Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Weekly Updates: Yes Oh How I Love Exam Week


And here we are again. It's the end of the year and oh what's sitting in between now and beautiful, amazing summer vacation?

STUPID EXAM WEEK



On that note, I'm very sorry to say, that I will be putting in all my leftover energies in studying for the next week in the half, starting tonight. So yeah, I'm not sure I'll be updating for awhile. I might get a review up or two, or maybe even a TTT (hopefully yes). And the commenting is gonna be less too.
Sad panda :(

But yeah. I may or not may survive this next week.


Monday, April 28, 2014

Review: Clockwork Angel

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
The Infernal Devices #1
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Released: August 31st, 2010
In a time when Shadowhunters are barely winning the fight against the forces of darkness, one battle will change the course of history forever. Welcome to the Infernal Devices trilogy, a stunning and dangerous prequel to the New York Times bestselling Mortal Instruments series.

The year is 1878. Tessa Gray descends into London’s dark supernatural underworld in search of her missing brother. She soon discovers that her only allies are the demon-slaying Shadowhunters—including Will and Jem, the mysterious boys she is attracted to. Soon they find themselves up against the Pandemonium Club, a secret organization of vampires, demons, warlocks, and humans. Equipped with a magical army of unstoppable clockwork creatures, the Club is out to rule the British Empire, and only Tessa and her allies can stop them....
Taken from Goodreads

Start: 4/24/2014 | End: 4/26/2014 | Pages: 479 | Rating: 4 Stars 

My Thoughts:


I randomly decided to read this on a whim, it was on my kindle and I was just like "oh why not?" So yes, I read an almost 500 page book in 2 days. It was really really good! Was it just a coincidence that I picked up the prequel to the Mortal Instruments? I had absolutely no idea that this was in the same universe!

But yes yes, I did like it a lot! My initial impressions of this series, or really The Mortal Instruments series since that's the one I've been the most familiar with, were of doubt. I kept on seeing the book everywhere in my younger years, and I kept on thinking how overrated it is. But obviously I was just being silly. I know both The Infernal Devices and The Mortal Instruments aren't the same, but I loved the setting, and because of this prequel, I'm definitely adding the other series on my TBR list. And the next book.



Ok enough rambling. Where do I start? Clockwork Angel starts off with Tessa, a young book-loving girl moving from New York City to London to meet up with her brother. Her aunt recently died, so with no where to go, her brother offers to house her in England. But right when she arrives, things go horribly wrong. She's pretty much kidnapped by these people calling themselves the Dark Sister, and forced to transform into different people, an ability she had no idea she had. So now, she's completely confused and terrified about what's going to happen to her and her captured brother.


Luckily, Will Herondale comes to the rescue! *cue sighs and fangirling*


Rescuing Tessa from the Dark Sisters, he offers her refuge at the institute. There she learns more about the Shadowhunters, downworlders, warlocks, vampires, everything except what or who she is. And then there's this huge plot to get rid of the Shadowhunters, and everything just doesn't go smoothly, as usual. 


I just want to get this out, but I absolutely hated Jessamine. 

I know she wanted to have a normal life and not be a Shadowhunter, but really? I hate how she constantly talks about marrying a "strong" man and then having to listen and obey to them. And I don't like how she pretends to be friends with Tessa, when truthfully she just wants Tessa to pretend to be her sister, so that she can get a husband more easily. Like wut. I want to hit you. (I'm not saying she's not a well-developed character, she is, I just didn't like her haha)



But I loved all the other characters! Like Will, haha so dreamy but yet so mysterious! I can't wait to find out what he's hiding in the next book. And also I loved Tessa, she's definitely someone I could relate to. I also liked how she accepted pretty much everything that came to her. She knew that she couldn't go back to her old life.

(I'm not sure if I like Will and Tessa together, or Tessa and Jem together. I NEED TO READ THE NEXT BOOK TO FIND OUT MORE. Though I'm kind of leaning towards a Will and Tessa ship)

I also loved how this is a mix of fantasy and kind of steampunk! I've been wanting to read more steampunk related books (any recs?) 

There's also a good deal of action here, plus plot twists! The writing flowed very well and I don't remember any dry, slow parts in the book (yay!). Overall I very much liked this book. I think throughout my reading of the series, I'll definitely become more attached to the characters (one book is not enough). But for me, there weren't any major disappointments.


 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Review: Second Star

Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Release Date: May 13th, 2014
A twisty story about love, loss, and lies, this contemporary oceanside adventure is tinged with a touch of dark magic as it follows seventeen-year-old Wendy Darling on a search for her missing surfer brothers. Wendy’s journey leads her to a mysterious hidden cove inhabited by a tribe of young renegade surfers, most of them runaways like her brothers.

Wendy is instantly drawn to the cove’s charismatic leader, Pete, but her search also points her toward Pete's nemesis, the drug-dealing Jas. Enigmatic, dangerous, and handsome, Jas pulls Wendy in even as she's falling hard for Pete. A radical reinvention of a classic, Second Star is an irresistible summer romance about two young men who have yet to grow up--and the troubled beauty trapped between them.



Taken from Goodreads

Start: 4/21/2014 | End: 4/23/2014 | Pages: 248 | Rating: 1.5 Stars 

My Thoughts:


I received this eARC from Netgalley. 

There are a lot of things I want to discuss about Second Star, and it being good is not one of them. The book's only 250 pages, and I never ever want to hear about surfing again. Before I "dive" into my review, I'm just going to list how many times these words popped up.

Surfer: 63 times
Ocean: 93 times
Beach: 175 times
Wave: 287 times!!!

This means that the word "wave" or "waves" appeared more than once on every page of this book. Like really? Can't you see how sick and tired I am of these words!


So here's the plot, and yes surprisingly there is one. Wendy is under the assumption that her brothers John and Michael, are out there somewhere catching the next big wave. Her parents, and everyone else, think they are dead. But instead of listening to them, Wendy travels to different beaches to look, one of them being Kensington. This is where she meets Pete.

Wendy spends most of her time at Kensington, trying to question the boys living there on whether they ever met her brothers. And she also meets Jas, the other surfer on the other side of the beach. 

She pretty much has a grand old time.

First off, I just want to say that Second Star is not realistic at all. Or maybe it is? Do parents let you go on a road trip all of a sudden without questioning you further? Do they not worry about you when you're gone for a good month? Are houses just randomly abandoned for teens to just occupy? And WHY IS EVERYONE IN THIS NOVEL SO SMART??

And also, after two pages into the book, I started laughing out loud at this line:  

'Surfers,' I whisper without meaning to.
Oh man. This is when you know you're in for a bad time. This really makes it seem like surfers are the worst people in the world. And also that Wendy hates them, which doesn't make any sense because a couple chapters later she's hanging out with them casually without a second thought.


I think this book would've been much better off in the third person. Second star is filled with Wendy's useless thoughts. Honestly I wanted to bash her on the head throughout the book. I absolutely hate idiot characters who don't know how to make decisions. Halfway through the novel, Wendy and Jas visit a creepy bar in order to question the people inside to see if they knew either Michael or John, and what does she do??? She immediately talks to the creepiest guy in the room. And then he comes after her and even follows her back to the car! I know you want to be brave, and I applaud yourself for that, but I'm not sure if that's the first guy you should've talked to.

The only reason why I'm giving Second Star at least 1 star is because there is resemblance between the real Peter Pan and this story, and I don't mean just the names. That was pretty much the only creative aspect though.

Yep. So basically, I personally don't recommend Second Star, but I bet some people will like it, especially if you like beaches and surfers and the west coast. But me, I didn't care about a thing in this book. Not the characters, the plot, nothing. I do not pity Wendy one bit.

For anyone else that has this book on their TBR list, I hope I didn't ruin anything for you! And thanks for reading my review/rant haha. But as you can see, I did not enjoy it.

✰1/2

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday #9

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Characters Who Recklessly Made Stupid Decisions


I've decided to dedicate this top ten to those idiot characters that make a really hard or stupid, quick decision that ultimately puts their life or the people around them at risk. I don't know how I came up with this idea, but I guess I was thinking about how reckless people can be sometimes, and then POOF this came to my head. Also I didn't want to do a boring topic :P

I will try not to include any spoilers! Anyone who's read the book will know what I'm talking about though.

1.  The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence
So basically the main character here, Alex, decides that it's perfectly fine to cross the border with marijuana and the ashes of a dead person. It happens at the very beginning of the book, and I'm just sitting there like "wut". Your plan could've been more thought out.

2. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Queenie got caught by the Gestapo because she looked the wrong way when trying to cross a street. Are you kidding me?

3. The Here and Now by Ann Brashares
Stupid Prenna and her stupid decision to go back to her mom and warn her or everything (and take a shower), when the higher-ups are waiting at her house for her. I can't believe she did not see that coming.

4. Abandon by Meg Cabot
I'm still not sure why the main character here, Pierce, continues to lead on the god of the Underworld, even though she clearly says she doesn't like him. I really pity him. 

5. Looking for Alaska by John Green
I'm not going to say what stupid thing Alaska did, except that it causes major heartbreak and damage. And also that it splits the book up into two parts.

6. The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
All the characters were....ugh. I don't want to talk about this book. I have deep hatred for this book and I really regret reading it. I just have this on my list because 1) running out of ideas and 2) I hate this book with a passion.

7. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
I'm not a fan of how Levi just would randomly flirt with Cath, and then just kiss another girl at a party. That's just, argh. It just adds more drama and frustration.

8. Of Poseidon by Anna Banks
Emma never follows the rules, or what anyone tells her to do. Galen: "Don't go into the water Emma, it's not safe." Emma: "No I will not listen! I'm going into the water! Even though there are a ton of life-threatening things there."  

9. Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Only because Cinder was so brave, and reckless, to actually go to the ball even when she was already in deep trouble. I don't think I would ever have done that if I was in her place.


So I can't think of #10 at the moment, but I'll get back to this one. But yeah. I have a huge pet peeve of characters that do unreasonable things. I mean sometimes it's hilarious or brave and actually adds to the plot, but most of the times, it's just "wut?"

I hope you enjoyed this TTT as much as I did!

Feel free to link back to your TTT! 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Review: Code Name Verity

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Code Name Verity #1
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Released: May 7th, 2013
Oct. 11th, 1943-A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it's barely begun.

When "Verity" is arrested by the Gestapo, she's sure she doesn't stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she's living a spy's worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.

As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage, failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?

A Michael L. Printz Award Honor book that was called "a fiendishly-plotted mind game of a novel" in The New York Times, Code Name Verity is a visceral read of danger, resolve, and survival that shows just how far true friends will go to save each other.
Taken from Goodreads

Start: 4/16/2014 | End: 4/20/2014 | Pages: 339 | Rating: 4.5 Stars 

My Thoughts:


Oh how this book messed with me. I really don't know how I'm going to sleep tonight. Because this is how I feel now:


Code Name Verity is a phenomenal story woven together by the journal entries of a secret operatives agent caught by the Gestapo in France. Known as a number of names, "Verity" delivers what she calls her confession through writing, telling her captors the story of two women, Maddie and Queenie, that met only by chance, and yet became the best of friends.

As Verity sells her intricate story, she knows she's running out of time before the captain deems her useless, and sends her away to concentration camp, or Natzweiler-Struthof. Yet, she begs for as much paper and time she can get. And her story? Is she really revealing everything to the enemy? 

Well fellow bloggers, you will figure it out when you read this book!

Oh Queenie and Maddie! Elizabeth Wein has created truly wonderful characters. I really want to be friends with them. Queenie, the confident, smart, deceitful translator, full of wit and cunning. She has made my top ten bravest and most loved female characters. And Maddie reminds me of myself! So determined to fly over England, and later France, that she fights for a position on the Air Transport Auxiliary (taxi-ing refugees to and from Nazi Occupied France) even though she's a woman. These women are perfect.

Seriously, these two girls' journal entries are remarkable. They actually write what they think, and I love the personality that comes out from it. QUEENIE YOU ARE SO WITTY. I wish I could meet you in real life.


And the amount of detail put in this book is incredible. Which may be the pitfall and the great thing about this book (how is this possible?) Truth be told, I started out slow. The beginning dragged on a lot since there was A LOT of information about different types of planes, and the different airfields and bases, and a ton of WWII terminology. Another thing was that there was rarely any dialogue. Each page was packed with words from top to bottom. No wonder it took me more than 6 hours to read it (total, not in one sitting).

After a certain point, however, the story took off running. I read the entire last half of the book because I could not put it down. Since I became familiar with the setting and the terminology, it became easier to read.

The ending nearly destroyed me. I have not cried about a book in so long, not since reading The Book Thief and The Fault in Our Stars. This book is not predictable at all. I really was not expecting what was going to happen, and if I did, I would have not read it at all. Nope. I would've avoided it like the plague.  



So yes, this was a great read. I'm not sure what else I should say because I'm still shocked by the ending, except that I really liked Code Name Verity. The friendship between these two girls is really beautiful, and my review doesn't show it at all. So really, just read the book!

1/2

Friday, April 18, 2014

Weekly Updates: Reading Bingo Progress


I can see the light
The end of school almost here
close yet still so far

Hi. I created this little haiku to express the joy and happiness I'm feeling of spending my last three weeks in college being stressed. YES COLLEGE.

Anyways, at the beginning of the year, I started the Reading Bingo Challenge that I found on some publishing website (Random house? idk), and I wanted to see how far I've come. So here's my progress so far.


Here are all the books that correspond to my covered up bingo spots! I'm so proud of myself I've read so many books this year! Wooo. As you can see, I haven't gotten 5 in a row yet. boo



Other Life Updates


Anyways, this sunday is Easter! But do I have anything planned? Nope. I'm not going home because 1) it's too far away and 2) my family doesn't really celebrate Easter...? 

In my language development class, we're learning about reading acquisition in young infants and children! So, for any to be mothers or current mothers out there, yes reading to your kids will be the best predictor of their reading skill in the future. That, and also phonetics. I would go into more detail about it since I'm a nerd and my major revolves around language processing, but I won't bore you.

But seriously, major in cognition and brains it's cool. It's like being a zombie. 

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday #8

Hosted by the Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Bookish Things (That Aren't Books) That I'd Like To Own


Yes yes yes there are some things that I WOULD ABSOLUTELY love to own! These are things I either would want to create or wish I had that are book related. I'll try to link them up to a website if I can them, so anyone else interested can look into it (though I'll be jealous)


1. Litographs - Shirts/bags/anything that have whole books printed on them, along with an image. I desperately want the one of "A Little Princess"

2. There's no physical photo for this, but I want to make a friendship bracelet with this pattern. I will make it this summer because I love the Fault in Our Stars :D



3. I want a wand
You can get one from the Wizarding Wand of Harry Potter in Orlando, or make your own....? Either way I want.


4. And speaking of Harry Potter, I really really really, also want to make this pattern. But there is no way, NO WAY, I would be able to do this. Starting these bracelets is a pain in the butt, especially when there's a hundred strings needed. Kudos to the people that actually made it.




5. I want a hidden room that is a hidden library in my house, with also a lot of pillows, and oooo maybe it will be a sunroom, or at least have a lot of light. There will be bookshelves everywhere and books and random things here and there. Okay, so maybe it doesn't necessarily have to be hidden but it has to be cozy!


6. And how about these book earrings? Yes I would like a pair of these too. I would wear them every day.

7. KINDLE CASES THAT ARE BOOKS!
I'm not sure if specific books existed, but there are some general ones, like Pride and Prejudice 
8. I also found this Game of Thrones necklace that once I actually watch the show or even read the books (hahahaahah way too long) I'll probably want badly. It's definitely cool looking though.


9. LE PETIT PRINCE HEELS
So cute so cute SOOOOOO CUTE




Haha so this is what I've come up with. And even though some of these things are impossible to find or buy, it's definitely things I would wish for. I tried to focus more on things that were "book-themed" rather than really cool looking bookshelves or cases. But obviously, there isn't much out there for book-lovers, other than BOOKS. and food and money.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Review: Shadow and Bone

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Released: June 5, 2012
The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.

Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite—the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?

The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfill her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.

But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can't she ever quite forget him?



Taken from Goodreads

Start: 4/10/2014 | End: 4/13/2014 | Pages: 358 | Rating: 5 Stars   


My Thoughts:


I have read two amazing books in a week. I was blown away each time, and left in a crumpled heap of emotions. I am done. I have an essay due in two days that I have not started, and all I can think about is "What's going to happen to Mal and Alina?"

I've had Shadow and Bone on my list for a really long time now, however, I never fully looked into the blurb to actually see what it was about. All I knew was that 1) It was really good 2) It was about magic 3) It had something to do with the Grisha, which I had no idea what that was at the time. I also bought it on Amazon without knowing if I would like it or not, which is something I usually don't do. But do I regret it? Was it a mistake? 

Nope. 


Shadow and Bone exceeded all of my expectations. I'm starting to regret reading Cinder and this book back to back, because both of them are breath-taking and amazing, but also completely different in plot and concept. My brain is fried.

Right from the start (excluding prologue), we are introduced to our heroine, Alina, and her childhood best friend PLUS secret crush, Mal (I've already forgotten the last names, ha). Those two have grown up together in an orphanage, and are now helping out the army. Alina is working as a mapmaker, while Mal is the best tracker in Ravka. Although Alina is constantly seeking Mal's attention, he doesn't seem to pick up on the fact that she likes him. Until they cross the Fold.

The Fold, created by the darkest, most powerful Grisha ages ago, is a dark strip of wasteland dividing the east from the west in Ravka. Guarded by monstrous creatures living in this darkness, called volcra, one must only cross with Grisha on board to fight them off. Alina and Mal aren't so lucky. They are attacked, and in order to save Mal, Alina accidentally unleashes a powerful light, eliminating all volcra from sight. We discover that Alina is a one of a kind Grisha, and is able to destroy the volcra once and for all, if she can summon her power again.   

First off, there are a lot of terms and city names to deal with. The book even comes with a map you can refer to (which I did, a lot). The good thing, surprisingly, was that I rarely got confused. Bardugo has written it so that the reader is able to follow along with the MC. When Alina was introduced to a new topic on the Grisha world, so was the reader. There was no info dump in the beginning of the book. 

And the characters. I just, I don't know what to say. I loved Alina, but since the book mostly focused on her, I didn't get much on Mal. I do know the next book will focus on him more, so I'll probably form an opinion on him later.

And then there was also the Darkling. I don't want to spoil, but here's a gif to show you how I feel about him:


Bardugo does a terrific job showing us the world Alina finds herself in. The world-building is phenomenal, I absolutely loved the concept of being a specific type of Grisha, like a Fabrikator or a Healer. It kind of reminds of the houses in Harry Potter, because every Grisha is assigned a role, based on their powers, and then they receive a kefta in a specific color. 

And I had no idea that this book was based off of Russia, kind of. I mean like the names and the terms of everything, and the buildings and landscapes too. If you look at the cover, it looks very Russian-like. I don't know why I didn't notice it sooner.

To sum it up, it was amazing. I want to read it again (I also want to read Cinder again), and I also want to get my hands on the next book (which isn't even in paperback yet...) Siege and Storm. I really don't usually do this, and this is the second book I've said this, but everyone should go read it! Okay but actually, I do recommend this to anyone who is ready to enter a new world full of magic, deception, and romance. 


Friday, April 11, 2014

Weekly Updates: House Hunting and Summer Co-blogging!


Hi everyone!

So this week has been a bit busy, especially with house hunting, school work, and blogging. I'm currently doing my taxes now for the first time ever. I'm hoping to get some money back, for books and yumyums.

I am still homeless for the next school year!

My roommates and I will be looking at another house today at 5PM, but I'm not sure whether they'll let us lease it in August...OH WELL. We do have one house that will let us, but we won't be visiting that one until next week.


Now onto the good news! I have recently roped in my best friend Vanessa, ex-roommate from high school, into  co-blogging with me over the summer!

Sorry not sorry I stole this from your Facebook Vanessa love ya.

When I first asked her about co-blogging with me, I'm PRETTY sure she was excited about it. I don't think she knows what she's getting herself into, but it'll be more like she's guest posting. And it's only for the summer because college really takes a toll. She did say "yes" so look forward to her reviews/posts. She got mad that I didn't use Wordpress. She was like "Val why the heck not" and I was like "I forgot it existed at the time please forgive meeeee"

Here are a couple of photos of us together from the years:


Anyways, look forward to a lot of changes throughout the summer! I'm going to be going to the library sooooo much. I'm also going to try to get a summer job but I don't know if I'll be able to. And also Vanessa and I are going on a road trip from May 26th to June 6th. We're going to be setting up a travel blog for that on Wordpress sometime soon.

Thanks for reading my ramblings!