Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday *72*

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!

I'm pretty sure that my choice this week will come as no surprise to anyone:

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?
*It'sssss mine....my own...my prrrecioussss*

*ahem* *coughs*

Err, sooo yeah.  Heir of Fire has a cover and was it ever worth the wait! There was no way I wasn't reshuffling my entire WoW schedule to feature it this week.  It is stunning. I am drooling.  I want it, nay need it it my life.  Right now. Accio Heir of Fire! *waves wand around* *waits*
...
...
dammit!

In all seriousness though, I'm in love with this one already guys.  I love the choice of green, even after they tricked us with all the purple promo stuff hehe. The switch from Celaena's dual swords to a bow and arrow hints at some elvish type secrets to be revealed and I HAVE TO KNOW ALL ABOUT IT!!

Ok so, clearly I'm incapable of reigning in my inner fangirl at the moment, so I'll just stop now. O.O

Are YOU excited for Heir of Fire? Please gush in the comments below ♥
Don't forget to link me up!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Review: Allegiant

Allegiant by Veronica Roth
Divergent #3
Published October 22nd, 2013 by Katherine Tegen Books

The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.
Allegiant is the conclusion to the Divergent Trilogy, a series of books that I that I was a huge fan of.  As you can imagine, I've had Allegiant on my wishlist since before it even had a cover...or a title even.  Why then, did I wait so long to finally get into it?  Well to be honest, I feel like a part of me sort of fell out of love with the series.  I'd adored Divergent when it came out and subsequently plowed through Insurgent which at the time I'd enjoyed almost as much as it's predecessor.  As the weeks passed though, I remember thinking back to certain aspects of the story (and it's characters) and becoming frustrated or annoyed.   So when Allegiant arrived late last year and I waited.  While part of me hoped the series would go out with a bang and blow me away, another part worried that this might be one of those times where a reader and a series just don't see eye to eye anymore.  In any case, I'm a huge mood reader and figured I might as well wait till the right mood strikes me...and recently, it did.  I went in with what I hoped was a clear head - I'd avoided most reviews and chit-chat about it  so I was completely unspoiled to the plot... and that ending...

Here's the scoop: Allegiant starts off right on the heels of the HUGE revelation dropped on us at the end of Insurgent.  Since my favorite part of Insurgent was indeed that killer ending, I was pumped and eager to learn more details. Tris, Four and the rest of the 'Insurgence' decide that they need to explore outside of the society they once knew so they take off at once to see what the rest of the world holds and...hopefully, start anew.  Only things outside the fence don't play out in a way that anyone expects.  Soon, they uncover more secrets, deeper manipulations and higher stakes.  As they struggle to understand the strange new world around them, war once again looms on the horizon. Our rebel group of heroes need to move fast in order to save the ones they love.

I'm sure you've all heard by now that Allegiant is told in dual perspectives, alternating between Tris and Four.  I for one welcomed the change in format because  Four or Tobias is probably my favorite character in the series and I was eager to get back inside his head. So at the start, things were looking good.  Getting both Four and Tris' POV when they left the factions were both unique and engaging.  Character-wise, I found that I enjoyed Tris more than I had in Insurgent.  I felt that she was closer to the heroine I fell in love with in Divergent.  She's grown a lot and I had a lot of respect for her newfound confidence.  Similarly, Four was less rigid and both of them together seemed less stubborn and explosive. They weren't doing their annoying dance from Insurgent either - the one where they flip-flop between being at each other's throats or making out - so I was optimistic...

The problem? What I've talked about so far covers about the first hundred pages of Allegiant, and that's about where things started to go south for me - which is unfortunate, since the book is considerably longer than it's two predecessors (500+ pages).  After the crew is out there in the world, well nothing really happens.  There's no real exploring or discovering going on.  The characters hunker down at the first place they get to.  I was expecting a wild new world to discover but instead I got experiments labs and meetings.  The big reveal from the end of Insurgent soon fizzled into nothing and after that it seemed like the plot was losing it's way, fumbling as it struggled to find some kind of direction. The pacing seemed slow and laboured - nothing at all like Divergent and Insurgent had been.

And so I started to lose interest. A lot of the little twists along the way felt pointless and could easily have been trimmed out of the story.  The challenges our MC's and their little group faced seemed underwhelming and by the time we got to that ending that got everyone so riled up, I just didn't care like I apparently should have. It's more than that though: I don't even think that ending was necessary.  Like at all.  I accept that for author Veronica Roth, this is the ending she always envisioned for her series but to me it just came off as random and pointless.  I'm not saying it shouldn't have happened, but it could have went down in a different and more significant way.

In the end, Allegiant was a letdown for despite my best efforts.  I wouldn't go so far as saying it ruined the series but for me, the trilogy went downhill with every new book and the last one worst of all.  I guess you could say that in the end, the series and I diverged from one another.  All joking aside though, Allegiant just didn't live up to either of it's predecessors and that makes me sad. This series started out with promising but in the end it simply did not live up to it's full potential.

My Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Harry Potter MotW #39

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.

  Least Favorite Book

It's funny because Harry Potter fans tend to love the series as a whole and I'd say that's true for me as well. There isn't a single part of Harry's journey that I'd want removed or skipped over...but at the same time I've always been able to pick out my favorite books within the series.  If I had to sort them in order of absolute favorite to least favorite, the last place would be held by:

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Now don't get me wrong, I absolutely adore so many parts of this book: The Weasley's rescuing Harry from his prison cell at Number 4 Privet, Harry's first visit to the Burrow (♥), Ginny beginning her first year at Hogwarts, the introduction of the infamous diary, Tom Riddle (the CoS movie version of the young Tom Riddle is now who I imagine when I'm reading the books! Perfect casting.) and the actual Chamber of Secrets itself - which is wicked cool btw.  I don't know, I've never really been able to put my finger on it but for some reason this one is always at the bottom of the list in terms of favorites.  I think it might be because the characters more or less stay the same, in terms of their character growth as opposed to in Prisoner of Azkaban where the trio especially mature a great deal - the tone for PoA is appropriately darker too, which I love!  Chamber of Secrets almost feels like Philosopher's Stone Part 2.  Combine that with how Harry becomes an outcast for the better part of this, if only because reading those bits makes me as miserable as he is, if only because I hate seeing him so put out :*(

Monday, April 21, 2014

Review: Death Sworn

Death Sworn by Leah Cypress
Death Sworn #1
Published March 4th 2014 by Greenwillow
 
When Ileni lost her magic, she lost everything: her place in society, her purpose in life, and the man she had expected to spend her life with. So when the Elders sent her to be magic tutor to a secret sect of assassins, she went willingly, even though the last two tutors had died under mysterious circumstances.
But beneath the assassins’ caves, Ileni will discover a new place and a new purpose… and a new and dangerous love. She will struggle to keep her lost magic a secret while teaching it to her deadly students, and to find out what happened to the two tutors who preceded her. But what she discovers will change not only her future, but the future of her people, the assassins… and possibly the entire world.
*An ARC was provided by Greenwillow in exchange for an honest review*

Death Sworn was one of my most anticipated reads of 2014 so I was thrilled when I got a chance to read an advanced reading copy.  The cover and blurb both give off a dark and atmospheric vibe and as soon as I saw "assassins" and "magic", I was sold!  I was also really intrigued in the prospect of an main character having magic but losing her power, which isn't something I've come across much in my YA reads so I was exceedingly curious to see how everything would mesh together.  Unfortunately, this one didn't quite live up to my expectations...

Death Sworn starts up by offering an interesting premise: the MC Ileni is a sorceress (Eeep so awesome!) but there's a twist: she's losing her powers.  Soon all her magic will be gone forever and there's nothing she can do about it.  So when the Elders suggest that she go live with a band of assassins and take over as their magic tutor, she goes willingly, knowing there's not much else she can do.  These assassins live in an underground cave system buried deep within the mountains which consists of a labyrinth of tunnels and secret passages.  For whatever reason, I adore stories that have any kind of maze or hidden passageways so the setting here was a major plus!  There was a catch to this move for Ileni though: both of her previous successors who went to tutor the assassins died in these very same caves. Yeah.  Anyways so this story wasn't all just assassins, magic, and a badass setting; there was a mystery to unravel too!  Score.  Oh and I forgot to mention one final bit: the Assassins have no clue that Ileni is powerless, and in order to survive amongst them, they can not find out her secret. So add secrecy and suspense to the mix and this sounds like the perfect combination right?  So where did it all go wrong??

To be honest, I'm still not quite sure.  It's like all the elements were there but instead of blowing me away it all just sort of...fizzled.  As lethal as the assassins were made out to be, the overall tone just didn't make things come off as all that dangerous.  I mean, I knew there was danger all around but I never felt immersed in it, if that makes any sense.   The heroine Ileni was brave and likeable enough, but similarly I never got behind her 100%.  I couldn't connect to her for whatever reason and it left me feeling a bit apathetic I guess.  Her loss of magic was a fresh twist, but in the end losing one's powers read as frustratingly as it clearly felt for Ileni.  I think I was hoping for a really cool reveal as to why her powers were going and how she might gain them back but the end result was something of a letdown.  The romance aspect developed nice and slow, just the way I like it...but I found that something about it didn't ring true to me, like their pairing didn't really make sense.  I guess the heart of my issue with Death Sworn boils down to this: it didn't make me care as much as I would have liked.  Maybe showing us flashbacks of Ileni's past, before she came to the caves could have helped in terms of context and that might have also helped me in terms of relating with the MC.  We meet her at such a turning point in her life but it simply doesn't come across.  I think if there would have been more tangible ties to her past, it may have helped the story along.

That being said, I was willing to let most of my issues slide, if the ending of Death Sworn managed to surprise me and/or blow me away.  Well, the ending did surprise me... but it also sort of confused me and weirded me out a little. o_O  It felt odd and frankly underwhelming.  The author kept alluding to a larger plan but by the time the big reveal rolled in; it just didn't fit in the way I'd been hoping or expecting. I wonder if again, further insight into "The Master" and his "masterplan" could have cleared things up...maybe having a bit more narrative from his perspective but I'm not sure it would have taken care of all my concerns.  The bottom line is that Death Sworn simply failed to deliver for me.  I almost gave it a 3-star rating but when I compared it to my recent 3-star reviews, it didn't quite measure up. There was a lot of potential here but it didn't pan out. Hopefully, the sequel will resolve some of these concerns.  If there's good buzz I'd consider reading the sequel but at this point I'm not quite sure I'd go on with the series.

My Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Stacking the Shelves *34*

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 all :) For this installment, I'm sharing books I've gotten in the past couple weeks. I have some high-intensity loot - by which I mean I finally got my hands on some hotly-anticipated goodies.  It's not a huge haul but I'm proud of it all the same :-D


For some reason, this big goofy grin won't wipe itself off my face...probably because these three books up here ^^ bring some much needed closure, so to speak.  Dreams of Gods & Monsters is the final book in the Daughter of Smoke & Bone Trilogy.  I'm reading it atm and already loving it!  Similarly, Fifth Grave Past the Light is the final book out at the moment for the Charley Davidson Series (with book 6 slated for a May 2014 release and book 7 scheduled for October '14!) As for Words of Radiance, it's also the next available book in Brandon Sanderson's epic Stormlight Archives Series.  I'd somehow forgotten to pre-order this bad boy for when it came out in early March >.< so it's a huge comfort to finally have it in my possession.  Speaking of huge...remember how I'd said book 1, The Way of Kings was a beast at 1000+ pages?  Well Words of Radiance takes the cake.  While book 2 is only about 100 pages longer, it is a hell of a lot bigger nonetheless, especially since I own book 1 in paperback and book 2 in hardcover (something I will be fixing soon don't worry). Anyways, see for yourselves:



See? GIANT.  I was floored when it arrived on my doorstep, it's easily the biggest book I own or have ever seen!  I was intimidated by the size WoK but it turned out to be a non-issue since everything about the story, plot, characters and pacing was made of win so I have no worries about WoR...other than figuring out when to start it.  >.<

Oh and I also got a little ARC goodness:


The Immortal Crown (Age of X #2) by Richelle Mead

I'd had some issues with the first book, Gameboard of the Gods but I'm hoping it's sequel will put those concerns to rest. *crosses fingers*

Have you read any of these? Let me know in the comments!
Don't forget to link me up to your haul as well xx

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Harry Potter MotW #38

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.

  Funniest Moment in the Series


Eep, this is a toughy!  There are so many funny moments to consider throughout the 7 books.  Pretty much any and every moment the Weasley twins are being snarky in are guaranteed to be on the list right?!  And then there's love-potion Ron (but I used that one a few weeks ago...) There were some funny moments with Dobby  - namely the ones during Hermione's SPEW phase hehe but I think one moment will always stand out above all the others:

Draco Malfoy, the amazing bouncing ferret...
"OH NO YOU DON'T, LADDIE!" 
Harry spun around. Professor Moody was limping down the marble staircase. His wand was out and it was pointing right at a pure white ferret.
"I want to fix that in my memory forever," said Ron, his closed and an uplifted expression on his face. "Draco Malfoy, the amazing bouncing ferret..." 

I think the sheer satisfaction of Malfoy getting his just desserts puts this one over the top for me- not to mention the fact that Harry, Ron and Hermione got to witness it all first hand - in the books that is. And I simply adore Ron's reaction to the thing and dubbing Malfoy ''the amazing bouncing ferret'' hihi  Good times!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday *71*

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 Immortal Crown by Richelle Mead
Age of X #2
Expected Publication: May 29th by Dutton Adult

Gameboard of the Gods introduced religious investigator Justin March and Mae Koskinen, the beautiful supersoldier assigned to protect him. Together they have been charged with investigating reports of the supernatural and the return of the gods, both inside the Republic of United North America and out. With this highly classified knowledge comes a shocking revelation: Not only are the gods vying for human control, but the elect—special humans marked by the divine—are turning against one another in bloody fashion.

Their mission takes a new twist when they are assigned to a diplomatic delegation headed by Lucian Darling, Justin’s old friend and rival, going into Arcadia, the RUNA’s dangerous neighboring country. Here, in a society where women are commodities and religion is intertwined with government, Justin discovers powerful forces at work, even as he struggles to come to terms with his own reluctantly acquired deity.

Meanwhile, Mae—grudgingly posing as Justin’s concubine—has a secret mission of her own: finding the illegitimate niece her family smuggled away years ago. But with Justin and Mae resisting the resurgence of the gods in Arcadia, a reporter’s connection with someone close to Justin back home threatens to expose their mission—and with it the divine forces the government is determined to keep secret.
Some of you may remember me being kind of all over the place when it came to the first book in this series (Gameboard of the Gods) but that doesn't mean I'm not curious to see what direction Richelle Mead plans to take her adult dystopian series next.  I'm hoping some of the issues I had with book 1 will be resolved and that the sequel will offer more information on the world...and it's mythology.

What are you waiting on this week? Link me up!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

ARC Review: A World Without Princes

A World Without Princes by Soman Chainani
The School for Good & Evil #2
Expected Publication: April 15th 2014 by HarperCollins

In the epic sequel to the New York Times bestselling novel, The School for Good and Evil, Sophie and Agatha are home, living out their Ever After. But life isn't quite the fairy tale they expected.

When Agatha secretly wishes she'd chosen a different happy ending, she reopens the gates to the School for Good and Evil. But the world she and Sophie once knew has changed.

Witches and princesses, warlocks and princes are no longer enemies. New bonds are forming; old bonds are being shattered. But underneath this uneasy arrangement, a war is brewing and a dangerous enemy rises. As Agatha and Sophie battle to restore peace, an unexpected threat could destroy everything, and everyone, they love—and this time, it comes from within.
*An ARC was provided by HarperCollins in exchange for a honest review*

A World Without Princes is the follow-up to The School for Good and Evil, which was a debut full of promise for me.  I was very eager to see how the story would develop in the sequel, how the characters would evolve and how also they would actually end up back at the School for Good and Evil - especially considering the ending of book 1.  As I mentioned when I read the first book, this is a series that has it's basis in 'classic fairy tales'which means it follows in the tradition of a prince seeking his princess and/or a princess seeking her prince.  In my first visit to The School for Good and Evil I found myself wishing the plot had shaken things up a bit more when it came to usual fairy tale tropes but this time, I was prepared for the style...and that might be why I found myself enjoying A World Without Princes even more than it's predecessor!

Now I'll admit that I'm probably biased : give me a story about a magical school and I am a happy girl on principal.  It should come as no surprise then that the idea of returning to the School for Good and Evil was appealing to me. I was pleasantly surprised and  impressed by how author Soman Chainani went about bringing both his main characters Agatha & Sophie back there in a totally new and exciting way.   In fact, I found that whole return-sequence to be riveting; a real thrill-ride that unravelled in my mind like a beautifully animated cartoon!  Once the girls arrive at the school, they find that some alarming changes have taken place.  Instead of having dual schools with one dedicated to good and one dedicated to evil (like their first year there), the two girls discover a new kind of fairytale: one with a school for girls and a school for boys! And now both sides consider the other one to be the enemy... all because of Sophie and Agatha's fairytale from the previous year.

I was hooked on the premise for A World Without Princes from the start, in equal parts out of curiosity about the change in schools and because I want to know how the girls' fairy tale will eventually end up. In the first book, I had mentioned that I thought the story focused a lot more on Sophie's character while my favorite, Agatha had been a little left out. I was pleased that this time around Agatha was a lot more front and center.  We got to see how being the princess in her fairytale has changed her from the goth-witch girl she once was. On the other hand, Sophie continues to inevitably have the more compelling story arc, because of her constant battle with the villain inside her, so I revelled in getting her side of the story as well.  And while I wasn't necessarily a huge fan of the idea that Agatha must choose between her Prince and her best friend, remembering that this is a place young people are taken to learn how to be fairy tale princes, witches and princesses helped me put aside my concerns and just enjoy the ride.

Much like the first book, A World Without Princes had a lot of humor and a little more gender-bending hints at forbidden romances.  I love the tongue-in-cheek quality it's written in, just enough to raise questions and discussions with younger readers without being too alarming for the more conservative folks out there ;-)  Again part of me does wish it might have pushed the envelope a little more, but that fact never really dampened the fun I was having while reading this.  There is some really cool and exciting magic here...as well as some more familiar tropes, reminiscent of that other series set magical school...but all in all, it had a fresh, well rounded blend of fantasy.  In fact, there was a bit less magical training per-say this year - likely due to the plot-twist - but there were some new magical elements to their classes and day-to-day activities so it all balanced out in the end.

More than anything though, I think what kept me on the edge of my seat was that this time around, it wasn't always clear who was good and who was evil.  Sure one of two of them were obviously baddies but their motives were anything but obvious.  There's nothing like a good mystery to keep me compulsively reading until I know ALL THE ANSWERS!  The ending was a major twist for me - I did not see that one coming - which of course brought on major anticipation for the third book! If you enjoyed The School for Good and Evil, you should definitely check out A World Without Princes!

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Previously, my review for book 1 - The School for Good & Evil

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Harry Potter MotW #37

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.

  Worst Umbridge Moment


Ugh. Umbridge.  I think we can all agree that any moment she appeared on page or film was some variation of a 'worst moment'.  She was either building up to doing something vile and heinous, doing something vile and heinous...or, just finishing off from doing something vile and heinous.  She spied, manipulated, lied, bullied, abused and tortured her way through Hogwarts and the Ministry for Magic.  We all hate her even worst than Voldy himself so many moments come to mind when trying to think of the worst of the worst.  The way she lobbied and discriminated against anyone NOT a pure-blood, her role in the Muggle Registration Act (it's implementation AND her role as judge jury and executioner)...Sacking Trelawney is an especially loathsome one as well but I've always hated her the most for:

Torturing Harry

That moment, in her office with just her and Harry, when she calmly and sweetly explains about her 'special quill' and Harry proceeds to write his first line...and he comes to the full realization of just how sick and twisted she is.  That whole scene just weighs on me every time I read it or even just thinking about it now.  

I could babble and rage on and on about her but instead I'll just share a link I found that makes a really interesting point as to why we all hate Umbridge even more than Lord Voldemort.  Check it out here (if you want) and share your thoughts in the comments below!

Oh and for the record, here's what I think is the best Umbridge moment:


;-D

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday *70*

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 Fire Wish by Amber Lough
The Fire Wish #1
Expected Publication: July 22nd 2014 by Random House

A jinni. A princess. And the wish that changes everything. . . . 

Najwa is a jinni, training to be a spy in the war against the humans. Zayele is a human on her way to marry a prince of Baghdad—which she’ll do anything to avoid. So she captures Najwa and makes a wish. With a rush of smoke and fire, they fall apart and re-form—as each other. A jinni and a human, trading lives. Both girls must play their parts among enemies who would kill them if the deception were ever discovered—enemies including the young men Najwa and Zayele are just discovering they might love.
I haven't read a story about trading places in a loooong time and The Fire Wish sounds like the perfect cure for that.  I love the exotic setting and the combination of princes, princesses and a jinni.  There does seem to be a romantic element to this but I think if it's done well, it could be quite entertaining - even funny at times.  I feel sure our dual MC's will get into all kinds of exciting adventures along the way...so I'm really wishing to get ahold of this one soon :)

Thoughts? Let me know when you link me up below!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Review: AtLA - The Search II

The Search - Part 2 by Gene Luen Yang
Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Search #2
Published July 10, 2013 by Dark Horse

Enter the Forgetful Valley

As Fire Lord Zuko continues his quest to uncover his mother's fate, a shocking revelation causes him to question everything he knows. It's an opportunity that his sister, the deadly and insane Azula, will not fail to take advantage of as she joins Zuko and his friends, Aang, Katara, and Sokka on their journey into a mysterious forest from which some people never reemerge...
The second book in The Search trilogy picks up right where book 1 left off: fresh off of a huge revelation that could very well change everything.  The gAang ;-) continues on with their mission to find Zuko's mother though and their journey leads them to The Forgetful Valley, a perilous forest from which they might never be able to escape.

The main focus of The Search story arc is to uncover the mysteries of Zuko's past, so naturally the story  alternates from the present day situation to Zuko (and Azula's) childhood.  To me, the flashback sequences were just as compelling as the current events being told and I loved the way both ends of the tale balanced each other out.  One of the best things about the animated series was the details involved in the storylines and it's lovely to that aspect brought to life in graphic novel form.

I found that regardless of being in the present time or the past, the second volume in The Search trilogy stayed thoroughly compelling throughout.  Some bits are totally laugh-out-loud funny, others are intense and action packed. Still others bring the feels in surprising and unexpected ways...and other moments are just plain cool.  I love that the crew is on the road again, travelling to new and exciting locations. The Forgetful Valley was a creepily cool example of this, and right in line with the kinds of places Aang would have brought his friends to in the original series.  I always especially enjoyed Aang's encounters with Spirits or the Spirit World so meeting some new and impressive Spirits was a real treat!

As a long-time Zuko fangirl, I absolutely adored getting new information about his past - even though a lot of it was tragic.  It just all really helps to put his character into perspective.  Same goes for Azula - it seems her current issues stem from some childhood events as well, so getting that insight is really invaluable to their story as a whole.  I won't go into much more details on this front to avoid spoilers, but let's just say Ozai is an even more horrible man than even the animated series led us to believe O.O  Another one of my favorite things about the animated series is the freaking incredible character development and author Gene Luen Yang certainly brought that to the forefront his graphic novels as well!

The Search Part II was a fun and exciting continuation to this trilogy.  The ending once again pretty much forces you into the next volume; if only by sheer force of anticipation ;-)  I'd recommend this trilogy (and all the other Avatar graphic novel trilogies Dark Horse Comics have put out) to Avatar: The Last Airbender fans of all ages!  And to anyone out there that has never watched it: what are you waiting for? -Hit the show title link to find out what you're missing!

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Harry Potter MotW #36

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.

  Trelawney vs. Firenze

Oh tough call!  I guess they're both quite odd, in their own way...but they're also wise in their own way too.  As much as Trelawney ended up not being the complete flake we thought her out to be, I think I still would have preferred:

Firenze


There was something incredibly mysterious about him from our first meeting with him in the Forbidden Forest.  He spoke in riddles but there was always hidden knowledge in his words.  I think I would have quite liked his class.  The way it looked and felt like being outdoors...looking at the stars.  I don't know if I would have understood much, or even passed his class at all...but to be honest, that could be said for Trelawney's class as well!  

Professor Firenze was a centaur, part of the Forbidden Forest Centaur colony, and a Divination teacher at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry from 1996 to 1998.  Before sometime in March 1996, he lived with the colony in the Forbidden Forest, on the borders of Hogwarts in Scotland. In 1992, Firenze saved Harry Potter in the forest from Lord Voldemort, frightening him away and carrying Harry on his back to safety. Despite his heroics, his herd saw this as a dishonourable act, as they considered themselves too great to be ridden by humans.
About four years later, in March 1996, Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts, hired him to teach Divination in Sybill Trelawney's stead, after she was sacked by Dolores Umbridge. But once again, the other centaurs saw this as servitude, and his colony attacked and banished him. They would have killed him were it not for the intervention of Rubeus Hagrid.  After Dumbledore was reinstated as headmaster, Trelawney was returned to her classroom, since Firenze's was still estranged with his colony, Dumbledore allowed them both to continue teaching, though Trelawney was uncomfortable with sharing her classes with a centaur. When Firenze was injured fighting in the Battle of Hogwarts, he returned to his colony later when the other centaurs had come to the opinion that his pro-human leanings were not so shameful.Harry Potter Wikia

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday *69*

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:

Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne
Midnight Thief #1
Expected Publication: July 8th 2014 by Disney Hyperion

Growing up on Forge’s streets has taught Kyra how to stretch a coin. And when that’s not enough, her uncanny ability to scale walls and bypass guards helps her take what she needs.
But when the leader of the Assassins Guild offers Kyra a lucrative job, she hesitates. She knows how to get by on her own, and she’s not sure she wants to play by his rules. But he’s persistent—and darkly attractive—and Kyra can’t quite resist his pull.

Tristam of Brancel is a young Palace knight on a mission. After his best friend is brutally murdered by Demon Riders, a clan of vicious warriors who ride bloodthirsty wildcats, Tristam vows to take them down. But as his investigation deepens, he finds his efforts thwarted by a talented thief, one who sneaks past Palace defenses with uncanny ease.


When a fateful raid throws Kyra and Tristam together, the two enemies realize that their best chance at survival—and vengeance—might be to join forces. And as their loyalties are tested to the breaking point, they learn a startling secret about Kyra’s past that threatens to reshape both their lives.
Assassins! Knights! Revenge!  I am loving the sound of Midnight Thief! Granted the hints of a budding romance gave me pause - but if it's done right it could add another layer to this adventure.  I also think it's great that both Kyra and Tristam have their own separate agendas from the start and end up uniting despite themselves.  This could be truly brilliant!

Thoughts? Share them below when you link up ;-)