Monday, December 31, 2012

A Summary of 2012

I guess I'll start of with the beginning of my blog.  Only this February did I create this and since then, it's just been a whole bunch of fun.  I can tell you right now that my reviewing has greatly improved from when I first began (mostly because I had no idea what I was doing) and I've met so many great and amazing fellow reviewers and authors, as well.  It's been a blessing to be a member of this community and I cannot wait to continue this experience for many years to come.

So . . . in all of 2012, I have read a total of 128 books and gave 53 of those five-star ratings.  Maybe I just love books so much?  But, while all those books were worthy of the 5 star review, I do happen to have a few that really stick out in my mind.










And shall I list all my new book boyfriends I've acquired this year, as well?  I think I shall!

8. Galen from the Of Posiedon series by Anna Banks
7. Ren from the Tiger's Saga by Colleen Houck
6. Adrian Ivashkov from the Bloodlines series by Richelle Mead
5. Lucian from the Guilded Wings Series by Aimee Agresti
4. The Darkling from the Grisha Series by Leigh Bardugo
3. Zachary Moore from the Shade Series by Jeri Smith-Ready
2. Kaidan Rowe from The Sweet Trilogy by Wendy Higgins
1. Daemon Black from the Lux Series by Jennifer L. Armentrout

And I can't forget about all the friends I've made this year!  I don't want to single anyone out, but if you're reading this, you guys know who you are!

Thank you to all of the people who have followed me around through the year and given me advice and reccomended me so many books!  You guys all rock and have a Happy New Year!  Today, I celebrate my birthday, so au revoir and see ya on the flip side!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Diviners by Libba Bray

The Synopsis:
Evie O'Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City--and she is pos-i-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult--also known as "The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies."
When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer--if he doesn't catch her first.

My Thoughts:
I'd heard a lot of positive talk about this book right before the pub date of it and I was really curious to read what it was all about.  Being that I love any historical fiction novel, it was already something that I wanted to read soon, but for some odd reason, I wasn't all that excited about it.  I've never read anything by Libba Bray, for one, and after reading the synopsis, I still wasn't sold on the idea for the book.  And people kept on saying in their reviews about how 'dark' The Diviners was and I was wondering how a book, set in the Roaring Twenties, could be dark.  I don't know.  Things didn't connect in my mind, I guess.

First off, I'll start off with the main character like I always do in my reviews.  Evie, I felt, was Iron Man.  She should not be a character that many would love, but yet, there is something about her that you can't help but relate to and empathize with.  She was smart-mouthed and witty, impulsive and sarcastic, feisty and bold, sassy and defiant.  She was the epitome of a true flapper of the time!  She surprised me because, in the beginning, I thought she was just going to annoy me with her troublemaker ways, but she had so much depth and dimension that would reach out to any audience member.  She surprised me in the most positive way and I'm happy to say that she proved me wrong.

The book in all its entirety was something almost unfathomable for me.  Being that it is in omnipotent third person, the point of view would change frequently, and yet it did not confuse me in the least.  The city is busy with people and energy and the way that Bray somehow included that into the story is amazing!  And somehow, by the end of the book, all these thoughts and actions from early on by all the characters start to tie together and my head just kind of went ". . . Whoa . . .".  It was incredible!  Ingenious!

And back to how I wasn't convinced in the least that this book was 'dark'.  I was wrong.  Like, seriously, how?  I'm not sure if I can really elaborate on the creepiness of the book without spoiling the story in one way or another.  It just was.  Also, if you haven't heard about it, this book is 592 pages or so.  That's a lot on any reader's heftiness scale.  And somehow, while it took me a little longer to read than the usual book, I didn't become bored at all during any of the parts throughout the book.  It was very engaging with all its surprising creepiness and darkness and overall amazing-ness. (that's a lot of -ness's there, might I add)

The Diviners is unlike anything I have ever read and wasn't anything I expected it to be.  It was not predictable and kept me on my toes all throughout its plot.  Not only was Evie such a different and dimensional character, but so were all the others.  There was a certain mystery that clung to all of them that made me want to learn more about them and see them interact with others.  I will say that The Diviners has made a huge impact on my--not life, per say--but reading experience, which so happens to be a large part of my life.  Fans of murder/mysteries, historical fiction, and of things that go bump in the night, I think, will absolutely enjoy and love this book like I do.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake

The Synopsis:
It's been months since the ghost of Anna Korlov opened a door to Hell in her basement and disappeared into it, but ghost-hunter Cas Lowood can't move on.
His friends remind him that Anna sacrificed herself so that Cas could live—not walk around half dead. He knows they're right, but in Cas's eyes, no living girl he meets can compare to the dead girl he fell in love with.
Now he's seeing Anna everywhere: sometimes when he's asleep and sometimes in waking nightmares. But something is very wrong...these aren't just daydreams. Anna seems tortured, torn apart in new and ever more gruesome ways every time she appears.
Cas doesn't know what happened to Anna when she disappeared into Hell, but he knows she doesn't deserve whatever is happening to her now. Anna saved Cas more than once, and it's time for him to return the favor.

My Thoughts:
I don't know about others, but after finishing reading Anna Dressed in Blood, I was a little questionable about where Blake was going with the story.  I had thoughts such as "Was there even enough to spin the story into a second successful book?"  I had my doubts.  There just didn't seem as if there was enough meat to the story for a second one.  Honestly, I would have been content with just the one book.  Why did there have to be a sequel?

However, I was glad to return into Cas's mind.  He was sarcastic and kick ass as ever and wholly entertained me.  For a moment in the beginning of Girl of Nightmares, though, I was afraid I was losing him.  I get that with the ending of Anna, he'd be all depressed, but he was almost this--dare I say?--New Moon Bella Swan.  I get it, Cas, you were depressed.  But don't mope around like a complete dodo mush-head and expect me to be okay with it.  It was a little uncharacteristic, I felt.

For most of the book, I had no idea where the story was going.  Expanding what I said earlier, I wasn't sure what else Blake could do with the plot.  Keeping this in mind, I did find Girl of Nightmares to be unpredictable, which is a great thing, except that in the beginning--mixed in with Cas's depressing mood--I had a hard time getting wrapped up into the story.  I was extremely curious as to where Blake would bring the story, but things were a little dull for me at first.

What I super enjoyed was the fact that it still held a 7 on the creepiness scale!  It wasn't as scary as the first one (or maybe this is just because I've grown a tolerance to these kinds of books) but, especially at the very end, my interest level was sky high and I had a hard time tearing away from the book because it was just that sick and adrenaline-filled.  It was awesome!  If only I had started reading books like this earlier, because it was great!

While the book got off to a shaky start, Girl of Nightmares did not let me down in the end.  I've not read many books in this genre, so I can't compare the book to others, but I suppose this series will be the kind of standard I will look for in other books of this kind.  I jumped into this series being a doubter of all things scary and creepy, and with this series, I came out a believer and lover of all things that go bump in the night.  Thank you, Kendare Blake!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

The Synopsis:
Just your average boy-meets-girl, girl-kills-people story...
Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.
So did his father before him, until his gruesome murder by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.
When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn’t expect anything outside of the ordinary: move, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, but now stained red and dripping blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home. And she, for whatever reason, spares his life.

My Thoughts:
Alright, so I might as well start off with saying that, while I read many gory or supernatural books, I'm not that big of a fan of anything scary.  I just . . . don't like them.  Even a little bit of anything scary makes me scream away in terror.  So then, while judging if I should read Anna Dressed in Blood, I thought, "Well, it's YA.  It can't be that bad."  And I'm so glad I told myself that and picked up this book, because, though it was scary and super creepy at times, I thoroughly enjoyed this book!

I loved Cas.  I can tell you right now that he will definitely be one of my favorite heroes that I'll ever read about.  He wasn't like the normal bad boy.  He was bad and he was a boy, but he didn't put up this false cold front for everyone that wasn't his mother.  His chilliness to others was out of necessity and he wasn't on this mission to make friends or be accepted throughout the book.  He could have cared less, and I honestly wish that more characters in YA would show this example of just not caring about what others think or say.  However, he did create friends, and it was not something that he had planned, but it was kind of cute to watch him try to interact with people his age.  Cas was a natural-born badass and his confidence was infectious to me.  He also just had a great voice.  Cas was sarcastic and entertaining, making it easy for me to love him and enjoy the book.

Story wise, I seriously did surprise myself.  I handled the book pretty well, and I actually slept like a baby at night (prior to, I was taking all necessary precautions to make sure nothing was lurking in any shadows and I avoided my attic at all costs).  Anna was unlike anything I have ever read.  It was creepy, mostly, and explicit with gruesome details.  And those are not bad things at all.  I liked it.  Some books shy away from describing a violent scene, but I assure you, Blake has no problem with that--and it was sweet.  Besides it being a little predictable at times, I also enjoyed the story.  There's this whole trend for ghosts being good, harmless things that can't touch you.  I don't mind reading them because, while I don't believe in ghosts, it puts my mind to rest.  If you haven't read Anna Dressed in Blood yet, I suggest you throw away those ideas of good ghosts.

And expanding on how explicit the details were, I wanted to mention that the imagery in this book was spectacular.  Truly amazing.  I could see everything--could almost smell the air.  It was such a lovely experience for me as a reader and made conjuring up these wily, unpleasant, corporal ghosts a little easier.

Oh!  Have you ever read a book with cuss words in it and it just felt like it was all forced?  That it didn't fit the characters or kind of stuck out of the text like--whoa?  I don't mind cursing at all.  If anything, I think that it makes the characters more believable because I have not met a teenager who has not cursed.  A lot.  And in Anna, Cas does curse, but it doesn't feel out of context or odd coming from him.  I was extremely happy to read a book where I couldn't wait for Cas to curse because I knew it wasn't going to be a mental-cringe moment for me.

Overall, I greatly enjoyed a book that I thought I was going to hate.  Not because of bad reviews or that the idea sounded bad, but because I underestimated my ability to swallow a semi-scary book.  Anna Dressed in Blood was, as written in my review notebook, some "creepy ass shit".  It was extremely well written and definitely changed my mind on how ghosts in books are in general.  Blake brought to life a new and greatly disturbing (but in a good way) world with likable characters and a quick pace.  For those who enjoy books with gruesome detail, evil, killer ghosts, and a likable male MC, I suggest you read Anna Dressed in Blood!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tiger's Voyage by Colleen Houck

The Synopsis:
With the head-to-head battle against the villainous Lokesh behind her, Kelsey confronts a new heartbreak: in the wake of his traumatic experience, her beloved Ren no longer remembers who she is. As the trio continues their quest by challenging five cunning and duplicitous dragons, Ren and Kishan once more vie for her affections--leaving Kelsey more confused than ever.

My Thoughts:
Alright, guys.  This is the last of the Houck books I'll be reviewing for a while now.  Honestly, I've never felt like this before where I really enjoyed the books, but the reviews are the same with the same problems and the reviewing task of my job just become arduous.  I've contemplated reviewing Tiger's Quest and Voyage or not because THEY ARE THE SAME.  While completely different with different adventures and characters and overall conflicts, underneath all that busyness are the same nagging problems that bother me.  SAME.  NAGGING.  PROBLEMS.

Kelsey, why do I want to strangle you so?  Get over this 'I'm ugly' nonsense because you wouldn't have TWO AMAZINGLY SMOKING HOT THREE HUNDRED-YEAR-OLD PRINCES wanting to get acquainted with your lips.  Because of this odd mindset that has been going on for THREE LONG BOOKS, you've become an extremely unlikable and flat character in my mind.  I've no attachment to you whatsoever.  I gave you a chance in the first book, figuring you'd come to change throughout the saga.  I became a little bothered how you've not changed in the second book at all.  But now it's the end of the third book and I'm ready to kick your butt to the curb.  You would have been a great and inspirational character to the YA genre if you weren't such a numskull.

And with the end of the third book, I've come to notice, that while the writing has greatly improved, the imagery is almost nonexistent.  Being that I've never been to India and went inside the Shore Temple, I have no idea how to picture the world Houck has brought readers to.  It is imperative that, when an author writes a book that takes place in an entirely different country than most of the demographic, the imagery has to be off the charts.  I assume that India is scorching hot.  But, never once does Kelsey complain about how hot India can get.  I mean, she goes from freezing Oregon to tropical India.  I better have at least a few clues that she is a little bit uncomfortable in this new country. 
This is what the Shore Temple looks like.  My mind did not conjure a somewhat similar image.

And Ren?  Seriously?  Memory loss?  After he came back, the cause of the problem was obvious to me and it bothered me how none of the other characters saw how predictable it was.  And Kishan?  Step back, man.  Step back.  You are deep in dangerous Team Ren territory.

That being said, I might as well mention that I greatly did enjoy this book.  I greatly enjoy the series.  But once these nagging problems stay constant throughout a number of books, they become hard to ignore and make me a little ticked off.  The adventure in this book was outstanding.  Being that I love and live right next to the ocean, I enjoyed being taken on this aquatic adventure that led me all the way to the abysmal depths of the ocean.  Jellyfish!  I was so happy to see them cuties included in the story.

And once again, while my review may seem like I am totally bashing the book to bits and pieces, I have to mention that I loved the book.  It's more of the action and adventure and Indian mythology/prophecy thing that sucked me in.  I can see why people have dropped the book--I just named all the reasons above--and maybe I'm being masochistic, but I will finish the series and hope that something good, at least, comes from all of those pesky problems.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Tiger's Quest by Colleen Houck

The Synopsis:
Back in Oregon, Kelsey tries to pick up the pieces of her life and push aside her feelings for Ren. But danger lurks around the corner, forcing her to return to India where she embarks on a second quest--this time with Ren's dark, bad-boy brother Kishan, who has also fallen prey to the Tiger's Curse. Fraught with danger, spellbinding dreams, and choices of the heart, TIGER'S QUEST brings the trio one step closer to breaking the spell that binds them.

My Thoughts:
So while I was not exactly 100% infatuated with Tiger's Curse, I was very eager to get my hands on the second and third book in the series.  I don't know if it was because the series features big kitties or that there's a lot of action or maybe just a combination of the two, but all I know is that I was very, very, very curious to see what would happen next.

Honestly, I feel like this review is going to be almost exactly like my Tiger's Curse review.

Kelsey still got on my nerves a lot of times.  The book starts off with her coming home from India and she's all depressed because she left all Mr. Hot Man alone and rejected.  She was still so insecure about herself.  I mean, she gets home and goes to college and not even a few months into the semester, she's got three--no four, if you include Ren--vying for her attention!  Seriously!  I can't even get that many dates if I tried.  And she still feels like she's not pretty.  I don't know about you, but I call that thick-skulled.  That doesn't even qualify as denial because if she was just in denial, she would know deep down that she was wrong . . . but she didn't.  And she dates them all at once, and I just found that a little trashy, if you ask me.  I mean, she wasn't looking for anything exclusive, necessarily, but who juggles around four guys at once?  Also, I feel like she hasn't grown as a character.  Or, if she has, it has been this very imperceptible shift in character.

To my liking, there was plenty of action and adventure.  I get the feeling that it wouldn't be a Houck book if there wasn't action and adventure.  And plenty of violence and evil people.  Well, I wouldn't be reading a book, really, if it didn't have any of those characteristics, either, so . . .

For the love that is good and holy!  Must there be a love triangle?  I think that the book would have been plenty successful and just as enjoyable without the triangular romance.  I mentally cringed through a lot of the book because I could see it coming and I was not liking where things were going.  I found it unnecessary and if the one point of the triangle really cared (no, I am not giving away names) he would have backed off.  Just my opinion. 

Writing wise, it was great!  It was such an improvement from the first book.  There wasn't nearly as many awkward situations or sentences that would make me actually cringe.  That was a good sign, I imagine.  It was much smoother writing and had plenty of imagery.

For this review, even though it seems as if I totally bashed the book and hated it, it's actually the exact opposite.  I deeply enjoyed the book despite all of its many flaws.  It's mostly the story that really has me interested in the story.  It was masterfully woven and is a perfect example of what a little bit of imagination can do to the mind.  While I still wasn't feeling the Indian culture, I felt the surroundings, and while I did not connect with the MC, the characters felt like people, if a little out there and strange.

Tiger's Quest will have you turning pages faster than you can imagine with its fast-paced action and adventure.  The story is what will really suck you into the book and make you fall in love with it.  The writing was such an improvement from the first book and the imagery will have you almost smelling the wild jungle air.  For those who enjoy evil opposing forces, action and adventure, and Indian mythology, I would suggest picking up the Tiger's Curse Saga.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where bloggers like me get to gush about what makes their hands all grabby.

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government "rehabilitation camp." She might have survived the mysterious disease that's killed most of America's children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.
When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she's on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her--East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can't risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.

When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.

You guys! I cannot tell you how excited I am for this book!  I've heard nothing but awesome praise for this book, and guess what?  This pretty comes out on the 18th!  That's not so far away from now!  I mean, what is a 'dangerous one'?  What can this Ruby girl do?  It sounds like just the kind of book I'd like.  However understated the cover is, it's not what its physical presence has to offer; it's what's on the inside that does.  Well . . . as long as I keep telling myself that.

Sorry for being such a terrible blogger lately!  I promise that in the next few days or so, there will be more frequent posts.  For now, enjoy this gif.

And for those of you that don't know, Killian Jones/Captain Hook (aka, his real name is Colin O'Donoghue) is my love.

Cheers, everyone!
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