Friday, February 24, 2017

The Friday 56 (95) & Book Beginnings: Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi

The Friday 56 is a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice where every Friday you pick a book and turn to page 56 or 56%, and select a sentence or a few, as long as it's not a spoiler. For the full rules, visit the the page HERE
Book Beginnings is a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader that asks you to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you're reading.
28110143Synopsis from Goodreads...

A captivating and colorful adventure that reads like a modern day fairy tale, from the bestselling author of the Shatter Me series...

Inspired by her childhood love of books like The Secret Garden and The Chronicles of Narnia, bestselling author Tahereh Mafi crafts a spellbinding new world where color is currency, adventure is inevitable, and friendship is found in the most unexpected places...

There are only three things that matter to twelve-year-old Alice Alexis Queensmeadow: Mother, who wouldn’t miss her; magic and color, which seem to elude her; and Father, who always loved her. The day Father disappears from Ferenwood he takes nothing but a ruler with him. But it’s been almost three years since then, and Alice is determined to find him. She loves her father even more than she loves adventure, and she’s about to embark on one to find the other.

But bringing Father home is no small matter. In order to find him she’ll have to travel through the mythical, dangerous land of Furthermore, where down can be up, paper is alive, and left can be both right and very, very wrong. It will take all of Alice's wits (and every limb she's got) to find Father and return home to Ferenwood in one piece. On her quest to find Father, Alice must first find herself—and hold fast to the magic of love in the face of loss...
Beginnings: "The sun was raining again. Soft and bright, rainlight fell through the sky, each drop tearing a neat hole in the season."

56: "But the simple reason no one every left Ferenwood for long was that Ferenwood folk needed magic to survive."
Comments: The beginning is a perfect example of the writing in this book. It was very descriptive and the scenery was colorful and creative. I was actually surprised by how much I enjoyed Furthermore. I wasn't much of a fan of Shatter Me, but now I kind of want to go back and read the last two books in the series.

What are you reading this week?

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Review: A Dash of Magic by Kathryn Littlewood

A Dash of Magic (The Bliss Bakery, #2)Title: A Dash of Magic
Author: Kathryn Littlewood
Source/Format: Purchased; Paperback
More Details: Middle Grade; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Katherine Tegen Books; February 12, 2013 

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

This second helping in Kathryn Littlewood's Bliss series combines hilarious magic and daring adventure to make one delectable reading treat...

Rosemary Bliss will do anything to get back her family's magical Cookery Booke. That's why she challenges Aunt Lily to an international baking competition in Paris: If Rose wins, Lily agrees to return the cookery Booke that she stole. If Rose loses...well, the consequences are too ugly to think about. But Lily isn't playing fair--she's using a magical ingredient to cheat. The only way for Rose to compete is for her to find magical ingredients of her own. Together with her long-lost grandpa, his sarcastic talking cat, and a turncoat French mouse, Rose and her brothers race around Paris to find essential--and elusive--magical ingredients that will help her outbake--and outmagic--her conniving aunt. She has to win or the Bliss Cookery Booke will be lost to her family forever...
A Dash of Magic picks up shortly after Bliss left off. After the theft of the Cookery Booke, the Bliss family had to make some changes, and their home town seemed worse-off because of it. The contrast to what the town was before and what it was presently in A Dash of Magic, really did kind of set-up part of the characters motivation for trying so hard to get the Cookery Booke back. That was honestly great. I loved that about the story. I enjoyed the fact that the characters were so motivated to do what they thought was right and that it wouldn’t only benefit them but most everyone around them.

The sense of family was great. I liked how involved the parents and Rosemary’s siblings were. I also liked how more of the Bliss family was included. It was interesting to see how Rosemary’s “long-lost grandpa” ran his bakery. On the other hand, Lily was a manipulative character. She was also selfish and power-hungry, contradicting her earlier claims. Those were the things I was kind of expecting from her character given her antagonistic role in the story.

The cooking and the magic were fantastic and happened to be what I liked most about A Dash of Magic. I still like the idea of having the ingredients being a source of magic. Part of the process was collecting those special ingredients, and the methods that the characters employed to do just that were pretty creative. It was just a really cool idea.

Like Bliss, I had one main problem with this story. This is kind of a pet peeve of mine, but I hate it when a character has no confidence in their obvious capabilities. They constantly reiterate that they can’t do something while actually doing it. Not just doing the thing they say they can’t, but also excelling at. Really, in this one, Rosemary falls prey to this mindset. The first time she says it, I can honestly understand and relate, because she, at that moment, fully realized the magnitude of the task that she had undertaken. However, after the second time, the third, and the fourth time these doubts were brought up, it got kind of repetitive.

Other than that one issue, A Dash of Magic wasn’t a bad story. Unfortunately, I’ve reached the end of the books I currently have for this series, but I would be open to reading the next installment.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Musing Mondays (67) Favorite Types of Book Covers + Random Weekly Questions

  • Musing Mondays is a weekly meme hosted by Ambrosia at The Purple Booker that asks you to muse about something book related each week. 
My musings for the week...

I'm going to start out by answering some of the random weekly questions that I missed, before moving on to the rest of my musings for today.

Do you try out genres you have not liked in the past once in a while just to see if your taste changed?

Actually, I'm doing this more often now than I did when I first started blogging. There were some genres that I just avoided, but going back to them now has been a different experience. It's a clear indication that my reading tastes have slightly changed over the years. I'm reading more contemporary than I used to, and so far, its going pretty well. I've found a lot of books that I ended up enjoying more than I thought I would. I would have never found those books if I hadn't been willing to go back and try contemporary again.

If you could travel to one place you’ve read about in a book, what place would you visit and what book was it from?

When I first saw this questions I literally had no idea what answer to write, because a lot of the places I read about are ones I wouldn’t actually visit. However, when I went back through some of my favorite books, the answer became kind of obvious. I would visit the world from Finding Serendipity, specifically, the land where stories come from. I mean, just think how cool it would be to actually be able to visit the characters from your own story and physically go on an adventure with them, only to turn that into a story later. What’s not to like about that? Plus, the method of how to get to that place is pretty cool in itself.
Other Musings...

Instead of talking about the book I’m currently reading, I wanted to write up a small post about my favorite types of book covers. I didn’t feel like I had enough to say about this subject to make a full discussion post about it, so, I thought I’d use it for Musing Mondays instead. This is going to be a list.

Now, I don’t judge books based off of their covers, but that doesn’t stop me from appreciating them. So, what are my favorite types of book covers? Honestly, I have my favorite types. But then, who doesn’t? It doesn’t matter if there’s a mountain or dog, or a girl in a dress, or a dragon. As long as it looks nice, there's some obvious creativity and thought put into it, and the color combinations are awesome, chances are, I’ll probably like it anyway. So, without further ado, here are my top 7 favorite types of book covers…
  1. The illustrated ones: Clearly, I’m a sucker for animated things. Some of my favorite movies have been animated—along the lines of Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle. So, it should come as no surprise that I really like illustrated covers.
  2. It’s all about that scenery: While I like elaborate covers, I will also take something that is more simplistic, and that includes covers that deal with scenery. That can be anything from a landmark to a door, as long as its architecture of some kind or a landscape.
  3. The cover that is a showcase for a face: There have been no shortages of faces on covers, but I have to admit that some of them are just so beautiful that I don’t even care how many times it’s been done before.
  4. The “You’re so sci-fi”: This one is another favorite. Whenever I read sci-fi books I also like the technology. It’s one of the reasons why I actually read that genre. So, it’s also cool when the cover reflects the story and actually has one of the ships or any of the technology front and center. I'm all for it. 
  5. Obviously, fantasy: Fantasy is one of my favorite genre’s to read, and a lot of the covers are as cool as the story. I also like covers that put the genre on obvious display. 
  6. Minimalist: There's just something that I find gorgeous about minimalist designs. I think it's the clean, straight forwardness that gets me every time. Sometimes, I like the simpler ones better than any of the others. 
  7. Silhouettes are a thing: This one might be last on my list for today, but I  really like this style a lot. Silhouettes, whether black or white, look great against other brighter colors. The same could also be said for colors like gray, blue, even yellow, as long as the background color contrasts in a good way.
So, that’s it for today. What are some of your favorite book covers?

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Friday 56 (94) & Book Beginnings: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

The Friday 56 is a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice where every Friday you pick a book and turn to page 56 or 56%, and select a sentence or a few, as long as it's not a spoiler. For the full rules, visit the the page HERE
Book Beginnings is a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader that asks you to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you're reading.
21414439Synopsis from Goodreads...

In a continent on the edge of war, two witches hold its fate in their hands. Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home. Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she's a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden - lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult's true powers are hidden even from herself. In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls' heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch...
Beginnings: "Everything had gone horribly wrong. None of Safiya fon Hasstrel's hastily laid plans for this holdup were unfolding as the ought."

56: "Once Iseult felt certain that her hair was sufficiently covered, her face sufficiently shaded, and her sleeves sufficiently low enough to hide her pale skin, she reached for Safi's Threads so she could find her Threadsister among the crowds."
Comments: The opening sentence doesn't say much about what happened in the following scene, but the beginning was just alright. That's basically how I felt about Truthwitch. There wasn't anything particularly bad about the story, but it was just an average read for me. What about you? Have you recently read any books that you didn't like as much as you thought you would?

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey

The Girl at Midnight (The Girl at Midnight, #1)Title: The Girl at Midnight
Author: Melissa Grey
Source/Format: Borrowed from the Library; Hardcover
More Details: Young Adult; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Delacorte Press; April 28, 2015

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Magic lives in our darkest corners...

Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she’s ever known. Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she’s fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it’s time to act. Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, though if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it’s how to hunt down what she wants…and how to take it. But some jobs aren’t as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire...
Yo, this is one of those books I’ve been hearing about for what seems like forever. At first glance, The Girl at Midnight sounded like a book I was almost guaranteed to enjoy, but it just didn’t work out that way. This story had its great moments, but overall, it was just an average read for me.

There was nothing particularly bad about The Girl at Midnight, but I wasn’t very surprised by the story. That was really the biggest problem I had with this book. There were a lot of things that I personally found predictable about how the story actually did turn out, just based off of incredibly early foreshadowing. In some ways, the story strongly reminded me of Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and the magic and characters' backstories seemed similar to things I’ve already read.

There were a lot of perspectives that showed the different sides of the story from perspectives outside of Echo’s. One thing I did like about this book was the dialogue. The conversations that happened between the characters were especially great, and some of the internal monologue turned out to be relatively entertaining. So, in that regard, The Girl at Midnight nailed it.

Echo was a mystery, and by the end of the book I still didn’t know very much about her character. There were hints about her circumstances, but the book focused on her interactions with the Avicen that she considered family and the role she played in their war. The synopsis describes her as a pickpocket, brash but fiercely loyal, and that about sums up Echo in a nutshell. I did like Echo’s friend a lot, she was a great character, and I particularly enjoyed the interactions between the two. Their conversations were nice, and they just seemed like good friends. I do have a lot of thoughts about the love interests, but that would be a lot to unpack in this review. I will say that they were just alright, but I didn’t really prefer either of them.

I’m still kind of conflicted about this story. I liked it, and there were some great moments. However, I just don’t know if I want to continue on with this series. Of course, that decision has to be mine, but I need more time to really think about it. I might wait till the third book comes out and then make a decision.
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