Friday, 19 July 2013

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Add to: Goodreads
Source: Won from Razorbill
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Format: Hardcover, 404 pages
Release Date: August 7, 2012

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom. 
Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best. 
Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another. 
Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

5 Reasons Why You Should Read Throne of Glass

1. Celaena Sardothien is basically made of skill and awesome.
I found Celaena to be such a refreshing character. Along with the title of assassin (female assassin to boot) come a lot of stereotypes and restrictions that could have made this story a heck of a lot less interesting. Sarah J. Maas doesn't bind Celaena by these standards and instead allows her to be this arrogant, funny, strategic, wonderful woman that, yes, enjoys looking at pretty things and going to parties from time to time. Basically: Celaena is a pretty cool girl, go meet her!

2. The plot is involving, intriguing and exciting.
This story sucked me right in and was brimmed to the top with action! Between the contest to become the royal assassin and the murder mystery that has everyone on edge, there was plenty to become invested in. Maas juggles the threads of the plot well and it was super fun to slowly unravel the mystery. This is a well thought-out plot and it shows. 

3. The excellent pacing lets you fully enjoy the story.
There's a nice balance of Celaena's character progression, the relationships she has with others and the external action in the court. I sometimes find this a disadvantage in fantasy novels especially where there is just so much to get through but it wasn't a problem for me in this book. Just sit back and enjoy the ride!

4. The emotions and relationships are well-developed.
I loved watching the development of Celaena's character through the story. She has this spark throughout, this determination to survive and be able to control her own life. She's a complex mix of things, from innocent at times to lethal at most (easily explained by her age, life and experience) and so seeing her emotions and thought process was pretty fascinating to me. She formed friendships and attachments with relative ease and watching the extremely varied ways that people reacted to her was exciting.   

5. Fantastic world-building! What more do you want in your fantasy?
A castle built of glass, a forest cloaked with magic and a world bursting with fascinating stories still uncovered. Maas does an excellent job with the world-building in this novel, from the dark and decidedly dangerous king to the hints of Fae magic that are introduced. I feel like there is still a lot more to see and I'm stoked to get to it!

Cover Comments: This is an okay cover for me. The colours work and I like the dagger strapped to her arm but other than that... nothing great about it.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Reading Challenges

In 2012 I decided to try out some reading challenges (Debut Author Challenge and Contemporary Challenge). I was really pumped for them at the beginning because I thought it would expand my reading horizons and encourage me to read books that I wouldn't have otherwise. Sounds good, right?

Source: Muscle Puppy

Uh... no. Not really.


What they actually did was make me feel anxious and disappointed in myself because I didn't reach the goals I'd set. Which, obviously, was not the point of the challenge. It's no fault but my own and I don't regret signing up for these challenges in the first place... but nonetheless, it didn't work for me.

So challenges are not for me (except that stupid GR reading challenge which I cannot stop myself from starting and freaking out over) but I totally get it if they're for you! For the reasons I initially wanted to participate in them and for others as well -- such as the chance to read with people and share what you (dis)like! -- challenges sound like so much fun. 

I hope that everyone participating in any challenges in 2013 is kicking butt at them and, even if you're hopelessly behind (I feel you) who cares? Have fun!!

PS - So I know you Supernatural fans are an... enthusiastic... bunch (my best friend is one of you and OH MY GOD the trauma you put yourselves through) but no, I don't watch it! I did watch the first episode and it freaked me out (I hear that's a tame one lol) but who knows, maybe someday I will continue!

PPS - That's basically like a 1% chance because A) my heart and B) this show never ends, seriously

Do you participate in challenges? Which ones are your favourites?

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Top Ten Tuesday (5)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Yay lists! This week's topic is Top Ten Best/Worst Movie Adaptations. I'm definitely usually a bigger fan of books than movies but I've become less annoyed over movies not matching up perfectly with their counterparts than I used to be. I keep trying to remind myself that it's just another visual representation, not a word-for-word replica. I'll let you know when it starts working ;)
The Best
Source: Novel Reaction
I LOVE this movie. It's something that my family never tires of watching. There are so many epic, memorable scenes in the book and I think the movie did a great job capturing them.
Source: thebricklayer
This was such a well-made movie (sigh of relief) and I can't wait for Catching Fire! I thought the actors did an A+ job and costumes, effects, etc. were just like I'd imagined. The only major thing that really disappointed me was Peeta's character. I felt like in the book I KNEW he was such a smart, strategic character and in the movie, he seemed so much less complex.

Source: Anime Out
Howl <3 This is just a really gorgeous film. It's definitely quite different from the book (which I also love!) but just can't help but love it on it's own. So maybe not a perfect fit for today's topic but definitely still a winner on my list!

Source: The Wakefield Express
The book and movie are both so visually stunning! I love watching this at Christmas time, it's such a feel-good movie.

Source: Comic Book Movie
The Harry Potter movies and I had a bit of a complicated relationship for a while (who didn't?) but in the end, I really did think they did a great job with them. There are things I would have liked to see (PEEVES!) and I kind of hated the end part of the last movie but OVERALL, y'know. My favourite adaptation is probably the 4th one, I've seen it way too many times!

Save the best for last... The Lord of the Rings movies are my all-time favourite movies. I get excited just thinking about them, ahh! <3 What do I even say about this? They're just such an extraordinary, sweeping series and the movies have been done with such thought and care.

The Worst

None of these movies are terrible movies or anything but all of them fell pretty short of my expectations. I'm not even going to say anything specific about them just because my feelings are pretty well summed-up by: meh.

What's your best and worst? 

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Dark Triumph by R.L. LaFevers

Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin, #2)Dark Triumph by R.L. LaFevers

Add to: Goodreads
Source: Finished copy c/o Thomas Allen & Son
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Format: Hardcover, 385 pages
Release Date: April 2, 2013

Sybella arrives at the convent’s doorstep half mad with grief and despair. Those that serve Death are only too happy to offer her refuge—but at a price. The convent views Sybella, naturally skilled in the arts of both death and seduction, as one of their most dangerous weapons. But those assassin's skills are little comfort when the convent returns her to a life that nearly drove her mad. And while Sybella is a weapon of justice wrought by the god of Death himself, He must give her a reason to live. When she discovers an unexpected ally imprisoned in the dungeons, will a daughter of Death find something other than vengeance to live for?

I was worried before starting this novel that I wouldn't enjoy it as much as I did Grave Mercy because of the heroine, Sybella. We didn't see too much of her in the past book but the glimpses of her I did see gave me the impression that I wouldn't be able to relate to her as well, a factor that is always something I look for when reading a novel. It looks like my worries for nothing though because, if anything, I related to Sybella more than Ismae.

I found this to be a more emotionally-charged book than Grave Mercy. While the companion novel certainly had its moments of deep, personal issues, it just seemed more filled with action to me. And I loved the change! Dark Triumph has a personal, psychological lens to it and I couldn't be happier. I connected with the characters and their predicaments so strongly.

Speaking of characters? Beast. I have been waiting for a character like this my ENTIRE LIFE, someone that is just a good, strong, caring person but not necessarily the best-looking. He's physically unattractive but still able to draw people in and make them hang on to his every word? Yes please, male leads that are not shiny robots. Sybella, as mentioned before, was also an amazing protagonist. I loved how unapologetically fierce she was.

Just as with Grave Mercy, the older, more historically-rich feel of the book was great. I found myself slipping into the older speech patterns for days after finishing the book, that's how into it I was.

Well worth a read! I can't wait for Mortal Heart!

5 Golden Crowns!

Cover Comments: Still loving the fierce girls with weapons look. You go, Sybella. Also, have I mentioned I love the spines of these books? Because I love the spines of these books.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Cover Correction (4)

Cover Correction is a semi-regular feature I do over on the blog to spotlight some recent (or maybe even old) cover changes to series. Some changes I hate and some changes I love, so I love to be able to talk about some of these!

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden, #1)The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden, #1)

I really quite liked the original cover for this series. It's dark and edgy and even though I can never stop thinking about the fact that she's crying from the middle of her eye (thanks for that Chloe) I liked it! The new cover... not as much. I mean, it's alright. I like the font and the more gritty-looking background, but I can't help but think it looks like one of those cover placeholders used for ARCs and such. Still, as cover changes go, not a terrible one by any means!

Preferred: Old


The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour

The Disenchantments The Disenchantments

Don't hate me for saying this, but I've always thought the original cover looked like something I could have photoshopped myself. I DID love how bright and colourful it was and without having read it, it seems like a really fun book (people that have read it... is it?). But still. I like the new cover a lot! There's still that brightness but it's a little less in your face. I love the tagline too (if you can't read it, it's "Maybe we always were the people we imagined ourselves to be.")

Preferred: New


Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Anna and the French Kiss (Anna and the French Kiss, #1)Anna and the French Kiss
Lola and the Boy Next Door (Anna and the French Kiss, #2)Lola and the Boy Next Door (Anna and the French Kiss, #2)
Isla and the Happily Ever After (Anna and the French Kiss, #3)

I don't know about this cover change! Sometimes I look at it and I'm pleased and other times I wish they'd stuck with the same theme. I think the new covers will appeal to an older audience and I like the emphasis on the places that the books take place (because with Stephanie Perkins, that was a big part of the magic for me!). But at the same, I miss the cuteness of the couples in the first two books. I was excited to see what Isla and Josh would look like on the cover!

Preferred: Original (for now, we'll see)

What do you think? Original, new, none at all? Let me know in the comments!

Friday, 5 July 2013

Hallowed by Cynthia Hand

Hallowed (Unearthly, #2)Hallowed by Cynthia Hand

Add to: Goodreads
Source: Purchased (Chapters)
Publisher: HarperTeen
Format: Hardcover, 403 pages
Release Date: January 17, 2012

For months Clara Gardner trained to face the fire from her visions, but she wasn't prepared for the choice she had to make that day. And in the aftermath, she discovered that nothing about being part angel is as straightforward as she thought.
Now, torn between her love for Tucker and her complicated feelings about the roles she and Christian seem destined to play in a world that is both dangerous and beautiful, Clara struggles with a shocking revelation: Someone she loves will die in a matter of months. With her future uncertain, the only thing Clara knows for sure is that the fire was just the beginning.
In this compelling sequel to Unearthly, Cynthia Hand captures the joy of first love, the anguish of loss, and the confusion of becoming who you are.
I had been dying to read Hallowed ever since completing Unearthly back in 2011 and it didn't disappoint! While I can't say that I loved it to the degree that I did its predecessor, it was still a fantastic novel and I'm so glad that I finally made room for it in my reading queue.

Clara still gets all my love. She is just funny and real and I want her as my best friend ASAP. I thought there were really important developments made in her character and the relationships she had with other characters in this novel which was really great to see happening. Except for...

Tucker. Don't get me wrong, I still adore Tucker, but seeing him and Clara together just didn't give me the same unadulterated joy it did last time around. I thought the progression of their relationship was realistic given the circumstances but I won't lie and say it didn't make me kind of sad. I grew to like Christian more in this book and I'm glad for the focus on his character... but still. Clara + Tucker 5ever.

I'm both excited AND nervous to see what's going to happen next, because I feel like this book ends on such a crossroads, with big changes happening all around. I don't know, it felt like a pretty bold move for YA to me, but I'll have to reserve judgement until I can see what happens in Book 3! (Which luckily, I don't have to wait for, bonus!)

Overall, lots of fun to read with cool mythology and a brilliant protagonist. I wasn't completely won over like in the first book but I am still SO glad I read it.

4 Golden Crowns!

Cover Comments: I love the cover theme for this series. This is probably my least favourite of the 3 but I still really, really like it! 

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Top Ten Tuesday (4)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Yay lists! This week's topic is Top Ten Most Intimidating Books. There are definitely some books that come to mind immediately with this topic! I'm scared by a number of things, whether it be hype or sheer size. 

(Also, I know it's Wednesday, I'm sorry! The long weekend messed up my days so let's just pretend I'm right and roll with it)

The Son of Neptune (Heroes of Olympus, #2)Pandemonium (Delirium, #2)The Casual Vacancy
The Demon King (Seven Realms, #1)Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices, #3)Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine, #1)The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Fairyland, #1)
The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns, #1)My Soul to Take (Soul Screamers, #1)Pride and Prejudice

1. The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan: I've managed to successfully read 8 (I believe?) Rick Riordan books so far in my life so I have no idea why this one particular read is so intimidating to me! I've been trying to get myself to read it since it first came out but seeing it on my shelf just makes me anxious.

2. Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver: Ha. Ha. Ha. I say aaaall the time that I have no idea why I haven't read this yet but THAT'S A LIE. I am SO scared that this book won't live up to my sky-high expectations. I loved the first book, I love Lauren Oliver and I've heard amazing things about this. Also, I don't want to like Julian!

3. The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling: There's no way that I would have picked up this small town mystery novel if it hadn't been written by JKR. I know it's not for everyone and I don't necessarily expect to adore it... but still. Someone make me read this one!

4. The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima: Everyone and their pet dog loves this series. Dammit Sonia, if you had just read it that one time you checked it out of the library 4 years ago and ran out of time, you could have been on track with everyone else and not worried about it not living up to the hype!

5. Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare: This is without a doubt one of my favourite series (JEM) and I am nowhere near ready for it to be over! :( Maybe if I just ignore this book, I can pretend it's still in progress?

6. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs: This book actually scares the crap out of me, to be honest. It follows me EVERYWHERE I GO and I just get creeped out thinking about it. Am I being completely irrational? It seriously cannot be as bad as I'm making it out to be. I mean, I liked Sweeney Todd just fine and Tim Burton is directing this movie? I give up, someone please give me some advice here!

Valente: I've definitely heard a lot of good things about this book from other readers but the main thing that intimidates me about this one is the attention it's gotten from other authors. Neil Gaiman, Tamora Pierce AND Holly Black? Will I get kicked out of the blogging world if my feelings don't match up?!

8. The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson: I was really looking forward to this one and then... I read a huge spoiler. Argh, Internet posters that don't warn for spoilers, I HATE YOU. I'm sure I'll still enjoy this but for now, I'm a little intimidated.

9. My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent: I feel like this is such a staple read for YA bloggers and the fact that I haven't read it makes me feel kind of strange! Is it too late to catch up now? I have Volume 1 of the series sitting on my shelf. Then there's also, of course, the hype issue, which is apparently my #1 deterrent for what I'm sure are wonderful books.

10. Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen: I've barely made a dent in the classics category but this is one that I feel like I should have read by now! I loved the Lizzie Bennett Diaries and everything I've heard about this book but actually making myself read it? Now that's a different story.

Happy Tuesday! (shhhh)

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle, #1)The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Add to: Goodreads
Source: Purchased (Chapters)
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Format: Hardcover, 409 pages
Release Date: September 18, 2012

“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”
It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.
Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.
His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.
But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.
For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.
I am kicking myself for leaving this book so long. I'm pretty new to Camp Maggie but I would like to stay for a looong, long while. Every book that I read by Stiefvater manages to raise my expectations just a little bit higher but they are consistently met. I loved this book!

I've heard The Raven Boys described as intriguing and there's really no better word for it. The mystery and adventure that permeates every word held my attention long after I'd turned the last page. There's something so fascinating about the obsession and substance of the Glendower hunt and I am desperate to find out more. Maggie Stiefvater definitely has a talent for turning something that I never would have considered into something that is suddenly overwhelmingly interesting.

The characters in this book are all so heavily weighed down by their individual problems. It was frustratingly obvious with the multiple viewpoints the ways that they were hurting each other but from that insight, I also got to see the good intentions that they have. Blue, Adam, Gansey, Noah, Ronan... they all feel like friends that I want to keep in my pocket with me. I grew to care for these characters so much over the course of the book and I definitely sympathised with each of their situations.

Of course, as always, Maggie Stiefvater's prose is so lovely. I felt like I understood what she was trying to say instantly and the word choice gave the book such a smooth, rhythmic tone.

The Raven Boys is so much more than the summary suggests. It is a story taut with emotion and intrigue; wonder and hope. Eagerly awaiting the upcoming instalment!

5 Golden Crowns!

Cover Comments: I love the look of the raven IRL, like brush strokes of paint. The colours would not have been my first choice but they actually work well together. 

GFC, Bloglovin and Oh, I'm Back!

Hi everyone! It has been far too long (3 months, yikes!) and I'm so sorry for the unexplained absence. Life has been more than a little crazy lately, I'm sure I don't have to explain to you how insane it can get. I just wanted to let you know though that I have returned!

On to this GFC business, I have no idea what's going on. It is obviously past July 1 and the GFC widget looks fine to me but I guess we'll have to wait and see. In any case, I wanted to offer up another option to anyone that is still interested in following my blog. I've set up Bloglovin and so if you are so inclined, you can follow me here!

I should be back with a review (if I still remember how to write those lol). It's good to be back! :)

Source: From Under the Nispero Tree