Thursday, March 26, 2015

New on the Shelves, Vol. 3

After getting a 20% off coupon from Barnes & Noble in the mail two weeks ago, I had to use it on The Hogwarts Library (Quidditch Through the Ages, Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them, The Tales of Beedle the Bard) by J.K. Rowling. I love how all the covers match and since I haven't read these yet, I figure it'll be motivation to finish my Harry Potter series re-read.

February was a big month for new releases!

Like I mentioned in last week's Top Ten Tuesday, I sent a library request for Girl Before a Mirror by Liza Palmer after Hannah so highly recommended it in her lovely review. I'm craving some women's fiction after reading The Life Intended by Kristin Harmel (I wrote a mini review in last week's Forget Me Not!)

I haven't read anything by V.E./Victoria Schwab yet but A Darker Shade of Magic seems like a great place to start. Parallel universes, magic and London? COUNT ME IN.

I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios would have escaped my "to read" list, but EVERYONE has been so vocal about how great it is and I just had to see for myself. I'll be picking this up after my current read (Paper Towns by John Green) so you'll be hearing about my feels soon enough :p

I've been quite excited for A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas so of course I read it as soon as I got home. It's a reimagining of Sleeping Beauty after she wakes up from true love's kiss, and y'all know how I feel about twists on fairytales ... (I love 'em!)

What was the last book you purchased for yourself? Which book do you think I should read after I finish I'll Meet You There? (I'm 95% sure it'll be A Darker Shade of Magic!)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Top 10 Books From My Childhood/Teen Years I Would Love to Revisit

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. A new topic is discussed every week, so join us if you love writing lists and sharing your thoughts on everything related to books!

As I mentioned in Breaking Up with My Books, I've loved reading since I was a child. I loved visiting the library and borrowing books at random, so I rarely re-read anything. If I owned all the books I read as a child, these are the ten I would pick up right now:

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
I started re-reading the Harry Potter series last year, so I'm looking forward to continue with Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. When I first read through the series, I took a big break before reading this fifth book — I hope it doesn't end up happening again ...

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
I am such a scaredy-cat, but I remember this to be one of my favorite books to read. (I was reminded of this while reading Through the Woods by Emily Carroll, which also contains really creepy stories.)

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
As I mentioned in my Top 10 Childhood Favorites, this book holds a very special place in my heart ever since my fifth grade teacher read it to us as a class. I have a feeling that I'd still love it if I read it today.

Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
This is long due for a re-read. I've only read this once and can barely remember anything about it :(

Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan
I have absolutely no idea how I came across this book, but I know I discovered it by myself after browsing the shelves at my library.

Summer in the City by Elizabeth Chandler
If you were to ask me my favorite book in high school, this would be it!

Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar
This is just one of those fun and WEIRD books you want to read over and over again.

Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary
The boxset that Beezus and Ramona came in was one of the very first boxsets my mom bought me through Scholastic book orders. I am almost certain that I begged for it after reading Dear Mr. Henshaw in class, so shout out to all the elementary school teachers who still read in class!

The Cam Jansen Mysteries by David A. Adler
I was browsing through the "Readers Also Enjoyed" section on Goodreads for a couple of the books I mentioned earlier and I came across this gem! I can't believe I forgot about this series!

A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
I don't appreciate poetry as much as I did when I was younger, so I'd love to spark that interest again.

Researching these books makes me wish I had a list of all the library books I've ever borrowed as a child/teen. I'd love to know which books from your childhood/teen years you're hoping to re-visit!

Monday, March 23, 2015

4 Reasons to Read The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
Book 1 in The Winner's Trilogy

Genre(s): Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Publication Date: March 4, 2014
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (Macmillan)
Format: Hardcover // 355 pages

Other books by Rutkoski: The Cabinet of Wonders, The Shadow Society

Filed under: female heroines, forbidden love
Winning what you want may cost you everything you love.

As a general's daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin's eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him — with unexpected consequences. It's not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner's Curse is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.
When The Winner's Curse came out last year, there was a lot of hype surrounding it. I wasn't interested in reading it because it involves slave culture, but I decided to give it a try due to the numerous praised reviews. If you can't decide whether or not to give The Winner's Curse a chance, here are four reasons that may convince you to!

1. It isn't complicated to follow.
Complex worlds and made-up languages tend to draw me away from fantasy books, but The Winner's Curse kept my interest. In fact, the only element of fantasy (that we know of so far) is the fictional world they live in. Their culture is a bit reminiscent of the Roman's — a love for the arts (music, in this case) and architecture are two that stuck out to me. Because the two are so similar, it's easy to imagine.

2. It's worth the slow setup.
It takes a while for things to get interesting but once it kicks in, you will not want to put this book down. When I started The Winner's Curse, I wanted lots of action. Now looking back, I find that the uneventful beginning was necessary for me to familiarize myself with the characters and the world. Without the backstory and time to learn about who Kestrel and Arin are, I would have ended up with different emotions.

3. Kestrel is an awesome heroine.
We get a lot of stories where the guy is on an adventure to rescue the girl-in-waiting, but Kestrel is far from the girl who is waiting for someone to save her. She is independent and headstrong, but makes decisions for the good of her people. She may not be physically strong, but she's dang strategic and smart. It is SO NICE not having to say "you idiot!!!" :p

4. It's not your usual romance story.
There's something about a forbidden, slow-burning romance that makes it all the more better to read, but this one is a little twisted. Both Kestrel and Arin are in unfortunate situations and I've been sitting here, thinking about a way to explain it without being spoilery BUT I CAN'T. Just know that it's a type of romance you've probably never read before.

As someone who doesn't read much fantasy but is trying to ease into it — I loved it. Read this if you like the "government control" aspect of dystopian worlds and are trying to get into fantasy OR if you want to read in the perspective of someone like Clarke from The 100, the television series on CW.

Have you had the chance to read The Winner's Curse yet? Did the hype affect your experience? If you haven't read it yet, are you planning to?

Friday, March 20, 2015

Forget Me Not // 2 — The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend, Love Lucy, The Life Intended

In an effort to share my thoughts on all the books I read, I started Forget Me Not in February 2015. I don't always have a lot to say about certain books, so I thought I'd gather three mini reviews and stick them together :)

Publication Date: September 7, 2010
Publisher: Poppy (Hachette Book Group)
Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn't think she's the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She's also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her “Duffy,” she throws her Coke in his face.

But things aren't so great at home right now. Desperate for a distraction, Bianca ends up kissing Wesley. And likes it. Eager for escape, she throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with Wesley.

Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out that Wesley isn't such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she's falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.
I was expecting a fun and "easy to get through" book, and that is exactly what The DUFF delivered. Bianca is very snarky and cynical — and interestingly enough, I like that about her. In no way am I excusing her behavior, but it just strongly shows how flawed of a person she is. We're all like that sometimes, right? Other than that, I wasn't fond of her at all. The way she treated Jessica and Casey, two of her closest friends, was uncalled for. They wanted to help her through her home situation, but Bianca brushes them off every time they ask her to hang out and ignores them outside of school. I understand why she may be shutting them out, but to do that and run toward someone she claims she hates? I'm not okay with that.

The DUFF was entertaining; I'll give it that. I can appreciate the overall message, but not the way it was delivered. I've heard the movie is quite different, so I'm interested to see what changes.

Love, Lucy by April Lindner

Genre(s): Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publication Date: January 27, 2015
Publisher: Poppy (Hachette Book Group)
While backpacking through Florence, Italy, during the summer before she heads off to college, Lucy Sommersworth finds herself falling in love with the culture, the architecture, the food ... and Jesse Palladino, a handsome street musician. After a whirlwind romance, Lucy returns home, determined to move on from her "vacation flirtation." But just because summer is over doesn't mean Lucy and Jesse are over, too.

In this coming-of-age romance, April Lindner perfectly captures the highs and lows of a summer love that might just be meant to last beyond the season.
I absolutely love reading books that take place in Europe - just thinking about the beautiful attractions and magical atmosphere make me want to hop on a plane - but it really bums me out when characters explore but don't describe their surroundings very well or "visit" a museum but don't actually go in. I wanted a taste of Florence and sadly, I was disappointed. I know this wasn't the main point of Love, Lucy, but I went in with that expectation. I was also a bit annoyed at Lucy and the way she treated some of the people in her life.

I didn't know Love, Lucy was a modern retelling of E.M. Forster's A Room with a View, so I cannot tell you how it compares because I've never read it. I can, however, tell you that it was just okay. I enjoyed it, but I didn't think there was anything special or memorable.

The Life Intended by Kristin Harmel

Genre(s): Adult, Contemporary
Publication Date: December 30, 2014
Publisher: Gallery Books (Simon and Schuster)
After her husband's sudden death over ten years ago, Kate Waithman never expected to be lucky enough to find another love of her life. But now she's planning her second walk down the aisle to a perfectly nice man. So why isn't she more excited?

At first, Kate blames her lack of sleep on stress. But when she starts seeing Patrick, her late husband, in her dreams, she begins to wonder if she's really ready to move on. Is Patrick trying to tell her something? Attempting to navigate between dreams and reality, Kate must uncover her husband's hidden message. Her quest leads her to a sign language class and into the New York City foster system, where she finds rewards greater than she could have imagined.
The Life Intended captured me from the very beginning. Although I am not in the same life stage as Kate, the main character, I still felt connected to her. When Kate started dreaming vividly of Patrick, it made my heart a little uneasy because I've also had experiences where my own dreams left me wondering, "what if?" I wanted her to be able to slip into this different world and I kept thinking, "HOW is she going to get through this?" Harmel did a great job at telling Kate's story. It seems like it would be sad, but it is very hopeful.

If you've read any of these three books, how did you feel about them?