Thursday, December 31, 2015

December 2015 Recap

Hello, friends! Well, here we are, at the end of another year together. The last few posts have been all about looking back at 2015; I also got in a few book reviews this month, which I was very happy about because December is usually a tough month to get any reading done with all of the holiday stuff going on. I spent a good part of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day just sitting on my butt and reading, and it was heavenly.

All three of us wish all of you a very Happy 2016, and all the best in all the things! ♥

Reviews Posted:

Featured Posts:

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (112)

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme hosted by Uncorked Thoughts and Lunar Rainbows Reviews. 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:
Favorite Wand from the Series? Not the One You'd Want for Yourself but Your Favorite Out of the Ones We Learned About.

Harry's wand, for sure. It completely fascinated me from the moment Harry got it at Ollivander's, plus, its phoenix feather came from Fawkes. ♥ I wouldn't have traded it for the Elder Wand, either.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015 Rewind: The Blogging

This is my fourth year writing a rewind post, and that’s kind of hard to believe. 2012 was my first year of blogging, and there’s definitely a feeling of wow—I’m still at this four years later. I’m not always the greatest at sticking with things, but here’s what I realized in 2015: I love book blogging.

In my reading rewind post, I mentioned how crazy things got outside of books and blogging this past year, especially since I had to devote a couple of months to a course I needed to complete for work. It was also kind of a crappy year in general, the sort where the lows outnumbered the highs, and I’ll be glad to put 2015 behind me in a few days. It’s not necessarily for privacy reasons that I’m not going into specifics; it’s because this blog has truly become a space where I shut out the worries of everyday life and focus on something that brings me happiness: books.

I always feel awkward about patting myself on the back, but I do have to say that I’m proud that the blog kept going even while I was studying, studying, studying. Finding the time to read and blog was tough, but it felt necessary; I had to maintain this part of my life because it’s come to mean so much to me. In the past there have been times when I’ve viewed blogging as more of a chore than a hobby, but having a very limited amount of time to devote to it for a good part of this year really woke me up to the fact that it’s OK if I can only manage a handful of posts in a month. I’ve always been a little too obsessed with the blog’s numbers and worried that every unfollow meant that I was doing something wrong. But this was the year that I finally gave up the numbers game. Do I still check them? Yes. But I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing whether they say 1 or 100 or 1000 followers or page views, so really, stats have lost their relevance for me.

The biggest reward that I get from blogging is interacting with all of you. Quite a few of us who chat regularly started blogging around the same time, and you don’t know how happy it makes my heart to still be chatting with you almost four years later. Your comments never fail to brighten my day, and you inspire me to be a better blogger. I feel so very, very lucky to have met all of you, and I can never thank you guys enough for all of the love you show this blog.

It took me two posts, but I think I’m all done talking about 2015 now, lol. There’s just the last monthly recap of the year left to post, and then it’s hello, new year! I hope you’re all enjoying a wonderful holiday season, and see you in 2016!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

2015 Rewind: The Books

Somehow, we’ve arrived at the end of another year. Another whole year! In the past I’ve combined the look back at the year in reading and blogging into one post, but this year I feel like I’ve got a lot to say about both, so I’m splitting the post into two separate ones. Today is all about the books.

I fell short of my Goodreads goal again this year, and unlike last year, I’m not beating myself up over it. Even though Goodreads says I read 38 books, it’s not including three books that were rereads. The actual total was 41 out of 50, and considering how hectic this year got at times, I was lucky to have made that number. Work became super, super busy over the summer, plus I took a job-related course that took a few months to complete. By that time it was already the end of September, and the chances of making the 50 looked pretty slim. So I decided to just read as much as I could for the rest of the year and let the final number be whatever it ended up being. Taking that pressure off myself felt great. It’s something that I should have done a lot sooner, too. I’d become too caught up in reaching a certain number, and I wasn’t always taking the time to fully enjoy reading itself.

Most of the books that I read in 2015 came from my own shelves, which was one of the resolutions I made at the beginning of the year. I still have quite a few to get through, but I’m pretty happy with the progress I made this year.

Rereading the first three Study books by Maria V. Snyder and Persuasion by Jane Austen was also on the 2015 resolution list, and I was able to reread all of them. Persuasion was especially sweet, since I love that book above all others—and still do.

I read some fantastic books this year; I rated most of them four stars or above, so it’s a little tough picking out my favorites among very qualified candidates. I loved all of these very, very much, starting with:

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas

Sarah J. Maas just keeps writing these phenomenal books in this series, magically making each new release more mind-blowing than the previous one. I want to be a fire-breathing bitch queen just like Aelin when I grow up!

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

This book right here is perfection. So much originality (parallel Londons, Kell’s impossibly many-sided coat) and stellar storytelling. I am a Victoria Schwab fan for life.

Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Search by Gene Luen Yang (Script) & Gurihiru (Art)

2015 was the year in which I finally sat down and watched Avatar: The Last Airbender—and utterly and completely fell in love with it. Both this graphic novel and The Promise were amazing, but The Search earns a few bonus points for centering around one of the TV show’s biggest unresolved story lines. Oh, and there’s lots and lots and lots of Zuko in it. Did I mention there’s lots of Zuko in it?

The Wolves of Mercy Falls by Maggie Stiefvater

Determined not to go the year without reading a Stiefvater book, this was the perfect time to read this series at last. Sam and Grace’s romance was swoony enough to melt all of the snow in Mercy Falls, Minnesota and probably the polar ice caps, too. Cole and Isabel’s chemistry was explosive enough to level the planet, and their snark made me laugh out loud more than any other book I read this year. A big thank you again to Micheline of Lunar Rainbows Reviews for making reading this series extra special by agreeing to buddy read it with me, and also for listening to all of my fangirling about it (and there was a lot of it).

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

This features such a unique narrative—the chapters alternate between the main character and that of the protagonist of her novel. So there’s a novel within a novel, and the whole concept works winningly.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

As if Queen of Shadows releasing this year wasn’t enough, we also got this oh so very fine Beauty and the Beast-like fantasy from SJM. The exquisite slow-burning romance is to. Die. For.

And that wraps up the reading side of the things for 2015; the next part will be all about the blogging. How was your 2015 in books? If you have any year end review posts, please leave a link so I can pop by and check them out!

Monday, December 28, 2015

The Melissa's End of Year Post

What a busy year it has been! I am currently enrolled in my third year of college, and I’ve decided to major in English Literature and minor in History. As you might imagine, that consists of an unreasonable amount of reading and writing. While I do enjoy most of it, I haven’t had an opportunity to read any YA all semester. I’ve really missed writing for the blog, and I hope the New Year will provide me with some time to write posts more frequently. I am so excited to devote most—if not all of my winter break to reading.

Despite my jam-packed schedule I was able to enjoy a few book related happenings. This year, I was fortunate enough to attend YALLFest with Ally and Lee. It was most definitely the best trip we’ve taken yet! I am still in awe over meeting Richelle Mead, and it was awesome to get If I Stay signed by Gayle Forman. I was somewhat devastated Rick Yancey could not attend, but the trip turned out to be a blast regardless. Charleston was a charming city with alluring stores and tasty food. I also really enjoyed the two world-building panels we attended. It was intriguing to hear how much effort the author expends in creating the perfect setting for their story/characters. I’d love to attend YALLFest again this upcoming year, and I hope we can make it to more panels. Fingers crossed Rick Yancey will make it next year!

Yet another highlight of my year was winning a raffle. Whoop whoop! I was especially delighted to return home one evening to find a package filled with books from NOVL. It was even more of a surprise considering that I had forgotten entering the raffle in the first place! XD There is nothing quite like the rush you get from winning something. :D These are the awesome books I was extremely grateful to have won:

Well, that is pretty much all of the semi-interesting things that have happened to me this year. I can’t wait for this year to be over because I have a feeling next year is going to be way better! I hope you’ll be hearing a lot more from me next year, and I wish you guys the best of luck in the New Year!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Fandom Mashups (34)

Fandom Mashups is a feature hosted by Lunar Rainbows Reviews. There's a different scenario each week, and you choose a "dream team" of five characters from five different fandoms whom you think are best suited for the situation.

This week's topic is:
With the new year fast approaching, you've decided that self-improvement is the way to go. But you need some inspiration. Which characters would you pick to inspire you to better yourself (think: characters that may have started out shady, but transformed into legit heroes).

Happy Last Sunday of 2015! I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas! I'm enjoying the last day of a long weekend; I vote for those to become the norm, lol.

I must still be recovering from all of the Christmas revelry because I've been racking my brain over this week's topic and am still coming up short. So it looks like I'm devoting this entire post this week to the single character I can think of:

Zuko (Avatar: The Last Airbender)

I've been verrrry vocal about how much I love Avatar, and Zuko's character arc from the first to the third season is nothing short of phenomenal. When we first meet Zuko, he's absolutely OBSESSED with finding and capturing the Avatar so that he can restore his honor and end his exile from the Fire Nation. He's also arrogant and impulsive and rarely listens to the sage advice of Uncle Iroh, whom Zuko doesn't always appreciate. It takes Zuko some time to not only mature, but to also realize that regaining his honor isn't his sole destiny. To me, the pacing of his character growth was one of the show's greatest achievements; it doesn't happen quickly, and it doesn't happen easily. But by the final episode, which nearly brought me to tears, Zuko does have his honor, maybe not in the way he thought he would attain it, but there's no question that it's well-deserved.

So what I take away from Zuko's journey is that the path to self-improvement is typically hard-won, but that makes reaching your goal(s) all the sweeter. And maybe I can somehow learn some firebending in 2016? XD

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (111)

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme hosted by Uncorked Thoughts and Lunar Rainbows Reviews. 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:
What Long Lost Magical Item Do You Find in The Room of Requirement?

Oooh—I'd totally hope to find another invisibility cloak! I solemnly swear that I would only use it for good and not wreak havoc with it. OK, and I might use it for the occasional late night trip to a library. XD

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

2016 Book Blog Discussion Challenge

The 2016 Book Blog Discussion Challenge is hosted by Feed Your Fiction Addiction & It Starts at Midnight.

I wasn't planning on participating in any reading/blogging challenges next year other than the usual Goodreads Reading Challenge, but writing more discussion posts for the blog had already been something I wanted to work on in 2016, so this challenge is perfect! Plus, I think it will give me some extra motivation to follow through on my goal, which is:

1-12 – Discussion Dabbler

If you'd like to sign up, click on either of the links above!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Review: For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund
For Darkness Shows the Stars (For Darkness Shows the Stars #1)
By Diana Peterfreund
Balzer + Bray
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

To Sum It Up: Elliot and Kai were born on the same day, but in vastly different spheres. Elliot is a Luddite, part of the wealthy landowning class that shunned technology and avoided the disastrous consequences of the Reduction, a catastrophic event that resulted from genetic over-experimentation. Kai is a Post, a laborer on Elliot’s family’s estate and seen as nothing more by the Luddites—except for Elliot. Over the years, Elliot and Kai’s friendship grows into something more, but when the two are older and Kai wants Elliot to leave the North estate with him, she chooses her responsibilities to the estate and its workers. A heartbroken Elliot never expects to see Kai again, so his reappearance a few years later, now as Captain Malakai Wentforth, stuns her. Not only does Kai still harbor all of his anger at her, but there’s something fundamentally different about him that makes him practically a stranger to Elliot.

Review: For Darkness Shows the Stars is a sci-fi-ish retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, which happens to be my favorite book EVER. I’m not usually drawn to alternate takes on Austen novels out of wariness that they just won’t measure up to the originals. The novelty of a YA story based on Persuasion, however, proved too difficult to resist, and my curiosity won out.

Even if Persuasion wasn’t so beloved to me, I think I’d still have the same issues with For Darkness Shows the Stars. While it’s evident that Jane Austen’s novel is held in high regard and her original work is rather successfully transplanted to a new setting, I just didn’t care for the new setting. The world gives the impression of being futuristic, yet some of the clothing descriptions hint at the past. I definitely needed more details about the history within this story. The explanation of the Reduction, the apocalyptic event that resulted in the Reduced, individuals with limited intelligence who’ve essentially become slave labor for the landowning Luddites, came in dragged out dribs and drabs. I still don’t feel that all of the blanks were filled in, and my struggle to totally understand how this world came to be put a big damper on my reading experience.

Science vs. religion factors heavily in this book. The Luddites believe that the Reduction was God’s punishment for science proponents pushing genetic experimentation too far. Because they rejected technology, the Luddites were spared. Although this is an interesting and thought-provoking debate, it’s not one that I’m personally passionate about or find page-turning to read about, and so there were stretches of the book that moved very slowly for me.

The main character, Elliot North, has a lot of internal monologues and the subjects became repetitive after a while. Elliot loves Kai, but he no longer loves her. Someone is going to find out about the genetically modified wheat that Elliot has created, which goes against the Luddite protocols meant to keep another Reduction from occurring. Elliot needs to protect the North estate’s workers, both the Reduced and the Posts (children of the Reduced born with normal reasoning abilities but still given the same social status as the Reduced). Elliot’s troubles are made very clear early on and don’t require all of the rehashing they receive throughout the book.

Unfortunately, the romance in For Darkness Shows the Stars did not work for me, either. Kai can’t forgive Elliot for choosing what she felt were her duties to the North estate over running away with him. I’ll give Kai some leeway for his broken heart, but I also feel that he often makes it his business to be cruel to Elliot. It got to the point where I just didn’t understand why she would want this guy back anyway. On top of that, I never sensed the chemistry between these two. They’re supposed to have been in love with each other for forever, and their letters to each other over the years are weaved throughout the novel (but not in chronological order). Even with this correspondence, I felt meh about Elliot and Kai as a couple.

What kept me invested in this book was finding nods to Persuasion, and I do think that For Darkness Shows the Stars does a solid job of telling its own story while still broadly following the main plot of the material on which it’s based. I just wish that the story and the characters here had been as compelling as their Austen counterparts and that the world-building had gone into greater detail.

All in All: I’d really, really hoped that this book would click with me, but sadly, it didn’t. I had too many unanswered questions about the world, and the love story, which I’d been looking to be swept away by, fell flat.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Fandom Mashups (33)

Fandom Mashups is a feature hosted by Lunar Rainbows Reviews. There's a different scenario each week, and you choose a "dream team" of five characters from five different fandoms whom you think are best suited for the situation.

This week's topic is:
With the holidays fast approaching, you head out for some last minute gifts. Who are you buying gifts for and what are you getting them? -OR- There are Secret Santa gifts under the tree. Who do you hope bought you gifts and what do you hope they bought you?

So I decided to split my list up a little bit, so that I'm giving some gifts but also receiving a few. XD I would give gifts to:

  1. Celaena/Aelin (Throne of Glass): I'd give our favorite fire-breathing bitch queen a gift card to the clothing retailer of her choice. She loves shopping, and gods, she must wreck her clothes all the time what with all of the assassinating . . . .
  2. Gansey (The Raven Cycle): I'd give him a journal so he could continue jotting down all of his Glendower notes.
  3. Alexia Tarabotti (The Parasol Protectorate): Alexia's gift would be tea, of course! One can never have enough tea in one's life!
  4. And I'd hope to receive gifts from:

  5. Harry Potter: A wand, please oh please oh please!
  6. The Tenth Doctor: A TARDIS??? PLEEEEEASE???!!!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (110)

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme hosted by Uncorked Thoughts and Lunar Rainbows Reviews. 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:
Which Books Would You Recommend to Ron?

I had a bit of trouble coming up with ideas for this one; my brain is not feeling very creative at the moment, lol. I do think that Charlotte's Web by E.B. White might be a good one to recommend to Ron though, just to prove that not all spiders are terrifying. :D

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

In Which I Try to Persuade You to Love My Favorite Book, Too

Today is Jane Austen's birthday, and finally, finally—I've managed to put together this post, which has long been brewing in my brain but which never came to fruition until now.

Back in the mid-1990's when just about every Jane Austen novel got an updated film adaptation, I was among the many swept up in this wave of all things Austen. I even wore an empire waist dress to my college graduation, because the style was suddenly all the fashion rage. At that time, I hadn't read any of Austen's novels, but after watching Sense and Sensibility with Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant, and Alan Rickman, I totally wanted to get acquainted with the books. It took me until after college was finished to actually do this, when I had time to binge read all of Austen's novels, in order.

I love Pride and Prejudice, both the book and the BBC miniseries with Colin Firth (because—WET. SHIRT.), but Persuasion claims the #1 spot not only among Jane Austen novels, but it's my favorite novel in the history of ever. I've read some phenomenal books over the years, but Persuasion is my desert island book, the one that I couldn't live without. It'd been about ten years since I'd last read it, and this reread was like going home again. Every exquisite line of prose reminded me why I love Jane Austen so much, and why this book forever holds such a special place in my heart.

Persuasion is Austen's last completed novel, and it definitely has an autumnal feel to it. Its heroine, Anne Elliot, is twenty-seven, the middle of three sisters, unmarried, and pretty much written off by her family as an old maid. Speaking of the family, they're quite horrible. Anne's father, Sir Walter, is a very, very vain man who's gone through enough of his money that he must lease the family estate to a tenant. Eldest daughter Elizabeth is every bit as snobby as her father and also values rank above all else. Mary, the youngest, is married but still very much retains "the Elliot pride" and whines incessantly. Anne is the most sensible of the lot and sadly, not regarded with much importance by her relatives. At least she has her good friend, Lady Russell, who's been a mother figure since the death of Anne's mother when Anne was a girl. Ah, but wait—it was also Lady Russell who talked nineteen-year-old Anne out of accepting the proposal of naval officer Frederick Wentworth because he had no money, no land, no family name of renown. That was eight years ago, though, and Wentworth is now a captain and in much improved financial circumstances. And, thanks to sharing the same circle of acquaintances as Anne, about to be in her company once again.

I can't tell you how many swoon-tacular moments there are in this book. I didn't even think to associate swooning with Persuasion back when I first read it. All I knew was that it made my heart all fluttery. I'm trying very hard not to give too much away if you haven't read this, but please take my word for it: the romance here, even if you're not usually into romance, will reduce even the iciest heart to a puddle. It's that amazing.

Austen also brilliantly satirizes just about everyone in the novel, but especially Sir Walter and Elizabeth and their pomposity. Austen really takes them to task for all of the emphasis they put on social standing, and the results are so, so funny. The characters are shown in a most unflattering light but in the loveliest prose, which makes the dichotomy even more humorous to me. The language is so polite, but there are delicious insults wrapped in it.

Unsurprisingly, my all-time favorite quote from any book can be found in the pages of Persuasion. Actually, favorite passage is more accurate, and if you've read the novel, you very likely know the one. Again, I don't want to get spoiler-y for those new to the book, so I'll just tempt you with this single line from said passage:

Now, imagine that swoon factor multiplied by, I don't know. Infinity. The first time I read this, I think I forgot to breathe for a few minutes. As someone who's not at all into gooey professions of love, I assure you that such is not the case here. If anyone is guilty of acting gooey, it's me in talking about this book. If you've read Persuasion, please, please feel free to add to my unabashed gushing; if you haven't read it yet, I hope I've done my job and at least convinced you to add it to your TBR.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Review: The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson

The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson
The Shadow Cabinet (Shades of London #3)
By Maureen Johnson
G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

To Sum It Up: After making a painful and fateful decision, Rory and the team are determined to find their missing friend, but they must also devote precious time to thwarting Rory’s former captor, Jane. Jane’s plans are far more elaborate and nefarious than previously thought and put all of London in danger. It’s up to Rory and friends to stop her, and they’re going to need every resource at their disposal, including ghostly ones, to do so.

Review: For some reason, I thought that The Shadow Cabinet was the conclusion to the Shades of London series, but it’s not. And I’m happy about that, because after reading this, I’m not yet ready to say goodbye. I also feel that I haven’t raved about this series enough; I’ll try to remedy that now.

The previous book, The Madness Underneath, went out on a heartbreaking cliffhanger, and The Shadow Cabinet picks up with the immediate aftermath. The Shades, i.e. London’s ghost police, are without a leader, and their supervisor from MI5, Thorpe, steps in to fill the gap. I like Thorpe. He’s the quintessential intelligence guy—efficient and enigmatic; it’s the enigmatic part that intrigues me, of course. Thorpe has been steadily seeing more page time with each book in the series (he also appears in the prequel novella, The Boy in the Smoke), and I approve. I would also approve of a Thorpe novella.

After everything that Rory has seen and been through, it’s not surprising that she’s grown quite a bit since The Name of the Star. The anecdotal humor that she’s so brilliant at is still present, but I think this book is the most serious in tone yet in the series. It makes sense, though, because Rory and the squad are walking around with very heavy hearts, plus the threat they’re attempting to stop is very, very scary.

Jane, the “therapist” who turned out to be a murderous lunatic in The Madness Underneath, continues to create gigantic problems for Rory and her friends. The Shadow Cabinet further explores Jane’s past and reveals a plot that could wreak havoc all over London. The conviction with which Jane and her associates believe in what they’re doing is frightening, and an overall feeling of dread looms over the novel. It’s the unshakeable sensation that something really, really bad could happen to anyone at any time. Credit Maureen Johnson with pacing this book so perfectly. I felt compelled to turn the pages quickly because I was so engrossed in the story, but at the same time, I was afraid to actually find out what awaited on the next page and even the next sentence.

I have to admit that I’m a wee bit frustrated with how my ship is going, but as the romance in the series has been low-key from the beginning, it didn’t rain on my overall enjoyment of the book. I also found the resolution to the novel’s Big Momentous Moment a little abrupt. It happened at the end of a chapter, and that was that. Again, though, this was not a deal breaker to enjoying the novel, especially considering the complex, thrilling match of wits that ensues between Rory and Team Ghost Squad and Jane and Team Crazy Cult. The Shadow Cabinet really delivers on the suspense and the spooky, and the ending promises much more of both in book four.

All in All: I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, and I definitely appreciated the balance between wrapping up a major plotline from the previous book and setting up the next installment.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Fandom Mashups (32)

Fandom Mashups is a feature hosted by Lunar Rainbows Reviews. There's a different scenario each week, and you choose a "dream team" of five characters from five different fandoms whom you think are best suited for the situation.

This week's topic is:
It's party time! You're going out for a night of well-deserved fun! Who are you inviting along?

  1. Celaena Sardothien (Throne of Glass): Deadly assassin aside, I think Celaena would be a lot of fun to hang out with! Here's hoping that she's got some free time and isn't completely booked, you know, assassinating.
  2. Adrian Ivashkov(Vampire Academy/Bloodlines): I still laugh at the time Adrian made up a fake fraternity (Alpha Yam Ergo forever!) on the spot to get into a college party. So yeah, there would never be a lull with him in the group.
  3. Blue Sargent (The Raven Cycle): I don't think Blue is quite the partying type, but neither am I, but I just want to chat with her! And if she wanted to bring along a friend, or four, plus a certain pet raven, I would be totally cool with that. ;)
  4. Magnus Bane (The Mortal Instruments/The Infernal Devices): Magnus would know all the best places to go to for an awesome night out, and he'd also have invites to all of them because he's Magnus!
  5. Cole St. Clair (The Wolves of Mercy Falls): Yes, I went with two Maggie Stiefvater characters this week; I couldn't help myself, especially since Cole has been constantly on my mind lately. Cole is unpredictable, for sure, but if we're going to party, we might as well go all out, and Cole would make sure we do! :D

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (109)

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme hosted by Uncorked Thoughts and Lunar Rainbows Reviews. 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:
Would You Rather Care for a Blast Ended Skrewt or Get Hit with the Slug Eating Curse?

Ughhh—these are both really unappealing choices. But, I can't stand slugs; they're just so gross to me. There are usually a lot of them after it rains here, and they leave slimy trails everywhere, plus they sometimes get into the house. So I guess this means I'll be taking my chances with the blast ended skrewt. XD

Monday, December 7, 2015

Review: The Boy in the Smoke by Maureen Johnson

The Boy in the Smoke by Maureen Johnson
The Boy in the Smoke (Shades of London #0.5)
By Maureen Johnson
Source: Wattpad

To Sum It Up: Stephen Dene has always been the perfect son, even if his parents barely acknowledge his existence. But after suffering an unbearable loss, Stephen takes extreme action. His decision has unintended consequences, however, including a newfound ability to see what most others cannot.

Review: The Boy in the Smoke is a prequel novella to Maureen Johnson’s Shades of London novels and fills in the backstory of Shades’ Stephen Dene. Although Stephen speaks briefly about his past to series protagonist Rory Deveaux in the first book, The Name of the Star, The Boy in the Smoke delves deeper into Stephen’s character and the events that shaped the person Rory meets in book one.

Stephen instantly intrigued me from his first appearance in The Name of the Star, so of course I had to read this. He projects collected and reserved, but there’s also a hint of something more going on with his character. A large part of that something more is the focus of The Boy in the Smoke, which will break your heart many, many times over in less than 100 pages. The story here gets quite intense, but it’s not melodramatic. This is a very finely crafted novella that delivers a sizeable emotional punch despite is page tally. Although I would have eagerly read a longer Stephen story, I think this one is the perfect length, giving readers new to the series a solid induction into its world while at the same time thoroughly filling in the backstory of one of its main figures for those who’ve already read one or more of the novels.

You don’t need to have read any other Shades of London books to jump into this. I do want to mention that although The Boy in the Smoke has a serious tone to it, Rory’s narration in the novels is punctuated with a fair amount of humor. So it’s not as though the entire series is somber, if that might be a concern in continuing on with it. Because I don’t read novellas often, I tend to forget how impactful they can still be in a relatively compact number of pages, and The Boy in the Smoke was a great reminder that I need to keep a better eye out for these series shorts.

All in All: This is available to read for free on Wattpad, and I highly recommend it, regardless of whether or not you’ve read Shades of London. And if you haven’t, read The Boy in the Smoke and then pick up The Name of the Star.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Fandom Mashups (31)

Fandom Mashups is a feature hosted by Lunar Rainbows Reviews. There's a different scenario each week, and you choose a "dream team" of five characters from five different fandoms whom you think are best suited for the situation.

This week's topic is:
You need to locate a ancient magical heirloom - but - there's a time-limit. If you don't find it in 72 hours, the world will be in unimaginable danger. You need speed, quick-thinking and more time than you have. Who's going to help you locate the trinket?

  1. Hermione Granger: She's one of the smartest fictional characters I can think of, and she might be able to buy us a few more precious minutes if needed with the Time-Turner.
  2. Kell (A Darker Shade of Magic): Kell collects trinkets and can time travel; he'd totally understand the urgency of this situation.
  3. The Tenth Doctor: Two words: TARDIS travel! And yes, I always choose Ten, because . . . David. Tennant.
  4. Karou (Daughter of Smoke and Bone): She's had to track down an eclectic assortment of items before and usually with tight deadlines, so she's got some solid expertise to offer this team.
  5. The Flash: Once we figure out where the item is, we can send the fastest man alive to retrieve it!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

November 2015 Recap

Is it really the last month of 2015? I was writing in my planner the other day and suddenly realized, oh crap! It's the end of the month and I need to put together a recap post for November! The holiday rush is officially on, and as usual, I'm running behind. This is definitely a Time-Turner or TARDIS situation; can't someone invent those things for real already?! XD

Reviews Posted:

Featured Posts:

Monday, November 30, 2015

Review: Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater

Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater
Sinner (The Wolves of Mercy Falls #4)
By Maggie Stiefvater
Scholastic Press
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Buddy Read with Micheline of Lunar Rainbows Reviews

To Sum It Up: Isabel and Cole have both left Mercy Falls for Los Angeles, where she’s determined to move on with her life and he’s determined to win her heart. Even with his prodigious Cole St. Clair charm, Isabel won’t be easily swayed, especially since Cole also happens to be in California to star in his own reality show. She needs to know that he’s there because of her, but returning to the spotlight may supply one too many distractions—and temptations—for Cole to remain focused on why he followed Isabel to L.A.

Review: Isabel Culpeper and Cole St. Clair—what have you two done to me?!

Seriously. I’ve loved Isabel since Shiver and Cole since Linger, but I still was not prepared for the brilliance that is Sinner. As much as I adore Sam and Grace, and I adored them heaps throughout the previous Wolves of Mercy Falls books, Cole and Isabel refused to release their iron grip on my mind and my heart. Their chemistry is explosive; if either of them struck a match, everything within a fifty mile radius would ignite, too. I am eternally grateful to Maggie Stiefvater for deciding to give these two their own book because not knowing what the hell ever happened to them would have gnawed at me for an absurdly long time.

Sinner is an absolutely perfect novel about two imperfect people, and it’s all the flaws that make Cole and Isabel so damn real and their story so damn addictive to read. Maggie Stiefvater is unparalleled at taking the nuances of everyday life and examining them under a microscope: every word, every gesture, everything. Sinner often feels like a contemporary novel, propelled by two characters with equally towering page presences. There is not a weakness in either POV, and whether they’re in the same scene or separate ones, Cole and Isabel play off of each other’s narration seamlessly.

What more can be said about Cole St. Clair that he hasn’t eloquently said about himself already? He wears his ego like a badge, and on anyone else, it would come across as arrogance of the insufferable kind. But Cole also knows how to work a crowd, and did I fall hard for charming Cole. He’s a smartass to boot, a trait that I hold in very high esteem in my fictional characters, and so I found myself laughing maniacally at his Cole-isms. Because I never knew when the next outburst of cackling would occur, I nixed the idea of taking this book to work to read during lunch.

While Cole’s unique perspective on the world and Isabel’s snark amused me very, very much, Sinner did not hesitate to put my heart through the wringer, too. I felt anxious for Cole, who’s back in the public eye and surrounded by all of his old vices, some even provided by the producer of his new reality show because disasters make for compelling TV. I just felt for Isabel, so guarded with her heart, especially in light of witnessing her parents’ marriage in its death throes. Isabel isn’t the type of girl who wants anyone’s pity, though, and I love her for that. So too do I love how Stiefvater waves that magic wand of hers and convinces you unequivocally that Isabel and Cole are the only two people who truly know the real Isabel and Cole, the ones behind the ice queen and rock star exteriors.

Although the werewolf aspect isn’t as much of a focal point as it was in the previous books, it still surfaces at key moments. I’ve always marveled at the effortless way in which Stiefvater weaves the supernatural through stories that could otherwise fall under contemporary; her slight touch of paranormal in Sinner is particularly well done.

I’ve totally written an ode to Sinner and to Cole and Isabel instead of a review, but it wasn’t possible to do anything else but gush about how much I loved this book in its entirety. Maggie Stiefvater could not have written a more perfect conclusion to a fantastic series, and now I can proceed with life because I have my Isabel and Cole epilogue.

All in All: If you haven’t read Sinner yet, you MUST! I savored every single word of it, and it’s easily one of my favorite books of 2015.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Fandom Mashups (30)

Fandom Mashups is a feature hosted by Lunar Rainbows Reviews. There's a different scenario each week, and you choose a "dream team" of five characters from five different fandoms whom you think are best suited for the situation.

This week's topic is:
You found a map that seems to lead to hidden treasures (Pirate Booty!) Who's part of your swashbuckling team?

I had some difficulty thinking of pirate-y characters this week (note to self: read more books/watch more movies & TV shows with pirates in them), so I just tried to come up with people who I think would be good at the treasure hunting thing.

  1. Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean): If we're going on a swashbuckling quest, Jack is definitely coming with! But we may have to hide some of the rum.
  2. Lila Bard (A Darker Shade of Magic): Lila's career aspiration? Pirate. She doesn't need any convincing to join this party because she's all about going on an adventure.
  3. Harry Potter: Accio treasure! OK, finding it probably isn't going to be that simple, but if Harry can find the Horcruxes, he can find anything!
  4. Gansey (The Raven Cycle): Yeah, I know I've mentioned him two weeks in a row, but I. Love. Him. Also, when he sets his mind to finding something (or someone), he doesn't give up. Ever.
  5. Superman: Because you never know when superhuman strength and x-ray vision might be useful in locating the treasure, especially if it's very, very well hidden.
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