Thursday, March 27, 2014

Review: Miss Mabel's School for Girls by Katie Cross and Giveaway!

ISBN: 9780991531905
Source: eARC/Author
Format: e-book
Series: The Network Series #1
Release Date: March 27, 2014
Goodreads  |  Amazon

Never underestimate the power of a determined witch.
Letum Wood is a forest of fog and deadfall, home to the quietly famous Miss Mabel’s School for Girls, a place where young witches learn the art of magic.
Sixteen-year-old Bianca Monroe has inherited a deadly curse. Determined to break free before it kills her, she enrolls in the respected school to confront the cunning witch who cast the curse: Miss Mabel.
Bianca finds herself faced with dark magic she didn’t expect, with lessons more dangerous than she could have ever imagined. Will Bianca have the courage to save herself from the curse, or will Miss Mabel’s sinister plan be too powerful?
Miss Mabel’s School for Girls is the first novel in The Network Series, an exciting new fantasy collection. A gripping tale about the struggle to survive, it will take you to a new place and time, one you’ll never want to leave.

It feels like I have been waiting centuries for Katie Cross to publish her book. It hasn't been nearly that long obviously, but that is about how badly I wanted to read MMSFG. I was one of the lucky ones who was able to read it before its release date (today!) and got to participate in the launch day madness (which includes some awesome giveaways thanks to the author so don't forget to check those out before you go!)

Let me start by saying that my favorite part about the entire book was the main character, Bianca. It's not often that you find a strong, confident female character in a YA novel. Let's be totally honest here - on a good day, a YA herione starts out as a sniveling, simpering pain in the ass and eventually develops into the kind of strong character that Cross gives us right from the beginning. Bianca is driven by many things: fear, love, determination. But those things make her who she is and I just loved watching her grow and fight toward her goal so fiercely throughout this book.

I enjoyed the supporting characters too, and Leda was of course my favorite. I was incredibly intrigued by her "gift", but more than that, she cracked me the hell up. At first I didn't know if I'd like her much or not cause she seemed to be snotty, but those straight-faced one-liners did me in every time.

I was so intrigued by the concept of different Networks (kind of like.... districts, I guess) and how they were connected (or weren't) and am dying to find out more about them. As for the story itself, I actually found it to be a bit darker than I was expecting. If you've ever met Katie Cross (which I haven't, but I've talked to her via the world wide web, so I'm imagining here), you would know she is hysterically funny, sweet, all smiles (and by smiles, I mean internet smiles) - in other words, I didn't find her to be a "dark" person. So it was a little surprise, but quite a good one. I don't think this story would have worked if not for the dark and sinister undertones that it had. So really, it worked, and I'm not going to lie, Bianca was brave as hell cause I would not be tromping around Letum Wood like that if I were her!

RATING: ★★★★

Overall, I enjoyed Katie Cross's first novel, Miss Mabel's School for Girls so, so much! her writing is fantastic to top off all of the other reasons that this book is amazing. With a strong main character like Bianca Monroe, I feel like we can't go wrong here. Loved it and cannot wait until Katie finishes and publishes the next book in the Network Series!

Have you gotten to read this one? If not, make sure you are clicking on that Amazon link above and buying it NOW! It's only $2.99 for Kindle right now. So basically, how can you say no?

Don't forget to pay Katie a visit at one of the links below to check out her awesomeness and to enter in the excellent giveaway she's got going on! The giveaway runs from March 27-30th. You can enter by clicking the link below for the Miss Mabel's Website! Being given away are a potions chest, a grimoire, potion bottles, bags of apothecary herbs and spices, and amazon gift cards. Enter now!


Monday, March 24, 2014

Review: The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

ISBN: 9781423101505
Source: Purchased (re-read)
Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians #5
Release Date: May 5, 2009
Goodreads  |  Amazon
See my reviews for previous books in this series

All year the half-bloods have been preparing for battle against the Titans, knowing the odds are against them. Kronos is stronger than ever, and with every god and half-blood he recruits, his power only grows.

The Last Olympian is my favorite book of this entire series. That may not be surprising to you because usually the last books are always the most epic. TLO was definitely epic. But I liked it the most because this is the only book out of all 5 that kicks right off with the action and maintains that throughout the entire book. Even with this being the second time I've read the book, it had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. In the other books in the series (save for the first one cause that obviously had a lot of setting up and introducing to do), I always felt like the book would start of with some action - something happening to Percy or Percy on some minor mission, then it would taper off to spending half the book at the Camp not doing much of anything until things picked up again. Thankfully, book 5 did not follow that mold.

While I don't have much else to say about this book or the series as a whole, I must say that I am so, so glad that there is a spin off series (which I've obviously read already) because the ending of TLO does not provide enough closure for me. I was a mess with some of the things that happened and a few of the very unexpected deaths that occurred, and was pleased overall with the way things turned out, but Riordan must've had the spinoff, Heroes of Olympus, planned already because again, not nearly enough closure. I can't end a series like that on a "and they had a good day." I need a happily EVER AFTER!

But HoO gives that a chance (thank goodness) so I can forgive Riordan for the ending of TLO, though it was still pretty awesome and had me all teary eyed and what not even if it didn't quite give the closure I was looking for.
RATING: ★★★★ 1/2

Overall, The Last Olympian was my favorite of this series because of the non-stop action and plot twists coming out of nowhere! It probably also helped that Percy was a bit older and it's easier for me to relate to YA that to MG. I've already started the spin off series, Heroes of Olympus (I'm on book 2 now!) and am so glad I get to continue being a part of this world and reliving the fun I had when I read them a while ago.

Have any of you completed the Percy Jackson series? Which of the books was your favorite? Did you enjoy them as much as I did? Let's talk books!


Friday, March 21, 2014

Divergent, The Movie: Am I The Only One Who Liked It?

IT'S HERE, people! Divergent, the movie, is HERE! Technically the premiere date was today but of course there were several showings last night, one of which I went to. Duh. Before I get into the movie, can I just talk about how disappointed I was with the lack of people attending the movie?

With the last few movie releases I've been to, the movies are no longer released at midnight, but there are several showings the Thursday before starting at around 8:00 p.m. continuing with at least four more performances up to and including midnight. I don't know if this is the case where you all are, but I don't know how I feel about it. At first I thought it was great cause I hated getting home at 3:00 a.m. after a midnight premiere to have to go to work the next morning. But to be totally honest... it was kind of lame this time.

I don't know if it's because Divergent is not "big" enough, which seems unlikely because I mean, it's Divergent. Even if society could care less about the release, there is still all of us, the blogging/reading community that tends to become obsessed and fangirl and all that. So I wonder if it is due to the lack of midnight showings. I think midnight showings gave more of a sense of urgency - you want to be one of the first to see it so you must be there that day.Well, whatever the case was, I was pretty disappointed. I got there more than an hour early and they were already seating - no lines, no wait. Again, doesn't seem like something to complain about, but half the fun of a midnight premiere is having to wait outside the theater doors for an hour squishing up against people you don't know and stampeding into the theater trying to get a seat that is not those ones in the first two rows where you break your neck. Sigh... I think you get what I'm trying to say.But anyway, besides the fact that the premiere atmosphere itself was pretty lame, I really, really enjoyed the movie. That's not to say it didn't have its issues, but overall I really enjoyed it.


First and foremost, I honestly enjoyed seeing the story come to life. I think that is something that I love about (almost) every book-to-movie adaptation, though. I thought seeing each faction in "real life" was insanely cool. Getting inside the Dauntless compound past the point of in my head was awesome. See Four up close and personal (yum!) was great.

I particularly enjoyed the way the romance was done in the movie. I've read Divergent twice and while I liked Tris and Four because they obviously belonged together, I never felt as though the chemistry between them in book one warranted an "I love you" at the end of it. I never really felt it the way I wanted to. But in the movie, all the chemistry was there. Theo James is delicious for starters, so not only is he easy on the eyes, but he works well with Shailene Woodley in my opinion. But I really enjoyed the way they progressed, learning to respect each other, trust each other then, finally, love each other. It was a hundred times more believable on screen than it was on the page and I was swooning all over the place.

While I didn't love all of the things Hollywood chose to add in (see below), I really did like the action aspect of the movie, especially toward the end. I thought it was wonderfully done and it was so intense, I had a death grip on Sean's hand the entire time. So I was able to (mostly) forgive the unnecessary additions because it made the movie pretty damn exciting.

Let me just talk about the actors/actresses for a minute, because a lot of my love for the movie came from the feelings they caused in me while they were playing these characters:

Theo James/Four: Not only is he sexy beyond belief, he comes off a little more mature in the movie rather than just mean and brooding, which only made him sexier. He seemed more like a man than a boy. I think he did a fantastic job portraying Four and bringing to life the chemistry and love between him and Tris.

Ben Lloyd-Hughes/Will: I just loved Ben playing Will! Though I wish he'd played a bigger part in the movie such as he did in the book, I was happy with the casting and I really enjoyed him.... and then... yeah. That was rough. :'(

Jai Courtney/Eric: OMG. Oh. My. Goodness. I am in love with Eric. I never thought I would say those
Look at that face. And those lips. Sweet
Baby Jesus... I'm in love.
words. I thought he was hot before I saw the movie and before I actually saw him  play the part of Eric, and then I saw him acting and I am in love. Jai Courtney is a delicious specimen of a man, but I also think he did a fantastic job of playing Eric. He came off as cold, calculating, uncaring, and a little bit of a douche, but he did it perfectly while causing me to melt into a puddle every time he came on screen. I had a hard time remembering that he was a bad guy. :/

Shailene Woodley/Tris: I am going to be completely honest - I thought I was going to hate Woodley as Tris. At first, I thought she was too... rough, not skinny and "birdlike" enough (that sounded rude, didn't it?).. I just didn't think she was going to portray the Tris I wanted and had been seeing in my head all this time. I was so pleasantly surprised when I started seeing her evolve from Abnegation Beatrice to Dauntless Tris and I really loved her. Not to mention she showed off her acting chops in a major way toward the end of the movie in a couple of insanely emotional scenes. I was a blubbering mess and Woodley really showed the emotions Tris was feeling that sometimes get lost in translation when imagining it in our own heads. I thought she was fantastic even if she isn't exactly the perfect embodiment of Tris in the books.


Really, the only thing I actually did not like in this movie were the things they added in with Jeanine and Tris. I felt like they changed their dynamic entirely and tried to make it seem as if Jeanine wasn't out to get Tris and that she was even being friendly toward her, if not entirely truthful. They actually threw Jeanine into the story (in regard to Tris) a whole lot earlier than in the book. I guess I can see why they did that, so as not to throw Jeanine in as a threat at the last minute (especially for people watching who haven't read the books), but I didn't like the way they tried to portray the relationship between Jeanine and Tris.

There was one character that I hated: Zoe Kravitz/Christina: I was actually really excited to see her play Christina. I am a huge Lenny Kravitz fan and yes, I know, her father's talent doesn't necessarily translate to her, but Christina was one of my favorite characters in the book and I was really counting on Kravitz to play the role well. I thought she was pretty lame for starters. Her acting wasn't horrible but it certainly wasn't anything to write home about. Not to mention that she looked like she was high the entire time. That, or deathly ill. WTF is that about? It was awful and it made it seem like she didn't care about being there or being Christina. Needless to say, I was disappointed by her.

To touch on a topic some non-blogging friends of mine brought up (and one fellow blogger, Nikki, who said the same thing on Twitter), it seems like the movie was put together in a way that could be confusing for people who have never read the books. Even with the movie being almost 2 1/2 hours long, it seemed to move really fast and didn't exactly expand on things that may have needed to be explained a little better. I, myself, didn't necessarily notice this until after the fact because I read it very recently and remembered most details, and I still think I need to see it again to form a solid opinion on this aspect. But I can totally understand this and see how it may have been confusing to some people who haven't read it, or even people who read it quite a while ago and don't remember all of the details.


I am one of the few who seem to have really enjoyed this movie. I thought it was action packed, kept pretty well to the original story line, had really awesome acting, and was so cool to see come to life in general. I don't want to get up on my soap box here in debate with people who absolutely did not like it, but I really just want to know why? If those who disliked it actually didn't like it as a movie, I completely respect that. My problem is with the comments about disliking it because of the things they changed. I just feel like.... where have you been? This is the nature of book-to-movie adaptations. They change things, take things out, add things in. When I go see adaptations, though I compare to the book, I really just try to watch the movie and see everything coming to life. There are some exceptions, like if they change major things and even endings or something (Beautiful Creatures, cough cough). I just hate when people hate on an adaptation because things are different. They call it awful, when as a movie, it really wasn't. I just want to know, why are you even bothering to see it if you know that they are going to leave out about half of the book and probably a lot of things you really liked?

Maybe I'm being harsh, but I don't mean to be, I promise. I just think that fans need to go into these things with this in mind: things will be changed. There's usually a reason (not always, so don't stone me, please, but usually).

Well anyways, regardless, I really enjoyed this movie and I'd really love to hear from you, whether you agree with me or not, because I feel like I'm missing something when everyone says how horrible it was. But if you liked/loved it, I would really love to gush together so please, tell me what you liked - or didn't like.

If you haven't seen it, do you think you will? And is your decision based on preconceived notions about adaptations or because of the reviews that are surfacing now that it has been released? Let's talk books... er.. movies!


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Review: Allegiant by Veronica Roth

ISBN: 9780062024060
Source: Purchased
Format: Hardcover
Series: Divergent #3
Release Date: October 22, 2013
Goodreads  |  Amazon
*Please note that this review may contain spoilers for the first two books. Click for spoiler-free reviews of Divergent and Insurgent*

The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.
But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

Allegiant certainly picks up right where Insurgent leaves off - right in the thick of things after the society learns something big. Don't worry, calm down, I won't spoil it because there may be some of you who are reading Insurgent now and haven't had that bombshell dropped on you, or haven't read this series at all yet.

I'm going to give you two contradictory statements right now: I LOVED this book. But. I was a little put off by the premise and the way things changed at the end of book 2. I know. How is that even possible? I don't know, don't ask me, ask this book why it made me love it so much!!! No, but really, I don't think the turn Allegiant took was a bad one. I think it was insanely clever, but I don't think it was fleshed out enough, and I kind of felt like I was reading a book from a different series. I wish some of the big reveals had been revealed in the the previous books because this "bombshell" literally changes everything.

With that being said, I still think that except for a lack of world building (which sucks because you kind of figured in the first two books that the world building was pretty damn great), I thought Roth pulled it off really well and I really did love it. I feel so bad for Tris and Four by this point because I feel like they never really get to just be together. There is always something going on, some life or death situation ruining what they have together - not to mention Four was being a total dick most of the time in Allegiant so I'm sure that didn't help either. I did, however, enjoy the fact that though there was a bunch of Tris-Four-ness in Allegiant, I didn't find it to be as relationship- and character-driven as the previous two, and it really focused on the plot and the intended resolution. It's nice to read a teen novel and it not be all about the hot boy.

Let's talk about the ending (without spoiling it, people!). I know many, many of you hated the ending. I didn't. I think it was fitting. I imagine that if I hadn't known what was going to happen prior to reading the series (thanks a lot Goodreads reviewers), I may have been angry, too. But I guess that's where it's better that I did know - I was able to look at it in a different way. Please, don't misunderstand me. Leading right up until the thing that happened, even though I knew it was coming, I was a little bit in denial, shaking my head as I was reading, thinking "this cant be how it ends", so I can understand the feelings that came along with reading the ending for the first time as a hardcore fan with not a clue as to what is about to happen. But I don't hate Roth for what she did. I think what she did was brave, just like what certain characters in the actual story did was brave.

So, aside from how I feel about how the blogging/reading community feels about the ending, this is how I, myself, felt about the ending: NOOOOOOO *sobs for 12 minutes alone on the couch* *wipes face, looks back down at book to try to continue reading* NOO, NONONONO *sobs for at least 7 more minutes*

No but seriously, I have NEVER in my entire life cried this hard over a book. I was kind of on the fence between giving this book a 3.5-4 star rating. I generally bump up a book half a star if it makes me cry, because I figure if it made me cry, it means I cared at least a little bit about what was going on. But the way this one had me going, and the actual ending itself (not just the fact that I cried, because it really was pulled off so well) definitely bumped this one up to a 4.5, and it totally deserves that.

I'm not going to lie, I still get a little weepy when I talk about this book. When I first finished it, I caught myself starting to cry a little bit at random times during the day at work over the next couple of days. My fiance read these books a little bit after I did and he kind of knew how it ended too. Needless to say he didn't have the same reaction I did, but we talked about it a lot and I even got weepy when talking to him conversationally about it. Immediately following finishing Allegiant, I wanted to re-read the entire series, so I picked up Divergent and I just couldn't do it. I was not emotionally ready. I still don't know if I am.

What I'm trying to say is that I don't deny this book's faults, but regardless of them, I loved this book. The premise of the third book felt like an entire different series, and if it was a separate series, I think it would've been really amazing - it just didn't fit with the first two books in the series that it actually belonged to. I don't deny any of these things, but I loved this book anyway.

RATING: ★★★★ 1/2

Tonight is the premiere of the Divergent movie and YES I will be there, with bells on! Just FYI, I'm going to the 10 p.m. (Eastern) showing, so 1. I will be unavailable to the world between 9:30 and 1:00  2. Hit me up on Twitter to talk movie-stuff after it is over or tomorrow! But seriously, I don't know how I am going to get through this movie. I couldn't bear to pick up the books, I don't know if I can watch it on the big screen either without dying inside.

So tell me what you thought of Allegiant - WITHOUT spoilers, please, for those participating who haven't read it! And be totally honest. Brutally honest if you must. Okay, don't be brutal, I'm quite sensitive, but say what you mean, please. A lot of people really did not  like this book. I'd love to know more about why now that I have read it and can form my own opinion about it. And if you did love it, please tell me why also. I have been dying to discuss this book ever since I finished it and now is the chance! Let's talk!


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Spring (TBR) Cleaning!

This Spring, I have big plans for my TBR! There is one new release and one eARC that I must make time for but I'm really going to focus on reading things I already own. The top ten books (or series) I am planning on powering through this spring are:

1. The Here and Now by Ann Brashares: The only eARC I have on my Spring TBR! I am so excited to read this book starting next week! I recently read Brashares' Traveling Pants series in its entirety at the end of last year and am definitely a fan, so I'm excited to read a dystopian novel by her.

2. Shadow Spell by Nora Roberts: The first of the new releases on my Spring TBR - it's actually coming out next Tuesday. I read Dark Witch when it first came out last year and really enjoyed it! My boss and I are reading these together as they come out and we both are super excited for this one!

3. The Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa: One of my good pals Amber gave me the first three books in this series (because she's amazing) and I have been eager to finally start reading them. I wasn't planning on getting to them until the summer but I just don't think I can wait any longer, so I'm starting them in April instead.


4. Red Rising by Pierce Brown: A newer release that I purchased almost as soon as it came out. The reviews for it are fantastic and I can't wait to pick it up!

5. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black: Picked this one up on  a whim a while ago and haven't gotten around to it. Looking forward to a fresh take on the vampire thing.

6. A Classic: I know that is incredibly vague, but I don't know what classic I am going to read - just that I am going to read one. I actually am going to ask the blogging community for some suggestions and help in picking one, so if you have a minute, feel free to suggest one for me! I'd be so grateful for your opinions.

7. The Testing series by Joelle Charbonneau: I have the first two books in the series and the final book comes out right at the end of Spring, so my plan is to read the first two leading up to the release of the final one in June. The best part is - my fiance bought me this book for some gift-giving holiday (I think Valentine's Day) and he purchased the audio book for himself and we're going to read it together. This is great because he only recently started reading for pleasure and I finally feel accomplished as a blogger in getting someone "into reading".


8. The Grisha series by Leigh Bardugo: I also own the first two books in this series and my plan with these is same as my plan with the Testing. I am going to read the first two in the lead-up to the release of the third book at the end of Spring. This series is much anticipated for me and I can't wait to finally get into it!

9. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein: Another one that I picked up on a whim long ago and have not been able to get around to. Hoping to read Rose Under Fire right after since I'm pretty sure they are companion novels. Right...?

And last but not least...

10. Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan: I am actually in the middle of the first book, The Lost Hero, which is sadly taking me like a month to finish, but I will be making my way through the other three books in the series this Spring.


Okay, so which of these books have you read, or are you planning on reading any of them this Spring? Oh, and again, if any of you are feeling generous and want to suggest a classic (for someone like me who isn't really into them...), that would be great because I'm planning to read a classic this Spring.... I just don't know which one!

I'd love to see what books you're planning on reading this Spring! Leave your link below so I can pay you a visit too! :)


Monday, March 17, 2014

Review: Insurgent by Veronica Roth

ISBN: 9780007442911
Source: Purchased
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: May 1, 2012
Series: Divergent #2
Goodreads  |  Amazon
**This review may contain spoilers for the Divergent. For a spoiler-free review of Divergent, click here**

One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.
Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

Insurgent and I kind of have a funny history. I actually DNFed when it first came out a couple of years ago. It had been almost a year between finishing Divergent and the release date of Insurgent and I had basically forgotten all of the important stuff that happened in Divergent. So when I picked up Insurgent and felt a little lost, and frankly, a little bored, I gave up on the series altogether (I know, my pre-blogger self was pretty harsh).

Upon re-reading Divergent, I remembered what I liked so much about the story the first time around, and quickly began reading Insurgent. Honestly, and in my defense, I can see why I was a little bored with it last time. Though last time I barely got 50 pages in before quitting, so I guess it didn't really get a fair shot. I pushed through the kind of boring beginning and once the group was out of the Amity compound, things got really interesting.

Roth opened up a bit more with her world-building this time around. Not only do we get to see the Amity compound, but we get a look at the Candor, whom I find absolutely fascinating, and their compound, and a glimpse at some of the others. I find the factions in general to be really unique and I love how Roth shows us even more about them as the story goes on.

Though I did really enjoy this book, it was definitely my least favorite of the three. Tris began to get annoying about halfway through the book when she kept putting herself in bad situations while knowing there may not be a way out. I did feel as though Tris was more real and relatable in this one, though. In Divergent, I just couldn't believe that after being raised Abnegation that Tris could be so cold and uncaring toward others, and it was a real turn off for me. In Insurgent, she was dealing with a lot of difficult feelings and though she wasn't the strong, capable Tris we'd grown to love, she was still dealing with things in a real way, and I really respect Roth for that. For sometimes making difficult decisions or making a character act in a way that is real but not necessarily a character the fans will love.

There were so many twists and turns in this book and it really did keep my on my toes. However, while the plot was ever changing, the pace of the book was a little slower than I would've liked. Really though, while I found the pace a bit slow at times, Roth's writing is amazing and beautiful, and her prose more than made up for the pace.

Let's talk about the ending of Insurgent. Okay, not about what actually happened, but the fact that I was pretty confused even though I had re-read the last chapter several times to try to get a better grasp on what was going on. I had to ask some friends and fellow bloggers to reassure me that this was normal. I didn't want to go into Allegiant while missing something big and important. Turns out I wasn't missing anything and it was totally okay to be confused because what happened after was ever crazier. But I still loved it!

RATING: ★★★★ 1/2

Overall, I really loved Insurgent and literally picked up Allegiant immediately after finishing it... well after I re-read the ending a few times first. More than anything, I love Roth's writing style and a big part of my love for this series is because of her beautiful, poetic way of telling a story.

What did you think of Insurgent? Did you love it like I did? Also, the Divergent movie comes out this week! How many of you are going to see it on Thursday night!? Let's talk - tell me what you think!?


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Review: The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan

ISBN: 9781423101468
Source: Purchased (re-read)
Format: Paperback
Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians #4
Release Date: March 6, 2008
Goodreads  |  Amazon
See my reviews for all books in this series

Freshman orientation is about mastering new things, but this is ridiculous. Percy didn't expect that in his first week at school, he would have to face a squad of demon cheerleaders. And the dangers are far more than scholastic: Kronos's armies are threatening even the relative safety of Camp Half-Blood. The fourth installment of Percy Jackson and the Olympians deals out action, surprises, suspense, and gripping characters.

The Labyrinth has to be one of my favorite myths of all. I was so excited to start this book because, like Annabeth, I'm so wildly intrigued by the endless possibilities of the Labyrinth... not that I'd go exploring without some guidance though, haha. I particularly enjoyed this book because I didn't remember a lot of the smaller details, so playing the guessing game on some things was fun to experience again.

And Percabeth! So many important things happen for Percabeth in this books and I just LOVE it. Kind of mad about the little love-"square" that was going on there considering it was about a 15-year-old (my wittle Percy! He's too young!), but Percy's confusion over most things having to do with relationships was pretty cute so I can deal.

Once again, there isn't much left to say about these books. They are all fun, even a bit educational (on Greek Mythology, of course) while continually making us fall in love with Percy, Annabeth and all of Camp Half-Blood!

     RATING: Really Liked It! ★★★★ 

This is definitely my favorite so far out of the the first four in this series, though you and I both know book 5 blows everything out of the water. Have you read this far into the series yet? What did you think? Did you enjoy the Labyrinth as much as I did? Can't wait to hear from you!


Monday, March 10, 2014

Review: The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan

ISBN: 9780141382890
Source: Purchased (re-read)
Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians #3
Release Date: April 24, 2007
Goodreads  |  Amazon
See my reviews for previous books in this series

But when you're the son of a Greek god, it happens. And now my friend Annabeth is missing, a goddess is in chains and only five half-blood heroes can join the quest to defeat the doomsday monster.
Oh and guess what. The Oracle has predicted that not all of us will survive...

Can I be totally honest here? Besides Percy and Annabeth, who will always hold a place in my heart, my favorite parts about this entire book were Artemis and Apollo. Other than Athena, they are my absolute favorite of the gods and I really enjoyed having them be a part of this story (especially Apollo who I imagine being really hot).

We are introduced to some new characters in this book who (kind of spoiler alert?) end up being really integral to the series later on: Bianca and Nico DiAngelo, young demigods who are found at a boarding school by Grover and saved by Annabeth and Percy. I had a hard time finding sympathy with Bianca and I can say she wasn't one of my favorite characters, but... oh Nico. I remember the first time I read this series, I had a hard time connecting with Nico, so I took some time to really focus on him while reading this book, and I connected with him a lot more, if not exactly as much as I'd hoped to. Really, my problem is that I had a hard time with his "development" at the end of this book and into the next, but I suppose that is a story for another review.

I thought the pacing was a bit off in this book in that it seemed to start off slower than the others. Honestly, all of the books start off real slow, spending a lot of time building up to real action and plot resolutions, but this one seemed to take the longest. With that being said, we see a lot of set up later in the book for some major things happening later in the series, and with the characters maturing and the writing somehow getting better, it was pulled off very well, all in all.

RATING: Pretty Good! ★★★ 1/2

Books 3-5 of this series are where things really start to get good. I especially think so because the characters are getting older, and apparently the older I get, the harder time I have connecting with MG (who woulda thunk?!). While a bit slow (as usual), I really did enjoy The Titan's Curse and can't wait to talk to you about the next two books in the series, which I especially love.

Have you gotten this far in the series yet? What did you think of The Titan's Curse? Let's talk about it!


Saturday, March 8, 2014

Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

ISBN: 9780525478812
Source: Gift
Series: No, stand-alone
Release Date: January 1, 2012
Goodreads  |  Amazon

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.

After reading this book, I put off writing a review for it as long as possible. I was, and still am, unsure about how I can review a book that has this kind of reputation already... TFIOS has pretty much pegged John Green as a writing god who can do no wrong, and the hype has pegged this book as nearly perfect. But I (don't kill me) don't fully agree with those statements. Don't get me wrong, I really did like this book. I liked the main characters well enough (mainly Hazel) in that showed so much growth and they were pretty funny.

My problem with this book begins with the fact that, while I enjoyed the love story, I wasn't downright swooning over it or anything. At times, the plot turned out to be a little more convenient (Amsterdam.. ahem..) than what I find acceptable. The rest of my issues lie in the dialogue of the main characters. I think Green tried a little too hard to give us smart, sophisticated, witty characters and kind of lost their teenager-ish charm in the process. It just seemed like he was trying too hard to make the book be considered "profound (this is a word used by critics to describe many of Green's novels)" that I couldn't just enjoy it for what it was. The stiffness of the dialogue at times kind of ruined it for me. I like to think that I am pretty smart but there were times that I couldn't figure out what the hell Gus and Hazel were even talking about. Maybe that was the point? Maybe I'm just not up to that level where I can appreciate the witty banter and know what is going on? I don't know, maybe both, but I just found it stuffy and pretentious at times. It seemed like John Green had inhabited the bodies of two teenagers and was having a conversation with himself.

It's for those reasons that I can't figure out why people are going bananas over the book. I definitely tacked on an extra 1/2 star because the book made me cry like a baby (this is just a general rule for me), but I cry over pretty much anything, so I guess that doesn't even really count.

     RATING: ★★★★

All in all, I really did enjoy the book but I felt detached from a lot of the conversations that seemed more geared toward making me think about life and the universe than helping me connect with the characters. I find that when I do connect with the characters and a story, I end up thinking about life and the universe all on my own without it being shoved in my face, ya know? I guess what it really comes down to is that I felt like an idiot reading some of it, whereas (I am guessing) the point was to spark an epiphany in me, like, "ohhh, that's what life is really all about," or something, but it didn't.

Anyone out there agree with me? Or do you think  it was amazing and profound and think I'm a dunce because I can't understand the prolific nature of this novel? Cause that's kind of how I feel already after reading this, so go easy on me! Really, though - what did you think of this book overall?


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Review: The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan

ISBN: 9781423103349
Source: Purchased (re-read)
Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians #2
Release Date: April 1, 2006
Goodreads  |  Amazon
See my reviews for previous books in this series

Percy Jackson’s seventh-grade year has been surprisingly quiet. Not a single monster has set foot on his New York prep-school campus. But when an innocent game of dodgeball among Percy and his classmates turns into a death match against an ugly gang of cannibal giants, things get . . . well, ugly. And the unexpected arrival of Percy’s friend Annabeth brings more bad news: the magical borders that protect Camp Half-Blood have been poisoned by a mysterious enemy, and unless a cure is found, the only safe haven for demigods will be destroyed.

There isn't much that I have to say about this book (or this series, for that matter) that hasn't already been said. I enjoyed Sea of Monsters even more than I did The Lightning Thief even though it was almost 100 pages shorter. It was definitely a bit slow at the beginning but after reading the first two (and subsequently the entire series as I'm writing this review), I've learned that all of the books save for the last one start off slow, some slower than others.

The action scenes are better the second time around and it was fun to read, not to mention Riordan's sarcasm being manifested through his characters which is hysterical as always. I especially loved seeing the groundwork being laid out for Percy and Annabeth's relationship. They are still young in Sea of Monsters but you can see how much they like and respect each other and it's adorable!

I don't think any of these books are quite mindblowing because they are so geared toward a younger audience which is very apparent in the writing, but I love being a part of this world and I especially love revisiting Greek mythology in a fun way because I absolutely love mythology!


Sea of Monsters was such a fun, easy ready. It was silly and sarcastic which are my favorite but our heroes are still tested to show what they are made of! The movie was released on DVD recently, which I saw and actually kind of liked! I really hope they make the rest of the series too!

Have you read Sea of Monsters yet? What did you think of it compared to the first book (and the rest of the series)? Tell me what you think!


Monday, March 3, 2014

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

ISBN: 9780062024039
Source: Purchased (re-read)
Series: Divergent #1
Release Date: April 25, 2011
Goodreads  |  Amazon

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue--Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is--she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.
During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are--and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, Tris also learns that her secret might help her save the ones she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Let me start by telling you a story: I read this book years ago (about 3 years) when it first came out, and I remembering enjoying it a lot. At the time, I'd wanted the next book to be released pretty badly and when it finally was released about a year later, I went out and bought it. Unfortunately, in my unorganized, non-blogger mind at that point, I had completely lost interest in the series other than in theory, couldn't remember anything that was going on, and for whatever reason, didn't realize that a re-read of Divergent would have been warranted at that time. So I DNF'd Insurgent and told myself it must've been because I never cared for Divergent to begin with and because Insurgent was boring (yikes.. I was harsh back then).

Fast forward 2+ years, Allegiant was set to release, and the world was in a frenzy. My cousin, wondering what all said hype was about, asked me my opinion, which she trusted and normally followed. I basically told her: "meh", and sent her on her way to do with my opinion what she pleased. Pretty much, she promptly disregarded it and proceeded to read (and love) the entire series. She then tried to convince me that I needed to give it another try. It was at this point that I read a MAJOR spoiler for Allegiant, and, needless to say, my reaction at first was, "um, no, but thanks." Then I remembered it was being made into a movie, and the movie allure always draws me in - what can I say? I'm a sucker for movie adaptations. So I resolved to give them a try "eventually"... like closer to the release date or something. I'm sure you can see how committed I was to this task at the time, haha.

Soon, the hype for the movie really sucked me in and I decided to read the books about a month earlier than the release date. I will not give you my opinions on Insurgent and Allegiant here since I plan on reviewing those also over the next two weeks. But I will tell you what I thought about Divergent. My first instinct several years ago was right - I enjoyed it, and it was a good book.

I remembered the basic story line to Divergent from the last time but I'd forgotten enough for it to still keep my interest and keep me intrigued. I love the idea of the factions and the concept is really original despite some similarities to other popular books in the genre. I wish the series were longer to expand more on everything in this awesome world.

The first time reading, I remember feeling a little underwhelmed by Tris and Four's fledgling romance, and this time around I was, too. I enjoyed them both as separate characters but until the last quarter of the book, I thought their interactions were awkward and not pulled off very well. They sort of just hop right into being together at one point and I was left kind of wondering how it even built up to that and what had I missed?

I also thought Tris's reaction to all the crazy Dauntless crap going on was a little hard to believe. She was raised Abnegation! There is no way she could honestly feel disgusted by someone crying themselves to sleep at night during that initiation. Uncomfortable? Yes. Annoyed? Maybe, so. Disgusted? Okay, now I'm calling your bluff, chick. I found Tris to be a strong character, and I really did grow to like her when she started acting like herself, not like she needed to prove to everyone else that she was truly no longer Abnegation, but now Dauntless. I loved her best when she was being brave, selfless, smart, etc. Basically when she was embracing her divergence, haha.

Overall though, I really enjoyed this story and the potential it held for the rest of the series, though I was quite nervous going into Insurgent because I DNF'd it the first time I'd tried to read it (don't worry, I'll be posting a review all about that experience too!).

     RATING: ★★★★ 1/2

I'm extremely excited to talk about this book with everyone! In retrospect, after having read all the books by this time, I think I especially love Divergent now because it means so much more. I really wanted to re-read the books to go back and study the first two books in the context of the third, but I'm not emotionally ready to handle that right now, haha.

I am also ridiculously excited for the movie which is being released in about three weeks. I will most definitely be one of the crazies at the midnight showing - I cannot wait!
What did you think of Divergent (please leave any spoilers for the other books out of this discussion..)? I really did enjoy it and I loved getting to know Tris and Four, and Christina (who is one of my favorite characters!) and friends, and exploring the world through Roth's world-building. Are you planning to see the movie?

Also - what faction do you think you would be in? This is a question that has always bested me and I really would love to know if you all have answers for it or not. I can't decide if I'd be in Abnegation or Erudite. Probably Erudite because I really am quite selfish most of the time, so I don't know if I could handle Abnegation as a lifestyle. I wonder about Amity sometimes... though I probably could not be that happy and calm all the time. Definitely not Candor either, yikes! What do you think?


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Stacking the Shelves [1]

Hi! This is my first ever STS and I'm really excited to share the books I just bought with you all:

As you can see, I went on a little shopping spree! :)

Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles
The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead
The Fiery Heart by Richelle Mead
Independent Study by Joelle Charbonneau
Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
Red Rising by Pierce Brown

and I also purchased an e-book:

Half-Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout


I finally was approved for

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares, which I am SO excited about! :)

I'm so pumped about my haul this week! Have you read any of these yet? What did you think! What did you get this week!?


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Review: A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin

ISBN: 9780553579901
Source: Purchased (e-book)
Series: A Song of Ice and Fire #2
Release Date: November 16, 1998
Goodreads  |  Amazon
See other posts for this series
*This review may contain spoilers for the first book in the series*

A comet the colour of blood and flame cuts across the sky. And from the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding shores of Winterfell, chaos reigns. Six factions struggle for control of a divided land and the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms, preparing to stake their claims through tempest, turmoil, and war. It is a tale in which brother plots against brother and the dead rise to walk at night. Here a princess masquerades as an orphan boy; a knight of the mind prepares a poison for a treacherous sorceress; and wild men descend from the Mountains of the Moon to ravage the countryside. Against a backdrop of incest and fratricide, alchemy and murder, victory may go to the men and women possessed of the coldest steel...and the coldest hearts. For when kings clash, the whole land trembles.

To refresh my memory of A Game of Thrones, I re-read my review of that book and ended up kind of laughing at myself over it. In one of my closing paragraphs I said, "So if the next book is slow to some, it probably wont be to me...". Seriously, I said that. Apparently I underestimated Martin's ability to dig DEEP into this world. So, for the record: this book seemed slow to some. It was also slow for me.

That's not to say I didn't like or enjoy this book, because I did. There were some parts that I didn't enjoy reading, mainly because they were long and incredibly tedious, and to be completely honest, impossible for me to understand. For example, there is one entire chapter that is supposed to be describing a particular battle, but it is told from the point of view of someone on a ship. So this person goes on to talk about many, many ships, by name, and in the jargon of someone familiar with ships altogether. I, however, am not familiar with ships at all. So, while I read it and just barely managed to understand what was happening (for the most part), I was incredibly bored by the "ship-talk" because it went on foreverrrr.

I thought that because I didn't remember some of the minute details from season two of the show, it would be especially cool to read the book (such as it was with book one-season one) and have it answer some of the questions about things I couldn't quite grasp, e.g. Bran's little excursions into the brain of his wolf and who the hell Meera and Jojen were! While it did answer many, many questions that I had, I still had a hard time getting through this one. In fact, it took me an entire six months to finish reading this book. It was especially hard because by the second book, we have so many story lines going that by the time you get back around to reading a story line that began seven chapters ago, you've kind of forgotten what even happened before, especially if you had a hard time getting into that story line to begin with. Make sense?

I was told by many that this book was going to be one of the hardest and that it really served to connect books one and three. While I haven't read book three yet, based on what I saw of season three, I believe those statements wholeheartedly. I believe I am going to enjoy A Storm of Swords a lot more than I did A Clash of Kings.

The A Clash of Kings started to get more interesting around the 80% mark (I read these on my iPad because they are so long, and a book that big just won't fit in my purse with all the others), and I was able to sail right through the end while finally rekindling my eagerness to read this series. What I love most about this series - aside from the fact that I have never read a series as in-depth, fleshed out, well written, amazing, and GAHHHH - is that I find myself loving characters I know I should hate, or being annoyed at characters I know I should like. There is never a clear cut definition of "good and bad" in this series. A Song of Ice and Fire is one big gray area and honestly, I don't even know who to "root" for or if I can root for anyone. I'm basically content to sit back and watch it all unfold and though I know some of it will kill me (I speak from experience of watching the last few episodes of season three), I am ready because I know Martin won't steer us wrong... I hope. He should just keep writing until he runs out of material for this world. I say this because I have deemed it impossible to run out of anything for this world and that means he will have to write forever.

     RATING: ★ 1/2

All in all, I did find this book to be a lot slower and much harder to get through than the first book. It was long and tedious, but the world-building and development of this saga was wild. It's hard not to be in awe of it all and even if I didn't love this one, I am so looking forward to reading book three, A Storm of Swords, and genuinely hoping it doesn't take me six months to read that one.

Have you read A Clash of Kings? What did you think of it? Did you think it was long and tedious or did you enjoy every bit of the world building and development packed into that 700+ page book? Let's talk books!