Weekly Wrap Up + What We Read 3/20/16

Hey there guys! This week, it is SUPER IMPORTANT TO ME that you watch this video. Why? Because I’ve been on hiatus this week and Michaela has been pulling double time to make up for all the stuff I’m not posting. So please give her a round of applause! Stop by a video or post and tell her you love her. I haven’t seen her face all week because I’ve been roadtripping and it makes me sad. But anyways! Here’s what happened this week from (mostly) Michaela!

Monday:

Tuesday:

Wednesday:

Friday:

Saturday:

 

Worth It Wednesday: “Stormdancer” by Jay Kristoff

Worth It Wednesdays is a weekly post where I feature my favorite YA titles. Find out more about it here!

StormdancerTitle: Stormdancer

Author: Jay Kristoff

Goodreads Description: A DYING LAND
The Shima Imperium verges on the brink of environmental collapse; an island nation once rich in tradition and myth, now decimated by clockwork industrialization and the machine-worshipers of the Lotus Guild. The skies are red as blood, the land is choked with toxic pollution, and the great spirit animals that once roamed its wilds have departed forever.

AN IMPOSSIBLE QUEST
The hunters of Shima’s imperial court are charged by their Shōgun to capture a thunder tiger – a legendary creature, half-eagle, half-tiger. But any fool knows the beasts have been extinct for more than a century, and the price of failing the Shōgun is death.

A HIDDEN GIFT
Yukiko is a child of the Fox clan, possessed of a talent that if discovered, would see her executed by the Lotus Guild. Accompanying her father on the Shōgun’s hunt, she finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in Shima’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled thunder tiger for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, even though she saved his life, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her.

But together, the pair will form an indomitable friendship, and rise to challenge the might of an empire.

Why it’s worth it: If you know a thing about me, than it is probably already clear why this book made my Top 10 Series I NEED to Finish. For one thing, just look at it. I got an ARC of this book, originally, but I would gladly spend money to own a copy of this cover. LOOK AT IT.

Alright, listen.I admit that my original ARC review was extremely confused. I gave it four stars, but I spent a lot of times talking about the negatives. I don’t know why–I can almost sense that something else was happening to my emotional state why I was reading it. Trust me, that original emphasis does not hold up on subsequent readings.

Jay Kristoff is a fabulous writer. Just. His writing is beautiful and wonderful and of a caliber not often appreciated enough in young adult writing.I would read a menu or instruction manual written by him and it would be amazing.

Also, his world. This is one of the most amazing worlds I’ve ever encountered. Does it lean into some of my personal biases, i.e. Japanese inspiration and THUNDER TIGERS? You bet it does. Does that mean anything less than IT IS AMAZING? Absolutely not.

Oh yeah, by the way: THUNDER TIGER. Though I love Yukiko as a character, strong and fierce as she is, my heart forever belongs to the thunder tiger. His voice was so hilariously amazing that it made me legitimately sad that I did not have a friend like him. Okay, so no one really has a thunder-tiger but still.

So the beginning of this book is a little slow and the romance aspect is convoluted to say the least. IT IS WORTH IT. If you don’t believe me, just know that Taylor from Bibliomancy for Beginners also read and loved this series and we rarely agree on ANYTHING. It’s that good.

Read it if you’re looking for: fantastic writing, strong female characters, Japanese inspired mythology, steampunk, strong world building, action, adventure, THUNDER-TIGERS

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 Books About Friendship

toptentuesday

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

So something I just discovered is that there are a lot of books that just have generic friendships that I was meh about. However, there were also some books that had a bunch of GREAT friendships that made me swoon over their beautiful friendship-ness. Here the top ten of those are!

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Top Ten Books Featuring Travel In Some Way

toptentuesday

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

This is going to be the loosest top ten list I EVER make. It is also a top ten list made up of my most current reads. I’m sure there are others, but I found ten of them and I decided not to push it. 😛

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Top Ten Favorite Book Covers Of Books I’ve Read

toptentuesday

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

See, this is where my ya lit obsession starts to let me down. I mean, c’mon guys. Very few of you have figured out that it’s really boring to see ANOTHER girl in a dress on a cover. So these are my top ten choices from all around the board! (If you give any picture a click, you’ll head to the Goodreads page!)

princessAsunder

CrewelStormdancer

Shadow and BoneIncarnate

Eonanefertiti

Alphabet of Thornslioness rampant

Top Ten Favorite Kick-Ass Heroines

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

I am SO excited for this topic, I have NO IDEA how I’m going to pick just ten for this topic! Also, if you’re seeing this, I’m so happy because that means I haven’t been swallowed by Hurricane Sandy. Or wait. I have Auto-Post. Maybe I have… Er. ANYWAYS!

1. Yukiko from Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff

Anybody who can befriend a thunder-tiger deserves to make this list. She isn’t bad with a small knife, either. And she has no problem murdering emperors. (See my review HERE!)

2. Calaena from Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Teenage female assassins? Uh, YES. There is no way she DOESN’T make this list. She also never shies away from violence, and loves to cause a ruckus herself. (See my review HERE!)

3. Allie (Allison) from The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

Kick ass theif turned kick ass vampire. It doesn’t get much better than that. (See my review HERE!)

4. Ismae from Grave Mercy by R. L. LaFevers

This girl was raised to be an assassin by KILLER NUNS. I have yet to see an assassin training establishment that awesome. (See my review HERE!)

5. Ellie from Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton

She’s snarky, has swords of light and totally knows when to cease the killing and go to a party. Need I say more? (See my review HERE!)

6. Rose from Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

The Queen of Snark right here. Also the queen of snarky kick assery. It doesn’t get much better than her!

7. Kel from First Test by Tamora Pierce

Okay, she’s a little less snarky than the other girls on my list, but there is no way you can weild a sword better than this girl.

8. Alanna from The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce

Not only is she the best at weilding a sword, but she can also kick ass with magic. Her temper is pretty fierce, too.

9. Eona from Eon by Alison Goodman

Pretends she’s a guy so she can prove her kick assness. Also controls a dragon. Do not mess with.

10. Evie from Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

Her weapon of choice is a pink, glittery taser named Tasey, but don’t underestimate her even without it–she can kill with snark alone, I swear. And also fashion sense.

ARC Review: “Stormdancer” by Jay Kristoff

Stormdancer (The Lotus Wars #1) by Jay Kristoff

Goodreads | Amazon

A DYING LAND
The Shima Imperium verges on the brink of environmental collapse; an island nation once rich in tradition and myth, now decimated by clockwork industrialization and the machine-worshipers of the Lotus Guild. The skies are red as blood, the land is choked with toxic pollution, and the great spirit animals that once roamed its wilds have departed forever.

AN IMPOSSIBLE QUEST
The hunters of Shima’s imperial court are charged by their Shōgun to capture a thunder tiger—a legendary creature, half-eagle, half-tiger. But any fool knows the beasts have been extinct for more than a century, and the price of failing the Shōgun is death.

A SIXTEEN YEAR OLD GIRL
Yukiko is a child of the Fox clan, possessed of a talent that if discovered, would see her executed by the Lotus Guild. Accompanying her father on the Shōgun’s hunt, she finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in Shima’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled thunder tiger for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, even though she saved his life, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her.

But together, the pair will form an indomitable friendship, and rise to challenge the might of an empire.

4 stars

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for this eARC! You can get a copy for yourself on September 18th!

There are some times that you have great, high hopes for a book and then you are disappointed.

This is not one of those times.

For the most part. Let’s get those parts over first.

It is undeniable that this is a fantastically written book. I mean, holy moly Jay Kristoff. It isn’t often that you find that level of prose in a YA book. Every sentence was written with complex visuals that left you able to image the scene or object being discussed right down to the smell. Kristoff remembers there is five senses to deal with. However, while I enjoyed this as I tried to understand his equally complex world, I found this to be a problem in action scenes. Often, a section of the book would be bogged down with flowery language that, while impressive, just isn’t what I like to read. I prefer my books to go FAST. It’s strange to explain but the point of this convoluted paragraph is: while I am amazed at the level of prose, it slowed down an otherwise fairly action heavy plot.

While we’re discussing words, let’s talk terms. Japanese terms. Made up terms. Technical terms. There are a LOT of terms in this book. When you pick up a copy of this (which you will, and I’ll explain why in a minute), please remember that there is a glossary in the back. If you’re reading this as an eARC PDF, as I was, there is no easy way to skip between the glossary and the part you’re currently reading. In the first chapter, especially, my mind was BLOWN by all the terminology and I continued to struggle to wrap my head about it for a large portion of the book.

Both those two things are what caused the book to be hard for me to settle into. I was, at the same time, skimming and rereading to try to understand all the terms, but to also have the book move forward in some way. The beginning of the book isn’t very fast (and I don’t like books that start with a chapter and then begin the second chapter with “X amount of time previous”). However, this betrays the rest of the book, especially the entire second half. The second half of the book MOVES.

Despite (and sometimes because of) the way the book was written, I felt that the world building was very solid. I may not have understood every facet, but Kristoff has this down watertight. Despite the crazy premise–I mean, JAPANESE STEAMPUNK?–I never once felt like the world was imaginary. Everything felt real, from most of the characters to all of the settings.

It should be said that this book included two personal pet peeves: unneccessary POV switches and a love triangle. Several, actually. (Some of which occurred in the past but were still prevalent for reasons I didn’t entirely understand.) (And no, the love triangle isn’t a spoiler because it’s really obvious really fast. All of them.)

The POV switches were TOTALLY unnecessary, that is why they irk me. I don’t mind them if they have a purpose, but for me the entire book could have been told by Yukiko and nothing would really have changed. I mean, the book is third person anyways. It was further annoying that the switches could happen over a paragraph break with no warning. If you are going to switch POVs all over the place, please at least use chapter breaks.

Absolutely none of the love triangles in this book were ever fleshed out. There was simply not enough time in this complicated plot. Given that they didn’t really serve a purpose either in the overarching plot, they annoyed me even more than usual.

Alright, alright, I know that’s a lot of negativity right there. But remember, ALL THAT only made me dock ONE STAR from my review. That’s it. All that, just one. Trust me, there is a reason.

For one, I HAVE to admire Kristoff’s prose. I’ll have to return to this when I’m in the mood to really focus on a book, because there will still be so much more new information I can read. I’ve used complex and complicated a lot in this review for a REASON. Stormdancer is, at the very least, ambitious beyond belief in terms of the world-building, the vocabulary and the plot structure. It is then even more impressive that Kristoff manages to present all of it with watertight confidence. I also really enjoyed the characters. Yukiko is my kind of girl (though I’m not sure all that swearing was necessary; I get that she’s tough). Even better, the thunder-tiger’s voice popped off the page and really grew throughout the book. He was probably my favorite character of them all.

Oh dear, this review is getting way longer than I like mine to be. Oh dear. Uh. I’ll try to wrap this up quickly. Basically, here’s the deal: a lot of things that annoyed me in this book were personal preference and require the right mood from me. The important thing to remember is that even though there WERE all those things, I’m still giving this book 4 stars. It was SO GOOD it overcame all the annoying parts. It was SO GOOD that I slapped my keyboard when I realized Goodreads has neither a title nor a release date for book 2. Was it perfect? No. But it was pretty darn close.

Top Ten Books on My Fall TBR List!

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

(Yes, I am aware that this is last week’s topic. I had this post done up but then things happened and I never got to posting it, and as you will see down below I am WAY behind on reviews SO– Here’s a feature on just how behind I am. :P)

So, I talk a LOT about my “have-but-need-to-read” shelf on Goodreads. It’s … long. And I’m behind on reviewing, so I have a LOT of books to get through. Here’s what’s coming at you this fall! …at least, the first ten of them.

1. Flight by Alyssa Rose Ivy

Blog tour time! 😀 This post is coming at you this week, actually, on September 13. No, I don’t actually have it read yet – that’s what I’m going to go do RIGHT NOW, when this post is done. I’m that behind. >.>

2. Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff

Being contacted to do this by the publisher was possibly the happiest day of my life. This hits the blog Sept 17 and I literally couldn’t be more excited. I’ve heard nothing but good things, and it just SOUNDS like the best thing.

3. Nerve by Jeanne Ryan

Another blog tour! This one coming at you Sept 20, and it promises to be awesome as well. Don’t know if you’ve checked it out yet, but it sounds rather Hunger Games-esque–which can either be a good thing or a bad thing, really, but you know. I’m excited, at least!

4. Mystic City by Theo Lawrence

I’ve been sitting on this one fore a while and it’s KILLING me. The review is finally coming out Sept 21 and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve sort of outgrown my dystopian fad for now, but this one still has so much potential I can’t pass it up. (Besides, I’ve been told it’s dystopian but it doesn’t SOUND dystopian.)

5. Crewel by Gennifer Albin

GUYS. GUYS. HAVE YOU NOT HEARD ABOUT THIS BOOK YET? Because now would be a FANTASTIC time to start. Not only am I reviewing this book on Sept 24, but I’m ALSO a part of the Crewel Street Team which is FANTASTIC. I’m so in love with this book that I’m not actually participating for the points thing; I’m just doing it for idea love and worship. I cannot WAIT to read this.

6. The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski

I have high, high hopes for this one. It sounds really interesting. Of course, I could do without the “complusive love” bit in the synopsis on Goodreads, but you should all know how I feel about those. And, if you don’t, if you check out my review on Sept 27, you’ll hear about it, I’m sure. I can never NOT comment on insta-love.

7. My Boyfriend Merlin by Priya Ardis

BLOG TOUR AGAIN! I’m reviewing book one of this series on Oct 1, but a whole bunch of other blogs are reviewing and otherwise featuring the two other books in the series as well. Sadly, I couldn’t get a handle on all three of them like I wanted. 😛

8. The Unfailing Light by Robin Bridges

Do you know how awesome it is to have Random House email you and ask you to review an ARC? I know a whole bunch of people will tell you that happens to them all the time, but this is the FIRST time it’s happened to me and EEK! So happy. PLUS, not only am I reviewing this one on Oct 4, on Oct 5 I’ll have an interview with Robin Bridges AND a giveaway of The Unfailing Light coming at you and it will be THE BEST. 😀

9. Katya’s World by Jonathon L. Howard

This sounds darker than my average fare and I LIKE IT. I’ve been looking for something a little different, and I think this could be just the ticket. Review goes live Oct 8!

10. Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill

I have been sitting on this one for FAR TOO LONG. I cannot wait to read it because it sounds SO SWEET. (Er, that’s a switch from Katya’s World… XD) I’ve heard good things, and I hope to add my own on Oct 12!

Stacking the Shelves #4

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews.

Hey guys! This week, sadly, I can’t vlog, because I am at the awesome Alpha Young Writer’s Camp (information about that HERE). HOWEVER, I did get a ton more books this week, because I am CRAZY STUPID. My list goes a little something like this (and all links go to Goodreads):

Bought:

Ironside by Holly Black ~ The Vincent Boys by Abbi Glines ~ Team Human by Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan

In case you missed it, I picked up Ironside and Team Human because I was at a Holly Black, Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan signing on Sunday. You can read about that HERE if you like!

For Review:

Demon Catchers of Milan by Kat Beyer ~ Reflection by Jessica Roberts ~ Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff

Demon Catchers of Milan and Stormdancer are both from NetGalley, of a sort. Stormdancer was a request from St. Martin’s Press. Reflection is going to be a blog tour, as hosted by YA Bound tours, so you won’t want to miss that one!

Given (Or, Stolen from Tamora Pierce’s Bookshelf):

Rogue Angel: Bone Conjurer by Alex Archer ~ Sword of the Deceiver by Sarah Zettel

Tamora Pierce brought BAGS of books for us to play with, and these are the two that I stole!

What was your book haul this week?