From the Notebook: June 2016 Wrap Up

Hey guys! Back this week with my June wrap up, even though it’s a bit later than I wanted. I only read 5 books this month, and only 1 for my PopSugar challenge, BUT I’m 50% of the way there and on track for my 100 book overall Goodreads challenge goal!

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ARC Review: “And I Darken” by Kiersten White

27190613And I Darken (The Conquerers Saga #1) by Kiersten White

Goodreads | Amazon

NO ONE EXPECTS A PRINCESS TO BE BRUTAL.

And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, who’s expected to rule a nation, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.

3 1/2 stars

Thanks to NetGalley and Delacorte Press for the eARC! This title will be released June 28th, 2016

As someone who has read almost every Kiersten White book in existence, I still don’t know what to make of this one. It opens up with a disclaimer that this is like no other Kiersten White book you’ve ever read, and that’s fair. But it’s for all these good AND bad reasons that are jumbled in my head and have left me mightily confused.

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From the Notebook: Top 10 Series I NEED to Finish!

So, last week’s video was made of some rather unpopular opinions, as I discussed the Top 10 series I would never finish. On the heels of that, I boomeranged back the other way this week with a MUCH more positive (but no less expressive) video about the top 10 series I could have finished … but haven’t. Ergo, I need to get on finishing these series RIGHT THE HELL NOW. Ahem. Anyways, enjoy!

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Top Ten Authors I’ve Read The Most Books From

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish!

So I haven’t done one of these in a LONG time, but since the theme worked so well into the direction I’m turning the blog in (i.e., promoting what I love, leaving the critical reviewing behind), I just had to do it. So, here we go (in no particular order)!

  1. Battle MagicTamora Pierce

This woman was the hero of my childhood. She was the hero of my tweens. She is the hero of my twenties. I got to learn from her for two summers in a row in high school–and THEN she came to my college freshman year–and the starry eyed wonder of her has never left me. Not to mention the fact that she has written more books than I actually know how to count and I have read them ALL.

2. Clive CusslerCrescent Dawn

There are about 20+ books in his Dirk Pitt series, PLUS however many are in the Kurt Austin adventures. He’s got a few other series now, but I’m a traditionalist and I’ve only ever read through these two favorites of mine.

3. All American GirlMeg Cabot

Didn’t every girl go through this phase? I’m not just talking Princess Diaries here, either. I read her stand-alones, her All-American Girl series … everything. If Meg Cabot write it, I had to have it.

4. Philippa GregoryChangeling

I will forever be cranky about the historical leaps that she took in The Other Boleyn Girl especially, but that doesn’t stop me from lapping up every single book she writes on Tudor England. I think the only books by her that I haven’t read was that one non-Royal series she did and–strangely–her YA series. The first book of which I have lying around here … somewhere.

bloodlines5. Richelle Mead

Richelle is another one of those authors that has written more books than I know how to count, but I haven’t actually read them ALL. I’m deeply obsessed with her 12 Vampire Academy and Bloodlines books but I have also read part of her Gameboard of the Gods series. I don’t know what I’ll do without more VA goodness, but she’s got me hooked enough on her to keep going with whatever she writes.

6. Cassandra Clareprincess

Did you guys miss the time that I drove 5 hours one way mostly to see Cassie? Because I did that. I have not only read everything she’s ever written, but also own it. (Except for that middle grade series she’s doing. I’m scared of middle grade.) She’s one of my favorite authors of all time right now, and I don’t see that changing in the foreseeable future.

A Countess Below Stairs7. Eva Ibbotson

Did anyone else read these books as a kid? I couldn’t stop. Sometime during my childhood, the publisher did a re-release of a bunch of her stuff and I bought all of it. It’s just so much … fun. Romantic, magical fun.

8. Simone ElkelesChain Reaction

I read Perfect Chemistry by Simone and I was just hooked. I went back and read all the stuff I’d missed beforehand, and then the two books that followed Perfect Chemistry. I even started her new series before my love of contemporary YA romance phased out. I still love these books to death, though.

Hex Hall9. Rachel Hawkins

Hex Hall was absolute perfection. When her Rebel Belle series started, I wasn’t so sure I could do it. But no. I’m in love with Rachel forever and always.

10. Kiersten WhiteThe Chaos of Stars

Sometimes I forget just how MUCH STUFF Kiersten has done. Her Paranormalcy series was beautiful, of course, but then there was her Egyptian God based book Chaos of Stars–which I just reread–and her Mind Games series. All of which I own, of course!

Weekly Wrap Up + Stacking the Shelves for 9-28-13

wrapup

Welcome to another bi-weekly wrap up! I really need to get better at this. Maybe I can use it as an excuse for my teachers to not give me so much homework. Sigh, in my dreams. Well, here we go!

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ARC Review: “The Chaos of Stars” by Kiersten White

The Chaos of StarsThe Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White

Goodreads | Amazon

Isadora’s family is seriously screwed up.

Of course, as the human daughter of Egyptian gods, that pretty much comes with the territory. She’s also stuck with parents who barely notice her, and a house full of relatives who can’t be bothered to remember her name. After all, they are going to be around forever—and she’s a mere mortal.

Isadora’s sick of living a life where she’s only worthy of a passing glance, and when she has the chance to move to San Diego with her brother, she jumps on it. But Isadora’s quickly finding that a “normal” life comes with plenty of its own epic complications—and that there’s no such thing as a clean break when it comes to family. Much as she wants to leave her past behind, she can’t shake the ominous dreams that foretell destruction for her entire family. When it turns out there may be truth in her nightmares, Isadora has to decide whether she can abandon her divine heritage after all.

3 1/2 stars

Thanks to Edelweiss and HarperTeen for this eARC! This title will be released September 10th, 2013.

When I saw that Kiersten was writing a book with an Egyptian theme, I nearly died of happiness. I am a HUGE fan of her Paranormalcy series (see here), as well as her Mind Games series (see here), so this … this just hit the spot in every right way. Well, at least the news she was writing it did. After all that, it’s not surprising that the book itself couldn’t live up to my anticipation…

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ARC Review: “Mind Games” by Kiersten White

Mind GamesMind Games (Mind Games #1) by Kiersten White

Goodreads | Amazon

Fia was born with flawless instincts. Her first impulse, her gut feeling, is always exactly right. Her sister, Annie, is blind to the world around her—except when her mind is gripped by strange visions of the future.

Trapped in a school that uses girls with extraordinary powers as tools for corporate espionage, Annie and Fia are forced to choose over and over between using their abilities in twisted, unthinkable ways… or risking each other’s lives by refusing to obey.

In a stunning departure from her New York Times bestselling Paranormalcy trilogy, Kiersten White delivers a slick, edgy, heartstoppingly intense psychological thriller about two sisters determined to protect each other—no matter the cost.

5 stars

Thanks to HarperTeen and Edelweiss for this eARC! This title will be available February 19th, 2013.

This should not have worked. This should not have been good. Everything about this book was begging for me to hate it.

So why did I love it so much?

Here’s why I shouldn’t have loved Mind Games:

  1. It’s written by Kiersten White and it’s NOT about Evie and Lend, to which nothing was supposed to compare.
  2. The point of view is constantly switching between two sisters.
  3. The point of view not only switches between characters, but switches between the past and the present.
  4. There is a love triangle beginning for one of the sisters.
  5. I hate false advertising. This book isn’t really a “slick, edgy, heartstoppingly intense psychological thriller” as descriped in the blurb. I wasn’t ever particularly scared or anything.

AND YET I LOVED IT.

All of my feels about this book are hard to explain. But hold on, let me back up a little. This book is about two sisters with psychic powers who have been orphaned and “taken in” by this school for girls with psychic powers. The problem is that this school is not a nice place, and they’re using these girls for evil purposes. The first sister’s name is Annie, and she’s blind—but a Seer. So her sight is really more useful in the long run. Her sister Fia is like nothing anyone has ever seen before, because she has these great instincts that tell her everything from the right stocks to pick to how to perfectly fight someone—and also keep her from being able to be seen by Seers. The school that’s taken them in is training Fia to be their killer while holding Annie for collateral. The book opens with Fia out on her first hit, which she is unable to carry out. And then it all goes downhill from there.

I was not amused with the book started going back and forth between Fia and Annie, and even less so when the book kept going into chapters of flashbacks. Usually, this DOES NOT WORK. But with this one … it did. It ACTUALLY WORKED and I don’t know how. The flashbacks actually did their job of making the story and the characters even deeper while never taking away from the flow and process of the present storyline. WITH FLASHBACKS, I felt like the plot never stopped moving forward, and fast. I’m still going gaga about that.

The characters of Fia and Annie were very different, and their voices really came through. Honestly, I wasn’t that impressed with Annie, but Fia entirely makes up for it. She is broken, she is battered, she is stubborn and she is a fighter. Living in Fia’s head is painful and terrible and breathtaking.

Usually I wouldn’t be a fan of the love triangle that was set up either, but here it totally made sense. The characters aren’t throwing themselves at each other, and they aren’t eternally in love with each other from the start either. There’s a mutual attraction that pulls one of the sisters in two ways that make utter and total sense.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but here it goes: I think that Mind Games is better than the Paranormalcy books. I mean, the two books are REALLY DIFFERENT, but I think as a crafted object Mind Games is actually better. There’s a less of White’s humor in here, but her story writing seems to have reached a new level with this one.