Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Review: Devil's Kiss by Sarwat Chadda

Devil's Kiss 
Pages: 321
Publisher: Puffin Books
Genre: YA Paranormal
#1 in Series
Source: Purchased
As the youngest and only female member of the Knights Templar, Bilquis SanGreal grew up knowing she wasn't normal. Instead of hanging out at the mall or going on dates, she spends her time training as a soldier in her order's ancient battle against the Unholy.
One of the order's ancient enemies has resurfaced, searching for a treasure that the Templars have protected for hundreds of years -- a cursed mirror powerful enough to kill all of London's firstborn. To save her city from catastrophe, Billi will have to put her heart aside and make sacrifices greater than any of the Templars could have imagined.
Review

The amount of times I've searched for a novel about a girl who can kick ass without falling into the stereotypes of what it means to be a "strong woman" must number in the hundreds. Too often these kick ass female characters are only that--kick ass, and they lack the substance that makes them well-rounded people and interesting to read about. (Okay, so reading about a woman kicking dudes in the face is awesome, but, y'know, if she had a real personality that'd be awesome-er.) And while I love romance as much as the next gal, I hate when it becomes the all consuming thought of these women

I was nicely surprised when I found that Devil's Kiss gave me a female lead who didn't drop her life for romance and actually felt like a human being. Like a real 15 year old girl. Bless you Sarwat Chadda.

Devil's Kiss was quite fast paced. There really never was a dull moment, even from the first page. These are the first words: "Killing him should be easy; he's only six." Oooooohkay how's that for an opener? (For the record, no they do not murder a child. Well, they sort of don't. Ah, you'll see what I mean if you read it.)

As I was saying earlier about Billi not losing her cool over romance, that doesn't mean there wasn't any romance in the book. But quite honestly it was not a very deep romance--at least I didn't feel it--and it didn't cloud Billi's vision the way love oft does to young YA heroines. Which I was so grateful for, because Billi as a protagonist was refreshing. She was strong, yes, in the literal sense of the word, but she was also a bit jaded from her splintered relationship with her father. And she didn't quite have everything together in her life, which is to be expected of her. Gosh, she's only 15. She's practically a fetus. Watching her learn and push through her failures was nice.

This novel does contain lots of religious content, although it's not specifically religious. I very much enjoyed how Sarwat Chadda used a wide range of religious canon and brought it together to create the... I don't think 'mythology' is the right word here, but I can't think of anything else to call it. In any case, I thought it served the story well.

I am definitely interested to read more about Billi and the Knights Templar. My only regret is that I didn't read Devil's Kiss sooner! It's been sitting on my shelves for several years now. Glad I did, finally! 4 out of 5 stars.


Amazon: Paperback | Kindle
Barnes and Noble: Nook

About the Author
Sarwat Chadda has lived and travelled throughout the world, from China to Guatemala. He’s been lost in Mongolia, abandoned at a volcano in Nicaragua and hidden up a tree from a rhino in Nepal. Not to mention being detained by Homeland Security in the US and chased around Tibet by the Chinese police. Maybe he just has that sort of face.

Anyway, now he’s trying to settle in one place and stay out of trouble. Hence his new career as a writer. It’s safe, indoors and avoids any form of physical danger.

Throughout his travels, Sarwat has soaked up the myths, legends and cultures of far away places. Now, with the Ash Mistry series, he aims to bring these unfamiliar tales of ten-headed demons and blue-skinned heroes back home and put them beside the exploits of Achilles and Thor. His heroes are Prince Rama and the demon-slaying Kali. Isn’t it about time you met them too?
Website | Twitter 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Discussion: Why don't you like spoilers?

Spoilers are a big no-no for pretty much anything--movies, tv shows, and certainly books. Writing reviews that contain spoilers with no spoiler warning is considered pretty much a blogging sin and just a not cool thing to do.

I'll be honest though: I don't really understand why.

Okay, I do understand why--because I'm sure it would suck to have all the suspense kicked out from under you by a comment online you wish you wouldn't have read--but spoilers just don't bother me. At all.

In fact, I often look for spoilers because I hate the uncertainty of not knowing. That's just how I am--if I know the information is readily available, I want it. I will go and take the time to find out the details later, but I want to know the big facts immediately. My reasoning is this: just because I know that something does in fact happen, that doesn't mean know how or even why it happens. The "who what when where how and why" are what make things interesting for me, not the facts. So you can tell me "[insert character name here] dies" and that tells me absolutely nothing other than said character is in fact dead. How did they die? Who killed them? Why were they killed? What were the events in their life leading up to their death? All these are questions that can only be fully and completely answered by reading the book. And then the book actually takes on a completely different element of suspense because now that I know this character doesn't make it out alive it becomes a guessing game of when they'll die. "This chapter? Oh crap this doesn't look good oh god it's going to happen OH IT'S GOING TO--whoops, nope, they're still alive. We'll get 'em next time boys."

This sometimes makes it hard when I write reviews. Since I'm so desensitized to spoilers sometimes I don't realize that a fact I share, while I think it seems innocent, can be a total spoiler for someone else. I usually correct this by doing what I call the "summary test" while I'm proofreading. If it's a fact that is in the summary or easily assumed from the summary, it can stay. But if it's something that's not in any way implied in the summary, it's gotta go. I'm sure things slip through the cracks sometimes, but please know I do try very hard to keep my reviews spoiler free and I always clearly mark them when I know the spoilers are unavoidable.

I can understand why spoilers are so hated though. Especially if it's for a series you love, you'd want to be able to experience it completely new as you were reading.

So my question to you is....
Why don't you like spoilers?

Monday, July 28, 2014

YA Book Trailers (2)

There are lots of ways to find out about new books, and publishers put lots of time and effort into getting word about their titles out into the world. One of my personal favorite ways to learn about books is through book trailers! I think a really well done book trailer can tell you everything that a written description can while adding the visual elements to give a unique look at a novel.

These are some of my favorite book trailers at the moment.



• Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige •

Doesn't this sound awesome? I love the idea that Dorothy became exactly like what she set out to destroy when she melted the witch, and now someone else has to stop her. Perhaps that's just a thing in Oz. Women get power hungry.


• Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly •
MERMAIDS. Mermaids. Honestly I don't think I need to talk about why I love this video, it seems pretty self explanatory.

What do you think of these videos?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Review: Into the Deep by Missy Fleming

Into the Deep 
Pages: 240
Publisher: Fire and Ice Books
Genre: YA Fantasy; Mermaids; Greek Mythology
#1 in Series
Source: Author
No one understands the fury of the ocean like Zoey.

Ten years ago, she lost her leg in a freak shark attack. The night after her sixteenth birthday, she has yet to accept her awkward prosthetic limb or the fact she will always be different. Wary of the sea, and its hidden threats, she ventures to a bonfire at the beach. She’s mesmerized by its awesome power, wondering what she ever had to fear, until a rogue wave sweeps her into the cool, salty water.

Zoey believed mermaids were creatures of legend, characters in silly children’s stories, but it’s hard to ignore the captivating tail that’s suddenly appeared, or the sense of finally being whole. She abandons her life on land in search of answers about who she really is and where she came from.

What she discovers is a kingdom full of intrigue and danger, as well as a royal father she never knew existed. Settling into her role as a mermaid princess, she learns her family is under attack, both on land and in the water. Raging storms swell up, threatening coastal cities, and sea levels rise practically overnight, endangering the lives of everyone she loves. Determined to stop the strange phenomena, Zoey becomes caught up in the race to track down what, or who, is responsible for the catastrophic events.

But, Zoey possesses another secret, one born of legend and more powerful than any mer or human can imagine.
Review

Into the Deep is a welcome addition to the (sadly small) canon of YA mermaid novels out there in the world. Although is certainly has its faults, I quite enjoyed Into the Deep and reveled in the wonderful world and mythology Missy Fleming created. Being a mermaid lover (not a joke, I thought I was a literal mermaid for the first 7 years of my life---that's a story for another time, though) I am always eager to gobble up mermaid stories and this one left me satisfied and definitely interested in more.

The beginning is the problem.
I'll admit, getting into this novel didn't happen easily for me. The first few chapters were just build up, teasing us with information that we already know just from the description of the book. There was no suspense in Zoey finding out she was a mermaid or in her wondering what was happening to her because I already knew. So instead of sitting there are mirroring Zoey's curiosity, my thought process was more along the lines of "Yes you're a mermaid. Yep. Mermaid. No, that's not really that weird because oBVIOUSLY YOU'RE A MERMAID." The beginning just felt like it was happening because we needed the exposition of Zoey finding out this life changing information. Because of that, it felt flat and I couldn't get a feel for Zoey's personality, or really any of the other characters.

Things are looking up!
However, all of this pretty much disappeared once Zoey ventured to the undersea kingdom. From there Missy Fleming really flexed her muscles as an author and created a vibrant world of mermaids and customs that mirror our own, but are fundamentally different. I loved the fact that the mer people weren't what we typically imagine mermaids to be, physically at least. They painted their bodies and dyed their hair in bright shades. A little later on in the story when we find out the origins of the mer people  I was pleased to find that Greek mythology was woven into the plot. This is also when I felt Zoey was become more fleshed out as a character and her personality started shining through.

Characters don't always have character.
I really came to like Zoey and was able to connect with her, and I was also incredibly fond of her father Stavros, who is the king. The building of their relationship gave the book some of its sweetest moments. And while I felt that the immediately important characters like Nerio and Xander were also well written, the rest seemed to fall into archetypes and didn't manage to come to life outside of that. Zoey's grandmother felt like she was just there to be the "wise maternal figure," Magdalena and Eustice filled the "evil stepmother/daughter" roles and didn't feel like they had any motivations for the way they acted other than because they needed to be that way to fill a character stereotype. Not all of the characters were like this, in fact there were quite a few smaller characters that I felt had dimension even though they were only in the story for a short amount of time, such as Nerio's family.

Into the Deep was well-written with a clear and concise writing style that allowed me to read quickly without getting bogged down in any wordiness.  Despite the few drawbacks I noted, I enjoyed reading it and will certainly be looking forward to future novels to see where Zoey's journey ends up. I give this book 3 out of 5 stars.



Amazon: Paperback | Kindle
Barnes and Noble: Paperback | Nook

About the Author
My name is Missy Fleming and I live in Bozeman, Montana. I love living in Montana, it's so beautiful and full of rich history. Being outdoors often conflicts with my writing, but I guess that's what winter is for!

Website 
This review copy was provided for free in exchange for an honest review. All views expressed above are solely my own.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Discussion: Loving A Series So Much You Can't Finish It

There's this strange phenomenon that happens to me when I really like a series...

I can't finish reading it.

How does that even make sense? I don't know, but it's true. When I really love a series, I get horribly anxious about how the story will turn out. Because I'm usually so emotionally invested in the story and the characters, I have a specific way I want things to end up and usually the author doesn't quite agree. So actually reading the series and finishing it causes me more anxiety than just being able to exist with my own headcanons, which you can imagine puts me in a really strange position as a reader.

Don't get me wrong, I want to finish these series, to give myself some closure. I've done it before--Harry Potter, the Great and Terrible Beauty trilogy, heck even Twilight when that was a thing. But I have to have an immense amount of will power and plenty of free time to sit down and plough through the books in one sitting. (If I have to stop-and-go read on these books, I'll just end up talking myself out of finishing them and they go halfway read.)

The funniest thing is that this isn't even necessarily about finishing the last books in the series. For example, I'm stuck pretty much in the middle of two major series that I love but can't bring myself to read anymore of (for the time being.) The first is the Soul Screamers series by Rachel Vincent, and the second is the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. For the Soul Screamers series, I read all the way up to the 5th book, and now I've been wiffle-waffling over starting the 6th (pictured right). I've heard that this is the book where, excuse my language, shit goes down. On the one hand, I adore this series and I absolutely want to know what happens to Kaylee. But what if I don't like what happens? Ahhhhhhhhhh. The only way I'd be able to force myself to read it is if I purchased the 6th and 7th book (the next two after If I Die) and could devote a weekend to just finishing the entire series, one book after the other so I wouldn't have to have time to dwell on it until it was done.

As for the Mortal Instruments series, I have read all the books up to City of Lost Souls. This series is one that just has so much going on and there are so many ways it could go. The good thing about Cassandra Clare is that she's one of those authors that found what worked for her and just went with it, so pretty much all her published works are set in the same world. Even if I finished this series I wouldn't have to say goodbye to Shadowhunters and such forever because there is the prequel trilogy and the Bane Chronicles, etc. I don't feel as anxious finishing this series, but I'm sure once I picked up City of Lost Souls eventually I might.

Anyway, these are just some personal examples to show you what I'm talking about. I don't know why this happens to me, and I'm wondering if it happens to any of you guys? Do you find yourself experiencing this reluctance to continue a series even though you really love it--because you really love it? It's like you don't want it to end so as long as you haven't read all the books, it won't. But by doing so, we're depriving ourselves of the enjoyment these books can bring up.

So my question to you... Have you ever dealt with this before? How did you get over it? Are you still dealing with it? Also, what do you think causes this reluctance to read something you love? 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Review + {GIVEAWAY}: Underworld's Daughter by Molly Ringle

This review is for the 2nd book in The Chrysomelia Stories series by Molly Ringle. While I try to avoid spoilers as much as possible there is sometimes no way around it. If you have an interest in this series, please take a look at my review for the first book in the series, Persephone's Orchard.
Underworld's Daughter 
Pages: 410
Publisher: Central Avenue Publishing
Genre: New Adult; Paranormal; Greek Mythology
#2 in Series
New immortals are being created for the first time in thousands of years thanks to the tree of immortality discovered by Persephone and Hades. But Sophie Darrow is not one of them. Nikolaos, the trickster, has given the last ripe immortality fruit to two others, the reincarnations of the gods Dionysos and Hekate: Tabitha and Zoe, currently Sophie's and Adrian's best friends.

While the disappointed Sophie struggles to remember Hekate and Dionysos from ancient Greece, she must still face her daily life as a mortal university freshman. Tabitha and Zoe have their own struggles as they come to terms with being newly immortal and their own haunting dreams of past lives and loves. The evil committed by Thanatos invades all of them in heartbreaking memories, and worse still, Sophie and her friends know their enemies are determined to kill again. And even the gods can't save everyone.
Review

I finished this book feeling nothing but soul crushing sorrow. Which is a good thing. A brilliant thing, actually, because it means that Molly Ringle accomplished her job in getting me emotionally invested in the story and the characters enough to feel their pain.

But let me not get ahead of myself.

Underworld's Daughter is the sequel to Persephone's Orchard, which if you read my review you know I loved. And I loved this one as well, but in a different way. As the author herself says in the afterword of the novel, while Persephone's Orchard (it will henceforth be referenced as P.O.) can be considered a retelling, Underworld's Daughter veers pretty directly into the Greek mythology fan fiction realm. Which I was totally okay with because I thought Molly Ringle handled it masterfully. Because she so vividly fleshed out the world of the Greek immortals in the first novel, Ringle went into this one with more freedom to expand on her world and characters in a way that allowed her to break free of the myths and instead use them for her own purposes. This may bother some die-hard Greek mythology fans, but I for one welcome ingenuity into the genre. If I wanted to read about completely accurate Greek myths I'd pick up Edith Hamilton's Mythology, not a paranormal romance novel.

The one change that did take some getting used to was the shifted focus of the narrative. Whereas P.O. focused almost solely on Sophie and Adrian and their past-selves Hades and Persephone, in Underworld's Daughter they took a backseat to Dionysus and Hekate, something that I wasn't so happy about when I realized they were going to be the predominant focus. What enchanted me most about P.O. was that I was watching two lives unfold at the same time and was totally invested in both with equal fervor and desire to see them snog each other senseless. Sophie and Adrian's story and relationship was just as capturing as Hades and Persephone's was.

However, this was not the case with Tabitha/Zoe and Dionysus/Hekate. I was thoroughly intrigued with Hekate and Dionysus and I did very much enjoy their story and the bit of debauchery our boy Dio brought to the table. But, Tabitha and Zoe's "sort of but not really romance" wasn't something I was particularly worried over. Mostly because of Tabitha being a bit of a jerk in the situation and I think Zoe deserved better than her. If Tab cleaned up her act and figured out what--and who--she wants instead of straddling the fence, I could totally get behind their relationship.

I did miss the focus on Sophie and Adrian, but I also truly commend the author for her ability to create a story that benefits from several different perspectives and expanding the world through the eyes of more people than just our protagonists. Creating such distinct voices is an amazing feat, especially when the same person is technically speaking from two different lifetimes (for example, I can always tell the difference between Hades and Adrian speaking.) While I do hope that the focus does go back to Sophie and Adrian next book, now that their Hades and Persephone story has fully been revealed, I do enjoy the looks into other character's heads. Actually, I'd love to know what's going on in Niko's mind. (Niko is the modern day incarnation of Hermes and one of my favorite characters, the sly devil.)

This is series is quickly gaining traction as one of my favorites. I'll reserve myself from proclaiming it's definitely my favorite until the series is completed and I can enjoy it as a whole, but if the next book continues to impress me like this I'm sure it will be. I did love Persephone's Orchard just slightly more, so while I gave P.O. 5 stars, I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 stars. I loved Underworld's Daughter and am so excited to continue this amazing series.

Buy The Book

Amazon: Paperback | Kindle
Barnes and Noble: Paperback | Nook
Book Depository: Paperback 

About the Author
Molly Ringle has been writing fiction for over twenty years. With her intense devotion to silly humor, she was especially proud to win the grand prize in the 2010 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest with one (intentionally) terrible sentence. Molly grew up in the Pacific Northwest, and lives in Seattle with her husband and children. Her studies include a bachelor of arts in anthropology and a master of arts in linguistics. She was a Tri-Delta in college, in an old sorority house that was supposedly haunted, which inspired some of the central ideas for 'The Ghost Downstairs.' She also loves folklore and mythology, and is working on new novels about the Greek myths. 'Persephone's Orchard' is the first in the series. When not writing, she can often be found experimenting with fragrances, chocolate, and gardening
GIVEAWAY

Thanks to Michelle from Central Avenue Publishing, I have ebook copies of Persephone's Orchard and Underworld's Daughter to give away to a lucky winner! Oooh yeah. Free books are always fun.

Just enter below, and on Friday I'll be sending an email to a very lucky duck. Whichever file type you need will be figured out after you win and sent accordingly.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Mini Read-a-Thon Check In #2

The read-a-thon continues, although it's not going as strong as I had hoped. I read nothing yesterday, instead opting to rewatch Howl's Moving Castle (I don't regret it.) But I'm hoping to make up for lost time by finishing a book tonight and then 2 tomorrow, and then hopefully one more on Sunday. If I can pull that off I'll put myself plenty far ahead to be able to read in leisure and not feel the pressure to finish something immediately.

I'm in the middle of reading two books, Reaper by K.D. McEntire and Into the Deep by Missy Fleming. However, I think I'm going to shelve Reaper for the moment and return to it in a week or so. I do plan on finishing Into the Deep tonight, so hopefully I'll be able to pull through.

Off to reading again! Wish me luck!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Feature and Follow Friday! (2)

The Feature & Follow is hosted by TWO hosts, Parajunkee of Parajunkee’s View and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it’ll allow us to show off more new blogs!
This Week's Question

Share a funny youtube video:
This is one of my ALL TIME FAVORITE funny videos! Babies doing pretty much anything is funny, but this kid takes the cake. His reaction is priceless.

Thanks for stopping by!


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Mini Read-a-Thon Check In #1

Since it's technically Thursday (1 AM), I figured I'd do my wrap up post for yesterday which was the first day of my personal little read-a-thon. I wasn't as productive as I'd hoped, but I did manage to finish a book I was halfway through, as well as write and schedule the review for it. BOOYAH.

What I read:

  • Underworld's Daughter by Molly Ringle

This is the sequel to Persephone's Orchard, the review of which went up a few days ago. Needless to say, having read the books in the series back to back, I'm totally obsessed quite enamored with it. 

Like I said, the review for this is written and scheduled to go up next Monday, the 21st, so be on the lookout for that!

For the next book I hope to tackle today I'm torn between wanting to knock another "for review" book off my list of digging into my personal TBR pile and ploughing through one of those books. (More specifically, a physical book. My TBR pile (or rather piles) is stacked against my wall and taking up some serious space.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Mini Read-a-Thon: 16th- 20th

Hello my book buddies!

Due to my extended absence from blogging and general lack of reading over the past few months, I realized that I came back to blogging slightly ill prepared for getting it back up and running quickly. I've been reading like a madwoman this past week but it still hasn't been enough to keep up. SO, what I plan to do is spend from here to Sunday doing a personal mini read-a-thon. I'll be reading reading reading, with the goal of finishing at least one book a day so I can schedule some reviews and get myself ahead of the game like I used to in my prime blogging days. 

I'll post daily recaps of what I've read and some quick visceral thoughts about the books, as well as throwing in some swag giveaways to make it fun for you guys. I have so much swag accumulated that I never got the chance to giveaway so I'm making up for lost time. 

Today is the first day of the read-a-thon (it's actually 3 AM because what is sleep?) so I'll check back in at the end of the day with my recap. 

Since this is the intro post, I'll quickly post my goals with this read-a-thon:
  • Read at least 5 books (1 book a day)
    • 2 from "for review" TBR, 3 from personal TBR pile
  • Write up and schedule review for next week as soon as book is finished
  • BONUS PIPE DREAM GOAL: finish two books a day (haha)
Okay, time for bed and then when I wake up gotta hit the books! Haven't figured out exactly what I'll be reading yet. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Books I Want SO Badly I Could Pee (11)

What is this feature?

Through my book blogging adventures I've come across so many amazing books that I want SO badly I could just pee looking at them. I know, I'm weird, but it's true! So here is my list of pee-inducing books. They can be unreleased or already on the shelves, as long as they're awesome!

The Books

Demon possession has swept through Glace's neighboring kingdom, turning humans into hellhounds. These great, fanged wolves are wild, desperate, and hungry. Only the sworn Hunters have kept them back for five long, bloody years.
At the young age of fifteen, Belle LeClair became a Hunter. She no longer remembers how many hounds she's killed, or how many friends she's buried. Still, Belle leads the hunt till a tragedy forces her deep into the dark kingdom. Her heart will be turned, her loyalty tested— and fate will intervene.
Amid a backdrop of Steampunk inventions and a harsh winter landscape, The Beast is a re-imagining of the infamous love between a beauty and a beast.
Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.
Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.
With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.
But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.
As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.
An action-packed, blood-soaked, futuristic debut thriller set in a world where the murder rate is higher than the birthrate. For fans of Moira Young’s Dust Lands series, La Femme Nikita, and the movie Hanna.
Meadow Woodson, a fifteen-year-old girl who has been trained by her father to fight, to kill, and to survive in any situation, lives with her family on a houseboat in Florida. The state is controlled by The Murder Complex, an organization that tracks the population with precision.
The plot starts to thicken when Meadow meets Zephyr James, who is—although he doesn’t know it—one of the MC’s programmed assassins. Is their meeting a coincidence? Destiny? Or part of a terrifying strategy? And will Zephyr keep Meadow from discovering the haunting truth about her family?
Action-packed, blood-soaked, and chilling, this is a dark and compelling debut novel by Lindsay Cummings.
Why I'm Peeing

The Beast by Linsday Mead •
Lindsay is actually a friend through blogging, and I've known she's had plans to publish for awhile. When I came back to book blogging after a year and a half gone to find out that her debut novel was very close to being finalized and published I was so excited! It sounds amazing, full of action and amazing world building. Mostly it sounds like a really kick ass retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Can't wait!

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge •
I realized after I included it on my list that Cruel Beauty, like The Beast above it, is a Beauty and the Beast retelling. Totally not on purpose, because I am practically salivating for this novel. It's already been released, so I'll have to try and find time to run to my local Barnes and Noble and grab a copy. (Maybe I'll just download it on one of my ereaders because I'm lazy, haha.) According to the author, this is a Beauty and the Beast meets Greek mythology type novel and this kind of novel screams Hades and Persephone to me (which if you know me is my favorite myth and pretty much my favorite couple to read about of all time.) So, I will definitely be picking this one up as soon as I can.

The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings •
I actually got an opportunity to read a manuscript version of The Murder Complex a long time ago when I interned for an editor at a publishing company and freaking loved it. Even from that I could tell this would be a bright light shining in a sea of dystopia novels flooding the market. I'm so pumped to see how it's been changed and (hopefully) improved now that it's an edited novel. I think I'll blow my socks off just as much.


What do you guys think of these novels? Read any of them? Please share with me down below!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Manga on Monday: Say I Love You (Suki-tte Ii na yo) by Kanae Hazuki

Today's featured manga is "Say I Love You" by mangaka Kanae Hazuki.
Mei Tachibana has spent her 16 years without making either boyfriend or friends. One day, she injures a popular boy in school, Yamato Kurosawa, because of a misunderstanding but for some reason it seems that he takes a liking to her and one-sidedly claims that they’re friends. Furthermore, he not only protects Mei from a stalker, he does it with a kiss…?!!
 My Thoughts

I discovered this manga series earlier this summer and fell in love almost immediately. I was looking for something cute and fluffy with plenty of romance and yumminess, and I certainly got that in this series. But I got something much more as well. As I kept voraciously reading volume after volume (there's 12 total currently and more on the way) I found the narrative unfolding new depths to the characters and to the story.

From the description of the first volume you might be rolling your eyes at the use of quite a few tropes--I thought I would too, but they worked and honestly it's Shoujo manga. I want my Shoujo to be full of romance tropes because that's why I read it--for some unashamedly fun (and sometimes steamy) romance. This manga is certainly no different, using the "gorgeous popular guy suddenly takes interest in average introvert girl" storyline and going ham. But the more I kept reading, the more I saw there was actual substance underneath both Yamato and Mei, and the unfolding of their relationship was a learning experience for both of them. I liked that while Mei learned to blossom and accept people into her life through Yamato and his genuineness, he also learned how to take a stance from Mei who never backed down from anyone when they were doing something wrong.

I don't think Mei is your typical Shoujo protagonist. She's got massive amounts of social anxiety and lots of insecurities about people and their intentions for befriending her. I wouldn't say that's a bad thing about her, because I understand why she feels that way and why she chooses not to talk to anyone. But she's certainly not the innocent plucky girl that's commonly seen in Shoujo, and I actually quite like that. She goes through so much growth and change as she lets Yamato into her life more and more, and through his love and acceptance she begins learning to trust others. The Mei we meet several volumes later is one who is much more open to letting people in and has a tight group of close friends. And she's much happier, not having to be on her own because she's got an amazing support group behind her.

How can I go on without dedicating at least one section to the babe that is Yamato? BABE. Yes he's the most popular guy in school, and absolutely gorgeous with a side of hottie sprinkles, but he's also incredibly sweet--which is kind of the Shoujo recipe for a perfect guy. But he's not quite perfect, he's done some things he regrets and while he never acted to purposely hurt Mei, he did end up greatly hurting her at one point. So he's not a boring cardboard cutout of what the perfect man should be, he's someone who grows and changes and learns just like Mei does. They complement each other quite well, I think.
The manga is full of characters that thankfully get very well fleshed out as the volumes progress. It's nice to have an entire cast of characters that I'm completely invested in and who all hold an important part of the story in some way. None of them are there just to be there--they all have their own struggles and special traits that bring life to the manga.

I do think this story falls right in line with YA, as the characters are all high school age and it deals with all the problems teenagers go through at this age. However, since this is a manga, the author quite literally shows you with the art what a novel would tell you with words. So there is some sex in these manga and you do see some nudity. Honestly I wouldn't consider these books smutty at all, they're incredibly tame compared to actual smut manga. Just as there are sex scenes in YA novels, there are sex scenes in this manga and they're handled in much the same way content-rating wise. Nothing remotely rated-R. If breasts offend you (honestly don't know why they would but to each their own) then just keep in mind there are some brief moments of topless nudity.

Overall I adore this series. Once I reached the end of the most recent volume I was so sad that I couldn't keep going, but I am eagerly awaiting the next release! At least I found out that a brief one season anime was made after the manga and after watching a few episodes it seems to follow it almost exactly so I am excited to fill my time watching that.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

What's My Story? (3) Book Haul, Weekly Recap & TBR Pile

Books Received:

This was a completely ebook week! All the books I got were either for my Nook or Kindle.

  
  

Shattered by Aubrey Coletti (ebook; from author)
Persephone's Orchard by Molly Ringle (ebook; from publisher)
Underworld's Daughter by Molly Ringle (ebook; from publisher)
Into the Deep by Missy Fleming (ebook; from author)
Lingering Echoes by Erica Kiefer (ebook; Netgalley)
The Diamond Thief by Sharon Gosling (ebook; Netgalley)

Posts this Week:

Review: Flight of the Golden Harpy by Susan Klaus
BOOKSHELF TOUR!
Feature and Follow Friday
Review: Persephone's Orchard by Molly Ringle


Books Read This Week:

Flight of the Golden Harpy by Susan Klaus
Persephone's Orchard by Molly Ringle

To Be Read Pile:

Underworld's Daughter by Molly Ringle
Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama


Review: Persephone's Orchard by Molly Ringle

Persephone's Orchard 
Pages: 370
Publisher: Central Avenue Publishing
Genre: New Adult/YA; Greek Mythology
#1 in Series
The Greek gods never actually existed. Did they? Sophie Darrow finds she was wrong about that assumption when she's pulled into the spirit realm, complete with an Underworld, on her first day at college. Adrian, the mysterious young man who brought her there, simply wants her to taste a pomegranate.

Soon, though she returns to her regular life, her mind begins exploding with dreams and memories of ancient times; of a love between two Greeks named Persephone and Hades. But lethal danger has always surrounded the immortals, and now that she's tainted with the Underworld's magic, that danger is drawing closer to Sophie.
 Review

I am a huge Greek Mythology fan. Like, huuuge. And chief among my Greek mythology obsessions is the tale of Hades and Persephone; I snap up every piece of written work I can written about this interesting couple. I don't know why it's my favorite myth, but it just is. I'm always looking for new things about them and go into these novels hoping against hope they don't fall back on the same tropes that tend to fill even the worst Hades and Persephone fanfiction that can be found on the internet. (Don't get me wrong, I love angst sexual tension as much as the next gal but there's only so much I can handle of the "he abducted me for perfectly justifiable reasons but I don't trust him even though I definitely want to have sex with him oh no am I falling in love with him look at all this angst" plotlines before I have to say enough is enough.

Persephone's Orchard pleasantly--nay, fantastically--surprised me by bringing the freshest and most innovative take on Hades and Persephone (and all the Greeks gods in general) I've ever read. It does almost completely shake off the original myths, using them as a sort of bare bones structure for each god and their stories, which was a little frustrating for me as someone so well-versed in the myths. But I grew accustomed to it and in the end really quite enjoyed the changes.

On the topic of the gods, or the immortals as they're more appropriately called, I thought Molly Ringle did a brilliant job of creating the premise of them. As I said, Ringle didn't stick to the original myths but made up her own characters based off the myths but she did it in such a way that the reality of her characters became the myths. The one thing that bothered me about the immortals was that there was no explanation as to how the originals came to be. I hold my tongue from saying it was a fault of the book because that could be the grand overarching mystery the series seeks to solve, in which case I will surely be mollified. But I just hope the author doesn't plan to leave that unknown dangling there. It was very interesting to get to meet all the gods though, and not just focus on Hades and Persephone. It certainly gave the narrative, and the world, a more fleshed out feel.

Now, onto the meat and potatoes. I will start with the main characters, Sophie and Adrian. I think it would be appropriate to comment on them first individually, and then as a couple. I loved Sophie, I thought she was intelligent and strong-willed. Although some may not like how easily she went along with the situation she was placed in, I actually understood it and didn't fault her for placing her trust in Adrian so quickly. She was literally whisked into an entirely different world and made to confront things almost impossible to believe, and here's a guy who says he can explain everything. With nowhere else to turn for answers, you sorta have to trust him even if you're scared witless. Speaking of, Adrian. It's no secret I'm easily swayed by attractive boys in books and from the beginning Adrian had me. He's like a cool dork if that makes any sense. And him and Sophie together was steamy to say the least. I very much enjoyed the unfolding of their romance just as I enjoyed the unfolding of their past lives' romance as Hades and Persephone.

Perfect segue, don't you think?

Ah, Hades and Persephone. As always, infuriatingly stupid when it comes to realizing they both felt the same way and more than once I just sat there going "oh for god's sake just freaking kiss already". The way their story was told in parallel to Sophie and Adrian's worked amazingly well, and I'm quite impressed that Ringle was able to make sure the story was totally coherent and nothing got confused or jumbled. Hades isn't your the stereotypical dark, brooding, and stoic man that most retellings of his story cast him as. He's actually quite sweet and, well, quite the opposite of what you'd expect from the king of the Underworld.

I read this book in one day, that's how much I was drawn into it. Although I will warn, this is not a fast moving book in the sense of Sophie and Adrian's story. Much of it is flashbacks to Hades and Persephone, which was honestly fine with me. But if you're someone who likes a fast moving plot, this is perhaps not the book for you. Still, Ringle's skill in reimagining this old tale had me hooked. I give this book 5 stars. Can't wait for the next book!

 Buy The Book

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                                Paperback                Paperback                       Paperback
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About the Author
Molly Ringle has been writing fiction for over twenty years. With her intense devotion to silly humor, she was especially proud to win the grand prize in the 2010 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest with one (intentionally) terrible sentence. Molly grew up in the Pacific Northwest, and lives in Seattle with her husband and children. Her studies include a bachelor of arts in anthropology and a master of arts in linguistics. She was a Tri-Delta in college, in an old sorority house that was supposedly haunted, which inspired some of the central ideas for 'The Ghost Downstairs.' She also loves folklore and mythology, and is working on new novels about the Greek myths. 'Persephone's Orchard' is the first in the series. When not writing, she can often be found experimenting with fragrances, chocolate, and gardening

Friday, July 11, 2014

Feature and Follow Friday!

The Feature & Follow is hosted by TWO hosts, Parajunkee of Parajunkee’s View and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it’ll allow us to show off more new blogs!


This is my first time doing this blog hop but I'm really excited for it!

This week's question is:
If you had a time machine (i.e. a TARDIS), where would you go?

I think I would go to the Elizabethan Era. Very briefly, just to see an original Shakespeare production, and then get the heck out of there. I don't know if I could handle the masses of unbathed people. 




BOOKSHELF TOUR!

On my youtube channel I did a bookshelf tour showing what my shelves currently look like. They were full to bursting quite a few months ago until I did some cleaning up and gave away a lot of books, so this is the state they're in now. You also get a glimpse at my (pretty dauntingly huge, at least for me) to be read pile. If you're interested, take a look!


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Review: Flight of the Golden Harpy by Susan Klaus

Flight of the Golden Harpy 
Pages: 400
Publisher: Tor Books
Genre: Fantasy/Sci-fi elements; Romance
Hardcover
GOODREADS
Kari, a young woman, returns to her jungle planet of Dora after ten years in Earth’s schools and is determined to unravel the mysteries surrounding the harpies, a feral species half-bird, half-mortal. The residences of Dora believe the harpies are dangerous game animals and hunt them for their trophy wings, but Kari thinks they are intelligent and not just wild animals. A rare golden harpy, a teenage blond male with yellow wings rescued Kari as a child from the jaws of a water monster. Upon returning home, she learns the harpies are facing extinction with the over-hunting and she sets out to save them, all the time wondering if the golden male is still alive.

Flight of the Golden Harpy is a fantasy, but also a mystery, thriller, and a love story that leaves a reader questioning our humanity

Review

I have mixed feelings about this book. So much so that I don't believe I can put a star rating on it because my emotions while reading would often completely change from one chapter to the next. I will say that upon finishing it I was happy with the book, and I felt compelled to keep reading pretty much the entire time (except for the very beginning.)

I think the biggest issue for me with Flight of the Golden Harpy is the author's writing itself. I've general found that if the reader is aware they're reading words on a page instead of completely transfixed with the story, there's something wrong with the writing that usually manifests itself through overdone syntax and/or jarring word choice (both of which I think this book is guilty of). The writing wasn't horrible, but it came off as stunted and even a little fanfiction-y at times when it came to descriptions of people. (If you've ever read mediocre fanfiction, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.) Especially in the beginning, the dialogue was incredibly dry, and I'll admit I wasn't too interested in the protagonist, Kari and her reclusive nature. However, I think a lot of this might've been the result of the author rushing herself to get to the good part. Things happen quickly, and once I got a few chapters in, I fell into the groove of her writing and didn't notice it as much. It could just be that I got used to it, but I also think the author really started enjoying her own story once Kari landed on Dora and things could really start happening.

Romance is usually one of my favorite aspects of novels (I'm a sucker, I know!) and I think if they're in the story, they have to be good or else why waste my time. I quite liked the chemistry between Kari and Shail, although I'll admit it's mostly because I loved Shail so much. Hands down my favorite character in the entire book because i'm kinda in love with him it's no big deal he was just so electric. Honestly, I feel like it was more his story than Kari's because of the journey he went on and how much he changed. Not gonna lie, I wouldn't mind a harpy boyfriend.

This novel wasn't one I immediately latched onto, but I did get into it as I kept reading. I feel like that will be the case with most people. If you start this book and think you're not going to like it, I urge you to keep going. Finishing the book was gratifying for me, and I'm usually the kind of person who stops reading quite early on if I think it's not my thing. Give it a chance, because Susan Klaus did an amazing job with worldbuilding and creating a vibrant setting in the novel. Honestly, reading a novel about harpies was incredibly refreshing because it's not a creature I've seen done before and it allowed my mind freedom to imagine as I read instead of having a preconceived notion. I loved how the harpies were written, and Klaus's attention to detail in their animal/human hybrid behavior was a nice touch. To digress a bit from world building, I think Susan Klaus also did quite a good job at character building. While not all the characters flourished for me (mostly side characters like Ted), the ones that were important did. Kari's father is a notable one--I thought I would loathe him but I ended up loving him. And of course, Shail. Beautiful Shail. *dreamy sigh* 

IMPORTANT NOTES: 1) This book does have several descriptive sex scenes, which I personally had no problem with (honestly I was hoping they'd be more detailed, lol.) But that is something to be aware of. I'm not really one for censorship but I think this book is best left out of the hands of young teens. Maybe 15 and up. I say if you can get behind the wheel of a car, you can read a few naughty words on a page.

2) Major trigger warning: there are two very detailed rape scenes, which I was not okay with because there was no indication anywhere that this book would be as violent as that. Speaking of violence, there's quite a bit of that as well. If you're someone that can be triggered by rape or violence, I think it's best to stay away from this book.

You see how I keep flipping back and forth between what I liked and didn't? It's hard to pin down my overall reactions, because I felt so strongly either good or bad about specific things.

This book isn't specifically sci-fi or fantasy, but more a meshing together of both, so I don't know who to recommend it to. I do think fans of fantasy will enjoy it, as I myself love fantasy and am only partial to sci-fi.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

I'm Baaack!

Hello my lovely book readers.

I know I have said time and time again in the past year that I would get back to book blogging (those posts have since been deleted because it was clear they weren't true). This time, I'm serious. I failed the other times because I was having the worst reader's block of my life, so I didn't have anything to actually write about and I couldn't jump into any book. But, I have gotten back into the groove of reading, and I'm excited to have What's Your Story back in my life.

Hope you guys will be here with me. :) New things coming up tomorrow, and I'm going to try and start scheduling things so I have time to keep reading.

Quickly, though. Because I've been out of the blogging scene I have fallen so completely out of touch with new books. I have no clue what the latest genre trends are, or who are the standout debut authors and such. It's frustrating because I used to be so immersed in the book world and now I feel like an outsider again. If you guys have any recommendations, that would be awesome!

Love you guys!

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