Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday 6





Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
This week's theme: Scariest book covers

Clearly I'm having formatting issues, but here are five freaky book covers!



Froi of the Exiles





  
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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Cover Reveal: Entrusted


Entrusted is a young adult paranormal novel by Connie Ann Michael. Here is the cover!




Blurb:
Thrust into a world of Native American legends about Skinwalkers and Ancient Ones, Emma Hunter finds herself in the middle of a battle for a heart holding great powers – A heart hidden within her.
Seventeen-year-old Emma wants what every teenage girl wants: a life that revolves around school, her friends, and a boyfriend who only has eyes for her. Little does she know that in order to get one, she must sacrifice the other two. After a series of events put into motion by Luke, the boy she thought loved her, Emma is kicked out of her group home and her school. Her best friend mysteriously vanishes and now she’s forced to move to a secluded coastal town, where she hopes to escape Luke’s obsessive control.  Instead, she finds her dreams invaded not only by Luke, but Solomon, a mysterious Native American warrior sent to protect her.
But when Solomon shows up in her reality to explain he’s her protector, she soon learns that he’s so much more. As Emma struggles to understand what’s happening to her, she must also deal with her undeniable attraction to Solomon. Their connection is stronger than anything Emma has ever experienced before and now she must decide: can she trust him with her heart? And just how far will she go to protect it?

You can add Entrusted to your to-read list on Goodreads:
www.goodreads.com/book/show/18187423-entrusted


Information about the book:
Title: Entrusted
Author: Connie Ann Michael
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Release Date: 18 November, 2013

About the Author:
Connie Ann Michael was raised a city girl, but was converted to a country girl after college and now resides in a speck of a town in Central Washington State.  She is married to her former boss as she worked at the local Pizza place and has two college age boys that provide endless material for her books.  She loves the outdoors and can be found mountain biking, kayaking, or camping with her family.  Being a busy family, she
can be found working on her newest novel while on long road trips.

You can find and contact Connie Ann Michael here:








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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Review: Bellman & Black


Title: Bellman & Black: A Ghost Story
Author: Diane Setterfield
Genre: literary fiction, historical fiction, paranormal/magical realism

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Goodreads Summary: As a boy, William Bellman commits one small, cruel act: killing a bird with his slingshot. Little does he know the unforeseen and terrible consequences of the deed, which is soon forgotten amidst the riot of boyhood games. By the time he is grown, with a wife and children of his own, William seems to be a man blessed by fortune—until tragedy strikes and the stranger in black comes. Then he starts to wonder if all his happiness is about to be eclipsed. Desperate to save the one precious thing he has left, William enters into a rather strange bargain, with an even stranger partner, to found a decidedly macabre business.
And Bellman & Black is born.

Bellman & Black is a very quiet book. Not much really happens, but that's because it doesn't need to. The story is chilling, but never horrifying or grotesque. There is simply the feeling of a dark shadow in the corner that never leaves, or of someone staring at you from behind. Quiet, but chilling.

When William Bellman was a boy, he threw a stone in a beautiful arc and felled a rook. He promptly forgot about this miraculous act, but the other boys never did. They whispered about the rook and William's luck and skill. They continued to whisper as Will became one of the most efficient and best mill-owners in the area. Then people begin to die.

Bellman meets Black, and then the story really begins.

I really enjoyed the atmosphere of this book - I can't quite describe it, but there was something eery but beautiful about it. There were so many little details that brought this story to life. Something about it reminded me of Nathaniel Hawthorne's short stories - based in reality with a hint of the dark and supernatural thrown in.

The anecdotes about rooks were very entertaining and cleverly spread out throughout the story. I feel like this is the kind of book you read more than once, so that you can catch all the subtleties you missed the first time around. It's beautifully written, and the story itself is very intriguing.

You have to be a bit patient with this book, though. The titular Black doesn't even appear until about a third of the way through the book, and as I mentioned before, not much really happens. If you think of it as being a leaf pushed by a lazy river - you won't see much, but you'll get somewhere eventually.

I highly recommend this book!

*An e-copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*


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Top Ten Tuesday 5




Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
This week's theme: Top Ten Character Names I Love or Top Ten Unusual Character Names

There are a lot of names that I think sound beautiful and some that are just are fun to say, so I'm going to split them into those two categories:

Beautiful/cool/exotic

  1. Kieran from Julie Kagawa's Iron Prince
  2. Neeve from Maggie Stiefvater's Raven Boys
  3. Bhakhtiian from Kate Elliot's Jaran
  4. Kelsier from Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn series
  5. Froi from Melina Marchetta's Lumatere Chronicles
  6. Ismae from R. LaFevers' Grave Mercy

Fun to say
  1. Viola from Patrick Ness' Chaos Walking trilogy (think of all those times Todd yelled VIOLA!)
  2. Karou from Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone series (Karooooooou!)
  3. Mr. Vandemar from Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere (yeah, he's evil and creepy but his name is awesome)
  4. Sansa Stark from George RR Martin's Game of Thrones series (ssssibilant sounds)


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Friday, October 18, 2013

Review: Mistborn



Title: Mistborn: The Final Empire
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Genre: Fantasy, adult fiction

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Goodreads Summary:
Once, a hero arose to save the world. A young man with a mysterious heritage courageously challenged the darkness that strangled the land.
He failed.
For a thousand years since, the world has been a wasteland of ash and mist ruled by the immortal emperor known as the Lord Ruler. Every revolt has failed miserably.
Yet somehow, hope survives. Hope that dares to dream of ending the empire and even the Lord Ruler himself. A new kind of uprising is being planned, one built around the ultimate caper, one that depends on the cunning of a brilliant criminal mastermind and the determination of an unlikely heroine, a street urchin who must learn to master Allomancy, the power of a Mistborn.

I love stories about magic and stories about heists/capers. Naturally, I loved this book, since it combined both of these elements. This isn't the best fantasy novel I've read, but it was definitely very entertaining.

Mistborn: The Final Empire takes place in a fantasy world where the Lord Ruler has been in control for thousands of years. The sky rains ash, and it has been generations since anyone has seen a flower or a snippet of blue sky. The Skaa are the slaves of this world, overseen by nobles who are divided into multiple noble houses. Even the idea of rebellion seems distant - the skaa know better than to cross the Lord Ruler. But that doesn't stop Kelsier from trying.

Kelsier is a Mistborn, an allomancer who can control not one but all of the metals that power magic in this world. He recruits Vin, a young girl off the streets who has the potential to be one of the greatest Allomancers in the world. The two Mistborn, together with a motley crew of men from various backgrounds and powers, set out to stir up rebellion and end the reign of the Lord Ruler.

I really enjoyed the magic system of this book. People who have magic are able to "burn" different metals to unleash the power in them. Most of these powers come in pairs - iron pulls metals towards you, while steel pushes them away. I thought it was interesting how people could ingest metals and use various powers, but that your ability to use it still depended on your strength and abilities.

I also really liked the characters. Sazed was my favorite, with his quiet determination and loyalty. Kelsier had such charisma, but there were times when I was scared of him and rooting for him in equal amounts. Vin is the real main character of this book, and I admired her strength and determination. What I didn't like about her was how she kept on cowering and expecting people to betray her - sometimes I wanted to take her by the shoulders and tell her that not everyone was evil and that she could start trusting people. She did grow out of that eventually (mostly, anyway), so that was nice.

The story itself was intriguing, since it explored everything from political intrigue to learning magic to socio-economic theory to revolution. I thought the world was incredibly well-built, and the Inquisitors especially were creepy beyond words. I liked that the world had an almost dystopian flavor even though this was a fantasy novel. Come to think of it, there were a lot of sci-fi elements, but the story was predominantly fantasy.

A minor element that bugged me - this book was recommended to me on the grounds that my inner feminist would not scream blood murder, and well, while Vin was technically a major character who happened to be a girl, there were still a few thing that ticked me off. For one thing, Vin is almost the only character who's a girl - even if one other person on the crew was a girl, it would have been fine, but of course only men are capable of starting revolutions. Also, the only other significant female character happened to be evil. But this is just me being picky about the male-slanted world of fantasy.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys fantasy!

View all my reviews

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Review: Burial Rites


Title: Burial Rites
Author: Hannah Kent
Genre: Historical fiction, literary fiction, adult fiction

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Goodreads Summary:
A brilliant literary debut, inspired by a true story: the final days of a young woman accused of murder in Iceland in 1829.
Set against Iceland's stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution.
Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family at first avoids Agnes. Only Tóti, a priest Agnes has mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her. But as Agnes's death looms, the farmer's wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story they've heard.
Riveting and rich with lyricism, BURIAL RITES evokes a dramatic existence in a distant time and place, and asks the question, how can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others?

It's strange how a book can be both beautiful and melancholy at the same time. Burial Rites is by no means a light read, but it's certainly worth reading. It follows the story of Agnes, a woman convicted of murder and slated for execution. The people around her look at her with suspicion and fear - clearly she is a witch with not a drop of good left in her. As Agnes' story unfolds, you begin to get a much better picture of what happened and who is to blame, and the lines between guilty and innocent begin to blur.

The plot reminded me a bit of Alias Grace - a woman is convicted of murder, and you don't know if she's guilty or innocent. They are set in different time periods, so they are really different stories, but in both cases I enjoyed getting to see new sides to all the characters as the book progressed.

I really enjoy historical fiction because you learn so much about other cultures and other time periods. I thought this book was especially good at immersing me in a culture I otherwise knew nothing about. Iceland is harsh yet beautiful, and the story can be described in much the same ways. People work together just to survive; kindness isn't a gift so much as a necessity. It's incredible to see how strong and resilient everyone is, and how much they endure simply to get through another day. The Icelandic names were tricky at first, but I think I got the hang of it by the end.

The writing style is gorgeous. It's often sparse, but every word is carefully chosen and you can really feel the intensity of the situation. I really enjoyed this story, even if it was slow and melancholy - it was equally beautiful.


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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday 4




Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
This week's theme: 
Top Ten Best/Worst Series Enders

The Best:

Monsters of Men is the third book in the Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness. This is one of my favorite series, and this book really took my breath away. You get to see things from so many perspectives, and it's really hard to figure out who the "good guys" are because everyone believes they are doing the right thing. The characters are amazing and the ending was just perfect. I can't say enough good things about this book!





Quintanta of Charyn by Melina Marchetta was a beautiful ending to a very beautiful series. I have read almost all of Melina Marchetta's books, and they are all incredible - they have very real characters that go through such painful situations with such grace that I have to remind myself that these people aren't real to keep myself from sobbing. Above all, there is always hope and love, and I find that message inspiring.





Where She Went is the sequel to If I Stay by Gayle Forman. I thought the first book was very well-written and poetic, and the second book is equally as lovely. This story is far more bittersweet, and I loved the way Forman got so much emotion out of me in such a short book.







Ptolemy's Gate by Jonathan Stroud is the third book in the Bartimaeus Trilogy, a series that I'm especially fond of. I discovered Bartimaeus when I was 12, and I loved his witty banter and rebellious spirit. The third book shows you sides of the main characters you've never seen, and the ending had me gasping. This book is just so great!






Clockwork Princess was an excellent end to Cassandra Clare's Infernal Devices trilogy. I liked this series much better than the Mortal Instruments because of the historical setting and the amazing characters - this is the only love triangle I have ever read where all the characters treat each other with love and respect. I thought this was a very satisfying ending to a great series.






I don't think I need to explain this one. Let's just say I would have been annoyed if Harry Potter magically defeated evil once again, and I would have been angry if he died trying. I'm glad JK Rowling found middle ground - it was a brilliant way to handle the situation.







...and the Worst:

I loved the Chronicles of Narnia, but some of the books weren't as good as the others. Unfortunately, The Last Battle was my least favorite of all - I don't even remember much about it except a donkey and an ape.








I realize that someone is going to virtually punch me for this, but I didn't like the last book of the Hunger Games Trilogy. Mockingjay was just...dull. Katniss became nothing more than a pawn, and I felt like there were a lot of aspects of it that were unnecessarily drawn out and contrived. I loved the first book, but this was not a great ending.






Another case of "Liked the first book, downhill from there" - The Death Cure was so convoluted that I didn't enjoy it very much. There were so many random plot twists and crazy things happening and the actual resolution of the series conflict was really weak in my opinion. Not only was it an unsatisfying explanation, a lot of other things were never answered. Although the very last bit of the book was interesting, I didn't think this was a great series ending.





I don't have as many "worst series endings" because I usually abandon series halfway if I don't like them. I just don't have the patience to see if things get better (although I did give the Forest of Hands and Teeth series a shot, and each book was much better than the previous one).

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Friday, October 4, 2013

Crazy week and Reread-a-thon!


Hello lovely readers of my blog!

Sorry I haven't been updating very often or commenting on your blogs. The first week back at college was really crazy and it took me quite a while to settle down and figure out my schedule. I haven't had as much time to read as I would have liked, and hardly any time at all to write reviews for what I have read. But hopefully I'll get on that soon!

I've decided that October is going to be the month where I do a reread-a-thon. I keep meaning to reread a lot of my favorite books and series, but I always want to read more new books and I never get around to it. This month I'm going to make it a point to do some rereading, especially since two of my favorite books are going to be released as movies next month! You can find the trailers for The Book Thief and Ender's Game here and here.

The list of books I'm planning to reread:

  • Ender's Game
  • The Book Thief
  • The Chaos Walking trilogy, this time as audiobooks
Would anyone like to join me? What books are you planning to reread?


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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Book Thief Readalong!



The Book Thief is one of my all time favorite books, and I've reread it so many times that the spine is all crinkly (and I try really hard not to crinkle them - just goes to show how well-loved this book is!). It's time for another reread during the month of October - just in time for the movie, coming out November 7!

The readalong is hosted by the Midnight Garden. If you haven't read this book already, this is your chance!


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Top Ten Tuesday 3




Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
This week's theme: 
Top Ten Book Turn-Offs
  1. Romance novels - I don't mind a little romance in a story now and then - after all, everyone deserves a chance at love - but I will not read a book that has romance/erotica as the main plot. If I see two people making out on the cover of a book, I am definitely not picking it up!
  2. zombieeeeeees - I don't mind books that say they are about zombies and are about zombies. What bugs me is when there is absolutely no indication of the undead playing a part in the story and then someone who's dead magically comes back to life or was never dead in the first place. DEAD PEOPLE DON'T COME BACK TO LIFE. (yeah, pet peeve of mine. cough cough Rory Pond...)
  3. whining/self-pitying characters - some characters have baggage, but they struggle with it and deal with it and move on. Other characters think they have the worst life under the sun and mope and feel sorry for themselves when really their situation isn't so bad. I don't usually finish books that have self-absorbed and helpless main characters, although on occasion one such character will grow out of this annoying phase and then I will keep reading. 
  4. Series endings that aren't series endings - I hate when a series is a planned trilogy and then suddenly becomes a series with more books. Ahem hem Mortal Instruments. Although something similar happened with Eragon, it wasn't as annoying because it was just splitting the third book into two volumes, and I'd rather not read a 1,500 book.
  5. Prom dress covers - come on, you know what I'm talking about. There are so many books that have beautiful girls in beautiful dresses on the cover, and the story has nothing to do with it! I usually won't look twice at a book with a prom dress cover, unless someone recommends it to me and I bother to read the blurb.
Those are all the annoyances I can think of at the moment, although I'm sure there are more!



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