Sunday, January 31, 2016

Review of Assassin's Heart by Sarah Ahiers

Title/Author: Assassin's Heart (Assassin's Heart #1) by Sarah Ahiers
Publisher/Date published: HarperTeen, February 2nd 2016
How I got this book: received it from the publisher as an egalley, thanks!

Goodreads summary: In the kingdom of Lovero, nine rival Families of assassins lawfully kill people for a price. As a highly skilled member of one of these powerful clans, seventeen-year-old Lea Saldana has always trusted in the strength of her Family. Until she awakens to find them murdered and her home in flames. The Da Vias, the Saldanas’ biggest enemy, must be responsible — and Lea should have seen it coming. But her secret relationship with the Da Vias’ son, Val, has clouded her otherwise killer instinct — and given the Da Vias more reason than ever to take her Family down.

Racked with guilt and shattered over Val’s probable betrayal, Lea sets out to even the score, with her heart set on retaliation and only one thought clear in her mind: make the Da Vias pay.

There's just something about books about assassins that always manages to draw my attention. I'm kinda wondering what this says about me...

I've been reading a lot of 'meh' books lately and have DNF-ed quite a bit, so I was REALLY hoping Assassin's Heart would not have the instant sigh factor that some of my recent reads have had. And it didn't! I was sucked in from the start and I totally love that!

We meet Lea just before the murder of her whole family (as described in the summary) and see how she operates and we also see a bit of her relationship with Val. And I really liked seeing this glimpse into what Lea's life was like before the plot of Assassin's Heart starts rolling. And knowing that it'll all go downhill very fast gives it a bittersweet vibe from the get-go.

I really liked Lea. I mean, she's definitely a kickass character in the literal sense of the word, but she's also smart and determined and even though I'm a bit like, girl shouldn't you think a bit more before running off and doing whatever, she makes it work. I did really want someone to shake some sense into her when she's all like 'I'll murder ALL the Da Via's for what they did' and there are like 50 of them and she's by herself. Yeah. Odds and all that. BUT she has a plan and is also open to adjusting it a bit, so I could work with this.

I really enjoyed the worldbuilding and I loved that Lea's views about how 'normal' the system is that they have in Lovera with it being legal to kill people for money are being challenged a bit. I mean, the whole idea behind this and the mythology is delightfully complicated and I loved getting a bit deeper into the how and why of things. I cannot imagine the whole Family before family thing, but it's maffia-esque and while I don't really understand it, I can accept it for what it is.

The plot is pretty fast paced and towards the end things start snowballing almost out of control, but OBVIOUSLY Lea has a plan and after the bomb that was dropped plotwise in the last couple of chapters, I'm REALLY wondering what will happen next! I felt like this was a very solid start to the series!

My rating: 4,5 stars

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Review of The Year We Fell Apart by Emily Martin

Title/Author: The Year We Fell Apart by Emily Martin
Publisher/Date published: Simon Pulse, January 26th 2016
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley, thanks!

Goodreads summary: In the tradition of Sarah Dessen, this powerful debut novel is a compelling portrait of a young girl coping with her mother’s cancer as she figures out how to learn from — and fix — her past.

Few things come as naturally to Harper as epic mistakes. In the past year she was kicked off the swim team, earned a reputation as Carson High’s easiest hook-up, and officially became the black sheep of her family. But her worst mistake was destroying her relationship with her best friend, Declan.

Now, after two semesters of silence, Declan is home from boarding school for the summer. Everything about him is different — he’s taller, stronger... more handsome. Harper has changed, too, especially in the wake of her mom’s cancer diagnosis.

While Declan wants nothing to do with Harper, he’s still Declan, her Declan, and the only person she wants to talk to about what’s really going on. But he’s also the one person she’s lost the right to seek comfort from.

As their mutual friends and shared histories draw them together again, Harper and Declan must decide which parts of their past are still salvageable, and which parts they’ll have to let go of once and for all.

So I'm usually the person who avoids books dealing with illness, in the main character or one of the people they're close to. But every once in a while I do pick one up and usually end up loving it. And this is what happened with The Year We Fell Apart.

Obviously Harper is a flawed main character, she's made an enormous mess of everything and she seems determined to keep making self-destructive decisions. But what you also get from being inside her head in this novel is that she's struggling SO much to keep everything together, and sometimes it doesn't work and she falls apart and does things that she later regrets. And you know what, I get it. She's dealing with a LOT and it's not even remotely resembling easy and sometimes she just wants to feel good, only the things she does that aren't the best decisions, don't actually make her feel good. And she slowly starts to realise this, but it's hard to change this. Especially when a whole lot of people have already made up their minds about who you are.

I loved that she has an awesome friend in Cory, he's just an amazingly good guy and he sticks with Harper, even though it must be really hard for him to juggle his friendship with her and with Declan after what happened. I also really liked seeing Harper develop a healthy friendship with two girls who she meets in her photography class, as the only other female friendship she's got going on is definitely more of the frenemy type and HATE that. I mean, wow, way to be supportive.

The thing is, I was pretty much loving this, though it's a lot more dark and angsty than the cover lets on, but the last part of the book kinda ruined it a bit for me. I mean, I was rooting for the romance to develop because hello, Declan is a good guy and I liked how Harper was the best version of herself when she was around him. I always feel that you shouldn't need to change essentially to be with someone, but they should make you be the best version of yourself, so I was full on going YES. But then some stuff happened towards the end and that just popped my happy swoony bubble and it was just extremely not ok. I mean, WOW, REALLY? I can get why he jumped to conclusions, but the way he reacts after that is just so insanely way over the line that I just could not after that. Basically all my happy feelings were gone.

So while I think this is a strong debut that deals with the illness of a family member in a very realistic way and shows how it can affect someone, I still had some serious problems with the way things ended and that soured my opinion of The Year We Fell Apart a bit.

My rating: 3,5 stars

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Review of Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Title/Author: Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1) by Susan Dennard
Publisher/Date published: Tor, January 14th 2016
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through Netgalley, thanks! I also bought a shiny finished copy :)

Goodreads summary: On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery”, a magical skill that sets them apart from others.

In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble — as two desperate young women know all too well.

Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.

Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her — but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi’s hotheaded impulsiveness.

Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

Obviously there's a lot of hype surrounding Truthwitch. It's only been on pretty much everyone and their aunt's NEED THIS list for a LONG time and the extreme gorgeousness of the cover is definitely adding to this for me. So I was both very excited and a bit scared to pick this up, because what if I didn't like it??

But I'm glad to say that I did very much like it, though I'm not fangirling all over it like I've seen many people do over the past months. Which would have been awesome, but I'm ok with things as they are now.

I LOVED the frienship between Iseult and Safi, they are true sisters in the best sense of the word and I really feel like they would do anything for each other. And as Susan says in the acknowledgements: 'A friendship can be as epic as a romance'. This friendship is the kind that launches a thousand ships and it is a beautiful thing to see in a book. Especially with a lot of friendships in novels being more like frenemies, which always annoys me.

And as much as I liked the girls together, I also really like them for their own persons. They're both amazing in their own way and I have so many questions about their past! I hope we'll see more of this as the series continues. They are both badass and have a set of skills that awes me, but definitely something that was hard earned instead of just given to them.

I really liked the worldbuilding and the different types of witches are very interesting! I hope we'll get to explore this more, because I'm definitely curious about how everything ties together and what exactly makes a person be a witch and others not so much. And what makes you be a certain type of witch. The thing I'm still a bit confused about though, is why exactly a Truthwitch is so valuable. I mean, I get that it's handy to rulers to have one, you can't be lied to, but it seems that there'd be even more useful skills to have. I mean, basically every country hunting Safi because of this seemed a bit over much.

As much as I loved the friendship between Safi and Iseult, I wasn't really feeling the romance. I mean, it was okay, but I wasn't really shipping it. The part leading up to the kiss was pretty great, but other than that it fell a bit flat for me.

So yes, like most of the blogging world, I really liked Truthwitch and I'm very curious to see what will happen next!

My rating: 4 stars

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Review of Burn by Elissa Sussman

Title/Author: Burn (Four Sisters #2) by Elissa Sussman
Publisher/Date published: Greenwillow Books, January 19th 2016
How I got this book: received it from the publisher as an egalley, thanks!

Goodreads summary: After helping to rescue Princess Aislynn, Elanor has finally rejoined the rebel camp she calls home. Stolen from her parents at a young age and forced into service by the Wicked Queen, Elanor now wants nothing more than to see the queen removed from power. But Elanor has secrets, mistakes she’s spent years trying to forget, and the closer the rebels get to the throne, the harder it is for Elanor to keep her past hidden away.

With fellow rebels on her side — including Princess Aislynn, Thackery, and the handsome and mysterious Matthias — it is time for Elanor to make a decision. Will she protect her secrets? Or risk everything to save the people she loves?

So I really enjoyed Stray when I read it last year, so I was excited to see Burn pop up on Edelweiss! I mean, I've been waiting for some answers for AGES, so yeah, obviously I wanted to read Burn.

Sadly, Burn didn't work as well for me as Stray did. I mean, I felt a little lost throughout the whole story and that's just not a very good feeling. I like to be fully immersed in a story and the characters and experience everything right along with them. And that never happened with Burn. I kept wondering where the storyline was going and why exactly we were being told all these things and basically just what was the point to it all. I'm still not entirely sure about all these things.

Eleanor is in theory a very kickass woman, she fights, she's not afraid to admit that she falls in love with a person and isn't inhibited by a gender in this. I love that not everyone is the standard straight in this series. But while Eleanor is interesting, there just wasn't enough of a plot to back it all up. People did things (major vagueness, I know) that I'm still confused about, I mean, it was just WEIRD and seemed out of character. That is based on the things we actually get to know about the characters, cause most of the ones we're introduced to in Burn aren't given a lot of depth, sadly.

I did like learning more about Eleanor's past and her relationship with the Queen, but I'm still not really sure why the Queen did what she did and that kinda bugs me. Also, I'm not entirely convinced by the romance and aside from a very cute fox that I just wanted to HUG, there wasn't much that I was very enthusiastic about. The fox totally stole the show.

My rating: 2 stars

Monday, January 18, 2016

Review of Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan

Title/Author: Sword and Verse (Sword and Verse #1) by Kathy MacMillan
Publisher/Date published: HarperTeen, January 19th 2016
How I got this book: received it from the publisher as an egalley, thanks!

Goodreads summary: Raisa was just a child when she was sold to work as a slave in the kingdom of Qilara. Despite her young age, her father was teaching her to read and write, grooming her to take his place as a Learned One. In Qilara, the Arnathim, like Raisa, are the lowest class, and literacy is a capital offense. What’s more, only the king, prince, tutor, and tutor-in-training are allowed to learn the very highest order language, the language of the gods. So when the tutor-in-training is executed for teaching slaves this sacred language, and Raisa is selected to replace her, Raisa knows any slipup on her part could mean death.

Keeping her secret is hard enough, but the romance that’s been growing between her and Prince Mati isn’t helping matters. Then Raisa is approached by the Resistance — an underground army of slave rebels — to help liberate Arnath slaves. She wants to free her people, but that would mean aiding a war against Mati. As Raisa struggles with what to do, she discovers a secret that the Qilarites have been hiding for centuries — one that, if uncovered, could bring the kingdom to its knees.

So Sword and Verse has been getting a lot of negative reviews and I have to say that I actually did really like this! My expectations were somewhat lowered by the not so glowing thing I'd heard, so that might have helped, but I genuinely liked this.

I really liked Raisa, she's been through a lot as a kid and she's part of a group of people that is being repressed by the nation she lives in. They're slaves to the Qilarites and the way they are treated is apalling and the dangers they put the children in, that's just.. awful. And Raisa has found a way to live a better life than most as she became Tutor in training. She's a little safer and is treated better than most of the Arnathim. And because you see the way that she interacts with the current Tutor and with Mati, the prince, I could understand her hesitancy to join the Resistance and risk her life and everything in it. I felt that it was a realistic struggle between her loyalties and I enjoyed seeing her grow as a person and find what's important to her.

One of the other things I really liked was the language, while science is more my thing, I loved learning languages in school as a teen and I'd still love to learn Spanish, Italian and Chinese if I ever find the time for it. So I was very interested in how the Qilarite language system works and especially once Raisa starts on trying to figure out the Arnathim language. There's a lot of technical stuff and details about the whole language and Raisa learning it, but that didn't bother me, though it slowed down the plot a bit at times. The thing that I did feel kinda iffy about is that I have zero idea as to how Raisa actually figured out the key to the Arnathim language. I mean, she had basically nothing to go on and then she just starts figuring it out because she hears her father's voice in her head? Who hadn't really started teaching her language before he was killed? I mean, huh? Je suis confused.

Also, I can get behind the romance, I'm not full on shipping it, but I do like that Mati and Raisa actually have a history together and have known each other for years before things start to happen. At times I wished Mati was a bit of a better man, cause I can't for the life of me figure out how he thought it was a good idea to keep certain things from Raisa, but I did like how she handled it. I mean, she doesn't forgive him out of hand and she definitely shows that she's the better person for it. I mean, that was just a big no.

So the ending leaves me very interested to see how things will go on, because certainly the events that lead up to it are gonna lead to a LOT of changes and I am definitely reading the sequel to find out what happens next!

My rating: 4 stars

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Mini-Reviews (11): One Tempting Proposal, Da Vinci's Tiger, Maid-sama! Vol 1 & 2

So sometimes I fail at writing reviews for the books I've read, and 2015 has me failing spectacularly. And because it's been AGES since I read these, I'm just gonna do mini-reviews of them, so as to clear my need-review shelf (cause it's humungous, it's not even funny anymore).

Title/Author: One Tempting Proposal (Accidental Heirs #2) by Christy Carlyle
Publisher/Date published: Avon Impulse, November 17th 2015
How I got this book: received it from the publisher as an egalley, thanks!

It's been a while, but I remember liking One Tempting Proposal, but not loving it. There's a lot of pressure on Kitty to get married and her father is being an absolute pain in the ass about it and that was pretty annoying. I mean, I get that in that time period getting one's children married off was important, but why would he sacrifice the happiness (and marriage) of one of his daughters because he wanted to other one to get married? I mean, how is this logical?

Anyway, the romance between Kitty and Sebastian was nice, I didn't get all the feels, but it was ok. There's just so much going on around it and schemes and I just couldn't fully get into it. But I liked it.

My rating: 3 stars

Title/Author: Da Vinci's Tiger by L.M. Elliott
Publisher/Date published: Katherine Tegen Books, November 10th 2015
How I got this book: received it from the publisher as an egalley, thanks!

I really enjoyed this historical fiction set in the time period of Leonardo Da Vinci! L.M. Elliott introduces the concept of Platonical love/muses and I'd never heard of it before, it's fascinating! I'm still not entirely sure I fully understand it, but it is obvious that the author has delved into this subject and knows a lot about it and how it was handled in society back then. It seemed to be very good for your standing in society, especially if you were the female half of the pairing.

Ginevra was a decent main character, she's smart, she's passionate about art and I really liked her. She's stuck in this marriage to an older man and I was a bit confused as to mostly not being around of her husband, but apparantly this happened more often back then. The ending was a bit dissatisfying for me, cause I would have liked for there to have been a bit more romance to the story, but the man who made Ginevra his Platonic muse wigged me out, so that wasn't really an option for shipping. I guess it shouldn't matter, but I was basically being Team Ginevra because she's awesome and then she doesn't actually win at anything in the end. It was a bittersweet ending for me to a book that I otherwise really enjoyed.

My rating: 4 stars

Title/Author: Maid-sama! Vol 1 &2 by Hiro Fujiwara
Publisher/Date published: VIZ Media LLC, August 4th 2015
How I got this book: bought it

I'd been meaning to try manga and my friend Debby LOVES this series, so I decided to give it a try.
And guys, this is SO CUTE! I mean, I have to be honest and say that my feelings get involved more easily when it's a book, but this is so incredibly well done and the illustrations are amazing and just YES OK? I totally ship it.
It's just fun and whimsical and obviously I'm continuing this series.

My rating: 5 stars

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Review of The Killing Jar by Jennifer Bosworth

Title/Author: The Killing Jar by Jennifer Bosworth
Publisher/Date published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, January 12th 2016
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley, thanks!

Goodreads summary: “I try not to think about it, what I did to that boy.”

Seventeen-year-old Kenna Marsden has a secret.

She’s haunted by a violent tragedy she can’t explain. Kenna’s past has kept people — even her own mother — at a distance for years. Just when she finds a friend who loves her and life begins to improve, she’s plunged into a new nightmare. Her mom and twin sister are attacked, and the dark powers Kenna has struggled to suppress awaken with a vengeance.

On the heels of the assault, Kenna is exiled to a nearby commune, known as Eclipse, to live with a relative she never knew she had. There, she discovers an extraordinary new way of life as she learns who she really is, and the wonders she’s capable of. For the first time, she starts to feel like she belongs somewhere. That her terrible secret makes her beautiful and strong, not dangerous. But the longer she stays at Eclipse, the more she senses there is something malignant lurking underneath it all. And she begins to suspect that her new family has sinister plans for her...

So I was pretty excited to start this because the summary hints at dark powers and a commune that could also be read as cult and I'm both fascinated and very scared by cults, so it's always interesting to me when they appear in a novel.

Sadly, I have to say that The Killing Jar didn't really work all that well for me. I mean, the plot was sort of interesting, but I kept getting annoyed by the characters. All of them. Most of all Kenna and her mother and also her grandmother and everyone in the commune. I mean, holy wow, can we just say people kept making REALLY bad decisions? And I'm not just talking about the teenagers, but mostly about the adults and I just cannot.

I mean, I'm sorry, but Kenna has done something awful and her mother KNOWS this and also knows what caused it and then she just sort of keeps Kenna at a distance and doesn't tell her about this? I mean, WHAT? And then all of a sudden something else happens and Kenna's mom decides to send her to this commune? I mean, WHAT THE WHAT? Without really explaining anything she just up and leaves Kenna there and OMG I got so angry at this! I mean, can we say bad parenting?

And Kenna herself... Well, I'm just not a fan. I felt like she was just completely ignoring what was right in front of her and why was she not questioning things more at the commune? I mean, maybe I'm just naturally suspicious, but something was OFF from the moment she got there and she's just like 'lalala, I'm just gonna sniff flowers and sing and dance and well, maybe the people here are weird and they don't tell me anything about anything, but I'm just gonna ignore that'. And the way she handled things with her twin sister was just not ok. I get that she's confused because of all the shiny things they did show her at Eclipse, but seriously, you have a brain, please use it.

The only reason I finished this because I wanted very badly to know what was behind everything at Eclipse. And we're sort of told about it, but my curiosity isn't really satisfied with the answers we're given. I think I just feel like this could have gone a lot deeper into things and now it felt very superficial and just not what I had expected.

My rating: 1,5 stars

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: 2015 Releases I Meant To Get To But Didn't

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by my other blog The Broke and the Bookish

This list could also be dubbed as 'all the ways I failed in 2015'. Oh well.

1. Spinning Thorns by Anna Sheehan: I loved A Long, Long Sleep and am very excited by this fairytale retelling of Sleeping Beauty!

2. Mystic by Jason Denzel: this looks so, SO good! And the cover is so pretty! I failed at getting my hands on this, but it's on the list for 2016!

3. Walk On Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson: I can't believe I haven't read this, I LOVE Rae Carson's writing! This should me remedied soon.

4. The Shadow Behind the Stars by Rebecca Hahn: It's about the Fates. OBVIOUSLY I bought this, but then failed to read it..

5. Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray: The Diviners was amazing but this thing is HUGE and it scares me a little. But I will definitely read it!

6. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin: there's really not enough buzz about this amazing author, I loved her Inheritance trilogy and really have no good excuse for why I failed to read this one.

7. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard: there was SO much hype surrounding this book! I think that's part of why I failed to read it, but I'm still planning to!

8. Half a War by Joe Abercrombie: LOVE this series!! But I'm slightly terrified of reading the final book in a series, so this has been staring at me from my shelf...

9. The Shattered Court by M.J. Scott: this sounds amazing and I LOVE the cover!

10. Lying Out Loud by Kody Keplinger: 2015 was the year in which I discovered the awesomeness that is Kody Keplinger. I should really get my butt in gear and not only read this one, but ALL of her books.

Tell me what 2015 releases you missed out on reading!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Mini-Reviews (10): Dukes Prefer Blondes, Rules for 50/50 Chances, The Seventh Bride

So sometimes I fail at writing reviews for the books I've read, and 2015 has me failing spectacularly. And because it's been AGES since I read these, I'm just gonna do mini-reviews of them, so as to clear my need-review shelf (cause it's humungous, it's not even funny anymore).

Title/Author: Dukes Prefer Blondes (Dressmakers #4) by Loretta Chase
Publisher/Date published: Avon, December 29th 2015
How I got this book: received it from the publisher as an egalley

So I was very much feeling both the heroine and the hero and their romance! There's lots of banter and there's heated looks and kissing and lots of real problems for them to overcome, not in the least that Clara's parents do not approve of a match with someone who's an untitled barrister. Even though he loves their daughter.
I loved that Oliver wasn't really all that enthusiastic about the prospect of becoming a duke and I very much enjoyed seeing his relationship with his parents and also obviously he's a very smart man and that's just plain sexy in my opinion.
It was a very enjoyable read, it didn't blow me away, but I did like it very much!

My rating: 4 stars

Title/Author: Rules For 50/50 Chances by Kate McGovern
Publisher/Date published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, November 24th 2015
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley

This is a book that really made me think about making choices when faced with a sick family member and a disease that you could possibly inherit from them. And it's one of the few books that I've decided to read even though I usually shy away from anything to do with my line of work usually. I liked that it's not clear cut for Rose what she wants to do and that she does fully understand how life changing both a negative and a positive test result can be.
So while I did really like the realistic struggle that we see Rose deal with and I liked Rose, I didn't very much care for the romance or the boy the romance was being had with. I thought he was annoying and while I liked that he wanted to be there for his own family who had to deal with illness, I didn't always like the way he treated Rose.
So I liked this, but the romance kinda ruined parts of it for me. I know, I can't even believe that I'm saying this either.

My rating: 3,5 stars

Title/Author: The Seventh Bride by T. Kingfisher
Publisher/Date published: 47North, November 24th 2015
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley

Throughout this whole novel I was unsure how to place this, is it YA or is it MG? It felt like it should be YA because of the age of the heroine, but the story and how she acted had more of a MG feeling to it most of the time and this kinda bothered me, cause she obviously she's WAY too young to be marrying anybody, but she sounded even younger than her years and it didn't add up to the things she does towards the end of the book.
I did like the magical parts of the book with the master of the house and the house itself and how Rhea has to accomplish tasks in order for her to stop from being married and how she has a very helpful hedgehog, which was the cutest thing ever!
I almost gave up on this book a couple of times, but in the end I'm glad I stuck with it, cause the conclusion to the story was very interesting!

My rating: 3 stars

Friday, January 8, 2016

Blog Tour: Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley, Guest Post and Giveaway!

I'm honored to be asked by the lovely Lena Coakley herself to be part of this blog tour! For a full list of the tour stops click here. I actually reviewed Worlds of Ink and Shadow on the blog last Tuesday, so check it out if you're interested!

First off Lena will talk about the books that influenced her and then at the end of this post there will be a giveaway!

An Autobiography of My Early Life Masquerading as The Five Books That Have Influenced Me the Most
by Lena Coakley

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

What a lucky thing that I had parents who read aloud to me. This book is one of my earliest memories. The part I love most is when Peter puts a snowball in his pocket before going to bed and doesn’t know where it’s gone in the morning. It’s the first time I remember having that delicious feeling of knowing more than the main character. I still love it when an author is able to give me that feeling. As a child, I don’t remember thinking much about the fact that The Snowy Day has a black protagonist, but I’ve often wondered (as a white girl who lived in a mostly white neighbourhood) if this book influenced me—and thousands of other children—in subtle and positive ways, and I’m grateful I grew up in a time when Ezra Jack Keats was helping to make picture books more inclusive.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis

My grandmother read this book out loud to me when I was in second grade. I’d been through a lot. Both my parents were ill and unable to take care of me. Due to moving around, I was in my third school in six months. I hated reading and didn’t think I was very smart—but my grandmother knew kids and she knew how to make them readers. This was her philosophy: Human beings are addicted to story. If you want to make a child a reader, remove all avenues to story except books—and then provide lots of those. In practice what this meant was, no TV. At first I was appalled. I resisted. We had a radio that got TV  stations and I remember watching the movie Xanadu by listening to the radio and using binoculars to look through the window of a neighbor who was watching it. (My cousin Ray—also raised in the church of no TV—would slip away to the local Laundromat and watch soap operas.)
Eventually, though, that human need for story won out, and The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe was my watershed book. The pure magic of the story was irresistible. After it, I was a reader, and I devoured the rest of the series myself.

Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury

For a too-brief four years before he died, my father was well enough to take care of me, and I went to  live with him again. He was, let’s be frank, a huge nerd. He loved comic books. He collected electric trains and set them up on our dining room table. He had no idea how to raise a girl by himself. He also loved genre fiction, something my grandmother disdained. Ray Bradbury was my father’s favourite author and I still remember him reading Dandelion Wine out loud to me. Since he was a drama teacher and ham, every chapter was a performance. He used accents and different voices and would pace back and forth across the floor.
It turned out to be a very lucky thing for me as both a reader and a writer to have a lover of science fiction and fantasy in my life. At the time (grades 4-6) the fiction I was reading was still full of magic and wonder, but as I grew older the books that were considered literary had fewer and fewer fantastic elements. If it hadn’t been for my father and Dandelion Wine, I might have come to believe that the fantastic was something you grew out of.

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

I went back to living with my grandmother, but now, instead of needing her to read to me, she needed me to read to her. My grandmother, who adored books, had eye problems that only allowed her to read for an hour a day. That would be plenty for some, but she felt the loss of her reading time keenly. When we read David Copperfield, she would read the first two pages of every chapter and I’d read the rest. My grandmother and I didn’t always have an easy time with each other during my teen years. We were both strong willed, bossy, and opinionated. There were some screaming matches. But somehow we could always put it all aside to read some more David Copperfield. It took us years, but I remember us getting to the end about two days before my senior prom, tears streaming down both our faces. I reread this book about every ten years now, and whenever I do, I start to hear the words in my grandmother’s voice.

Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borges

I never stopped reading, never stopped loving books, but somehow, when I was about twenty, I found that some of the wonder had gone. I came to think that I’d never again be blown away by books the way I’d been blown away by them when I was twelve. Oh, jaded, jaded twenty-year-old girl. I don’t think I studied one science fiction or fantasy book in High School or university, so my education was giving me a clear message: adult fiction is realistic fiction. Don’t get me wrong, there are many realistic books that I love, but my reading world had narrowed. It had narrowed much more than it needed to. Magical realism wasn't on my radar yet. I tried reading fantasy and science fiction but—and this is just because I wasn’t reading the right books—it seemed to me they didn’t have the complexity and great writing I craved. I pulled this collection off a shelf at random while on vacation. I read the first short story “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius. Mind blown.
Ficciones was the first book I read as an adult that convinced me I could read with the same deep sense of awe and amazement I had experienced when I was eight reading the Narnia books or ten reading Ozma of Oz or twelve reading A Wizard of Earthsea. If I had pulled a different book off that shelf, I might have drifted away from reading, and that would have been a sad thing.

Thanks so much for having me on the blog, Daisy!

Lena Coakley was born in Milford, Connecticut and grew up on Long Island. In High School, Creative Writing was the only course she ever failed (nothing was ever good enough to hand in!), but, undeterred, she went on to study writing at Sarah Lawrence College. She lives in Toronto, Canada. Witchlanders is her debut novel.

Connect with the Author:  Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads 

Thanks so much for writing this lovely post Lena! And now for the giveaway:


10 winners: A Copy of WORLDS OF INK AND SHADOW curtesy of Amulet Books, Harper Collins Canada or Lena Coakley

5 winners: A black Brontë bonnet!

1 Grand Prize Winner: 
A Copy of WORLDS OF INK AND SHADOW (Canadian or US edition dependent on country of winner)
A Hardcover Everyman's Library edition of JANE EYRE by Charlotte Brontë
A Hardcover Everyman's Library edition of WUTHERING HEIGHTS by Emily Brontë
A softcover Penguin edition of THE TENANT OF WILDFELL HALL by Anne Brontë
A softcover  Hesperus edition of THE SPELL, juvenilia of Charlotte Brontë
Toasty Almond Tea from Tealish
A cloth ornament of Charlotte Brontë's childhood hero, The Duke of Wellington, inspiration for her character, Zamorna

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Review of How To Rescue a Rake by Jayne Fresina

Title/Author: How To Rescue a Rake (Book Club Belles Society #3) by Jayne Fresina
Publisher/Date published: Sourcebooks Casablanca, January 5th 2016
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley, thanks!

Goodreads summary: HOW TO RESCUE A RAKE:

Reject his marriage proposal
Nathaniel Sherringham has returned to Hawcombe Prior a changed man. Gone is the reckless rake who went out on a limb to propose to Diana Makepiece three years ago. Now Nate's mysterious new wealth has the town's rumor mill spinning. To stir things up (and get Diana's attention), Nate boldly announces his plans to marry "any suitable girl" under the age of 25.

Run away
Diana, now 27 and still single, is acutely aware of Nate's return. When her mother suggests a trip to visit a cousin in Bath, Diana leaps at the chance to escape the heartbreak and regret she can't help but feel in Nate's presence... and avoid his irritating charade to find a bride.

But for Nate, Diana has always been the one. He might just have to follow her to Bath and once again lay his heart on the line to win her attention - and her heart.

It is no secret that I have lots of love for Jane Austen and will forever give retellings of her wonderful stories a chance. But I had not realised this would be a sort of retelling and it was a very pleasant surprise!

I really liked Diana, she's smart and she knows what she wants and while I would sometimes like her to be a little less sensible, cause it doesn't really lead to kissing usually, I did like her having a decent head on her shoulders. The thing I didn't like so much was that she was so easily influenced by other people into doing the 'proper' thing, like starting to wear a lace cap and everything, I mean, can you say horrendous? I did really appreciate seeing her grow and become her own person. It's kinda sad that she had to leave home and mostly her mother to accomplish this, but she did it and it was wonderful to see!

And Nate, Nate is my kind of hero, he's very alpha male, and he's also very loyal and caring and just YES. I loved how he would try and look foolish just to get Diana to smile and how he encourages her to share more of herself with the world because he likes her and watns to hear what she has to say.

And together these two were just *HAPPY SIGH*. I loved it. There were sparks and I had tears in my eyes at times and it was basically Jane Austen but with more kissing! Also, for a historical romance, How To Rescue a Rake was actually pretty clean up until the last couple of chapters. But there are LOOKS and banter and TENSION and it was just so, SO good!

My rating: 5 stars

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Review of Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley

Title/Author: Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley
Publisher/Date published: Amulet Books, January 5th 2016
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley, thanks!

Goodreads summary: Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne. The Brontë siblings have always been inseparable. After all, nothing can bond four siblings quite like life in an isolated parsonage out on the moors. Their vivid imaginations lend them escape from their strict upbringing, actually transporting them into their created worlds: the glittering Verdopolis and the romantic and melancholy Gondal. But at what price? As Branwell begins to slip into madness and the sisters feel their real lives slipping away, they must weigh the cost of their powerful imaginations, even as their characters — the brooding Rogue and dashing Duke of Zamorna — refuse to let them go.

So I already knew that I loved Lena Coakley's writing, because I ADORED Witchlanders and as it had been over 4 years since I read that particular gem, I was beyond excited to get my hands on another one of her books, never mind that it's not the sequel to Witchlanders that my heart yearns for. I also feel very honored that Lena Coakley reached out to me to be a part of the blog tour for Worlds of Ink and Shadow, I'll have a guest post by this lovely lady up on Friday!

And guys, I totally loved Worlds of Ink and Shadow! It's not high fantasy goodness, but it is a crossover between historical fiction and fantasy and I was really feeling it! And it's definitely not a bad thing that it's centered around the Brontë siblings, I mean, Charlotte Brontë holds a special place in my heart for having written Jane Eyre, which is one of my favourite stories ever and very much due a reread. It was just so interesting! I love that it's based on things the siblings have written in their younger years, because now I can imagine things actually went down like they did in Worlds of Ink and Shadow and pretend the world is an even more magical place than it already is when I have all these stories to immerse myself in.

Characterwise, I have a soft spot for Emily. Which is kind of surprising to me, as I didn't really like Wuthering Heights, but it does make me reconsider rereading it. I loved how she's passionate and how she doesn't shy away from danger and by being herself makes this wonderful man fall in love with her.

And you know what, Lena Coakley perfectly captured my feeling of 'No they're not JUST characters in a book' in a much more refined way. She made these historical figures come to life, but she also had the characters in their stories literally come to life and it just resonates with me that characters and stories are not just there in the books, we carry them with us wherever we go and I now feel fully justified in my frustration when a series (mostly TV, TV shows getting cancelled is a sad, sad thing) is discontinued and then we'll NEVER KNOW what happens next for the characters! It's just not a very good option.

Basically, I found myself again loving Lena Coakley's writing style and the way she has with words. I'm wishing for a lot more books from her in the future!

My rating: 4,5 stars

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Happy New Year!! Looking back on 2015 and Goals for 2016 and Such :)

So, I'll start with my usual of HI! It's been a while... I don't know why this keeps happening, but I also keep coming back to blogging, cause I do love it.
But it's a whole new year and I wish everyone lots of love, health and only good things and amazing reads for 2016!

Looking Back on 2015

Bloggingwise: Yep, I kinda totally failed again. I did REALLY well up until June, and then we went on vacation and my brain never went out of vacation mode and everything just sort of... stopped happening on the blog. My goal was to get the number of review I had to write back into the single digits and instead it's gone into the triple digits... Yeah... I suck.
I've done a teensy bit better on the requesting things on NetGalley and Edelweiss goal, but let's face it, I could still really do with some cutting back in that department. 

Reading: So I actually read 159 books this year (it sort of irks me that it's not a nice rounded number), which I'm pretty proud of! I've dipped my toes in the world of manga and graphic novels and I really like it so far, so I'm looking forward to read more of them in 2016! If it wasn't for book club, I probably wouldn't have read some of the books I read this year, including The Casual Vacancy and Anne of Green Gables. Some are bigger successes than others, but you can't have it all ;) I've been trying to get more backlist reading in, but the shiny new releases keep being shiny and distracting. 

TV wise: I've been watching a lot of series this year and I LOVE it, it's interfering with my reading time a bit, but hey, with 159 books read, I'm not all that worried. I've started watching Nashville, Downton Abbey, Awkward and White Collar. Sadly, one of my favourite series, Hart of Dixie, ended and I was filled with all the sads. And also due to some deaths on TV series. Can all the TV show writers just stop killing off my favourite male characters? KTHANXBAI.

Personal life: I haven't been sharing all that much on the blog about what's going on with me personally, but 2015 has mostly been a good year for me!

-I cut back on the hours I work and now work 80%, which means a full day off each week and it's heaven. I have a lot more energy to actually do stuff on the weekends and I get things done and it's just bliss. It also helps that we got someone to clean our house for us, I used to put a lot of energy into procrastinating about cleaning and now I don't have to anymore!

-I finished my ER rotation in August, I totally loved it! It was hard at times with all the night shift and I had some experiences there that I could honestly say that I could have done without because it was just horrible, but I learned a lot and the people were awesome. It's also made me more into the person that says yes to things, mostly work-related, but still. I'm more confident and I know I can hold my own in a tough situation, which is really worth a lot to me.

-I also did a psych rotation. Yeah. Let's just say that while I do appreciate the things I learned there, it wasn't really my thing and I'm glad it's over. I was so stressed from not enjoying my work there! I didn't even fully realise this until it was over and I started work somewhere else and I was just HAPPY.

-In December I started my final year of residency as a GP and it's AMAZING so far. I get real enjoyment out of working again, the people are lovely and it's just a good place for me. So I'm very thankful for that!

-The boyfriend and I went on vacation to Thailand and Berlin this year. Thailand is just this beautiful place with so much amazing nature and very friendly people and yummy food! We went on a group holiday and met some wonderful people on it. 
Berlin was fun as well, the Christmas markets had just opened and everything was decorated festively and there was gluhwein and chocolate covered strawberries and we also did some cultural stuff ;) Oh, and we stayed in an apartment that came with a cat, so that was awesome. I love visiting different places, but I'm always happy to go home again as well!

-Obviously book club keeps being awesome. They are my people, I love how we've done the 24 hour readathon together and I always look forward to our monthly meet-ups! I love how we manage to always pick the restaurants with the worst service ever (except for last time, that was a fancy nancy place and they were very friendly!) and we still have a good time and flail over books and generally spook the other customers. I regret nothing. <3 p="">

Goals for 2016

-Get back to blogging. I know this was my #1 goal last year, but I failed spectacularly in the second half of 2016 and I really want to fix this. I'm gonna try and crank out mini-reviews for all the books that are on my need-review shelf and hopefully get the number down a lot soonish.

-The requesting less on NetGalley and Edelweiss thing still stands. I'm SO bad at this! I've gotten a little better, but then there'll be a lot of shiny looking new additions to the catalog and I'll just be like YES NEED TO HAVE IT!! 

-Hand in hand with requesting less goes reading more of my own books. I've gotten a little better at this in 2015, but I still have a LOT of unread books on my shelves, so this needs to happen.

-Now that I don't need to clean my house anymore, I should really get a bit better about tidying it, more specifically: folding the laundry. I really, really, really do not like folding laundry and putting it in my closet and it piles up. Like a lot. Like it's on a chair in the attic and you can't see the chair anymore. 

-The last couple of months I haven't been buying as many books. The thing is, I've been buying a lot of clothes and such. And mugs. And while I don't really have a problem with this, it might be nice to save a bit more money, so I'm just gonna think my purchases through a bit more before buying something. 

-Continue working out. Starting in July, I decided I needed to start working out regularly again and since then I've been working out 2-3 times a week and I think it's really good for me. I'm generally trying to be a bit more healthy, trying to balance the not so healthy meals out with some healthier ones and basically trying new recipes and I really like it! So I'm gonna try to keep these new habits up :)

So those are my goals, I've actually started trying to be better about all those things over the last couple of months, so they may not really be new year's resolutions, but perhaps they'll be stronger for it? 
What do you hope to accomplish this year?