Tuesday, January 17, 2017

ARC Book Review: Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige

My Rating: 4/5 Stars
Author: Danielle Paige
Genre: Fantasy
Published: 2016

I loved Danielle Paige's Dorothy Must Die so when she offered to send me an ARC of her newest book Stealing Snow I was so excited. I love retellings and the snow queen is such a great fairy tale. This book is a whirlwind (snowstorm?) and I'm going to try and give it a good review. 

Goodreads Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Snow has spent the majority of her life within the walls of the Whittaker Institute, a high security mental hospital in upstate New York. Deep down, she knows she's not crazy and doesn't belong there. When she meets a mysterious, handsome new orderly and dreams about a strange twisted tree she realizes she must escape and figure out who she really is.

Using her trusting friend Bale as a distraction, Snow breaks free and races into the nearby woods. Suddenly, everything isn't what it seems, the line between reality and fantasy begins to blur, and she finds herself in icy Algid--her true home--with witches, thieves, and a strangely alluring boy named Kai, none of whom she's sure she can trust. As secret after secret is revealed, Snow discovers that she is on the run from a royal lineage she's destined to inherit, a father more powerful and ruthless than she could have imagined, and choices of the heart that could change the fate of everything...including Snow's return to the world she once knew.

This breathtaking first volume begins the story of how Snow becomes a villain, a queen, and ultimately a hero.

My Review:

We start the story in the mental hospital. Whenever there's a scene in a book with that setting (A Madness So Discreet) I'm instantly intrigued. Our character is considered crazy. In this book Snow might actually believe that. Is she crazy or something else entirely? I loved Snow. She was such an amazing lead. She's independent, curious, and fiercely loyal to her friends. Her character development throughout the story was so fun to watch. Her power? If you're thinking Elsa stop now. Danielle got so creative with Snow's powers and I loved every minute of it. 

In this story we do get three guys. I didn't think of it as a love 'shape' though. They weren't love sick puppies we just had three guys. Actually there's a lot of side characters in this book. Instead of Snow being some crazy main character who doesn't need anyone we have lots of characters that give the story depth. Kai and his sister Gerde, Jagger and the band of robbers, Vern, Bale, Magpie, the River Witch, and so many others. One of my pet peeves with books is having shallow side characters but that's not the case in this story. Snow had such a big heart and that's something I loved about her.

Danielle Paige is an amazing writer. She takes fairy tales and creates a whole new world. We see The Snow Queen throughout the story but there's new twists and that's the best type of retelling. When you have a classic fairy tale in your head and this new story is full of brand new magic. I loved this story. The characters, the magic, the writing. Everything about it was perfect and I have no idea how I'm going to wait for the second book. 

If you love disguises, quirky guys, and fights with snow creatures I recommend this book. If you're not convinced you should read this story then here are some of my favorite quotes from it:

"It sounded like Vern was calling me brave.... Or crazy. Maybe they were the same  thing. "

"Mirrors reflect what we want to see, or sometimes they reveal what you really are or what you really want. You have to be careful with a mirror."

"We breathe out the lies; we stutter the truth."

"Sometimes words could be a sacrifice, too, I guessed."

Friday, January 6, 2017

Book Review: A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

My Rating: 4/5 Stars
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Genre: Fantasy
Published: 2016

I loved An Ember In The Ashes so much. The world, the characters, and the magic. It was all so perfect. Needless to say I was anxious to get my hands on the sequel. I was afraid Sabaa Tahir was going to ruin it but she did a pretty decent job.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Elias and Laia are running for their lives. After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.

Laia is determined to break into Kauf—the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison—to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars’ survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom.

But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene—Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike.

Bound to Marcus’s will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own—one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape…and kill them both.

My Review:

Laia is such a well developed character. At the beginning of the first book she was lost. At the beginning of this one she's found where she's going and nothing is going to get in her way. I've loved every minute of seeing her grow. Usually the female lead is already strong and just seems to grow stronger. In this story Laia starts at the bottom and we get to see her go all the way to the top. Her relationship with Elias is so satisfying. No insta love or anything like that.

I will admit that in the first book I had some hard feelings for Helene. She seemed so bitter and uncaring. But just like Laia and Elias we get to see her character grow and develop. By the end of ATATN she had earned my respect. She's brave and determined and loves her family more than herself. I'm eager to see where the next book takes her.

We get to see more of the world Sabaa Tahir has created in this story. We go outside of the Martial school and into lands that posses their own people and magic. One of my favorite things in this story is that you can feel the anger, or the fear, or the pride coming off the characters. The nation is at war and you can't tell who is a friend or an enemy. Most dystopian stories are already in full rebellion or on the edge of it. In this world we are feeling the need for war. Watching as brother turns on brother, and friend turns to enemy. Sabaa Tahir has woven a story full of pain, heartbreak, and betrayal and though it may crush your heart you will enjoy every second of it.

My only problem with his book is the lull right in the middle. We start out fast jumping in right where we left off in the first book and it doesn't seem to slow down. But then all of a sudden we seem to hit a few chapters where everyone is waiting. There's no action, or twists. It just seems to stop. And then BAM it all gets going again. That's not any reason to not read the book ( SERIOUSLY read them) it just seemed to be an unnecessary stand still.

All in all this series is amazing so far. I'm an obsessive fantasy reader so finding authors that write like this just makes me so happy. If you love fantasy then these books are for you.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Top Ten Books of 2016

Though I didn't get to read as much this past year as previous years I still read some amazing books. Since I enjoyed so many I thought I'd share my top ten with you. Here goes. (P.S. They're in no particular order).

Jane Steele

I'm not a huge fan of historical fiction but Jane Steele was really, really good. I loved that it was a 'retelling'of Jane Eyre and though it has similarities it was still it's own story. And get this: the main characters favorite book is Jane Eyre and she's constantly comparing her life to Jane Eyre's life.

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The Great Gatsby

I've heard lots of amazing things about this book but I always brushed it off. I finally picked it up at a thrift store and I'm so glad I did. I read the first page and I was gone. Fitzgerald's writing is swoon worthy. It was a beautiful read and Gatsby is my spirit animal. And that last line? Yeah, I cried.

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A Darker Shade of Magic

Fantasy is my favorite genre and I consider myself an expert but this book blew all my expectations to pieces. IT WAS PERFECT. Every sentence, every chapter, and every word was full of magic. The world building was on point and Kell is my baby. Lila is also one of my favorite female characters. Like ever. Use one word to describe this book?

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An Ember in the Ashes 

Sabaa Tahir is pretty great. I met her at a signing and she's so down to earth. I started the book a few months after meeting her with high expectations and it surpassed all of them. Sabaa has a unique way of writing. She weaves a story full of details that are so real it's as if you've been transported to the world of Laia and Elias. Seriously her world building is SO good.

                             james franco so good spider man 3

The Rose & The Dagger

I adore retellings and I loved The Wrath & The Dawn. I was terrified that she would ruin the sequel but IT WAS AMAZING. Shahrzad is a great female lead and seeing her fight for everything she loves made all the horribly sad feelings I had for the end of the first book go away. This is one of my favorite duologys so if you haven't read it then do it now.

                                Omaze now chris pratt dinosaurs right now

Lady Jane

This was such a cute read. It's got a touch of magic and a little bit of romance. It's got a great plot and it's one to read if you're looking for something light and funny.

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

I watched all the movies before I read the books. Yes I know. I'm a horrible person. I put off reading the last couple books because I thought I knew what happened and I so regret that decision. When I finished book seven I was so happy with what I found out and it was probably my favorite of all seven books.

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 Six of Crows 

Six of Crows was astonishing, breathtaking, stunning, showstopping, astounding, surprising, staggering, shocking, stupefying, breathtaking, unbelievable, phenomenal, mind-boggling, wonderful, awe-inspiring, incredible, thrilling, perfection. So much yes.

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A Thousand Pieces of you

While working at the library I came upon this book and the cover was so pretty. I loved how this story shows that everyone is special. Whether you're a painter, rocket scientist, mom, pilot, or just an average kid. Everyone has their own talents. We're all unique in our own way.

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Though I didn't enjoy this book as much as The Lunar Chronicles I felt like Marissa Meyer did such a good job with it. The characters are all so great and it's a unique take on the characters of Alice and Wonderland. Honestly I enjoyed it so much.

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So there are my top ten. It was a pretty good reading year and I'm looking forward to what 2017 brings. What were some of your favorite reads of 2017?

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

2016: The Good, The Bad, and The Not So Ugly

2016 is generally accepted as the worst year ever. I agree. It's been a rough year for everyone. But I'm writing this post because I don't want to look back in my life and draw a blank for this past year. Here are some of the biggest things to happen to me in 2016. The good, the bad, and the not so ugly. Because my year has been full of ups and downs and I've learned so much.

My grandfather passing. 

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of the beginning of last year is my grandpa. In March my parents woke me up early in the morning and told me my grandpa was gone. I spent the next two hours packing and then the next seven in the car on my way to Ohio.  My sister drove and I sat in the passenger seat listening to Gregory Alan Isakov, watching the sun rise as we drove through the mountains. I learned to grieve this past year. 

I Quit Dance.

After eight years of dancing off and on I quit ballet. There was something special about dancing for me. I'm quiet and shy and expressing myself through dance was an amazing experience. But as you get older dance becomes something else. It's competition. In class, in shows, against every girl at your school. The dressing rooms were full of who did this or that talk, and backstabbing friends. It became a really negative experience and I found myself hating to go to class every day. So I quit. It was a satisfying experience.

I Got An Internship.

This was one of the greatest things to happen to me. As most of you know finding a job without experience is HARD. The internship was a great way to gain experience and make some money at the same time. I grew a lot during those months and though it was bittersweet when it ended I'm excited to see what's next.

I Discovered A Love For Photography.

I don't consider myself good by any means but this year I picked up a camera and found out how amazing it felt to take fifty photos and have five turn out. I plan on working on this interest and exploring new angles, and ways of shooting. It's one of the things I look forward to the most in 2017.

The Rest of it. 

I met some beautiful friends through my instagram, I got an A in my biology lab, I finished my Goodreads challenge, I discovered the show F.R.I.E.N.D.S, I started to control my vasovagal syncope after struggling with my triggers since I was twelve, I picked out a selection of colleges and majors, I discovered publicity in publishing and have started working towards that dream, I got crushed by two girls but came back from it, Stranger Things came out and it was amazing,I took the ACT and scored higher than the average student.

Things I Need To Remember In 2017:

I don't need to change. I read too many books, I spend a lot of time on netflix, I love my cat, chocolate, and my large family. And that's okay. I don't have to change. Not for anyone no matter how lame they may think I am.

Don't stress. I stress over everything. Especially college. One of my goals for 2017 is to take it one step at a time and not worry about something that's a year down the road.

It's okay to say no. It's so hard for me to tell people no. But this year I'm determined to start saying it. 

Kindness, Love, and Generosity are three things the world needs more of. This year I want to spread more love, treat everyone (even the meanest person) with kindness, and give more.

So here's to 2017. May it treat you far better than 2016 ever did.

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