Thursday, July 2, 2015

Swoon Thursday (#127): Of Dreams and Rust by Sarah Fine

Swoon Thursday is a hot meme hosted by the fabulous ladies at YA Bound!


- From the book you’re currently reading, or one you just finished, tell us what made you SWOON. What got your heart pounding, your skin tingling, and your stomach fluttering

- Try to make the swoon excerpt 140 characters (or less), if you are going to tweet about it. Use the hashtag #YABOUND when tweeting


This week, my swoon is Of Dreams and Rust by Sarah Fine!


His lips press to mine, soft and searching, and I close my eyes and welcome him. My heart is beating so fast that I can breathe , and all of me is tingling. His tongue traces a delicate oath along my bottom lip, and I wrap my hand around the back of his neck and pull him closer. He may have been a perfect hero in my dreams, but the perfect hero did not taste like this. He was not arm and trembling like this. He had no weight, no force. But this Melik, the one made of flesh and faults, has all of that, an my body recognizes the difference. It revels in that difference.

He deepens our kiss, his whiskers scratching at my face, one hand sliding down my back to my waist, the other cradling my head above the hard rumbles of the carriage. Parts of me are soft and hot, and others are taut and frantic. I am a jumble of mismatched pieces, but somehow all of them have the same goal. Bring him closer.

- ARC pages, 127-128




I am in love with Sarah Fine's books! Seriously, the lady is an amazing writer. This book was beautiful!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Sequel Excitement for An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir!

I am so excited about the sequel news for An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir! On May 18th, Sabaa announced to the world that there would be a sequel in the works! YES! Finally, Penguin! Read all about it HERE on The New York Times website.

ARE YOU EXCITED?!!?!?!?!?

I am! I absolutely loved An Ember in the Ashes - check out my review if you want to know more! I'd been waiting to read this book for years (or, at least A year), and when it finally happened, I incredibly excited. And a little anxious. Reading a book that you've been waiting to read for forever? That's a daunting feeling. 

So I started reading... and I was intrigued. And then I was terrified for Elias - his plans were suicide! And then I was terrified for Laia - she could get herself killed! This book is so high-stakes craziness, with amazing world-building and plot arcs and an interesting mythology/fantasy background. Color me curious, I want to know more about the world-building.

Anyway, I finished this book months ago and... it felt a lot like this:



WHEEEE, WHAT JUST HAPPENED THAT WAS SO GOOD!

And...


More WHAT JUST HAPPENED and WHERE'S THE NEXT BOOK?!

But then realizing there was no sequel contracted was a lot like


Sad Agnes is sad :(

BUT THEN THE ANNOUNCEMENT ABOUT THE SEQUEL CAME!


HAPPY AGNES IS HAPPY!

THANK YOU, PENGUIN AND SABAA!




We readers can't thank you enough :) The hole in my heart can now be filled!

My exact reaction to Sabaa's tweet:


I'm really, really excited, guys. I can complete my collection with sequel copies!


The ARC and hardcover!


About the Book:

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Book One of the An Ember in the Ashes series
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: April 28, 2015

Official Summary:

Set in a terrifyingly brutal Rome-like world, An Ember in the Ashes is an epic fantasy debut about an orphan fighting for her family and a soldier fighting for his freedom. It’s a story that’s literally burning to be told.

LAIA is a Scholar living under the iron-fisted rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire’s greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who claim that they will help to save her brother from execution.

ELIAS is the academy’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias is considering deserting the military, but before he can, he’s ordered to participate in a ruthless contest to choose the next Martial emperor.

When Laia and Elias’s paths cross at the academy, they find that their destinies are more intertwined than either could have imagined and that their choices will change the future of the empire itself.



About the Author:


Sabaa Tahir grew up in California’s Mojave Desert at her family’s 18-room motel. There, she spent her time devouring fantasy novels, raiding her brother’s comic book stash and playing guitar badly. She began writing An Ember in the Ashes while working nights as a newspaper editor. She likes thunderous indie rock, garish socks and all things nerd. Sabaa currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family.

Waiting on Wednesday (#131): Diamonds are Forever by Michelle Madow


"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.


This week, I'm featuring:


Diamonds are Forever by Michelle Madow
Book Three of The Secret Diamond Sisters series
Publisher: Harlequin TEEN
Publication Date: October 27, 2015

Summary (from Goodreads):

It's cold outside, but the drama is hot! 

The Diamond sisters jet to the mountains for spring break, and Savannah's flirt-mance with international pop star Perry Myles continues as her pursuit of stardom succeeds. But is it "meant to be" with Perry, or has the right guy been in front of her eyes this entire time? Meanwhile, Courtney takes the next step with her secret boyfriend—and future stepbrother—Brett…and with Adrian and Rebecca's wedding approaching, they feel more pressure than ever to reveal their relationship. Peyton might be figuring out a direction for her future, but she feels responsible for her bodyguard Jackson being fired, and wonders if the best way to find solace for her guilt is in the arms of someone else. But the biggest bombshell will change everything once again, because Madison's ready to tell the Diamond sisters the truth about the huge secret she's uncovered. And with Oliver, the boy who betrayed her but who could be the love of her life, in the hospital fighting for his own life, she might need the Diamonds more than ever.




This one features my favorite cover of the series! I can't wait to read the conclusion to the series :)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Review: Of Dreams and Rust by Sarah Fine


Of Dreams and Rust by Sarah Fine
Book Two of the Of Metal and Wishes series
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: August 4, 2015
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

War erupts in this bittersweet sequel to Of Metal and Wishes, inspired by The Phantom of the Opera and called “relentlessly engrossing” by The Romantic Times.

In the year since the collapse of the slaughterhouse where Wen worked as her father’s medical assistant, she’s held all her secrets close. She works in the clinic at the weapons factory and sneaks away to nurse Bo, once the Ghost, now a boy determined to transform himself into a living machine. Their strange, fragile friendship soothes some of the ache of missing Melik, the strong-willed Noor who walked away from Wen all those months ago—but it can’t quell her fears for him.

The Noor are waging a rebellion in the west. When she overhears plans to crush Melik’s people with the powerful war machines created at the factory, Wen makes the painful decision to leave behind all she has known—including Bo—to warn them. But the farther she journeys into the warzone, the more confusing things become. A year of brutality seems to have changed Melik, and Wen has a decision to make about him and his people: How much is she willing to sacrifice to save them from complete annihilation?

What I Liked:

Bittersweet, indeed. The synopsis says it all. I am very pleased with the ending of the series, with this novel, but I can't help but feel slightly sad about this book. This book ripped me to shreds, and by the end, I was in emotional disarray. So much happens to Wen, from zero to one hundred to zero and back to one hundred again, in so many aspects of her life. There were things with which I was not entirely pleased, and there were things that melted my heart and made me smile. This book was a pleasure to read, even in its bittersweet loveliness.

This novel picks up a year after Of Metal and Wishes ends. Melik and the other Noor have left, and Wen stays with her father to continue aiding the injured in the factories, and keeping Bo company. A year passes but Wen never stops thinking of Melik. As the war draws closer, Wen makes the decision to warn the Noor. But when she is captured by the Noor and taken into Noor territory, she begins to realize that there is no good or bad side to the war - the Noor are just as guilty as the Itanyi in hurting and killing. Melik does not seem to be the same Melik who left her. But Wen is determined to lessen the pain and suffering of the war, and she wants to help the Noor. But the war could cost her everything that she loves, and more than she is willing to lose.

I loved Of Metal and Wishes, and I was really excited to see that this series would only be a duology, and nothing longer. While I found this book to be bittersweet (especially towards the end), I absolutely loved the book. There are scenes that I can pick out from memory that made my heart hurt, in a good way. So many sweet scenes. So many heartbreaking ones.

Wen is a brave and strong character, in her own way. She isn't physically strong, like a Noor soldier, but she is mentally strong and capable. She is more than willing to offer her services as a doctor/healer to the Noor who are injured throughout the journey and in the war. Wen is scared and indecisive sometimes, and she is kind and selfless. What really bothered me about her was her indecisiveness in some situations, but it wasn't childish indecisiveness. I liked how Wen thought, how she approached situations, even if I didn't like how she wavered. She figures things out on her own pace and terms. 

Melik! It's not too long before Wen and Melik are "reunited". I put that in quotes because while they are brought back together in terms of physical distance, there is an emotional barrier between them. Melik is forced to take Wen to his Commander and his General, as she is Itanyi and in Noor territory. It broke my heart to see how Wen was treated by some of the Noor soldiers, even as she cared for them. But Melik did his best to take care of her subtly, though she did not always notice. Melik! He lost and loses so much, yet he never stops fighting for his home, his family, his people. 

I love how different the Itanyi and Noor are. I love the way Fine creates both cultures and people, how different the customs and traditions are. This leads me to comment on the world-building - this series has a setting that I've never read or seen before. I think Fine does an amazing job of creating the world and setting, especially for it to be so lush and original. Most of this book takes place in Noor territory, and I really enjoyed seeing things in the Noor world, with Noor customs. Fine masterfully creates this world, setting, characters, plot. The Noor world is a harsh one, and there is some violence and gore that really lends to the reality and harshness of the world and war.

This book is relatively short, but a lot happens in this story. The war is brewing and storming, and eventually, everyone must stand and fight. The war is inevitable, but Melik's, Wen's, and even Bo's role in the war is surprising, each one. I like the direction of this story, and I like how the climax kept building until the end.

The end! Oh, it was somewhat sad! For several reasons. There were some deaths, there were some death scares, there was a lot of pain and sadness. So much grief to pass around, yet the ending itself - the last few pages - were very uplifting. Honestly I think this book ended very well, but like I've been saying very bitter-sweetly! I loved the ending.

The romance was achingly beautiful! I feared a love triangle with Bo and Melik vying for Wen's affections and Wen caught in between, but I didn't really find that to be the case. There is only one man that captured and held Wen's attention from the start of the series. Bo and Wen are friends, and it is clear that while Bo might see Wen differently (since she is the only female he ever sees), he is meant to be a strange (and strange one, at that). Melik and Wen simmer and burn together, breaking each other's hearts and having me swoon left and right.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. This is my seventh Sarah Fine novel, and it is just as one would expect from Sarah Fine! She is so talented.

What I Did Not Like:

Like I mentioned above, I didn't like Wen's indecisiveness in some matters. I can't say more, but I wish Wen were the tiniest bit more decisive sometimes? And the Itanyi in general are poor at communicating. You all can do better! But this is something that makes the Itanyi the Itanyi, and Wen wouldn't be herself otherwise!

Would I Recommend It:

I would totally recommend this novel! I'm not even sure how to categorize it, it's so distinctive and original. I absolutely love the world-building, characters, romance... there is something that could draw just about everyone! I really enjoy Sarah Fine's books in general, but there is something about duology that I like the most!

Rating:

4 stars. Another Sarah Fine success! Up next for me is Claimed, and then Burn, and then Fated. And then The Impostor Queen! I have yet to read a Sarah Fine book I didn't enjoy. That's not a challenge!


Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Review: Crystal Kingdom by Amanda Hocking


Crystal Kingdom by Amanda Hocking
Book Three of the Kanin Chronicles
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: August 4, 2015
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

Bryn must decide: follow her head or her heart. Thrown into a world of suspense and intrigue, Bryn now has to fight to clear her name. But she's not alone. With help from the Trylle - including Finn Holmes - she's on a quest to discover the truth.

With her life and her world on the line, will Bryn be able to risk it all?

What I Liked:

Possible spoilers if you have not read Frostfire or Ice Kissed! But I think I kept things vague enough about this book particularly. You're on your own, in terms of books one and two.

I rather enjoyed this book! I had hoped that this book would be a bit better than the previous book, Ice Kissed, which I gave three stars. I found that one to be a little boring, which wasn't a problem with this book. This one was nearly a hundred pages longer than the other two books, but the length didn't show at all. 

This one picks up right where Ice Kissed left off. Bryn is on the run, as she is a wanted person in Doldastam, among the Kanin tribe. She flees, and is tracked down by none other than Konstantin Black. She and Konstantin work together to try and rally support from other kingdoms, but it isn't easy at all. They will have to turn to unexpected sources for help, as well as fight on their own for what they lost and what they will lose.

This conclusion was one of high energy, but a slow-build high energy. It felt like another novel in the series, but it was clear that the stakes were very high throughout the book. I kind of liked how Hocking set this up! The pressure didn't feel super high, though it really was. War is brewing from Kanin, and the danger is inescapable. Bryn is on the run and needs amnesty and an army, but she doesn't want to take on the very people of her home, her fellow Kanin trolls. So much is at stake, but something must be done about the deception and false accusations and schemes and betrayals in the Kanin royalty.

Bryn is such a kickbutt character! I mean, a lot of YA heroines are kickbutt in their own way, but Bryn is physically and mentally and emotionally strong. She is constantly steeling herself for difficult decisions, or trying to save everyone. And when she's frustrated, she does push-ups! Sometimes she runs laps too, but push-ups! That's hardcore. And she proves herself to be a kickbutt character over and over, taking on the Omte (giant ogres) head-on, protecting her loved ones, even fighting with and for Konstantin Black.

I feel like I understand Konstantin more, after reading this book. He was made out to be a villain in Frostfire, which he kind of is - he tried to kill Bryn's father. But we find out that, as he said throughout the series upon meeting Bryn (in unfortunate circumstances), things aren't as they seem, and Bryn doesn't know everything that is going on in. I felt bad for Konstantin, though he isn't innocent by far. 

The plots and twists in this book are surprising and shocking and not too predictable, which is good. I didn't see most of them coming. I love the direction Hocking takes the story, with all the traveling and visiting the different kingdoms and whatnot. We get to see some characters from the Trylle trilogy, like King Loki (who has not changed a bit) and Queen Wendy, Finn Holmes and his wife and kids. Remember, this Kanin series is occurring like six ish years after the Trylle trilogy.

The story is very engrossing and I never felt bored as I was reading. I had no problem zipping through the 400+ pages. I love Bryn's character, the strength of her personality. I liked Konstantin - he becomes a friend to Bryn, even though he was once her enemy. Other character pop back into the story, like Ridley, Tilda, and Finn. Ridley isn't as present in this story, but when he is, emotions leak off the page. All kinds.

Which leads me to the romance. Bryn spends about a third of the book missing Ridley, feeling pain every time she thinks of him. She doesn't know that he was taken and tortured after she escaped. When he and Tilda find Bryn, he seems cold and distant. It's his own way of dealing with what happened to him, but it hurts Bryn. Nevertheless, I like their relationship, despite the obstacles in this book. They grow stronger even as they hurt each other and come back together and hurt each other and come back together. There are one or two hot scenes in this book, prepare yourself!

There is NO LOVE TRIANGLE. Konstantin never was a romantic player in this book. I saw someone say something about that, and I can't agree with the statement. There is no love triangle! Konstantin and Bryn develop a strong friendship, but Bryn has no romantic feelings for Konstantin. 

The ending is slightly sad (there is a shocking death, though I somewhat expected that person to die), but it's a satisfying and happy ending overall. Like I said, there is a big death, and other people die too, but I think the ending is a good one. I like the ending a lot! This series ends so well.

What I Did Not Like:

I wish for a happier ending for some people, but they ended up dead, so I guess they can't get their happy ending. But that happens in books involving war, especially in conclusion novels! The deaths didn't bother me too much though. I just wish a certain character or two could have gotten a nice ending. Maybe death is a nice ending though.

Would I Recommend It:

I liked this book a lot! Frostfire might be my favorite, or maybe this one. The series stumbled a tiny bit with Ice Kissed, but overall, the series was great. I enjoyed the Trylle trilogy too, and this spin-off series did not disappoint. Interesting take on trolls and changelings!

Rating:

4 stars. Hopefully I've not only kept this review vague, but I've also somehow convinced you that this is a great book and a wonderful conclusion novel. Not an easy review to write! But a great book about which to write a review. I'm interested in seeing what Hocking has next for readers!


Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Review: Public Enemies by Ann Aguirre


Public Enemies by Ann Aguirre
Book Two of the Immortal Game series
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: August 4, 2015
Rating: 3 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

In Book 2 of the Immortal Game trilogy, Edie must learn the rules of the game . . . and then play better than anyone else.

Through a Faustian bargain, Edie Kramer has been pulled into the dangerous world of the Immortal Game, where belief makes your nightmares real. Hungry for sport, fears-made-flesh are always raising the stakes. To them, human lives are less than nothing, just pieces on a board.

Because of her boyfriend Kian's sacrifice, she's operating under the mysterious Harbinger's aegis, but his patronage could prove as fatal as the opposition. Raw from deepest loss, she's terrified over the deal Kian made for her. Though her very public enemies keep sending foot soldiers--mercenary monsters committed to her destruction--she's not the one playing under a doom clock. Kian has six months...unless Edie can save him. And this is a game she can't bear to lose.

What I Liked:

I'm actually not 100% sure how I feel about this book. There was no doubt that I would finish it, because I was engrossed in the story while I was reading. But I'm not sure if I fully understood and enjoyed what I was reading. This series in general is weird... this book is weirder than Mortal Danger. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or bad thing.

In this sequel novel, Edie Kramer is desperate to find a loophole to save her boyfriend, Kian. He sacrificed his life for hers, and he will die in a few short months because of the deal he made. But Edie isn't going to take no for an answer, nor is she going to quietly do as she is told by the Harbinger (who is supposed to protect her, courtesy of Kian's deal). Armed with a new and deadly weapon, Edie is more dangerous than weak, and the immortal players of the game fear her. But Edie's battle isn't just with the gods and immortals, but also with Kian's deal to save her. Can she save him?

This book departs completely from the story of Mortal Danger - it's no longer about getting revenge on her classmates. Few characters from book one are present in this book. The plot is completely different - it's all about playing the immortal game, and staying alive. Everyone seems interested in Edie, but Edie is interested in spending time with Kian, trying to find a way out for him, and getting her dad to less of zombie, after her mother's murder.

I can't say I really enjoyed the story... Edie was an okay character, though I barely see any of who she was in Mortal Danger, to be honest. Her voice is just another bland YA female voice, to be honest. I liked her in Mortal Danger, but I was feeling kind of meh towards her in this book. I guess she's kind of kickbutt, but she's not a favorite of mine. Still, better than a whiny YA female.

One thing that I REALLY liked was the Harbinger. I am intrigued by that guy. He's probably a gazillion years old and he can take on any face he wants, but I like him. I bet his hair is soft (this is totally relevant). I would give him a hug! Yay lovable villains.

In general, the story is interesting and well, creepy, which I think the author wants. I don't know if it's this series is my thing (I don't do horror or even low-key creepy books) but I'm intrigued. I am HIGHLY interested in the third book, despite how this one went for me. The ending of this book is INSANE and then WACKY - two events are incredible shocking and I really want to know how things end!

What I Did Not:

One of my biggest issues with this book seriously hindered my ability to really enjoy the book - I couldn't remember much of what happened in Mortal Danger, and I struggled to keep up. The author didn't do a good job of slowly recapping events from book one, so there were a lot of times when I was like, wait. Edie's mom was murdered? Kian bargained away his life? Does xyz friend of Edie's know about the immortal game? Does Edie's father? All of these things (and more) happened in/were details of book one, and yet, I couldn't remember any of them! So I was surprised a lot as I was reading this book, and it had nothing to do with this book - more so, with book one. I needed to reread book one - or the author didn't recap things well.

So this really hurt how well I could enjoy the book. This could have been a "me" problem, I realize that. But I didn't enjoy the book was much as I'd hoped because I was hopelessly confused. Still, the story was good. I just didn't really follow where things were going. Especially since the few things that I DID remember - Edie getting revenge on her classmates - didn't show up in this book basically at all. 

In general, this book is strange. I didn't quite remember that this game involves immortals and gods and whatnot, so that took me aback. And spirits - there is a creepy plot associated with spirits. I didn't care for that and was totally weirded out.

I didn't really like or hate in Edie in this book. It's sad because I really liked her in Mortal Danger, but I didn't really like her in this book. She's lost what made her stand out in the first book, in terms of her voice. Now she just seems like any other YA heroine. 

Kian is pathetic in this book! I didn't find him strong or brave or kind or even swoony. He knows he has a time limit, but literally all he and Edie do is argue and fight, and it's annoying.

So, the romance is... meh. No real swoony scenes, though Kian and Edie take their relationship up a notch. The bickering and fighting and miscommunication really turned me off. Edie doesn't trust Kian for whatever reason, though he loves her so much. Ugh!

Would I Recommend It:

Meh. Maybe. I don't think this book was disappointing, but I didn't really enjoy it as much as I'd hoped. I really, REALLY liked Mortal Danger though, and I'm really, REALLY excited to read Infinite Risk, despite not liking this one much. So, sequel slump?

Rating:

3 stars. The meaning of sequel slump! When you want to like the book because you liked book one, but it just isn't happening. But I absolutely will still read Infinite Risk - I must know what happens!


Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Stacking the Shelves (#131)


Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews, in which bloggers share the books and swag they've received in the past week!


So, what did I get in the week of Sunday, June 21st to Saturday, June 27th?


(all links to Goodreads are provided!)


In the mail:


Chronicle Books tote bag
Bookmark (?)

THANK YOU, DEAREST KEL! She is amazing :)



Unsolicited - thank you so much, Penguin/Kathy Dawson Books!



I only asked for two this season, from Macmillan! My most heartfelt thanks, Mac lovelies <3



Thank you, Bethany! 



Unsolicited from Simon and Schuster - thank you! Completely not my thing so if anyone is interested, let me know.



Thank you, NAL!


A box of chocolate!

From the lovely Kimberley! THANK YOU! I love these so much, a good portion is already gone ;D She is the nicest person ever and I SO appreciate it!


From NetGalley:



Literally only reading this for the Age of Legends short story!



It seems unlikely that I'll get an ARC of this one, so I went ahead and downloaded the eARC from NetGalley!


For Review:



THANK YOU, PENGUIN! This is from the First Reads program. I'd prefer a print ARC but at this point I will take anything to read this one! I have 40 days before it expires so... *digs in*


What a week in books! It turned out to be pretty amazing. I go home on Fridays so I never know what is waiting for me until Fridays! It's like Christmas every week. Gah! This week was pretty great, no stomach pains or general issues. I will cherish this peace while I have it!