Saturday, October 31, 2015

[Review] The Sleepwalker Tonic by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller

The Sleepwalker Tonic by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller

Rating: 4.25 stars
Series: Nightmares! #2
Version: ARC
Release Date: September 8, 2015

Goodreads synopsis:
Charlie Laird has a dream life.

1) He has a weirdo stepmom who runs an herbarium. 
2) He lives in a purple mansion with a portal to the Netherworld.
3) Since they escaped from the Netherworld, he and his best friends have been sleeping like babies. 

But Charlie can’t shake the feeling that something strange is afoot. Charlotte’s herbarium used to be one of the busiest stores in Cypress Creek. Now her loyal following is heading to Orville Falls for their herbal potions.
Weirder, though, Orville Falls is suddenly filled with . . . zombies? At least, they sure look like the walking dead. Rumor has it that no one’s sleeping in Orville Falls. And Charlie knows what that means.

Things are getting freaky again.

[Book Tag] Creatures of the Night

To celebrate Halloween, we'll be doing a Creatures of the Night Book Tag, created by booktuber Katytastic (Here's her video)

We'll be recommending some of our favorite books with these paranormal creatures!


The Coldest Girl in Coldtown 1. Vampire
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

When Tana was a little girl her world had made a ground breaking discovery, vampires are real, and they can infect you. Now several years later Tana is a teenager, vampire bounty hunters roam the land, the infected are thrown in quarantined "coldtowns", and teenagers have an excuse to stay at a party from dusk 'til dawn. The wonderfully unique thing about it is that life is pretty much normal for the main character, until it doesn't and she wakes up surrounded by corpses. Piece by graphic piece Black slowly describes the massacre forcing to scramble to put the horrify scene together along with Tana. This is one of the most original takes on vampires I've read in awhile and Holly Black can scare like no other.

Silver in the Blood (Silver in the Blood, #1)2. Werewolf
Silver in the Blood series by Jessica Day George


In this historical fantasy upon turning seventeen Dacia and Lou are forced to travel to Romania to learn for about their extended relatives, family obligations, and shape shifting powers. Unbeknownst to the Florescus girls, across a beautiful an eerie manor setting, the secrets of another ancient family may prove even more dangerous than their own.






3. Zombie
Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick

Bick's dystopia is literally quite close to home. Unexplained forces result in electromagnetic waves that change the minds/brains of millions to turn them either into mindless (or maybe not as mindless as we think!) or changed beings with interesting powers. This could probably fall under superhumans too... But the "Changed" are out for brains, and perhaps even more, in the post-apocalyptic world where electronics can't save you. 






Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna, #1)4. Ghost
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
In the gothic and down right scary atmosphere Blake empower Anna's blood dripping ghost with power to truly terrify. And at times thats exactly what she does to Cas Lowood,  a seventeen year old professional ghost banisher. Anna has killed everyone that has ever stepped into her house, until Cas.







5. Witch/Warlock/Spellcaster
The Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima
In the world of the Seven Realms, there exists multiple factions - most of them waging an inner war. The clans hate the wizards, calling them 'jinxflingers'. Likewise, the wizards hate the clans, proclaiming to be more superior. Both want a place on the Grey Wolf Throne, and as a result, the Queens of the Fells must make life-change decisions in order to maintain the peace. Chima does a great job of connecting different types of magic - the talismans and the healing spells and the jinxes, to weaving a tale of forbidden love and coming of age.

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)6. Fairy/Fae
A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas

A a retelling of beauty and the beast Sarah J. Mass' s world stands out on it own for its creative faerie creatures and magical realms.  As the the sole provider for her family, Feyre, a beautiful huntress, is furious when she is forced into the Farie Realms by her would be murder turned reluctant captor, High Faere Lord Tamlin. Mass slowly integrates us along with Feyre into this magical mysrious land, introducing different kinds of fae and places one by one always adding her' own dark twist. 
City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1)


7. Demon
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

City of Bones and The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. The series focuses on a group of demon hunters known as Shadowhunters. The Shadowhunters are also known as Nephilim and their purpose is to rid the earth of demons.






Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #1)

8. Angel
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

In this world angels and monsters are intertwined in an ancient war and the angels have just started their end game. Caught in the middle is Karou, the "adopted"  child of a monster with a magical shop. But now the doors to the magical shop are closing, sealed with a scorch mark of heavenly fire. While trying to find a way back to her the only family she's ever known she catches the attention of a not so guardian angel. Yes, there are Angels in this series, but not your grandma's angels. Taylor reimagines them in a light that is far from scripture, casting them as more warrior like and flawed, in a way not wholly unlike Supernatural, that makes you question which side has the real monsters.



9. Alien
The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer 

A sci-fi fantasy retelling of fairytales, The Lunar Chronicles follows Cinder as she discovers who she is and how to stop the evil Queen Levana - ruler of the Lunars species who live on the moon and have mind- control abilities. These aren't your usual aliens with green skin and peaceful intentions, Levana wants to take over the world.







10. Superpowered human

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Gracelings are humans with special abilities that are all unique to every person. Katsa's been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight.

Happy Halloween! We hope you found some spooky/mystical suggestions for your next out of this world read! 

Friday, October 30, 2015

[Review] To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
Rating: 5 stars
Series: To All the Boys I've Loved Before #1
Release Date: April 15th 2014

Goodreads Synopsis:
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister's ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all. 
I've been meaning to get to this book for forever! Lately, I've been reading and reviewing very serious sci-fi's and fantasy books, and lighthearted contemporaries are something I find very hard to get into. But To All the Boys I've Loved Before did not disappoint! 

Our narrator Lara Jean Covey, reminded me so much of my high school self, because she's certainly young and naive about many things. She can be immature and she sometimes doesn't look beyond a person's 'cover', being quick to judge, but who wasn't like that in high school? Throughout the novel, we see her grow from that, as she grows fond of Peter Kavinsky. 

Peter Kavinsky himself was a very charming love interest. I usually do not like the popular guy, in books (and in real life haha!), but the more I read, the more I liked him! The banter and interaction between him and Lara Jean was adorable. The pretend relationship was adorable. He was adorable. Peter was funny, and understanding, and caring. He got along so great with Lara Jean's youngest sister, Kitty. He tried hard to be a great pretend boyfriend for Lara Jean. He even got her donuts! We all need a Peter K. in our lives. 

And, I'm going to be hypocritical, as I stated in my TTT trope post, that I do not like love triangles, but Jenny Han wrote out this romance so well, I couldn't hate it. I loved it. Was it even a love triangle? You should read to find out! It was hard, in the beginning, to chose who I liked more - Peter K. or Josh. They were both lovable and had their quirks. I eventually ended up choosing Peter K., and it was more so because Josh was better suited with Margot.

The plot made me think that the underlying message is that you miss a thousand of the shots you don't take. But in spite of that, when you do take a chance, something good may or may not come out of it. Lara Jean regretted not telling Josh her feelings, but it worked out in the end for her. Those shots of hers, being the love letters, opened up a whole new world for her. Now I wonder... if I did the same thing, would I have the same results? A girl can only dream.

Han's writing style is simplistically youthful, and contains all the questions we perhaps wondered about love. I dog-ear my pages whenever I find great quotes in books, and looking back, I did end up dog-earing a lot. Here are some top quotes!

"Do you know what it's like to like someone so much you can't stand it and know that they'll never feel the same way?"

"A hundred years ago eighteen-year-old guys were out there fighting wars with bayonets and holding a man's life in their hands! They lived a lot of life by the time they were our age. What do kids our age know about love and life?"
Ah, what it's like to be young! 

To All the Boys I've Loved Before was an awesome read! I loved the diversity and Lara Jean's half-Korean heritage, I loved the atypical love triangle, I love the not stereotypical popular love interest, I loved the close family bonds, and I love how fun and fresh and relatable it all was. If you're looking for a contemporary with all of that, this is the book for you! 

Now if only I had the sequel...



Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (23) - Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan


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

Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan
Publisher: Harper Teen
Release Date: January 19th 2016

Goodreads Summary: 
Raisa was just a child when she was sold to work as a slave in the kingdom of Qilara. Despite her young age, her father was teaching her to read and write, grooming her to take his place as a Learned One. In Qilara, the Arnathim, like Raisa, are the lowest class, and literacy is a capital offense. What’s more, only the king, prince, tutor, and tutor-in-training are allowed to learn the very highest order language, the language of the gods. So when the tutor-in-training is executed for teaching slaves this sacred language, and Raisa is selected to replace her, Raisa knows any slipup on her part could mean death.
Keeping her secret is hard enough, but the romance that’s been growing between her and Prince Mati isn’t helping matters. Then Raisa is approached by the Resistance—an underground army of slave rebels—to help liberate Arnath slaves. She wants to free her people, but that would mean aiding a war against Mati. As Raisa struggles with what to do, she discovers a secret that the Qilarites have been hiding for centuries—one that, if uncovered, could bring the kingdom to its knees.
Why Sword and Verse? 

Well, it is a silly reason, but I do like to read books with my name as the main character's! You rarely get a Raisa. Only other time I found a Raisa was in Cinda Williams Chima's The Seven Realms series. 
Plus, forbidden romance? And with a prince, no less? I love court and high fantasy intrigue! 
Finally, I'm pretty excited if this Raisa ends up being a badass and bringing down her people's oppressors... But the romance with her prince! I can't wait to read all these conflicts. 


Sunday, October 25, 2015

Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin Book-Signing and Book-off Deals!

This can also be titled - How Raisa Spent Her Saturday in the City

I recently read Wolf by Wolf (see my review here!), and when I found out Ryan Graudin was coming to the city, I had to go! Plus, her book signing and talk was in Kinokuniya, one of my favorite bookstores. It caters to your inner bookworm and your inner anime/manga obsession. Also, as a Japanese store, there's a ton of Japanese merchandise! But before I get carried away about my love of Kinokuniya (and we will talk more about our favorite NYC bookstores eventually!), let me tell you about Wolf by Wolf and Ryan Graudin.

video

At the book signing and event, Graudin read the opening scene to her novel, Wolf by Wolf. I actually have more but I had to cut it to fit the 100 mb.

I didn't really record/write down anything, in true Humans of New York fashion (Brandon Stanton doesn't write his interviews down and just remembers them), and I don't want to misquote anyone, so I'll do some short fun facts I learned from the event!

1. Wolf by Wolf will be a duology.
2. Adele will be in the second novel.
3. The sequel comes out next fall.
4. Ryan Graudin has a wolf-hybrid dog (Many more reasons for the wolf motif!)
5. Felix was the most frustrating character for her to write. Reason being, "you shouldn't force your characters to do something they don't want to do".
6. While Wolf by Wolf focused more on Yael, in the sequel, there will be much more of the other characters.
7. The Scorpion Rules is one of Graudin's favorite books! However, in contrast to its slow pace, Wolf by Wolf definitely has a faster, adrenaline filled vibe.
8. Certain characters carry similarities to real people (Erwin Reiniger to Erwin Rommel), but they're their own people
9. Wolf by Wolf is about Yael dealing with her identity as a skinshifter
10. Yael's wolf tattoos remind her of the people who shaped her and changed her into who she is. There were also washable wolf tattoos at the event!
11. Ryan Graudin saw Inglourious Basterds after writing Wolf by Wolf.

To finish off, there was a book signing of her novels, so I got my ARC of Wolf by Wolf signed, as well as The Walled City. Plus, there's a wolf stamp!

 


And I got a picture with her! She's so nice.


To top off my Saturday, I headed over to Book-off, home of the greatest deals in books and games and manga - and now, holiday goods! Amongst many other things. The YA section is hidden in the back on the second floor, where all the Japanese books are. If you really look, you'll find really hidden gems. This is what I found! All 5$ each! New releases too! They're such a steal.

Why would anyone sell these!?
I now intend to go back at the end of every month, because it seems that's when new releases appear. Preparing to be broke. There are also certain days (if you follow their twitter here) that they have even cheaper deals (you might be thinking - is this possible?!) But it is! And if you're in the NYC area, I recommend checking out both Kinokuniya and Book-off, they're only three streets away from each other.

How was everyone else's Saturday?

Thursday, October 22, 2015

[Review] Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Red Rising by Pierce Brown
Rating: 4.5 stars
Series: Red Rising #1
Version: Paperback
Release Date: January 28th 2014

Goodreads Synopsis:
The Earth is dying. Darrow is a Red, a miner in the interior of Mars. His mission is to extract enough precious elements to one day tame the surface of the planet and allow humans to live on it. The Reds are humanity's last hope.
Or so it appears, until the day Darrow discovers it's all a lie. That Mars has been habitable - and inhabited - for generations, by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. A class of people who look down on Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.
Until the day that Darrow, with the help of a mysterious group of rebels, disguises himself as a Gold and infiltrates their command school, intent on taking down his oppressors from the inside. But the command school is a battlefield - and Darrow isn't the only student with an agenda.
This book evoked all the feelings in me. From start to finish, Pierce Brown had me hooked. Was it the violence? Maybe. Was it the characters? Perhaps. Was it the sarcastic dialogue? Could be the answer.

The answer on why I loved this book - it was that and so much more. I read Hunger Games, and Red Rising took the survival game trope to a whole new level, a spatial one (ah, my jokes). This time, the motivation to win and topple the hierarchy came before the game, before Darrow entered the world of the Golds. When he was just a simple Red. 

Red Rising is much more bloodier than Hunger Games, in my opinion. But it wasn't needlessly or excessively bloody. The maturity of this book was unreal, because all the violence and blood was written to match the atmosphere of Mars. The god of war himself would have been pleased with how tacticians were made in the Institute's game. And every character death had significance. Darrow, even with his ever-increasing ego, feels guilt and regret for all those who died. 

Speaking of Darrow, despite being carved into a Gold, isn't perfect. He may be cocky and overconfident, but it bites him in the butt on more than one occasion. The perfect example is with Cassius. I loved their friendship and brotherhood, and I was so sad when Cassius found out the truth. If only Darrow trusted Cassius. Now when Darrow messes up, he goes off and improves on it, learning from his enemies and making allies to conquer and win the game. He's unwavering in his goals to take down the Golds, except for the fact that he's actually becoming friends with some of them. Sevro and Mustang (that name reminds me of Roy Mustang) are great friends, and Darrow's interactions with the both of them? Priceless. They trust Darrow entirely with his leadership, so I wonder what happens if they learn the truth...? Or has Sevro figured it out? 

Sevro in general deserves an entire paragraph. He may not be the perfect looking Gold, but he's fantastic. He's self sufficient and so damn snarky. He doesn't take anyone's nonsense. Can they just make a Red Rising movie already so they can hopefully cast a perfect Sevro?

The dialogue in this book is great. It had me laughing out loud. I love sarcastic characters and snark all around (as I'm also a snarky blogger). When they referenced The Enders Game series by Orson Scott Card (I'm a big fan!), I loved this book even more (is that even possible?!) The comparison between Ender Wiggin and the Jackal - 10/10 dialogue.

So this kid is what? A predestined Alexander? A Ceasar? A Genghis? A Wiggin?" I ask. "This is slagging nonsense.

Another example of lovely dialogue mentioning trope/another book.


She groans. "I've become the maiden in distress, haven't I? Slag! I hate those girls."
Finally, the history and culture and hierarchy pyramid of the Colors. The unique naming (au = Gold, ag = Silver and that honestly makes a chemistry major's day). The designated roles for each color. The expansion of society into other parts of space. The use of Roman gods and goddesses and the similarities to Roman society. 

This book, I gorydamn loved this book. My only complaint was the slow pace. A couple hundred pages in, and Darrow still is trying to win this game? Or maybe this was relatable to how slow war can be... Hm. Regardless. I can't wait to read the sequel, Golden Son. I highly recommend this book! If you read it, what do you think of it? Did you like it? Hate it? Want to fangirl with me? Comment below!



Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (22) - Ten Thousand Skies Above You by Claudia Grey


Waiting on Wednesday

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

Ten Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: November 3rd 2015

Goodreads Summary: 
Ever since she used the Firebird, her parents' invention, to cross into alternate dimensions, Marguerite has caught the attention of enemies who will do anything to force her into helping them dominate the multiverse—even hurting the people she loves. She resists until her boyfriend, Paul, is attacked and his consciousness scattered across multiple dimensions. 
Marguerite has no choice but to search for each splinter of Paul’s soul. The hunt sends her racing through a war-torn San Francisco, the criminal underworld of New York City, and a glittering Paris where another Marguerite hides a shocking secret. Each world brings Marguerite one step closer to rescuing Paul. But with each trial she faces, she begins to question the destiny she thought they shared. 
The second book in the Firebird trilogy, Ten Thousand Skies Above Youfeatures Claudia Gray’s lush, romantic language and smart, exciting action, and will have readers clamoring for the next book.

Why Ten Thousand Skies Above You? 

A Thousand Pieces of You was amazing. Time-traveler obsessed chick over here! I know the Firebird series isn't time travel, more like dimensional travel, but that's still really cool. And Claudia Gray creates such artsy, unique worlds - I can't wait to see all the new dimensions she's jumping to. Plus, a scattered consciousness? This is like a video game now.
Now if this was a real thing, it makes me wonder how each Raisa would differ from the next. Maybe I'd be in the Philippines instead... Or maybe New Jersey? All the possibilities, if only one thing was changed. Ah I can't wait until next month!


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

[Review] Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Rating: 5 stars

Series: The Illuminae #1
Version: ARC
Release Date: October 20th 2015

Goodreads Synopsis:
This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.
This afternoon, her planet was invaded.
The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.
But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again.
Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.
 I started this book Sunday night. I finished Monday night. If we're being technical I read the first page on Saturday, but regardless - Every time I had to put this book down because I had to do something else, I couldn't. I couldn't even sleep without reading another 100 pages. There's something compelling about this book, because it is a conglomeration of everything, and it's a good conglomeration. Illuminae takes what you expect from a sci-fi, from a dystopian novel, from a romance, and tosses it out the window to create its own totally new experience.

(And my friends/fellow blogger buds at Wonderland Novels didn't read it yet so I will try my best to remain not so-spoiler-y, although they really should read it!)

That being said, Illuminae starts out following the attack of the small colony Kerenza by a corporation known as Beitech. Survivors Erza Mason and Kady Grant, the latter having dumped the former earlier that day, are two of thousands of survivors onboard the three ships - Copernicus, Hypatia, Alexander. You're introduced to a ton of characters as the book goes on, and for the hundred or so pages of the book I wasn't sure where everything was going, besides the fact that they were trying to escape the Lincoln. But then Copernicus blows up... and it starts to get really fishy.

From all the emails and artsy dialogues and comms with all the characters, you start to see that while everyone is trying to do the right thing, is it really the right thing? AIDAN (Alexander's supercomputer) was programmed to protect everyone, but sacrifices others in the process who are deemed "harmful" to protecting Hypatia. Captain David Torrence orders to shoot down those who tried to protect Copernicus. Acting-Captain Syra Boll has to flush out the survivors from Alexander into space when she finds out some have the Phobos virus. And the way Illuminae displays these decisions, whether in be in caps or swirls or words or names flashed across a page, tears at my heart.



A lot of these scenes were so artfully crafted so when they were revealed (as Kady never responds directly to Ezra asking about her mom), my feels were broken. The two moments I have to say rank the top of the 'Raisa actually got really sad' scenes had to do with Kady's mom and the one with Acting-Captian Syra Boll and 'Chatter' Mikael Carlin. When you read these, you'll see why.

*tears*

Illuminae took the whole dystopian genre to an entirely new level. Space, literally. There will be many characters you love. There will be many characters you question in terms of judgment. There will be AIDAN, and I couldn't tell if he was good or bad until the very end. I felt bad for everyone. I was attached to everyone, without even reading about them in the typical descriptive storytelling format. Zhang's banter or McNulty's talk about the "Astro Princess" or Ann Chau's strong conviction for the Hypatia and the crew. Whether they die or not, that remains to be seen if you read the book! But they're all tested, and some of them even go mad.

I didn't think this book could get scary. But it got scary. I'm not even scared of scary movies and I was scared of the 'DON'T LOOK AT ME" mantras of the afflicted. There's even a few visuals to match, that's the creepy part. And because I played Bioshock, I ended up comparing this to the splicers (the zombie things).

Before I make this into the longest review ever, I gotta say a few words about our main characters. Ezra and Kady. Their love isn't defined by kisses or hugs, but rather words of caring and looking out for each other and unlike other books, it felt real. Even though Kady broke up with him, she still cared. And Ezra tried to win her back (and succeeded) using the sweetest gestures ever! (If only a guy sent me computer roses).

This book broke a lot of tropes. Kady, sure she stood out, pink hair and all. She had a boyfriend. But she was antisocial. And she loved her mom! And while she was extremely determined to save Ezra, she was also scared. Moral righteousness or for the greater good, you ask? Most of the higher ups spoke for the greater good, even AIDAN, so this was not a walk in the park full of rainbows everyone will survive book.

This book came to life, in forms you would least expect - emails, texts? Everyone seems so dull in their texts in real life. But that isn't the case there. Kaufman and Kristoff utilized everything, from art to posters to font change, to bring us the masterpiece that is Illuminae.



Liked or disliked Illuminae? Hopefully liked it? Tell me what you think in the comments below!


Sunday, October 18, 2015

[Review] Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin
Rating: 4.5 stars 

Series: Wolf by Wolf #1
Version: ARC
Release Date: October 20th 2015
Goodreads Synopsis:
Code Name Verity meets Inglourious Basterds in this fast-paced novel from the author of The Walled City.
The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule the world. To commemorate their Great Victory over Britain and Russia, Hitler and Emperor Hirohito host the Axis Tour: an annual motorcycle race across their conjoined continents. The victor is awarded an audience with the highly reclusive Adolf Hitler at the Victor's ball.
Yael, who escaped from a death camp, has one goal: Win the race and kill Hitler. A survivor of painful human experimentation, Yael has the power to skinshift and must complete her mission by impersonating last year's only female victor, Adele Wolfe. This deception becomes more difficult when Felix, Adele twin's brother, and Luka, her former love interest, enter the race and watch Yael's every move. But as Yael begins to get closer to the other competitors, can she bring herself to be as ruthless as she needs to be to avoid discovery and complete her mission?
I received this book from the Hatchette Book Group in exchange for an honest review.

As a Tarantino fan, yes. Yes to this book. I was reading Wolf by Wolf and came to the conclusion that Yael is basically YA Shosanna. Her story was my favorite part of Inglourious Basterds.
If a movie for Wolf by Wolf was a thing, she'd be Yael

But this is about Wolf by Wolf. Alternate Universe if Hitler and the Axis won WWII. Essentially, a living hell. In this world, Germany and Japan run most of Europe and Asia with an iron fist, but their ideal perfect world is collapsing from within. Starting with Yael...

Yael is one of those female heroines with a tragic backstory, but it's something that makes her persevere to complete her goal. For her wolves (Babushka, Mama, Miriam, Aaron-Klaus, Vlad), the ones who shaped her into who she is. She's certainly very relentless, to the point of doing rather reckless hurtful things to Felix and Luka. There is no love triangle actually, because Felix is her brother (Adele's brother), and all the love triangle trope haters can read this book in peace.

After all the things Yael did to Felix, I'm surprised her actually kept on following her and didn't hate her for ya' know, knocking him unconscious and stealing his bike. That's sibling love for you.

The romance between Yael/Adele and Luka - There are so many unanswered questions! What happened to them in the Axis Tour of last year? I really want to know, and the fact I didn't know clenched my insides! They were so complicated! It was so great, and the romance in this book was something I really needed because lately I've been reading unfulfilling romance.

Romance isn't even the main part. Graudin alternates between the past and present of Yael, telling the story of her life inside the camps, her escape, and eventual meeting with the resistance of Operation: Valkyrie. The present is the Axis Tour and Yael fighting tooth and nail to become first place and win a Double Iron Cross, and assassinate Hitler.

The pacing of this book was so fast-paced and a quick read. It was full of action and sadness and Yael realizing she can't be as ruthless as she thought. I literally read the last 150 pages in two hours because of sheer suspense - Who wins the Axis Tour? You'll have to read to find out!

But the questions remain... The entire time I wanted to know what happened to Adele? Do we hear more of the other competitors? Ryoko, I hope we see more of her in the sequel. I HOPE YAEL ACTUALLY KICKS HITLER'S BUTT. And not a decoy's.

The sequel, I'm dying to read and the first book still isn't out yet. Ah, the perks of being a blogger/fast reader.

If you read it, do you agree or disagree? Comment below! Also, casting ideas please! Shosanna Dreyfus aka Melanie Laurent as Yael needs to happen.


Saturday, October 17, 2015

Affinity Tour - Windwalker - Air Awakens by Elise Kova


So, as everyone on this blog knows, I'm a big fan (understatement) of Air Awakens by Elise Kova. It's well crafted, exciting, provoking, spine-tingling, goosebump-causing, and one hell of a ride you can't miss.
Click here to check it out on Goodreads!
You'll see more of my adoration of this book there. :)
Now, before I get carried away, there are four types of affinities (hence, the affinity tour) in the world of Air Awakens - Windwalkers, Waterrunners, Firebearers, and Groundbreakers. If you're curious as to which one you could be, take the quiz here!

I'm usually a water related/water loving person - I swim, and I'm a Pisces. So when I took the quiz and got Windwalker, I was pleasantly surprised. Actually, another understatement. I'm basically Vhalla, and that. is. EPIC.


You are most at home in open spaces and have no fear of heights. The wind is your greatest ally and with it you can levitate objects and listen to whispers. You do not enjoy being pent up and value freedom highly.

You have a deep connection with the world and no one can hold you back. Many covet your power to Project your mind beyond your body and manipulate greater forces of magic.

You are just like: Vhalla Yarl

Now, as a Windwalker, I'm pretty rare and hard to find. I'm always water, so being air is a (quite literally) a refreshing breeze! See what I did there? But really, being a Windwalker would be so cool! If I'm a Windwalker, does the cold not bother me (anyway)? I really should stop with all these jokes hehe. 

Ironically, I do have a fear of falling backwards, but perhaps with my affinity to air, I can conquer that, and finally do the skydiving with my friends I always wanted! Also, all the cool tricks I can do to manipulate the air as I'm plummeting towards the ground - am I alone on this? I can even do it without a parachute, as Vhalla did when Aldrik pushed her over the ledge. 
FREEFALLING ! 


And listening to whispers - I'd be able to hear if anyone is saying anything behind my back, or my friends/family's back! I'd hear all the gossip. Is that a good or bad thing? 

Air pretty much resonates with me and my personality. I can't be held back! 

What would I do for a day? I'm a simple person, so I'd start my day with a jog, and this time, I'd be able to manipulate the air so there would be no air resistance, and better times for my runs!
I'd be a speed demon! 

Pretty sure Windwalkers can fly... Oh, oh the possibilities. I don't have to pay for a thousand dollar plane ticket anymore. I can go to the Philippines anytime I want! Or Japan. Or Moscow. Or Europe. Anywhere I want to go, I'd go!

Makati is so beautiful the one place I didn't visit when I went to PH - I MISS THE PHILIPPINES SO MUCH
I need to go back to Tokyo; 5 days isn't enough. AND I CAN READ JAPANESE SORTA. 


Besides all that travel, I'd even try some Tae kwon do again, with a Windwalker twist. Here's a visual to show what a mean.

Everything seems so much easier when you're a Windwalker... sigh if only it was true. But the one thing everyone would be doing first - MAKING AIR SPIN IN THE PALM OF YOUR HAND.


'Nuff said.

So what was everyone else's affinity? If you're a Windwalker, are you gonna try skydiving? If you're a Firebearer, are you gonna try the magic swallowing fire trick? Let me know in the comments below!


Friday, October 16, 2015

[Review] & Promo! The Touched by Jennifer Weiser


THE TOUCHED by Jennifer Weiser
Series: The Descendants # 1
Genre: YA Dystopian
Publisher: Limitless Publishing
- SYNOPSIS -
The first sixteen years of Arabella Penthallow’s life have been a lie…
In a world where deception is the key to survival, Ara has kept up the charade of being a perfect Legion Leader’s daughter. But a darkness stirs, and she discovers she is Touched, a mortal gifted by the Gods. The Touched are as rare as they are feared, and Ara is forced to leave Union City for neighboring Midnight City to protect herself and those she loves, leaving Tove Thorn, the boy who has always known her heart, behind.
Carter Decker has vowed to burn Union City to the ground…
Midnight City’s cocky, infamous bad boy always gets what he wants, and he wants Union City to pay for burning his mother alive because she was Touched. When Carter meets Ara, she is everything he’s been taught to hate. Then he learns she is Touched—just like him—he isn’t sure who he hates more…the Touched girl whose father killed his mother, or himself for being tempted by someone he’s sworn to kill.
They are told they’re fated to be soul mates…and they each wish the other never existed.
When Midnight City is attacked by Union City, Carter and Arabella will do the unthinkable…even if it means falling for the enemy. The truth lies in Arabella’s home nation, and Tove is waiting. Soul mates or not, he has an advantage Carter doesn’t, fated souls be damned.
War is coming…and Ara is the prize.

- PURCHASE -


- EXCERPT -
ARABELLA —

 Im not lying.

Carter’s lips pull into a small smile. My heart flutters wildly in my chest with the sight of it. I want to loath myself for the feelings he’s causing. The confusion that has begun to occur. This isn’t Carter or me. We can’t stand one another, yet I can’t help the way my mind has sometimes wandered in the last few days, playing curious images of him pulling me close, his lips becoming lost on mine.

You are,” Carter says, closing the gap I opened between us. The tips of his black boots touch my own. You can’t lie to me. Or to anyone in this room for that matter. I know what you’re feeling.”

You don’t know a thing about me or what I may be feeling.”

Carter snorts and shakes his head, his hair falling lazily over his forehead. He drops his head, moving within inches of my lips. I inhale sharply, the corset constricting. Damn him. I keep my eyes locked with his, refusing to look away. Too many emotions course through my body and I can’t decide which ones overrule the rest.

Carter licks his lips, jumpstarting my pulse. I do, princess,” Carter whispers, everyone does.”

No…no they don’t.”

Carter purses his lips, his eyes smoldering slightly. Oh, little Arabella, they do. Your emotions are staining this entire room. I can feel everything you feel for me. Taste every last one.”

I suck in a deep breath, pushing back from him.

Carter smiles darkly. The one that tastes the most appealing is that white-hot lust you have coursing through you.”

For weeks Rob has been pushing me to block my emotions from the rest. To harness them in, keep them hidden. I have succeeded in some accounts, but when Carter is around, the defense that I’ve built comes crashing down. Which infuriates me.

Carter winks as he takes in my expressions and what I can only gauge as new emotions that rage inside me. Though I have to say, the revulsion is a nice change for me. I’ve never had a taste of that one.

I can intensify it, if you want.”

I want a lot from you, princess, but I think we both can agree that you would much rather have me feel and taste your lust.” Slowly he pushes his body against mine as he leans in close to my ear. Never in my life have I wanted to throttle someone as much as I do Carter. But that’s not all I would do if given the chance. He drives me crazy, in more ways than I want him to know. I promise to be gentle,” he whispers.

The warmth of his breath against my ear has the pit of my stomach coiling tightly. My body tensing. Carter pulls himself from me. The scent of sweet spices I can’t place and lavender fill my nose. It’s distracting and enticing. I desperately want to wrap myself around him, feel his hands touch every inch of my skin, taste his lips. I swallow pitifully as my lips begin to ache with desire. Temptation can be cruel.

Cruel. In an instant, I remember his comments and the smugness that was laced in his tone. Carter doesn’t want me because he is attracted to me, he only wishes to prove his point. My jaw clenches. Instantly, I want to break his own. Carter takes a cocky step back, winking at me once more.

“All in due time,” he promises as he spins on his heels and crosses the training room, slamming the door behind him.

I’m not sure what he means. That in time I will come to him like every other girl has, or in time I will finally wipe that grin right off his face. 




Review
I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: 3.5 stars 


The Touched tells the story of Arabella, or Ara, who lives in a world where those who are 'Touched', while blessed by the gods, are cursed to be hated by men. Ara herself finds out she's Touched, and now has to come to terms with her newfound powers, as well as having to cope with living in Midnight City, a place where the Touched are respected, and even rule. One of the Touched, and the Leader's son, Carter Decker, both antagonizes her and attracts her. 

With this conflict of romance, the conflict of politics, and the conflict of her powers, it'll either make or break Ara, and I'm happy to see that it was the former for her. Other heroines, or well weak-willed ones, would cry after being tormented by an attractive yet irksome love interest, or take the propaganda spewed about the Touched to heart, but Ara did the opposite. When she needed to break up with Caleb, she did it. When Carter was being too much, she shot back. When Leader Thorn was accusing her of assisting the rebels, she brought him down. Even her display of powers, though uncontrolled, showed how strong and passionate she was. 

Carter was also a pleasure to read. It's usually from a girl's perspective that I hear them waxing eloquently about how beautiful the girl is, and this time hearing it from Carter is a fresh new surprise. He certainly has an instant attraction to Ara, and his womanizing ways/inner monologue were entertaining, too.

Caleb, by far, was a character I loved to hate. In a good way, of course. After his memories of Ara were wiped, his character does a complete 180, and we see his true face, an extremely zealous brother loyal to his parents (esp. his father) and his city. He's unaware of the power Ara has, and ironically is strongly against the Touched. 

Now my favorite parts - two scenes in particular stand out. First, admitting to Tove she's a Touched, and then exploding at his initial response. Now, this could have gone in a way where Tove is extremely disgusted by her, and goes against her, but instead they talk it out and he's now helping her. This trope breaker is a brownie point from me. Also, powerful Ara was epic. Second, was the ending scene. Keeping spoilers out of here for the most part, but it makes me wonder what lies next for Ara now that Everett and Heatherly have caught her. How do they play a role with the two cities? Are they against or for The Touched? Are they the rebels? It raises all these questions, and our answers only lie in the next book, hopefully. 

Speaking of trope breaking, the love triangle (or square, depending on how you look at it), was a rather fragmented triangle, and all the attraction to Ara by numerous suitors is duly noted. It was more like a the various types of love, in one book. The unreciprocated love, the young love, the true love. Plus point!

What I disliked about this book - Maybe I'm just dissatisfied with romance as of late. I'm a picky romance reader, but I found that the whole romance between Carter and Ara was rushed, and lacked development. He provoked her a few times, he realizes he's genuinely attracted to her, she realizes vice versa, wishy-washy romance back and forth, they finally kiss, etc. It seemed like such a short time for them to get on this romance train, even when Ara was the daughter of the Leader who... well, you'll read it, won't you? 

Also, there was a lot of redundancy, particularly with the word corset. So many corsets. Couldn't tell what era fashion this was going for - a combo of modern/1900s, but girls should be able to not need corsets all the time.

Regardless, I recommend reading to get a taste of what strong plot-developed heroine is like, and to appreciate a new side of YA, one that actually breaks some tropes! Also, if you're a sucker for romance and hot guys. 



— ABOUT THE AUTHOR — 
JENNIFER WEISER
Jennifer Weiser is a young adult author who has always been a book nerd and a bit chocolate obsessed. Writing has always been a favorite escape, but quickly became a passion not long after the birth of her daughter. When she isn't combing the shelves of her local book stores or blogging about newest book obsessions, you can find her nestled in her nook creating worlds she hopes that one day will inspire her daughter, who not only has given her the courage to follow her dreams--but offers the inspirations that help color their worlds together.