Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday - Hard to Read Books

A weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

When I first saw this prompt I didn't think I would have much to say. Books you are supposed to cry during usually don't affect me as much, even though I cry like a baby regularly, and I like books that are gritty, gruesome, and cringe-worthy. But then I realized what books are hard for me to read. Books where I cannot connect with the MC. You guys know that I like unlikable characters I did a whole discussion post about it, but sometimes I just can't get past the protagonists behaviors of actions. Those are the books hard for me to read.

Books I Did Not Finish

Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper
This made me sad when I DNF'd it but then over time I realized, this book was just hard to read. Not only was the plot incredibly slow and seemingly predictable, but I just couldn't handle this MC. She was just not very intelligent. She desperately wanted something and didn't care about the consequences but I didn't even understand why.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Put the pitchforks down! I've heard it all before. I'm sorry friends but I just don't like Jane Eyre, the book or the character! Another book where the twist was so obvious to me and the character who is supposed to be smart doesn't even try to figure it out. Plus Jane Eyre is just so vanilla. I tried, I really did, but I am much more of an Emily Bronte kind of girl. At least with Wuthering Heights it's clear from the beginning that these are terrible people!

Books I Finished And Wished I Hadn't

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness - Review
I frequently whine about how much I dislike this book but it is entirely because I can't stand Diana Bishop! She's what an adult Bella Swan would have become if she wasn't a vampire. Diana again is supposed to be intelligent and intrepid but it does not come off that way. She lets the male lead totally tell her what to do and she's a witch who refuses to use her magic (LIKE AN IDIOT!)

Hexed by Michelle Krys - Review
So I didn't hate this book but I definitely didn't enjoy the MC. She was like season one Cordelia on Buffy. She is rude, self-centered, and conceited. Plus the male lead in this book was even worse. He was such a bad boy stereotype and she total fell in insta-love with him. UGH, it was awful!

Emma by Jane Austen
So I normally love Austen and the subtle feminist nature of her characters. But I cannot get behind Emma Woodhouse (though Emma Approved is brilliant). She is vapid, self-centered, and thinks she knows what is best for others when she doesn't know what is best for herself. I couldn't cheer for her, even when she is brought down a peg and I definitely didn't want her to get the guy!

Fifty Shades of Gray by E.L. James
This book was a whole lot of no for me! I'm just generally not a fan of erotica, I need a real plot to my book not just your overly sexual romance. The attempt at coming of age in this book made me angry but not as angry as Anastasia Steele made me. She's totally ridiculous and unrealistic. Another female character who is supposed to be intelligent, then throws her brain away for a cliche man. Even just writing this makes me all agitated!

Books I Finished And I'm Glad I Did

Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy - Review
This was a hard book to get through and not because of the cancer storyline. It's because the main character is a not very nice person doing awful things to people who don't really deserve it. But the more you read, the more you realize her motivations and while I may not agree with them they make total sense and she becomes a realistic and complex character.

Frozen by Erin Bowman - Review
The first book in this series was just as hard to read because I seriously hate the MC, Gray. He's supposed to be overly-aggressive and impulsive but we are told this before we are shown any of his actions. It feels almost like an excuse for his behavior and he comes off as a little bit of an idiot. Plus I really like the female lead and I do not ship this ship! But Frozen made the list of books I'm glad I read because the plot was good despite the awful MC!

This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz - Review
I really enjoyed The Brief and Wondorous Life of Oscar Wao by Diaz but This Is How You Lose Her was not as enjoyable. Mostly because the main character who is the thread that ties this collection of short stories together is not a likable character. He's a total jerk and caused all my feminist tendencies to flare up. But conceptually this was a genius book.

The Magicians by Lev Grossman - Review
This may surprise people, because eventually this series became a favorite for me. But at times this first book was hard to read because the main character Quentin is so unlikable. He is a sullen and whiny pessimist who is never ever happy, even when his biggest dreams come true. But I'm glad I kept reading because I grew to find that charming and realistic and he had a great redemptive arc!

How about you? What books were hard for you to read? Are you like me, does it come down to whether you can connect with the MC? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stop[ping by and HAPPY READING!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Feature and Follow Friday #43

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 visit the blogs of our illustrious hosts and leave your name on the post using using the linky tools, 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. 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 Week's Question: 

Book Characters you would like to see with their own Twitter feeds - submitted from A GREAT read.

This Week's Answer: 

Okay, so as you may know I am absolutely obsessed with Twitter. I spend far too much time on that site throughout my day.

1.) Fred and George Weasley from the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
Imagine the hijinx that the Weasley twins could get up to on twitter. They are the most amazing comic relief in this series and would say the most hilarious things. Think of all the trouble they get into in Order of the Phoenix and imagine that on Twitter. Plus they could use it to advertise for Weasley's Wizard Wheezes. I would follow both twins and the joke shop!

2.) Manon Blackbeak in Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas
Heir of Fire is my current read and I am utterly and completely obsessed with Manon. I love how she doesn't take any shit from anyone but at the same time she's all cynical and sullen. I would love to see her twitter feed. Plus I bet there would be some great stuff between her and the other Iron Teeth witches and imagine the pictures of Abraxos we would get to see!

3.) Cath Avery from Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Any Rainbow Rowell character would be fantastic but as Cath is an internet enthusiast I think hers would probably be the best and most active. She would probably post info about her latest fanfic, Simon Snow news, and fanart that her followers send her. Plus maybe there would be some Levi info and any update on this OTP would be phenomenal!

And those are just the first three that popped into my head. How about you? What characters would you like to see on Twitter? Leave me a comment with your thoughts.

 And remember this is a blog hop so take a look around and if you like what you see give me a follow and leave me a comment so I can follow back. I am indifferent to the manner in which you follow so pick your poison: GFC, Bloglovin, and/or Twitter. I'm also on YouTube now so you can check me out HERE and subscribe! I've been posting videos every Friday!

Thanks for dropping by, Happy FF and HAPPY READING!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Celebrating Banned Books Week with Before I Blogged I Read: His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman

(I first saw the idea of Before I Blogged I Read from Jamie at Perpetual Page Turner)

I'm sure that many of you know that this week is "Banned Books Week" here in the US. The week where we celebrate all those books that get challenged for their content and themes which are "unsuitable" and should therefore not be taught in schools or even for sale according to some people. Many of the books which have shaped my upbringing and view of the world are in fact "banned books" so for today's Throwback Thursday and in honor of Banned Books Week I have decided to review one of my favorite banned books/series...

The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman (Published 1995 by Scholastic UK) 
The Subtle Knife by Phillip Pullman (Published 1997 by Scholastic UK) 
The Amber Spyglass by Phillip Pullman (Published 200 by Scholastic UK) 

His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman. You may also know this as The Northern Lights trilogy or by the first book in the series which became a movie, The Golden Compass. It is an incredible Middle Grade/Young Adult Fantasy series with interesting and complicated characters, a thrilling and mysterious plot, and a complex and interesting world that develops with each passing book.

One of the things I love about this series is that with each book it takes on a very different tone as it explores a different subgenre or trope in Fantasy novels. In The Golden Compass the series seems like it's your typical YA/MG High Fantasy adventure story. Our plucky heroine Lyra Belacqua goes on a mission to find her lost friend with the help of some interesting and unlikely characters (more on them later). Then at the end of the book we are left with a cliffhanger. This leads us to book 2, The Subtle Knife, which takes a more Science Fiction feel as it takes place in multiple worlds. Then in the final book in the series, The Amber Spyglass, we get the end of the world epic fantasy vibes that the Fantasy genre has been known for. But this is not your typical story of good versus evil.

Much of this series breaks with the fantasy tradition of good and evil and nothing communicates this more than the characters. What you would usually think of as an evil entity is good in this series like witches and a race of militarized bears (seiously the armored bears are totally kickass!) are supportive and helpful to our heroine and her goals. And those that you would usually think of as good are the more diabolical entities in this world like angels and the Magisterium, the church like entity in the world. And then there are the individual characters, many of whom walk the line between right and wrong and your opinion of them changes often throughout the series. Most, if not all, of these characters are manipulative and care more about their own self-interests than those who they claim to love and care about. In the first book the best example of this is Mrs. Coulter & Lord Asriel who use Lyra to prove their points in their church versus state argument and their science versus religion argument. They put her in all kinds of compromising positions and even attempt to turn her against the other person. Then later in the series we have Balthamas and Baruch, angels who are doing the same thing yet interestingly enough, to characters who had previously been the manipulators. And I can't even begin to talk about the dubiousness about the god-like entity in this series (I'll attempt to later).

Even the main characters, Lyra and Will, are far from perfect. Lyra, the ultimate heroine of the series, is your typical strong female characters. When we first meet her she is a tomboy who would rather be running around the roof with the gyptian children than being a proper "young lady." She is intelligent and curious but she often uses her quick thinking skills to manipulate people and is a notorious liar. Her lies and manipulations do get her out of many a tricky situation that her impulsiveness got her into in the first place. Her Hero's Journey in this series actually leads to more corruption than anything else. It all makes her rather dubious and you guys know how I feel about dubious characters. Will on the other hand is arguably Lyra's polar opposite (comment if you get that pun). He is honest and kind and unlike Lyra who is in a perpetual state of childhood, he has had to grow up too quickly. He has a strong sense of right and wrong but still often does things that breaks with his moral code. But as they say opposites attract and I totally ship Lyra and Will. They are great well-rounded characters that make this series interesting.

Lyra being careless and Pan changing shape!
What is perhaps the most interesting thing about this series however is the world. The Golden Compass begins in a High Fantasy version of Oxford. It's a steampunk kind of Victorian world with zeppelins and interesting gadgets that run via a supernatural force. But there are also daemons! And I don't mean this is the usual sense of the word (just another dichotomy in this sereies). This is the absolute coolest thing about Lyra's world. Every person has their soul manifested as a talking animal that follows you around. As a child your daemon changes shape and then when you become a teenager is settles into something that best represents you. Lyra's daemon Pan is not only one of her best friends but also tries to act like her conscience throughout a lot of the series. As the series goes on we learn more about the larger world. We see how it's connected to our world and we travel between worlds to some interesting places. And then there's this world's view of the afterlife. It is reminiscent of Greek mythological views on the subject and the storyline that takes place there are quite creepy and interesting.

But that probably explains the plot of this book pretty well, interesting and enthralling but quite creepy. I've already given a little explanation about each of the books in the series and some of it's themes. What this series does really well is combine classic fantasy adventure with mystery and plot twists and larger themes about humanity and society.Throughout most of the book, as the reader, you are easily along for the ride as Lyra and later Will go on their missions to save someone or something. You enjoy exploring the world and meeting new characters. But along the way there are so many questions about what is happening in the world and why. It is all a little unsettling at times as it makes you question what you thought was good and real about society as you know it. Phillip Pullman throws in ingenious plot twist after ingenious plot twist keeping you on your toes and questioning things. There's a great sense of mystery with the adventure of the series.

But the really interesting and unsettling thing about the plot and themes of this series is the reasons why it is listed among the banned and challenged books, its themes about science versus religion, biblical allegories, and criticism of organized religion. Lyra is this prophecized girl who will bring about the downfall of the Magesterium, a religious and governmental entity in her world who we learn throughout the series is doing some not so great things in the name of their religion. It definitely takes a very critical look on the subject of religion, pointing out it's flaws and making it and even the higher power working in the world the ultimate antagonist of the story. Pullman expertly crafts an antagonist out of something you usually see as being positive. It's sort of the ultimate contradiction where you are rooting for a person who is probably doing something not very good and while it is unsettling to think you support them, they really do seem to have the right idea. Part of Lyra's prophecy is that she is a "second Eve" or the "betrayer" that will lead to "an end of death" or a sort of second original sin. It is definitely the kind of book that could offend someone who is more religious. However when taken on it's storytelling and as a fantasy novel, it's quite incredible.

I give the His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman series 9.5 out of 10

It's a complex and interesting series with complex and dubious characters, a creative and engaging world, and a interesting and mysterious plot that combines fantasy elements with a criticism of society and religion.

Have you read His Dark Materials? What did you think? If you could have a daemon what form would it take? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. If you haven't read His Dark Materials (or even if you have) tell me what is your favorite banned book? Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

ARC Review: Winterspell by Claire Legrand

Title: Winterspell
Author: Claire Legrand
Published: September 30, 2014 by Simon & Schuster
Amazon Goodreads

Synopsis:Darkly romantic and entirely enchanting, this reimagining of The Nutcracker from Claire Legrand brims with magic, love, and intrigue. New York Times bestselling author Marissa Meyer (Cinder) says “this is not your grandmother’s Nutcracker tale.”

After her mother is brutally murdered, seventeen-year-old Clara Stole is determined to find out what happened to her. Her father, a powerful man with little integrity, is a notorious New York City gang lord in the syndicate-turned-empire called Concordia. And he isn’t much help.

But there is something even darker than Concordia’s corruption brewing under the surface of the city, something full of vengeance and magic, like the stories Clara’s godfather used to tell her when she was a little girl. Then her father is abducted and her little sister’s life is threatened, and Clara accidentally frees Nicholas from a statue that has been his prison for years. Nicholas is the rightful prince of Cane, a wintry kingdom that exists beyond the city Clara has known her whole life.

When Nicholas and Clara journey together to Cane to retrieve her father, Clara encounters Anise, the queen of the faeries, who has ousted the royal family in favor of her own totalitarian, anti-human regime. Clara finds that this new world is not as foreign as she feared, but time is running out for her family, and there is only so much magic can do...

*** I received an advance copy of this book from the published via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion***

"Dark and richly romantic" is the perfect way to explain this book. It combines this creepy and beautiful world with dubious characters, and a plot full of intrigue and action to create an engaging and enjoyable story that is perfect for fantasy fans.

I think my favorite thing about this book is the dubious nature of the characters and situations. Everyone in this book, except our main character Clara made me wonder at one point or another if they were good or bad. Clara however, I instantly loved. She is tough and intelligent but kind and cares so much for others. She's slightly reckless and slightly rash but completely charming and the kind of multidimensional strong female protagonist that is so enjoyable to root for. The secondary characters aren't so easy root for. In fact throughout most of the book I wasn't entirely sure who I trusted and who's side I was on. My opinion of the characters changed along with Clara's. As we learned more about a person or spent more time with them my opinion of them would change completely or I would want to trust them but I couldn't bring myself to do it. Everyone was the perfect combination of empathetic and abhorrent, making them the kinds of characters that I always love.

But I can't talk about the characters without talking about the romance in Winterspell, because this, is the kind of romance that I love. It was the perfect combination of insta-attraction and slow burning love. We all know that in the Nutcracker our heroine falls for a doll come to life. In Winterspell this is the case. When our male lead, Nicholas, was a doll Clara felt an unexplained attraction to him including the urge to touch him and talk to him. Then when he comes to life she is struck by how attractive he is and feels that draw again. However she is not declaring her love right away and circumstances don't make it that easy. Even when we think our ship has sailed it doesn't go according to plan. When it comes down to it the romance was just delightful and I completely adore this ship!

Then there was the genius world of this book. Yesterday I read a post on The Midnight Garden with Claire as part of the Winterspell blog tour. She talked about the Nutcracker ballet and its influence on her. I am not intimately familiar with the Nutcracker story but it always struck me as a combination between creepy and beautiful. This is how Claire explained it and it is obvious when reading Winterspell. Both the tone and world of Winterspell create this contradiction. While reading the book I was struck by the uneasy felt I felt by the beauty and ominous nature of the writing. Nothing explains this more than the world of Cane. It is a "fairy wonderland" with a beautiful fairy queen where magic is possible but it turns those tropes completely out the window. Things in Cane are much darker than the glitter and magic would lead you to believe. It is a world of oppression and fear. Where the sweet nature of people seems creepy and unrealistic. It all creates this air of mystery and distrust where there should be trust.

This contradictory nature of the world and tone lead to an interesting and engaging plot. The story combined magic and mystery in a perfect blend with just enough action and adventure to keep me reading. I loved Clara's struggle to find her father and help the people of Cane at the same time. She had a great "Hero's Journey" throughout the book as she learned more about magic and herself. The pacing however was a little problematic. This is a world within a world kind of fantasy story and there are two concurrent and unrelated conflicts within both worlds for our hero. There is an attempt to combine them in the beginning but at the end it is as if there are two separate climaxes and they both seemed a little rushed. After tons of rising action I would have preferred see a more aggressive climax, perhaps even one that tied the two conflicts together.

I give Winterspell by Claire Legrand 9 out of 10 stars

Winterspell is a entertaining and engaging world within a world YA fantasy with complex and dubious characters, a world feel of ominous contradictions, and a mysterious plot full of magic and action. Fans of creative retellings like The Lunar Chronicles and YA fantasies like The Grisha trilogy and Throne of Glass will enjoy this Fantasy standalone.

Have you read Winterspell? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


A weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish 

It was kind of a struggle for me to come up with a list of my most anticipated fall reads. As most of you know I do themed months here on the blog. For October I am doing a pseudo-Halloween theme and reading books that are either Supernatural or Thrillers. Some books I am really excited about in that theme including Rooms by Lauren Oliver, The Raven Boys series by Maggie Steivfater, and Blackbird by Anna Carey.

For November however I am doing a freebie month. I like to do them every six months just to let me catch up on some books I may have missed because they didn't fit the theme or read some highly anticipated new releases. The only books I know I'm reading are In the Afterlight because I have to know how The Darkest Minds Trilogy ends and the Finishing School Series by Gail Carriger. Other than that I have only a vague idea of the 4-6 other books I will be reading.

That's when I got an idea. While I need a freebie month, I love knowing what to read. It keeps me focused especially because I usually read a bunch of books at once. So I've decided to do something a little different. I want you to help me decide. In the comment section down below pick one "To Buy" book and one ARC you think I should read. I will read the most popular first and then go from there. So friends, help me pick what to read!

Fall Releases to Buy 

1.) Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch - I've been waiting on this one for so long! I love the sound of this world and magical system. It was going to be a definite read but then I saw some reviews of...
2.) The Young Elites by Marie Lu - Everyone is raving about this book. It's totally a me book with magic, mystery, and a dubious protagonist. I cannot stop thinking about how badly I want to read it!
3.) Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White - I've been seeing a lot of good reviews for this lately (it comes out today) and it sounds really fascinating! I love the idea of magic and class structure combined.
4.) All Lined Up and All Broke Down by Cora Carmack - I have been meaning to try some NA and these sound up my alley. I have a copy of All Lined up and All Broke Down comes out in November. Plus fall and football just makes sense
5.) The Lost and The Missing by Sarah Beth Durst - I have a copy of The Lost which sounds really interesting and the second book comes out in November.

Fall ARCS to Read

6.) The Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley - Historical Fiction set in a period I love reading about with diverse characters. I've heard good things and I've heard it is real emotional!
7.) Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios - I was supposed to read this one in September but I was a bad blogger and only read one ARC... oops! But I'm still interested in this story of djinn despite seeing some mixed reviews.
8.) The Walled City by Ryan Graudin - Another one with diverse characters but this has a really intriguing plot and sounds mysterious. It sounds dystopian but it's not. I'm hoping for another dark and gritty story about characters doing dubious things.
9.) Talon by Julie Kagawa - I've seen some mixed reviews of this but dragons disguised as people sounds very interesting. Plus I have yet to read any Julie Kagawa and I've heard good things about her writing.
10.) Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay - Game of Thrones meets Grimm Fairy Tales? Sold! This book sounds kickass and I am pumped (reading in December if I don't in November) 

So again, in the comments section below add your vote for which ARC and which new release you think I should read in the fall.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Book Review: The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson

Title: The Well of Ascension
Series: Mistborn #2
Author: The Well of Ascension
Published: 2007 by Tor (Macmillan)
Amazon Goodreads

Synopsis: The impossible has been accomplished. The Lord Ruler – the man who claimed to be god incarnate and brutally ruled the world for a thousand years – has been vanquished. But Kelsier, the hero who masterminded that triumph, is dead too, and now the awesome task of building a new world has been left to his young protégé, Vin, the former street urchin who is now the most powerful Mistborn in the land, and to the idealistic young nobleman she loves.

As Kelsier’s protégé and slayer of the Lord Ruler she is now venerated by a budding new religion, a distinction that makes her intensely uncomfortable. Even more worrying, the mists have begun behaving strangely since the Lord Ruler died, and seem to harbor a strange vaporous entity that haunts her.

Stopping assassins may keep Vin’s Mistborn skills sharp, but it’s the least of her problems. Luthadel, the largest city of the former empire, doesn’t run itself, and Vin and the other members of Kelsier’s crew, who lead the revolution, must learn a whole new set of practical and political skills to help. It certainly won’t get easier with three armies – one of them composed of ferocious giants – now vying to conquer the city, and no sign of the Lord Ruler’s hidden cache of atium, the rarest and most powerful allomantic metal.

As the siege of Luthadel tightens, an ancient legend seems to offer a glimmer of hope. But even if it really exists, no one knows where to find the Well of Ascension or what manner of power it bestows.

*** This is the second book in a trilogy and therefore it may have spoilers for the first book Mistborn: The Final Empire. If you haven't read that books DO IT then come back ***

This is quite a hard review to write. What do I say about this book? How can explain it's brilliance without giving away spoilers? How can I convince you to read this series? All I can say is that this book shook me to my very core. It was so brilliant and wonderful and the perfect sequel to Mistborn.

Everything that was so fantastic in Mistborn was just as, if not even more, fantastic in The Well of Ascension. This is now my third book by Brandon Sanderson and I have noticed that he does a few things really well, things that I love when reading fantasy. He writes books with likable and complex characters with creative and compelling worlds and The Well of Ascension was no exception.

First the characters. Some returning favorites from Mistborn: The Final Empire are back and being just as fabulous. Vin is back being amazingly badass at allomancy. In this book she has some truly incredible battles that are both thrilling and unsettling. But the great thing about Vin is that she's not just this heartless warrior. She's still coming to terms with her power, what she is capable of, and how she should use it. She's the perfect combination of tough yet vulnerable. Her biggest vulnerabilities may come in the form of Elend. Vin and Elend are seriously my new favorite OTP and they have some amazing swoonworthy moments in this book. Their relationship caused me to cry tears of sadness and joy at times. I just love them both so much, together and apart. And Elend is another likable and complex character. His development in this book was truly fantastic and he has caused me to lose my ability to even.

But it's not just these two main characters who are amazing and complex. The book is full of secondary characters who walk the line between good and evil making them compelling to read about. Sometimes I really hate when books change perspectives because it can make things needlessly complicated, created dramatic irony which is often annoying, or I lose track of my favorite characters. But with this series it works. The opportunity to spend time in the heads of characters like Sazed, Breeze, Straff Venture, and new characters like Zane and Allriane added an interesting dimension to the book and made it feel more full-bodied than complicated.

But that seems to be the watchword (phrase) for The Well of Ascension full-bodied but not complicated and nothing proves this point more than the world-building. In Mistborn: The Final Empire we were introduced to the world of The Final Empire. It's history, it's myths and legends, and it's magic. This series is like a masterclass in world-building. So many Sci-Fi/Fantasy writers can take a cue from Sanderson in how to develop and expand a world, prove our perceptions false, and still not lose the truth in the previous work. In The Well of Ascension, everything we thought we knew, everything we thought made sense is proven to be even more complex and more than once we are proven wrong about what we thought was true. If this doesn't make sense then you're not alone. It sounds so contradictory to me and I can't really accurately explain it. Just know that Sanderson's not reinventing the wheel here, he's just adding three more and an engine.

However that just may be because this magical systems and mythologies are so enthralling. Like all good magic it has rules and guidelines and we are constantly learning more about them in the show not tell style. In Misborn we learn about Allomancy. In The Well of Ascension we not only learn more about Allomancy but we also learn tons about Feruchemy. Both are unique and interesting magical systems that allow people to do different things mentally, emotionally, and physically to themselves and others. But Sanderson also takes the larger mythology and history of the world and expands on it by teaching us more by breaking down our thoughts on the subject. This is a fantasy world like no other I have ever experiences before and it is brilliant and entertaining.

And equally brilliant and entertaining, is the plot of this book. In Mistborn the characters tore down a society and now they have to rebuild it. This therefore leads to an incredible amount of political intrigue and war, the combination of the two is what I love in my High Fantasy. And while this was quite a long book (though nowhere near as long as some of his other works) and it did have a few lulls in the plot, it was quite entertaining from beginning to end. Things in The Well of Ascension slowly build to a thrilling conclusion that is full of incredible twists along the way. And when everything was all over the final twist left me so shocked that I'm still not sure if I understand what happened. I am sure however that I absolutely adored this book and I cannot wait to read the final book in the trilogy. And while I am excited to read it, I am incredibly anxious as to what will happen. What will Sanderson do to my feels?

I give The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson 9.5 (really 9.75) out of 10

Fantasy fans should definitely check out this series. I would especially recommend it to anyone who enjoys the A Song of Ice and Fire series or anyone who is looking for a series with a unique and compelling magical world and a plot full of surprising plot twists.

Have you read The Well of Ascension? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING! 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Feature & Follow Friday #42

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 visit the blogs of our illustrious hosts and leave your name on the post using using the linky tools, 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. 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 Week's Question: 

Blogger Pet Peeves. (like when I've drafted an entire post, ready to publish it, and I see somewhere I've left out an HTML code... when I didn't even do my post in HTML) - submitted by Take Me Away

This Week's Answer: 

Man, I did not think this would be a difficult question because I'm one of those pessimistic people who always has something to complain about but it kind of is.

I've had some problems in the past with formatting images where they get all messed up in the post despite looking fine when I draft them. And I used to do drafts in Word and then copy and paste them into Blogger and it would be a bitch to then change the fonts, but those aren't problems anymore.

I will say, lately I've been a little sad about the lack of comments. Like I usually get at lease one comment on stuff but my past two reviews have no comments and two of my three most viewed reviews have no comments. I haven't been very good at commenting on other blogs lately so maybe there is a correlation.

***EDIT: My pet peeve is CAPTCHA! I get it, you don't want spam. But seriously those things make it harder to comment and you actually lose comments that way. Just moderate your comments***

How about you? What are your blogger pet peeves? Leave me a comment with your thoughts.

 And remember this is a blog hop so take a look around and if you like what you see give me a follow and leave me a comment so I can follow back. I am indifferent to the manner in which you follow so pick your poison: GFC, Bloglovin, and/or Twitter. I'm also on YouTube now so you can check me out HERE and subscribe! I've been posting videos every Friday!

Thanks for dropping by, Happy FF and HAPPY READING!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

ARC Review: Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth

Title: Bitter Greens
Author: Kate Forsyth
Read: June 2014
Published: September 23, 2014 by St. Martin's Press
Amazon Goodreads

Synopsis: The amazing power and truth of the Rapunzel fairy tale comes alive for the first time in this breathtaking tale of desire, black magic and the redemptive power of love.

French novelist Charlotte-Rose de la Force has been banished from the court of Versailles by the Sun King, Louis XIV, after a series of scandalous love affairs. At the convent, she is comforted by an old nun, Sœur Seraphina, who tells her the tale of a young girl who, a hundred years earlier, is sold by her parents for a handful of bitter greens...

After Margherita’s father steals parsley from the walled garden of the courtesan Selena Leonelli, he is threatened with having both hands cut off, unless he and his wife relinquish their precious little girl. Selena is the famous red-haired muse of the artist Tiziano, first painted by him in 1512 and still inspiring him at the time of his death. She is at the center of Renaissance life in Venice, a world of beauty and danger, seduction and betrayal, love and superstition.

Locked away in a tower, Margherita sings in the hope that someone will hear her. One day, a young man does.

Award-winning author Kate Forsyth braids together the stories of Margherita, Selena, and Charlotte-Rose, the woman who penned Rapunzel as we now know it, to create what is a sumptuous historical novel, an enchanting fairy tale retelling, and a loving tribute to the imagination of one remarkable woman.

*** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher at BEA in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not affected my opinion ***

You may remember from posts here on the blog, twitter, or YouTube that I have wanted to read this book for a few years. I learned about it when I started watching BookTube videos more seriously and it was a book that sounded fantastic to me. However it wasn't published in the US at the time so I had to wait. Then imagine my surprise when I picked up a copy at BEA, my glorious glorious surprise (there's a whole story if you watch my BEA Book Haul video). I read it almost instantly as part of my retellings month in June but as it is a September release I had to wait until not to review it.

But the wait it over, it's time to I review Bitter Greens and officially gush to the world. You've probablt been waiting for this moment in the hopes that I will stop talking about how much I loved this book (doubtful). Or maybe you are curious as to why I won't stop beating a dead horse about this one. I've been waiting because I've wanted to gush about this book since I read it. And let me tell you friends, this book was worth the wait! It reads like Historical Fiction but it is a dark and gritty retelling of the story of Rapunzel with memorable characters, an intricate and engaging plot, and a brilliant world. I easily lost myself in the 500 pages of Bitter Greens and months later it still remains as my favorite book of the year.

As a fan of Historical Fiction I was blown away at the incredibly interesting and well-researched world that Kate Forsyth created in this novel. The book took place over the course of 200 years in Western Europe and we get to visit the French court of King Louis the XIV, Provence, and even Venice during the Renaissance. It was easy to connect with the characters and immerse yourself in these settings. For those not a fan of the genre, the references were obscure and subtle enough where you won't get overwhelmed in the specifics but History fanatics like me will have some OMG moments while reading. What Forsyth was able to do with the historical setting was establish the scene and a frame of reference that she then brilliantly expanded on with fantasy elements and mystery. The book had just a hint of magic and just enough intrigue to keep me reading till the end. The world was so engrossing that at times I would forget what was real and what was fiction, forcing me into a brutal awakening back into my reality that I had forgotten while reading.

Part of what was so wonderful and different for me is that the book was that it is told from the perspective of three different women, all of whom have compelling stories that you can't help but empathize with. Generally in books like this I have a favorite character or narrator but in Bitter Greens they were all fantastic. Even when a section ended in a cliffhanger and I angrily wished I didn't have to leave that character behind, I would be instantly drawn back into the other character's perspective. But this may be because with each character Kate Forsyth was able to make you empathize with them and their struggle. In one section I would completely despise the evil witch character and then I would read her side of the story and instead feel connected to her and why she was doing such "evil" things. If you have read my most recent reviews of the Throne of Glass series you know that often this frustrated me. But in the case of Bitter Greens it actually made the story better giving the book a more well-rounded and complex.

Plus Kate Forsyth is a master storyteller who has woven a complex and intricate plot together beautifully. The basis for the book is the all too familiar Rapunzel fairy tale which Forsyth grounds in history. Then she elaborates on the tale with the witch's story that includes a touch of magic. And then we get the story of the woman who wrote the story of Rapunzel who is more of your stereotypical strong female characters. They seem like three seemingly separate stories but Kate Forsyth makes them all engaging and interesting. The book perfectly blends history, mystery, romance, and fantasy. Throughout the book I felt the most unexpected feelings. I laughed, I cried, and I swooned. And while each of these plot points had their own day in the spotlight the real magic came when they overlapped and intertwined. The ending caught me completely by surprise in the way everything comes full circle and had dare I say, a happy ending!

But be warned, this book is not for the faint of heart. Bitter Green is dark, tawdry, and complex. There was more than one scene that made me cringe with it's honesty and brutality. But for me that added to my enjoyment of the book. It was a raw and visceral reading experience. This experience was made even more enjoyable was Kate Forsyth's writing-style. The prose in Bitter Greens was just gorgeous and haunting with a poetic style. It reminded me a little bit of Margaret Atwood's writing in The Handmaid's Tale in that the beauty of the words contrasts with the brutality of the plot points to create a tone of nervousness and unease for the reader.

I give Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth a 10 out of 10

In general, this book is a masterpiece. It brilliantly weaves the story of three compelling women together into a dark and haunting retelling. It reads like a fantastic piece of Historical Fiction with moments of fantasy and romance that will engage readers of all different genres. I cannot sing this books praises enough. It is not the first time I have mentioned it and it certainly is not the last!

Have you read Bitter Greens? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and Happy Reading.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday - This Shattered World

A weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: This Shattered World
Series: Starbound #2
Author: Aime Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Published: December 23, 2014 by Disney-Hyperion
Amazon Goodreads

Synopsis: Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac should never have met. 

Lee is captain of the forces sent to Avon to crush the terraformed planet's rebellious colonists, but she has her own reasons for hating the insurgents. 

Rebellion is in Flynn's blood. His sister died in the original uprising against the powerful corporate conglomerate that rules Avon with an iron fist. These corporations make their fortune by terraforming uninhabitable planets across the universe and recruiting colonists to make the planets livable, with the promise of a better life for their children. But they never fulfilled their promise on Avon, and decades later, Flynn is leading the rebellion. 

Desperate for any advantage against the military occupying his home, Flynn does the only thing that makes sense when he and Lee cross paths: he returns to base with her as prisoner. But as his fellow rebels prepare to execute this tough-talking girl with nerves of steel, Flynn makes another choice that will change him forever. He and Lee escape base together, caught between two sides in a senseless war. 

Why I'm Waiting 

I read These Broken Stars in January and it blew my mind into a million pieces! It completely lived up to the hype with an amazing star-crossed lovers kind of romance, complex characters, and a unique and enthralling Science Fiction plot with a lot mystery! So so much mystery!

And while I would love to follow up with Lilac and Tarver, I'm also really excited to be introduced to new characters and new stories. I already love the prospect of Jubilee, she sounds a little bit like Starbuck in the Battlestar Gallactica reboot, who I love. I also love the idea of a kickass female character who can go toe to toe with a kickass male character. I am predicting quite a lot of wonderful banter.

And did you all know that there is a Starbound short story coming out in a few weeks called This Night So Dark. It has some Tarver flashbacks like how he became so famous and also connects the two stories, so if you need a Starbound and/or Tarver fix check it out, it's free for kindle!

I am just really excited to spend some more time in this world and to see where things develop. I'm intrigued that this is a companion to These Broken Stars. I'm interested to see how things develop in the world, especially the way that the last book ended, and I'm interested to see if they answer or resolve any of the mind-blowing questions the first book brought up.

Really I just want this book in my face immediately!

What are you waiting for this Wednesday? Are you as excited for This Shattered World as I am? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!