book review

Vampire Academy Series Review

Sunday, November 30, 2014

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I hope everyone had a happy thanksgiving or has spent the past week relaxing and catching up! I have finally made it home, but alas only for a week, as I left to school today. Good thing is that I now only have 2 more weeks left of school. Bad thing is that I have SO many things to study for and do before school is out. Finals suck. But I did get a lot of reading done while I've been on this mini-break and I managed to finish a series. This is one that I haven't posted any reviews on but have mentioned on my BookTube channel! I didn't write about it on here because I was going through the books so fast, but now that I'm (unfortunately) done with them I'm going to do a wrap-up on my overall feels. This one is going to be a bit different than the Sweet Trilogy Review I did because there are too many books in the series and I think it will be too long of a post to read. Without further ado, the Vampire Academy Series!

book review

The Sweet Trilogy Review

Saturday, November 22, 2014

I haven't been that great at writing reviews on books every time I finish them on here, mostly with books that are parts of a trilogy. I find that once I finish the first or second book in a series I crave whatever comes next and don't want to write something lengthy for a series that I will soon finish, especially when I'll be finding out what comes next. I have to get better at this but for now I'll be discussing my thoughts on The Sweet Trilogy by Wendy Higgins. I just finished the last book, Sweet Reckoning, and while I was waiting for it to finally pick up and end on an epic high note, I got the opposite. I won't be spoiling anything in this review just writing my overall feelings between characters and how the plot line was spaced out or described, which I feel are most important when connecting to a book. 

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I picked up the first book in the trilogy, Sweet Evil, back in August because I had seen a couple of BookTubers discuss their love for the book. I love reading paranormal so I was excited to start something new and fangirl over the characters, but upon finishing the book I didn't really get that. I will say that I enjoyed the interesting back story between the Nephilim and Demons and how they Biblical tied in, so that was what kept me reading. I didn't get any "deep" connection between Anna and Kaidan in Sweet Evil, especially since all they did was take a long road trip having just barely met each other. The fact that Anna's adoptive mother, Patti, allowed this was just so strange to me. You also get introduced to Kopano in this book, whom instantaneously starts developing feelings for Anna. It felt as though the author was just throwing things out there and piecing them together on flimsy emotions. I actually did write a review for this book alone on my blog so if you want to check that out, click here!

book review

Dare You To Review

Thursday, November 20, 2014

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This is how it's done people! A couple of days ago I did a review for Katie McGarry's first book, Pushing the Limits, where I gushed about how much I loved it. Now, that I've finished the second book in the series, Dare You To, I can't decide which one I love more! I have a suspicious feeling that the Pushing the Limits series by McGarry will become a new favorite when it comes to contemporary/romance, because it's just that good.

Dare You To picks up from Beth in the first book and introduces a new character, Ryan. From Pushing the Limits you know a little bit about Beth; from her dark hair, grungy look and dirty mouth she doesn't have an easy time making friends or staying out of trouble. In this second installment we learn more about Beth's past life, getting to see from her point of view how tough it has been these last couple of years when your father abandons you and your mother is an alcoholic with a dead beat boyfriend. What Beth needs in her life is stability and love, things that she's never really had. When her Uncle Scott comes out of nowhere and gains custody over her, she might actually have a chance to regain back all these things and get a fresh slate at life. Ryan is the typical baseball jock, who lives and breathes the sport. His life is consumed by the game so that he can ultimately graduate high school and go pro. From the outside, you wouldn't be able to tell that anything is wrong in Ryan's life- he's perfect- but stepping into his life for a day you would be able to see all the cracks surrounding his mother, his strict and overbearing father and his brother who has stopped talking to the family. When Uncle Scott comes back into town with Beth in tow, he asks Ryan for his help to befriend her and show her around. Little does Scott know that they've encountered each other before all based around a bet that Ryan and his friends made regarding Beth. But maybe that dare will be the one to save them both.

library

In My Library Cart

Monday, November 17, 2014

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If I hadn't mentioned this before I get 90% of my books from the library. Seeing as I'm a college student, buying books doesn't come cheap to me. During the summer I had the leisure to go to my local library branches and check out books, but going back to school made it more difficult for me to do this. Luckily, my county offers an online eBook system where I have been able to read the majority of books this year.

I've never been a huge advocate of eBooks or been interested in the digital media of reading, having always preferred a physical book, but I have been converted! Not entirely, but it's extremely convenient to read eBooks when you can't get to a library/bookstore, when you're a college student low on money, or when you're on the move and constantly use your iPad or computer. I'm so thankful for this service, because if it wasn't for this I wouldn't have been to able to immerse myself in so many new wonderful stories and worlds. 

book review

Graceling Review

Monday, November 17, 2014

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I said I wanted to read more fantasy and I'm trying to keep my promise! I picked up Graceling by Kristin Cashore last week and I managed to finish it today. It took me a while because I found myself letting it go, but once I sat down and really got into it, it was a breeze to get through!

Taken directly from my Goodreads Review, Graceling follows Katsa, whose Grace is identified to be of killing from a young age. She is "graced" with deathly skills to kill, including stronger than average strength, speed, agility, and an ability to easily master sword fighting, archery, and wrestling. Having discovered her Grace through a tragedy at a young age, she is feared and avoided by many in court, including her uncle, King Randa. "Luckily," instead of leaving her in isolation, the King decides to put Katsa's Grace into good use and makes of her his own personal warrior, sending her off to punish lords or citizens of his land that have tried to steal from him, or commit any other fault against his rule. You would think this would make Katsa some merciful vigilante, but on the contrary, King Randa uses her power to punish those for very menial things and is described as a bully. Having always to restrain her strength and Grace from others, it isn't until she encounters another skilled Graced warrior, Po, the youngest of seven princes from the Lienid kingdom, that she's able to let her guard down and possibly make a new friend who understands what it's like to hide a big piece of yourself. But getting intertwined with Po further prompts Katsa to question herself and her Grace, making her realize if abiding by her uncle's rule after so many years is the correct thing after all.

book review

Pushing the Limits Review

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

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I went a little ghost, I know, but school just caught up to me and you know it gets- BUSY! With a lot of my tests out of the way though I hope to catch up on my reading and be able to read more this month! I am especially making it a goal to read more fantasy-based books since I have a pile on my TBR full of the genre, I need to make a dent on it. Since yesterday there was no school, because of Veteran's Day, I took the day to relax and catch up on things around the house, and of course to read ;) I picked up Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry on a whim, and I finished it the same day. It was so good, I highly recommend it if you're looking for a contemporary/romance book that just melts you and pulls at your heartstrings in all the right places. I cried, I laughed, I cry-laughed, it was amazing!

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Top 5 TBR Books

Sunday, October 26, 2014

I really love having this blog because I actually enjoy writing out my feelings and opinions about the books I read. It's fun and it really challenges me to think about what I'm reading! But every once in a while I want to write out different kinds of posts and perhaps interact a bit more? So, today I've decided to list the top 5 books I want to get around to reading! These books are ones that I've had on my TBR pile for a while now and have really been dying to get to. Without further rambling, here we go: 

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1. Yes, Please by Amy Poehler 
Parks and Rec is one of my all time favorite shows, so it's not a surprise that by loving that TV show I inherently love Amy Poehler just as much! Amy Poehler is funny and smart, she stands up for women and feminist issues and isn't afraid to call anyone out. Her skits on SNL are golden and the character she plays on Parks and Rec, Leslie Knope, can be anyone's best friend. From the moment I finished reading Tina Fey's Bossypants I knew that when the time came for Amy Poehler's book I was probably going to love it just as much. I know that both books are different from one another but seeing as they're BFF's and I simultaneously admire them both, I'm SO excited that Yes, Please is finally out! Now all I have to do is get my hands on it!

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2. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
I've read and seen numerous reviews about how amazing this book is and I've been wanting to get around to it! I like that it's centered around a different era and that it has numerous references to the 70's or 80's I believe? I've been considering to buy it to have it on my bookshelf or waiting to rent it off my library's eBook system. Either way, I really wish I could start this sooner than later!

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3. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
I love the film adaptation of this book by Sofia Coppola. I remember watching it when I was in high school and just falling in love with the characters and storyline, it's so different from anything out there and really connects you with the plot in this odd, dream-like landscape. I've been eyeing this book online to buy, especially on Book Depository because they have the edition I want. I don't usually watch movies without reading the book first, but in this case I didn't even know a book existed until the past year. Whether I end up buying this or not, I have a feeling I'm going to really enjoy it!

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4. Mistborn (series) by Brandon Sanderson
I have not heard of one person who does not love Brandon Sanderson. It's crazy, and I want to get into this fandom already! I love reading fantasy books but I seem to keep putting that genre off, mostly because I think I'll appreciate reading fantasy more in a physical form instead of in an eBook version. But honestly, next month I think I will definitely be heavily jumping into fantasy either way! Everyone that has gotten into Brandon Sanderson has recommended to start with the Mistborn series so that is exactly what I plan on doing!

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5. More Than This by Patrick Ness
Besides this gorgeous cover being an incentive to start this book, I've been meaning to get around to any book by Patrick Ness. My library's online eBook system has the majority of his works available to check out, but I've been wanting to just buy the physical forms because I mean...look at that book cover up there! I'm not exactly sure as to what this book is about, but all the reviews on Patrick Ness seem to be really positive so why not? One book that did capture my eye before looking Patrick Ness up on Goodreads was The Crane Wife on my library's book shelf, and when I saw that he wrote the Young Adult series of The Knife of Never Letting Go I was hooked.

Let me know if you have read any of these books or plan to get around to reading them! All of these authors really appeal to me and the stories sound wonderful, and like I said all of these have been patiently waiting in my TBR pile, I just have to finally get around to them! Once again, so many books, so little time...
-Alex

book review

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer Review

Saturday, October 25, 2014

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I'm just going to go right into this and say that this is one of those books that just left me feeling very confused. Not in a bad way, don't get me wrong! Just confused. I started this book yesterday afternoon and put it down at night, only to keep thinking about the characters and the interesting story line that accompanies them. I'm surprised that I haven't heard more about this book because it's honestly one of the most interesting and "different" Young Adult books that I've picked up in a while. It's very "Stephen King-esque" and like I mentioned in my Goodreads Review, specifically about Stephen King it reminded me of Carrie. I've never read Carrie, only seen the recent movie adaptation, but while reading The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, there was a passage that mentioned the prom scene from Carrie and that comparison has been stuck in my head ever since.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin centers around Mara Dyer, a young 17-year-old girl who has recently moved from Rhode Island to Miami, Florida after a horrific accident that occurred to Mara and her other three friends. Being the lone survivor of this tragedy, Mara has no recollections of what or how everything occurred, and begins to experience symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD). Her family thus decides to relocate and move away to help get some closure and heal from the past. Except everything that Mara is moving away from seems to be catching up to her, to the point where she starts seeing things...and people. She starts experiencing things that aren't normal, and begins to hallucinate. She so desperately wants to remember what happened that night with Jude, Rachel, and Claire but all she gets are more visions and strange occurrences. Moving to a new school and trying to make friends are enough stress as it is, when the most attractive and dangerous guy at school, Noah, starts grabbing her attention. Things are never what they seem to be, and this is especially true for Mara. She needs to figure out what is going on with her, and figure out if she is in fact going crazy after all...

book review

Maybe Someday Review

Monday, October 20, 2014


I've had this blog post on draft since Friday because I was busy reading another book (Shadow Kiss, the third book in the Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Reade) and there was a football game on Saturday for my university. I wanted to post this right away but I wasn't able to until today, it's crazy how time flies! Now, I know I said New Adult wasn't my thing, but honestly this book was so good that I couldn't put it down! I'm sure many of you have probably already heard of this or already read it, but I wasn't expecting to like it so much. As you can see above the next book I've finished is Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover, and it definitely managed to live up to the hype. Like I said in my Goodreads Review it had me frustrated, nervous, angry, heartbroken, and absolutely in love with all the characters. All the feels.

Maybe Someday centers around Sydney, who has recently found out that her boyfriend, Hunter, of two years has been cheating on her with her best friend, Tori, a.k.a. her roommate as well- talk about awkward. Luckily, the guy Sydney's been staring at for the past couple of weeks from across her balcony comes to her rescue; Ridge not only offers Sydney a place to live, at no cost, but he also opens up her world to lyric writing, music and a new chance at love. Only thing is that, Ridge has been in a serious relationship for the past couple of years, with what it seems is the perfect girl- Maggie. When both Sydney and Ridge find themselves falling for one another, it seems as though life is playing a cruel joke. Switching between Ridge and Sydney as dual narrators, you get an inside look into what each one is struggling through to keep their emotions in line and what choices they will have to make to not only hurt one another but the people they love.

book review

Let's Get Lost Review

Sunday, October 12, 2014

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I'm back once again! Sorry about that, but I had a really important test last Thursday. So once I finished up reading City of Bones by Cassandra Clare, I dived right into studying. The life of a college student...but I made it out alive! Since then I have finished one other book, Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead, but unfortunately I didn't have time to sit down and write out a blog post. Good thing though, is that I think my Goodreads Review does a decent job at explaining my feelings and thoughts, so if you want to check it out it's on there!

Today I managed to finish Let's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid, primarily because it was due soon through my library's eBook system, so it got pushed up to the top of my TBR pile. I had heard a little bit about this book, largely that it had to do with road-tripping and so I thought why not?! I've been in a wanderlust mood where all I want to do is be able to travel, whether by air or auto, fingers skimming through the wind, and being lost in another place altogether- yeah, you can see why I didn't really question picking this up.

book review

City of Bones Review

Saturday, October 04, 2014

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Ok, I'm probably the very last person to read this Young Adult book. Although, I did watch the movie before picking up City of Bones, I'm not sure what to think; well, I can relate with the way I felt when I finished watching the film: weird. I'm into really sudden twists and suspense but I think the later-half of the book was a big turn-off for me, one that is making me skeptical about picking up the second book in the series (City of Ashes). I don't know! Am I alone in this?! Everyone that has read it or that I am friends with on Goodreads has rated City of Bones 4 or 5 stars. I just didn't feel the same way.

I won't go into what the premise of this book is about because honestly you've either heard about The Mortal Instruments series or have probably seen the movie adaptation. I mean if you really want a quick synopsis then all I can tell you is that the plotline revolves around a young teenage girl named Clary Fray who loses her mom, the last she heard of her through a phone call where she warns Clary to stay away from the house. Coming home to find her house in ruins, she simultaneously comes into contact with an other-worldly beast that is both hideous and dangerous. Not knowing it yet, Clary is about to enter the Shadowhunter world where demons, angels and sorcery exist- a world that Clary is more connected with than the "mundane," Earthly world she's known all her life. From there, you just get sucked right into this other paranormal/fantasy world that is full of action and shocking turns.

*WARNING: Spoilers ahead, if you have not read the book do not read on!

book review

Wait for You Review

Friday, October 03, 2014

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I've recently been in the mood for a light, fluffy read because 1.) the weather has been gray and foggy and 2.) school is in full gear so I need a distraction. Thus, I went browsing along my library's online ebook system and put on hold the book up there. If you don't know who J. Lynn is then you will be in for a surprise- it's the pen name that Jennifer L. Armentrout uses to write Adult/New Adult books, though it will no longer be used after her book Stay With Me. I know I mentioned that New Adult isn't my thing but this one was pretty alright, and considering I enjoyed the Young Adult Lux Series I figured I had nothing to lose.

Wait For You revolves the main protagonist, Avery Morgansten who moves from Texas to West Virginia for college, far away from her family, her friends and everything that has been familiar to her for so long. Even though the distance would seem daunting to some, Avery plunges into the move desperately after having gone through a horrific event that occurred 5 years ago back home. You quickly find out that Avery has lost her friends and that family isn't something warm and safe she can run to- West Virginia is exactly what she needs. On her first day of school, running late to class, she runs into the guy everyone gawks at on campus (so no surprise that he's a looker)- Cameron Hamilton. Although Avery isn't looking for romance, especially with what has occurred to her, Cameron becomes instantly infatuated with her, constantly bumping into one another and coincidentally living right across the hall from her. The more time they spend with one another, the more that Avery realizes where this can lead, yet the attraction between them isn't something you can easily ignore. When you least expect something, is when it comes looking for you and Avery must decide whether to take a leap and finally trust someone or keep to herself as she has in the past.

book review

Attachments Review

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

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I don't know what it was about today, maybe it had something to do with the beautiful weather outside- a perfect crisp, and sunny way to start Fall- but I could not stop reading. And although I have a lab test tomorrow, something kept pulling at me to finish Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. I didn't think the Rainbow Rowell obsession was real. Sure, I loved Fangirl but I couldn't be exactly sure until I picked up another book by her. With my latest (and very rash) BookOutlet purchase I managed to pick up Attachments without much thought. Honestly, all I could register was RAINBOW ROWELL and CHEAP. So, it was an instant buy for me. I had heard of other book bloggers and Booktubers finishing Landline and not really loving it like other of Rowell's books, so there was a tiny voice in my head that said "Uh oh, what about if you were too quick to jump the gun not knowing if you were going to really like this...?" Boy, was I was wrong. Finishing Attachments made me remember what I felt when I finished Fangirl and that is a very good thing.

Attachments premise is very simple. You have Lincoln, a 29-year-old man who has been very shy and demure his entire life. His relationships have consisted of only one serious person, Sam, who caused a big impact in his life through his high school and early college years up until present-day. Lincoln graduates college and moves back home with his mother where he takes up a night job as the IT guy at a newspaper called The Courier. Not really knowing what the job entails when he first begins, Lincoln soon learns that his computer-savyness will be put to use in reading any and all emails that get passed through the newspaper's system in case of any "inappropriate" comments and flagging them. While Lincoln attends to his "job" he stumbles upon an exchange of email messages between two women, Beth and Jennifer, who write for the paper. Finding it hard to pry away from merely skimming over their dialogue, Lincoln becomes captivated by these ladies stories, and in particular- Beth.

book review

Half Bad Review

Sunday, September 21, 2014

School has started and has begun sucking away at everything, but I am serious about it not taking time away from reading. So, Friday when I finished Half Bad by Sally Green (and loved it) I was so enthusiastic about sharing my thoughts on here, but didn't have time till today! Alas, not only is school in full-gear but it's also football season; and although, football isn't my "thing," it is a big part of college life and what my friends do, needless to say every weekend is jam-packed. I know, what a struggle! But in reality, everyday just flies by next to the other with a list of things to do that either gets checked off or doesn't, and in that case I need to work twice as hard to make up for it. Enough of all this chit-chat though, and on to the book!

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I feel as though a couple months ago there was a lot of hype surrounding Half Bad, I remember several Booktubers reviewing it and putting it on their TBR piles. And like usual, the more hype there is around things, the more I tend to veer away a bit so that I don't let all those outside opinions affect my feelings (also, because if I really end up loving a certain book, I don't have to wait in agony for the next one- smart I know). I'm so happy that that is what ended up happening with this book because I really did enjoy it so much! This book will be part of a trilogy, the Half Life trilogy, with the second expansion, Half Wild coming out March 2015. That means it's pretty close time wise for its release and I don't have to be waiting around for too long *does happy dance*

book review

The House on Mango Street Review

Friday, September 12, 2014

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I feel like September is going by so quickly, we're already in the second week! Before we know it, October will be here, and so I have to make the most out of time and read ;) For my literature class this semester I had to pick up The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, and although I've read it before in the past I was excited to re-read it once more and really give my opinions and thoughts on it. I'm sure the majority of people have heard of this book or probably been required to read it during middle or high school; I know I read it once in middle school and then picked it up once more for a previous class a couple of semesters ago. Finishing it this time around, I can say that this very small book has become a classic in my bookshelf and something that I can just easily pick up when I'm feeling nostalgic or want to connect to flashbacks of a similar life that Esperanza went through. I have to say that I really enjoyed this book primarily because I can relate immsenly to the various stories presented.

Before I get ahead of myself, if you have no idea what this book is about then let me give a brief synopsis. The House on Mango Street is a compilation of numerous vignettes that follow a young girl named, Esperanza Cordero, of Mexican-American (Chicano) descent who moves into a house on Mango Street* with her entire family.  Her neighborhood is primarily inhabited by other Latino's whose descriptions are vibrant and full of life, but exude dark undertones that seem to linger in the background of their everyday lives. Esperanza's neighborhood is one that is described where old tenants are moving out with the influx of Hispanic families moving in and one where passerby's roll up their windows and lock their doors. Looking from the inside out, many assumptions are made in regards to the characters appearance and demeanor, primarily based off of their culture and language, but hearing Esperanza's narration of her neighbors and friends demonstrates to readers how much struggle and heartache these people go through to get by.

book review

Sweet Evil Review

Monday, September 01, 2014

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So I know I said in my previous post I was going to continue reading the Losing It trilogy by Cora Carmack, and I did start by picking up the second book, Faking It, but I just couldn't. I'm not sure if the New Adult genre is for me. I felt like I was reading the same thing over and over again as I turned the pages and it was extremely predictable. I just couldn't, so it was on to the next one. After that I was in a little bit of a reading slump so I decided I needed a paranormal, fluffy read and I managed to check out the eBook of Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins through my library's online service.

Now, I know a lot of people have given this book high ratings so I was a bit excited to start, but finishing it I kinda felt eh towards it. The main protagonist is Anna who is a half-angel/half-demon-something that is completely rare and has only happened one other time apparently. She's been raised by her adoptive mother, Patti, her entire life who loves her unconditionally. But as Anna goes through her childhood and adolescence she develops Niphilim qualities that include extensive eye vision, sensitive human touch and the ability to see people's "aura" indicating what they're feeling at the moment. She meets Kaidan, a Niphilim, whose father is the Demon of Lust. These Niphilim children have to essentially "work" for their fathers, each who control a different sin, by persuading humans to stray away from taking good decisions. Anna is different though and an all around "good-girl," delving deeper into her past and ancestry gives her more questions than answers as she might prove to have a bigger purpose than thought.

*WARNING: Spoilers ahead, if you have not read the book do not read on!


book review

Losing It Review

Friday, August 22, 2014

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Hello again! I have again been in hiding from here as I've been moving into my new apartment and getting reacquainted with college life. I can't believe how fast time flew by from the time I first began this blog. On Monday I will have officially started my senior year, and I can't quite tell if I'm excited to hurry up and get this whole graduating thing going or if the anxiousness and fear of what's supposed to come is keeping me at bay to slow things down and enjoy it a bit more. Currently, I'm leaning more towards completing everything and starting with another stage of my life!

But besides all that young adult drama, I have finished another book that fits, coincidentally, in a very appropriate genre- New Adult. I didn't plan that one out, I just sort of searched something that was on my to-read list off of Goodreads and hoped it would come out on my library's search engine as an ebook. And sure enough Losing It by Cora Cormack did. If you're still lost on the New Adult aspect like I was then let me clarify. This genre centers on the gap between Young Adult and Adult fiction, dealing with I want to say 20-year-olds would be going through- such as graduating university, finding jobs, moving away from home, going through friendships and dealing with those various or one-time relationships that get to you when you're just trying to figure things out. And that's pretty much all Losing It deals with.

book review

The Queen of the Tearling Review

Wednesday, August 06, 2014


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I have been gone for a while on here but if we're friends on Goodreads then you know I've been keeping up with my reading! I have been reviewing on there, maybe not as descriptively, but still it counts. But I had to come on here and write about this lovely book I just finished- The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen.

I'm sure many have probably been hearing about this book and the hype around it, but I definitely think its lives up to it, especially since I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads. I checked this book out of my library around the end of July and it's just been sitting on my table. Occasionally I would glance at it, but still shied away from picking it up. The hype, the lengthy pages and the beautiful cover seemed intimidating and daunting to me. But as soon as I picked it up (yesterday afternoon), it was a done deal. I can't even seem to recollect flying by the pages as I did, but that just means that it was that good!

book review

Shiver Review

Friday, July 25, 2014

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Right, so just finished this book right here: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater. I'm sitting curled up with my blanket at almost 1AM still confused with how I feel about it. I gave it a 3/5 on Goodreads, because that's how much I was left lingering with questionable doubts and feelings. Let me start off by saying that I had high expectations for this book (like I mentioned in my Goodreads review). I mean it has a 3.80 rating and the majority of people I follow on Goodreads gave it 5 stars. So I'm thinking, "Ok, awesome. Werewolves + Paranormal= Right Up My Alley. But I didn't quite get that.

If you don't know what the book is about I'm going to copy and paste some of the short summary that I quickly wrote on Goodreads. Basically you have dual narrators, Sam and Grace. Sam is a werewolf who was bitten when he was ~7-years-old and since then can only switch back to his human self in the summer, as the hot temperature makes him more stable that way. During the rest of the year he's stuck in his wolf form, especially in winter, as the cold temperature makes the animal part of him more prominent. So, temperature regulates the transformation between being a human and wolf. Grace is just a regular 17-year-old who coincidentally was bit when she was very young as well by a pack of werewolves outside her house, but survives the event. She remembers Sam's yellow eyes ever since her near death encounter and for the next six years (up until she's 17) they have this weird romance thing going on, where she is constantly on the lookout and seemingly obsessed with "her" werewolf. Likewise, Sam lingers in the forest behind her house in his werewolf form looking after her all these years until one night when things begin to unfold and he finally approaches her in his human form.

*WARNING: Spoilers ahead, if you have not read the book do not read on!

book review

Ignite Me Review

Thursday, July 24, 2014

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Woah, what a whirlwind. I just finished the last book in Tahereh Mafi's Shatter Me trilogy (Ignite Me) and now I don't know what to do! It was nothing that I was expecting, honestly, but everything that I dreamed of for the final installment! It's sad to see this trilogy end but I'm so happy with how everything was written- I mean hello, I'm never not satisfied with Tahereh Mafi's writing- and how all the characters progressed- especially Juliette. So, with that being said I think this entire post for Ignite Me will be full of spoilers unfortunately. I just have too many feelings right now that I need to get off my chest and talk about. If you have not read the book, or any previous ones, then do not continue reading and just go to your nearest library or bookstore and get crackin' on this trilogy.

book review

Second Chance Summer Review

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11071466-second-chance-summer?ac=1

It may seem like all I've been reading is contemporary, but I promise it's not! I've actually gone through a contemporary-mystery (emphasis on the mystery), science-fiction and paranormal/supernatural books. I just haven't been up to instantly writing reviews on here like I was, but I will get better on that! I just couldn't go without writing a review on this book because I think everyone should go out and read it, be warned though that there will be crying and/or possibly tearing up (and when I say possibly, I mean most definitely). I saw this book on Goodreads and when I was at the library, I said "Why not?" I've been in the mood for contemporary and the title had summer involved, so it just seemed appropriate.

Although I had some sort of gist of what this was about beforehand it turned out to be completely different than what I thought. The main protagonist and narrator is Taylor, who's 17-years old. She's been going to the Poconos, and the Lake Phoenix area, every year since she was small considering her parents own a summer house there. From spending all summer at the pool, having slumber parties, or eating Skittles with her best friend Lucy, Taylor never thought anything was going to change. But the summer she's 12-years old, she meets Henry, whom she spends the days racing with, jumping in the lake and walking around the forest with. She makes a terrible mistake that summer, that she goes on to regret, never fully being able to forget the incidence from her mind- no matter how hard she tries. Ever since then Taylor never returned back to Lake Phoenix, but has spent every summer trying to stay busy and away from Lucy, Henry and the area she considered a second home. But when her family gets upsetting news about her father, they all decide to go back and try to spend the summer as it's always been before.

I can't really say anything further than that because I'll be giving things away, but I can say that if you haven't read this book, you need to! It broke my heart, made me cry, made me laugh, made me hug my family a little bit tighter, and made me realize that expressing what you feel is always important. I had tears spilling down my cheeks and chin at 2AM as I was finishing the book, and I haven't had a good tear like that since I read The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. The book has friendship, romance and deals with very realistic familial situations. I absolutely loved it- it had good vocabulary, was well-paced, connected you with every character, and won't let you forget about this family. I've heard that Morgan Matson has written other amazing books, so I guess you consider myself hooked. I will be trying to pick up anything else she's written and I'm definitely buying Second Chance Summer for my bookshelf. Let me know if you've read this or anything else by Morgan Matson! Were there also tears involved?
-Alex 

book review

It's Not Summer Without You Review

Friday, July 18, 2014


I've been reading a couple more books but I haven't been updating my reviews on here. Sorry about that! Sometimes it's easier to just write down my quick thoughts on Goodreads. Following up with my last post, I picked up the second book in the The Summer I Turned Pretty trilogy by Jenny Han- It's Not Summer Without You. Like I mentioned before, these books are really easy to read and you get caught up in the characters lives quickly. So picking up the second book was like catching up with everyone in Cousins Beach again. I missed Jenny Han's writing and some of the simple, but emotion-packed sentences.

Again, we have the same crew- Belly, Conrad, Jeremiah, and Steven- except things are definitely different from the first book. Everyone is growing up and moving on, yet their little tight-knit family remains as a strong buffer against tough times, always bringing them back together. Steven isn't in this book as much, but I guess you could see that coming from the first novel. So, this is basically centered around Belly, Conrad and Jeremiah. Although, we get both Belly and Jeremiah narrating, we never get Conrad, which I would really appreciate because that guy stresses me out.

And talking about stress, Belly just frustrated me all throughout the book until the very end. Again, I'm not sure if it's the age or transitioning through your teens (probably) but I just wanted her to listen up and pay attention to some of the things others were telling her. They're right, sometimes it's not all about you. Her fangirl "relationship" with Conrad is basically how I would sum that situation up- fangirl, because Belly hasn't changed from the first book in that aspect. Conrad is still her first, "true" love. I'm just sitting there reading and thinking "Team Jeremiah!" I mean, I hate doing the whole "teams" thing but I enjoy his character so much more. Even Belly who is the main narrator, I can't stand too much at times.

Either way I like this contemporary trilogy because it's full of carelessness, and what summer is all about- change, maturing, growing, learning new things about yourself and others. Oh, and maybe some fun? Well, definitely sand, water and sunshine. Once you pick up one of these books it's hard to put down, and believe me you can finish one in a couple hours. Jenny Han has a way of wrapping up nostalgia in these perfect little sentences and bringing you back to your childhood. I gave this a 4/5 on Goodreads and I'm curious to see what the third book brings!
-Alex

book review

The Summer I Turned Pretty Review

Monday, July 14, 2014

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I was in the mood for a quick, and short contemporary read so when I saw this book lying in my library pile I instantly picked it up. And it was exactly what I needed. This won't be a long review because I feel as thought everything I want to say isn't really necessary. The book is really short and fast-paced, so you could read it in a couple hours easily.

The Summer I Turned Pretty is about 16 year-old Belly, or Isabel, who has spent every summer since she was little at Cousins Beach with her mother, older brother and her "second family"- Susannah, Conrad and Jeremiah. Growing up with boys pulling pranks and teasing you isn't easy, but Belly has survived all these years. And this year, with her sixteenth birthday, everyone starts noticing the change that comes with the passing of time. Belly is growing into herself and the boys are all starting to go in different directions. But Cousins Beach has always been the thing bringing them all together, but with things rapidly unwinding it might prove harder to keep everything together.

I really enjoyed this book, I picked it up in the afternoon and finished it within a couple hours. So, you won't have a hard time reading this. Trust me. I gave the book a 4/5 on Goodreads because I  was frustrated with Belly more often than once. But I think that has to do a lot more with the age and everything that being in your late teens comes with; like being immature, easily confused or frustrated, lashing out, and being really egotistical. I'm not bashing her character because we all go through these things when we're young, so I connected with her in that sense, as I went through that and my 15 year-old sister is too currently.

Also, as you read some of what you discover later on in the book is predictable but I didn't mind that at all because I think Jenny Han meant to do that. Not everything is supposed to be inconspicuous and as I said when you're that age a lot of the things that occur around you, are believed to be tied to you somehow when not everything is about you. I want to continue reading the rest of the series and see how everything ends up. I really grew attached to all the characters and it reminded me of how summers are supposed to be spent- carefree, salt water on your skin and smooth dark skin perpetuated by being at the beach all day. Summer always feels so short-lived and that's why they bring the best memories sometimes.
-Alex

book review

A Million Suns Review

Sunday, July 13, 2014

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Well, another day passed means another book read. I finished reading A Million Suns yesterday and like I said in my Goodreads review I was left with mixed feelings. I thought it was a really sequel to Across the Universe but all the build-up and character building was still missing something for me. I really enjoyed all the social and psychological aspects that life on board the Godspeed brought, because as I was reading I could envision the same situations arising and causing a disturbance. But, I thought a lot of the plot line was focused in on that, that sometimes I forgot our two main protagonists were the main focus of the book as well. In regards to Amy and Elder, there relationship was expanded upon but for two people that are on the cover and are seen as being intimate or "close" they spend a lot of time away from each other.

It has been 3 months since the first book, but you still get a sense that they have seen and spent time with each other in learning more about leading the Godspeed but there's still an awkward tension around them. Even towards the end of the book, when their relationship changed a bit, I was left not fully convinced or satisfied. In addition to that, there were many things that were previously mentioned about the Godspeed and life on it that didn't add up for the ending. And the big secret that we discover in this second novel, kept getting pushed back further and further until I found myself just getting over all the minor issues in the storyline to finally see what the big deal is all about. And once I did get to that part, I was left in hmmmm'ing and still not fully convinced once again.

I'm not sure if I'm the only one with these small issues, or if I'm being too technical and judgmental. But hey, I'm juts being honest. I still enjoy this series a lot and I will be finishing the last book to see how everything ends off. I'm disappointed only because I thought I was going to enjoy it so much more and be on the edge of my seat as I read every page, but I wasn't all that much. All the science fiction involved was spot on and that is my favorite thing about this series- I completely get sucked in to the world that was built and can definitely imagine everything inside my head. I gave A Million Suns a 4/5 on Goodreads and I'll be anticipating what happens in the last book with Amy, Elder and the frozens.
-Alex

book survey

I Challenge Thee

Friday, July 11, 2014

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I decided to make a non-review post today because above is what I've been doing lately. And I'm not one bit ashamed because I've still been waking up, eating, showering...the essentials. I promise I've been normal and done the extra things outside of normal human functions but I've been super intent on getting to read as much as I can. I'm not sure if anyone else out there is a college student but it's so hard for me to leisurely read like this during any other time. Mostly because I don't have the convenience of going to various libraries like I do at home while I'm away from school, so having all these books at my grasp is like being on cloud nine for me. And there's nothing more than I cherish and appreciate than a library. Seriously. When people say they're bored or don't know what to do, I just look at them dumbfounded because there are worlds and story plots out there waiting for you to lose yourself in.

Alright, end rant. Back on subject. I just finished reading the first two books in the Under the Never Sky trilogy and although I usually do a review as soon as I finish a book, I think for this one I'm going to hold out till I finish the last one (Into the Still Blue is waiting on a library shelf for me). So, look out for that.

Also, I think I will be participating in the Booktube-A-Thon! I'm excited because I love challenges and I love reading- don't need to ask me more.

The Reading Challenges:
A book with pictures.
Start and finish a series.
A book with red on the cover.
A book someone else picks out for you.
A book from the genre you've read the least this year.
A book to movie adaptation
Read seven books.

I'm going to try really hard to keep up with the challenges and hopefully finish seven books! If you don't know or want more information, then you should click here to get redirected to the YouTube video that explains everything. Woo hoo, for Booktubers and the magic of YouTube! There are video challenges that go with it but I'm not sure if I will have time to film and upload. Hopefully by the end of this week I will have a rough idea of what books I'll be reading. Time for another library visit muhaha!

Let me know if you're planning on doing the Booktube-A-Thon and what you're planning on reading! And if we aren't friends on Goodreads yet, then add me here!
-Alex

book review

Across the Universe Review

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

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Maybe I wasn't quite ready to jump into Contemporary because with the novel I just finished, it was far from the last one I just read. But weirdly enough I'm really happy about this drastic change, because there is nothing more that I enjoy than aliens and science-fiction; and not just mildly, but some real knitty-gritty science that gets you asking questions and thinking about all the "what-ifs."

Right, so on to the story...I would describe this novel as a dystopian heavily intermingled with science-fiction. It's narrated and switches back and forth between two main protagonists- Amy and Elder. We learn that America teams up with a multinational alliance, the Financial Resource Exchange, for profit. Hopefully by sending a huge ship into another habitable planet, referred to as Centauri-Earth, a new population of people from Earth will be able to create new crops, send vaccines and ultimately inhabit a whole new life force. This is where 17-year old Amy comes in, along with her mother and father, they all decide to be cryogenically frozen aboard this ship (the Godspeed). Both her parents possess scholastic and military abilities that are to be essential on the new planet; her father a military leader and her mother an expert in gene splicing. Amy is what is referred to as "nonessential," she's not technically vital to the entire operation but was an exception to come on board because of her family. The last thing Amy remembers before going under the frozen concoction sprayed upon her is that all she has to wait is 301 years before they get to their destination and be reunited with her family.

Elder is the other protagonist we meet, who is the same age as Amy but in a completely different situation. Unlike Amy, he is completely important to the entire populace on board the Godspeed, as he's next in line to take "rule" and lead the entire ship. That is, as soon as the Eldest, the current leader and highest "title" you can possess on the ship, passes on all his knowledge and information to Elder to be able to rule. But things aren't shaping up as Elder thought and he finds himself wanting more answers to hurry his process along. With Amy being accidentally unplugged from her frozen tank, things take a turn that no one expected and both begin to question everything around them.

I gave the book a 4.5/5 on Goodreads because I loved the entire worldbuilding and setup of the Godspeed and how everything worked on board. It kind of reminded me of the show called The 100 on the CW, not sure if anyone has seen it. It's the same gist except those on the Godspeed are not returning to Earth. Which brings me to some spoilers, so if you have not read the book then do NOT keep reading, but do make sure to check out the actual book because I promise you will not be dissapointed!

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Now, speaking of not returning to Earth, that's something I began to question as I was finishing. I know Amy mentioned in once how she imagined to New York to be completely different than the city she left behind, but how different? Is Earth still the same as our modern-day one, the one Amy left behind? Or is it more technologically advanced? And how has no one contacted the ship? Or why?

Before I figured everything out about the Plague I thought that was the reason why the ship and everyone on board had no reason with Earth because the disease had been so bad that perhaps it caused miscommunications with the home planet. But after discovering the truth, that part still didn't quite add up. I understand the riots and people uprising but wouldn't that be more of a reason to get in contact with those who brought them there (the FDX?) and tell them about their dilemma? If I'm wrong and missed something, don't hesitate to tell me!

About the whole Amy and Elder thing- I was expecting so much more emotion and feels but it didn't live up to it. I mean glancing at the book cover I thought something good is going to happen between these two, but it didn't; at least now what I was hoping for. I understand Elder's entire infatuation with Amy and her hair and Sol-Earth, but even after she was unfrozen they didn't seem to spend that much time together. If anything I thought that Harley was going to one up Elder on that situation and because closer with Amy, which kind of happened but not on that romance level. Even the towards the end when everything began to unravel fast, I saw more of that spark and instant attraction between Amy and Elder but it was already towards the finale that I just couldn't see a concrete relationship between the two. But I was SO happy when Elder told Amy the truth because I highly dislike when books end like that- with lies. It just complicates everything further and it becomes predictable; it collapses everything that was built upon in the first book so that the second book is somewhat of a letdown and about re-establishing trust all over again. You know the usual second book trauma. Yet, those missing wires from the pump in Elder's pocket still haunt me. I know something's going to happen with those!

I'm just saying I want more believability between Amy and Elder's relationship. Oh, and the whole C (I don't want to write this out incase anyone manages to skim through here and gets spoiled) with Elder and Eldest. Holy moly, complete plot twist for me. I did not see that coming, honestly! But thinking about it now, I should have...I want to read the second book in the series because I've read that a lot more questions are answered...and I want them! But we'll see if any of the libraries around me have it available. Did anyone else have the same questions as me or really enjoy the book as well?! Let me know!

-Alex

book review

Lola and the Boy Next Door Review

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

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I managed to grab this little book right here at the library and I'm so happy I did! I got to continue Anna and the French Kiss with Lola and the Boy Next Door, both books which left me hopeful for true love (woah) and giddy with new future adventures. But I have to say that I didn't love this as much as I did Anna and the French Kiss. So, I stuck with a 4/5 on Goodreads. Why you may ask?! Well, mostly because the storyline kept pausing too much. I found myself not fully immersed in Cricket and Lola as much as I was with St. Claire and Anna; when I read their story I was 100% invested, and when I finished I went through a little bit of a book breakup. But as I was finishing Lola and the Boy Next Door I closed it with a resolute end, I loved the last line and Lola's "big entrance," but it didn't leave me wanting more. On to what the book is about though:

Lola and the Boy Next Door takes place in San Francisco, CA where Lola lives with her two dads, her mother a junkie/alcoholic has been in and out of her life since she was adopted from a very young age. Norah, as she refers to her wasn't able to take care of her and provide her the affection and time a mother should, so Norah's brother (Lola's uncle) took her in along with his husband. Lola is vivacious and full of energy, she wears these elaborate and glittery costumes with colorful wigs that make up her personality and character. The book begins with her and her family having Sunday brunch with her much older (22) boyfriend, Max, who is in a rock band and supposed to be off-limits, as Lola is only 18 years old. With the tattoos and the nonchalant attitude, Lola's parents aren't too thrilled about the whole arrangement thus they take a very involved and strict approach on her relationship with Max- requiring hourly phone check-ins and mandatory Sunday brunch to keep them in line. But when Lola's next door neighbors move back in after two years, Cricket and Calliope, her feelings are called into question and emotions resurface that she thought she had buried for the boy next door. And the rest is up to you to read!

Like I said, this story didn't exactly tug at my heart strings as fondly as Anna and the French Kiss did. Mostly because although there were very interesting and complex topics brought into light in this novel, a lot of Lola and Cricket's actions made me annoyed. I thought the plot kinda stopped and started a bit too much and stalled when I knew what was coming. Instead of keeping a momentum for me, the novel took it away at times when I needed it to keep going so I could fall more in love with the characters. And I noticed the spin that Stephanie Perkins did on this- she took what she had in the first book and did the opposite with Lola. If you've read this then maybe you can put this together...! I can't wait for the third companion, Isla and the Happily Ever After, to come out in August. If it's anything like the first two books, I know I will fall madly in love with it- hopefully just as much as the first, eek don't kill me! If you've read any of Stephanie Perkins books and fell for her characters, let me know and we can fangirl over them :)
-Alex

book review

The Archived Review

Monday, July 07, 2014

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I told you I was back and I'm back with a vengeance to read more than I have ever read before. Well, I mean as much as I can because I don't want to get a book hangover and become stalled. I have finished another amazing novel, The Archived by Victoria Schwab, and if you have been hesitant about picking this up or haven't yet, I highly recommend you do!

If you haven't noticed by now, I'm a huge fantasy/supernatural junkie. I love books that transport me to other worlds, ones that somehow overlap with the one we live in or ones that are completely new on their own. The Archived does the first- it reminds me of a Venn Diagram, where on one side you have our "normal" day-to-day kind of world and on the other you have the realm of the Archive. In the middle there are the commonalities between the two, death, and whatever may come with that. Schwab takes a really distinct concept on the afterlife and how it functions; basically there is a realm (^ The Archive) and in it the dead are "categorized" in a sort-of intricate, and vast library. Those who have passed are referred to as Histories and are seen more as a file representation of someone; I thought of it as a file cabinet that you open and see the tabs sticking out, with each one being a person and having a name. Every person that dies, to put it bluntly, passes on to this "filing system" where their entire life existence is kept (their memories) and a ghostly persona that looks as thought they exist within this other body, but in reality is nothing to what the person was like when they were flesh and bone.

This is where the main female protagonist comes in, Mackenzie Bishop, who we found out is a Keeper. She is among the rare and secretive guardians of the Archive who return the Histories if they are disturbed and "jump" out of their files. She holds the power and ability to return them back to that state of rest and keep them from causing trouble in that realm and the Outer world, meaning our ordinary life. Having been taught from a young age by her grandfather, Mackenzie is highly trained when it comes to Histories. Not only that but she's extremely passionate and dedicated to this life mission that has not only been entrusted to her, but chosen by her, going to whatever costs to keep her secret from her family and friends but also protecting her world and the Archive from Histories gone astray.

Now, I had no idea what I was really getting myself into (once again) when I started this book. I actually had a bit of a difficult time in the beginning because there is a shift between the present and the past, the past still being narrated by Mackenzie but tied in dialogue with her grandfather. Also, there is a lot that Schwab wants you to understand before you really get into the book- or at least that's what I picked up on. You really get a vast amount of details on the other magical world that exists full of eerie ghostly creatures looking for comfort and peace. There is a delicate system that Schwab creates in the Archive and you really need to get a sense of what that is and how it connects with Mackenzie to get a good feel for everything. So, although it was a bit tedious for me in the beginning I'm glad I got through it!

It's interesting that in the Acknowledgments Schwab mentions Neil Gaiman and thanking him because I completely saw some sort of resemblance between The Archived and The Ocean at the End of the Lane, or I guess more so in their writing styles and the supernatural worlds they create. As I finished reading the novel I kept asking myself questions about life, death and that childhood innocence that we all somehow lose or try to grasp on to as we grow up. I also appreciated that Mackenzie's character was not only physically strong and could hold her own, but that she had a sense of sadness and grief to her; something that is so real and concurring in many people's lives. It made me think that sadness is not really something to work through, but sometimes something that you carry with and gradually release over time, until the weight is not as strong and the pull not as tight.

Hopefully I can start the second novel soon, but I might have to hold off on it for a bit because I'm in the mood for a lighter read, perhaps contemporary? I really hope there's more of Wes and Mackenzie in the second novel though, for those of you have read it ;) Happy reading!
-Alex

book review

Throne of Glass Review

Sunday, July 06, 2014

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Feels like it's been a while since I last wrote on here, but I have been reading, it's just I've been starting and stopping certain books. So, I can't discuss them if I don't finish them! I've been busy packing my things since I'm in the middle of a move, but I'm on a mini-break once again and finally finished one amazing book- Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas.

I actually learned about this novel through Goodreads and a Booktuber and when I saw it at the library I picked it up. Which thinking back now, I should have picked up the second novel while I was at it. I started this book yesterday and stayed up till 2AM reading, until just now when I put it down...and I loved it! It had everything I was looking for to get right back into reading, which was lots of fantasy, adventure, action, and a whole lot of witty remarks from the lead female character.

Now, if you don't know but want to know what Throne of Glass is about then keep on reading. The main character, Celaena Sardothien, is a skillful and dangerous assassin, referred to as "Adarlan's Assassin;" many know of her but what they don't know is that she's only an 18-year old girl trained from a very young age to kill. The story begins with her in a sort of slave camp in a region called, Endovier, where she's worked in the salt mines for a year now, broken down day by day through whippings and grueling work. One day instead of being whisked away to the mines she's taken by the Captain of the Guard, Chaol, to see the Crown Prince where he gives her a proposition- participate in a competition to be his father's (King Adarlan) champion where she will earn her freedom after four years of servitude or continue being enslaved in Endovier. The only catch being that she will have to compete with 22 other assassins and trained soldiers, undergoing "tests" until the final two are left to fight for the coveted prize of "champion." Jumping at the chance to secure her freedom, Celaena takes Prince Dorian's offer and travels to the castle, one made entirely of glass, where her trial will soon begin.

The world that Maas creates is full of details and life, so readers truly get a sense of what life at the castle is like and how it's laid out. You learn early on that magic has been completely exiled by King Adarlan and that he has personally defeated all other royalty and governing territories around him to claim whatever area he can as belonging to him and his family only. Magic and sorcery existed when the world of Erilea first came to be, dominated by fairies called Fae, but since King Adarlan came to rule all magical creatures and sources of power have fled into the woods or disappeared. With the king's reigning over most of Erilea, books, museums, priestesses, and basically anyone or anything relating to magic has been killed, destroyed or imprisoned in slave camps to wipe out any possible source or outlet to this mysticism.

Celaena soon learns that the competition she agrees to isn't going to be as easy as she initially thought, especially since other competitors mysteriously begin showing up dead in horrible ways throughout the castle days before a test is given out. As you continue reading you learn more about Celaena's upbringing into her "career" as an assassin, her treatment in the slave camp and potential magic lurking in the castle walls. I loved that I really became so immersed in Erilea and Celaena's character; Maas gives readers extensive story lines and background information (but not too much!) to go with the story and really grasp what this world is all about. I got a little lost sometimes in the beginning history with the Fae and the first queen and king of Erilea but after a while you get the gist of it all.

I won't be writing any spoilers or going too much into detail as I really thought it was a great read. The plot was simple and to the point, but you really fell for the characters, especially Celaena. I would describe this as a hyrbid of Hunger Games and Game of Thrones, sounds weird, but I saw the connections in my head as I was reading. I'm planning on going to the library tomorrow to get my hands on the second book (don't worry I won't finish this series quickly, as it's part of a 6 book series). If you're in the mood for some great fantasy I would recommend this! 

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*I also came across Sarah J. Maas' website that her publisher will be holding a Throne of Glass readalong this summer from July 14-August 11. So if you're thinking about getting into this series, then now's the time! I've already started the first book so I'm on to Crown of Midnight next. If you've read any of the books or want to begin, let me know! I gave Throne of Glass a 4.5/5 on Goodreads.

-Alex

book review

The Ocean at the End of the Lane Review

Sunday, June 22, 2014

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I've heard the name Neil Gaiman a lot over the past year or so and I had no idea what he wrote or what kind of author he was. All I pretty much knew was that he was the one that had written Stardust. And that's not saying much because I've only seen the movie, not read the book. But the movie was alright, I enjoyed it because of it's magical elements, so I set out this summer to read one of Gaiman's novels (including one of his graphic novels). Miraculously, in my university's library I found The Ocean at the End of the Lane and managed to snatch it before anyone else. I had previously seen the book at Target but it was $12, and for an about 170 page book I could not bring myself to buy it at the moment, especially because like I already mentioned I had no idea what Gaiman's literary style was and if I was going to like it or not.

But let me tell you, I was completely blown away with The Ocean at the End of the Lane. It is completely worth the buy. I would definitely recommend having it on your bookshelf, as it's that type of novel that completely absorbs you and teleports you to this strange and mystical older world, a place that seems familiar in dreams and in childhood. I saw Gaiman's Google Talk on Youtube where he read an excerpt from the novel and discussed it. In the video he mentioned how the novel as a whole was not intended to be autobiographical except for the seven-year old boy's persona that was very resonant of a young Gaiman and his personality, the rest was storytelling and make-believe. It's interesting also on that note, that throughout the story we get the names of all the main characters except for the small boy, who is the main protagonist. I'm not sure if this was intentionally done, but looking back it makes sense for him to be nameless as Gaiman said he connected with him more personally.

If you have no clue what the novel is about (like I did) then let me go ahead and explain. The story takes place in Sussex, England in a remote village where a small, seven year-old boy lives. His family is initially described as being moderately well-off but then his parents unfortunately face a financial struggle, where the whole family is forced to sacrifice their old lifestyle to pay the bills. The little boys is forced to give up his room at the top of the stairs in order for it to be rented and move in with his sister. He's described as having no friends, except his kitty, and being an introvert; one of my favorite quotes in the book by him is, "Books were safer than other people anyway." He keeps to himself and spends all his time getting lost in the pages of his adventure or mystery books, while exploring the lands outside his doorstep. Various people come and go from his room, but the arrival of a South African man is one that changes everything. From there on, I can't reveal much except that you get magic and mysticism- and not necessarily the Harry Potter kind but the old-fashioned one. It's borderline mythological, reminding me of stories that adults tell one another and are then passed down to the children. And the best part is, that it's very much adult-based, as several scenes are a bit graphic and almost frightening. It's a goosebumps kind-of tale that will probably remain in your head for a long time.

I would highly recommend picking this up and reading it, I'm upset that I didn't get it sooner. This was the type of book that I love having on my bookshelf and would not be upset to spend money on. I finished it in a day, because it is a short read, but it left me with so many questions! I don't want to give anything away so if you haven't read the book, do NOT read on.
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My biggest question now as I'm writing this review is the fact that we never find out the little boy's name. Why is that? I think perhaps that because Gaiman said he was pretty much writing him from the perspective of himself as a young boy, he didn't necessarily need a name. He's almost directly connected to Gaiman, hence we can imagine that to be him, but not quite. For a seven year-old boy, he was pretty smart and I loved that he loved books; his nose was always stuck in the pages of books and he went along with that magical other world that the Hempstock's were a part of without questioning too much. It's easy to go along with things when you're a child, as he keeps pointing out, because children are so much more carefree and full of imagination. I miss that sometimes because you grow up and become full of responsibilities, stress and worriment- and you can't go back, but you can always try to remain as childish as you can.

I loved this book (if I haven't said that already) and if you have read it, let me know what you thought or maybe some of your favorite quotes! I got a few written down. If you haven't read it, then make sure to go and pick it up, I promise you will not regret it!
-Alex


book review

The Girl of Fire and Thorns Review

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

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It's so refreshing to switch to a different genre (well, sort of, because it's still YA) and get lost in a whole new world *cue Aladdin song*
...and with that I'm here to write about The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson.

I picked this book out because I saw some other readers I follow on Goodreads rate and review it, and I thought "Why not?" It's got all the themes I love, well honestly I only knew it was fantasy-related and probably edging somewhere near The Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones but for YA. And I was right! I thought this was a great, light read that had a really strong and empowering female protagonist- which come on, all the themes I love again.

With that, I'll introduce Lucero-Elisa who is the second (and therefore youngest) daughter of King Orovalle. She's described in the beginning chapters as a stout young woman, just turning 16 on the very day of her marriage to King Alejandro de Vega. All her life she's seen herself as being insufficient and lowly to her older sister, Juana-Alodia, who is the opposite image of her; having a slim figure, high cheekbones and a charming personality Elisa sees everything in her sister that she is not and doesn't foresee herself to be. But what makes Elisa special is a unique blue stone that's embedded to her at birth; referred to as a Godstone, this divine gift is believed to be sent from God to a chosen human to mark them as a special bearer- someone who will prove to be most powerful. But Elisa feels anything but that, as her life's consolation has plainly been to "eat her feelings" alongside her strict devotion to religious texts.

Being married offers her no further support as she doesn't know why she's been matched with King Alejandro and whisked away so quickly from her home. Elisa's low expectations of herself and the Godly power that lies within her make her an unlikely heroine, but then again that's how all great stories start! The Girl of Fire and Thornes is exactly what the title says it is, it's a story following a young woman that is learning to grow into herself and make the decisions that transition you from an adolescent to an adult, with a few mishaps along the way. With so many expecting nothing out of her, or anything highly, Elisa transforms right before your eyes and takes you with her all across the country- through hot, sweltering deserts and steep, rough mountains. Oh, and don't forget to add in all the fantasy elements of this mysterious Godstone and the creatures you encounter later on. Guess you'll have to read to found out...and now on to my thoughts, meaning spoilers so do NOT read on if you have not read the book yet!
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The book I ordered off Amazon came with "extras" at the end of the story, including an interview with Rae Carson and a short excerpt that Carson wrote herself on misogyny in the workforce. I loved that I got to read it because it offered a lot more insight into how Carson wanted to form Elisa's character and how she wanted readers to perceive her; not as just some plump princess who miraculously loses weight and then gets admired for it at the end. On the contrary, quoting directly from Carson's short passage Weighing In On Weight, she said "A woman has a right to have and enjoy whatever body her choices of circumstances give her...So, to my fellow women I make this resolution: I will commit to seeing beyond your breasts or fat or beauty to the essence of who you are. And I will vociferously defend your right to have your accomplishments acknowledged and lauded- no matter what you look like."

That is what I got out of Elisa and the whole essence of The Girl of Fire and Thorns. I didn't really understand why the author chose to make a princess a bit on the heavier side when I first began reading, but I honestly didn't care and applauded it even when I didn't know the change that was coming. Even though Elisa was seen and even publicly called "fat" at one point, she was so smart and kindhearted that those who looked beyond her outer appearance could really admire her true persona. And even when Elisa loses the weight, those who loved and appreciated her from the beginning (or not quite, aka Cosme) still remained by her side because of her admirable qualities.

Apart from this empowering image of a princess, I liked the incorporation of religion. I think it's definitely different to incorporate so much it in a YA book, but like Carson said, "It seemed to me that deciding what one believes about religion in the face of so many conflicting messages is a much more important part of the coming-of-age experience than is necessarily represented in current teen lit." Even now as I'm getting to turn 23, I still have questions about what I do or don't believe in my religious doctrines. I had them when I was 15 and they never really went away, just grew in terms of being more aware of my surroundings and all the major "worldly" questions; moving away from home for college also didn't help, but made this awkward gap in my religious circle. And this isn't just me, I find that all my other friends and colleagues have gone or are going through the same thing- there's this questioning and a search for this higher power to seek for comfort even with the confusion by everything that's going on around us. So, Elisa trying to discover these things for herself but still holding true to her faith connected with me.

I'm sure these "spoilers" are more like analyzes of the novel, but hey, this girl right here appreciates critical thinking and thank goodness for writing as a medium to get it out of her system. Anyways, enough of my rambling. If any of you have read The Girl of Fire and Thorns or any of these extras by Rae Carson, let me know and maybe if you're feeling up to it discuss with me! I gave the book a 4/5 on Goodreads, as I felt that the ending was a bit rushed and tied up rather well. I mean I got the gist of the Godstone, sure there are questions, but now what? The Invierne seem to be fought off for the moment, so what other imminent threat is out there for Elisa? Also, can we talk about Humberto for a minute? (Humberto's post-death I also thought was a bit rushed and not really given enough thought to) Who is going to be Elisa's true love now?! I guess I'll have to continue on to the second book in the trilogy, The Crown of Embers, to find out.

-Alex


book review

Anna the French Kiss Review

Thursday, June 12, 2014

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Woah. I have to contain myself right now because I just finished reading the best summer read by far. I'm sure a lot of you have heard of this by or now or read it yourselves, but I am so happy I saved it until I was on vacation- where I have time to keep daydreaming about Paris, and escaping to a whole new foreign city. Right, back to the book. If you don't have Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins in your to-read pile, do it now, ASAP. I'm still sighing over it. It's that good!

To give you a little run down, the story centers on Anna, the main character who is whisked away to Paris, France to attend her senior year in high school abroad. Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, Anna is very relucatant to go away and is ultimately forced by her father- a cheesy, Southern contemporary writer. Leaving behind her mom, her best friend, Bridget, her little brother, Sean, and her crush, Toph, her expectations for Paris seem grim. But as we all learn in high school, ultimately you get something out of it, eventually moving out of the nest and growing up. And that's exactly what happens to Anna in the City of Lights...that and so much more! To learn more about her year abroad and that French kiss mentioned in the title, you would have to pick up the book. Also, there's a really charismatic and handsome boy in the novel, nicknamed St. Claire, and he's another reason why you will fall for this story. Trust me.

Now, if you don't want spoilers do NOT continue reading but if you do or have read the book, then keep reading to see why my heart melted in all the right places and why I'm so bummed I'm not traveling anywhere this summer.
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Let's start with the beginning, because that's what instantly hooked me in. Everything Perkins wrote about what Anna knew about Paris and what to expect was spot on. Basically those are the same exact things I know too- "Madeline and Amelie and Moulin Rouge. The Eiffel tower and the Arc de Triomphe..." And as you get to see later on in the novel, all those "touristy" places are also the ones where you get to see the beauty of Paris-what people travel so many miles to look at and marvel. I loved that Anna and St. Claire's special place became the Notre Dame, because even though I've never seen it in person, Perkin's description of them being there and looking up at it, made me want to be there ten million times more.

The cliche storyline has always been to travel across seas and finally meet the person of your dreams, and even though that's what this book entailed, I absolutely loved it. The location of the book just added more of a fantastical feel to it, yes definitely more romantic but also adventurous. Because coming from what's considered the South of America too, it would definitely be a complete change moving to France- especially with the language. I could sympathesize with Anna on being a bit intimidated by learning French, as I'm horrible with learning new languages (taking French I for a semester was enough for me). But when you're young and capable everything seems a bit easier and capable tough to tackle. So even though I only know one other person in "real life" who's had this whole traveling abroad and falling in love thing happen to them, I do believe it's out there and can happen.

Anna and St. Claire's relationship seemed entirely relateable to me and my group of friends- even if we are in our early 20's. And I'm sure it might even relate to people older than that. I liked that they began as friends as first and that throughout the entire story they were each others best friend, because in a relationship you should be each others best friend. That person to lean your head on, know what you're thinking and how you're feeling. At the end of the day, they can be that effortless conversation to have and not think about what to say.

Even though the end was left with Anna and her friend's moving away from each other and going to different universities, it left me satisfied. Because that's what happens when you grow up; moving away but still keeping in contact with good friends is inevitable. And the fact that Anna and St. Claire were left together to be in the same state- yeah, I was absolutely crushed at that point- in a good way!

If you've read this book or any other Stephanie Perkins novels let me know. I'm thinking about picking up Lola and the Boy Next Door! I think everyone needs more books like this in their life and once in a while be able to get lost in another romance. I gave Anna and the French Kiss 5/5 on Goodreads and I think I will definitely be re-reading it sometime later this year!

-Alex 


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