Friday, January 31, 2014

January Wrap Up

Well that was unexpected! I grossly underestimated the amount of books I was going to read in January! I planned for five books and I actually read eleven and finished ten. I blame the fact that some of the longer ones were really engaging, audiobooks, and the fact that the more time I spend in the book blogoshphere the more I want to read! My theme this month was High

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Series: Grisha Trilogy Book 1
Full Review
My Thoughts: A roller coaster ride of a fantasy novel with interesting and complex characters, a very cool world, lots of mystery, and enough action to keep everyone engaged if you are a fan of fantasy or not.
Rating: 9 out of 10

A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin
Series: A Song of Ice and Fire Book 4
Full Review
My Thoughts: An amazing High Fantasy series but not the best book in the bunch. The political intrigue and characters with redemptive arcs were there but very little magic, some of my favorite characters were not featured at all, and the perspectives are a little unbalanced. It got better as the book went on though and was very enjoyable.
Rating: 8 out of 10

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
Series: Grisha Trilogy Book 2
Full Review
My Thoughts: Even better than the first book. The characters are growing and developing and the plot wasn't so much of a roller coaster. This one was much more character driving and left me with a book hangover desperately wanting the final book in the series.
Rating:  9.5 out of 10

A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin
Series: A Song of Ice and Fire Book 5
Full Review
My Thoughts: A Song of Ice and Fire like it should be. The missing favorites are back but so is the magic, the political intrigue, and characters with redemptive arcs. This book is full of so much mystery and theorizing that I can't help but plot the series conclusion. The cliffhangers left me with all the feels desperately longing for the next book.
Rating: 9 out of 10

Stardust by Neil Gaiman
Full Review
My Thoughts: A lighthearted and funny story that was a nonstop parade of odd and interesting characters that were only in the story for a brief period. Most of the story was odd and confusing but it all came together for an interesting and compelling ending. Could have used more world-building and action but pretty good.

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
Full Review
My Thoughts: Effortless. A beautiful and engaging young adult contemporary romance with realistic characters you can relate to, and a plot that flows and develops in such a beautiful way that when it's over you can't believe you finished it and you're so overwhelmed with feelings because not only are you upset it's over but it made you feel things deeply buried in your soul.
Rating: 10 out of 10

Manor of Secrets by Katherine Longshore
Full Review
My Thoughts: A good historical fiction book that does a good job of setting the scene of the Edwardian era. The characters are interesting, a great slow-burning romance, but the plot is muddled, and the secrets are not very surprising.
Rating 7.5 out of 10

The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas
Series: The Elemental Trilogy Book 1 
Full Review
My Thoughts: A good start to a new young adult fantasy series with engaging and complex characters and a really cool world with tons of action. However it took awhile to become invested in the story, the constant change of perspectives was annoyinging, and the world-building was a bit confusing.
Rating: 7 out of 10

No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale
Full Review
My Thoughts: A really interesting young adult mystery with quirky characters that appealed to my dry sense of humor but was a surprising exploration of friendship and overcoming grief. The mystery aspect wasn't that difficult to solve and there were some weird plot details but thoroughly enjoyable.
Rating: 8 out of 10


Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian by Rick Riordan
Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians Book 5
Series Review to Come
My Thoughts: A fantastic ending to a really engaging series. This book in
particular was full of action, surprises, and tears.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10

What did you read this month? Leave me a comment and don't forget to check out my full reviews for all of these books and of course.. HAPPY READING!

Feature and Follow Friday #11

A weekly meme hosted by Alison Can Read & Parajunkee's View
How it Works: 
The Feature & Follow is hosted by TWO hosts, Parajunkee of Parajunkee's View and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it'll allow us to show off more new blogs!

How does this work? First you leave your name here on this post, (using the linky tools -- keep scrolling!) then you create a post on your own blog that links back to this post (easiest way is to just grab the code under the #FF picture and put it in your post) and then you visit as many blogs as you can and tell them "hi" in their comments (on the post that has the #FF image). You follow them, they follow you. Win. Win. Just make sure to follow back if someone follows you!

What sets this Hop apart from others, is our Feature. Each week we will showcase a Featured Blogger, from all different genres and areas. Who is our Feature today? Find out below. Just remember it is required, if you participate, to follow our Features and you must follow the hosts (Parajunkee & Alison Can Read) as a courtesy. How do you follow someone? Well, if you have a preference, state it in your #FF post. A lot of blogs are transitioning to Wordpress in which they do not have the luxury of GFC, so an RSS subscription is appreciated or if you choose an email subscription. If you don't have GFC please state in your post how you would like to be followed.

This Weeks Question: 

Time for Book Spine Poetry again! Take a picture of your book spines spelling out something epic.


This Weeks Answer:

A Storm of Swords in the Time of the Butterflies.
A Visit from the Goon Squad As I Lay Dying.
Abandon Mostly Harmless Dead Souls Across the Universe. 


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Fantasy Worlds I Don't Want to Live In

A weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

This is the perfect list for the last Top Ten Tuesday of my High Fantasy month! The best part of the genres for me is the exploration of a new and exciting world. The world-building can make or break the series sometimes. So here are the top ten worlds I would not want to live in.

1.) Ravka (The Grisha trilogy)
This is a very cool world but it's also constantly at war, lots of starving, and oh yeah the middle of country has this giant dark patch where terrifying creatures will kill you. I think I'll pass.

2.) Panem (Hunger Games trilogy)
I really see nothing positive about this world. If I was reaped I wouldn't last past the bloodbath! Plus all the starving and corrupt governments, no thank you!

3.) Westeros (A Song of Ice and Fire)
Sure there are some benefits to Westeros (dragons, feasts, Jamie Lannister) but it's also a land of death and destruction, people always scheming against you, and then there's that whole White Walkers situation. Nope!

 4.) The Faction System (Divergent Trilogy)
There is no way I could live my whole life being boxed into one personality or another. Plus as the series develops things just get less fun. I'd rather not!

5.) Oz (The Wicked Years)
This is not your grandmother's Oz. After book 1 things escalate into war, puppet governments, life on the run, and seriously only a few people can do magic! Sounds like no fun at all!

6.) The future in The Giver (The Giver)
This world is way too sterile! It freaks me out man! I want to have bad feels and know about the evil in the world, that's what keeps things interesting! Hard pass!

7.) Isla Sorna (Jurassic Park)
It's not particularly a world but it is terrifying! Yeah, dinosaurs are cool but they are also monsters that will rip you limb from limb and eat you for dinner. Avoid at all costs!

8.) Regency Era (Jane Austen, etc.)
All the concern with manners, being landylike, and finding a husband is not my idea of a good time. Although the dresses are pretty. Not worth it!

9.) Narnia (The Chronicles of Narnia)
Everyone thinks Narnia is so great but can we talk about eternal winter (which I feel like I'm currently living), evil witches, royal usurpers, and lots of war. Not my idea of a good time!

10.) OASIS (Ready Player One)
Okay so OASIS has it's benefits and actually sounds like a really good virtual reality game but I suck at video games and there's also this menacing pseudo-government entity and the real world in this world sounds horrible. Not my deal future! 

What world would you not want to inhabit? Leave me a comment. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

*On a related note my favorite part of this question is the maps! I love maps! If a book has a map I am totally obsessed with checking it every time the characters go somewhere new! Maps are a fantastic way to set up a world*

Monday, January 27, 2014

Book Review: The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

Title: The Burning Sky
Author: Sherry Thomas
Published: Balzer + Bray, September 2013
Amazon Goodreads
Synopsis:  Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation—or so she's being told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of The Realm. It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the greatest mage tyrant the world has ever known. A suicide task for anyone let alone a sixteen-year-old girl with no training, facing a prophecy that foretells a fiery clash to the death.

Prince Titus of Elberon has sworn to protect Iolanthe at all costs but he's also a powerful mage committed to obliterating the Bane to avenge the death of his family—even if he must sacrifice both Iolanthe and himself to achieve his goal.

But Titus makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the Bane closing in, he must choose between his mission and her life.

The most surprising thing about The Burning Sky was how long it took me to get into it. It’s not that it wasn’t interesting because it was. The book was full of action and consistent action. I'm a big fan of fantasy and usually thrilling action is enough to capture my interest and keep me from straying to another book. However with The Burning Sky I started and finished two books and it took a lot of self-control to finish it before starting a third book. And while I wasn't blown away, the book wasn't bad.

I think my major problem with it was the format. It is told from two different perspectives. First we have Iolanthe, the female protagonist who is supposed to be the most powerful elemental mage of her time, she has to go on the run from this powerful and malicious government entity after conjuring lighting gives her power away. Then there is Prince Titus, the male protagonist, who swears to protect her but only so she will help him ensure that a prophecy his mother made is completed. I’ve read a lot of books that alternate perspectives. I don’t often have a problem with it; in fact it’s usually nice to see things from a different side especially when the characters are off doing different things. But in this case the perspective would change mid-chapter and this would often happen multiple times. It felt indecisive, like the author couldn’t decide who the main character was, and it was not only confusing but annoying.

As far as characters go they were both interesting and complex enough to redeem the story a lot. Iolanthe grew on me as the story went on. At first I was really not a fan. She started out as a reluctant hero, which I usually like, but she was also this damsel-in-distress who needed a prince to save instead of the badass elemental mage that she was supposed to be. But as the book went on she took responsibility for her powers and ended up turning the tables on the fairy tale trope. But that might also be because Titus was not your average prince. He is a totally swoonworthy royal but also a really impressive mage with a completely captivating dark side. He is full of secrets and considers himself a lying and manipulative scoundrel. Often throughout the series I would question his morals and motivations. He is another one of those characters who is either doing the right thing for the wrong reasons or the other way around. There was also a host of great and dubious secondary characters including members of the government that were hunting the characters.

Despite the fact that that it took me awhile to get into the story the plot was interesting and exciting. There’s a lot of action including daring escapes and epic battle scenes. The last third of the book is incredibly thrilling and made up for a rather slow beginning. And while the magical system was not particularly unique it was still pretty cool. It was a combination of both the “I can control the elements” type of magic and the “I can performs spells and make potions” type that you see all the time. It was like all the best things about Avatar: The Last Airbender and Harry Potter combined into one system. There were even some really cool elements of the system and the world including a magic book that is used as a training tool and allows the characters to fight dragons and create tornadoes among other things.

And while the world that the author created was interesting the world-building was confusing at times. The Burning Sky is the first book in a series and it suffered from what you often see in first books. It deliberately withheld information that I not only wanted to know but was sometimes very obvious. And while I did think the inclusion of footnotes to explain some of the complexities and mythology of the world was really creative during much of the story there was a lot of telling instead of showing. In fact at times the characters would even be chatting about a plot point or details about the world. But the most confusing thing for me was the specifics of the world. I can't decide if it was the "world within a world" kind of fantasy or low fantasy. Part of the story takes place in this fantasy world called the Realms but they can very simply take a train to London where they have to keep the magic hidden. It was odd and didn't feel like a fully formed magical world.

Despite all my ranting about what I didn't like this book is a good start to a Young Adult series that I will probably continue reading. I give The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas a 7 out of 10

 It is a good fantasy story with an interesting world, complex characters, and thrilling action. If you like The Grisha trilogy then you will probably like The Burning Sky. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who is a big fan of Fantasy but for people who are still exploring the genre. If you’ve read The Burning Sky leave me a comment with your thoughts. Happy Reading!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

ARC Review: Manor of Secrets by Katherine Longshore

Title: Manor of Secrets
Author: Katherine Longshore
Published: Scholastic on January 28, 2014
Amazon Goodreads

Synopsis: The year is 1911. And at The Manor, nothing is as it seems . . .

Lady Charlotte Edmonds: Beautiful, wealthy, and sheltered, Charlotte feels suffocated by the strictures of upper-crust society. She longs to see the world beyond The Manor, to seek out high adventure. And most of all, romance.

Janie Seward: Fiery, hardworking, and clever, Janie knows she can be more than just a kitchen maid. But she isn't sure she possesses the courage -- or the means -- to break free and follow her passions.

Both Charlotte and Janie are ready for change. As their paths overlap in the gilded hallways and dark corridors of The Manor, rules are broken and secrets are revealed. Secrets that will alter the course of their lives. . . forever


I received an eARC copy from the publisher via Netgalley for an honest review.

I have to admit, I'm a big fan of Historical Fiction. It's one of my favorite genres. I was really excited to read this book because of its comparison to Downtown Abbey, which I love! This book, like Downton, is set in the Edwardian era which is a really interesting period in history. It's a time of transition and change in the world. What Manor of Secrets does really well is set that tone of the period. The characters are caught between their contrasting feelings of knowing their place and finding where they belong in a changing world. It was well researched and allowed the reader to be immersed in the world and the lives of the characters. Many of the attitudes and actions of the characters felt very realistic and historically accurate.

The book did have some problems however. The plot was interesting and enjoyable but incredibly muddled at times. It started out really strong and had a strong ending but in the middle there were lots of moments that didn't feel fully-formed. There were ideas that seemed to be introduced and then completely abandoned, and plot points that were thrown in out of the blue just to connect A to B. Not to mention there were two distinct climaxes. When the final climax was reached and the last secret was revealed I was not completely surprised. I had predicted the main aspect of this twist before I was even a quarter of the way through the book and I found myself spending most of my reading seeing the clues for this conclusion.

But the plot was redeemed by the characters. They were all interesting and likable. You see the world of the Manor through the eyes of our two protagonists. First there is Lady Charlotte, the wealthy heiress with an active imagination and dreams of adventure, romance, and a life beyond her social constructs. Then there is Janie the feisty kitchen maid who isn't afforded the luxury to dream and hoping to find where she belongs and to be with the people she loves. There is also a host of compelling and interesting secondary characters both upstairs and downstairs. You spend most of the book becoming attached to these characters and when their unlikely friendship starts both of their worlds unraveling you cannot help but want them to win in the end. There were moments where I wanted to scream at them but also moments where I wanted to cry with them.

The book was also full of great themes about not only finding your place in the world but also lovely and relatable themes about friendships, family and, getting to know people before you judge them. The characters have to learn the hard way that things and people are not always what they seem and that the people who matter are those who help you out when things get tough. This was especially true when it came to the romance in this book. My favorite part without a doubt was the romance. In my most recent Top Ten Tuesday post I mentioned that one of the things on my reading wish list is books where the romance grows over time and that is exactly what happened in this book. The romances didn't fully develop until the book was almost completely over and as the reader the couples that I was shipping were the ones that ended up together. It was very satisfying and refreshing to see Young Adult romances where the romances blossom out of friendships instead of crushes.

On the whole Manor of Secrets was a quick read and a good Historical Fiction set in the Edwardian era. 
I give it a 7.5 out of 10

I recommend Manor of Secrets to anyone who like YA Historical Fiction, anyone who likes romance, and anyone who likes the Edwardian Era or Downton Abbey. If you've read Manor of Secrets leave me a comment and of course HAPPY READING!

Book Review: No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale

Title: No One Else Can Have You
Author: Kathleen Hale
Published: Harper Teen, 2014
Amazon Goodreads

Synopsis: Small towns are nothing if not friendly. Friendship, Wisconsin (population: 689 688) is no different. Around here, everyone wears a smile. And no one ever locks their doors. Until, that is, high school sweetheart Ruth Fried is found murdered. Strung up like a scarecrow in the middle of a cornfield.

Unfortunately, Friendship’s police are more adept at looking for lost pets than catching killers. So Ruth’s best friend, Kippy Bushman, armed with only her tenacious Midwestern spirit and Ruth’s secret diary (which Ruth’s mother had asked her to read in order to redact any, you know, sex parts), sets out to find the murderer. But in a quiet town like Friendship—where no one is a suspect—anyone could be the killer.

 I am really glad I took the time to read No One Else Can Have You and experience it for myself. There has been a lot of mixed reviews about this book. It does not seem to have a broad based appeal that will attract the casual fan. It seems to appeal to a very particular person. I would like to introduce you to that person. *Waves and smiles*

No One Else Can Have You is for people who enjoy murder mysteries. It seems obvious I know, because that is what this book is, but honestly not everyone enjoys books about murders, they're not for the faint of heart. It starts out with a gruesome description of a grisly murder that rocked the small town of Friendship, Wisconsin. Throughout the book the main character Kippy, the murdered girl's best friend, disbelieves the inept sheriff's assessment of who the murderer is and decides to go on her own hunt for the killer. And while I do feel like I would have liked there to be more searching for clues and investigating suspects, it was actually kind of refreshing that Kippy was not an amazing detective. If you are going to randomly decide to be an amateur sleuth you shouldn't miraculously know how to solve crimes. But my favorite thing about this mystery is that it was solvable with subtle clues throughout but the actual killer wasn't revealed till almost the end of the book. Throughout most of the book there were so many suspicious and likely suspects that I could only narrow it down to a few possibilities.

No One Else Can Have You is also for people who like quirky narrators. Kippy is a very particular type of quirky though. Again, not for the faint of heart. You have to have a very wry and perverse sense of humor. She is awkward and inappropriate. She says and does things without even thinking which results in "open mouth, insert foot" situations. I found her completely hilarious because I've been there. I had the impression throughout the book that if I lived in this town I would probably be friends with Kippy and Ruth (who is the queen of the backhanded compliment). But the town was full of weird and quirky characters. From the local sheriff who is not very good at his job, to Kippy's Dad who has all kinds of weird nicknames for his daughter, to Kippy's other best friend who wears nothing but track suits and plays video games all day but acts as her babysitter, to a group of overly religious popular girls who refuse to use the lord's name in vain and instead say "Oh My Ga." The town was a nonstop parade of weirdos and made Kippy's inability to decide who the murder is completely justified.

I expected these two aspects of the story but what I did not expect was a totally sweet story about grief and friendship. Kippy is not dealing with her friend's death very well. It brings up old wounds that were never really healed from a previous death she had to deal with years ago. Throughout the book she has to come to terms with these losses and has to find someone that will not only understand her pain but can help her to grieve. She inherits Ruth's diary from her mother and while reading it begins to doubt what the girl who she thought was her best friend in the world thought about her. She has to realize who her real friends are and that everything is not always what it seems on the surface. There was even a bit of an unlikely romance that occurred throughout the book and was thoroughly enjoyable. I was surprised but this aspect of the book that made me feel things that I never expected in a murder mystery.

But among all the great things about the book there were also some things that could have been done a little better. I did think there were some weird plot details that seemed like just convenient ways to get the characters to a different part of the story. It felt like Kippy just seemed to be in the right place at the right time. And while I liked that Kippy wasn't a brilliant detective, there were also some suspects and clues that seemed to be investigated and then given up without much explanation as to why. As a person who reads and enjoys mysteries I knew these were red herrings but I would have liked Kippy to explain why she stopped investigating them or at least had a bigger light bulb moment. It seemed to be that throughout most of the book the general idea was I have no idea so there was a slow development in understanding rather than a big reveal. That being said I would have liked to see a little more explanation of the murderer's motive. The way that Kippy solved the crime was exactly the way that I had solved it but when it came to confronting them and we had the always enjoyable murderer's rant about how and why the victim deserved to die it seemed like the details were a little fuzzy. But honestly I'm just being nitpicky about details about mystery-solving because that's what I always do.

I thoroughly enjoyed No One Else Can Have You and give it an 8 out of 10

Check this book out if you are a fan of mysteries and or have a dry sense of humor. But be warned, it is not for everyone and that's okay.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Stacking the Shelves #2

 A weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews

From the Library

Thanks for stopping by and checking out the new addition to my constantly expanding book collection. What did you add this week? Leave me a comment!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Book Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Title: Eleanor & Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Published: St Martin's Griffin, 2013

Bono met his wife in high school, Park says.
So did Jerry Lee Lewis, Eleanor answers.
I’m not kidding, he says.
You should be, she says, we’re 16.
What about Romeo and Juliet?
Shallow, confused, then dead.

I love you, Park says.
Wherefore art thou, Eleanor answers.
I’m not kidding, he says.
You should be.

 Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.

If you are a frequent visitor to my blog you might be saying to yourself, “Hey! Weren’t you supposed to be reading High Fantasy this month? You always have a theme for the month and this month was High Fantasy. Eleanor & Park isn’t even Fantasy.” And yes, you would be right, but here’s the thing about Fantasy… They are soul-sucking, life-ruining, hangover-inducing types of stories. So I decided to take a break from High Fantasy. I wanted to read something fun and lighthearted. And let me tell you, that is NOT what Eleanor & Park is, but despite that fact it was very enjoyable.

This book came extremely highly recommended. It is on pretty much every best of 2013 list and the top of a lot lists. Everyone raves about this book. Last year I read Fangirl and was incredibly impressed with the book and Rainbow Rowell’s writing style. She does not disappoint in Eleanor & Park. She proves how phenomenal a writer she is of YA contemporary. What she does so well is balance the heavy moments with light and funny moments with such ease and poetic precision. As the reader I ran the gambit of emotions while reading this book. Eleanor & Park handles a lot of heavy moments like bullying, family issues, and self esteem that can not only cause the characters but also the reader to sink into a quagmire of depression but Rainbow offsets these sad moments with enough funny and sweet moments that it bring you out of the doldrums. 

The main plot of the story, however,  is about first love. The love story of Eleanor & Park is amazing and realistic. It’s shared interests developing into romantic attachment not insta-love, and even though it does develop over a slightly slower period of time but when it hits, it hits hard. It feels like that first teenage puppy love kind of relationship where you are obsessed with a person and want to spend every waking hour with them. It was sweet and lovely and it gave me all kinds of feels.

What Rainbow Rowell also does incredibly well is write realistic and likable characters. What continues to impress me about her books is how I feel like these characters are so real. You cannot only relate to them but you know people who are just like them if you’re not personally like them yourself. I found myself easily able to visualize the characters and finding real life counterparts too many people that I know. And because they are so relatable you couldn’t help but empathize with the characters and when they had to endure struggles and hardships you wanted them to succeed and achieve their goals. A lot of what made them so real is that many of the characters were deeply flawed and extremely complex. I felt like there was something more than what was on the surface but when it came down to it you liked the ones you were supposed to like and didn’t like the ones you were supposed to not like. I know this seems like an obvious statement but I don’t think it’s often the case, at least not for me. Even the way that the characters interacted with each other felt realistic, from how Eleanor and Park talk to each other, to how they talk to their classmates, and even how they talk to their parents. It all felt so genuine and I felt like I was sixteen again while I was reading. Rainbow Rowell just touches a part deep within your soul and brings you to a time that you’ve since forgotten.

If I had to find one word to describe Eleanor & Park, that word would be effortless. Everything about this book was effortless. The plot flowed in a beautiful and deft way that made the book so enjoyable to read that before long I realize that I had wasted an entire day and finished the book. For me when I was the book I was emotionally drained and all I wanted to do was curl up in a ball and sob until the feelings of crippling sadness washed over me leaving me with that eerie calm that can only come from a cathartic cry. I of course mean this in the best possible way, because Eleanor & Park is nothing but fabulous!

I give Eleanor & Park 10 out of 10

If you are like me and in the slim majority of people who have not read this book you seriously need to drop everything and do it right away! This book is an incredible Young Adult Contemporary Romance and absolutely worth your time. If you have read Eleanor & Park leave me a comment with your thoughts and of course HAPPY READING!

Feature and Follow Friday #10

A weekly meme hosted by Alison Can Read & Parajunkee's View
How it Works: 
The Feature & Follow is hosted by TWO hosts, Parajunkee of Parajunkee's View and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it'll allow us to show off more new blogs!

How does this work? First you leave your name here on this post, (using the linky tools -- keep scrolling!) then you create a post on your own blog that links back to this post (easiest way is to just grab the code under the #FF picture and put it in your post) and then you visit as many blogs as you can and tell them "hi" in their comments (on the post that has the #FF image). You follow them, they follow you. Win. Win. Just make sure to follow back if someone follows you!

What sets this Hop apart from others, is our Feature. Each week we will showcase a Featured Blogger, from all different genres and areas. Who is our Feature today? Find out below. Just remember it is required, if you participate, to follow our Features and you must follow the hosts (Parajunkee & Alison Can Read) as a courtesy. How do you follow someone? Well, if you have a preference, state it in your #FF post. A lot of blogs are transitioning to Wordpress in which they do not have the luxury of GFC, so an RSS subscription is appreciated or if you choose an email subscription. If you don't have GFC please state in your post how you would like to be followed.
This Weeks Question:

What books are you looking forward to reading in 2014?

    This Weeks Answer:

A few Top Ten Tuesdays ago I mentioned the debuts I was really excited about, so go check that out [HERE] to see those but here is the list of books in my TBR pile and a few series enders I'm excited about!

  -The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
  -These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meg Spooner
  -The Magicians Land by Lev Grossman
  -The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood

  -The Here and Now by Ann Brashares
  -The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
  -Something Strange and Deadly Series by Susan Dennard
  -Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

  -Tsarina by J. Nelle Patrick aka Jackson Pearce

  -Landline by Rainbow Rowell

-Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas

What are you excited about reading? Leave me a comment. And this is a blog hop so thanks for stopping by, take a look around, and if you like what you see definitely give me a follow in whatever way you most prefer! HAPPY READING!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday- Reading Wishlist

A weekly meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish

Why  was this so hard for me? I just want authors to write things and then I'll decide if I want to read it. I don't want to tell them what to write! That's too bossy! But I forced myself to sit down and think about all the things I complain about when I read or ideas I've actually had for books and when I started thinking the ideas kept flowing.

Things About Books

1.) Books in a Series That Don't End on a Cliffhanger. 
I get it, you want to set up the next book and keep the readers interest, but if you write a good story that can stand on it's own with characters I'm invested in I will want to read the next book. (The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants did this very well).

2.) Fantasy Books with Unique Magical Systems
It's always I can do spells or I have control over the elements. Don't get me wrong, that stuffs cool, but I want the magical system to wow me!

3.) YA Books with Believable Romances
None of this insta-love, I just met you and you're my soulmate crap! Also none of the predictable rom-com formula either. I want to read a romance where the relationship grows over time. Maybe that sounds boring but it's not something that you get often (Fangirl did this well)

4.) A Typically Secondary Character Becoming the Narrator
I usually like the comic-relief character or the sidekick type so much better than the main characters. I want those people to get more love. I recently had this idea about a book told from the perspective of a superhero sidekick. I also would love to see a retelling of a classic story told from the perspective of a secondary character. Pride and Prejudice from Mrs. Bennett's perspective. 

Books to be Written 

5.) More Villain/Anti-Hero Stories
I always find villains fascinating. I love getting into their psyche and understanding why they are doing what they are doing. It's particularly fun when you can understand and empathize with a character you imagined to be a villain it's makes you question the idea of right and wrong. (Wicked did this really well)

6.) More Young Adult Mysteries That Don't Have Predictable Solutions
I want some YA "true-crime" novels, YA Historical Mysteries, and YA romantic mysteries but the endings and solutions shouldn't be dumbed down. That last statement is just me being a contrary. I can't even really think of any YA mysteries, at least none where the mystery is the focus. No One Else Can Have You is the only one that comes to mind and it has really mixed reviews. Basically I want more!

7.) A Book About the Origins of a Historic Home
So I'm kind of odd and every time I'm in an interesting old house I think "what was it like when it was first build? What was this room used for? Who were the original owners?" I want a book where someone buys an old house and as they are restoring it the house comes alive in their imagination, and hey maybe there's a mystery too!

8.) Historical Fiction Set During the American Revolution
This is one of my favorite periods of history and there are so many interesting things that you can do during this period. There are a few decent MG stuff but I want some good YA and Adult fiction set in this period.    

9.) Historical Fiction Set in Pioneer Times
This to me would be so interesting. It's such an interesting period in history and all the trials and tribulations would lead to some really exciting action and adventure. Again there is some good MG set in this period but I want some YA and Adult books. I actually have an idea formulating on this  and may write it for next years NaNoWriMo.

10.) George R.R. Martin to Finish the A Song of Ice and Fire Series
 So I just finished the most recent book in the series A Dance with Dragons and I have to know how it all ends. GRRM tends to write a lot more than he expected when he starts writing and I'm afraid that the series is going to become too many books. Don't let this turn into the Wheel of Time series (which I have never read because there are way too many books and it intimidates the crap out of me). My friend thinks he's is just going to let the show finish the series for him. And to that I say... DON'T YOU DARE! 

What's on your reading wishlist? Leave me a comment. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Book Review: A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin

Title: A Dance with Dragons
Series: A Song of Ice and Fire Book 5
Author: George R.R. Martin
Published: Bantam, 2012

Now that's more like it! The feels in this book were so incredibly overwhelming that I almost turned into the Incredible Hulk and ripped the book into pieces but I was ejoying it too much to sacrifice it to my feels. 

A Dance with Dragons is the fifth and most recent book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R Martin. You may know it better by the name of the HBO series Game of Thrones that is based on these books. If you haven't read by reviews of Book 3 and Book 4 check  them out first. Now, on with the show...

First things first, I was incredibly pleased by the fact that everything lacking in A Feast for Crows was back in A Dance with Dragons, and I don't just mean the characters. But yes, some of my favorite characters were back in A Dance with Dragons. Tyrion is back and being sarcastic and witty, Daenerys is back with her dragons trying to be a queen, Jon Snow is back and trying to be a leader, and Bran is back searching for the magic beyond the wall. At the beginning of this book it was like catching up with old friends. I'd say that the first few chapters were GRRM's way of apologizing for making us go that long without some of our favorite characters but he doesn't care that much about our feelings. 

But what I had missed more than the characters in A Feast for Crows was the magic. In this book it is back and taken to a whole new level. The dragons are almost full grown and wreaking havoc, Bran is learning from and about some of the mythical elements of Westeros which makes his chapters incredibly compelling, and the red priestess Melisandre is back and using her fires to predict the future of this land and this series. We even get a Melisandre chapter that made my head spin with excitement and theories about how the series will end. This book is full of mystery and so many questions that every chapter made me think and feel something different. And unlike A Feast for Crows, none of the best elements of the story were missing. We had the magic back but we also have the action and political intrigue. There were enough battles, death, and destruction in this book to satisfy my urge for violence and there was also enough sex and tawdry moments to satisfy that aspect of the series.

But the best part for me is the political intrigue. We of course get a few new and interesting characters who are playing the game including Quentyn Martell (you know I love the Martells) who is trying to marry Dany to help her take back her kingdom and a character whose story added an incredible wrinkle and twist in the plot.Then there are our old favorites, many of whom are playing the "game of thrones" and were plotting how they or the person they support could take control of Westeros. But a lot of this book was these characters trying to prove that they deserve their power. Daenerys is struggling to learn how tobe a  queen and is honestly not very good at it. Jon is learning to be a leader and is developing into this strong and swoonworthy character that I am loving more and more as time goes on. He and many of the other characters continue their interesting and redemptive character arcs and things are really progressing in this book both with character development and plot development. This book is similar to A Feast for Crows where it seems like things are leading towards that thrilling conclusion of this epic series.

A Dance with Dragons is part 2 of what was supposed to be one book and this fact lead to a few problems with the pacing. It's not a perfect timeline and in this book we actually have to rehash some events and experiences that happened in A Feast for Crows but from different characters perspectives. It was very odd. The other problem that persisted from the previous books is that some of the storylines take a little too long to get interesting and these are the ones that we get tons of chapters from. I could have used a lot less of Tyrion who spent most of his time on a boat traveling around the free cities. I also could have done with a lot less Daenerys whose inability to rule was incredibly frustrating, but her story got interesting towards the end. I would have liked more Bran who has my favorite character development and storyline but only had three chapters. 

But the great thing about A Dance with Dragons is that we also were able to catch back up with some of our favorite characters. About two-thirds of the way through the book it arrives to a place in the timeline where we get a few chapters and get to learn what's happening to some favorite storylines including Jamie, Cersei, and Arya. I was so glad I didnt have to go a whole book without knowing what happened to them but it only delayed the inevitable and left me yearning for more of them. 

But this book was full of yearning. And by that I mean yearning for The Winds of Winter or book 6 on the series. There was so many twists and cliffhangers and so much excitement that I need the next book so bad and I need it ASAP! I need to know what happens to these characters and I need to know how this series will end because it is so good! 

I give A Dance with Dragons a 9 out 10 

If you've read this series let me know your thoughts. No seriously! I desperately want to talk to someone about their thoughts on this book and this series. Find me on twitter, send me an email, leave me a comment. Whatever it takes I really want to talk to someone about this series, share my theories, and hear yours! If you're looking for an epic fantast series check a Song of Ice and Fire out! Happy Reading!