Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Review: The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak by Brian Katcher

The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak by Bryan Katcher
Published: May 19th, 2015 (Katherine Tegen Books)
Pages: 336
Source: ARC via Edelweiss
Series: NA
Buy the book: Bookdepository
Rating: ★★★★☆

It all begins when Ana Watson's little brother, Clayton, secretly ditches the quiz bowl semifinals to go to the Washingcon sci-fi convention on what should have been a normal, résumé-building school trip.

If slacker Zak Duquette hadn't talked up the geek fan fest so much, maybe Clayton wouldn't have broken nearly every school rule or jeopardized Ana’s last shot at freedom from her uptight parents.

Now, teaming up with Duquette is the only way for Ana to chase down Clayton in the sea of orcs, zombies, bikini-clad princesses, Trekkies, and Smurfs. After all, one does not simply walk into Washingcon.

But in spite of Zak's devil-may-care attitude, he has his own reasons for being as lost as Ana-and Ana may have more in common with him than she thinks. Ana and Zak certainly don’t expect the long crazy night, which begins as a nerdfighter manhunt, to transform into so much more…

The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak quite possibly has the most improbable storyline I could've come up with, but somehow, it works. It's geeky, silly, and at time makes no sense, but I enjoyed every moment of it.

Both Ana and Zak are a bit of an outcast, both geeky in their own way. Ana is always top of her class, has a bazillion extracurricular activities and is pushed by her parents to be as perfect as possible. Meanwhile Zak is somewhat of a slacker, failing his health class and trying to dodge his mom's new husband who is trying to make him into something he's not. Ana has no free time -- Zak has too much free time and loves everything geeky. Strategy games, costumes, nerdy cons: he loves it all. But he especially loves Washingcon, the annual sci-fi convention in Seattle. But when his health class teacher tells him he is failing his health class and only joining the quiz bowl team will help him pass his class, all his plans fall apart. Because the quiz bowl team semifinals are the same weekend as Washingcon, and there is no way out of the quiz bowl activities for Zak. His Washingcon plans straight down the drain.

But Zak loves Washingcon so much, he talks about the event non stop, motivating Ana's brother, Clayton (who is also on the quiz bowl team), to sneak out and find out about the con himself. What ensues is a hilarious Clayton hunt across the entire con. Turns out Zak is some kind of legend at Washingcon -- who knew? Along the way, Ana and Zak get to know eachother and it turns out they aren't so different after all. They both struggle with pain, loss, and trying to fit in.

Both Ana and Zak go through a motion of development in this book, even though the biggest portion of the story is set during the first day of Washingcon. Ana learns to let her hair down. It's okay to be different, to have fun, to get out there. It's not the end of the world if you break a few rules. Meanwhile Zak learns to reign it in a bit. They kind of balance eachother out because they understand eachother.

By far my favourite thing in this book is the geekiness. I loved all the cosplay, the nerdy references (even if I didn't understand where half of them came from), the silly dialogue and the hilarious plotline. In any other book, it would have made no sense, but it works in this one. The setting combined with some of the wacky characters passing by is fantastic and I really enjoyed reading about all these characters who were so different but also so alike. There's one particular scene near the end of the book where Ana teams up with Strawberry to distract a cleaning guy that had me snorting up my drink through my nose -- something I don't intend to repeat. The silliness was hilarious and I found myself laughing out loud several times while reading.

While I would have loved to have felt some more chemistry between Ana and Zak, I think their story is really well done. I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak: quirky, goofy goodness. Like!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

On My Wishlist (77)

In On My Wishlist I spotlight books that I'm really looking forward to. I know there's a meme Waiting on Wednesday and there even are others, but I'm going to rebel and do it how I want it (hehe). I'll feature the synopsis as posted on Goodreads and put a linkie to the Goodreads page of the book. This week: I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson.

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
Publication date: September 16th, 2014

Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah's story to tell. The later years are Jude's. What the twins don't realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.

Goodreads page

I must admit that I don't really know all that much about this book, besides it being a contemporary rollercoaster ride about twins and it won the Michael L. Printz Award 2015. Basically, I've heard so many people raving about this book, I need to read it for myself. Maybe I should wait a while until the hype dies down, so my expectations aren't skyhigh, but I'm not sure I can manage.. So I think I'll just dive in, then :)

Monday, March 2, 2015

Review: The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon

The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon
Published: January 27th, 2015 (Bloomsbury)
Pages: 528
Age group: Adult with crossover appeal
Source: borrowed ARC (Thanks Debby ♥)
Series: The Bone Season, #2
Buy the book: Bookdepository
Rating: ★★★★★

Note: this is not the first book in a series, and can therefore contain (minor) spoilers for the previous book(s) in the series. Reading of this review is at your own risk.

Paige Mahoney has escaped the brutal prison camp of Sheol I, but her problems have only just begun: many of the survivors are missing and she is the most wanted person in London...

As Scion turns its all-seeing eye on the dreamwalker, the mime-lords and mime-queens of the city's gangs are invited to a rare meeting of the Unnatural Assembly. Jaxon Hall and his Seven Seals prepare to take centre stage, but there are bitter fault lines running through the clairvoyant community and dark secrets around every corner. Then the Rephaim begin crawling out from the shadows. But where is Warden? Paige must keep moving, from Seven Dials to Grub Street to the secret catacombs of Camden, until the fate of the underworld can be decided.

I honestly don't really know where to start with this review. After reading The Bone Season, reading The Mime Order was a no-brainer. How the hell was I supposed to leave at that point? And now this? I mean, really, Samantha? WHY MUST YOU TORTURE US SO. Where the first book had a lot of infodumping because of the worldbuilding, you get sucked in straight away with its sequel. Be ready to be blown away.

I loved how Shannon continued on her worldbuilding. The setting was created in The Bone Season, but she really took it to another level with this book. You immediately immerse yourself in the world, the characters and just overal the story. The plot is a slow one, but it's so exquisitely written that you can't help but flip the pages. Gods, it was amazing. Every time I flipped a page I had no idea what was coming. It's one of the few books that made me start thinking about complot theories: what was happening? Who did it? What's next? Usually, I prefer to just go along with the story (even though I know perfectly fine what I want to happen) but with this one I was wondering who was responsible and if I added this and this and that, it would mean they were responsible but then.. Gods, I loved it.

Can we just take a moment to appreciate all of the characters? They really come alive. I especially admired Jaxon's sassiness. It was brilliantly written and I felt like I was actually LOOKING AT JAXON while reading. Everything was so vivid in my mind, it was kind of like watching a movie. And not only with Jaxon, mind you. I loved the scenes with Paige and Warden because their chemistry is awesome. I loved how all the characters interacted with eachother and I loved all their personality quirks.

BUT THE PLOT Y'ALL! I mean, holy smokes. FANTASTIC. It was so awesome I felt I had to use CAPSLOCK to convince you how brilliant it is. It's slow building, kind of like when you are on a roller coaster ride and the first bit of the ride is when the carts get pulled up to the high point of the ride. It's slow, you're basically waiting to be catapulted down the tracks, but still you continue, working your way up. Then you reach the highest point and slowly all the carts rattle over that point and you race down at the speed of light and basically that's what The Mime Order felt like for me. Because when I was finished with reading the last page, I literally sat there, pointing at the book, saying "I.. What?" "What is even?" and more "I.. what?!" (ask my book club friends, they were there). For emphasis, I shook the book while pointing at it, you know, so they knew what I was talking about. I was quite literally speechless. Lost for words. I mean, I lost the ability to even.

To sort of sum things up: everything is so complex and so carefully woven together, it really is an amazing fantasy series. To be honest, I feel kind of like an addict going through withdrawal with that cliffhanger ending.

Yes, this review is a mess. I regret nothing. Just read it, you'll seee.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

On My Wishlist (75)

In On My Wishlist I spotlight books that I'm really looking forward to. I know there's a meme Waiting on Wednesday and there even are others, but I'm going to rebel and do it how I want it (hehe). I'll feature the synopsis as posted on Goodreads and put a linkie to the Goodreads page of the book. This week: Oblivion by Kelly Creagh.

Oblivion by Kelly Creagh
Expected publication date: July 28th, 2015

The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins? —Edgar Allan Poe

The fine line between life and death blurred long ago for Isobel Lanley. After a deadly confrontation with Varen in the dreamworld, she’s terrified to return to that desolate and dangerous place. But when her nightmares resume, bleeding into reality, she is left with no choice. Varen’s darkness is catching up to her. To everything. Threatening to devour it all.

Isobel fears for her world. For her sanity and Varen’s—especially after a fresh and devastating loss. To make matters worse, the ghostly demon Lilith wants Varen for her own, and she will do anything to keep him in her grasp—anything.

Can Isobel ever find her happy ending?

Goodreads page

YES YES FINALLY! I read Nevermore all the way back in 2011, Enshadowed in 2012 and so I've been waiting for THREE WHOLE YEARS for the final book to come out. Gods, it's been so long I'm not even sure I remember what happened in the first two books. Maybe a re-read is in order? I do know I'm ready for more of the dark, twisted goodness that is the Nevermore series!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Review: The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy

The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy
Published: May 1st, 2012 (Walden Pond Press)
Pages: 436
Age group: Middlegrade
Source: gifted by Daisy 
Series: The League of Princes, #1
Buy the book: Bookdepository
Rating: ★★★☆☆ ½

Prince Liam. Prince Frederic. Prince Duncan. Prince Gustav. You’ve never heard of them, have you? These are the princes who saved Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White, and Rapunzel, respectively, and yet, thanks to those lousy bards who wrote the tales, you likely know them only as Prince Charming. But all of this is about to change.

Rejected by their princesses and cast out of their castles, the princes stumble upon an evil plot that could endanger each of their kingdoms. Now it’s up to them to triumph over their various shortcomings, take on trolls, bandits, dragons, witches, and other assorted terrors, and become the heroes no one ever thought they could be.

Ever wondered who Prince Charming really was? The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom is the hilarious story of not one, but FOUR Princes Charming who all have their own songs, yet nobody knows who this mysterious Prince Charming is. They stumble upon eachother and find themselves in a monster-ridden and insane witch hunt which will be sure to make you smile.

This was quite possibly the most adorable middlegrade fantasy I've had the pleasure of reading so far. Four princes, four princesses, and a whole lot of trouble along the way. Healy pulls out all the stops and throws bandits, evil witches, trolls, dwarves (please note there aren't any dwarfs in this story!), dragons and giants at our heroes. To be honest, half of the princes aren't really as big a hero as they are made out to be, which really makes for an excellent story. I adored the naivity of some of the princes. They were so innocent, it was adorable!

I loved that the princesses were feisty. Lila really stole my heart, she was fantastic. Smart and good with words, but also very caring and protective of her loved ones. I would have loved to read more about her, so I'm hoping we'll see more of her in the sequel. Ella was fantastic, and Briar Rose was so spoilt it was hilarious. The entire storyline is bordering on silly but all in a good way! I was chuckling while reading it because it's so funny how these guys manage to land themselves in all sorts of trouble.

I really enjoyed reading about Liam, Frederic, Duncan and Gustav. Their interaction was fantastic and I loved their banter. Now that they made it through all these difficulties, I'm really looking forward to reading what's in store for them next.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Review: Panic by Lauren Oliver

Panic by Lauren Oliver
Published: March 4th, 2014 (HarperCollins)
Pages: 408
Source: ARC via Edelweiss
Series: NA
Buy the book: Bookdepository
Rating: ★★☆☆☆ ½

Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a dead-end town of 12,000 people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do.

Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.

Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game, he’s sure of it. But what he doesn't know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for.

For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.

The premise for Panic sounds thrilling and that, plus the fact that it was written by Lauren Oliver, made me want to get my paws on it. Unfortunately, I was left disappointed when I finished.

A town with teenagers who have nothing to do so they come up with a game that literally is life or death in its tasks. Sounds exciting, yes? Unfortunately, the excitement doesn't come off the pages while reading. The story is told from the perspective of Heather, a girl with an addicted mom, no father and a sister who depends on her, and the perspective of Dodge, a guy whose sole purpose in life is to avenge his sister's car crash that took place during an earlier edition of Panic. At first, Dodge is the outsider -- until Nat, Heather's best friend, takes an interest in Dodge. So they hang out together, the three of them plus Heather's other best friend, Bishop. They enter Panic all for their own reasons. The only one not participating is Bishop and he spends his time trying to talk Heather out of the game. While the story unfolds it is clear that everything surrounding Panic is a huge mystery and people are only informed of the tasks by anonymous texts just before the task is about to take place.

My main problem with this book was that nothing really came to life. The characters didn't have enough depth for me and the tasks in Panic didn't scream DANGER so much to me. They were incredibly dangerous, yet Heather and Dodge make it seem like a walk in the park. I would have liked a more realistic approach to this. Sure, these teens sign up for the thrill of it, but you can't tell me you wouldn't be scared shitless if you'd have to cross a highway blindfolded. Nope.

Another thing that didn't work for me was the lack of chemistry between the characters. Where Oliver really shines in terms of chemistry and relationship development in Before I Fall, the story of Panic lacks exactly those qualities that made me love her debut so much. There was a bit of banter between Heather and Bishop, but it didn't come alive. I didn't feel it. So no, I didn't ship it. I was kind of shipping something different, but eh.

For me, it felt like Heather had it too easy while performing the tasks. Too many things just happened to be there, or happen in a particular way that was beneficial to her. If she's in a game that's designed to test your bravery, you'd best be brave. Terrified, but brave. It all worked out a little too perfect for my liking.

So to sum it all up; I liked the idea, and it wasn't all bad. It was okay enough for me to finish, but that's all. To be honest, the more I think about it, the less I like the book. It wasn't for me, but hopefully my next Lauren Oliver book will restore my love for her writing.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

On My Wishlist (74)

In On My Wishlist I spotlight books that I'm really looking forward to. I know there's a meme Waiting on Wednesday and there even are others, but I'm going to rebel and do it how I want it (hehe). I'll feature the synopsis as posted on Goodreads and put a linkie to the Goodreads page of the book. This week: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Expected publication date: May 5th, 2015

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

Goodreads page
While I did not particularly liked Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas, I'm pretty intrigued by this book. I love a good fantasy and I think Maas can definitely write. If only I could shut out the Hunger Games parallels I drew in ToG.. I'm also in desperate need of a good fairy book so definitely giving A Court of Thorns and Roses a chance this year! The reviews have been awesome so far so MY BODY IS READY.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Review: The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes

The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes
Published: May 20th, 2014 (HarperTeen)
Pages: 376
Source: ARC via Edelweiss
Series: NA
Buy the book: Bookdepository
Rating: ★★★★★

Soccer star Lainey Mitchell is gearing up to spend an epic summer with her amazing boyfriend, Jason, when he suddenly breaks up with her—no reasons, no warning, and in public no less! Lainey is more than crushed, but with help from her friend Bianca, she resolves to do whatever it takes to get Jason back.

And that’s when the girls stumble across a copy of The Art of War. With just one glance, they're sure they can use the book to lure Jason back into Lainey’s arms. So Lainey channels her inner warlord, recruiting spies to gather intel and persuading her coworker Micah to pose as her new boyfriend to make Jason jealous. After a few "dates", it looks like her plan is going to work! But now her relationship with Micah is starting to feel like more than just a game.

What's a girl to do when what she wants is totally different from what she needs? How do you figure out the person you're meant to be with if you're still figuring out the person you're meant to be?

I think Debby has been subtly, uh, recommending The Art of Lainey for at least six months when I decided to give in. While I wasn't even halfway through I realised she was right: this is my kind of book. It's banterfluffy contemporary goodness, bound to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I know that's how I felt when I finished it. I even went out and emailed Paula about how much this book punched me right in the heart, something I never do (but after reading her wonderful response, I will definitely do this more often!).

It's the ultimate banterfluff plot: two people who pretty much only know of eachothers excistence decide to "fake date" eachother to get back with their exes. Lainey and Micah rarely talk to eachother at work, but decide to team up for this plan. Only, after some dates and a lot of banter it appears this is not just a deal to get back their old relationships. It feels like more than that, but they had set up specific rules against that. So now what?

So now all the banter turns into banterfluff and ahhhhh I was fangirling. The chemistry between Micah and Lainey is spot on and pretty much perfect. There were two particular scenes that made my heart ache, and omg it hurt so much but I enjoyed all of it. Sure, at the beginning of the book Lainey is very very very clingy to her ex-boyfriend. We as readers of course see that he's the ultimate a-hole, but hey, who are we? I loved seeing how she transitioned from spoiled clingy brat into a fun character with plenty to say. She really grew as a character, as did all the other characters. They really get closer and I loved their interaction. Another thing I absolutely loved about The Art of Lainey was that every single character was realistic. They weren't perfect, they felt real. Their talk was real, the way they behaved was real. They all had their own quirks and flaws and it was fantastic.

But again, what stands out is the chemistry. Gods, it was so perfect I am unable to even. It was like the tension between Lainey and Micah came sizzling off the pages, that was how good it was. From the moment of their deal to the very end it was a rollercoaster of feels and honestly, I cannot wait to jump back on this ride. Stokes knows how to write. She GETS it. She knows how to get the feels across, make you swoon and make your heart break in all the right ways. For me, this is exactly what I'm looking for in contemporary books.

If you like contemporaries, and more specifically if you enjoy BANTERFLUFF, this is a must-read!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Review: More Than This by Patrick Ness

More Than This by Patrick Ness
Published: September 10th, 2013 (Candlewick Press)
Pages: 480
Source: bought
Series: NA
Buy the book: Bookdepository
Rating: ★★★★☆

A boy named Seth drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments, losing his life as the pounding sea claims him. But then he wakes. He is naked, thirsty, starving. But alive. How is that possible? He remembers dying, his bones breaking, his skull dashed upon the rocks. So how is he here? And where is this place? It looks like the suburban English town where he lived as a child, before an unthinkable tragedy happened and his family moved to America. But the neighborhood around his old house is overgrown, covered in dust, and completely abandoned. What’s going on? And why is it that whenever he closes his eyes, he falls prey to vivid, agonizing memories that seem more real than the world around him? Seth begins a search for answers, hoping that he might not be alone, that this might not be the hell he fears it to be, that there might be more than just this...

We read More Than This for book club all the way back in October of 2013, but I spent so much time going back and forth with this review that I never actually posted it. It has been sitting in draft for well over a year, waiting to be posted. This book has really messed with my head so it's actually quite fitting that it took me so long to actually post this review.

First up, let me start off by saying this was probably the hardest review to write in the history of EVER because it messed with my head so much I didn't actually know what to think when I finished. That made it an excellent start for book club, because there was so much to be discussed. But honestly, my brain really didn't know what to do with this one. There were things I didn't (fully) understand, whether that was Ness' intention or not. More Than This just really got into my head and messed it up -- I made a 'mindfuckery' shelf on Goodreads for this book alone. Nuff said, right?

Ness' writing is excellent as always. Within the first 100 pages I was completely paranoid because of the creepiness of a particular character. I was reading while it was dark out, I was home alone, and suddenly every little sound had me on edge. I was so jumpy at one point that I was completely creeped out when I had to take a shower. Yeah, I know. But this is really an example of how much you get dragged into the story: you are there. You experience it. It gets into your head, and doesn't let go for a while after you put the book down.

I loved that pretty much anything was possible and you had no clue where it was going. I know I didn't, and I was on the edge of my seat all the way to the end, and to be honest, even after that. I haven't seen The Matrix or Inception, to which I hear More Than This is similar, so I can't say how they compare. But I can say I absolutely loved the fact that pretty much everything was open to interpretation, even the ending.

So long story short: I can't actually tell too much about the story itself because everything is a possible spoiler. The story is so well written, so carefully woven together, that you can't help but fall in face first and enjoy the ride. It'll make you paranoid, confused, it may even mess with your head. But you'll enjoy it, and afterwards you'll be left wondering.. What just happened?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

On My Wishlist (73)

In On My Wishlist I spotlight books that I'm really looking forward to. I know there's a meme Waiting on Wednesday and there even are others, but I'm going to rebel and do it how I want it (hehe). I'll feature the synopsis as posted on Goodreads and put a linkie to the Goodreads page of the book. This week: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir.

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Expected publication date: April 28th, 2015

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.

Vow your blood and body to the empire.

Keep your heart for yourself.

Goodreads page
I am seriously starting to think that my expectations are too high for this book. Ever since I saw it for the first time, I've been excited about its release. There is just something about the cover of this book combined with the synopsis.. Let's just say I'm fully prepared to be blown away by this one. It releases in April.. The wait is going to kill me. *twitches*

Friday, February 6, 2015

Review: The Shadow Prince by Bree Despain

The Shadow Prince by Bree Despain
Published: March 11th, 2014 (Egmont)
Pages: 512
Source: ARC via Edelweiss
Series: Into the Dark, #1
Buy the book: Bookdepository
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Haden Lord, the disgraced prince of the Underrealm, has been sent to the mortal world to entice a girl into returning with him to the land of the dead. Posing as a student at Olympus Hills High—a haven for children of the rich and famous—Haden must single out the one girl rumored to be able to restore immortality to his race.

Daphne Raines has dreams much bigger than her tiny southern Utah town, so when her rock star dad suddenly reappears, offering her full tuition to Olympus Hills High’s prestigious music program, she sees an opportunity to catch the break she needs to make it as a singer. But upon moving into her estranged father’s mansion in California, and attending her glamorous new school, Daphne soon realizes she isn’t the only student in Olympus who doesn’t quite belong.

Haden and Daphne—destined for each other—know nothing of the true stakes their fated courtship entails. As war between the gods brews, the teenagers’ lives collide. But Daphne won’t be wooed easily and when it seems their prophesied link could happen, Haden realizes something he never intended—he’s fallen in love. Now to save themselves, Haden and Daphne must rewrite their destinies. But as their destinies change, so do the fates of both their worlds.

Where do I start with this one? As soon as I heard about it and the possibility of it being a Persephone retelling (or at least somewhat based on Greek mythology), I knew I had to read it. Admittedly, I waited an awful long time to finally actually read it. And when I did, I'm sad to say I was disappointed.

Daphne moves in with her estranged father and she starts attending Olympus Hills High. While there, she meets Haden, who is of course gorgeous but also kind of creepy because he immediately tries to lure her back to the Underworld because that was the task he was assigned before he got to the mortal world. When this fails, he tries to build up a relationship with her and the story evolves.

With The Shadow Prince being a Persephone retelling, it's bound to be filled with clichés, and it is. I found it hard to set these aside and really get into the story. There wasn't anything that managed to hook me and lure me in, so the story never really came to life for me. Both Haden and Daphne were sort of bland, although Daphne did have her moments. There was just nothing outstanding about The Shadow Prince. The chemistry between Haden and Daphne is just okay and honestly I couldn't care less if they got together or not.

However, I still managed to finish this 500+ page book which is mostly due to Despain's story telling. Everyone who knows me know how easily I give up on books if they don't manage to engage me so there's definitely that. Though I wasn't hooked, I still wanted to know how it was going to end and what was happening. And when made it to the end, I felt like I finally arrived at the interesting stuff -- only for the book to end.

So basically, The Shadow Prince felt like a massive buildup to the story, which I assume will fully take off in The Eternity Key. I'm not sure if I want to read that because I kind of felt disappointed I had just made my way through a 500 page introduction, but I must admit it has me curious. I mean, just the mention of a quest is usually enough to draw me in, so I might just go ahead and pick it up. Sometime.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

On My Wishlist (72)

In On My Wishlist I spotlight books that I'm really looking forward to. I know there's a meme Waiting on Wednesday and there even are others, but I'm going to rebel and do it how I want it (hehe). I'll feature the synopsis as posted on Goodreads and put a linkie to the Goodreads page of the book. This week: The Exiled Queen by Chinda Williams Chima.

The Exiled Queen by Chinda Williams Chima
Publication date: September 24th, 2010

Haunted by the loss of his mother and sister, Han Alister journeys south to begin his schooling at Mystwerk House in Oden’s Ford. But leaving the Fells doesn’t mean that danger isn't far behind. Han is hunted every step of the way by the Bayars, a powerful wizarding family set on reclaiming the amulet Han stole from them. And Mystwerk House has dangers of its own. There, Han meets Crow, a mysterious wizard who agrees to tutor Han in the darker parts of sorcery—but the bargain they make is one Han may regret.

Meanwhile, Princess Raisa ana’Marianna runs from a forced marriage in the Fells, accompanied by her friend Amon and his triple of cadets. Now, the safest place for Raisa is Wein House, the military academy at Oden's Ford. If Raisa can pass as a regular student, Wein House will offer both sanctuary and the education Raisa needs to succeed as the next Gray Wolf queen.

Everything changes when Han and Raisa’s paths cross, in this epic tale of uncertain friendships, cut-throat politics, and the irresistible power of attraction.

Goodreads page

Soo... I've read The Demon King waaaaaaay back and I've been practically pining for its sequel ever since. I know, it's my own fault. But to be honest.. 2014 wasn't really a good reading year for me. So I never actually bought the book.. BUT I will make up for it in 2015 and high up my list is the rest of the Seven Realms series. Gods, Chima knows how to tell a story. I NEEEED this book so I can ship the ship and freak out over Han and Raisa. And epic fantasy. Because of reasons, obviously.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

On My Wishlist (71)

In On My Wishlist I spotlight books that I'm really looking forward to. I know there's a meme Waiting on Wednesday and there even are others, but I'm going to rebel and do it how I want it (hehe). I'll feature the synopsis as posted on Goodreads and put a linkie to the Goodreads page of the book. This week: Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge.

Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge
Expected publication date: May 5th, 2015

When Rachelle was fifteen she was good—apprenticed to her aunt and in training to protect her village from dark magic. But she was also reckless— straying from the forest path in search of a way to free her world from the threat of eternal darkness. After an illicit meeting goes dreadfully wrong, Rachelle is forced to make a terrible choice that binds her to the very evil she had hoped to defeat.

Three years later, Rachelle has given her life to serving the realm, fighting deadly creatures in an effort to atone. When the king orders her to guard his son Armand—the man she hates most—Rachelle forces Armand to help her find the legendary sword that might save their world. As the two become unexpected allies, they uncover far-reaching conspiracies, hidden magic, and a love that may be their undoing. In a palace built on unbelievable wealth and dangerous secrets, can Rachelle discover the truth and stop the fall of endless night?

Goodreads page

Okay, so don't shoot me. I have not read Cruel Beauty. Yet. I know Crimson Bound is not part of the series, but it still feels a bit weird to be wanting to read this before I've read Cruel Beauty. But I will get to it, eventually. Maybe I was riding out the hype without realising it? Anyhoo, Inspired by Little Red Riding Hood? Gods yes. Just gimme the precious *grabby hands* I haz a need!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

On My Wishlist (70)

In On My Wishlist I spotlight books that I'm really looking forward to. I know there's a meme Waiting on Wednesday and there even are others, but I'm going to rebel and do it how I want it (hehe). I'll feature the synopsis as posted on Goodreads and put a linkie to the Goodreads page of the book. This week: The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak by Brian Katcher.

The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak by Brian Katcher

Expected publication date: May 19th, 2015

It all begins when Ana Watson's little brother, Clayton, secretly ditches the quiz bowl semifinals to go to the Washingcon sci-fi convention on what should have been a normal, résumé-building school trip.

If slacker Zak Duquette hadn't talked up the geek fan fest so much, maybe Clayton wouldn't have broken nearly every school rule or jeopardized Ana’s last shot at freedom from her uptight parents.

Now, teaming up with Duquette is the only way for Ana to chase down Clayton in the sea of orcs, zombies, bikini-clad princesses, Trekkies, and Smurfs. After all, one does not simply walk into Washingcon.

But in spite of Zak's devil-may-care attitude, he has his own reasons for being as lost as Ana-and Ana may have more in common with him than she thinks. Ana and Zak certainly don’t expect the long crazy night, which begins as a nerdfighter manhunt, to transform into so much more...

Goodreads page

Somehow, I'm always drawn to books with names like The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak (other examples include The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight and The Catastrophic History of You and Me). They are way too long but at the same time it ticks all the boxes in my head. Anyhoo, may I just say that this synopsis sounds ADORABLE? Geekish love story. I mean, YES PLEASE. I'm hoping for banter, so I can ship the hell out of it.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten 2014 Releases I Meant to Read but Didn't Get To

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature by The Broke and the Bookish where you post a list of books in the selected theme for that edition. This week: Top Ten 2014 Releases I Meant to Read but Didn't Get To. As you all know, I was pretty much MIA for an entire year in 2014, so even though I planned to read a ton of books, I barely read any. So when 2015 started almost two weeks ago, there were plenty of books I still had to read that were published in 2014. I was massively excited when these came out and I'm determined to read them some time in 2015. Here goes!

Darkness Hidden by Zoë Marriott
I love Zoë and so far I have liked every single book I've read by her. The Night Itself was fantastic and I really like this new story Zoë's set out, yet somehow I still haven't read Darkness Hidden. I shall resolve this issue in the near future.

The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes
This sounded so cute when I first came across it and I really really wanted to read it soon. I even got an ARC. And it's still unread. I know, I suck. After hearing Debby rave about this book for AGES, I was once again reminded that I need to read this book. And so I shall do so.

Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson
I KNOW. I KNOW. I'm a massive fan of Morgan's previous books, Second Chance Summer (a.k.a. The Sobfest Book) and Amy and Roger's Epic Detour, so of course I was massively excited about her new book. Which I still haven't even bought *snort* I'm the worst fan ever. *hides in the corner*

Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy
One of the most anticipated contemporaries this year, methinks. I'm still slightly intimidated, even though the real hype has died down. I've seen mixed reviews after the book was actually published, so my expectations have been toned down just a little bit. But since it was also one of *my* most anticipated books of 2014, I really want to get to it.

Split Second by Kasie West
I KNOW. BELIEVE ME I KNOW. I NEED TO READ IT. That is all I'm going to say about it.

Panic by Lauren Oliver
Okay, so the synopsis doesn't really sound all too exciting to me, but I loved all of the books I've read so far by Lauren Oliver, so I'm still keeping this on my list. Lauren made me fall in love with her writing in Before I Fall and even though I must admit that Pandemonium was slightly disappointing, I still thinks she is able to have me hooked on this one.

The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan
Okaaaaaay so when I'm writing this post I haven't even actually read House of Hades yet *cough* (told you I'm a terrible fan) but I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS. I was all set on preordering the book and reading House of Hades before it came out but then life happened and got in the way so now I'm here sitting with not one but TWO unread Rick Riordan books *twitches* well, let's look at the positives.. At least I still have two Rick Riordan books to read before Magnus Chase hits the shelves? #optimistic

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
So um yeah I'm probably the only person out there who hasn't read this book yet. But when I saw Crimson Bound pop up on my feed I was reminded that I really really really need to read Cruel Beauty in the very near future.

The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith
YES YES MORE FLUFF! Jennifer is my favourite fluffy contemporary author. I mean yeah, I too find her books a bit predictable or cliché sometimes, but they make me feel gooooood and sometimes it's just what I need. I love them. So yeah, I was jumping up and down when this was up on my radar, yet I still haven't even gotten it yet. *hangs head in shame* I'm very excited to read this on one of these dark, cold, wintery days so I feel all warm and fuzzy inside when I finish.

2015 is going to be a better reading year for me, I just feel it. What are your top 10 2014 releases you haven't read yet? Feel free to leave a link to your post in the comments :)

Friday, January 9, 2015

On My Wishlist (69)

In On My Wishlist I spotlight books that I'm really looking forward to. I know there's a meme Waiting on Wednesday and there even are others, but I'm going to rebel and do it how I want it (hehe). I'll feature the synopsis as posted on Goodreads and put a linkie to the Goodreads page of the book. This week: Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley.

Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley
Expected publication date: April 28th, 2015

Aza Ray is drowning in thin air.

Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak—to live.

So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn’t think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name.

Only her best friend, Jason, listens. Jason, who’s always been there. Jason, for whom she might have more-than-friendly feelings. But before Aza can consider that thrilling idea, something goes terribly wrong. Aza is lost to our world—and found, by another. Magonia.

Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships, Aza is not the weak and dying thing she was. In Magonia, she can breathe for the first time. Better, she has immense power—and as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war is coming. Magonia and Earth are on the cusp of a reckoning. And in Aza’s hands lies the fate of the whole of humanity—including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie?

Goodreads page

This.. This just sounds like a magical mix of just about everything I love to read about. The cover is gorgeous, but the synopsis.. Gods, I just NEED to read this book. I just hope I'm not hyping it up too much in my head, because I don't want to be disappointed. It looks like it has so much potential, because it sounds like a highly imaginative world/story. It's a sad thing that April is still so far away..

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Published: August 2nd, 2012 (Bloomsbury)
Pages: 404
Source: bought
Series: Throne of Glass, #1
Buy the book: Bookdepository
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Meet Celaena Sardothien.
Beautiful. Deadly.
Destined for greatness.

In the dark, filthy salt mines of Endovier, an eighteen-year-old girl is serving a life sentence. She is a trained assassin, the best of her kind, but she made a fatal mistake: she got caught.

Young Captain Westfall offers her a deal: her freedom in return for one huge sacrifice. Celaena must represent the prince in a to-the-death tournament—fighting the most gifted thieves and assassins in the land. Live or die, Celaena will be free. Win or lose, she is about to discover her true destiny. But will her assassin’s heart be melted?

Let me start off by saying that this is a terribly hard review to write. Throne of Glass was hyped so much that I felt I should share in the awesomeness in this book and I ordered both the first and the second book, Crown of Midnight (which happened to be very cheap, and ya'll know I can't resist a good deal). And after reading Throne of Glass, I'm starting to wonder if that was a good decision for me. Bear with me while I share my thoughts. Also, please don't kill me for not loving it lol.

First up, the good: the writing was good and really managed to suck me in. The story flows and seems to progress fluently throughout the pages. The characters are well developed, each with their own personality and quirks. Even the minor characters were executed really well, which I really appreciated. The banter between the characters was awesome and yes, there is a lot of chemistry. I can't even count the amount of times where the characters in a book had no chemistry whatsoever yet they somehow had to stick together, or get together. But here, there was no such thing. I would go as far as to say that the characters and their way of interacting is the best thing about this book.

My main problem with Throne of Glass was that ever since the introduction of the tournament, I couldn't stop comparing the book to The Hunger Games. Sure, there were plenty of differences. But somehow it wormed its way into my head and I was unable to shake it. There she is, our fierce female main character, awesome with a bow, with two guys pretty much fighting over her while she is stuck in a tournament in which she is expected to fight to the death in order to win the thing. Can you really blame me for drawing that parallel?

I think that was the main reason I didn't love Throne of Glass. There is plenty of potential and I can honestly say that I understand why it's getting rave reviews everywhere. Perhaps it's more of a "It's not you, it's me"-thing. I don't know. I do know that since finishing it, I'm unsure if I want to start Crown of Midnight. Pretty much everyone I tell this, tell me that book 2 is "even better" than book 1. But I'm torn. Because I was also promised to love the first book, and I found it to be just okay. But hey, I already own it, so maybe when I'm feeling adventurous, I'll pull if off its shelf, dust it off, and give it a shot anyway.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Review: On the Fence by Kasie West

On the Fence by Kasie West
Published: July 1st, 2014 (HarperTeen)
Pages: 296
Source: ARC for review via Edelweiss
Series: none
Buy the book: Bookdepository
Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

For sixteen-year-old Charlotte Reynolds, aka Charlie, being raised by a single dad and three older brothers has its perks. She can outrun, outscore, and outwit every boy she knows—including her longtime neighbor and honorary fourth brother, Braden. But when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn't know the first thing about anything. So when she starts working at chichi boutique to pay off a speeding ticket, she finds herself in a strange new world of makeup, lacy skirts, and BeDazzlers. Even stranger, she's spending time with a boy who has never seen her tear it up in a pickup game.

To cope with the stress of faking her way through this new reality, Charlie seeks late-night refuge in her backyard, talking out her problems with Braden by the fence that separates them. But their Fence Chats can't solve Charlie's biggest problem: she's falling for Braden. Hard. She knows what it means to go for the win, but if spilling her secret means losing him for good, the stakes just got too high.

Okay. Okay. I need to calm myself a bit. Or maybe I won't and I'll fangirl all over the place. Yes. Yes, I think I'm picking the latter. Because listen people THIS IS BANTERFLUFF TO PERFECTION. This book. These feels! ZOMG. So many feels while I read this on the train from Harwich to London. Within a few pages I already knew I was falling in love with On the Fence.

If it wasn't already completely obvious, Kasie West is an expert at writing chemistry. I was shipping the ship before the ship was visible at the horizon. West knows how to create characters, how to give them their own distinct personas and also knows how to write them realistically. I loved how she wrote Charlie's brothers and managed to give each of them their own personality and little quirks. They were their own individual without being just "one of the brothers" and I loved that. I *loved* their interactions with eachother, with Charlie, and of course, with Braden. SO MUCH BANTER I CAN'T EVEN. Gods, this was right up my alley. I loved those half-teasing remarks they shot at eachother. Gah.

The romance.. Oh my. The romance is so awesome and I loved it. Braden and Charlie have known each other for so long and I totally understand why it's so hard for both of them to let themselves fall in love. But man, the teasing, how they acted around eachother, I could practically feel the chemistry radiating from the pages. I loved how their relationship developed with the help of the Fence Chats and how we get to see Charlie going through all of her feelings for Braden while for the first time feeling like a girlygirl (which had me giggling several times, just so you know). It took Charlie a while to figure everything out but this was executed so wonderfully that I didn't even mind that it took her an eternity to realise that he likes her.

I could go on and on, raving about the awesome of this book, but it really is something you need to experience yourself. West is able to translate the story into words that make you feel all the feels. When I finished reading this book, I actually really sighed and held my kindle to my chest. Nuff said, right?

Friday, January 2, 2015

Review: The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
Published: September 20th, 2011 (Greenwillow)
Pages: 432
Source: ARC via Netgalley
Other: Fire and Thorns, #1
Buy the book: Bookdepository
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.

Elisa is the chosen one.

But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can’t see how she ever will.

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he’s not the only one who needs her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do.
It took me almost 3 years to finally read this one.. Which is weird, because I was incredibly excited when this first came out. I'm pretty sure all the books are published now, so.. Yeah. Late to the party. But hey, I read this book while I was in London, enjoying the English sunshine in one of the parks. And while it didn't really blow me away, I liked it enough to actually finish the entire book.

First up, I think maybe my expectations for this book were a bit too high. I'd heard so many people raving about this series as a whole, and maybe that caused my expectations to sky-rocket. Perhaps if it hadn't been hyped up that much, I would've enjoyed it more -- with a more realistic approach. But as it is, that was not the situation. So here are my thoughts.

The good: I love how Carson does not baby her characters. She doesn't pare them in the slightest and dares to take risks. The pacing of the story is pretty much perfect. It never gets boring, or slow, or held up by info-dumps (I'm looking at you, Stormdancer). She really knows how to keep the story going and I think that is the main strength of the book. Everyone who knows me knows how easy it is for me to give up on a book, or to take over a month to read a particular book just because I can't get past the massive backstory.. Anyhoo, I really enjoyed that. I also enjoyed that she made Elisa different, as in she made her a big girl, even though that didn't influence the story whatsoever because she lost the weight while travelling *HEADDESK*. I mean, why? There's the opportunity to make this big girl a fierce character, to make her different, but in the end she's pretty much the same as all other female characters in fantasy series (at least as far as appearance goes). I would have liked Carson to use that element of Elisa's character a bit more, but alas.

The bad: while it never actually gets boring, there are several times where I was wondering when something would actually happen, as I felt like the story was just going along without any ups and downs. In Dutch we call this "kabbelen", but for the life of me I can't think of a way to describe what I mean in English. I mean, the story is just there, not being exciting or whatever so I guess that made me a bit bored at times (so maybe it did get boring). While I felt the pacing was awesome, the story never managed to hook me properly to blow me away like it did with several of my friends.

As for the love interests.. My answer to that is "eh". I'm pretty much indifferent to both of them, seeing as there is nothing to make me root for one or the other. I need banter! I need chemistry! Man, I need something to get me going. But no. A missed opportunity, if you ask me.

So.. Those are my incoherent thoughts on The Girl of Fire and Thorns. Perhaps it's best for me to say I thought it was mediocre. When I finished the book, I was convinced that I wasn't going to continue the series, but now that I think about it I think Carson may be able to fix the things I didn't like in book 2? She has one of the most important things down, which is the storytelling itself. I'm still conflicted. Most of my friends absolutely love this book and the rest of the series, so I seem to be an exception in not fangirling about my reading experience :-)

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year! Some New Year's Resolutions

Happy New Year everyone! May 2015 be filled with love, health, happiness and good books.

As per usual, I list some reading resolutions for the new year. While coming up with these, I always intend to reach my goals but if you know me, you know I'm the worst at sticking to things.. But hey, it won't happen if you don't try so here goes nothing :)

Keep reading -- goal: 50 books
To see how this goal is going, you can also check out my Goodreads (that will probably give you a more accurate idea of how I'm doing). Last year I initially set out to read 70 books but I got nowhere near that amount and I adjusted my goal during the year. I don't want to do that this year so I'm going for 50 books!

Classics -- goal: 5 books
This will probably be the biggest fail of a challenge in the history of challenges AGAIN, but since I really want to venture out more, I'll leave this on here. I don't expect much progress, though the book club plans a classics month. That'll be one down!

Read more sequels -- goal: finish 10 series
The amount of series I have not finished yet is ridiculous. I must be in the middle of about 15 series in which I only need to read the last book, but somehow haven't done that. I'm determined to change this.

Read more standalones -- goal: 15 books
There are so many series, it's easy to overlook the standalones! To make sure I don't get sucked into a tsunami of series, I intend to read at least 15 standalones this year. Preferably fluffy ones. Or exciting ones. As long as they are awesome, I'm game.

Read your own books -- goal: 20 books
I came up with this goal when I was swimming in review books. I still have quite a lot, but I've also noticed that I tend to not read books I buy. So I've bought a ton of amazing books in 2013 that I haven't read yet, and I want to do something about it. So in 2014, I'm reading 20 books I own as of January 1st, 2014.

Support the debuts -- goal: 10 books
I haven't really done anything in terms of debut challenges last year, but I've missed it so I'm reintroducing this goal.

Read the eGalleys 
I don't have an exact amount of eGalleys I want to read but I'm terrible at reading my eArcs. I have so many on my kindle yet I never seem to read them. I got to reading some old eGalleys while I was in London last year, so maybe I can tackle some of my 'backlist' of galleys this year. I need to work on my NetGalley percentage!

So these are my goals for 2015 :) They'll be on a separate page for easy access so I can hopefully add books to all the goals and reach them before the year is over.

Now I'm curious; what are some of your goals?

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