Adult · Book Reviews · Books · Fantasy · Fiction · Young Adult

Vacation Reads Update

Happy Tuesday!…Wait, it’s only Tuesday? Ugh. Jet lag is kicking my ass this week. Aren’t you supposed to feel rested after you go on a vacation? :\

Back before I left I did a post on the books that I took on vacation with me. Not surprisingly, given the couple of long traveling days, layovers, and hours spent in the car, I was able to make a nice little dent in my TBR list.

11235712My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I remember when this book came out, back in 2012. I was still working at the library and everyone was raving about this book. I’m pretty sure we didn’t even have any copies on the shelves for months, because it had a reserve list a mile long. At the time I read the blurb on the back and thought “Meh.” Young adult Cinderella meets cyborgs. No thanks!

As I have since gotten over my prejudice against YA novels, I decided to finally give this book a chance and see what all the hype was about. I breezed through most of it while in transit to Canada. It was an easy, but entertaining read. The story wasn’t overly complicated, but had enough surprise twists to keep you guessing. I enjoyed it and plan on checking out the second one to see what happens.

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After finishing Cinder I jumped into The Wise Man’s Fear, which is the second book in the Kingkiller Chronicle series. I haven’t finished it yet,  but I can tell you that it is definitely living up to my expectations. I’ve had a hard time putting this one down the last few days. I really hope Patrick Rothfuss puts the third book out sometime soon. I don’t know how I’ll be able to wait for it!

I also knocked out a few more chapters of Talking As Fast As I Can. It’s been a slower read for me, but fun nonetheless.

Book Reviews · Books · Fantasy · Favorites · Fiction

Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag

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Happy Sunday! I hope everyone is having a good weekend so far. I’ve seen this tag pop up on several blogs the past few days, so I thought I would join in on the fun since I don’t have any new reviews to share yet. As usual, feel free to take part if you would like.

  • Best Book You’ve Read So Far in 2017 – A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah Maas is definitely my favorite so far this year. (After how much I’ve been gushing over the series, I’m sure you’re shocked to hear that.)

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  • Best Sequel of 2017 So Far – I guess I’m going to go with A Court of Wings and Ruin, given that it’s the only sequel I’ve read this year that’s actually been released in 2017.
  • New Release You Haven’t Read Yet, But Want To – Beren and Luthien by J.R.R. Tolkien. I’m not sure how this will hold up, given that it’s been pieced together from Tolkien’s unpublished manuscripts, but I love Tolkien and I am excited to check this out.

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  • Most Anticipated Release of of the Second Half of 2017 – War of the Cards by Colleen Oakes. I have been waiting for this book to come out for two years now. The suspense is killing me.
  • Biggest Disappointment – The End of Oz by Danielle Paige. This definitely wasn’t the series finale that I was hoping for.
  • Biggest Surprise – Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand
  • Favorite New Author (Debut or New to You) – Uprooted by Naomi Novik. This wasn’t a new release, but it was my first book by Novik and I was quite impressed.
  • Favorite New Character – Rhysand *drools*
  • Book That Made You Cry – The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. I always cry at the end.
  • Book That Made You Happy – The Graveyard Book! It was a re-read and even though it makes me cry, I love that book so much. ❤

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  • Favorite Book to Movie Adaptation You’ve Seen This Year – Beauty and the Beast!
  • Favorite Review You’ve Written This Year – They weren’t exactly reviews, but I think I had the most fun writing my “Favorites” posts. I love getting to talk about my favorite books with people. (Kiersten’s Favorites: Pt 1Kiersten’s Favorites: Pt 2)
  • Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought/Received This Year – Honestly, I have no idea.
  • Books You Need to Read By the End of the Year – ALL THE BOOKS! 😀
Book Reviews · Books · Fantasy · Sci-Fi

Unnatural Creatures by Neil Gaiman

img_8236My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars 

Unnatural Creatures is a fun collection of short stories about the creatures that exist in the dark corners of our imaginations. Each story is told by a different author, ranging in styles from classic fantasy/sci-fi to contemporary fiction.

I am typically not a big fan of short stories, given that they lack the same amount of detail you would find in a regular novel. This was a quick, easy read for me. Despite their length, I enjoyed most of the stories. I wasn’t sure how the book would flow, given the different number of writing styles, but it all melded together nicely. Some of the stories were fun and whimsical, while others were just plain eerie. (It reminded me of Doctor Who in that sense.)

This is a good one for fans of light sci-fi/fantasy.

Book Reviews · Books · Favorites · Fiction · Middle Grade

Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrande

13260524My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

It’s going to be a weird summer for Finley Hart. First, she has to figure out how to deal with the fact that her parents might be getting a divorce. Second, she has to spend the summer at her grandparents’ house. She’s never even met her grandparents. Third, she’s having “blue days.” Days where she’s sad for no reason and she can’t snap out of it. Days where she can’t get out of bed and feels hopeless and scared. Nobody else knows about her blue days. 

On her blue days, Finley retreats to the imaginary Everwood. In the Everwood she can be herself. Over the summer, Finley (with the help of her cousins) brings the Everwood to life. There she discovers that she may not be the only one in the family who has been keeping secrets. 

“The Dark Ones latched on to her, digging their shadowed claws into her shoulders, wrapping their arms around her  throat. 

When the queen opened her eyes, she saw the world through a cloudy black veil.” 

Some Kind of Happiness completely blew me away. As someone who has struggled with depression for the majority of their life, I want to hug Claire Legrande for writing this book. Finley’s experience was one of the most accurate depictions of depression that I have ever encountered before. The fact that it was told through the eyes of an eleven year old made it feel more realistic to me. There was no sugar-coating, no scientific explanations, no playing the martyr. Finely didn’t really understand why she was constantly feeling sad and afraid, but she just trudged along, dealing with it as best as she could.

“How can the world look so perfect when I feel so broken?”

Finley escaped into her notebook and her stories of the Everwood as a coping mechanism for dealing with her sadness and her parents’ divorce. The world she created and the way her stories paralleled what was happening in her own life was brilliantly done.

“Still my sadness remains. It comes and goes in waves, like a never-ending ocean.” 

This was an incredible story, not only about mental health, but also the bonds of family and friendship that help pull us through the hard times. I highly recommend it. 

Book Reviews · Books · Fantasy · Favorites · Young Adult

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah Maas

23766634My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, although things are different this time. This time she’s working against her former lover, Tamlin, in an attempt to figure out how to stop the King of Hybern from destroying all of Prythian. As the threat of war looms closer every day, Feyre doesn’t have much time. 

It’s a cruel and deadly game everyone is playing, but nothing will stop Feyre from finding a way to keep her people and the man she loves safe. 

 After the awesome ending to ACOMAF I couldn’t wait to see what Maas was going to do to end the series. This book, like the previous two, sent me on an emotional roller coaster that did not disappoint.

Feyre’s role at the Spring Court was brilliant. It was so interesting to see how much her character has changed and developed over the course of the series. She is no longer the terrified, broken girl that she used to be. She’s fierce, clever, cunning, and ruthless. She learned to wield and take ownership of her magic, making her an incredibly powerful High Lady and player in the game of war.

I loved the addition of Feyre’s sisters to the Court of Dreams and the development of their characters, as well. Up until now, they didn’t serve much purpose in Feyre’s life, so it was nice to see a family bond developing. I also loved getting to see the bonds between the rest of the Court growing deeper during such a troubling time. Additionally, we got to learn more about the other High Lords of Prythian and other side characters, which only added to the complexity of the story. (I particularly liked what Maas did with the relationship between Feyre and the Suriel. It was quite touching.)

ACOWAR was the perfect ending to the series, filled with unexpected twists and lessons on love, sacrifice, and fighting to make the world a better place.

Book Reviews · Books · Fantasy · Favorites · Fiction · Young Adult

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah Maas

Happy Saturday! I’ve had a bit of a rough start this morning, as I am experiencing both a wine and a book hangover. The wine is self-explanatory. My biblio-hangover is to blame on this awesome read:

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My rating: 5 out of 5 stars 

Feyre survived the worst. She escaped from the sick, twisted clutches of Amarantha’s court, and lost her mortal life in the process. Now, returning to the Spring Court with the powers of a High Fae, she should  be able to begin the healing process, only it’s not that easy. The horrible events that transcribed Under the Mountain have pulled Feyre and Tamlin apart, leaving her feeling alone and tormented. 

Then steps in Rhysand, High Lord of the Night Court, to hold Feyre to her half of the bargain she made with him. Never does she suspect what her life is to become once she gets intertwined with Rhys and his friends.

Now, with war on the horizon, Feyre needs to learn how to navigate the darkness that lies both within herself and throughout Prythian. 

This series, oh this series…*swoons* I mentioned in my review of A Court of Thorns and Roses that I was hesitant to read the second book because I was afraid it would tarnish my love of the first. Now I am kicking myself in the ass for waiting so long.

Okay, fangirl moment is over. (Keep yourself together, Kiersten!)

The characters in this story were amazing. Feyre’s character evolved a great deal since the beginning of the series. Having gone through so many horrific things Under the Mountain, she was completely torn apart and in a very dark place. It was interesting to see how differently each of the characters coped with the same experiences. Even more interesting was how some of them were able to come together and support each other, while others lashed out. (An accurate representation of how everyone deals with grief differently.) I was amazed at the developments in Rhysand’s character also. He was nothing at all like I expected him to be; he was so much more. The complexity in his character and his relationship with Feyre was absolutely beautiful.

The author, once again, did an amazing job at showcasing both the wonders and perils of love. The relationship between Feyre and Tamlin was a good representation of what happens when two broken people try too hard to love each other. The feelings and good intent might be there, but ultimately will end up failing. The relationship between Feyre and Rhys was built on a more solid foundation – one of trust, understanding, and friendship. Both of them, as damaged as they were, understood and tried to help each other heal, which is what lead them to develop such a close bond later on.

Maas sure knows how to make you fall in love with her characters. (And make you want to bang a few of them. 😉 That woman sure does know how to write a sex scene.) Even the side characters in this book, like Rhys’ inner circle, were well developed and powerful. There badassery among the Illyrian court made Tamlin’s court pale in comparison.

I had a hard time putting this one down. I’ve had an even harder time getting through writing this post, because the third book is already waiting for me.

Book Reviews · Books · Sci-Fi · Young Adult

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

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My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars 

The world in which Citra and Rowan live in is quite different than what it once was. Crime, poverty, sickness, and other unpleasant things that once plagued the world have been wiped out by humans. Now the Thunderhead, the all-knowing database, monitors everything. Everything except death. 

Scythes are the controllers of death. They get to decide who dies, when, and how. It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it…Citra and Rowan just never expected that it might have to be them. 

This concept of this book was both intriguing and utterly terrifying. Living for hundreds of years, never having to worry about illness or accidental death sounds ideal, doesn’t it? The deeper into the story I got, however, I began to realize how sad that kind of world must be. (Who would want to live a life that was taken for granted everyday?) More unsettling than the “perfect” futuristic setting was the concept of scythes – people with the ability to “glean” you at their own desire. Gleaning is basically just another term for murder. It isn’t viewed that way in the book, as gleaning is necessary for population control and isn’t done out of malicious intent. In my own mind it was hard to see much difference.

The scythes were definitely the most interesting characters in the story. I felt that Shusterman did an excellent job in showcasing the differences in how people respond to power. Some of the scythes, originally chosen for the sense of morality and compassion, remained humble despite their profession. The moral conundrum experienced by these characters was heartbreaking and made me grateful that I have never had to carry out anything so awful in my own life. Other scythes, over time, were drunk with fame and lost all sense of humility. The political corruption among the scythes was a haunting mirror of what happens in our own government. As if we didn’t need another reminder of truly fucked up society is.

Scythe was a good, albeit disturbing, read. The author made some very bold statements about humanity and the world we live in that made my head spin.