Saturday, August 30, 2014

Shuffle Saturday (73): Darken Me

Every Saturday I'll be posting a random song off of my iPod. Everyone can feel free to join in, just leave a link to your Shuffle Saturday post in the comments! This week's song is:

Darken Me by Electric Owls

I just love the Electric Owls. I haven't listened to them in awhile, but this song came on randomly and I couldn't not listen!

What are you listening to?

Friday, August 29, 2014

Review: Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

Title: Heir of Fire
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publish Date: September 2nd, 2014
Rating:

Lost and broken, Celaena Sardothien’s only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan’s Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for what he did. Any hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn. Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King’s Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her, but her darkest demons lay in that same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan’s biggest threat – and his own toughest enemy.

While Celaena learns of her true destiny, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength not only to win her own battles, but to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she has grown to love?

Sarah J. Maas has made me a fan for life with Heir of Fire. All of the action/romance/fantasy I've come to expect from her was bumped up to an entirely new level with the third installment of the Throne of Glass series. Heir of Fire is nearing 600 pages and it's entirely devoted to character development. It sets up an intricate plot for the rest of the series, gives us heartbreakingly romantic moments that somehow rely on the narrator and not the love interest, and proves that Celaena Sardothien is somehow an even bigger badass than everyone thought, while also showing us the sad, broken girl inside. In case you couldn't tell, Heir of Fire has ruined me for all other books for a while. Total book hangover.

I'll admit, at first I was a little put off by the direction the story was taking. It starts out a little slow, with all of the characters separated by the events of Crown of Midnight and Celaena seemed broken down by those events, but, even so, Heir of Fire can't be described as anything but a non-stop thrill ride. But it did take a while for me to get into each of their separate stories. It was drawn out, clearly setting up the rest of the plot, but it was slow when compared to the beginning of the first two books. Too many POV's distracting from the main story. But, oh how it all came together in a beautiful symphony of storytelling.

Manon, a deadly Ironteeth witch, is one of the new characters. I kept wanting to get through Manon's chapters quickly. And that's not because her chapters weren't equally as good as the others, I just wasn't as interested in her story as I was with the characters I already knew and loved. I won't say her story isn't interesting though. It's wrought with danger, death and dragons (sort of). And even made me feel compassion for an Ironteeth witch! I'm guessing Manon and her coven play a big role in the next book, and possibly the rest of the series. Which is awesome because by the end of the book, I was very much interested in what role she'd play in Celaena's world.

Then there is newcomer Aedion, who I really didn't think I'd like at first, but once I saw things from his perspective he won me over immediately. As a fierce general to the king, he's shady and seems cruel, but he's also Celaena's long lost cousin and his dedication to her is heartbreaking at times. Plus there's the, ahem, bromance. (Yes, it is as adorable as you might be thinking, but no I will not not tell you who it's with.) Aedion is definitely a new favorite in this series.

There are many new, lovable faces in Heir of Fire, but not one of them even comes close to beating out Rowan for the title of best new character. Some of you might not like Rowan at first, but once you witness the full extent of his relationship with Celaena you will be unable to not love him. Plus he's stubborn and a total badass. Basically Celaena in guy form.

Oh Dorian, poor, ignored, Dorian. I love how Dorian really comes into his own in Heir of Fire, while still maintaining his love for Celaena and Chaol. I love how much Chaol and Dorian truly care for one another, even when they're mad and confused. Plus, Dorian strikes out on his own a little and makes a new friend (*whispers* it's a girl *eyebrow waggle*) that I absolutely adore, but no spoilers.

Now, I know in the beginning of this series there was a wee bit of a love triangle and some may feel the addition of some characters could complicate things even more in the future, but I've always been firmly Team Chaol. And that did not change in Heir of Fire. Chaol broke my heart, every time he thought of Celaena and doubted he'd ever see her again. Not to mention how dead set he is on protecting Dorian, no matter what. The way he grew and changed as a result of discovering Celaena's secret was unexpected, and the most heartbreaking thing of all. Chaol is a warrior whose world has been flipped upside down and who has no idea what he wants to fight for. He's too perfect even though he is far, far from being perfect, and Heir of Fire reminded me again and again why I fell for him so hard in Throne of Glass.

But it all comes back to Celaena in the end. As much as I love Chaol and Dorian and now all of the newcomers, my devotion to this series boils down to my love for Celaena. From the very beginning she's been a warrior, but a rebel without a cause. Finding herself on a boat to Wendlyn was possibly the best thing that could have happened to her, and it's incredible to read Maas transition her heroine from badass assassin, to broken girl looking to drown out the guilt, to the extraordinary woman she becomes in Heir of Fire.

Honestly, this isn't even a review, it's an ode to Sarah J. Maas' incredible ability to tell stories. She weaves Celaena's story together in a way that will leave readers thinking about Heir of Fire until the next book in the series is released. So if you're a fan of fantasy or just love a good story, pick up the third book in this series (or the first if you haven't had the pleasure) and get swept away the way I did.

For more about Heir of Fire by checking out these sites!

AmazonB&NGoodreads


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Review: Chasers of the Light by Tyler Knott Gregson

Title: Chasers of the Light
Author: Tyler Knott Gregson
Publisher: Perigee Trade
Publish Date: September 2nd, 2014
Rating:

The epic made simple. The miracle in the mundane.

One day, while browsing an antique store in Helena, Montana, photographer Tyler Knott Gregson stumbled upon a vintage Remington typewriter for sale. Standing up and using a page from a broken book he was buying for $2, he typed a poem without thinking, without planning, and without the ability to revise anything.

He fell in love.

Three years and almost one thousand poems later, Tyler is now known as the creator of the Typewriter Series: a striking collection of poems typed onto found scraps of paper or created via blackout method. Chasers of the Light features some of his most insightful and beautifully worded pieces of work—poems that illuminate grand gestures and small glimpses, poems that celebrate the beauty of a life spent chasing the light.

Chasers of the Light: Poems from the Typewriter Series by Tyler Knott Gregson is filled with Gregson's deeply intimate poems and beautiful photographs. I enjoy poetry, but I don't read it as much as I'd like. But I'm glad I gave Chasers of the Light a try.

I believe poetry means something different to everyone. No two people will ever interpret a poem the same way because it's all based on personal experience and feeling. Some of Tyler Knott Gregson's poems feel like a stopped moment in time, something relatable. Others feel personal, like the reader is intruding into someone else's space, someone else's intimate moment. But all of them are beautiful. A few even made me tear up as I read them.

I love the idea of typing out poems on random slips of paper that just happen to be around. Pages of a book, receipts, anything. It takes the poem and somehow gives it more dimension, because it's another glimpse into the author's life. The words tell us of his thoughts and emotions, but the paper gives us something concrete, something physical about how or where he lives. Having Gregson's photographs scattered throughout was also a nice touch.

If you enjoy poetry or would like to give it a try, Gregson's Chasers of the Light is a beautiful little book that will make you feel something. I also highly suggest you check out all of Gregson's social media accounts!

For more about Chasers of the Light check out these sites!

AmazonB&NGoodreads


Preorder Chasers of the Light from any store or online and get a signed bookplate! Find out how HERE.

Find Tyler Knott Gregson at these sites!


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Teaser Tuesday (89): Lailah by Nikki Kelly

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

This week's teaser comes from Lailah by Nikki Kelly. I'm about to start this one and it looks like it could be pretty creepy. I guess I'll find out soon, but the cover is totally freaky. Pretty, but freaky.

Cracking its own neck from left to right, it trampled over the lifeless body, the curate's bones crunching underfoot. The creature strode through the chancel and crept inside the doorway of the vestry, where it waited.

{Lailah, Ch. 1}

Synopsis of Lailah:

The girl knows she’s different. She doesn’t age. She has no family. She has visions of a past life, but no clear clues as to what she is, or where she comes from. But there is a face in her dreams – a light that breaks through the darkness. She knows his name is Gabriel.

On her way home from work, the girl encounters an injured stranger whose name is Jonah. Soon, she will understand that Jonah belongs to a generation of Vampires that serve even darker forces. Jonah and the few like him, are fighting with help from an unlikely ally – a rogue Angel, named Gabriel.

In the crossfire between good and evil, love and hate, and life and death, the girl learns her name: Lailah. But when the lines between black and white begin to blur, where in the spectrum will she find her place? And with whom?

Gabriel and Jonah both want to protect her. But Lailah will have to fight her own battle to find out who she truly is.

For more about Lailah check out these sites!

AmazonB&NBook DepositoryGoodreads


*All quotes are taken from an uncorrected ARC. Quotes may not match the finished copy.*


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Review: Across a Star Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund

Title: Across a Star Swept Sea
Author: Diana Peterfreund
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Publish Date: October 15th, 2013
Rating:

Centuries after wars nearly destroyed civilization, the two islands of New Pacifica stand alone, a terraformed paradise where even the Reduction—the devastating brain disorder that sparked the wars—is a distant memory. Yet on the isle of Galatea, an uprising against the ruling aristocrats has turned deadly. The revolutionaries’ weapon is a drug that damages their enemies’ brains, and the only hope is rescue by a mysterious spy known as the Wild Poppy.

On the neighboring island of Albion, no one suspects that the Wild Poppy is actually famously frivolous aristocrat Persis Blake. The teenager uses her shallow, socialite trappings to hide her true purpose: her gossipy flutternotes are encrypted plans, her pampered sea mink is genetically engineered for spying, and her well-publicized new romance with handsome Galatean medic Justen Helo… is her most dangerous mission ever.

Though Persis is falling for Justen, she can’t risk showing him her true self, especially once she learns he’s hiding far more than simply his disenchantment with his country’s revolution and his undeniable attraction to the silly socialite he’s pretending to love. His darkest secret could plunge both islands into a new dark age, and Persis realizes that when it comes to Justen Helo, she’s not only risking her heart, she’s risking the world she’s sworn to protect.

In this thrilling adventure inspired by The Scarlet Pimpernel, Diana Peterfreund creates an exquisitely rendered world where nothing is as it seems and two teens with very different pasts fight for a future only they dare to imagine.

When I first read For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund I was swept up into a future dystopian society so unique, and yet so familiar, that I just knew the I needed to read its companion novel, Across a Star Swept Sea. I knew it would be equally fantastic, and boy was I right!

Across a Star Swept Sea had all the sci-fi, dystopian romance one could ever need, all wrapped up inside a clever and emotional retelling of The Scarlet Pimpernel. The story revolves around Persis Blake, a seemingly ditzy aristocrat who's sole purpose in life is telling her princess best friend what clothes she should be wearing, and Justin Helo, the revolutionary grandson of the woman who singlehandedly saved an entire class of people and who is bound to follow in her footsteps. Oh, how two descriptions could be so wrong! Persis, for all her glamour and glitz, is living a secret life as The Wild Poppy, Albian's most illustrious spy. And Justin, no matter how hard he wants to do good for his people, seems to only be able to help his uncle, the tyrant ruler of Galatea, commit atrocities against them. Once these two, from warring countries, come together it's impossible to put the book down.

Persis plays up her stupidity to keep her secret identity, well, a secret. And Justin, never suspecting empty-headed Persis could possibly be the country's greatest rebel and the only hope for his people, gets incredibly annoyed with the dumb blonde. He picks and pokes at her lack of intelligence, casting her aside when he's trying to think. But, even with Persis playing up the dumb act, he still finds things about her to like and respect, which is why I liked Justin so much. He isn't the type to say "Hey, this girl's dumb, but super hot!" He states a few times that while he finds Persis physically attractive, he could never seriously be with someone he couldn't hold a conversation with. I respect that in a guy. Though, his attitude toward Persis could be annoying at times since, as the reader, we know her ditzy act is just that.

And poor Persis. No matter how much she accomplishes for the good of humanity, she's brushed aside because no on can ever know that she is The Wild Poppy. No one can know she has a solid head on her shoulders and cares more about philosophy than fashion. But she puts up with it because of the people she can save and because someone needed to do something to try and stop the horrors Justin's uncle was committing. I really enjoyed her as a character. She's a strong, courageous heroine who's willing to make sacrifices for the greater good. And I loved her relationship with Justin. Even though she liked him, she always put her people before her love life. Persis was definitely a heroine I admired.

Across a Star Swept Sea starts out looking enough like a companion novel, with the characters from For Darkness Shows the Stars make a brief cameo, but the stories of both books are intertwined to the point that it feels more like a true sequel. As I mentioned, it's also a retelling of The Scarlett Pimpernel by Emma Orczy, but since I've never read or seen any of the movie versions I can't say if it's a true retelling. I can say that I probably enjoyed this modern version far more than I would the original.

At its heart, Across a Star Swept Sea, is a tale of equality and what it truly means to be a hero. If you enjoy sci-fi or romance Across a Star Swept Sea is sure to suck you in and keep you begging for more.

For more about Across a Star Swept Sea check out these sites!

AmazonB&N • Goodreads


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Teaser Tuesday (88): Zac & Mia by A.J. Betts

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

This week's teaser is  from Zac & Mia by A.J. Betts. I've been wanting to read this one for a while, so I'm really excited to finally have the chance. So far it's pretty good, though I do like Zac a little more than I like Mia at this point, but I haven't gotten too far in yet.

The truth is, I don't want to go to Disneyland or drive a Formula 1 with Michael Schumacher. When I finally get out of this room, the last thing I want is a fuss being made over me. All I want is to get under that huge blue sky, mucking about on the farm with Dad and Evan and playing football with the guys. Even helping Bec with the animals. I just want to be outside again, like I'm supposed to be.

{Zac & Mia, pg. 48}

Synopsis of Zac & Mia:

"When I was little I believed in Jesus and Santa, spontaneous combustion, and the Loch Ness monster. Now I believe in science, statistics, and antibiotics."

So says seventeen-year-old Zac Meier during a long, grueling leukemia treatment in Perth, Australia. A loud blast of Lady Gaga alerts him to the presence of Mia, the angry, not-at-all-stoic cancer patient in the room next door. Once released, the two near-strangers can't forget each other, even as they desperately try to resume normal lives.

The story of their mysterious connection drives this unflinchingly tough, tender novel told in two voices.

For more about Zac & Mia check out these sites!

AmazonB&NBook DepositoryGoodreads


*All quotes are taken from an uncorrected ARC. Quotes may not match the finished copy.*


Friday, August 15, 2014

Blog Tour Review: The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone by Adele Griffin

Title: The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone
Author: Adele Griffin
Publisher: Soho Teen
Publish Date: August 12th, 2014
Rating:

National Book Award-finalist Adele Griffin tells the fully illustrated story of a brilliant young artist, her mysterious death, and the fandom that won't let her go.

From the moment she stepped foot in NYC, Addison Stone’s subversive street art made her someone to watch, and her violent drowning left her fans and critics craving to know more. I conducted interviews with those who knew her best—including close friends, family, teachers, mentors, art dealers, boyfriends, and critics—and retraced the tumultuous path of Addison's life. I hope I can shed new light on what really happened the night of July 28. - Adele Griffin

The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone by Adele Griffith is a unique contemporary novel that tells the story of a young artist, caught up in her own fame and the downward spiral that eventually leads to her death. It's a story of mental illness that really captures the reader and drags them into Addison's life, without her ever actually being present in the novel.

The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone is unique because it's written as a biography. It's told entirely in interview form, which can be a little strange to read at first. Addison Stone, even if we're simply being told about her and never get to actually meet her, is so intriguing, so alive, it's not hard to get caught up in the story. But, I did find from time to time that I forgot which character was talking (at first), since there were so many interviewees. What's so interesting about learning about a character through interviews with others is that, while you learn about Addison, you learn more about the people themselves. Her parents each had their own story to tell, as did her teachers and friends, even her boyfriends. The guilt of failing Addison, of feeling they acted selfishly or thoughtlessly during her last days, can be felt in each of the characters interviews.

Like I said, there were so many characters throughout this book and they each had their own story to tell, but Lucy Lim, Addison's best friend, and Lincoln Reed were my favorite. It was the way they talked about knowing Addison, loving Addison. They don't just talk about themselves and what they were feeling and what Addy did to/for/at them. They talk about her and her feelings. They're the only characters that don't seem like they're imposing their own truth onto the story. It's through their eyes that you really feel like you're truly seeing Addison Stone.

One of the things that makes The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone special is that there's so much art throughout the book. Of course there would be, since Addison is a famous artist. There are Addison's paintings, photographs of Addison taken by friends or paparazzi. Personally, I enjoyed the mixed media presented in the book. I found myself reading about Addison's paintings and hoping there'd be a picture so I could see what everyone was talking about. It adds another dimension to the story and helps the reader better connect to Addison's life. Not to mention it makes the whole experience feel just a little more real, like Addison Stone could have been a real person.

Addison's life and art is the focus of the novel, but it's her mental illness that is at the heart of this story. It swirls around, constantly in the background, waiting to pounce. Griffin somehow made Addison's spiral into insanity seem real and terrifying, but still beautiful, much like Addison is described. Like the mental illness was just a part of her that she could never shake, no matter what meds she was on. But Addy doesn't start off crazy, just intense. The way you hear people describe some artists. It only takes a few pages to realize Addy sees the world differently than most people, but then things begin to escalate. Are the things she sees and hears real or is it all in her head? One thing's for certain, Addison's struggle is as real as they come and it's all laid out for us in this hauntingly tragic read.

The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone is an addictive read. Like tabloid gossip. It's sensationalist and dramatic and it's perfect for Addison's story. It's got mystery, romance, just a touch of something that may or may not seem a little supernatural. This book is unlike anything I've read, so I'm not really sure how to recommend it other than saying: if the synopsis intrigues you, give it a shot. You will not be disappointed.

My Tribute to Addison Stone:

As part of the blog tour everyone was asked to tribute to Addison Stone in some way, so I wrote a little poem for her. Addison was an artist, a talent lost too soon, but she burned bright while she lived.


For more about The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone check out these sites!

AmazonB&NGoodreads


Follow AddisonStoneArt on Tumblr!

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