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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

My Life in April: Ripley's Aquarium, Easter Eggs, and Meeting Laini Taylor

Hoo boy! April was a busy month for me! Whereas March was a quiet stay-at-home kind of month for me, I saw a lot of action in April.

First up in April, I finally got to go see Ripley's Aquarium of Canada!!
I had been wanting to go ever since I moved to Toronto and I'm so glad I finally got the chance because I absolutely LOVED it! I spent a solid six hours there because I am the type of person who likes to see and read EVERYTHING there is to see and read at these kinds of places. So in the end, I got a TON out of my experience, saw some absolutely breathtaking sea creatures, and got to pet a few of them, too. I would highly recommend going there to anyone who hasn't gone yet, but you should definitely try to avoid peak times because it was PACKED.

April also meant Easter and though I am not religious, Easter for me has always been a time for getting together with family and painting Easter eggs, a tradition I have carried out for as long as I can remember:
The top picture are eggs painted with a dollar store egg painting kit and the bottom picture are eggs painted in the traditional Ukrainian pysanka method. It's amazing how much more vibrancy and detail you can get with the real deal! Unfortunately, I didn't get to spend Easter with my own family, but luckily, my boyfriend's family lives nearby and they generously took me in. I had a GREAT long weekend!

And finally, the moment I had been waiting for all month... the Laini Taylor signing event!
Can you spot me? Hee.

And so I got to meet my Queen, the one-and-only, Laini Taylor (in a leopard shirt to show my support for the chimaera):
Aiiiieee - IT ACTUALLY HAPPENED!! Unfortunately, I was way too starstruck to say much of anything to her. I kind of feel like I missed my chance to tell her how amazing I think she is. I just lost my ability to speak in front of her!! Ah well. At least I had a fun time hanging out with Zahida of Musings of a YA Reader!

There were three - extremely different - TV shows that I binge watched in April:
I don't have much to say about True Detective that hasn't been said before... excellent acting, writing, and story. Definitely highly recommended! I'm very curious what they're going to do for the second season.

Now Girls on the other hand... I'm not sure where I stand with it. I didn't find any of the girls to be particularly relatable, but at least the time of their lives (right out of university and trying to make it in the real world) was a lot more relatable to me than Sex and the City ever was. The girls are all deeply flawed and I found myself actually liking the guys on the show a lot more... still it's a pretty entertaining watch nonetheless!

I also caught up on the latest season of Avatar: The Legend of Korra. Loooovee!! If you've never watched Avatar: The Last Airbender, you definitely should (but please, let's not even think about that abomination that was the M. Night Shyamalan film). And once you've done that, you can get to The Legend of Korra! The animation is sooo gorgeous. But don't take my word for it, see for yourself:

Blog Posts in April:

March Recap: Back Into the Swing of Things
Top Ten Bookish Items That Are THE SHIZ
Waiting On Wednesday: HarperCollins Summer 2014 Catalog
Waiting On Wednesday: Hachette Summer 2014 Catalog
Waiting On Wednesday: Macmillan Summer 2014 Catalog
Review: Night of Cake and Puppets by Laini Taylor - 4.5 Stars
Review: Sunrise (Ashfall #3) by Mike Mullin - 4 Stars
Review: City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare - 3.5 Stars
Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - 5 Stars
Review: The Wizard's Promise by Cassandra Rose Clarke - 3 Stars

Best Book Read in April:
I mean, what more can I say about my love for this series and Laini Taylor that I haven't already said? Laini is just INSANELY talented and Dreams of Gods & Monsters proves that!!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Review: The Wizard's Promise by Cassandra Rose Clarke

Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Published: May 6, 2014
Pages: 336
Source: For Review from Strange Chemistry/NetGalley
Rating: 3 Stars

All Hanna Euli wants is to become a proper witch – but unfortunately, she’s stuck as an apprentice to a grumpy fisherman. When their boat gets caught up in a mysterious storm and blown wildly off course, Hanna finds herself further away from home than she’s ever been before.
As she tries to get back, she learns there may be more to her apprentice master than she realized, especially when a mysterious, beautiful, and very non-human boy begins following her through the ocean, claiming that he needs Hanna’s help.

In short: The Wizard's Promise by Cassandra Rose Clarke was not as engaging as its previous companion novels, but was still a good read nonetheless.
I knew I needed to read The Wizard's Promise, the companion book to Cassandra Rose Clarke's Assassin's Curse duology, the moment I heard about it. I simply adored The Assassin's Curse. I found it to be highly entertaining with a compelling plot and completely engaging, vibrant characters. Plus, I love the world building and magic system that Cassandra Rose Clarke has created and was eager to return to it. Unfortunately, I can't say I was as invested in the new protagonist, Hanna, and her story as I was with Ananna and Naji of The Assassin's Curse.

I can't exactly put my finger on it, but The Wizard's Promise seemed to be missing that special something that The Assassin's Curse had, leaving me largely disconnected from the characters and plot. I did like Hanna - she reminded me of Ananna in her determination and bravery - and I pitied her for the truly crappy situation she finds herself in. But I can't say I was much taken with any of the other characters. Romance-fans may be disappointed - and non-romance-fans may be refreshed - to hear that romance is notably lacking in this instalment - though I imagine this situation will change in the sequel.

But I think it was the plot - or should I say lack thereof - in which I was truly disappointed with in The Wizard's Promise. The pacing was very slow and events are repetitive and lacking in much excitement. I really needed to see more momentous developments and less concentration on day-to-day activities to be truly engaged. The lack of engagement in the plot was definitely the biggest letdown for me in The Wizard's Promise because I remember flying through The Assassin's Curse, I was so engrossed. I can only hope that Cassandra Rose Clarke will pick up the action in the sequel.

Overall, The Wizard's Promise was far from a bad read. Like I mentioned earlier, Cassandra Rose Clarke has created a magic system and world that is so intriguing to me; it is deceptively simple, and yet wonderfully enchanting. I enjoyed spending more time in this world and was interested in the unfolding of certain enigmatic elements that were explored. I just wish I could have been as engaged and invested in the story as I was with The Assassin's Curse. Hopefully the sequel, The Nobleman's Revenge, is faster paced and more enthralling!

Previously, my reviews of The Assassin's Curse and The Pirate's Wish.

Other Reviews:
Read. Sleep. Repeat.

Author Links:

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Published: January 1, 2005
Pages: 552
Source: Bought
Rating: 5 Stars

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.

In short: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is very special to me and I can't recommend it highly enough.
I am going to attempt to review The Book Thief, a transformative novel that I read at the end of last year that left me reeling with its beauty and drowning in feels. I say attempt because it would be near impossible for me to do a book such as this one justice. How can I adequately relate my feelings for a book that has become so special to me? I struggle with this when it comes to reviewing these kinds of meaningful books and I'm envious of any reviewer who can manage to describe their feelings effectively. But attempt I will.

The Book Thief is narrated by Death, a storytelling device, which, at first I thought was going to be a bit gimmicky, but actually pays off in dividends and really elevates the book into memorably-genius-work-of-fiction territory. The standouts in The Book Thief are the characters and the character relationships, each notably dear to me and thought-provoking in their own way. But the crappy part about reading a book about treasured characters living in Nazi Germany that is narrated by Death is that you know things are not going to end well for many of the characters that you have grown so attached to and you just have to deal. Somehow, someway, with plenty of tissues and maybe a shoulder to cry on, you have to deal.

I suck at describing writing styles so I usually just settle for “well written” or “not well written” in my reviews, but I feel like it would do Markus Zusak’s writing a disservice by merely calling it “well done” and leaving it at that. So I will attempt to expand on this a bit: Markus Zusak is a freaking GENIUS. His grasp of imagery and metaphor is unparalleled (albeit as far as my limited range of reading goes). There were certain turns of phrase that he uses that were SO unique and that I have never read anywhere before that made me – for once in my life – want to whip out a highlighter and start highlighting the crap out of his prose. No, I didn’t actually deface my copy, but I was TEMPTED. Maybe I might consider it again upon a reread.

If you’re wondering: no, I haven’t seen the movie yet and I’m a bit apprehensive about it because the reviews have been less than favourable, which bums me out SO MUCH because this book deserves nothing less than brilliance in film form. How about you guys – has anyone seen the movie and would you recommend it?

So there were my jumbled thoughts. I do wish I were better at thoroughly describing the perfection of certain books, but instead I will settle for shouting it across the rooftops, if I must: READ THE BOOK THIEF. I know I must’ve been among the few remaining non-readers of The Book Thief out there, but I imagine there are still a few of you out there somewhere who have yet to read it. And you simply must! Please say you will and then once you have, let me know and we can drown in our feels together.

Other Reviews:
Books: A True Story
The Daily Prophecy
Just Another Story
Reading In Winter

Author Links:

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Waiting On Wednesday: Macmillan Summer 2014 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 Summer 2014 Catalog:

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
Date: June 17, 2014
Add to Goodreads

The capital has fallen. The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.
Now the nation's fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.
Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.
Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova's amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling's secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.

OMGOMGOMG - I NEED Ruin and Rising in my life and I can't believe I have to wait - very impatiently - for two whole more months to get it. Alina, Mal, the Darkling, STURMHOND (!) - can't wait to see them all again!!

Unwept by Tracy Hickman
Date: July 1, 2014
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Gamin, Maine, is a remote seaside town where everyone seems to know Ellis Harkington better than she knows herself—but she doesn’t remember any of them.
Unknown events have robbed Ellis of her memory. Concerned individuals, who purport to be her friends and loved ones, insist that she simply needs to recuperate, that her memories may return in time, but refuse to divulge what has brought her to this state. For her own sake, so they say.
Ellis finds herself adrift in a town of ominous mysteries, cryptic hints, and disturbingly familiar strangers. The Nightbirds, a clique of fashionable young men and women, claim her as one of their own, but who among them can she truly trust? And what of the phantom suitor who visits her in her dreams? Is he a memory, a figment of her imagination, or a living nightmare beyond rational explanation?
Only her lost past hold the answers she seeks—if she can uncover its secrets before she fall prey to an unearthly killer.

Not really sure what to make of this blurb for Unwept, but all I can say is that I am intrigued. How can I not be when there is mention of "ominous mysteries, cryptic hints, and disturbingly familiar strangers"? I can't help it - I'm curious!

The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
Date: July 15, 2014
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In this timeless new trilogy about love and sacrifice, a princess must find her place in a reborn world.
In a society steeped in tradition, Princess Lia’s life follows a preordained course. As First Daughter, she is expected to have the revered gift of sight—but she doesn’t—and she knows her parents are perpetrating a sham when they arrange her marriage to secure an alliance with a neighboring kingdom—to a prince she has never met.
On the morning of her wedding, Lia flees to a distant village. She settles into a new life, hopeful when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assasin sent to kill her. Deception abounds, and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—even as she finds herself falling in love.

It's possible that The Kiss of Deception might be a bit too heavy on the romance for my tastes, but I just can't help but be drawn to high fantasies with court drama. I'm especially keen on this one because I've heard amazing things about Mary E. Pearson's other books!

Extraction by Stephanie Diaz
Date: July 22, 2014
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Clementine has spent her whole life preparing for her sixteenth birthday, when she’ll be tested for Extraction in the hopes of being sent from the planet Kiel’s toxic Surface to the much safer Core, where people live without fear or starvation. When she proves Promising enough to be “Extracted,” she must leave without Logan, the boy she loves. Torn apart from her only sense of family, Clem promises to come back and save him from brutal Surface life.
What she finds initially in the Core is a utopia compared to the Surface—it’s free of hard labor, gun-wielding officials, and the moon's lethal acid. But life is anything but safe, and Clementine learns that the planet's leaders are planning to exterminate Surface dwellers—and that means Logan, too.
Trapped by the steel walls of the underground and the lies that keep her safe, Clementine must find a way to escape and rescue Logan and the rest of the planet. But the planet leaders don't want her running—they want her subdued.

Extraction has a great premise, one that I can see myself becoming engrossed in if the story delivers and is as action-packed as the blurb promises. There is great potential here and I hope Extraction lives up to it!

How about you? Are you waiting on any of these Macmillan Summer 2014 reads? Are there any upcoming books from the Macmillan Summer 2014 Catalog that I didn't include here that you feel I should add to my list?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Review: City of Lost Souls (The Mortal Instruments #5) by Cassandra Clare

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Published: May 8, 2012
Pages: 535
Source: Bought
Rating: 3.5 Stars

What price is too high to pay, even for love? When Jace and Clary meet again, Clary is horrified to discover that the demon Lilith’s magic has bound her beloved Jace together with her evil brother Sebastian, and that Jace has become a servant of evil. The Clave is out to destroy Sebastian, but there is no way to harm one boy without destroying the other. As Alec, Magnus, Simon, and Isabelle wheedle and bargain with Seelies, demons, and the merciless Iron Sisters to try to save Jace, Clary plays a dangerous game of her own. The price of losing is not just her own life, but Jace’s soul. She’s willing to do anything for Jace, but can she still trust him? Or is he truly lost?

In short: Though I am no longer as enamoured with this series as I once was, Cassandra Clare does a good job of getting me amped up for the conclusion of The Mortal Instruments in City of Lost Souls.
It saddens me that this series that I once loved has become a bit of a chore to read. I really enjoyed the original Mortal Instruments Trilogy and I thought City of Glass was a great and epic finale. My thoughts upon the announcement of the expansion of the trilogy to a further three books were conflicted: I do love these characters that Cassandra Clare has created and I was excited to see more from them, but I was also satisfied with the original ending as it stood and wasn't convinced the plot could be dragged out further in any particularly interesting way.

Upon reading the first two books of The Mortal Instruments v2.0, City of Fallen Angels and City of Lost Souls, my thoughts remain similarly conflicted. I do still love spending time with these beloved characters, but it has taken me a while to become truly invested in this whole new story line. The beginning of City of Lost Souls dragged for me and I was worried that I wasn't ever going to find that gripping spark that The Mortal Instruments once had. Thankfully, the story does hit its stride eventually and ramps up to a thrilling final sequence, but I wish my excitement had been incited sooner.

I guess my main concern is that The Mortal Instruments v2.0 and specifically the final book, City of Heavenly Fire, will fail to live up to high standard set by the epic conclusion of the original trilogy. How disappointing would that be if the series ended with a less than stellar finale? It would be anticlimactic. That said, I do still have faith that Cassandra Clare will pull out all the stops for City of Heavenly Fire. She has yet to disappoint me with a finale and I liked the direction she went with the ending of City of Lost Souls, so I haven't lost hope on the series yet!

Previously, my review of City of Fallen Angels.

Other Reviews:
Avery's Book Nook
Burning Impossibly Bright
Mundie Moms

Author Links:

Monday, April 14, 2014

Top Ten Bookish Items That Are THE SHIZ

LOVE the topic of this week’s Top Ten Tuesday because in addition to loving books, I also love ALL THE BOOKISH THINGS. My bank account, on the other hand, most certainly does NOT. I frequently have to restrain myself while perusing Etsy… that site is dangerous! In fact, this list could have easily devolved into the Top Fifty Harry Potter Trinkets That You Can Buy On Etsy, but I decided to limit that urge as much as possible. So half of these items are Potter-centric and the other half are general bookish items. Purchase links included when available. Enjoy!

Potter-Centric Items:

1. Make Love Not Horcruxes Totebag
This cute tote is brought to you by RaeGun's Etsy shop! Marissa sells a variety of fun bookish items, both Potter-centric and non. She's on maternity leave at the moment, but you should definitely check out her stuff! [Link]

2. Marauder's Map Infinity Scarf
Behold! This nerdy accessory comes from Nerd Alert Creations on Etsy. Of course I own it already, in addition to a Middle Earth Map Skirt. [Link]

3. Homemade Knit Hogwarts House Scarf
Don't have a friend to knit you a House Scarf like I did? You can get your own from CrabTree Corner on Etsy. [Link]

4. Alivan’s Makers of Fine Wands
Alivan's has been in the business of making beautiful wands for a long while now. You can also buy broomsticks and other Potterish stuff on their site! [Link]

5. Mischief Managed Mug
This mug from the WB Shop changes colour and text as it is filled with the hot beverage of your choice! Alas, it is sold out at the moment. [Link]

General Bookish Items:

6. Less Than Three Bookends
Because I heart books! [Link]

7. Bookish Shower Curtain
Because why not? [Link]

8. Bookish Sheets
Because I love to read in bed. [Link]

9. Bookish Bed
Because I like giant beds... in the shape of books! [Link]

10. Infinity Bookcase
Because an Infinity Bookcase can hold an infinite number of books, right? [Link]

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Waiting On Wednesday: Hachette Summer 2014 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 Hachette Summer 2014 Catalog:

Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne
Date: July 8, 2014
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Growing up on Forge’s streets has taught Kyra how to stretch a coin. And when that’s not enough, her uncanny ability to scale walls and bypass guards helps her take what she needs.
But when the leader of the Assassins Guild offers Kyra a lucrative job, she hesitates. She knows how to get by on her own, and she’s not sure she wants to play by his rules. But he’s persistent—and darkly attractive—and Kyra can’t quite resist his pull.
Tristam of Brancel is a young Palace knight on a mission. After his best friend is brutally murdered by Demon Riders, a clan of vicious warriors who ride bloodthirsty wildcats, Tristam vows to take them down. But as his investigation deepens, he finds his efforts thwarted by a talented thief, one who sneaks past Palace defenses with uncanny ease.
When a fateful raid throws Kyra and Tristam together, the two enemies realize that their best chance at survival—and vengeance—might be to join forces. And as their loyalties are tested to the breaking point, they learn a startling secret about Kyra’s past that threatens to reshape both their lives.

It feels like I ain't never going to get tired of high fantasy novels involving assassins - they're always good! Plus, how can I resist the hate-turned-love dynamic? Midnight Thief sounds GREAT and I seriously cannot wait to read it!

Illusive by Emily Lloyd-Jones
Date: July 15, 2014
Add to Goodreads

When the MK virus swept across the planet, a vaccine was created to stop the epidemic, but it came with some unexpected side effects. A small percentage of the population developed superhero-like powers. Seventeen-year-old Ciere Giba has the handy ability to change her appearance at will. She's what's known as an illusionist...She's also a thief.
After a robbery goes awry, Ciere must team up with a group of fellow super-powered criminals on another job that most would consider too reckless. The formula for the vaccine that gave them their abilities was supposedly destroyed years ago. But what if it wasn't?
The lines between good and bad, us and them, and freedom and entrapment are blurred as Ciere and the rest of her crew become embroiled in a deadly race against the government that could cost them their lives.

Books involving superhero-like powers is another sub-genre that I can't seem to get enough of. They're so fun! And Illusive isn't your typical superhero book, because these characters are actually criminals with superpowers! Fun, no?

The Young World by Chris Weitz
Date: July 29, 2014
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After a mysterious Sickness wipes out the rest of the population, the young survivors assemble into tightly run tribes. Jefferson, the reluctant leader of the Washington Square tribe, and Donna, the girl he's secretly in love with, have carved out a precarious existence among the chaos. But when another tribe member discovers a clue that may hold the cure to the Sickness, five teens set out on a life-altering road trip to save humankind.

The tribe exchanges gunfire with enemy gangs, escapes cults and militias, braves the wilds of the subway and Central Park...and discovers truths they could never have imagined.

Yet another post-apocalyptic read... but I must admit that The Young World caught my attention because it is written by Chris Weitz, the director of New Moon and The Golden Compass. Not that I am a fan of those movies in particular or anything, but I am curious to see what he can do as a writer.

Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray
Date: August 5, 2014
Add to Goodreads

After a supernatural showdown with a serial killer, Evie O'Neill has outed herself as a Diviner. Now that the world knows of her ability to "read" objects, and therefore, read the past, she has become a media darling, earning the title, "America's Sweetheart Seer." But not everyone is so accepting of the Diviners' abilities...

Meanwhile, mysterious deaths have been turning up in the city, victims of an unknown sleeping sickness. Can the Diviners descend into the dreamworld and catch a killer?

So I haven't actually read The Diviners yet, but I'm well aware how well received it was and how much people seem to enjoy Libba Bray's books in general, of which I have read none. I have a feeling I would really like The Diviners so I would like to get to it sometime, hopefully before its sequel, Lair of Dreams, comes out. Side note: I really wish they hadn't changed the covers of this series because I freaking LOVED the original cover of The Diviners.

How about you? Are you waiting on any of these Hachette Summer 2014 reads? Are there any upcoming books from the Hachette Summer 2014 Catalog that I didn't include here that you feel I should add to my list?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Review: Sunrise (Ashfall #3) by Mike Mullin

Publisher: Tanglewood Press
Published: April 15, 2014
Pages: 466
Source: For Review from Tanglewood Press/NetGalley
Rating: 4 Stars

The Yellowstone supervolcano nearly wiped out the human race. Now, almost a year after the eruption, the survivors seem determined to finish the job. Communities wage war on each other, gangs of cannibals roam the countryside, and what little government survived the eruption has collapsed completely. The ham radio has gone silent. Sickness, cold, and starvation are the survivors' constant companions.
When it becomes apparent that their home is no longer safe and adults are not facing the stark realities, Alex and Darla must create a community that can survive the ongoing disaster, an almost impossible task requiring even more guts and more smarts than ever — and unthinkable sacrifice. If they fail . . . they, their loved ones, and the few remaining survivors will perish.

This review is spoiler-free

In short: Sunrise by Mike Mullin is a truly satisfying finale to a riveting series.
It's rare that I get to read a post-apocalyptic novel set after the storm has settled. Most post-apocalyptic reads take place during the height of the apocalypse or shortly thereafter when alarm is high and people are panicking. In this finale to the soberingly realistic Ashfall Trilogy, Sunrise, Alex and Darla and co. are finally faced with the prospect of a future together. Whereas Ashfall and Ashen Winter were about surviving and making it through to the next day, in Sunrise the plot revolves around not simply surviving, but also making a life and community for themselves.

That is not to say that Sunrise is without conflict and peril, however. Mike Mullin knows how to write good action scenes and surprising twists and so, like the previous books before it, Sunrise has plenty of bloodshed and WTF moments. But as its title implies, it is also a cautiously hopeful story. For me, the strength of the trilogy has always lied in the realistic and well-conceived plot and that is no exception in Sunrise. Mike Mullin does his research and creates characters and situations that are as authentic as they are compelling.

I've never been a fan of Mike Mullin's writing style, but I truly can't wait to see what he writes next and I definitely recommend his Ashfall Trilogy. You are guaranteed to fall in love with Alex and Darla and their genuine romance and be impressed with how much the characters and relationships mature and grow over the course of the series. Sunrise is a truly satisfying finale to a riveting series.

Previously, my reviews of Ashfall and Ashen Winter.

Other Reviews:
Book Nerd
Nose Graze
Xpresso Reads

Author Links:

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Review: Night of Cake and Puppets (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2.5) by Laini Taylor

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Published: November 26, 2013
Pages: 89
Source: Bought
Rating: 4.5 Stars

In Night of Cake & Puppets, Taylor brings to life a night only hinted at in the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy—the magical first date of fan-favorites Zuzana and Mik. Told in alternating perspectives, it’s the perfect love story for fans of the series and new readers alike. Petite though she may be, Zuzana is not known for timidity. Her best friend, Karou, calls her “rabid fairy,” her “voodoo eyes” are said to freeze blood, and even her older brother fears her wrath. But when it comes to the simple matter of talking to Mik, or “Violin Boy,” her courage deserts her. Now, enough is enough. Zuzana is determined to meet him, and she has a fistful of magic and a plan. It’s a wonderfully elaborate treasure hunt of a plan that will take Mik all over Prague on a cold winter’s night before finally leading him to the treasure: herself! Violin Boy’s not going to know what hit him.

In short: Night of Cake and Puppets by Laini Taylor is SO wonderful and I think you should read it.
There are few side characters that I love more than Zuzana and Mik from the Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy. So when I heard there was a novella that told the story of how Zuzana won Mik's heart, I was IN. Never mind the fact that I very rarely find enjoyment in such heavily romance-driven stories - this IS Laini Taylor we're talking about after all and girl can WRITE! I would read pretty much anything she wrote. That, and I needed something to tide me over until Dreams of Gods and Monsters comes out (only 5 more days now!!).

Can I just take a moment to fangirl over Laini Taylor? You don't mind, do you? Because I love her SO much and I just want the world to know!! And I want everyone who hasn't experienced her writing yet to get on board the Laini-train, pronto! She has an absolutely wicked imagination and an unbelievable way with words. And in her expert prose, Zuzana and Mik come to life with distinct voices and come together with memorable scenes. I am also a massive fan of Laini Taylor's humour and wit and I think Night of Cake and Puppets demonstrates her talent in this area most excellently.

Zuzana and Mik brought the lightness in Days of Blood and Starlight, so just imagine a 90 page novella of heartwarming cuteness and clever hilarity and that's what you get with Night of Cake and Puppets. This novella definitely ranks among my favourites of all time and brought me SO MUCH joy as I was reading it. Night of Cake and Puppets is SO wonderful and I think you should read it.

Previously, my reviews of Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Days of Blood and Starlight.

Other Review:
Lunar Rainbows

Author Links:

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Waiting On Wednesday: HarperCollins Summer 2014 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 HarperCollins Summer 2014 Catalog:

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
Date: July 8, 2014
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On her nineteenth birthday, Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, raised in exile, sets out on a perilous journey back to the castle of her birth to ascend her rightful throne. Plain and serious, a girl who loves books and learning, Kelsea bears little resemblance to her mother, the vain and frivolous Queen Elyssa. But though she may be inexperienced and sheltered, Kelsea is not defenseless: Around her neck hangs the Tearling sapphire, a jewel of immense magical power; and accompanying her is the Queen’s Guard, a cadre of brave knights led by the enigmatic and dedicated Lazarus. Kelsea will need them all to survive a cabal of enemies who will use every weapon—from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic—to prevent her from wearing the crown.
Despite her royal blood, Kelsea feels like nothing so much as an insecure girl, a child called upon to lead a people and a kingdom about which she knows almost nothing. But what she discovers in the capital will change everything, confronting her with horrors she never imagined. An act of singular daring will throw Kelsea’s kingdom into tumult, unleashing the vengeance of the tyrannical ruler of neighboring Mortmesne: the Red Queen, a sorceress possessed of the darkest magic. Now Kelsea will begin to discover whom among the servants, aristocracy, and her own guard she can trust.
But the quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun—a wondrous journey of self-discovery and a trial by fire that will make her a legend…if she can survive.

The early hype for The Queen of the Tearling has been off the walls! A film has already been optioned and the book has been receiving rave reviews. Ultimately though, it's the mention of a bookish heroine, dark magic, and assassins that's got me interested in this one!

Wild by Alex Mallory
Date: July 8, 2014
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The forest is full of secrets, and no one understands that better than Cade. Foraging, hunting, surviving— that’s all he knows. Alone for years, Cade believes he’s the sole survivor. At least, until he catches a glimpse of a beautiful stranger…
Dara expected to find natural wonders when she set off for a spring break camping trip. Instead, she discovers a primitive boy— he’s stealthy and handsome and he might be following her. Intrigued, Dara seeks him out and sets a catastrophe in motion.
Thrust back into society, Cade struggles with the realization that the life he knew was a lie. But he’s not the only one. Trying to explain life in a normal town leaves Dara questioning it.
As the media swarm and the police close in, Dara and Cade risk everything to get closer. But will the truth about Cade’s past tear them apart?

Wild is a YA retelling of Tarzan, which I think is pretty cool. I've always loved the story of the primitive boy who's had to get by on his own in the wild before being exposed to real life. Though I do hope Wild brings something new to the table instead of just being a direct retelling of Tarzan.

The Jewel by Amy Ewing
Date: September 2, 2014
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The Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty––because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring.
Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.
Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence . . . and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for.

The Jewel reminds me a bit of The Selection in premise and The Winner's Curse in packaging. Ultimately, I hope it will deliver on the entertainment factor of The Selection and the excellence of The Winner's Curse, while still bringing its own flavour to the genre. That's not too much to ask, right?

Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White
Date: September 9, 2014
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Jessamin has been an outcast since she moved from her island home of Melei to the dreary country of Albion. Everything changes when she meets Finn, a gorgeous, enigmatic young lord who introduces her to the secret world of Albion’s nobility, a world that has everything Jessamin doesn’t—power, money, status…and magic. But Finn has secrets of his own, dangerous secrets that the vicious Lord Downpike will do anything to possess. Unless Jessamin, armed only with her wits and her determination, can stop him.
Kiersten White captured readers’ hearts with her New York Times bestselling Paranormalcy trilogy and its effortless mix of magic and real-world teenage humor. She returns to that winning combination of wit, charm, and enchantment in Illusions of Fate, a sparkling and romantic new novel perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare, The Madman’s Daughter, and Libba Bray.

Illusions of Fate is being called "Downton Abbey meets Cassandra Clare" and that's all I really need to know to want to read this book. I wasn't the biggest fan of the only book of Kiersten White's I've read, Mind Games, but I still definitely want to give her writing another shot and I'm hopeful Illusions of Fate will be good stuff!

How about you? Are you waiting on any of these HarperCollins Summer 2014 reads? Are there any upcoming books from the HarperCollins Summer 2014 Catalog that I didn't include here that you feel I should add to my list?