Books · Fantasy · Fiction · Young Adult

First Impression Friday: City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

It’s time for another First Impression Friday post! Last week I talked about a book I was reading for the new book club I joined. I hate to admit this, but I gave up on that book. I hate quitting a book, but I just wasn’t feeling it. Oh well. C’est la vie! This week’s book is more up  my alley.

(For those who are unfamiliar, FIF is a weekly meme created by J.W. Martin. The goal is to talk about a book you recently started reading. Share you impressions, predict what you think will happen, say whether you think you’ll enjoy it, etc.)

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Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what’s normal when you’re a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who’s becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn’t ready to let her go — especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary’s only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil — and also her father.

To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings — and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father?

After finishing the first book, City of Bones, I knew I had to keep reading the series to see where it goes. So far, this one is just as good as the first book!

There are demons and dark forces afoot! Clary is still conflicted in her feelings towards both Jace and Simon, Jace gets thrown in prison, and there are dead bodies everywhere. And it’s only the beginning! There’s never a dull moment with these books, which is why I got sucked in so easily.

I love how all the relationships in this book have become even more complicated, now that Valentine is back and trying to start a war against the Clave. Suddenly, everyone is pitted against each other. The characters can’t decide who’s really a friend and who’s a foe. Even family is pitted against each other. It’s been keeping me guessing since the very first chapter and, to be honest, I have no idea which side everyone will end up on.

Clary and Simon’s relationship is still struggling, which kinda makes me sad, because I think Simon is great. Obviously things will only get more complicated now that Simon is a vampire (which I totally saw coming, by the way). I hope he and Clary end up being more “official” anyway, because Jace is a turd. As much as I would like for Clary and Simon to end up together, I predict that she will keep hurting him and push him away. *sigh*

I predict that Valentine is going to keep killing Downworlders and recruiting demons to his cause. Eventually, they – the Shadowhunters, werewolves, vampires, and faeries – will realize that they have to join forces if they’re going to stop him. I don’t expect war to break out yet,  but I think they will start teaming up by the end of the book.

I don’t know where this story is going, but shit’s going to get messy.

 

Books · Fantasy · Favorites

Top 5 Tuesday: Fantasy Books!

It’s time for another Top 5 Tuesday! This week is a good one, too: Top 5 Fantasy Books.  There have been lots of fantasy books that I have fallen in love with. I recognize that there are plenty more “epic” or complex fantasy books out there, but, for various reasons, these 5 hold a special place at the top of my list.

(Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Shanah, aka The Bionic Book Worm. Check out her site for a list of upcoming topics so you can participate!)

My Top 5 Fantasy Books

  • A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab  (Some of the books I’m naming are part of a series, you can just assume that I’m including the entire series…even though that’s cheating a little)
  • Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
  • The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  • Stars (Wendy Darling series )by Colleen Oakes

 

Books

Sunshine Blogger Award

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I was tagged a few weeks back by the always hilarious, often inappropriate Drew, aka Tattooed Book Geek. Thank you, Drew! I don’t think my answers will be nearly as funny or over the top as yours, but I’m going to give it my best shot.

The Rules:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you.
  • Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and ask them 11 new questions
  • List the rules and display the sunshine blogger award logo in your post/or on your blog.

The Questions:

  1. What would your spirit animal be? I’m pretty sure I posted this picture once before, but I’m going to post it again. My spirit animal is this dog right here:zzkd0l4dfxgyI’m someone who panics and worries about practically everything. Even when I try my best to not panic, I end up panicking. Because, you know, sometimes you have to panic about not panicking. 😛
  2. What would your theme song be? “You Don’t Own Me.” The kinda creepy, weird version by The Blow Monkeys…because they’re called the Blow Monkeys.
  3. There’s a magic doorway that will take you anywhere, to any fantasy world, to any era or just to any different country, where do you choose to go? Umm, really Drew? I’m supposed to just pick one place/time/world/whatever? WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME? I guess if I have to pick just one I’m going with the UK on Christmas Day. Something inevitably will be trying to invade the Earth on that very day and The Doctor will, of course, show up to save the day. Once I find The Doctor I can join him on his travels throughout all of time and space and I would never have to pick just one place to visit ever again. *mic drop*
  4. What is your favourite type of cake? Double chocolate! Or carrot cake! Can I have both? I really like cake. 165lr1
  5. What fruit or vegetable would make the best weapon? A banana. Obviously. You can throw it like a boomerang, lodge it in someone’s eye, use the peel to make someone slip and fall in slapstick-style fashion, etc. The opportunities are endless.
  6. What upcoming book do you wish that you could read right now? Vengeful! Only a few more days until it comes out! *squeeeeeeeee* Sorry, I’m done fangirling now. Seriously though, I’m excited to read Vengeful because the first book was pretty badass.
  7. If you could rewrite the ending of any book which book would you choose? Mockingjay, because Katniss shoudn’t have ended up with Peeta. Gale was clearly the better choice. Peeta was whiny and annoying and the ending was too cheesy. Meh.
  8. What would your epitaph read? “I was told there would be cake.”
  9. Who would you love to punch in the face? A lot of people…I mean, nobody, because I’m super nice and love everybody. 🙂 As far as fictional characters go, I pick Draco Malfoy. He was such a whiny, spoiled little twat. Every time he pretended he was important because of his father, someone should have punched him.3012e855350c758c0270f807f5693161922f2fda_00
  10. What is your top worst bit of blogging advice? – make it as funny as you can! 😉 Follow people back just because they think you’re cute and make sure you post lots of selfies with your cleavage showing.
  11. You are hosting a bookish influenced dinner party, which authors, characters and bloggers do you invite? My favorite authors, Neil Gaiman and V.E. Schwab, so I could pick their brains for writing advice. Jenny Lawson, because she’s hilarious and I love her. Luna Lovegood, because I would love to hear about her personal encounters with nargles. Arya Stark, because she could keep changing faces and be someone different every 10 minutes. The Doctor, because he would already be my traveling companion at this point and it would be rude not to invite him. And you, with the face.

My Questions:

  1. If you’re happy and you know it, do you clap your hands?
  2. Which fictional character probably has the best shoe collection?
  3. Do you believe in nargles?
  4. If you could have coffee (or tea, if you prefer) would any fictional character, who would you choose?
  5. Are you a fan of animal sidekicks in books?
  6. Where is my cake? I was told there would be cake.
  7. If you could turn any movie into a book, which one would you choose?
  8. What book has had the biggest impact on your life?
  9. Which fictional character would you choose to write a guest post for your blog?
  10. Which fictional world would  be the worst to live in?
  11. What’s your biggest pet peeve?

My Nominees:

Read the Write Act

Suburbia Reads

Caffeine and Books

The Bookish Elf

Ally Writes Things

Another Book in the Wall

Bookidote

Book Princess Reviews

Storeys of Stories

Chocolate’n’Waffles

Anyone else who wants to participate!

Books · Life

Kiersten’s Guide to Hurricane Survival

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Saturday:

Step 1: Yell “Fuck!” because you woke up and the power is out.

Step 2: Stare out the window for a while and comment on what’s happening outside.

Step 3: Take a walk around the neighborhood, because it’s just a little water and everyone is being a pansy.

Step 4: Cook lunch on the grill. (You can keep your pre-packaged junk and milk sandwiches.)

Step 5: Read, while intermittently staring out the window.

Step 6: Rejoice because the power is back on!

Step 7: Drive to bookstore, because you’re going stir crazy.

Step 8: Drink coffee, read books, and enjoy having at least one part of your normal routine stay the same.

Step 9: Bake a cake, because you still have power and this might be your only chance.

Step 10: Go to bed and hope the power is still on tomorrow morning.

Sunday:

Step 1: Wake up. Power is still on (yay), so you make coffee.

Step 2: Decide you’re tired of sitting around the house, so you brave the rain and drive to your favorite coffee shop.

Step 3: Drink allll the caffeine while you work on your book.

Step 4: Drive home, super caffeinated and ready to get shit done.

Step 5: Get mad at everyone because they won’t stop talking about the weather and you’re over it.

Step 6: Stand in your yard and yell “Hurricane schmurricane!” while getting pummeled with rain.

Step 7: Read some more.

 

 

Books · Young Adult

First Impression Friday: Picture Us in the Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert

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Well, still no hurricane yet. It’s expected to make landfall in Charlotte sometime later today. I’m more than ready for it to be over already because I feel like everybody’s been panicking for way too long now. If any of you are in the path of the hurricane, I hope you’re all staying safe!

Since it’s Friday, you know what that means. It’s time for another First Impression Friday post! For those who are unfamiliar, FIF is a weekly meme created by J.W. Martin. The goal is to talk about a book you recently started reading. Share you impressions, predict what you think will happen, say whether you think you’ll enjoy it, etc.

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Danny has been an artist for as long as he can remember and it seems his path is set, with a scholarship to RISD and his family’s blessing to pursue the career he’s always dreamed of. Still, contemplating a future without his best friend, Harry Wong, by his side makes Danny feel a panic he can barely put into words. Harry and Danny’s lives are deeply intertwined and as they approach the one-year anniversary of a tragedy that shook their friend group to its core, Danny can’t stop asking himself if Harry is truly in love with his girlfriend, Regina Chan.

When Danny digs deeper into his parents’ past, he uncovers a secret that disturbs the foundations of his family history and the carefully constructed facade his parents have maintained begins to crumble. With everything he loves in danger of being stripped away, Danny must face the ghosts of the past in order to build a future that belongs to him.

If you’re a regular follower mine you’re probably thinking “Who are you and what have you done with Kiersten?” I hardly ever read contemporary fiction, of the adult or YA genre. The only reason I picked this book up was because it’s for the book club I joined. This is my first attempt at ever joining a book club. I’ve thought about it before but my anxiety has always held me back. It’s a YA book club. When I joined I was hoping it would be more fantasy based. I’m really not sure what it’s going to turn into going forward because the club is new and this is only the first pick.

I hate to say it, but nothing about this book is grabbing me. I’m trying to give it a chance, but so far I’m finding it very slow. The main character, Danny, is relatable with his insecurities and his family drama. I like Danny, but I don’t love him. All of the characters, thus far, are just okay. I don’t feel very connected to them or to the story, in general.

Honestly, I can’t decide if I even want to finish this book. There are some interesting topics discussed, which I appreciate, but I still can’t get past the fact that I’m bored with it. If I don’t read it, however, then I pretty much fail at my first book club attempt.

Alas, I don’t know what to do.

Life · mental health · Writing

Fits of Gratitude

Well, WordPress has somehow deleted the Top 5 Tuesday post that I wrote yesterday. *sigh* I don’t know why this periodically happens, but it is somewhat frustrating, as I’m sure you can imagine.

How are all of you doing this week? All of us in North Carolina are currently bracing ourselves for hurricane Florence. Don’t worry, we’re all stocked up on the essentials: bread, chocolate, coffee, and lots of books. I had actually been planning to spend the night in Asheville this weekend, but, alas, that is not going to happen now because of the weather.

Rather than sit here and be bummed about cancelling my trip or pissed about my deleted post, I’m going to make the best of it. With health issues and the ongoing mental health struggle, it’s not always easy to be positive. I’m trying though! Fortunately, given how much better I’ve been feeling these last few months, it’s getting easier.

Since I’m trying to be less negative, I’m going to share some of the things in my life that I am grateful for instead.

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Food – A little while back I wrote about how my trip to New York had helped me get over the last hump in my eating disorder recovery. Since then my relationship with food has only gotten better. I’m cooking and baking constantly, trying out new recipes and making beloved favorites. I’ve rekindled my love of French cuisine and classic cooking techniques, making everything from bouillabase to meringue to pate choux. Ironically, despite the strained relationship I’ve had with food the last few years, this one, this passion for gastronomy is the one that feels right. It’s nice to be back where I belong again.

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The Coffee House – My weekend routine has become quite different the last couple of months. Instead of staying home and getting the sleep that I covet during the work week, I set my alarm and typically get up around 6:30 every Saturday and Sunday. By 7:00 I am seated in one of the nooks in my favorite local coffee shop (still quiet at that hour) with an almond latte and my laptop in front of me. I have found that I can focus better on my writing early in the morning and when I am outside the house, for whatever reason. I’ve been making lots of great progress on my book at that little coffee shop and I am really excited about it.

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What have you been grateful for lately?

Adult · Books · Fantasy

Book Review: Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

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My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders… but her father isn’t a very good one. Free to lend and reluctant to collect, he has loaned out most of his wife’s dowry and left the family on the edge of poverty–until Miryem steps in. Hardening her heart against her fellow villagers’ pleas, she sets out to collect what is owed–and finds herself more than up to the task. When her grandfather loans her a pouch of silver pennies, she brings it back full of gold.

But having the reputation of being able to change silver to gold can be more trouble than it’s worth–especially when her fate becomes tangled with the cold creatures that haunt the wood, and whose king has learned of her reputation and wants to exploit it for reasons Miryem cannot understand.

In last week’s First Impression Friday post, I mentioned that Spinning Silver was one of my most anticipated reads of the year. I absolutely adored Uprooted back when I read it and I couldn’t wait to see what Novik came up with this time around. Having finished it, I am very happy to report that Spinning Silver did, indeed, live up to my expectations.

For those unaware, Spinning Silver, is an adaptation on the Rumplestiltskin story. I hate to even phrase it that way, because a lot of people will roll their eyes and say “Oh great, another fairy tale re-telling.” This book, like Uprooted, is incredibly unique in its interpretation and is a much looser re-telling than a lot of the counterparts out there. The story and characters the author has created can stand entirely on their own as a modern fairy tale.

The story is steeped with Jewish history and lore, fiercely strong characters, and gorgeous imagery. I loved the three women that the story followed: Miryem for her ruthlessness, Wanda for her strong will, and Irinia for her bravery. I loved the way the three women’s stories wove together, despite all the unexpected curves thrown at them.

Spinning Silver is more than a fairy tale re-telling, it’s a beautiful story about perseverance, family bonds, and things more valuable than gold.