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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

My Life in June: Mad Max, Jurassic World, and Serial Podcast

Well, I suppose it was going to be pretty hard to beat the month I had in May, but I guess June was good too, all things considered. June was more laid back for me compared to May, but that's not a bad thing. Socially, I got to celebrate the successful PhD defense of one of my cohorts, visit with my in-laws-to-be for a weekend and celebrate my engagement, and hang out with Zahida for some long-overdue catch-up time, all before saying goodbye to my boyfriend (fiancé sounds way too weird to me) as he is off for two months of field work, digging up dinosaurs. And the rest of June? I was on my own with my ferrets, my books, and a few new obsessions that I thought I would share here:

First obsession of the month: Mad Max! Or maybe more accurately: Furiosa!
I had never seen the original Mad Max movies so I watched those first before Mad Max: Fury Road and - no disrespect to the originals, which are clearly very influential, but - this new movie took the franchise to a WHOLE new level of crazy and awesome. I swear it was the best movie I've seen in YEARS, I just loved it so much! And Tom Hardy was pretty amazing as Max, but Charlize Theron was a REVELATION to me as Furiosa, feminist hero. Damn, I loved her! If you've seen the movie, then you know what I mean. And if you haven't yet, it's an absolute must!

Next up, Jurassic World:
If you've been following me for a while, you may have gathered that I have a SLIGHT obsession with palaeontology. So of course I needed to go see Jurassic World. And here's the part where I could rant on and on about all the things this movie got wrong about dinosaurs (and other Mesozoic reptiles), but I guess I will spare you. Why? Well, primarily I don't want to bore anyone, but also because I have decided to view the movie exactly as it was intended to be: a fun action-adventure monster movie. Yes, the science was pretty wacky. But what can I say? I enjoyed it. And how much do I wish I were able to get up close to dinosaurs and train them? I would be lying if I said I hadn't daydreamed about that very thing for much of my life. SO COOL.

And last, but certainly not least, my third obsession of the month: Serial Podcast.
Alright, I know I'm late to the party on this one because I remember everyone talking about this podcast when it was released last year, but I just listened to it this month. And then promptly listened to the entire series a SECOND time because it was so damn good! I never would have thought I could become so gripped by a murder case from 1999 and all the inconsistencies surrounding it, but the podcast is just so well edited and put together. And it really gave me a lot to think about regarding supposedly solved mysteries, interrogation methods, the justice system, etc. It's a fantastic production and it's FREE. I highly recommend checking it out if you haven't yet!

Blog Posts in June

Top Ten Books On My Summer TBR (Help Me Prioritize!)
Waiting On Wednesday: HarperCollins Summer 2015 Catalog
Waiting On Wednesday: Macmillan Fall 2015 Catalog
Review: The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth - 4 Stars
Review: The Grisha Novellas by Leigh Bardugo - 4 Stars
Review: Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas - 5 Stars
My Life in May: London and Edinburgh and Paris, Oh My!

Best Book Read in June

Eleanor & Park received the most votes in my Summer TBR Poll. Figures that it would be the only contemporary on the list that ended up winning. I'm glad it was chosen as my first read of my summer though. Even though I didn't like it as much as I loved Fangirl, it was still a definite winner and I can see why this book is so special to so many people. Reading Eleanor & Park also really solidified my love for Rainbow Rowell, though I still haven't read her adult books yet - I have a feeling I'm going to love Attachments and Landline a whole lot, too!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Waiting On Wednesday: Macmillan Fall 2015 Catalog

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill of Breaking The Spine in which upcoming, eagerly anticipated releases are highlighted on the blog.

This week, I've chosen to feature a few picks from the Macmillan Fall 2015 Catalog:

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Date: September 29, 2015
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Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can't pull it off alone...
A convict with a thirst for revenge.
A sharpshooter who can't walk away from a wager.
A runaway with a privileged past.
A spy known as the Wraith.
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.
Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz's crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don't kill each other first.

New series from Leigh Bardugo set in the same world as The Grisha!! This is basically some of the best bookish news ever because I was SO not ready to be done with that world, considering all the fantastic work Leigh put into Grisha and Ravkan lore. Cannot wait for Six of Crows!

Dreamstrider by Lindsay Smith
Date: October 6, 2015
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A high-concept, fantastical espionage novel set in a world where dreams are the ultimate form of political intelligence.
Livia is a dreamstrider. She can inhabit a subject's body while they are sleeping and, for a short time, move around in their skin. She uses her talent to work as a spy for the Barstadt Empire. But her partner, Brandt, has lately become distant, and when Marez comes to join their team from a neighboring kingdom, he offers Livia the option of a life she had never dared to imagine. Livia knows of no other dreamstriders who have survived the pull of Nightmare. So only she understands the stakes when a plot against the Empire emerges that threatens to consume both the dreaming world and the waking one with misery and rage.
A richly conceived world full of political intrigue and fantastical dream sequences, at its heart Dreamstrider is about a girl who is struggling to live up to the potential before her.

Damn, this cover and blurb just scream originality! I love it. It's pretty rare that I come across a book these days that doesn't seem reminiscent or derivative of a dozen other books. So I'm definitely looking forward to Dreamstrider!

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
Date: October 6, 2015
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Simon Snow just wants to relax and savor his last year at the Watford School of Magicks, but no one will let him. His girlfriend broke up with him, his best friend is a pest, and his mentor keeps trying to hide him away in the mountains where maybe he’ll be safe. Simon can’t even enjoy the fact that his roommate and longtime nemesis is missing, because he can’t stop worrying about the evil git. Plus there are ghosts. And vampires. And actual evil things trying to shut Simon down. When you’re the most powerful magician the world has ever known, you never get to relax and savor anything.
Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story — but far, far more monsters.

Woohoo, new Rainbow Rowell! And even better: a return of some Simon and Baz action from Cath's fanfic from Fangirl! I had a ton of fun reading that fanfic - which is a play on Harry Potter H/D slash fanfiction - so I already know I'm going to have a ton of fun with Carry On!

Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4) by Marissa Meyer
Date: November 10, 2015
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Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.
Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend–the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.
Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters?

824 pages of glorious reading and spending time with my faves Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, and who I am sure will be a new fave girl, Winter. I have no doubt that Marissa Meyer will do a fantastic job with this series ender, considering her books somehow seem to get even more intense and epic than the one before. Winter is coming!

How about you? Are you waiting on any of these Macmillan Fall 2015 reads? Are there any upcoming books from the Macmillan Fall 2015 Catalog that I didn't include here that you feel I should add to my list?

Monday, June 22, 2015

Review: Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3) by Sarah J. Maas

Publisher: Bloomsbury
Published: September 2, 2014
Pages: 562
Source: Bought
Rating: 5 Stars

She was the heir of ash and fire, and she would bow to no one.

Celaena Sardothien has survived deadly contests and shattering heartbreak—but at an unspeakable cost. Now she must travel to a new land to confront her darkest truth...a truth about her heritage that could change her life—and her future—forever.

Meanwhile, brutal and monstrous forces are gathering on the horizon, intent on enslaving her world. To defeat them, Celaena must find the strength to not only fight her inner demons but to battle the evil that is about to be unleashed.

In short: I loved every piece of Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas, just like I KNEW I would.
At this point, anything I say about the Throne of Glass Series is just going to be incredibly repetitive, I think. Because how many different ways can I write about how much I love fierce-yet-vulnerable Celaena and Sarah J. Maas' knack for writing intense heart-pounding action scenes and prose that puts me through an insane roller coaster of emotions? That's how it's been for all the previous books, that's how it was for Heir of Fire, and that's how it's going to be for every sequel to come, I'm sure.

So this review is going to be short. But I still feel the need to make it known: I loved every piece of Heir of Fire and Sarah J. Maas is a downright genius in my mind for continuing to pump out such completely engaging stories with some of the most memorable characters and the ability to evoke such a wide array of passionate feelings. What's more is, at no point will this ever feel repetitious because Sarah also brings MORE new mythology and heightened intensity and enigmatic characters to every subsequent book. Case in point: Rowan Whitethorn and Manon Blackbeak, as first introduced in Heir of Fire, are two of my most favourite characters of the series now (don't worry though, no one will ever replace Celaena).

So yes, I mean OF COURSE I loved Heir of Fire. There was never any doubt in my mind that I wouldn't love it as I've now reached the point where I really don't think Sarah J. Maas could do wrong in my mind. I am a Forever Fan of hers and the Throne of Glass Series now. And I'm so excited that I only have a few more months until I get to read Queen of Shadows!!

Previously, my reviews of The Assassin's Blade, Throne of Glass, and Crown of Midnight.

Other Reviews:
Lunar Rainbows
My Precious
Where the Writer Comes to Write

Author Links:

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Review: The Grisha Novellas by Leigh Bardugo

Publisher: Macmillan
Published: June 2012-April 2014
Pages: 107
Source: Bought
Rating: 4 Stars

The Witch of Duva:
There was a time when the woods near Duva ate girls...or so the story goes. But it’s just possible that the danger may be a little bit closer to home.

The Too-Clever Fox:
In Ravka, just because you avoid one trap, it doesn't mean you'll escape the next.

Little Knife:
In this third Ravkan folk tale from Leigh Bardugo, a beautiful girl finds that what her father wants for her and what she wants for herself are two different things.

When I reviewed The Assassin's Blade, a series of novellas from the Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J. Maas, I talked about how THIS was how a novella should be done. Because more often than not, novellas just strike me as being so superfluous and inessential to the series at large, and the reason that the Throne of Glass novellas resonated with me was because they are completely relevant and significant to the overall series story.

Well, I may need to eat my own words here because there are other instances in which I feel like novellas are worthwhile besides just being an essential part of the series story. Case in point: these Ravkan folktales that Leigh Bardugo published that have nothing to do with Alina Starkov's story in Shadow and Bone, but are all relevant to the Grishaverse and the Ravkan culture that we got to experience in Shadow and Bone.

The little hints of Ravkan and Grisha culture that we got to see in Shadow and Bone were my favourite parts of Leigh Bardugo's skilled world building. The best high fantasy stories to me are the ones that seem like they really could be legitimate worlds with an added magical flair, and having an author go that extra mile to think of unique folktales for that world is really special.

And as with folktales in our own world, they all come with their own morals, which is always interesting to decipher. So if you are a fan of The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo and if you enjoyed similar pretend-folktales like The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling, then be sure to check out these Grisha novellas by Leigh Bardugo.

Previously, my reviews of Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm, and Ruin and Rising.

Author Links:

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Top Ten Books On My Summer TBR (Help Me Prioritize!)

I've set up polls exactly like this for the past two years (2013, 2014) so that I could get people's input on what I should be prioritizing in my reading schedule this summer (I wish I could read them all, but unfortunately I just don't have the time!). The response that I received these past two years was so great and helpful, so of course I knew I needed to do it again. The above ten books are all ones that I have been putting off reading for what seems like FOREVER. I'm so excited to read each and every one of them, but I need your help in deciding which ones should be at the top of my priority list. Any reasonings for your choice(s) can be left in the comments below. Thanks so much!!

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