Monday, December 21, 2015

The Books of 2015

Since the year is almost over, it’s about time to look back on the year, specifically, the books. This post is going to focus on all of the books I liked and reviewed this year, give or take a few.

It’s always nice to discover a new book that ends up being a favorite. Last year, I more hesitant to step out of my comfort zone, and while I did find new authors, it wasn’t that many. But this year, I’ve tried to do better and give more books a try. On the other hand, it was also nice to keep up with series/trilogies by author’s I was already familiar with.

New favorites…

  • A.G. Howard: I enjoyed Howard’s take on Wonderland, and though I had a few issues with Splintered, I really enjoyed it.
  • Megan Shephard: I had the Madman’s Daughter on my shelf for a long time, and it was only during 2015 that I finally got around to reading it. The book was fantastic and Shephard’s writing style paired nicely with the story.
  • Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff: One word: Illuminae. That book was epic, awesome in so many ways, and I look forward to the next book.
  • Mari Mancusi: Scorched is by far one of my favorite books featuring dragons.
  • Angelica Banks: Finding Serendipity was a ridiculously cute story and I’m really looking forward to the sequel coming out next year.
  • Kim Karalious: Basically the story was cute for the most part and proposed the idea of love going seriously awry with some terrible consequences.
  • Ray Bradbury: His style of writing is absolutely fantastic. The Halloween Tree was a really great story.
  • Brian Selznick: The Invention of Hugo Cabret was just a really lovely book. The illustrations were also fantastic so obviously I will be reading more novels by Selznick.
  • Alexandra Bracken: The Darkest Mind’s trilogy was fantastic and it was kind of nice that I didn’t have to wait for the books to come out (the plus side to waiting so long to start the trilogy).
  • Jennifer Latham: I read Scarlett Undercover earlier in the year and I really liked it.
  • Ryan Graudin: Graudin’s style of writing is easy to get into, and I look forward to reading more of her novels.
  • James Dashner: I had the chance to read the entire trilogyand the last book earlyoverall it was a great series.
  • Sherry Thomas: The Elemental Trilogy is just one of my favorites. I'm glad that I finally got around to reading it.
  • Neil Gaiman: I read Coraline in October and I have to say that I really liked it. There were some differences between the book and the movie. And while I did enjoy the film, the ending to the book was an aspect of the story I liked better.
Review List…
Old favorites…
  • Victoria Schwab: I read the second book to The Archived series, and I liked it.
  • Madeleine L’Engle: For obvious reasons I finished reading A Wind in the Door and A Swiftly Tilting Planet this year. I had the omnibus edition with the first three books, and I liked A Wrinkle in Time. So I was curious to see the next part of the characters story.
  • Stephanie Thomas: I read the second book of her series, Lucidity, and I liked it better than the first.
  • Melissa West: Hover was a good book and I need to eventually read the last novel of the trilogy.
  • Amanda Sun: Rise was just a really good short story and If you have read the series then I recommend checking it out.
Review List…

Friday, December 18, 2015

Quick Announcement...

Because Christmas is just days away, I've decided to take the rest of the year off. There won't be anymore reviews until 2016, but I do have some posts already scheduled to go up, so those ones will be live on the blog. But overall, activity is just going to slow to a crawl. I look forward to just reading and getting back into the swing of things next year. I hope everyone has a great holiday!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Review: The Immortal Heights by Sherry Thomas

The Immortal Heights (The Elemental Trilogy, #3)Title:The Immortal Heights
Author: Sherry Thomas
Source/Format: Won, Hardcover
More Details: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Balzer + Bray, October 13, 2015

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads...

In a pursuit that has spanned continents, Iolanthe, Titus, and their friends have always managed to remain one step ahead of the forces of Atlantis. But now the Bane, the monstrous tyrant who bestrides the entire mage world, has issued his ultimatum: Titus must hand over Iolanthe, or watch as his entire realm is destroyed in a deadly rampage. Running out of time and options, Iolanthe and Titus must act decisively to deliver a final blow to the Bane, ending his reign of terror for good.

However, getting to the Bane means accomplishing the impossible—finding a way to infiltrate his crypt in the deepest recesses of the most ferociously guarded fortress in Atlantis. And everything is only made more difficult when new prophecies come to light, foretelling a doomed effort…

Iolanthe and Titus will put their love and their lives on the line. But will it be enough?

With The Immortal Heights, Sherry Thomas brings the acclaimed Elemental Trilogy to its breathtaking conclusion...
Going into The Immortal Heights I had high expectations—I really liked The Burning Sky and I absolutely loved The Perilous Sea. No worries, because The Immortal Heights was a fantastic end to this trilogy.

The Immortal Heights picked up right where the story left off, opening with a battle that was set up at the end of the previous book. It was an exciting right from the start and continued to be so till the very end. One of the things I enjoyed about this book was the use of prophesies as a major part of the concept. It does use the chosen one trope, but it also stresses the idea that what was seen maybe isn’t exactly what happened. As such, things that were considered fact in book one—things that couldn’t be changed—their meaning was subsequently called into question. Another aspect I enjoyed was the action, there was plenty of it.

All of my favorite characters from books 1 and 2 were back, especially Titus and Iolanthe. This book was the conclusion to their story. Both characters experienced some growth as more about Iolanthe was finally revealed. Basically, the truth about the situation was finally made clear, and I’m glad my questions were answered.

The Bane was just as terrible as the previous books made him out to be. He does finally make a direct appearance in The Immortal Heights, and he was a horrible mage who did things that were just not okay. The entire trilogy revolved around him and Atlantis, so it was nice to see that he got some backstory, even if it just made me despise him more. Besides the whole taking-over-the-world kind of thing, he had another reason for his actions—one I won’t reveal because of spoilers.

The setting was fantastic as always, beginning in the desert before jumping from place to place when the characters needed to move quickly. It was also nice to see some of Atlantis because it had remained as a looming shadow over Titus and Iolanthe. And while it seemed like an ideal place—albeit heavily fortified—there was evidence of persistent problems.

The ending is something I’m a fan of for many different reasons, but I won’t go into anything specifically. It was just really nice.

While I am sad that this series is over, I’m glad to have read it since all three books are now some of my favorites. In light of that, I’m just waiting to see what Sherry Thomas writes next.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Joy of Christmas Book Tag

It’s December so obviously I wanted to participate in The Joy of Christmas Book Tag, created by Novels and Nonsense. It seems like so much fun, plus its pretty festive. Before I get started,  check out the original video HERE. And, don't forget to check out Novels and Nonsense's channel.

Anticipation: The Christmas excitement is real, what book release(s) are you most anticipating?

Well, I’m looking forward to some sequels for books I read this year but a couple of release dates make me tear up—some of them are pretty far away. But I am looking forward to the sequel to Finding Serendipity, A Week Without Tuesday, which isn’t so far away. Also, I’m looking forward to Untamed by A.G. Howard.

Christmas Songs & Carols: What book or author can you not help but sing its praises?

Illuminae—that book was fantastic—but of course there are other ones too.

Gingerbread Houses: What book or series has wonderful world building?

Oh, this is an easy one—The Darkest Mind’s trilogy by Alexandra Bracken. I read the entire trilogy this year and it was fantastic. One of the things I really liked about it was the world building.

A Christmas Carol: Favorite classic or one that you want to read.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass are two of my favorites. Another good one is A Wrinkle in Time.

Christmas Sweets: What book would you love to receive for Christmas?

This question is harder than it looks because I honestly don’t know. But I guess if I had to pick, I would go with Rivals in the City by Y.S. Lee. I have the other three books in the series and I want to get it to see how the story ends.

Candles in the Window: What book gives you that warm fuzzy feeling?

This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith. This story was just cute and it remains as one of my favorite novels.

Christmas Trees & Decorations: What are some of your favorite book covers?

Splintered series has some nice ones. The Archived & The Unbound are also nice. The Burning Sky, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, the entire Spiderwick Chronicles series, Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Days of Blood & Starlight, Gravity & Hover—I could go on forever. So, I’ll just leave it at that.

Christmas Joy: What are some of your favorite things about Christmas and or some of your favorite Christmas memories?

Would it be wrong to say cookies? Ok, I think I need a better answer than that. I enjoy spending time with my family as well as watching classic holiday movies. Decorating the tree is also fun.

As usual, I don’t tag anyone specifically. If you want to participate, go for it. Happy reading!

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Friday 56 (47) The Immortal Heights by Sherry Thomas

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

Synopsis from Goodreads...

In a pursuit that has spanned continents, Iolanthe, Titus, and their friends have always managed to remain one step ahead of the forces of Atlantis. But now the Bane, the monstrous tyrant who bestrides the entire mage world, has issued his ultimatum: Titus must hand over Iolanthe, or watch as his entire realm is destroyed in a deadly rampage. Running out of time and options, Iolanthe and Titus must act decisively to deliver a final blow to the Bane, ending his reign of terror for good.

However, getting to the Bane means accomplishing the impossible—finding a way to infiltrate his crypt in the deepest recesses of the most ferociously guarded fortress in Atlantis. And everything is only made more difficult when new prophecies come to light, foretelling a doomed effort…

Iolanthe and Titus will put their love and their lives on the line. But will it be enough?

With The Immortal Heights, Sherry Thomas brings the acclaimed Elemental Trilogy to its breathtaking conclusion...

The Immortal Heights (The Elemental Trilogy, #3)
""It might be delusional on my part to hope my actions will matter, but better that than sitting back in the belief that they won't. Not trying is the surest way of never making a difference.""--The Immortal Heights by Sherry Thomas


What are you reading this week?

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Sneak Peek & Giveaway: Titans by Victoria Scott

Today, I'm super excited to share a sneak peek from the Titan Enquirer from Victoria Scott's upcoming young adult novel, Titans. And I get to share a giveaway, so make sure you scroll down to the bottom of the post. But first, more about the book...
25582556Synopsis from Goodreads...

Ever since the Titans first appeared in her Detroit neighborhood, Astrid Sullivan’s world has revolved around the mechanical horses. She and her best friend have spent countless hours watching them and their jockeys practice on the track. It’s not just the thrill of the race. It’s the engineering of the horses and the way they’re programmed to seem so lifelike. The Titans are everything that fascinates Astrid, and nothing she’ll ever touch. She hates them a little, too. Her dad lost everything betting on the Titans. And the races are a reminder of the gap between the rich jockeys who can afford the expensive machines to ride, and the working class friends and neighbors of Astrid’s who wager on them. But when Astrid’s offered a chance to enter an early model Titan in this year’s derby, well, she decides to risk it all. Because for a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, it’s more than a chance at fame or money. Betting on herself is the only way she can see to hang on to everyone in the world she cares about...
And now for the giveaway. Below, you can enter for a chance to win a copy of Titans by Victoria Scott. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Review: The Perilous Sea by Sherry Thomas

The Perilous Sea (The Elemental Trilogy, #2)Title:The Perilous Sea
Author: Sherry Thomas
Source/Format: won, Hardcover
More Details: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Balzer + Bray, September 16, 2014

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads...

After spending the summer away from each other, Titus and Iolanthe (still disguised as Archer Fairfax) are eager to return to Eton College to resume their training to fight the Bane. Although no longer bound to Titus by a blood oath, Iolanthe is more committed than ever to fulfilling her destiny—especially with the agents of Atlantis quickly closing in.

Soon after arriving at school, though, Titus makes a shocking discovery, one that makes him question everything he previously believed about their mission. Faced with this devastating realization, Iolanthe is forced to come to terms with her new role, while Titus must choose between following his mother's prophecies—and forging a divergent path to an unknowable future...
This trilogy keeps getting better and better, and I can now firmly say that I enjoyed The Perilous Sea more than I did The Burning Sky. There were a lot of things I liked—the characters, setting, and especially the story. The chosen one trope was still present, but I liked the way it was handled anyway.

The plot was divided between the chapters—the Sahara Desert and England—it was evident from early on that the desert chapters took place after the parts in England. At first I had some confusion about what was going on, but then the plot evened out and from there the story took off.

Everything wasn’t as it seemed with prophesies written by Titus’ mother, and there was a lot of things that were revealed about the characters. There was also a lot of emotional turmoil throughout as situations changed quickly. I always had some suspicion about what was happening, but the story didn’t play out the way I thought it would. There were plenty of elements that surprised me. So, The Perilous Sea definitely wasn’t a boring book.

Iolanthe and Titus make a pretty good team, and I liked seeing their relationship continue to develop. They had chemistry, and it was easy to see that they cared for one another. Suffice to say, all of my favorite characters from book one were back—the boys at Eton—as well as some new ones.

The villains were terrible. From the scant pieces that were shown of them, they were developed well despite being absent for the majority of the book. They definitely had a lot of influence and knew how to use it. The Bane, despite my dislike for him, was an essential part of the story since the events that took place directly concerned him and were often times carried out under his orders.

The ending was just…unexpected, thus I will probably read The Immortal Heights next, because honestly, I want to know how Iolanthe and Titus’ story ends. I have my fingers crossed that they actually get a happy ending.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Musing Mondays (42) Holiday Movies

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme hosted by Jenn at A Daily Rhythm, that asks you to muse about something book related each week.

My Musings for the Week...

Despite the title of this post, it actually does have something to do with books. But first, I'm going to start with the random weekly question that I missed last week:

What makes a book really enjoyable for you? And, conversely, what would turn you off about a book?

Just to name a few: good characters, interesting story, and world building most of the time. Mainly it’s a combination of reasons, and even if something is missing I might still like a story anyway just because I enjoy it. After all, I read to be entertained. If it’s got my attention, I’m bound to stick with it despite the faults. There’s no telling how I’ll react to a book until I’ve picked it up and started to read it.

Now things that I don’t enjoy could also be things that could make me like a book. It just depends on the book—like in some cases repetitive dialogue could be used to make a point and indicate moments of suspense/worry, which works, but in other instances the effect might end up as an element that I didn't enjoy. Really, it could go either way.  

Other Musings:

The holiday season is here! Well, technically it started a while ago, but Christmas is just weeks away. So, for today I wanted to talk about a few of my favorite Christmas movies based off of books. (**Note: just because I like the adaptation(s) doesn't necessarily mean that I've read the book; yet, this fact doesn't affect my enjoyment of the film(s)**)
  1. First and foremost, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, which is a classic. I think what I enjoy most is how Scrooge learns his lesson by the end. So far, I’ve enjoyed many of the adaptations of this book. Currently, my favorite is the 2009 version.
  2. This one is kind of obvious: The Grinch Who Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss. This is just a movie I enjoy every year (the animated version). 
  3. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg. Oh gosh, I absolutely adore the movie! The animation was done so well that even now I still enjoy watching the movie when it comes on.
A Christmas Carol How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Polar Express

What about you? Do you have any favorite Christmassy movies? Or, what’s your favorite seasonal food/drink? (A favorite of mine is the Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride Tea, which is absolutely fantastic.)

Friday, December 4, 2015

The Friday 56 (46) The Perilous Sea by Sherry Thomas

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

Synopsis from Goodreads...

After spending the summer away from each other, Titus and Iolanthe (still disguised as Archer Fairfax) are eager to return to Eton College to resume their training to fight the Bane. Although no longer bound to Titus by a blood oath, Iolanthe is more committed than ever to fulfilling her destiny—especially with the agents of Atlantis quickly closing in.

Soon after arriving at school, though, Titus makes a shocking discovery, one that makes him question everything he previously believed about their mission. Faced with this devastating realization, Iolanthe is forced to come to terms with her new role, while Titus must choose between following his mother's prophecies—and forging a divergent path to an unknowable future...
"Wintervale was on his feet. "I am all for it."
"And everyone else?" Sutherland gestured at the rest of the room.
"They too, of course," Wintervale answered for them."--The Perilous Sea by Sherry Thomas


Which do you prefer: a gift card or a book as as gift?

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Review: The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

The Invention of Hugo CabretTitle: The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Author: Brian Selznick
Source/Format: Won, Hardcover
More Details: Middle Grade, Historical Fiction
Publisher/Publication Date: Scholastic, April 1, 2007

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads...

An orphan and a thief, Hugo lives in the walls of a busy train station. He desperately believes a broken automation will make his dreams come true. But when his world collides with an eccentric girl and a bitter old man, Hugo's undercover life, and his most precious secret, are put in jeopardy...
The Invention of Hugo Cabret is the kind of book I want to share with my entire family. It was just really lovely, and I have no idea why I never read it before, though I’m happy I finally did.

The story belongs mainly to Hugo, an orphan after the death of his father and his uncle soon after. He secretly takes care of the clocks in the station, stealing food just to keep from going hungry. There were other characters too—Isabelle, Etienne, Georges, Jeanne—who were tied into Hugo’s story and affected his life in different ways. The story paired with Selznick style was the perfect combination. The way it was told was just fantastic—partly through pictures that depicted scenes throughout the novel.

From start to finish The Invention of Hugo Cabret was wonderful. I have two more of Brian Selznick’s books on my shelf, and I definitely plan to read them soon.
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