Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Captain America: Civil War | Movie of the Month

I don’t know about you guys but I have been waiting for this movie for what seems like forever.  I have work at 7 on Friday morning but I do not care, I will be seeing this one Thursday night, for sure. I am 100% #TeamCap but I guess we can still be friends if you are #TeamIronMan.

Have you seen the trailers?  I think there are 3 out now and I have been obsessively watching them.  Even if I DVR a TV show, I will watch the Captain America commercials rather than fast forward.  I have a problem, I know.

I’m also beyond excited to see the new characters that are being introduced.  I’ve never been a huge fan of Spiderman but I’m willing to give this new guy a chance.  I also can’t wait to see more of Scarlet Witch.

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Do you have plans to go see Captain America: Civil War?  If so, whose side are you on?

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4) by Maggie Stiefvater | Review

The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4) by Maggie Stiefvater | ReviewThe Raven King (The Raven Cycle, #4) by Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Raven Cycle #4
Published by Scholastic Press on April 26th 2016
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 438
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

Nothing living is safe. Nothing dead is to be trusted.

For years, Gansey has been on a quest to find a lost king. One by one, he’s drawn others into this quest: Ronan, who steals from dreams; Adam, whose life is no longer his own; Noah, whose life is no longer a lie; and Blue, who loves Gansey…and is certain she is destined to kill him.

Now the endgame has begun. Dreams and nightmares are converging. Love and loss are inseparable. And the quest refuses to be pinned to a path.

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I’m still a little in shock that this series is over so forgive me if my thoughts are all over the place.  I finished this last week and this is the first time I’ve even felt like I could string together coherent sentences about it.  That should tell you plenty about the finale to the Raven Cycle.

Let me start off by saying that this will be spoiler free as far as The Raven King goes but I make no promises for the other books in the series.  If you haven’t read them, I urge you to stop reading my review and go read them.  Or just go read my review for The Raven Boys to see if it might interest you.

Pros:

  • Characters: These characters hold a special place in my heart at this point.  I’ve grown so attached to them over the past 4 books and I was so happy with how Maggie chose to end their stories.  I’m not saying that everything that happened to them was happy.  What I appreciated about how she ended everything was that it felt true to each of the characters.  I also loved that she could introduce new characters in the final book and make it feel like they had been there the whole time.  Henry Cheng may have been introduced in an earlier book but The Raven King is really where he made his grand entrance and he grew on me in no time.  I loved the relationship he built with everyone but Blue especially.
  • Romance: Y’all already know how I feel about Gansey and Blue (I adore them!) but I’ve never really been vocal about anyone else.  After reading The Raven King, I may like Ronan and Adam more than I like Gansey and Blue and that is really saying something.  Gansey and Blue have always had this chemistry that pulls them together and a curse that pushes them apart.  I’m a sucker for forbidden romance and that was another big appeal for them.  Ronan and Adam have a completely different type of relationship.  I wouldn’t even say they are that close as friends.  It’s more that Gansey brought them all together and they found each other through that weird friendship.  The tension between them just permeates everything they do and I just wanted to reach in the book and push them together.  Gah!  I can’t even talk about it anymore because I’m out of words.  Oh and then there was Maura and the Grey Man.  They were oddly cute together.
  • Writing: I bet this one is a big shocker to you guys.  Well, okay, maybe not really.  We all know I love Maggie Stiefvater’s writing.  It’s a style that might be a little more wordy than some authors but I love that.  I feel like every word she writes should be savored and she somehow manages to string them all together perfectly.  She is beyond talented.  It’s no surprise that the writing in The Raven King is flawless.

Cons:

  • Story: The story was not bad, it was just a little all over the place.  I don’t know what I was expecting but it wasn’t quite what I got.  I said no spoilers so this part of the review is a little difficult.  Maggie Stiefvater tied up all loose ends which pleased me, definitely, but how she went about it wasn’t perfect, in my opinion.  And to be quite honest, if I took my time and re-read the whole series, I may not find the story to be a problem at all anymore.  I think it may have been that I took so much time between the first 3 books and this one that the confusion was only on my part.  I know there were things I forgot from the first books and when I eventually go back and re-read them, maybe things will make a bit more sense.

Overall, The Raven King will surpass expectations for fans of The Raven Cycle.  Maggie Stiefvater impressed me once again and I cannot wait to see what she does next.  The Raven Cycle will forever be up there on my list of favorites.

Monday, May 2, 2016

10 Books I’m Dying To Read This May

I don’t know about you guys but my TBR is going to be insane this month. May is going to be an epic month for new releases. Narrowing it down to 10 was almost impossible but here are the ones I’m most excited.

May's Exciting Releases

1. The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

Hitting shelves May 3rd

The Unexpected Everything cover

If you haven’t seen this one around on blogs or Instagram, you maybe live under a rock.  Morgan Matson’s new one is high on my TBR especially since I’ll be meeting her! This one is a contemporary about a girl whose life is rocked by scandal and has her life turned totally upside down.  I’ve heard great things about it already which is not surprising since it’s Morgan Matson.

2. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

Hitting shelves May 3rd

A court of mist and fury cover

I’ve become the biggest Sarah J. Maas fangirl.  I actually read A Court of Thorns and Roses before I read the Throne of Glass books and that was the main reason I checked out her other books.  A Court of Mist and Fury has definitely been a highly anticipated sequel for me.

3. Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

Hitting shelves May 3rd

Love & Gelato cover

I feel like this cover is so misleading.  It looks like nothing but a cutesy summer read but it seems like it will be more than that.  Lina goes to Italy to fulfill her mom’s dying wish of getting to know her father who has been absent her whole life.  While there she finds a journal her mom kept during her own time in Italy and it sets her on an adventure that will change everything she’s ever known about her family.

4. Ruined by Amy Tintera

Hitting shelves May 3rd

Ruined cover

This one reminds me a little bit of The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows which is why I’m so excited to read it.  Em is on a mission to save her kidnapped sister but to do that she must infiltrate the palace.  She poses as Prince Casimir’s betrothed and finds herself married to him.  As she gets closer to the prince, her mission for revenge starts to change.

5. The Outliers by Kimberly McCreight

Hitting shelves May 3rd

the outliers cover

I love suspense novels and this one looks both suspenseful and kind of creepy.  Wylie gets a text from her friend asking for help and instead of telling her what’s going on, she sends Jasper to team up with Wylie to find her.  However, the clues lead them on a hunt through the woods in Maine and as they get deeper in the woods, the danger to them both gets higher.

6. Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes

Hitting shelves May 3rd

Queen of Hearts cover

I’m quickly becoming obsessed with anything and everything Alice in Wonderland related.  I read Marissa Meyer’s take on the Queen of Hearts and now I’m eager to see what Colleen Oakes does with her backstory.

7. The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Hitting shelves May 17th

the problem with forever cover

Jennifer L. Armentrout’s newest sounds like my kind of book.  Mallory has been home schooled her whole life but now she has to spend her senior year in public school.  On her first day of school she runs into her childhood best friend, Rider, who she hasn’t seen in years.  As they get to know each other again, their connection grows stronger but secrets from the past threaten to tear them apart.

8. The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood

Hitting shelves May 3rd

The Square Root of Summer cover

I’ve been seeing quite a few people reading this one and loving it.  It’s a contemporary story with time travel!  How awesome is that?

9. The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye

Hitting shelves May 17th

The Crown's Game cover

This one reminds me a bit of the Grisha trilogy and also Throne of Glass.  Since I love both of those series, I figure I’ll give this one a shot.  Set in Russia featuring a magical duel to the death (between a girl and a guy who may be in love with her), The Crown’s Game has already been getting rave reviews from bloggers.

10. Suffer Love by Ashley Herring Blake

Hitting shelves May 3rd

Suffer Love cover

This one actually wasn’t really on my radar until recently but now I want to read it.  Hadley’s life changes completely when her father’s year-long affair comes to light and all she wants is to be left alone.  Then she meets a new guy, Sam, who changes all of that for her.  However, Sam is keeping a secret that could ruin everything between them.

What are you looking forward to reading in May?

Friday, April 29, 2016

Blogging vs. Bookstagram: Is It Really A Competition? | Discussion

Talk Blogging

The title here really says it all.  I want to know if blogging, book blogging in particular, is going out of style and being replaced by the ever-growing Bookstagram.  For the longest time, blogs were popping up left and right.  It was the thing to do.  At first, I wasn’t sure how I felt about it (let’s be real here, it means more competition) but I realized that the addition of new blogs to the blogosphere was a good thing.  The addition of new book blogs proved that we were making an impact and it showed that other people wanted to do the same.  Now, on the other hand, I don’t see a ton of new blogs pop up and I actually see a decrease in the ones that currently exist.

I’ve been blogging for over 7 years now and I’ve seen a lot of blogs come and go.  I’ve seen the growth of Booktube and I’m now watching the growth of Bookstagram.  While I love the addition of new mediums, I hate the thought that blogs are getting pushed to the side.  I find it funny that we are all self-professed lovers of reading and yet the blog is going out of style because people don’t really want to read them anymore.  Pictures and videos are much preferred these days.

Blogging is extremely time consuming.  It’s not just the act of actually blogging that we have to worry about, we also have to count time spent reading all those review books.  I don’t know about you guys but it can sometimes take me an hour to get a post drafted, formatted, and scheduled.  It doesn’t usually take me quite that long but sometimes there are reviews where I just can’t say enough or can’t quite get the words right.  It’s a huge undertaking when you start a blog and I honestly don’t think people realize or really appreciate that until they have their own blog.  Now try running a blog and all the other social media accounts that go along with it.  It’s not easy to balance that and have a life.  (Come on, we all know I don’t really have a life outside my blog.)

Speaking of other social media accounts, I’m attempting to grow my Instagram account and make it a dedicated Bookstagram to go along with my blog.  I will freely admit that I have no skills with a camera and editing is not my forte.  Everything I am doing, I’m doing on my own.  I’m attempting to figure out how to frame the perfect shot, place the right props, and set it against the perfect backdrop.  Not to mention get the lighting right.  It’s pretty cloudy here in Colorado sometimes so natural lighting isn’t always possible.  I realize now that I’m trying to learn this stuff that it’s not as easy as grabbing a phone, taking a photo, and posting it to Instagram.  It may seem like that at first but it’s not the case.  Bookstagram does take skill and a pretty good amount of time depending on how many shots you take and if you choose to edit those photos.

Bookstagram

One thing I have noticed about Bookstagram and what’s hard not to notice is the follower counts.  Bookstagram accounts range from a couple hundred followers to close to a hundred thousand followers.  Blogs have never had that kind of popularity and it’s hard not to get discouraged by that.  No matter how many times we try to stress that follower count isn’t the most important thing ever, it’s obviously a pretty big deal.  We wouldn’t be spending all this time writing blog posts if no one was reading them.  To be honest, these days it sometimes feels like that is what we are doing.  I will even admit that I check Instagram a lot more often than I check my blog feed.  It’s just more convenient and everyone knows that people are all about the convenient option these days.

However, I think instead of being a bad thing for blogs, Bookstagram can be a great asset.  If you have the skills to post pictures that draw people in and use the caption to attract those readers to a blog post, your traffic can definitely be boosted.  Those huge follower counts can really work in favor of your blog, if you have one.  The really tough part is going to be consistently posting good pictures to grow that follower count.  You also have to take into account that no matter how many hashtags you use, people aren’t just going to stumble upon your page.  You have to reach out and create connections by checking out other accounts and commenting.  It’s just like trying to grow traffic to your blog when you first start it.  It’s kind of like starting over.

Do you think blogging is going out of style?  Do you see Bookstagram and Booktube taking over and blogs getting pushed aside?   Do you blog, vlog, or bookstagram?  All three?  Which do you prefer?

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Blog Tour: Holding Smoke by Elle Cosimano | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Holding Smoke by Elle Cosimano | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Holding Smoke by Elle Cosimano | Review + GiveawayHolding Smoke by Elle Cosimano
Published by Hyperion on May 3rd 2016
Genres: Suspense
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

John "Smoke" Conlan is serving time for two murders but he wasn't the one who murdered his English teacher, and he never intended to kill the only other witness to the crime. A dangerous juvenile rehabilitation center in Denver, Colorado, known as the Y, is Smoke's new home and the only one he believes he deserves.

But, unlike his fellow inmates, Smoke is not in constant imprisonment. After a near death experience leaves him with the ability to shed his physical body at will, Smoke is able to travel freely outside the concrete walls of the Y, gathering information for himself and his fellow inmates while they're asleep in their beds. Convinced his future is only as bright as the fluorescent lights in his cell, Smoke doesn't care that the "threads" that bind his soul to his body are wearing thin-that one day he may not make it back in time. That is, until he meets Pink, a tough, resourceful girl who is sees him for who he truly is and wants to help him clear his name.

Now Smoke is on a journey to redemption he never thought possible. With Pink's help, Smoke may be able to reveal the true killer, but the closer they get to the truth, the more deadly their search becomes. The web of lies, deceit, and corruption that put Smoke behind bars is more tangled than they could have ever imagined. With both of their lives on the line, Smoke will have to decide how much he's willing to risk, and if he can envision a future worth fighting for.

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Elle Cosimano became one of my favorite authors with her Nearly duology (possibly trilogy?)  When I first heard about Holding Smoke, I was extremely excited and immediately added it to my TBR.  I got my hands on an ARC and I read it immediately.  While it was very different from her first books, I liked the new direction her writing took.

Pros:

  • Characters: Smoke stole my heart from the very start!  He comes across as a bit of a bad boy but he has a heart of gold.  His circumstances were beyond crappy.  He was not a completely innocent man but he was not as guilty as you’d first think.  He had quite a few layers to him and I never knew what side he was going to show next.  I liked that he was able to keep me guessing.  As for Pink, she was a bit of a mystery.  She came across as this badass female but she also had quite a shy, scared side.  She knew when she could handle herself and she knew when she needed help.  She and Smoke weren’t always good for each other but they worked past that.
  • Story: The story was both a pro and a con for me.  It was so unique and so twisted that I was kept guessing until the very end.  Not only could I not figure out who committed the crime Smoke was in jail for, I also couldn’t figure out the exact nature of the crime Smoke actually committed.  He was good at hiding things and Elle Cosimano is good at twisting things so much, you’ll never see it coming.
  • Romance: Smoke and Pink didn’t have a traditional romance.  For one, Smoke wasn’t actually physically there for most of their interactions.  With his ability, he came across as a ghost to Pink most of the time.  Because of that, their relationship developed mentally way before it did physically and I really liked that.  They weren’t exactly a cute couple (they got on each others nerves quite a bit) but they had their own charm.

Cons:

  • Story: Like I said, the story was both a pro and a con for me and it’s actually the only con I had with Holding Smoke.  I felt a little confused at times.  Smoke’s ability was very unique but also very odd.  I didn’t understand it all the time and some of the scenes when he was separated from his body threw me off.  I think it was how they were written and how Smoke looks at things when he’s like that.  It wasn’t bad, by any means, it just took some getting used to.

Overall, Holding Smoke isn’t my favorite from Elle Cosimano but it held up to my expectations pretty well.  Elle Cosimano is a name to know if you are a fan of YA suspense.  If you were a fan of her Nearly books, check out Holding Smoke.  I think you’ll find you enjoy it.

Giveaway

3 winners will receive copies of Holding Smoke.  US only.

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Don’t forget to check out the rest of the tour!

Week 1:
 
Week 2:

Monday, April 25, 2016

Empire of Dust and Temporary Tattoos | Giveaway

Do you guys remember my rave review of Legacy of Kings?  Well it’s almost time for the sequel to be out and I’m beyond excited for it.  When I was offered an ARC to giveaway, I had to do it.  One of you guys is going to be extremely lucky to get to read this one early.

Empire of Dust

In Macedon, war rises like smoke, forbidden romance blooms and ancient magic tempered with rage threatens to turn an empire to dust

After winning his first battle, Prince Alexander fights to become the ruler his kingdom demands—but the line between leader and tyrant blurs with each new threat.

Meanwhile, Hephaestion, cast aside by Alexander for killing the wrong man, must conceal the devastating secret of a divine prophecy from Katerina even as the two of them are thrust together on a dangerous mission to Egypt.

The warrior, Jacob, determined to forget his first love, vows to eradicate the ancient Blood Magics and believes that royal prisoner Cynane holds the key to Macedon’s undoing.

And in chains, the Persian princess Zofia still longs to find the Spirit Eaters, but first must grapple with the secrets of her handsome—and deadly—captor.

New York Times bestselling author Eleanor Herman entwines the real scandals of history with epic fantasy to reimagine the world’s most brilliant ruler, Alexander the Great, in the second book of the Blood of Gods and Royals series.

Add to Goodreads

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  • US only
  • Ends 5/2

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Saturday, April 23, 2016

Exciting Additions To My Shelves | April 23

Exciting AdditionsToMy Shelves

This week the publishers and Edelweiss were pretty good to me.  I found some books I hadn’t really heard about and I also got one of my most anticipated books of the year!

The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4) by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven King

If you know me well, you know I’ve already started this one.  There was no way I was waiting to finish the two others books I was reading when I got it.  This is the final book in The Raven Cycle series and I’m extremely nervous to see how it all ends.

Crow Mountain by Lucy Inglis

Crow Mountain

This was a surprise book that showed up from Scholastic but I’m intrigued by it.  It’s two love stories that are separated by over a hundred years but somehow intertwined.

Frost by M.P. Kozlowsky

Frost

The first line in the synopsis for this one is that it’s Cinder meets The Walking Dead.  I am all over that.  I’m not even kidding when I say that I don’t need to know anything else about Frost to know that I will be reading it.

The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron

The Forgetting

I read Sharon Cameron’s debut novel and while I haven’t kept up with her other books, I loved it enough to check out more of her work.  The Forgetting sounds absolutely fascinating and unique and I haven’t read a good dystopian lately so I have high hopes.

The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid

The Diabolic

Science fiction isn’t usually my thing but everything about this book appeals to me.  A humanoid girl poses as the senator’s daughter when she is threatened and is taken hostage by the power-mad Emperor. I’m not sure what all will happen after that but I’m going to find out!

The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You by Lily Anderson

The only thing worse than me is you

I’ve been seeing this one around and it’s been getting amazing reviews.  It’s contemporary and it’s about two giant comic book nerds.  That’s definitely enough to catch my attention.

Are any of these on your TBR?  Which one are you most excited for?

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi | Review

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi | ReviewThe Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on April 26th 2016
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you're only seventeen?

Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father's kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran's queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar's wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire...

But Akaran has its own secrets -- thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most. . .including herself.

A lush and vivid story that is steeped in Indian folklore and mythology. The Star-Touched Queen is a novel that no reader will soon forget.

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The Star-Touched Queen, Roshani Chokshi’s debut novel, will have you shaking your head in disbelief that it is, in fact, a debut novel.  The Star-Touched Queen reads like Roshani Chokshi has been writing her whole life and I’m sure this will not be the only wonderful, heartbreaking book we get from her.

Pros:

  • Romance: While it might come across a bit like insta-love at first, that really isn’t what is going on. Amar and Maya didn’t really have much of a choice when it came to starting up a really quick relationship.  They got married the first time they met.  That’s just how it was.  However, their attraction made their marriage not quite as tough as it could have been.  Amar and Maya’s personalities fit together and they each brought different things to their relationship and their roles as leaders.  While Amar was quite closed off and a bit hard to read, Maya was the opposite.  She had a bit of a temper and she wasn’t afraid to say what she wanted and to go after it.  It also didn’t hurt that once they got to know each other, their chemistry was even better.  Roshani Chokshi managed to make all of their scenes together both steamy and sweet.
  • Characters: It’s not often that I like all the characters and find them to be well-developed but that was the case with The Star-Touched Queen.  Maya was dealt a poor hand in life due to her horoscope and the kingdom she lived in.  It was predicted that she would bring death and destruction to whoever she married.  It made many people scared of her and needless to say, made marriage kind of out of the picture for her.  Not that she minded that.  She smart and witty and fierce.  Amar, like I said, was kind of mysterious, in a tall, dark, and handsome way.  His personality was hard to gauge at first but once in his kingdom, he started to come out of his shell more.  He was sweet but also smart and cunning.  The harem wives were all very superstitious women who were pretty terrible.  Gauri, Maya’s half-sister, was adorable at first and fierce later on.  She was strong and smart and willing to do whatever it took for her kingdom and the people she loved.  Gupta was funny and a little odd.  Kamala had to be my favorite though.  I can’t even begin to describe her but she was funny in a morbid and quirky way.  She was fiercely protective of Maya and yet managed to keep a sense of humor even when defending her.  I wasn’t sure it was possible that even demon animals could be well-developed characters but Roshani Chokshi proved me wrong.
  • Setting: The Star-Touched Queen is set in both the kingdoms of Bharata and the kingdom of Akaran.  Both settings were extremely vividly detailed.  Bharata was both a gorgeous kingdom and a kingdom torn apart by war.  The Night Bazaar seemed like an awesomely creepy place but maybe could have used a little more development.  Akaran was, by far, my favorite though.  There were mirrors showing everything but your reflection, gardens made out of glass, and a tapestry full of mystery and fate.
  • Plot: At first, I really wasn’t sure what I was going to get with The Star-Touched Queen.  The synopsis on the back of the book doesn’t really say much and I actually really like that about it.  I went in not knowing what to expect and I felt like I got more mystery out of it.  There were a few things that I guessed along the way but I think if I had actually read the full synopsis, I would have guessed them a lot sooner.  However, I think I only guessed those things because of my knowledge of some Indian folklore.  If you don’t know any Indian folklore, you are in for a lot of twists and turns and I was still shocked by a lot of things.  Things are a little slow to start but not very.  Maya’s story really starts to take off early in the book and since it is a standalone, everything has to happen pretty quickly.  That’s not to say that anything is rushed though because it’s not.  And since it is a standalone, everything was wrapped up quite nicely and while I would never say no to more stories set in this world, I was happy with how things ended.

Overall, The Star-Touched Queen has a spot on my favorites shelf, that’s for sure.  I highly recommend it, especially for fans of Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone series.  While the stories are each uniquely different, I couldn’t help getting the same type of vibe from this one and that is high praise.  I look forward to more from Roshani Chokshi.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Blood Kiss (Black Dagger Legacy #1) by J.R. Ward | Review

Blood Kiss (Black Dagger Legacy #1) by J.R. Ward | ReviewBlood Kiss (Black Dagger Legacy, #1) by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Legacy #1
Published by Signet on December 1st 2015
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 397
Format: ebook
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

The legacy of the Black Dagger Brotherhood continues in a spin-off series from the #1 New York Times bestselling author…

Paradise, blooded daughter of the king’s First Advisor, is ready to break free from the restrictive life of an aristocratic female. Her strategy? Join the Black Dagger Brotherhood’s training center program and learn to fight for herself, think for herself…be herself. It’s a good plan, until everything goes wrong. The schooling is unfathomably difficult, the other recruits feel more like enemies than allies, and it’s very clear that the Brother in charge, Butch O’Neal, a.k.a. the Dhestroyer, is having serious problems in his own life.

And that’s before she falls in love with a fellow classmate. Craeg, a common civilian, is nothing her father would ever want for her, but everything she could ask for in a male. As an act of violence threatens to tear apart the entire program, and the erotic pull between them grows irresistible, Paradise is tested in ways she never anticipated—and left wondering whether she’s strong enough to claim her own power…on the field, and off.

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I admit I wasn’t sure that I wanted to start this series.  While I love the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, I’m already 14 books in with that one and I have a feeling the Black Dagger Legacy series will be just as long.  I don’t normally get into series that go on that long but I really liked Paradise and Craeg from The Shadows so I wanted to continue their story.  I’m happy I chose to start this series and I plan on keeping up with it as the rest of the books come out.  I don’t know why I’m surprised that J.R. Ward  has hooked me once again.

Pros:

  • Story: The story hooked me from page one.  I loved the idea of having some new members trained to join in on the Black Dagger Brotherhood’s fight against the Lessening Society.  I also loved the idea of seeing what goes into the training required to be a fighter with the Black Dagger Brotherhood.  While this was a huge part of the story, it wasn’t the whole story.  J.R. Ward is a master at weaving together multiple stories and she did a great job with everything that was included in Blood Kiss.  Craeg and Paradise’s story takes center stage and much of their story involves the training program but they aren’t the only two who have a role in Blood Kiss.  Marissa and Butch’s story is brought back to front and center when a severely wounded female is found outside Safe Place.  The mystery surrounding her circumstances not only brings in the new trainees but also brings to light some issues that Marissa and Butch have been having with their relationship.  There is so much going on in the story that you will not be able to stop reading.
  • Characters: I loved being introduced to so many new characters while still showing us all the original characters we’ve come to love from the original series.  Weaving together both Craeg and Paradise’s story with Butch and Marissa’s really worked for Blood Kiss. I didn’t feel like it was one of the original books but we still got to see glimpses of everyone else.  The trainees were a varied mix of people that I grew to love over the course of the book.  Paradise was raised to be part of the upper class but that’s not what she wanted out of her life and she was willing to do whatever it took to change her circumstances.  Craeg was a bit broody and mysterious but his story really broke my heart.  Axe, Peyton, Novo, Anslam, and the other trainee whose name I cannot remember were developed only briefly in Blood Kiss but I look forward to finding out more about all of them in the future books.
  • Pacing: While I love the original series, I felt like Blood Kiss had a bit better pacing than that series.  Things took off from page one and didn’t slow down even once.  There is no such thing as a short J.R. Ward book (which I’m perfectly happy with) but this one read a lot faster than the Black Dagger Brotherhood books and it seemed like a much shorter book.  I honestly can’t say exactly what caused that but I think readers will find that this one is actually a surprisingly quick read.

Cons:

  • Romance: While I loved Craeg and Paradise as separate characters, I wasn’t all that impressed with them as a couple.  Things between them were very back and forth and Craeg’s reactions a lot of the time got on my nerves.  Paradise was part of the trainee group because of her own merits and strengths but Craeg still looked at her like she was fragile.  He couldn’t see how he would be good for her and he kept pushing her away because of that, no matter what Paradise wanted.  Their relationship also seemed to be very physical and I would have liked to see more of the emotional side of things.

This doesn’t affect my review in any way but I felt like I should throw this out there.  If you haven’t read the original Black Dagger Brotherhood series, you can still read Blood Kiss.  You also don’t really need to read Blood Kiss to continue with the Black Dagger Brotherhood series.  However, I think both series’ offer more information to readers and I’d highly recommend reading both of them and reading them as they come out.  I plan on staying up to date with both series so that I don’t miss out on anything but that might just be due to my obsession with this series and all things J.R. Ward.

Overall, Blood Kiss will definitely appeal to fans of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series and if you’ve been on the fence, I suggest checking it out.  Also, if you’ve been thinking about starting the Black Dagger Brotherhood series but are intimidated by how many books there are, you could always start with Blood Kiss and see how you feel about things before starting the other series.  I guess, what I’m saying is, check out Blood Kiss if you’re a fan of the paranormal.  I can’t get enough of these vampires.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum | Review

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum | ReviewTell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum
Published by Delacorte Press on April 5th 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 336
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
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4 Stars

Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?

It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son.

In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?

Julie Buxbaum mixes comedy and tragedy, love and loss, pain and elation, in her debut YA novel filled with characters who will come to feel like friends.

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I’m a huge advocate for contemporary young adult literature.  I love it and I think it doesn’t get enough recognition or love from a lot of readers.  Tell Me Three Things is probably going to the top of my list of recommendations, especially for those readers that don’t necessarily like contemporary.

Pros:

  • Characters: All of the characters in Tell Me Three Things were pretty much perfect.  Don’t get me wrong, they had their flaws but that only made them better.  Jessie was a little self-centered but she kind of deserved it.  Her whole life had been uprooted and things were not great at her new school or home.  Theo was one I wasn’t sure about at first but he grew on me quickly.  SN was so funny and clever and adorable.  Dri and Agnes were great friends to Jessie although I really wasn’t sure they would be at first.  The same goes for Scarlett.  She and Jessie may have been separated by thousands of miles but they worked past that.  Ethan and Liam were so cute.  Liam was a little airheaded and Ethan was a little closed off but I liked them both a lot.  Probably Ethan more though because of the whole reading thing.  I’m all for the nerds.
  • Romance: The romance in this one was different.  Jessie and SN start out flirting and then it becomes something so much more than that.  Jessie doesn’t even know who SN is but she’s attracted to him on an intellectual level and their conversations were so cute and so real.  Not knowing who he was allowed her to open up to him in a way she wouldn’t have in real life.  It was a little stalker like at times since he knew who she was and sometimes made comments about what she was wearing that day or doing but it was a cute stalker way.  And once I found out who SN really was, I could see how they were perfect in real life too.
  • Family: Jessie’s family is broken and put back together in a new way and it was definitely weird for her.  Her mom died (I’ll get to that next) and now she’s living in LA with her dad’s new wife and her teenage son.  Pretty much none of them (except her dad and his wife) want anything do with each other and I really wasn’t sure how it was going to work out.  I appreciate that Julie Buxbaum didn’t make it work out perfectly.  They were a broken family when the book started and they were still broken when it ended but they were working on it and that’s what I loved.
  • Grief: Julie Buxbaum did a fabulous job with her representation of grief in Tell Me Three Things.  Jessie wasn’t the only one dealing with the loss of someone.  Her dad lost his wife.  Theo lost his dad.  Theo’s mom, Rachel, lost her husband.  Ethan lost a sibling.  Each of them dealt with it differently.  There is no right way to grieve someone and I loved that Julie Buxbaum could show all the different ways.
  • Pacing: Tell Me Three Things is a fast-paced contemporary novel.  At no point does it drag.  I couldn’t stop turning the pages.  The mix of texting, IM’ing, and email messages interspersed throughout the novel also helped to move things along making it an extremely quick read.

Cons:

  • Mystery: Let’s be real, here.  I figured out who SN was pretty early on and I think most readers probably will.  It’s not that great a mystery.  It was just a little too perfect and while there were some red herrings thrown in, I never really thought they were him.  I’m not really complaining though because the mystery wasn’t what kept me reading.  The story was and knowing who SN was before the big reveal didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story.

Overall, Tell Me Three Things might just make you change your mind about contemporary novels.  Julie Buxbaum’s young adult debut hit it out of the park and I can’t wait to see what she does next.  I hope this isn’t her only foray into the YA world.