Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (17) - Valiant by Sarah McGuire

18392476Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Valiant by Sarah McGuire
Publisher:  Egmont USA
Publication Date: April 28th 2015

Goodreads summary:
A debut fairy tale retelling featuring a strong female character and a daring quest just right for fans of Shannon Hale, Jessica Day George, and Gail Carson Levine.

Saville despises the bolts of velvet and silk that her father loves- he's always prized them more than he's ever loved her. Yet when he's struck ill, she'll do anything to survive, even donning boys' clothes and begging a commission to sew for the king.

Piecing together a fine coat is far simpler than unknotting court gossip about an army of giants led by a man who cannot be defeated. And they're marching toward Reggen to seize the throne. But Saville knows giants are just stories, and no man is immortal.

Then she meets them, two scouts as tall as trees. She tricks them into leaving, but tales of the daring tailor's triumph quickly spin into impossible feats of giant-slaying. And mere stories won't deter the Duke and his larger-than-life army.

Now only a courageous and clever tailor girl can see beyond the rumors to save the kingdom again.

Valiant richly reimagines "The Brave Little Tailor," transforming it into a story of understanding, identity, and fighting to protect those you love most.

Why Valiant?
I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy of this book for review so I'm currently in the process of reading it and it is great! It reminds me of some of my favorite books as a kid, like Ella Enchanted, so it isn't exaggerating when it says it's perfect for fans of Gail Carson Levine! While I have read a bunch of YA fairy tale retellings, this one is unique and has more of a middle grade style to it with YA elements. I can't wait to see what everyone thinks.

Monday, February 23, 2015

February YA Releases

As we near the end of February, I have rounded up some February YA releases that I am super excited for; February has been an awesome month for YA novels! Since there are so many February releases, I decided to stick to only the new series/first-in-series.

 I had the opportunity to review some of these early, so be sure to check out my reviews.

22328546Red Queen (Red Queen Trilogy #1) by Victoria Aveyard
Released February 10th 2015 by HarperTeen

This is Victoria's debut novel and has made the New York Times Bestselling list already, which is pretty awesome!


The Sin Eater’s Daughter (The Sin Eater’s Daughter #1) by Melinda Salisbury
Released February 5th 2015 by Scholastic Press

I reviewed this earlier early on in the month an gave this a solid five stars - you can read my review here. It definitely has one of the most unique plot lines in YA lit and some pretty interesting and twisted characters.

Seeker (Seeker #1) by Arwen Elys Dayton
Released February 10th 2015 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers

The title, cover, and premise reminds me so much of the TV show Legend of the Seeker! I'll be reading and reviewing this later in the year.

16130758Shadow Study (Soulfinders #1) by Maria V. Snyder
Will be Released February 24th 2015 by Mira INK

Depending on how you look at it, you may or may not consider this a new series. Although it is officially listed as the first in the Soulfinders series, many, including myself, see it as the fourth book in the Study series. However, I had to include it as it's one of my favorite series ever and I am so excited that Maria is bringing it back after six years.
I reviewed this all the way back in December, so check out my five star review here.

Do you plan on reading any of these? What are some of your favorite February releases? Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

[Review] Of Breakable Things by A. Lynden Rolland

Of Breakable Things by A. Lynden Rolland

Rating: 4.5 stars
Series: Of Breakable Things #1
Release Date: April 2014

Goodreads Synopsis:

A captivating debut about the fragility of life, love, and perspective.

When Chase dies tragically, Alex embraces her own mortality. What she didn’t expect was that she’d have to make a choice: forget the years of pain and suffering once and for all, or linger as a spirit and get another chance at life and love.

Alex doesn’t hesitate to choose; she’d follow Chase anywhere. But the spirit world is nothing like she expected, and Alex finds she's forced to fight for her life once more. For even in a world where secrets are buried much deeper than six feet under, a legacy can continue to haunt you—and in a place this dangerous, no one is resting in peace.

When I first picked this book up, I thought it would be another "star-crossed" lovers story. But it turned out to be so much more. 

In the world Rolland created, you are allowed a second chance. Especially for those who died young and weren't able to live out their lives to the best of their abilities. Now for these "newburies", as they are called, they are sent to a school to learn how to control and use their newfound powers. 

It sounded like the makings of another Harry Potter story. Not quite. Of Breakable Things was written like an out of body experience - everything you think becomes real. Moving objects with your mind, moving through cell phone waves as a form of transportation, having connections between the spirit and the real world, all of this is possible in Eidolon. 

The characters, from Alex Ash to the Lasalles and to all the other families, multigenerational or otherwise, all were unique. The Bonds were quiet and stranger while the Darwins were aggressive. Seeing Alex grow accustomed from being unfamiliar with her abilities to being able to accept and use them was great. As a protagonist, I was happy that her love of Chase Lasalle didn't weaken her, and instead it gave her strength. 

Now instead of focusing on the school and learning aspect of how everything works in this world, there was more of a focus on the mysteries surrounding Alex Ash's powers and her mother, as well as some friction and tension, with Alex and the Lasalle brothers, Jonas and Chase, and between the different families in the school. I will admit, I would have liked to know more about how the Lasalles ended up dying, and many of the others' pasts, which prevents me from giving this book 5 stars, but perhaps we'll see this in the second book. 

Despite this, I was absorbed in the world of Eidolon from beginning to end. I could practically picture this "better" version of our world, this world of spirits surrounded by vibrant colors and thoughts. Rolland even created her own unique take on the scariness of haunted houses; it's because of the spirits! Halloween must be an exciting time for them. 
Even the use of banshees in this world is well placed, as former spirits who have lost their minds. 

Nothing played out the way I expected it to, with so many plot twists and turns. Sure, Alex and Chase ended up together. But Eidolon isn't as perfect as we think it is; it's not heaven for everyone who has died. I felt bad for Jonas - not only does he not have the girl of his dreams, he's exiled, too. It ends on a cliffhanger of sorts; with the secrets of the spirit world slowly revealing themselves. That being said, I can't wait to read Of Breakable Things #2. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday (7) - Top Ten Book Related Problems I Have

Top Ten Tuesday is a an original feature/ weekly meme that was created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week a new topic is presented and this week's is:

Top Ten Book Related Problems I Have

1. Book Withdrawal- You know that feeling that you get after you finish a really good book? And you just want to read the next one except it's not coming out until next year? Or even worst there is no next one? Yeah, that feeling.

2. Book to Movie- The hope. The disappointment. We've all been there with the crappy adaptations with half the plot changed and the other half gone altogether. (I'm looking at you Mortal Instruments movie- why??) 

3. I Have Too Many - I didn't realize exactly how many books I actually owned until I had to move this summer. Let me tell you I think that I hurt my back transporting boxes and suitcases of books to my car. I thought that I was really good about limiting the number of books that I owned- I usually give out or donate my arcs/ books that I didn't enjoy, but there was still a ton of books. I cleared out most of shelves during the move but I have a feeling that books are soon going to replace the space again.

4. I'm Spending Too Much On Books- This is probably the reason for the previous one. Is it my fault that the book just came out and that I really need it? Or that it has a nice cover? Or that it got great reviews from everybody that I know? Or that it's on sale? No. No it's not.

5. The Never-ending Stack of Books to be Read- They're glaring at me as I type this. "Read me! Why haven't you read me yet?"

6. When There's No Fandom for the Book- Where is the fanart? The fanfiction? The place where I can talk about how much I loved it? WHY DON'T MORE PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT THIS BOOK??

7. Forgetting What Happens in the Previous Book- "Oh man I know that I liked the first one? Wait what happened in it?"

8. My Covers Don't Match - I absolutely hate it when a publisher changes the book covers in the middle of a series because then I have the problem of my covers not matching on my bookshelf. They look like they don't belong together even though they do! (Although some book covers changing are for the best)

9. The Long Nights/ Early Mornings- When you HAVE to finish the book and know how it ends. You can't go to sleep without finishing the book! There's only a couple of pages left. Does it matter if you have class tomorrow? Probably not.

And (Of course)

10. I Don't Have Time to Read Them All- The classic booklover's problem. *sigh* 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Valentines Day Book Reccomendations

Whether you celebrate Valentines Day or not, it's a perfect excuse to read a nice romance book snuggled up by the fireplace with a steaming cup of hot chocolate. In case you're stuck on what to read, here are some suggestions for YA books with some great romance!

For the Paranormal Romance fan...
Bloodlines by Richelle Mead

For the Contemporary lover...
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

For the Fantasy/Love Triangle fan...
The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

For the Sci-Fi lover...
Cinder by Marissa Meyer

And a bonus...
Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay

This isn't YA, but I recently discovered it and the plot is so thrilling! It isn't actually romance, but it is set on Valentines Day 1900 at the Hanging Rock in Australia. There are actually debates on whether or not this supposedly fictitious mystery is actually fiction. It is also a movie!

6936382Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1)66441178709527

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

[Review] The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

Rating: 3.5 Stars
Series: Magisterium  #1
Version: ARC
Release Date: September 9, 2014

Goodreads synopsis:
Most kids would do anything to pass the Iron Trial.

Not Callum Hunt. He wants to fail.

All his life, Call has been warned by his father to stay away from magic. If he succeeds at the Iron Trial and is admitted into the Magisterium, he is sure it can only mean bad things for him.
So he tries his best to do his worst - and fails at failing.

Now the Magisterium awaits him. It's a place that's both sensational and sinister, with dark ties to his past and a twisty path to his future.
The Iron Trial is just the beginning, for the biggest test is still to come . . .

Not going to lie- I went into this book expecting another version of Harry Potter. There's a lot of similarities between the two books that I got just from reading the blurb and looking at the cover- three main protagonists, a magic world, a boy who doesn't fit in. So when I read the haunting and creepy prologue I was pleasantly shocked- this world was definitely a lot grimmer and distinct.

The Iron Trial reads like a set up for the series- it helps establish the world and characters. As a result, the pacing was pretty slow through out most of the book. Parts of the story seemed tedious to me-  there was a portion of the book where the characters were sorting sand by different colors which I thought took up way too many pages. I would find myself putting the book down while reading  because there seemed to be so many scenes where there was no plot development and my attention span could not take it. There's not much action in The Iron Trial- especially in the middle of the book. However there were so many mysteries that were present in the book- the elements, Callum's parents, the Enemy of Death, etc. that were setups for so many different situations and conflicts and I'm kind of upset that most of them were not acted upon for most of the book.  However the ending of the book really kicked up the pacing when the twist was revealed. I totally did not see it coming and it made me devour the rest of the book.

While there was a lack of action, there was great world development. I really loved the magic system that The Iron Trial has-

"Fire wants to burn.
Water wants to flow.
Air wants to rise.
Earth wants to bind.
Chaos wants to devour."

and how the use of elements can affect a magic user. I got to really know the characters- especially Callum, who I just adore. Even though he's the main character, he still has an underdog type vibe to him which really made me root for him through out the whole book. Even with Callum's friends Tamara and Aaron, their characters are really fleshed out already. At first Tamara really reminded me  of Hermione due to their intelligence and drive, but as I read on a lot more differences began to be apparent between the two characters.

Overall it was an ok read. It was a nice middle grade book with magical elements that will (hopefully!) led on to be an epic series. The Iron Trail, being the first one, was a bit lacking in pacing and plot but provided a good base for the series.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (16) - The Ruby Circle by Richelle Mead

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

The Ruby Circle by Richelle Mead 
Bloodlines #6
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: February 10th, 2015

Goodreads Summary:
Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets—and human lives.

After their secret romance is exposed, Sydney and Adrian find themselves facing the wrath of both the Alchemists and the Moroi in this electrifying conclusion to Richelle Mead’s New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series. When the life of someone they both love is put on the line, Sydney risks everything to hunt down a deadly former nemesis. Meanwhile, Adrian becomes enmeshed in a puzzle that could hold the key to a shocking secret about spirit magic, a secret that could shake the entire Moroi world.

Why Circle?
It seems like yesterday that the Vampire Academy series ended and now Bloodlines is ending?! (Say it isn't so!) I'm going to miss Sydney and Adrian and the whole gang from Palm Springs so much. It seems unreal that the whole Vampire Academy world is coming to a close.
I can't wait for Ruby Circle to see how all of the loose ends from Silver Shadows are going to be tied up and to see how Sydney's and Adrian's relationship is now that they're *Spoiler Alert if you haven't read Silver Shadows* married. Not gonna lie, I'm probably going to spend my Valentine's Day reading this.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

[Review] The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury


The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury

Rating: 5 Stars
Series:  The Sin Eater’s Daughter #1
Version: Advance Readers Copy
Release Date: February 5, 2015

Goodreads Synopsis: 

Seventeen-year-old Twylla lives in the castle. But although she’s engaged to the prince, Twylla isn’t exactly a member of the court.

She’s the executioner.

As the Goddess embodied, Twylla instantly kills anyone she touches. Each month she’s taken to the prison and forced to lay her hands on those accused of treason. No one will ever love a girl with murder in her veins. Even the prince, whose royal blood supposedly makes him immune to Twylla’s fatal touch, avoids her company.

But then a new guard arrives, a boy whose easy smile belies his deadly swordsmanship. And unlike the others, he’s able to look past Twylla’s executioner robes and see the girl, not the Goddess. Yet Twylla’s been promised to the prince, and knows what happens to people who cross the queen.

However, a treasonous secret is the least of Twylla’s problems. The queen has a plan to destroy her enemies, a plan that requires a stomach-churning, unthinkable sacrifice. Will Twylla do what it takes to protect her kingdom? Or will she abandon her duty in favor of a doomed love?

 When I first read the synopsis, it reminded me so much of Graceling with the whole "main character is kingdom's executioner with a crazy monarch" element, but this book has some of the most unique elements in YA literature and I'll talk more about that later in the review. As soon as I read the synopsis on goodreads a few weeks back, I knew I HAD to read it; everything about it appealed to me and I am happy to say that it did not disappoint.

There are so many crazy twists and just when you think you know where the plot is going...bam! You're in for a ride. Melinda's ability to keep her readers at the edge of their seats throughout the entire story is truly a talent. So although the premise may seem very similar to Graceling, the writing and story is actually very different and it is truly an adventure of it's own.

In terms of characters, I for some reason tend to favor supporting characters so I'm disappointed there wasn't as many prominent or important supporting characters. I found Twylla, the protagonist, to be such a pushover and I kept shouting "take charge!" at her in my mind every time she had any kind of interaction with the Queen. Although I am satisfied with her development throughout the story, I personally find her dull and find the supporting characters far more interesting.

Speaking of supporting characters, Leif is probably the most interesting and multi-dimensional character in the story and despite everything, I still have a soft spot for him since I credit Leif for Twylla's transformation and development. The Prince is pretty boring and bland compared to Leif and I didn't care too much for him. The King is also interesting and one of the more likable characters, and the Queen is so crazy that it becomes fascinating, and it definitely makes her a very interesting character. The Queen's nefarious deeds is probably one of the elements that make this story so wildly crazy and twisted and Melinda did a spectacular job creating her character. Overall, there was a pretty good mix of characters although stronger supporting characters wouldn't have hurt.

One of the most unique things about this book is the ending. You don't see many endings like this one in YA novels, especially those with a love triangle. I thought Twylla made an interesting choice, and the last few sentences served as a nice cliffhanger. Even though this is a series and the actual ending of the entire series will probably be different, I commend Melinda on ending this book this way.

I look forward to reading the second book and cannot thank Scholastic enough for providing me with an ARC!