind are only born male and always killed at birth — meaning, she shouldn’t even exist.
Standing on the auction block beneath smoke-drenched mountains, Nym faces her fifteenth sell. But when her hood is removed and her storm-summoning killing curse revealed, Nym is snatched up by a court advisor and given a choice: be trained as the weapon Faelen needs to win the war, or be killed.
Choosing the former, Nym is unleashed into a world of politics, bizarre parties, and rumors of an evil more sinister than she’s being prepared to fight . . . not to mention the handsome trainer whose dark secrets lie behind a mysterious ability to calm every lightning strike she summons.
But what if she doesn’t want to be the weapon they’ve all been waiting for?
Set in a beautifully eclectic world of suspicion, super abilities, and monsters, Storm Siren is a story of power. And whoever controls that power will win.
*An ARC was provided by Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review.*

Storm Siren was one of those books that I knew I needed even before it came out.  I am a HUGE fan of elementals and elemental magic so that bit was a no-brainer.  The synopsis seemed original to boot with an elemental female who shouldn't exist being saved from a life of slavery and trained as a weapon to save kingdoms.  Despite all this promise though, Storm Siren ended up falling flat by focussing on a questionable 'romance' instead of elaborating on plot, villains and tying up loose ends.

Sigh, will I ever learn to not be lured in by the pretty covers?  I sure hope so because it seems like I'm on a bridge to nowhere with these debut novels lately.  Admittedly, Storm Siren started off promising enough, tying into the blurb nicely we got introduced to a broken and jaded MC with exceptional powers that she can't seem to control.  Elementals in this world are killed at birth, and what's more: there's never been a female elemental.  Like, ever.  Nym believes she is cursed and since she keeps being sold from slaver to slaver, it's obvious that her previous owners tend to agree. Until finally someone sees her for what she truly is and offers her a choice: train to become a weapon to defend Faelen from impending war or die. Obviously she chooses to begin training and that's where her whole life changes.

Within her lavish new owner's house, Nym is still a slave but being taught to control her curse makes it all worth it for her.  Soon she meets other people with gifts, and training together becomes their sole purpose - when their eccentric and cruel mistress isn't forcing them to attend extravagant parties as spies that is.    It's about at this point where Storm Siren began to falter. There's something of a budding love-hate relationship that begins to surface and takes up most of the story's focus.  The two main boys in the story become potential love interests with the classic nice guy being ignored while the MC focuses all her energies on the jerk who's only nice to her in between being jerky.  Notice that I avoided using the word ''romance'' because to me there was nothing remotely romantic about their interactions.  I'm sure some would disagree with me but it doesn't change how I felt reading this one.  

The best part of Storm Siren for me was in fact the elemental magic.  It's the reason I was attracted to the book to begin with and it's what I was hoping would be the main focus of the story.  Unfortunately, Nym's powers and their evolution seem to take a backseat for the better part of the story.  The elemental bits only really became front and center at the very end - with a few notable exceptions.  Sure we see her training a lot and struggling to harness her powers but all those scenes are tainted with supposed 'romantic' tension and frustrations.  It seemed to me that even the character development suffered by this relentless focus on building some sort of a love story.

As an MC, Nym was likeable enough but I would have liked her a lot better had the 'romance' been completely removed from the equation...or at least put on the sidelines.  I really enjoyed Colin though but I feel his character wasn't given the attention he deserved.  Colin's twin sister Breck was another character I liked but I found myself forgetting she was supposed to be the same age as Nym and Colin. For some reason she came off like she was around 10-11 years old instead of being a teen like the rest of them. And then there's Eogan. *groan*  Eogan didn't seem to be able to decide what the hell kind of a man he was.  He  oscillated from being a jerk to being something of a nice guy but I could never tell if he was lying or being sincere. Nym couldn't either but she seemed to have less of a problem with it than I did >.<

Similarly,  the world-building in Storm Siren was decent but it took a backseat to other points of interest. There were some nice descriptions of their surrounding areas as they moved around but even now I feel like I know little about Faelen and it's structure.  Nym was training to defend the people of Faelen but I found I didn't care much about the city and it's plight.  For whatever reason though, I kept reading.  I always hold out some hope that the ending might turn things around with a book like this.  The ending was action packed enough to keep my interest but when the dust settled, there were simply too many loose ends for me to feel satisfied.  And that twist right at the end was surely meant to build tension for a sequel but it only annoyed me further. Like WTF?!

Truth be told, Storm Siren had a lot of potential but the focus on lackluster romantic tension simply put me off.  It's not that I don't enjoy romance in my YA literature but I need it to have a nice flow, proper development and it's usually preferable for it to not take focus away from the main storyline.  Even the thrill of elemental magic couldn't save this one.

My Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Harry Potter MotW #56

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 Hogwarts House

This week is a free week, so I thought I'd try picking Favorite Hogwarts Houses.  To me, each of the four houses has it's own unique appeal.  Of course, ideally I'd want to get sorted into Gryffindor because it's Harry, Ron and Hermione's house. Not to mention Sirius, Lupin, Dumbledore and McGonagall.  Then, when I really thought about it, I always figured I'd get sorted into Ravenclaw - I've always been a geek, I love to read so naturally I assumed...

On the other hand, it admittedly took me awhile, but eventually I gained more appreciation for Hufflepuff and decided it wouldn't be a terrible thing to be sorted there...although I don't much care for having the common room be underground O.O  And sure, there is a certain coolness to Slytherin.  I definitely love their underwater rooms and house colours but then again, I'm not a fan of their pure-blood mania...

So I guess when everything is said and done, I'm happy that Pottermore sorted me into Gryffindor, even though I don't consider myself brave and reckless like they are. I'm definitely no athletic jock-type either and I don't think I'd really care about sporting events as much as they do.  Before Pottermore, I got sorted into Ravenclaw the most...Gryffindor second.  I would definitely have been happy to be sorted into Ravenclaw, even though they can be snooty and competitive in their own way. And despite all the bad rap Hufflepuff get, I think they're awesome.  They were the first house to stand up and fight alongside Harry and the rest of the Gryffindor crew at the Battle of Hogwarts, so I'd feel no shame if I was a 'Puff.  And I really like that they'll accept any sort of talent into their folds. Now even though I know all Slytherin aren't evil, and the fact that I usually tend to like the badass crew, I don't really identify with their values or I doubt I'd ever be sorted there. If so, I sure wouldn't be your typical Slytherin ;) 

Bottom line: my favorite house is probably still Gryffindor, but I think I'll always have a soft spot for Ravenclaw! 

**If you're looking for an in-depth analysis of all the Hogwarts Houses, head on over to Ula's post over at Blog of Erised.  She did a fantastic job with her post, which you can read here!**

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday *87*

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!

For those of you that know me, and/or follow me on Goodreads, Twitter or Instagram, this week's pick should come as no surprise:

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
The Raven Cycle #3
Expected Pub. Date: October 21, 2015 by Scholastic Press

There is danger in dreaming. But there is even more danger in waking up.

Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs.

The trick with found things though, is how easily they can be lost.

Friends can betray. Mothers can disappear. Visions can mislead. Certainties can unravel.
I just finished The Dream Thieves this Friday and I am quite literally besides myself.  I adored The Raven Boys straight away, but man, getting to know the boys, ESPECIALLY Ronan (♥!) this well?  Needless to say I kinda can't imagine my life without them at the moment. D:  It's bad guys.  I have to say though: as much as I adore Gansey, Adam, Noah and *sigh* Ronan, I loooove Blue to pieces as well, so I'm ecstatic that she will be front and center for the next installment!  And let's be honest; more Blue = more swoony Gansey moments! *sigh*  Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to pine some more xD

Who else is desperately longing for Blue Lily, Lily Blue???
Link me up. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

ARC Review: Heir of Fire

Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas
Throne of Glass #3
Expected Publication: September 2nd 2014 by Bloomsbury

Lost and broken, Celaena Sardothien’s only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan’s Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for what he did. Any hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn. Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King’s Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her, but her darkest demons lay in that same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan’s biggest threat – and his own toughest enemy.

While Celaena learns of her true destiny, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength not only to win her own battles, but to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she has grown to love?
*An ARC was provided by Bloomsbury in exchange for an honest review*

Heir of Fire is the insanely-anticipated next installment in the Throne of Glass Series and the follow-up to the explosive Crown of Midnight.  We all knew that CoM was a game-changer (that ending!! like, woah!) SO, fans of the series should go in expecting a somewhat different plot-line than the previous two.  Our beloved protagonist, Celaena - seriously guys, I can't even write her name without getting all the feels - is off to the faraway land of Wendlyn. Naturally, this puts some distance between her and the rest of the main characters.  Like Chaol. And Dorian.  Never fear though, the goddess that is Sarah J. Maas has you covered because we also get to follow what's happening in Adarlan... through the eyes of a heartbroken Chaol, and a confused Dorian.

I'm just going to pause here and let that sink in for the romance-fans of the series. 
Read: everyone. *sniff*

But seriously, as much as I longed for my favorite couple's reunion (C&C for ever!), Heir of Fire is, at it's core, a journey of discovery for Celaena. In Wendlyn, Celaena faces new obstacles, delves deeper into her past, her powers and her powers. She also meets new characters, all of which are freaking brilliant by the way *cough* ROWAN *ahem* but the focus remains on our protagonist: her past, her secret and her destiny.  It's here that SJM brilliantly weaves in mythology, magic and Celaena's transformation and everything.was.perfection.  I teared up multiple times throughout this entire book, as Celaena struggled with who she was and who she is, as she mourned her lost friend (not to mention dealing with her actions following that loss), as she ached for Chaol, and as she faced the past she has been trying to long to escape; and the powers she's trying so desperately to hide.  All of this was all so freaking powerful!  For all you Celaena fans out there: if you thought you couldn't love her more, you're in for a surprise! Wow.

Like I mentioned above, the story alternates from Celaena's point of view, to Chaol and Dorian... not to mention a select few new characters: Manon, Aedion and Rowan. I don't want reveal anything about the plot but I will say this: I adored every.single.character perspective we got, from beloved returning characters to new fiery ones alike. Not one of the new characters turn out to be exactly as they seem to be at the start. I admit that my favorite new character is probably Rowan, because of reasons, but Manon is certainly not to be ignored. She was fierce and honstely scary but also wickedly amazing! Aedion is another memorable one too, he's like a male version of Celaena - so what's not to like ;)

The layers that are revealed to us as the characters and the story takes shape is nothing short of spectacular and masterfully executed by Maas here.  As the scope of the story broadens with every new installment to her series, she continues to blow me away with not just the character development but with her world-building skills. Speaking of which: the magical system expands here beyond anything I could have imagined. While there's always been a fantasy element to the Throne of Glass books, it was more or less in the background - especially in The Assassin's Blade and Throne of Glass and to a lesser extent in Crown of Midnight.  With Heir of Fire though...we get to really dig into these aspects of the world  And let me tell you: I was riveted and I'm already craving more.

Since Heir of Fire is about double the size of it's predecessors, there ample time for setting the tone at the beginning here; going over the after-effects of the game changing ending from CoM, and introducing us to the new reality at hand. The pacing is another aspect of the story to gush over: as the story begins to fully take shape and the layers reveal themselves, it gets all the more exciting because you the pieces are clearly falling into place, not just for the plot of HoF, but for the story-arc of the entire series as a whole.  There is some subtle but serious foreshadowing going on here and the whole experience makes me wish the entire series was already out so that I could know ALL THE THINGS.  Which in turn made THAT ENDING (!!!) even more torturous! Gah! Man. This book guys!  I can't even with this book.  I want to gush and squee and cry and hug it out with ALL my fellow Throne of Glass fans and Celaena lovers of the world!

Sarah J. Maas delivers a masterful addition to her series with Heir of Fire that is equal parts heart-wrenching, addictive, intense and emotional. It's pretty much guaranteed to blow your freaking mind!  If you've made it through my intense fan-girling and praise up to this point and are still reading, I have one final thing to say: READ.THIS.BOOK.  And then come on over here again so we can cry, rave and have a loooong gush-fest about ALL of the AWESOME.

My Rating: 5! out of 5 stars ♥!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Harry Potter MotW #55

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.

  Character I'd trade places with for a day

Of course being me, there is more than one character in JKR's universe that I would willingly trade places with.  If it meant I could live within the Wizarding world, I would gladly trade with any number of them!  *swoon*  But yeah, here are my top picks:

Harry cause I want to know what it feels like to be THAT brave.

Ginny cause then I'd have Hary all to myself ♥ plus she's got some mad skills!

Dumbledore cause I want to know what it's like to be THAT brilliant. Who doesn't?!

Olivander cause I'd know all about wands and how to make them! #DreamJob

McGonagall cause she's BADASS. End of story.
^^ I seriously get chills watching her step in front of Harry like that :*)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday *86*

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 what I'm waiting on this week:

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Expected Publication: February 10th 2015 by Harper Teen

Mare Barrow's world is divided by blood--those with red and those with silver. Mare and her family are lowly Reds, destined to serve the Silver elite whose supernatural abilities make them nearly gods. Mare steals what she can to help her family survive, but when her best friend is conscripted into the army she gambles everything to win his freedom. A twist of fate leads her to the royal palace itself, where, in front of the king and all his nobles, she discovers a power of her own--an ability she didn't know she had. Except . . . her blood is Red.

To hide this impossibility, the king forces her into the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks her new position to aid the Scarlet Guard--the leaders of a Red rebellion. Her actions put into motion a deadly and violent dance, pitting prince against prince--and Mare against her own heart.
Supernatural abilities, class struggles, nobility, deceit, betrayal and war.  Man does Red Queen ever sound EPIC! Sure it sounds like there's a love triangle brewing between the MC and those two princes, but I'm willing to go along for the ride, if at least one of them draws me in. Ideally both! And hopefully the romance will take a backseat to the characters and court intrigue.  All in a mixture of both high fantasy and dystopian setting. So far Red Queen has been compared to a mix of Graceling, Game of Thrones and Divergent.  All I can say is: GIMME GIMME GIMME!

What are your thoughts on Red Queen?
Link me up to your WoW post and let me know in the comments below!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Review: Born of Corruption

Born of Corruption by Teri Brown
Born of Illusion 1.5 (novella)
Published May 6th 2014 by Balzer + Bray

Returning to the atmospheric and mysterious Jazz Age world of Born of Illusion, Teri Brown's Born of Corruption is a 64-page companion digital novella about what happens when New York City's most notorious socialites, mobsters, and bootleggers get together for a larger-than-life scavenger hunt . . . and someone gets killed.

Cynthia Gaylord, a vivacious blonde flapper and the niece of one of the most infamous mob bosses in New York City, loves scavenger hunts, and the one she's putting together for her best friend Anna's going-away party is going to be the swankiest one ever. But then, Anna Van Housen is no ordinary friend. She is reputed to be Harry Houdini's illegitimate daughter and a magician of the first order—and she possesses psychic powers.

Before Anna leaves for a European tour with her vaudeville company, Cynthia throws open the doors of her Gramercy Park mansion for a giant bash, but when one of the guests turns up dead, Cynthia and Anna must join forces to discover the truth. Who is the mysterious dead man? And which of Cynthia's guests could have killed him? Cynthia's relatives in the mob? Or someone related to the Society for Psychical Research, a shadowy group with a dangerous history? Cynthia and Anna have to find out who done it before the coppers are called in . . . something both Cynthia and Anna are eager to avoid.
*An ARC was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.*
This is a mini-review (of sorts) since Born of Corruption clocks in at around 60 pages but I still wanted to share my thoughts on it.  I'd really enjoyed the first book, Born of Illusion so I was looking forward to returning to Anna and her New-York flapper lifestyle.  Born of Corruption is meant to bridge the gap between book 1 and it's sequel Born of Deception that just came out so i figured now was the perfect time to dig in.

Born of Corruption mixes things up a bit - it's not told from our usual MC Anna's perspective but instead is told from Cynthia's.  Fans of Born of Illusion will remember Cynthia as one of Anna's friends, who incidentally has family ties to the Mob.  With Anna heading out to London soon, Cynthia decides to throw her a posh going-away party, in the form of a scavenger hunt around NYC.  The party gets cut short though when guests start dropping dead like flies.  Now Cynthia, Anna and the remaining, living, guests have to figure out who's responsible - the Mob, The Society for Psychical Research...or could it be someone else entirely?

On the plus side, it was fun to return to New York in the roaring 20's, even for a short while and it was an added bonus to get to see Anna from another character's perspective.  I always find that seeing the MC through someone else's eyes adds insight and depth to an already well-fleshed out character.  I found myself liking Anna even more than I already had.  I also enjoyed getting Cynthia's thoughts and perspective on things.  She's very different from Anna but I can see why the two of them became fast friends; they complement each other's personalities nicely.

The downside of some novellas though is that, after reading absolutely fantastic ones like The Assassin's Blade by Sarah J. Maas and Night of Cake & Puppets by Laini Taylor, you get used to novellas doing more than they used to, adding layers to the plot and scope to the world at hand.  Sadly, Born of Corruption reads like the novellas we were used to, before Maas and Taylor changed the game forever. What I mean to say is that, while entertaining enough, Born of Corruption isn't necessary reading material.  It's a enjoyable and quick read, but not much beyond that.

I think Born of Corruption is a entertaining way to get back in the swing of things and get ready for Born of Deception.  My only other complaint is that when the villain is finally uncovered, he does the usual ''bad guy speech where he reveals all his plans to the MC because he thinks he's home free'' -thing. I mean I get that it's a way for the reader to connect the dots, but I wish sometimes the heroes would just find proof to what the bad guy was up to in another way, and save us from this all-too familiar plot device.  Nitpicking aside, I had fun with this one and it definitely got me in the mood for book two!  Fans of Born of Illusion will no doubt enjoy this quick romp with the flappers in New York before heading out to London ;)

My Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Harry Potter MotW #54

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 Romantic Moment

This is one of those rare instances where I had an answer the minute I saw the topic this week.  I already know I'm in the minority here with my mad love for these two, but I don't care.  This my ship and I will go down with it!

Harry & Ginny's First Kiss

Now I'm not talking about that awful, awkward movie kiss, where Ginny has no fire, and she kisses Harry, who doesn't even seem to know WHAT's going on. No. Just no.  I mean the gorgeous book kiss, where they're in front of the ENTIRE Gryffindor Common Room and Harry kisses Ginny like he means it and they're both so intense about it...they just melt the entire Hogwarts Castle with their passion. Yup, THAT kiss.

"… Without thinking, without planning it, without worrying about the fact that fifty people were watching, Harry kissed her."

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday *85*

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 what I'm waiting on this week:

Burned by Karen Marie Moning
Fever Series #7, Dani O'Malley #2
Expected Publication: January 20th 2015 by Delacorte Press

MacKayla Lane and Dani “Mega” O'Malley are back with a vengeance in Burned, the seventh novel in the blockbuster Fever series.

Burned picks up right where the surprising conclusion of Iced left off, and will feature beloved characters Mac and Dani O'Malley as they embark on another high-octane adventure in the Fever World.

I have a confession to make: I still haven't read Iced, the first Dani O'Malley book in the Fever Series (and 6th book overall). But I have my reasons: See, I became ridiculously obsessed with the Fever Series when I first read them.  If I had read them as they were published, I would NOT have survived the wait between books. Especially when it came down to the last 3. I.would.have.DIED.  So knowing that, I kind of want to wait till all the Dani O'Malley books come out too so I won't suffer too, too much. I'll be honest though, now that the wait Burned isn't so torturous, I'm having a really hard time convincing myself to wait any longer! I couldn't even wait for them to do up a proper synopsis for this one before featuring it as my WoW pick. Seriously, I am jonesing.

Any fellow Fever Series fans out there? NO Iced spoilers!
Let me know when you link me up to your WoW posts ;)

Friday, August 1, 2014

ARC Review: Gates of Thread and Stone

Gates of Thread and Stone by Lori M. Lee
Gates of Thread and Stone #1
Expected Publication: August 5th 2014 by Skyscape

In the Labyrinth, we had a saying: keep silent, keep still, keep safe.

In a city of walls and secrets, where only one man is supposed to possess magic, seventeen-year-old Kai struggles to keep hidden her own secret—she can manipulate the threads of time. When Kai was eight, she was found by Reev on the riverbank, and her “brother” has taken care of her ever since. Kai doesn't know where her ability comes from—or where she came from. All that matters is that she and Reev stay together, and maybe one day move out of the freight container they call home, away from the metal walls of the Labyrinth. Kai’s only friend is Avan, the shopkeeper’s son with the scandalous reputation that both frightens and intrigues her.

Then Reev disappears. When keeping silent and safe means losing him forever, Kai vows to do whatever it takes to find him. She will leave the only home she’s ever known and risk getting caught up in a revolution centuries in the making. But to save Reev, Kai must unravel the threads of her past and face shocking truths about her brother, her friendship with Avan, and her unique power.
*An ARC was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

Gates of Thread and Stone was easily one of my most-anticipated new releases this year. The idea that the main character could manipulate the threads of time held all kinds of promise and the story itself really came off sounding like nothing I'd come across before. Unfortunately, from the first pages I had some concerns about the world-building (or lack thereof) and as the story progressed, as much as I wanted to ignore the other issues that I came across and focus on the good stuff, it became impossible.  Still, I held out hope that the ending would bring everything together and wow me...but man, that ending just muddled things up even more and I was left feeling largely let down.

Gates of Thread and Stone starts off by introducing us to Kai, the protagonist in her day-to-day life. She lives with her adoptive brother Reev in a building structure known is The Labyrinth.  It's a sort of a maze of storage units where the poor people of the city live.  Kai and Reev have been together since Reev rescued Kai abandoned by a river when she was around 7 years old.  She has no memories of her life before then or of any possible family outside of Reev so she and Reev have always stuck together.  It's better to have someone in a city like this, which is ruled by an oppressive and lethal tyrant, Nimu. Nimu is the only being supposed to have any sort of magical abilities...except that that's not quite true.  Ever since Kai can remember, she's had the ability to manipulate the threads of time.  A power she must keep secret if she wants to survive.  Soon though, her quiet existence is threatened when Reev suddenly goes missing and Kai is willing to sacrifice it all to find him again. So she sets off with the help of her friend Avan, a cute shopkeeper from her neighborhood.

In the world of Gates of Thread and Stone, you're only safe within the walls of the city.  Apparently the rest of the world was devastated by some cataclysmic event  hundreds of years ago and outside the walls is this massive forest and then further out, something known as 'The Void' which is more or less a vast wasteland. There might be more people elsewhere in the world, but the people of the city don't know, nor do they seem to want to know.  So when Kai and Avan have searched the city to no avail, they learn that Reev might have been taken by a mythical Dark Rider who legend has it lives within The Void, they venture out beyond the walls to find him. There was this big build up to them leaving the safety of the walls surrounding the city...  and by 'big' I don't mean lengthy, I mean it was clear that this was a BIG deal. So, I was expecting vivid imagery and lots of details of this wild new world.

The problem is, none of it was ever fully fleshed out.  We never get more than a few paragraphs on what actually caused all the devastation, which made it hard to get a sense of what the characters were dealing with here.  Then they set out and within a few sentences of them having left the city, they're already at this supposed vast forest.  Again, we get next to no details about their surroundings and in a matter of seconds, they've already crossed this 'massive' forest and have made it to 'The Void'.  Here the only thing we learn is that it's foggy and apparently they need to 'become lost in order to find what they're looking for'. And then, BAM: they find themselves right where they need to be! All these events should have taken up like a huge chunk of the book but it all happened ridiculously fast. There was virtually no world-building and that is a pretty big issue for me.  I mean, I don't need epic-fantasy level world-building in YA novels... but I do need some. When we do get details on the world, they were usually info-dumps that seemed to randomly be thrown into the MC's current train of thought.

As for the plot of Gates of Thread and Stone, well there was a lot of promising elements but none were properly utilized. There was the quest aspect to rescue Reev. Once they find out where he is, they need to organize a sort of rescue mission, which involved Kai and Avan getting self defence training - which was kind of cool. The mystery of Kai's powers was another promising aspect. Her actual abilities were fascinating but since no one is supposed to have magic, she has to keep it secret as much as possible.  I was curious to find out why she had powers in the first place, given that no one but the ruler is supposed to have magic.  The rescue mission and all the mysteries finally come to a head at the end, but instead of meshing together and become one giant, epic finale, it all ended up not fitting together the way it ought to.  Then there was one twist thrown in after another which frankly, made the believability factor go way down, even for a fantasy read.  If the ending had wowed me, I think it could have saved the book but instead it had the opposite effect.

The characters themselves were likeable enough.  Kai was brave but stubborn.  Her devotion to her 'brother' should have won her some points but to be honest, at times it felt a tad obsessive.  I mean I get that she has no one else, but it made her oblivious to everything and everyone else around her. Including Avan.  Avan was likeable enough in his own but I never was able to shake how random it was that he tagged along with Kai given the state of their relationship at the start. That bit does get explained at the end but it still felt a little too convenient.  There's something of a romance too that develops as well, but with Kai so focused on Reev, she apparently couldn't see the signs of this guy's feelings for her. I can't reveal much else about any other characters since their...nature could make any talk of them kind of spoilery. Needless to say, it's another aspect that felt haphazardly thrown in to an already eclectic mix.

I had such high hopes for Gates of Thread and Stone, and while it did hold some promise with the heroine's ability to manipulate the threads of time, a potential quest and a romance, but the bottom line is it never fully settled into a nice flow with a believable progression of events.  That, combined with a lack of proper world-building and character development made this one a pretty big letdown. I wish the ending had turned things around but sadly this story was not to be saved.

My Rating: 2 out of 5 stars :(