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Sunday, August 31, 2014

What I'm Excited for in September!

This is my monthly list of everything I'm waiting for (movies and books) in next month - September!

I probably won't be able to read any of these books right away because I've vowed to finish all of my R&R books before all other books (weeeeeell most of them anyway).  So that means no library :(  But never fear!  With no other books to read, I'll whiz through them all in a couple weeks!  IF I can fix my kindle.  Yeah... it's broken now.  Sad right?  For now I'll read with the kindle app and on my computer but it'll be slower going without my kindle.  Aaaaanyway, here's the list!

For Elise by Sarah M. Eden
Release Date: September 1st
I was scrolling through Amazon's coming soon list and I saw this book!  The cover looked interesting so I read the plot and now I can't wait to read the whole book!

Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas
Release Date: September 2nd
OH. MY. GOODNESS.  I've read some reviews by people who received an ARC and let me just say I am BEYOND excited.  I'll probably break my rule about the R&R's for this book.

The Jewel by Amy Ewing
Release Date: September 2nd
Amazon  Goodreads  Book Depository  Barnes and Noble
I've seen quite a few ARC reviews for this one around the blogophere and it looks pretty good!

Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini
Release Date: September 2nd
Amazon  Goodreads  Book Depository  Barnes and Noble
I've read Josephine Angelini's other series (Starcrossed) and loved it so I can't wait to read this new series!

The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black
Release Date: September 9th
I'm 3 books into The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare and so far it's been... interesting.  So I'm curious to see how she and Holly Black work together.

The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey
Release Date: September 16th
Okay yes I haven't read The 5th Wave yet but I've heard it's really good so I thought I'd just read the two books that have been released one right after the other!

Echoes of Us by Kat Zhang
Release Date: September 16th
Amazon  Goodreads  Book Depository  Barnes and Noble
I've read the first two books in this series and they were pretty good!  At the very least I have to know how it all ends.

The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O'Brien
Release Date: September 16th
Amazon  Goodreads  Book Depository  Barnes and Noble
I just saw this one while I was browsing through the GR giveaways and it looked really good!

The Maze Runner Movie
Release Date: September 19th
I loved this book so I can't wait to see what they do with the movie.  From the trailers, it looks pretty dang good!

That's all for September!  What can't you wait for in September?

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Stacking the Shelves (6) and A Week in Review

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly event hosted by Tynga's Reviews.  It features books you've recently added to your shelves, be it from the library, bookstore, or ebooks.

No new books from the library but I did receive the last few R&R books (no new ones until November 15th)!  Here they are:

Dragonfly by Charles A. Cornell
I received this for review from a group on GR.  My review will be live on GR on September 5th and I'll put it up here when I have an opening!

Our Souls to Keep by Gary Caruso
I've reviewed The Dark Side of Truth (also by Gary Caruso) and he contacted me offering this book!  I've also reviewed the prequel (The Promised Land).

The Leopard Vanguard by T.A. Uner
I recieved this from the author, T.A. Uner in exchange for an honest review.  Expect a review within the next 2-3 months!

What have you added to your shelves?

See what's been going on this week!

Sunday: Review of City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare
Monday: Review of Paper Towns by John Green
Tuesday: R&R Review of The Reflections of Queen Snow White by David Meredith
Wednesday: Review of City of Glass by Cassandra Clare
Thursday: R&R Review of The Null Dimension
Friday: Review of Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren

I was on vacation for the past week so that's why there are all these reviews.  I've been tagged (or discovered tags) for some posts so expect those soon as well as another Liebster award post!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Book Review Friday: Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren

Goodreads Blurb:
"What do you do when your knight in shining armor lives, literally, in a different world?

Most American teenagers want a vacation in Italy, but the Betarrini sisters have spent every summer of their lives among the romantic hills with their archaelogist parents. Stuck among the rubble of the medieval castles in rural Tuscany, on yet another hot, dusty archaeological site, Gabi and Lia are bored out of their minds...until Gabi places her hand atop a handprint in an ancient tomb and finds herself in fourteenth-century Italy. And worse yet, in the middle of a fierce battle between knights of two opposing forces.

Suddenly Gabi's summer in Italy is much, much more interesting."

This is an amazing example of how you should never judge a book by its cover.  I picked this up for a Goodreads challenge where I had to read a book that started with W.  I was expecting a mediocre book that I would have a hard time getting through.  How wrong I was!

I haven't read many time travel books except for the Precious Stone Trilogy(Ruby Red series) by Kerstin Gier.  Well let me rephrase this.  I didn't actually realize that this was a time travel book.  I didn't even read the description until halfway through the book *shrugs*.  So there you go - no expectations whatsoever.

In the beginning, it was a little slow but it soon picked up around the 30 page mark.  After that, things got interesting.  I knew right away that Lia and Gabi had traveled through time so I was mentally shouting at Gabi to just figure it out already.  I guess that's what kept me reading - was seeing how she would deal with this and how they would get back home.

It did get a bit confusing in places, especially the battles.  Everything seemed to blur together and I would have to read the scene a few times to know exactly what took place.  I also wish there would have been more information on her family and their history but this is a series so maybe in the next book!

Everything else was absolutely amazing!  I loved the dilemma at the end and Gabi's romance.  I loved how once she figured it out, she fit right in!  I also loved how passionate she was about saving Lia.  The general plotline was amazing - it kept me reading right up until the last page!  And of course, I loved how Gabi and Lia weren't helpless.  Their dad had taught Gabi and Lia fencing and archery respectably so they were actually able to help and be formidable forces in the coming battles.

Final Verdict:
A very well written story with an amazing plotline, main characters, and hard decisions to make!  It did get a little slow in the beginning and a bit confusing in some parts.  I can't wait to read the rest of the series and see how things turn out!
4 stars

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but the decision that something is more important than fear.” 

“I nodded, pretending to be a hundred times more courageous than I felt.
But that was the thing about courage. Sometimes you had to fake it to feel it.” 

“I finally meet a guy who's interesting and who seems to have a half-interest in me and it is TOTALLY the wrong time and place.” 

“Don't you agree? Swordplay is a dance of sorts, an understanding of the logical, most sophisticated next step. Except that in a fight, one must take the unexpected step. In dance it is all about taking the right, expected step.” 

“I am here for a reason. This is no haphazard mistake. What good can I do with what I have?” 

“Sometimes the heart tells us to venture where the mind fears to tread.” 

“We all have freedom of choice. Over and over again, minute by minute. How will you live your life? For yourself Or for others? For something good? For love? Love.” 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

R&R Book Review: The Null Dimension by John Burnett

Goodreads Blurb:
"Don’t shut your eyes…don’t turn out the lights…you might run into the coolest person you’ve ever met!

Sixth-grader Stetson Oliver has a great life: a loving family, good grades, fantastic hopes and dreams. One night while drifting off to sleep, Stetson thinks he sees movement in the shadows; in the blink of an eye, objects around his room have mysteriously been moved. When he turns his head, Stetson is met by a dark, hooded figure towering above him…

The Boogerman has haunted and tormented numerous children (Stetson included) for many sleepless nights, only to find that he’s getting a bad rap—but he’s just misunderstood, he swears! With Stetson’s help, he wants to reshape his image and right his reputation. As Stetson and the Boogerman embark on a dangerous adventure, the stakes are raised...and Stetson soon learns that making a deal with the Boogerman is like making a deal with the devil—nothing is an even trade."

Thank you to Whitney Martin on behalf of the The Zharmae Publishing Press for gifting me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

This, my friends, is what I call an onion book.  When Whitney described it to me, she made it out to be a middle-grade book.  In a sense it is but you can also choose to take it to the next level.  That's the whole reason I didn't become bored or exasperated with this book.  The Prologue was especially thought-provoking.

It was a bit slow in the beginning, but once I pushed through those first 30 or so pages, there was a nice flow going that carried me to the end of the book.  Speaking of the ending, I feel like it was a little glossed over.  I think the author either should have saved that part for the next book or simply expanded the ending.

Overall, I really liked the idea behind this book.  It tied in demons and parallel universes and all that stuff.  I've read so many demons and angels book but I've never read one that focused on the things that haunt us in our sleep.  Because, admit it, even adults have nightmares.

As for the characters, I did get a little annoyed with Stetson at times but he just acted the way a kid his age would.  His thought process did mature a lot throughout the book as expected (he IS involved in some important stuff).  I think Paris is my favorite character.  She kind of reminds me of myself actually.  I would like a lot more explanation about the whole powers thing.  That seemed to come out of nowhere and then all of a sudden they just dropped it.  In the next book perhaps?

The plot was very good.  It wasn't constant action but it wasn't constant speculation and talking either.  It did waver a bit between the Boogerman's reputation and the whole apocalypse thing but overall it was quite enjoyable.

The Final Verdict:
A pretty compelling read with a nice flow.  A variety of ages would enjoy it - go onion books!!  The characters were consistent with their ages  and the plot was good.  I do wish the ending would have been expanded a bit more and have more explanation about the powers.
3.5 stars

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Book Review: City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

Goodreads Blurb:
"To save her mother's life, Clary must travel to the City of Glass, the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters - never mind that entering the city without permission is against the Law, and breaking the Law could mean death. To make things worse, she learns that Jace does not want her there, and Simon has been thrown in prison by the Shadowhunters, who are deeply suspicious of a vampire who can withstand sunlight.

As Clary uncovers more about her family's past, she finds an ally in mysterious Shadowhunter Sebastian. With Valentine mustering the full force of his power to destroy all Shadowhunters forever, their only chance to defeat him is to fight alongside their eternal enemies. But can Downworlders and Shadowhunters put aside their hatred to work together? While Jace realizes exactly how much he's willing to risk for Clary, can she harness her newfound powers to help save the Glass City - whatever the cost?

Love is a mortal sin and the secrets of the past prove deadly as Clary and Jace face down Valentine in the third installment of the New York Timesbestselling series The Mortal Instruments."

This is my favorite TMI book so far!  There is literally nothing that I didn't like.  So this will be a rather short and gushing review.

First off, I loved the dynamics between Clary and Jace.  It's awkward in the beginning and then in the middle they try to work past it and then THE END!  Yeah, that's right.

Next, I loved the ending in general.  The battle was amazing, the Alliance rune that Clary creates is awesome, and how Luke and Jocelyn turn out together is fabulous!  It does make me wonder what is going to happen in the next one considering that they've been focused on stopping Valentine who is now dead.  Maybe Sebastian/Johnathon is really alive?

The humor I know and love came back partly in this one too!  Beautiful.  That's what makes the book for me!

It was a bit slow in the beginning but I don't think that could be helped much at all if you catch my drift.  With Jace being all "No, you're not coming Clary" and Clary saying "Oh yes I am!  I'm not a child!" it was kind of at a stalemate.  Sort of.

Anyway, I loved everything about this book and I really hope the rest are just as good because I wasn't particularly impressed by the first 2.  They were good (the first one bordering on great) but still.


Final Verdict:
So much better than the first two books and much more satisfying.  Magnus continues to be my favorite character and I totally ship him and Alec!  The ending was fabulous and I loved the dynamics between Clary and Jace!
5 stars

Quotes: WARNING: some spoilery quotes ahead!
“There is no pretending," Jace said with absolute clarity. "I love you, and I will love you until I die, and if there is life after that, I'll love you then.” 

“And now I’m looking at you,” he said, “and you’re asking me if I still want you, as if I could stop loving you. As if I would want to give up the thing that makes me stronger than anything else ever has. I never dared give much of myself to anyone before – bits of myself to the Lightwoods, to Isabelle and Alec, but it took years to do it – but, Clary, since the first time I saw you, I have belonged to you completely. I still do. If you want me.” 

“And I'm suppose to sit by while you date boys and fall in love with someone else, get married...?" His voice tightened. "And meanwhile, I'll die a little bit more every day, watching.” 

“I am a man" he told her, "and men do not consume pink beverages. Get thee gone woman, and bring me something brown.” 

Malachi scowled. "I don't remember the Clave inviting you into the Glass City, Magnus Bane."
"They didn't," Magnus said. "Your wards are down."
"Really?" the Consul's voice dripped sarcasm. "I hadn't noticed."
Magnus looked concerned. "That's terrible. Someone should have told you." He glanced at Luke. "Tell him the wards are down.” 

“Is this the part where you say if I hurt her, you'll kill me?"
"No" Simon said, "If you hurt Clary she's quite capable of killing you herself. Possibly with a variety of weapons.” 

“You said you were going for a walk!? What kind of walk takes six hours?"
"A long one?” 

“People aren't born good or bad. Maybe they're born with tendencies either way, but its the way you live your life that matters.” 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

R&R Book Review: The Reflections of Queen Snow White by David Meredith

Goodreads Blurb:
"What happens when "happily ever after" has come and gone? 

On the eve of her only daughter, Princess Raven's wedding, an aging Snow White finds it impossible to share in the joyous spirit of the occasion. The ceremony itself promises to be the most glamorous social event of the decade. Snow White’s castle has been meticulously scrubbed, polished and opulently decorated for the celebration. It is already nearly bursting with jubilant guests and merry well-wishers. Prince Edel, Raven's fiancĂ©, is a fine man from a neighboring kingdom and Snow White's own domain is prosperous and at peace. Things could not be better, in fact, except for one thing: 

The king is dead. 

The queen has been in a moribund state of hopeless depression for over a year with no end in sight. It is only when, in a fit of bitter despair, she seeks solitude in the vastness of her own sprawling castle and climbs a long disused and forgotten tower stair that she comes face to face with herself in the very same magic mirror used by her stepmother of old. 

It promises her respite in its shimmering depths, but can Snow White trust a device that was so precious to a woman who sought to cause her such irreparable harm? Can she confront the demons of her own difficult past to discover a better future for herself and her family? And finally, can she release her soul-crushing grief and suffocating loneliness to once again discover what "happily ever after" really means? 

Only time will tell as she wrestles with her past and is forced to confront The Reflections of Queen Snow White."

Thank you to the author, David Meredith, for gifting me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

Wow... where to even begin!  There isn't one thing that I didn't like about this book.  It does an excellent job of exploring what happens after the 'happily ever after'.  It is a curious thought because none of the fairy tales include an epilogue of how the happiness together came to end and how that happiness can continue on.  It illustrates how life is full of loss and nothing lasts forever, but you can always find happiness.

From the first page, I was absorbed.  I laughed, cried, and cringed right along with the characters as Snow White and Charming's tale was told.  It was both heart-breaking and heart-warming to see the changes in Snow White.  Just the way it was written, I really connected with Snow White and felt her loss as well.

It's the perfect length as well.  Longer and it would drag, while if it were shorter it would seem rushed.

Final Verdict:
This is a very powerful book with a very powerful message encased within it.  I loved the idea of telling the story of after the 'happily ever after' and Mr. Meredith did an excellent job of telling the story.  I was totally immersed and connected with the characters.
5 stars

"But most importantly, she saw a princess of raven hair and skin of purest snow with lips like the red, red rose who had finally found her happily ever after."

Monday, August 25, 2014

Book Review Monday: Paper Towns by John Green

Goodreads Blurb:
"Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life — dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge — he follows.

After their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues — and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees of the girl he thought he knew."

Thank you so much to my friend who loaned me her copy of Paper Towns - the waiting list at the library was horrendously long!

This book was so mysterious and so deep and just so amazing how it was written.  I love the connections to the paper towns and paper people and all that (if you've read it, you'll get it).  I've never heard of paper towns but that's pretty cool that they actually 'existed'!  The name is oddly appropriate.

I loved how the whole mystery began.  With that one night.  Margo is someone who isn't easy to figure out and Quentin has the privilege of joining her on her adventure.  Then she disappears without a trace until Quentin discovers some clues she left behind.  That's when the real hunt begins to find out who Margo really is.

The whole graduation fiasco was amazing.  How they just left like that for their impromptu road trip to find her and had to calculate when to stop and all was brilliant.  It added urgency but didn't make it too serious.  I also really liked the Omnicionary (I probably didn't spell that right AT ALL).  It's amazing how much information was on there!

Final Verdict:
A very thought-provoking read that was deep but not too deep to get lost in.  All the connections and the plotline was very well planned and intriguing.  It did get a bit slow in the middle and I had to push through though.
4 stars

“What a treacherous thing to believe that a person is more than a person.” 

“That's always seemed so ridiculous to me, that people want to be around someone because they're pretty. It's like picking your breakfeast cereals based on color instead of taste.” 

“It is so hard to leave—until you leave. And then it is the easiest goddamned thing in the world.” 

“When did we see each other face-to-face? Not until you saw into my cracks and I saw into yours. Before that, we were just looking at ideas of each other, like looking at your window shade but never seeing inside. But once the vessel cracks, the light can get in. The light can get out.” 

“She loved mysteries so much that she became one.”

“Tonight, darling, we are going to right a lot of wrongs. And we are going to wrong some rights. The first shall be last; the last shall be first; the meek shall do some earth-inheriting. But before we can radically reshape the world, we need to shop.” 

“At some point, you gotta stop looking up at the sky, or one of these days you'll look back down and see that you floated away, too.” 

“The town was paper, but the memories were not.” 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Book Review Sunday: City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

Goodreads Blurb:
"Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what's normal when you're a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who's becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn't ready to let her go — especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary's only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil — and also her father.

To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings — and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father?

In this breathtaking sequel to City of Bones, Cassandra Clare lures her readers back into the dark grip of New York City's Downworld, where love is never safe and power becomes the deadliest temptation."

This was like the typical middle of a series book for me.   All full of filler and fluff and sort of boring in most places.  I did like it - don't get me wrong, but it was missing something essential.  If you know what it is, let me know because I just can't figure it out!

Let's start at the beginning shall we?  It was very slow.  I had to force myself to read each chapter.  As you might expect, that isn't a good thing.  After a bit, it picked up though which was good.  Except my troubles don't stop there.

Can I just say how incredibly frustrating it is when someone is actually trying to say something important and they never get to say it because they're being constantly cut off?  That's like the story of this book and it got in credibly annoying.

Speaking of annoying, let's chat about Jace and Clary for a second.  I really wish they (meaning everyone who's experienced) would get Clary some training.  They're all trying to shelter her and ease her into the life but when she keeps getting attacked and getting pulled into things, well you'll have to get her ready eventually.  She's just so helpless!  And Jace.  Oh goodness what happened to you?  You were perfect in City of Bones!  But in City of Ashes, you were so annoying and whiny and controlling and moody and just UGH.  You didn't have many funny one-liners either :(

WHEW.  Okay now with all that ranting out of my system, let's actually discover some good things about this book shall we?  I loved the extra spin the Inquisitor put on things with all her personal grievances and complications.  I realize she created some major problems which was bad but she really added interest to the plot and demonstrated that The Clave isn't infallible and that they are human and make horrible horrible mistakes and cost lives.  Yeah they're not looking so hot in my eyes right now.

The feels in this book were just amazing.  I felt like I was right there with the characters and when the final battle happened (not the final final battle but just the final battle) it just blew me away.  I just love the ending!  I also loved the mystery in this one.  A lot of people are keeping dangerous secrets which keeps things interesting.  Oh and Magnus is now replacing Jace in my heart!

Final Verdict:
A very exciting read once it picked up after the never ending, boring introduction.  The characters seemed to be more annoying *points at Clary and Jace* but they did add some interesting road bumps to the plotline.  So overall, not a total loss but still a filler book through and through.
3.5 stars

“I don't want to be a man," said Jace. "I want to be an angst-ridden teenager who can't confront his own inner demons and takes it out verbally on other people instead."
"Well," said Luke, "you're doing a fantastic job.”

“We came to see Jace. Is he alright?"
"I don't know," Magnus said. "Does he normally just lie on the floor like that without moving?” 

“Well, I’m not kissing the mundane," said Jace. "I’d rather stay down here and rot."
"Forever?" said Simon. "Forever’s an awfully long time."
Jace raised his eyebrows. "I knew it," he said. "You want to kiss me, don’t you?” 

“That does it," said Jace. "I'm going to get you a dictionary for Christmas this year."
"Why?" Isabelle said.
"So you can look up 'fun.' I'm not sure you know what it means.”

“I've got a stele we can use. Who wants to do me?"
"A regrettable choice of words," muttered Magnus.” 

“Mom. I have something to tell you. I’m undead. Now, I know you may have some preconceived notions about the undead. I know you may not be comfortable with the idea of me being undead. But I’m here to tell you that undead are just like you and me … well, okay. Possibly more like me than you.” 

“Is standing by the window muttering about blood something he does all the time?" asked Simon.
"No," Jace said. "Sometimes he sits on the couch and does it.” 

“As long as there was coffee in the world, how bad could things be?” 

“Hey Baby.
Baby? You're kidding me, right?
I was trying it out. No?

“If you really love something, you never try to keep it the way it is forever. You have to let it be free to change.” 
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