Thursday, January 30, 2014

Review: Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead

ISBN: 9781439550649
Source: Purchased
Series: Vampire Academy #3
Release Date: November 13, 2008
Goodreads  |  Amazon
See my reviews for previous books in this series

It's springtime at St. Vladimir's Academy, and Rose Hathaway is this close to graduation. Since making her first Strigoi kills, Rose hasn't been feeling quite right. She's having dark thoughts, behaving erratically, and worst of all... might be seeing ghosts.As Rose questions her sanity, new complications arise. Lissa has begun experimenting with her magic once more, their enemy Victor Dashkov might be set free, and Rose's forbidden relationship with Dimitri is starting to heat up again. But when a deadly threat no one saw coming changes their entire world, Rose must put her own life on the line - and choose between the two people she loves most.

Things I think Richelle Mead is amazing at:
Writing action scenes
Writing love scenes
Awesome character development
Ripping my heart out and stomping on it, then making me come back for more

Things I don't think Richelle Mead is amazing at:
Writing "unobtrusive" narrative (making it not feel like I'm reading a book)
Showing instead of telling

So basically, Richelle Mead: Queen of Info Dumps, Heart Breaks and Ass-Kickings.

With that being said, I want you all to know that Shadow Kiss was my favorite book of the entire series, hands down. The writing seems to get better with each book - either that or I'm just used to it by now and know what to expect. Like I said before, character development is a plus. Rose has become less annoying and reckless and more like the badass heroine I always knew she could be. The pacing was pretty great overall and moved along a lot better than the last two, with the plot progression also being a plus in Mead's favor.

The romance, something that I was very excited to see develop after the end of book 2, was there and I enjoyed it when it was there, but I don't think Mead elaborated enough on it. There weren't enough opportunities to experience the chemistry. It was the same in books one and two, but it didn't bother me then because I'm not a fan of insta-love, so I liked that it took two books to build up to something awesome. About halfway through Shadow Kiss though, I was really dying for something more in the romance department. Mead did deliver, though a bit late, and I was very pleased with it.

Also, something that bothered me is that Mead will present a problem, for example *somewhat-spoiler* (highlight empty space to read) Rose seeing Mason's ghost, realizing that being outside the wards makes it unbearable, etc., then all of a sudden just being able to push it away.. *end somewhat-spoiler* which will propel the story to new heights.  An obstacle for Rose or another character to overcome... How will Rose deal with this? What awesome solution is she going to find to this problem? Then Mead presents us with a resolution that seems way too convenient, that doesn't fit the story. Again, I won't spoil, but sometimes things were just too easily pushed to the side.

It was hard for me to really, really enjoy this book because (as I mentioned in my review of the last book) I accidentally came across some reviews with major spoilers. As quickly as I clicked to another screen, I wasn't fast enough for me to not find out how this book was going to end. It did make the lead-up to the ending harder to deal with since I knew what was coming. But I think if it hadn't been spoiled for me, I probably would've been a wreck while reading it. As it stands, I was still getting pretty misty. No spoilers, I swear, but this book was intense!

Really though, Shadow Kiss was the book that really kicked off the series for me! I was kind of on the fence with the last two, but after reading this one, I knew that Mead was taking it to the next level: to awesomeness. We see definite character and relationship development, bits of world building, lots of action! I was even a little spooked at times when I was at home reading this alone, because of all the Strigoi and ghost talk. Maybe I'm just a big baby, but you can't deny the thought of Strigoi and ghostly apparitions is freaky.

     RATING: ★★★★ 1/2

Overall this was a great book, the best in the series overall in my opinion, and really set up for the next half of the series! There's really only one word I can use to describe this book: Dimitriiiiii!!!

So have you read the third book in this series? What did you think of it? Was it as good for you as it was for me (sorry, I just had to)? Let me know what you think!


Monday, January 27, 2014

Review: Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee

ISBN: 9780385753548
Source: Netgalley
Format: E-Book
Series: No, Stand-Alone
Release Date: January 28, 2014
Find it on Goodreads
*Disclaimer* I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

A luminous retelling of the Snow Queen, this is the story of unlikely heroine Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard who doesn't believe in anything that can't be proven by science. She and her sister Alice are still grieving for their dead mother when their father takes a job in a strange museum in a city where it always snows. On her very first day in the museum Ophelia discovers a boy locked away in a long forgotten room. He is a prisoner of Her Majesty the Snow Queen. And he has been waiting for Ophelia's help.
As Ophelia embarks on an incredible journey to rescue the boy everything that she believes will be tested. Along the way she learns more and more about the boy's own remarkable journey to reach her and save the world.

Well... let me tell you a little something about Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard: she's a bit of a nerd. She's that smart girl in your class that gets made fun of and picked last for sports, but knows everything there is to know about everything. She's not the kind of girl that you'd think could save the world... but the Marvelous Boy seems to think she is. And I just loved her! She was adorable, a little nerdy, but brave and very smart. What a great main character for this book!

Have you all read The Chronicles of Narnia (now I haven't read the entire series but if you haven't at least read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, get off your butt right now and go do it)? This story reminded me very much of Narnia. There weren't too many actual similarities (other than the antagonist, the Snow Queen) but the fairytale quality of the storytelling was very reminiscent of Narnia. What exactly does that mean, you ask? It means I loved it!

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy was so enchanting, so fun and so inspiring. I found myself smiling and laughing at Ophelia's stream of consciousness as well as in tears over her trials and tribulations. Ophelia teaches many lessons, among them being to never, ever give up, and even as an adult I found myself learning from Ophelia and all of the lessons she learned on her adventure.

It's hard to think of this book as middle grade because of how simple and juvenile the storytelling was. I sometimes had a hard time keeping myself interested because it was a little young for my tastes, but that didn't take very much away from the story as a whole. I still found myself rooting for Ophelia's victory and for the demise of the Snow Queen! The Snow Queen - can we just say creepy? Foxlee did a great job in creating a creepy antagonist without overdoing it or making her obviously evil. We see a lot about the Snow Queen through Ophelia, and lets just say Ophelia's brain is nothing if not thorough.

I loved Ophelia's straightforward, no nonsense way of thinking and the way she slowly opened herself up to the world of... other... She was a lot like an adult in the sense of not believing and it showed that sometimes there is more to life than tangible facts. Sometimes you have to believe in things you can't prove to make a difference.

At times I did find myself dragging through it a little, especially during the Marvelous Boy's little stories and explanations, but overall Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy is a spectacular story about healing, love and friendship, and most importantly, never, ever giving up.

     RATING: ★★★★

I enjoyed Ophelia so much and I actually look forward to keeping it in my repertoire to share with my future children (and other children in my life) one day. It may have been a little too young for me but the fun, action-packed story kept me waiting to see if Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy would destroy the evil Snow Queen and rooting for them every step of the way.

Have any of you read this yet before it's release tomorrow in stores? Its a great children's read and I can't wait to hear what you all think of it!

Get a second opinion
Reet Champion [3 of 5 stars]
Tome Tender [4.5 of 5 stars]


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Review: Frostbite by Richelle Mead

ISBN: 9781595141750
Source: Christmas Gift!
Series: Vampire Academy #2
Release Date: April 10, 2008
Goodreads  |  Amazon
*Please note: this is a spoiler free review, however there may be spoilers for the previous book in this review*
See my posts for previous book in the series for a spoiler free review

Rose loves Dimitri, Dimitri might love Tasha, and Mason would die to be with Rose...
It’s winter break at St. Vladimir’s, but Rose is feeling anything but festive. A massive Strigoi attack has put the school on high alert, and now the Academy’s crawling with Guardians—including Rose’s hard-hitting mother, Janine Hathaway. And if hand-to-hand combat with her mom wasn’t bad enough, Rose’s tutor Dimitri has his eye on someone else, her friend Mason’s got a huge crush on her, and Rose keeps getting stuck in Lissa’s head while she’s making out with her boyfriend, Christian! The Strigoi are closing in, and the Academy’s not taking any risks... This year, St. Vlad’s annual holiday ski trip is mandatory.

But the glittering winter landscape and the posh Idaho resort only create the illusion of safety. When three friends run away in an offensive move against the deadly Strigoi, Rose must join forces with Christian to rescue them. But heroism rarely comes without a price...

Even though the writing has improved since the previous book, I still have a have a hard time getting past the "info dumps". There's definitely still too much tell and not enough show. Actually, I think this aspect of the writing has gotten worse since the last book. For example, during the narrative portions of the book, you will see (several times, might I add), "As I've noted before..." Why are you noting things!? You are a fictional character. You are not an author/narrator talking to the reader. It wouldnt matter so much if that was how the book was set up - as if the narrator was talking to the reader. But its not. And it annoyed me. Rant over. Ugh.

As a whole, the writing did get much better... or maybe I just got used to it because the plot became so much stronger and the characters so much more awesome. We are introduced to some new characters... some of which I didn't really like that much.. but I connected with the existing characters much better this time around. Rose is much less annoying, and I respect her for the way she is... she cares what people think, but she cares about herself and Lissa more. She does what she wants, when she wants to, but she also takes care of her responsibilities.

About halfway through Frostbite, I decided to look at reviews for the next few books, and I was pretty pissed when I came across some spoilery reviews that gave no warning! So in reality, I knew how this book was going to end, which really, really sucked. With that in mind though, even though I didn't feel the impact of the events, it was still very well done and probably would have made me cry had I not known what was coming.

Overall, this second book started off a bit slow, and the writing still isn't wonderful, but it was a whole lot better than the first one. About halfway through, things really started to pick up and I couldn't put the book down. Frankly, Mead does romance and action scenes really well. Her dialogue is actually pretty great too. My problem is with the narrative, Rose's stream of consciousness, which is what ruins things for me. By the time I was done with this one, I was itching to go out and get the next few because I truly do believe the books will get better - there is just so much potential here! Actually, as I'm writing this, I am in the middle of book 6 (the final installment) and I can tell you that the next few are even better than the first two. Anyways, I enjoyed this one well enough, and can't wait to talk about the rest of the books in the next few weeks!

     RATING: ★★★ 1/2

After feeling rather "meh" about Vampire Academy until the very end, Frostbite did a much better job in keeping me interested. The writing was slightly better and with Rose's little bit of development since the previous book, it was easy to like her and care about her more. The romance was.... perfect, for lack of a better developed thought, there. It was heartbreaking and heartwarming all at once.

Did any of you who read Vampire Academy decide to keep going and read book 2? What did you think? Love it? Hate it? Still kind of meh? Let me know what you think!

Get a second opinion
Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell [2 of 5]
Effortlessly Reading [3.5 of 5 stars]
Blog of Erised [5 of 5 stars]

P.S. Did you hear!? The release date for the Vampire Academy movie got pushed forward and will be released on February 7, 2014. Just so happens to be my anniversary (7 wonderful years, might I add..) and I'm forcing my awesome fiance to take me to the movies to see it that day (I'm sure you can imagine how thrilled he is about that one, haha). I still think the movie is going to suck but as I get more into the series, the more excited I am about it, regardless. Your opinions on the movie? Talk to me!


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Bookish Discussion: Spoiler-y Reviews

Hey there! Welcome to my first ever Bookish Discussion post here at i solemnly swear.

Today I thought I'd talk to you all about a pet peeve of mine... and probably everyone's: Reviews with spoilers. Well, not any reviews with spoilers, per se, but reviews that don't warn you of the spoilers therein contained!

Spoilery Blog Reviews
Most of us here are book bloggers, right? We read books, then we write reviews and post them on our blogs. Simple. I think I am with the majority here in saying that this is my blog, so if I want to write a review with spoilers, I'll write a review with spoilers - ya get me? But, I always give some kind of a warning. Either a **BIG** general notice at the top of each post explaining that the post may have spoilers. Or a *smaller* notice closer to a one-line spoiler to make people avoid reading that part unless they choose to.

It's kind of hard to actually read reviews lately because of certain ones that contain spoilers. I'm always afraid to do more than skim paragraph by paragraph because I'm afraid I'll come across something important to the story that I don't want to know!

I do, however, usually trust actual blog posts, more often than not, to give either a spoiler-free review or warn me of any spoilers... I think most of us do it as a courtesy to other bloggers and can trust that other bloggers will give us that courtesy too.

Spoiler-y reviews
Here's where that little bit of trust I had for blog post reviews goes out the window. I love skimming star ratings on Goodreads of a book I am excited about (or sometimes unsure about) because it opens me up to bloggers I may not follow or who may not even have a separate blog.

What I don't like is that a lot more people post spoilers on Goodreads in my opinoin, and even though Goodreads provides a simple way to show/hide your spoilers at the click of a button, many people choose not to (or don't know how to use it). For the record people, the "Formatting Tips" to your right come straight from Goodreads. It's always on your right hand side of your screen when you're writing any kind of review on the site. It's crazy easy, even for people like me who have no idea what they are doing when it comes to HTML. The second-to-last bullet on the bottom of the list clearly shows how to add the "spoiler link".

I only skim Goodreads reviews now, because I've come across some reviewers with blatant disregard for what I would consider a common courtesy. A couple of times I've accidentally looked at a review that spoils the entire series in the very first sentence of the review: "I can't believe so-and-so died!!!" or "Oh, I'm so glad Sally ends up with Johnny at the end and not Bobby!"

I mean really? The very first line? You couldn't wait to spoil it until further down, in which I can rely on Goodreads to give me the option to read "more" of your review if I actually wanted to? Geez.

Spoiler-y Book Blurbs
Okay, I know this is going to come as a surprise to some of you but, I think sometimes the biggest offenders of spoiling books are the blurbs on the backs of books (or listed as a synopsis on Goodreads/Amazon/Book Depository, etc.). I actually experienced this myself just this month in reading the Vampire Academy series. Maybe it was my own fault, but I was still pretty bummed out when I was halfway through book 2 and decided to check out the specs for book 3 and right in the first line is some pretty important information about an event that happened right at the end of book 2.

Maybe I shouldn't have looked at that blurb since I was only on book 2, true, but don't you think its a publishers responsibility not to put such specific important information right on the back of the next book!?
Yeah... then a few days later I made the mistake of looking at the blurb for the first book in the spin-off series, Bloodlines, which inadvertently spoiled the whole freaking end of the VA series for me. WTF!? Now maybe the first one was my fault, but whyyyy!!

Needless to say, after having all of the major points in this series spoiled for me (which really sucks, because I think I would've liked it even more if that hadn't happened), I refuse to read blurbs unless its a book I know zilch about, and I only skim reviews unless I can see warning signs (or even a notice that the review is spoiler-free) - and of course reviews by bloggers I trust.

So let's talk books! How do you deal with reading reviews on blogs, Goodreads, Amazon, etc. Do you even bother reading them? How about book blurbs? And do you warn people about spoilers in your reviews or do you just leave it all to chance?

Happy reading!


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

ISBN: 9781250030955
Source: Christmas gift! :)
Series: No, Stand-Alone
Release Date: September 10, 2013
Find it on Goodreads
See all of my Rainbow Rowell reviews

Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.
Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.
Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.
For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?


What's that movie that had the line, "You had me at 'hello'"? Jerry Maguire? That's what came to mind when I pondered how I felt about this book after just reading the first page. I feel like a cheeseball for saying it, but it is what it is. This book, at its most basic points, is about a young college-aged girl who writes Simon Snow (Harry Potter) fancfiction. Gay Simon-Baz (Harry-Draco) fanfiction. This may seem strange to you. It seemed strange to me. But after reading the book, it seems to fit perfectly. 

After reading Eleanor and Park, I didn't think there was any way I could be as obsessed with Fangirl as I was with E&P. In actuality, I feel completely different about the two books, but in some way, exactly the same. I loved them exactly the same is what I mean, I guess, but for completely different reasons. E&P made me swoon, and it was almost entirely focused on the love story with bits of Eleanor's terrible life on the side.

With Fangirl, we meet Cath. We submerse ourselves in Cath, getting to know who she is, relating to her - because let's be honest people: Cath is one of the most relatable characters in YA contemporary fiction these days. We get to see what her life is like and for more than a quarter of the book, while there is some setu , there is no real development between her and a love interest, which I found refreshing. As many of you may know from experience one way or another, a lot of us bloggers/readers/writers suffer from anxiety, depression, etc., and it was comforting to find out through Cath and her experiences that we are not alone. It was, at times, hard to read and see some ridiculous decisions (that we would have likely made ourselves) unfold on the page but it was also enlightening. Basically, thanks to Cath, we maybe don't feel as alone as we did before, knowing that someone out there understands us, even if it is just Rainbow Rowell in the form of her characters.

I suppose I'd previsously thought of myself as emotionally incosistent as far as reading about certain topics  unless the reading materials dealt with something specific, e.g. a break up, family issues, death, rejection - in other words, something I'd dealt with personally. But Rowell had my emotions all over the place with this novel and not always for any of those specific things I mentioned. I cried over things directly related to reading and writing and that was a first for me.

Everything about this book felt personal. Not just the fact that Cath is so relatable and much of the story revolves around reading and writing, but every little nuance, every little word, feels like it was written with the specific reader in mind and it brought me even closer to the story (if that's even possible). Am I even making any sense right now!? I hope that the people who have read this book understand me. For those of you who haven't, obviously the only way to understand this review is to go read the book. So, go on. Read it.

About three quarters of the way through, I spent about one chapter thinking that this book was taking a turn out of the extraordinary into the... ordinary. I thought it was leaving the world of absolute uniqueness and sliding slowly into cliche. I hoped beyond hope that the ending wouldn't be lame and anticlimactic. Well don't you worry - I was wrong and the story was fine. It just had a slightly slow chapter but the ending was perfect. I had to go back and read the last two pages a couple more times because I just didn't want to leave Cath and her life behind.

I wasn't entirely sure what Rowell's intention was with Cath's twin sister, Wren. I couldn't tell if she was trying to teach us (and Cath) some kind of lesson with her, or if Wren was learning her own lessons and we just got to sit back and watch. It was hard to understand more than the basic function of their relationship as twins and best friends because the book starts right off with Wren pretty much "breaking up" with Cath. I don't think I felt their chemistry together as BFF's and it was hard to move past the dislike I had for Wren for most of the book.

Oh, I suppose you'd like to know about the romance aspect of the book? After reading E&P, which no YA contemporary romance will ever compare to, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the romance didn't really begin until a quarter to halfway through the book. It was sweet and slow and funny and heartwrenching and everything I could've wanted. It was very different from Eleanor and Park's romance in that it wasnt an entirely painful experience to read. Cath and Levi made me happy. They made me a little sad at times, but they definitely made me feel happy.

I loved Cath's character development overall, but mostly I loved that she didn't change that much. She learned to stand up for herself, and learned to let go a little and move outside of her comfort zone, but she was still the Cath we can all relate to so much and definitely learn something from.

Last but not least, I need to talk about the feelings surrounding Simon Snow (aka Harry Potter) and books/writing in general.I read a review of Fangirl that mentioned how Fangirl makes us feel validated in our feelings about books and writing, and that no, they aren't just books. The person who wrote that review (I can't remember who, so sorry!) was so right. That is exactly how I felt because Fangirl kind of reminds us that we are all in this together. Our families and friends don't quite understand our obsessions, but we understand each other, and it's books like this one that remind us of that.

Toward the end, the way Cath and Wren felt about the story, the books, the fanfic, everything... it felt so real because it's something so many of us have felt and experienced before. I've never really read any fanfic but I have to admit that I would probably have a hard time getting into it because I love the real stories so much. But after reading this, while I might not be quite ready to enter to the world of fanfic, I have a new respect for it, for sure!


I didn't think I could love anything as much as Eleanor and Park, but here I am telling you all that I love it just as much. I've found a new favorite author and I've already gone and ordered her other book, Attachments. I've never read a more relatable character or story than I have with Cath in Fangirl and it is something that I will definitely be rereading in the near future.

It was an amazing read and I absolutely loved it! Have any of you read Fangirl yet? Please tell me what you thought! I loved this book so much that I can't wait to talk about it with all of you!

Get a second opinion
Thoughts and Pens [2 star rating]
Ash Wednesday [3.5 star rating]
Writer of Wrongs [4.5 star rating]


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Review: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

ISBN:  9781595141743
Source: Purchased
Series: Vampire Academy #1
Release Date: August 16, 2007
Goodreads  |  Amazon 

St. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very place where they’re most in danger...
Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever.

I'm not going to lie to you: I didn't love Vampire Academy. I actually felt rather "meh" about it for most of the book. I tried not to be too hard on VA because I'd just come off the high of reading Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell and, well, lets be honest - not much can compare to Rainbow Rowell.

The writing in VA wasn't all that great and took some getting used to. Let me just rant for a moment about the typos. I know these are technically not a telling attribute of the quality of the book, but I mean really! It's about to become a movie and this is the best the editors/publishers/everyone can do?! It was frustrating. It obviously didn't take away from the story itself, but it's hard to like and respect a book that no one cares enough to correct. It's not like these haven't been out for years!!

Sorry - rant over... Anyways, there was also way too much "tell" and not nearly enough show. Thankfully, though, it wasn't difficult to get through even if it wasn't the best. Thanks to the unique and interesting premise, I got through it pretty quickly.

Toward about the middle of the book, it started to flow a little better and became slightly more enjoyable. Unfortunately, the plot barely had barely moved up until that point and it still wasn't moving. I understand that the first book in a series sometimes suffers because it is setting up for the rest of the series, so I can forgive it to an extent, but I mean come on.

The world-building could've been pulled off, again, without so much tell and more show, but at least it was there. We learned a lot about the world of St. Vladimir's, the dhampirs, Moroi and Strigoi, (unfortunately through much "info dumping") even if we are unfortunately reminded all the time that we are reading a book and being told a story by a fictional character instead of being able to "fall into" the story. 

Rose is an interesting character who does experience some development but she's also a little annoying. I think she's supposed to come off as badass and reckless, and she is badass, but mostly childish. The other characters in the book are enjoyable to read about, I just wish we learned more about them. The love interest development is barely there which wasn't entirely a bad thing. I'm not a fan of insta-love, and though toward the end, the "L" word came about a bit quickly, it didn't just come out of nowhere, so that was okay.

Right in the last few chapters of the book, things begin to pick up and we see some plot movement and decent action. As a matter of fact, Richelle Mead seems to have a knack for writing love and action scenes.... so why can't we see more of them? I find the problem to be with the narrative (and only a few times with the dialogue) and if the narrative had been more like the scenes where things were actually happening, it would've been a great book instead of just alright.

It leaned a bit toward the predictable side with some twists here and there that I didn't see coming, and by the end I was committed because I could see the potential for an awesome series there. Overall, I didn't love the book but it was a decent set-up book for the rest of the series and I can't wait to see if Mead will build on her strengths to make the next five books successful. And stay tuned because I'll definitely be reviewing any other books I read in this series.

     RATING: ★★★

Have any of you read this book/series before? I've heard from a lot of people and read many reviews that say that the rest of the series is great, and usually I am skeptical on that kind of thing, but after reading this book, I believe it. Tell me what you thought of this book if you've read it yet!

On a side note though, I recently watched the trailer for the movie... and I think its going to suck. What do you all think about that?

Get a second opinion
Writer of Wrongs [3 star rating]
Paradise of Pages [4 star rating]
Divergent Gryffindor [5 star rating]


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Blogoversary Giveaway!

So... yes, my blogoversary was over a week ago (one year, yay me!). But I'm still holding this awesome giveaway, guys.

I hope none of you missed it, but if you did, you've still got time left to enter! I'm giving away a purchase of up to $20.00 from The Book Depository - so, not just one book for up to $20, but any amount of items (e.g., if you choose 2 paperbacks, something on sale, etc) for up to $20.00.

The giveaway is international based on the countries to which The Book Depository will ship. Enter below while you still can! Good luck, and thanks for stopping by! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, January 13, 2014

Review: Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares

ISBN: 9780385521222
Source: Purchased
Series: The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants #5
Release Date: January 1, 2011
Goodreads  |  Amazon
See my reviews for other books in this series

Despite having jobs and men that they love, each knows that something is missing: the closeness that once sustained them. Carmen is a successful actress in New York, engaged to be married, but misses her friends. Lena finds solace in her art, teaching in Rhode Island, but still thinks of Kostos and the road she didn’t take. Bridget lives with her longtime boyfriend, Eric, in San Francisco, and though a part of her wants to settle down, a bigger part can’t seem to shed her old restlessness.
Then Tibby reaches out to bridge the distance, sending the others plane tickets for a reunion that they all breathlessly await. And indeed, it will change their lives forever—but in ways that none of them could ever have expected.


I was so super excited to read this book and find out what happened to four of my favorite fictional girls.... I must tell you... I must warn you - this book has left me traumatized and I will never think of the series the same again. I probably can't even re-read them at some later date. How am I going to let my future daughter(s) read them, knowing what they are getting into with book five?! Sigh...

I'm not saying it's bad. It isn't. It was actually pretty good. Except for the fact that I was basically crying the entire time and every time I even look at the cover let alone think about what actually happened I get that ache in my chest (you know, the one that normal people get for real tragedies and we nerds get for fictional characters?) and want to cry a little bit more.

I will say that I was not a fan of the fact that the book was literally depressing almost in its entirety. I think I might have cracked a smile somewhere within the last 50 pages, which was promptly replaced with tears again. It's hard to endure several hundred pages of depression and find something to enjoy about it. I also think that the same issue with the dialogue that I had in book four was present in this book also. It was a little awkward and stunted.

The book was a little long for my tastes and it dragged a bit in the middle, but I was completely committed to this series so I was also able to look past that and finish the whole damn thing in two days. The ending was a little too tidy for me, and thats something that I was not able to overlook, but I suppose I was satisfied nonetheless. I guess after five books, one of which rips your heart out and stomps on it repeatedly, the series is entitled to a tidy ending, bow and all.

Overall, I enjoyed the read and even with how depressing it was, it gives us a glimpse of the truth of growing up - that not all "grown ups" are living the happy lives they once thought they would. They lose touch with their friends and sometimes even with reality when they realize that things aren't quite going the way they expected. A touching and beautiful (yet incredibly sad) story about everlasting love and friendship, Sisterhood Everlasting was a decent ending to a series that will always hold a place in my bookish heart.

     RATING: ★★★ 1/2

Have any of you read this last installment? I know many people have read the first four but never made it around to this one. Let me give you this advice: If you wish to preserve the fond memories of the series as it stands, don't read this book. This book will change the way you look at the previous four. Maybe not in a bad way, but it kind of sets a sad overtone for it all and I can't quite look at it as happily as I would have before I read it. Even still, I'm glad to have closure and glad I read it.

I'd love to hear from you on this one! Have you read it? What did you think? If not, have you not read it because of things (like this review) that you've read about it? I'm interested in everyone's opinion of this one..


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Feature and Follow Friday - 2014 Bookish Resolutions

Happy Friday everyone! This week's topic for Feature and follow Friday is: Blogging resolutions for the new year. So I hate to be the bearer of bad news but I did almost the exact same post on Top Ten Tuesday a few days ago... so I hate to simply repost the same thing, but my goals haven't changed, so here it goes:


1. Read 65 books. I read 60 in 2013, so let's see if I can beat that!

2. Finish all series that I've begun (or read all books released, if series isn't finished), except for ones that I have decided not to continue with. I have a nasty habit of starting book 1 of a series, then not getting to the next one until months later.

3. Read 2 classics. I read one last year, so I'm going to try to beat that while still going easy on myself.

4. Read 1 non-fiction book. I had a goal of 5 for last year and didn't read any. I am going to try to at least read 1 and see how it goes.

5. Never read more than one book in between series books. Another attempt to thwart that nasty habit of never finishing a series. I want to start reading them back to back, or at least with only one non-related book in between.

6. Get my physical TBR below 40 books by the end of the year and maintain it. This is to exercise self-control over my excessive book-buying habit.

7. Not to force myself to read things I don't want to read, especially in a series that I'm not interested in. More specifically, I will try the first two books in a series and if I don't like it after the first two, I will not force myself to go on.

8. "Complete" my Review Archive by reading a book by authors whose last names begin with letters I haven't listed under yet. For example, I haven't read and reviewed any books by an author with the last name beginning with the letter A. I shall rectify this.

9. Finish the A Song of Ice and Fire series. This may fall under 'Finish All Series,' but in the event that I don't accomplish that goal, I still wish to finish this particularly long and difficult series.

10. Read 25,000 pages. This is kind of a random 'lets see if I can do it' thing. I read over 22,000 last year and since my book goal this year exceeds last, I'm hoping to surpass pages as well. We shall see.

What are your resolutions for this year?! I can't wait to hear about them all!

Also, don't forget to scroll down and check out the giveaway I'm having for my one year Blogoverary where you'll have a chance to win a purchase of up to $20.00 from the Book Depository!! The giveaway is international based on the countries to which the Book Depository will ship. Thanks for stopping by and good luck

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Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

ISBN: 9780545139700
Source: Purchased
Series: Harry Potter #7
Release Date: August 1, 2007
Goodreads  |  Amazon

See my past reviews in this series

In this seventh and final book, Harry discovers what fate truly has in store for him as he inexorably makes his way to that final meeting with Voldemort. In this thrilling climax to the phenomenally bestselling series, J.K. Rowling will reveal all to her eagerly waiting readers.


Oh... how to talk about this book in coherent sentences? Where do I begin? With this final book we see the end of all innocence in the series - the end of all of the lighthearted moments that made the rest of the series so fun to read. Not that this book wasn't fun to read. It was just... different. The Deathly Hallows brings us more adventure, more mystery, and ultimately all of the answers we've been waiting for in the last six books. And Rowling does not disappoint. We've got action, romance, betrayal, everything you could ask for in a series-ender like this one. And despite the fact that this is one of my favorites in the series for those reasons, its still a bit of a sore spot that the majority of this book took place outside of Hogwarts.It literally changes the dynamic of the books that we've been so used to... it was hard to accept that it was really then end.

The first time I read this book a few years ago, I remember finding the camp scenes in the middle of the book pointless, slow, and sometimes annoying. This time around I didn't feel that way - probably because I knew what was coming - and it set up perfectly for everything that was to come later in the book. In that same regard, though I wasn't bored by it, I think we can all agree that after the Gringotts scene around the halfway mark, things really take off and its hard to put the book down at all. It probably helped that this was only my second time reading the books, too, so there were still a lot of smaller details that I didn't remember from before.

I had such a "hangover" after I finished reading The Deathly Hallows. Actually, I was kind of surprised by the way I felt afterward. I was definitely pretty weepy during those last few chapters, but I continued to be pretty weepy afterward and just felt sad overall. Even a little mad, and I'm still not quite sure why. Probably because I now know at this late stage that the series is really and truly over. I imagine this was how many people felt back when the book first came out, and its a testament to Rowling's writing that it can still make people feel that way. I also realized, shockingly (or maybe not-so-shockingly) that I'm going to have to do this again. As in, re-read them again. I mean, I always figured I'd keep coming back for pleasure, but there is still so much more to be discovered, especially in the latter half of the series, so I'm planning on diving back in again soon, some time this year.

Well, after spending a day or two wanting to curl up in my bed and sleep off the rather depressing book-hangover I developed from it, I spent some time thinking about the book and the series in general. I don't think it was my favorite in the series overall, but it is definitely toward the top of the list. I just can't get past the fact that even at the beginning of this book, it was really over. There was no more school for them, no more lighthearted fun. It took a little bit out of me, I can't lie. It might not be fair to the book but that definitely took away from it for me just a tiny bit.

Either way, I loved it, of course, and it ended in a way that did the series justice, wouldn't you say?

     RATING: ★★★★★

For those of you who are curious, after weeks of careful deliberation, I've finally decided the order of my favorites in this series:

(from favorite to least favorite)
The Goblet of Fire
The Prisoner of Azkaban
The Deathly Hallows
The Half-Blood Prince
The Order of the Phoenix
The Sorcerer's Stone
The Chamber of Secrets

It was hard to do, and even looking at it now, I could probably rearrange one or two of them, but that could go on forever and I'd never come up with a concrete list. Best to leave it as it is. Which ones are your favorites? How did you feel about The Deathly Hallows overall as an ending for this amazing series. I love talking HP, so lets hear it!


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: 2014 Bookish Goals (and Blogoversary Giveaway!!)

Happy Tuesday. Also, I have to toot my own horn here, but: Happy 1 year Blogoversary to me and to I Solemnly Swear Book Reviews! I really hope you all will check out my Blogoversary Giveaway wherein I am giving away a bookish purchase from The Book Depository of up to $20.00!!! (Not just one book/item, but any amount of items totaling up to $20.00) I've added the widget to the bottom of this post! The giveaway is international based on the countries The Book Depository ships to.

Back on topic here, its Tuesday - to be more specific, its the first Tuesday of the year wherein we make our New Year Bookish Goals via Top Ten Tuesday hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

So, here they are - My Top Ten (Bookish) Goals/Resolutions For 2014

1. Read 65 books. I read 60 in 2013, so let's see if I can beat that!

2. Finish all series that I've begun (or read all books released, if series isn't finished), except for ones that I have decided not to continue with. I have a nasty habit of starting book 1 of a series, then not getting to the next one until months later.

3. Read 2 classics. I read one last year, so I'm going to try to beat that while still going easy on myself.

4. Read 1 non-fiction book. I had a goal of 5 for last year and didn't read any. I am going to try to at least read 1 and see how it goes.

5. Never read more than one book in between series books. Another attempt to thwart that nasty habit of never finishing a series. I want to start reading them back to back, or at least with only one non-related book in between.

6. Get my physical TBR below 40 books by the end of the year and maintain it. This is to exercise self-control over my excessive book-buying habit.

7. Not to force myself to read things I don't want to read, especially in a series that I'm not interested in. More specifically, I will try the first two books in a series and if I don't like it after the first two, I will not force myself to go on.

8. "Complete" my Review Archive by reading a book by authors whose last names begin with letters I haven't listed under yet. For example, I haven't read and reviewed any books by an author with the last name beginning with the letter A. I shall rectify this.

9. Finish the A Song of Ice and Fire series. This may fall under 'Finish All Series,' but in the event that I don't accomplish that goal, I still wish to finish this particularly long and difficult series.

10. Read 25,000 pages. This is kind of a random 'lets see if I can do it' thing. I read over 22,000 last year and since my book goal this year exceeds last, I'm hoping to surpass pages as well. We shall see.

What are your goals/resolutions for this year!? Do we share any of the same goals! I can't wait to see everyone's goals, cause I'll probably see all sorts of awesome ones that will make me want to add to this list!! Happy New Year everyone!


P.S. Here's the giveaway widget for my 1-Year Blogoversary Giveaway! Help me celebrate! :)
Again, the giveaway is international based on the countries The Book Depository ships to. Giveaway ends on Monday, January 20, 2014.

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Monday, January 6, 2014

Review: Forever in Blue by Ann Brashares

ISBN: 9780385734011
Source: Purchased
Series: The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants #4
Release Date: January 1, 2007
Find it on Goodreads
See my reviews on other books in this series

With unraveled embroidery and fraying hems, the Traveling Pants are back for one last, glorious summer.
Lena: Immerses herself in her painting and an intoxicating summer fling, fearing that the moment she forgets about Kostos will be the moment she sees him again.
Carmen: Falls under the spell of a sophisticated college friend for whom a theatrical role means everything and the heritage of the Pants means nothing.
Bridget: Joins a dig for an ancient city on the coast of Turkey and discovers that her archaeology professor is available in every way except one.
Tibby: Leaves behind someone she loves, wrongly believing he will stay where she has left him.

I really thought that this would be my favorite book out of the whole series - mainly because I'm so much closer in age to the main characters in this one than I was four books ago (24 to their 18). Surprisingly, it wasn't my favorite, but I did enjoy reading about the deeper issues the girls dealt with in this "final" installment.

One of the smaller reasons for me not absolutely loving this one was that I found the writing to be... for lack a better term: strange... as compared to the previous three. Not the narrative, but the dialogue felt stunted and awkward, which made no sense to me considering the previous three in the series were written very well. It was easy enough to look past as a whole, but strange nonetheless and at times distracting.

As far as the characters and their development, the fact that they were entering a new life stage and changing very much was evident. I think all of the characters showed a lot of development throughout the series, but I wondered at times in this book if the girls had forgotten all of the lessons they'd learned over the previous three summers?

Bridget was always my favorite out of the girls, probably because I related best to her. I enjoyed the fact that she was such a free spirit a lot of the time, but sometimes fell victim to a deeper sadness and bad decisions. I always thought, though, that Bridget was the one who learned most from her mistakes and made the biggest effort to change when she did learn. Then came this book and Bridget basically reverts to all her old ways. It was just eye-roll inducing when she (and all the other characters) went back on all the awesome character development they'd acquired previously.

The other girls will always have a spot in my heart alongside Bridget, my fave, though they usually made me roll my eyes a little more often than she did (especially Carmen). Carmen has gotten much less bratty since the first book, though, thank God, and actually begins to develop as an adult and use her attitude to get what she wants in the right way.

Sometimes Lena's reaction to emotion-inducing events seemed unrealistic and too nonchalant, but I suppose she was always a bit of a downer. And Tibby... in this book, Tibby was the opposite of every 18-year-old girl I know while somehow being exactly like them. I don't want to spoil anything for the 5% of people who've never read these but I felt for the girl because I have been in some of those situations before (definitely not the biggest one, but some).

Overall, awkward dialogue aside, it was fun to watch four girls that we'd seen grow up go into adulthood, making mistakes (as always) and learning from them in the end- and even teaching some lessons in the process. I enjoyed this one and though I wanted to scream sometimes, I was satisfied with the way it ended, even if it was bittersweet.

     RATING: ★★

I highly recommend this series as a whole to all YA contemporary lovers. Its a wonderful story about true friendship, love, growing up, and how to deal with life and its tragedies. Though I can admit that sometimes reading about four teenage girls could be a bit eye-roll inducing, if you want to reminisce on your young-adulthood, pick up these books! I loved them!

How many of you read the entire series? What did you think of it as a whole? There's one more book (technically an adult novel) which I've read and will be reviewing. Its the "10 years later" novel.. I bet you can't wait! :)


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

ISBN: 9780545582995
Source: Purchased
Series: Harry Potter #6
Release Date: July 16, 2005
Find it on Goodreads
See my reviews of other books in this series


The war against Voldemort is not going well; even the Muggle governments are noticing. Ron scans the obituary pages of the Daily Prophet, looking for familiar names. Dumbledore is absent from Hogwarts for long stretches of time, and the Order of the Phoenix has already suffered losses.

And yet, as with all wars, life goes on. Sixth-year students learn to Apparate—and lose a few eyebrows in the process. Teenagers flirt and fight and fall in love. Classes are never straightforward, though Harry receives some extraordinary help from the mysterious Half-Blood Prince.

So it's the home front that takes center stage in the multilayered sixth installment of the story of Harry Potter. Here at Hogwarts, Harry will search for the full and complex story of the boy who became Lord Voldemort—and thereby find what may be his only vulnerability.

*(If you have not read the previous books, please be advised that there may be spoilers for all previous books in this series)*
I think we can all agree that the basics are all the same in this series. You can't arrive at your review of the sixth book and pretend that you'll be saying anything new about the writing, world building, characters and development, plot progression and execution, etc. As always, all of these elements are impeccable in this sixth and second-to-last installment.

I enjoyed it a bit more than the last one because our teenagers are feeling a little less angsty and are just about on the brink of adulthood. Well, Hermione and Ron, by wizarding standards, have or will have come of age during or shortly after this book, having turned 17. Harry will follow, of course, in July of the seventh book, which is usually where our books pick up. We have some added romance by way of Ron and Lavender... uh.. and Hermione, and Harry and Ginny. I don't particularly think romance is a strong suit for Rowling - she really is a genius by way of mystery and fantasy, but I didn't completely buy the Harry-Ginny thing. I've always felt a bit like that and I really made an effort to connect with them a bit more this time to see if I was maybe missing something, but I feel like I only made a small bit of progress. I like the idea of it, of favorite characters in a favorite series being together. I just didn't like the execution and didn't really feel much of the chemistry with them.

I've never really felt that way about Hermione and Ron because their feelings for eachother are hinted at earlier on in the series and its easy to accept what you've been hoping for all that time. However, I did realize that I didn't feel much in the way of chemistry on that front either, but like I said, it just is... meant to be... so it didn't really bug me.

The ending of this book still shocks me to the core no matter how many times I've read it or watched it play out on the big screen. I just hate it, though I know it serves a much bigger purpose. I tried hard to study Snape and his actions and dialogue, because really, we all know what happens, but I'd just like to understand it better. Something I've never understood, even from book one, was Snape's rage and hatred toward Harry... or well, anyone who isn't like Snape himself, I guess. I get the whole thing with his dad and the friends, but come on. Aren't we all grown ups here? Well, again, I know it all serves a higher purpose, but its something I could never quite come to terms with. I can understand being cold and detached, but there were times throughout the series that Snape was downright cruel and even in this book, knowing what we know about book 7... I guess I won't go getting all spoilery for the random person living under a rock who hasn't read the book.

There isn't much else to say about this book other than how much I loved it and truly enjoyed it deep down in my bones. I've only read the last two books once before so I loved going through it all again, being able to study the parts that once confused me and really see deeper into the books. Though it was heartwrenching, it was enchanting and wonderfully done and I think it did the series justice.

     RATING: ★★★★★
Its still going to take some time for me to figure out how I feel about it in reference to the other books. Definitely more toward the top of the list and there are only 7, so its not like they can all be my favorite.

Silly question, but have you read book 6 in the Harry Potter series yet? If so, have you read it recently? Do you agree or disagree with the points I've made about the story? Did you love it just as much as I did a? Love talking HP, so lets hear it!