Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (7)

This fun little meme is hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine. We just choose a book that has an upcoming release date and we're super excited about, and then share it with the world. It's simple, yah?

Here is this week's book I'm most excited for. I suggest you get ready to add it on Goodreads;)

The Here and Now 
by Ann Brashares
Expected Publication: April 8, 2014
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre: YA, Romance, Dystopia

Follow the rules. Remember what happened. Never fall in love.

Thrilling, exhilarating, haunting, and heartbreaking, The Here and Now is a twenty-first-century take on an impossible romance. Ann Brashares’s first novel for teens since The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is about a girl from the future who might be able to save the world . . . if she lets go of the one thing she’s found to hold on to.

Meet seventeen-year-old Prenna James, who immigrated to New York when she was twelve. Except Prenna didn’t come from a different country. She came from a different time—a future where a mosquito-borne illness has mutated into a pandemic, killing millions and leaving the world in ruins.

Prenna and the others who escaped to the present day must follow a strict set of rules: never reveal where they’re from, never interfere with history, and never, ever be intimate with anyone outside their community. Prenna does as she’s told, believing she can help prevent the plague that will one day ravage the earth. But everything changes when she falls for Ethan Jarves.

I just got an ARC of this and I am So. Freakin'. Excited!!! I can't wait to read this, it just looks and sounds so good. It's too bad it's gonna be a while 'till I can actually get to this book *sigh*. 
Ah well. Have a rip-roaring rest of the week!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Movie Review: Red Riding Hood (2011)

Valerie (Seyfried) is a beautiful young woman torn between two men. She is in love with a brooding outsider, Peter (Fernandez), but her parents have arranged for her to marry the wealthy Henry (Irons). Unwilling to lose each other, Valerie and Peter are planning to run away together when they learn that Valerie's older sister has been killed by the werewolf that prowls the dark forest surrounding their village. For years, the people have maintained an uneasy truce with the beast, offering the creature a monthly animal sacrifice. But under a blood red moon, the wolf has upped the stakes by taking a human life. Hungry for revenge, the people call on famed werewolf hunter, Father Solomon (Oldman), to help them kill the wolf. But Solomon's arrival brings unintended consequences as he warns that the wolf, who takes human form by day, could be any one of them. As the death toll rises with each moon, Valerie begins to suspect that the werewolf could be someone she loves. As panic grips the town, Valerie discovers that she has a unique connection to the beast--one that inexorably draws them together, making her both suspect...and bait.
~Warner Bros. Pictures

This movie was an original take on the classic story of Little Red Riding Hood, and it was really cool how the storylines were barely the same, but the movie incorporated familiar scenes - such as the scene with the wolf and the grandmother - in a way that was completely unfamiliar and, in some cases, even ended up in a different outcome. I know there's a book called Red Riding Hood written by Sarah Blakley-Cartwright, but I'm not sure whether it was based on the movie or if the movie was based on it. I'm pretty sure the book was based on the movie though, especially considering that both the novel and film came out in 2011.

I feel like this would be a great movie for people who like reading books. Watching this movie to me felt like watching The Hunger Games or The Host after reading the book. There's this feeling of déjà vu, and it's easy to find yourself comparing the book and the movie, like you'd do with any other book-movie combo out there. I was reminded of The Crucible when watching the movie; it was so easy to compare the two. There were the false accusations of witchery and the guy who kills innocent people in the name of the Lord. Yeah, I'm talking about the wolf killer, Father Solomon; as far as I know, he hasn't killed any werewolves, only his wife. Coward. I guess he correlated to Abigail from The Crucible. It really is sad how people take advantage of the unknowledged, and how people are quick to blame their problems on people just because they're different. What's worse is that this happens every day in real life. It's just that the consequences are less obvious, and so not always acknowledged.

I know this is queer, but I found myself surprised at how...pretty the three main characters were. I don't want to be misunderstood here; I was downright giddy that I could stare at 2 hot guys throughout the film, but it seemed kind of unreal that people back then could look like that. For example, I really don't think Peter's hairstyle could have existed in the olden days when there was no such thing as hair gel. Neither would I expect everyone's clothes to be so fine, but maybe now I'm just thinking in stereotypes. Either way, I loved the setting, the clothes, the characters, and even the tone of the movie. Every detail in the movie served as a reminder of how creepy the little town was, and it was impossible to forget about the werewolf. I loved the mystery part of the movie as well, and I'm so glad that for once, I wasn't even close to guessing who the werewolf really was. I doubted tons of people, and it turns out the only person I didn't suspect was the bad guy. I love it when the movie is smarter than me;)

Readers of YA and fans of fairy-tale retellings, I think this is a movie you should at least take a look at. There's a lot of action and a singular romantic tension that doesn't take away from the main focus of the film. The characters were very well casted; I couldn't have done better if I'd tried. Take a peek at the trailer below. Hopefully, it'll prove my point. Plus, the music played at the end of the trailer is awesome!

Movie: Red Riding Hood
Released March 11, 2011
Director: Catherine Hardwicke
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Screenplay: David Leslie Johnson
Run Time: 102 minutes

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Mini Review: Bloodmark (Bloodmark Saga #1) by Aurora Whittet

Sixteen-year-old werewolf princess Ashling Boru is different from other wolves—she was able to shift to wolf form at birth. Rather than bringing pride to her family, it brings fear, and as a result, she is forced to live in seclusion in Ireland’s countryside. Ashling’s reputation is further blackened when she refuses her betrothed and defies the ancient laws. When her pack’s oldest rivals begin hunting her, she finds herself in the small town of York Harbor, Maine—far from everything she’s ever known.

In Maine, she crosses paths with the dark and rebellious Grey Donavan, and something ignites within her soul. There’s just one problem: Grey is human. Their instant connection turns into a passionate romance, and Ashling begins to believe she can create her own life outside of wolf laws. When she begins to uncover long-buried pack secrets—secrets that threaten to destroy all she holds dear—Ashling’s courage and tenacity are tested. Will she choose her deep and enduring love for Grey, or will she follow Old Mother’s path to her destiny?

~A copy was provided by Aurora Whittet for review~

Everybody, let me introduce you to the werewolf version of Twilight! Before you ask, yes, Twilight was waaay better than this book, but people who hate Twilight might want to keep a distance from this book. That's just my opinion though. To speak against myself, I'll admit I absolutely adored Twilight, and this...not so much. This novel is easily readable in a day, and personally I think it's split into 3 different parts. First there's the super interesting part where every sentence is intriguing and seems to have a story behind it. This is when there are tons of possibilities going through your head about where the story is heading and who the love interest will be (I didn't read the synopsis before reading the book). Then there was the "boring to death" part which I literally felt was a huge waste of my time. Everything, especially the romance, just seemed so unreasonable, and guys, if you hated the romance in Twilight, you will abhor this one, or at least the start of it. Finally, there was the third part of the plot, which was back to being interesting, and since it contained some of the best parts of the entire book - especially the end - I'll keep the spoilers to myself. Just know to expect a love triangle in the next book;)

So still wondering why you'll abhor Grey and Ashling's romance? It's because this novel takes love at first sight to the extreme. I can understand Ashling falling in love, but Grey too?! That is nowhere near how I prefer my book boyfriends. And it gets worse. The two young lovers actually said they love each other the first time they ate at a restaurant together, which was basically the first day after they met! I think you'll understand me when I say, werewolf mating tendencies or no, this rough start to the romance sucked.

Though Twilight is one of my all time favorite books, it made me hate werewolves on sight. Surprisingly, this werewolf book was actually pretty good, and despite my squabbles about Grey and Ashling's relationship, I did like Grey much more than Jacob Black. I'll concede that I would have preferred vampires, but for a book like this, I supposed werewolves must be the next best thing. My main problem with this book, nonetheless, was not the romance, or even the werewolves, but the fact that everything was predictable, and almost nothing came as a surprise as I was reading. Still, I'll probably read the second book in the series, not because of the normal reasons one continues a series, but because I really want to read some love triangle action, and based on what I read, apparently the entire next book is a courting competition! I don't know if that's true, but I'm definitely willing to find out XD
Title: Bloodmark
Author: Aurora Whittet
Released November 1, 2013
Publisher: Wise Ink Creative Publishing
Genre: YA, Paranormal Romance

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (6)

Waiting on Wednesday is an event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. This is a neat little meme were we get to showcase an upcoming release we can't help but be excited for.

This week's book that I'd be willing to wait every Wednesday on (though I'd rather not) is:

Butterfly Palace
by Colleen Coble
Publication: January 21, 2014
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Historical/Christian Romance

Lilly secures a job as lady's maid in a grand manor in Austin, Texas. But even far from home, her past lurks around every corner.

When Lilly Donnelly arrives at the Cutlers' famed Butterfly Mansion in 1899, the massive house and unfamiliar duties threaten to overwhelm her. Victorian Austin is lavish, highly political, and intimidating, but with the help of the other servants, Lilly resolves to prove herself to her new employers.

Then, while serving at an elegant dinner party, Lilly recognizes one distinguished guest as Andrew, the love of her life, who abandoned her without a word back home. He seems to have assumed a new identity and refuses to acknowledge her, leaving her confused and reeling.

Before Lilly can absorb this unwelcome news, she's attacked. Could it be the sinister Servant Girl Killer who has been terrorizing Austin? Or is it someone after something more personal--someone from her past?

Does she dare trust Andrew to help or is he part of the danger threatening to draw Lilly into its vortex?

You may have noticed that this book released yesterday, so technically I'm breaking the rules of WoW. Still, I just had to feature this book somewhere. Doesn't it look absolutely delightful?!! I've only read one of Colleen's books before, but I already know that this one will be great. Apparently this is a great book for fans of Downtown Abbey; I've never watched it before so I guess I'll just have to cross my fingers and hope I fall in love. And speaking of love, I think I've already started falling for brooding Andrew. Gosh you've just gotta love the mysterious, angry guys *dreamy sigh*. If I don't get this book soon, I don't even know the extremes I'll go to to get my hands on it O_O

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Review: Hanging by a Thread by Sophie Littlefield

Summer is the best part of the year in Winston, California, and the Fourth of July is the highlight of the season. But the perfect town Clare remembers has changed, and everyone is praying that this summer will be different from the last two—that this year's Fourth of July festival won't see one of their own vanish without a trace, leaving no leads and no suspects. The media are in a frenzy predicting a third disappearance, but the town depends on tourist dollars, so the residents of Winston are trying desperately to pretend nothing's wrong.

And they're not the only ones hiding something.

Clare, a seamstress who redesigns vintage clothing, has been blessed—or perhaps cursed—with a gift: she can see people's pasts when she touches their clothes. When she stumbles across a denim jacket that once belonged to Amanda Stavros, last year's Fourth of July victim, Clare sees her perfect town begin to come apart at the seams.

In a town where appearance means everything, how deep beneath the surface will Clare dig to uncover a murderer?

~Borrowed from school library; 288 pages~

I picked this book up about two Fridays ago when I was in the mood for murder. I don't mean I wanted to murder someone - that'd just be creepy - but that I wanted to read a good murder story. Of course, everything I read has to have at least a morsel of romance in it, and based on the synopsis and tags/labels on this novel, it seemed to fit the bill. It also helped that the title and book cover were so cool.You're probably thinking I hated this book since it took me about 1.5 weeks to read and review the book, but in reality, I finished half the book the Friday I got it, and the other half this last Friday. As I mentioned in my last post, it took abnormally long to finish this because of all the studying I had to do:/

Now, Clare, she is the perfect heroine for a book like this. She's strong and pretty and courageous, and isn't afraid to do the right thing. And she's also great at fixing familial issues, which when you think about it, is probably why Amanda's jacket "chose" Clare to bring its secrets to in the first place. I realize what I'm about to say is weird, but Clare reminded me a lot of the character Teddy from the Disney Channel show Good Luck Charlie. Both characters have great style and are great at reuniting estranged family members. I also happen to admire both characters' spunk;) Alright, I'm done with the Disney reference. You can stop staring at me like I'm an alien now.

While the mystery aspect of the book was pretty well-developed and enjoyable, I felt like there wasn't enough to it. Everything that happened seemed basic, without depth, and though it's probably what you'd expect from a small town like Winston, I was disappointed since I was hoping for something a little more involved. I wanted to be scared out of my mind (though not enough I wouldn't be able to fall asleep), and I wanted to be proven wrong about my suspicions about who the murderer(s) was/were. In that last point, the book certainly did not deliver. At the mention of almost each suspect, I knew for a fact that it was a red herring. While I'll admit I didn't realize who the actual murderer was until almost the very end, about a second before Clare herself realized who it was, I was positive about who it wasn't, and that means it's too predictable. I want to make it clear though that even though there was nothing even remotely scary about the book when I was reading it, even now, as I'm typing up this review, I'm starting at all the creaks in the house and looking behind my shoulder every few seconds. Not good.

Like I said before, the fact that this book contained romance was one of the two reasons I checked it out. I was glad that the romance wasn't the main part of the plot, but I did wish it was more believable. I think of myself as pretty gullible, and even I was doubting whether or not Jack was the good guy, what with his history and all. And speaking of, the book never really told us all the facts about him, like what exactly Clare saw in his head the first time she touched his clothes. Also, Clare and Jack literally met twice before Jack was throwing punches to defend Clare's honor, and the two were trying to decide whether or not to be boyfriend and girlfriend. Does that seem realistic to you? Still, Jack added another bit of mystery to the storyline, and I can't say that wasn't a good thing. I hate to admit it, but I think I actually would have liked this book better if Jack was involved in more of the mystery. Oh well. I guess I'll just have to learn to get used to more mystery and less romance. I doubt too much love is healthy anyways.

So overall, even though Hanging by a Thread wasn't exactly what I'd been hoping for when I picked up the book, it was a pleasant read, and apparently did succeed in creeping me out. I'll have to read or watch something sickly romantic before I can go to bed now. I'd recommend this book to people from middle school to early high school, since the plot wasn't as detailed as it could have been. People who frighten easily, this book isn't scary when you're reading it, but watch out for the aftereffects *looks over shoulder*.
Title: Hanging by a Thread
Author: Sophie Littlefield
Released September 11, 2012
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Genre: YA, Romance, Mystery

Monday, January 20, 2014

Fallen for Covers (6)

Fallen for Covers is a meme hosted by yours truly, though the idea was based on a meme called Fallen for Covers Mondays. You can see where I've blurred the lines between "got idea from" and "cheated", but until someone corrects me, I'm going to say this is my meme:) All that we (yup, that's the royal We, alright) do here is list the best covers we encountered last week.

Here are my favorite covers from the past 2 weeks (since I didn't do a FFC last week). And is it just me, or has the cover for The Inventor's Secret changed?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Movie Review: Intolerable Cruelty (2003)

Miles Massey, a prominent Los Angeles divorce attorney has everything--and in some cases, two of everything. Despite his impressive client list, a formidable win record, the respect of his peers and an ironclad contract (the Massey pre-nup) named after him, he's reached a crossroads in his life. Sated on success, boredom has set in and he's looking for new challenges. All that changes when Miles meets his match in the devastating Marylin Rexroth. Marylin is the soon-to-be ex-wife of his client Rex Rexroth, a wealthy real estate developer and habitual philanderer. With the help of hard charging private investigator Gus Petch, she has Rex nailed and is looking forward to the financial independence a successful divorce will bring. But thanks to Miles' considerable skills, she ends up with nothing. Not to be outdone, Marylin schemes to get even and as part of her plan, quickly marries oil tycoon Howard Doyle. Miles and his unflappable associate, Wrigley, unwittingly dig themselves in deeper and deeper as they go head-to-head with Marylin. Underhanded tactics, deceptions and an undeniable attraction escalate as Marylin and Miles square off in this classic battle of the sexes.
~Sujit R. Varma

Since I was sorely lacking in the number of books I read last week, and because I really didn't feel like starting a book at 1:00 in the morning, I did some researching and found this movie. I'm ashamed to admit it, but before watching this movie, I had no clue who George Clooney was. Yes, I know, I apparently live in my own little bubble. I've heard his name here and there, and it was when I finally took the time to search him up on Google that I was introduced to this movie. I felt like this movie would be the perfect present to treat myself to since I successfully studied for AP Bio for the first time since the last final! Intolerable Cruelty was exactly what I'd needed: nothing too deep or slow-going, but something that would knock me off my feet (which is kind of impossible since I was in bed while watching this) and make me laugh. And just so you're forewarned, please take note that this movie is completely unrealistic, and all the characters are just a bit touched in the head (in my opinion) 0-0

I have one question. Is George Clooney always obsessed with his teeth or is it just this movie? I feel like he could make it a trademark thing for himself. Anyways, I'd say this movie had tons of quirks, but in reality, the entire thing was a quirk. The "romance" was whirl-wind and not at all likely to happen outside of this movie, considering that Miles was his usual (I'm guessing here) crazy self, and Marylin was a woman intent on getting a rich husband, "nailing his ass", and walking away with a divorce and all his money. Smart woman, but kind of creepy. And Catherine's voice. I'm not quite sure what I think about it, though her tone and even her accent were perfect for her character. It completely fits the intelligent, seductive, manipulating woman she's portrayed as.

If I had to compare this to any movie at all, it would have to be Laws of Attraction. Sure, that movie was better - and not only because 007 was in it - but the whole court thing was similar. The romance in the before mentioned movie was more relate-able and honest and adorable, while I can't help viewing the couple in this movie as rich people who are so bored with life that they need the additional factor of falling in love with the opposite gender crazy person to spice it up. So my recommendation is, if you're looking for a light romcom to make you laugh, watch this. If you want to watch something that resembles a Julie James book (yes!), watch the Pierce Brosnan movie.

While I'm bloated with hundreds of miscellaneous emotions from watching this movie, I'm not exactly sure what I feel about it. The pacing was really quick and made the movie seem short. The theme of the film was great, but it didn't have those little details I like so much. I think that was done purposefully though. About two-thirds into the movie, I was devastated by how things turned out, and then all of the sudden, the plot twisted. Then you settle down...and there's another plot twist. You'd think the plot twists would be over by that point, but no, Mr. Wheezy Murderer has to get into it. Those red herrings near the end of Intolerable Cruelty (great name by the way) were the bane of my laughter. The ending was really cute, and it was nice how the Massey pre-nup had a huge symbolic role throughout the movie; I guess classics aren't the only type of media one can analyze. To get to the point, this was one heck of a movie that definitely made my night.
Movie: Intolerable Cruelty
Released October 10, 2003
Director: Joel & Ethan Coen
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Screenplay: Robert Ramsey, Matthew Stone, etc.
Run Time: 100 minutes

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Early Review: Alienated (Alienated #1) by Melissa Landers

Two years ago, the aliens made contact. Now Cara Sweeney is going to be sharing a bathroom with one of them.

Handpicked to host the first-ever L’eihr exchange student, Cara thinks her future is set. Not only does she get a free ride to her dream college, she’ll have inside information about the mysterious L’eihrs that every journalist would kill for. Cara’s blog following is about to skyrocket.

Still, Cara isn’t sure what to think when she meets Aelyx. Humans and L’eihrs have nearly identical DNA, but cold, infuriatingly brilliant Aelyx couldn’t seem more alien. She’s certain about one thing, though: no human boy is this good-looking.

But when Cara's classmates get swept up by anti-L'eihr paranoia, Midtown High School suddenly isn't safe anymore. Threatening notes appear in Cara's locker, and a police officer has to escort her and Aelyx to class.

Cara finds support in the last person she expected. She realizes that Aelyx isn’t just her only friend; she's fallen hard for him. But Aelyx has been hiding the truth about the purpose of his exchange, and its potentially deadly consequences. Soon Cara will be in for the fight of her life—not just for herself and the boy she loves, but for the future of her planet.

~A copy was provided by Disney Hyperion for review~

Remember how I said Cruel Beauty was the best book I read in January? Well, apparently that's a lie because this book is now my favorite. It's not because there's an action-filled plot, but because of the main characters and their beautiful blossom of romance. If you've read some of my reviews before, you probably know that I'm  a romance-obsessed reader who sometimes cares more about the romance than the plot. Luckily, this book had the perfect combination of both, though I think it tended to lean more toward the romance side of things. I'd shelve this book under chick-lit if it wasn't for the fact that there are aliens in this book. That reminds me: Obsidian lovers, this is the book you've been waiting for.

I wasn't sure whether I wanted to start this book at 12:00 in the morning, but after I started, the novel kept me hooked. The main plot begins early without pause, and the chapters are told in both Cara and Aelyx's POV. I didn't really pay attention to differences in tone between the two characters, but it was obvious who's mind I was looking into by the things said. Honestly, the two characters - and planets - are so different, yet so perfect for each other. And did I mention I really love Earth? Cara, in my opinion, was the perfect character, the selfless heroine I always long for in the books I read. She stands up for justice, and doesn't give in to the hate all around her. Even better, she refused to go on a diet just because Aelyx commented on the fact that she had hips the perfect size for birthing (yes, he said that). You go girl!

You'd think that since romance was such a big part of the story, that the plot would just be a side aspect to interest the readers. But no, this story actually had a solid, if not all-encompassing, plot, and oftentimes I found myself comparing it to Cinder. The aliens and the attempted alliance more than anything is what caused that connection. If you're expecting Alienated to be something like The 5th Wave, I'm going to have to say you've come to the wrong place. While I'd recommend this novel to all fans of YA romance, there's not much action to be found besides a few riots threatening letters here and there. To tell the truth, I'm not really sure why this book was so amazing. I just know that I loved it, and according to the stats, many other people did too:)

For once, my favorite character was not the hot & cold dude, but the main female character, so woot for that! And I want to set the record straight. The blurb makes Aelyx come off as "cold" and mean, but he isn't. He is crazy smart, and pretty arrogant, but not cold. So basically, he's not too much like the love of my life, Daemon. The relationship between Daemon and Katy was certainly similar to Cara's and Aelyx's, but still distinctly different. And is anyone else wondering if there's a new alien phase making it's way around YA books?

The second book in the series, Invaded, is coming out next year, and I admit I'm stoked at all the potential it's capable of. I'm thinking the second book might even be better than the first. I won't give away the cliffhanger, but I''m thinking Cara might find someone else whose company she enjoys immensely, if you know what I mean *raises eyebrows*. I know, I know, but trust me, it'd be worth it just to see Aelyx reveal that jealous alien side of his. I got a little glimpse of it in this book, and geez did it make my toes shiver;) Melissa, this is one heck of a debut you've written here. I think I'll put you on my auto-approved list haha (if I could only have the honor).

P.S. I forgot to mention the side characters. They are AMAZING, and so secretly essential to the plot you don't even know why 'till the end!
Title: Alienated
Author: Melissa Landers
Releases February 4, 2014
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Genre: YA, Romance, Science Fiction

Friday, January 17, 2014

Stacking the Shelves (5)

Stacking the Shelves is a meme  hosted by Tynga's Reviews. A whole bunch of bloggers do this every Friday or Saturday - sometimes even Sunday - sometimes to exclaim over new books we got, but mostly to help you find books you think you'd like to read. After all, why follow a blog if you don't get recommended books, right?

Below are the books I received this past week. Click on the covers for the Goodreads. Thank you so much Kensington Books, Henry Holt, Greenwillow/HarperCollins, Delacorte Press, HarperTeen, Dial, Disney Hyperion, Balzer + Bray, and Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) for the best ARCs I could ever hope for!:D

Those are the books I managed to get my hands on over the week.
What about you? Link me to your blog or Stacking the Shelves post and I'd love to check it out!
Enjoy the 3-day weekend!!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Early Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Graceling meets Beauty and the Beast in this sweeping fantasy about one girl's journey to fulfill her destiny and the monster who gets in her way-by stealing her heart.

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.

~A copy was provided by Balzer & Bray for review~

After reading this, I have to say that this is probably the best book I'll read this entire month. This is the type of book I enjoy reading. A book containing characters with love-hate relationships, swords, a cheeky demon lord, creepy ghost dudes, a meanie of a father, and a story that could possibly be better than the original version. I didn't see how this novel was anything at all like Graceling, but the Beauty & The Beast aspect was certainly there. What made me like this book so much though was not that this book was like the famous Disney movie, but because it wasn't. I might have made the retelling connection even if it wasn't pointed out in the blurb, but the relationship doesn't just jump out at you. About 75-85% - if not more - of this book is unconditionally original, and that, more than anything (...besides the romance) is what made me love this book.

My favorite character has to be the cheeky demon lord I mentioned earlier. He's called the Gentle Lord formally, and I fell in love with him the first time I, and Nyx, I guess, laid our eyes on him. I was surprised that he wasn't a great, hairy beast like in the movie, but a human. Besides his cat-like eyes, that is. I love him so, soooo much! No doubt about it, he is my book boyfriend of the month:D And before you ask, yes he was much more romantic and adorable and bold and passionate that the original dude ever was.  Rosamund Hodge, your greatest gift to this world was in creating him. I wonder where I can find me someone like him *grins*.

Now Nyx, she reminded me a bit of myself. There's the sibling adored by the father, the hard work, the kind-of malicious heart...we were almost the same. I'm hoping I'm smarter than her though, because she just went and followed her oaths blindly, with too much weakness, without thinking about the truth or consequences beforehand. Over-thinking things is my main weakness, but I think in Nyx's case it could have come in handy. What I loved most about Nyx though is that instead of playing the simpering, devious maiden her father and aunt wanted her to play whenever she was around her husband, Nyx was candid and straightforward, and constantly warned the Gentle Lord not to trust her too much. It was also great, though sad, that she was willing to sacrifice herself for her land and people, but I still can't believe that she was manipulated by her entire family even after she learned the truth.

The person I hated most in this book? It has to be about a tie between Shade, the Gentle Lord's "shadow", and Nyx's twin sister, Astraia. I hated Shade from almost the very beginning. I'm not sure why, exactly, but he just creeped me out. I liked him better when he was just a shadow without a face. Now just because I didn't like him doesn't mean he's a bad guy, or that Nyx didn't find him...desirable *gags*, or even that he didn't get a happy ending. Let's just say I'm glad he's not a real person/idiot/stupidhead. Weakazoid is another great adjective to describe him. And Astraia, she was too smiley and cheery. I'm not the best sister ever, but even I wouldn't be grinning from ear to ear if my brother was sent to save the world (Heaven forbid...he'd probably end the world by accident). And I know this'll make no sense to you, but I hated Astraia in both lives. Ugh, those two are the creepiest characters ever.

So yes, this is the best book I've read so far in 2014. It had he perfect amount of magic, love, and intrigue. Everything was opaque, and the ending was not at all predictable. And while we're on that topic, this book would have been the very definition of what a book should be...if only it didn't have the ending it did. I absolutely despised the ending, and while it wasn't too terrible, it wasn't the finale I would have written, and neither was it the movie ending. In truth though, I think I may have been secretly desiring the movie ending...

Here's a little sneak peak at my fave two people;) And trust me, this isn't even close to the best scene.

Ignifex kept his word: he took me only a few hours later, when the sun glinted high in the sky and the parchment around it glowed a honey-gold that put its gilt rays to shame.
“Get whatever you want for an offering,” he said, so I hunted through the house until I found candles and a bottle of wine. Ignifex took out an ivory key and unlocked a white door that I had never seen before. On the other side of it lay the graveyard; I went through it, and found myself stepping in the main gate. Before us a jumble of tombstones sprouted up in ragged rows, from plain little slab markers to statues and miniature shrines twice as large as a man.
Mother’s tomb lay near the back of the graveyard. I could have walked there in my sleep, and it did feel like I was dreaming, to stride there in clean daylight with the Gentle Lord at my side. The air was crisp, and the wind blew in ragged gusts that smelled faintly of smoke; the red-gold leaves swirled about us and crackled under our boots. Above us, the holes in the sky yawned like open tombs, but I was growing used to them. Instead, my back crawled with the fear that human eyes could see us, that all the world was waiting behind the tombstones to leap out and condemn me for my impiety. I looked around again and again, but though I saw no one, I couldn’t shake the feeling of being watched.
My mother’s was not the largest of the tombs, but it was elegant: a stone canopy sheltered a marble bed on which lay a statue of a shrouded woman, so delicately carved that you could see the lines of her face through the gauzy folds. On the side of the bed was carved “THISBE TRISKELION,” and below it the verse—in Latin, since Father was such a scholar—“IN NIHIL AB NIHILO QUAM CITO RECIDIMUS.”
From nothing into nothing how swiftly we return.
I knelt and set out the candles. Ignifex, standing beside me, lit them with a snap of his fingers, then stuck his hands in the pockets of his long dark coat. For the first time that I had known him, there was something stiff and awkward in the way he stood.
“You look like a scarecrow,” I said. “Kneel down and give me the corkscrew.”
He knelt and handed me the corkscrew; after a few moments of cold-fingered struggle, I got the bottle open. I poured a trickle of the dark wine onto the earth before the tomb.
“Blessings and honor belong to the dead,” I whispered. The ritual words were comforting. “We bless you, we honor you, we remember your name.”
I lifted the bottle and gulped a mouthful of wine. It was sweet and spicy, like the autumn wind, and it burned its way down my throat. Then I held out the bottle to Ignifex.
He looked at me blankly.
“We drink as well,” I said. “It’s part of the ceremony.”
His gaze waved. “I . . .”
“You will honor my mother or I will break this bottle over your head.”
Title: Cruel Beauty
Author: Rosamund Hodge
Releases January 28, 2014
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Genre: Fairy Tale Retelling, YA

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Cover Reveal: City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments #6) by Cassandra Clare

City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments #6)
by Cassandra Clare
Expected Publication: May 27, 2014
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Genre: YA, Paranormal Romance
Length: 733 pages


I am coming.

Darkness returns to the Shadowhunter world. As their society falls apart around them, Clary, Jace, Simon and their friends must band together to fight the greatest evil the Nephilim have ever faced: Clary’s own brother. Nothing in the world can defeat him — must they journey to another world to find the chance? Lives will be lost, love sacrificed, and the whole world changed in the sixth and last installment of the Mortal Instruments series!

First of all, why the heck is Sebastian featured on the cover where Jace is supposed to be??! Don't get me wrong, the cover looks amazing, but I really didn't see Sebastian coming. My second thought - after I got over the switch of characters on the cover - was literally OMG what the heck there are 733 pages in this book. This may very well end up being the longest book I read in 2014. Cool:) I was a bit disappointed by the last book since there wasn't enough Jace in it for me, so hopefully this book will make up for that with lots of romantic tension *wiggles eyebrows*. I seriously CANNOT wait for this book to come it noticeable?

Review: The Winter Witch by Paula Brackston

Fledgling witch Morgana must defend her love, her home, and her life in this enthralling tale perfect for fans of Discovery of Witches

In her small Welsh town, there is no one quite like Morgana. She has never spoken, and her silence as well as the magic she can't quite control make her a mystery. Concerned for her safety, her mother quickly arranges a marriage with Cai Bevan, the widower from the far hills who knows nothing of the rumours that swirl around her. After their wedding, Morgana is heartbroken at leaving, but she soon falls in love with Cai’s farm and the rugged mountains that surround it, while slowly Cai himself begins to win her heart. It’s not long, however, before her strangeness begins to be remarked upon in her new village. A dark force is at work there—a person who will stop at nothing to turn the townspeople against Morgana, even at the expense of those closest to her. Forced to defend her home, her love, and herself from all comers, Morgana must learn to harness her power, or she will lose everything.

Paula Brackston's debut novel, The Witch's Daughter, was the little book that could—with a captivating story, remarkable heroine, and eye-catching package, it has now netted over 40,000 copies in all formats. Now Paula returns with The Winter Witch, another enchanting tale of love and magic, featuring her signature blend of gorgeous writing, a fabulous and intriguing historical backdrop, and a headstrong and relatable heroine readers will cheer for.

~Owned as Kindle eBook; 352 pages~

"I was seven years old and had a dragon for a father."

This was a very unique book, to say the least. When I first encountered this book on Goodreads, I knew I had to get it right away. I started reading it that very night, and I was shocked a few pages into the book. Not due to the content, but the writing style. It was that dull writing I sometimes mention with other books. It's in no way bad, but with a story like this, it doesn't do anything to help spur on the excitement. The writing made me feel like the author was the narrator, telling us what the characters were saying and thinking in a lifeless, monotone voice. The low quantity of dialogue (since Morgana can't speak) and the rural setting also probably added to this sense of...not much excitement.

The Winter Witch is not at all what I had expected it to be. I will admit that this was a bit of a disappointment since I was hoping for so much more, but it wasn't a bad reading experience. The fact that Morgana couldn't talk reminded me of Judith from All The Truth That's in Me (see here for review), not only because their lack of speaking, but because they both had so many things going on inside of them, but no way to vent it. I'd hate to live like that; I'm a natural kicker and screamer, so I'm really glad I have an outlet. Morgana, unlike me, isn't a yeller, but a puncher. As in, whenever she gets freaked out, she's going to get violent, though not psycho violent. I don't understand how Cai could stand her punches whenever she got extremely emotional, but that just goes to show how perfect they are for each other. Morgana is really kid-like, and Cai, though more responsible, has a bit of that same innocence about him. It's was cute really, though not too useful when it was time to face Miss Evil (I'll leave you guessing on that one).

Cai was a gentle man, and a sad one at that. Sure he had his huge farm and the trust of his fellow villagers, but he was devastated over the death of his wife, and lived a dismal existence. When he finds Morgana, everything changes for him, and though he's often annoyed as heck by her, it's obvious from the very beginning that all he wants to do is please her, love her, and hopefully, be loved in return. Girls, I can tell you're all awwwing over that man right now;) I have to agree though, he really had almost no faults whatsoever. For one he never shames his wife in public. Two, he never criticizes her for her lack of house-wife skills. Three, he takes his wife's side on almost everything. Four, he isn't afraid. Five, he's just a really good man, sweet and caring and all that. Truly, Morgana could not have had better.

After hearing me talk about how boring the writing was and how unnatural (but still kind of boring) Morgana was, you're probably expecting me to just bury the book with my degrading words and then cover it up with dirt (or snow, since it suits this book better), right? Well, then I'm sorry, but you're wrong. I know, it surprised me too. Even with all the drawbacks I listed, the plot was impressive, and sometimes I found the words on the pages, um, the screen, so fascinating that I couldn't look away. Don't get me wrong, more than half of the time it wasn't the least bit hard to put my Kindle down and just go back to sleep, and yes, I had to kind of skim until the grand finale finally happened, but there's just something in the language and storyline that had me mesmerized. It was a beautiful book, and I'm sure many other people - especially Amish fans - would devour this book. Me, I'm too modern and scandalous. There's just not enough excitement in this book for me to fall in love with it. I was expecting something more YA, and though this is tagged YA on several sites, it doesn't really seem to be so.

I feel a bit bad about this, but I found myself chuckling after finishing the book and reading that Paula has a master's degree in creative writing. Now before you all get huffy and disapproving of me, let me finish. I wasn't laughing at her, but at the fact that when I thought about it for a moment, I realized how creative her writing truly was. I could even imagine it in a creative writing high school class: "Students, today's assignment will be to write a short story using little to no dialogue, but make it captivate readers so they keep on reading." Ha! I guess Paula really is a bit of a genius:D
Title: The Winter Witch
Author: Paula Brackston
Released January 29, 2013
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance, Magic

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday (2)

Top Ten Tuesday is one of the most fun events out here in the blog world, and it's hosted by the great people over at The Broke and the Bookish. This is the most discussion-y event I feature on this blog, and all we do is make thousands upon thousands of Top Ten Lists.