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Friday, October 30, 2015

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Fangirl Friday: Soundless and The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead

I think you should all know that I am a HUGE fan of Richelle Mead. Mainly because of her epic series Vampire Academy and her spin off series Bloodlines. That is why I cannot contain my excitement about her new book that is coming out very soon called Soundless.

For as long as Fei can remember, there has been no sound in her village, where rocky terrain and frequent avalanches prevent residents from self-sustaining. Fei and her people are at the mercy of a zipline that carries food up the treacherous cliffs from Beiguo, a mysterious faraway kingdom.

When villagers begin to lose their sight, deliveries from the zipline shrink and many go hungry. Fei’s home, the people she loves, and her entire existence is plunged into crisis, under threat of darkness and starvation.

But soon Fei is awoken in the night by a searing noise, and sound becomes her weapon.

Richelle Mead takes readers on a triumphant journey from the peak of Fei’s jagged mountain village to the valley of Beiugo, where a startling truth and an unlikely romance will change her life forever..."

 

The book cover looks SO MUCH better than all of the book covers of the Bloodlines series. Don't let the ugly covers of that series scare you away because that series is BOMB! Anyway.... Soundless is something different for Mead and it will be a way for us to really see her writing improvement from just finishing writing two fabulous vampire series.

Soundless will be released on November 10th 2015! Very SOON!

I am very excited for Soundless (so is Sophia! Because it's CHINESE. And she's CHINESE.) but let's get real, guys.

Richelle Mead just mentioned to the ENTIRE WORLD that she will be releasing a new series called The Glittering Court next year! Soundless sounds AMAZING (it will be amazing) but this, my friends, is something that we are all wanting to read. Mead has the power to create epic worlds and incorporate humor like no other!

Big and sweeping, spanning the refined palaces of Osfrid to the gold dust and untamed forests of Adoria, The Glittering Court tells the story of Adelaide, an Osfridian countess who poses as her servant to escape an arranged marriage and start a new life in Adoria, the New World. But to do that, she must join the Glittering Court.

Both a school and a business venture, the Glittering Court is designed to transform impoverished girls into upper-class ladies capable of arranging powerful and wealthy marriages in the New World. Adelaide naturally excels in her training and even makes a few friends: the fiery former laundress Tamsin and the beautiful Sirminican refugee Mira. She manages to keep her true identity hidden from all but one: the intriguing Cedric Thorn, son of the wealthy proprietor of the Glittering Court.

When Adelaide discovers that Cedric is hiding a dangerous secret of his own, together, they hatch a scheme to make the best of Adelaide’s deception. Complications soon arise—first, as they cross the treacherous seas from Osfrid to Adoria, and later, when Adelaide catches the attention of a powerful governor.

But no complication will prove quite as daunting as the potent attraction simmering between Adelaide and Cedric. An attraction that, if acted on, would scandalize the Glittering Court and make them both outcasts in wild, vastly uncharted lands. . . .



First of all, is it just me or does the girl on the cover look like Zoey Deutch, the girl who portrayed Rose Hathaway in the Vampire Academy movie? It looks just like her! It doesn't matter if she's the one on the cover or not but this cover gives me hope for all the other covers in the rest of the series!

I'm glad they upgraded from the ugly covers to this fabulous book cover!

It's interesting because it's a historical, fantasy, and romance series that I cannot wait to get my hands on and binge read it all in one sitting and regret it while waiting for the next book. We have all done that before at least once.

The Glittering Court will be released on April 12th 2016! Such a long time, but the wait will be worth it!

Watch another one of my favorites Booktuber interview Richelle Mead!

In Other News...

Other news is usually something Sophia interrupts Lupe's fangirling, and it happens almost every week. Lupe doesn't mind.

Victoria Scott fans will be delighted to hear Victoria recently signed a new book deal for her Young Adult Psychological Thriller, Violet Grenade, with Entangled Teen, coming out in summer 2017 (gosh, that's so long. Sophia is a sucker for thrillers)!

Hypable recently revealed the cover to The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi. Doesn't it look gorgeous? Oh, and it's also Indian mythology, which means Sophia is automatically eyeballing it.
Cursed with a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, sixteen-year-old Maya has only earned the scorn and fear of her father's kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her world is upheaved when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. But when her wedding takes a fatal turn, Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Yet neither roles are what she expected. As Akaran's queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar's wife, she finds friendship and warmth.

But Akaran has its own secrets - thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Beneath Akaran's magic, Maya begins to suspect her life is in danger. When she ignores Amar's plea for patience, her discoveries put more than new love at risk - it threatens the balance of all realms, human and Otherworldly.

Now, Maya must confront a secret that spans reincarnated lives and fight her way through the dangerous underbelly of the Otherworld if she wants to protect the people she loves.


THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN is a lush, beautifully written and vividly imagined fantasy inspired by Indian mythology.



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Thursday, October 29, 2015

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Wizardly Whatnots: Halloween Edition

Well, wizardly peoples, I'm back after approximately three years.

Not... really. I figured instead of doing a book-related post, I would do something a little different. (Pictures? Yay!) But I've only decided that I'll be playing just once or twice a week for the purposes of "annoying" Marissa Petal, assuming I don't have anything of importance that I need to do right away (like proofreading one of Ella's or Lupe's posts).
Anyways, in the three years I've been gone (despite the fact I occasionally checked on updates through the website), I've found I missed a lot of things. Level 100 (I predict that I might actually hit 6,000 in health if not close when I get there), ultras (something to do with pets), teleboxes, lost pages, etc.

Oh, and Barkingham. Also known as Buckingham Palace. In the short little time I had, I went through a telebox or two.
I also went through Barkingham, where I came across a life boss I end up nicknaming Captain Afro. Below is just a thug.
I fought a ninja cat (forgot where, so it must have been a telebox). I still think samurai raccoons are cooler (Cole Gibsen would probably agree).
I found my dorm room in a very festive feel... after the boxes, of course. I find I like it snowing year-round. Also, there's Milos Bookwyrm in all his bobble glory – the inspiration behind Bookwyrming Thoughts's blog name. I don't even remember how I did the floating candles, but I have no intention of ever removing them. (They look really cool, okay?)
That wing is not an extension of my face. I suppose Bella wanted to say hi.

Finally, for a Halloween quest I went through that one cave in Haunted Cave (But of course. A cave in a cave.) where baby carrots and other vegetables aren't necessarily good for you. Leading the "unspoiled" veggies was no other than Ian Stormstaff's (Watch Hallow) evil twin. I did get a patched bunny in return, though...

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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

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Review: Dumplin' by Julie Murphy (this book is FABULOUS)

Dumplin

Dumplin'
Author:
Julie Murphy
Publication Date: September 15th 2015
Publisher: Balzar + Bray
Reviewer: Ella

Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked . . . until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.

With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroine— Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart.
Review copy provided by Publisher via Edelweiss for review – thanks!

5 Fabulous Reasons to Love Dumplin'

  • Willowdean! I've never read a character 'quite' like Willowdean. This girl had so much sass but at the same time was so serious in what she believed in. I liked Will a lot more in the first half of the book as after the cut off point she started to become more self absorbed and less considerate of others.
  •  Dolly Parton! I'd never even heard of this singer before but after I finished Dumplin' I went and searched her out on Youtube and now I have her songs on the brain! Favourites are Jolene and Little Sparrow! *starts singing Jolene off key*
  • The humour is excellent! Dry and crackling with wit and sarcasm , I laughed so many times while reading this book!
  • It has some really important messages entwined in it as well as a good story. I am SO tired of main characters in YA being the super skinny type and it was so nice to have a change with Willowdean who's fat and is fine with that, most of the time. So that was refreshing!
  • The romance is adorable! Although, saying that, it did seem to take a while to make up it's mind where it was going. Still, I adored Bo and Willowdean together, they were utterly adorable. :')
  • Dumplin' is just an excellent book. It's simply that, a good excellent, well told story. AND YOU SHOULD ALL GO GET A COPY NOW!!!!



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Sunday, October 25, 2015

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ARC Review: Frost by E. Latimer (Nice Try. Seriously.)

Frost E. Latimer

Frost
Author:

Publication Date: August 25, 2015
Publisher: Patchwork Press
Reviewer: Sophia

Megan Walker’s touch has turned to ice. She can’t stop the frost, and the consequences of her first kiss are horrifying.

When her new powers attract attention, Megan finds herself caught up in an ancient war between Norse giants. One side fuelled by a mad queen’s obsession and an ancient prophecy about Ragnarök, the other by an age-old grudge. Both sides believe Megan to be something she’s not. Both sides will stop at nothing to have her.

Fire or frost. It’s an impossible decision, but she’ll have to act soon, because the storm is coming.
Advance reading copy provided by Patchwork Press via Netgalley – thanks!

Ah, my first Norse mythology book (okay, I have another one by another author, but I'm a little hesitant on reading another of their works...).

For a debut novelist who started the book on Wattpad, Frost isn't that bad of a book. Latimer does a great job with building the world of Jotunheim (there's another name, but that's the easiest I remember) – it's an icy world with frost giants, and there's magic to keep the ice palace from falling apart, etc. I personally think the entire world is really cool, and I would totally hop on an airplane to visit the place if it were real and I wouldn't get hypothermia from the moment I actually step off the plane.

Regardless, though, Frost had a decent grasp on a lot of elements that didn't make too much of an impact on me, not to mention the fact there aren't many Norse mythology going on here. The author is really using Norse mythology as a base and using the usual tropes of young adult fiction to fluff it up.

The writing style? I feel like there's something missing, but maybe it's because there's this gap when it comes to my relationship with Wattpad works. I'm not exactly used to Wattpad works, so I'm a little lenient in this department.

The characters? Petty, petty, petty. Too much pettiness going on here. Too much flawlessness and perfection going on with the jotun. I swear there is so much perfection going on with them, the only flaw they probably have is they're assholes. It's enough that "jerk" is not simply not good enough of a word to describe those jotun.

Most, if not all, hate Megan simply because she is the queen's favorite. They strive to take her down and pretty much urge her to leave, and they do it through threats and attacks. Meanwhile, the queen is completely unbelievable for doting on Megan – MEGAN IS A STRANGER, FOR GODS' SAKES. But Latimer establishes the fact her frosty majesty is perhaps a little cuckoo in the head – you're forgiven, I suppose.

And then there's Megan and Amora – where do the boundaries between them end? Megan is called Amora, Amora is Amora, Megan is Megan. With all of the characters calling Megan, "Amora," it took a long while to get used to the fact Megan's "given" name by her frosty majesty is "Amora." However, at no point in the book does Latimer mention why Megan was given the name of Amora. Thus, assumptions must be made, and I personally believe it's grief and guilt.

Megan, on the other hand, is not exactly as insecure as she thinks. She's secretly brave, and I like her. I would like to say, however, that she is quite naïve in the beginning when she is running from Loki. She makes poor decisions that are worth facepalming – using a credit card, even if it is not her own? Bad idea. They can still track you. (Must be a media hermit.)

The plot and storyline? Weak, but not that weak. I personally think the jotun being vengeful for a good part of the book probably played a big role in the weak plot. In the long run, I think Latimer probably didn't go into much detail with the overall plot because there seems to be a sequel coming in the future.

If anything, Frost is really just a book where the main character learns something unusual about herself and discovers who, or what, she really is. As mentioned before, there really isn't much from Norse mythology coming from this one, but I sure hope if there is a sequel, there's a lot more mythological elements used.

3 Owls


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Friday, October 23, 2015

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Fangirl Friday: Star Wars Episode VII- The Force Awakens Trailer, The Iron Warrior Trailer, This Savage Song Cover

 
I'm calling out to all those Star Wars Nerds in the world to come join me and take a moment to appreciate the epic trailer that was released on Monday. It was such a beautiful trailer! Just in case you haven't seen it (What are you doing with your life?), here is the video for you to enjoy!
Let's talk about how this movie will most definitely be the movie of the year. Don't get me wrong, Mockingjay Part 2 will be a great movie as it will close the franchise but let's be real; it ain't got nothing on Star Wars. It was recently announced that Star Wars has sold 6.5 Millions of dollars worth of tickets in just 12 hours. It's pretty amazing what Star Wars fans are capable of. I mean Star Wars have a HUGE chance of beating Avatar and Titanic at the box office. We can do it!

Okay, enough talk about Star Wars beating records and things. Let's discuss about the trailer and all it's beauty!

Is it just me or was Luke Skywalker left out of the trailer?
I was literally playing "Where's Waldo" as I kept watching it for the 50th time (don't judge me). From what I have gathered and doing a bit of research (and by research I mean looking and reading through the comments), Luke has joined the dark side.

To be honest, I would not be surprised if Luke really is on the DARK SIDE. It's just something that I was not expecting at all! Which is good! We have all been waiting for a while now for this franchise to be back, and some of you guys have been waiting longer than I have.
I was very happy when I saw many fellow good characters like Han solo (Of course), my buddies Chewbacca, R2-D2 and C-3PO and many others that I can't remember their names at this very moment. HA! I know! I need to re-watch these movies as a refresher before I go see the movie on the big screen!
It's very exciting to know that Star Wars is finally coming back and just that very thought brings back very happy memories from my childhood. I will always be a huge fan of Star Wars no matter what and I have a lot of faith that this movie will be just as fantastic and marvelous as the others. Having to see the epic trailer really did give me the confidence to think that all will be good. 

Let the waiting begin.

Don't forget to watch the movies before going to the see Star Wars Episode VII- The Force Awakens in theaters December 18! This movie is set 30 years after the Star Wars Episode VI- Return of the Jedi (1983). For more information, check out the movie page on IMDB.

But wait...

Sophia is now interrupting (like she did last week) to report that the book trailer to Julie Kagawa's The Iron Warrior (the last book in her Iron Fey spin-off) got released yesterday on Entertainment Weekly! It's extremely short, but this is going to be a bitter-sweet ending to the entire series - both series.

Epic Reads reveals the cover to Victoria Schwab's newest book, This Savage Song.

The city of Verity has been overrun with monsters, born from the worst of human evil. In North Verity, the Corsai and the Malchai run free. Under the rule of Callum Harker, the monsters kill any human who has not paid for protection. In the South, Henry Flynn hunts the monsters who cross the border into his territory, aided by the most dangerous and darkest monsters of them all—the Sunai, dark creatures who use music to steal their victim’s souls.

As one of only three Sunai in existence, August Flynn has always wanted to play a bigger role in the war between the north and the south. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate Harker, daughter of the leader of North Verity, August jumps on it.
When Kate discovers August’s secret, the pair find themselves running for their lives and battling monsters from both sides of the wall. As the city dissolves into chaos, it’s up to them to foster a peace between monsters and humans.

A unique, fast-paced adventure that looks at the monsters we face every day—including the monster within.

Dolphin Entertainment acquires the rights to The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson. Congrats! ^_^ (via Deadline)

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Thursday, October 22, 2015

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Review: A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis (Lots of sighing...sigh!)


Madness so Discreet Mindy McGinnis
A Madness So Discreet
Author:
Mindy McGinnis
Publication Date: October 6th 2015
Publisher:  Katherine Tegen Books
Reviewer: Ella

Grace Mae knows madness.

She keeps it locked away, along with her voice, trapped deep inside a brilliant mind that cannot forget horrific family secrets. Those secrets, along with the bulge in her belly, land her in a Boston insane asylum.

When her voice returns in a burst of violence, Grace is banished to the dark cellars, where her mind is discovered by a visiting doctor who dabbles in the new study of criminal psychology. With her keen eyes and sharp memory, Grace will make the perfect assistant at crime scenes. Escaping from Boston to the safety of an ethical Ohio asylum, Grace finds friendship and hope, hints of a life she should have had. But gruesome nights bring Grace and the doctor into the circle of a killer who stalks young women. Grace, continuing to operate under the cloak of madness, must hunt a murderer while she confronts the demons in her own past.

In this beautifully twisted historical thriller, Mindy McGinnis, acclaimed author of Not a Drop to Drink and In a Handful of Dust, explores the fine line between sanity and insanity, good and evil—and the madness that exists in all of us.
Review copy provided by Publisher via Edelweiss for review – thanks!

If this book had carried on from where it started in the beginning - in the depths of a dank, dark, insane asylum - then it would've been a much better reading journey for me. But instead of staying with the fascinating asylum part, A Madness So Discreet moved quickly on from that and became a rather boring mundane murder mystery with not much clever solving happening at all.

So yes, the murder solving was um, very boring. Basically, NOTHING HAPPENED. A girl would die, Thornhellow and Grace would go take a look, then they'd talk about it, waft around discussing it more and then make absolutely no progress. It felt like a really bad Sherlock retelling gone wrong and having read some absolutely AMAZING Sherlock retellings (The Every Series by Ellie Marney, for anyone interested!) I was not only disappointed but irritated.

If the writing hadn't been so dull, it probably would've lifted the story and made it more exciting to read, but it didn't. What was sad, is that it was actually very good in the beginning, gripping me to the edge of my seat but then as soon as Grace kind of became herself again it went reallllllly dull. *sigh*

As for characters, I didn't not like Grace but I just didn't get her either. I sympathised for her because terrible things had happened to her, things that no one should ever have to go through...but I didn't really like her because I felt I knew nothing about her...she was just there. Not much emotion was shown, and she felt rather cardboardy. SIGH.

Sadly, I wasn't emotionally invested. Sure the beginning hooked me and the rest of the book wasn't that bad but I didn't FEEL anything! Not one moment was I like, "OMG EMOTIONS AHHH!! *breaks down with all the feels*" Nothing! And that made me so sad! I WANT TO FEEL EMOTIONS DAMMIT!

Although talking about emotions...oh man, that COVER, guys!! SO MUCH BEAUTIFUL. Now that's something I can get emotional about!
http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m8xrhiL6bu1r231xw.gif
Overall, I feel pretty meh about A Madness So Discreet. The cover is stunning, the beginning was amazing, the middle was boring and the ending quite unsatisfactory, which leaves me feeling annoyed and not quite ready to forgive this book just yet.



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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

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Review: Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge (Wait... It's a Stand Alone? Oops.)

Crimson Bound Rosamund Hodge

Crimson Bound
Author:

Publication Date: May 5, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Reviewer: Sophia

When Rachelle was fifteen she was good—apprenticed to her aunt and in training to protect her village from dark magic. But she was also reckless— straying from the forest path in search of a way to free her world from the threat of eternal darkness. After an illicit meeting goes dreadfully wrong, Rachelle is forced to make a terrible choice that binds her to the very evil she had hoped to defeat.

Three years later, Rachelle has given her life to serving the realm, fighting deadly creatures in an effort to atone. When the king orders her to guard his son Armand—the man she hates most—Rachelle forces Armand to help her find the legendary sword that might save their world. As the two become unexpected allies, they uncover far-reaching conspiracies, hidden magic, and a love that may be their undoing. In a palace built on unbelievable wealth and dangerous secrets, can Rachelle discover the truth and stop the fall of endless night?

Inspired by the classic fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood, Crimson Bound is an exhilarating tale of darkness, love, and redemption.

(This is a standalone novel, not part of the Cruel Beauty Universe.)

I personally did not like . Despite that little fact, I still decided to venture into the sequel because a) it's the same world, but different characters, b) none of the characters from the first book will make an appearance in the second book, and c) why not? Crimson Bound doesn't sound bad – it sounds more adventurous!

But then I found out later it’s a stand alone novel. So scratch that, and just leave the fact Crimson Bound just doesn't sound bad. And if I still call Crimson Bound a sequel to Cruel Beauty, then my bad.

By the end of the first chapter (not the prologue), I was sure that I would enjoy Hodge's second book much better. I think one of the main reasons why I loved Rachelle so much as a main character is because she's similar to me in the romance department: she's extremely resilient toward Erec's advances. Not only that, but Erec's arrogance is actually amusing – he's oblivious to Rachelle's constant rejections and it's hilarious how he just continues persisting and persisting and Rachelle continues to reject him.

Romance department aside, Rachelle seems very kick-butt and ambitious – at fifteen she becomes her aunt's apprentice and aspires to free her world from the threat of eternal darkness. But ironically enough, with her recklessness and straying off the forest path to meet a forestborn, Rachelle finds herself having to make the choice of living or becoming a bloodbound, binding her to the forestborn and the Destroyer, the one person she hoped to destroy before darkness takes over the world.

I personally think the entire plot of the story didn't really just focus on Rachelle's goals to kill the Destroyer and saving the world – it's really just a plot behind the real plot, and it was there to make things really interesting. Throughout the book, Hodge gives quite a bit of teasers to Aunt Leonie and the situation surrounding her death. The answer was obvious on who did it, but what really happened at that particular time is the big question throughout most of the book.

Overall, Crimson Bound doesn't fall in the trap known as second book syndrome, but whether or not you'll enjoy this better than Hodge's other retelling probably depends on your matter of preference. Whereas Cruel Beauty's played a huge role in the story, Crimson Bound is filled with much more blood and gore, and it has just a tad bit of romance.

4.5 Owls


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Monday, October 19, 2015

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Audiobook Review: Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke and Bone Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1
Author:
Laini Taylor
Narrator: Khristine Hvam
Length: 12 Hours, 32 Minutes
Publication Date: September 27, 2011
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Reviewer: Sophia

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands", she speaks many languages - not all of them human - and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

How I really feel these days: read/listen to a book, pull out the overall point of the book, give brief information on why I liked/disliked the book, the end. Or, go through that and the words come as I start typing the review, and it may or may not be in an organized manner. That's for your judgment, I suppose.

It's precisely how I feel with Daughter of Smoke and Bone. It's interesting with all the seraphs and chimaera (I keep wanting to call that chimera) being at war with each other, but I pretty much picked out one very important theme in this entire book.

Reincarnation (or resurrection in this case) and self discovery.

Karou is a very mysterious person (at least, she likes to keep it that way). From early on, she doesn't have a family (aside from a surrogate one), doesn't talk about herself, and avoids questions from anyone who actually want to know who she is aside from the fact she is fantastic at drawing mystical creatures. She also deals with wishes, her hair is blue (really cool, by the way), and speaks over twenty languages. But she still doesn't understand who she really is, and that remains the constant until Karou goes on an errand where she comes across Akiva, a seraph with fire in his eyes.

I'm not really sure how I feel about Akiva. Although Laini gives information about his past, especially with Madrigal's memories, I'm pretty indifferent towards him. He's a seraph, fell in love with Madrigal, and wants peace among the seraph and chimaera, but otherwise, I feel like he's just appropriately placed in the story.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is also one of those books in which I believe Laini does a fantastic job with flashbacks. I'm generally not a huge fan of flashbacks, because while I know they play an important role most of the time (authors don't do things in their novel without reason), they sometimes add more bulk or it doesn't really fit well in the story.

In Daughter of Smoke and Bone's case, it would have been a really bad idea not to have so many flashbacks later on in the story. From what I've read up to Madrigal's memories, Karou is a enigmatic person. Madrigal's memories add on to Karou as a whole, and I feel it makes Karou more developed than she would have been had Laini not written in the most important aspects of Madrigal's life.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone has it's very gruesome parts (don't tell me listening to a description of someone being beheaded is not gruesome), but I enjoyed it and I'm looking forward to listening to the second book (bonus points because it's the same narrator for the entire trilogy).

Have I mentioned I absolutely adore Zuzanna? *kiss/punch*

4.5 Owls


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Saturday, October 17, 2015

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ARC Review: Hidden Gold by Ella Burakowski (A Fantastic Contribution to the Holocaust)

Hidden Gold Ella Burakowski

Hidden Gold
Author:
Ella Burakowski
Publication Date: October 6, 2015
Publisher: Second Story Press
Reviewer: Sophia

The Gold family finds their peaceful lives shattered when Poland is invaded by the Nazis during WWII.

It's 1942, and the Nazis are rounding up Jews in the Polish town of Pinczow for transport to the Treblinka death camp. Leib and Hanna Gold though they had more time to develop an escape plan. While Leib leaves to negotiate a hiding place, Hanna and their children, Shoshana, Esther, and twelve-year-old David, steal away in the night to find shelter with a family friend. Leib promises to join them in the morning, but when daylight breaks, Leib had vanished. Hanna must flee to a safer refuge or she and her children will perish.

So begins a true story of terror, suspense, and deplorable hardship that lasts more than two years. In a place where everyone is afraid, neighbors turn on neighbors, gentiles betray Jews, and Jews victimize each other, hoping to survive the Holocaust. David Gold's memories of his formative years during World War II are captured by his niece, author Ella Burakowski, in this heart-stopping testament to the human spirit.
Advance reading copy provided via Netgalley by Second Story Press – thanks!

I'm generally not a memoir person. But if I'm going to read a memoir (or even nonfiction), I'll choose anything about the Holocaust (I find that time period sadistically interesting).

Hidden Gold deserves about as much praise as Anne Frank's Diary of a Young Girl. A story set in another part of Europe (Poland) during Hitler's reign, Burakowski tells us her family's survival, hidden away from society in the hopes that they won't be found out.

For two years, the Golds hid with the Lanskis in a small part of a barn in Kolkow, surviving with very little sustenance. During that time, their hope dwindles little by little, but the two families still cling on to their pasts, even if that life will be impossible to get back to after everything blows over.

I loved how Burakowski introduces us to her family and the people that the Golds were involved with, giving us lots of background information on how Leib met Hanna and how the Golds lived their life in the early parts of the war. Burakowski also gives us insight on the growing hypocrisy and horrors among society as Hitler's power and anti-Semitism grew, giving us visuals on how life was like for the Jews back in the late 1930s and early 1940s. We're also shown the inner turmoils going on with those who had good relations with Jews and now having to choose whether or not they should help Jews, or give in to the propaganda.

Shoshana, Hanna's daughter, is extremely admirable. She's willing to go out to the Germans, pretending to be one of them, to buy her family time. She is also willing to risk her life a few times to get her family's money from Pińczów, and going back again while she felt ill. If I were in her place, I'd probably continue to curl up in a fetal little ball. (Despite the fact I'm considered living in "poverty," I'm pretty much a lucky duckling. Also, being an only child, I'm probably a little spoiled.)

David is perhaps one of those where all the feels will come. Like any little kid, he's full of mischief and mayhem, but going through such a dark time at a really young age, he's extremely brave, confident, and has the most hope for the family getting out alive.

Although most of Hidden Gold is focused on the Gold's survival during Hitler running rampant with the final solution, Burakowski finalizes the story from David's viewpoint with how each of the family members were impacted years later in the future. For those interested in what happened in other parts of Europe or a survival story outside of concentration camps, Ella Burakowski's Hidden Gold makes a fantastic contribution depicting the horrors of the Holocaust.

5 Owls


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Friday, October 16, 2015

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Fangirl Friday: Shadowhunters Teasers, Sneak Peeks, and Lady Midnight

Is it just me or does ABC Family (more like Freeform) bombarded us with tons of new information about the upcoming amazing show Shadowhunters? I guess they just like to see all of us fangirls freak out about it and make us wait until January 12, 2016.

Shadowhunters Teaser 1

 Watch the trailer and we will discuss!

Can we PLEASE talk about how awesome the graphics are and how amazing they introduced it! It looks so much better than the movie knowing they will have the time to establish the plot and story line throughout the season instead of explaining it all within 2 hours.

The actors portraying the characters from the books look BOMB! Can we take a moment and look at Jace and Alec? *swoon*

Shadowhunters Sneak Peak #1

Watch and discuss!

Beautiful. Amazing. I want MORE!

The way they just land together and the way they act all tough just makes me so happy. Clary's sarcasm? Yes Clary YES! I couldn't help but laugh at the part where Simon just looked at her as if she was crazy for talking to her "imaginary" friend. I am hooked! BTW, the music is pretty catchy. I approve!

Shadowhunters Sneak Peak #2

You know the drill.


I know. Well dang she is screwed!

I like the fact that there is humor in this show, because if you know me at all, I love a good laugh.

Favorite lines:

  • "I'm going to go fail at getting us some birthday drinks."
  • "I'm gonna go fail with you."
Then we get introduced to more fabulous characters and I just love that this is getting a second chance. Now let's hope the show will last.

Final thoughts and Obsessions

Gosh darn, you got to love the fact that the teasers only makes things worse when waiting for the premiere of the series! January 12th is so close yet so far. They better just slowly release these sneak peaks not all at once. What are you trying to do ABC Family/Freeform? We can't wait any longer anymore! Just release it sooner!

Recap/Review

What I love
  • The graphics are BOMB! Although there are times where it just didn't look right but it did look great the majority of the time.
  • I have a feeling these actors will do justice on bringing this story come to life
  • Love the humor, and it better stay this way or else... *evil stare* I'm counting on you Simon!
  • Clary's Sarcasm is great!
  • The music really flows well with the scenes with what I saw in the sneak peaks
What I'm worried about
  • I just don't want this show to fail like the movie did.
  • I don't want the story line to be EXACTLY like the book considering that it will be boring to those who have already read the books and know what will happen.
  • I'm worried if they will drag the story line, I mean have you seen pretty little liars? I just don't like it to be dragged to death if you know what I mean.
Give this show a chance. Watch a couple episodes in order to fully have an opinion about the show and let's hope for the best!

Shadowhunters will premiere on Tuesday, January 12th of 2016 on ABC Family (Soon to be Freeform) at 9pm/8 Central

Until next Friday!

FYI Watch one of my favorite Booktubers interview the cast!

Lady Midnight Cover

SimonTeen and Cassandra revealed the cover to Lady Midnight, the very first book in The Dark Artifices. I personally think it's gorgeous, but does anyone notice the fonts are repeated through all of the Shadowhunters novels?
Here's the cover in all its fabulous glory! What do you guys think? It comes in approximately 5 months - are you guys excited?
Note: All portions of Shadowhunters in this edition of Fangirl Friday are written by Lupe. The section pertaining to Lady Midnight is written by Sophia.
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Thursday, October 15, 2015

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Review: None of the Above by. I.W. Gregorio (Heartbreaking, Humorous, and Mind Opening)

None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio

None of the Above
Author:
I.W. Gregorio
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Reviewer: Sophia

A groundbreaking story about a teenage girl who discovers she was born intersex... and what happens when her secret is revealed to the entire school. Incredibly compelling and sensitively told, None of the Above is a thought-provoking novel that explores what it means to be a boy, a girl, or something in between.

What if everything you knew about yourself changed in an instant?

When Kristin Lattimer is voted homecoming queen, it seems like another piece of her ideal life has fallen into place. She's a champion hurdler with a full scholarship to college and she's madly in love with her boyfriend. In fact, she's decided that she's ready to take things to the next level with him.

But Kristin's first time isn't the perfect moment she's planned—something is very wrong. A visit to the doctor reveals the truth: Kristin is intersex, which means that though she outwardly looks like a girl, she has male chromosomes, not to mention boy "parts."

Dealing with her body is difficult enough, but when her diagnosis is leaked to the whole school, Kristin's entire identity is thrown into question. As her world unravels, can she come to terms with her new self?

Under different circumstances, I would totally recommend this to the school library, but due to the content and maturity, it probably wouldn't make it. It's the thought that counts, right?

Despite the fact None of the Above touches topics that are completely uncomfortable for me to read about, I really enjoyed Gregorio's debut novel (it was also used as an argument in one of my essays for Composition). I've never read a book with an intersex character before, so it was an absolute delight to read None of the Above and be a little more educated than I currently am with my high school years.

I, however, find it highly disturbing that no one even questions not ever having a period and accept that it's completely normal not getting it even once in eighteen years. (This is not a punctuation pun as everyone seems to think.) I mean, it makes sense, considering the fact Kristin's mom died when she was young and Kristin is an athlete – it's probably uncomfortable for the father to talk to a daughter about the birds and bees. (My mom never really gave me the birds and bees talk. I found out for myself, partially thanks to health class.) But still... her Aunt Carla knew and didn't question it ("Why, you're just a late bloomer! A really late bloomer, but a late one nonetheless!"), her best friends Vee and Faith don't question it.

It's not until Kristin experiences extreme pain during sexual intercourse (nononononooooo, it is not that whole first time pain business ya'll hear about, but to describe it would make me feel more awkward than I already am writing this paragraph) that she starts questioning if there's anything wrong with her, and decides to take a trip to the gynecologist to find out. Consider me very baffled.

The whole bullying part is a depressing thing to read about. I've experienced it, simply because I'm Asian. It's a very miserable life. I love how in the grand scheme of things, Kristin's father is extremely supportive and tolerant of Kristin's condition. Despite the fact he panicked when they initially found out that Kristin is intersex, he still does research to find out more about AIS and intersex in general, and he tries to find ways to make things as normal as possible for Kristin. He encourages Kristin to join an AIS support group where there are others in, or have been in, situations just like Kristin's. I also love how Darren, Jessica, and just a really small group of their friends just tuck Kristin under their wings and accept her for what she is instead of joining in the fray of bullying.

None of the Above is a book about what it means to find out you're not black or white, but what it means to be something in between. It's a thought-provoking and mind opening book written in a humorous yet heartbreaking way.

4.5 Owls


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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

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Blog Tour: Trust Me, I'm Trouble - Guest Post + Giveaway

Tour Schedule
Title: Trust Me, I'm Trouble (Trust Me #2)
Author: Mary Elizabeth Summer
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | iTunes | Kobo
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: October 13, 2015

The sequel to TRUST ME, I’M LYING

Staying out of trouble isn’t possible for Julep Dupree. She has managed not to get kicked out of her private school, even though everyone knows she’s responsible for taking down a human-trafficking mob boss—and getting St. Agatha’s golden-boy Tyler killed in the process. Running cons holds her guilty conscience at bay, but unfortunately, someone wants Julep to pay for her mistakes . . . with her life.

Against her better judgment, Julep takes a shady case that requires her to infiltrate a secretive organization that her long-gone mother and the enigmatic blue fairy may be connected to. Her best friend, Sam, isn’t around to stop her, and Dani, her one true confidante, happens to be a nineteen-year-old mob enforcer whose moral compass is as questionable as Julep’s. But there’s not much time to worry about right and wrong—or to save your falling heart—when there’s a contract on your head.

Murders, heists, secrets and lies, hit men and hidden identities . . . If Julep doesn’t watch her back, it’s her funeral. No lie.

Chasing the Blue Fairy: Pinocchio in the Trust Me Series

Julep Dupree's moral compass is questionable at best. As she says herself in the opening to Trust Me, I'm Lying, she wasn't born with that particular cricket on her shoulder. So it might seem strange that I picked a 19th century morality tale as the thematic backbone for Julep's story. But for me, it was the perfect choice.

To understand why, you'll first need to know a few things about Julep:
  1. Her major hang-up about being a grifter is her lack of fixed identity. She explains this to another character by saying, "when you can be anybody, how do you know who you are?" This plays to the heart of a central theme for all coming-of-age stories, which is not just finding your identity, but choosing your identity.
  2. Her father made her in his image, and though he's not a bad guy, he's kind of weak, and Julep both loves and has some issues with him.
  3. One of the major themes in the book is the line between bad and evil (you read that right—bad and evil), and part of Julep's crisis with identity is figuring out which side of that divide she falls on.
Pinocchio struggles with a lot of the same issues. His main goal throughout his story is to become a real boy, just like Julep's goal is to leave behind all the disguises and fakery in favor of a real life. Pinocchio also makes tons of mistakes and selfish choices, and is forever debating the inherent goodness or badness of his actions. Julep similarly makes mistakes, like trusting the wrong people for selfish reasons. And she learns a lot of lessons the hard way, just like Pinocchio.

Allusions to Carlo Collodi's The Adventures of Pinocchio show up many times throughout both Trust Me, I’m Lying and Trust Me, I'm Trouble, though more so in TMIL, because TMIT's official thematic reference is The Catcher in the Rye (see the companion to this post for more on how TMIT ties to Catcher). Places you'll see references to Pinocchio include:
  • The three clues Julep's father leaves her to help her track him down in Trust Me, I'm Lying: the Field of Miracles, the Land of Toys, and the Dogfish are all major scenes from Pinocchio.
  • Multiple references to Julep's mother as "the blue fairy" occur throughout both books.
  • The judge who heard Julep's case at the end of Trust Me, I'm Lying was named Judge Collodi, after the author of The Adventures of Pinocchio.
There are probably a few other allusions I'm not thinking of right now, so I'll leave it to you to suss them out while you're reading. (Finding them is half the fun!)

The quality I like most about both Pinocchio and Julep is that in the end, despite their faults, they move heaven and earth to save the people they love. Neither of them believes they deserve forgiveness, but they're both understandable and easy to root for, because in them, we recognize ourselves—our temptations, our loneliness, our compassion, and our courage. And we want them to find their blue fairies, because it gives us hope that someday we'll find our own.


What would you say is your blue fairy? Let us know in the comments!

Author Bio

Mary Elizabeth Summer is an instructional designer, a mom, a champion of the serial comma, and a pie junkie. Oh, and she sometimes writes books about teenage delinquents saving the day. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her daughter, her partner, and her evil overlor–er, cat. TRUST ME, I'M LYING, a YA mystery, will be released by Delacorte in Fall 2014.

Author Links:
Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr | Pinterest

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