Monday, September 1, 2014

ReRead–Favorite Quotes: Shadow and Bone (Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo

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I’ve been rereading the first two books in the Grisha trilogy because I can’t wait to start Ruin and Rising, but I forgot a lot of the details, especially from the second book. I highlighted tons of awesome quotes during my reread. I absolutely LOVE this trilogy!

The Darkling
*swoon*
 
 
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“I hope you don’t expect fairness from me, Alina. It isn’t one of my specialties.”


“I’ve been waiting for you a long time, Alina,” he said. “You and I are going to change the world.”


“Alina, if I tell you that I still believe we can find the stag, would you think I’m mad?” “Why would you care what I think?” He looked genuinely baffled. “I don’t know,” he said. “But I do.” And then he kissed me.


The moment his lips met mine, the connection between us opened and I felt his power flood through me. I could feel how much he wanted me—but behind that desire, I could feel something else, something that felt like anger. I drew back, startled. “You don’t want to be doing this.” “This is the only thing I want to be doing,” he growled, and I could hear the bitterness and desire all tangled up in his voice. “And you hate that,” I said with a sudden flash of comprehension. He sighed and leaned against me, brushing my hair back from my neck. “Maybe I do,” he murmured, his lips grazing my ear, my throat, my collarbone.


“The problem with wanting,” he whispered, his mouth trailing along my jaw until it hovered over my lips, “is that it makes us weak.”


He slumped back in his chair. “Fine,” he said with a weary shrug. “Make me your villain.”


Then the smile disappeared, replaced by something I didn’t recognize, something that looked almost like longing. “Mercy.” He said the word as if he were tasting something unfamiliar. “I could be merciful.” He raised his other hand to cup my face and kissed me softly, gently, and though everything in me rebelled, I let him. I hated him. I feared him. But still I felt the strange tug of his power, and I couldn’t stop the hungry response of my own treacherous heart.


This is the truth of him, I thought as I squinted in the dazzling light. Like calls to like. This was his soul made flesh, the truth of him laid bare in the blazing sun, shorn of mystery and shadow.
Other Quotes – Training to be Grisha
The grounding principle of the Small Science was “like calls to like,” but then it got complicated. Odinakovost was the “thisness” of a thing that made it the same as everything else. Etovost was the “thatness” of a thing that made it different from everything else. Odinakovost connected Grisha to the world, but it was etovost that gave them an affinity for something like air, or blood, or in my case, light.


the word the philosophers used to describe people born without Grisha gifts, otkazat’sya, “the abandoned.” It was another word for orphan.


“Why can a Grisha possess but one amplifier? I will answer this question instead: What is infinite? The universe and the greed of men.”


What else do you have to do with your days? Make maps? Fetch inks for some old cartographer?” “There’s nothing wrong with being a mapmaker.” “Of course not. And there’s nothing wrong with being a lizard either. Unless you were born to be a hawk.


Do you ask your heart to beat or your lungs to breathe? Your power serves you because that is its purpose, because it cannot help but serve you.


“Not good enough!” “I’m doing my best,” I muttered in exasperation. “Pah!” she spat. “Do you think the world cares if you do your best? Do it again and do it right.”

Yeah, there are no Mal quotes because I don’t like him. I don’t care if he’s the not evil love interest. I feel like he tries to make Alina something she's not and makes her hide her powers. Obviously, he's not manipulating her powers like The Darkling, but.. well... I just can't help myself. The Darkling is one of my favorite villians and I’m still rooting for him. I don't even care if he's evil!
#TeamDarkling

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Review–The Strain (The Strain #1) by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan

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The Strain (The Strain Trilogy #1)
 
by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan
 
Summary: A Boeing 777 arrives at JFK and is on its way across the tarmac, when it suddenly stops dead. All window shades are pulled down. All lights are out. All communication channels have gone quiet. Crews on the ground are lost for answers, but an alert goes out to the CDC. Dr. Ephraim "Eph" Goodweather, head of their Canary project, a rapid-response team that investigates biological threats, gets the call and boards the plane. What he finds makes his blood run cold.
In a pawnshop in Spanish Harlem, a former professor and survivor of the Holocaust named Abraham Setrakian knows something is happening. And he knows the time has come, that a war is brewing.
So begins a battle of mammoth proportions as the vampiric virus that has infected New York begins to spill out into the streets. Eph, who is joined by Setrakian and a motley crew of fighters, must now find a way to stop the contagion and save his city - a city that includes his wife and son - before it is too late.


Source: I purchased a paperback.

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Review:

When I started seeing previews on FX for the TV show, I knew I would have to pick up the books. Vampire horror is one of my favorite genres and the book reviews compared it to The Passage, which was one of my favorite vampire apocalyptic horror novels. I watched the first few episodes and rushed out to my local Barnes and Nobles for the books.

The Strain was interesting and I am highly invested in the plot. I loved seeing the few fight for the fate of the world while humans were being turned into terrifying creatures. I loved that the vampires were ancient and part of legend, but their behavior and the way they created more vampires behaved like a virus. It merged lore with science in many ways and I enjoyed it, especially since the main character was part of the CDC. I also liked the unique aspects of the vampires that we haven’t seen before in vampire fiction, like their giant stinger contraption, the white blood, and the worms. It turns terrifying vampires into something a little more realistic and scary when it has aspects of a pathogen.

I loved what was happening on each page and I absolutely love the TV show. However, I thought the novel was lacking in many ways. The writing wasn’t very good at all, nor was the dialogue. I prefer the dialogue in the show and seeing the scenes coming to life. In the book, the scenes were lacking and the writing was mostly telling instead of showing. The authors used short and sweet sentences with straightforward descriptions. While occasionally descriptive, as a whole, the writing didn’t portray the horrors as well as it could have. I am very happy that The Strain has become a television show because it seems to me that it’s working better as a show. It was difficult to continue the book because the writing was so mediocre and straightforward and the plot went along with the show pretty well, so I wasn’t experiencing many differences to make reading worthwhile.

I feel like the story was originally supposed to be visual (like a TV show or a movie) and the novelization was never intended. It just didn’t read like a great book, yet the plot and characters appealed to me. It was frustrating. I’m glad I am watching the show in order to enjoy the story in the format it is suited for. I think a good vampire horror novel should excel in writing and that was one of the things I loved most about The Passage by Justin Cronin and all of Stephen King’s novels. Neither author writes the most amazing novels ever, nor are they necessarily poetic, but they do a wonderful job of capturing the horror of whatever situation and that’s where Del Toro and Hogan fell short.

I regret having purchased the other two novels in the trilogy. I will probably read them just to find out what happens next, but I am not eager to continue right now. I recommend the story, but not necessarily the books. The TV show is wonderful and so far, it’s basically the same.

3%2520star

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Review–Pawn (The Blackcoat Rebellion #1) by Aimee Carter

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Pawn (The Blackcoat Rebellion #1)
 
by Aimee Carter
 
Summary: YOU CAN BE A VII. IF YOU GIVE UP EVERYTHING.
For Kitty Doe, it seems like an easy choice. She can either spend her life as a III in misery, looked down upon by the higher ranks and forced to leave the people she loves, or she can become a VII and join the most powerful family in the country.
If she says yes, Kitty will be Masked—surgically transformed into Lila Hart, the Prime Minister's niece, who died under mysterious circumstances. As a member of the Hart family, she will be famous. She will be adored. And for the first time, she will matter.
There's only one catch. She must also stop the rebellion that Lila secretly fostered, the same one that got her killed …and one Kitty believes in. Faced with threats, conspiracies and a life that's not her own, she must decide which path to choose—and learn how to become more than a pawn in a twisted game she's only beginning to understand.
Previously titled Masked.


Source: I received a digital copy from NetGalley

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Review:

Pawn was an interesting book with likeable characters. It’s another YA dystopian novel, but it doesn’t suffer from insta-love or love triangles or small characters suddenly becoming important, kick ass, who create rebellions instantly. The character is already in a relationship when the book begins and she doesn’t change her mind as her life changes. While she became important, it wasn’t because she was suddenly awesome and any rebellions going on were not of her own doing.

The main character, Kitty Doe, ended up having to replace deceased member of the Prime Minister’s family, Lila Hart. While the novel is dystopian in nature, a lot of the conflict took place within family dynamics. There was a rebellion and some of the members of the family seemed to be involved, but the novel was essentially the ins and outs of the Hart family, who were quite vindictive and terrible. The Prime Minister was controlled by his mother. His sister hated him. Lila was his niece, who was torn between pleasing her mom and pleasing her grandmother, who had to control everyone. It was a mess. The Prime Minister was cold and villainous, along with his mother, but his sister wasn’t much better with her eagerness for revenge.

I had my doubts about the novel because I think the genre has been exhausted and many of the same ideas are being recycled and I assumed this would be another forgettable book. I also expected much more of a love triangle, what with Lila Hart being engaged to another person and Kitty already being in a relationship. The pieces were all there, but it never went in that direction, which was a relief. I also had my doubts about a novel where the main character’s name was Kitty Doe. (Seriously? Why do YA characters have to have such terrible names?)

Pawn was surprisingly good, and while it didn’t really stand out as the best dystopian book I’ve read this year, it was better than I thought and I’m interested enough to continue the series. Although, I feel like future installments will probably create those love conflicts I was talking about. (Which would be fine, because I actually didn’t care for Kitty’s boyfriend and thought Lila’s fiance was intriguing.) Not much happened in regards to the world outside of the family, so I think future books will explore the dynamics of the world a bit more.

4%2520star

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Review–The Immortal Crown (Age of X #2) by Richelle Mead

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The Immortal Crown (Age of X #2)
 
by Richelle Mead
 
Summary: The #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Vampire Academy and Bloodline series returns with the second installment in her acclaimed Age of X series.
Gameboard of the Gods introduced religious investigator Justin March and Mae Koskinen, the beautiful supersoldier assigned to protect him. Together they have been charged with investigating reports of the supernatural and the return of the gods, both inside the Republic of United North America and out. With this highly classified knowledge comes a shocking revelation: Not only are the gods vying for human control, but the elect—special humans marked by the divine—are turning against one another in bloody fashion.
Their mission takes a new twist when they are assigned to a diplomatic delegation headed by Lucian Darling, Justin’s old friend and rival, going into Arcadia, the RUNA’s dangerous neighboring country. Here, in a society where women are commodities and religion is intertwined with government, Justin discovers powerful forces at work, even as he struggles to come to terms with his own reluctantly acquired deity.
Meanwhile, Mae—grudgingly posing as Justin’s concubine—has a secret mission of her own: finding the illegitimate niece her family smuggled away years ago. But with Justin and Mae resisting the resurgence of the gods in Arcadia, a reporter’s connection with someone close to Justin back home threatens to expose their mission—and with it the divine forces the government is determined to keep secret.


Source: I received a copy from NetGalley

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Review:

The Immortal Crown began much better than Gameboard of the Gods. It did a good job summarizing the events of the first book instead of just throwing me into the story. This time, Mae and Justin ended up working well as a team, despite their remaining tension. Justin was able to convince Mae of the truth, which made her much more open minded. I liked the direction of The Immortal Crown and the fact that both of the main characters were accepting of the new direction instead of fighting the existence of the gods working in the world.

The story took place mostly in Arcadia, where Justin and Mae were sent with senator Lucian. Arcadia was a different and backwards place, which created difficult situations, especially for Mae, since she was a woman. I liked the conflict and difficulty the situation created. I felt like some of the things that didn’t add up so much in the first book made more sense and the plot in The Immortal Crown was much more linear and focused.

Still, The Immortal Crown was a bit boring to read. Lots of things were happening, but I was tired of Arcadia and the situation there. For a book with a bunch of gods vying for attention and followers, showing their powers through the elect, it wasn’t really full of real action. And when it was, I thought too many things ended up being convenient for the characters, especially towards the end. I was quite sure I was not invested in continuing the series for most of the book.

With that being said, I really enjoyed the ending. Finally, some things were uncovered and added twists and turns to the plot. I sense the future installments will have far more god interaction than the early books. I still have issues with the world building, but I think the series, like Mead’s other series, will get better with time.

3%2520star

Monday, August 25, 2014

Scrapbooking

 
 
 
I've decided to try scrapbooking.
 
It's one of those things I've never done, would be super great at (since I love collages and paper crafts), but I've always thought it was so.. overrated and expensive. Now that it seems like less and less people are still hanging onto the scrapbooking bandwagon, I feel like I can finally do it while everyone else gets into.. whatever it is that's cool now. (Scentsy and Wraps, I guess.)
 
My husband helped me pick out a book and some paper to start on a wedding album, since that seems like a logical place to start. (Isn't he sweet?)

 
Some of the Paper I picked out for the scrapbook

 
The stickers I chose
 
I'm kind of excited to get started.
 
I'll need to think of some great book quotes to throw in there!
 
 
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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Review–Gameboard of the Gods (Age of X #1) by Richelle Mead

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Gameboard of the Gods (Age of X #1)
 
by Richelle Mead
 
Summary: In a futuristic world nearly destroyed by religious extremists, Justin March lives in exile after failing in his job as an investigator of religious groups and supernatural claims. But Justin is given a second chance when Mae Koskinen comes to bring him back to the Republic of United North America (RUNA). Raised in an aristocratic caste, Mae is now a member of the military’s most elite and terrifying tier, a soldier with enhanced reflexes and skills.
When Justin and Mae are assigned to work together to solve a string of ritualistic murders, they soon realize that their discoveries have exposed them to terrible danger. As their investigation races forward, unknown enemies and powers greater than they can imagine are gathering in the shadows, ready to reclaim the world in which humans are merely game pieces on their board.
Gameboard of the Gods, the first installment of Richelle Mead’s Age of X series, will have all the elements that have made her YA Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series such megasuccesses: sexy, irresistible characters; romantic and mythological intrigue; and relentless action and suspense.


Source: I received a digital copy from NetGalley

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Review:

Gameboard of the Gods was a unique and futuristic story that was bound to be awesome. I have read and enjoyed Mead’s YA series, Vampire Academy, so I had high hopes for Gameboard of the Gods. I waited until I was absolutely in the mood for a futuristic type of setting to read it.

This was the third first book/beginning to a series from the author I’ve read. And I’ve noticed something. I don’t think the author knows how to begin a novel and build the world in the way that most first books and beginnings do. Instead, every time I pick up a first book of hers, I have to look to make sure it is the first book and not a later installment. There’s never any beginning and I’m always thrown right into a story and I feel like I’m supposed to know the characters already. It drives me crazy and it takes me at least the first quarter of any of her novels to have any idea what is going on. Gameboard of the Gods was the same way. I learned more from the synopsis than I did from the actual novel about how the world was set up. There is literally no beginning at all. Justin has full on conversations with named characters who aren't in the same room and it isn't until much later that it's even revealed that the two characters are ravens inside of his head. Could the author have at least.. explained that?

I managed to keep my head up through the “beginning” and slowly figure out who the characters were, what their issues were, and what type of setting I was in. Mae was a soldier for the new world who ended up guarding a man named Justin March, who was exiled from society and offered a chance to come back, provided he solve a murder. His job was to explore religious and supernatural claims and report to the government to assess the threat whatever cult or group was to society. The setting was something completely alien to the world we live in now due to a collapse caused by religious extremism. The new world was atheistic and the citizens were mainly loyal to one cause: the country. Regions outside of the RUNA were savage and full of mysticism, but inside the RUNA, things were very orderly.

Despite the fact that religion and antireligion were essential to the setting, the novel didn’t really explore any sort of effects or philosophical aspects of the new world. It wasn’t a cautionary tale about belief or even a dystopia in which a government oppresses the masses. Even though the right factors were in place to create that kind of story, it didn’t go in that direction at all. Instead, the supernatural elements manifested in the form of minor gods and goddesses. Ravens followed Justin March while he actively resisted the claim of a god on his soul. Cults aligned with Greek, Roman, Celtic, and even Nordic figures. The religious elements of the story were mythological in nature.

I liked where the plot went with the mythological elements and the idea that minor gods and goddesses were vying for humans in the same way that humans were (and perhaps still are) enamored by the concept of otherworldliness. I definitely grasped the concept of the RUNA doing away with religion (and replacing it with the society as a whole, since that's certainly beneficial to their own means). What I didn't grasp was the racial purity vs equality issue. If cultural separatism and religious fundamentalism caused the problems that lead to the new society, I did not understand why there was so much separatism still in the world. Outside the RUNA, inhabitants were classed a certain way. The soldiers were separated from the normal world. Each person's heritage was emphasized on just about every page. Some people were even motivated to mess with genetics in order to produce a perfect child who was genetically pure. Somehow, that doesn't mesh with a society that has came about to do away with separatism. I hope the disconnect is explored later and it doesn't turn out that the story makes absolutely no sense.

Like Mead’s other novels, despite having a pretty cool premise, much of the story is focused on interactions between characters. Mae is a bit like Rose in that she is fierce, kick ass, and in charge of guarding someone, but a lot less… shallow and immature. Justin was an arrogant and charming man who had the ability to read people and sniff out lies. Both of them infuriated each other on a regular basis, mainly because of their own chemistry. And both had interesting backstories that came together in the book and became essential to the plot.

I enjoyed Gameboard of the Gods, but it was not as spectacular as I’d hoped. I will continue the series and see what happens next, especially now that I’ve got my bearings. I know the Vampire Academy series frustrated me with the first book and once I was comfortable with the setting and characters, it was much easier to enjoy the series. I just wish the beginnings were better.

3%2520star

Friday, August 22, 2014

Review–Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott

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Heartbeat
 
by Elizabeth Scott
 
Summary: Life. Death. And...Love?
Emma would give anything to talk to her mother one last time. Tell her about her slipping grades, her anger with her stepfather, and the boy with the bad reputation who might be the only one Emma can be herself with.
But Emma can't tell her mother anything. Because her mother is brain-dead and being kept alive by machines for the baby growing inside her.
Meeting bad-boy Caleb Harrison wouldn't have interested Old Emma. But New Emma-the one who exists in a fog of grief, who no longer cares about school, whose only social outlet is her best friend Olivia-New Emma is startled by the connection she and Caleb forge.
Feeling her own heart beat again wakes Emma from the grief that has grayed her existence. Is there hope for life after death-and maybe, for love?


Source: I received a copy from NetGalley

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Review:

Heartbeat was fantastic. I enjoyed the unique premise, the mix of strong emotions going through Emma, and the way her relationship with Caleb blossomed through grief. I do want to warn people that the novel is extremely depressing throughout most of it. It’s a novel about dealing with grief and loss, along with the nasty rage and frustration that comes with it. It doesn’t try to be funny or quirky about it and the writing reflects Emma’s emotions quite well. It can be a real downer to read if you’re easily swept up by the emotions of a narrator. It was very good and worth the read, but I'd hate to see negative reviews of it due to not being in the right mindset for the book.

I loved the way Emma narrated. While her situation was unlike anything I could even pretend to relate to, I felt like maybe I understood her. I was a teenager when my mom and stepdad were having a baby and I remember the rage I felt about being replaced or swept to the side and Emma felt that way about her stepfather. I understand the way that anger, jealousy, misunderstanding, and stubbornness affects teenagers because I was one and I thought the author did a wonderful job with conveying Emma’s emotions.

I knew Emma’s view was probably warped by her own tunnel vision and perspective, but her view wasn’t farfetched. She wasn’t overreacting so much as forgetting about other perspectives, which I thought was pretty believable. I was captivated by her pain and rage. When she crossed paths with Caleb, they both shared understanding of loss and grief and anger and immediately connected. I loved watching them grow with each other and find solace with each other.

When you go through something that is hard for people to really understand, being understood becomes so important. Finding Caleb was exactly what Emma needed in order to finally put things in perspective. It’s like your brain just relaxes once you find someone who understands you and I think that’s what was so beautiful about the story. It was a kind of down and depressing narration, but it was hauntingly honest and beautiful.

“He looks at me like I am beautiful, and when he does, I am.”
5%2520star