Thursday, May 28, 2015

Book Review: Champion by Marie Lu

Title: Champion
Series: Legend #3
Author: Marie Lu
Published: January, 2014 by Putnam Books for Young Readers
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Injured and on the run, it has been seven days since June and Day barely escaped Los Angeles and the Republic with their lives. 

Day is believed dead having lost his own brother to an execution squad who thought they were assassinating him. 

June is now the Republic's most wanted traitor. 

Desperate for help, they turn to the Patriots - a vigilante rebel group sworn to bring down the Republic. But can they trust them or have they unwittingly become pawns in the most terrifying of political games?

The final book in a trilogy can sometimes be a let down. It doesn't wrap things up, it bites off more that it can chew, or it just doesn't stack up to the others. But I am so happy to say that Champion was the perfect ending to this trilogy and a fantastic read. Marie Lu once again expanded the world, developed the characters, and wrap everything up with with a thrilling plot that had me engaged from beginning to end.

I'm such a fan of the characters in this series. Both June and Day are complex and interesting protagonists and I've really enjoyed their character arcs throughout the series. They have both really developed into amazing heroes that care for others and their countries. But at the same time they are far from perfect. Despite learning their lessons in Legend and Prodigy they still make mistakes and have to live with the consequences. But in this book they finally felt like heroes and I was totally rooting for them. I was also rooting for them in terms of the romance. I didn't ship it at all until this book. Maybe that's because it was just a fantastic slow burn, maybe it was because they spent so much time apart in this one, or maybe because I just didn't buy into until the high stakes of Champion but I totally ship it now.

And once again I loved Marie Lu's narrative style and the alternating perspectives. You are once again able to get inside both June and Day's heads. We get to know them better and on a personal level and see them through the other person's eyes. It gives you a well-rounded and more complex look at the characters. It also made the book more complex and interesting, the characters spent a lot of time in different places so the book had a more well-rounded look at the world of this book. It also created a really fantastic dramatic irony in the book. There was so much mystery which I loved. 

That mystery also extended to the plot of the book. With every passing book there has been more and more exciting action.  Champion was so thrilling. The stakes were higher and it felt like an epic end of the world as we know it kind of book. It was life or death. I was on the edge of my seat and I definitely cruised through this book much faster than the first two books. What I loved most was the fact that it took little hints from the first book and brought them back in with moments from the second book. It all came full-circle and wrapped up with an interesting and thrilling finale. Despite that I did found the pacing a bit problematic. It was like a roller coaster ride. There was tons of thrilling moments but then it would slow down. There were some ups and downs with some lulls at times but on the whole I absolutely loved the plot of this book.

And once again I loved the fact that much of the plot was about the dystopian world and the political intrigue. Each book we get to see more and more of the world and more of the politics involved. In Prodigy we got to see the Colonies and how different they are from the Republic, here in Champion that all came to a head. It was even more about who had the people's best interests in mind. We also got to see more of the larger global world which really cool and there was some really interesting stuff in Antarctica. But my favorite part was June's exploration of the politics in the Republic. I love the exploration of power and control in dystopian novels and we saw so much of that in Champion from all different angles. I really enjoyed the world and how it was developed in Champion.

On the whole Champion was conclusion of an interesting dystopian series. The characters continued to work their way into my heart, the plot was thrilling and full of action, and the world-building was complex and full of political intrigue. A great read and a great series.

I give Champion by Marie Lu 9 out of 10

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy/Borrow. This is far from my favorite dystopian series but it is really enjoyable and fans of the genre should definitely check this book out. I loved June and Day, I'm kind of sad to see them go. It's a thrilling series with a fantastic world.

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

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: Top Five Books I Will Be Waiting In Line For at BEA

A weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine

1.) Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
(Amazon / Goodreads)
Published: January 5, 2016 by Tor Teen

Synopsis: On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery”, a magical skill that sets them apart from others. In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble—as two desperate young women know all too well.

Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.

Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her—but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi’s hotheaded impulsiveness.

Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

Why I'm Waiting: Epic Fantasy, elemental magic, strong female protagonists, and a roguish prince all written by Susan Dennard

2.) Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
(Amazon / Goodreads)
Published: October 6, 2015 by Macmillan

Synopsis: Game of Thrones meets Ocean's Eleven in this brand-new book in the world of the Grisha by New York Times-bestselling author Leigh Bardugo.

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can't pull it off alone...

A convict with a thirst for revenge.
A sharpshooter who can't walk away from a wager.
A runaway with a privileged past.
A spy known as the Wraith. A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz's crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don't kill each other first

Why I'm Waiting: More from Leigh Bardugo set in the Grishaverse. Plus I seriously love heist stories. OHMYGOD I need this book!

3.) Passenger by Alexandra Bracken
(Amazon / Goodreads)
Published: January 5, 2016 by Disney Hyperion

Synopsis: Violin prodigy Etta Spencer had big plans for her future, but a tragedy has put her once-bright career at risk. Closely tied to her musical skill, however, is a mysterious power she doesn't even know she has. When her two talents collide during a stressful performance, Etta is drawn back hundreds of years through time.

Etta wakes, confused and terrified, in 1776, in the midst a fierce sea battle. Nicholas Carter, the handsome young prize master of a privateering ship, has been hired to retrieve Etta and deliver her unharmed to the Ironwoods, a powerful family in the Colonies--the very same one that orchestrated her jump back, and one Nicholas himself has ties to. But discovering she can time travel is nothing compared to the shock of discovering the true reason the Ironwoods have ensnared her in their web. 

Another traveler has stolen an object of untold value from them, and, if Etta can find it, they will return her to her own time. Out of options, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the mysterious traveler. But as they draw closer to each other and the end of their search, the true nature of the object, and the dangerous game the Ironwoods are playing, comes to light -- threatening to separate her not only from Nicholas, but her path home... forever.

Why I'm Waiting: More from Alexandra Bracken! Plus you guys it's an epic adventure through time! Plus look at that cover and the synopsis and *dies*

4.) After Alice by Gregory Maguire
(Amazon / Goodreads)
Published: October 27, 2015 by William Morrow

Synopsis: From the multi-million-copy bestselling author of Wicked comes a magical new twist on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, published to coincide with the 150th anniversary of Lewis’s Carroll’s beloved classic

When Alice toppled down the rabbit-hole 150 years ago, she found a Wonderland as rife with inconsistent rules and abrasive egos as the world she left behind. But what of that world? How did 1860s Oxford react to Alice’s disappearance?

In this brilliant new work of fiction, Gregory Maguire turns his dazzling imagination to the question of underworlds, undergrounds, underpinnings—and understandings old and new, offering an inventive spin on Carroll’s enduring tale. Ada, a friend of Alice’s mentioned briefly in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, is off to visit her friend, but arrives a moment too late—and tumbles down the rabbit hole herself.

Ada brings to Wonderland her own imperfect apprehension of cause and effect as she embarks on an odyssey to find Alice and see her safely home from this surreal world below the world. If Euridyce can ever be returned to the arms of Orpheus, or Lazarus can be raised from the tomb, perhaps Alice can be returned to life. Either way, everything that happens next is “After Alice.”

Why I'm Waiting: More from Gregory Maguire. He has written some of my absolute favorite fairy tale retellings. I love the ones with more high concept fantasy stuff so I'm excited to see his take on Wonderland.

5.) Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson
(Amazon / Goodreads)
Published: September 22, 2015 by Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins)

Synopsis: The first book in a new trilogy from acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Rae Carson. A young woman with the magical ability to sense the presence of gold must flee her home, taking her on a sweeping and dangerous journey across Gold Rush–era America.

Lee Westfall has a secret. She can sense the presence of gold in the world around her. Veins deep beneath the earth, pebbles in the river, nuggets dug up from the forest floor. The buzz of gold means warmth and life and home—until everything is ripped away by a man who wants to control her. Left with nothing, Lee disguises herself as a boy and takes to the trail across the country. Gold was discovered in California, and where else could such a magical girl find herself, find safety? Rae Carson, author of the acclaimed Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy, dazzles with this new fantasy that subverts both our own history and familiar fantasy tropes.

Walk on Earth a Stranger, the first book in this new trilogy, introduces—as only Rae Carson can—a strong heroine, a perilous road, a fantastical twist, and a slow-burning romance. Includes a map and author’s note on historical research

Why I'm Waiting: I haven't read any Rae Carson before (shhh, I know) but I've heard amazing things and a historical fantasy set in the gold rush with a girl who can sense gold. I want to go to there.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Are you at BEA with me? Will I see you in any of these line? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Books in My Beach (Sandcastle) Bag

A weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

There are no beaches in Pittsburgh. It's pretty landlocked and you can't really swim in the rivers. But we do have Sandcastle. A local waterpark that I have a season pass to and try to go a few times a month to enjoy the sun and pools. So here is the list of books I hope to have in my Sandcastle bag.

1.) The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker - Add to Goodreads
I received and ARC via Netgalley (thanks Little Brown) and just started The Witch Hunter yesterday. I love Historical Fantasies and I've heard this one has a lot of humor so I'm excited.  Lighthearted fantasy is my idea of a beach read.

2.) Powerless by Tera Lynn Childs and Tracy Deebs - Add to Goodreads
I love books about superheroes and the analysis of good versus evil which is exactly what this book is about. I'm excited to check out this book about a normal girl in a world of superheroes and super villains.

3.) NIL Unlocked by Lynne Matson - Add to Goodreads
I was supposed to read this in May but didn't get the chance. But I really need to read it so I'm bumping it to June. Plus the idea of reading about a creepy tropical island in the summer on the beach seems apropos.

4.) The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes - Add to Goodreads
A YA political thriller about resolving scandals? Yes, please. I got an ARC via Netgalley and I'm so excited about this book which has been compared to the TV show Scandal. I've also heard good things about Barnes' other series which is on my TBR so if I like this I can read those.

5.) The Wild Girl by Kate Forsyth - Add to Goodreads
I loved Bitter Greens which I read last summer and I'm really excited to read more of Kate Forsyth's historical fairy tale retellings. This one involved the Grimm Brothers, Napoleonic Wars, and the woman who told many of our most beloved fairy tales.

6.) Tangled Webs by Lee Bross - Add to Goodreads
I don't think most people would call historical fantasies beach reads but I totally do. This is another one and if seems like a total "me book." A teenage girl with an alter ego who is a notorious blackmailer who gets involved with the son of a wealthy merchant who has traveled the world. I absolutely need to read this.

7.) A School for Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin - Add to Goodreads
Things I love: historical fiction, spies, strong female protagonists, boarding schools with a twist. That's exactly what this book is about and so I seriously cannot wait to read it. It just came out on Tuesday so I need to get my hands on a copy!

8.) The Diviners by Libba Bray - Add to Goodreads
I love Libba Bray. Every book I have read from her I have loved. I need to read this series. I've heard really good things and I like the idea that it's set in the 1920s. The second book comes out this summer so I'm going to marathon them.

9.) Court of Fives by Kate Elliot - Add to Goodreads
I've talked about this one in a Waiting on Wednesday post it sounds right up my alley. Strong female protagonist, relationship with characters who don't "belong" together, and an MC doing whatever it takes for her family. It sounds amazing.

10.) Help Me Pick A Contemporary Read
My secret sister has been so amazing and gotten me a few contemporary reads that are on my TBR. I want to read one of them in June but I don't know which one I should pick up first. So in the comments section tell me, should I read Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, The DUFF by Kody Kepplinger, or Top Ten Clues You're Clueless by Liz Czukas

What about you? What books will be in your beach bag this summer? Are you planning to read any of these books? Have you read any of them? Leave me a comment with your thoughts and HAPPY READING!

Monday, May 25, 2015

ARC Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Title: Uprooted
Author: Naomi Novik
Published: May 19, 2015 by Random House

Synopsis: Naomi Novik, author of the bestselling and critically acclaimed Temeraire novels, introduces a bold new world rooted in folk stories and legends, as elemental as a Grimm fairy tale. 

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

 Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life. Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

 The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her. But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

*** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. This fact has not changed my opinion.***

What a fantastic fantasy read. I have seen a few fellow bloggers who I know have similar tastes in fantasy love this book so when I saw it available on Netgalley I quickly requested it and was so thankful to Random House for the approval. Uprooted brilliantly walks the line between familiar and creative with a fascinating world, complex and likable characters, and a thrilling plot that all combined to make one amazing read.

My favorite thing about Uprooted was the world that Naomi Novik created. The setting and magic of the book quickly drew me into a world that was atmospheric and dark. It's the kind of book that makes you forget about the real world while you emerse yourself in something different and engrossing. I usually like a magical system where things are very specific with clear rules and guidelines. This was not that kind of magic. This magic seemed more free form and complicated but it worked. It was fascinating in a subtle sort of way. It left me curious and questioning why and how things were happening. I felt like I could perfectly visualize everything that was happening, especially with the magic. I could see how they were performing the spells and I could see what cause they were having. 

But I could also perfectly visualize the settings of the book and that setting was an even better aspect of the world of Uprooted. It's a place where nothing is the way it seems, especially the dark wood that lurks in the periphery but becomes a huge part of the story. You see, the wood is not only the setting of this book but it's the antagonist. I absolutely love books like that, where you're fighting against something larger and more pervasive than just one person. And boy was the wood a fascinating antagonist.

And the wood was not the only fascinating character of this book. They were all complex and interesting. First and foremost there was our main character Agnieszka. I very quickly connected with her. She's not the smartest, the prettiest, or the most popular but she's a total spitfire. She stands up for herself and the people that she loves. Throughout the book she has a fantastic character arc but she always stays completely herself which I loved. As much as I like Agnieszka what I liked most about her is how she connected with the other characters throughout. There was a great female friendship in this book with Kasia, Nieshka's dearest friend. The two couldn't not be more different but they have so much love for one another and would do almost anything to support and help the other person. It was so refreshing and amazing. I also really enjoyed Agnieszka's relationship with "the Dragon." He's prickly and rude. Despite the fact that she doesn't think she's tough, Agnieszka stands up for herself and they have some great banter.

Uprooted also had an absolutely thrilling plot. There is so much to this book. It's sort of like a modern fairy tale with elements from Eastern European fairy tales and folklore but it's a story all it's own. It starts out feeling more like a retelling but then as it develops it becomes something all it's own. But it still has those classic elements from stories that I love like daring escapes, dark creatures of legends, damsels in distress, and thrilling battle sequences. And while it kept my interest from beginning to end, the pacing was a bit sporadic. It didn't slowly build to the climax it had a few smaller climaxes that made the book feel like a few different stories combined. But each of those stories were so fascinating and engaging that I didn't mind too much. And the slower pacing made it so that I couldn't really devour the book. I had to take my time and let all the fine details soak into my subconscious which I absolutely loved.

I completely adored Uprooted. It's the kind of book that when you finish you want to hug it and then start all over so you can experience it again for the first time. It's engaging and visual magical system, dark and fascinating world, likable characters, and thrilling plot all combined to make a wonderful read worth picking up.

I give Uprooted by Naomi Novik 9.5 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: BUY! The oddest thing about this book is it felt familiar and unique all at the same time. It was like meeting your new best friend that you feel like you've known your whole life. Fantasy fans and fans of fairy tales will love this book and if you are at all interested you should get your hands on a copy as quickly as possible!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Classics Review: Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Title: Northanger Abbey
Author: Jane Austen
Published: Originally December 1818 by John Murray
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: A wonderfully entertaining coming-of-age story, Northanger Abbey is often referred to as Jane Austen’s “Gothic parody.” Decrepit castles, locked rooms, mysterious chests, cryptic notes, and tyrannical fathers give the story an uncanny air, but one with a decidedly satirical twist. 

The story’s unlikely heroine is Catherine Morland, a remarkably innocent seventeen-year-old woman from a country parsonage. While spending a few weeks in Bath with a family friend, Catherine meets and falls in love with Henry Tilney, who invites her to visit his family estate, Northanger Abbey. Once there, Catherine, a great reader of Gothic thrillers, lets the shadowy atmosphere of the old mansion fill her mind with terrible suspicions. What is the mystery surrounding the death of Henry’s mother? Is the family concealing a terrible secret within the elegant rooms of the Abbey? Can she trust Henry, or is he part of an evil conspiracy? Catherine finds dreadful portents in the most prosaic events, until Henry persuades her to see the peril in confusing life with art. 

Executed with high-spirited gusto, Northanger Abbey is the most lighthearted of Jane Austen’s novels, yet at its core this delightful novel is a serious, unsentimental commentary on love and marriage.

I have an interesting history with Jane Austen. I know a lot of book lovers list her as one of their favorite authors and especially female book lovers probably list one of her books as their favorite classics. I however am not one of those people. I mean don't get me wrong, I like Austen but for me a lot of her stuff is kind of hit and miss. I have loved some, hated some, found some to be wordy, found others to be beautiful.

But that being said, I was really excited to read Northanger Abbey. I have heard it referred to as Jane Austen's Gothic parody. I love a good parody, especially of things that I enjoy (like Gothic literature) and I was not at all disappointed. This is definitely a kind of tongue in cheek response from Austen to her contemporaries but also to the people who love those sorts of novels. At times Austen breaks the forth wall and speaks directly to the reader explaining how ridiculous the characters have been and what we may have missed getting caught up in the story. She also directly names a list of Gothic novels including The Mysteries of Udolpho, a Gothic masterpiece, and debating whether they are great reads or horrible. It's definitely a book for book lovers in addition to being the most lighthearted of all Austen's novels that I have ever read.

One of the more lighthearted things about this book that also makes it quite an interesting parody is the romance. Jane Austen is the master of writing relationships that develop over time after a series of misunderstandings. But here she seems to be parodying herself. There are in fact misunderstandings but it is nor in terms of romantic feels or the characters feelings for one another. In fact the romantic leads spend a lot of time together flirting in a chaste 19th century sort of way. There is of course the typical Austenian love triangle and discussion of whether or not the character is an appropriate match but it never really seems to have the kind of drama that some of her other books have had.

But Catherine Morland is your typical Austenian heroine. She does not subscribe to your typical societal ideals for women at the time. She prefers being outside and reading to parties and social events but Catherine is also plucky and effervescent like Emma Woodhouse (though entirely less annoying). She has a sarcastic kind of humor and ends up getting caught up in her own world and assuming things that aren't entirely true. In this case she assumes that her real life is just like the books she reads. She goes to Northanger Abbey in search of adventure and mystery and this ends up causing problems for her. But throughout the book she learns from her mistakes and has a great character development.

I really enjoyed Northanger Abbey, it may have even beat out Sense and Sensibility as my favorite Jane Austen novel. It's a fast and fun read perfect for fans of classic literature especially if you enjoy Austen's other work or are a fan of books like Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and Dickens but don't mind a little parody of your beloved books.

I give Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen 9 out of 10

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. This is definitely a classic I would recommend. It's not very long so you can probably cruise through it in a few days like I did. If you are a fan of Jane Austen then you must read this one. It's tongue in cheek but combines a lot of the best elements in Austen's novels to make something new and interesting.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Book Review: Prodigy by Marie Lu

Title: Prodigy
Series: Legend #2
Author: Marie Lu
Published: January, 2013 by Putnam Books for Young Readers
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Injured and on the run, it has been seven days since June and Day barely escaped Los Angeles and the Republic with their lives. 

Day is believed dead having lost his own brother to an execution squad who thought they were assassinating him. 

June is now the Republic's most wanted traitor. 

Desperate for help, they turn to the Patriots - a vigilante rebel group sworn to bring down the Republic. But can they trust them or have they unwittingly become pawns in the most terrifying of political games?

Prodigy was such a great sequel to a dystopia series. Prodigy is what Mockingjay should have been, what Insurgent could have been, and what The Scorch Trials would have been. Marie Lu took the established world and characters, made the stakes higher and then threw in that political intrigue I was missing in Legend. All this combined to create a captivating and action-packed read.

I loved the characters in Legend and that didn't change in Prodigy. Both June and Day are complex and interesting protagonists. Despite being heroes to many people, they are far from perfect. In Prodigy they have to live with the consequences of their actions in Legend. Things are not easy for either June or Day in this book but they can handle anything that you throw at them. In this book their personality traits both positive and negative felt much more similar. They are both so trusting, in fact they are too trusting. But they are both also caring, intelligent, and resourceful. My one main criticism is that they just don't seem fifteen. I read a lot of YA and I am used to young protagonists, I am used to characters that grow up fast and are trust with a lot of responsibility at a young age. But here for some reason I just found myself wondering why on Earth anyone would have a fifteen year old doing, saying, or thinking that. It made it hard for me to suspend disbelief at times. That also extended into the romance of the book. As much as I didn't necessarily ship it in Legend, the addition of love triangles in Prodigy made things even more frustrating when it came to romance. But on the whole I love June and Day together, I think they make an excellent team and they are fantastic characters.

Liking those characters together and apart made Marie Lu's narrative style work so well. I say it with every book I read from her but she does alternating perspectives so perfectly. You are able to get inside both June and Day's heads so we are not only able to get to know them on a more personal level but we are also able to see them through the other person's eyes which makes things really interesting. But it also made for a unique narrative. In this book the main characters spend just as much time in the same place as they do in different places but it never feels odd. When one character drops the story the other one will pick it up. And despite often ending one person's portion on a twist or cliffhanger it never felt like a sudden or confusing. It all flowed in a really great narrative.

A narrative that grew and built to a thrilling and exciting conclusion. I think that was one of the biggest changes for me when it came to Prodigy that made me enjoy it so much more. It was much more thrilling. Legend had some pretty good action scenes but they never felt very high stakes. Here they felt like it was life or death. I was definitely on the edge of my seat with Prodigy. A few scenes in particular were incredibly thrilling and when everything really picked up I just kept reading and readig having getten through much more of the book than I thought. The pacing too was much better in this book. The characters got to the ending at the same time and it made the book much more mysterious and captivating. I actually didn't predict the twist in this one and made things all the more interesting and exciting.

But that thrilling and exciting plot was really mostly about the dystopian world. Like most dystopian sequels it took us out into the larger world. Here that expanded focus really worked. We got to see more of the Republic, including their capital in Denver, and we even got to visit the Colonies. In the first book the world was so basic. I wanted more about what was happening and why, which is exactly what I got here. There were so many different things happening in Legend but with Prodigy while the world grew the focus seemed to narrow. It was about the dichotomy between the haves and have nots. It was about the elites and their control of the people. It was all about the fight between the Rebels and the Republic. It's all about that political intrigue. I love the exploration of power and control in dystopian novels but here it felt more about who had the people's best interests in mind. It was such an interesting and refreshing take on the power concept I like in my novels and I really enjoyed it.

On the whole Prodigy was a great sequel and a huge improvement to a series I am now really interested to see how it develops. The characters continued to work their way into my heart, the plot was more thrilling, and the world-building was bigger and more interesting.

I give Prodigy by Marie Lu 9 out of 10

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy/Borrow. This is definitely more like it. Fans of dystopia should definitely check out this book. If you liked the first one at all then be ready for more of June and Day, more exploration of the world, and more thrilling action.

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

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: More From Brandon Sanderson and the Mistborn series

A weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: Shadows of Self
Series: Mistborn #5 (Wax and Wayne #2)
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Published: October 6, 2015 by Tor Books (Macmillan)
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: With The Alloy of Law, Brandon Sanderson surprised readers with a New York Times bestselling spinoff of his Mistborn books, set after the action of the trilogy, in a period corresponding to late 19th-century America.

The trilogy’s heroes are now figures of myth and legend, even objects of religious veneration. They are succeeded by wonderful new characters, chief among them Waxillium Ladrian, known as Wax, hereditary Lord of House Ladrian but also, until recently, a lawman in the ungoverned frontier region known as the Roughs. There he worked with his eccentric but effective buddy, Wayne. They are “twinborn,” meaning they are able to use both Allomantic and Feruchemical magic.

Shadows of Self shows Mistborn’s society evolving as technology and magic mix, the economy grows, democracy contends with corruption, and religion becomes a growing cultural force, with four faiths competing for converts.

This bustling, optimistic, but still shaky society now faces its first instance of terrorism, crimes intended to stir up labor strife and religious conflict. Wax and Wayne, assisted by the lovely, brilliant Marasi, must unravel the conspiracy before civil strife stops Scadrial’s progress in its tracks.  

Shadows of Self will give fans of The Alloy of Law everything they’ve been hoping for and, this being a Brandon Sanderson book, more, much more 

Title: Bands of Mourning
Series: Mistborn #6 (Wax and Wayne #3)
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Published: January 26, 2016 by Tor Books (Macmillan)

Synopsis: Not yet released but it's the final book in this trilogy so it's going to be epic. That's really all you need to know. Well that and it's Brandon Sanderson which makes it even more epic.

Why I'm Waiting 

I mean this should be obvious if you follow this blog in any way. I am a huge Brandon Sanderson fan. I was a little late to the party but I got my spot on the bandwagon and read eight of his books last year. Among them the first Mistborn trilogy and The Alloy of Law, the first book in a new series that took places in a Wild West style steampunkesque world. It was also much more of a mystery than the first series and I totally loved it. There were train robberies and roguish lawmen and comic relief. There was everything that I love.

There was also more Allomancy and Feruchemy. Sanderson does such a brilliant job creating complex and fascinating magical systems and these are two of my absolute favorites. I thought it was cool in Mistborn but then he made it even better with more metals and Twinborns. I really cannot wait to learn more about this world and experience two more "Sanderson plot twists"

What about you? What are you waiting for this Wednesday? Are you waiting for Shadows of Self and Bands of Mourning with me? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

They Say It's My Birthday...

This is me right now. Minus the cake. I have donuts,

And they would be right. Today I get another year older. Today my age no longer starts with a 2 and I may be freaking out a little bit. At a young age my birthday was my favorite holiday. It was all about me, there was cake and presents, and I got to have a party with all my friends. Then at some point that shifted and I started dreading my birthday. There was still cake and presents plus there was still a party with all my friends. Since joining the blogging community a year and a half ago I feel like I have found my people. Everyone I chat with on Twitter and everyone I have met in real life has been nothing but amazing and sweet. So today I want to spend my birthday with you.

It's been an amazing year and a half of blogging. I'm still amazed that people read my reviews and posts. I'm even more amazed that people comment them and read books that I recommend. I feel like a very small fish in the book blogosphere but I'm just glad to be in the pond. Every interaction with members of this community has been nothing but positive. You are all amazing and supportive. I can't wait for BEA next week where I get to see some of you again and some of you for the first time. It's going to be so much fun.

If you want to hug me at BEA I will be playing the role of Chandler

I know you're supposed to get gifts on your birthday but I wanted to give you something. To say thanks for being so amazing and kind and welcoming. So to celebrate my birthday I am doing an international giveaway of a book that was also born today! As long as The Book Depository ships to you, you can enter. If you need suggestions her are a few I recommend.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik - Goodreads
A School for Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin - Goodreads
Illusionarium by Heather Dixon - Goodreads
The Improbable Theory of Zak and Ana by Brian Katcher - Goodreads
Hold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany Schmidt - Goodreads
Conviction by Kelly Loy Golbert - Goodreads
Scarlet Undercover by Jennifer Latham - Goodreads

Thanks to everyone for making my time blogging so great and joining me in my birthday celebration! The winner will be contacted on June 1st and asked what book they want. I will be double checking all entries and if your entry isn't valid you will be disqualified, let's play fair friends. Good luck, Happy Birthday to me, thanks for stopping by, and HAPPY READING!

Top Ten Bookish Worlds I Want to Visit

A weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

In January of 2014 there was a Top Ten Tuesday about fictional worlds we would not want to visit. Check that post out here. I seriously loved that post. Since then I have read so many more fantasies and books with crazy world and I considered doing that post again, but then it hit me, no, I want to talk about the bookish worlds I would want to visit.

1.) Hogwarts (The Harry Potter series)
I mean obviously! Who doesn't want to go to Hogwarts? If you have read the Harry Potter series then I am sure you have imagined what it would be like if you got the letter via owl post and what house you would be sorted in (I'm a Ravenclaw). I'm way to old to go to Hogwarts but I'm still hoping for my letter.

2.) Red London (A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Scwab)
This book creates four different Londons. Dull London, Kell London, Creepy London, and Dead London as Lila puts it. Most of them are terrifying and I want nothing to do with them but Red London sounds absolutely amazing. And if Kel, Rhy, and Lila will be there then all the better.

3.) End of the 19th Century in the United States
This is my favorite period for historical fiction because I find it such a fascinating time. It was a time of change and growth in the US. Immigrants were arriving from all over the world and progressive organizations were uniting to make change happen.

4.) Brakebills and Fillory (The Magicians Trilogy)
Brakebills is like Hogwarts but a college. Plus for them magic isn't hereditary it is a learned skill. I would totally love to go there to learn magic. But more than that I would want to go to Fillory. It's basically Narnia but something about it just seems so appealing to me.

5.) Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing School for Young Ladies of Quality (Finishing School Series by Gail Carriger)
Everything about Mademoiselle Geraldine's is exciting and amazing. It is a steampunk boarding school in a zeppelin that teaches young women how to "finish" in a very creative way. Plus the teachers are so interesting including a werewolf and a vampire.

6.) Primoria (Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch)
So sure, there is a lot not to like about Primoria but I am just so interesting in the season kingdoms and rhythm kingdoms. I loved the world that Sara created here and it felt so lush and real that I would love to visit and see it for myself.

10.) The Pentagonal Spire (Insignia Trilogy by S.J. Kincaid) 
What can I say, I'm a sucker for an interesting and unique boarding school. This is another one but the characters are trained to become soldiers but interact along a virtual reality. I've never wanted to be a soldier but this series makes it look almost appealing.

7.) Luthadel (Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson)
Again, there is a lot to not want to be a part of in this series, especially as the series develops but this is one of my favorite fantasy world. It's so complex and interesting. CAN'T I JUST DO ALLOMANCY! Is that too much to ask?

8.) The Gallagher Academy (The Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter)
This is similar to Mademoiselle Geraldine's, but the idea of a boarding school where teenage girls learn to be spies is nothing but amazing. I seriously wish that I could go there and go on missions with the students. I haven't finished this series but I still want to be a Gallagher Girl. 

9.) Prythian (A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas)
I finished ACOTAR last week and I didn't love it like everyone else did but I found Prythian so fascinating. Similar to Primoria in that there are all these different courts with specific appearances and people. I would love to visit Spring Court and hope we get to see Night Court in book 2.

11.) Neverland (Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie) 
Do I ever want to grow up? Nope. Therefore I of course want to go visit Neverland. I want to become a lost boy, hang out with Tiger Lily, and maybe even see the mermaids and Captain Hook. Neverland just seems like such a cool place.

12.) Oz (The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum) 
If you checked out the previous list you may have noticed that Oz is on both lists. I found the Oz of Wizard of Oz to be a really interesting place. The different places to go and explore would be so amazing. If I would avoid the Wicked Witch of the West then I would be amazingly happy in Oz.

What about you? What bookish worlds would you want to visit? Any of these that you would or would not want to go to? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!