Friday, October 31, 2014

October 2014 Recap

Happy Halloween! I hope everyone is having a spook-tacular day! October was a really, really good month because . . . Blue Lily, Lily Blue! We celebrated its release with some Raven Cycle themed posts because we love the series sooooooo much. Now all three of us have terrible book hangovers that aren't going away any time soon, lol.

Reviews Posted:

Featured Posts:

TBR Reading Challenge Progress:

  • Books Read/Reviewed: 1 (Total for Year: 15)

Australian Women Writers Challenge Progress:

  • Books Read/Reviewed: 1 (Total for Year: 4)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (58): Could You Ever Double As a Spy Like Snape?

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme hosted by Uncorked Thoughts. The aim of this meme is to share with fellow bloggers a character, spell, chapter, object or quote from the books/films/J. K. Rowling herself or anything Potter related! A list of upcoming topics can be found here.

This week's topic is:
Could You Ever Double As a Spy Like Snape?

Could I ever double as a spy like Snape? Nope! There is no possible way I could ever be a double agent comparable to Snape. For one, I am a terrible liar. Secondly, I laugh when I'm nervous or in awkward/tense situations, like a lot. I would be discovered and killed off very early. Allison, on the other hand, would make a very good spy, being a skilled liar and very likable. One would only have to worry about which side she was really loyal to. Lee, sorry, but you're in the same boat as The Melissa.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Book Loot (8)

Some of my most highly anticipated new releases of the year came out this month, and it's been no secret how badly I wanted to get my hands on Blue Lily, Lily Blue. I flew through it faster than any other book I've read this year, and now obviously I'm a wreck because 1) it was phenomenal and 2) the waiting game for the next book begins anew. :(

I'm also sad because both The Darkest Minds and the Guards of the Shadowlands series are coming to an end. I'm expecting plenty of heartache from both In the Afterlight and Chaos—eep!


Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
In the Afterlight by Alexandra Bracken
Chaos by Sarah Fine

eBooks Bought:

Stories from the Shadowlands by Sarah Fine

Monday, October 27, 2014

Review: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner
These Broken Stars (Starbound #1)
By Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

To Sum It Up: A chance encounter on board the spaceliner the Icarus puts military hero Tarver Merendsen in the path of Lilac LaRoux, the daughter of the ship’s builder and a man with wealth that Tarver can only dream of. Lilac, so accustomed to people trying to use her as a means to get to her father, makes it blatantly clear to Tarver that she wants nothing to do with someone like him. That’s unavoidable, however, when disaster strikes the Icarus and Tarver and Lilac’s escape pod crash lands on a planet with no apparent signs of other humans. Stranded for what may very well be the rest of their lives, Tarver and Lilac are forced to work together in order to survive on a planet where no one else seems to have been able to do so.

Review: Count These Broken Stars among the numerous books I decided to read because I’d seen it everywhere. I can’t help the curiosity that accompanies much buzzed about titles, and sometimes they work out. Sometimes they don’t, though, and I’m sorry to say that These Broken Stars falls into this category.

I feel like this book took forever to read. It would seem like I’d read a good number of pages, but when I checked, I’d discover that I hadn’t gotten very far at all. I kept waiting for the magic that had enthralled so many readers to kick in, but alas, I couldn’t find it.

These Broken Stars is told from the perspectives of its two main characters, Tarver and Lilac. He’s from humble roots and made a name for himself as a war hero; she’s known everywhere thanks to her incredibly rich and powerful father. So we have a guy and a girl from polar social classes who are passengers on a spaceship headed for catastrophe. I would have been all right with the very familiar ring of this story if only the book had not employed other tropes as well. First Tarver and Lilac barely tolerate each other, then they gradually warm up to each other, being the only two people on the planet and all. Normally I love slow-building relationships, but like so many other aspects of the novel, this one felt too formulaic. Just about everything that could have happened to characters in this disaster scenario happened to our two protagonists here and without really making me feel that their experience was unique.

Finding an investment in Tarver and Lilac as characters was also a struggle. There’s a lot of, “Someone like him/her doesn’t go for someone like me” and, “I wouldn’t be alive without you” followed by, “No, I wouldn’t be alive without you.” I will give Lilac credit for growing up significantly by the end of the book, though I wasn’t as enthusiastic about how she kept mentioning that her father would be apoplectic to find her with a commoner like Tarver. Tarver’s chapters echoed Lilac’s frequent thoughts about the class difference between them, and I became rather weary of hearing it from both of them.

The most attention grabbing element of this book for me was figuring out what was going on with the planet that Tarver and Lilac found themselves on. The mystery is subtle at first and builds at a nice pace as the novel moves along. The promise of learning about the planet’s secrets is what motivated me to hang in there with These Broken Stars; otherwise, seeing it through to the end would have been even more challenging.

Because the book is so focused on two characters and they didn’t stand out much for me, I never really got into this book. Plenty of other readers loved it immensely, however, so I encourage you to check it out for yourself.

All in All: I feel like I jumped too hastily on the hype train with this one, and I really can’t picture myself going on with the series.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Raven Cycle: Why We Love Blue

I think Blue is so awesome! Everything about her is quirky and hilarious. She fits in so miraculously with the Raven Boys that it's really a surprise that she hasn't been there since the very beginning. I looove her sense of humor; I really feel like she gets most of the best lines. She is definitely one of the bravest and most endearing heroines I have read about. I have never found her annoying or whiny, which is extremely surprising and quite a feat. I really look forward to reading about more of her adventures with or without the boys.

First, Blue is one of the coolest character names ever. I think so, at least. I also think the name just suits her.

Blue impressed me from the get-go because she wasn't impressed with the Raven Boys and their wealth and privilege. She immediately established herself as fiercely independent, unafraid to speak her mind, and very, very astute. She's a character whom I'd switch places with in a heartbeat, and not just because she gets to hang out with Gansey, Ronan, Adam, & Noah (although that is a definite plus). Her life at 300 Fox Way in a house full of psychics also sounds fascinating. Blue is awesome, and I love her lots.

Blue is one of the coolest characters I have ever read about! I love almost everything about her and I'm so glad she's in the series because she balances out the boys very well, lol.

I admire her a lot, especially for strong-arming her way into the Raven Boys clique. It must have been incredibly hard for her. They come from completely different backgrounds and they had all been an extremely close, tight-knit group without her. But Blue managed to fit in perfectly from the start and I'm so grateful for that. I absolutely love Blue for her uniqueness. She is such a strange character. And I don't think it's her psychic family that makes her weirder than others (though I do very much enjoy reading about her family; they're so fun and awesome) but I think it's just her personality. She didn't seem to fit in anywhere, even in her own family, until she found the boys. Though I am worried about how everyone's relationship will change after they finally find Glendower, seeing that it is the common ground holding the gang together, I hope that they all manage to remain friends.

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Raven Cycle: Why We Love Noah

** Spoiler warning if you haven't read The Raven Boys **

How can you not love Noah? To me, he's just one of those characters whom it's nearly impossible not to find endearing. I especially love the connection he and Blue seem to have formed, as well as his uncanny knack for knowing what's really on everybody's mind. It's as though he can see straight into the depths of everyone's souls, and maybe he can, given his backstory . . . .

Said backstory, by the way, totally blew my mind in The Raven Boys. This quiet, unassuming character suddenly became the center of one of the biggest revelations in the novel. And I loved every second of it.

Noah Czerny is the most adorable Raven Boy of them all. He's the quiet yet reliable one in the group. Even though he tends to disappear at times, he is pretty much always there for all of the others. Although some of the the other guys in the group get into little fights, Noah is never one to disturb the peace. I've truly grown to appreciate him throughout the series.

His whole backstory is one that caught me completely by surprise. It's sad that I didn't notice what was going on with him because I was so focused on the others. And that's the point, no one really focuses on him long enough to figure him out. Not even his friends noticed, which is kind of terrible. Even though he's been through so much stuff, Noah has still managed to be strong. I love Noah for a lot of reasons. He's my second favorite character in the series and I look forward to what's in store for him.

Ah. smudgy Noah. What isn't there to love about this Raven Boy? He always brings humor and adorableness to every scene he's in. I was quite devastated to find out he was dead, but he really makes it work. I wonder if death has changed him at all, and if it did I think it was for the best. He interacts so well with each of the boys and Blue because he has one of those personalities that gets along with everyone. I don't think anyone could not love Noah. And that's about all I have to say. Noah is great and I love him.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (57)

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme hosted by Uncorked Thoughts. The aim of this meme is to share with fellow bloggers a character, spell, chapter, object or quote from the books/films/J. K. Rowling herself or anything Potter related! A list of upcoming topics can be found here.

This week's topic is:
If There Was One Thing You Could Change About Harry Potter, What Would It Be?

If I could change one thing about Harry Potter, the only thing that comes to mind is that I wish it was real! Why can't I go to Hogwarts?! XD I feel like everything about the series serves a purpose, even the really sad stuff. All of those intricate parts play an important role in the overall story line, so I don't think you could change anything without changing a whole bunch of other stuff. The series is a masterpiece and I don't think I could ever change it for the better.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Raven Cycle: Why The Melissa Loooooves Adam


Sadly, I was the last one on the Raven Boys bandwagon, but I've made up for it with my overwhelming love and devotion for the series. ;) Like Ally mentioned in her post, we know each other quite well. Just as Lee called Ally's love for Ronan, Ally knew I would like Adam. Now, don't get me wrong, I love all of the characters dearly, but Adam is my favorite. There are so many reasons why I love Adam. He is so sweet and smart and sensitive and exactly my type of guy. I really admire him for always working so hard to be successful and always wanting to do things for himself. However, this leads to Adam's faults, for which I also admire him. Adam is too quick to dismiss help from his friends in favor of taking on the challenge himself. It's really hard for Adam to be surrounded by everything he has always wanted and to have to work so hard for things his friends simply inherited. I think Adam has a more relatable set of challenges than those of his wealthy friends, and I think that makes him easier to relate to. The reader really feels for Adam and his struggles. Sometimes, I wish I could just give him a hug.

I really hope that in Blue Lily, Lily Blue Adam finds some peace and happiness. I hope Adam can take a step back and accept help from his friends without seeing it as charity. I want something good to happen for Adam because he could really use a pick-me-up. Perhaps more than anything I want Adam to get together with Ronan. How fantastic would that be?! Anyway, I am crazy excited to read more about Adam! To be honest, I'm a little worried about him.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Raven Cycle: Why I Love Ronan

My favorite Raven Boy is and always will be Ronan Lynch. I love all of the other guys, Blue included, but there's just something about Ronan that is so likable; which is quite ironic because Ronan does his best to make sure he comes off as unlikable as possible, lol. He is such an amazing character and I've lost count of how many times that I wished he was not just fictional.

It's kind of funny how well Lee, Melissa, and I know each other. Lee was the first person out of our gang to read The Raven Boys and she was the one who pushed me to read it. Not only did she guess correctly about me totally loving the book, but she also guessed that Ronan would be my favorite character. I love pretty much everything about the guy. Superficially, I think he has a really badass name: Ronan Lynch. If I have to pick a name for anything, be it a username or me just trying to rename someone/something, I'll use Ronan's name, lol.

On a deeper level, I admire Ronan for his dedication to his friends and Chainsaw. Ronan really tries his best to make himself appear as tough as nails. It's rare to see him express his emotions, and I love it when he does. I have several favorite scenes with Ronan; many of them including Chainsaw. I think it is absolutely adorable how much Ronan loves his pet raven. I distinctly remember reading about Ronan hiding Chainsaw in his backpack so he could feed her while he was at school. It's one of the sweetest moments I've ever read in any book. Another favorite moment of mine is when Ronan drops Adam home and Ronan drives off, knowing that Adam's father is an ass, only to turn the car around to protect Adam and beat the shit out of the father. Ronan got arrested for Adam. He would practically do anything to help his friends, regardless of what happens to him in the process. I love that about him. In a way, I think he's the most loyal and protective Raven Boy out of the group.

Another reason that I love Ronan is because he is just such an interesting character. I am so glad Ronan gets a lot of spotlight in The Dream Thieves and I can only hope that it continues with Blue Lily, Lily Blue. Ronan has been through so much in his life, most of it centering around his family, and I think he's doing a good job of holding himself together while finally starting to figure out his family secrets. I'm so intrigued by the Lynch family and I'm patiently waiting to get the whole story.

In the end, I think that Ronan is my favorite because out of all the other characters I can relate to him the most. We actually have a lot in common. We both love animals, lol, we both have the same sense of humor, we are both fiercely loyal to our friends and family, and we both try to keep our feelings inside. I feel like I can understand his character quite well and I enjoy that. It makes me feel more connected to the story. Ronan Lynch is such a badass character and I'm very much looking forward to reading more about him.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Raven Cycle: Why I Love Gansey

Richard Campbell Gansey III. Gansey. It makes no difference to me what he prefers to be called; my heart would belong to this Raven Boy regardless.

I was instantly captivated by Gansey's character. I mean, Maggie Stiefvater has given Blue and all four of the boys such rich, meticulously constructed backstories, but Gansey's just took over my brain and heart and shows no signs of letting go. Ever.

What I love most about Gansey is how much he cares about his friends, and the newest addition to their little group, Blue. In a lot of ways, Gansey reminds me of a parent, with his worry in The Raven Boys over Adam's home situation and Ronan's possible expulsion from Aglionby. Yes, Gansey has had the luxury of a life of privilege and occasionally comes across as condescending to those who don't know him well, but I really think that he has a kind heart with genuinely generous intentions.

On a lighter, and maybe even quirkier, note, I feel a sort of kinship with Gansey for needing to hold his phone right up to his face if he's not wearing contacts or glasses. That is a scenario I know all too well. I usually turn my phone on first thing in the morning before even getting out of bed, and I have to hover it really, really, dangerously close to my face. I have actually texted Ally and The Melissa like this and have actually texted, "I'm in Gansey mode right now." Yes, I really am this obsessed with this character.

Of course I can't write about Gansey without also writing about Glendower, the Welsh king of legend who is at the center of Gansey's obsessive search. There is no other word to describe Gansey's quest but "obsessive" because Glendower is the be-all and end-all for Gansey. The never ending, all-consuming, exhaustive research. The journal. I'm a little nervous about what will happen if Gansey does find his sleeping king. I hope Glendower isn't going to be all angry about the interruption to his nap and smite the person responsible. Gansey's previous brush with death and the whole Blue-related matter make me even more nervous on his behalf. Obviously, the last thing I want is to see anything bad befall him, but the odds look a tad unfavorable at the moment.

I've missed Gansey tons in the year that's passed since The Dream Thieves, and I cannot wait to read about him again (and everybody, really). I'll try to savor every page he appears on and every line of dialogue he utters, but part of me also can't devour the books in this series fast enough.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Week of The Raven Cycle

Do you love Maggie Stiefvater's Raven Cycle series? We do! And if you're also a fan, then you know that book #3, Blue Lily, Lily Blue, releases this Tuesday! All three of us have literally been waiting for this book since we finished The Dream Thieves a little over a year ago and were subsequently wrecked for a while. Well, the wait is just about over, and we're celebrating with a week's worth of Raven Cycle related posts:

  • Monday, October 20: Lee's post about Gansey
  • Tuesday, October 21: Ally's post about Ronan
  • Wednesday, October 22: The Melissa's post about Adam
  • Friday, October 24: Group post about Noah
  • Saturday, October 25: Group post about Blue

Yep, there will be some extreme fangirling over this series and its characters for the next few days. :D

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (56)

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme hosted by Uncorked Thoughts. The aim of this meme is to share with fellow bloggers a character, spell, chapter, object or quote from the books/films/J. K. Rowling herself or anything Potter related! A list of upcoming topics can be found here.

This week's topic is:
Where Would You Live As a Witch/Wizard?

If I was lucky enough to be a witch, I would definitely be living someplace magical. Hopefully, I’d be staying at Hogwarts for a couple of years and then after graduation I would like to think that I would find a nice little place close to Diagon Alley. Or, even better, I’d try to crash at Number 12, Grimmauld Place, lol.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
Isla and the Happily Ever After (Anna and the French Kiss #3)
By Stephanie Perkins
Dutton Books
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

To Sum It Up: Isla Martin never thought that the crush she’s had on Josh Wasserstein since their freshman year at the School of America in Paris would develop into anything more than that. Running into Josh in New York during summer break, though, marks the start of something for both of them that continues when they return to Paris for the school year. Soon Isla is living a dream, but with graduation looming for her and Josh, the two must figure out a way to stay together.

Review: Anna and the French Kiss was one of the first YA contemporary romances I read shortly after I’d begun reading in earnest again as an adult. I remember being pleasantly surprised by how it told a sweet story that had substance to it. There’s a fine line between sweet and cloying, and with Isla and the Happily Ever After, Stephanie Perkins delivers another winning novel that warms your heart without getting sappy or melodramatic whenever the characters face conflict.

Two things that I’ve especially loved about Anna, Lola and the Boy Next Door, and now Isla are the main characters’ interesting backstories and how engaging they are as narrators. They also strike an excellent balance between being characters you can’t help but root for and being realistically flawed. Even as some of Isla’s actions made me go, “No, no, no!” I couldn’t fault her for them because I completely understood her reasoning behind them. It’s just that I so badly wanted to see Isla’s fairytale romance with Josh reach an equally fairytale ending that it pained me whenever insecurity got the better of her.

I think “fairytale romance” is an apt description of Isla and Josh’s relationship. It’s epic and sweeping and swoon-worthy. It’s about falling totally, absolutely, madly in love. It’s not fleeting teenage infatuation, either; what Isla and Josh have is the real deal, complete with the very real problem of what happens to them when they graduate high school. Josh is ready to take his drawing talents further, but Isla is unsure of what career path she wants to pursue. Perkins wields an expert touch with her writing whenever her novels take on a more serious tone, and I think that’s what sets her books apart from other YA contemporary romances. They’re just believable, from the characters to the story lines. Even contemporary fiction is, well, inherently fictional, but some books succeed better than others at immersing you so thoroughly in the story that at times you forget that you’re reading a work of fiction. Isla is that kind of book.

Isla’s descriptions of Paris, Barcelona, and my beloved New York were absolutely beautiful and just one more reason to love this novel. Love stories don’t always agree with this stony heart, but all three of Stephanie Perkins’s novels have been notable exceptions to that.

All in All: The charming story that began with Anna and the French Kiss comes full circle in this equally sweet conclusion.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Blackbrooke III: King of Queens: Character Interview

Today we're thrilled to spotlight Emma Silver's Blackbrooke III: King of Queens, the final installment in the Blackbrooke trilogy, with an interview with our favorite character from the series, Denzil Rathbone. King of Queens releases tomorrow, and if you're looking for some spooky reads in time for Halloween, definitely check out this series!

** Our Interview with Denzil **

Hi Denzil! We're thrilled to welcome you back to Rally the Readers for a third visit!

Awesome to speak to you. Jones and his cronies stole the postcard you sent me so I’m glad you got back in touch.

How rude of them! Well, we're glad to hear from you, too! A lot of things have changed since we last talked, including a big one for you: how did it feel to cut off your dreads?

Oh wow, it was a big moment. It takes a lot of work to completely leave your hair alone, without washing or combing it. So many years. No, I had to after the tunnels. I was covered in blood and once it dried it really did smell bad. Maz wouldn’t come near me and I had to bite the bullet and get the clippers out. The problem is you can see my face now. I didn’t realise my face was so long actually. I look in the mirror and see a horse. Maz likes it, so that’s all that matters I suppose.

Taking out Crits can't be a pleasant experience, but when it's necessary, what's your weapon of choice?

I like a gun. I don’t have too many of them after the famous Jones clearout. It’s a good clean way of getting the job done. I must say though, if I had a flamethrower, I’d be all over it. I could waste a long line of them with one of those . . . .

What are your feelings towards Cassius these days? What do you think about Liberty's feelings towards him?

I’m shaking my head right now. Listen, I liked the kid when we were doing the Scooby gang thing. I thought he was sweet and you could tell he had feelings for Liberty. I would have trusted her life with him. It’s a different story now. He’s let the power go to his head and the hatred he’s got for her makes my blood boil. That’s teenagers for you - the world ends over the most ridiculous things. I mean, a kiss for god’s sake? Get a grip, man. Liberty is doing her usual martyr crap. She loves him in some weird way, but it’s that typical thing she does. The girl wants to change the world and maybe he’s the next project. I don’t know. It’s been a fair few years since I was that age, so I’m probably not being fair.

What's your worst memory from Blackbrooke? Favorite?

Worst? Hmmm, there’s been a fair few shit moments. Can I say shit? [Absolutely!] Anyway, some of the worst times have been to do with Maz, unfortunately. Losing her to Jonathan Jones, seeing her get married and have a kid, losing her a second time when she joined Fuller’s vigilantes, watching her get bit by a Hunter . . . . Yeah, it’s been rough. My favourite memories, aside to the early days with Maz, are probably when it was just me and Lib working in the shop. She started out a little brat, but you can’t fault that sense of humour. She’s a smart little lady, and she gets me. Not many people have ever really got me in my life so meeting a teenage girl who did was a surprise. She gave me a reason to be alive when I needed it the most. I don’t want to say too much about that though, she’s already a nightmare. Don’t want that head getting any bigger.

With this part of Blackbrooke's story coming to a close, any parting thoughts?

It’s been a rush! I have so many things I could say about Blackbrooke. Sometimes it makes me laugh until I cry and sometimes I just . . . cry! One thing I learnt was the importance of people. If all of this happened when I didn’t have Liberty or Maz in my life, I would have walked out and ended it at the first opportunity. People give you the reason to go on and fight for what’s right. I’m just pissed off that I spent so many years pushing people away and living as a recluse. I call those the wasted years!

Thanks so much for all of the time you've given us not just for this interview but for your previous blog chats as well. All the best to you in the future!

My pleasure, ladies. Hey, if you’re in the area, drop by some time.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

ARC Review: Blackbrooke III: King of Queens by Emma Silver

Blackbrooke III: King of Queens by Emma Silver
Blackbrooke III: King of Queens
By Emma Silver
Crooked Cat Publishing
Format: eBook
Source: Author
Publication Date: October 14, 2014

To Sum It Up: Liberty Connor has returned to Blackbrooke to try and save her town from being destroyed not only by the Crits but by a human threat as well. Liberty’s odds of even surviving long in Blackbrooke, where the Rules no longer apply and the Crits terrorize the residents day and night, are slim, but she’s determined to fight until the end. She’ll have to put aside whatever feelings she still has for Cassius Godwin, whom she’s known since childhood but who now leads the Crits on a mission to obliterate Blackbrooke.

Lee's Review: With Halloween right around the corner, now is the perfect time for a scare-tastic read like Blackbrooke III: King of Queens. I’m also feeling a bit sentimental about the book, as it’s the last chapter in a series about a small English town where the absolutely terrifying creatures known as Crits menace the residents, essentially keeping the humans prisoner within Blackbrooke’s borders. It’s been a thrilling ride across three novels, and King of Queens concludes the trilogy with a strong finish.

Being the hopeless wimp that I am, I don’t typically gravitate towards books with a high scare factor, but I’ve very much enjoyed this series. The Crits are grotesque as hell, but that’s been the fun of reading about them. You don’t get too far into King of Queens before you’re reminded of how vicious they are and how much they love to snack on humans. You also spend a good deal of the book waiting for them to strike yet again and horrified when they do. The suspense and pacing of the action are so spot-on here. A constant feeling of unease hangs in the air while reading this because you never know what the Crits and their human leader, Cassius, are going to do next.

Cassius, once teased mercilessly as a child by the other Blackbrooke kids, now wields the upper hand as the only person who holds the closest thing to control over the Crits. He and his “army” engage in a chilling game of cat and mouse with Blackbrooke’s residents. All the while, though, he seems to have a cryptic, alternate agenda on his mind, too. Working out exactly what Cassius’s endgame is adds even more mystery to an already taut story.

I love how the axe has become protagonist Liberty’s favorite weapon. With her axe in hand, there’s no stopping her, not even the pleas of her friends to not venture out on her own to face Cassius and the Crits. That’s why Liberty finds herself back in Blackbrooke, though, and once she sets her mind to a task, there’s no second guessing for her.

Watching the development of this story and these characters has been awesome. Even during the occasional moments when I wanted to cover my eyes, I didn’t because that would have meant turning away from the page. Although the ending of King of Queens couldn’t have been written any more perfectly, I think it’d be cool to eventually have a follow-up, even just a novella, to check in once more on Liberty and her companions.

All in All: If you’re looking for a pre-Halloween fright, then you need to start this series. I became more invested with each book I read, and Blackbrooke III: King of Queens was a very satisfying series finale.

Ally's Review: The much anticipated Blackbrooke III: King of Queens did not disappoint! It felt so energizing to be back in Blackbrooke, especially since the last book left off with a terrible (and when I say terrible, I mean that in the best way possible) cliffhanger. I easily got caught up in all the wonderful action and managed to finish the entire book in one night.

With every installment in the Blackbrooke series comes the promise of action and horror, which is one of the main aspects that I love about the books. This particular book is, in my opinion, the scariest. I made the mistake of starting the book at night time and I was flipping out whenever any of the Crits, especially the Queens, made an appearance. Instead of getting used to the Crits and their violence towards the humans, I was more horrified than ever. And I loved it. It's incredibly hard to find a good book that can actually scare you as a reader. I admire Blackbrooke for its ability to terrify me and I patiently await the day when I can find another series to compete with it. Along with the horror, there is plenty of action. All of the characters are such badasses! If I could describe King of Queens in just one word it would be badass. There was not one dull moment in the whole entire book. The story is fast-paced and it flowed perfectly. I was thankful that I didn't have to wait too long for some of the confrontations because the suspense was killing me.

The characters are yet another reason to love this series. I am so proud of Liberty, the main female character. Throughout the series, she has grown into a remarkably strong woman, and I love the fact that she doesn't sit around and let others do the work for her. Her relationship with Cassius had me on edge throughout the entire book. Cassius turning "evil" wrecked me. At first, I welcomed it, thinking that it would be an interesting twist to the story, but I soon missed the old Cass. It's weird, because in the previous books I had a hard time connecting to him and I honestly couldn't care less about his character. But something about him being evil changed my perspective. It is very difficult and slightly depressing to read about him and Libby being on opposing sides. My favorite character is and always will be Denzil. Denzil is so wonderfully humorous; he brings rays of sunshine into the otherwise dark and scary town of Blackbrooke. I felt that he also grew up a lot this time around, and I credit him for keeping the gang together.

The only aspect of the book that I did not enjoy was the fact that I felt like while some of the characters (Libby) were figuring stuff out, I was still left in the dark. Normally, mysteries do not bother me, seeing that I enjoy puzzling them out. The problem was that I felt like the mystery was solved but the answers weren't clearly stated. I had to do a lot of guesswork when it came to figuring out what had happened and what was going on.

The ending. Oh my God, the ending is so ridiculously beautiful, I couldn't help but laugh. Everything fell perfectly in place, and I couldn't have asked for anything more. All of the characters got exactly what they deserved. It was just a perfect ending to the series. I have enough closure to move on with my life but I am still invested enough to want to know what happens next. Hopefully, this won't be the last time I see Libby and the gang.

All in All: King of Queens is a brilliant addition to an amazing series. Everything, ranging from the horror to the plot, is on point. I loved every single action-packed moment and I couldn't be happier with how things were left off.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (55): Quibbler or Daily Prophet?

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme hosted by Uncorked Thoughts. The aim of this meme is to share with fellow bloggers a character, spell, chapter, object or quote from the books/films/J. K. Rowling herself or anything Potter related! A list of upcoming topics can be found here.

This week's topic is:
Quibbler or Daily Prophet?

I'm going with The Quibbler on this one. It gave Harry a voice when the Ministry of Magic used the Prophet to drag Harry and Dumbledore's names through the mud. Plus, I think it'd be cool to try on a pair of Spectrespecs!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Review: Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead

* This review may contain spoilers for the previous books in the Bloodlines series.

Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead
Silver Shadows (Bloodlines #5)
By Richelle Mead
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

To Sum It Up: Sydney’s worst nightmare has come true: she’s been taken to an Alchemist re-education center, where the Alchemists’ methods for reinforcing loyalty to the organization are every bit as horrible as she feared. Sydney’s prison even prevents Adrian from contacting her through dreams. With no apparent way out of the Alchemists’ grasp, not even Sydney’s formidable logic and resourcefulness may be enough to help her escape.

Review: Although I enjoyed reading The Fiery Heart, I couldn’t help feeling that it just didn’t quite have the same spark as the other Bloodlines novels. Silver Shadows, on the other hand, was absolutely awesome. I devoured it in a little over a day, completely absorbed by poor Sydney’s imprisonment by the Alchemists and both her and Adrian’s attempts to break her out of there.

Sydney is incredible in this book. She’s always been skilled at using logic to escape tough situations, but Alchemist re-education is unlike anything she’s previously gone up against. It’s hell. Re-education has been alluded to in the previous books as something to be avoided at all costs, but it’s another thing entirely to watch Sydney endure physical and psychological torment at the Alchemists’ hands, all in the name of “cleansing” her sin. The Alchemists preach about the evils of vampires, but they’re perfectly fine with breaking their own people.

Even under these conditions, though, Sydney continues to fight. The other detainees in the re-education facility are wary of her because they don’t want association with someone so tainted to delay their own release. Still, Sydney manages to muster a few tenuous alliances in a place where anyone could betray her at any time.

Adrian, meanwhile, is totally falling apart in Sydney’s absence. His spiral into self-destruction is heartbreaking. He’s never felt like more of a failure because he’s unable to find a single clue to Sydney’s whereabouts, even through dreams. Adrian’s struggles may be of a different nature than Sydney’s, but his pain is very much as searing as hers is.

The tension build-up in Silver Shadows is superb. There’s barely a lull in the novel, especially in Sydney’s chapters. Her mind is always at work to undermine her captors, all while she tries to convince them that rehabilitation is working. It takes Adrian a while to find his way, but when he does . . . he’s simply amazing. I didn’t think it was possible to love him more than I already did, but by the end of this book, I’d found tons more love for him. I can’t forget to mention how much I loved Adrian and Sydney’s extended family, too: Jill, Eddie, Angeline, Trey, new-ish guy Neil, Ms. Terwilliger, and, of course, little Hopper. They’d do anything for each other, and that’s truly on display here. Heck, this book even gave me a newfound respect for rebel Alchemist Marcus Finch.

Richelle Mead is brilliant at dropping bombshell endings, and this one . . . . Let’s just say that I wish I could fast forward time to the release date for the next book.

All in All: Silver Shadows blew me away. The dual POVs suited it perfectly, and it just threw twist after twist at you.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

20 Things You Might Not Know About Me

I saw this post over at my buddy Micheline's blog, Lunar Rainbows, and thought it was awesome. I really enjoy reading these kinds of posts and figured I'd join in on the fun, so here goes:

1. How tall are you?
I stand a whopping 5'0"! And by "whopping," obviously I mean "not whopping."

2. Do you have a hidden talent? If so, what?
If I have a hidden talent, then it's still hidden because I got nothing for this question.

3. What's your biggest blog related pet peeve?
Captcha. I usually have a hard time deciphering those things and get frazzled when it complains that I've entered the jumble of letters/numbers incorrectly. Yes, spam comments are annoying, but I find Captcha even more so.

4. What's your biggest non-blog related pet peeve?
Rudeness. There's just no excuse for it.

5. What's your favorite song?
"(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding?" - Elvis Costello & The Attractions

6. What's your favorite Etsy shop that isn't yours?
I haven't checked out Etsy very much, which is a good thing because I'd probably spend a ton of money.

7. What's your favorite way to spend your free time when you're alone?
Reading, knitting.

8. What's your favorite junk food?
Reese's Peanut Butter anything: cups, pumpkins, Christmas trees, eggs. You get the idea.

9. Do you have a pet or pets? If so, what kind and what are their names?
I don't have any pets of my own, but I do spoil the heck out of Ally and Melissa's dog, Tyler:

10. What are your favorite fiction and nonfiction books?
I don't read much nonfiction, but I do enjoy reading about medieval history. As for fiction, I'll keep it simple and name just a few of my faves: Persuasion by Jane Austen, A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin, The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare, The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater.

11. What's your favorite beauty product?
Clinique Almost Lipstick. Love that stuff!

12. When were you last embarrassed? What happened?
I'm really awkward and embarrass myself often. Last week I had one of those moments where you wave at somebody you think you know and upon closer inspection you realize the person is a total stranger and probably now thinks you're a weirdo.

13. If you could only drink one beverage (besides water) for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Tea, of the plain old Lipton variety.

14. What's your favorite movie?
Like the favorite books question, there are too many to list here, so I'll just pick a few: Dirty Dancing, the original Star Wars movies, just about every Marvel movie, The Little Mermaid, Frozen.

15. What were you in high school: prom queen, nerd, cheerleader, jock, valedictorian, band geek, loner, artist, prep?
Nerd, for sure, though it's taken all these years to embrace my geekiness and be proud of it.

16. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?
Maybe England or Ireland. I'd consider going back to NYC as long as I didn't have to shovel snow.

17. PC or Mac?
As a college freshman I learned computer programming on a Mac, but everything was PC after that and has been ever since.

18. Last romantic gesture from a crush, date, boy/girlfriend, spouse?
Alas, I am still waiting to meet the real life counterpart to my fictional boyfriends.

19. Favorite celebrity?
Richard Armitage. My North and South DVDs are probably in danger of wearing out, particularly disc 2.

20. What blogger do you secretly wish you were best friends with?
I think of all of you whom I regularly chat with as besties. Seriously, I love you guys! ❤

If you decide to participate with a post of your own, please let me know, and I'll check it out!

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