Currently Reading

Tegan Mae's bookshelf: currently-reading

Witch Finder
0 of 5 stars
tagged: currently-reading, a-little-witchy, advanced-copy, first-reads, net...
0 of 5 stars
tagged: currently-reading, historical, queens-and-kings, ya, the-tudors, an...

Friday, January 31, 2014

The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy #1) by Marie Rutkoski

Title: The Winner's Curse
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Type: Young Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction
Tea: Earl Grey White, a new take on the YA genre with very high end results.
Rating: 5 out of 5.

*I received a copy of this novel from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

First off, do you see that cover? It's beautiful. The model, her dress, the font, the fact that she's holding the title? It just brings the whole thing together.

This novel is awesome. It's well developed, well thought out, the world building is fantastic, the characters are believable. The whole thing was just so good. And the scenes? Fantastic. Some books you just can't get through and want to put down. There wasn't enough of this one, it could've gone on forever!

Kestrel is a great main character, she's strong, but still a 17-year-old girl. She's very human in the sense that the reader is able to identify with her, even if they've never been in any sort of similar situation to any of her's. She's smart and cunning. Most of the time I couldn't figure out her plan until it was revealed. Finally! A novel that actually surprises me.

Arin is a great character as well. You want to dislike him, but then you start to get attached to him. Then you feel like "What's wrong with me?!" So really, Ms. Rutkoski did a great job making the reader feel exactly like Kestrel and Arin feel during the novel towards each other.

I enjoyed that there was a lot of tactical planning, war and politics in this, but was done in a way that didn't go over the readers head. And it wasn't boring. The history of the people is very interesting and it's nice seeing to very diverse cultures being shown.

The love story is fantastic. It's not obnoxious, not over done and it doesn't take over the whole story. It's actually what would happen in a situation like this. You don't feel like it's out of place here.

I don't want to say too much more and give anything away, but please read this beautiful novel. Everything in it is perfect, including the ending. It couldn't have been better.

Please hurry up and write the next one, Ms. Rutkoski!

Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy #1) by Richelle Mead

Title: Vampire Academy
Author: Richelle Mead
Type: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy/Sci-Fi
Tea: Pineapple and Blueberry iced tea, a tart and playful punch with a lot beneath the surface.
Rating: 5 out of 5.

So I don't know why I took so long to read Vampire Academy, but oh am I glad I finally did! I was afraid it was going to be like many of the other supernatural private school novels out there today, but it wasn't!

First off Rose is a great main character! I like that we don't read it from the "golden girl's" point of view. As much as I like Lissa, this novel would not be nearly as interesting from her perspective. Rose is funny and snarky and not your typical main character. She's also strong (thank you Richelle Mead). I also like that she starts to mature as a character in this book as well, but it's not rushed like some books are.

I really like the mythology in here, it's very well thought out, as is the world building. You get the characters religion, which is really cool and learn about their saints and people involved. It's interesting that there's two types of vampires (Moroi and Strigoi) and then there's Dhampirs. I think it's a fresh take to see that Dhampirs are stronger than Moroi and are their guardians. For once humans aren't the weak ones. I also like the story behind Strigoi, it's gritty and scary.

Secondly everything ties together really well. Anything that's brought up, such as St. Vladimir and Anna, Ms. Karp, etc., is always mentioned again and not just forgotten. It all relates to the story. I was also very surprised who the bad guy was, I didn't expect that.

Also the twist with Rose and Lissa was great. I kinda figured it out right before I read it, but it still surprised me. I really can't wait to see where Ms. Mead takes it. Also curious to see where she takes Lissa's uncle and what he meant by his cryptic words at the end.

For a first book, this was amazing. It didn't suffer much of first novel syndrome and it made me want to snatch up the second one right when I finished. Can't wait to see where this goes!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sunday Funday List: Top 10 Favorite High School Reads

Here it is folks! Another Sunday Funday list. And this week it's my top 10 favorite high school reads. You're thinking "Wait? You actually liked those?" Yes I did, call me a dork, but some of them were awesome! Don't deny it, I'm sure you enjoyed at least one yourself.

Here's my list in no particular order:

1. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
-Lord of the Flies (LotF) is the 1954 Hunger Games (I bet you if you told students that they wouldn't mind reading it). But seriously, it is. At first it seems exciting to be stranded with no adults, but it soon turns deadly. This chilling tale is pretty much childhood gone wrong. Seeing these boys descend into madness is terrifying and something that stuck with my long after I finished reading, but I really enjoyed it. It was something different than what we always had to read before. Maybe one of our first extra dark reads in school. I even had to tell the bookseller at Border's once who the author was. Win.

2. After the First Death by Robert Cormier
-I read this book my sophomore year and wasn't sure what I was going to think about it. One weekend we only had to read the first few chapters, I finished the book. I couldn't put it down. This book had some of my favorite aspects, such as being absolutely messed up. I love books that don't take the easy road out. They make you think about sides of life that we don't necessarily see every day. If you haven't read this novel, you should, it's fantastic.

3. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
-I was the only person in my junior year English class to voluntarily choose to read this novel. And what can I say to all those that didn't? Suck it, you missed out. Other than being a fantastic novel and incredibly well written, it makes you feel like you've gone insane. It's so interesting and it wasn't difficult to get through. I just had to figure out what was going on and kept on going. The illustrations are great and thrown in at just the right times. This is a work of genius my friends, pure genius.

4. Night by Elie Wiesel
-We were given the opportunity to read Night for extra credit and I'm so glad that I decided to do it. The story is heartbreaking and gives the reader even more of an insight into concentration camps during WWII. I think this is a novel that everyone should have to read, regardless of age. This shows strength of character and how to never lose hope, even in the darkest of situations.

5. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
-I always wanted to read this novel and when it was on my reading list choices for my senior year in high school I was like "Perfect!" This novel far surpassed my expectations. It made me laugh and cry and yell at it in rage. I couldn't put it down and didn't want it to end. Please read this novel if you haven't, just do it.

6. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
-I read this novel for my senior year AP English class and LOVED it. The story is heart-wrenching and you just feel for the main character. To be a woman in such stifled society had to be difficult, just having to sit around and be quiet and be expected to act however others want you to act. I can't imagine how depressing that would be. Watching this woman's struggle and eventual decision was very sad and emotional and has stuck with me ever since.

7. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
-Talk about depressing. But this novel is full of beautiful imagery and symbolism. It also fits my requisite crazy factor. For only being 128 pages it's packed full of story. And the ending? Oh the ending. If you haven't read it, read it, I won't ruin it for you.

8. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
-This is a beautiful story. The relationship between George and Lennie is amazing, to find a bond like that is truly once in a lifetime. You get so attached to these characters and the ending just hurts so badly. And the movie? They did a fantastic job, they made John Steinbeck's words come to life. Such a great novel to read freshman year in high school.

9. A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare
-Fairies, magic and a love triangle? Shakespeare had it going on way before today's YA and fantasy. This guy is a genius. Great characters abound in this play, especially Puck, he's so feisty! This play is mischievous and fun and keeps you guessing from beginning to end!

10. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
-Uh, I wanna party with Gatsby. Aside from the fact that his parties are amazing, he's intriguing as hell. Guys today won't text a girl back, but this guy moves across the harbor and throws parties hoping she'll show up? He's crazy for Daisy and isn't afraid to show it. But he's got a dark side and you just want to know him and about him. This novel is also incredibly depressing and just makes me sad. F. Scott Fitzgerald sure knew what he was doing when he wrote this 1920's epic. Thank you sir, thank you.

What do you guys think? Anything you would add?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Calling (Darkness Rising #2) by Kelley Armstrong

Title: The Calling
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Type: Young Adult
Genre: Sci-Fi/Paranormal
Tea: Generic Green Tea; good, but something you've seen quite a few times before.
Rating: 3 out of 5.

While The Calling wasn't my favorite I couldn't give it below 3 stars. Too many books that I really didn't enjoy or had a hard time finishing get a 2 or 1, this one I actually read in a few days and didn't have to force myself to finish it. I had many similar issues with this one as I did with the first in the trilogy, The Gathering. I didn't write a review for it, but if you read this it'll pretty much be the same thing.

The only difference between the two was this book moved quicker than the first one, not necessarily to answers, but there was more action. Almost TOO much action. The first one was very slow paced, this one something was constantly happening to the point of confusion.

Literally every high school issue is jammed into this book: "I jumped to conclusions", "I got used by a boy, but oh wait! He actually likes me!", "Oh no, now I'm betrayed", "I don't know how I feel about my family", "ANGST!" Just WAY too much on every single page. I get books are supposed to relate to readers, but is it trying to relate to ALL of them at once?

One part that really made me mad is adults would not ignore or yell at kids as quickly as they do in this novel. It just wouldn't happen that way in the real world.

There's also A LOT of supernatural stuff shoved at you all at once and then it's just dropped for a while, then shoved at you again. And things you want to know (Serena's death) you hear barely anything about.

Overall just meh for me, which makes me sad since I love Kelley Armstrong's Women of the Underworld series. I think she does a much better job with adult paranormal, maybe because there's a better opportunity to fit all the information in.

What I'm interested in: Who killed Serena? Why?
What annoys me: Whining about Maya getting attention, whining about Maya and Daniel, big high school cliches, etc.

We'll see what the next one is like, but not expecting a whole big difference.

Wither (The Chemical Garden #1) by Lauren DeStefano

Title: Wither
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Type: Young Adult
Genre: Dystopian/Sci-Fi
Tea: Strawberry Parasio, familiar premise with a twist.
Rating: 4 out of 5.

When I first started Wither I was sucked in right away. I had to put it down for a little bit since I had other books I had to read since I was granted reviews, but I was really excited to pick it back up. I had previously read Lauren DeStefano's Perfect Ruin and really enjoyed it, so I was looking forward to finishing this.

The premise of curing cancer, but then shortening the lives of the human race is really interesting. It's an interesting commentary on the "advances" that society makes. Yes there are many great ones, but what are bad consequences and how would it affect us? The deteriorating society is very interesting as well. All that is known by the general population of that United States (or what's left of it) is that there used to be other landmasses, but they were taken over by water. The world building and setting is very interesting and leaves a lot open to learn about it.

Rhine is an intriguing main character and you feel her pain as she gets kidnapped, is separated from her brother and is forced to marry Linden, along with two other girls. These girls live in a glitter covered cage. The Housemaster attempts to trick them into complacency with pretty things, but they're not that easily swayed. Yes they start to enjoy the things they have there, but they always remember this place isn't safe.

Things get a little slow while they're trapped in the house, but you do start to learn more about the characters and their relationships. I really like Gabriel and it's nice to see a male character that doesn't know it all and will listen to a girl. Linden is an interesting character. You feel bad for him since he's so sheltered and has been lied to his whole life, but you almost wonder how he could be so oblivious.

Towards the end of the novel everything starts to fall apart. The wives, the house, the Housemaster, everything.

I'm curious to see how Ms. DeStefano continues the series and to see if she elaborates more upon the questions I found while reading this. Looking forward to reading the next one. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Defy by Sara B. Larson

Title: Defy
Author: Sara B. Larson
Type: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Romance
Tea: Anjou Pear Oolong, sounds intriguing and is good at first, but slowly loses depth.
Rating: 2 out of 5.

*I received this novel from Scholastic on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

What to say about Defy by Sara B. Larson. Well when I first got it on NetGalley I was super pumped. I, like everyone else, instantly thought of Mulan. Heck yes! Who doesn’t love that movie? So that instantly skyrocketed my expectations. As well as finding a YA marketed as high fantasy?! WHAT? Awesome! Safe to say I couldn’t wait to read it. But then I saw some ratings and got a little nervous, but went in expecting good things, because…why not? It sounds great.
Sadly, those reviews were correct.
 Defy starts out interesting. We meet Alexa Hollen after her parents are murdered in front of her and her brother. In order to save her life from a rape house (“Um…excuse me?” you might be thinking. Fret not, more on that later) her brother, Marcel, cuts her hair and convinces her to pretend to be a boy so she can be in the army.
Flash forward three years. Alexa is pretending to be a 20-year-old man. First issue I have. How can ANYONE think she’s a boy? Yes, her boobs might be small, but you still look like a girl. You have hips, no facial hair and entirely different facial features. Plus she stares at all the half naked men all the time. But I digress. I ignored the fact that it would be crazy to try to pretend to be a 20-year-old man when you’re a 17-year-old girl because most 17-year-olds don’t even look 17, let alone 20. Sorry, ranted again. But the rest of the premise intrigued me and I was curious to see what happened.
I thought the world was interesting and vaguely reminiscent of Maria V. Snyder’s Study trilogy. But sadly that’s as far as it went. We get some vague description of a forest and some desert and some trees, but I know nothing else about this world or how it functions.
So all kinds of things start happening and you can’t figure out how they’re all connected, they’re just there. Like Marcel and Alexa find Iker (the king’s right hand man) doing something creepy with blood in his room and as punishment he sends them to…the rape house to bring unsuspecting girls in. Fantastic. What is the point of the rape house in the novel you ask? There is none. It’s basically used as a fear tactic and something to make you hate the king until you find out (AT THE END) the even worse thing he’s done. The rape house (or “breeding house”) is randomly thrown in at different moments and just doesn’t fit with the rest of the novel. For a novel that’s supposedly showing how strong women are, this and Alexa’s negativity really ruin it.
Some other stuff happens and Alexa winds up being Prince Damian’s personal guard. And all she can do is stare at his glistening, cut body. Really? Like…this is where this novel is going? Kill me now.
So for the next 100 so pages we hear all about hearts beating, chocolate eyes, ice blue eyes, glistening and heaving chests, and blushing. Lots of blushing.
Oh, also there’s some kidnapping and stuff in there, but that’s not nearly as important as this teenager in heat. And the first kidnapping seems rather pointless, everything that it supposedly teaches the reader could’ve been learned by word of mouth from another character. Waste of space.
So we find out Rylan (her crush who she abandons for Damian’s glistening pectorals) and Damian both know she’s a girl. Well duh! She’s in shock, but the reveals were SO simple and not surprising I almost passed over them. Also, how could you fall in love with someone that you barely spend time with and they aren’t actually acting like themselves? Also, wouldn’t it be weird, as a straight man, to fall in love with someone that is acting like a man? Even in Mulan they take it slow after the reveal. Shang doesn’t just profess his love, he comes over and stays for dinner (maybe forever if they can figure everything out). Here Rylan and Damian are falling over themselves to say “I love you!” first. And she keeps going back and forth between drooling over the two during a boring walk through the jungle, is this supposed to interest me?
And anytime anything “important” is discussed, such as Damian talking about the kingdom, all Alexa can do is think about how gorgeous he is. Uh, hello? You’re in danger. You’re freaking prisoners of war and you just wanna stare at his eyes? I understand that war brings out emotions, but her only emotion is wanna-get-it-on.
Also, how can you “love” Damian when you just learned he’s secretly not a giant dickwad? Another YA trap that this novel sadly fell into. And Rylan that she loved for so long in secret? He’s just my bestest friend now, it’s cool, he’ll be fine. But I’ll still ogle his body and eyes when Damian isn’t around!
So clearly the fantasy aspect has disappeared entirely, not that it was super strong in the first place. This is epic fantasy lite.
So the rest of the novel gets a little better, with some interesting twists (which some were kinda fairly obvious) and with a little less romance, but not much. And Alexa slowly turns into a whiny, selfish bitch.
Tanoori (a girl in their traveling party) gets injured and when she heals Alexa isn’t like “Oh yay, she’s better! I was so worried!” She’s like “Oh yay, glad I didn’t carry her for nothing and wasn’t tired for nothing. Cos I’m a bitch.” And even though the end is interesting and you want to see what is going on, the whole time she’s like “Are they doing this for me? Because of me? Me? ME? ME?!”
And then we find out another secret about Damian that makes him even more perfect. Does he have unicorns coming out of his ass? Like…really? And then Alexa continues to feel sorry for herself when it comes to their relationship.
So like I said, for a novel about “women power” this girl is not strong, she’s not a good role model and she’d fit the “needs a man” stereotype.
So if the middle of the novel (the heated jungle romance) and Alexa weren’t in this novel it would get a 3. But that pesky middle part and that silly main character are in it, so it gets a 2.
And on a scale of 1 to Mulan? 1.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sunday Funday List: Top 10 Fantasy/Sci-Fi Series

So I've decided every Sunday to do a list, since they've been pretty popular! If you ever have any requests or ideas, let me know! Here's the latest Sunday Funday List!

This week is my Top 10 Fantasy/Sci-Fi Series. These two genres are two of my favorites, period, so I thought it would be fun to make a list of my favorites. And since a lot of the characters listed in the past two lists are from fantasy/sci-fi I thought it would be a great idea to tell you about those series!

Here they are in no particular order (and I'll try for no spoilers, in case you haven't read them!):

1. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling.
-Harry Potter is my favorite series, period. Hands down. The End. Such a brilliant idea. And originally written on a napkin? Wow has this woman reached great heights. And she has such fantastic world building and character building skills! All of her characters have a back story. So if you were to ask her about some character mentioned once, I guarantee you she'd tell you all about them, probably down to their favorite color. These books were so epic they gained a huge, and well deserved, following. And what was really cool is as the characters grew, so did the books and so did the readers. What a great way to get kids to read that don't like to read. She has so many great stories and ideas, I can't imagine what she would write if there were to be more Harry Potter novels. Basically if you're looking for a fantastic story, great writing and compelling characters, you've found it right here! If you haven't read these yet, get on that!

2. The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien.
-If you were to rank these novels on an epic scale of 1 to 10, The Lord of the Rings would be a 15. AMAZING. This man created his own damn language! What?! Could you do that? I sure couldn't. His world building is fantastic as well. Just thinking about it makes me want to sit down and pick up the first one and start reading all over again. And he had so much story that he had to make appendices, histories, sequels, prequels, he did it all! All the different characters and species and everything? Wow. Where does that much awesome come from? Read these, just do it.

3. A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin.
-This man is a genius. Again, awesome world building, awesome characters, awesome story line. And this man is not afraid to kill his characters. If you're expecting a happy ending, don't read A Song of Ice and Fire, you may not feel happy for 800 pages (and that's just the first novel). He gives such a unique voice to each character it's hard to imagine writing this on your own. And he writes a 13 year old girl character (Daenerys Targaryen) surprisingly well. I really like these because you almost feel like you're reading historical fiction, because the world they live in is quite similar to ours, but with dragons. And white walkers. And direwolves. And sky prisons (you don't wanna go to one of those). The only downfall to this series, is it isn't completed yet! 5 are out and there are 2 (supposedly) to go. Waiting sucks.

4. The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins.
-This is a sci-fi, YA series the world has been waiting for. It changed the genre (in a good way) and made people think. It gave us a strong female character that every woman should meet. Also, she's human, she makes mistakes. She's REAL. It's terrifying to imagine our country turning into Panem one day and I could only hope we would have someone as strong and brave as Katniss to help lead the way to revolution. I read the first book in a day, there was no good place to stop. The only reason I didn't finish the second one in a day was because of work. The third one is much more sci-fi than the first two and takes a slightly different road, but is still fantastic. I've read quite a few other dystopian series and while I enjoyed them, they don't compare to The Hunger Games.

5. The Kushiel's Universe series by Jacqueline Carey.
-Again with the world building, so cool! It's like an alternate universe of our world. When you're reading it's easy to tell what each place would be if you were looking at our map. This is a series with 9 books that span 3 different trilogies. And each book is like 900 pages. That is A LOT of story to tell. And you never get bored. Her characters are intriguing and meet so many people and go through so many different situations that you just can't put these novels down! It's hard to say much without giving anything away, so just read them!

6. The Black Jewels series by Anne Bishop.
-Just awesome. Awesome, awesome. Different dimensions. Kings, queens, magic, demons. And you meet Saetan, but he's cool. He's just an awesome grandfather figure and worried dad. Plus you have some super hot guys, Daemon and Lucivar, who happen to be his sons. This series was originally a trilogy but was expanded into more novels, thank goodness. You get to learn more about characters and see the story expanded. You get a more in depth look into the awesome world Anne Bishop has created. This is fantasy at one of it's finest moments.

7. The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis.
-He created such a fun world that any child would love to go to!! These characters have had so many great adventures and their stories are awesome. While the books aren't long, they pack a punch. So much happens in these books you feel like you just read 600 pages. There's a reason this series is a classic and it's one everyone should read!

8. The Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray.
-I was instantly interested in this novel since it's set in Victorian England. Then I find out she goes to an unusual boarding school and goes to another dimension? Awesome!! Both worlds are intriguing and so are the characters in both worlds. You feel for all of them and can't wait to find out what happens as the books go on. I only wish there were more than 3 novels!

9. The Abhorsen series by Garth Nix.
-Such a great series! I went in having no idea what I was going to find reading these novels, but I was pleasantly surprised! The characters are awesome and so is the world they live in. It's cool because it has two different "dimensions", but to get to the magical one all you have to do is cross a wall. Magic and technology collide in this series and it's one of the neatest things I've ever read. I'm anxiously awaiting the fourth novel!

10. His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman.
-Hello epic, nice to meet you. This series touches on EVERYTHING. No matter what you're interested in, you'll find it in this trilogy. And this is another author that isn't afraid to make you cry. These are normally shelved as YA, but it is a series for everyone. This is set in an alternate version of our world and it's really neat seeing what it would be like if our world was like that instead. There are all kinds of twists and cliffhangers, you just can't stop reading! Thank you Philip Pullman, thank you.

Honorable Mentions:
The Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld.
The Magicians trilogy by Lev Grossman.

What do you think of the list? Any series you would add?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Witch Finder by Ruth Warburton

Title: Witch Finder
Author: Ruth Warburton
Type: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy/Historical
Tea: Strawberry Pu-erh, sounds really exciting and on the outside looks like it, but when you get into it, it's just meh.
Rating: 1 out of 5.

I had high, high hopes for this novel. A fantasy/historical witch hunter story set in 1880's England? Awesome!! That's like Leo on the Titanic awesome. What I got was more like Leo died at the end awesome (which if you're like me, you were sad).

There were so many great premises in this novel. The brotherhood of witch hunters, the magical society, so many different things! But they slowly disappear as the novels moves forward. It's mostly about Luke fighting with his feelings for Rosa and very halfheartedly trying to kill her. And Rosa is in an awful relationship with a horrible person that made the novel almost unbearable to read. The incident in the park? I couldn't stomach him after that.

I had a hard time picking this novel up after I put it down, which was really sad since I really wanted to like it. I just felt like it moved along very slowly and didn't really reach any of what I was expecting it to. Not quite sure where the second one will go. Maybe I'll read this again someday and it'll be different. I can only hope.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr

"In a city of daimons, rigid class lines separate the powerful from the power-hungry. And at the heart of The City is the Carnival of Souls, where both murder and pleasure are offered up for sale. Once in a generation, the carnival hosts a deadly competition that allows every daimon a chance to join the ruling elite. Without the competition, Aya and Kaleb would both face bleak futures—if for different reasons. For each of them, fighting to the death is the only way to try to live.

All Mallory knows of The City is that her father—and every other witch there—fled it for a life in exile in the human world. Instead of a typical teenage life full of friends and maybe even a little romance, Mallory scans quiet streets for threats, hides herself away, and trains to be lethal. She knows it's only a matter of time until a daimon finds her and her father, so she readies herself for the inevitable.While Mallory possesses little knowledge of The City, every inhabitant of The City knows of her. There are plans for Mallory, and soon she, too, will be drawn into the decadence and danger that is the Carnival of Souls.

From Melissa Marr, bestselling author of the Wicked Lovely series and Graveminder, comes a brand-new tale of lush secrets, dark love, and the struggle to forge one's own destiny."

 Title: Carnival of Souls
Author: Melissa Marr
Type: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy/Sci-Fi
Tea: Golden Mojito, unique and delicious, but occasionally has its downsides.
Rating: 3 out of 5

Carnival of Souls is the first Melissa Marr novel I’ve ever read and I really did enjoy it. Her world building is interesting and she did a great job sucking me in with Kaleb and Aya’s stories. My least favorite part was sadly a main character, Mallory. Anytime I saw a chapter was hers, I dreaded reading it.
She, clearly, is supposed to appear tough with her gun and fight training. But she just comes off as whiny and clingy. Yes I’m sure moving around all the time sucks, I’ve moved enough to understand, but this girl just sits and feels sorry for herself. I understand how she relates to everyone else’s story, but honestly I think this could’ve been reworked and written without her and I would’ve given it a 5 out of 5. Mallory is one of the weak girls that I’m seriously tired of reading about in YA novels today. How will girls learn to be strong when every female “hero” is shown relying on a man to fix her problems?
Aya, on the other hand, is tough as nails. She is awesome. I’d love to read more about her. Her twist surprised me completely and I can’t wait to learn more!
I was under the impression that this would be a standalone, so I was a little disappointed when it ended, but I’m looking forward to the second one. Hope to get more information on that soon!

Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano

"On Internment, the floating island in the clouds where 16-year-old Morgan Stockhour lives, getting too close to the edge can lead to madness. Even though Morgan's older brother, Lex, was a Jumper, Morgan vows never to end up like him. She tries her best not to mind that her life is orderly and boring, and if she ever wonders about the ground, and why it is forbidden, she takes solace in best friend Pen and her betrothed, Basil.

Then a murder, the first in a generation, rocks the city. With whispers swirling and fear on the wind, Morgan can no longer stop herself from investigating, especially when she meets Judas. He is the boy being blamed for the murder — betrothed to the victim — but Morgan is convinced of his innocence. Secrets lay at the heart of Internment, but nothing can prepare Morgan for what she will find — or who she will lose."

Title: Perfect Ruin
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Type: Young Adult
Genre: Dystopian/Sci Fi
Tea: Black Cinnamon Tea, traditional on the surface, but has spice to it.
Rating: 4 out of 5

This was my first novel by Lauren DeStefano and I really enjoyed it. The premise of Perfect Ruin is really interesting. A piece of the world is taken and put up into the sky. This novel picks up hundreds of years after that. One reason this really intrigued me is it reminded me of the movie Elysium that was released this summer. I really enjoyed that movie and was curious to see how it compared.
In Elysium you see the perspective of the people still living on Earth. In Perfect Ruin you get the perspective of the people living on Internment (their floating city). Internment, while sounding idyllic, has its faults. Including murder. That’s how the story starts off and just keeps running from there. I can’t imagine living somewhere that small and confined. It would be especially scary when horrible things start happening.
The monarchy on this floating city intrigued me as well. The city of Interment embraces some new advances, but takes advantage of older practices, such as having a king and queen instead of Democracy. It is also interesting to see how the royalty is affected by their isolation from the populace.
Ms. DeStefano has so many neat ideas in this novel that I can’t wait to see fleshed out in the next one. I would say more, but I don’t want to ruin anything! Let’s just say the ending left me wanting more!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Favorite Villains That We Love to Hate

Due to the positive response to my strong women post (We Can Do It!) I've decided to do another list (and will probably turn this into a regular thing). This one is gonna be a fun one and something not always talked about: our favorite villains. Admit it, you love the bad guy. It takes a truly intriguing character to make you hate them. 

So below, in no particular order, I have a list of my top 10 favorite villains that we love to hate. (Minor spoilers! Beware!)

1. Lord Voldemort from J.K. Rowling's  Harry Potter series. 
-Lord Voldemort (also known as Tom Marvolo Riddle) is one of the finest villains in literature today. He has a tortured past, including his family's past before he was even born. It's like he was doomed to turn into a monster. Before he turned into the terrifying, snakelike creature that he is, he was a charming and charismatic student. He was fearless and didn't let anyone get in the way. Except one person, Albus Dumbledore. That is one reason alone to love this villain, even he is smart enough to know that Dumbledore could kick his butt. I loved learning his back story in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. You almost feel sorry for him, but then he does something horrible and you forget that (but secretly think how awesome of a wizard he is). I also am intrigued by the fact that he created his arch nemesis. He (unwittingly) chose Harry as the Chosen One, when he could've chosen Neville (and the series would be one novel. Sorry Neville!). Even his subconscious was like "Pick someone awesome, this will be epic." So even if you don't love to hate Voldemort, you can't deny that he is a great villain and, despite efforts, people cannot recreate a villain like him.

2. The Lannisters from George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series. 
-Oh the Lannisters. You vile, creepy family with your blonde hair that can't be beat. Especially Joffrey, the little *insert favorite expletive here*. So this family is horrid, they partake in incest, murder, know, the usual. But they are so fascinating!! The most "normal" of the bunch is Tyrion, a dwarf with a penchant for whores. So clearly you can see how crazy this family is if he's the normal one. They scheme against other lords and ladies, they scheme against each other, they even push small 7 year old boys out of windows. They are not afraid to do ANYTHING. Even though you hate them and yell at them with every page turn, you can't help but want to see what happens next! "When will Cersei's lies about her children be revealed? Will she get what's coming to her?" is all I could think when I first started the series. These people somehow manage to weasel their way into situations and out of any bad one. They are seriously intriguing and I'm so glad I don't have to go up against them in real life, I'll leave that to the Starks and Dany.

3. Gollum (Smeagol) from J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. 
-Gollum (formerly known as Smeagol) wasn't always a bad guy. He was just a Hobbit, hanging out, when he just happened to spy a shiny thing in the river and picked it up. Biggest mistake ever (remind me not to ever do that again). He found the One Ring and was instantly obsessed with and possessed by it. When he loses it and Bilbo Baggins finds it, his life gets even worse. Worse than this you say? How? Well...his looks don't get worse, but his attitude sure does. He resorts to trickery and deception to get his Precious back, but you can't help but feel sorry for him. He's like that little kid that wanted the cherry good smelly marker in school, but never got it. You hate what he does when he messes with Sam and Frodo (I mean, he bit his finger off), but you feel bad that he's that desperate and just want him to feel better. Just remember everyone, avoid shiny objects in the river.

4. Marisa Coulter from Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series. 
-Marisa Coulter is a fashionable lady that seems to have it all. You meet her and you're jealous of Lyra, "What do you mean she gets all this cool stuff and gets to live in an awesome house?!" But then you meet Marisa's daemon's terrifying dark side. That's when you're like "Okay, I'm out." But you can't help but want to know more about this lady! She's Lyra's mom! Why did she leave her? Why is she after her? What will she do if she keeps her? What's her motivation? So many things! You want her to have the daughter that she lost, but since she's kind of a crazy bitch, you don't. She's one of those characters you want to get behind, but never can, because she really doesn't deserve your backing. Even though you wish she did.

5. Dolores Umbridge from J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series.
-Man J.K. Rowling, do you know how to create awesome villains. Umbridge is a horrid woman. But you can't stop reading all the awful things that she does! And it's so much fun to see her get her just desserts. We never find out why she is so horrid, but I know I'm not the only one that wishes we had her back story! We also love her little nuances: her kitten plates, her picture of the Minister of Magic on her desk and her creepy little girl voice. She's a villain that will stick with you and will never cease to make you hate her and amuse you at the same time.

6. President Snow from Suzanne Collin's The Hunger Games trilogy. 
-President Snow is one shady mother effer. He plays all sweet and nice, but his breath reeks of roses and blood. Um...what? He's got it out for Katniss and will do whatever it takes to defeat her. You really are an evil villain if you go after a 16 year old girl. But you like him because he makes Katniss think. He makes Katniss work. She's at some of her strongest points when she's opposing him. And then there's Coin, who makes Snow look like a nice, friendly grandfather figure. I'm sorry I only got to see Snow's villainy in 3 books, but that does not make him any less terrifying.

7. Blair Waldorf from Cecily von Ziegesar's Gossip Girl series. 
-Blair Waldorf is your typical mean girl, on steroids. She does horrible, awful things, but you can't help but love her. She's a broken girl that has suffered a lot, despite the luxury she lives in. She's constantly trying to make her life better by bringing other people down, but does it ever make her feel better? No. I'd be terrified going to school with this girl. I can't decide if it would be better to be her friend or not. I feel like you'd be attacked either way. Throughout the series you either want to see her happy or you want to see what awful thing she's going to do next and the fallout from it. She's my favorite character from my favorite guilty pleasure series.

8. Malcolm and Olivia Foxworth from V.C. Andrew's Dollanganger series. 
-Olivia Foxworth is a scary, evil lady from the beginning of the series and you don't really understand why she does the horrible things she does to her family. But once you read Garden of Shadows her insanity is explained and even justifiable. Malcolm, her husband, is the reason for her tragic life. She was looking forward to a happy marriage with a wonderful man. What she winds up with is a life of abuse, incest and control. She lives in a house of nightmares and doesn't make it out unscathed. In turn she winds up torturing her family as well. She's unhinged and wants to hide the madness that's in her house. You hate her, but feel bad for what made her this way. And Malcolm? Well that dude's just nuts with some major mommy issues.

9. Adair from Alma Katsu's The Taker series. 
-Adair seems like a handsome, wealthy and cultured man. But actually, he's crazy. He's power hungry and controlling. He's also a liar. He starts out as a boy, curious about magic, but it turns into an obsession that controls his life for thousands of years. In his madness he murders, trades bodies, creates immortal beings and gets trapped behind a brick wall for 200 years. Seeing how he treats people is horrific and you just want to save his companions. But you slowly learn more about him and where he's really from and suddenly it all clicks. He's masking his pain behind a facade of power. You want to like him because you know there's a soul in there, but it's buried deep. Definitely one of the more intriguing villains in novels today.

10. Spike from Joss Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer. 
-Spike is a vampire with a heartbreaking past. He does things that would make you cringe (he got his name for torturing people with railroad spikes...), but he's just so damn cool. Even though he's evil and you want Buffy to kick his butt, you kinda want him to live so you can see what he does next. He turns into kind of a sap for a bit towards the end of the series, but when he shows up on Angel, he's back to his badass ways. I think he's at his best villain-ness when he's with Drusilla. They just complement each others crazy so well. He's a terrifying vampire, but with a funny and sarcastic side. You just kinda wanna be his friend, except for when he's hungry.

Anyone else you'd add to our favorite villains we love to hate?

The Torturer's Daughter by Zoe Cannon

When her best friend Heather calls in the middle of the night, Becca Dalcourt assumes it's the usual drama. Wrong. Heather's parents have been arrested as dissidents - and Becca's mother, the dystopian regime's most infamous torturer, has already executed them for their crimes against the state.
To stop Heather from getting herself killed trying to prove her parents' innocence, Becca hunts for proof of their guilt. She doesn't expect to find evidence that leaves her questioning everything she thought she knew about the dissidents... and about her mother.
When she risks her life to save a dissident, she learns her mother isn't the only one with secrets - and the plot she uncovers will threaten the lives of the people she loves most. For Becca, it's no longer just a choice between risking execution and ignoring the regime's crimes; she has to decide whose life to save and whose to sacrifice.
It's easy to be a hero when you can save the world, but what about when all you can do is choose how you live in it? THE TORTURER'S DAUGHTER is a story about ordinary life amidst the realities of living under an oppressive regime... and the extraordinary courage it takes to do what's right in a world gone wrong.

Buy Links:


Becca’s steps slowed as she approached Processing 117. The floodlights of the parking lot shone down on her, exposing her. Past the lot, the darkness threatened to close in. There was no other source of light nearby except for the dim glow of the streetlamps, nothing but trees for at least a mile in every direction.
The concrete structure loomed taller than its five stories—maybe because of the invisible presence of the underground levels, or maybe because in a moment Becca was going to have to walk inside.
Heather can’t have been arrested. If she were a prisoner, they wouldn’t have let her call.
But when Becca remembered the panic in Heather’s voice, the thought wasn’t all that reassuring anymore.
Becca took the last few steps across the not-quite-empty parking lot. The windows of the upper floors glowed in a patchwork of lights, showing who was working another late night and who was at home sleeping… or down on the underground levels. Becca knew that in one of those dark offices, a phone had been ringing off the hook for the past half-hour, its owner oblivious to Becca’s pleas for her to answer, to find Heather for her, to fix this.
Becca reached the double doors of the entrance—and froze. Her heart thudded against her ribcage.
Heather is in there, she reminded herself. Heather needs me.
She pulled the doors open and stepped inside.
The doors slammed shut behind her, the noise echoing off the stark white walls. Security cameras stared down at her from the ceiling. The guards, one to either side of the metal detector, pinned her to the floor with their eyes, but said nothing.
Opposite the metal detector from Becca, the room was bare except for a huge metal desk with corners that looked sharp enough to cut. Behind the desk, a dark-haired woman with a headset clipped to her ear stopped mid-yawn and jerked up to face her.
Becca held her breath and stepped through the metal detector. Its light flashed green, and one of the guards waved her forward. She let her breath out and stepped up to the desk.
She eyed the woman’s crisp gray suit, and the desk that gleamed like it had never seen a speck of dust in its life. Then she looked down at her own clothes, the jeans and wrinkled t-shirt she had grabbed from her dresser after hanging up with Heather. She crossed her arms around her stomach.
The receptionist’s bleary surprise had vanished, replaced by a stone mask. “Can I help you?”
“I’m looking for…” Becca bit back the name on her lips. No. If she were in her office, she would have answered the phone. Anyway, Becca could imagine her reaction at finding out about this midnight walk to 117. Becca was on her own.
“…Heather Thomas,” she finished. “She called me half an hour ago and told me she was here.”
The receptionist’s expression didn’t tell Becca anything.
“She’s here… somewhere… she called me…” Becca’s voice trailed off. I’m not doing anything wrong, she told herself. I’m not a dissident. Heather’s not a dissident.
Which led Becca back to the question that had been circling through her mind since she had gotten Heather’s call. What was Heather doing here?
The receptionist turned away and tapped something out on her keyboard. It only took her a few seconds to find what she was looking for. She typed in something else and touched her earpiece. “We have a detainee in temporary holding,” she said to someone Becca couldn’t see. “Last name Thomas. Her file says she’s waiting for a relative to collect her. Right, that’s the one. Someone forgot to collect her phone, and she called a friend.” A pause. “No, that won’t be necessary. Just confiscate the phone.”
She turned back to Becca. “Heather Thomas is waiting for her guardian to arrive. Are you Lydia Thomas?” She gave Becca a skeptical once-over.
Becca considered saying yes, but even if the receptionist weren’t going to ask for proof, there was no way she could pass as Heather’s… aunt, she remembered after a moment. Aunt Lydia, the one who always looked at Becca and Heather like being in high school was catching.
The receptionist took her silence as an answer. “I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”
Becca wanted nothing more than to do just that. But she couldn’t leave and let this place swallow Heather. “If she’s waiting for her aunt to get here, I can wait with her until she shows up.”
“I’m sorry,” said the receptionist, already turning back to her computer. “The policy is clear. The detainee will remain in temporary holding—alone—until her guardian arrives.”
Becca was losing ground. And somewhere in this building, Heather was waiting for her. “I’m not trying to take her home or anything. I only want to…” To make sure she wasn’t locked away underground. To make sure they hadn’t gotten her mixed up with somebody else, some dissident slated for execution. “…to let her know I’m here. I promised her I’d—”
“Your refusal to leave the building when instructed will be recorded.” The receptionist placed her hands on her keyboard. “May I have your name?”
“At least tell me what happened. Why is she here? Is she all right?”
“Your name, please,” the receptionist repeated.
If she stayed much longer, the receptionist would order the guards to drag her out—or worse, in. She could end up in one of those underground cells… She shivered. They couldn’t do that to her just for asking about Heather, right?
“Your name,” the receptionist repeated again, with a glance toward the guards.
Becca slumped. “Rebecca Dalcourt.”
The receptionist blinked.
“Well,” she said, her voice suddenly warmer, “I suppose we can make an exception.”

About the Author:
Zoe Cannon writes about the things that fascinate her: outsiders, societies no sane person would want to live in, questions with no easy answers, and the inner workings of the mind. If she couldn't be a writer, she would probably be a psychologist, a penniless philosopher, or a hermit in a cave somewhere. While she'll read anything that isn't nailed down, she considers herself a YA reader and writer at heart. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and a giant teddy bear of a dog, and spends entirely too much time on the internet.

Sorry this is a little late everyone! I was scheduled to post this on January 9th, but due to some technical difficulties was unable to. But here's the review!

4 out of 5 stars.

I received The Torturer's Daughter in exchange for an honest review. First off I want to say thank you for giving me the opportunity to read this novel! I've been looking for a YA dystopian that is different from all the other dystopians that are taking over the shelves these days. The society was very mysterious, which added a different element to the book that you don't see in many YA novels today. Becca isn't a weak little girl that just lets whatever is happening, happen. She uses her brain (finally! We need more girls like this!) and doesn't go about things all willy nilly. Also if you're looking for something that doesn't solely revolve around a romance, this is a good one. Yes there is a romantic aspect, but it's not what the novel focuses on. Which is as it should be, or this would be marketed as romance! Overall I really enjoyed the novel and I can't wait to see what the author does with the next book!