July 27, 2017

The Crowns of Croswald: Unboxing Video!

I was contacted by author D. E. Night's publicist the other day about her upcoming middle-grade fantasy The Crowns of Croswald, with an offer to send me a "magical book surprise." Of course, with that description, how could I resist?

So without further ado, here is the unboxing that I filmed! Thanks very much to D. E. Night and her publicist for sending this my way :)

July 24, 2017

The Fault in Our Stars: A Rambling Review

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

11870085I'm no longer practically the last person on Earth to have not read this book! This is one of those books that I think is objectively quite well-written, but I just didn't emotionally connect with, personally. (No, it did not make me cry.) Hazel was a likeable protagonist who felt human and distinctive, and since she is the narrator we get to know her the best; yet even so, I still didn't feel as close to her as I would have liked.

A lot of this book is composed of conversation and Hazel's musings, so not that much really happens plot-wise (except for a few key events). I knew going into it about the spoiler ending (has anyone managed to escape that spoiler by now?) so that was not a surprise.

I found some of the philosophical observations on life a tad lofty and pretentious at times (which at least the characters are aware of), but I did find a lot of them true to life, acknowledging human reactions that often get swept under the rug or covered up by our society. That was one of the things I liked best about this book, that it was quite blunt about how it cut through the "socially acceptable" layer of human responses to get at how people actually think and feel.

3.5 shooting stars.

July 17, 2017

My Life Next Door: A Rambling Review

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

12294652This contemporary YA novel has gotten quite a bit of hype and I know a lot of people loved it, but unfortunately I didn't fall head-over-heels for it. I mostly liked the main character Samantha, whose voice was relatable and felt realistic as a teen's. Jase, on the other hand, while sweet and rather mature for a teenage guy, seemed a little too perfect; he never made mistakes and always appeared to know best, and it came off as a bit holier-than-thou at times (especially when all the other teens were making mistakes left, right, and center). I did enjoy the general dynamic of the Garrett family and the contrast to Samantha's, and found it interesting how entrenched she becomes in their life, which is unusual to see in a YA novel.

I felt kind of like this novel was split into 2 different parts: the lighter, bubblier, falling-in-love section that spans the first two-thirds of the story, and then the darker, heavier, angstier section of the last third. It was a little strange to suddenly have the story change direction and tone, and become much more serious. I thought Samantha's conundrum was a difficult one to face, and I liked the fact that the book was posing some moral questions and forcing her to think about what she believed in, but I also felt like it didn't exactly fit with the rest of the story that had come before.

Also, what an awful example some of the adults in this story set. I mean, just terrible. *shakes head*


July 14, 2017

The Book Lode (25)

I have not been able to resist the siren call of Book Outlet's amazing deals, and this book haul vlog is the result:

Books bought:

Proposal by Meg Cabot
Reluctantly Charmed by Ellie O'Neill
Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge
The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan
Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
Anne of the Island by L. M. Montgomery
Prized by Caragh M. O'Brien
Strangely Beautiful by Leanna Renee Hieber
The Time Traveler's Almanac by Ann VanderMeer and Jeff VanderMeer (Eds.)
The Complete Plays of William Shakespeare
Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine
Defiance by C. J. Redwine
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Prince of Shadows by Rachel Caine
The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su and Kate Rorick
Sold for Endless Rue by Madeleine E. Robins

July 6, 2017

The Song Rising: A Rambling Review (Adult)

The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon

So, that was intense. The second half of the book really amped up the stakes and I felt like I was right there with Paige. I was a little disappointed with the lack of development of the Paige/Warden relationship (and that Warden didn't get a larger role, because I love his character). It seemed like they were getting emotionally separated to increase the drama more than because it would have naturally stemmed from the characters themselves (although Paige is, admittedly, rather closed-off, so it wasn't a huge stretch). (Why can those two not just TALK everything out??)

This book feels more like a "stepping stone" book than the previous ones have. A lot of the first half was chasing information down and rehashing conversations; however, things really picked up in the second half. I liked how Paige ended up playing such a pivotal role in the climax. There was also a reveal there that I definitely did not see coming.

Also, I enjoyed getting to see voyant communities outside of London, and it looks like we'll get to see some more of that in the next book! I think I didn't like this book quite as much as the previous two but I'm still looking forward to seeing what happens next.

July 5, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: An Enchantment of Ravens, The Queen's Rising, & The Girl with the Red Balloon

Oh hey look, it's a Waiting on Wednesday post! I haven't had one of those on the blog for what feels like forever.

Waiting on Wednesday features books that we just can't wait to get our hands on! It used to be hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and I will continue to do WoW posts on my blog periodically.

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

From Goodreads: "Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized among them. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes – a weakness that could cost him his life.

Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love, violating the fair folks’ ruthless Good Law. There's only one way to save both their lives, Isobel must drink from the Green Well, whose water will transform her into a fair one—at the cost of her Craft, for immortality is as stagnant as it is timeless.

Isobel has a choice: she can sacrifice her art for a future, or arm herself with paint and canvas against the ancient power of the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel."

An artist whose paintings have the power to make the fair folk feel? YES PLEASE. Also, look at that stunning cover.  

The Queen's Rising by Rebecca Ross

From Goodreads: "When her seventeenth summer solstice arrives, Brienna desires only two things: to master her passion and to be chosen by a patron.

Growing up in the southern Kingdom of Valenia at the renowned Magnalia House should have prepared her for such a life. While some are born with an innate talent for one of the five passions—art, music, dramatics, wit, and knowledge—Brienna struggled to find hers until she belatedly chose to study knowledge. However, despite all her preparations, Brienna’s greatest fear comes true—the solstice does not go according to plan and she is left without a patron.

Months later, her life takes an unexpected turn when a disgraced lord offers her patronage. Suspicious of his intent, and with no other choices, she accepts. But there is much more to his story, and Brienna soon discovers that he has sought her out for his own vengeful gain. For there is a dangerous plot being planned to overthrow the king of Maevana—the archrival kingdom of Valenia—and restore the rightful queen, and her magic, to the northern throne. And others are involved—some closer to Brienna than she realizes.

With war brewing between the two lands, Brienna must choose whose side she will remain loyal to—passion or blood. Because a queen is destined to rise and lead the battle to reclaim the crown. The ultimate decision Brienna must determine is: Who will be that queen?"

I love the whole notion of passions and patrons that must sponsor you -- I'm hoping for awesome worldbuilding in this one! (Although, does anyone else think the answer to 'who will be that queen?' will be, well, Brienna?)
And again, the cover. Gorgeous midnight blue shade.  

The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke

From Goodreads: "When sixteen-year-old Ellie Baum accidentally time-travels via red balloon to 1988 East Berlin, she’s caught up in a conspiracy of history and magic. She meets members of an underground guild in East Berlin who use balloons and magic to help people escape over the Wall—but even to the balloon makers, Ellie’s time travel is a mystery. When it becomes clear that someone is using dark magic to change history, Ellie must risk everything—including her only way home—to stop the process."

Of course, I immediately think of this 80's song:

Ninety-nine red balloons go by... *hums*

Anyway... Time travel to 1988 East Berlin? Magical balloon escapes? A nefarious attempt to alter history? I am here for that!

What books are you waiting for?

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