Monday, July 28, 2014

Book Review: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2)

Sarah J. Maas

Review of Throne of Glass

Published Date: August 27th 2013

Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens

Pages: 420

Genre:  Fantasy, Young Adult

From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.

Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.

Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena's world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie...and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.
Wow, what a journey this read was. Celaena returns and now that she’s been made the champion. This means she has to start killing for the King. Her work towards freedom is far from finished.

Crown of Midnight deals with the aftermath and the deepening of the mystery surrounding Elana and the current King. So much happens, I don’t even know where to begin.

The romance is less fluff and more serious this time around. It developed by obviously and naturally. It became quite intense, but it was the perfect amount of intensity for me and it had a solid foundation.

There are so many things happening in this castle, there is so much mystery and so much intrigue. We answer some questions, but then many more are revealed.

The ending did feel a bit over-stretched due to the climax happening a bit sooner in Crown of Midnight than in most books, but the characters and plot are well-thought out and I can’t help but love it all.

My favourite thing about this series is how each character has their own plot and their own problems and goals to deal with. They don’t just exist to help the main character, but instead work and think independently of her.

I feel what started out as something simple has shown to be so much deeper. I cannot wait to pick up the next book and then I already know that when the series is finished I want to reread it from the beginning. I have a feeling that this is well-planned out and I’d love to read it while knowing the hidden truth.

I feel as if straight out fantasy like this has become rarer and rarer in YA of recent. There’s a lot of paranormal, supernatural and light fairytale fantasy, but less high fantasy. This is definitely one of my favourites I have read, so if you enjoy YA fantasy and haven’t tried picking up this series yet, I recommend it.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Book Review: The Possession by J.D. Spikes

The Possession (Secret Journals #1)

J.D. Spikes

ARC Disclaimer: I was not paid in any way by the publishers to review this book favourably. The review is my own honest opinion (Whether or not it is agreed with).

Publisher: Lachesis Publishing

Pages: 212

Genre:  Paranormal, Romance, Horro, Young Adult

Daphne Wentworth is almost seventeen, definitely a red head, and most likely the tallest girl in her class, which is awkward to say the least when it comes to dating boys in her school. But she doesn’t have to worry about school for the next two months since she’s spending the summer at her aunt Dwill’s lighthouse in Maine. What she does have to worry about is seeing ghosts in the lighthouse cemetery, having strange dreams, and hearing the voices of star-crossed lovers who lived two-hundred years ago. And then there’s a local boy named Zach Philbrook who works for her aunt. He’s too gorgeous for his own good. He’s also very tall, with midnight black hair, and the most beautiful indigo blue eyes Daphne has ever seen. Zach is treated like an outcast by the local teens in town. He’s Micmac and therefore not “one of the gang”. Daphne can’t help being drawn to his strength, especially considering that he’s had to live his entire life dealing with ignorance. But the local teens aren’t the only trouble-makers in town. As Zach and Daphne get closer, the lighthouse ghost lovers begin haunting them. When Daphne and Zach try to figure out how to fight them, the spirits get bolder and more dangerous. So how do you protect yourself from something that isn’t really there?
The Possession is a book about curses, ghosts and prejudices. It is set in a small town and lighthouse where the main character, Daphne is helping her aunt out. She meets the Native American, Zach while helping to clean the lighthouse’s graveyard and then everything starts to go crazy.

My main issue with The Possession is the suddenness of the romance. There is absolutely no build-up or courting it is just BAM they meet for the first time (despite her having visited this area for years) BAM they are in love and act as if they are girlfriend and boyfriend. Excepting that, they did have a rather good portrayal of relationship that is going from new to serious, so if Spikes hadn’t just skipped to there it would have been done quite well.

Lack of build-up was also at fault with the mystery as well. It felt like we went straight from nothing to everything. I did enjoy the mystery, however. I loved reading about the ghostly couple and the troubles they went through trying to have a bi-racial bi-cultural relationship in that time period. I also enjoyed how the “curse” caused this relationship to repeat itself generation after generation.

I also loved the setting of the old lighthouse. It was something different and highly interesting.

Do you like ghostly mysteries? Do you like lighthouses? Do you like fated romances at are bi-racial, bi-culture? Then it doesn't hurt to pick up this book and give it a try


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Update: Moving Apartments~!

So, posting reviews has taken a little bit of a hit for me right now, but there is a very important reason...


I have been working hard to secure a new apartment for the last couple of months and now it is officially mine and I have a couple of weeks to move all of my stuff.

Needless to say, I'm a bit busy.

There is also one other thing. My new place... it won't have internet until at least August 14th (unless I borrow money from someone to get it set up). So... even though I will be reading and writing reviews, I may not be able to post them up for a while.

I may schedule up a few while I still have internet (and a couple of blog tours as well), but the speed will obviously go down for a couple of weeks.

So... consider me on a sort of semi-hiatus.

And wish me luck with OPERATION LIVE WITHOUT TRUE INTERNET (because phones don't count).

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Book Review: Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George

Princess of the Midnight Ball (Princess #1)

Jessica Day George

Publication Date: January 20th 2009

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Pages: 280

Genre:  Fairytale, Young Adult

A tale of twelve princesses doomed to dance until dawn… 

Galen is a young soldier returning from war; Rose is one of twelve princesses condemned to dance each night for the King Under Stone. Together Galen and Rose will search for a way to break the curse that forces the princesses to dance at the midnight balls. All they need is one invisibility cloak, a black wool chain knit with enchanted silver needles, and that most critical ingredient of all—true love—to conquer their foes in the dark halls below. But malevolent forces are working against them above ground as well, and as cruel as the King Under Stone has seemed, his wrath is mere irritation compared to the evil that awaits Galen and Rose in the brighter world above. 

Captivating from start to finish, Jessica Day George’s take on the Grimms’ tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses demonstrates yet again her mastery at spinning something entirely fresh out of a story you thought you knew.
If anyone keeps up and reads many of my reviews than you know that there are a few things I really appreciate in a book. I enjoy stories that are written simply and non-dramatically. In other words, I tend to find other things more exciting in a book (such as the adventure). This is possibly why I enjoy most fantasy retellings so much, as they have all ended up similar tones of storytelling.

Princess of the Midnight Ball benefits from this as well. The romance happens, but they don't dwell on it. There is a terrible thing happening to the girls, but they try their hardest to just weather through it instead of going 'woe is me' in the inner voices. It's very refreshing.

This book is a retelling of the "Twelve Dancing Princesses", a very popular fairytale to retell since it has many elements that can be dealt with in an interesting way. Unlike many of the retellings, however, a little more than half the book is told from the point of view of our hero. On top of that, most of the parts from Rose (our eldest sister's) perspective is told in a limited way, keeping our knowledge of everything at a similar level to Galen (our hero).

Speaking of Galen, he is a wonderfully faceted hero. His personality is so refreshing among all of the brooding heroes in young adult fiction. And I can't resist a man who knits and is proud of it.

Our princesses are well established as well. It is hard to get twelve sisters to stick in your mind. George managed to get half of them established enough that I knew who they were and what their personalities were like off-hand.

As this has become a basic book in the libraries of those who love fairytale retellings, I'm sure many of you have read this book. If you are a fairytale fan and you haven't yet, however, I strongly urge you to. It's cute and full of adventure.


Friday, July 18, 2014

Blog Tour and Kindle Giveaway: Shattering Halos by Sunniva Dee

Shattering Halos (Halos #1)

Sunniva Dee

Goodreads | Amazon | Tour 

Publication Date: February 24th 2014

Pages: 362

Genre:  Paranormal Romance, New Adult
I traded my death for love. I wasn’t given a choice. His decision has caught up with us, so now I am a living, breathing catalyst to war between Heaven and Hell.

The violations he committed saved my life. Since the collision, he’s appeared everywhere. In my hospital room, my school, even my house. He shows up in my paintings, my drawings, in all of my art projects. I can’t stop thinking about him.

He says his name is Gabriel, and he doesn’t understand what’s happening to him. He doesn’t know how I can see him or why he wants me in ways that should be impossible for a Celestial.

My obsession grows. I need him to hold me, kiss me—give all of himself. For every day he protects me, the consequences loom darker and taller. Soon, they’ll crash down on us.

The war is about to begin.
When Shattering Halos starts it is a story about obsession. It is frightening to read, even. For some it may seem romantic, but for me I didn't trust it one second. I was worried I wasn't going to like this book because of how much it put me off. Then our two main characters stop fighting and the story changes.

The last two-thirds of this book are an epic paranormal ride. As soon as the actual plot and stakes are introduced things become interesting. We start to learn about this world and become involved. Dee has a way with words. Her sentences compelled me and dragged me along. Her prose style in the beginning is different than most New Adult or Young Adult out there, less straight forward and little more dreamy and it ends up working for her well. The reader is made to feel like they are passing through a dream in that first third, which is very close to Gaia, our main character is feeling throughout it.

Cassiel is the strongest out of all the characters dealt with in the book. Unfortunately Gaia and Gabriel fall flat when portrayed on their own. It's their relationship and romance that is the true main character of the book and not them. Cassiel on the other hand is layered. He's the one that becomes the most interesting to follow. I would read more books with him as a main character.

I recommend this to people who enjoy stories of angels and fallen angels. I also believe that if you are into reading epic romances (even if some realism is lost in loo of epicness) this is definitely a book for you. It is not surprising that most of the 5 star reviews I've seen around laud the romance as being amazing.


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Feature & Follow: Funny Videos

Question of the Week: Funny Videos

So my funny video once again  brings my Morning Musume obsession to light. These video feature two of the old members attempting to relate a story in English and being quite brilliant lol.

Please watch and enjoy!


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Book Review: The One by Kiera Cass

The One (The Selection #3)

Kiera Cass

Review of The Selection
Review of The Elite (The Selection #2)

Publication Date: June 5th 2014

Publisher: HarperTeen

Pages: 325

Genre:  Fantasy-esque, Dystopia-esque, Romance, Young Adult

For the four girls who remain at the palace, the friendships they’ve formed, rivalries they’ve struggled with and dangers they’ve faced have bound them to each other for the rest of their lives.

Now, the time has come for one winner to be chosen.

America never dreamed she would find herself anywhere close to the crown – or to Prince Maxon’s heart. But as the competition approaches its end and the threats outside the palace walls grow more vicious, America realises just how much she stands to lose – and how hard she’ll have to fight for the future she wants.
Yes. This one is the best one. I can't believe this is the same writer as the first book, she has improved so much for me. Although maybe gulping both this and The Elite one right after each other on the same day could be coloring my view.

The highlight of this book for me (I'm sure it's not true of everyone) is not the romance but instead the friendships and politics of the book.

On top of that Cass manages to show growth in almost every single character still around in this final book. The final four girls left, aside from America, are the side characters where it's the most obvious. It makes me want to go re-read the first book again just to remember how they were when they had started and truly appreciate what they've grown into. America herself grows tremendously as well, from a girl who just wanted to marry the boy of her dreams to the girl who wants to make a difference.

It's hard to talk about this book without revealing all. I laughed. I cried. I almost missed my bell to go to class because I became so absorbed. I am glad I gave this series another chance after a rocky start. I think the first book is a poor introduction to all of the non-romance parts that this series has to offer, but on the other hand it was a good set-up for things to come.

One thing that's true however is that The One is a different book than The Selection. Lucky for me that was a good thing.

This is a fantastic end that cleans up the loose ends of the previous book and ends at a place that feels comfortable and finished. This series is good. It is a fantasy story based in a possible future of our own world. It is a princess story that doesn't shy from the politics of the situation. And it is a love story that plays out dramatically, but realistically.


Friday, July 11, 2014

Book Review: Cress by Marissa Meyer

Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3)

Marissa Meyer

Review of Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2)
Review of Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1)

Publication Date: February 4th 2014

Publisher: Feiwel and Friends

Pages: 550

Genre:  Fairytale, Scifi, Adventure, Young Adult

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

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

When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has
Finishing Cress left me with a similar sensation to the first time I read Scarlet, that I liked it, but not as much as I hoped I would. I think for me, the Lunar Chronicles are a series I have to reread, because for some reason I enjoy them better the second time around. Honestly this makes them more valuable as books than those that I read once, enjoy immensely and never pick up again. These books have a lasting power.

Cress sees the continuation of the overreaching plotline from Cinder with the addition of the characters from Scarlet, plus the new plotline taken from the fairy tale "Rapunzel". "Rapunzel" happens to be one of my favourite fairy tales, though I still don't know why. I remembered watching closely when I heard Disney were going to get their hands into it (long before the general public knew), the pain when it got shelved again and the joy when it was brought back and designs were released. I went to see it opening night. I also wrote my own interpretation of the story in the story telling medium of Visual Novels.

One interesting thing that I have taken from these different versions is that Rapunzel ends up being characterized the same way: naive and awkward. But really, realistically how else is a girl supposed to be when trapped in a tower for so long? Cress is certainly my favourite version I have read. The way she is written and presented as a character once again solidifies what I stated in my review of Scarlet, that Meyer does characters strong and well. The relationship is also my favourite of the three presented so far in the series, it's adorable, quirky and tentative. Both of them are out of their depths and it's wonderful.

Though the characters are the stars of the books, the plot also continues to hold my attention, which after three books of it is not an easy task.

The biggest issue I had while reading the book can only get worse, unfortunately with the final installment. With each book, there is an increase of characters and plotlines. Last book, the balance was perfect. This time around, with Cress I started to feel a little overwhelmed. The story of Rapunzel got shafted a bit in the end, having to bow to getting the characters to where they're supposed to do so the main plot doesn't fall apart. Unlike in the first two books, this time I can see obviously where bits from the fairy tale were forced it. It was less natural.

I do think that this is something that will improve upon rereading and honestly I'm being a bit strict, perhaps, but I feel as though Cinder and Scarlet have set a bar.

All of that said, I am incredibly intrugued by the charactera of Winter and her probably beau and cannot wait to read them.

Are you not reading this series yet? Seriously? Get on it! Even if you're not a fairy tale person, it's a great YA Scifi story. Though of course loving fairy tales increases it's enjoyability. I'm also starting to believe that very few authors do characters as well as she does. Pretty much I recommend this to everyone. Read it!