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Book Review: Fairest

fairestWho doesn’t love a good villain backstory? I’m going to venture a guess and say, almost no one. The background, the journey to becoming evil is part of why we love them…or love to hate them.

First, if you haven’t yet read The Lunar Chronicles, what have you been doing with your life? Stop reading the book currently on your side table and go pick up Cinder, book 1 of the series. Any love for fairy tales, especially ones with a twist, and this will definitely get your juices going. So if you haven’t read that series yet, stop reading this review and hop to it!

Secondly, this book was more or less what I expected it to be. Although I didn’t expect quite so much intrigue and deception. Or rather, I anticipated it in a different way. Meyer weaves her world so flawlessly that stepping into these pages is like going into a dream. There is magic (of sorts), mystery, murder, revenge, death, love, loss, and of course, the bonds of family.

Levana’s history is bloody, as is to be expected, but it is also sad and sweet at times. Her young naivety is almost endearing, it’s like a freight train that you know is going to wreck and yet you are trapped outside the pages, unable to help. Little snipets of the past are revealed as Levana lives her life over the course of 5 or 6 years. It tells of her rise to power and why she rules with such disdain and an iron fist.

This book was enthralling, not quite as heart-pounding as the series, but softer almost. More quiet in a way. But compared to a series where characters are constantly facing death, that’s not really hard to believe. Levana is a woman, a gifted Lunar woman, but a woman nonetheless. She loves, laughs, cries, and feels. She is a mortal living as though she is not and is filled with the haughty pride that seems to natural to royal blood.

We are always interested in the debate of “is evil made or is it born?”. More often than not, we find stories that give us the former. It’s up for debate how much of either side is in Levana and I will let you discover that for yourself.

Goodreads rating: 4 stars

My personal rating: 88

  • Writing style – 10
  • Plot – 9
  • Dialogue – 8
  • Personality of Main Character(s) – 8
  • Love story – 8
  • Invokes emotion – 8
  • Synopsis accuracy – 8
  • Consistent level of interest – 9
  • Stays on topic – 10
  • Accuracy of genre/genre blending – 10
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Top Ten Tuesday

Thanks again to The Broke and the Bookish blog for all of these Top Ten Tuesday topics!

Top Ten TuesdayFebruary 3: Top Ten Books I Can’t Believe I Haven’t/Want To Read From X Genre (for example I feel like I’m pretty well read in contemporary YA but there are some STAPLES I can’t believe I haven’t read. Or if you just want to books you WANT to read in a particular genre..not necessarily long overdue)

This is a hard one because there are so many I have been meaning to read and just haven’t gotten around to yet, but here we go.

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen – Gah! The only remaining Austen book that I haven’t read! I have the entire collection in one solid B&N collectible book but this is still the one that lingers on, waiting to be enjoyed.

The Princess Bride by William Goldman – Seen the movie, love the movie, have had this book recommended several times to me and so I really need to read it now.

The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – Seen the show, love the show, and I’ve been told that it’s not too far off from the books…except that it is more modern, so I own them, now I just have to read them.

1984 by George Orwell – Yup, this one is still waiting on my bookshelf. It beckoned me over winter break but alas, I was distracted easily by Friends and Dr. Who.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien – Also still waiting. I wanted to read it before I saw the last movie but unfortunately, that did not happen. Now, it is silently abandoned…and probably judging me.

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov – Recommended by a friend, apparently it is a devilishly good time, involving Russians, vodka, a black cat, and Pontius Pilate, must read soon!

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde – One of the few books I wasn’t required to read in high school and has been sitting on this list every since I went to Ireland and learned more about Wilde himself. If I come across a copy, I will buy it and eventually read it.

The Iliad and The Odyssey by Homer – Classics that beckon, myth and man combined, this has been at the top of my list for awhile and I own both but somehow haven’t gotten around to them.

The Gospel of Wealth by Andrew Carnegie – I actually just learned of this book and cannot wait to pick it up. Astounded that I’ve never heard of it before. All about rich and poor and philanthropy, yes please.

Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler – I find Hitler to be a fascinating man of history so to read the story of his life from his perspective sounds amazing. Known about it for awhile and it just resurfaces so it’s slowly moving closer to the top of the queue.

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten TuesdayI know I missed last week’s so instead you get two this week, here is the first:

January 27: Ten Books I’d Love to Read With My Book Club/If I Had A Book Club (or you could pick a specific kind of book club — like if you had a YA book club or an adult book club or a science fiction book club etc.)

This is such an interesting topic and I often wish I could join a book club so I would have people to share my joy and tears over a book with. So here are the ones I would like to read with others, as always in no particular order.

snow like ashesWe Were Liars by E. Lockhart – This book left me with such mixed feelings that I need to discuss them with someone. I enjoyed the layout and the story but the twisted ending left me heartbroken and I have no one to understand that.

Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch – I know, I know, this is is on EVERY list that I’ve done lately but it is just that good. I love the world that Raasch creates and I would love to share that with as many people as possible.

Legend/The Young Elites by Marie Lu – I put both of these books because I feel they are so vastly different that they would provide a great conversational topic for the variety of writing styles that Lu possesses. Plus they are both pretty badass stories.

The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Kate Rorick/Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen – Obviously we would start with Austen and then read the more modern version, perhaps also watching some of Rorick’s YouTube videos. One of my favorite classics paired with a great new interpretation. Love, love, love. horns

Horns by Joe Hill – Dark and intense but definitely worth the read. And anyone who attended Catholic school or knows about Catholicism will definitely appreciate a lot of the symbolism and text. It’s a murder wrapped in myth and shoved into a scary reality. Amazing.

The Black Jewels Trilogy by Anne Bishop – I did manage to convince my bestie to start these and they were recommended to me by my cousin and have since become an all-time favorite. The world, the people, the story, all of it is blended into a seamlessly beautiful set of books that I always tell people to read.

Seven Realms by Cinda Williams Chima – Chima is an amazing author, colorful dialogue and witty characters. She builds a realm and makes you live in it. She blends character perspective into a narrative that is as fantastical as it is fantastic. Definitely one that people would enjoy talking about.

The Chronicles of Nick by Sherrilyn Kenyon – Sarcasm, demons, and high school, what could be better? Truthfully, this series should come after the Dark Hunter series but this version of blood of olympusNick Gautier is too irresistible for me to not talk about.

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis – An all time favorite collection from beginning to end, loads of people have read it, but few have actually done so as an adult and are willing to discuss it. I’d like to change that. Reliving a childhood classic can be beneficial in more than one way!

Percy Jackson and the Olympians/Heroes of Olympus by Rick Riordan – And of course, Riordan’s writing is pure gold, comedic and otherwise. The blend of myth and reality, the different interpretations of both, the characters and their relationships, friendly and otherwise, all of it would make great conversation. Especially the growth over the two series.

Jan 31st

Welcome to the last day of the month of the new year!

What have you accomplished so far? What are you planning to do better? What hasn’t turned out like you expected?

As for me, I have officially begun the second semester of my first year of grad school and it has so far been rather uneventful. Sure, I have lots of things to read and I got to see my friends (although I sadly do not have any classes with many of them), but since I changed my courses to taking mostly online classes, I have more free time than I would like. Not that I’m complaining exactly, but I find it harder to concentrate with more open areas than I do with tight spaces of hours.

But that could just be the procrastination talking.

EXIF_JPEG_T422The first week of classes is behind me and I’m already looking ahead to all the projects I need to do and figuring out the best way to complete them. I have more time to do that now which is nice but it also means more hours stuck in my bedrooms, trying to avoid technology for fear that it will consume me and I won’t get the necessary work done.

But other than that, I’ve started working out on a more regular basis now that I have time to do that, and the alone time in the house to sweat in private. My energy is up, my sleep levels are good, and I’ve been able to invent new recipes to try out for lunches at work.

I also have a few books that I’ve managed to read so far and a couple of others that I am currently wading through. Lately, I think I’ve been reading too much heavy materials so I’m making the decision to switch to some lighter reading while I’m in classes. After all, my hours between homework are precious and books should be an escape, not a chore. Well, the ones I’m reading for pleasure at least.

Overall, it’s been a quiet, and slightly boring, first month, but things are about to pick up pace so I can really get back into the groove of schoolwork and planning out every minute of the day for maximum efficiency!

Okay, maybe not that extreme, but you get the idea.

Top Ten Tuesday

top ten tuesdayBecause I can never get enough books! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday – December 2: Top Ten Books I’m Looking Forward To In 2015

The Game of Lives by James Dashner – The final installment in a series that I flew through, Dashner weaves a story that is as realistic and captivating as it is disturbing and thought-provoking. I shiver in anticipation of this ending.

The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard – I know I’ve mentioned this book in at least one another post but this premiere looks to be amazing. It’s a little bit fantasy, a little bit fairy tale, and a whole lot of excellent writing (at least what I saw in the excerpt).

fairestFairest by Marissa Meyer – Villains nowadays are far more complex than they used to be. There is always a back story and this is Queen Levana’s (The Lunar Chronicles) story. Which begs the question, is evil born or is it made?

Winter by Marissa Meyer – And speaking of The Lunar Chronicles, I’m freaking out, losing my mind waiting for this next book which won’t be published for another year! But since the story has been so amazing thus far, I guess I can wait…or reread while I wait.

Untitled by Sarah Maas – The next book in the Throne of Glass series! I’m about two-thirds of the way through the third book and it is sucking me in again. I haven’t even finished it and I know I’m stoked to find out what happens next.

A Court of Thorn and Roses by Sarah Mass – And speaking of Maas, she is slated to be premiering a whole new series that tangles Beauty and the Beast in a whole new world of myth and magic. It will be wonderful, I just know it.

Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge – More fairy tales made modern, this time it’s Little Red Riding Hood but not the crimson boundpowerless little girl, no, instead a badass dark magic user who is forced to work for her enemy. I wonder how well that will end for either of them.

Untitled by Sara Raasch – I didn’t think my heart could take the entirety of Snow Like Ashes but now that the second piece is slated for next year, I’m already bracing myself for whatever adventure happens next. Oh, if I could but live in a land of eternal winter.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – A new tale spun in an old universe that has me hopeful for this book. It is hailed a mixed of Ocean’s 11 and Game of Thrones (aren’t they all?) so I’ll be interested to see how it turns out.

The Heir by Kiera Cass – I’m not nearly as excited for this book as most others are. I think the series would have been fine with just the 3 books but hey, I’ll probably still read this one.

Book Review: Snow Like Ashes

I don’t know about you but I enjoy a good book about a different world. Especially Primoria where thsnow ashesere is an entire kingdom that is in permanent winter! Not to mention ones that are dedicated to Spring, Summer, and Fall plus four others that get to appreciate all the rhythms of nature.

The book follows Meira and her exile: the life that has been cobbled together from the ruins of the Kingdom of Winter which was brutally taken over by Spring (ironic, yes?) sixteen years ago. She is with a ragtag band of rebels who managed to escape the labor camps that the rest of their people were forced into. Unfortunately, that means that they are responsible for intense and often frustrating burden of setting things right and giving Winter back to its people.

When half of the ancient locket containing the magic powers of their kingdom is found, Meria decides to disobey orders and go after it herself, creating more than one problem. But that’s not all the adventure in store for this young orphan. There is plenty of danger to be had in a world where magic and politics exist in spades.

If you want an action adventure story, one that isn’t about dystopia or the end of the world as we know it, if you want a love story about family and relationships that will knock the wind out of you on more than one occasion, if you want a strong female lead who never gives up, this book is for you.

Sara Raasch’s debut novel is amazing. It is well written, fast-paced, and makes you want to experience the world for yourself. Although I was disappointed that it contained a love triangle (as I’m rather sick of those), it was actually really well done. There wasn’t a ton of pining, longing, or indecision that lasted for 100 pages. Instead, Meira grudgingly accepts her fate time and time again, picks up the pieces of herself, and continues moving forward.

Meira is a great character who is far more capable than she thinks other people think she is. She is strong and willful, stubborn and courageous. There is fear but she doesn’t let that stop her. She takes risks and utilizes what she knows to be her best skills to gain the advantage for her kingdom. Truthfully, she is sometimes a pawn but even that won’t prevent her from doing what she thinks is necessary, even when she ends up in more trouble than if she had just listened.

The orphan is surrounded by interesting supports like Sir, her surrogate father who rescued her from the rubble of the capitol city, and Mather, the future king of Winter who she is desperately in love/best friends with, who help her in ways she doesn’t fully understand until the end of the book. She is also introduced to a handsome prince, his father–a selfish king, and the man who is trying to destroy everything the people of Winter have created, all of which shape various events in this book in their own way.

There is magic in these words and on these pages; it jumps out at you and won’t let go. There are plenty of secrets to go around and keep you on your toes plus a couple of twists that left me breathless, especially a character death. There is intrigue and mayhem, war and politics, often all happening at the same time. It’s a bit like Game of Thrones mixed with Eragon (minus the dragons) mixed with Legend: Sword fights, magic, and fighting for your country (kingdom).

If you liked The Lunar Chronicles, Shadow & Bone, and/or Throne of Glass, then this might be your next favorite addition to the bookshelf. It’s a book about fighting for what’s yours even if it’s been taken from you. About finding your identity within and your cultural identity from those who still knows what it means to be from there. It’s about knowing your worth even when others think you are worthless. And more than anything, it’s about finding a way to be true to yourself even when your life isn’t going as you planned.

Goodreads rating: 5 stars

My personal rating: 95

  • Writing style – 10
  • Plot – 10
  • Dialogue – 10
  • Personality of Main Character(s) – 9
  • Love story – 8
  • Invokes emotion – 9
  • Synopsis accuracy – 9
  • Consistent level of interest – 10
  • Stays on topic – 10
  • Accuracy of genre/genre blending – 10

Top Ten Tuesday

top ten tuesdayI’m officially slacking but I promise a day late won’t make me a dollar short so here’s the topic:

November 18: Top Ten Sequels I Can’t Wait To Get

Where do I even begin?  Not all of these are first books, some of them are series I can’t wait to continue. The first five are beginnings of new series and the others are ones that I’ve read more than one of and have new books coming out soon!

Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch – I just finished this (and will have a review up tomorrow) and it is very well done. I loved the idea of a land of eternal winter (but not that bad kind like Narnia) and the twists and action kept me up reading at night.

The Young Elites by Marie Lu – Wow, wow, wow. If you haven’t read this yet, what are you waiting for? It’s dark and intriguing and sucks you in from the first page. Lu is superb and if you would like to know more check out my review.

Reviver by Seth Patrick – This is also a dark tale, similar in feel to Odd Thomas if you read those, about a guy who can communicate with the recently deceased and what means for his life. Fantastically done, for more info see my review.

The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black – Clare teams up with a writing partner to bring a Harry Potter-esque book to life in a book way. It has magic and war and family ties. Want to know more? See my review.

The Rook (The Checquy Files) by Daniel O’Malley – What if you woke up and didn’t know who you were but your old self had left clues behind? In a world of magic, mystery, and intensity, Myfanwy isn’t a hero or a villain but desperately need to pretend everything is fine while hunting down whoever betrayed her at the ultra top secret government agency called Chequy. It’s a big long but worth getting into.

Capture The Flag by Kate Messner – I stumbled onto this book one day in the library and was unable to put it down. Three kids trapped in a snowstorm and the Star-Spangled Banner has gone missing, so what are they to do? Well have a romping adventure through the airport, obviously. It will make you laugh and jump and enjoy the ups and downs. Read it.

The Mortality Doctrine by James Dashner – If you have yet to read anything by Dashner or The Maze Runner just didn’t interest you, then try this series on for a try. It’s the future, not dystopia, and virtual reality. There are mysterious killings in the Sleep that happen in the Wake and one man might be behind it all. But in a fake world, how do you tell what’s real? Absolutely brilliant, see her for my review of the first book.

Finishing School by Gail Carriger – A finishing school where they teach you more than just how to drink tea and curtsey properly, that sounds like the place for Sophronia who is more interesting in climbing into dumbwaiters than coaches. The first book takes you on the whirlwind adventure in discovering her new school and place in society. After all, Mademoiselle Geraldine’s girls can’t marry (or kill) just anyone.

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer – If you haven’t heard of Cinder then you must be living under a rock. Everyone is revamping the classics, especially the fairy tales but few of them are doing it as well as Meyer. Her characters have depth and history and are interlocked in ways that you don’t expect. It is beautifully written, a real page-turner, and only slightly dystopian.

Chronicles of Nick by Sherrilyn Kenyon – If you haven’t met Nick Gautier and you’ve been following my blog, we have serious issues. I don’t care if you start with this series or The Dark Hunters (which is actually the preferred starting point) but get reading some Kenyon. There is sex and mythology, New Orleans, hot guys who are badasses fighting on the side of good and mouthy Nick. This is the story of his youth which is why it’s better to start with The Dark Hunters so you understand a lot of it but this series is so amazing that I slam through them as fast as I can read and then regardless of how large they are, go back and reread.